Bret and his new friend Waco Williams ride straight into trouble in Bent City, where they are suspected of being cattle rustlers because of a range war that's taking place.
Col. Karl Bent
Karl Bent Jr.
Sheriff Boyd Tait
Bret: Well, they play an awful careless brand of poker here. I'd never forgive myself if I just up and left without tryin' to educate 'em. For a price, of course.
Karl Jr: If that's your whole roll, mister, maybe you ought a try checkers.
Bret: Well, you know what they say about a little acre.
Regan: I'm not a suspicious man, but there have been times when, uh, you played like you knew just what cards were out against you. Sorta sets a man thinking.
Bret: About what, Mr. Regan?
Regan: Tin horn who came here a year or so ago. He was a mighty hard man to bluff, too. You remember, Carl? Dressed about like you … same kinda coat as I remember it. Only, uh, he had a cute little spring clip arrangement fastened on his forearm. You wouldn't have one of those, would you?
Bret: Well, to be honest with you, Mr. Regan, playin' with you, I wouldn't need a hold out clip.
Waco: I don't like people who wave guns around when there's no need for it. (tosses Regan's gun to the bartender) You keep it until he's old enough to handle it.
Bret: Oh, Waco, now what did you go and do that for?
Waco: When I was five years old, big kid made me eat some dirt. I didn't like it. And I haven't had another bite of it since.
Bret: Waco, that's a very short-sighted point of view … We all have to eat a little dirt sometime, it's good for us. Do you know why I didn't mind taking off my coat? Because Karl Bent has got lots of money and I got none - and he's a bad poker player, and I'm a good one. Now are you goin' over there and kill my golden goose?
Waco: Aw, I don't reckon it'll come to that.
Sheriff: I wasn't elected Sheriff because of my sweet disposition. I'm a hired gun. Tait's the name, maybe you heard it?
Waco: Think I have.
Sheriff: Then you'll be ridin' out now or getting' buried later. Take your choice.
Waco: All right, Sheriff. Karl Bent tried to kill me. Take a message to him. Tell him as long as I'm in Bent City, not to show his face in town. If he does, I'll kick him so hard he'll spend the rest of his life standin' up. If he doesn't wanna run, I'll kill him.
Col. Bent: Jack Regan here is gonna count to ten. If you ain't on your horse and headin' outta town by the time he finishes countin' … we're gonna shoot ya down. Well?
Waco: Are you sure he can count all the way to ten, Colonel?
Kathy: You sent for a professional killer?
Col. Bent: Everything I've built in my life is goin' to you. But you ain't gonna keep a nickel's worth of it, unless you learn something. You're born into a battle. You fight to breathe at the beginning and you never stop fightin' till the end. You reward your friends and you destroy your enemies. You stop fightin' when you're dead, and I ain't dead yet.
Bret: Now he did everything a man shouldn't do, but he's still alive, looks like he'll be elected Sheriff. I know he'' wind up with the biggest ranch in the territory. I'm broke … nobody even knows I'm leavin', or cares. Could I be wrong?
Bret: Waco, how old are you?
Bret: It's a miracle. If you want to live another 26 years, you'd better learn some basic principles from your old Uncle Bret.
Waco: Maverick, I guess you're the only person in the world who'd be insulted if someone called him a good man.
Bret: Not insulted. Embarrassed.
Bret: Waco, I can't lie to you. I don't know why, but I can't. But I've been sticking with you because of Blackie Dolan. There was a very attractive reward.
Waco: You mean you were going to turn him in … for the reward?
Bret: I've got a heart of gold Waco, but, well, I'm just a teensy bit mercenary.
Waco: Then that's why you've been mothering me like a hen with one chick.
In his closing remarks, Bret turns and speaks directly to the audience - "breaking the fourth wall". Although not unheard of, in television it is rare to see this technique employed outside of broad comedy - and other than "voiceovers", this is the only time it was used in Maverick.
Lance White, a similar character in Garner's The Rockford Files, was reportedly based on Waco Williams by writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell. However, Tom Selleck, who played Lance, had a happier ending than Wayde Preston, as he got his own series, Magnum, P.I. - while Preston, who played Waco, wound up out of television.
This episode scored the highest Nielsen ratings of any in the series.
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