Episode 4.1: Tug of War
Writer: Leila Basen
Director: Don McBrearty
Special Guest Star:R.H. Thomson as Jasper Dale
Original CBC Airdate: January 17, 1993
Original Disney Airdate: March 8, 1993
Run Time: 48 minutes
Time Frame: Summer 1906
Synopsis: Jasper's obnoxiously wacky relatives arrive and instantly annoy the King family with their eccentric behavior. A conflict erupts between the Kings and the Dales over the name of the new Dale baby. In the midst of the quarreling, Olivia goes into labor.
Highlights/Analysis: Jasper's relatives all happen to be eccentric, which is a nice way of saying that they're absolutely bonkers. The King family discovers that the Dales intend to remain in Avonlea until Jasper and Olivia's child is born; Although it's unknown why you would need so many individuals, most of whom are self-absorbed with bizarre rituals, to look after a child. In light of this disturbing news, Hetty requests a sabbatical to become a nursemaid for Olivia (the writers must be thinking of every possible excuse for Hetty to take a sabbatical). Olivia suggests that the baby be called Montgomery, since the name has been in the King family (and it's a great tribute to Lucy Maud of course). Both Olivia and Jasper disappear during this episode. Jasper goes to Markdale to find a job as a clerk after realizing that he needs a steady income to support his new child. Olivia disappears from King Farm when she is going into labor. Jasper eventually finds Olivia at Rose Cottage and helps deliver their baby, but is devastated to find that the infant wasn't breathing. In an excellent dramatic moment, Jasper clears the airway of the infant and Montgomery survives. It's unfortunate that an ending which is one of the best dramatic moments in the series had to accompany an episode that focused on slapstick humor.
Criticism: The Dale family are incredibly obnoxious. It's just assumed that since Jasper seems awkward, the rest of the family must be equally as eccentric. This however is not the case. Jasper's mother was described as being quite normal and a bit overpossessive of Jasper, which most likely caused his social awkwardness and anxiety; and not as a result of a mad genius gene as this episode seems to imply. Hetty comments about accomodating guests with the 'traditional King hospitality,' but we don't see this behavior in the past. If anything, we see the exact opposite behavior from Hetty with her treatment toward Louisa Banks and Blair Stanley. In fact, the 'traditional King hospitality' was never mentioned before this. There was some bad dialogue in this episode, particlarly when Olivia says, "Oh Jasper, everybody likes you. I like you."
How come the writers didn't tell the fans that Olivia was pregnant in the last season? Wouldn't it have made a great ending to the forgetable episode 'After the Honeymoon?'
Did they really need a Hare Krishna Dale to get their point across?
"One is plenty" -Hetty (commenting on accomodating a Dale relative).
Sap Meter: 0
Notes: (1) For some reason, Digger is now billed as 'Digger the dog' in the credits. I'm curious to what he was before this? His credit is also included before baby Daniel, so he must have some special privelages.
Grade: D- The ending saved this episode from disaster.