They were starting to retread a bit (so we get another faith-healer type of main character). And Townes is awfully stark and grim, with nary a shadow of doubt in his delineation. However, the finale--though inevitably seeming a bit cosmetic--was at least nicely droll, and so definitely uplifted this one.
In the previous episode, a ten thousand dollar reward was issued for the capture of Richard Kimble. I was slightly surprised to see that continue to factor into the series. For one thing, the episodes of The Fugitive I've seen so far are mainly standalone adventures, as is the case with most series from its era. Also, I worried that the added incentive of a reward would make it nearly impossible for Kimble to go anywhere without being recognized. Therefore, part of me wondered if the reward would ever be mentioned again. So far, it's actually proven to be something of a mixed blessing for Kimble- it's caused greedy and unscrupulous individuals to delay notifying the authorities once they've spotted him, lest they miss out on a financial windfall. Come to think of it, that even happened in the season 3 episode "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys" when a crooked marshal mistakenly assumed their was a reward when there wasn't.
If you've read the plot summary, you already know the story in this episode centers around Ruth, an unwed teenage mother played by Kim Darby, whom Trekkies will probably know best as the titular role in the Star Trek episode Miri. I've seen a significant number of Fugitive episodes by this point, but never before have I seen an episode in which I wanted to punch the antagonists as badly as I did when I watched Joshua's Kingdom.
First there's Pete, a sleazy wannabe sheriff's deputy (Tom Skerritt), who is a rape conviction waiting to happen. Pete seems to think everyone has to be as big a creep as he is and automatically jumps to the conclusion that Dr. Kimble is a rival for Ruth's affections. Why the sheriff doesn't just rip the badge off Pete's shirt, I do not know.
And then there's Ruth's father, Joshua, who also sees the worst of intentions in people. Like Pete, he also assumes that no man could possibly be interested in Ruth for reasons that have nothing to do with sex. Joshua claims that he doesn't push his religious beliefs on others, yet he does his best to prevent his daughter from seeking medical help for her infant son. It's not like the baby has any say in the matter. Towards the end, Kimble suggests something I'd been thinking throughout most of the episode: that Joshua would secretly like his grandson to die in order to eradicate the reminder of his daughter's "sinful" transgression. And is it just me, or does that baby look kind of... ethnic? Perhaps an added reason for Joshua to treat Ruth like a pariah. Hmm.
Even today, stories about parents refusing their children necessary medical attention because of religious beliefs is an all too common feature in the news. Unlike Joshua, most of them probably don't secretly hate their kids and many of them aren't just ignorant small town farmers- a lot of those parents may even seem perfectly nice and normal, except for being tragically misguided. Unfortunately, another way those people are unlike Joshua is that a lot of them fail to see the light, even after the worst happens. Someone who would rather sit and pray while their child lies at death's door instead of calling an ambulance has no business caring for another human being.
I can't say I'm sorry that this episode ended more happily than things often do in real life.
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