Season 4 Episode 25

Red Dog

Aired Sunday 6:30 PM Mar 05, 1961 on ABC

Episode Recap

The opening of this episode finds Beau riding through the cold hills of the Rocky Mountains in western Montana. He sees a cave opening and stops, surprised to find wood stockpiled for a campfire although no-one is around. Inside the cave, he finds a painted scrawl on the wall which says "This is the place," signed J. Beau uses the wood to build a fire and sets up camp. But he no sooner lays down and begins to read his new Western Gazette magazine when the sound of an approaching rider puts an end to his reverie.

The rider turns out to be Buckskin Charlie King, whose wanted poster Beau had just seen in the Gazette. He plays along when King asks him if he's seen Jess and if this is the place. Buckskin is proud of his picture in the Gazette and tells Maverick that it's sold all over the country and even in Europe. The next to arrive is a mean looking cuss named Wolf MacManus. He too wants to know where Jess is. He's irritated because two riders have been trailing him since noon. The three men are strangers to each other. Once again, Buckskin hears approaching company whereas Beau hears nothing. MacManus hears them as well and retreats into the shadows. The riders turn out to be Kid Kerr and his new bride, Erma. The Kid and Buckskin embrace like old friends and when Wolf emerges, Kerr excitedly fires his six-shooter off into the air. The Kid breaks out some red-eye and things are looking right friendly until Wolf makes it clear that he doesn't appreciate 'Kid' bringing Erma along. "Women can sure make men do fool things," he says sardonically. Erma quickly becomes convinced that Beau was an actor she had seen in Virginia City, a sword-fighter in tights. Beau politely denies it and the Kid pointedly drags Erma away from him. MacManus decides that the couple will have to sleep in the cave, however he's not happy about it. He wanted to sleep in the cave himself but now, because of the woman, he can't. Buckskin doesn't take kindly to Wolf's meanness.

The next morning, Erma comes up behind Beau as he's washing. When he tells her that the water is "like ice," she replies, "I never wash much in the wintertime," which Beau finds unsettling. He is even more unsettled when she gets up close to him and her husband is not around. Sure enough, when they return to camp the Kid is jealous and wants to shoot it out with Maverick. Fortunately, Buckskin takes away Kerr's gun and keep's things from getting out of hand. Wolf points out that's why he doesn't like women around "when there's work to be done." More trouble is avoided when Judge Reese arrives. But the Judge has bad news. "I started not to ride out here at all," he reports. "Three hard days, with no monetary benefit. Then I got to thinkin'. Friends of mine…sitting on cold Montana rocks, with the winter breathing down their necks, waiting, waiting for something that's doomed never to appear." Jess, he tells them, was gunned down in Laramie four days earlier by Marshal Dan Troop. The party appears to be over.

The Judge, however, argues that there is too much talent assembled to let it all go to waste, that they should do a job together anyway, even without Jess. He goes down the line, extolling the criminal virtues of each of those present until he comes to Beau. None of the assembled guns recognize the name Maverick and so Beau claims that in Texas he's known as Red Dog. This seems to suit the Judge, who returns to explaining the big job he has in mind. "I know a town, a rich new town," he intones. "Rich but so far unrobbed. It supports a bright, new bank with perhaps a half-million in silver coins sleeping in its virgin vaults." However, Buckskin has seen the bank in question and he has reservations about taking on such a well-guarded fortress. The Judge won't reveal his secret plan to do so before he knows that his "friends" are with him. One by one they all agree until it's up to "Red Dog," who says no. Beau says that he's seen the bank as well and doesn't want any part of it. He prepares to ride away but the gang decides they can't trust him not to talk. He'll have to stay as their prisoner until the job is finished.

That evening they camp in an old, roofless homestead. The Judge comes over to tie Beau up for the night. He admits he never heard of Maverick or Red Dog and that he was only covering for Beau. Furthermore, he is certain Maverick never got any map and letter. For his part, Beau points out that it must have been the Judge who wrote those letters, not Jess, because only the author would know who got them and who didn't. Beau agrees to throw in with the Judge and keep his secret. When Erma tries to spoon feed 'poor' Maverick, the Kid takes her in the bedroom and beats her to show her who's boss.

Later that night while the gang sleeps, Erma throws a knife towards Beau who uses it to cut his bindings. Outside, as he saddles his horse, he is accosted by Wolf. But before Wolf can subdue Beau, a noise made by Erma distracts him and Maverick knocks MacManus down and out. Erma insists on tagging along on Beau's escape. The gang, awakened by all the noise, gathers their scattered horses and heads out in pursuit of the escapees. Beau and Erma get trapped in a blind canyon and scamper up into the rocks to hide. Before long, however, the four riders catch up and pursue them into the barren hills.

When the Kid closes in on them, Erma grabs Beau's gun and shoots her husband dead. "Beat me, will you?," she hollers. Erma then turns the gun on Beau and tries to frame him for the killing. But Buckskin hears the whole thing and shoots the gun out of her hand. Back on the ground, Wolf is in his usual bad mood. He tells Beau that he's got just enough time left to smoke a cigarette. "That's how much time you've got before I settle with you," he says. "Nobody hits me and lives." Buckskin smiles obligingly and gives Beau his half-smoked cigarette. But before it can burn out, Maverick unmasks the Judge, explaining to Wolf and Buckskin how his real plan was to turn them all in for the price on their heads. Momentarily, Wolf focuses his dark designs on the Judge, telling him to light up a last cigarette. But Beau's smoke has expired and he's now out of time. However before Wolf can shoot, Buckskin tosses 'Red Dog' a gun and Beau kills Wolf.

As Buckskin prepares to ride out, he offers to take Erma along with him. "You know," he tells Maverick, "I never could figure out why I got a warm place for women like her … or men like you." The chagrined Judge is left with only two of the five prizes he had hoped for, and he refuses to reveal Jess's identity. "As a minor effort to even the score with you," he tells Beau, "I'm just gonna let you go on wondering who Jesse is."

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