The Virginian

Season 4 Episode 10

Beyond the Border

0
Aired Wednesday 7:30 PM Nov 24, 1965 on NBC
7.1
out of 10
User Rating
11 votes
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Episode Summary

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Beyond the Border
AIRED:
Trampas and the Virginian head to Mexico to purchase some Palomino horses. The Virginian falls ill and Trampas is forced to leave him with a woman, who falls in love with him.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • As much a modern drama as a western, this episode gets to the bottom of the angst and frustration brought on by sense of not belonging anywhere and by ill-founded dreams. Packed with lines that encapsulate hard-earned wisdom. Effective gospel showdown.moreless

    10
    From the opening line ‘This looks like a ghost ranch’ to the end, this is an offbeat episode. It was not uncommon that Virginian episodes transcended the western genre dealing with subjects like mental illness, alcoholism, aging and racism. Still this episode is perhaps furthest from Wister’s world, as it goes so deeply into the urban angst of the 20th century man that it has as much common with European theatre plays (in the vein of Samuel Beckett) as with westerns. Man’s rootlessness, his longing to belong someplace and his desire to feel needed are the main themes of this thought-provoking episode. The catalyst of the story is Aaron, a bartender in a small Mexican border town. Aaron is a quiet and thoughtful Polish emigrant whose dream in life has been to get work in San Francisco and to become US citizen, but who, when given the opportunity to fulfil his dream, refuses it without, at first, knowing why. The storyline suggests that sometimes our far-fetched dreams can overshadow the fact that we are quite happy and serve a purpose right where we are at that moment. And eventually, a man belongs where he wants to belong – Medicine Bow is just a town like any other, not a paradise as Maggie has pictured it based on what the Virginian has told her. Like other superb episodes, this one is packed with lines that encapsulate hard-earned wisdom and years of human struggle and these lines will echo in the viewer’s mind for a considerable time. As Maggie nurses the Virginian who is recovering from pneumonia, she feels that he is providing her with just the answers she has been desperately searching. But towards the end, as Maggie draws a parallel between the musings of Aaron and her own situation, she manages to leave the Virginian speechless with her line “It’s different with you, you don’t need anyone”. As Zack’s girl, Maggie’s life seems to be constant waiting. The constant and sometimes impatient waiting is an another underlying theme (at times reminiscent of Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’); Fidencio is waiting for the Virginian to leave and Zack to arrive, Maggie is waiting for Zack to settle down, Aaron is waiting for a letter of invitation to San Francisco, the Virginian is waiting to get well and for Trampas to return with the palominos – only Trampas would (like a traditional cowboy should) have settled for an evening with señoritas and tequila. Side by side with the modern psychological drama is the inevitable confrontation between Zack and the Virginian that is given the series’ trademark gospel treatment; the Virginian ends up putting a bullet in Zack’s chest as well as digging the bullet out. Another showdown is between Maggie and Zack, who for the first time see each other eye to eye. As usual, the script stretches out to angles and insights that go beyond TV series standards – western or drama. Zack’s plans have gone sour and he eventually admits to have lost everything so he lets Maggie go and, like Aaron, at first she is determined to go with the Virginian. Having narrowly escaped death and then accepted his failure, Zack seems to have been thrown back to his true nature, the man he was before he took to robbing and stealing. Not knowing it, he has finally given Maggie what she had been longing all along – the sense of being needed. Westerns typically preserve heroism to the extraordinary and the bad apples need to be thrown away, but once again the screenwriters of the Virginian successfully mess with the formula. When you have lost everything, the redemption is near – and if you haven’t lost, you might as well put your dreams aside and appreciate the task at hand. The sound of cowboy boots against the cantina floor may betray a studio-setting, but the story rings true, and everyone in it breaths it. Mr Esa Pöllänenmoreless
Doug McClure

Doug McClure

Trampas

Randy Boone

Randy Boone

Randy Benton

James Drury

James Drury

The Virginian

Clu Gulager

Clu Gulager

Deputy Sheriff Emmett Ryker

Diane Roter

Diane Roter

Jennifer Sommers

Lee J. Cobb

Lee J. Cobb

Judge Henry Garth

Thomas Gomez

Thomas Gomez

Fidencio

Guest Star

Joan Staley

Joan Staley

Maggie/Margarita

Guest Star

Joe Mantell

Joe Mantell

Aaron

Guest Star

Gregg Palmer

Gregg Palmer

Cal

Recurring Role

Jimmy Lee Cook

Jimmy Lee Cook

The Bartender

Recurring Role

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