At the start of the third season of "Have Gun-Will Travel," this episode featured several prominent actors who played a seminal part in other excellent shows in this series. Ken Curtis distinguishes himself by portraying an entirely different personality and mind set as contrasted with his long-standing portrayal of Festus Haggen on "Gunsmoke" or even the two other rather slap-sticky roles Curtis fulfilled for this series. This was a television show which gave disciplined carte blanche to actors and actresses who truly wished to stretch their creative resumes and break new ground dramatically and artistically.
"The Posse" begins in media res, like many of the episodes by simply jumping Paladin into the hubbus, reminiscent of "The Ox Box Incident"
the great feature length film from the 1940's starring Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews. "The Posse" is a masterpiece in terms of exploring in considerable depth and range, the power of the character's intuitive abilities to unmask treachery, dissimulation, greed, and murderous intent. The story keeps the audience in suspense until nearly that last inch of footage. Throughout much of the fierce interrogation that transpires, seemingly leading to imminent catastrophe, the protagonist is not permitted to utter a word in his defense. Tension thick enough to sever with an ax. Dobie O'Brien again proves his versatility as an actor of tremendous range and tone. Denver Pyle, another HGWT reliable histrionic force, provides just the right blend of power, blindness, lack of humility and pompous indignation. Harry Carey, Jr. who played roles in 12 HGWT episodes, continues to stretch himself here as a dramatic complicator, neither initiating nor resolving a conflict, yet making the fabric of the plot deeply intriguing. Paladin declaims a speech, the sort of message aimed at the mind in a situation in which words and careful arguments would probably just be wasted. I thought that Paladin's two comments garnered from Erodius were stilted, very academic, and, again, aimed at a scholarly, dispassionate audience, not people anxious for and eager to consummate summary justice. This episode is not to be missed, however; it adds important dimensions to the character development of its chief protagonist who is, nonetheless, proved to be all too human in this allegory of the old West, demonstrating as history has often done, that bad things can readily happen to good people unless good is equally poised and more crafty.
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