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This episode focuses on James and a little boy named Gideon. Gideon is
new in school,and James befriends him right off. But the kids make fun
of him because he stutters. James doesn't want to be like them, but
eventually gives in. Gideon is very upset - the one person he could
trust is no longer his friend!
James feels awful. Charles decides to take him on a trip with him where they meet a wild dog. The dog doesn't like Charles, but is taken with James. He saves them from robbers one night and a bear the next morning.
Meanwhile, Caroline joins in the search for Gideon. Why she has success where the parents fail is a mystery, but she does.
The episode is a good lesson about how untrue the sticks and stones saying is. Words do hurt - and kill friendships!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Don't let the title fool you, this episode isn't about Nancy, but it
details a certain amount of cruelty which matches that on her level. It
all started when a new student by the name of Gideon Hale started to
school. He was a shy, quiet boy and when asked his name, he was
revealed to have a stutter, which caused all the students to laugh at
him. James took him under his wing and acted as a good friend to him.
Looks like Gideon will get by...that is until after school when he saw
James laughing at Willie being an idiot and making fun of Gideon's
stutter. He was very sorry about it afterwards and Charles told him the
best way to remedy this misunderstanding was with a good, heartfelt
apology, so the next day before school, James went to the Hale house to
do just that, only to find out he'd run away. His father had been
searching for him all night with no luck, so James takes to the woods
in search of his elusive new friend. His efforts came up empty. Nobody
could find Gideon. It was as if he'd just disappeared into thin air.
James was absolutely beside himself, feeling solely responsible. In
other to help cheer the boy up, Charles invited him along on a trip to
Minneapolis. Nothing like a trip to the city to cure the blues.
En route, they stop and James takes a swim, despite the fact it's clearly winter time or late fall. Then, as he and Charles ate supper, along came a feral wolf, to whom James gave some of his stew. This caused the animal to stick to them like glue, making a very close bond with James and growling at anybody who so much as came near him. The blasted wolf followed them all the way to Minneapolis and even slept downstairs in the saloon while Charles and James checked into their room. A room above a saloon? Charles must be getting some Winoka flashbacks about now. Back in Walnut Grove, Caroline mounted her own search for Gideon and found him in an old abandoned cabin, but when he saw her, he took off running and Caroline just stood there yelling his name as opposed to simply running after him. Back in Minneapolis, two hold-up men followed Charles and James to the saloon and planned to rob them. Thankfully James' pet wolf put the fear of God in those two thugs and chased them down the street. Probably gave them rabies, well, it would serve them right. Elsewhere, Caroline managed to find Gideon again and successfully reached out to him and convince him to come home. He followed her, but decided against going back to school. So when the Ingalls men returned home, James went off to see Gideon and once again try to apologize. His parents told him to get lost, until they met James' wolf. It really took a liking to Gideon and his folks, and let's just see anybody try and mess with that kid now. So it all worked out and James and Gideon were friends again and everybody was happy and we never see or hear of Gideon or the wolf again.
Pretty good episode, one of the few centered around James. Now most people seemed to have a problem with the Ingallses' adopting James and Cassandra, but not me. Sure they don't have real life counterparts, but they were still a welcomed addition. For performances in this episode, Peter "Red Ryder BB Gun" Billingsley plays Gideon was very good, so was Jason Bateman as James. This episode's main plot sounds like it's recycled from Season 3's "The Music Box" where Laura befriends a girl with a stutter, and the only one really being mean to her was Nellie. Well, I say check out this episode, as well as Season 8, which I am happy to have now critiqued each episode of said season. Some were great, some were crap. My favorite Season 8 episodes would have to be The Legend of Black Jake, A Christmas They Never Forgot, Chicago, Uncle Jed and The Legacy, and my least favorites were For the Love of Nancy, Stone Soup, Gambini the Great, Dark Sage and Wave of the Future, but on the whole, it's a very solid season and pretty much the last regular season before the show underwent a change. This episode was one of about 4 James-centered episodes, and I wonder why they didn't make any Cassandra-centered stories. Maybe when he got older and if she stayed with the show. Anyway, if you like them, you like Little House, check out this episode and Season 8. Entertainment for the ages.
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