The Virginian

Season 4 Episode 25

The Return of Golden Tom

Aired Wednesday 7:30 PM Mar 09, 1966 on NBC

Episode Recap

At a Medicine Bow saloon, the owner (Larry Blake) recounts to a St. Louis newspaperman, Ira Lom (Linden Chiles), a famous gunfight which occurred in the saloon over 35 years before. "Golden" Tom Brant (Victor Jory), as his partner Bantam Cade died, killed three members of a posse after them for robbery and a brother of one of the dead men, and another member of the posse, Amos Coe (Kelly Thordsen) ran away. Present to hear the story, and to learn that Brant has just been let out of prison for his crimes, are: Ross Tedler (Don Keefer) whose wife Sarah (Dee Carroll) is Brant's daughter, born after he was sent to prison and abandoned her mother; Willie Cade (Dee Pollock) who works in the saloon, is the grandson of Bantam Cade, and idolizes Tom's memory and legends about how he gave out $10.00 gold pieces; and Ellen McKim (Carol Kane), a bar maid whom Willie likes.

Tom Brant arrives at the train station where he is met by Willie Cade, Ira Lom and Sheriff Emmett Ryker, the last-named to help Tom get settled in town. The disheveled and apparently feeble-minded Tom does not live up to Willie's expectations and Ira Lom makes fun of the bumbling Tom and his legend and also tells him how a book was written about him and his legendary exploits ten years before in which he and Bantam Cade stole and buried $100,000 in gold coin before being captured. Emmett gets Tom a room at a boarding house run by the Widow Hazard (Jean Inness) and he confesses to her he only came back to town to see his daughter – but she does not want to see him. Ira continues to make Tom a figure of public ridicule, much to Willie Cade's chagrin and Amos Coe tells Tom to get out of town in two days or he will kill him.

Tom observes his grand-daughter Laura from afar and visits his daughter's house but she says she hopes Amos Coe shoots him as she has led a life of misery due to Tom's reputation and actions, and gets her husband to throw him out. The Widow Hazard reads Tom stories written about him which he says are largely lies but the stories talk about how well-dressed he was – so he turns in his ragged clothes for a fancy suit and starts playing the part in the legend including giving out $10.00 gold pieces to his grand-daughter, to Willie Cade, and to buy his suit. We learn that Amos Coe was supposedly guarding the gold that Tom stole and Ira Lom asks him if he ran away from Tom as the famous gun battle is usually recounted.

Emmett Ryker visits Tom to warn him about using stolen money but Tom is unimpressed saying he can not be found guilty for the same crime for which he has already been served time. Emmett also warns Tom that rumours of his gold have attracted a large number of gunslingers to town including Red Ingram (Med Flory), Carl Stacy (Ross Hagen) and Frank Swan (Dennis McCarthy). These men butter up Tom hoping to get a piece of his money and Swan befriends Willie Cade as a means of getting access to his friend Tom. Even Tom's daughter wants a piece of the gold and gets her husband to invite him to dinner. At the saloon Willie gets in a fight with Ira Lom as he does not like the way Ira is treating Tom or saloon girl Ellen and ends up beating Ira to a pulp and is only stopped by Emmett's arrival. He goes quietly to jail at Tom's urging but is bailed out by Swan who tells him technically, half of Tom's gold was his grandfathers and hence, should devolve to Willie. Tom has dinner at his daughter's and learns his grandson is sick and should go to St. Louis for treatment but they cannnot for lack of funds. The grasping daughter tries to talk Tom out of his money as does Willie who also arrives on the scene.

Tom learns Amos Coe is looking for him so he goes to the saloon to wait for him where he is followed by all concerned. Ross Tedler pleads for money but Tom tells him he is weak and ought to take chances and go to St. Louis to help his son. A drunken Coe arrives but Tom refuses to draw on him. Tom tells Amos his brother and another of the dead men actually planned the gold robbery and tells all in the saloon that Amos was not even at the gunfight, having been gotten drunk by his brother to get him out of the way for the robbery. He tells how he got the gold pieces by stitching burlap bags in prison for over 30 years and that he has no money. He tells Willie his grandfather Bantam was a mean, cruel man and the he can not play the legend any more as he is used up. He apologizes and leaves the saloon. At home Ross stands up to his nagging wife and tells her they are going to take a chance and go to St. Louis to help their ill son. Tom returns to the Widow Hazard's and tells her he is going to have to find a job. He cuts open his boot and takes out a map showing where the gold is buried – not as much as the rumours say but $4000 or so. She says he lied and humbled himself before everyone by deflating his legend and he only responds by telling her to take the map to Emmett Ryker.