"Little House on the Prairie" Be My Friend (TV Episode 1978) Poster

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There's a secret in the woods...
tropico_sunsplash21 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A young woman by the name of Anna (Lenora May) is enduring multiple hardships. She is pregnant, and the father is presently not part of her life, primarily because of her dad's overzealous and misguided religious beliefs. His rage and controlling behavior stems from his wife leaving the marriage for another man. He believes the devil that was inside his wife is also part of Anna. She's done a good job of hiding her growing stomach from him, but she is about due to deliver and has to act fast. She pretends to go to the creek to fetch water and hides inside a makeshift shelter to give birth. In the meantime, a bad storm starts.

Anna returns to their home happy and relieved that her baby has been born. Things start to get a bit questionable here. It's unclear where she's getting all these bottles, or how she got the animal skins out of the house to cover the hole her baby was hidden in without her father noticing they were gone. He constantly keeps her under his thumb, yet these missing objects are overlooked? And the scene where the stick Laura throws into the creek that dislodges a bottle which "happens" to stop at the point she's halted at to look at a bullfrog is too convenient. Although Charles gives Laura the third degree for coming home late, she returns to the creek and receives a loch of Anna's hair and later a photograph. Armed with this new evidence, Laura is more determined then ever to find this mysterious friend. Another plot hole is present when Charles asks her point blank about why finding Anna is so important and she simply replies "I don't know". She must have some reason in mind, or else why would she disobey him and go through all this? Laura and Charles trek for miles along the creek. Anna is hiding in the woods and spots them. Her baby starts to cry and they find her hidden in a hole with another note. Laura bonds instantly with "Grace", her new name for the (apparently) abandoned child. They take the infant home and care for it. Charles visits Doc Baker and discovers a town on a map where Anna might be. After questioning a preacher/fire chief, he finds the child's father, who is still very much in love with Anna. He joins in the search. Anna leads a pretty isolated life far out in the middle of nowhere. After traveling for about a week they still have found no trace of her. But bad luck strikes when Anna's father accidentally sees them while going through the woods. He runs back and confronts Anna, accusing her of seeing the father this whole time, and going off about how the devil has brought upon this incident. In a rage he throws a lantern and the house catches on fire. He blocks Anna as she races to the front door, claiming that "sinners" must burn in the fires of hell. She pushes him off and he hits his head on the way down. As the flames rise, she drags his unconscious body out of the house, and the next day Charles and Anna's lost love find her. They leave, but Charles stay with her father.

When he comes to, he sees that Anna has gone and says that the devil has won. Charles urges him to leave the house, which has been burned to the ground, but he refuses. Charles returns home and Laura tearfully returns Grace to Anna in a scene that is so bittersweet that it would melt Ebenezer Scrooge's heart. With the exception of a few minor glitches, the entire cast puts in a great performance, especially Laura. And Lenore is a wonderfully complex actress who really brought her role in the show to life. It's a shame she didn't become a more permanent fixture on the show, like Albert Ingalls did over time.
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Be my friend
Michelle Palmer15 July 2013
This is one of those special ninety minute episodes. It's a bit odd in that Laura finds a message in a bottle (isn't that profound?) and starts looking for more bottles. Soon, she gets into a bit of trouble. Her father even threatens to spank her.

The story soon takes a twist when Laura and her father are out and find more than a bottle. They find a baby. Laura naturally adopts the baby. Her maternal instincts kick in and she prays to God to let her keep it. She doesn't think the mother deserves to have the baby after giving her up.

But Charles, the Social Worker that he is, gets to the bottom of things and learns the truth. It's handled very well. The message is clear: sex outside of marriage is wrong, but if it's going to be done, you must take responsibility for your actions.
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A Good Heart and A Strong Faith Moves Mountains and Brings Friends Together...
ExplorerDS678916 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
We open on Anna Mears, a girl who is shy and timid, thanks to her abusive, religious father. Well, she manages to elude her Bible thumping old man long enough to send a message in a bottle down the creek, which was found the next by Laura Ingalls. The message requested whoever found it to become a friend. Because they didn't sign it, Laura had no idea who sent it and this baffled her all night and day, until she returned to the creek to see if any more messages had come. Sure enough, there was a second bottle. This one contained a message describing her elusive new friend as well as a lock of her hair. This baffled her even further and by the time she'd finished investigating, it was very late and Charles was furious. He ordered her upstairs and demanded to know where she was, he even threatened to take a switch to her...Um, calm down, Charles, it's not like this is the first time she's ever come home late. Laura explains her predicament about her new friend and the bottles. She's simply hell-bent on finding this person. Charles tries to tell her to just forget about it because it was probably an impossible feat. The messages could have come from anywhere, and as much as Laura wanted to help this lonely individual, it was an impracticality. However despite his warnings, Laura went back to creek and sure enough, there was a third bottle. This contained a photograph...I wonder what the next one will have. Well, more determined than ever to find her new friend, Laura goes back to the creek with Charles the next day and in lieu of bottles, this time they find a baby. An abandoned wailing baby somebody had left near a tree. Charles deduces it was Laura's friend. He goes off to find her, while Laura changed the baby's diaper, discovering it to be a girl. Anna had seen the whole thing and could now rest easier, knowing her baby was in capable hands. Question: how did she manage to hide her pregnancy from her old man, who seems to watch her like a hawk, and for that matter, how did she deliver the baby alone or take care of it in all that time? Well, no need to worry about that now, the baby was here and Laura took her in as her own. She received a clean bill of health from Doc Baker, Laura named her Grace (an overused Little House name) and they all lived happily ever after... well, they would have, except Charles wanted to find the baby's mother, and find out whether or not she meant to give it away. Laura was perfectly happy with her new baby, loving it with all her heart and everything was fine, but Charles, being the sanctimonious idiot that he was, just had to venture off to the nearest town to begin his fools' quest of finding the baby's true parentage.

Upon arriving in town, Charles speaks with the Reverend Pritchard, who worked as the fire captain the other 6 days. Having no idea where Anna and her Pa had moved, he does point out someone who was very close with Anna, one Bobby Harris. Seems he and Anna were an item, until her father took her away and threatened the boy with death if he ever saw her again. He just had to find her, and Charles somehow felt it was his duty to reunite them...makes sense. And so, Charles and Bobby rode alongside the creek into the deepest parts of the woods. Unfortunately, old Nathaniel Mears sees them and assumes Anna somehow brought...HIM. He tries to pump his daughter for a confession and in his blind rage, throws a lantern which sets the cabin ablaze. After all, it's not Little House on the Prairie without something catching fire. Nathaniel grabs Anna and assumes its God's will that they burn like the sinners they are. In her desperate attempt to get away, Anna knocked him down, rendering him unconscious, and quickly dragged him from the flames. Bobby and Anna are tearfully reunited and leave together. Nathaniel comes to, realizes "the devil" has won and stays in the woods all by himself in the remains of his burnt out cabin; so in the end, Laura has to reluctantly say farewell to her Grace and hand her over to her birth mother, who promised to let her keep the name Grace. I guess you could call it a happy ending, though more for some than others.

My verdict: good episode, although it's laden with plot holes and it's just a bit too long, it's still good. I must say, though, I did not like Charles in this episode. What he basically did was like giving a child a puppy and then taking it away. He knew Laura would become attached to the baby, so he let her and then he took it away from her. I also did not like the actors who played Anna and Bobby, Lenora May and Michael Mullins, respectively. They were not very convincing in their performances and at no point did I feel sympathy for either character. I guess maybe it was easier to side with Laura in this one because everyone likes babies. Don't deny it. Hearing the crying just bundles your nerves. We wanted the child out of harm's way and into the best care, in this case it was Laura, and she was so happy. But then along comes Charles to inject a heavy dose of reality, as do the baby's mentally challenged parents. I guess it depends who you are and how your feelings on this matter on who's side you take, but if you take Nathaniel's side, then you are messed up, brother. So, give this episode a chance, I say. It's not the best, but's really good, and Melissa Gilbert was magnificent.
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