Glory Road

Glory Road

First Impressions:    A sweet Jess story underlying a character study of a dark, demented man who comes and threatens Jess' new home.

The Story:     In the second episode of Laramie, a crazed acquaintance from Jess' past comes to Laramie causing Jess to leave the ranch to protect Andy and Slim.

Roney Bishop joins evangelist Essie Bright on her traveling crusade. He tells her that he's a piano player, and trusting Essie hires him without an audition. Essie's wagon, with Roney driving and her piano strapped on the back, pulls up to the Sherman Way Station. Roney is obviously looking for someone.
Inside the house, Jess is having a cigarette and coffee while Andy feeds his new kitten. They both see the wagon pull into the yard and Jess immediately recognizes Roney. Jess, being uncharacteristically rough, orders Andy to go outside and tell the man that he doesn't live there anymore. Andy doesn't understand, but he does it anyway.

Slim overhears Andy's lie but doesn't say anything at the time. Roney is obviously upset that Jess isn't there, and he and Essie leave. Before leaving, an enraptured Jonesy admires Essie's piano, and they strike up a friendship.

After Roney and Essie leave, Jess comes out of the house, and Slim angrily confronts him about asking Andy to lie for him. He then tries to prod Jess into telling him why he's behaving like he's afraid of Roney.

At first, Jess won't say anything, and then he allows how Roney once saved his life. This confuses Slim even more than before. Why would Jess avoid him? Jess will only say he has his reasons.

Just then, Roney comes in the door and Jess ducks behind it to avoid him. Roney says the brake handle on the wagon broke out on the road. Slim offers to fix it. Roney turns and sees Jess whose behavior is still odd. Roney accepts Jess' lie that he just came back for his gear, and then insists that Jess accompany him and Essie to town. Roney dismisses Jess' ineffective protests and Jess reluctantly agrees to leave with them.

Outside, while Slim fixes the brake handle, Jess saddles up and Andy pleads with him. He doesn't understand why Jess is leaving and he is completely baffled why Jess is acting like he's afraid of Roney. Jess will only say "think what you like".

Meanwhile, Slim has walked out to the road to put the brake rod back on. Jonesy has already gone out to the wagon and availed himself of the piano. He just can't resist playing. Essie likes his playing and invites him to play it in town anytime. Roney overhears and realizes this may be a way out for him. He has lied about being able to play, and because Essie likes Jonesy, he insists that Jonesy comes to town with them. He says that Jonesy plays better than he does. Essie says that Roney still has the job, but she'd be glad for Jonesy to accompany them.

After a few minutes, Jess rides up to join them as Slim finishes his work on the brake. Roney introduces Jess to Essie and Essie is delighted to be surrounded by three men. The wagon with Jonesy, Essie and Roney pulls out, with Jess riding along side. Slim turns to walk back to the house, but turns and gives Jess a last look, not really expecting him to return. With a bit of a sad smile, he turns and walks away.

More of Roney's unstable behavior is apparent while on the trip in to Laramie, a stage full of passengers approaches from the rear and overtakes them. The passengers are pointing and laughing as they read the "See the Light with Essie Bright" sign on the side of the wagon. Roney gets angry at what he perceives to be disrespect of Miss Essie, and whips the horses into a gallop to catch up with the stage. Jonesy tries to stop him and is unceremoniously dumped from the wagon. The horses run out of control and Jess has to stop them.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (I've always wanted to say that), Andy is upset that Jess has left for no apparent reason. Slim tries to prepare him for the fact that Jess may not ever come back.

In town, Essie tries to talk a reluctant bar owner into letting her hold Sunday meetings in his establishment. With Roney glowering at him from behind Essie, he agrees.

Jess and Jonesy have a conversation in which Jess finally tells Jonesy why he is obligated to Roney. Roney found him in the desert where he had been laying for four days with a broken leg. He saved his life and after that Jess had only seen him one other time. Roney had been arrested for beating up a woman with brass knuckles. Jess had avoided him since then. Jonesy, in his infinite wisdom finally realizes why Jess suddenly left to come with Roney and Essie. It was to protect Andy.

Later, Jess and Roney have a drink in another saloon and more of Roney's personality, and Jess' sense of obligation, is established. Jess already feels obligated, and Roney reminds him of that obligation at every opportunity.

Later, Roney realizes that he must find a way to avoid playing the piano at the church service on Sunday morning. He takes his brass knuckles and breaks his own hand. Afterwards, he suggests to Essie that Jonesy will have to play for church.

That evening after preparations have been made and Jonesy has practiced the piano, Essie, Jess and Jonesy are sitting and talking. We hear a little bit about Essie's background and how she became an evangelist. Roney, lurking nearby, overhears part of the conversation and wrongly concludes that Miss Essie is ready to settle down with him here in Laramie.

Later that night, Jess is in a hotel room sleeping, when Roney comes in and wakes him. It's time for Jess to meet his obligation. He tells Jess that Miss Essie is ready to settle down and he wants Jess to go out the next day and find them a "little place" to call their own. Jess agrees, but knows that Roney is slipping further into delusion.
The next day is Sunday and at Essie's service, she begins her sermon and in due course, tells the audience that her only love is for God. Roney, in his unstable mind, sees this as a slap in the face to him, who he believes she is in love with. He confronts her angrily in front of the whole town. As he slips further into madness, he attacks, and of course, Jess steps in. In the ensuing fight, the piano gets knocked off the stage and shattered. Roney eventually gets the better of Jess in the fight because of his brass knuckles. After knocking Jess down, he prepares to kill him when Essie steps in and Roney says he's going to kill her too. Essie has a gun in her hand and distracts Roney for the instant that it takes Jess to grab the rifle and shoot Roney. Roney dies as the sad and heroically forgiving Essie holds him.

A week later, Andy is still moping around, missing Jess. Slim and Jonesy sympathize, but Slim feels that Andy is going to have to get over it because it doesn't look like Jess is coming back. Then they hear the sound of a piano from the house. As they come in the front door, Jess is tinkering with the piano in the front parlor. Andy is ecstatic. Jonesy has eyes only for the piano. Jess has had it rebuilt and says that it's a gift from all of them, including Miss Essie. Jonesy sits down to play "Marry Me In Laramie". Slim puts his arm around Jess' shoulders and says it's good to have him back and they all sing "Marry Me In Laramie" together.

Annie's Favorite Moments:     I love the first scene where we see Slim and Jonesy talking about Jess drinking enough coffee that Slim figures Jess should owe Slim money at the end of the month.
I really love Jonesy all throughout this episode.
We track inside to find Andy playing around with his dog and a kitten. Jess is lounging up against the stove sipping coffee and smoking. Okay, don't ask me why, I just love that.
I also love the very smoothe transition when Andy shoos his dog out the door, which leads him to open the door and he first sets eyes on Essie's wagon.
Another favorite moment:   Jess is awakened in the middle of the night by Roney. Roney has sneaked (snuck?) into Jess' hotel room and wakes him out of a sound sleep, just to coerce him into going out the next day to find Roney and Essie "a little place". He has convinced himself that Essie wants to settle down with him. After Roney's temper flares when Jess sleepily balks at being awakened, Jess agrees to do whatever Roney wants him to. My theory is that Jess isn't really physically afraid of Roney, he's afraid of what he may have to do to Roney. He has a highly developed sense of obligation and he knows he owes Roney his life. At the same time, he knows that Roney is a dangerous man who is capable of anything. Jess is afraid that if he stays around him for too long, he will be forced to kill him, which is of course, exactly what happens.

Okay, last favorite moment. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the last scene, but I'm going to let my partner tell you her feelings about the sing-a-long. I'm actually more a fan of the moments leading up to the Sing-a-long-With-Jonesy moment. I loved Andy sulking and Slim essentially saying he'd better snap out of it because it doesn't look like Jess is coming back. I love how when they walk into the house and find Jess there, Andy literally flies into Jess' arms. It's so evident that in just a short period of time, Andy and Jess have formed a deep attachment. I also love the idea that Jess thought enough of Jonesy to have the piano rebuilt as a gift for him. ::sigh:: Whatta guy.

Jenny's Favorite Moments: I have to agree that Jonesy is wonderful throughout this episode, and I love poor Jess throughout as well. He's miserable knowing that he's obligated to Roney, yet concerned that Roney may hurt someone. The look he and Slim exchange as Jess is leaving is priceless. Jess looks sad, Slim is confused, but smiles very pleasantly. Definitely one of my favorite moments. Poor Jess. My favorite moment has to be the cast singing 'Marry Me in Laramie' at the end of the episode. See the sheet music to 'Marry Me in Laramie'   here

Notes of Interest:     Hoagy Carmichael wrote "Marry Me In Laramie" for the show.

Nanette Fabray is perfect as the sweet and trusting Essie.

Eddie Albert, although not generally known to play heavies, is wonderfully crazed and psychotic as Roney. You can really understand why a tough guy like Jess is afraid to cross him.

The Owie Factor:     Since we don't have half-bandaids, we'll give one to Jess for his grand finale fight scene with Roney. Roney, in his crazed state, not to mention his brass knuckles, actually gets the better of Jess (now ya gotta admit, that didn't happen every day). Roney beats the stew out of him, but thanks to 1950's standards and practices, we see no real injuries. It takes Essie's intervention to draw Roney's attention away just long enough for Jess to keep Roney from killing him. Overall, a good fight scene with flying bodies, flying pianos and gawking townsfolk. God bless 'em.

Annie's rating: Four stars. An entertaining yet dark character study. Eddie Albert is brilliant and we get to see a glimpse into Jess' past

Jenny's rating: Three and a half stars.  Better than average, but not quite as good as the best.  Eddie Albert is fascinating as this demented man, and Jess is so loveable when he's miserable.

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