Instead of reviewing this episode, I would almost prefer to review the lead guest star, a very young Susan Clark. Clark, born Nora Golding, is a Canadian actress who has gone on to achieve notable successes in film and television. While this appearance on The Virginian is not her first acting credit, it was her first significant role in Hollywood.
One has to understand that even after the studio system changed, companies like Universal, which owned and produced The Virginian, still put young actors under multi-year contracts. Susan Clark was one of those new young talents that Universal was grooming for success in a slew of projects and what better way to promote her and help audiences become familiar with her than to give her a pivotal role on an episode of this highly rated western.
Susan Clark's first feature film would not be released by Universal until July of 1967, about five months after the initial airing of this episode. Probably Universal had NBC rerun it in the summer close to the premiere of 'Banning,' in which Clark plays a supporting role in a Robert Wagner-Jill St. John melodrama. Later, in the fall of 67, Universal would assign her a two-episode role in Ben Gazzara's hit show Run for Your Life. So her career was off and running. Other more prestigious projects like 'Coogan's Bluff' and 'Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here' would quickly follow.
It is interesting to note that while Susan Clark fared very well in Universal film projects during the late 60s and early 70s, she began to find a real niche in TV movies in the mid-70s and by the 80s, she had segued into a long-running role on her own television series, Webster, which costarred her husband Alex Karras.
But it is this very early appearance on The Virginian that is so fascinating to watch. Her performance is pitch-perfect as a society girl with a short time to live who invariably finds love with ranch hand Trampas (Doug McClure). She is required to play the role icily and warmly as a woman who has decided to embrace what time she has left in order to live life to the fullest. The ending of this episode where she is forced to break Trampas' heart is truly heart-wrenching.