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Helen Cooper (Coop)

 

 

Episode Commentary:
Legacy
A commentary on Legacy
For those of you who don't know me, via the various Lancer sites, the following reviews were, for the most part, written during a heightened period of seismic ( earthquake) activity that struck my home time of Christchurch between September 2010 and January 2012. So hopefully, that will put into context the various somewhat hysterical  references to earthquakes that are made in several of the reviews. Writing them was, in essence, my coping mechanism for dealing with my world ( and house) shaking apart.  So hopefully, that will go some way to explaining my slightly, irreverent, self indulgent look at the episodes reviewed; for which I make absolutely no apology! I'm sure a shrink would have a field day...

Muchas gracias to Suz Hayes for the ‘Eye Candy'

http://www.peterbrown.tv/lancercoop002.gif

Well, I never expected to be doing another one of these so soon but well, a heightened bout of seismic activity in the last 24 hours necessitated I pen another review to keep my mind occupied.
And I have cheated somewhat – those of you on the Wayne Maunder sites may have seen some of this before when I posted some random thoughts on Legacy about a year ago. This time I have just included them in a full-blown review of the eppy. 

A few disclaimers.  
1. Well, I know that for most of the Scott gals, Legacy is somewhat hallowed ground, in a similar vein to how ‘ Warburton's Edge' is' for the Johnny worshippers but, well, sorry, the quakes have brought out a wicked streak in me and much as I love this episode too, the temptation was too great to resist so…. deal with it.

2. And yep, there are one or two places that I do get a little…serious…and ponderous. Well, quite a few in fact. Yes, I know, it's something I am working on…. I'll try to do better, honest. But there are parts of this episode where the flippancy has to go out the window and I have to darn well admire the fine acting performances that are turned in by our core cast. So sorry, again…deal with it!

3. Oh, and I have a tendency to make things up from time to time. It's far more interesting than reality sometimes…. and it keeps ya'll on your toes… so take a great deal of what I say with a grain of salt (if you hadn't already figured that one out already)

4. No beta was used. So any and all mistakes are entirely to be blamed on a distinct lack of sleep (two nights in fact)…ergo, the earthquakes…. that seem to have really kicked off with a vengeance again.

Ok, so without further ado, here it is, my kooky take on “Legacy”. And I really hope this is the last review that I feel compelled to write for while. Although I doubt I'll be that lucky…

Well, firstly, I love the incidental music at this start of this episode as the opening credits cease and we head into the action. There are several incidental tunes that we get in the show but of them all, for some reason, this is my fave…. really gives me the sense of ‘western' and sets the mood of the piece well… 

So, straight off, we see Jelly riding in to the hacienda and old Murdoch battering the hell out of the anvil, which makes me wonder if there is a stockpile of ruined shoes just off camera where he has been hitting them too hard. Anyway, it doesn't take a genius to work out that he is a man with something on his mind. Anyone with a little good sense though would see a 6 ft 5 giant armed with a hammer, clearly in an aggressive mood and would, sensibly give them a wide berth. But we are talking about Jelly Hoskins here, and Murdoch knows his ranch hand and good friend is not gonna pass up an opportunity to comment. But clearly he is not getting rid of his pent up aggression on the anvil so Jelly is ideal cannon fodder and gives him his ‘in'.

“Right, go on and say whatever it is you're gonna say.”

Like I say, any sensible person would hear the challenge in Murdoch's voice, look at the visual clues, the battered horse shoe, the ‘weapon' in Murdoch's hand etc etc and would beat a hasty retreat…I mean, there's got to be a reason in a busy hacienda that there are no other hands around – and even the one who takes Jelly's horse, makes a pretty sharpish exit…but, like I say, this is Jellifer Hoskins and he just can't pass up an opportunity to offer his ‘pearls of wisdom.' The two of them dance around a little bit with Murdoch doing his best to deny that there is anything wrong, as he continues to wield his smithy instruments menacingly until, with all the subtlety of a well-placed brick through the window (yes, I know I use that analogy a lot but I can't be bothered to think of any others), Jelly goes for the jugular observing that Murdoch has been a mite ‘testy' since hearing that a certain relative of his son is coming to visit.

To which Murdoch responds, “I don't know what you're talking about.”

Of course, he knows EXACTLY what Jelly is talking about but clever Mr. Writer wants to make sure that the viewer is left in no doubt in this prologue, what the eppy is all about. 

And just to feed us some more clues (because right now, imagine we are all scratching our heads wondering who said relative could possibly be and which son it could possibly relate to) the Writer (Mr. Jack Turley – remember that...) uses Jelly to give us a few additional clues to well and truly ensconce the theme of this episode.

“Scott's Grandpa. I'm talking about the man who raised Scott for most of his life, that's who I'm talking about.”  

Murdoch retorts back “You're not making any sense.” Well, quite, he does have a point. Jelly seldom does make much sense but, again, this is a way for Mr. Turley to drip feed us just a little bit more information in this appetizer before we get into the ‘main course' of the plot.

“How come since ya found out he was coming here you've been acting like a snake bit ya?”    

Aha, so is that where the phrase ‘viperish' comes from? It all starts to make sense…who ever said watching 1960's episodic television couldn't be educational?

So, there we go. Scott's Gramps is coming to stay and Murdoch ain't happy about it. That's about it in a nutshell. Are you all with me? Are we sitting comfortably? Good…then we shall begin…

So next frame, we see a buggy come into shot and it's being driven (is that the right word?) by the ‘gorgeous one', accompanied by little bro on Barranca who pulls up and ‘parks' alongside him as he does the big ‘whoa there' thing.   And, awwww, bless, him, we can tell that that Scottster is all excited about something.  He enthusiastically turns to Johnny as he jumps down and asks

“C'mon what are you waiting for?”

But Johnny hesitates and he looks a wee bit uncomfortable, to me, as he replies

“Well, I tell you, I got a few things to do. You go ahead, I'll be right along.”

Hmm, I have my own ideas of what those ‘few things' are…'cuz ya know, riding horseback for any length of time can really ‘jiggle things up' inside if ya know what I mean… Especially if you left the house in a hurry before you had a chance to have your morning…ahem… constitutional. Yep, I reckon ‘a few things to do' is a euphemism for a swift detour to the nearest outhouse…. Yep, it was Jelly's turn to cook breakfast. ‘Nuff said…

Anyway, the Scottster is all a quiver in anticipation of seeing his dear old Gramps and he heads into the hotel, to be greeted by a familiar face. Yep, ain't that hotel clerk also the grocery store owner? You know, the one that breed's botulism in jars of pickled veggies and palms off mouse nibbled chocolate to unsuspecting (but fictional) pauites? Heck, life must be hard indeed in the West if you have to hold down two jobs.  Wonder if he's declaring the second job to the IRS…? 

But the Scottster don't need to be shown the way as, there at the table, is his dear old Gramps. But heck, I don't know this old duffer from a bar of soap but straight away he's got my hackles up. I mean, is it just me or did anyone else wanna kick his chair legs out from under him for his failure to stand in the presence of the gorgeous one? How rude…

And despite Scott's excitement at seeing his old Grampy, well, it's a stiff and starchy reception he receives from the old goat, reminding us of the staid, clinical way that the ‘gorgeous one' was raised for 24 years.   And old Harlan Oswald Garrett (Yep, I have it on good authority that Oswald was his middle name, so from hereon in we'll refer to him by his initials) wastes no time in making derogatory comments about the rusticity of the town, Scott's clothes and the fact that life begins a little earlier out West than it does in Boston. Well, actually Scottster, it probably starts just as early out in Boston for the domestic staff, maybe even earlier, but you're right, the only sunrise HOG has probably ever seen was upon returning from a night on the town (and you were the same for a wee while, remember Sweetie? Remember Barbara…? ‘Nuff said) 

But anyhow, give the Gorgeous one his due, he is quick to assert, “I like it out here Sir”.

Again, old HOG can't resist having another dig  “Yes I assumed that since you failed to acknowledge numerous invitations to return home.”

To which the Scottster replies, “Well, I think it'll be a little time before I get back to Boston.”   Maybe for the funeral? I know, I know, that's harsh but you're all thinking it too…right? C'mon, admit it…. old HOG ain't getting any younger…

And as the Scottster takes a sip of his coffee the old goat mutters ominously “Well, we'll see…” Oh ho…. don't like the sound of that…. sounds as there's dastardly plans afoot…surely not? Well….

Cue little brother, returning from his pit stop to the outhouse…if you look closely, his fly is still at half-mast… 

Well, ok, I made that up, but you all shoved your DVD's in and had a look right? Snicker…

And this time it's the Johnny gals wanting to kick old HOG's chair legs out from under him for failing to stand in their Adonis's presence (the old fella sure ain't endearing himself to anyone is he?)

So introductions are made but straight away old HOG can't resist having another dig (heck, he's on a roll ain't he?)

“This must be Scottie's half brother, Johnny Madrid.”  

Once Johnny has corrected him that he's now taken back the Lancer moniker, he proceeds to tell old HOG that “Scott has talked my…EAR… off about you and Boston.”

Yep, a little birdy tells me that that was about the 20 th ‘take' of that particular scene and with everyone on set onto over time wages, the Director resorting to tipping a jar of valium down his throat, washed down with a good malt and the script editor threatening JS with physical violence, JS finally played the scene as scripted. Anyone care to guess what he had been saying instead of ‘ear'?!

I'll leave that for ya'll to ponder….

But nasty old HOG is twisting the knife further by sneering “Let's see, your mother was a foreigner, wasn't she?” 

Oops, better watch out HOG, folk have had a bullet between the eyes for less…and yep, Johnny goes all ‘Madrid' as he replies “ Mexican”.

HOG clearly is trying to push things as far as he possibly can and either hasn't heard the full extent of Johnny's reputation or is exceedingly confident that he's ‘bullet proof' all the while his Grandson is there to protect him. Either way, his “Yes.  I understand she was a lovely woman?” statement leaves you in no doubt that what he really means is “Yes. I understand she put herself about a bit.”  

Fortunately the Gorgeous one recognizes the warning signs and intercedes by indicating, “I think we should be going Sir.”  Shame, as I would like to have seen what would have happened if Johnny had gone all Madrid with Harlan and had taken him out. Would have made for a shorter episode but has definite possibilities. Maybe we'll work that into Coop's alternate version…

But nope, Old Harlan has one more card up his sleeve to play before they head to Lancer as he reveals  “Yes, Scottie but first I have a surprise for you. An old friend.”

Cue icky  “Oh hellooooo….” music, and out comes Harlan's trump card.  In the shape of Julie Dennison.  Oh dear…. there goes the episode. A ‘love interest'….yep, every single Scott gal in the known universe is now sending daggers towards this fancied up female, sizing her up and concluding that there is no way on EARTH that she is good enough for their gorgeous hero.

And, well, yes, I have seen this episode…err…multiple…times and so have poked and prodded and analyzed from several angles (well, what can I say, we've had 9500 earthquakes in the last 15 months so I need a lot of distractions!) and try as I might, I cannot for the life of me detect one SMIDGEON, not one MOLECULE, one teensy weensy bit of chemistry between WM and Katherine Justice in this eppy whatsoever. And I could be a little biased here (well, a lot actually, if I'm entirely honest) but I don't think it has anything to do with WM's acting. But everything to do with KJ's. Or, to be more exact, her complete lack of acting ability. Frankly, its just like she rocked up on set, delivered her lines and that's it. I may be doing her an injustice (which is kinda ironic given her name) but, well, I just don't buy at any moment through the eppy that here is a lady who was once, hook line and sinker in love with the ‘gorgeous one.' 

Having spent far too long pondering the inadequacies of her as a suitable ‘match' for his ‘Gorgeousness,' one day, it struck me (and yeah, trust me, it REALLY hurt) but hey, no pain, no gain, and it was worth it to have this Eureka moment. Yes, suddenly it was all so simple. Because, her lousy acting aside, perhaps what it REALLY came down to was, pure and simple, a MAJOR wardrobe malfunction.

You still with me? No…? K, I'll explain.  You see, Scott is wearing that WONDERFUL, SEXY, TORSO HUGGING blue shirt  (phew…hot flush alert…and I am WAY too young to be having those yet.) and Julie waltzes in dressed in bottle green. Oh dear…. you see, that's why they had to break off the engagement. Because they were just NOT compatible. Clear as day, huh?

No? Still not with me? K…

Well, who remembers the rhyme from when they were a kid “Blue and Green must never be seen?” They are two colors that should never, ever be seen together, (Honest, ask Trinny and Susannah, they'll tell ya) and with Julie's penchant for green and Scott's preference for wearing blue, well, stands to reason it was never gonna work out between them.  See, that's why I am FAR more compatible with the ‘gorgeous one' as I NEVER wear green. Have refused to since I left school in 1989. Yeah, school uniform was bottle green…yick. Can't bear to wear that color since I ritually burned the uniform in the back yard the day I left that goddamned place. So, move over Julie, Coop's comin' through…dressed in blue to set off her eyes and to compliment the gorgeous one…yep, Coop's alternate version…

So anyway, back to the Floozy (unfortunately)…she sashays in and says “Hello, Scott” with added emphasis on the two ‘t's' as if said through gritted teeth with as fake a smile as I have ever seen. Again, I could try and give her the benefit of the doubt, knowing what I do of her ‘true role' in this eppy (but pretend I don't) and say that her lack of sincerity could be because she is truly uncomfortable with her complicity in old HOG's plans but, nope, sorry, I have seen her performance all the way through and she really ain't that good an actress. The greeting she gives and receives from Scott is truly painful to watch; it is just not believable that these two individuals were once two people in love.  And like I say, WM had plenty of snuggly buggly scenes with other female co stars and did just fine, so can only conclude that in chemistry terms, well he and KJ were just poles apart.

Anyway, once I have fast forwarded that kissy kissy scene (and yes I forced myself to watch it for the purposes of writing this review – aren't you impressed by my dedication to the cause? Nope…? Jeez, you're a harsh bunch…) Scott asks Julie why she never answered his letters? Hmmm…doesn't that tell you something sweetie?

She responds with the stock standard “ Well, I wanted to but I couldn't…”

What, Couldn't…Write? Be bothered? Remember which one of her many conquests he was?

Probably all of the above…. But she wriggles out of it by fluttering her eyes and saying “Not now, not here…” Yeah, ‘not ever'…I got your number girly….grrr…

And if anyone still has any doubts as to her genuine affection for his gorgeousness, just look at the way she greets Johnny when he is introduced to her.

Yep, now Johnny knows why the Scottster loved Boston so much, and he gives Big Bro a playful punch for holding back on him (Hmm…reckon that's gonna bruise, Coop's off set with her wet sponge and witch hazel all ready, just in case. And its too high up to have the sleeve rolled up – sorry Gorgeous one, the shirt will just HAVE to come off...)

Johnny takes Julie's hand, makes eye contact for just a little too long, and tells her its “ My pleasure” (in his best sultry, husky voice which has all the Johnny gals in palpitations) to be introduced to her, before kissing her hand, which he DOESN'T let go of! And she don't seem to be complainin' none. In fact the lingering smile she offers little brother is a whole heap more dazzling and genuine than she offered her ex beau. Hussy….    

C'mon Scottster, how about we let them get a room and you can come with me darlin', ‘cuz you can do sooooo much better.  Yep, again, Coop's alternate version….

But the Scottster is all thrown for a loop at seeing Julie again and entirely oblivious to all the flirting and fluttering that's going on under his very nose or maybe it's a case of he's taking that ‘What's mine is yours' brotherly pact he has with Johnny a smidgeon too far? Or MAYBE its something to do with a mutual attraction they both have for brown haired females called Julie, because, it happened once before didn't it? And you'd think they'd have learned, I mean look how that turned out….  Who knows? But, anyhow he totally overlooks the preening and posturing.

As Johnny watches Big Bro drag Julie off to the buggy with the promise that he has a lot of things to tell her (well, everything he wrote in the bloody letters she never read for starters) old HOG drops the bombshell that the two of them were engaged to be married and he lets Johnny know in no uncertain terms that he is hopeful that the wedding could still happen, with the pearls of wisdom that “Time and distance dim the hurt. At least for some people.”

How profound…. remember that…tells us a lot about old HOG…

So back to Coops favorite incidental music as they travel that well worn road back to Lancer. And it never ceases to amaze me that on one side of the valley it can all be dry and yellowy and arid looking and yet when they stop and look down the other side, why you've never seen anything so lush and green as Lancer. Heck, you could be forgiven for thinking its two vastly different locations…either that or Murdoch has got a very good sprinkler system, or an entirely different weather system that sits permanently over his 100,000 acre section of the San Joaquim…yeah right…moving on…

But anyway, it's clear as they stop, the Scottster is immensely proud of his birthright. And that's got old Harlan smarting and the prickly old pensioner just can't help having a few more pokes (not to be confused with the type of ‘pokes' that Johnny is so fond of in fic…) at all that Scott holds dear.

“This wilderness, where a naïve young girl came to search for her sugared dreams”

Give Scott his due, for a woman he never knew, nor has truly learned that much about from either Grandfather nor Father, he does try to defend his mother by pointing out that, well, she loved Murdoch, she followed her heart . “To come out here to share a life with him.” Not to mention it was as far away from repressed Boston society and her overbearing father as she could possibly get…. and really, who could blame her now we have met him?

And that's what has Harlan truly smarting. And he's too immersed in his own bitterness to realize just what a hypocrite he is. I mean anyone else wanna punch his lights out (and this is a recurrent theme in this review btw) when he says “I wonder what drives a man so hard; to put ambition above all else, even his family .”

Well, quite Harlan…you tell us…talk about the pot calling the kettle black…jeez… 

But old HOG is starting to sow the seeds of his master plan (I know, we don't know what that is yet…humor me); he's trying to get the Scottster feeling all guilty for choosing Lancer over him; for choosing the man who abandoned him over the man who raised him for 24 years. And although our gorgeous hero tells his Gramps he has tried to show his gratitude, the old goat tells him that that's not what he wants from him. Hmmmm…what does he want then? His loyalty? His love? What? If anyone figures it out, can they please let me know?

Old HOG leaves the ‘gorgeous one' thinking on it, and is well and truly in control as he shuts down the conversation, sowing the seeds of guilt by telling his Grandson

“Forgive me, I guess I'm getting to be a silly, muddled old man. (Conniving old git more like) Let's get on”

Cue next scene (nice linkage Mr. Director) with Murdoch confronting old HOG in the Great room “Let's not waste any more of each others time Harlan. What are you doing here?”

Way to go Murdoch; he can see straight through the old goats façade. HOG may be able to manipulate Scott because of the love he has for the man who raised him for all those years, but Murdoch knows Harlan of old. And he knows every trick in the old goats book. And that the old man doesn't do anything that isn't in his own best interests. So nope, Murdoch's in no mood to be hospitable and who can blame him?  If you ask me, Harlan's bloody lucky that Murdoch will allow him under his roof at all. It's only out of deference to Scott that he does, I am sure. I'd have given him the skuzziest room though…. 

So Murdoch's in no mood to pander to the old goat. He cuts to the chase, demanding to know why Harlan is really there.  HOG, stalling for time, picks up a picture and gets all maudlin about his deceased daughter “Dear, precious Catherine. I don't remember this picture….” Well, I'm not surprised…it ain't her! ‘Cuz if you cast your mind back to the High Riders, well, she's undergone a complete makeover. In fact, I'd go as far as to say she's a completely different woman…Way to go continuity and props department.

But wait a minute. If you look at those eyebrows…well, in his grief, its highly possible that Murdoch accidentally threw out the photo of Catherine and kept the photo of Lafe Degan's wife that he found in his belongings after he killed him…. because you know, well, if you look at Billy's eyebrows…oh wait…we haven't met Lafe or Billy yet. My bad…hold that thought…moving on…

So as Murdoch and Old Harlan verbally spar over Catherine's death, we are transported back 24 years to Carterville.

Now Kathleen Freeman (the midwife) was one of those jobbing actresses that you saw a lot of back in the day, and she usually does a passable job. But heck, she must have been having a real bad day on that day of filming. ‘Cuz to me she looks like she is either reading an autocue or is totally drugged to the eyeballs. Her voice is so monotone, devoid of any emotion or intonation, well, it's embarrassing. Or maybe she was just overcome by the fumes coming from whatever they used to dye Andrew Duggan's hair with.  

I mean, heck, Murdoch was a RED head??!!! How on earth did Johnny and Scott manage to avoid the red headed gene? It's the strongest gene there is..!! I can attest to that, I come from a family full of them. Again what was the makeup department thinking? Oh wait…of COURSE, Murdoch was SCOTTISH wasn't he? And all Scots are red heads aren't they? And say “Hoots Mon” and toss cabers every day before having their porridge and haggis for brekkie…my mistake we are STEREOTYPING here aren't we…? Sigh…Get over it Coop….  

But anyway, this little tit bit from the past shows us just how mercenary old HOG is; leaving his only daughter to be buried in the middle of nowhere as he steals away with her newborn son….

Back in the Great room, Harlan tries to dismiss it all as being in the past but an incensed Murdoch retorts,  “Not to me it isn't, no sir, it's right now”    

Hmmm…so, Murdoch can't let the past go huh? Remember that boys and girls  (well, girls…) because methinks Big Daddy is being a tad hypocritical here…

Well, the two continue to squabble until it finally emerges why Harlan is really there. And surprise, surprise, its all about reclaiming what he feels is his. Scott. And that's the crux of it. To him Scott is property, something to own, to coerce, to control. He has a legacy waiting for him back in Boston, and that's where the boy belongs.

Murdoch points out that “Scott's not a little boy anymore. He's a grown man (and what a man! Sigh…) with a will of his own .”    

But hmmmm…. Harlan believes he can be ‘persuaded' to return. Oh ho…

Murdoch is certain that it won't happen, so certain in fact that he allows himself to be manipulated into a bargain with the wily old goat. Because Harlan knows that Murdoch is a man of honor and he has tricked out of him already the fact that he's has not told Scott how it ‘really was' and nor would he stoop to besmirching Harlan's reputation to score ‘points'. Oh double dear….   Because the same cannot be said for Harlan. And if we're in any doubt as to that, well, the look of triumph on old HOG's face and the ominous music should tell us that things are about to get downright dirty.

And yep, sure enough, next frame, we see old HOG arriving for a secret assignation in town. (Nope, not THAT sort of assignation…it'd likely kill him…. now THERE'S a thought…hmm…again Coop's alternate version). One does wonder though what excuse Harlan used to leave the hacienda in the dead of night…. what business he would have had in town at that that time of night. Maybe they none of them wanted to know…I mean, its not the sort of question you ask your Granddad is it?

Anyway, more ominous music, and we note that Mr. Grocer is STILL on duty at the hotel. Heck, he's a workaholic, isn't he? Mind you, after seeing his motor mouth wife, I expect he prefers the peace and solitude of work than being at home…can't say as I blame him…

Anyway, Old HOG meets up with a pair of scruffy mudsills whom we are reliably informed (cuz they tell us) are Carl and Billy Degan.

And get a load of Billy Degan's eyebrows…. look familiar? Hmmmm….?! Hold that thought…

But those eyebrows, well, they seem to have a life of their own, …and they have an almost mesmerizing, hypnotic quality…. or maybe that's just my lack of sleep kicking in…? Wonder if they got their own dressing room?

Anyway, well, it don't appear that either of the two Degan boys are too long on brains, because when faced with this well to do looking man, in an outfit so out of place its not funny, and with an accent to match, they still have to ask “Are you Mr. Harlan Garrett..?” and give old HOG his due, he resists the urge to come up with a sarcastic retort. Me, well, I'd have been all over that one, but, well, as my Old Ma used to tell me sarcasm is, apparently, the lowest form of wit (but its so much FUN!) and old HOG has clearly learned to rise above such things. Pity…

So from their exchange, we, the viewers deduce, that there is some underhand plotting and scheming afoot…as old HOG retrieves his overly stuffed wallet and proceeds to give them some ‘pocket money' to keep them going until they are required; promising them the payment of their $500 fee when they have performed the required service. Well, the mind positively boggles. What could old HOG be paying them $500 for?

Ewwwww…let's not go there. That may require brain bleach to get that mental visual out of my head.

Billy gets to thinking though, (S'ok, he'll have a lie down later to get over it) that $500 is not enough for what old HOG is asking of them. Well, if you're thinking what I'm thinking Billy, I'm right with you…

But Old HOG is an astute businessman (a master accountant so I'm told) and he stands his ground. That was the agreed price and it stands. So there…with knobs on.

But darn it, the agreed price for WHAT? Are your minds still boggling as much as mine? Or is mine boggling just from having my world rocked a little too much…?

Well, good old Mr. Turley (remember him?!) takes pity and finally puts us out of our misery. Cuz Carl tells old HOG that he wouldn't want him to think that they're greedy or nothing (which is exactly what they are) “but testifying against a man on a murder charge ain't something you do every day.”   Well, quite…because most don't make it before a judge do they?  Most get invited to a necktie party at the local cottonwood grove long before the law ever get involved. Because this is, after all, the lawless west is it not?!

Anyway, I digress (you know I do that. A lot…). But now we know. Harlan is fixing to frame someone for murder. Or blackmail them. But either way, he's up to no good. 

*** Oh bugger…earthquake alert…that was a biggie too. I reckon at least a 4.2…and that's a conservative estimate as I am not prone to exaggeration…see, this is live commentary! I'll let you know the mag when I know…a little later on…btw…that was quake number 45 today….and its still only just past 7pm…***

Ok…breathe Coop….where's the bloody chocolate…K…on we go…

So, back at the ranch, it's clearly the next day and Jelly and Teresa are grooming a horse and, as usual, Jelly is bitching. He does that. A lot… This time it's about the saddle that the horse is sporting on its back .  “I can't see why she can't ride with one leg east and one leg west like the rest of us.” Well, quite. For once I'm with Jelly. That thing looks like some sort of mediaeval torture device. And if being a high class ‘lady' means having to ride with one of those bloody things well, I'm more than happy to remain a sniveling peasant.  In fact, I might just give the whole horse thing a miss period. Why change a habit of a lifetime…?

Next frame, we are in Julie's room and she is busy getting herself all pretty for the Scottster (sorry hun, not enough hours in the day to EVER make yourself pretty enough for the ‘gorgeous one'). And hell, what on EARTH is going on with her hair?! She looks like she would have to have gotten up an hour before she went to bed to do that ‘do' herself. What WERE wardrobe thinking giving her such an elaborate (and obvious) looking wig?!     Just whack it up in a bun love and be done with it.

Anyway, I almost pity the poor mare having to walk around with all those pins stuck in her head…almost….I'm not that nice….

And as she is putting the final pin in place, in walks old HOG and finally clever Mr. Turley let's us in on her role in all of this…

***BTW…mag verdict just in…4.8…that's getting ‘up there' again…sigh…***

Yep, there is no depth that old HOG wouldn't sink to, to get the Scottster back to Boston and it looks like, in the process, the ‘gorgeous one' is gonna get his heart broken.

S'ok, Scott hunny…Coop's on hand to impart her nursing skills to mend that broken heart…I'll gladly ‘take one for the team' on that score. I'm incredibly dedicated…and persistent…

So here we come to what has recently been voted on one of the WMF sites as the best brother scene ever in Lancer. The ‘mirror scene' as we have affectionately labeled it. And it is a keeper. Moreso because, it doesn't appear to be scripted. There are a smattering of scenes throughout the show, if you know where to look, where it seems that the Director has given the actors the opportunity to ‘ do their own thing' and it really works. It's more common now, but was a rarity back then when Producers, Directors, Script Editors etc were a lot more dictatorial. But this is one of those rare scenes that I reckon was pretty much improvised from go to whoa and its why, to my mind, it works so well. 

That said, well (and this is a recurrent theme throughout this entire eppy) makeup, once again, stuffed up because what on earth have they done to Johnny's hair? I think they were going for the ‘Elvis' look. Now, JS was a fine looking man and much as, out of the two, I would have to say my heart belongs with WM every time, well, I certainly wouldn't deny JS's sexual allure and that the sight of his chest fur and those blue eyes doesn't incite certain…stirrings…. but I have to say I like his ‘floppy' haired look a whole lot more, when his fringe is down in his eyes. That kinda ‘naughty scamp' look that he does so well.  I think in this scene wardrobe were experimenting with hair gel. At least I hope that's what it was. Because I couldn't help being reminded of that scene in the movie “There's something about Mary.” Ewww….. And it seems that there is something else going on with JS as well.  Specifically with his nose. Now if I was his mother (which of course, is impossible, but bear with me on this one) I would be right there, pronto, shoving a hanky under his snoz and telling him to have a bloody good blow, because its clear he has something lodged up there that he's trying to…well…dislodge.  Either that or the constant nose rubbing is code for telling someone on or off set ‘they stink'. Maybe the makeup artist who did his hair? Just a thought….

Anyway, back to our improvised scene.

http://www.peterbrown.tv/lancercoop002.jpg

The boys have fun with it, clearly. Johnny enters and walks past big bro as he gazes admiringly at himself in the mirror (and who could blame him?). As he rubs his nose, (must be a real big gooby) Johnny goes into reverse and looks, also admiringly, at his handsome older brother, who asks, “ So how do I look?”    

“Elegant” is the response. To which Scott replies, without a shred of his usual modesty, “I gotta agree” (me too, Gorgeous one, me too…sigh)

But nope, Johnny's not done with the ‘flattery' which we now discover is not entirely genuine. “Breathtaking…you are pretty”.

 “You think so, huh?”  Grins Scott, realizing that little brother is being smart.

“ Yeah” snickers Johnny, clearly looking to get a rise out of his Big Bro.

“Anymore cute remarks my little brother, I'm gonna have to teach you some manners.” Scott hunny, you can teach me some…'manners' (or whatever else you fancy) ANY day…in fact, I'm free for a bit of rough and tumble right now if you are?

Johnny seems to ponder this for a minute and then responds,  “You don't want to get all wrinkled up do you?”

Scott pretends to think about it for a moment before deciding “No”.

Coop's yelling at the screen at this point “Hell yeah, you do. Only leave Johnny out of it. Just you and me gorgeous one…we can get all nicely wrinkled together…just step into my office hunny….” Yep, Coop's alternate version. Johnny can head off with Julie…and her amazing wig….

But nope, Coop is foiled by the arrival of Jezebel Julie and old HOG with Scott asserting to Julie “I've got a lot of things to show you.”   Yeah Gorgeous one, I'll bet you have…and you promised you'd show them all to me…. harrumph…

Old HOG stays back with Johnny to make sure he doesn't make like a gooseberry and head off with them but no such worry – Johnny assures him that he can't go out because “Teresa forgot to iron his riding pants.”    Well shame on her. I hope she was suitably chastised. How dare she venture out of the scullery…that girly surely needs to know her place….

So cue soppy music (incredibly, nauseating, soppy music, in fact) and another one of those scenes where Coop reaches for the FF button. I know, I know, but there's not an atoms worth of chemistry between the two of them as they kiss. In fact they can't unclench soon enough!  I mean, at least we know now that Julie is not entirely genuine in her affections for Scott… or maybe she is but she is guilt ridden over deceiving him so…. I am trying to be as kind to Katherine Justice as I can but nope, sorry, just don't find her performance convincing. And yes, I know it takes ‘two to tango', but very hard for one actor to carry a luvvy duvvy scene such as this if the other isn't believable. So nope, sorry, can't believe that these were ever two people desperately in love. We can blame the casting director, poor scene direction, whatever, but it's clear that KJ is just ‘not in the moment' at all. She is just going through the motions and ‘reciting lines'.  Which is a shame…

Of course, there could be another reason that Scott unclenches so quickly from Julie's embrace…he's afraid of being pinged by one of her hairgrips. I mean one of those could have your bloody eye out. Maybe he's had bitter experience in the past…maybe that's why they broke up last time?

So Julie asks Scott “You trying to forget me out here in all this wilderness…?”

Yep, you got it girly and he was doing a bloody good job of it up until now.

But she presses on with the master plan, asking him if he'd ever thought about going back to Boston.

“Yeah”, confirms Scott “I've thought about it…” Julie waits for him to continue, to tell her that he has dreamed about returning; to take her in his strong manly arms but…. nope, that's all he's got…he's just ‘thought about it'…maybe for a nano second…. and that's it. Snicker….

So she tries the more direct approach. And lets face it; she's not overly subtle here. Now remember, this is circa 1871/1872. And if the latter, well, its possible that it's a leap year (I think it was) which would be the only reason that a lady could ask a man to marry her. If, indeed, the custom dates back that far (I couldn't be bothered to do the research). But that's exactly what Julie does. She tells him (somewhat unconvincingly) that she loves him, wants him to marry her, go back to Boston. But interestingly, and perhaps a Freudian slip here, its his Grandfather that she wants him to make happy. Quite rightly Scott asks  “Who makes me happy?” Coop's yelling at the screen right now  “Pick me, pick me! I ‘ll make you sooooooooo darned happy, you'll be wearing a permanent smirk on that gorgeous face of yours ” but nope, the Gorgeous one can't hear me because of the thirty meter exclusion zone around the set established by the H&S officer, in case Julie's hair grips start to ping out in all directions…grrr…

With more than a hint of desperation Julie tells him “I will. I promise. You've got to believe me”. Hmmmm… you see, usually when someone says    ‘you've got to believe me' that is generally a very compelling reason to go just the opposite way. It's about as convincing as when someone says to you “I'm telling the truth… honest.”    

But it appears the Scottster really has been hit in the soft spot by seeing his Granddaddy and having ‘she of the silly hair cult' sashay back into his life and he proceeds to ask her to “Marry me and live with me at Lancer.”    Oh dear…. but nope, as we know she will, Julie declines, using that ‘my father's a sick old man' excuse. And nope, it won't do to bring him out to Lancer either (even if the trip didn't finish him off once and for all) because that's not part of the plan….

Nope, things clearly are not going to plan so Julie starts to hit a little further below the belt, telling Scott he doesn't understand, or maybe he doesn't care. And when inevitably Scott retorts that he does understand because he has the same feelings for his father.  He needs him too and that's why he can't leave Lancer, she delivers her ‘coup de grace'

“Oh does he? Why didn't he need you when you were growing up.”

Ouch…. that's harsh.  And just to twist the metaphorical knife a little more, she reminds Scott that he grew up hating his father and believing he didn't care. …. And even though Scott asserts that he now knows he was wrong, that Murdoch does care, well, the seeds are sown…

“Makes you wonder why he never came to see you.” She stirs the pot a little more…

Well, come on, to be fair, Julie, it wasn't as though you could just jump on a train or a greyhound and be there in a few hours you know? It was a bloody long, arduous and downright dangerous boat trip around the notorious Cape Horn to get from California to Boston, which would take several months…cast the old guy some slack…jeez…  

But, well, she's hit Scott in a vulnerable spot, reawakening 24 years of hurt. Executed with clinical precision. And she didn't even need to resort to using the drug-laced hairgrips that would leave him open to ‘suggestion' (which she purchased from a man called ‘Hatton' whom she recently met)…impressive….  

WARNING – COOP GETS SERIOUS FOR A PARAGRAPH OR TWO ….

So, back at the hacienda, and Murdoch is sitting at his desk, staring into space as Johnny enters. And they are both clearly men with something heavy weighing on their minds. The silence lies heavy between them before Johnny, who is clearly nervous and struggling to articulate his thoughts (played superbly by JS it has to be said) finally plucks up the courage to say what's on his mind.   

“I know it was hard for you to locate me down in Mexico after all those years. You know, trying to locate one small boy.”

When Murdoch looks up, he somewhat resembles a lost little boy himself as he responds “Took Time.”  

This is clearly hard for Johnny, but he has to get the answer, as much for himself as his big brother. “ Yeah…what I'm wondering about…you knew where Scott was all the time. What took you so long?”  

And you know, this says so much about the brother's relationship, because Johnny's as heartsick for his brother about what he missed out on for all those years as he is for himself. The fact that Murdoch knew where Scott was all along somehow makes it worse, in Johnny's mind, for Scott, knowing that Murdoch knew where he was yet never went to claim him.

Murdoch whispers “I tried…I tried ” and so we are transported once more to flashback, to Scott's 5 th Birthday party.

****END OF SERIOUS SEQUENCE*****

Ok, now I appreciate that this is a very poignant and pivotal part of Scott's back-story and the reason that he remained in Boston, unclaimed by his father all those years but there are just some things in this sequence that I can't let pass.

Firstly, that BLOODY annoying Wurlitzer or whatever it is, music. Kinda like what you get at a fun fair or a carnival. It is incredibly irritating.

Then there's the clown. Is it me, or was anyone else freaked out by that? Heck if I was a 5 year old child I'd be having nightmares for weeks afterwards at the sight of that. Whoever thought that small children would like clowns needs their head read. Seriously….

Then there is Harlan…oh dear. Where do I start? Well, as soon as I saw him in this flashback scene I had a screaming urge to start doing the “Timewarp”. Its just a jump to the left…and a step to the right…. do the pelvic thrust…. etc etc.” Anyone else think he displays more than a passing resemblance to ‘Riff Raff? From the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”? And quite frankly, he looks like he has been embalmed. And seems to have LESS hair even though it is supposedly his younger self? Maybe the makeup artist was a mortician in a previous career? Either that, or was hitting some serious acid that day…. Jeez….

And then there is wee Scottie…awww… what a cutie.  But is anyone else glad that he grew out of that really annoying lisp “How do you do thir?” Thank God Harlan was able to afford to hire a really good speech therapist.  

And not forgetting Murdoch with his red hair and the SAME checked shirt under his suit that he still possesses over a quarter of a century later. Its either bloody well made material or Murdoch has no imagination and bought a job lot of the same material that would keep him in shirts for the term of his natural life. Or wardrobe couldn't be bothered…I know what my money's on…

So yep, all this is a little distracting but, well the crux of this flashback is to show us just how ruthless Harlan was in ensuring that Scott remained in Boston and that, really, there wasn't a darned thing that Murdoch could do to take his first born back where he belonged. Not without doing the boy irreparable damage.    

Kudos though to AD who plays the scene where he is introduced to Scott by Harlan, beautifully. The way he says “Hello Scott…. Glad to meet you” and the way he looks at the boy, so many emotions crossing his face; love, pain, loss, regret. So poignant and cuts me up every time. Very loaded scene.  Very well acted by Mr. Duggan. 

Harlan calls that his one ‘moment of weakness' but you know, I see it as a moment of tremendous cruelty. He tells Murdoch “If you love the boy, I know what you'll do.”

And it is all that Murdoch CAN do. Yes, we see in this scene that Murdoch was in an absolutely untenable position but of course, to tell Scott the truth; how it really was, would be to cast aspersions on Harlan and damage the relationship that Scott has with his Grandfather. And as an honorable man, well Murdoch simply can't and WON'T do that. 

Such a powerful and pivotal scene.

Back at the hacienda, Murdoch is pulled back to the present by Johnny…just as Scott himself arrives back, all churned up from his ride with Julie (yeah, she has that nauseating effect on me too) and he's looking for answers.

He tells Big Daddy “Murdoch, I think we're overdue for a little talk”. Yeppers, if that ain't the understatement of the century. I'd say 24 years overdue…

Johnny takes the hint; excusing himself by saying he's off to go look for Teresa (to ascertain, in fact, whether she's ironed his riding pants yet) but again, you gotta love those little undirected nuances that JS and WM slip in to show how easy they are with each other as actors and to also show the brotherly bond. Yep, that little bit of physicality with his brother as Johnny leaves is so loaded and says more than any words could ever say. And yes, I think that was spontaneous and undirected. JS in particular is a very physical actor and I think that was entirely his own doing and not scripted. Gotta love those little extras.

So now Big Daddy and the Scottster are alone and the atmosphere is, once again weighted with what has, until now, remained unspoken between them.

Oops…another quake alert…gonna be another long night…sigh…  

Like his little bro before him, Scott is tentative, finds it hard to ask his father what he has wanted to know for so long but, well, the time has finally come for answers. He hesitates and then plunges right on in “There's something I've been wanting to ask you…well…it's the past. I guess it doesn't die that easy.”    

To which Murdoch replies, “It will if you let it.”  

Oh C'MON Murdoch!!! That's not what you were telling old HOG earlier! No Sir, “It's right now!” you said. Are we being just a tad hypocritical here? Hmmm…

But he blunders on regardless, playing right into old HOG's hands “No reason to dredge up the past. What we've got is here and now. That has to be all that counts. You understand that, don't you son?”  

Oh dear…because from the hurt and betrayed look that appears across Scott's face (which WM does soooo well) clearly Big Daddy's reticence to discuss the past has further entrenched those seeds that Julie planted. In fact they have been well and truly watered in and have now sprouted shoots…

“Yes, I understand that. It means don't ask questions. Especially why you never came back to Boston to claim me.”  

And again, Murdoch finds himself in an untenable position because he wants to ease his son's pain, but there's that damned silly code of honor; not wanting to cast aspersions on a man who Scott loves, not to break the word he gave Harlan over not influencing Scott's decision, even if old HOG never had any intention himself of keeping to the pact. I mean, hell, when it comes to potentially losing your own son, is it really that difficult? But clearly for Murdoch it is…. and all he can give Scott is a very thin excuse “I tried but there wasn't any way…”  

Well, that's not good enough for Scott. Murdoch tries to tell him if he's got any decisions to make to not make them out of anger, but well, Murdoch fails to see that its not so much anger as much as a deep rooted, resurrected hurt that he could and should have laid to rest at that point. Hell, long before now!  Bloody stubborn men!!!

And so Scott storms off and it seems that HOG is indeed, gaining the upper hand…

So, back upstairs, Julie has finally developed a spine and is packing all her things. Although if you ask me, that's a bloody small trunk for the amount of traveling she has done. And I'd have thought she would have needed at least one trunk to contain all those bloody hairgrips. And from the way she is folding her clothes, well, its clear she is unused to packing for herself. But Teresa was way too busy downstairs…. ironing Johnny's riding pants so….   So the crux of this wee scene is for Mr. Turley to show us a little bit more about Harlan's motivations. Yes, he has lived his life as a Master Accountant, for 60 years (hell you'd have thought he would have retired by now) and he has attained money, power, and position and used them all to good effect. But what has it left him? “A lonely, hollow, old man, who could hunger for something more.”   

He may be one of Boston's most powerful and richest men in financial terms but in other ways he is a man bereft. Because he has no one to love. When Scott left him, he realized what true wealth was.  Yes, I know, that's profound. But we are nothing if we do not love or are loved. And that's what has twisted and turned Harlan inside and that's why he is there. Because he is lonely and he misses his Grandson but he is a man used to getting his own way through manipulation, blackmail and pressure, and it doesn't occur to him that there could or ever would be any other way to get Scott to come home with him.  And he is willing to create a lot of pain and heartache just to ease his own self inflicted loneliness.  Julie tells him in no uncertain terms “You'll never get him back.”  But Harlan shows he is willing to up the stakes. “Never underestimate a master accountant.” Oh dear…. he's gonna up the ante…

But Julie has had enough and the next scene sees her loading her one suitcase (or carpet bag thingy) into the buggy that is all rigged and ready to go. Hmmmm…so who did that for her? And was willing to allow her to head into town, alone, at night?  Not the ‘gorgeous one', that's for sure, because he comes out just at that moment and catches her in the act as she is trying to sneak off. Well, that was lucky weren't it? What were the odds? Or maybe old Frank or Walt tipped him the wink?   Who knows…but he is clearly hurt that she was sneaking off without saying goodbye.

Julie caves at that point and admits that she can't do it any longer, play the romantic decoy…it's all been a ruse to get him to go back to Boston with his Grandfather. And really, hurt as he looks, the Scottster don't look none too surprised. He may love his Grandfather but he ain't that naïve. He lived with him for 24 years. He knows what he is capable of. And right on cue, and just like all the best pantomime villains old HOG appears and plays his final hand; Carl and Billy Degan…and they have something to tell him about his father. HOG tells the ‘gorgeous one' that he WILL be returning to Boston with him but Scott's not listening…. he's already mesmerized by Billy's eyebrows…. which look strangely familiar…

Back in the Great room, a short time later, we have a scene of domestic family bliss. Murdoch has retrieved a book to read, Jelly and Johnny are playing chess…although Jelly has taken so long to make his move that Johnny has lost consciousness. And Teresa is dutifully mending Johnny's riding pants, which she accidentally on purpose burned a hole in (in the crotch area) when she was ironing. But what's wrong with this scene? Hmmmm…well, yeppers, there's someone important missing. Oh but wait, here's the Scottster now, looking as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulder. And with old HOG stuck close by his side I guess you could say he has. 

Murdoch looks up and immediately knows that there's something wrong. And yep, Scott's got an announcement and somebody best wake up Johnny so he can hear this too…

And so he drops the bombshell that we all knew was coming, as did Murdoch, from the look on his face. That he has "decided (has been cajoled, manipulated, blackmailed) to go back to Boston with his Grandfather."   Teresa does her best guppy impression (that was about the limit to her range) but you can tell for Johnny, that this was a curveball that he never saw coming. And it's no accident that as old HOG smugly goes into his "It was a surprise to me too" act, it is Johnny that Scott looks to with as hurt, and lost and defeated look as I have ever seen. But then it all becomes too much and Scott has to excuse himself and head to his room. Johnny who is still in shock, gets up, and if looks could kill, well the Madrid gaze he sends old HOG's way would have had him laid out and stone cold pretty sharpish (hmm…. Coop's alternate version) before he races up the stairs after his Big Bro, no doubt to `have it out with him' and do his best to make him stay. Cue ominous music once more….

So next day, and we can only imagine the fraught night that has been spent by the Scottster, fending off little bro's demands to know why, dealing with his smoldering hurt and anger, and desperately wanting to stay and to confide in his younger sibling and best mate and not being able to.  But just in case the viewer hasn't figured out in their own mind that this would have been going on, Mr. Turley allows Johnny to give us a brief encore, and we can tell he's frustrated, bitter, and not at all happy with his big bro, at all .  "So, just like that, huh? You just suddenly decide you're going back to Boston."   

And WM does a superb job of looking like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Of having to deal with the hurt and the pain of others when he is hurting just as bad himself. Hell he doesn't want to leave!  But to not be able to tell any of them that is tearing him apart.  "S'right"

And Johnny, in his hurt and his anger, twists the knife a little further "What's the matter big brother. You get a little sand in your boots and decide you gotta run home."  

And despite Murdoch trying to stop him from going further, Johnny is beyond being pacified . "I just wanna know why, Murdoch, that's all"

And Scott provides the lame excuse that he's "not cut out for this sort of life, that's all."  

To which Johnny's "Oohhhh….pfffttt" lets us know in no uncertain terms what he thinks about all that. 

It's clear that Scott's hurting bad, as he goes on "You got on alright without me before. I'm sure you'll do just fine from now on." And what he is clearly wanting here is for Murdoch to chime in and tell him that he doesn't want him to leave, that he's needed, wanted. But nope, no such luck. The only person who verbalizes anything near is Teresa telling him "We don't want you to go" But he doesn't hear it from the one person that he needs to hear those words from. And that's real sad.

And old HOG chooses that moment, like a cracked record to remind everyone that Scottie spent the first 24 years of his life in Boston and that's where he belongs. Yep, 24 staid, sterile and starchy years without any real sense of love or of being loved.

So now's the moment when it's time to go, and we get the feeling that Scott's still waiting, desperately, for Murdoch to do and say the right thing. Bearing in mind the axe that old HOG has over Scott's head, well, it might not be enough to make him stay, but it sure would allow him to leave knowing that his Father loved him and cared for him. But nope, best Murdoch can do is discuss the best mode of public transport for Scott to take on his journey. All flippancy aside though, that discussion between the two of them is so loaded; they may be talking about the best way to get across country and meet the train, but their body language, their intonation, is saying so much more. It smacks of two men desperately trying to reach out to each other but not quite being able to say what really needs to be said.  The closest they get is the following exchange "Son, you take care of yourself " as Murdoch reaches out to shake Scott's hand. And Scott is too choked up to say anything other than "Yeah". He can hardly even look at his father without losing it. You can tell he is waging an internal battle to stay in control.  And Murdoch continues, letting Scott know that the door is open for him to return, "If you ever feel that you want to …." But he stops short of saying what he needs to say, and the moment is lost as old HOG chimes in and says that they need to get going. Finally, heart broken and a man, utterly bereft, Scott climbs up into the buggy and takes one final look around and without looking back, clicks the horses on, leaving the place and the family he loves, as far as he is concerned, behind for good.

Johnny, again, looking as lost as he ever appears, offers a mournful "Bye Scott."   And I am sure there is not a dry eye amongst all the Johnny gals at that point. Yep, gotta hand it to JS, he does `vulnerable' real well.      

His sadness is soon turned back to anger though as he rounds on Murdoch, as he tests the weight of a large pebble in his hand and we wonder what it's destination is gonna be, ( In Coop's alternate version it would be the back of old HOG's head) but the way he's looking at Murdoch, well it could well be between Big Daddy's eyes, "Seems to me Murdoch, you could have tried a little harder. You could have put up a fight."    

And Murdoch's response "He's a man Johnny, he's not a little boy. It's his decision."       

And as expected Big Daddy's seemingly cold hearted response has the predicted effect on Johnny "Well, that may be good enough for you, but it's not for me!" And in his anger and frustration he tosses the pebble agressively away. What you can't see off set are cameramen, sound technicians and associated `set staff' diving for cover. And if you listen real carefully you hear a pained and disgruntled `honk' just as that scene draws to a close. Yep, unfortunately it was Dewdrop who felt the full force of Johnny's ire. Ever wondered why Jelly runs out of shot real quick….?! There's your answer....

 Well, next scene Johnny, who is never one to give in easily, (praise be) has headed into Morro Coyo, supposedly to see if he can catch up with Big Bro and persuade him not to leave. Instead, he meets with the Grocery store owner, who is still moonlighting at the hotel and who points him in the direction of the dim witted Degan boys whom he reveals has had some association with Mr. Garrett.   And Johnny immediately smells a rat. Well, actually it's likely Billy and Carl that he can smell because it don't look like they've left the saloon since they arrived. Phew…

So Johnny, ever the gent that he is, offers to buy the boys a drink which amuses them no end because of course, they have plenty of pocket money left from nice Uncle Hog. In fact, bearing in mind they are currently in his employ, I suppose it's conceivable that he could be termed "Boss HOG" …Hmm…sounds familiar….

Anyway, Carl demands the bar keep slide them another glass …hmmm, wonder how many takes…and glasses…it took to get that right? 

But, Billy ain't exactly backwards in coming forwards about revealing the origins of their newfound wealth…that's lucky huh?  Johnny offers up a toast to old Harlan Garrett and muses about what it would be like to have a benefactor such as he…. But again, Billy, who is suitably soused can't keep himself from revealing yet more of the plot (because we are running out of time here) and he reveals that, well, Murdoch Lancer helped a little too. Now of course, this makes Johnny's little ears prick up and Carl, who has slightly more brains than his little brother, (but only slightly) tells him to can it. But of course, Johnny's not gonna let that one pass…

But nope, Carl shuts down the conversation (because of course, just enough has now been revealed to Johnny and us) and Billy (with eyebrows dancing wildly) demands to know who Johnny is. For a nano second Johnny thinks of going all `Madrid' but finally decides that it would be far more intimidating to tell them that he's a Lancer. Well, it had the desired effect. Carl is rattled and says he " Ain't got nothing more to say to you."  And Johnny, it has to be said, looking particularly sexy draws his weapon and says, in his best Madrid manner "I think you do."  

But for a man not long on brains, Carl knows that Johnny ain't gonna do anything in a busy saloon and calls his bluff, making sure all and sundry hear that he's a peaceful man and he don't want no trouble.  But its enough, Johnny has the information that he needs to head back to Lancer with. He beats his retreat and even when he is in the background as he makes his exit, his is the dominant presence in the scene. Way to go JS!

Well, they may be down but the Degan boys certainly aren't out; they are clearly rattled and realize that their $500 is slipping through their sticky (and grubby) little fingers but they are nothing if not opportunist…. and they soon come up with another, more sinister money making scheme. Because as Billy so crudely points out, old HOG's wallet was fatter than a stuffed toad

(They stuff toads over there?! What the hell for?! My mind is boggling, yet again….)

Now I can't exactly remember how Billy and Carl know where Harlan is going – they may have mentioned it in this scene, its possible, I have to say, I found it hard to concentrate, so distracted was I by Billy's eyebrows, but as tenuous and contrived as this development may be, well, the Gorgeous one is with Harlan…and danger looms…oh goodie…I mean, oh dear…

Back at the hacienda, Johnny is in the midst of telling Big Daddy about the Degan's, and surprise surprise, Murdoch reveals that yes, he knows that name…oh ho, flashback alert, flashback alert…. Now I thought that, seeing as he survived as a gunfighter for so long, Johnny has to have superior powers of observation. But clearly not. He describes the Degans as being  " A little older than me." Hmmmmmm…well, as we go into the flashback, we find out that this is around the time of Scott's birth. And by my reckoning Scott is about two - three years older than Johnny. And these two little boys in the flashback look about 6 – 7 years old to me. So…well, Johnny dear, they are a fair bit older than you sweetie. And to be fair, they look it too…either that or they've had a REAL hard life…. which I guess they have. Being dirt scratchers and all…

But anyway, Murdoch goes into the story of how the Degan's fit into the plot. He was riding through the Badlands…

Now anyone notice that every time a character in Lancer goes through the Badlands, something well…. bad…happens? Guess that's why they're called the Badlands…as opposed to `Bunch of fluffy ducks' lands.... Anyway, Murdoch is riding through the Bad Lands when he is ambushed, and proceeds to play a game of cat and mouse with this unknown man who is intent on killing him. Now it just so happens that this was, Lafe Degan. Played by a certain Mr. Jack Turley. Yep, not content with writing this eppy, (and several other Lancer eppys it has to be said) Mr. Turley was determined to get in on the action…jeez, talk about control freak…

So anyway, Murdoch is forced to fight for his own survival as this unknown (to him) foe continues to try and kill him. But it would seem that Lafe Degan was as short on brains as his unfortunate offspring and he falls for the old " I'll leave my boots sticking out from the rocks so he thinks I'm dead" trick. Oh dear…As Murdoch relays the story, he tells us that he only wanted to disarm him and well, I guess shooting a man at point blank range through the chest is certainly going to do that. Unfortunately it's usually guaranteed to kill him too.  But of course, as he rifles through the dead mans personal effects, he realizes that the man had a family and that he could `sense' the boy's presence.   So is Murdoch clairvoyant too then? Tenuous...tenuous...   

Murdoch assures us that, after he left Carterville, with what were left of Catherine's effects, he went to Sacramento, also armed with Degan's effects to give to the Sheriff, and made his statement and was cleared (How come? There were no witnesses –except the maybe 'sensed' little boys... what they just took his word for it? Oh but of course, he's the fine, upstanding Murdoch Lancer…Again, tenuous, Mr. Turley, very tenuous) But there it is…. that's how he came to be associated with the Degan's…and that's how the picture of Billy and Carl's Mom (with the eyebrows…) happened to be in the hacienda…because he gave the Sheriff the WRONG saddle bag  - with Catherine's effects instead of Degans. All make sense now? Phew….

As we return to the present, Johnny, bizarrely (I can only think Jack Turley was sampling some of the make up artist and wardrobe mistresses acid at the time he wrote this scene) tells Big Daddy "Oh Murdoch, would have made it a lot easier sharing it with someone" to which Murdoch replies "There are some things in this world a man tries to forget. Killing a man is one of them."

EH??!!!  Hell, Mr. Turley what were you THINKING when you wrote that? Murdoch would say that to Johnny? Johnny Madrid? Ex Gunfighter and gun for hire? Who has probably killed more men than he had hot dinners?! Un-frigging-believable…

I wonder what went through both AD and JS's minds as they played that scene….

Anyway, the crux of it all is that finally both Johnny and Murdoch have figured out the real reason that Scott has gone with his grandfather, and they resolve to go after him and bring him back where he belongs  - yee haw!  At bloody last!

So cue serious, kinda `race against time' music, as we see the 'gorgeous one' and Harlan in the buggy heading towards Cross Creek (or wherever it is they are headed to intercept the train) and understandably, Scott is seriously pissed with his Gramps. Old HOG is trying to engage his Grandson, trying to get him talking and rebuild their shattered relationship but Scott ain't having a bar of it. As he quite right points out. They didn't lose anything. Old HOG threw it away. But old rhino hide HOG asserts that there is `plenty of time for mending'. Errmmmm, no Harlan, you really don't know your Grandson at all do you? He is a very stubborn young man…. and you are very old. And as forgiving as the gorgeous one can be…well…time most certainly ain't on your side...

And the Scottster himself lets old HOG know in no uncertain terms just what he thinks of that statement by deliberately driving into a well-placed tree branch to give the old goat a decent thwack in the face. Way to go Scottie! Although I would have made it a cactus…a saguaro….I know, I know, they don't got them in California…but I would have detoured to Arizona just to give the prickly old goat more prickles…

But as Harlan is twittering incessantly as to how they are gonna build a future together, a shot rings out and, oh no, the Scottster (or his stuntman) is thrown from the buggy as the horses bolt with their elderly charge…

And just in case we've forgotten who could be responsible for such a dastardly deed, the dimwitted Degans are revealed as being the ones responsible.  But Old Boss HOG and his stuffed wallet are getting away, so they soon give chase.

Meanwhile, a very dazed and concussed Scott, is trying to get to his feet, just as little Bro and Big Daddy show up, alerted, no doubt by the gunshot. Goodness, they got there quick didn't they? Must have known a short cut….

But as the Gorgeous one falls flat on that gorgeous derriere of his again, little bro is there to gather him into his arms. Scott, bless him, in his addled state, is all worried about old HOG but Johnny ain't having a bar of it; he tells him he " Ain't going nowhere" and to "Stay down". Now considering the 'gorgeous one' has a bullet furrow to the side of the head, which he is leaning against Johnny's very pretty blue shirt, there's not a drop of the red stuff to be seen. Yep, I know this is 1960's television and all, but head wounds tend to bleed…a lot. But nope, not a sign. So again, reality stretched to its limits here.... but I guess the 'gorgeous one' has to remain looking...gorgeous...so we'll let it pass...

Now, I heard a rumor here, that in this scene, there were some fun and games and naughty shenanigans going on. Because JS's hat got into WM's face. A lot. And it is reported that, during this scene WM told JS to "Get that god damned hat outta my face."   And when JS didn't play nice, `cuz ya know, boys will be boys and all, WM got his revenge. Watch when Johnny helps Scott up onto Barranca. Johnny loses his hat. And it looks VERY deliberate!!      

Anyway, I digress, yet again, and this is turning into a BLOODY long review!!

So Murdoch, seeing how distressed his oldest boy is about his Grampy, tells Johnny to take him to the Tabor Ranch. Now I'm TOLD It's the Tabor ranch but Coop had to listen to this several times to try and catch the name and I could have sworn he said `Cooper' ranch. Because yep, coincidentally, just over yonder hill is the ranch of a young blonde widow woman (at least that's what Coop has told most of the neighbours just to keep them from gossiping about a young woman living alone) and she's all ready and waiting to receive her gorgeous patient and impart the necessary treatments and…ahem…comforts. And will, of course, be insisting that he stays put for several days…if not weeks….ahem…   

So Murdoch heads off, with Johnny yelling at him to wait, but nope, Big Daddy has gone to play hero, leaving Johnny to deliver his concussed big Bro to the loving hands of the 'Widow' Cooper…snicker…

Anyone else notice though, that Barranca don't look none too happy to be carrying a double load? He's tossing his head from side to side as if to say "Oh no you don't, uh huh, not two of you...no way Jose…it ain't happening…not no how…not in my contract…I don't get nearly enough oats for this. Talk to my agent…"   Poor Barranca....  

Meanwhile, Old HOG has somehow miraculously managed to stop the panicking horses and is currently holed up as the dreaded Degan's fire on him, intent on scaring him to death if they can't kill him any other way (well, they have been drinking solidly for at least 48 hours so their aim is a little off)

But old HOG surprises them by shooting back.  And is soon joined by Murdoch (well his stuntman) who does a very impressive moving dismount to come to his aide.

As Murdoch returns fire HOG, somewhat clinically informs him "They killed Scottie." To which Murdoch just as clinically responds "As usual Harlan you are making one of your momentous conclusions. Scott's still alive." Or at least he was. About 10 minutes ago…But of course, this is Lancer and we know there is going to be a happy ending. Murdoch knows that. Aside from having read the script, well, he knows that his son couldn't be in better hands right now…. The Widow Cooper has quite a reputation for `taking care' of wounded young men. Particularly `gorgeous ones'…snicker…

And heck, what's this, the cavalry? That has to be the fastest assembled posse in the history of the West! Where did Johnny find those? The local branch of'  'Rent a posse?'  Or "Posse's `r' us'?  Or were they a bunch of `recovering'…ahem…young men that just so happened to be at the Widow Cooper's ranch…who knows? But we only have a few minutes of eppy time left and we have to get things wrapped up.

So the `posse' waste no time rounding up the demented Degans leaving old HOG to grudgingly acknowledge that the Degans could have killed him and then all Murdoch's troubles would be over. But nope, HOG, Murdoch's got no troubles, not anymore. Well, he might have. He may have some major trouble getting his son away from the Widow Cooper's ministrations but…well, that's another story for another day…

So FINALLY, back at the ranch (I know, I know, getting predictable now…) Johnny and Jelly are having a peanut fight in the great room….errmm….while Teresa is busily applying what I can only describe as a diaper to The Gorgeous ones head. And I have to say making a complete and utter hash of it. Does she not know that there needs to be enough errant bangs peeping out over the top? The Widow Cooper would have made a much better job of it…would probably have taken much longer in the application…and would have required him to be lying down…in a much more `private' location….

As the lighthearted atmosphere in the Great Room shows us that some semblance of normality is returning to the hacienda, old HOG and Murdoch look on. And HOG, as unbending as ever refuses to apologize for what he tried to do. Only for the methods that he employed. But I'm with old Murdoch, I'm not buying it either…old leopards just don't change their spots... 

But the moment is interrupted as Scott finally shrugs off Teresa (who returns to darning Johnny's riding pants which now have a very fetching floral patch over the crotch area) and informs his Grandfather they `Need to get going if they are gonna catch the stage"

And give both HOG and Murdoch and everyone else on set their due, they all do a very good job of keeping straight faces when met with the sight of that ridiculous looking head bandage that poor WM has to put up with around his head (although off set the entire crew are stuffing handkerchiefs in their mouths and have tears of laughter rolling down their cheeks). Way to go WM, you're a pro, and I take my hat off to you. It takes a real professional to try to act with dignity when you have a diaper wrapped around your head.

So even though the 'gorgeous one' has what I am sure is the mother and sister of all headaches, is probably seeing double and has a very silly bandage around his head, the blame for all of which can be laid very much at old HOG's door, well, still he is willing to drive the old goat to town to catch his stage. Heck, I'd have made the old git walk. Or better still, have gotten Jelly to drive him….now if that isn't torture I don't know what is…..but nope, Scott hasn't forgotten his good manners and even carries the old man's case.

Now even though they have, no doubt, got a couple of hours ride together ahead of them, for such things to be said, well, we the viewer aren't gonna be going along for the ride, so good old Mr Turley (with his Writers hat back on) wants to make sure that things are all tied up in a nice bundle to end on, so he has the 'gorgeous one' make his peace with old HOG "I'll try to get back to Boston. Sometime."     (Yep, for the funeral perhaps? Or at least the memorial service?)  But old HOG, well, he's a realist and he likely knows that it ain't gonna happen. Hence his response   "Yes Scottie. You do that. Sometime."    Well, it's the best he is gonna get. Even he can see that Scott has found his niche at Lancer. And if he really loves him, well, he knows what he needs to do…..

So, as we finally watch Scott and HOG ride off into the sunset…well, towards town at least, we end how we started, with Jelly and Murdoch (because like it or not, Paul Brinegar was contracted for this episode and had to have a certain amount of lines to justify his fee).  

And its clear that Jelly ain't sorry to see the back of old HOG "I'd just as soon see a hard drought come as him"  

And Murdoch replies, somewhat profoundly (Yes, this is a very profound episode)   "Even a hard drought can do some good…it can make us appreciate what we sometimes take for granted."  

Well quite Murdoch…SO MAKE IT RIGHT!!!!!!

Tell BOTH those boys about their past! Tell them what they need to hear!!  

 Does he do so…? Well, I guess that's what fic is for!!!!

And so we end with Coop's favorite incidental music and they ALL live happily ever after (we won't mention the tragic buggy accident that happened on the way to town…unfortunately old HOG didn't make it…. but the `gorgeous one' miraculously survived and was `taken in'  and lovingly tended by the Widow Cooper who just so happened to be…ahem…nearby…when the unfortunate events occurred…)

So, to conclude this MARATHON review (sorry, there was a LOT of seismic activity to deal with), yeah, this episode is a keeper. 

I guess my only criticism is that they tried to cover too much ground in one episode and it would have been far better as a `two parter' where it wouldn't have seemed so rushed and contrived in places and the writer could have taken a wee bit more time to go into some of the hurt and the pain caused by Harlan and Julie's complicity and Murdoch's reticence to discuss the past with his sons. But ho hum…. can't turn back the clock….

I think this eppy, along with High Riders and The Escape has spawned the most fic to date and that is because of just how much was left unresolved as the credits rolled. Too much fodder to leave unexplored. Like, did Murdoch make things right?     Did his and Scott's relationship emerge intact? And what of the brother's relationship? Did this experience strengthen it further? And what of Johnny's relationship with Murdoch? Did it prompt him to seek more answers?   And did Johnny ever get to wear his riding pants ever again…?

For answers to all these…well, best ask someone other than me!  I'm done! Am in some serious need of sleep.... 

Thanks for riding with me on this and for indulging me as my world continues to rock…

 

 

Cheers

Coop

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