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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When the overbearing patriarch of a family becomes financially ruined, he loses his mind and in a fit of rage shoots his wife and daughter. A passerby finds them and alerts Doc Baker. While they are recovering, the menfolk of Walnut Grove go looking for the husband/father. Unbeknownst to them, he finds his way to the Laura/Almonzo's house, where Jenny, Laura, and Baby Rose are alone. The deranged man thinks that he is talking to his wife/daughter and when he finds Baby Rose, he suspects that the baby belongs to his daughter, and plots to do away with the baby to save the family's 'dignity.' Laura and Jenny play along with his delusion hoping that help will arrive in time. It results in a shootout with the menfolk of Walnut Grove and the deranged man.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The mind is a fragile thing. It can take so much, and yet one small
push can snap it like a twig. This is the story of Thomas Stark, a
good, hard working family man. He's got a loving wife named Constance,
and a daughter named Elizabeth who has fallen head over heels for local
boy Randall Page, much to her Pa's chagrin. As I said, Stark was a good
man, but deep within rough, but loving exterior lay a simmering volcano
on the verge of eruption. A walking stick of TNT just waiting for
somebody to drop a match. This wasn't helped by the fact that up till
now Stark has met with constant misfortune. He and his family had all
but lost everything, and now with a drought on, his crop was as good as
finished. Today, he headed to Sleepy Eye to take out another loan, only
to find out the other bankers who had loaned to him had spread the word
that he never paid any of it back, only invested it in grain futures,
which never came to pass. In short, he was going to lose his property
and all his possessions in three days. Well, that was the push he
needed. Thomas Stark went completely and utterly insane. He caused a
scene in the mercantile and forced his wife home, then he screamed at
Elizabeth in front of the other children, mainly because she was
talking' to that Page boy again. Once they were home, Stark pulled a
gun and shot them, then the loony toon mounted his horse and rode off.
Fortunately Constance and Elizabeth weren't killed, as Doc Baker, Hester Sue and Etta Plum looked after them. Edwards, Almanzo, John and some other men formed a search party and headed out after Stark. That night a fierce storm hit, and through the lightning and thunder, Jeb and Jason Carter were sure they saw a strange man on a horse looking at their house. He disappeared just as quickly as he came. Could it be the... Headless Horseman, only with a head? Not too far away, Laura heard a horse pull up. Figuring it was Almanzo, she went outside to greet him, only to find it was not her husband, but a drunk, crazed Stark who had now completely lost touch with reality. He took Laura to be Constance and also mistook Jenny for Elizabeth, and proceeded to hold them hostage in their own home. To make matters worse, Stark found Rose and assumed her to be his grandchild by way of Elizabeth fooling around with that Page boy. I guess not knowing what else to do, Laura told Stark to pick up and hold the baby... a psychopath who attempted to murder his family and is now holding two women hostage...yeah, that's the kind of man you can trust with your baby. So after a while, Stark finally fell asleep, at which point Laura procured Rose and told Jenny to hide with her in the storm cellar while she tried to get rid of their unwelcome guest. Unfortunately her attempts her futile and Stark forced her back into the house, uncovering Jenny and Rose's hiding place because he tipped over the cliché lantern. Thankfully the girls were safe and in the process, Stark was wounded so Jenny was sent to get some water. Fortunately she ran into the search party. Edwards, Almanzo, John and the others rode to the Wilder house and ordered Stark to give himself up, but the delusional fool wouldn't give up without a fight, so he went out there, gun drawn. In the end, Thomas Stark was put out of his misery. A sad end for a sad man.
This episode was wonderfully acted, but really not one of my favorites. It's very intense, very dark, dramatic and tough to watch. Robert Loggia was very good as Thomas Stark, playing him as such an evil, violent man and yet, he still garnished a bit of sympathy. I wouldn't really recommend this episode as I really don't know what the point was in making it. This show broke so much dark and tragic grounds in the past (Mary going blind, Mary and Adam's baby being burned alive, the Sylvia two-parter to name a few), but I guess nothing that went so far as a guy actually shooting his wife and daughter. That was a new one. So "Rage", which this episode has plenty of, is not one that I like very much. I don't think it needed to be made, but I'm sure many viewers will disagree with me. So if you like dark drama, you like Little House and you like Robert Loggia, then give "Rage" a viewing. I also recommend all of Season 9 which has some great episodes, some crappy ones, and some in-betweeners. My favorite Season 9 episodes were Little Lou, For the Love of Blanche, Alden's Dilemma, The Older Brothers, A Child With No Name, Marvin's Garden, Love and The Wild Boy, with my least favorites being Rage, Sins of the Father and Welcome to Olesonville. Those of you fans who say Season 9 isn't any good, try watching it first.
This is a pretty dark episode about a man who finally cracks when his
dishonest ways keeps him from getting money his family needs. He's also
not happy that his daughter is seeing a boy he doesn't approve of. Out
of anger, he flips and shoots his wife and daughter.
What follows is a night of terror when the man holds Laura, Jenny, and Rose hostage while Almanzo and the other men are out looking for him.
I'm disappointed that it doesn't show Jenny catching up with the men to tell them what happened. I'm also disappointed that it didn't show the family reunion scene. I think Almanzo needed more air time and moments where he was shown to be a loving husband/father/uncle. But I guess Laura is the star of the show...
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