"Have Gun - Will Travel" The Protégé (TV Episode 1958) Poster

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Kurt Sprague hires Paladin to teach him how to use a gun to rid himself and the town of Red Harper, the town bully and killer.
grwilson-4933610 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"The Protégé" is the finest episode in the series. In it, we see the degeneration of a good young man to evil. Kurt Sprague just wants to live his life in peace and return home. He hires Paladin to teach him how to use a gun to rid himself and the town of Red Harper, the town bully and killer. Paladin teaches Sprague how to draw and hit his target accurately. After the showdown with Harper, Paladin looks with disgust at Sprague as Sprague, looking down at Harper gleefully says "You're right Paladin, I feel like I was born to it!" Before Paladin leaves, he gets Sprague to take off his gun and "forget about it". But as soon as Paladin leaves town, Sprague puts the gun back on. He has become the new Red Harper. Paladin returns to see Sprague, at the request of Sprague's father. He finds that Sprague never took the gun off and has just killed the sheriff. Inside the saloon, Paladin talks to Sprague: "I asked you to take that gun off and forget about it." Sprague: "No, it makes me feel good, like I'm somebody--but I don't have to explain to anyone, not even you Paladin!" Paladin: "School's out!" Sprague: "What does that mean?" Paladin: "It means, I'm going out into the street. You either walk over to the sheriff's office or try using your gun on me!" After the gunfight in which Paladin is wounded, Paladin looks down at Sprague as he tells Sprague's father, "I just wanted to be his friend." After which Sprague's father says, "You were his friend. You were the best friend Kurt ever had!" This is one of Richard Boone's finest performances as Paladin as well as a fine performance from Peter Breck as Sprague--later to become Nick Barkley on "The Big Valley". If any episode rates a 10, this is it.
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Teacher, Mentor, Visionary
roycevenuter13 June 2016
Of the 225 episodes of "Have Gun Will Travel," this one is my all- time favorite. My father, who was a Golden Gloves champion and a World War Two hero, always tried to teach me to solve my problems, conflicts and potential confrontations with patience, with wit, with diplomacy, restraint, reason and logic; and almost all of the films we viewed together illustrate the idea that there must be a better way, a peaceful way, for people to get along with each other. Paladin carries a gun he is an expert in the skilled use of, yet he always hopes he won't have to use it, that cooler heads will somehow prevail; and he always regrets having to use violence. In 2016, we are faced now, on a global scale, with the sort of shocking savagery, the brutality that migrating settlers faced trying to live in a community in which the gunman, sometimes in the form of a lawman, was the only force that could protect human life from other armed human life. In "The Protégé," Paladin first asks his budding protégé exactly what his objective is in terms of learning how to draw a gun from a holster swiftly, aim it quickly and kill. The sophisticated viewer might easily leap ahead and assume that violence, which formed the basis for almost every episode, would eventually form the most essential quality of this one, too. What makes "The Protégé" superior resides in (a) the quality of the tale (b) the quality of the writing and finally (c) the quality of the acting. Viewers forget very quickly that it is Peter Breck, in one of his first on-screen jobs as an actor, portraying Kurt Sprague, who comes to Paladin sick and tired of being bullied. That archetypal fear haunts many of us today in the world of sudden, senseless terrorism and wars seemingly without purpose. Richard Boone also reveals a multi-faced character, part philosopher, part very reluctant warrior, and part father figure. This episode imparts the reverberating power of an Aesop's fable as well as the lesson that the human tendency to make a fist indicates as H.G. Wells said, that that person has just run out of ideas.
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New gun bests old gun
pensman25 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Obviously my "fellow" reviewers like this episode; but I can't say it's one of the best. The plot is familiar: student believes now that they have skills that that they have eclipsed their teacher; lessons are learned, but too late. A lot of Star Wars runs on this archetype. Not that Kurt Sprague (Peter Breck) comes close to Darth Vader, but after Paladin teachers Kurt how to use a gun so he can protect himself from the local bully, Kurt fully embraces his new skill: even though Paladin has urged him to put the gun down and leave it behind him. A number of characters in literature—Willie Stark in All The King's Men—and film—"Lonesome" Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd—all succumb when their darker side is awakened by power. This is a good episode and plays well in 26 minutes run time; and certainly reached a large audience in 1958. And even though it has been heavily edited by the Heroes and Icons channel, it still deserves a viewing.
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