The Big Valley

Season 1 Episode 14

The Brawlers

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 15, 1965 on ABC

Episode Recap

Audra is out riding on the north ridge when she spies a wagon train approaching. To her anger and amazement, the leader of the wagon train pulls down the fence posts and wire and crosses it. When Audra approaches, the man tells her that it is their land, bought and paid for. Audra begins to thrash him with her riding whip, and he in turn pulls her off her horse and spanks her bottom while the others cheer.

When Audra returns to the ranch, she tells Heath and Nick part of what happened; they infer the part where she got smacked. The three ride out and confront the people, who are Irish immigrants led by a man named Callahan. Callahan offers to show Nick the title, but Nick refuses to glance at it. Instead, he orders them off the property under threat of violence.

When Heath and Nick see Callahan and his niece in town, Nick and Callahan exchange words. Nick telegrams Jarrod to ensure there's no mistake about the land being sold, and meanwhile, Heath secretly loads food and grain onto their wagon when the store clerk refuses to extend them credit. Callahan's niece, Sharon, angrily disdains Heath's kindness, not wanting "charity."

Heath rides out to show the settlers how to harvest lamb's quarters and grill it as spinach. His thoughtfulness builds a small bridge with the group, but Nick is angrier than ever. Jarrod receives Nick's telegram and relays the message to Victoria, who wants to leave for home when she hears that there's a conflict.

It turns out that Callahan was defrauded of his money by a swindler in San Francisco. Nick rides out with guns, threatening bloodshed if Callahan doesn't obey. Everyone is grieved by this decision of Nick's, but Callahan finally agrees to leave.

Furious, Callahan changes his mind and barges into the Barkley home with a shotgun. Victoria is in her nightgown, and pushes his gun to the side when she sees him. She manages to avoid a showdown between him and Nick, and instead pours some Irish whiskey and the three end up coming to a tacit agreement: Callahan and his people will stay on the land until the swindler can be found and the money recovered. Nick will go with Callahan to find the man.

On the train to San Francisco, Nick and Callahan nearly start another brawl with the passengers and their snoring. In the city, they find a hotel clerk who was in cahoots with the swindler, according to Callahan, and take a swing at him and his men. Eventually, they're locked up and Jarrod has to bail them out. He tells them that the man they're after has been arrested. Unfortunately, the money is long gone.

In the final scene, Nick offers land that is 70 miles south to Callahan and his people that he says could use irrigation and care - land that "not even the buzzards will touch." At first, Callahan refuses, but Heath calls him out on his pride, and he relents. The little wagon train departs, with both parties appeased.