Laura has the books and knowledge of sign language from when she taught a deaf boy in Silent Promises several years before.
Matthew is the fourth child that Mr. Edwards adopts on the show, and the first child that he has ever taken in completely on his own, without a wife.
At the beginning of the scene where Laura, Almanzo, Mr. Edwards and Jenny are eating dinner together, there is a camera shot of the outside of the Wilder home. You can see that they tried to make it look like it was nighttime, but you can totally tell that it isn't. The pieces of sky that you can see are sunny, and there is sunlight bouncing off the ground. However, when Jenny goes to the barn shortly after to bring food to Matthew, it is pitch black outside.
At the beginning of the episode, Jeb Carter makes a comment to Jenny about how if she went into the "Wild Boy" tent, he'd hold her hand so she wouldn't be scared. Even under Little House's squeaky clean standards, it's clear as day that Jeb likes her, just as he indicated in the season premiere Times are Changing, and yet this is the last time in the series that the audience senses that. That fairly underdeveloped story arc was dropped at this point and never worked with again.
When Jeb, Jason, Jenny, and Nancy sneak into the tent to see "The Wild Boy," notice Nancy's wig. Right before she goes to poke the Wild Boy, and right after Jenny pushes her to the ground, one side of her wig is hiked up, as if it's not attached tightly enough to her head.
Notice Matthew's face in the scene where he is going crazy in the middle of the night. The actor playing Matthew is totally laughing as the character is supposed to be terrified, and because they did so many close-ups of his face, it is noticeable.
Actor Jonathan Hall Kovacs, who makes his first appearance in this episode as the mute Matthew Rogers, is also deaf in real life.
Laura: These are my sign language books. They can teach you to talk with your hands.
Mr. Edwards: They can?
Laura: It's the way deaf people talk.
Mr. Edwards: Matthew can hear just fine.
Laura: But he can't talk, can he?
Mr. Edwards: That's right, he can't. Trying to understand that boy is about as easy as scratching your ear with your elbow!
Laura: Well, I can change that. I can teach Matthew how to talk with his hands, and I can teach you and Jenny how to understand him.
Jenny: Wouldn't that be wonderful?
Mr. Edwards: You think you can? I'm kind of a bonehead.
Laura: (laughs) I know I can.
Jenny: Well, Doctor? What's wrong with him?
Doc Baker: I think Matthew's suffering from morphinism. It's a condition that affects normal behavior due to the extended use of morphine. I saw quite a bit of it after the war.
Laura: Well, how would he have gotten that way?
Doc Baker: My guess is that McQueen has been using his elixir to keep the boy sedated.
Mr. Edwards: I'm sorry, Doc, i don't see the connection.
Doc Baker: Isaiah, that elixir that McQueen is peddling probably has a morphine base. I'd have to test it to be sure. Anyway, all he had to do was give the boy large doses of the elixir, and he was able to control his moods.
Mr. Edwards: You mean, that's why the boy was acting crazy?
Doc Baker: Exactly. When he wants the boy to go wild, all he has to do is withhold the solution, just long enough for the boy's need to bring on the violence.
Jenny: How could anybody do that to a boy?
Doc Baker: Oh, Jenny.....that and worse may have been done to him. I examined Matthew's throat. At some point in his life, he swallowed some lye, and that's why he can't speak. I hope to God it wasn't done deliberately.
Laura: It's him! It's the Wild Boy!
Jenny: But he's not wild!
Almanzo: I said keep away from him! There's no telling what he's gonna do.
Jenny: Please! Won't you just listen to me? He's not wild, I tell you! He's a mute! (walks over to Matthew) It'll be all right, Matthew. They won't hurt you. His name's Matthew. He can't talk, but he can hear. He scratched his name in the dirt over there. The reason he acts this way is because Dr. McQueen keeps him locked up in that cage. You'd act wild, too!
Laura: I can't believe anybody would do something like this.
Almanzo: What I can't understand is how he got here. Jenny, how long have you known about this?
Jenny: (pauses) Just today. Well, see, some of us sneaked into the tent to see him. We were just gonna take a quick peek and leave, honest. Nancy started teasing him and hitting him with a cane. Well, I stopped her. When I was putting the cane back, he reached down and touched my arm. He was scared, and he had this look on his face like.....well, now I know that all he wanted was for someone to help him.
Almanzo: And then he followed you home?
Jenny: (nods) Uncle Manzo, do we have to tell Dr. McQueen where he is? All he's gonna do is lock him back up in that.....in that jail!
McQueen: (after the wild boy escapes, and the community is setting out to look for him) Please do not shoot at the boy. Remember, he's as afraid of you as you are of him.
Man: After what I saw, McQueen, I find that pretty hard to believe. I mean, if a cage can't hold him--
McQueen: Please. Please--
John: Dr. McQueen, we all heard you tell us how dangerous the boy is, and now you'll telling us he's not?
Jason: Hey Pa, are you going in to see the Wild Boy?
John: No, I don't think so. The whole idea of putting somebody on display seems kind of cruel.
Harry L. Wolf was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Television Series for The Wild Boy, Part 1.
Featured character: Mr. Edwards
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