Another very good season two episode. Both Slim and Jess try to help a stranger, but Jess gets more involved than he probably should. A wonderful window on Jess' character and how he feels about friendship and loyalty. New pictures added at the bottom of the page.
The Story:    Jess is chasing a trespasser on Sherman land. The man is on foot and hiding in the brush, but Jess soon spots him and fires a warning shot. The man gives up and Jess approaches. The man tells Jess to go ahead and shoot him, he’s through running, and then he passes out and falls down. Later at the ranch, we meet Fred Powers. Jess has taken him home and Slim is feeding him. He hasn’t eaten in three days. Fred explains that he had to sell his horse and it’s obvious that someone is after him. Fred insists that he work to pay for his meal and reluctantly Slim allows it.
One evening Jess comes to see Fred in the bunkhouse. He invites Fred to go to town with him and Slim to have some fun. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t get Fred to go with them. Fred’s been with them for 2 weeks and he keeps to himself. Jess and Slim ride off for a night on the town.
The next morning Slim is bright eyed and busy tailed, but Jess isn’t out of bed yet. He’s just a tad hung over and his head is telling him about it. Slim rides off to the Fenton place to check on some horses, leaving Jess to drag himself out of bed. Later, Jess is repairing harness, when a man on foot comes up behind him and pulls a gun. He wants to know where Fred Powers is. Jess denies even knowing him. Jess distracts the man and gets the jump on him. They’re rolling around on the ground, but the bounty hunter gets his gun back and is about to shoot Jess, when Fred comes up and kills him. Fred says he’s never seen him before.
When Jess tells Fred the man was asking for him, Fred cryptically says, “I figured that”. He explains to Jess that a series of paid gunmen have been sent after him over the last year. He killed a man in self defense and was acquitted, but the father of the man he killed has not given up. That night, Slim and Jess are sitting on the porch and Jess tells Slim about Fred’s predicament. Fred comes out of the bunkhouse and tells the guys he’s pulling out. He wants to leave because he’s afraid others will come and endanger Slim and Jess. He tells Slim and Jess they’re the only friends he has in the world. They finally convince Fred to stay and they’ll face what comes together.
Slim is washing up and getting spiffed for a date. He’s going to ride over to the Fenton’s again to see Sue Fenton. Jess teases him, but is really pleased for Slim. Fred has cooked dinner and they sit down to eat. Fred asks if he can borrow the buckboard. He has a date with Sue Fenton. Poor Slim is devastated. Fred doesn’t know about Slim’s interest in Sue. Slim doesn’t let on, just excuses himself from the table and tells Fred to have a good time tonight.
Fred and Sue are riding in the buckboard, talking. Sue has lived here all her life and she loves it, but now she wants to get away and travel. She tells Fred about a piece of property she inherited in California that she’s never seen. The sparks are flying and it’s apparent that Fred and Sue have found each other. Fred also talks about his friendship with Slim and Jess, how it’s changed his outlook. Now he feels like he has a future.
Jess tries to cheer Slim up. They’re in town and Jess buys Slim a drink. They run into Mort in the saloon. It’s real quiet and Jess wants to know what’s up. There are two very unsavory characters sitting in the saloon that have been asking for Fred Powers. The bartender knows about Fred but hasn’t said anything. Slim and Jess confront the two and want to know what they want with him. The two won’t talk. Jess says their type don’t talk unless they’re paid to. A rowdy boy in the saloon is drunk and belligerent. He picks a fight with Mort and then turns on the two strangers. Jess tries to stop him, but the boy pushes it too far and the two gunfighters kill him in self defense. Mort saw it was self defense and can’t do anything about it.
Fred brings the buckboard home that night and Slim and Jess tell him about the two men asking for him. They’re professionals and the only thing Fred is surprised about is that they’re coming in pairs now.
Jess goes to the bunkhouse. Fred is sick of running and sick of killing. Jess assures him that he’ll make a stand with him and Slim will too. Fred refuses Jess’ help and has resigned himself to his fate. Sooner or later they’ll get him. Jess encourages him to make a run for it. He and Slim will give him a horse and some money. Fred angrily tells Jess to keep out of it.
Jess rides into town and talks to Mort. He wants Mort to arrest those two gunfighters. Mort of course, can't because he has no cause. They argue, Jess knows they’re here to kill Fred, but Mort can’t do anything because they've done nothing illegal. Jess leaves mad as a hornet. As he leaves the office, he spots the two gunfighters across the street. He goes over to them and threatens them. One of them moves around behind Jess and slugs him over the head and the two of them drag Jess into an alley and beat him.
That night, Mort brings a badly beaten Jess home. As he and Slim are putting Jess to bed and cleaning him up, they discuss what happened. No one saw it, but the two say Jess jumped them and they wanted to press charges. Mort talked them out of it, but he wants Slim to keep Jess out of town for awhile. Mort leaves and Fred asks Slim what happened to Jess. He knows Jess got himself beat up because of him. Later after Jess wakes up, he tells Slim he’s going back into town after those two gunfighters. Slim tries to stop him and Jess pulls a gun on him. Jess finally relents and puts the gun down. Dejected, he goes outside by himself.
Back in town, Mort confronts the two gunfighters and runs them out of town. He has no cause, but he’s just mad enough to make him run them out for no reason other than he just doesn't like them.
Back at the ranch, Slim has followed Jess outside and Jess explains to Slim he wants to help Fred kind of like Slim helped him once. He reminds Slim how he helped him when he first came “with a greased holster and trouble in both pockets”. He feels bad that Fred is in the spot that he’s in and he still wants to help. So does Slim. They go to talk to Fred, but he’s not in the bunkhouse. Fred has left, on foot. On the road, Fred hides in the bushes when Slim and Jess ride by, then he goes across country.
At the Fenton’s, the two gunfighters have come to ask about Fred. They break into the house and hold the family hostage, waiting for Fred to show up. Slim and Jess figure he might have gone to the Fenton’s to say goodbye, so they go there. The gunfighters force Sue to answer the door and get rid of Slim and Jess. During the conversation, Sue deliberately calls them by their wrong names when she says goodbye. The guys ride off, but they know something’s wrong so they double back. Meanwhile, Fred shows up at the Fenton’s and Sue shouts a warning. There is a shootout, and between Fred, Slim and Jess, they take care of the bad guys and Sue rushes into Fred’s arms.
The tag has a now apparently married Fred and Sue heading for California. They’ve come by the ranch to say goodbye. Mort is there and tells Fred that there will be no more hired guns after him. The man doing the hiring has been put in prison. Slim and Jess look proud as punch, and Fred and Sue drive off to their new life in California.
Annie's Favorite Moments:
Easy! The scene where Mort brings Jess home after having the stuffing beat out of him. Both Slim and Mort don't believe what Jess' has been accused of, but they both know him well enough to know he probably stuck his nose in where it didn't belong.
Another equally favorite scene is when Jess has a hangover and Slim is unsympathetic. It's a very amusing and very human scene ending with Jess throwing a towel at Slim, and Slim ducking out the door.
There's one more scene that stands out for me and I love to watch it over and over. And, surprise! surprise! neither Slim nor Jess are in it! It's when, after Jess was beaten, Mort goes to the saloon with his rifle and forces the two bounty hunters to leave town just because he doesn't like the looks of them. Mort is mad as hell and tough as nails. One of his best scenes ever.
Jenny's Favorite Moments:
What scene don't I like? I wholeheartedly agree with the scenes Annie mentions. They're wonderful. I also Jess and Slim's overall relationship throughout the episode. Jess' teasing about Sue, his sympathy when Slim loses Sue to Fred, and Jess's wanting to help Fred because Slim helped Jess. I just love lots of Slim and Jess, and I got my money's worth here. My favorite scene has to go to the Jess and Slim scene where he pulls a gun on Slim, then backs down, and goes outside and tells Slim why he wants to help Fred. It gets to me every time. What better way to show how much Jess appreciates what Slim did for him, than for Jess to want to do the same for others. Slim has made a difference. Now Jess wants to. I love it!
Notes of Interest:   Fred is played by John Lupton who was also in Day of the Savage playing a bad guy. The two hired guns are played by Russell Johnson and Lee Van Cleef.
In the scene where the two bounty hunters beat Jess, they drag Jess behind a building. We only see the beating in shadows on the ground. Then Jess falls and we see his body. He went into the alley with his hat and gunbelt, and falls on the ground without either one. The hat I get, but did they beat him so hard his gunbelt flew off? When Mort brings him home later, the gunbelt is back on.
The Owie Factor:   Jess gets pretty well pummelled in this one, taking one for trying to help a friend.