In a rare episode with Hop Sing in the spotlight, the Cartwright's servant is panning for gold during a vacation when he falls in love with a white woman. The relationship blossoms into an engagement, but the marriage never takes place. Ben bears the heartbreaking news that a judge confirms: Territorial law forbids interracial marriage.
Hoss turns to a clairvoyant named Judith Coleman to help in a search for Jamie, who has gotten lost in the high country. However, Judith is reluctant to help out, fearing that her psychic abilities will ruin her engagement to a minister who opposes her gift as witchcraft.
Cactus Murphy, an embittered ranch whom Ben fired, suggests that the Cartwright patriarch is getting a little old to "put in a real week's work." Ben's response: Take a job under the assumed name Ben Brown and show Murphy that he is still more than capable of sweating out the job of a rancher.
Ben's friendship with the Kosovos, a young immigrant family from Serbia, puts him in danger when family patriarch Nick suffers a psychotic snap, goes on a rampage and barricades them in their home. Ben does all he can to reason with Nick, whose wife and son have become deathly afraid of him in the process - especially since the consequences could be deadly if Ben says the wrong thing.
In a satirical look at unusual, silly laws and customs, Joe and Hoss try to explain to their skeptical father why their delivery run to Agua Santos, Mexico took so long. An unimpressed Ben listens as his sons explain their story, which all started when Joe forgot to take his hat off in church and was exasperated when Hoss ran into trouble trying to bail his younger brother out of jail.
A band of rogue ex-Confederate soldiers comes to the Ponderosa to demand a $25,000 ransom. Hoss tries to disrupt the robbery and is critically wounded by the group's leader, Shanklin. While Jamie escapes and tries to search Virginia City's saloons for Joe, Ben learns that Shanklin is an outstanding surgeon and demands that since he wounded him, he can perform the surgery to save Hoss' life.
The Cartwrights attempt to reconstruct a 24-hour period of Ben's life after he fears he may have been the unknown gunman who shot down Sid Langley, a corrupt real estate broker who has become hated in Virginia City. The reason? Ben had suffered a concussion from an unknown source just before his meeting with Langley and happened to be his last appointment before Langley's body was found. Oh, and Ben strongly disapproved of Langley's unethical business practices.
Jamie's 7-year-old friend, Jonah Morgan, is badly wounded when he and Jamie walk into the Virginia City Bank during a robbery by the evil Springer gang. The boy later dies of his injuries. Joe and Jamie accompany Jonah's grief-hardened, paraplegic grandfather on the hunt for Springer and his cronies.
It's a case of comic mistaken identity when Hoss - on a delivery run for the Ponderosa - is mistaken as a member of the bumbling Younger Brothers gang. Ben and Joe are eventually able to convince the authorities to let Hoss go, but not after a series of misunderstandings wherein they too are involved with the Youngers' gang.
Ben's ability to close a lucrative cattle purchase with a picky livestock heiress hinges on Hoss and Joe's ability to sell a dilapidated saloon they were duped into buying. However, the Cartwright brothers are convinced that the shanty of a saloon contains a valuable painting.
In his second attempt to cash in on Ben's good name, crooked lookalike Bradley Meredith learns that the Cartwrights are in Carson City and, posing as Ben, pretends that he is seriously ill and begins to liquidate the Ponderosa's assets. The Cartwrights come just in time to foil Meredith's plans.
Little Joe finds true love in newcomer Alice Harper. Following a courtship, the two are engaged. Unlike most of the Cartwrights' previous girlfriends, Alice makes it to the altar. Joe and Alice are starting their new life together, and she soon becomes pregnant. Alas, their life together is doomed. Alice's indolent brother owes money to a ruthless professional gambler named Sloan and has not repaid him. One day while Joe is gone, Sloan and his gang - with John at gunpoint - visit Alice to collect the money. When she refuses to cooperate, Sloan's hired muscle, Mr. ...
Ben helps ex-convict John Dundee re-adjust to society. However, Dundee's boorish attitude complicates matters, and it may have to do with his former business partners framing him for a crime he didn't commit.
Jamie joins an elite club and endures the initiation rites. However, when a classmate dies from cardiac arrhythmia during the initiation (touching a piece of ice to his chest, after getting him to believe it was a hot branding iron), the club's president Ted Hoag is blamed. A posse forms to track down Ted and hold him responsible for the hazing. Blood almost sheds, but then Jamie reveals he and the other boys were just as responsible for their friend's death.
Ben becomes horrified while inspecting living conditions at the Nevada State Prison. So are the frustrated inmates, who take Ben hostage and make a series of demands to improve conditions. One of the inmates - Griff King - decides to act as a go-between to communicate the prisoners' demands with the state prison board. In the end, Griff is paroled to Ben's custody.
In this sequel episode to "Riot," Ben helps parolee Griff King adjust to life outside of prison, giving him a job as a ranch hand. At first, Griff resists the Cartwrights' attempts to rehabilitate him, but he soon grows to appreciate their help and tries to change.
Dr. Will Agar is Virginia City's new town doctor. He's exceptionally gifted and can bring many new procedures to Nevada Territory. However, Dr. Agar is addicted to morphine, which results in trouble ... and in the end, tragedy.
Griff's friend, widowed farmer Jonathan May, wants to adopt two young orphans, one of whom is unable to talk. When Jonathan is told he cannot adopt the boys, Griff decides to set the adoption agency folks straight on what a loving father is.
Jamie forms a bond with an Irish setter he names April. However, April was a runt and - according to its rightful owner - should be put to sleep because it is a disgrace to the breed. When April competes in a field trial, the dog's owner soon learns that it's not the size of the dog that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog.
Jamie becomes friends with Kelly Edwards, who is abused by her husband, Dan. The catch: the husband happens to be the new teacher at the Virginia City School, and he quickly becomes unpopular because he belittles the students. Soon, Jamie helps Kelly come out of her shell, which sets none to well with Dan, who orders an end to the friendship.