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If you happen to be a fan of Chill Wills then you might like this
episode. But for the rest of us, that just like good western stories,
this episode is lacking in more ways than one.
It begins when Dodge is getting ready for a hanging of prisoner Dobie Price. The Marshal is trying to find a person that will serve as hangman and runs across a volunteer named Elihu Gorman (Chill Wills). This Elihu Gorman is a former outlaw that is also Dobie Price's cousin. Gorman wants to see cousin Price hang for some past transgression made against him.
But before any of that can happen, Dobie's gang breaks him out of jail. With Festus injured, Gorman tells Matt he knows where Dobie is going and will lead him. For some unknown reason, Matt gives him a deputy badge.
They set off on an adventure to find Dobie. Along the way they get into a few problems all related to Gorman. Till at last Gorman finds the hideout where Dobie is located.
This is not one of the strongest episodes. Could not really get into the character of Gorman since Matt already knew he was an outlaw and could change his colors at any moment. It's a plot played out many times in the series. The only thing that has changed is instead of taking Festus -the Marshal picks a known outlaw--- he has just met, that is the cousin of the person wanted. That is hard to comprehend
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Chill Wills plays a former outlaw, Elihu, who goes with Matt to search
for his old gang.
Along the way, the real reason for him tagging along with Matt is discovered. The interaction between Matt and Elihu is wonderful as they search for Elihu's old gang, which is being run by his cousin, Dobie. You see two seasoned actors who truly enjoy their craft and are at their best.
The main allure of this episode of Gunsmoke is that this was one of Chill Wills later roles in life. He did a fine guest appearance and it is worth watching if you are a fan of Chill. He could bring a real genuine charm to a character or bring a tough, grittiness, whichever is called for and sometimes both in the same movie or television episode. That is fully the case in this episode. His interaction with Matt at the beginning shows his earnest desire to help, he is genuine and you feel that he is a man who has made mistakes and is ready to make things right. But later, when he is around his old gang, you see the gritty side, the side that exerts complete control over a gang of ruthless men.
It is a fantastic episode on many levels and well worth watching.
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