Melissa Sue Anderson, who plays Mary, has indicated in previous interviews that she really loved doing this episode. It was the first episode that focused in on Mary, and Melissa Sue feels that it was her chance to prove that she could take on more complex material in the series--which she certainly did in later seasons, when her character went blind.
At the beginning of this episode, while Laura is narrating, she says something like "Pa didn't go away very often, but when he did, it took a whole lot of people to get him started." It's a bit of a stretch for Laura to say that Pa didn't go away much; with his hunting trips and out-of-town visits while on business at various times, Charles Ingalls had to go away quite a few times. That was evident from the pilot episode, as well as Laura Ingalls Wilder's books.
Laura: I'm looking for something.
Laura: I don't know.
Mary: Well, how can you be looking for something when you don't know what the something is?
Laura: I'll know it when I see it.
Mary: Laura, sometimes you don't make sense! Hurry up, we'll be late for school!
Laura: Okay, I'm coming. You know, sometimes you don't make sense, either.
Mary: When don't I?
Laura: Every morning, you're always in a hurry to get to school.
Mary: Well, I like school.
Laura: That's what I mean! You don't make sense.
Laura: How do you spell bow like on a tree?
Caroline: You mean bough?
Laura: B. (writes it down, pauses) O-U-H?
Caroline: If Mary wins that dictionary, then pretty soon you won't even have to ask. You can look the words up.
Laura: (long pause) How can I look up a word I can't spell?
Laura: Since I don't have any homework, can I go fishing after I do my chores?
Caroline: Well, just because you don't have any homework doesn't mean you can't spend a little extra time learning.
Laura: (sighs) Yes, Ma. When I'm dead, the history books will say that I hardly ever got to go fishing!
Mary: You know what Pa always says: "Never cross your bridges until you get to them." Well, that's what I'm doing. I'm going to wait for my bridges!
Reverend Alden: (about Mary's change in behavior) She's taken responsibility for her mistake, and she's trying to make amends. A few more days, and she's gonna be the Mary you always knew.
Caroline: What about the history exam?
Reverend Alden: If you forget this punishment, your girls can expect you to forget about the next one, and the one after that.
Caroline: That's true.
Reverend Alden: Family discipline is...well, it's based on promises kept, for both punishment and reward. Without them, children have no rules to live by.
Caroline: And neither do we.
Laura: Mary, can you pull out that lamp? I can't sleep with it on.
Mary: Well, I can't read without it.
Laura: You're not supposed to be reading, you're supposed to be sleeping. Mary: I can't sleep.
Laura: Ma needs her rest with all the extra work she has to do with Pa gone.
Mary: I know, but I'm getting to a really good part about George Washington!
Laura: Well, I can tell you what happened. He grew up to be the father of our country. Now blow out that light before it wakes up Ma!
Caroline: (after Mary starts a fire by accident) Do you realize you could have been--(pauses, turns, then starts screaming) How many times have I told you not to light matches or lanterns in the barn?
Mary: (crying) A hundred, I guess....
Caroline: But you forgot? Well, young lady, you're going to remember from this night on! And you can forget that examination. Now, tomorrow morning, I want you to go in and tell Miss Beadle that you're not taking it!
Laura: But Ma, she can't.
Caroline: Why not?
Laura: Because tomorrow's Saturday.
Nellie: Working hard?
Mary: Doing just fine.
Nellie: You should look nicer when you come to work in the store. Maybe your Ma would let you wear your Sunday dress.
Mary: My Sunday dress is for church.
Nellie: Well, you don't get paid for going to Church.
Mary: And I don't worship in Oleson's mercantile.
Filming Locations: Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.
Featured character: Mary Ingalls
This is the very first episode of the series in which Michael Landon does not appear.