Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 2 Episode 31

The Man Who Lost

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Apr 25, 1959 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • Paladin holds fast to his faith in the justice system, even when everyone else--and his own feelings--disagree.

    A grim, intense episode starts out on a very light note, as Paladin is clobbered (not too hard) by an angry woman. She is the most overtly sexual woman seen so far on this series. Apparently Paladin had summarily dumped her when he learned that she was engaged (one can envision a wealthy, older man) and was strictly entertaining herself with Paladin. One might be tempted to think of the pot calling the kettle black, but I tend to think that Paladin is as honest and upfront with his lady friends as he is with other aspects of his life. He holds firm (although the temptation is clearly considerable)and sends her on her way. (If this had been filmed nowadays, I think that the lady might have goosed him as she stepped behind him on the way up the stairs.)

    Paladin quickly finds another business opportunity--a criminal on the run after having assaulted a young couple, killing the man and leaving his wife injured. The woman's two brothers are part of the posse tracking him down--so far without sucess. Paladin persuades the brothers to pay him for his assistance.

    The chase is further hampered by a serious duststorm. John Wildhorse, an Indian tracker assisting Paladin, refuses to go farther. When Paladin presses on, he advises him to simply shoot the man, Ben Coey, to save himself the risk and effort. Paladin, of course, is determined to bring the man in for a fair trial, and it doesn't take him long to find Coey and bring him back to Wildhorse's waystation to wait out the storm. Wildhorse and Coey both point out that when the brothers arrive, they will shoot Coey out of hand. Paladin holds firm.

    Coey, of course, says that he's innocent. Paladin still holds firm: if he's innocent, he can prove it at the trial. It wouldn't be the first time Paladin had run into a fugitive that was really innocent. Coey tries to escape, but then, a frightened and innocent man might do the same. Paladin keeps him locked up, but treats him decently. We learn, rather surprisingly, that between his work, his poker and his women, Paladin no longer has much time for recreational reading, although he used to. (This might explain some of the errors that creep into his quotations; it's easier to remember the idea of a quote than the precise wording.) Coey speaks wistfully of Paladin's ability to sit still and yet travel to far-away places with books. Coey himself does not know how to read.

    One of Coey's escape attempts leads him straight to one of the brothers, Will Gage. Paladin quickly gets the upper hand, and shoves everyone back in the house. Will's sister is on her way with her other brother, Joe, and she will be able to tell them if Coey is the guilty party or not. Mrs. Bryson arrives and enters the room where Coey is chained, along with her brother Joe, who disarmed at Paladin's insistance. It's a long, drawn-out moment. Coey, who at first hid his face, looks at Mrs. Bryson with an open, perhaps pleading, expression. Mrs. Bryson looks back at him quietly. Just as you think she's going to shake her head or some such, Coey suddenly gives a lecherous grin and addresses her familiarly. (I guess he figured he had nothing to lose.) They had not gone into detail regarding Mrs. Bryson's assault, but Coey's expression, and Mrs. Bryson's reaction, make it pretty clear just what that assault entailed. (I understand that in the past, "rape" was not permitted to be referred to directly on television.) It's clear to Paladin, as well, and he no longer has any doubts about Coey's guilt--but he still will not allow the man to be gunned down in cold blood.

    No one can understand why Paladin will not step aside. It's unlikely that they would listen to an argument about how bending the laws once would lead to them being bent again, and eventually to anarchy. For myself, I would think that seeing the man hanged in a public spectacle would be more satisfying. (Manfred Holt forced Paladin to shoot him to avoid such a spectacle in "The Outlaw".) Paladin, knowing that the brothers are not planning a fair shootout, goes out to face them anyway, coping with the situation as only he can.

    Paladin's right--he usually is--but that doesn't mean that he has to like it. At the end, his sense of justice is all he has to hold onto.
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