The Rifleman

Season 5 Episode 16

The Sidewinder

Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Jan 21, 1963 on ABC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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out of 10
14 votes
  • Several years ago, Lucas killed a bank robber in self-defense. The bank robber's young son has come to North Fork to face Lucas in a shootout, to get revenge for his pa's death.

    This is a great Rifleman episode with an unfortunate ending. First I would like to straighten out some episode information that is incorrect; the main character in this story is Gridley MAULE Jr., not 'mau'. Watching this episode time and again and hearing Lucas McCain say his name, makes his name very clearly "Maule". The credits only show his first name but there is no doubt (and I wish someone would fix this in the cast listing here) that it is Maule.

    Billy Hughes Jr. as Gridley Maule Jr. is the son of a man Lucas killed in self defense several years earlier. Grid has never forgiven Lucas for killing his pa, even in self-defense, and arrives in North Fork looking for revenge. No more than 13 or 14 years old, Grid looks, dresses, and acts like a gunman twice his age - and he is quick and deadly accurate with a revolver. Lucas doesn't want to face him in a gunfight - partly because perhaps he (Lucas) is a bit frightened how good this kid is with a gun (he knows he will have no choice but to shoot to kill him, and he doesn't want to kill a kid) and partly because he knows Grid's anger towards him is misguided. Grid shows up twice at the McCain ranch where he confronts Mark alone, one time in an attempt to get Mark to duel him with handguns because "I can get even with one McCain as good as another". Grid also comes to North Fork which is where he tries to get Lucas into a gunfight in the street. In the end Lou Mallory, the woman who owns the hotel, takes custody of Grid and works wonders turning him into a polite 13 year old kid. Frankly I was disappointed in the ending of this episode. I think someone must have gotten writer's block, it all seemed too improbable. From an episode that had me riveted to the screen, it ended on a silly note. The Gridley Maule character was intense, dark, and powerful and it was so unlikely he would have so easily turned into a 'nice boy' he had never been. Nonetheless, it is still an episode well worth the watching. Billy Hughes as Gridley MAULE (!) Jr. displays acting talent far beyond his years and knows how to actually fast-draw and handle a revolver; Connors and Crawford and the other supporting cast regulars turn in their usual excellent performances as well.