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Recap / Little House On The Prairie S 10 E 3 The Last Farewell

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The final chapter of Little House on the Prairie TV series, which brings about an irrevocable end.

Make no mistake ... for Walnut Grove (at least to viewers), this was "The Last Farewell."

Charles and Caroline Ingalls have enjoyed success in the city for quite a while now. Feeling nostalgic, they decide to return to Walnut Grove for old times' sake. Things are looking up for everyone as the happy community looks ahead to the future and the Ingallses and Wilders remark back on all the memories they've made here on this land. Jason is rather annoyed that Jeb seems to do nothing but tease him, but the brothers make peace and Jason is excited to be raising a healthy group of bunny rabbits along with Nancy, who is behaving like her usual self.

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Unfortunately, the greed of a railroad tycoon is about to seal the demise of everything the people of Walnut Grove have worked for. Nathan Lassiter has taken advantage of a recent congressional act. The land Walnut Grove and several neighboring communities exist on remained untouchable because of the neighboring Indian settlements, but with the country sending the Indians off to reservations and treaties being drawn, the deed to the entire territory became fair game, and Lassiter purchased it.

Lassiter sends a surveyor to town to get a decent examination of the town, before later arriving to announce his ownership of Hero Township, and that everyone is now a part of a company town. The citizens of Walnut Grove react with outrage, because they've worked their lives to own the land they live on and now it's been stolen out from under them. Even though Lassiter is willing to provide everyone work, nobody in Walnut Grove wants to have the livelihood of the community ruined by the man's ambitions, which are sure to bring with them an agenda and rob the people of the kind atmosphere they built up and cherish their town for.

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With the deed legally in the possession of Lassiter, Walnut Grove's people admit there is nothing they can do to stop the takeover of the town. Despite Reverend Alden's desire to uphold peace and the Christian way, it isn't long before the rumblings of hostility erupt between Lassiter's men, who arrive to assume control over the land and force out any non-compliant people.

This spurs several acts of aggression; Almanzo buys a shotgun at the behest of Laura. Refusing to answer to Lassiter, Almanzo demands the man leave, but Lassiter knuckles down and demands the Wilders leave their home. Almanzo loses his temper and slugs Lassiter, and then a brawl ensues between the hired men, Almanzo, and Sherwood. It is one-sided, forcing Caroline to fire a warning shot with the shotgun to drive away the men, which induces Lassiter to call upon the mounted US Army so he can have decisive reign of Walnut Grove.

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Almanzo has a breakdown offscreen as he realizes there's no fighting Lassiter, and the Wilders pack up their belongings and vacate the large house gifted to them by someone now deceased, her own dream now dead with her. Brokenhearted and breaking down, Laura takes out her rage on a home she no longer owns, destroying the plates and windows.

John Carter arrives in an irate Walnut Grove with a massive supply of dynamite meant for a blasting operation, but abandons this job as soon as he learns Walnut Grove is going down the drain. The people are swayed by Laura's admission that breaking some windows made her feel better, and unfortunately, after Mr. Carter offers to donate his cargo to the people, the rest of the town decides to utilize John's dynamite to blow Walnut Grove to kingdom come to spite Nathan Lassiter, slaughtering the spirit of Reverend Alden, who is against this action but can do nothing to stop it. If Lassiter wants to kill Walnut Grove, then the townspeople are going to bury it.

One by one, the people of Walnut Grove empty out their homes and businesses, taking everything they can carry with them and leaving behind the shells of their gutted abodes, which are all loaded up with enough explosives to bring the buildings down. The first one to be blown sky high is the most tragic loss- the beautiful Wilder estate. Gone in a flash of explosions, timbers and shards of glass catapult into the air, forever silencing a dream home and a dream life. Jason tearfully releases his bunnies into the wild outside the little house, unable to take so many with them and live to see them grow.

As the entire community gathers for one very sad and final sendoff of Walnut Grove, Reverend Alden gives a farewell eulogy to the town... and in a very quiet atmosphere of lamentation, Mr. Edwards, Dr. Baker, Nels and Willie slam down the plungers that gradually strip away more and more of Walnut Grove's scenery from the landscape, reducing nearly everything to a mountain of rubble. The only places not touched are the church — though it still takes damage from the ensuing blasts — and the sacred little house over in Plum Creek, which has nothing to do with this act of defiance. Rev. Alden sobs as he looks upon the demise of the town and stares at the sign which bears the name of the late Lars Hanson, who founded the town. The loss of it has caused yet another tragic reminder of his passing, and removed his namesake from history, an affront and insult to Hanson's memory which Rev. Alden can never take back.

Nathan Lassiter arrives with a calvary unit to find Walnut Grove in ruins, and furiously demands that the citizens be arrested. However, there's one thing Lassiter didn't count on: while he owned the land to Walnut Grove, he didn't own the buildings. In other words, what the people did was perfectly legal. A group of important people from the neighboring towns is stunned by what they see, and they sour on Lassiter, claiming that if this is what he plans to do in their communities, they'll also give him the same treatment by demolishing them. Lassiter's plans are foiled, and Walnut Grove did not die in vain, delighting the Rev. Alden with a silver lining.

The citizens of the former Walnut Grove now file out in a final march, singing the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers"... before scattering across the lands to find new homes and start over... their last time together. The Ingallses at least have somewhere to go back to in the city, and the Olesons have relatives waiting for them (Nels must go tend to his ill wife Harriet who remains holed up at his aunt's place in convalescence), but others will either remain to help rebuild Walnut Grove or leave and endure hardship anew to eke out a better existence. Young couples like Laura and Almanzo and Willie and Rachel are sad to leave, but where one story ends, another can begin, and we know they will succeed wherever they go.

Meanwhile, as the group bids the last farewell to their old and buried home, they all go past another famous house, which still stands. The little house on the prairie, still as pristine as the day the Ingalls family first built it. Jason's bunnies have decided to remain where they are for the time being ... symbolizing hope for rebirth and newness of life.

Farewell, Little House on the Prairie... Farewell.

Tropes associated with this episode:

  • Back for the Finale: Michael Landon and Karen Grassle reprise their roles as Charles and Caroline Ingalls.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Since Mr. Lassiter is so fond of exploiting legal loopholes for his own financial gain, Charles and Nels meet with their counsel and find one that would be the perfect counter: You might own the land, but we own the buildings.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The destruction of Walnut Grove to thwart ruthless, unethical and downright mean railroad tycoon Nathan Lassiter, whose stated goal was to bring economic wealth to the town but fell way short on providing the catch.
  • Bookends: Just like in the pilot, the Ingalls family is lawfully displaced from their home because of a redrawing of territory that makes it illegal for them to stay on land now no longer theirs to own, only it affects everyone in Walnut Grove.
  • Doomed Hometown: The decision by the townspeople to wipe out their own town with dynamite and leave behind nothing for Mr. Lassiter, forcing him to — if he wants the town that badly — rebuild from scratch. Except for the church and the Ingalls' farmstead, the last links to Lars Hanson's legacy, six years after his death, are sacrificed to derail Lassiter's plans.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mr. Lassiter has a wife who appears in one scene, where he kisses her.
  • Everything Explodes Ending: See Trash the Set, below.
  • Everything's Better With Bunnies: The episode takes place in the weeks leading up to Easter, the final scenes taking place on Easter Sunday. In the ending, a subplot (where Jason and Nancy were trying to raise bunnies) merges with the main plot, as a lot of bunnies appear and are seen hopping around the town. It is symbolism for a new beginning for Walnut Grove, one that will not involve Nathan Lassiter.
  • Grand Finale: The explosive ending of the series.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The townspeople destroying the homes and business buildings they own to thwart Mr. Lassiter's plans of not only taking over the land, but the town as well. The mayors and town leaders of other nearby towns that Lassiter had been eyeing get wind of this and tell him quite bluntly that they plan to do the same to their towns if he even so much as steps foot in them. Lassiter's plan is foiled — he was informed by the colonel post-mortem that Walnut Grove's actions were perfectly legal — and he leaves a defeated man. Rev. Alden calls out, "Walnut Grove did not die in vain!" as the people celebrate and vow to rebuild Walnut Grove, stronger than ever.
  • Hollywood Law: Unfortunately, the legal loophole the townspeople exploit does not exist in Real Life. Ownership of land includes ownership of the permanent structures that are on the land, that is, the buildings. This means that Lassiter really did own the buildings, and the townspeople — in Real Life — would all have been arrested for destruction of property.
  • Legal Loophole: The reason railroad tycoon Nathan Lassiter owns the land that Walnut Grove sits on. The townspeople find one of their own that makes for the explosive ending.
  • Trash the Set: To prevent the set from being reused for projects he didn't want to see NBC use it for, Michael Landon devised the explosive ending where all the major buildings on the lot — except for the church and the famous "Little House" — would be destroyed.
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