First Impressions:    A really good fourth season opener. Too bad Slim isn't in it more, but still a darn good'ern.
In the teaser we see a young black man helping a deer that has a thorn in its hoof. Jamie, communes with the animals, you see. He is interrupted by a man riding down the road towards him. Before the deer came along, Jamie had obviously been waiting for this man. Hiding behind a rock, he picks up a rifle and apparently intends to bushwack the man.
Just before the credits, Jamie aims, but does not shoot.
After the opening credits, we find Jamie unable to shoot the man. He apparently canít take a life as he is reminded by his animal friends the deer and his own horse. Okay, no they didnít speak, but he looked at them as if they did. Communing, see?
Jamie, angry with himself shoos the deer off and empties the chamber of bullets from his rifle onto the ground.
Now there is a very nice cut to black gloved hands checking the chamber in his six shooter to see that it's fully loaded. We pull back to see Jess, busy with his gun as Mort comes up to talk to him. He notes that it's the third time Jess has checked his gun. Jess, in his inimitable way, says he just wants to be sure. His voice seems gruffer than usual. Mort sympathetically tells Jess he knows how he feels, but when they catch up to the bank robbers, there will be no gunplay unless they give them no choice.
Jess angrily asks what kind of choice did they give Mike and Daisy, and everyone else in the bank. Here's the exposition that tells us what happened. Jess is on a vendetta to get the ones that shot Mike in a Laramie bank hold up. Mort tries to be the voice of reason, but deaf ears has our Jess.
After a good long ride, that night Mort and Jess come upon a camp with two men sleeping around a campfire. They sneak in but the men don't wake up. That's because they're already dead.
Ooops, one of them aint quite dead yet. Jess gets the dying guy to confess that there is a third guy that shot these two guys and that his name was Mitch. Mitch talked him and his partner, the dead guy, into robbing the Laramie bank and then shot him and his partner and left them for dead.
He asks Jess to get this Mitch for them. Jess says he will, but not for the likes of him. Jess ainít cuttiní this guy any slack. The dying man tells Jess that Mitch only mentioned one town he might be headed to, and that was where he bought his horse. A town called Chloride. Then the guy dies. Good riddance as far as Jess is concerned.
Jess considers that a lead. Mort don't consider it much of one. A man named Mitch with a horse from Chloride. A man who'd just as leave back-shoot his own kind as innocent people. Jess has no choice but to try. He is seething. Mort says he canít go with him. Chloride is in Colorado Territory where he has no jurisdiction, and also he left town so fast there's no one covering for him.
Mort and Jess part ways after Mort gives Jess his badge and says heíll forward a warrant to Chloride when he gets home. Jess asks Mort to check on Mike and tell Slim and Daisy he's going after this man Mitch.
With not a little bit of worry, Mort watches Jess go.
Later, back at the ranch, Mike is unconscious. Slim tells Mort that it was touch-and-go for awhile. Daisy says heís young and heís a figher, heíll make it okay. Isnít that what they always said about Little Joe, too?
Anyhoo, Mort tells them sadly that he wishes Jess knew that. His insides are all tied up in knots. Slim asks if he should ride for Chloride. Mort advises him to wait for word. Jess should only just be getting there. Daisy asks if Mort thinks Jess rode all night. Mort says yes. He thinks Jess would have walked or crawled to get there if he had to. He was thinkiní of Mike.
As Mort continues, we see a montage of Jess riding hard and arriving in Chloride all dusty and walking his horse who is limping. Mort says in the voice over: ďThereís not much that can stop Jess now. His temper isnít long enough to measure. Kinda feel sorry for anyone who gets in his way. Unless itís a man named Mitch.Ē
Jess walks his horse to the livery stable and enters where several men are sitting around playing poker. Since one of them is LQ Jones, we know this is going to get interesting. They don't bother to get up and help Jess who is a little peeved already.
He tells the owner his horse needs tending to. The owner asks for cash in advance. Jess tosses it to him and the owner calls to his stable hand and sends Jess to the back of the barn leading his limping horse.
The stable hand is Jamie, the young black man we saw earlier. He is sympathetic and starts tending to Jessí horse right away. He has a knack for animals. Jess is grateful. While theyíre working, they strike up a conversation. Jamie admires a man who takes care of his horse before he takes care of himself. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
They are interrupted while the owner calls to Jamie to go fetch him and his buds some more suds. Jamie starts to go but Jess stops him. He says his horse needs him more right now. Jess tells Jamie to keep working and he'll handle it. Jess goes out to where the guys are still playing poker. Uh oh. Watch out.
Jess and his short temper tell the owner to get his own damn beer. No he didnít, that damn was me. But you hear it in his voice. Jamieís busy, he says. He paid in advance and he wants his moneyís worth. Things escalate a bit, as you knew they would, and in the ensuing fight, it's three against one. Well, actually two because the owner guy just stands back and watches his buds get slaughtered by a very pissed off Jess.
Jamie looks on with admiration. The owner says you got no right to come in here and beat up my friends. Jess, without an ounce of sarcasm, asks where would he like him to take them to beat them up? That Jess, he's such a card.
The owner threatens Jess with the sheriff and Jess says to send him over, he's just the man he wants to see.
When Jess goes back to the horse, Jamie says he hopes that donít get him in trouble. Jess wonders, who with, the sheriff? He doesnít think so since he doesnít have nothiní to hide. Jamie asks if he's ever been in Chloride before. Of course Jess hasnít.
Jamie asks if he's ever met Sheriff Tyler Shaw. "Canít say as I have."
"You in trouble, mister. Real trouble.Ē
Yeah. You got that right Jamie.
Later the sheriff has come in and confronted Jess. He threatens that if Jess don't shut up he'll throw him in jail so fast he wonít even hear the door shut. Jess contritely apologizes and shows the sheriff Mort's badge, tells him a warrant is coming, and explains why he's there.
Oh, yeah, by the way, did I mention that the sheriff is the same fella that Jamie had in his rifle sight in the teaser.? Yup, apparently Jamie was aiming to kill the sheriff, but just couldnít bring himself to do it. What we know of Jamie already, this sheriff must be a bad dude. Oh and he's played by Claude Akins. SCORE!'
The sheriff doesnít exactly believe Jess or that the badge is real and he donít know anyone named Mitch. Anyone can buy anything in this town. The town is economically depressed (yeah, he really said that! Okay, no he didnít) and they'll sell about anything they got.
Jess asks if Tyler minds if he looks around some. The sheriff warns him to take it easy and until the warrant comes, he's just another drifter to him.
Cut to obvious floozy, Nona (lots oí make up, sleeveless saloon girl dress) necking with slimy dude, Milo. The illusive Mitch, no doubt (Jan Merlin). She warns him to take his tongue out of her ear because Tyler will be there in a minute. Okay, no she di'int, but it looked like slime boy was about to eat her face. Okay, Tyler is the sheriff just in case you hadnít guessed it. These two are tonguing each other behind Tylerís back and apparently have been for awhile.
After they cool their jets, they discuss getting out of this rotten town. Milo says the $2500 he got from the Laramie bank ought to be a good start. Nona says no, she wants more than that. Golddigger.
Milo says she sets her sights pretty high. Flooz, uh, I mean Nona chides him. Doesnít he thinks sheís worth it, cuz Tyler does. So there.
With that, the aforementioned sheriff Tyler comes in. He's not happy with Milo. He tells Milo that he heard from a man named Harper about the two drifters he killed. One of them lived long enough to tell Jess about Chloride and a man named Mitch. Milo just says he'll stay out of Harper's way.
Tyler suggests he do just that and lets them know that Jess already beat up the two in the livery, and he wasnít even trying. That's our Jess.
Nona has got Tyler wrapped around her little finger and offers to help with Harper. Their plan is to discourage Jess from hanging around Chloride and to keep him away from Milo.
Later on the street, Jess and Jamie are discussing what's going on. Jamie tells him the livery boss has been spreading rumors about Jess. Thatís why he can't get in the hotel or the barber shop. No one will have anything to do with him.
Jamie offers Jess a stall for the night at the livery. Jess gratefully accepts if he doesnít end up in jail first. He's determined to get some food and a drink in the saloon or he might just rearrange their furniture some.
Jamie watches with trepidation as Jess goes into the Chloride Saloon.
Inside, Jess is shunned by the locals. The bartender gives him a beer, though. Nona floozies her way up to Jess and strikes up a conversation while Milo and Tyler watch. Tyler sends Milo away but he stays to watch.
Meanwhile, Jamie is caught 'sneaking around' by the livery gang who are suspicious of him. They have Jess' horse saddled and looks like theyíre taking him out of the livery.
They beat Jamie and then fire him and threaten him and tell him to forget what he's seen. The three men lead Jessí horse out leaving Jamie on the ground
In the saloon, Nona tells Jess a tale about man named Mitch, a drifter who isnít around any more. She tells Jess that Mitch bought a horse and left town.
While they're talking, one of the men from the livery (LQ) comes up behind Jess with a rifle on him. He makes Nona take Jessí gun and then makes Jess walk outside with him.
As soon as Jess is outside on the sidewalk, LQ slams him with the butt of the rifle. Tyler and the others are waiting. They tie Jess on his horse and lead it out of town. Luckily our Jamie is watching from the shadows and sees what happens and follows.
Milo also saddles up and follows. Milo is after Jess and it ainít to just be sure he gets back to Laramie okay.
Out on the road outside of town, LQ and another guy get ready to send Jess on his way back to Laramie. They mention he's bleeding pretty badly and may just die anyway. They slap Jessí horse, and he takes off with Jess tied over the saddle.
Jamie catches up to Jessí horse and stops it. Jess is bleeding badly and Jamie knows he has to help. He leads the horse off the road and back to his cabin
The next morning, Jamie is coming into his cabin and a disoriented Jess jumps him, not knowing it's Jamie. Jess has blood on the bandage around his head, and is confuzzled.
He accuses Jamie of being part of it. Jamie proves he wasnít by giving Jess a gun. Jess finally puts it together and believes him, but he's still disoriented.
Strangely enough Jamie tells Jess he got the bleeding stopped as we see blood running down the back of Jess' neck. Hmmm.
Jess asks where Jamie has been. Jamie says he went to hide Jess' horse in the woods and tend to his bad leg. Jess doesnít remember exactly what happened. Jess worries that him being there is going to get Jamie into more trouble. Jamie explains that he was fired, so he has no where else to go. Jess tries to leave, but is too weak. Before he passes out again, he says he figures the man he's looking for is back in Chloride and he tells Jamie to call him Jess.
Back in town, Milo walks into Nonaís room. She wants to know if he found Harper, but Milo didn't. Nona says they took Jess out five miles. He should have been able to find him.
Nona expects him to be sure Jess is dead. She sends him out again to find him. Milo has no problem doing it, but wants to wait until he's had a little nookie first. Nona pulls a gun and kind of insists he go. Down boy.
Back at the cabin, Jamie is cleaning his gun and Jess, awake again, asks about it.
Jamie tells Jess he keeps his gun ready because he's getting ready to kill a man.
This is where we find out that Jamie worked for a veterinarian before the war, who taught him everything he knows about animals. He was a good man. One day during the war, he and old doc were trying to hide one of his best jumpers when they were spotted by a union officer. That officer killed the doctor and stole the horse. He taught himself to shoot and has been planning it ever since. He says he had him in his sights but he couldnít do it.
Jess asks if he tried taking it to the law. Jamie laughs and says the man is the law. Sheriff Tyler Shaw. We knew that. Of course, this is news to Jess.
Jess has to lie down again. His brains are still rattling around a bit. Jamie goes out to take care of the horses.
While he's gone, Milo finds Jamie with the horses. He gets the drop on him and beats him up then he takes him back to the cabin. Jamie is unconscious and Milo hogties Jess and sets fire to the cabin. Of course he has some dastardly things to say. He might as well have been twirling a mustache, but he didnít have one. He says heíll shoot them if they should escape and try to come outside.
Jamie is able to get them out using a trap door in the floor. They come out in the woods and watch the cabin burn.
As Jess and Jamie are cleaning up down at the creek they decide what they must do. Jamie wants to help, but is held back. Heís says heís trying to make up his mind to go with Jess. But then he reminds Jess that he has no gun, and his headís still hurtin.
That donít make no nevermind to Jess. He says theyíve been beat up, slugged, and knocked around. The way he feels, he donít need no gun. Atta boy, Jess
Jamie says Jess has done things like this all his life, but itís new to him. Jess says he just feels that way because of a piece of paper that Abe Lincoln signed. Jamie quotes what old Abe said in that piece of paper, ďI do hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free, that they abstain from all violence unless necessary in self-defense and I recommend to them that in all cases when allowed, that they labor faithfully for a reasonable wage.ď Jess asks, ďDo you think youíve been working for a reasonable wage?Ē He says that bringing in a crooked sheriff like Tyler is acting in self-defense, not just for them, but for everybody.
Jamie decides to straighten out his backbone and go with Jess and Jess is proud to have him come. Neither one of them have a gun. Come to think of it, wonder what happened to Jessí hat?
They get into town and end up at the livery stable where they are met by the henchmen. They take care of them handily and now they have a couple of guns. Jamieís still not too sure about using a gun on anybody. Jess pins Mortís badge on him. ďDoes that make you feel any better? ď
Milo and Tyler meet Jamie and Jess in the street in classic western style. When the smoke clears, both Tyler and Milo are down, but not dead. Nona goes all whimpery over Milo. Idiot.
Jess and Jamie had both hit the dirt during the fight. They get up and Jamie gives Jess back the badge.
Guess this here town is gonna need a new sheriff.
Back home, Jamie is packing his bag to go and he is all smiles. Heís all duded up in a suit and it seems heís been staying with the folks for awhile. Slim invites him to stay cuz they sure could use another veterinarian, but Jamie wants to go and see all that new land out west that heís never seen before. Daisy has packed him a lunch. Jess is sitting in the rocker watching. Jamie says ďJess here has about convinced me I can do anything if I set my mind to it."
Jess says that Jamie will be okay as long as heís scared of the same things heís scared of.
Whatís that you ask?
ďGettiní married, and beiní left afoot.Ē
Not sure, but I think thatís the second time Iíve heard Jess say that. Donít remember what the other episode was though. He should have a bumper sticker made for his horseís butt.
So, they go outside and Mike, his arm in a sling, comes up to Jamie looking all smug. He has put a little puppy in Jamieís saddlebag for him to take with him. Jamie gratefully accepts and off he goes with the folks all waving bye bye.
Annie's Favorite Moments:   I love when, just before the big shoot out at the end, Jamie reaches up and rubs the badge that Jess has just given him. It's a subtle gesture, but sweet. I also love Jamie's recitation of Abe Lincoln. Ivan does a very nice job. I also always go back to the scene where Jess is with Mort and he's checking his gun. He is very intense and looks and sounds so tough in that scene.
Notes of Interest:       Jan Merlin once again plays the slimy weasel of a bad guy. Claude is always wonderful, whether he's a good guy or not. In this one, he ain't, and he's kind of wasted, but nice to see him. Ivan Dixon was very good with just the right amount of earnestness to play Jamie. He went on to be Kinch on Hogan's Heroes and then later a very prolific TV director.
Two family sized bandaids. One for Mike. The one and only time he actually gets hurt in the show. Another for our Jess who gets walloped good in this one and scrambles his eggs for awhile.