Season 1 Episode 15

The Last Hunt

Aired Saturday 7:30 PM Dec 19, 1959 on NBC

Episode Recap

While hunting bighorn sheep in the Nevada wilderness, Hoss and Little Joe meet a pregnant Shoshone maiden. After Joe – mistaking her for a thief – knocks her out and Hoss determines she's with child, the two Cartwright brothers figure she was out tracking someone.

But whom, praytell? Well, they can't worry about that now; a blizzard is fast approaching, and they need to get on the other side of the mountain pass before they're shut in. And what about that suspicion that someone just might be following them? Is it the Shoshone girl's boyfriend, who might be in Virginia City, or the maiden's father and tribe members looking for their bloodline.

While the three make their way across the mountain pass, Hoss and Joe basically act like brothers. At one point, Joe – probably in retaliation of being forced to eat "cattle fodder" – tricks Hoss into thinking Indians ("Injuns!" screams Hoss) are attacking.

The Shoshone girl breaks out into laughter, but the "ha-has" quickly give way to labor pains. Hoss plays obstetrician, while a grossed-out Joe stays outside ... until he hears crying from a handsome baby boy.

While Hoss is tending to the resting Shoshone, Joe comforts the infant and gets a good look at those eyes ... those blue eyes. "Ain't never seen an Indian with blue eyes," Joe and Hoss realize. No wonder – this baby's father is white.

So, fighting the fast-approaching blizzard and realizing they're being tracked by the girl's Shoshone tribe, Hoss and Joe try to get details from the maiden, but she's starting to fall seriously ill. Joe is frustrated that the girl won't talk, but Hoss tells his younger brother to back off.

Eventually, they catch up with Ben and Adam's search party, who fight off the Shoshones, thinking them to be attacking Joe and Hoss. Back at the Ponderosa, Ben yells at his two youngest sons, noting they've brought trouble; however, he realizes that the girl is now burning up with fever and needs to get some details. After sending Adam for the doctor, Ben gently questions the Shoshone. Before she can answer, she passes out.

Just as Ben is pondering what to do next, his one-time business associate Sumner Kyle and his 20-something son, Jason, arrive late at night at the house to see the Shoshone girl and his baby. It's revealed that Jason is the baby's father, and the son explains that he and the Indian girl fell in love. Due to his father's imposing attitudes, Jason abandoned the maiden. Now he wants to reunite with his new family and start a life together.

Sadly, it's too late.

The Shoshone girl – whose name no one ever learns – has died, leaving the baby without a mother. When Ben announces the news, Jason runs upstairs to see his girlfriend against his father's wishes.

In the closer, Ben reads the 23rd Psalm at the Shoshone girl's funeral. Jason wants to take his son and leave, but Ben advises him that the chief of the Shoshone tribe still has a bloodline through the baby boy and he should live with the Indians. Jason reluctantly agrees, only to tell his father he's going home to live with his son...AND the Shoshones!
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