Hoping to pay a heavy debt, Cheyenne takes over a lucrative cattle drive from cowboys who don't want him in charge.
Cheyenne finds it's lonely at the top after he takes over a cattle drive by force.
Cheyenne and Rowdy fight for leadership.
Susan Ames arrives and tries to shake things up, but Cheyenne shuts her down.
Squint tells Cheyenne he's in for serious trouble in Dodge City.
- According to script notes this episode has an alternate title, Hell Waits at Dodge. 1
- This episode is retold in comic book form in Cheyenne Comic Number 5.
Real World References
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Errors and Continuity Nitpicks
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While stopping in a saloon for directions to the JA Ranch, Cheyenne runs into Dode and Mike Laverson, the brothers of a man he killed in self defense. Thirsty for revenge, Mike challenges Cheyenne to a showdown and Bodie kills him. Dode swears that the other Laverson brothers will get revenge and leaves.
The next day, Cheyenne rides to the JA and meets up with the owner Amarillo Ames and his daughter Susan. Ames mentions a secret that’s between he and Cheyenne, something that makes Bodie hang his head in shame, and he instructs Bodie never to speak of it again.The subject turns to business. Ames wants to hire Bodie as trail boss to get his herd into Dodge City first this season which will score top price and a bonus. Ames needs the extra money to keep the bank from foreclosing on his ranch. The old man trusts his ranch hands, but they don’t have trail experience and he doesn’t want to insult them by not putting one of them in charge. He hands Bodie a written note stating that Cheyenne is to take charge if Ames is incapacitated.
The cattle drive begins and Ames pushes the cattle and the JA men hard. When they reach a river, Ames doesn’t want to rest despite looking like he needs one. During the crossing, Ames' horse rears and tosses him in the water. Exhausted, weakened by an old bullet wound in his lung and unable to swim, Ames drowns.
The men bury him, send a rider back to the JA to tell Susan, and discuss who should take over. Rowdy Shane and Slim Mantell both vie for leadership. Cheyenne tells them that Ames wanted him to take over and shows Rowdy the note, but it has gotten wet and is unreadable. The men follow Rowdy, but Bodie refuses to back down. The two men square off in a fist fight and Rowdy loses. When Cheyenne asks if anyone else wants to challenge his leadership, no one else volunteers. The men reluctantly follow. Cheyenne turns out to be a hard boss, forcing the men to work long hours without rest. The men chafe under his strict orders and Slim speculates on his motives.
While out on watch duty, another rider approaches. It's Cheyenne's old friend Squint, who is currently riding with Ruck Grover's rustlers. Squint has two warnings for Cheyenne: the first is that Grover plans on stealing the JA herd, and the second is the Laverson brothers are on their way to Dodge City to kill him. Bodie thanks Squint for the warning, but he won't leave the herd until it's been delivered.The next day, Grover and his men come at full gallop. Cheyenne leads the JA men in a stampede in the opposite direction and send Grover running. After the loss of some cattle and a cowboy, the JA men have reached their limit. They quit and demand to be paid. Bodie offers them all bonuses if they get the herd in first. When they hesitate, he encourages them at gunpoint to take the offer.
The next evening Susan rides up and orders Rowdy to take charge of the drive. Cheyenne refuses to submit to her authority, threatening to send her back to the ranch tied to her saddle. When she orders the men to kick him out of camp, the men just stare at the ground; Cheyenne has intimidated all of them into silence.
The herd and men reach Dodge City and are welcomed by the mayor as the first herd of the season. Susan and Bodie accept the bonuses. As the cattle are penned, Bodie tries to have a conversation with Susan, but she shuts him down and walks away. Cheyenne tries again by visiting Susan in her hotel room. He hands her his bonus money as payment of the bonuses he promised the men. When she objects, he says he knows that the ranch is in debt and needs every cent.
Susan asks him to explain his motivations for being so hard on the men. Cheyenne is reluctant to tell, but when she presses him, he tells her the secret he had with Ames: Cheyenne killed her younger brother. Eighteen months before, Amarillo hired Cheyenne as a guide on a hunting trip he took to Wyoming with his 12-year-old son, Jamie. While they were packing to leave, Cheyenne asked Jamie to hand him his rifle. As the boy did, the weapon went off and killed him. Ames didn't blame Bodie then, and neither does Susan now. She thanks Bodie for his help.Down in the saloon, Cheyenne meets up with the men from the JA, but some are still sore with Bodie. He reminds them they need to visit Susan to get paid, and they rush out. Later, a drunken Rowdy sits down with Bodie and tells him Cliff Laverson and his brothers are at a saloon down the street letting everyone know they plan to gun Cheyenne down. Bodie decides to face Cliff. On his way there, Squint meets him in the street and warns him that the Laversons have joined up with Ruck Grover, making it a seven-to-one battle. Bodie decides to retreat, but one of Grover’s men shoots Squint and forces Cheyenne to the door of the saloon where his enemies are waiting.
Unseen to the men inside, Rowdy sneaks up, knocks out the cowboy holding Cheyenne at gunpoint and slips him a gun. He whispers that Susan told the JA men everything. Slim and the others have sneaked inside the back of the saloon to help. A gun battle explodes and Cheyenne is shot in the side by Cliff. After many shots are fired, the JA men manage to take out the Laversons and Grover’s gang.
Cheyenne is packing up to leave Dodge City, still smarting from his gunshot wound. He says goodbye to Susan and declines her offer to go back to Texas as he’s headed off to Wyoming for another job. On his way out of town, Cheyenne sees the JA crew riding out. After a moment, Cheyenne turns and gallops off to join his friends. Wyoming can wait.
“All set, big man? I’m gonna plug ya. Whadda ya think a that?”
“Sounds to me like you’re aimin' on talking me to death.”
- - Mike Laverson and Cheyenne face off
"Maybe I better straighten you out on something. In a showdown I'm with them. They're my friends. You're a stranger. I keep waitin' for you to show some signs of being human."
- - Slim Mantell tells Cheyenne where his loyalties lie.
"You ain't a man, Bodie. You're a machine that don't know no part of a heart or soul."
- - One of the JA cowboys complains about Bodie's work ethic.
“You know what I like about you, trail boss? What I like about you, you know all the answers. That’s what I like about you.”
“I wondered what it was you liked about me.”
- - Rowdy Shane shares some drunken opinions with Cheyenne
"Cliff Laverson is down at the Long Horn Bar. He's been telling around town how he's gonna gun you personally for shootin' his kid brother in the back. Way he tells it, you're real good at pluggin' kids."
- - Rowdy Shane says something to Cheyenne more hurtful than he knows.