We learn in this episode that Reverend Alden's first name is Robert.
After Anna and Reverend Alden finish their first meal together, Anna suggests that they take their coffee into the living room. Reverend Alden agrees and quickly charges right past Anna, into the next room, to the point where he almost runs her over. This seemed unusually rude and out of place for the scene.
When Reverend Alden and Anna ponder their wedding in the middle of the episode, the Reverend comments that it won't be long before Charles Ingalls is pronouncing them husband and wife. What Christian religion gives an ordinary parishioner the power to preside over marriage vows???
Reply: The real Charles Ingalls was indeed, a Justice of the Peace for some time and would have been qualified to marry people.
Notice the striking physical and character-based resemblances between Dean Harmon, Harriet's first fiance, and the man she eventually married, Nels Oleson: Not very tall, thin, balding, subservient, well spoken, but generally quiet. In the final, symbolic scene where Harriet Olesen stands on the church steps, flanked by both men, they look like they could be brothers.
William Schallert (Dean Harmon) later went on to appear in Michael Landon's successful series Highway to Heaven, which began as soon as Little House on the Prairie ended. In that show, Schallert appeared in Season 4, in the two-part episode Man's Best Friend, and even more interestingly, he portrayed the father of actor Stan Ivar, who played John Carter in Seasons 9 and 10 of Little House and also guest starred on just those two episodes of Highway of Heaven.
It is crystal clear that the inside of Anna's home is the exact same house that Almanzo's girlfriend Christy lived in during the episode Annabelle, which aired right before this episode. More than that, it's the same sets that were used for Almanzo's home, and anyone who watches this show regularly can instantly notice that.
Many viewers were surprised and baffled to learn that after Reverend Alden and Anna had a wedding in this episode, the character of Anna never appeared again, and for all the viewers knew, Reverend Alden didn't even appear to be married. Iris Korn--who played Anna--became ill and passed away shortly after this episode was filmed, which would explain the absence.
In a previous interview, Dabbs Greer (Reverend Alden) expressed that he and Michael Landon differed in their opinions regarding how Reverend Alden's love affair with Anna should be executed. Greer believed that at the Reverend's age, he would not be at the point where he would realistically sacrifice his career to fall in love like a young schoolboy. However, Landon wanted to write this episode his own way, so that's how it went.
It's ludicrous that Reverand Alden would believe he was somehow going against God by taking a wife. Hello, he's a PROTESTANT minister not Catholic. In real life, Reverand Alden was a circuit-preacher of the Congregationalist denomination who married twice and sired large numbers of children by each wife (one daughter, in particular, was a good friend of Laura's, as indicated in Laura Ingalls Wilder's books).
Reply: Even though Protestant ministers are permitted to marry, that doesn't mean the ministers don't sometimes fear that they are "going against God." Marriage is a huge undertaking for anyone, and a married minister would not be devoting his entire livelihood to God in the same way he would if he remained single. If you watch the episode, that's why Harriet's former fiance (also a minister) broke off the engagement: because he didn't feel he could properly serve both God and a wife.
Reverend Alden: It's a miracle.
Dean Harmon: Don't sound so surprised. If a Reverend doesn't believe in miracles, who else will?
Dean Harmon: It's been a long time, Harriet.
Harriet: Yes, it has, Russell. Twenty three years come June 15th, the day that you broke our engagement.
Dean Harmon: If I had known it was you, I would have sent somebody in my stead.
Harriet: Still afraid to face realities, Russell?
Dean Harmon: I thought I was facing reality then, Harriet. As I told you at the time, I believed I could not serve two masters: marriage and the ministry.
Harriet: I remember. You said you decided that you were already wed to the Church, that your duties would be all consuming, and that it would be "unfair" to me to go ahead with the marriage. Do you think it was "fair" to humiliate me so?
Dean Harmon: Of course not. It was grossly unfair. It was cruel. But I didn't mean it to be that. As the day approached, I had terrible doubts and fears. It wasn't a question of whether or not I loved you, Harriet, but the question in my mind was, "Could I devote myself to you and to God?" The question was, did I love you or God more? I thought.....I thought I was doing what was best for both of us. I hope it was for you, Harriet. I've met your husband. He seems to be a very fine man.
Harriet: I'm very proud of my family.
Dean Harmon: You should be.
Dean Harmon: So the question, then, is how to deal with the matter of the Reverand Alden, and the reality of his relationship with Mrs. Craig. Now, I've known Reverend Alden for 26 years, Harriet. He taught me theology at the seminary. I've never known a finer minister, or a better man. You must know that. He's been your minister and your friend for years. You must know in your heart that Robert Alden is not capable of conduct that is anything but the most honorable.
Harriet: Oh, well, surely, Russell, you must know that even the just man can fall!
Dean Harmon: Yes, but not Robert Alden! Not in the way that you suggest! Don't punish him for my mistakes, Harriet! Why should he be forced, especially by you, to make the same mistakes I did? Now, he has a chance for happiness with the woman he loves. Don't deny him that. This time, it's your decision, Harriet.
Anna Craig: (Anna is trying to bring the Reverend Alden soup, but Mrs. Oleson continues in her efforts to keep them separated) Mrs. Oleson, if you do not move out of the way, I will hit you with this tray!
Featured character: Reverend Alden
William Schallert (Dean Harmon) also appeared on Little House four years ago, in Season 2's Centennial.
Melissa Gilbert (Laura) appears briefly in only two scenes of this episode, and she has just one speaking line.
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