Devastating financial reverses, prompted by the closing of the town mill, force several Walnut Grove citizens to pack up and move out as Little House on the Prairie enters it fifth season. Among those leaving are Charles Ingalls (Michael Landon), his wife, Caroline (Karen Grassle), and their younger daughters Laura (Melissa Gilbert), Carrie (Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush), and Grace (Wendi and Brenda Turnbaugh). Charles has decided to move his family closer to eldest daughter Mary (Melissa Sue Anderson), now attending a school for the blind in Winoka, Dakota Territory. As luck (and the scriptwriters) would have it, the Ingalls' neighbors the Garveys and the Olesons likewise relocate to Winoka. Upon their arrival, the Ingalls take in an orphan named Albert (Patrick Laborteaux), who returns with the family to Walnut Grove after an unexpected financial windfall enables the Ingalls, the Garveys, and the Olesons to go back where they feel they belong. This necessitates a few rousing episodes wherein the neighbors pitch together to rebuild Walnut Grove, which in their absence has fallen into a sad state of disrepair. At the same time, the Winoka blind school closes, whereupon Mary and her teacher-fiancé Adam Kendall (Linwood Boomer) set up a new school at Walnut Grove. To this end, they hire a teacher named Hester-Sue Terhune (Ketty Lester) who, much to the dismay of status- and race-conscious social arbiter Mrs. Oleson (Katherine MacGregor), turns out to be a black woman -- and who, to the surprise of absolutely no one except Mrs. Oleson, possesses more class, sophistication, and intelligence than all the Olesons combined! The two-part "Blind Journey," in which Hester-Sue is introduced, is followed by another superb episode touching upon racial prejudice, "The Craftsman," which finds young Albert befriending an elderly Jewish merchant. Season five ends with "The Odyssey," a poignant story in which Albert and Laura run away from home to keep company with their young friend, a boy dying of leukemia.
Cast & Crew
Michael Landon - Charles Ingalls
Karen Grassle - Caroline Ingalls
Melissa Sue Anderson - Mary Ingalls
Melissa Gilbert - Laura Ingalls
Lindsay Greenbush - Carrie Ingalls