This second episode continued to set up the atmosphere of the series with a nod to the High Noon tradition of brave lawmen protecting townspeople who lack the courage to back them up. Dick Sellers (classic bad guy John Doucette), made sport of forcing inexperienced boys and old men into drawing against him, then claiming self defense.
Dan's "romantic" relationship with the Widow Lemp begins with a little feeble flirting and some teasing about her fondness for Doug the banker. Doug the banker advises Dan to start an investment plan for his old age as he can't expect to be a lawman all his life. Dan retorts that he never knew a lawman who got old. Doug also advises Dan that Sellers and his men will all be leaving town in a day or two regardless of what Dan does. Dan insists Sellers will stay to stand trial. Dan finds the town judge to be less than resolute. He doesn't promise a trial, just a one week delay in the hearing. Harry Tate, the editor of the newspaper is supportive. He writes an editorial touting Dan's determination not to compromise with evil.
The writers take this opportunity to show Dan training his deputy. Johnny is about to enter the cell carrying the prisoner's dinner. Dan stops him. He tells him never to enter a cell without both hands free. He has Johnny set up a table outside the cell. When Johnny says he thought it would be ok with Dan "right there," Dan takes Johnny's revolver as he turns around, then confronts Johnny with the gun in hand. "Your gun was also right there." To the show's credit (or maybe just due to its time limitations) this one lesson was used to show that Dan was training his deputy, but the following episodes did not contain deputy lessons two, three and four. Of course, there were many occasions when Dan gave Johnny the benefit of his experience in a philosophical manner.
Pressured by the town council, the judge reneges even on the concession to let Sellers stay in jail a week. He tells Dan he must hold the hearing the next morning. The councilmen even suggest that Dan leave town for a few days so he won't force a showdown. Dan angrily lets Sellers out of jail and watches him join his friends.
When Johnny asks Dan what he's going to do, Dan just responds, "Stay out of the Blue Bonnet, boy."
(This is the first of many times that Dan calls Johnny "boy." But it never sounded derogatory. It's not quite affectionate, more paternal. He never calls Johnny "Son" which would have seemed a natural way for an older man to refer to a younger one.) Dan goes to the saloon and finds Sellers forcing a drink down the throat of the newspaper editor. Dan taunts Sellers into drawing on him. Sellers refuses. Dan throws a drink in Sellers face but he still refuses to draw, showing him up as a coward in front of his "bully boys." However, when Dan turns his back as he leaves, Sellers draws. A big mistake. Dan turns and cuts him down, ending that particular reign of terror.
NiteOwl Review: Another good start-up episode. We don't learn much about Johnny. Viewers might even get the impression that he's to be a secondary character. But he gets more of the story lines as the series gets up and running, starting with episode three. "The Prisoner" isn't quite a must have for the collector who is looking only for key episodes. However, it's an important episode for a serious collector as it carries on the portrayal of Dan Troop's uncompromising character which began in the pilot.
Dan puts Sellers behind bars
while Dan has dinner
at Widow Lemp's cafe
The judge claims his hands are tied
Johnny starts to enter the cell with dinner
Dan takes Johnny's gun to show him what a prisoner could do
The judge and the town council back down
Dan angrily lets Sellers out
"Stay out of the Bluebonnet, Boy"
Dan calls Sellers out
then turns to leave
but turns back as Sellers draws
A look that says a job well done
Dan arrests him after he kills Cade Colin, an old man who couldn't hit the side of a barn. Dan insists he's going to stand trial this time, not get away with the $100 fine usually handed down after he kills someone. However, he finds the town less than supportive. On one hand, they're afraid of Sellers and his men. On the other, they like the money the men spend on their monthly ventures into town.
Original air date Oct 12, 1958
Directed by Richard L. Bare
Teleplay by Edmund Morris
John Russell as Dan Troop
Peter Brown as Johnny McKay
Bek Nelson as Dru Lemp
John Doucette as Dick Sellers
William Henry as Doug Sutherland
Harry Cheshire as Judge Trager
John Lormer as Harry Tate
K.L. Smith as Hank
Phil Tully as Jode
Lane Chandler as Tom Pike
Robert Williams as Cade Colin
Official Peter Brown Fan Site