We're three episods in, and it's time to see what "Mother" is made of. Victoria takes the reigns (literally) and drives her buggy to the soon-to-be ghost town of Strawberry, the mining town where her husband Tom met Heath's mother. Here she finds a small cast of characters dominated by Martha Simmons, a blousy woman who manages to be attractive enough to manipulate the two men who want her--her husband Matt and a ne'er do well gunfighter, Phelps, who evidently has nothing better to do than wait until Martha gets sick of hubby.
The mystery that Victoria is trying to solve is whether Tom actually loved Leah and whether he knew about his illegitimate son Heath. The key seems to lie with Hannah, an elderly woman whose memories meander maddeningly, much like the story itself. Victoria's dubious danger comes mostly from Martha, whose failed scheme to shake her down lead to an assassination attempt. It seems the Simmons are responsible for the death of another character we never see on screen, or something along that line. Regardless of how many times I've seen it, I have to admit the actual backstory of 'Boots With My Father's Name' doesn't leave much of a footprint.
This episode is notable for the strong re-introduction of Victoria Barkley, establishing her as a woman with a will who can alternately serve as an appealing heroine or victim. Barbara Stanwyck dominates nearly every scene, facing off strongly against Jeanne Cooper, an actress who will later leave much the same sort of estrogen-charged legacy on the small screen, playing one of daytime TV's most formidable matriarchs, Kay Chancellor.
The title refers to the boys' Cinderella-ish attempt to fit their father's evidently tiny boots on their own manly feet. Early on we learn that Heath is the only one who is able to wear the boots, but the abandoned Barkley brother isn't too high on the idea. After he rides to Victoria's rescue in Strawberry and learns his pop never knew about his existence, Heath is free to change his mind. Unfortunately he and Victoria have already missed the big unveiling of Stockton's Tom Barkley statue, which, by the way, we never see again in the 100+ episodes to come.