This episode is one of my favorites from the first season. The story is a bit loose and confusing--partly because it mixes in actual historical events, and partly because it's mostly told in a flashback style. It also manages to work in a few hilarious scenes with all of the ground it covers, and the episode almost feels like a mini-epic.
The Cartwrights' tree-cutting scene is a real gem. The boys complain about the time required to cut down the huge Ponderosa pine they just axed down, but Ben chastises them by pointing out that the tree took 400 years to grow; Adam waxes about all of the wonderful things these ancient trees will provide once cut: houses and ships! But, don't worry...the Cartwrights are "green" after all, and Ben requires the boys the plant a sapling everytime they cut one down...yep, it'll be a forest again in a hundred years!
The next scene is even more amazing...the whole clan has a bit of fun with Hoss's new buffalo rifle. They have no idea who the men chasing Comstock might be (or even who Comstock is), but that doesn't stop them from having target practice on the clueless fellows from a half mile away. Joe even shoots one in the arm, much to the amusement of his siblings. These Cartwrights can be a downright ornery bunch, best stay away from their land!
A few plotlines seem to go nowhere, such a the worthless "blue stuff" Comstock notices in the diggings (turquoise maybe?). The dance scene is just plain weird, including those ornery Cartwrights making fun of the weight-challenged ladies. Also notable is the assortment of background music, ranging from orchestral to surf guitar. The episode ends on an unusual note; instead of threatening the squatter, they actually give him a bit of charity...I guess the Cartwrights were in a good mood after recounting all of the fun stuff in recalling Comstock's story. Great stuff, this episode!