Little House on the Prairie

Season 9 Episode 2

Times are Changing (2)

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Oct 04, 1982 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
54 votes

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Episode Summary

Times are Changing (2)
As Royal attempts to cling to the final days of his life, he asks Almanzo and Laura to keep his illness a secret from Jenny. The 10-year-old is distraught when the inevitable occurs, and she resents her aunt and uncle for hiding the truth from her. Jenny slips into a silent depression, and while Laura and Almanzo decide that it's best to give her space, that proves to be a grave mistake. Meanwhile, young Jeb Carter harbors a secret that is increasingly difficult to hide from his family and friends.moreless

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  • Drastic changes in the Little House tradition are met with new characters, some classic old favorites, and a (surprisingly) solid start to Season 9.

    I have to admit that I was as sad as everyone else as I watched the first 5-10 minutes of Part 1. Eliminating the Ingalls clan from the entire show for this 9th season (with the exception of Laura) was a strange move from Michael Landon, if not a risky one, and although most of the original audience wasn't pleased with the changes, I learned to appreciate this season for exactly what it was. With the new title of "Little House: A New Beginning", a handful of new characters, and plenty of old favorites that have been around since the start, I think Michael Landon had his own ideas on what this season could represent for longtime fans. Obviously, omitting Charles and Caroline Ingalls and their younger children is a disappointing loss, but the spirit of community took over this year, and personally, I liked how Laura, Almanzo, the Olesons, Mr. Edwards, and all the other Walnut Grove townies became an ensemble cast. Laura did, to some extent, catapult to "leading lady" stardom in the absence of her parents, but for the most part, none of the characters were bigger or more important than the others. I truly liked the positive vibe with the remaining characters, and because audiences felt comfortable with them as real and relatable people, the show managed to carry on just fine without the Ingalls family (and hey, at least we always have Seasons 1 through 8 to enjoy if we want a good "Charles and Caroline" fix).

    Since Laura and Almanzo's daughter Rose was still only a baby at this point, and since the writers obviously didn't want to make an age jump with her (which seems strange, since they obviously never cared much about continuity before), the show needed a new, sweet young character to bring us back to the good old "Mary and Laura" days. A nearly perfect fit was found with Shannen Doherty, a renowned actress who was only 11 years old when Michael Landon cast her. Some liked her, and some hated her, but I happen to think that Jenny Wilder was an excellent addition to the fold, with her huge smile and effervescent personality. (Watching her here, you'd never be able to guess that Doherty became such a scandalous queen of the tabloids during her teen years.) This 2-part season opener introduced the character of Jenny with quite a bang, and although long-time viewers will have a thing or two to say about the way her father Royal's storyline was completely re-written for the sake of convenience, I don't find the need to dig it all up again here. It's all been mentioned before, and we can say whatever we want about it, but the point is that Michael Landon did what he felt was necessary to open up a new plot thread, and as the head of the entire "Little House" production, he had the authority to do whatever he wanted with the characters.

    Some parts of this episode are very sweet and fun to watch with the whole family, but parents probably shouldn't share it with their children unless they want to have "the suicide talk" afterwards. Laura does do a good job of knocking some sense into Jenny at the end of the episode, and the final message is positive, but with the drawn-out drowning scene (complete with some very dramatic music in the background), younger children will have plenty of questions to ask about this. I wouldn't say that it's a completely inappropriate discussion to have with kids, but parents will want to be aware of these themes before they watch it together.

    Overall, I liked this episode very much, and it's probably even one of my top 10 favorites in the whole series. I loved the new characters that were introduced, specifically the charming and likable Carter family, who moved into the Ingalls' little house on Plum Creek. And of course, the unforgettable Olesons stuck around this season, so if you enjoyed watching their crazy antics, this is a point in the show where they took a step up with their roles. Mr. Edwards remained a part of the town, as well, serving as a surrogate parent for Laura and a hilarious foil for all of Harriet Oleson's snide remarks. Again, these are characters we've come to love and grow comfortable with over the years, and even though the show took on a new tone without the Ingalls family, there was plenty to appreciate about the new direction taken. 9/10moreless
  • Jenny wallows in self-pity, only to be smacked out of it by the Queen of Self-Pity, Laura!

    Laura's up-in-arms pep talk to Jenny in which she blasts her for being so selfish as to wish to be reunited with her parents - via suicide - is some sound advice; however, coming from Laura, isn't it a little out-of-character? How many episodes did we witness the Half-Pint run away, throw a fit, talk back to and disobey Pa, disregard advice, and otherwise indulge in totally selfish, destructive behavior in order to solace herself? A more fitting speech from Laura would have been to empathize with Jenny and say, "You know, I can relate because when I was your age - and up until about two years ago - I thought and acted just like you."moreless
Dean Butler

Dean Butler

Almanzo James Wilder (co-star prior to season 7)

Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Ketty Lester

Ketty Lester

Hester-Sue Terhune (1982-1983) (co-star 1978 - 1981)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (15)

    • At the end of the episode, when Nancy is standing outside the schoolhouse and taunting Jeb about his swimming abilities, Jeb shoots back at her, "Nancy, go jump in the lake!" Given that Jenny's recent suicide attempt involved her jumping in the lake and trying to drown herself, this probably wasn't the smartest piece of dialogue to use.

    • Jenny alternates between Pa and Papa in addressing her father throughout this two-part episode, but notice how strangely she says "Papa," especially when she is yelling out for him in the rain, and when she's sitting on the bed with him as he's dying. She pronounces it "Pop-eh," which sounds very awkward every time she says it. For that matter, Jenny seems to have a slight speech impediment, pronouncing "him" like "heem" and "told" like "towd."

    • Notice how wet Jason is when he gets out of the water, just as Jeb goes to climb up the tree. Jason remains wet for most of the remainder of that scene, but after Jeb falls, can see that Jason is completely dry. That isn't possible after being out of the water for less than three minutes.

    • In this episode, we hear Almanzo call his baby daughter "Rosie Posie" for the first time, and it quickly becomes his own special nickname for her. However, in the autobiographical books that were written by Roger Lea McBride about Rose Wilder's life, Almanzo called her his little "Prairie Rose."

    • In the first scene of the episode, when John Carter goes out to the barn to talk with Jeb, John is wearing a light blue shirt. However, when the two of them are in Doc Baker's office after Jeb breaks his arm (which takes place on the same day), John has on a much darker blue shirt.

    • Notice the scene where Jeb rescues Jenny from drowning herself. As she moves to the middle of the lake and gradually dunks herself under, the water is clearly only waist deep for her. Jeb, however, is absolutely splashing like a madman and appears to be swimming in very deep water, but if it is only waist deep for Jenny, surely it isn't any deeper for Jeb, who is just as tall as her, if not taller. The point of this scene was to show how Jeb had a swimming ability that he didn't know about, but it is still out of place, given the circumstances.

    • The way that Jeb fell out of the tree doesn't make a whole lot of sense. He went down bottom-first, in a sitting position, obviously to make it easier for actor Lindsay Kennedy to land on a trampoline, a mattress, or whatever they used to break his fall during filming. However, that is a very strange and unlikely position for a person to be in when they fall out of a tree, and furthermore, if he really did fall like that, his bottom would have probably been hurt more than his arm.

    • Notice that Reverend Alden, Doc Baker, the Wilders, and the Carters are the only ones present at Royal's funeral. The Olesons are the only other recurring characters who do not show up, and if the Carter family (who only recently moved into town and didn't know the Wilder family as well as the Olesons) was able to make it, then surely the Olesons could have, also.

    • Watch closely in the scene near the end of the episode, when Jenny is thanking Jeb for saving her life and for not telling anyone about the incident. When the camera is facing Jenny, her arms are straight down at her sides, but when the camera faces Jeb in the very next shot, you can see that Jenny is holding her books. The shots switch back and forth this way a few times throughout the scene.

    • During this episode, it appears that Jenny is swimming in the equivalent of a slip, while boys were swimming in their clothes. In this time period, boys typically skinny-dipped or wore long underwear to swim. Girls would not have swam in their underclothes, and they probably wouldn't have been with boys, either. It was possible for wealthy children like Nancy and Willie to have had fancy swimming clothes, but most children would have had to make do without them.

    • At the end of the episode, Nancy taunts Jeb by saying repeatedly, "Jeb can't swim! Jeb can't swim!" Strangely, even after Jeb jumps in the water and swims a couple strokes, she continues to chant. Seeing as Jeb never even went near the water before that, wouldn't Nancy have been surprised and stopped?

    • Almanzo calls his baby daughter "Rosie Posie" for the first time in this episode, but it's not the last time he does it. Throughout the rest of the series, he calls her either "Rosie" or "Rosie Posie" most of the time.

    • Jenny was only underwater for about 3 seconds when Jeb grabbed her and pulled her to safety, yet she was still unconscious. It's almost impossible for her to have lost consciousness after such a short time underwater.
      Reply: The human mind is a pretty powerful thing. Psychologically, if a little girl was making a suicide attempt and meeting her own death like that, it's very possible that she tuned herself completely out from the rest of the world--like an out-of-body experience, almost. That could be why she also didn't respond to Jeb screaming her name and running into the water after her. I'm not a psychologist, and I don't know if this is true, but I think it's a possibility.

    • This is the second time in the series that a grieving child attempts to hand her life over to God after talking to Reverend Alden. Talking to him urges Jenny to make an attempt at meeting her parents in Heaven, and if you remember Season 1's emotional "The Lord is My Shepherd," a young Laura spoke with the Reverend and later tried bargaining with God to take her instead of her baby brother.

    • When Jeb goes to dunk Nancy underwater at the very end of this episode, Nancy is perfectly dry in one shot, and then in the very next shot, right before Jeb dunks her, you can see she is already soaked from head to toe.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Almanzo: (about Royal) He seems a whole lot better lately.
      Laura: Yeah.
      Almanzo: Maybe all the doctors are wrong.
      Laura: No false hopes, Almanzo. You'll only make it harder.
      Almanzo: (sighs) I know.

    • John: Sit down, son.
      Jeb: Did I do something wrong?
      John: No. I was talking to your brother today. You both argue a lot, but you know he loves you. Anyway, he told me about the swimming.
      Jeb: He promised he wouldn't!
      John: He's worried about you. I would have done the same thing in his place.
      Jeb: But he lied to me!
      John: And you've been lying to me.
      Jeb: I didn't. I never said I could swim!
      John: You pretended you could. That's the same thing.

    • Jenny: (about Nancy) She's just like her mother. I've never seen two people more alike!
      Royal: I have. You and your Ma.
      Jenny: Really?
      Royal: So much alike in so many ways. Something about your mother.......people just took to her, right off. You're like that. Look at how many friends you have in the short time you've been here. You like it here, don't you?
      Jenny: Yes. It was scary at first, but I'm glad we settled here.
      Royal: Your aunt and uncle are fine people. They care a great deal for you.
      Jenny: And I for them.
      Royal: I want you to be happy here.
      Jenny: I'd be happy anywhere with you, Father. (gives him a big hug)

    • Willie: Jenny, you want to come swimming with us?
      Jenny: No, thanks, I'm going to stay here.
      Willie: You sure? It's hot. The water will feel good.
      Jenny: Some other time.
      Willie: Suit yourself. (all the kids leave)
      Royal: Why won't you go with them?
      Jenny: I want to stay with you today.
      Royal And do what? Watch me read a book? Go on.
      Jenny: Are you sure?
      Royal: Go, before I take a belt to you!
      Jenny: Thanks, Papa! (hugs him and runs off)
      Royal: (to Laura) Do you see why I can't tell her?
      Laura: (pause) I do.

    • John: How's Jenny feeling?
      Jeb: She's not good, Pa. I don't know how to explain it. She's real distant, real sad.
      John: Well, it's nice that you tried to help her.
      Jeb: I don't think it did much good.
      John: But the important thing is, you tried.

    • Jenny: (wakes up in bed) How did I get here?
      Laura: Jeb found your note. He saved your life.
      Jenny: Why didn't he let me die? It's what I wanted!
      Laura: What you wanted?? Well, maybe it's about time you started thinking of someone else besides yourself.
      Jenny: I want to be with them (meaning her parents) I love them.
      Laura: If you love them like you say you do, then you would never do anything like this, to hurt them like this! Jenny, your parents loved you more than anything else in the world. They wanted you to have everything. Everything! Your own family, children......their grandchildren! But because of your self-pity, you'll deny them everything?
      Jenny: That's not true!
      Laura: Yes it is! You talk about God and love? God put you on this Earth for a reason, just like all of us! You're strong and healthy, and you should get down on your knees and thank the Lord for what you've got! But instead, you just throw it all away, and you nearly cost an innocent boy to lose his life.
      Jenny: What?
      Laura: Yes! Jeb Carter nearly drowned trying to save you! His father told me he couldn't swim a stroke, yet he jumped into that water, and he somehow got you out! (pauses) Now, I don't want to hear any more about what you want. You start thinking about what your parents would want for you--if you love them like you say you do.

    • Jenny: I killed him.
      Laura: What?
      Jenny: He was running that day, trying to keep up with me. Why didn't you tell me he was sick? Why?
      Laura: Jenny, your father asked us not to.
      Jenny: You should have. This never would have happened if you had told me!
      Laura: Jenny, now you listen to me. Your father was very sick. Doc Baker told you that.
      Jenny: I could have taken care of him. I could have helped him live. But instead I killed him.
      Laura: Jenny, you didn't kill him.
      Jenny: Leave me alone. Get out and leave me alone!

  • NOTES (1)

    • Shannen Doherty (Jenny Wilder) once said that when she was 9 years old (2 years before this episode aired), her mother suffered a brain aneurysm, and her father had a massive stroke the following year. Nearly losing both her parents in such a short time period prompted her to close herself off from her classmates, so in that sense, Doherty connected with her character's plight in this episode.