Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Bonanza Part 2 - Death on Sun Mountain

1.02 - Death on Sun Mountain/The Sun Mountain Herd

Guest Stars

Barry Sullivan - Mark Burdette

Karl Swenson - Carl Harris

Leo Gordon - Early Thorne

Bek Nelson - Glory deLacey

Harry Bartell - Chief Winnemucca

Ron Soble - Tukwa

  • An employee of the Cartwrights named Tukwa, a Paiute, is caught stealing cattle for his people, although he only steals two cows and a calf which makes me think Tukwa is underestimating either the size of the Paiute nation or their hunger

  • Ben confronts Tukwa and says he gave him a 'good life on the Ponderosa' and wonders why he'd steal. This is when Tukwa's brother, Chief Winnemuca steps in. From here on out I'll be referring to him as Winnie.

  • Winnie doesn't like the fact they had to steal from their friends the Cartwrights but he had no choice. There are no more deer or Washo antelope for his people to hunt. Then he goes a little off track and says "The Pinyon tree burns in the fires of Sun Mountain". WHAAAAAT!? Sounds like Winnie's been in the sun too long.

  • Ben decides to join in the craziness and says the Paiute have hunted the Washo since the "long ago dreamtime" and brings his hand across his face and gestures with his hand, as if to emphasize the crazy words coming out of his crazy mouth. Apparently the antelope have been disappearing thanks to the 'diggers of Sun Mountain', otherwise known as miners. (A large amount of silver has been found nearby, bringing an influx of people, including miners to the area. Think grizzled "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" types)

  • Winnie threatens war between the diggers and Paiutes if things don't change. The young men of his tribe call him a woman as he cannot feed his people. Ben is of course, upset by this news and mentions that he and Winnie have "long walked the earth together". He doesn't like the idea of war and promises that no more antelope will die. Don't make promises you can't keep Ben. You piss off Winnie and you piss off the whole Paiute nation. I do like how Ben is very pro-First Nations here but I don't feel that it rings true. I think it's because this is the first encounter we see between the two and we're supposed to believe they have this long history.

  • Adam, showing a softer side, lets Tukwa take the cattle to feed his people. Aww.

  • The family rides into Virginia City (VC) and splits up. Watch for a strange exchange between a Native American and a Chinese man. I don't know what they're arguing about but it looks hilarious.

  • Bucket of Blood is the best name for a saloon ever! But Joe seems to have forgotten visiting VC last episode though because he asks Hoss if he's ever seen anything like VC. Maybe that fall from the balcony last episode gave him a concussion.

  • Meanwhile Adam and Ben end up in a mining camp filled with starving miners and their families. They meet one man named Carl Harris from Kentucky who is trying to eke out a life in VC but isn't getting very far as the only food he can get is antelope at $10/lb. Ben is somewhat flabbergasted as he sells cattle in Placerville for $25/head. And so, being the goodly rancher that he is, invites Harris and his miner buddies to the Ponderosa for some cheaper beef.

  • Now wait just a dadgummed minute. Wasn't Ben ready to kill anyone who trespassed on the ranch last episode? Now he's freely inviting perfect strangers willy nilly onto his property? What is it Ben, are you a crazed patriarch who's violently protective of his land or are you the bleeding heart good samaritan, ready to help out people who kill your neighbours' food supply? I'm going to settle on bipolar because his mood swing between this episode and last are completely contrary.

  • More meanwhile, Little Joe and Hoss find the store selling antelope meat, surrounded by a large mob, a large shouty mob. PIPE DOWN! I CAN'T HEAR THE ACTORS! The store is run by a man named Mark Burdett and there are very few things you need to know about SmarmyMark Burdett other than he's a total opportunist douche who has set up shop in what looks like the Batcave.

  • Ben and Adam arrive at the store and Adam warns SmarmyMark he's risking open war with the Paiutes if he keeps killing antelope. SmarmyMark doesn't care two pinches of snuff for that idea because he doesn't think things will go that far. Oh SmarmyMark, this is tv. Of course there'll be a war. How else will Bonanza sell ad space?

  • Bigmouth Joe then blabs to SmarmyMark that he should sell Ponderosa stock to the miners at a better price to keep them from starving. SmarmyMark offers to pay Ben any price he names for his cattle but Ben doesn't like SmarmyMark and rightly so. SmarmyMark's a jerk and admits he'd continue to gouge the miners no matter what. In fact, he's got a cold storage tunnel full of ice, the only ice in town in fact. SmarmyMark should open up a snow cone kiosk. Then he could gouge the miner's kids too!

  • Adam accuses Burdett of profiting from the miner's hunger and is then attacked by SmarmyMark's henchman Early Thorne with a cleaver, a CLEAVER! As a henchman his name is ridiculous but awesome because it's so weird. Nonetheless Adam takes him down with a swift karate chop to the shoulder. Flawless victory! Ben warns SmarmyMark to stop slaughtering the wild herds and won't negotiate for beef. When they leave Mark tells Thorne they'll just have to stop Ponderosa cattle from reaching VC.

  • SmarmyMark then decides he needs a drink after all that hubbub and who wouldn't? He walks into the Bucket of Blood where Glory deLacey, a saloon girl, asks if he'll buy her a drink. In the space of less than three minutes he proceeds to say she's "the only really beautiful thing I've seen in Virginia City". Oiy. Minutes later he decides he doesn't want any other men buying her drinks and I'm pretty sure he actually meant "buying her drinks".

  • Back at the ranch and by that I really do mean back at the ranch, the Cartwrights are just finishing a deal with Carl and his miner buddies for cattle. Adam says he'll speak to the other ranchers in the area to make sure they don't gouge the miners. Another kind moment from the brooder. Is he going to have a change of character too? Joe on the other hand, isn't sure why they couldn't get more than $20/head for their cattle? My question is, why did Carl and his digger buddies only take 4 cattle? Are they as bad at estimating hunger as Tukwa?

  • Elsewhere's Early Thorne and his henchmen have dressed up as Paiutes and I think you can guess where this is going. They ambush Carl and leave him wounded with his buddies dead and the cattle scattered. Word gets back to town and SmarmyMark is none too happy. You see, he didn't want to kill anyone, he just wanted them to suffer. Mark, what did you expect to happen? Your henchman is crazy!

  • Thorne really shouldn't slap his henchmen. It could come back to haunt him later. But wait! The job isn't over. Now that they've turned the miners on the Paiutes they also have to turn the Paiutes on the miners. I can't see this ending well for anyone.

  • Why is Tukwa working all by himself? Out in the open country you should at least always work in pairs because you know what's going to happen.

  • The death count in this episode is starting to inch up there. We're up to four and it's only halfway through the episode.

    - Winne is pissed and rightly so! And SmarmyMark might be completely 100% guilty but Joe's right, there's no evidence linking him to the murders. That's why he has a nasty henchman with weird name. So he can do all the dirty work.

    - Joe proposes going into VC alone and Ben agrees. WHAAAAAT! Last episode Ben had a conniption fit and told every able-bodied man on the ranch to come after him if he didn't return when Joe went off by himself and now Ben does't mind them splitting up? And why can't Hoss or Adam go to town alone? I think they're more capable than a 19 year old.

    - I'll tell you why it has to be Joe. If you haven't figured it out yet, he is the punching bag for the bad guys, the damsell in distress. So Joe rides into town and then, in all his wisdom, decides to confront Thorne, because you know, he's the cocky idiot of the Cartwrights. Thorne in turn, beats the ever living tar out of him in front of the whole town. Mark Joe down for one loss. And then Thorne has to rub it in by spreading rumours that the Cartwrights are siding with the Paiutes in this fiasco that's developed. And SmarmyMark intervenes because, well, he's a creep and all and he exploits people for money but hey, he draws the line at killing. So he defends Joe and keeps him from being hanged. Joe in turn automatically adopts the man as a friend. Joe, I swear you're too naive to ever have survived the wild West in real life. HE'S NOT YOUR FRIEND! YOU ARE SO STUPID! Also take note, Joe's not so banged up that he won't flirt with the closest woman who just happens to be Glory. She tends to his wounds while SmarmyMark explains how Tukwa was killed because he was seen by Carl Harris in the party that killed the miners.

    - After sending Joe on his merry way to stumble back to the Ponderosa, SmarmyMark decides to take a page out of Thorne's book of abuse and smacks Glory because she was nice to Joe. I think Glory's done with you buddy. You can't smack people around and expect them to let you buy them drinks. Apology not accepted. Glory's a pretty smart girl. She figured out what SmarmyMark was up all by her lonesome. Maybe she and Adam should compare notes and then they could solve this Scooby mystery.

    - Finally Joe arrives back home. The rest of the Carwright clan are sitting down to dinner and immediately jump to when they see Joe's black eye. They're like a pack of mother hens. STOP FREAKING OUT! It's a black eye, not head wound. The team, sans Joe, decide to talk to Carl Harris about what he actually saw.

    - Uh oh. Glory's gone to the mining camp to speak to Carl Harris about what he saw. Somehow I get the feeling that Glory's the only saloon girl in town because Mrs. Harris knows who she is! Methinks the wife is secretly psychic, one of those pioneer superheroes. Glory is marked for death, that's for sure, mainly because Thorne and SmarmyMark know she went to talk to Harris and are coming after her. But we're finally guranteed a confrontation because both parties are heading straight for the same man.

    - I knew it I knew it! They just grabbed Glory! And those kids did nothing but just stand there.

    - And Thorn, what did I say about slapping people? It's gonna get you killed. And SmarmyMark is a giant hypocrit (read: HIPPO) as it's apparently alright for him to hit Glory but if Thorn does it, no, no, not acceptable.

    - Oh how convenient! The Cartwrights have the worst timing ever. Joe just confirmed my suspicions that Glory's the only saloon girl in town. Harris' wife said Thorn had taken the girl who works in the saloon and Joe automatically says "You mean Glory?" Yes Joe, we understand you have limited experiences with women, such as the ones who occasionally stumble onto the Ponderosa and those who hang out in front of saloon's, it doesn't mean they're the only women in the world.

    - We find out Hoss can follow horse tracks apparently over packed earth and that Devil's Gate is the hottest driest strip of desert in the Nevada territory. Dun Dun Dun! If you really wanted to fool people you'd would have called it something fluffy like RandomPioneer'sName's Folly or Rascal Flatts.

    - Thorne says he's going to drop Glory off in a shack by Devil's Gate but oops! Turns out Thorne was lying but is that really surprising? We first meet Thorne wielding a meat cleaver. Thorne says he was going to leave Glory to die of thirst. Well of course he was. I would have been really worried if he'd said he was going to give her a puppy and all his money. I mean, that's just sick behaviour.

    - And let the gunfight commence! It's here that we learn Joe and Adam are crappy shots. Poor Hoss gets brained. Oh styrofoam, how fake you look when disguised as rocks.

    - That's right Adam, right when the man who saved her life dies in front of her, just go ahead a put the moves on her, put your arm around. Geez. At least wait until the man's cold in the ground.

    Death on Sun Mountain Summary:

    I thought this episode was interesting with various locations and actors. Essentially it's about conflict between many groups over a certain portion of land but it's more complex than linear. The Paiute have lived in the area forever and now have no food source thanks to the miners. But the miners are being gouged by a merchant who is supplying their food at inflated prices because he's looking for a profit. And then there are the ranchers who already have a steady food supply without having to kill wild animals for it and if the miners knew about them, would be making a steady profit from beef sales.

    Slapcount: 2

    Adam vs Thorne = Adam
    Joe vs Thorne = Thorne
    Hoss vs Thorne = Thorne

    Deathtoll: 6

    "Bonanza" mentions: 5

    Bonanza Summary:

    Fight Count
    Adam: 3W 1L
    Hoss: 1W 1L
    Joe: 2L
    Ben: 0

    Lady Count
    Adam: 1
    Hoss: 0
    Little: Joe 0
    Ben: 0

    Kiss Count
    Adam 1
    Hoss 0
    Joe 0
    Ben 0

    Slapcount Total - 4

    Next Time: Newcomers

    mister anchovy said...

    A most entertaining synopsis.

    theduckthief said...