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Northern Exposure Wiki
"Wake-Up Call"
Season 3, Episode 19 (34)
Airdate March 23, 1992
Writer(s) Diane Frolov
Andrew Schneider
Director Nick Marck
Guest star(s)

←   Episode sequence   →
"My Mother, My Sister" "The Final Frontier"


Spring has sprung in Cicely and with it come crocuses, free eggs at The Brick, a rebirth of sorts for Shelly, a diagnostic refresher for Joel, and an awakening of passions for Maggie.


It is morning at The Brick, and Holling is celebrating springtime by serving breakfast any time of the day for free. However, Maurice is suddenly disgusted by the same old coffee. He tells Holling to open his eyes to all the other kinds of coffee available and marches out.

Meanwhile at KBHR, Chris' allergies predict the onset and he also announces the spotting of a brown bear at the corner of Spruce and Main. Maurice comes in and complains about Chris playing the same old music as always. Clearly, there is something deeply unsettled about Maurice.

In Joel's examining room, Shelly is visiting because of a mild rash she is suffering from. She attempts to make small talk with Joel, who merely responds with polite uncaring. Shelly remarks that Joel seems mad but Joel explains that he is merely trying to distance himself from the patient so he can make a proper diagnosis. He concludes that she has contact dermatitis due to "dishpan hands", and advises her to put some lotion on them.

At The Brick, Maggie is reading Ed a letter from her old high school friend, Elizabeth Schroeder, formerly Elizabeth Carrey. Elizabeth has just had a 6-pound, 9-ounce baby boy, and Maggie is suddenly aware of her own loneliness. She thinks that, since she never met anyone, she'll have to wait for the "wave of divorces".

In Joel's office, he is visited by Leonard Quinhagak, an Indian healer who has arrived to observe Joel so he can get some ideas of conventional medicine. Joel confides in Leonard that his practice is extremely boring, then goes off to talk with Marilyn, who arranged the visit. She said that she asked Joel while he was playing Gameboy, and Joel contests that it was an unfair thing to ask. Nevertheless, Joel agrees to let Leonard watch.

Climbing into bed, Shelly finds the sheets "scratchy" and, when Holling touches her even slightly, she recoils in pain. Although she is wearing mittens to protect her hands, the rash has seemed to spread to other parts of her body, and she is in pain. When she wakes up, she screams, as she sees that she is peeling all over her body. Holling also cannot believe his eyes.

Late at night, as Maggie watches television, she hears a noise outside. Going out with her shotgun, she finds a few overturned garbage cans. The next morning, Chris announces her sighting over the radio as a warning about bears. Later the next day, when Maggie is driving near the forest, her truck becomes stuck in the mud. A tall muscular man with long blond hair walks out of the woods and pushes her car as she accelerates, enabling her to leave. She thanks him quickly as she drives off and sees him watching her in her rearview mirror.

Shelly shows up at Joel's office and Joel has trouble making a diagnosis. However, Leonard makes small talk with Shelly, making her more at ease. Joel is upset by Leonard's interference and finally prescribes cortizone for Shelly. After she leaves, Leonard asks unusual questions about Shelly's personal life, to which Joel doesn't know the answer. Leonard says that he spends hours, even days, talking with patients and is amazed that Joel can make a diagnosis so quickly. It is evident that his compliment is also a thinly veiled insult.

That night, Maggie hears her garbage cans being overturned once again. As she leaves her house to check, the man who helped her earlier walks by, saying he recognized her truck. He tells Maggie that maybe the bear is looking for her, a comment which leaves Maggie flattered and a little confused. He introduces himself as Arthur but doesn't accept when Maggie invites him in. Just before he leaves, he tells Maggie that she has beautiful eyes, and she glows at the compliment.

Again, Shelly comes in to visit Joel, but Joel is gone. However, she sees Leonard and they begin talking. She tells him a story about an egg she took care of once, and Leonard compares the hatching of the egg to Shelly's current rash, saying that she's shedding her skin. Shelly is cheered by this concept, and leaves in a much happier mood.

Out in the woods, Maggie spots Arthur standing in a river. As she looks on, he catches a fish out of the water with his bare hands. He tells Maggie that he lives alone, and carries her across the river to his home, a cave out on the middle of the forest. He has drinks set out, as if he was expecting her. They drink mead, which Arthur makes himself, and then they dance. Maggie is profoundly content and Arthur tells her that he saw her one day in her plane and he knew what was missing from his life.

At Maurice's house, Ed and Maurice are cleaning out his attic. Maurice comes upon an old set of bagpipes that his grandfather used to play and he is moved by the memory. Meanwhile, Joel returns to his office, livid at Leonard's diagnosis to Shelly. Leonard explains that he could be wrong and nothing is certain. He also tells Joel that his practice is boring because he is boring, and he should try to obtain a better demeanor toward his patients. Joel is angry and insulted by Leonard's criticism. Leonard says that being angry is better than being boring and leaves.

Maggie passes Joel on the street in a wonderful mood. Joel is curious when she offers to fix anything that's wrong with his cabin and is surprised when she calls him "Joel" instead of "Fleischman". Joel heads over to The Brick, where he finds that Shelly's rash has completely gone away. He considers Leonard's words and goes to visit him later at Marilyn's house. He tells Leonard how he never got along with patients until he diagnosed a patient that no one else could and saved his life. Joel thanks Leonard for reminding him of that feeling and Leonard smiles.

Maggie returns to the cave to visit Arthur only to find the cave cleaned out. As she leaves she spots a brown bear, who looks at her for a moment in recognition, then leaves. She considers for a moment that the bear was Arthur.

As Chris reads about the beauty of springtime, a montage is shown of everyone's activities: Maggie is sitting on a log by the river, staring forlornly out into the distance; Holling and Shelly are sharing a bath; Marilyn is gardening; Ruth-Anne is getting her hair done; Ed is hitting baseballs out in a field, a bucket of baseballs at his side; Joel is laughing as he talks to a patient; and Maurice is on his roof, playing his bagpipes to the late evening sun.


Chris (on-air): Greetings, Cicely, on this most exceedingly beautiful spring morning. A morning swollen with new life, a morning on which, if I had the voice, I would let loose with song. It's hard to believe just a few short weeks ago we were eating our cornflakes in the wintery dark. Now, well it's still kind of dim our there, but I can see the golden glow of Apollo's chariot waiting in the wings, about to make its entrance. Winter's on the lam, no doubt.

Leonard (to Joel about Shelly after she leaves the office): Shelly seems pretty well-adjusted. She makes good eye-contact. How does she get along with animals?



  • Chris' late Uncle Roy's arthritic knee predicted the onset of rain.
  • Maggie went to high school with Elizabeth Schroeder nee Kerry who just had a baby boy.
  • Maurice has used Old Spice for the past 30 years.
  • Maurice loved boot camp in the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island because "they re-built you from scratch".
  • Maurice never understood his mother's obsession with spring cleaning, until now.
  • The MacAllisters are on the distaff side of Maurice's family. They were Royal Highlanders, 42nd regimen, Black Watch.
  • Maurice's grandfather, after the War, came to the U.S. and bought a farm in northern Oklahoma where Maurice spent his summers and were the happiest times of his life.
  • Shelly's Aunt Marge gave her an egg to hatch, but her father said she was "wacko".
  • In Joel's third year of medical school he was terrible with patients. He was considering pathology until the fisherman with the amoebic infection.
  • Chris has allergies that herald the vernal equinox.
  • At Kipnuk there's a place called the Bali Hai.
  • Shelly mentions Slash again (previously in the last episode) doesn't seem to care for Michael Jackson.
  • Leonard has been practicing medicine since he was 12 years old for almost 30 years.
  • Leonard has a sister over in King Salmon who is a waitress.
  • Maggie's brother (still nameless) just moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
  • First time Maggie's new cabin is shown?
  • Shelly cuisine: tuna salad, sloppy joes, cinnamon toast, creamed corn casserole
  • Shelly's earrings: frying pans with eggs (visits Dr. Joel with scaly hands), thermometers (Shelly visits Dr. Joel as Leonard observes, asks questions), red lobsters (Shelly is scaly all over, talks with Leonard), chile peppers (Shelly has new skin, talks to Joel in The Brick)
  • Ed's movie reference: Tunes of Glory (1960) (Ed finds a kilt in Maurice's belongings)


  1. Maurice decorates The Brick with geraniums.
  2. Chris talks on the radio.
  3. See Music of France#Musette
  4. Maggie laments about not having a man.
  5. Also in "The Final Frontier" (3-20)
  6. Shelly's skin is peeling.
  7. Leonard talks to Joel
  8. Maggie and Arthur dance in his cave.
  9. Holling passes out eggs.
  10. Ending: Maurice plays bagpipes, Marilyn plants, Shelly and Holling in the bathtub.