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;...
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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
Gary Peterson's review is an outstanding exposition of this episode's mythical elements. (It's been 45 years since I read "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", and didn't catch the references.) But it doesn't change that fact that this is a weak and somewhat contrived story.
Paladin's origin needs little explanation. He's Batman without the cape, a highly principled person who wants to see justice properly meted out. It needs no justification or explanation.
Richard Boone was a generally good actor, but playing a fundamentally overwrought character who often declaims pompous quotes or (worse) his own overly pointed dialog, sometimes leads to Shatnerian delivery, which badly mars the funeral scene.
The makeup artist does a good job of making Boone look (a bit) younger, and narrowing Smoke's nose. (Smoke strongly resembles Kirk Douglas. It's hard to believe no one caught that.)
This isn't a "must-see" episode. It won't spoil your enjoyment of the series, but it doesn't add anything that's already implicit. (Is that redundant?)
By the way, though Norge is the inhabitants' name for their country, it's also the brand name of refrigerator -- which William Conrad somewhat resembles.
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