6.4 The Letter
(pka "Adults")


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Original Air Date: October 10, 1994 Production number: 77617
Written by:
Meredith Stiem (Should be Stehm)Directed by: Jim Charleston

Log line (1): Maggie does some soul searching after she opens a letter she wrote to herself as a teen; Joel starts to smell life's flowers when he has a close call with cancer; Shelly learns that her destiny can't be shaped by a chain letter; Cicely has a new barber.
Synopsis (1):

Maggie receives a sealed envelope in a the mail from her dad that contains a a letter she wrote to herself at the age of 15. After reading the letter, she compares her accomplishments to her teenage expectations and analyzes her life. Her teenage self, Mary-Margaret, visits Maggie for several trying conversations until she realizes that even though she hasn't lived up to an idealized 15-year-old's image of what success is, she is happy with the person she has become. Now she's motivated to achieve more, including putting a a political race for Cicely's mayor under her belt.

After the barber gives Joel a diagnosis for a bump on his head, Joel is unnerved but laughs at his credibility. Meanwhile, he neurotically worries about his mortality after a Harvard doctor in Anchorage thinks it could be a tumor. Believing his days are numbered, he takes time to smell the roses and risks his life on a high-speed death ride on Chris' motorcycle. When the diagnosis comes back from Anchorage that it is benign, he is relieved to find out the barber had been right all along.

Shelly scoffs at the "peril" threatened in a chain letter until bad things start happening to her and Holling. Believing the bad luck is the result of the chain letter, she searches the dump for the crumpled letter and then sends a the copies out.

When good things happen, she credits the chain letter but soon finds out that the chain letter never left the post of fice due to insufficient postage. Walt helps her understand that destiny is shaped by her own free will.

There's a new barber in town and his name is Angelo Maxwell. He's surly and takes his job very seriously and has been in the witness protection program for most of his life after witnessing a mob hit. He doesn't trust anyone and has a chip on his shoulder until Chris manages to break through with persistence and by showing Angelo a little trust with his hair.

(Production Bible):

Cicely's been barberless for almost two years since Earl the barber split for Tampa.

Maggie did two semesters of Law at the University of Michigan.

Belva Ann Lockwood -- First woman to argue in front of the Supreme Court.

Mary Margaret's favorite groups include Blondie, Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates and the Doobie Brothers. [And ABBA!]

Maybe I'm losing my memory, but didn't Chris already cut his hair?

Angelo Maxwell -- Youngest barber in the history of the Park-Sheraton.

Most memorable quote: "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved..." William Jennings Bryan

Guest stars (9): Walt - Moultrie Patten
Mary-Margaret (Maggie at 15) - Tara Suskoff
Angelo Maxwell - Bill Cobbs
Dr. Rudy Rojas - Curnal Aulisio
State Trooper Szentmihalyi - Rock Reiser
Surgeon - Sean Griffin
Principal - Paul Roland
Aunt Doreen - Sheila Scott
(Note music listed is from the original TV airings. The DVD may differ. * Indicates correct song on the DVD.)

[Help! I need names of missing tunes from the original airings - email me.]

Buck's Nouvelle Jole Blon - Buckwheat Zydeco & Ils Sont Partis Band (thanks, Todd W.!)
[Chris comes into the Brick and takes down the neon beer sign for his sculpture.]

Dancing Queen - Abba
[Young Maggie writes her letter.]

Take a Chance on Me - Abba

Pipeline - The Chantays (thanks Karen!)
[Joel is on the bike and gets the ticket.

• Another Hawaiian kind of sounding song when Walt explains how fate works.

The Tide is High - Blondie

Shelly’s Earrings:

Green things [At the dump looking for her letter.]
Box of bread Mix and rolling pin [Shelly is on the phone with the Guide book people.]
Black cats [Realizes she was short on postage on her chain letters.]
Green dice [Gets ready to go to Fairbanks anyway.]

Things I own from this episode:


I have Joel's green linen shirt that he is wearing when he visits the Dr. in Anchorage.

Footnotes and additional research

© Copyright, 2013 • Northern Exposure is Copyright Universal City Studios. All Rights Reserved. • Created 2/13/02 • Updated 2/2/13