Cheyenne joins a group of investors on a cattle drive, but one of the party is a killer.
Cheyenne explains to the others how he discovered the identity of the "dark rider".
Samantha asks Cheyenne to protect her from two men.
Berato threatens the cattle crew while Lew plans a distraction.
Cheyenne stops Sam from running out with all the money.
|The Dark Rider|
|Season 2, Episode 1|
|Air date||Sept. 11, 1956|
|Written by||Howard Browne, Roy Huggins|
|Directed by||Richard L. Bare|
The Last Train West
The Long Winter
- This is the first episode of Season Two.
- The opening footage of criminals escaping was used in the season one episode Border Showdown, even showing poor Brad Farnum being run down and killed...again.
- According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television, 2nd Edition, this episode was co-written by producer Roy Huggins to "see how many TV western rules he could get away with breaking" and became for Huggins one step in the development of his anti-hero Western series Maverick starring James Garner.
- The Samantha Crawford character, played by Diane Brewster, would appear in four episodes of Maverick.
Real World References
- The Duke says that Opie the cook is "the last of the Borgias", a reference to the Borgia family which was prominent during the Italian Renaissance and were known for murdering people using arsenic poison in their food.
- Stanley Adams plays the feisty German Heinz, but the end credits list his character's name as Joe Epic.
A beautiful blond woman named Samantha Crawford stops Cheyenne Bodie in the doorway of a hotel. She desperately offers him $300 to keep two men away from her until the Santa Fe sheriff arrives on the stagecoach. Cheyenne suggests she find a lawman, but most badge-wearing men are out searching for the bank-robbing Berato gang. Cheyenne doesn't mind getting paid to be a white knight so he agrees. He waits in a hotel room for the men and, after they arrive, holds them at gunpoint. The men claim that Samantha is the real criminal for cheating them out of $2,000.Cheyenne decides to wait out the night and let the sheriff sort it out in the morning. The only problem is there's no sheriff on the morning stage and by then Samantha is long gone. Desiring the $300 he's due, Bodie rides out to track down the female con artist.
Out on the range, Cheyenne comes across a cattle drive manned by the rogue Samantha and a variety of characters: a German brewery owner, a British duke, a cheapskate ranch foreman, a young but experienced cowboy, a pious Catholic priest and a crusty cook. She has no money, so she offers Cheyenne a job as trail boss. He accepts but only on his terms. Her partner Lew Lattimer gets one look at Bodie and rejects the deal. Cheyenne accepts a trail rider position instead for much less pay, but warns if they need his services later he won't come cheap.
After all have settled in to bed, Samantha stretches her legs and is joined by Lew, who is in a romantic mood. Sam rejects his advances but he won't take no for an answer. Young Dawson intervenes on her behalf but Lew beats him up until Cheyenne stops the fight.
The next morning, Lew discovers that someone stabbed and killed Dawson during the night. At his burial, everyone eyes Lattimer suspiciously but there's no proof who committed the crime. Cheyenne takes Sam aside and asks why he saw saw someone in a skirt sneaking around camp near the time of the murder. She strenuously denies his observation.
The drive continues and Lattimer leads it straight into a crisis when the river in their path is dry. The next water is three days away and the herd will die before they make it. When Lew learns that Cheyenne knew the river would be dry he knocks the big cowboy on the ground. They fight until Cheyenne's punch lays him out. Bodie knows of a water source half a day's ride away and Lattimer concedes that finding water is the job of a trail boss. He agrees to let Cheyenne take over.
Around the nighttime campfire, Opie and the Duke have a spat and in a fit of anger the Duke lets his less-than-royal accent slip. Suspicions are aroused and Heinz threatens the sputtering Englishman. Cheyenne defuses their anger, but that doesn't stop the killer from striking during the night. This time the Duke is the victim, but again there's no evidence to point to the murderer.
The drive is finally nearing Kansas City and there's good news: beef prices are up! To celebrate, Opie has brought everyone ham and eggs and he announces they should arrive in town by midday Saturday. As Opie passes out the grub, Lew laments that once the drive ends the murderer among them will go free. Cheyenne announces that he knows who the killer is because he just realized it. He recalls the morning he thought he saw Samantha prowling around camp, but it was Padre Juan's robe that he really saw. And he asks why the priest is eating ham when all good Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays. He tears away the priest's robe and a stash of money spills onto the ground. Padre Juan is actually Mike Berato, the bank robber. Berato pulls a gun and demands that everyone turn away. Lew makes a quick move that distracts Berato and Cheyenne shoots him. Just before he dies, Berato confesses to killing the Duke and Dawson.
With the drama over, the drive moves into Kansas City and everyone plans to meet later to collect their pay. Sneaky Samantha heads to the cattle broker's office and makes arrangements to collect every cent for herself. Just as she's tying up her purse strings, Cheyenne intercepts her. The others come to collect their share of the money, blissfully unaware of Sam's attempt to rob them.
Cheyenne and Sam go out for one last dinner and then part ways. Sam is headed to Montana to start another adventure as a gold prospector. Cheyenne watches her ride off then goes back to his hotel room to collect his things. He reaches for his money which he's hidden behind his mirror, but the money isn't there. He searches the room but it's nowhere to be found. He grabs his things, pays his bill in the lobby and jumps on his horse. He's after the wayward Sam once again.
"When I found out the truth and wouldn’t pay them they tried to force the money from me. You believe me, don’t you?"
"Well, let’s say I heard you."
- - Samantha Crawford and Cheyenne disagree on her truthfulness
"Hey mister. You seen a girl in here..blond hair, blue eyes...[gestures]...figure like so?"
"Sounds like I should have."
- - Powell asks if Cheyenne has seen Samantha in the hotel.
"What caused the trouble?"
"Señor Latimer was interrupted at a tender moment."
- - Padre Juan hears Cheyenne's explanation of a late-night fight in the camp.
"Look here. I'm utterly fed up with being poisoned. This man is no cook. He's the last of the Borgias!"
"Well now, maybe your lordship aughta drop in to Buckingham Palace for tea and crumplets!"
- - The Duke and Opie argue over his cooking skills.