Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 4 Episode 37

The Uneasy Grave

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Jun 03, 1961 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • An unusual episode, with a heroine/client who is definitely out of the ordinary.

    The opening is quite different as well. Instead of a young girl in the offing, there is a man, getting on in years. Both he and Paladin delight in the fact that he shares his name with the title character of "The Marriage of Figaro". Figaro has a terrible problem, and has naturally turned to Paladin for help. There is something wrong with the wine he has been bottling. Paladin, sniffing and tasting professionally, recognizes the wine and what slope it came from. It appears that the wine would probably pass muster with anyone but a true connoiseur; there is a slight alien taste to it. Paladin might not be as horrified by it as Figaro, but he immediately agrees to come to Figaro's vineyards and track down the source of the trouble. (After, of course, a good Italianesque night on the town, complete with a visit to the Opera House to hear Figaro's namesake.)

    We see Paladin riding across country in his working attire; presumably he's on his way to Figaro's vineyards, but perhaps he's on the way back. After all, why didn't he simply travel back with Figaro? His journey is interrupted by an odd and melancholy sight; a young woman, fashionably (if a bit gaudily) dressed, is digging a grave, out in the middle of nowhere. Of course Paladin stops to offer his aid, but the young woman, Kathy, snaps at him angrily. Paladin is used to dealing with grief, and perhaps he recognizes that the young woman is unused to common courtesy. Very gently, he persists. Kathy is preparing to bury a good man, a man who was good to her, and she wants him to have a proper grave. He had been murdered by a Leander Johnson of Johnsonville (which is enough to tell you that Leander is a distinguished citizen of the town). The town had then kicked her out. No one is interested in obtaining justice for Terrence O'Hara, who was a drifter. After Paladin shows her his card, her manner changes abruptly, becoming seductively friendly as she suggests that justice might be found, after all. Paladin points out that justice is not bought with either a gun or a woman's favors. (We're starting to see what sort of woman Kathy is.) After persuading her to let him finish the grave (rather oddly for Paladin, he made no eulogizing remarks afterward) Kathy asks him straight out if he will kill the dead man's murderer. Paladin refuses (natch!) but offers to help her find proper justice. It would seem that the ever-helpful Paladin also intends to help the lady find a sense of self-worth.

    Everyone in Johnsonville comes out to stare as Kathy accompanies Paladin back into town. One man in particular is called out of the saloon, and he and a cluster of young men come running up to the wagon. The man, Hex, is not concerned in the slightest with the death of O'Hara; he finds it amusing. Kathy lets her contempt show, but it bounces right off of them. (It's becoming more clear that Kathy is--gasp!--a fallen woman. A fairly well-to-do one, however; she is clean and well dressed.) Paladin suggests that their jokes are ill-fitting for a woman just returned from burying a man. This also bounces off, and Hex drags Kathy (whom he calls Kate) off the wagon and into his embrace. Paladin approaches him in a quite friendly manner--and knocks him flying. Paladin pointedly offers his arm to Kathy, and escorts her to the hotel, brushing aside her apologies for the scene, as well as her suggestion that they give up and leave. At the hotel, the manager is not about to give Kathy a room, and Kathy is prepared to back away. Calmly, Paladin reaches out and takes hold of the man's lapels, and suggests that he reconsider. The man does so, and Paladin sharply bids him to carry the lady's luggage to her room. A woman who had sat by, watching the proceedings, sniffs in contempt. Paladin gets a bit of information out of her, all the while causing her to back towards the door. Leander Johnson is a fine, upstanding citizen who would have had nothing to do with a man like O'Hara. O'Hara apparently got himself shot by the wind. The only witness to the killing was "that" woman. When Paladin asks her her own opinion of the matter, she replies that "I don't think". I was astonished that Paladin did not make some agreeing comment, of the sort that the woman would only realize afterwards was an insult. He turns back to the manager and asks where the kitchen is, only to be told that it is closed. I loved this scene. It wouldn't have been surprising if Paladin had started to let his impatience show. Instead, he remains calm, quite affable, even. There's not a sign of anger in his face as he informs the manager that he will be preparing a meal for himself and the lady, and that their table had best be laid out just so. Perfectly friendly, yet the manager wilts.

    Kathy changes her dress for a more subdued, yet attractive gown, that inspires Paladin to quote Byron. Kathy is overwhelmed by his gallantry. He escorts her to their table (there's not another person in the room) and shows off the dish he has prepared. I'm not sure if it was an original dish, or if there is a mushroom dish a la Kathy, but Kathy is delighted. They don't actually eat much of it, however. Kathy tells him a little about Terrence O'Hara, an Irish migrant worker with a cheery disposition, who actually liked Kathy for herself, and asked her to marry him. This would seem to be the reason why Leander Johnson shot him. Kathy is disconcerted to see a crowd of the town's "respectable" ladies rudely gawking through the window, but Paladin merely pulls the curtains closer (which doesn't help much, as they're almost transparent). A man briefly peers in past the gaping women, then turns away. Kathy excuses herself from the table. It would seem that she's disturbed by the staring people, but then a shot rings out. Paladin springs across the room and disarms her. Kathy is only regretful that she missed. Leander Johnson is shocked that "Kate" is back in town. He doesn't seem overly concerned at her attempted murder. He knows nothing about O'Hara's death. His mother arrives, pushing through the crowd, sums up the situation, and looks down her nose (neat trick for such a small woman). She leaves, dragging her son with her. Paladin decides that it's time to visit with the local law. (He's called a marshall at first, but thereafter a sheriff.)

    The sheriff, like everyone else, is indifferent to the death of a drifter. People like him (and Kathy) should look after themselves; he's only concerned with the welfare of the permanent residents. Paladin points out that in this case, the sheriff should not object if Kathy looks after the situation for herself. The sheriff is not too quick on the uptake, but he makes it clear that he's on the side of the people who pay him. Paladin leaves Kathy in his care while he makes some investigations. Once Kathy spots Leander walking by, however, she's quickly out the door, and the weak-willed sheriff does little to stop her. Paladin seeks out the Johnson residence, and finds Mother doing a little genteel gardening. She contends that her son did not kill Terrence O'Hara, and, if he killed anyone, it would be for a good reason. Her son is not at home; he had some unfinished business to attend to. Naturally, he has a gun with him...

    We can only guess at Paladin's reaction when he returned to the sheriff's office to find Kathy gone. Apparently he spoke to the point; the sheriff accompanies him, buckling on his gun belt. They hasten to the hotel, where several people are milling around, including one young man standing guard to keep everyone out. Paladin disposes of him with a flowerpot and a couple punches.

    Whatever Paladin expected to find when he burst into the hotel lobby, I doubt if it was what he actually saw. His expression, throughout the ensuing scene, was, as they say, a study. Kathy and Leander have been making free with the hotel bar, and Leander has loosened his clothing and is getting frisky. Paladin stands there for a time, unnoticed. Meanwhile, Mrs. Johnson has arrived at the hotel, and the crowd (which has gathered rapidly) defers to her as, no doubt, they always have. She and the sheriff, and a few other men enter the hotel to find her son in what one might call a compromising position. Finally noticing that he has an audience, Leander, rather than showing embarassment, simply yells at them to go away. Kathy reacts with amused scorn, startling Leander, for she had been more than friendly up to that point. Kathy has gotten her revenge, for it is obvious that the fine, upstanding Leander Johnson is besotted with the fallen woman. Leander again orders everyone out, waving his gun. Paladin looks as though he's having trouble keeping his face in order, as he tells Leander to put the gun down. ("Come on, little boys mustn't play with guns.") Leander is defiant, but it doesn't take long for him to blurt out the truth about Terrence O'Hara, at which point Paladin tosses him in the direction of the sheriff. To his credit, the sheriff, faced with an admission of guilt in front of a large number of witnesses, actually does arrest Leander.

    Kathy sags down in a chair, and Paladin joins her. Interesting point; while he did refer to her as "Kate" while speaking with the crowd of young men, afterwards he was careful to address her as "Kathy". Here, however, having seen her use her talents to bring her enemy down, he addresses her as "Katie". Hmmm. He asks her what she will do now, and Kathy, rather poetically, states that she goes where the wind blows. Someday, perhaps, she will meet another Terrence O'Hara. Notice that she makes no suggestion of remaining with Paladin, even for a little while.

    The main point of the story seemed to be not so much the righting of a wrong, as it was Paladin's gallant refusal to treat Kathy as anything less than a genuine lady. It seems like the opposite of the old line, "Give a dog a bad name, and hang him." He gives her a good name, and helps her to "walk in her own light". Hard to tell, though, where she will go with it.