The Big Valley

Season 1 Episode 23

The Fallen Hawk

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Mar 02, 1966 on ABC

Episode Recap

Heath is riding a bronco in the corral of the Barkley ranch. When he's finished, the onlookers applaud and a man calls his name. Heath is not happy to see the guy, who is a deadbeat by the name of Ward. Ward asks Heath for money, and Heath tells him that this time, Ward will have to earn it by breaking a bronco. When Ward mounts the horse, it bucks him into a fence and Ward sustains an injury that leaves his legs paralyzed.

Ridden with guilt, Heath takes care of Ward until Ward's lovely wife, Nora, insists that Ward can be taken home. Privately, Victoria has a talk with Heath about the fact that Ward has used him, but Heath doesn't receive her counsel. Instead, he devotes the next few weeks to fixing up Ward's dilapidated homestead, at the expense of his duties around the ranch.

Meanwhile, Nora and Heath develop an attraction towards one another, and Ward watches it all from the windows, where he sits day in and day out in his wheelchair. Heath takes Nora to church, and a gossip hound pays a visit to Victoria, who makes quick work of the meddling man.

When Nora is approached by a man who lent money to Ward months ago, she pays it back out of the stash that Heath left for her. The man attacks her, and Ward is unable to help her, but Heath arrives just in time. Later, the same man stirs up trouble at the saloon in Stockton, but Nick beats him to a pulp.

Unbeknownst to the others, Ward has regained use of his legs. However, he convinces Heath to give him five thousand dollars that he's going to use towards another one of his get-rich-quick schemes. Nora is ashamed of him and decides to go for a walk to avoid Heath. Returning to the house, she finds Ward walking around. Furious that her husband would cheat Heath out of the money, a struggle ensues when Ward chokes her, and she tries to grab a gun and ends up getting shot herself.

Heath comes and gives Ward the money, but as he's getting ready to leave, Ward pulls a gun on him. He decides to frame Heath for the killing of his wife, and play it off like the two of them were found together. Heath checks on Nora and discovers that she's still alive. Heath beats up Ward and Ward concedes that he always manages to make a mess of things.

Some time has elapsed and Ward is said to be in Denver. Nora is alone in the house, healthy and whole, and she confides to Heath that she wasn't really in love with him, but was attracted to the man that she wanted Ward to be. Heath tells her that she doesn't need to leave, but she says that there's nothing for her here. If Ward ever does change, he'll come looking for her. The two ride away in Heath's buggy.

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