"The Long Night" is based on a theme that was used in several episodes of different westerns. Paladin is riding through Texas when he is taken at gunpoint and placed with two other men. All of the men are wearing dark clothing and wealthy cattle rancher Louis Strome is rounding up all men in dark clothing that are passing through. Strome claims that a man dressed in black was with his wife and when Strome shot at the man, he accidentally shot and killed his wife. As a consequence, Strome considers the man guilty of murder and plans to hang him. The three men are to be held overnight and if none of the men confesses, all three will be hung in the morning. There is a bit of haggling, with no man willing to confess to the crime, so it is up to Paladin to find a solution to the problem. While frontier justice was often harsh, in this case it is taken to the point of absurdity. Only one of the men can be guilty, so Strome and his men all know that they would be hanging two innocent men. No real attempt is made by Strome to question the men to learn which is the guilty party, certainly that is something even the most distraught man would do. This is especially the case when there are further revelations as to what happened the night of the death of Strome's wife. The "Killing of Jessie May" has a feature that was most unusual for television in 1960, a black man that was treated as an equal by the white men. When he was young, Jessie May Turnbow witnessed his father tortured and killed as a suspected spy during the American Civil War. Jessie May is now seeking revenge against the men that killed his father and Paladin is hunting him. After Jessie wipes out one band of men from the group that killed his father, Paladin encounters a line shack inhabited by two men, one of which is black. The men are friendly to Paladin until they learn that he is hunting Jessie May. They are very loyal to Jessie May and tell Paladin that they will kill him before they will let him take Jessie in. There is a climactic battle that proves that blind loyalty can be deadly. A black man sharing close quarters with a white man and being treated as an equal was a very unusual feature of television in 1960, proving that "Have Gun" was in many ways a pioneering show. The producers are to be commended for their farsightedness in doing this. "Dream Girl" uses another theme of human existence that of a man believing a woman is so much more than she really is. Buddy Webster has spent years working a gold mine and he has struck it rich. When Paladin wanders past his claim, Webster is bubbling over with excitement and tells Paladin how he is going to go back to town and marry the woman that he met and fell in love with years ago. Struck by Buddy's naiveté, Paladin agrees to help him take his gold to town and convert it into cash. While Paladin is at the assay office a saddle maker and a jeweler take advantage of Buddy, they both significantly overcharge him. Paladin tries to talk some sense into Buddy, he tries to bring him down to reality about the girl, after all he only met her once. The girl of Buddy's dreams proves to be a saloon girl that does not even remember him, yet she is very interested in his money. Others in the town are also eager to part Buddy and his money; they don't care how it is done. Therefore, it is up to Paladin to protect Buddy and help him to see the reality of the situation. The plot of this episode is very predictable from the point where Buddy tells Paladin about the girl of his dreams. Nevertheless, it is a good episode because it portrays Paladin as the crusading do-gooder that is his fundamental nature. "Trial at Tablerock" is a very cerebral episode, typical of stories written by Gene Roddenberry. Paladin arrives in town, having been recruited for a job but not told the specifics. He learns that the local prosecutor wants Paladin to kill Virgil Beech, a gunman hated and feared by the town. Paladin refuses and then Beech is framed for a murder where Paladin witnessed that it was a fair fight. A circuit judge is there so a trial is held where the verdict of guilty is clearly pre-ordained. Unwilling to let a man be hung for a crime he did not commit, Paladin agrees to defend Beech and he puts the people of the town on trial. Confronted with the reality of what they are about to do, the people choose not to testify and Paladin wins Beech's freedom. However, the judge rules that Beech cannot wear a firearm in town and orders Paladin to be the enforcer of the decree. This episode is based on the role of law and how often it seems to favor the guilty over the innocent victims. Most of the statements made by Paladin could be transposed into the modern world with few changes and the frustrations with the law have not changed since the 1800's.
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About the reviewer
Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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