The Virginian

Season 3 Episode 1


Aired Wednesday 7:30 PM Sep 16, 1964 on NBC

Episode Recap

Emmett Ryker (Clu Gulager) and Sam Lake (Jan Merlin) are pursued by the army and only escape by jumping their horses off a cliff into a river. Their conversation indicates they are guns for hire in range wars. However, Ryker tells Lake they have to part ways as he thinks Lake has different values which will eventually bring them into conflict. Ryker heads to Medicine Bow and in the saloon meets the Deputy Sheriff, Karns (Berkeley Harris), and another man, Stackler (Ron Soble). Stackler is an associate of John Hagen who has sent for Ryker. At the pool hall Ryker sees Hagen (Leslie Nielsen) who holds the mortgage on the Hale ranch and wants to foreclose to obtain it. Hale (Russ Conway) is going to send some cattle to market and will be able to pay off. Hagen offers Ryker $2500.00 to stop him but Ryker refuses, saying he is not a killer for hire like Sam Lake. After Ryker leaves it is revealed Deputy Karns is in Hagen's employ and he suggest they do away with Hale themselves as everyone will blame Ryker.

At Shiloh, Randy and Trampas play horseshoes while Betsy and the Virginian watch. Hale and his daughter Janet (Anne Helm), whom Trampas has been seeing, arrive to see Judge Garth and both Trampas and the Virginian compliment Janet on how well she looks. Hale asks the Judge to let him borrow Trampas to act as a trail boss to bring his cattle to market and the Judge agrees. However, Hale is shot by Karns and Ryker becomes a main suspect in his death by all including Sheriff Abbott (Ross Elliott). However, the Sheriff reveals he knows Ryker was once a good law man and Ryker visits Hagen and tells him he knows they are trying to frame him. Trampas comes to town to confront Ryker and finds him in the saloon. However, Ryker tells him he did not kill Hale and Trampas believes him. Trampas asks Ryker if he would like to sign on for the trail drive for $40.00 a month but he refuses. However, the two visit Janet Hale and she offers to cut cards with Ryker. If she wins he will work for her for free – if he wins he will get half the ranch and help her in his own interests.

Ryker wins and goes to town. He visits the Sheriff and finds the bullet was not recovered from Hale's body. He then visits a lawyer, Cruickshank (James Seay), to get a will made, revealing that if he is killed his half of the Hale ranch goes to Janet. He suspects Cruickshank will tell Hagen what has transpired and is proved right. Ryker also visits Dr. Spaulding (John Bryant) and learns the bullet was recovered from the body and was given to Karns to take to the Sheriff. Ryker also tells Hagen he is taking the cattle to market and if he tries to stop him he will kill him. Trampas and Janet start driving the herd while Ryker stays in town, hoping Hagen will focus on him instead of the herd. In town Hagen hires Lake to take on Ryker and meanwhile he has sent Stackler and Harris and his other men to ambush and stampede the herd. Ryker meets the Sheriff who reveals he has learned of Karns lying about the bullet and tells him that Sam Lake is in town. He offers Ryker the Deputy Sheriff job but is refused.

Ryker meets Lake and Hagen in the saloon but offers to cut cards with Lake for half his half of the Hale ranch which would be worth much more than the money he is getting from Hagen. Lake tells that Hagen's men are already after the herd and cuts, but draws only a three. Ryker cuts, does not show his card, and tells Lake he has won. Hagen objects but Ryker knocks him out and he and Lake ride after the herd. At the herd Hagen's men have stampeded the cattle but Stackler and the other men are confronted by Lake and Ryker and forced to help round the cattle up – except Stackler who draws and is shot by Lake. Karns, who has been hiding nearby shoots Lake but is in turn killed by Ryker. As Lake dies he asks to see the card which Ryker reveals was an Ace but Lake also reveals he knows, as does Ryker, that it is illegal in Wyoming to lose property in a card game. Ryker asks him why he helped him then and Lake states that those who hire them "use them and then hold their noses" while they do the dirty work – for once he wanted to work for himself.

Ryker returns to town and find Hagen at the jail. However, there is no good evidence of his involvement with Hale's death and the Sheriff tells him he can go. Ryker implies he will kill Hagen at the first chance. So rather than leave Hagen admits he had Hale killed. Trampas arrives and asks Ryker if he would like a job as a $40.00 a month ranch hand but the Sheriff tells Trampas Ryker already has a job, and pins the Deputy Sheriff's badge on him. Some time later, Trampas arrives in the evening at the Hale ranch in his best clothes and Ryker also shows up, similarly dressed. They both admit they are there to take Janet to the dance in town, even though they had not asked her in advance. Before they can say much more, however, Janet comes out the front door accompanied by the Virginian who is taking her to the dance.

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