Bat recommends himself to be a wagon guide to cross the desert after a wagon guide is brought in dead with bullets in him. Three wagon trains have been lost that summer to a trail pirate. The woman leading the next train doesn't trust Bat.
On July 27, 1879 in Good Springs, Nevada when one of Bat's friends is brought in dead with two bullets in him Bat decides to join the next wagon train in order to locate the bandits who have been preying on wagon trains. They change trail markers to divert unwary travelers from water holes. The cutthroats loot the wagon trains after the occupants die of dehydration. He offers his services to the next wagon train whose leader is a beautiful woman Ellen Parish whose brother was killed, but Parish refuses to believe that a gambler and gunslinger can lead her friends to California and safety. Instead she picks a man named Egan. Bat killed his partner in front of Parish which influenced her decision. Bat decides to leave ahead of the wagon train to see where things go wrong. However, a sandstorm blinds him after he loses his spooked horse. He stumbles blind into the wagon train stalled by the sand storm. Parish prevents Egan from killing Bat but believes Egan when he goes the wrong way. ... Written by
When we get to California, we could use a man like you to help us get settled. Would you care for the job?
William Barclay 'Bat' Masterson:
Well, some folks are settlers and some just want to see what's over the next range and some, maybe, what's going on in the next town.
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Good chance to see Bat Masterson match wits with a treacherous wagon train guide--who leads stage coaches into the desert, leaves them stranded, and brings men to have their pick at the spoils--on the trail instead of in a town. Also refreshing to see Bat out of the derby hat, without the cane, and riding a horse, roughing the elements (like an alkali dust blindness and fall from his horse thanks to a rattler leaving him momentarily unconscious and hazy), even temporarily chained to one of the stagecoaches. Lots of pluses in this episode: (a) Bat finds a romantic interest in Gloria Albott's Ellen Parish after some resistance, (b) Bat must outdraw one of the outlaws while his back is turned after denying this punk a last game to get his lost poker cash back, (c) Bat must convince the wagon train, led by Ellen, that "trail pirate", Egan (a game Barry Atwater), is about to lead them in the wrong direction (Egan had fixed the sign into incorrectly directing innocents towards wrong locations just to starve and plunder them!) just so he can rob them, and (d) Bat must free himself from the chains, get his hands on a gun and horses, and thwart Egan's efforts (including two other gunmen in his entourage, all three ready to strike) in the end. Gene Barry has some fun moments flirting with Albott, and his intense exchanges with Atwater provide plenty of palpable tension. Actually, Bat never seems to take Egan seriously, as if always confident (a trait of the Masterson character as performed by Barry) he will eventually stop this trail pirate from robbing anyone else. It was as if he's biding his time, knowing that he would, at some point, convince Ellen that Egan was a scoundrel in sheep's clothing. The draw that persuades Ellen to choose Egan over Bat, and Bat needing to prove he's not just some gunslinger with no feeling for human life (it was self defense, after all) make up a great deal of the plot's central conflict however, I don't think anyone wouldn't believe Bat couldn't work his charms on Ellen. The two share quite a passionate kiss that seems to take Ellen's breath away. I thought Atwater was especially sharp as the trail pirate who swoops in when Ellen is in desperate need of help, with a face that could or could not be trusted; he gives Egan a voice that can convince, although there's always that sense of danger about him. While he would seem an unlikely trail guide, this episode proves otherwise, seeming to indicate that Bat is a jack of all trades...it was also important for the show to establish that Bat is an adventurer who does leave the confines of the city occasionally.
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