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Pretty good episode that manages a few unexpected turns. Paladin is
hired by dad Sebrey to avenge killing of his son by lightning-fast
gunfighter Morrita (Dark). However, Sebrey himself turns out to be a
ruthless killer so Paladin takes expenses and starts to head home, that
is, until Morrita shows up. Then things get interesting.
Hard to say enough about Boone's importance to the series. What an excellent actor, and more importantly for the series, what an authoritative presence. Note how well he acts with his expressive eyes, and when he asserts himself at entry's end, we believe him, in spades. In fact, the tension is somewhat undercut by Dark's rather weak presence compared with Boone's. Also, Dark's struggle with a Mexican accent doesn't help. Nonetheless, it's a fairly imaginative script that includes a young and very lovely Suzanne Pleshette. I can see why Moritta might lose his head over her.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In "Death of a Gunfighter", Paladin watches (while preparing the saddle for his horse to ride out of town) as a notorious hood (with a reputation for killing 12 men, three right before Paladin's eyes) blows away "the Sebrey Three", responsible for hanging the killer's 18 year old brother (himself responsible for murdering the sheriff's son). What doesn't set right with Paladin is that Juan Carlos Morrita (Christopher Dark) shoots his adversary, John Sebrey (Tom Greenway), in defense, then fires another shot when he's on the ground, in the back, in cold blood. Knocking Paladin unconscious when his back was turned, Morrita is heading home, an amnesty in New Mexico by a sergeant putting an end to the Morrita-Sebrey Blood Feud (if anyone breaks the amnesty with bloodshed, they are sentenced to hang). Paladin honors this, but sees to it that Morrita rides home without conflict/violence. Morrita vows to never pull a gun to kill again, and Paladin hopes (even believes, at one point) that he is sincere. But when Morrita does return to Santos, Paladin seeing him all the way (Morrita didn't even wear a gun belt or his weapon, turning them over to Paladin), and Juan's former flame, Maria (a young Suzanne Pleshette, made up as a Mexican), has bequeathed herself to another man, the vow of non-violence almost becomes a faded memory it pretty much follows the adage that "a leopard can't change its spots". While these twenty-two minute shows have to squeeze in a lot of story in and end them quicker than perhaps desired, Have Gun Will Travel was one of them in the higher echelon of classic western television. This episode deals faithfully in the inability of a hot-blooded outlaw to truly live to his word regarding not killing another man. Because of pride and ego, Juan Morrita simply can't accept that Maria has moved on (it really wouldn't be too difficult considering a life with him has a lot more disadvantages than benefits); he wants her for himself, a fantasy (a marriage to his first and only love after returning from a life of murder, leaving a bloody trail behind him) that is more a delusion. Why would Maria want to spend a life with a killer of such infamy? Paladin, first pursuing him with the whole intent on killing him for shooting John Sebrey in cold blood (Sebrey had paid him $500 for the bounty hunting job), changes his position when it seems like Morrita is legit in his vow. For those of you who have seen the underrated horror filmstarring Richard Boone"I Bury the Dead", he makes a comment as Paladin to Sebrey (this a response to John's leaving Morrita's teenage brother lying under the hanging post as an example) that might be somewhat amusing, "I came here to take him for you, but I Bury the Dead, Mr. Sebrey."
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