The Wild Wild West (1969)

Season 2 Episode 13

The Night of the Skulls

Aired Friday 7:30 PM Dec 16, 1966 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Night of the Skulls
Jim goes on the run from the government when he shoots and kills Artie. But a criminal organization captures him and puts him on trial.

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  • A secret society, a planned coup and more Artemus disguises than you can shake a stick at.

    To infiltrate a secret society of murderers, Jim "kills" Artie and finds himself as the new MVP of a group dedicated to killing the President, Vice President and Secretary of State.

    This is classic "Wild Wild West." There's a femme fatale, a colorful group of villains (the painted skull faces are particularly striking), some daring escapes, ingenuity and disguises. We also have a Bondian-plot...a mass murder scheme with the goal of a coup d'etat in the U.S. The identity of the villain isn't hard to guess once his scheme is revealed, but it's still a strong outing. I love the assortment of murderers gathered around the dinner table to toast West as their newest member, Artie's disguises and musings on the invention of a new game called "bucketball" (and Jim's insistence that it will never catch on) and Ross Martin's expression in the final scene.

    Also, the teaser, in which Jim apparently shoots and kills Artie is very well-done. Even though we know that it's not real, Martin and Robert Conrad sell the scene and their fight. For a brief moment, you almost believe Jim did it.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Both Henderson and Artie mention that a dozen vicious killers have disappeared. However, we only ever see five. No explanation is ever provided of what happened to the other seven. The Skulls do eliminate one man who turns out to be innocent, but what are the odds that even one "vicious killer" would turn out to be innocent, much less seven?

    • There are six murderers, including Jim. Three are to be chosen by process of elimination, and two of them are killed on screen. It is heavily implied that the third, the Strangler, is also killed since Lorelei and the Chief Skull both inform Jim that he has been chosen as one of the three. They could only know that if the Strangler was killed. However, the Strangler is then seen as one of the three surviving murderers.

    • At the end of the episode, Senator Fenlow begins to quote the Pledge of Allegiance using the words "under God." The Pledge wasn't written until 1892, after the time period of the series, and the words "under God" weren't added until 1954.

    • Trivia: It's revealed that Artie is an only child.

    • Gadgets: Tobacco pouch filled with gunpowder

    • Disguises: funeral minister, bum, Tigo the hunchback, the assistant Secretary of State

  • QUOTES (6)

  • NOTES (3)