Little House on the Prairie

Season 9 Episode 9

The Empire Builders

1
Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Nov 22, 1982 on NBC
8.0
out of 10
User Rating
48 votes
3

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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The Empire Builders
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Having a railroad built to pass directly through Walnut Grove sounds like a wonderful idea for many town residents, particularly since it would increase the size and popularity of the area. Others are concerned that it would destroy their quiet, simplistic lifestyle, and when they decide to fight it, lives are threatened.moreless

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  • Walnut Grove is excited for the railroad to come, but soon find they will have to make some sacrifices of their own.

    8.5
    Without a doubt, this episode is redone in "The Last Farewell" (except there its not the railroad that takes over). Not an original plot. But its still very enjoyable. This is how it would happen -- excitement, then a few sacrifices, only to come into complete problems. By the scene where Laura stands up to the railroad with her gun and says they'll have to take it, you are inspired to go and save your town from an evil company. In many cases in this world, the railroad is what made the towns prosper. Still, there are personal sacrifices that must be made, and that's what this episode revolves around. And when John punches the guy at the end and gives his speech, you are just ready to stand up next to him and say, "yeah! We beat you!" for lack of a better phrase. An exciting episode that you don't forget.moreless
  • Railroad or no railroad...that is the question. My favorite part was a gun-wileding Laura stating that they wouldn't give up without a fight.

    8.5
    I dind't really care for any of the storylines that revolved around the Carters. I missed the Ingalls family!



    This was well done, though, as are all Little House episodes. With everyone coming together to solve a problem.

    By the end of the episode, I was cheering for John when he belted Hobson(?)



    I do agree that it was similar to the special "The Last Farewell" but it wasn't an error. The Last Farewell was not about the railroad coming, it was a man that owned the land and wanted to take over the town. He wasn't going to destroy any of the property, and he even offered them money to remain and work their own land.moreless
  • When the railroad wants to build a stop-station in Walnut Grove, the residents discover that it will cost some of them their land.

    7.2
    The railroad comes to town and announces that it wants to make Walnut Grove one of its largest stops in the land. Everyone is excited (except a suspicious Laura), until it becomes clear that the railroad wants to exercise the right of "imminent domain", taking land by force. The Carters and the Wilders stand to lose everything. When they refuse to give up their land, the Wilders are menaced and John Carter is beaten; a final showdown occurs on the Carter property, where the armed townsfolk have holed up, apparently prepared to shoot it out if necessary (women included). Fearing bad publicity, the railroad reluctantly agrees to re-route itself through Tracy (where the people are supposedly more agreeable), and Walnut Grove is left intact. This is a pretty good episode, with a typical, tidy LHOTP problem/solution scenario presented well. However, I kept getting the feeling I'd seen it before, even though I'd never seen this particular episode--then it hit me! This is largely just a one-hour version of "The Last Farwell" Little House TV movie, which originally aired just sixteen months after this episode did. How strange. Equally strange is the fact that the scriptwriters have John Carter lecturing the railroad foreman at the end of this episode, basically stating, "you guys can keep coming, but we'll always beat you. We'll never give up our land". Hmm...really? Note, too, Laura's overvoice at the end of the episode: "the railroad went to Tracy, and Walnut Grove remained the same little town it had always been". Yet at the end of the "Last Farewell" episode, when the town is blown up, the mayors of some of the surrounding towns are present, and the mayor of Tracy tells the railroad boss that "the same thing will happen if they try to come to Tracy". This is a pretty glaring error on the writer's part, considering they sent the railroad to Tracy a season earlier!moreless
Dean Butler

Dean Butler

Almanzo James Wilder (co-star prior to season 7)

Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Ketty Lester

Ketty Lester

Hester-Sue Terhune (1982-1983) (co-star 1978 - 1981)

Stephen Elliott

Stephen Elliott

Hollingsworth

Guest Star

James O'Sullivan

James O'Sullivan

Stewart Hobson

Guest Star

Taylor Lacher

Taylor Lacher

Harlem Wilkins

Guest Star

Dan McBride

Dan McBride

1st Man

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Near the end of the episode, when Almanzo, Mr. Edwards, John, and some other men go over to the Carter place to corner the people who beat up John, notice that John has a white bandage around his head. In the very last scene, though, which clearly takes place on the same day, the bandage is gone.

    • Goof/Nitpick: In the beginning, at the railway station loading area, notice how Mr. Edwards and Almanzo park their wagon right across two tracks and go and talk to the station guard. The next moment, they are seeing the second train come in, and where did the cart go? It's a goof if they didn't move it, and a nitpick if implied that they did it earlier (doubtful) or someone else moved THEIR wagon (doubtful also).

    • When Sarah goes outside to look for John, after he was beaten up by a couple Wilkenson's gang, the wind is blowing. Wouldn't Sarah's hair be blowing all over the place if the wind was was very strong? Her hair is resting on her shoulders.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • John: (sees Wilkins coming, speaks to Sarah) Get the gun.
      Sarah: (after getting the gun) You children stay inside! (closes door, hands gun to John, who points it at Wilkins) This is private property. You're trespassing.
      Wilkins: Yeah, you and Almanzo Wilder have been testing my patience. I want that bill of sale, and I want it right now.
      John: (to Sarah) Go get it. Go ahead. (Sarah goes to get it)
      Wilkins: Ah, I knew you would come to your senses.
      John: You want it? (takes paper from Sarah, rips it in half, and hands it to Wilkins) You got it.
      Wilkins: You're making a big mistake. (rides away)

    • Sarah: That looks nice.
      John: Thanks.
      Sarah: You almost finished? I've got a pot of coffee on.
      John: Any gingerbread left?
      Sarah: Mm-hmm.
      John: Then I'm done!

    • John: What are you gonna do?
      Almanzo: Laura and me, we're going into Sleepy Eye to see a lawyer tomorrow. We'd like you and Sarah to come with us.
      John: No, I'm sure you'll find out what we all need to know.
      Almanzo: What if we find out that the law's on their side?
      John: Then it's a law to be ashamed of. Property is property. What we own is what we work and sweat for. What we own is part of us. If our government doesn't respect that, then I don't know where our country's headed.

    • Almanzo: It might be a good idea if you and the baby spent some time in town for a while.
      Laura: Why?
      Almanzo: Well sweetheart, I don't know how rough the railroad's gonna get.
      Laura: I'm not leaving.
      Almanzo: Beth--
      Laura: This is our land, and we fight for it together. (Almanzo begins to smile) I'm a lot tougher than you think, Mr. Wilder.
      Almanzo: I know you are, Mrs. Wilder.
      Laura: Then we stay together?
      Almanzo: We stay together.

    • John: Wilkins!
      Wilkins: What do you want, Carter?
      John: I just didn't want you to leave without me getting a chance to say goodbye. (punches him) Your turn, Wilkins. Come on.
      Wilkins: I wouldn't bother dirtying my hands, farmer.
      John: That's right. I'm a farmer. All of us here are just small potatoes to people like you. But we beat you, didn't we? We beat you and the railroad--all your empire builders. Folks like us are always gonna beat you, because we love this country and this land. We're not gonna let anybody destroy it. Goodbye, Mr. Wilkins.

  • NOTES (2)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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