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Dr. Quinn Medicine Mondays: The ballad of Grandma and Brian

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “The Visitor” | Aired Jan 9, 1993

Brian has recovered from his influenza (THANK GOD) and Emily has been diagnosed with anemia, which Dr. Quinn is treating with rusty water. That’s right, my little pioneers—it’s time for another installment of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. As we continue the tireless journey into the Wild West, we’re going to explore the world of Dr. Michaela Quinn, Sully, and the gang. Fortunately, this week, we’re joined by Dr. Mike’s mom, which is hilarious, because she comes to visit after hearing Michaela was dying from influenza—it would have been too late if she had died, MOM.

Anyway, Elizabeth Quinn is the best character, by so much, because as she offloads her wagon in her blush-and-black dress, she immediately throws shade at everyone and asks where the hotel is. SLAY, GIRL. She catches Michaela up on what’s going on, and despite her persistent sass, Brian LOVES Grandma Elizabeth. He even invites Grandma to go swimming, but she declines. He offers to watch for snakes for her, and she declines again. Then he asks Colleen No. 1 to go swimming, and SHE declines. Watching Brian is like watching a reflection of myself on Tinder. Keep your chin up, soldier—you’ll win Grandma over, I’m sure.

Mr. Bray, who is totes smitten by Elizabeth, asks if she’s come to take Michaela back to Boston so that she can marry a man and “do as a woman should,” but Dr. Quinn clearly learned from Elizabeth because she shuts him down so hard. There’s so much sexual tension for, you know, a Saturday-night television show in 1993.

Elsewhere, Sully and Robert E. make friends, and then Grace brings Robert E. some cornbread, and if we’re being honest … I came for Mike and Sully, but I stayed for Robert E. and Grace—literally the most adorable couple ever. So adorable that when Robert E. sits down his cornbread and stares off into the mountains to think about Grace, he catches himself on fire and legit has to stop, drop, and roll. A shopkeeper won’t allow Dr. Quinn to move Robert E. into his shop for treatment, and she seethes with social-justice anger. Poor Robert E. begs Michaela to tell him that he’s not going to Heaven yet, and to be honest, I scream the same thing at the screen. THIS SHOW HAS TOO MUCH DRAMA.

As the night fades into morning, Dr. Quinn stays by Robert E.’s side, while Grandma goes outside to bathe herself, which essentially means that she dabs her chest bone with water before that savage Sully catches her. Risqué. Grace, being my favorite independent woman, drove her own damn horse over to see Robert E. She’s 100 percent 1867 fearless—however, Robert E. tells her to go away. WHY? I have no idea. I’ll take Grace’s word when she says, “He’s a stubborn man!” Hang in there, Grace.

Elsewhere, Colleen No. 1 is crying while milking a cow. Elizabeth walks in and announces that in Boston they deliver the milk to the front door in glass bottles. Unamused, Colleen No. 1 continues to cry until she announces that she’s going to die because she’s, well, bleeding. Luckily, Elizabeth is there to let her know that she’s just becoming a woman—and in the meantime, this show was becoming a feminist hallmark! Dr. Quinn follows up with Colleen No. 1 to make sure she’s okay, but she’s like, totally over it at this point.

Eventually, we get that Elizabeth/Michaela showdown we’ve been waiting for, and Elizabeth throws all of her opinions out—she thinks this Colorado Springs life is crazy, and not in the fun, supportive way we think that it’s crazy. And Michaela gets it, but she also loves her life and her patients. After a run-in at the bank, it appears that literally no one will give Michaela the money she needs for her own clinic, which makes sense, because literally no one except Sully supports this poor woman (unless you’re in need of stitches and Jake is drunk, AMIRITE?). Elizabeth tells her she doesn’t want to see her wasting her life, and Michaela says, “Sometimes I think you must really hate me, mother.” ZING, GIRL.

Resilient, Grace comes back to visit Robert E. She doesn’t care what he said—she’s back because love is real. She gives a quick speech about how he’s not a slave anymore, and it makes you root for them even more. Outside, Elizabeth is hitching a ride into town with Mr. Bray because everyone is getting smitten this episode! Once Robert E. has fallen asleep and Mrs. Quinn has left to presumably get her freak on with Mr. Bray, Grace and Michaela have a great conversation about forgiveness.

I was completely wrong about Mrs. Quinn, by the way. She was actually in the house and takes over for Michaela when she gets tired. Brian, being a creep, comes back and asks Mrs. Quinn for a story—she explains, in story form, a story about Dr. Mike. To her surprise, Brian takes over and tells the rest of the story, about how Michaela came along and became his mom and saved his life, and just like that, BRIAN WON GRANDMA OVER.

The next morning, Matthew buys Grandma (yeah, I said it) a bath, and of course she loves it. Who wouldn’t love a nice bath from Chad Allen? Sometimes, that’s all you need. Post-bath, Grandma gives Colleen No. 1 a mirror and brush (because she’s a woman), gives Sully an affirming handshake, gives Brian the right to call her Grandma (!!!) and ultimately, gives Michaela the money to buy her own clinic, because “a doctor needs a clinic.”

Colorado Springs Gossip Mill

  • Horace paying full prostitute price to see Myra is adorable.
  • Myra fulfilling full prostitute duties because Horace paid is, well, unfortunate.
  • Colleen said, “I want to do more than get married and have babies,” and Dr. Mike said, “Don’t hide behind the fact that you’re a girl. You’re a woman.” I screamed, #YESALLWOMEN
  • Elizabeth Quinn is played by Jane Wyman, who casually won an Oscar and married (and divorced) Ronald Reagan before passing in 2007. Miss you, girl.

Another Monday, another medical miracle: This time, it just happened to be in the form of maternal love. Yeah, Elizabeth started out as a (flawless) touch cuss, but in the end, all she wanted was the love of her daughter. It’s hard being a mom and having a kid move away, or I imagine that’s why my mom calls me five times in a day. So in our own way, we’re kind of like Dr. Mike when you least expect it. Thanks for another journey into Colorado Springs—see you next Monday, and in the meantime, don’t set yourself on fire.