In the scene where Caroline asks Mary if she's going to eat her sandwich or just play with it, you can tell that there is nothing in-between the two pieces of bread in Mary's hands.
After finishing her test, Mary stands in front of the hotel room window in the middle of the night, watching the rain beat down. The writers used this exact type of scene for several serious moments in the show; whenever a main character was frightened or going through something, they'd stare out their hotel room window at night, watching it rain. This also happened with Charles and Caroline in Season 3's To Live With Fear, with Charles in Season 4's I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away, and with Laura and Almanzo in Season 9's Marvin's Gardens.
Notice the expression on Charles' face after he tells Mary he can't afford to send her on the trip. When she quickly runs downstairs on the verge of tears, Charles is sitting all alone in the loft, and for a brief moment, he sticks his entire lip out like a pouting child. It's a credit to Michael Landon's acting with his range of emotions for this little scene, but at the same time, you may find yourself laughing out loud as he does this.
The clerk who checks Mary into the math competition is actress Beth Howland, who would go on to play the ditzy waitress Vera on the TV comedy Alice.
Mr. Hanson tells Charles that the school board unanimously agreed to finance Mary's trip for the math competition. Mrs. Oleson was on the school board, and it's surprising that she voted "yes" for this decision, especially since she really gave the Ingalls family a hard time with most things.
Major Goof: When Mary tells Miss Beadle she is forfeiting her spot at the math competition, and Laura is waiting for her in the back of the room, notice the girls' clothes. Mary has on a solid purple dress, and Laura is wearing a greenish, flowered calico. When they are walking home, though, Mary suddenly has on a blue pinafore over her dress. Then, when Laura runs back to the school suddenly and gets back into town, screaming Miss Beadle's name, she is wearing a white pinafore that she didn't have in the previous scene a few seconds earlier!
This is the first episode where Laura and Mary outwardly express their jealousy for one another. In a 2005 interview, Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) admitted that there was a little bit of rivalry between her and Melissa Gilbert on the show, but only when it came to competition over who had more to do on-screen at the given time. Laura was always the center of the series from the very beginning, and Anderson acknowledged that there was a bit of rivalry about that--but then on the other hand, as Mary grew up, went blind and became an adult, her character had more mature material to work with, whereas Melissa Gilbert's character remained childlike for a couple more years.
This is the first time Mary expresses an emotion that is probably obvious to many viewers as they watch the show: Charles' apparent favoritism toward Laura, who is so much like him in many ways. Even though it isn't true, some fans may feel for Mary as she talks about this.
Laura: (about Mary) I'm feeling the jealousies again.
Charles: Now, what for?
Laura: I wrecked the dinner, and I wrecked the cake. I just can't do anything right!
Charles: Half-Pint, now you listen to me. You did the cooking this week, the chores, and everything. You took care of your sister. Why, any man would be proud to have you for a wife.
Laura: They would?
Charles: Sure they would.
Laura: What about the cooking?
Charles: Don't you worry, your mom burned a few cakes in her day. And even with all that, I bet you I gained five pounds this week.
Laura: You did?
Charles: I know I did.
Caroline: (about the children) Everyone's down for the night.
Charles: (about Mary) Did she say anything else?
Caroline: No. Just how glad she is not to be going.
Charles: Being so brave. I wish she had yelled, screamed, said it wasn't fair.....all of that beats being so brave.
Caroline: But she is brave. Maybe if she got everything she wanted in this world, she wouldn't be.
Laura: This may sound silly.....but when Pa said you wouldn't be able to go on the trip, I felt a little glad inside.
Mary: That is silly.
Laura: That's what I just said! I guess I got a little jealous, you being so smart and all. You know what I mean?
Mary: Yeah. Sometimes I get jealous, too.
Laura: You do?
Mary: Sure I do.
Laura: Of me?
Mary: Well, not the man on the moon!
Laura: Well, why would you be jealous of me?
Mary: I don't know. Sometimes I think Pa loves you more than he does me.
Laura: That's silly!
Mary: No sillier than you being jealous over some old contest.
Laura: You're right. Well, anyway, I'm sorry.
Mary: Me too.
Filming Locations: Filmed at Big Sky Ranch, Simi Valley, with Sierra location scenes filmed at Railtown State Park, Jamestown, with newly filmed train segments and 1975 stock clip of Shay Locomotive No. 3 at Red Hills, Chinese Camp, California, and Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California.
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