Season 1 Episode 12

The Hanging Posse

Aired Saturday 7:30 PM Nov 28, 1959 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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out of 10
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  • Adam and Joe ride in a posse tracking three men, only one of which is responsible for the murder of one of their neighbors. Soon it is obvious that the Cartwrights are the only members of the group that have any intention of seeing justice done.

    This is an excellent eearly episode that develops the characters of both Adam and Joe. It also depicts the Cartwright creed of "law and order every time." Adam and Joe are in town to get Joe a haircut at Ben's insistance, when the two are asked to join a posse that is going after the three men believed to be responsible for the brutal murder of the wife of a friend and neighbor. The woman's husband and, to a lesser extent, her son, are not just out to see the men brought back for trial. The husband and the deputy in charge, in the sheriff's absence, get Paiute Scruggs, a notorious leader of lynch mobs, to do the tracking for the posse.

    As the story develops, Joe is disillusioned by the lynch mob attitude that becoes obvious in the rest of the men. He and Adam keep their distance as the other men stop at a brothel, at Scruggs suggestion, and get liquored up. As the rest of the men sleep, later on, Joe tries to console the son of the murdered woman, but he resents the Cartwright brothers refusal to go along with the plan to lynch the suspects. Joe than wakes Adam to ask about the right and wrong of the situation. This particular exchage is one of the first instances in which the oldest and youngest Cartwright brothers show a closeness to each other, rather than friction.

    Anther scene where this comes through in a more subtle way is when Adam and Joe are trying to provide one of the outlaws, gunned down by other members of the posse, a descent burial. When the husband makes them stop their efforts at gunpoint, they both stand and then you see Adam ease himself in between the man with the gun and Little Joe. Again, this is one of the first instances where we see this protectiveness by Adam of his little brother. Up to this episode, he was more bossy than protective.

    This is a great episode, with a lot of drama. The last scenes, when you don't know if the other men will succeed in lynching the murderer, are especially good.