Writer: William Kelley Director: Leo Penn
Charles Cioffi (Shanklin), Woodrow Parfrey (Dr. Richard Ingram), Karl Lukas (Irons), Victor Sen Yung (Hop Sing), Michael Clark (Brackney), Scott Walker (Grange), Dehl Berti (Ritter), Denny Hall (Beecher), Rance Howard (Bogardus), E.J. Andre (Yost), Clark Gordon (Beasley), Don McGovern (Till), Sam Javis (McLaughlin), Bill Beckett (Asquith), Eddie Little Sky (Gaviotta), Byron Morrow (Whitlock), Bing Russell (Deputy Clem), Shannon Christie (Mary Elizabeth)
Air Date: 13 February 1962
“Shanklin let’s get this thing straight right now. Whether my son lives or dies…if we get out of here, you and me alive, I’ll spend every breath and penny running you down to the ground and stomping you into it.” – Ben
A group of men led by a Confederate army officer are riding towards the Ponderosa. You can tell by the music that they are dangerous and that trouble is coming. Hop Sing is the first to see them approaching and runs off to warn Hoss and Jamie – the only other people at the ranch house.
Initially, Hoss and Jamie don’t believe Hop Sing but soon after the men arrive and the leader asks for Ben. Hoss tells him that Ben is at a horse auction. When the leader finds out that Hoss is unable to help, he gives his men a few orders, insults Hop Sing and then proceeds to enter the ranch house. Not happy about the man is doing what he pleases, Hoss goes after him only to get shot in the process.
Jamie runs to Hoss’ aid and pulls a gun on the leader who promptly shoots it out of Jamie’s hand. We then learn that the man’s name is Shanklin.
Shanklin wants $25,000 and Ben is the only one who can get it. Jamie at first refuses to leave Hoss’ side but Hoss tells him to go for a doctor and he reluctantly leaves. On his way to Virginia City, Jamie runs into Ben and tells him what has happened. Ben tells Jamie to go and get Doctor Ingram (Doc Martin is out of town) and warns him not to tell Joe as the last thing Ben wants is his hot-headed son going in and getting shot. Jamie however, decides that he has to tell Joe.
Meanwhile, Shanklin’s men are ransacking the ranch house and drinking the booze. Ben arrives to find Hoss still in a grave condition and starting to wish that something would kill him. Shanklin summons Ben and after a discussion where we find out the episode is set after the end of the Civil War and that Shanklin’s war isn’t over. After threatening each other and receiving a warning shot, Ben leaves to go into to town to get the money.
On his way into town, Ben meets up with Doctor Ingram who has been accosted by some of Shanklin’s men. After a shouting match, Ben leaves and Ingram heads to the ranch house. Ingram arrives and examines Hoss, making the grave decision that Hoss will have to lose his right leg in order to be saved. Later on, we see Ingram and Shanklin discussing Hoss’s situation and it seems that Shanklin knows a thing or two about the operation Hoss requires.
Back in Virginia City, Ben has managed to get all the money Shanklin wants and is telling Clem not to send a posse out or block the roads. He also asks Clem to arrest Jamie and Joe to keep them out of the way. Jamie is still looking for Joe and finds his horse at the livery stable. By the time Jamie finds Joe (who has been in a private poker game all day) it is night and they both head back to the Ponderosa.
Over at the ranch, Shanklin has been counting his money and planning to take Ben with him to Mexico. Shanklin knows that Ben won’t go until Hoss has been operated on and so he has to wait. Ingram is unsure at times about what to do and he still wants to amputate the leg. Ben is appalled at the thought and pleads with Ingram not to do it. Ingram begins to buckle under the pressure of not being experienced enough to perform the type of surgery Hoss needs in order to save his life and leg.
Joe in the process of eliminating two of the guards alerts Shanklin to the fact that it is time to leave. Ingram still hasn’t begun to operate on Hoss but the pleading look on Ben’s face forces him to begin. Seeing that Ingram is not up to the task, Shanklin takes over and it is then we find out Shanklin is actually a surgeon. While he is operating on Hoss he gives Ingram a lesson in how to perform the surgery.
As the episode progresses to its partly predictable ending (i.e. Hoss lives since he is one of the show’s stars), we learn more about Shanklin and in a way begin to sympathise with him. However, Shanklin soon reverts back to the man he was when he sees the need to carry out some justice.
Shanklin is the story of a man who is bitter and seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. Even though he has a compassionate side he eventually succumbs to the man the war made him to be.
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