March 12th, 1994 :: episode #35

Life and Death

Tom Jennings, Dorothy's son, shows up in Loren's store one day when Mike and the kids are there shopping. He's a Civil War Veteran with an old war injury -- his leg was almost blown off. Dorothy asks Mike to treat him when he complains of pain in his seemingly healed leg. She gives him a syringe of morphine for the pain, not noticing his blissful expression. Mike invites he, Dorothy and Loren to dinner. During dinner, Colleen develops a crush on him. Sully's suspicion is piqued when Tom leaves and he forgets to use his cane.

The next day, Tom returns to Mike, telling her his leg hurts. She treats him, but denies him her last vial of morphine, which she's saving for an emergency. Later that day, Loren catches Tom slipping a vial of patent medicine from the store under his coat. When Dorothy confronts Tom, he replies that the pain just got to him, and complains that Mike won't give him any morphine. Later that night, he goes out and tries to mooch free drinks at the saloon. Later still, he breaks into the clinic searching for Mike's bag, then he breaks into the homestead itself. In the melee, and having no idea who the masked man is that has his hand over Colleen's face, Mike shoots him in the leg, upon which she must now operate The family races into town, Tom in tow. Dorothy is outraged, "You shot Tom?" Colleen immediately manifests signs of trauma; she doesn't want to leave Mike's side.

After the operation, in which Mike manages to save Tom's leg, Mike exhibits some trauma of her own -- she's never shot a man before. The next day at school, Brian acts out the events of the night before, and Colleen, sickened at the memory, leaves school with a "stomach ache." Mike tells Dorothy Tom's addicted; Dorothy is angered -- "Tommy would never do something like that just to feel good." They hear Tom scream -- his leg is hemorrhaging and must come off. Later, when Mike's morphine does come in, she refuses to give any to Tom.

At the homestead, Sully enters to find two disturbing sights -- Brian's play-acting with guns and Colleen, dark rings around her eyes, refuses to go to school. Sully explains to Brian that guns are bad, but he's at a loss as to how to handle the Colleen situation. Later, Mike and Dorothy butt heads when Mike initially refuses Dorothy's repeated requests to medicate Tom with the morphine. Sully warns Mike that Colleen's going through some trauma of her own -- Mike says she would have noticed.

At the homestead, Mike and Sully encounter Colleen, barricaded into the cabin with a shotgun in her lap. Colleen collapses in Mike's arms, "Tom seemed so nice... Why'd he want to hurt us?" -- Mike comforts her and apologizes for not noticing her distress. Mike, questioning modern medicine, consults Cloud Dancing about different, non-addicting forms of pain killers. He assures Mike that Indians learn through trial and error as well, and she departs the reservation with willow bark, also known as aspirin. When she returns with the willow bark, Dorothy demands that Mike give Tom the morphine instead, but she firmly refuses.

Later, Tom goes through morphine withdraw. Jake and Sully are there to assist. Jake's traumatized when he realizes that's what he was like during his D.T.'s. When Loren and Dorothy go upstairs to visit Tom, he attacks Dorothy viciously, telling her she was a crummy mother. Dorothy now realizes Mike was right. She's crushed. Later, Mike talks with Colleen about confronting her fears. A seemingly reformed Tom accepts a job in his Uncle Loren's shop. Colleen and Mike visit, where he apologizes to Colleen for traumatizing her. She seems okay about it, and makes her way back to school. The next day, Tom leaves town with Loren's cash box, Mike comforts Dorothy, and they make peace with each other.