Thursday, 28 April 2016

Bonanza 01x05 Enter Mark Twain

I’m tired of dead fiancés and pointless wars on Bonanza! It’s high time we had a fun episode, and a fun episode we shall now have!

For a refreshing change of pace, we start with a man walking down the streets of Virginia City, instead of riding up to a location on a horse. It’s been awhile since our man’s cleaned himself up, but he speaks articulately when he stops to ask the sheriff for directions.

Behind them, laugher echoes from the Bucket of Blood as Little Joe flies backwards through the doors and lands on the street. The mysterious stranger helps Little Joe up, and watches as Joe wordlessly charges back into the saloon to finish whatever fight he was in the middle of. The stranger asks the sheriff if Little Joe might need any help, but the sheriff is like: “Him? No.”

Little Joe gets punched out of the saloon again, but this time the stranger bounces him back in before he can hit the ground. Again, Joe just silently returns to the fray. It sounds like things are starting to get rough.

The stranger asks if the sheriff, as the local avatar of justice, might want to go in there and maybe stop the violence. A familiar figure in a ten gallon hat passes in the background behind them and goes straight into the Bucket of Blood. The sheriff says that these things always have a way of quieting themselves down.

Hoss busts out of the saloon, pulling Little Joe by his collar.

“You had no business even being in that poker game!”

Little Joe tries to scramble out of his grasp and get back to the fight, but Hoss tells him to get on his pony and come on home. Or he’s really going to get his ass kicked.

This amuses our stranger, who asks about the Cartwrights. The sheriff warns him that Virginia City is the kind of town where people mind their own business. Even though it’s really easy to just say they’re a prominent local family with interests in lumber and cattle. The stranger looks like he enjoys the challenge of a secretive town and smiles to himself as he heads over to the newspaper.

Title sequence!

When we get back, we’re treated to a good look at the Territorial Enterprise building, which is covered in posters encouraging people to vote for somebody called Billington. A ridiculously overdressed man who calls to mind a combination of Boss Hogg and Foghorn Leghorn is driving a buggy up to the offices, just as our stranger arrives. Next to the man in the buggy is his equally overdressed wife, who calls to mind those very rich women who accidentally dress like call girls and nobody tells them about it because they’re rich.

As Boss Leghorn runs into the newspaper office, the stranger asks the lady in the buggy whose horse he’s holding. She says he obviously hasn’t been around Virginia City very long if he doesn’t know that. But, hell, I’ve been around Virginia City for five episodes and I don’t know him either.

Apparently, he’s Jeremy Clarence Billington, whose name is known to every poster in every window we’ve seen so far. He’s a judge running for re-election, and the lady we’re talking to is his wife, who prides herself on helping her husband’s career.

The Judge comes back out of the Enterprise offices, reading aloud from a praiseful article announcing his campaign. He seems annoyed that the stranger is listening, tips him a coin for holding the horse, and scolds his wife for talking to mysterious men.

The stranger heads into the newspaper, where the editor is prepping the press. The editor takes one look at the stranger and declares that he has no interest in buying into any mining claims. The stranger replies that he’s been an absolute failure as a miner and a prospector, and he’s here because the editor sent him a letter offering him a job. He might look like mud on a boot heel at the moment, but underneath all of that grime is Sam Clemens. The dude who wrote that frog story.

As they negotiate Sam’s contract, Sam is surprised to learn that the Enterprise publishes every day. To him, Virginia City is a pretty small community far away from the clamor and noise of the east coast. The editor explains that the Enterprise is the only way the mining camps get news, and that Virginia City has its own culture and interests that are important to report on. If somebody around here can’t read the Enterprise, they find somebody to read it to them. Sam looks out the window at his new beat.

“A lady,” he calls the town. “A noisy, rough lady with a lot of pride. I think I’m going to like her.”

Meanwhile, Hoss and Little Joe are riding home. Little Joe is absolutely covered in all kinds of stains, by the way. Some whiskey, some dirt, some blood, some stuff we don’t want to know about – he looks like a downtown sidewalk. Anyway, they hear the braying of a donkey and come across an old man camping on the Ponderosa. Maybe it’s time to get more obvious signage? People seem to camp on this land a lot, and the Cartwrights don’t want them to.

Little Joe asks the old man what he’s doing, and the old man says he’s eating his supper. Hoss observes that it looks more like the old man is drinking his supper, and he’d better be careful about that campfire unless he wants to get punched in the face. You might be thinking that sounds a little aggressive for Hoss, but remember that he’s been babysitting Joe all day. They tell the old man that next time, they’d prefer it if he went around their land, and Little Joe reminds him to put out the fire carefully.

Once they’re gone, the old man grumbles about how high and mighty the Cartwrights are, talking about campfire safety all the damn time. That’s nothing, old man. Count your blessings you didn’t talk to the wrong one of them about hydraulic mining. Just as the crazy old coot is getting ready to pack up and leave, he sees a distant figure dressed in all black race quickly through the canyon.
Obviously, the he says to himself, this is some kind of ghost. He hurries away from the campsite, convinced that the Ponderosa is haunted.

Meanwhile, Sam Clemens has gotten himself a new set of clothes, and the barber is just finishing up his shave while he gets the basic rundown of Virginia City from his new editor. He already knows that the Cartwrights like to fight, which should be amended to Little Joe liking to fight, and that Judge Billington’s word is law. He asks where Judge Billington’s wife came from, and it turns out that she used to be in the chorus of a travelling Girlie Show. So earlier, when I said that she didn’t know she was dressing like a call girl? She knows.

Now looking dapper and fresh-faced, Sam asks what kinds of things he ought to write. Escapism, the editor tells him. Something funny and upbeat. Miners and the people who live around mining towns are used to death and tragedy, the next day can always bring financial ruin or a tunnel collapse. Sam should write things that makes people smile.

Over on the Ponderosa, Hoss and Little Joe ride up to the house and hitch up their horses. Ben greets them and asks if anything is new in town. Hoss says it was as dead as a tomb, and Little Joe shrugs and complains that nothing ever happens. Ben does not ask him why he is sticky.

Adam rides up and angrily tells them all to come with him to the high valley. There are people there doing something, and he does not approve. With no more information than that, everyone is back on their horses and following his lead.

It turns out that the people are surveyors, and the something they are doing is surveying. As soon as they see the Cartwrights coming, they hide their equipment. Adam holds them at gunpoint and tells them that they’re trespassing, to which the leader of their little group replies that the Cartwrights own so much land, it’s hard to know for sure where the boundaries are. Hoss says that maps are available in most local stores, because he’s still grumpy.

The new troublemakers claim to be prospectors, interested in buying land hereabouts. Ben clearly doesn’t care for this answer, but he decides that the best thing to do is to let them leave without making too much of a scene.

The Cartwrights are watching the group ride off, when a red flag in the grass catches Adam’s eye. He jumps off his horse to take a look and finds it attached to a piece of string and a wooden stake. It’s surveying equipment. Meaning that those “prospectors” aren’t interested in buying land, they’re interested in stealing it. Ben looks furious.

Back in town, that alcoholic coot from earlier stumbles into the Bucket of Blood. He slams a coin on the bar and reaches for a bottle of whiskey, but the bartender tells him he didn’t bring enough money. Luckily, Sam Clemens: Professional Enabler is here to pay for the old man’s liquor. Out of simple human kindness and a keen understanding of which people leak gossip in mining towns, of course. He asks the coot if he’s travelled far today, and the coot says he has indeed. He just passed through the Ponderosa. Sam’s all: “I didn’t think the Cartwrights cared for trespassing prospectors.” (Because even though he just got here, he’s picked up on our recurring theme.)

The coot replies that they certainly don’t, and tells of how he got run off the property. But the Cartwrights will get their comeuppance soon enough, on account of that ghost. He’s never seen it go down where a haunted property didn’t end in horrible, gothic ruin. Sam is intrigued. He takes the whiskey away from the old man and asks for clarification.

“The spirit!” The coot rolls his eyes like Sam is dumber than dumb, “It lives up in the trees and watched me the whole time I was fixing to leave!”

The coot describes the spirit as being a big black shape that moved around a lot. Apparently, it was “wilder than a Washoe zephyr” and it flitted from tree to tree like the Man-Bat. It was more than fifteen feet tall, and if the old man keeps telling this story will Sam give him more liquor? Sam pours him a nice tall glass. After all, the Territorial Enterprise publishes every day.

Later on, at the newspaper offices, the editor reads off Sam’s latest article. It describes a twenty-foot tall Wild Man covered in black hair, who travels through the tree tops and steals cattle. So, if this show took place in modern times, Sam would have just landed himself a documentary on the Discovery Channel. Amused, the editor asks where he got all of this. With a twinkle in his eye, Sam admits that the article is mostly second-hand reporting. But, on his word, his source was as reliable as any drunken prospector can be expected to be.

Over at the ranch house, Ben and Adam have the big map out. They’ve circled the area where they found the surveyors, and Ben thinks he’s deduced their motives. Whoever they are, they’re working for somebody who’s planning to run a route or road straight through the Ponderosa. Adam suggests that they’re scouting for a railroad. He’s just about to get his detective hat on when Hop Sing and Little Joe frantically burst into the room.

Hop Sing is shouting about huge mobs of people, and Little Joe has a copy of the Territorial Enterprise in his hand. Huh. There’s no way a bunch of uneducated miners might confuse a satirical story about a fake Wild Man with a true scientific account just because it was in a newspaper, is there? Something else is probably going on.

Little Joe declares that enormous crowds have come to the Ponderosa to see the Wild Man.
Hilariously, Ben looks between Adam and Joe and sternly asks them what the Wild Man is, like they’re the ones that started it.

Little Joe shows Ben the article, entitled Wild Man of Washoe Loose on Ponderosa, and Ben demands to know who’s written it. Adam points his father in the direction of the byline, which tells the reader the author of any given piece, and notes that the writer is going only by “Josh.” (The modern equivalent being if he’d signed his name “L. M. Fao” or “T. Rollin” or some such.)

Over at the Enterprise, Sam is pleased to find out that they’ve been flooded with telegrams and enquiries all day. Even the big papers in San Francisco want to know if the story is true and available for reprint. The editor is equally pleased, until Adam Cartwright strolls in and calmly – much too calmly – asks for Josh.

The editor nervously hides as Sam steps forward and explains that he is Josh. Adam asks if he wrote the Wild Man story, and Sam is all: “Sure did! It’s awesome as balls, right? I didn’t catch your name, Imposing Stranger.”

Adam introduces himself, and explains that Sam’s article brought five hundred people tramping through the Ponderosa. “They ruined a few bales of hay and scared the wits out of some cows. We had to rescue four of them out of the duck pond,” he says in his sternest voice. Sam is amused, but the editor knows that they’re about to take one in the teeth.

Adam asks Sam to write a retraction, in order to keep further idiots off the Ponderosa. Sam says that he obtained the story from a reliable source, and that local gossip is fair game. Adam asks if a gunfight or hand-to-hand combat might encourage Sam to change his mind. Sam, believing Adam to be of the uneducated miner persuasion, tries to talk his way out of a fight with some fancy wordplay. It doesn’t work.

Exasperated, Adam says that all he wants is a retraction. He then punches Sam square in the jaw, and politely bids everyone good day.

Sam chuckles, sprawled out on the floor, and decides that the Cartwrights are fun. Sometimes, Sam. Sometimes.

Adam is riding back to the house, when he spots a mysterious figure in dark clothes darting away into the distance. Time to put an end to all of this garbage about spirits and Wild Men. He chases the figure into the box canyon, and watches as the “Wild Man” tries to scramble up the rock and falls several feet onto the ground.

Dusk is settling as Little Joe sees Adam ride up to the house with somebody across his horse. He asks Adam if he killed Josh, and Adam is like: “Nope. Caught the Wild Man. I found this boy out by the canyon and accidentally almost killed him by being scary. He’s fine, though.”

Little Joe says he was hoping it was something more interesting than that. He’s getting really jaded about their adventures.

Dining Room Scene! Adam tells everybody about how it went with Sam, and that he’s pretty sure they’ll get a retraction. Ben says the stupid cryptid hunters are making it impossible to properly watch for land grabbing survey teams working for evil railroads. Just as he begins giving safety instructions to his boys, Hop Sing comes in shouting.

He wants to quit because Adam is a jerk. Hoss is like: “Whoa, now. Hop Sing. You know that if I have to choose between having access to your barbeque duck and my own brother, I will choose the duck. Let’s try and settle this reasonably.” Adam is shocked, because he didn’t think he was being a jerk at all.

Hop Sing says that it’s a pretty jerk thing to send a dude to scrub up a mountain boy, only to discover a terrified girl in the bath.

Little Joe is delighted that Adam couldn’t tell that the Wild Man was a girl.

Adam tells Little Joe to shut up, and asks Hop Sing where the girl is now. Hop Sing says she’s in the wash house freaking out. Ben wants her brought into the house, and Hop Sing says he’d rather not do that. The girl’s clothes were covered in ticks so he burned them. Little Joe offers to go and take a look at the girl and get everything sorted out. Adam calls him a pervert and goes to take care of things himself.

He grabs a spare blanket and heads out to the wash house.

A little bit later, everybody is enjoying their after-dinner coffee, except Adam. He’s pacing around explaining that he’d found the girl wearing thick, mannish clothing and skulking around the canyon. He didn’t take a good look at her after the fall, since she seemed alright. He insists that anybody could have made his mistake.

Joe still thinks it’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened. He offers to explain the differences between boys and girls to Adam, and Adam calls him a pervert again. Joe is too amused to be offended.

When Hop Sing leads the girl into the house, it turns out that she’s a mousy, sweet-faced teenager. She looks very shy and frightened, and for some reason her hair is styled. I guess Hop Sing felt like he should do something to make her feel pretty after that whole ‘mistaken for a Wild Man’ thing.

She looks so scared, it changes the whole mood of the room. Little Joe is extra polite as Ben asks the girl if she’d like to sit down and tell them her name. She trembles and can’t meet his eye. Adam tries a different approach and asks why she ran away from him, but doesn’t have any luck. It’s not really a surprise, given how he ran her down on horseback. Hoss decides to ask if she has a family who might be looking for her.

Hoss’s magical powers of kindness prove once again the most powerful, and they finally get an answer out of the girl. I don’t know why they bother to have anybody but Hoss talk to frightened, vulnerable people. She says her name is Rosemary Lawson, and that her parents left San Francisco for Virginia City. They made camp by the river, and she went to sleep in the wagon. She woke up to the sounds of gunshots, and looked outside to find that strange men had entered the camp and killed her father. She’s overcome with tears, and Ben tells her that she doesn’t have to say anymore. He gives her a spare room and tells Hop Sing to make her as much hot food as she wants.

We go to a sad music commercial.

The next day, the Cartwrights are riding along the edge of the lake when they come across another trespasser. Ben’s all: “What do you want?” Because he’s too tired to care today.

The trespasser describes himself as a man of science on an important expedition. He’s here to fish for the body in the lake. They don’t hide bodies in lakes around here, dude. They take them out to the desert. It’s not that far, and afterwards you don’t have to worry about drinking corpse water.

Apparently, though, the man of science is referring to the body of the Wild Man. He gives Ben another copy of the Territorial Enterprise, featuring what Sam Clemens thinks of as a retraction: a second story describing the tragic death of the Wild Man, whose body now lies at the bottom of Lake Tahoe encased in a block of ice. Little Joe thinks it’s excellent reporting, but Adam very much does not.

In fact, Adam is so mad, he angrily tells the man of science that there is no such thing as the Wild Man, and newspapers are entirely capable of printing lies. He then threatens to shoot the man for trespassing, if he doesn’t take his dubious credentials and get the hell off the Ponderosa.

Joe’s tells his brother to calm down, since the death of the Wild Man is a win for them.

Adam vows revenge on Sam Clemens. He’s having an embarrassing week, so he’s overreacting a little bit. Little Joe is 100% right. The Wild Man’s death will reduce people’s interest in the story, this is all hilarious, and Adam should be able to differentiate between genders.

Anyway, remember Judge Billington from that earlier plot thread we kind of dropped? He’s back now. Over in Virginia City, he’s speechifying in the Bucket of Blood. If you listen to his malarkey, you get a free drink. Sam Clemens strolls in, and, once the speech is over, finds Mrs. Billington running her own sort of campaign for her husband. She’s charming wealthy contributors at a table in the corner.

Sam manages to get her alone, and they discuss corrupt political practices. He starts to tell the frog jumping story, but Mrs. Billington cuts him off and tells him his work is junk. (She’s going to feel like such a dumbass when he’s touring the world as an ambassador of American literature.) According to her, Sam shouldn’t be wasting his time on foolish endeavours like writing, prompting him to ask what he should be wasting his time on. He’s already tried prospecting and working the riverboats, and writing seems like the best fit so far. Mrs. Billington tells him that those jobs are almost as lowly as being a newspaper man, and there are lots of easy and comfortable ways to make a pile of money.

Sam gives her some serious side-eye, chuckles to himself, and says: “Yes, I suppose there are.”

All of this Burn, Counter Burn comes to a disappointing close when Sam starts talking about growing up in Missouri and begins to write The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in front of us. That’s the tacky part of having historical characters on shows like this, they can never leave well enough alone when it comes to referencing their most famous achievements. Anyway, Mrs. Billington is all: “Rafts. Fence painting. Got it. Can we count on your vote, man who just spent five minutes telling me he hates the candidate?”

Sam tells her he hates the candidate and insists on paying for his own drink. His vote cannot be bought with whiskey. Pretty high and mighty, considering how he got his hands on that Wild Man story of his. He bids Mrs. Billington good day and heads over to the Enterprise building, which is empty even though it’s the middle of the afternoon at a daily paper with one press.

Sam is growing weary of writing sagebrush humour. It’s been a whole week, after all. It’s time to leave behind the silly and childish world of local satire, and enter the more important and sophisticated world of political satire. Then, later, write novels about rafts and fence painting.

The editor comes in and says he’s glad to see Sam. He needs a piece of filler for Page Three. Dude, if the paper isn’t even full, how come you sent all of your staff home for the afternoon? You’re not very good at this.

Naturally, Sam declares that he’s going to write about this election. He asks the editor if there’s anybody running against Billington. Oh my god, wouldn’t it be hilarious if it was an uncontested campaign and Billington was paying for all of those posters anyway? Sadly, there is a second candidate: a local Honest Man who runs against Billington every election. Which raises the question that if Judge Billington wins easily every time, why is he spending all of that money on posters? Sam says that there must be some undercurrent of corruption nobody has spotted, because they’ve all been too busy looking at Mrs. Billington in her low-cut dresses. It’s time to remind everybody that their tax dollars are paying for those dresses, and force them to point their eyeballs in the direction of the truth!

Sam grabs a pen and starts frantically writing.

I don’t want to tell him how to do his job, but maybe – and he can totally say no – maybe he should go do some research about the Judge? It might help the article. Then again, he faked his way through the Wild Man story and that caught on like wildfire. He probably knows best.

Watching people write stuff is boring. Let’s have a gunfight!

Over on the Ponderosa, the surveyors have returned to do more clandestine surveying. But the Cartwrights are no fools, and they’re patrolling the area most likely to be stolen by evil railroad barons. As soon as the surveyors realize they’ve been spotted, they start to flee. Adam pursues and shoots, with his brothers not far behind. He manages to hit the captain of the team (I don’t know how the evil surveyor hierarchy works), and the others escape.

Doctor Hoss goes to give the brigand first aid, and tells us that Adam once again managed a perfect disarming flesh wound that won’t leave any permanent nerve damage. It’s a highly specific, non-lethal specialty that prevents them from getting angry letters about violence. And handily keeps characters alive to tell us what the bad guys are up to! The surveyor says that if they want to know who’s in back of all this, they’ve got to head into Virginia City…

Over in Virginia City, Judge Billington and Mrs. Billington arrive at the railroad offices, to conduct completely legitimate business. Mrs. Billington waits outside again and sees the Cartwrights ride up with the Survey Captain in tow. Hoss is carrying their hostage around like a sack of potatoes as they thunder into the building, catching the eye of the ever-observant Sam Clemens, who just so happens to be walking by.

I don’t recognize anybody in these offices except Judge Billington, but Ben points at one of them and yells: “Daniel Lash!” so I guess that’s who that is. Adam says that they’re not here to make any threats, but to deliver a warning. The next time Lash’s men start shooting at them, they won’t be bringing them in alive. There’s a slight one hundred percent chance that Adam actually started the shooting, but let’s not nitpick. Ben bellows that nobody is going to steal any part of the Ponderosa, and Little Joe knocks some papers off of a desk because he likes to feel included.

As they storm back out, Mrs. Billington asks Sam what he thinks went on inside. Sam says he’s pretty sure that the railroad just lost a ton of money.

Back home, Ben and Adam have the big map out again, but this time Little Joe and Hoss are kicking around for the discussion. Adam asks why somebody like Lash would risk a prison sentence and war with the Cartwrights just to bypass the already established railroad route. Ben says that if Lash can get the railroad through the part of the Ponderosa he’s been aiming for, he’ll isolate twenty-five acres of pine trees from the rest of Ben’s holdings and he’ll probably be able to cut down and sell the lumber before Ben can stop him through official means. Especially if he has a corrupt judge in his pocket. Little Joe gasps and is like: “Are you saying that Judge Billington isn’t on the level?!”

Adam looks away from his brother like he can’t even. Ben tells Joe that it probably wasn’t a coincidence they found Billington hanging out in Lash’s office. Hoss calls Billington a “scallywag”, effectively winning the conversation.

Rosemary comes in to show everybody one of the new dresses Hop Sing got her in town. It’s a pink twirly thing that would absolutely be the kind of dress somebody would choose to buy a traumatized teenage girl. Everybody tells Rosemary she looks very pretty, and Adam apologizes for thinking she was a boy. Hop Sing interrupts to let them know somebody’s riding up to the house on a mule.

Turns out, the visitor is Sam Clemens. He greets everyone and asks Adam if he saw the retraction. Adam decides to play it cool because he has a brilliant idea. He says that he noticed the retraction, and asks Sam if he’d like to meet the Wild Man. Sam says that it’s impossible to meet the hallucinations of drunken old prospectors. Ben is all: “Oh, but even drunken hallucinations are based in fact!” And Hoss announces that Rosemary is the Wild Man.

Sam says he has no idea what’s going on, but if Rosemary wants to be a Wild Man, that’s cool with him. He’s here to tell the Cartwrights that there are warrants out for their arrests. Ben says that everybody should have some coffee, so they go inside.

Sam asks what Ben would do if the railroad obtained a legal right of way. Ben says he would get Adam and Little Joe to shoot the problem until it was all dead.

“You can’t fight the Law with guns!” Sam scoffs.

“I don’t think you have the proper respect for guns, Mr. Clemens.” Little Joe replies, twirling his pistol around.

Sam says sometimes you can get into a conflict where guns will only make things worse, and that’s when you have to use the ultimate weapon: Laughter. Everybody’s is impressed, except Little Joe who doesn’t understand how that would work. Do you… shoot laughter out of some kind of sound cannon? He’s confused. Sam’s like: “No, no. I mean that the pen is mightier than the sword.” And Joe’s all: “What?! A pen is way harder to kill somebody with than a sword! You’d have to get real close, and it’d have to be one of those super-sharp fountain pens!”

Ben pats Little Joe on the shoulder and says he’ll explain it later.

 Sam tells Joe to keep his eye on the Territorial Enterprise, and he’ll see how it’s done. Ben adds that if the power of laughter fails, they’ll be nearby with guns. Just in case.

And so begins Sam’s awesome campaign to get a dude named Henry Walker elected. He writes a series of hilarious and scathing articles, which enrage both Billington and Daniel Lash. Goons are dispatched to beat up Sam, who takes it rather well and vows to defeat Billington for the good of Virginia City.

He writes a particularly damning article about Mrs. Billington, and we see the miners gathered around and listening to the bartender reading it aloud. Public opinion of Billington is taking a serious blow.

Lash orders his goons to kill Sam, since simply beating him up had no effect.

Later on, Judge Billington is giving another one of his terrible speeches, this time with an emphasis on why poor people shouldn’t bother reading newspapers. They’re so damn confusing! And what do you really know about the people who write them? Sure, Virginia City is still small enough for you to go and personally meet all of the reporters and learn their reputations, but that takes precious time away from mining. And mining is what everybody should be the most focused on. Not railroads. Never railroads.

Billington’s speech is a failure. Sam is watching it when the goons come for him.

The Cartwrights are looking for Sam at the Enterprise when they hear gunfire. They run into the street to bail out their new friend, and Little Joe takes excellent aim at one of their assailants and asks Sam if he thinks he could do better than that with a pen. Sam says he has to get the story about the political rally and the attempt on his life in the paper right away. Ben tells Joe to cover Sam and make a break for the Enterprise.

They make it inside, and Sam starts writing. But he decides that the penname “Josh” won’t work this time. Little Joe tells him it doesn’t matter, and he better write faster, or they’ll probably get shot. Adam is the next Cartwright to make it across the street, he almost hits one of the goons and asks how the story is going.

Sam says he always liked working on the riverboats, and Adam asks Little Joe if Sam is losing his mind under the stress of the gunfire. Joe says he’s wasting time being artistic.

Hoss and Ben make a final push into the office, and start barricading the doors and windows while Little Joe and Adam provide covering fire. Sam muses on the calls of the riverboat captains. Mark four, mark three, half twain, quarter twain. Mark Twain. Joe’s like: “I like it because it has a first name and a last name. Now write the damn story!”

The goons try to break in through one of the windows and Hoss crushes them with an oak desk.
Sam proudly declares that the first article by Mark Twain is about to be published. Hoss pulls the goons out from under the desk, knocks their heads together to render them unconscious, and demands to know what’s so terrible about the name Samuel Clemens that Sam can’t just use it.

Little Joe yells at Hoss that they finally got the name worked out and now he’s trying to wreck it.
Adam tells the editor to print the story quick.

Naturally, Judge Billington loses the election and Mark Twain becomes the Mark Twain. We never find out what happens to Rosemary, but I guess Ben sets her up at some sort of finishing school or finds some relatives she can go live with.

Everybody is happy that the Ponderosa is kept intact.

High Point: Sassy Mark Twain sassing everybody.

Low Point: This episode has like nine sub-plots that all intersect, which feels cluttered and speeds up the ending.

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