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This is one of a small handful of Fugitive episodes that I remember
from decades ago. I vividly remember Percy Rodrigues as the sheriff. I
actually avoided watching it again until recently because I didn't want
my memories to be ruined in case it's not how I remembered it or in
case my current adult perception is different from my childhood's. As
it turns out, I still love this one. I am so impressed with Percy
Rodrigues. He does not have a false note in any of his line readings or
actions. There is so much dignity in his persona.
As much as David Janssen was perfect for TV, so was Percy Rodrigues. Their close-ups are captivating. How they react to other actors, how they use their eyes to convey emotion, how they hold their bodies.
The story is almost superfluous. Two lawmen escort two prisoners through the mountains towards the city of Helena. Dr. Kimble is one of the prisoners. The other is a dangerous killer with friends who want to help him escape. The sheriff's truck is ambushed and they end up having to go a long distance on foot. The prisoners are determined to escape.
Police, investigating an unrelated crime, call out to Kimble. Fearing
the worst, he runs, but ultimately is captured and put in the jail in
Wyler County, Montana. In the next cell is Rafe Carter (actor James
Farentino), a convicted killer on his way to be executed. Deputy
Sheriff Emery Dalton (actor Percy Rodriguez), against the advice of the
sheriff, takes both prisoners to Helena. Carter is taken to be
executed, while Kimble (posing as Thomas Barrett) is taken to be
identified, Dalton figuring he must be wanted for something. Carter is
a racist who continually taunts Dalton, who is black.
Dalton and his assistant, Deputy Lockett, run into real problems as Carter has friends ready to bust him loose. Ultimately, Dalton, wounded and on foot, has to march the two prisoners alone 50 miles to Helena. Kimble is determined to escape, but is disturbed by Carter's plan to kill Dalton to make good his escape.
Kimble rarely does anything stupid in his travels but he does here,
seemingly just to create the situation he'll have to find a way to get
out of. He's in a small town in Montana, looking for transportation to
Helena, when a police car pulls up and tells him to wait. They only
want to question him about a stolen truck. But he runs from them and
then slugs a policeman in an attempt to get him away. That gets him a
bunk in jail for resisting arrest, next to a captured, racist killer
played by James Farentino. A black deputy, played by Percy Rodriguez,
is assigned to transport the two of them to Helena- Farentino to be
executed and Kimble to be identified as the thief who stole the truck,
(which he isn't). To get there they have to go through the "hill
country", which is full of Farentino's friends and relatives, who
disable the vehicle Rodirguez is using and wound him in the progress.
He preservers, dealing with Farentino's taints and Kimble's silence.
They wind up in a farm house where a lonely woman seems fascinated with
Farentino, who falsely pleads his innocence and suggests that if she
helps him, they could go off together.
That scene seems rushed and doesn't ring true, as most of the scenes in this one don't. Farentino seems much more the city boy than the country boy. But the powerful Rodriguez makes this watchable with his performance as a highly principled man in a world that so often disappoints him.
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