Season 4 Episode 29

Substitute Gun

Aired Sunday 6:30 PM Apr 02, 1961 on ABC

Episode Recap

Bart arrives in Spearhead and goes to the stable while Sheriff Lou Coleman watches him from the porch of his office. At the stable, another man, William "Smiley" Drake, is checking in his horse. He and Bart, who know each other, make small talk. Smiley says he's heading to Abilene on what he describes as a "pleasure trip." He offers to buy Bart lunch but Bart clearly wants no part of him and bids him goodbye. Sheriff Coleman watches the exchange with interest.

Later, after a meal and a shave, Bart rides out of town preceded by Smiley who prepares an ambush. Before he can kill Bart, Coleman shoots him from behind. Informing Coleman that Smiley's a professional killer, Bart rides over and asks the dying man why he wanted him dead. Smiley tells them that he had a job to do in Spearhead and he couldn't risk Bart coming back and interfering. Bart tries to get him to say more but Smiley only mutters "Get Blauvelt" as he dies. Coleman tells Bart that Tom Blauvelt is a salon owner and orders him back into town.

At the sheriff's office, Coleman demands answers and Bart explains that he met Smiley at a bar named Kelly's in St. Louis. However he has no idea why Smiley was in Spearhead. Coleman tells Bart that he's to stay in Spearhead and calls in the town undertaker, Ezra Gouch. He tells Gouch to bury Smiley secretly and keep his mouth shut about the whole thing. After Gouch leaves, Coleman explains that there's been trouble in Spearhead ever since Clete Spain opened up the Spearhead Saloon two months ago. Since then, Clete has been competing with Tom Blauvelt, the owner of the Golden Eagle Saloon. Since Smiley said to "Get Blauvelt," Coleman figures that Blauvelt hired him to kill Clete and eliminate the competition. He asks Bart to hire on as the house gambler at the Golden Eagle, get close to Blauvelt, and confirm that he hired Smiley. Bart declines until Coleman threatens to hold him in jail for a few months and check for any outstanding warrants. Reluctantly changing his mind, Bart is told that Tom has an attractive sister-in-law, Connie Malone, who sings at the saloon.

The next day, Coleman watches as Bart goes into the Golden Eagle. Clete notices him and asks Coleman if he knows the newcomer but Coleman says they've never met. Bart goes up to Tom's office and offers to hire on as the house gambler. Tom asks if he can deal a crooked hand of cards when needed but Bart righteously insists that he won't do it for a living. Tom agrees to hire him just as his wife Greta comes in. Once Bart leaves, Greta wonders if Clete might have sent Bart in as an inside man. Leaving the Golden Eagle, Bart bumps into Connie, who flirts with him briefly before going her way.

That night, Bart starts dealing while Tom complains that he's been losing money to Clete ever since his rival's been undercutting his prices and sending in gamblers to bankrupt him. However, Tom refuses to sell out no matter what. Bart observes a meek little man taking notes about the roulette table and Tom explains that the man is Malcolm Quint, a bank teller who thinks he has a system. Unconcerned, Tom assures Bart that Malcolm wouldn't have enough money to break the house even if his system was solid.

Connie is dressing for her nightly performance when Greta comes in and complains that she was never supposed to be singing there. Greta insists that their father wanted Connie to make something of herself rather than become a saloon singer. Connie angrily responds that he shouldn't have died if that's what he wanted. She boasts that she's dressing to impress Bart but Greta accuses her of wanting to steal Tom from her. The older sister insists that Tom isn't interested in her nor she in him. Once Connie leaves, Greta goes down the back stairs and meets with her secret lover - Clete Spain.

As Connie sings and flirts with the customers, four cowboys come in. Once she finishes, one of them tries to paw her. Tom jumps in and a fight breaks out. With some help from Bart and Connie, Tom sends the men packing and offers a free round of drinks to make up for the commotion. He thanks Bart for his help and figures that the men were working for Spain.

The next day, Spain rides out of town to a secret rendezvous by a lake with Connie who tells him that it's the last time she'll meet him in private. She wants a man who wants to be seen with her in public and starts to leave. Clete tells her that she'll stay with him because he's the only man who loves her. He assures Connie that she'll only have to wait another week or so until he drives Tom out of business and that then they can be together. Connie gives in and the couple kisses.

Later, Connie returns to the Golden Eagle. She gives Tom an affectionate kiss on the cheek and leaves but Greta has seen the exchange and accuses Tom of having feelings for her sister. Tom insists that he loves her but Greta complains that Connie has stolen every boyfriend she's ever had and that Tom will be no exception. Disappointed, Tom says that she's not just suffering from jealousy, which he could handle, but an obsession with keeping her "things" - even when she no longer wants them. Shocked and angry, Greta storms off.

That night, Malcolm closes his notebook with a smile and leaves the Golden Eagle. Bart follows him to the back door of the Spearhead Saloon and watches through the window as Malcolm shows Spain his notebook. The next day, Spain meets Greta at the old Morrison place. She wants to kill Tom before he can run off with Connie. Spain slaps her in disgust, telling her he's sure that Connie won't leave. When Greta wonders how he knows, Spain refuses to explain. She boasts that she's hired a killer from Kelly's Bar in St. Louis to dispose of Tom, naming Bart. Spain doesn't believe it, and says that he only wants to drive Tom out of business, not kill him. He assures Greta that once Tom is broke, Connie will abandon her brother-and-law. Tom will leave town and they'll be together.

That night, Bart secretly meets with Coleman and tells him that he's sure Tom didn't hire a killer. Going over Smiley's statement, they figure that he planned to kill Tom. Bart believes that the problem ended when Smiley died, but Coleman doesn't buy it. After reconsidering, Bart invites Coleman to come to the Golden Eagle later and see what happens. At the Golden Eagle, Connie is finishing her song as Spain comes in. He announces that he wants to bet and taunts Tom into lifting the house limit on the roulette wheel. They go to the roulette table and Spain starts betting as Bart runs the wheel. Spain wins the first spin, but then starts losing. When he loses his entire $11,000 bankroll, he accuses Tom of rigging the wheel. Bart invites Coleman, who has watched the entire thing, to check it out. Spain storms off and Connie takes pity on him. Tom asks her who she was rooting for. Bart explains that the roulette wheel had developed a bias through long use and Spain sent Malcolm in to note it. However, Bart realized what was going on and put in a new wheel. Tom thanks him for his help, finally convinced that Bart isn't working with Spain.

At the Spearhead Saloon, Spain is drinking coffee when Gouch comes over to pay his tab. He drops the receipt for Smiley's burial and Spain notices it. As Gouch leaves, he bumps into Coleman and loudly informs him that he found a letter on the dead man, confirming that he was at Kelly's in St. Louis. Coleman tells Gouch to forget it and walks away but Spain overhears the conversation and realizes that Bart isn't the killer Greta hired. He tells her what he's learned, saying that he figures Bart and Coleman are working together but don't know that she hired Smiley. Spain gives Greta a note and tells her to get it to Bart. At the Golden Eagle, Greta approaches Bart and says that an anonymous employer wants to hire him to kill Tom. She gives Bart the note, which asks him to meet at the Morrison place. Bart agrees and leaves to find out who wants to kill Tom.

In the saloon, a bartender finds a note on a table and gives it to Tom. It accuses Greta of spending time with her lover at the Morrison place. Tom goes upstairs to confront Greta but can't find her. He storms past Connie and rides out of town. Connie finds the discarded note. As she reads it, Greta comes in and says that she knows what the note says and again accuses Connie of trying to steal Tom. Connie explains that she only stayed in Spearhead to be with the man she really loves: Clete Spain. In disbelief, Greta breaks into tears and runs out of the room.

Bart tries to warn Coleman but discovers that the sheriff has been called out of town on an emergency. Connie comes out of the Golden Eagle and spots Bart as they both see Tom ride off. She shows Bart the note and he chases after Tom. They arrive at the Morrison place at the same time and Spain captures them at gunpoint. He escorts the two inside and tells Tom that his wife is at home. The saloon owner explains that he set it up so that Tom would think that Bart was having an affair with his wife. Coleman will find the two men dead and assume that they killed each other in a jealous rage. However, before Spain can kill them, Greta comes in and confronts him with the truth about his affair with Connie. Tom urges her to leave for her own safety. Greta says that she has no-one now - and Spain spitefully tells her that she never did have him. Furious, she shoots him. Spain shoots back, mortally wounding her. Tom runs to his wife's side and she whispers an apology to him as she dies.

Later, Tom escorts Connie to the stagecoach. She tells her brother-in-law she'll keep in touch and assures him that she's fine. As she goes, Tom asks Bart if he wants to stay on at the Golden Eagle. Telling his friend that he'd just be a reminder of something he, Tom, wants to forget, Bart mounts up and rides out of town.