Original air date Jan 18, 1959
Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by Clair Huffaker
John Russell as Dan Troop
Peter Brown as Johnny McKay
Louise Fletcher as Betty Horgan
Donald Buka as Cole Hawkins
Russell Johnson as Wade Horgan
Johnny brings a wire with word that Cole Hawkins and Wade Horgan have killed two men up in Casper. Dan, needing to leave some law in town, heads after them alone.
Before he ever catches up to the outlaws, Dan runs into big trouble in the form of a marauding bear. Animal stunt work being what it was in those days, the bear attack was not the highlight of this episode.
Lucky for Dan, Wade Horgan's sister Betty has seen the attack. Seeing his badge, she's torn between her compassion for a man she just saw fight so bravely for his life and her natural dislike of lawmen gained from a year on the run with her brother.
Betty brings Dan back to her cabin where she practices the nursing skills she doesn't actually use as Nurse Ratched in her later incarnation. She says she threw his badge away because she hates the sight of a badge. But she'll tell her brother when he returns. No man's worth sticking her neck out for.
However, when Wade and Cole do return, she covers for Dan. She says he claims to be a cowhand but she thinks he's on the dodge. The next morning Wade decides to find the bear Dan put so many bullets in. They're low on supplies and could use the meat. Before he leaves Wade lets her know he wants her to have whatever she wants. However, when she asks him to take Cole with him, he refuses.
Betty has reason to be leery of Cole. He seems to be getting over the fear that Wade will kick his butt for messing with his sister. When he starts to force himself on her, Dan struggles to get up to intervene.
Dan manages to slam a wooden stool onto Cole. Betty grabs her rifle and sends him packing. Dan is worried that Cole isn't finished.
While he's out looking for the bear, Wade finds Dan's horse. In a saddlebag, he finds a set of shackles and some paperwork that exposes Dan's identity. He and Cole return to the cabin bent on killing him. Just before they arrive, Betty asks Dan if she manages to get him out alive, will he take her with him. As he is about to answer, she hears the two men ride up. She goes to the door and lets them know she isn't going to let them in.
When they insist on coming forward anyway, Betty shoots her brother. Cole, using the falling Wade as a shield, shoots Betty. She falls on the table and with her last strength, tosses the rifle to Dan. Dan takes out Cole as he comes through the door. He then holds the dying Betty in his arms.
As she's dying, she asks him if he would have taken her with him. He says he would have. Back in Laramie, Johnny exclaims. "Marshal, you got hurt." Dan is silent a moment, and then says "Yeah, I did" in a way that says his pain is more than physical. Johnny looks after him in a way that says he knows there's more to the story.
NiteOwl Review: "The Encounter" is a must for John Russell collectors as well as for Louise Fletcher fans. This episode has a simple plot, well executed. Despite the fact that his life depends on Betty's good will, Dan doesn't curry favor or make false promises. He's as taciturn as always. But she sees in him a quality she's never seen in a man before. She's hungry for him to respond to her, to validate her (to lapse into psychobabble). She's a woman who's never had a chance for a decent life and now she sees what that life could be. We had one quibble. When the two men approach to take Dan, why doesn't she kill Cole first? Her brother clearly loved her and probably wouldn't have shot her. Cole was just plain evil. Dan was too badly hurt to have gone after Wade if he took off. Of course, then Betty wouldn't have been shot. Women who fall in love with lead characters in TV Westerns most always have to get killed one way or another.
Cast Notes: Despite her lengthy filmography, Louise Fletcher, will always be best known for her Academy Award winning performance as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. For us, a close second was her outstanding turn as Vedek Winn in Deep Space Nine. And it's always interesting to see her early work in which she didn't make your skin crawl. (We recommend this unofficial Louise Fletcher Tribute Site.) Another familiar face in this episode is Russell Johnson who played the most neglected, but most "normal" of the Gilligan's Island castaways.
Dan Troop encounters Louise Fletcher
"Are we going after them?"
Dan is attacked by a bear
"You gonna pull that trigger?"
"You decided not to shoot me"
"Maybe I ought to have, I'm Betty Horgan"
Betty is shot, but gets the rifle to Dan
"You would have taken
me away from here?"
"Marshal, you got hurt"
"Yeah, . . . I did"
Johnny knows there's more to it
Russell Johnson and Louise Fletcher
(The Professor & Nurse Ratched)
Official Peter Brown Fan Site