1.02 – Newcomers
Blake McCall – John Larch
John Pennington – Robert Knapp
Emily Pennington – Inger Stevens
Krug – Charles Maxwell
Justin Flannery – Byron Foulger
Jose Morino – George J. Lewis
• The Cartwright’s (CWs) are out riding around and stop at the top of a ridge on the Ponderosa. Down below they spy a group of men they believe responsible for butchering one of their prize steers. An old friend of Ben’s, Jose Martinez, rides with them. I’m going to assume Jose found the steer though it’s not clear if he’s just a neighbour or an employee. Note: Who just goes around killing cattle? Don’t most bad guys who deal with cattle steal them?
• The CWs ride down to meet this group and confront them. A man named Blake McCall seems to be in charge and apparently he’s encountered the CWs before. Note: Has he previously butchered cattle on the ranch? And that begs the question, why are these guys even on the Ponderosa? I know it’s a big place but if McCall knows the CW reputation he knows they hate trespassers. If you remember from Episode 1 Adam was ready to shoot a trespasser and Ben threatened to cut someone’s tongue out.
• McCall is travelling with his business partner, John Pennington and his sister Emily. Blake’s is engaged to Emily but uh oh, she’s sick, coughing like there’s no tomorrow. John says they’re travelling because of Emily’s health. They need to get into high desert country because of her lungs. At this point I’m going to say she’s got tuberculosis (tb). We’re then introduced to McCall’s henchman Krug, pronounced Kruge, who’s name suits his personality. He seems to think there’s gold on the Ponderosa. I’ve got a bad feeling about this but then, when do I ever have a good feeling about greedy strangers with creepy names?
• Adam pipes up that people have crossed the Ponderosa before, slaughtering cattle, cutting down timber and digging holes in pastures. Oh, so that’s why they must have killed that cow. They were hungry and decided to have hamburgers for dinner. Those are actually some good reasons to hate trespassers and make far more sense than Ben’s threats in Ep 1 for a carriage trespassing on the ranch.
• We also meet Justin Flannery, a botanist. I like him because he has a donkey named Christian but more importantly I want you to take note of the fact that he’s a botanist, a scientist who studies plants. No one in this episode seems to understand what a botanist is. It’s just like the foil in Ep 1.
• Ben ascertains Pennington is the same hydraulic mining Pennington he severely dislikes. John shouldn’t have introduced himself because when one CW hates you they all pretty much hate you. His type of mining, (spraying hillsides with highly pressurized water to wash rocks, sediment, etc and gold down the hills to make it easier to collect) caused floods, buried orchards and uprooted virgin timber.
• He’s interrupted by a dumb random gunslinger decides now is the best time to shoot a CW in the head. Adam is having none of it and shoots him point blank. At first I thought he’d killed the man but really he’s only wounded. Again it begs the question, did Adam miss or only intend to wound considering how poor his shooting was last episode. Chalk up one win for Adam.
• At this point Emily calls Hoss ugly because there really hasn’t been enough animosity between these groups. And Hoss just takes the verbal abuse and sets her on a horse. We then learn the gunslinger Adam shot was wounded in his non-gun hand arm. That clears things up. Clearly Adam just can’t shoot. If he’d wanted to disarm the man but not kill him, logically you would shoot his gun hand. From here on in I think we can assume for every gunfight Adam’s in that he’s either extremely lucky when he wins or consistently faces substandard competition.
• McCall’s an antagonistic jerk. Why does Emily love him again? Is she’s just lightheaded. She rests 4 hours a day, every day. Sounds like it’s a miracle she can even stand. Seriously what is wrong with her? You think it’s tb? I think it’s tb. McCall then decides to showcase his jerkiness by admitting he cut down some trees and killed one of their cattle. His men mistook the steer for a deer. I know the two animals rhyme but his men either need some re-education on animal identification or an appointment for the eye doctor. As for the dead animal, a hefty fine should be enough to buy another prize steer and clear up the matter right? Right Ben?
• Ben continues his angry rant. He crossed the Plains with a friend carrying peach trees. You know, because that doesn’t sound crazy or anything. It’s almost like carrying breadfruit trees across the ocean, equally dumb and equally dangerous. And guess what happened to the trees. The orchard was buried under 12 ft of mud in California, thanks to hydraulic mining. Well at least now we know why Ben has it out for John. John defends himself, says he paid the man twice what his land was worth and paid him for the trees. This is more than generous in terms of compensation but it’s not good enough for Adam.
• And now we come to the crux of it. John has no intention of bringing hydraulic mining to the area. But wait, McCall has filed claims on the ranches next door to the Ponderosa that have watersheds vital to the CWs ranch. That sounds suspicious doesn’t it? Almost as if someone were planning to use hydraulic mining to find some non-existent gold.
• Ok! Ok! Hold on a minute! Ben just threatened death to anyone if they tried to take the Ponderosa from him. And JerkBen is back with a flash. That didn’t take long. But Ben doesn’t shove the interlopers off the Ponderosa. Instead he gives them until morning to leave. This is probably because of Tuburcular Emily. I think I’ll call her Tubemily from now on.
• And here’s the necessary but mostly irrelevant exposition on John and McCall. John’s dad left the siblings a million bucks and a mining company. McCall’s dad left behind a lot of black eyes and debts. That would explain why McCall is such a jerk. Then Krug steps in. Krug is such a...Krug. And he’s a really manipulative sob. McCall doesn’t seem to mind when Krug suggests causing some more friction between them and the CWs. He gives Krug the okay to mess with “the bug man”. Really? The guy’s a botanist. Plants are not bugs. So Krug decides to take care of the bug man right in front of the CWs. This gets Joe gets a little hot under the collar but really, when isn’t Joe hot under the collar?
• The next morning the CWs bring some supplies, fresh stock and a mulepack to the trespassers. Aw, see the CWs aren’t heartless killing machines. And apparently Hoss is going to escort them off the property but he’s going alone. Ben says “we talked it out and we think you can do this best.” What is that! Yes, just leave your son alone with a bunch of men who’ve already trespassed and destroyed property. Nothing could go wrong. Unless of course you remember the last time a CW son went off on his own. (I’m having bad flashbacks of Episode 1)
• The group gets on their way and Tubemily decides to ride outside the wagon with the dust which aggravates her cough. And then later she cooks dinner. I think she’s doing this on purpose. She likes tb; it gives her a reason to garner sympathy because honestly who else would be that idiotic about their own health condition!?
• And Krug is at it again. He decides now is the time to try and work out a partnership with McCall by blackmailing him over Flannery the bug hunter (and by bug hunter he totally means botanist)
• Then McCall and John dump more exposition on us. They worked together in California where McCall got the land they used for hydraulic mining. No word on whether he obtained the land by legal means or not. John reminds him they travelled out here for Emily’s health, something they both care about. Yes, McCall cares about her so much he yells at her for coughing in the next scene. What a jerk.
• Aw Hoss brought fir branches for Emily to make a bed with. He says the smell will be good for her cough which is a load of hooey but still, what a difference a man makes. And then she actually speaks to him and they have a real conversation. He’s completely smitten.
• Then we see the other side of the coin where McCall calls Hoss a moose. Says he could break McCall’s back with one hand. Krug notes he’s nicer to the horses than anyone else. Maybe if they fix one of the horses they can jump him and take care of the rest of the CWs. Krug thinks he can get to them through their foreman Jose Morino (so he is an employee, not a neighbour) who has guns. Oooooh! Note: They already have guns do they really need more? What are they going to do, strap guns to their feet?
• The next morning a horse comes up lame and while Hoss takes a look at the hoof, the rest of McCall’s men jump him and knock him out. I won’t count this as a fight because it was one sided. When Hoss comes to they tell him they want help with Morino. Either Hoss gets the guns from him peacefully or they’ll take them by force and to hell with whomever gets in their way.
• Poor Morino! McCall says he was thinking of Tubemily but at this point I think she sees the light. John makes a stand but both he and Tubemily are taken captive. Krug makes to shoot John but McCall stays his hand. He still thinks he and John can be partners after this. Fat chance! You’ve tied him up, killed several people and threatened him with death. Do you really think he’s about to make a deal with you? Note: Krug is far too enthusiastic about shooting people.
• Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Adam complains that Hoss is gone. Apparently he does the work of four men. Out of the blue, the place is shot up like a drive by shooting. Jose’s body is dumped on the porch, sending a clear message to the CWs. The CWs assume Hoss is in trouble. (Gee Ben, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to let him ride out alone with those strangers) They ride out at night to find him and Adam cautions that they don’t know how many men McCall has or how many guns they have to worry about. He thinks they just want the CWs out in the open so they can gun them down. LittleJoe gets hot under the collar again disagreeing with Adam but the older brother is of course more sensible and Joe apologizes. Huzzah!
• Back at Jose’s, Krug tries to assault Tubemily and Hoss hulks out and breaks free of his bonds, punching Krug into next week. Go Hoss! Hoss tries to free John too but he says there isn’t time and urges him to get Tubemily away. So Hoss pulls a Clark Gable, picks her up and sprints out of there. Later McCall and his men reflect. Maybe they should have tied her up. Yeah maybe you should have. She’s sick not paralyzed. She could have walked away at any time.
• Oh dear, Tubemily’s looks like she’s about to expire but Hoss is so optimistic and happy I think he’s oblivious to her situation. Maybe she’s bipolar too. Her attitude towards him is all over the place. One minute she telling him to get away from her, the next she’s apologizing and engaging him in conversation. The next day Tubemily suggests Hoss sleep and she keep watch since he carried her half the night. This sounds like the beginning of a bad idea. They have a little heart to heart and she’s surprised when he says she’s pretty. “You’re about as pretty as I am ugly.” Doesn’t that just hurt in your heart part? She tries to explain away McCall’s dickishness. She only saw the good side of him. There was a good side?
• Meanwhile McCall seems to have given up searching for his lost hostages and is instead preaching to the miners, trying to get them on his side. He tells them there’s gold on the Ponderosa, how the CWs murdered the “bug man”. He tells them to forget the “blue stuff” which is actually silver. What a bunch of sheep. Those miners will listen to anyone.
• Hoss talks to Tubemily about a valley he visits in the spring full of dogwood. He wants to take her there, says it’s a special place and he’s never taken anyone else. In fact, he wants her to stay on the Ponderosa, he wants to look after her. She says she doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her. And you can just tell Hoss is about to propose when a dumb horse ruins everything.
• On the other side of the scrub the CWs are coming down a hill and somehow don’t see the ambush set up for them in plain sight! This might explain why they’re such poor shots. They all need glasses. All except Hoss apparently. He sees the ambush and goes to warn his family. He yells at McCall and his men who’ve been tracking Hoss all along. Again, itchy-trigger finger Krug has to be stopped from blowing a hole in someone. McCall doesn’t want to alert the other CWs with gunfire. Meanwhile Hoss is yelling his lungs out trying to get his family’s attention. Maybe they’re hard of hearing too? And while Hoss is off to save the day Tubemily has probably collapsed in a coughing fit and may be dying at this very, oh, nope she decided to follow Hoss down the hill, running and jumping like an idiot.
• Hoss notices none of this and instead decides to demonstrate some of his best WWE moves on the bad guys. Hoss lays a beat down on McCall and the miners. Mark Hoss down for one win. I would say the best part is when gives McCall whatfor with his fists and “reckons he kinda lost his temper”
• When all is said and done, yes Ben you do owe John an apology for all this mess and while you’re at it I’ll take one too. If you had gone with Hoss none of this would have happened. And subsequently Tubemily wouldn’t have run down that mountain but because she did she needs a doctor. What an idiot.
• While the good guys have reconnoitred to the Ponderosa ranch house, Doc Riley checks on Tubemily and tells John “we need to talk”. Those four words are never followed by good news. We don’t see the conversation but we can guess what the Doc said.
• We see a heartfelt talk between brother and sister. Tubemily just wants to go back to San Francisco, apparently to die. John says the doctor only has a little time left. Then she says something strange. She doesn’t want to be a burden and urges John to go on to Virginia City alone. She sounds like she wants to go off and die alone. I do not understand her motivation here. Why not spend the time she has left on the Ponderosa with Hoss?
• So instead Tubemily decides to resign herself to her fate in San Francisco. Hoss wants to go with her and when she declines tells her to come back in the spring so he can show her his special valley. She says she’ll come back in the spring. Okay Tubemily, now would be the time to kiss him. It’s not like you’re going to get another chance. Okay, no kiss but she does tell him she loves him, despite only having known him about four days.
• Hoss bursts back into the Ponderosa, great big grin on his face. He’s so happy it’s almost heartbreaking. Everyone else is glum and depressed because they know she’s never coming back. They’re aren’t going to pretend. Hoss finds out the truth and calls the Doc a quack. And we’re never told exactly what she had. A spooky illness with no name. So Hoss is upset and Ben decides to make it all better by saying it’s God’s will. Oh BS! It’s TB. Hoss leaves the house in a state of despair.
• LittleJoe wants to go after him but Ben says its better he go alone. Hoss goes to sit by a lake and talks to god. Later we see him meeting up with the family building a fence. He doesn’t say anything but then, he doesn’t have to. Everyone knows how he feels.
• I think it’s safe to assume that Tubemily dies offscreen. She got involved with and confessed her love for a CW so she didn’t really stand a chance. In this episode we see the first woman fall to the Cartwright Curse.
• I really feel for Hoss, he’s not dark and brooding like Adam or cute and energetic like LittleJoe. He’s just really happy and optimistic most of the time but if you hurt his feelings he turns into a mopey puddle of pity. And he found a woman who cared for him and then she’s taken away.
Adam vs Random Gunfights = Adam
Hoss vs McCall & the Miners = Hoss
(I’m not counting Tubemily as she didn’t die during the episode)
Adam: 4W 1L
Hoss: 2W 1L
Little Joe: 0
Adam: 1 (Lotta Crabtree)
Hoss: 1 (Emily Pennington)
Little Joe: 0
Little Joe: 0
Slapcount Total: 4
Next Time: The Paiute War