laura enters bunny in the race,nellie gets jealous,and wants her horse back,nels says, she doesn't deserve a horse the way she treated it, way to go nels! nellie is a spoiled,selfish, rotten brat,she doesn't deserve on the way she whipped bunny,she has a temper tantrum and her mom comforts her,she buys an expensive racehorse for nellie. when laura sees sparks,nellie's new horse,she gets upset,charles reminds her, the good lord gives us gifts to help us through the hard times. harriet wants willie to ride sparks in the willie gets a terrible stomacheache. nels gets laura to get . willie has eaten 7 candied apples,what a little brat he is, it was for after the race, nellie and laura race, laura wins,she gives back the trophy to pay for shoes.
You need some imagination to make this episode work. The story line hinges on Harriet Oleson staging a horse race in Walnut Grove in which she'll bestow an expensive prize on the winner, thereby invoking some publicity for the mercantile. The race boils down to a rival contest between Nellie and Laura, of course, when the five other (unnamed) participants instantly withdraw from the race.
First of all, the premise of the story is weak. The Walnut Grove mercantile is the sole store within at least a 15-mile radius, and anyone within those premises is going to shop there out of sheer necessity. Since the vast majority are farmers, practicality will reign in their consumer habits. Advertising to raise name awareness (as would be Mrs. Oleson's reasoning) could hardly be profitable.
Secondly, Mrs. Oleson would have shelled out far more than any marketing could repay her for the cost of such a horse that she ends up buying Nellie. The likelihood of a woman in this era having control of her finances independently from her husband is also incredible.
The scene of Harriet trying to ride the spirited thoroughbred is comical, but again, requires a lot of imagination to believe that Harriet really could have held on. Likewise, the vastly superior bloodlines in the horse that Mrs. Oleson bestows upon her daughter would have outdone Bunny easily, despite the fact that it had not had a workout in a while. Add to it Bunny's exhausted condition...no way could Bunny have won.
The weirdest part of this episode, though, is that prissy Nellie, whom we've never ever known to have straddled even the gentlest pony, would be allowed and persuaded to mount this huge beast of a horse and gallop two miles across a prairie. That would be wildly dangerous, and how would Harriet and Nels possibly have stood for it? Likewise, Bunny could have collapsed under Laura after being forced to run a second time after his recent sprint.
And poor Bunny...referred to over and over again as "she" when Bunny most definitely was a "he" as we see...since Bunny was a gelding, that could have only added to the horse's confused sexual identity.
There were more credibility issues in this episode, but all in all, it somehow remains a classic - and isn't too painful.
A much-anticipated local horse race brings in 7 entries until Harriet, hell bent on making sure that Nellie wins, buys her an expensive thoroughbred from Sleepy Eye to give her the edge. Five other riders, seeing Nellie's magnificent beast, soon pull out, which leaves just Nellie and Laura who will, of course, be riding Bunny. To sweeten the stakes, Harriet donates a silver bowl which once belonged to her mother as the prize, convinced that Nellie will win it anyway, but Nellie is too lazy to exercise and take care of her horse properly, whereas Laura has Bunny in tip top condition.
On race day, it is Laura and Bunny who win out, but Laura generously refuses to accept Harriet's mother's silver cup as she knows how much it means to her.
A fine piece of work by all the actors, especially the two 'rivals'.
This is a great episode for character development. Though the story revolves around Laura and Nellie, we see a great deal of both sets of parents and learn a lot about how these families work.
Mrs. Oleson clearly rules the roost over there at the Mercantile, but Nels does have his own opinions about things that aren't always in line with Harriet's. Unfortunatly, he has no power over her and she does as she pleases. Nels clearly stated that Nellie did not deserve another horse, but when Harriet couldn't come up with any other way of calming Nellie down, she promised one. And then went out and bought it without telling Nels. Very unusual behaviour for a woman in the 1870s, but then, Harriet is quite unusual.
Nels may not carry the day at his home, but he does get his moments. They usually come when he's fed up and had enough, but in this episode it comes because Harriet is stunned beyond words that Laura has returned the silver bowl. While she is quietly contemplating (perhaps) that her child would never have done this, Nels is able to command her into the store room to get shoes for the Ingalls girls.
Nellie is manipulative and mean. If we didn't know that already from the previous episode, then we certainly see it now. Notice how quickly her hysterical tears are replaced by that sinister grin as soon as she has gotten her mother to promise to get her a new horse. Nellie gets what she wants and all's right with the world. We see this grin again later when she tells Laura about her new horse and also when she tells Laura and Mary that Willie will be riding Sparks. She's a mean one for sure!
Willie's mean too, but he's not as driven as his sister. He would be just as happy eating pie as he is teasing Laura. His fondness for candy apples provides plot device as well as a little comedy here.
The Inagalls family are as close and strong and faithful as ever. Charles is frustrated by his financial situation, but is still able to joke with the girls about their big feet (Mary's shoes looked huge!). I am sure that he doesn't want to make them feel bad about something that's beyond their control. He is always there for his girls. When Laura is stewing in the barn about Nellie's new horse, Charles is able to remind her that God has given her gifts that Nellie doesn't have and that those gifts will be more useful to her in winning the race than some dumb old horse. Charles is supportive of Laura's efforts throughout and one knows that she draws a great deal of strength from that.
Caroline is pretty fiesty when Mrs. Oleson gets her going! Practical Caroline knows her girls need shoes, but she will not take a hand out from "that woman". I love when Caroline shows this side of herself. She has pride and sometimes it gets the best of her. Sometimes, she's able to use it quite well-remember the eggs in "Country Girls"? Classic.
Laura is a perfect blend of Father and Mother. She is faithful and hardworking, and she is fiesty and proud. It's a winning combination, quite literally in this case.
The story is good and there are some very funny moments, but the root of this episode for me is the character study of the two families and how different they are. It sets the tone for many episodes to come.
An interesting note: Laura risks the health of her horse in order to get Doc Baker for a sick Willie. Many years later, Willie will risk his health in order to get Doc Baker for a sick Laura.
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