Little House on the Prairie

Season 9 Episode 8

The Return Of Nellie

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Nov 15, 1982 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
58 votes
  • Too bad the dog didn't get her!

    Not my favorite episode and that is primarily because of Nancy. The fact that she sort of looks like Nelly is one thing but she is nothing like her. I always kind of liked Nelly even as mean as she could be there was always something about her character. Maybe it was because it was always done with such a light comedic touch. Nancy on the other hand is tiresome. How many times do I have to hear "You Hate Me" without wanting to smack her? The only good thing that Nancy has ever done in this show, was run away and unfortunately they had to go and bring her back. I guess I'm not the only one to feel this way. I was really rooting for that wild dog to devour her. Even after all the lessons learned she's just as repulsive as ever. If her character was added as a bit of comic relief, then to me, it fails as I just don't find her amusing and her nastiness really just gets under my skin. I only rated this show a 6 because it was good to see Nelly again.
  • Not the best LH episode, but hey, who doesn't want to see Nellie Oleson? Even if she has become sort of a Prairie-style Stepford wife? Gotta love her hair. So chic & Victorian. Nellie appears to have made it in life, despite her rowdy childhood.

    Nancy was usually over-done and hard to watch. In this ep she's up to her usual stunts. So Ma & Pa Oleson hope that Nellie's visit home will be a good influence on their little incorrigible. No, only if Nellie were a Jesuit priest. It's great to watch Nellie anyway. My favorite underlying message of the whole Nellie Oleson story arc is that LOVE is what made her "good." Too bad Percival couldn't make it. He was amazing. Out of Mary, Laura & Nellie, I think Nellie landed the best man - despite being the most likely never to marry.
  • A lighthearted and enjoyable episode in many ways, with psychotic Nancy portrayed as the victim.

    I have to say that whenever I pop in this episode to watch on DVD, I always enjoy it. While it's certainly no "standout," it's mostly all in good fun, and it gives Alison Arngrim a chance to reprise her role as Nellie Oleson one last time.

    The new "city girl" hairstyle wears in this episode will certainly have you laughing the minute you see it, and Arngrim has good-naturedly explained in previous interviews that because the actress playing Nancy got Nellie's old wig, they had to find some kind of upgrade for Nellie, who has, at this point, spent several months living in New York with her husband and children. Speaking of which, Percival and the twins do not appear here, which is disappointing, but we do get to watch Nellie come back and spend some quality time with her family again. Of course, it's not that easy. Young Nancy, who has been acting badly in recent days and is used to being coddled to no end by her mother, gets even worse once Nellie comes to town. Not only do Nels and Harriet absolutely fawn over their eldest daughter, but even Willie shows genuine pleasure in being reunited with his sister, and Sarah Carter asks to do an editorial about "Nellie Oleson: Growing Up in Walnut Grove"--and that is only the beginning. Nellie is the center of attention with everyone in town, and although Nancy is a far cry from being ignored, her jealousy finally prompts her to run away--and so begins the Oleson family's realization that maybe they needed to give a bit more time to the insanely attention-starved Nancy.

    One question I have is why the show didn't make more of an effort to explain exactly WHY Nancy behaves she way she does. Surely she didn't get that way for no reason at all. Realistically, she must have endured some type of abuse or trauma before the Olesons adopted her, and while screenwriter Michael Landon had a chance to explore that a bit further, he never did. What's more, the family absolutely did not ignore Nancy while Nellie was there. There was no reason why they couldn't be excited about Nellie's visit, and in the end, even poor Nels was brainwashed into believing that he was partly at fault for Nancy's decision to risk her life by running away. Things may have been more interesting if they had thought of some way to truly snap the little girl into shape, like they did with Nellie at the end of Season 6. Overall, though, the episode is harmless fun for fans of the show. Watching Nels and Nellie spend time together and bond in ways that they never did before was an obvious highlight (his toast at her birthday party was so sweet), and while Nellie and Laura's sugary-sweet reunion was a little on the cheesy side, it was pretty cute to see. After all, the two actresses claim that this is the type of positive friendship they have in real life, so they had a rare opportunity to play that out on screen for once. Nellie's transformation occurred three years ago at this point, and yet this is the first and only episode where she and Laura have a genuinely amicable scene together, so at least they didn't overdo it by turning them into the absolute best of friends over a longer period of time. Some audiences may feel that Nellie's drastic change from bad girl to nice girl was slightly overdone, but as for me, I enjoy seeing her this way, and besides, Nancy does more than a good job at taking over the "Nasty Oleson Daughter" crown.

    Nancy's horrendous behavior, which does not undergo any positive development at all by episode's end, is a tad annoying, but at times like this, I guess we have to remember that she was the writers' idea of comic relief, and a prime example of overembellishing the "spoiled rotten kid" role. So if you find yourself appalled by her shamelessly evil ways, just try to smile and laugh at the sheer craziness of it all, because that was obviously the idea with her!
  • Nellie returns home for a visit and Nancy has the mother of all tantrums.

    Another Nancy episode, ugh. Why so much time and energy was focused on this horrible, mean-spirited character is beyond me. No matter how many times people try to "teach her a lesson" she is still a sorry excuse for a human being.
    When Nellie returns to Walnut Grove, Nancy is beside herself that her parents are focusing so much attention on her sister (who couldn't, what with that wig!). Doesn't she realize that Nellie was the adored one before her? How could she possibly not know that? Because she'a a self- centered, selfish person, that's why. I am delighted that she's so put out. Nellie as a grown up is a bit hard to swallow, but she's sweet and funny. This is a good episode for Willie too. It is one of the first time we see him as 'mature' and it's sweet.
    I was disappointed that the dog didn't get to eat Nancy alive, that would've been great, but alas she is found and brought home in one piece. And not one lesson learned from the entire episode. The final scene has her admitting to Willie that she lied about missing Nellie and flashing her evil grin, leaving us to wonder what her next treachery will be.
  • Nancy is shocked about not being the center of attention when Nellie returns for a visit.

    I'm not sure what the writers wanted us to think about this episode. At the beginning, Nels complains to Harriet about how Nancy's behavior is just as bad as when she first came to live with them and Harriet suggests that Nancy may not be getting enough attention. Nels argues that she receives constant attention.

    After Nancy runs away, Nellie suggests that the failure of people to pay attention to Nancy once Nellie arrived helped cause the situation. I realize that Nancy was probably hurt when even Harriet ignored her, but no one who had spent a significant amount of time around her should have taken the "Why I Hate My Life" essay as a cry for help. Nancy's "You Hate Me" routine has been tried and proven effective on multiple occasions before this episode aired and is reiterated at the end.

    We are supposed to feel sorry for Nancy who ran away just because she had to spend a few days out of the center of attention? There was no change in her character or personality as a result.

    It was nice to see Nellie again, but for her to be treated as a sort of conquering hero with a news article, warm reunion with Laura, and town-wide birthday party is a bit of a stretch.
  • Nellie returns to town for a visit, and in a jealous fit Nancy whines and pouts her way throught the ensuing hour.

    While it's great to see Allison Arngrim again as Nellie (even a low-key, distractingly bouffant-haired, mature Nellie), it's not worth the trade-off; to see her, you have to sit through an hour of watching the Oleson's adopted daughter, Nancy, whine, pout, and cry about the sudden decrease in the amount of attention she's receiving. When an impromptou birthday party is put together for Nellie, Nancy goes over the edge and runs away. For some inexplicable reason, the Olesons want her back and, unfortunately for the viewing audience, she is found.

    Why the writers felt so compelled to replace Arngrim's character when she left the show, rather than concentrating on further development of existing characters, is beyond me. Obviously, by the ninth season they were grasping at straws--and plotlines. I am the world's biggest LHOTP fan, but this is one of more than a few episodes that can be used to back the arguement that the show ran at least two seasons too long. Abysmal.