Season 1 Episode 24

The Stranger

Aired Saturday 7:30 PM Feb 27, 1960 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • A police officer from New Orleans comes to Virginia City, looking for Ben. He claims Ben is wanted on a charge of murder for a crime committed just before Ben left New Orleans with Joe's mother, his new wife, to return to the Ponderosa.

    This first season episode gives some background on Ben's relationship with Marie, Joe's mother. Apparently, just after Ben married her, a man named Simon LaRoche tried to blackmail her to keep "her past" a secret. Ben found out, got in a fight with him, and Ben killed LaRoche when he pulled a knife on him. LaDuke, the policeman from New Orleans, went after Ben and fell as he chased him. LaDuke's gun went off and hit him in the leg, crippling him, and he blames Ben for it.

    When Joe learns of the lies LaDuke is itching to tell about his mother, he demands of Ben that he tell him what it is that he knows and what LaRoche was blackmailing Marie to keep hidden. Ben never really says. The scene in which Joe finds out why LaDuke has come to town and tearfully, and heatedly, tries to find out about what is behind it all is a great one. Another is the scene at Marie's grave when Ben latter finds Joe there.

    This episode does much to establish the close relationship between Joe and Ben. While Ben is close to all his boys, there is something so protective about his actions toward his youngest. He even withdraws himself as a potential candidate for governor of the soon-to-be-state of Nevada, to try and ensure that there will be no scandal involving Joe's long dead mother. He also asks the sheriff to keep Joe locked up when agrees to leave and return to New Orleans with LaDuke, in exchange for LaDuke telling the truth about a gunfight he witnessed, when Joe outdrew LaDuke's henchman, who tries to gun Joe down. Initially, LaDuke lied and said Joe had gunned the other man down in cold blood, to force a trial of the charge, so he could testify about Joe's mother's past.

    This episode probably has more background information about the past of the Cartwrights than any of the other early episodes and is important viewing for fans so that they get some history of the development of the family. It also is a great one to show the personality traits of Joe, such as his hot temper and how emotional he gets about his mother.
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