T.H.E. Cat

Season 1 Episode 1

To Kill A Priest

Aired Friday 9:30 PM Sep 16, 1966 on NBC

Episode Recap

Outside a cathedral, which is like a giant fortress, armed police are standing guard. Captain McAllister, chomping on a big cigar, takes Cat inside, and explains, "They call him the Fisherman's Priest, he blesses them and their boats." A while back, extortionists started demanding $5.00 per fisherman, per week. That's $5,000 a week...a quarter of a million dollars a year and several fishermen have been killed. The good father told his flock not to pay, now the priest is marked for death with three attempts on his life in the last month. The priest doesn't want police protection, instead relying on some fishermen, like former champion wrestler "Mighty Joe" Slavic. The priest has a patch over his right eye, he explains to Cat, "acid." Cat goes outside, and using his grappling hook and rope, makes a dramatic top-story entrance and punches out Slavic, and throws a knife narrowly missing the priest's head...proving to the good priest that he needs protection. The man in black tells Slavic his name is "Cat...T. Hewitt Edward Cat."

At the Casa del Gato ("House of the Cat," a nightclub run by Pepe), Maria is singing "The Girl from Ipanema." Pepe loves her like a daughter. (In the unaired pilot, this scene is much longer. Maria talks to Cat of his days as a trapeze artist with the circus; Cat says, "my salad days." His days as a wealthy cat burglar; Cat says, "caviar days." And his days in prison as a thief; Cat says, "bread and water days." And we also found out that Pepe and Cat have saved each other's lives.)

McAllister talks to Cat, a note says that the priest will die at sunrise: 5:09 a.m. He says, "That's three hours and thirty-nine minutes from now." McAllister is sure the note was sent by Mr. Smith, a racketeer who's into everything: prostitution, dope, extortion and murder. Cat pays Smith a visit at his headquarters. Cat tells Smith that if the priest dies, he will die. Smith has his three bodyguards point guns at Cat's head; it's only by Cat pulling a knife, "the cat's claw," out of his sleeve and quickly putting it to Smith's throat that Cat manages to escape.
Back at the Casa del Gato, which is now closed, Pepe and Maria are watching the parade and fireworks outside. Pepe says, "It is the Chinese festival of the seven nights." But a group of dwarfs wearing large, bizarre paper-maché masks, and carrying pitchforks, enter and knock out Pepe and kidnap Maria. They leave a note: "The priest for the woman. Alone on Dock Street before sunrise."

Back at the church, the priest is praying, and Slavic is watching. McAllister tells Cat, "59 minutes." The kidnappers were dwarfs; McAllister says there is one circus and three carnivals in town, and he's "checked them with a magnifying glass." But Cat knows circus people, having been a circus performer himself. He goes there, and talks to Premiero the dwarf; he directs Cat to a tent. Inside is Maria tied to the pole, with her hands over her head. Cat now has twenty-seven minutes to get back to the priest before sunrise.

Cat drives Maria back to the cathedral. As Cat gets out of his sports car, he tells her, "Just a few more minutes." But Slavic has attacked McAllister and the bodyguards and locked out Cat. So Cat uses his grappling hook and rope to make a top-story entrance again, and throws his cat-knife through Slavic's evil heart. (They cut the scene, from the unaired pilot, where Cat visits McAllister in the hospital and gives him a box of fine cigars.)

As for Mr. Smith, he got rubbed out by his own associates when he failed to kill the priest as he had promised. That night, at the Casa del Gato, Maria is singing again. She walks over to Cat, and asks, "T. Hewitt Edward Cat. And what does the 'T' stand for?" He smiles and says, "Tom." Then Cat kisses her.