Title: Heal Thyself
Written by: Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider
Directed by: Michael Katleman
Aired: November 15, 1993
Log line: Ed is taunted by the Green Man; Holling shocks Shelly when he is disruptive during birth class; Maggie misses the weekly laundromat gossip-fest when she buys her own washer and dryer.
Listen to the podcast discussion of the episode here.
On the podcast we mentioned a variety of themes in “Heal Thyself”, including fear, community, men/women, and healing/medicine. In this week’s blog post, we’ll look at two additional themes that are less explicit in the episode: domesticity and renewal. Domesticity and renewal both appear in the Ed-Bonnie storyline. Twice we see Ed doing dishes, which a domestic activity, but it’s also an act of renewal. Dirty dishes are scrubbed and made clean and (almost) new. The domestic aspect of washing dishes is particularly prominent when we see Ed drying dishes as Bonnie scoops out ice cream. We can safely assume that Bonnie washed the dishes that Ed is drying and that they are participating in an activity that many (most?) couples have done: washing and drying together.
Bonnie dropped out of university to help her Uncle Arnie repair vacuum cleaners. The overlap here between domesticity and renewal are unmistakable. She mends broken vacuum cleaners so they are functional and whole again. On Northern Exposure, death and rebirth are prominent themes; in these terms, Bonnie could be said to resurrect dead vacuums, or to heal them (in terms of this episode’s title). What does she give Ed as a gift when he correctly diagnoses the source of her chickadee-induced illness, thereby healing her? A vacuum, of course.
Washing and drying laundry is at the core of Maggie’s storyline, and this activity is another example of domesticity and renewal, with soiled clothing being cleansed by detergent and water. (When her washer breaks, Maggie even has to bring in a repairman to fix the machine, another form of renewal.) In Ed’s storyline, we get the sense that there could be a domestic arrangement in the future between Bonnie and Ed (i.e., perhaps they’ll become a couple, live together, and have many more occasions to wash and dry the dishes together), whereas in Maggie’s storyline we see the way that domestic activities can bring people together, which Chris connects to the “local creek” where people in the distant past “beat their fur skivvies against rocks.”
Songs from the episode’s original airing:
- Vern Cheechoo – “Lonesome and Hurting” [Replaced in DVD version]
- Maurice and Ed talk about the movie The Champ.
- Belly – “Dusted” [Replaced in DVD version]
Chris announces the Fire Department is looking for new recruits.
The Good: We loved the character of Bonnie, who is absolutely perfect for Ed: smart, beautiful, sensitive and very kind. It’s a shame we won’t see her again in future episodes.
The Bad: Both of us hated the whole green man appearance, and had no idea why low self-esteem should be Ed’s issue, as he had always carried a quiet inner confidence in earlier seasons (despite doubts here and there).
The Notable: Chris seems to have predicted the whole internet revolution in this episode. Impressive!
On’s rating: 7 out of 10
Shane’s rating: 7 out of 10