Summoned to a frontier fort, Paladin learns from a Major Wilson that the nearby Maricopas -- on whose land sits a legendary goldmine -- have recently turned hostile. Paladine agrees to ...
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Summoned to a frontier fort, Paladin learns from a Major Wilson that the nearby Maricopas -- on whose land sits a legendary goldmine -- have recently turned hostile. Paladine agrees to escort the Major to meet Gerada, the Maricopa chief, but Wilson proves to be more interested in stealing gold than resolving differences. Written by
dinky-4 of Minneapolis
Richard Boone's stake-out scene marks the only time during this series' first season that he is shown without his shirt. See more »
Major, let me set the record straight. I did not come here for old school gossip, to sing class songs, or to discuss personal affairs, past or present. If you have a problem, please detail it, and I'll name a price.
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This episode begins a bit tiresomely and concludes on a disturbing note, but in the middle it offers a scene of almost legendary status.
Paladin arrives at a frontier fort under the command of Westpoint graduate Major Wilson (Warren Stevens) who feels underpaid and unappreciated. Wilson is having problems with the local Maricopa Indians and, hearing that Paladin enjoys good relations with this tribe, he's asked for the gunman's help. Paladin agrees to escort Wilson to a meeting with Gerada, chief of the Maricopas. At this meeting Paladin learns the Maricopas fear that white soldiers, under Wilson's command, have been trying to locate a gold mine which lies on Maricopa land. Wilson promises to deal with the situation but it soon becomes clear he's primarily interested in the gold. Feeling Paladin has betrayed them by bringing onto their land a man such as Wilson, the Maricopas take revenge.
Here's where the highpoint scene occurs. Paladin, upon Gerada's command, is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head. When he comes to, he finds himself stripped of his shirt and staked out spreadeagle-style in the desert, his wrists and ankles bound to wooden poles driven into the sand. What awaits him is a slow, torturous death under the merciless glare of a scorching sun. Fortunately, however, Paladin's horse lingers nearby, and by grabbing onto the horse's dangling reins with his right hand, Paladin is able to pull loose one of the wooden poles and thus save himself.
Paladin then catches up with Wilson whose greed for gold leads to his demise. Paladin also makes things right with the Maricopas before returning to the fort where new leadership will soon be taking over. It's at this point a sour note occurs. During his stay on Maricopa land, Paladin learned clues about the location of their fabled gold mine. He then mentions to a soldier at the fort that if the Maricopas are ever relocated, he'd like to do some hunting in their mountains. The implication is that Paladin would take advantage of the Indians' misfortune -- their forced relocation -- by going back onto their land and finding that gold mine for his own personal gain. This makes Paladin look callous and selfish -- surely not the image of its leading man which "Have Gun Will Travel" wished to project. (Surprisingly, the script to "The Yuma Treasuer" came from the usually astute Gene Roddenberry.) That stake-out scene, however, makes one forgive this episode all its faults. Unlike, say, Clint Walker or Robert Conrad, Richard Boone had never indulged much in "beefcake" scenes, though -- even at age 40 -- he still possessed a respectable physique. Suddenly, however, just eleven days before Christmas, American TV audiences found themselves staring at a stripped-to-the-waist Richard Boone tethered in front of the camera with his legs spread so wide apart that attention was focused, if only for a moment, on his crotch. (And these were supposed to be the innocent days of television!) Other TV-western actors then wound up in this staked-out position -- Robert Horton in "Wagon Train," Peter Brown and William Smith in "Laredo," Ralph Taeger in "Hondo" -- but Richard Boone was the one who led the way.
One wonders, however, about the Indians who staked-out Paladin. It seems laughable that while they'd take off their victim's shirt in order to expose his chest to the burning rays of the sun, they'd leave on his pants, boots, and gunbelt. Did they want him to die in tortuous agony but with his modesty intact? And why didn't they take Paladin's horse rather than leaving it around to engineer its owner's rescue? And why do they depart after staking-out Paladin? Wouldn't they want to stay nearby so they could watch him suffer and hear him groan? And why didn't they take Paladin's shirt with them? Did they know he'd soon be putting it back on? And why is this episode called "The Yuma Treasure" when it's obviously "The Maricopa Treasure?" Questions, questions.
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