This was the last episode filmed, not the last new episode broadcast.
Takes place in Bethlehem, Texas.
This episode was redone some years later on Gunsmoke, with the episode titled "The Tarnished Badge". The characters' names were changed, with Dillon coming to see an old friend who was a sheriff who had gone bad. All of the basic storyline was unchanged, the plot being "fleshed out" to extend the story to an hour.
When Thaddeus first approaches Paladin, he looks carefully about to make sure that Lydia is not present. Yet Lydia, later in the episode, makes it clear that she saw Paladin having his cigar lighted by his lady of the moment (as well as pouring him a drink, which we don't see).
According to Richard Boone's biography, this particular episode, for whatever reason, is seldom shown in syndication.
Although the girl is listed as "Sandy" in the credits, her name is never mentioned in the course of the episode.
After the girl springs off Paladin's horse, tumbles down the hill, and gets re-captured, they both hear a horse whinnying nearby. Paladin hastily goes back up to his own horse, and the girl follows, first tearing up her scarf, which she uses to mark their trail. We see three bounty hunters tracking them, but moments later, when they find the first of her scarf scraps, there are only two of them.
Peter Brocco's character name is misspaced "Younghusband" in the end credits.
The problem with this episode is the timing. The series is generally held to take place in the mid-1870's. Nitroglycerin was first synthesized in 1847. Alfred Nobel began experimenting to stabilize it in the 1860's. In 1866, three crates were shipped to California. After one crate exploded, killing 15 people, the shipping of liquid nitroglycerin was banned in California, and other places as well. Nobel finally stablized the nitroglycerin in the form of dynamite in 1867. (And dynamite has been seen frequently on this series since the first season.)
The title is a misnomer. "Moonshine" implies a raw, homemade distillation. The well beverage is, in fact, a bonded (guaranteed) whiskey, carefully blended and aged.
Gene Roddenberry made an interesting choice for the name of Alice's daughter. The Hindu Maya, was the goddess of illusion, and Maya Ferguson is full of illusion, first believing that her mother was a perfect paragon, then going to the opposite extreme and thinking her completely wicked.
During the scene where Paladin first enters the room and confronts the Marshall, a rear shot shows the Marshall's hand lifting up toward his lapel. The camera angle jumps to the front, and suddenly the Marshall's hand is down at his side. He introduces himself, and then lifts his hand to his lapel to show his badge.
Avatar mentions the James boys, the Daltons, "Cherokee Bill", Jake Trueblood, and Tom Horn, and Paladin states that, except for Jake, they are all dead. Various dates have placed this series in the mid-1870's. "Cherokee Bill" (real name, Crawford Goldsby) was hanged in 1896, while Tom Horn was hanged in 1903.
It seems pretty certain that the street of the "ghost town" is on a soundstage. When the men speak, their voices echo.
Paladin refers to Costigan's old, old gun. It closely resembles a gun pictured in the book The Wild West: Age of the Gunfighter. The gun in the picture is a Walker Colt.44, made after 1847, and popular during the Mexican War. However, he might be referring to an even older gun. In 1839, the Texas government purchased 180 "holster-size" pistols from Colt. (In this case, "holster-size" referred to a saddle holster, not a belt.) This type was a five-shot, .36 caliber gun with a nine-inch barrel.
We learn that Paladin also understands Greek and even mentions going back to Greece.
Near the end, when Paladin wants an assurance that the remaining passengers will be allowed to go free, Solomon offers to swear on his mother's grave. Paladin looks up at the birds overhead, and tells him to swear on them. A few minutes later, there is another shot of the birds. Look carefully both times--the birds are flying upside down.
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Classics, bloody and violent, characters with double lives, failed crime, for the nostalgic