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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Today's heartwarming episode of Little House starts out with probably
the most disturbing, devastating and darkest opening scene this show
has ever had. It's kind of on par with the opening to "Remember Me". A
gold mining camp was stricken with influenza and all around people are
very ill or dying. Men, woman and children. We meet Louisa Beckwith,
who is with child, she'd lost at least two prior to this one, and she's
married to a real asshole named Horace who treats her horribly. They
desperately need medical attention, but discover the doctor that had
usually come to treat them was dead. At her wits end, Louisa suddenly
thought of somebody who could help. Without wasting a minute, as she
was only given five (before the supply wagon pulled out), she penned a
letter to her old friend Caroline Ingalls in Walnut Grove. Upon
receiving the letter, Caroline wanted very much to help, and so she
requested the aide of Doc Baker, the best doctor in all of hero
township...not to mention the only doctor. Anyway, once they get their
hands on a large enough supply of medicine, Doc Baker and Caroline set
out. They were not in camp two seconds before they were bombarded with
requests to save the sick and dying. Right away, Doc Baker took charge
and put the able-bodied people to work pitching a tent. He instructed
it to be pitched in an isolated area to serve as the intensive care
area to those badly sick. Good thing he was there or nobody else would
have ever thought of doing that.
First thing, they have a look at Louisa, who was very ill, but thankfully hadn't lost the baby. Was Horace concerned for the health and well being of his wife? Nope, all he cared about was his precious supper. A gracious Caroline offered to cook it for him. So while the able-bodied men aimlessly continued panning for gold in them thar streams, Doc Baker and Caroline worked tirelessly to treat the seriously ill, having quarantined many in the isolated tent. Nothing but disease, agony, and pain all around. By morning, folks were no better, but no worse for that matter. I mean, they couldn't get any worse. At least Caroline and Louisa got to spend some quiet time together, reminiscing about their pasts. Louisa discussed several mistakes she'd made her life, like marrying Horace. Oh, he used to be such an exciting man, but then he became an abusive drunk. You know the story. Now as if things couldn't possibly or even conceivably get any worse for these people, someone had the audacity to be a thief and steal other peoples' gold, but when finding out that Preacher Bob was packin', he resigned and was forced to leave. At least one parasite was gone from this camp. Caroline still found herself taking sass from Horace, who actually admitted he never loved Louisa and he only married her for looks. He goes on to say he was glad she lost her other babies and hopes she loses this one. Horace Beckwith was a man full of hate, and if Louisa ever saw a decent guy in there then she's a total moron. Caroline manages to chase off Horace with a torch, the only way to repel a monster. Well as the weeks passed, a few fevers had broken, but then there were also a few deaths. Plus, Louisa Beckwith was finally going into labor, and with Doc Baker too busy to help and Horace not giving two craps, it looks as though Caroline will have to take charge of this one. Sadly, it took every last ounce of strength Louisa could muster, but at least the baby was healthy. Doc Baker and Caroline were presented with a problem: what to do with the baby. Louisa was gone, Horace didn't want it. Caroline wanted to give the baby to Sherman and Helen Andruss, a friendly couple in camp. Helen had just recently lost her baby and Doc Baker was hesitating on breaking it to Sherman, who was waiting outside the tent. Hearing Louisa's baby cry, Sherman ran into the tent, thinking it was his baby. Helen would be okay, and you couldn't find a happier man than Sherman Andruss at that moment. They did the right thing; Well, sir, in another week the epidemic was over, and Caroline and Doc Baker could go home. Before they departed, the whole camp gave them a round of thanks and Preacher Bob took up a collection in terms of a small bag of gold. They bid farewell, and the folks at that mining camp all lived happily ever after, except Horace, who was never happy.
This one was really good, yet hard to watch in many places. As I said the opening is dark and disturbing, seeing so many people deathly ill and in agony. Throughout the episode there is a very dark and depressing atmosphere and it never lets up, and there's no telling what might happen next; Karen Grassle and Kevin Hagen were fantastic. I wonder if Karen wanted this episode to be her swan song, since after her short appearances in the season finale two-parter, she left the show. If this was meant to be her farewell performance, it was definitely one for the ages. Also good was Cal Barlett as the thoroughly unlikeable Horace, yet another nasty character added to Little House's roster. Cal displayed that loathsome creature to a tee. Ruth Silveira was very good as Louisa, very convincing. Don and Pamela Balluck wrote a fantastic episode and Maury Dexter went above and beyond his directorial duties. Little House fans, I say give A Faraway Cry a look. Again, it's difficult to watch in a few places, it's dark and depressing, but it is wonderfully acted and has a great message.
In a small gold-mining camp, there is an influenza epidemic going on.
People are dying. Many are sick. Two women are expecting babies. Then
unthinkable has happened: the camp doctor died from the disease. Though
one woman was in good health and had a loving husband who made sure she
didn't do too much, the other woman woman had a husband who treated her
like a slave. He was mean and over-demanding. They'd already lost two
babies, and he hoped she lost this one too. Louisa needed help, so she
called on her best friend, Caroline Ingalls.
She and the doctor come to their camp. She mostly stays with Louisa and assures her demanding husband that she'd see to his meals. Louisa was put on bed rest and ordered to stay there for the remainder of her pregnancy. During this time, Caroline and Louisa were able to talk. They talked about when they were kids and their dreams. Louisa told Caroline about how her and her husband ended up together and that she loved him. When Caroline questioned the husband, though, he gave her a different story - one that would break Louisa's heart to know!
The other friend became ill. Caroline was having to take care of both women now, and when their time came to deliver, Caroline stayed with Louisa while Dr. Baker helped the other mother along. One mother died and one baby died. Ethics took over when Caroline wanted the live mother to have the surviving baby. Did they make their right decision? I think so, but it's a matter of ethics. Back then the blood and genetics of the child wouldn't have mattered much medically I suppose, but I wonder if Dr. Baker may have told them the truth. Before they left, the man told the doctor "Thank you for everything you did." Perhaps he did tell the father...
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