Paladin is assaulted in his room at the Hotel Carlton. In a furious fight, he beats down his attacker, Roderick Jefferson. The young man, it turns out, had gambling debts he couldn't repay;... See full summary »
Paladin is assaulted in his room at the Hotel Carlton. In a furious fight, he beats down his attacker, Roderick Jefferson. The young man, it turns out, had gambling debts he couldn't repay; the holder of his gambling IOUs wanted Jefferson to kill Paladin. This spurs Paladin to tell Jefferson of a similar occurrence -- involving himself 10 years earlier. As that story unfolds, we learn that Paladin (whose real name we're never told) owed $15,000 to Norge. Paladin's only way out was to go to a valley, entirely owned by Norge, to challenge the mysterious Smoke to a duel. Smoke, a dying gunman, had been nursed to health by the residents of Norge's valley. Paladin is to challenge Smoke to a duel. Smoke's dress is familiar: all black with a symbol of a knight's chess piece on the holster. In short, we're told how Paladin became Paladin. Written by
Parley Baer, the actor who gives the eulogy at Smoke's funeral, was the voice of Chester opposite director/guest star William Conrad's Matt Dillon on the Gunsmoke radio series. See more »
I didn't come here to bushwhack you, but to challenge you to a duel. You didn't kill me last night when you had the opportunity, so I take it you also consider yourself a gentleman. Shall we settle it like gentlemen?
In the books there's a name for your kind. Yes, a paladin - a knight in shining armor, armed with a righteous cause and a lance.
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So how did Palladin get to be Palladin. After five years of adventure, our mystery man in black is finally revealed. Okay, the 30-minutes answers many questions, but be prepared for a brace of philosophizing, some brittle dialog, and an earnest if not very accomplished James Mitchum. On the action front, however, is a really acrobatic and eye-catching fist fight.
Perhaps most interesting, however, is the casting. In effect, Boone plays not just one but three roles here Palladin, Palladin as a young man, and Palladin's alter-ego and mentor, a guy named "Smoke". Now, the 45-year old Boone is a stretch, playing, say, a 25-year old, especially since there's no attempt to make him look younger. At the same time, he plays the older Smoke using a blond wig, no less. And since Smoke and the younger Palladin often share the same scene, that not only takes some getting used to, but some trick photography, as well.
But the more interesting question is why would Boone take on the additional role of Smoke since most any other competent actor would have sufficed. I'll venture two guesses. First is easy-- after 5-years of the same role, Boone's ready for a change, even a brief one.
Second is more abstract maybe someone wanted to say something metaphorical and profound about the nature of honor, courage, and the other virtues associated with knighthood. And having the same actor play both the teacher and the student says something about the sameness of the lesson and the values taught by the lesson. In short, the same virtues that motivated medieval knighthood are as necessary today as they were yesterday and must be handed down from generation to generation.
Anyway, whatever the real reason, it remains a curious piece of casting. All in all, the episode amounts to a definite departure from the series norm, and whether or not you like it remains, I suppose, a matter of taste.
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