Saturday, February 11, 2017

Recap: Dcotor Who "The Gunfighters" Episode 3: Johnny Ringo

When last we left off, the situation was grim. Or at the very least, dire. The Doctor was in the jailhouse, the Clantons still thought the time traveling old man was Doc Holliday, and now they've rounded up a mob to hang Steven unless the Doctor gives himself up.

The only way things could be worse is if they needed to hijack a train to power their time machine.
Music: "You've a good chance of swingin'...."

Yeah, yeah, we get it. I'll start paying attention when you sing a new verse, how about that?

But the singer is correct. Steven has a very good chance of swingin’ from the mob’s rope by his neck if “Doc Holliday” doesn’t come out soon.

Bat Masterson: "Send your men home, Clanton. Holliday's my prisoner."
Ike: "Only as long as he wants to be, I reckon."

The mob tries to taunt "Doc" into coming out, but Steven yells over their voices that the mob with the noose is bluffing.

Phineas: "If'n you believe that, boy, you're gonna be powerful surprised in a few minutes."

"Now, listen, boys, don't I have to start guessing letters at some point?"
The Doctor wants to head out there and try to convince the crowd that he's not really Doc Holliday, but Wyatt tells him to stay put, since angry mobs aren’t exactly known for changing sides once they’ve been whipped up into a frenzy. Wyatt plans on going through the backdoor and circling around to try and take them from behind.

Seeing as how Doc Brown doesn't show up in the Old West until four years later.
The mob successfully puts the noose around Steven's neck, but Wyatt manages to sneak behind the lynch mob and rap Phineas on the head. With Phineas out cold, a swift end is put to the mob's plans of lynching. And if you think that the threat of the noose here was easily taken care of, you'd be right. This scene was carefully crafted to avoid having Steven's noose in the neck for more than a few seconds because Western TV shows had, at the time, come under a bit of fire for hanging scenes. Kids loved playing cowboy, and a few children had actually tried to replicate hangings, with unfortunate results. As it turns out, execution methods often turn out to be deadly.

With guns aimed at them from two directions, the Clantons give up and the mob disperses. Wyatt prepares to arrest Phineas, but Ike has the nerve to claim that Wyatt has no right to do so.

Wyatt Earp: "Attempted hanging? I'd say I'd every right."

It seems as though nothing will keep the Clantons from trying to get at the Doctor, but that's when Charlie the barman shows up to herald the end of the comedy in this story.

I mean, getting a tooth yanked by a drunken dentist, mistaken identity, singing at gunpoint… it's all a bit of a laugh, right?

Well, with the dentistry and singing over with, Charlie kills the mistaken identity plot and fuels the revenge plot by telling the Clantons that not only was the real Doc Holliday at the bar this whole time, but he shot Seth Harper dead.

So now, the Clantons are furious at Wyatt Earp because he darn well knew that the Doctor wasn't Doc Holliday this whole time.

Which... yeah, I think they're just looking for reasons to be mad at this point.

"That old man wasn't Doc Holliday? Why didn't anybody try to tell us?"
Even though the Clantons leave in a huff, the situation is defused... for now. And Phineas Clanton gets dragged off to jail.

Music: "So pick him up gentle, and carry him slow. He's gone kind of mental... under Earp's heavy blow."

So, yeah, this is the first time the Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon has directly addressed specific events. You can expect more of that as the events turn serious. This was one of the alterations made to the script when it was rewritten, which explains why the new verses don't match up as well with the older ones. I can only imagine the original script mostly ran out of verses by this point.

And so, two out of our three protagonists have reunited within the sheriff's office, and they have a pressing urge to go meet with the third and final member of Team TARDIS. So the Doctor bids "Mr. Werp" a final goodbye and heads off with Steven to the Last Chance Saloon. And since this is only the third episode of a four-part story, I think you know darn well that it isn’t over. Otherwise, this would be an anticlimactic ending to an oddly short episode in a serial that focused on singing at the saloon over the historical event that’s set to happen.

Speaking of the Saloon, Pa Clanton (Reed De Rouen) has decided to get a drink. He has also decided that the time has come to unleash the beast. Metaphorically speaking, I mean. This was before the BBC mandated some kind of monster in every episode. You’ll have to wait for the next Western episode for that.

In many giant monster/alien invasion/disaster movies, there's the concept of a nuke threshold. That is to say, when the giant monster/invasion looks like it will raise more Hell than a nuclear explosion, the authorities may try to just nuke the darn thing as the lesser of two evils. And similarly, Pa Clanton has decided to bring in none other than Johnny Ringo. Pa guesses that $500 should convince the usually-solo Ringo to join up with them, but his sons try to tell him that it's not worth the money.

Pa Clanton: "If I had the sons who could do the job without gettin' all fouled out, I wouldn't have to pay him. But as of now, I need a top gun."

"And Johnny Ringo seems like a maverick."
But before the Clanton boys ride into the danger zone, though, Ike says they could go complain to the citizen's committee about Earp's apparent corruption, but Pa (ignoring the irony of a family of criminals going to the local authorities) says that he’s had it up to here with the lack of bullets in Doc Holliday's head. He puts an end to the conversation and demands that his sons go out and get Johnny Ringo, wherever he is.

As they leave, the Doctor and Steven arrive to get Dodo. But as Charlie informs them, she checked out a while back with the real Doc Holliday and Kate. Charlie recommends that if they want to find Dodo, they'll need to find and confront Doc Holliday.

Doctor: "Now, don't be ridiculous, Doc Holliday's a great friend of mine. He gave me a gun, he extracted my tooth. Good gracious me, what more do you want?"

As the Doctor and Steven head off to figure out their next move, we cut to...

Music: "It's your last chance of boozing...."

Heard this one before. Moving on.

Dodo, Doc, and Kate have arrived in the nearby town, which I’m pretty sure remains unnamed this entire time. So for ease of reference, I’ll be referring to it as “Falkreath” for reasons I’ll get to in a bit. But for Doc’s needs, the place might as well be called “Las Vegas.”

Doc Holliday: "There's a bar right across the street an' a gamblin' saloon real close."

Kate complains that if they ride all night, they could make absolutely positive of hiding from the Clantons, but Doc doesn't want to ride out too far when he plans on riding back ASAP.

“I mean, the next episode’s the last one. I don’t wanna miss it.”
As they head to their rooms, Kate and Doc have a little spat. Doc insists that Wyatt will need him when the shooting starts, but Kate counters that Wyatt is the one who made him leave in the first place. And she does have a point there. But it seems as though Doc Holliday is counting on Wyatt Earp behaving like a guard in Skyrim. And who among us Dragonborn hasn’t hid out in Falkreath for a while until the Whiterun guards lose interest in killing us on sight?

But Doc is also intent on keeping his friend alive, even if said friend is gunning for him.

Doc Holliday: "Now look, Kate, there's only him and Masterson to handle things if Old Man Clanton should chance to throw anything against 'im, and I gotta get back!"

As an aside, "Old Man Clanton" sounds like he should be trying to enact a real estate scam by dressing up as a ghost and pretending a house is haunted.

And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling time travelers and their robot dog!
But Dodo is on Doc's side, since she's itching to get back to the TARDIS as soon as she can. In a more immediate sense, Doc is itching to rustle up some grub. And after the sound of a few gunshots, he returns with a tray full of food.

Doc Holliday: "I just ran into an old friend and he, uh, he kinda lost his appetite."

"And by 'appetite,' I mean 'life.' And by 'lost,' I mean ‘I shot him in the head.’"
Music: "It's your last chance of earning, your gunfighter's fee. The pay is in dollars, but the bullets are free. It's your last chance of cussin' at a gunfighter's doom, it's your last chance of nothing, it's the Last Chance Saloon."

That's what you think. I can cuss at a gunfighter's doom whenever I want!

The song heralds the arrival of one Johnny Ringo (Laurence Payne) to the Last Chance Saloon, who demands a drink, even though Charlie says the bar's closed for the night.

Johnny Ringo: "You can just open it up again."

Charlie instantly recognizes Ringo's face and does the smart thing by pouring the man a drink.

Johnny Ringo: "Hey. How come you know my name?"

He spoke it out loud, too. Hope nothing bad happens from that.

Charlie waffles for a bit, but the point gets across that Johnny's reputation has proceeded him. Especially with those stories.

Johnny Ringo: "What have you heard?"
Charlie: "Well... nothin', sir."

This is one of those catch-22 situations, since Charlie shouldn't be blabbing that he knows who Johnny is. And yet, Johnny seems a little offended that Charlie here apparently hasn't heard any good Johnny Ringo stories. So Charlie quickly admits that he overheard that the Clanton boys were supposed to find him and offer $500 to help them fight Wyatt Earp.

Ringo wants to settle some business with Doc Holliday first, but Charlie tells him that the Clantons are looking to settle a score with Holliday, too, so everything should work out just fine for Ringo and the Clantons.

Johnny Ringo: "Then here's something else you can tell 'em. Holliday's mine."

Johnny ends up finishing his drink....

Charlie: "It's... on the house, sir."
Johnny Ringo: "I never figured different."

...and Charlie simply can't contain his excitement.

Charlie: "I can't wait to see Wyatt Earp's face when he hears you're goin' against him."
Johnny Ringo: "Planning on tellin' him?"

Charlie denies everything and promises to keep his mouth shut. And Johnny agrees. With his gun.

Well, how's he supposed to give the Clantons that message now?
Music: "So it's curtains for Charlie, that barman of fame. He met Johnny Ringo, and he knew Johnny's name. He knew Johnny's name and he spoke it out loud, now Charlie the barman has gotten a shroud."

Welp, that accounts for the last of the blood upon the sawdust in the Last Chance Saloon. Not sure why they were making a big deal out of it, considering the blood that’ll be shed elsewhere in the next episode.

The next day, over with Doc, Dodo's excited to be getting going back to Tombstone like Doc promised.

Doc Holliday: "Yeah, today. Or the day after."

What does nuclear war have to do with any of this?

Dodo: "You promised!"
Doc Holliday: "I promised to take you back safe home and I will do so in my own good time."

But Dodo's had enough. She's been in America for a few days, and darn it, she's going to indulge in the national past time: guns. She grabs Doc's gun and aims it at him, eliciting a laugh from the old gambler.

Doc Holliday: "Whatchew aimin' to do with that there offensive weapon?"
Dodo: "Shoot you if I have to."

I wouldn't be laughing if I were him. She's got the brains of the Scarecrow from Oz, and you wouldn't hand him a gun, would you?

Wait, who in the Hell gave Scarecrow a gun?!
Not that I’d trust any of them, really. none of them should have guns. Dorothy’s a child, Scarecrow’s brainless, the Cowardly Lion would probably shoot at anything that startled him, and the Tin Man is heartless.

Realizing exactly who is aiming a gun at him, he tries to point out the flaws in her plan, such as getting back to Tombstone without him.

Dodo: "I shall try not to kill you. I shall aim for your arm."

The only problem is that she's not a very good shot. Doc points out that the bullet would go right between his eyes, so she apologizes and corrects her aim.

Doc, who wants to get back to Tombstone anyway, gives in to Dodo's demand, and she drops the gun, relieved. She wasn't looking forward to shooting anyone, and actually feels a bit faint over the ordeal.

Kate comes in and Doc fills her in on the new plan: Doc and Dodo will get going to Tombstone, and he'll come back for her. Kate's not happy about this new plan, but Doc Holliday explains that Dodo beat him to the draw and forced his hand.

Dodo: "Oh, I honestly didn't want to have to shoot you."
Doc Holliday: "And I didn't wanna have to shoot you, neither."

"That's something I reserve for Clantons. And friends, but only if I’m hungry."
This time, Dodo faints completely and we get a reprise of the last verse of the Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon as Steven and the Doctor head downstairs to look for Charlie the barman. After rolling a 1 for his spot check, Steven accidentally leans against Charlie's lifeless body. Johnny Ringo, who had been sitting at a nearby table, explains.

Johnny Ringo: "High livin' and hard liquor. It don't pay."
Steven: "Yeah, but he's been shot."
Johnny Ringo: "Is that so?"

Johnny plunks down some coin for the funeral, beating Han Solo to the punch. He gets ready to leave, but the Doctor tries to stop him until "Mr. Werp" arrives.

Johnny Ringo: "The only man in the territory low enough to kill an unarmed barman is Doc Holliday."

The mention of Doc Holliday get Steven's attention, since they need to find Dodo. Johnny assumes that they plan on shooting Holliday, and gets a laugh when the Doctor says they'll try reasoning with him. Quickly, the Doctor pulls Steven aside and tells him that this stranger is none other than Johnny Ringo, as seen on wanted posters. Ringo offers to let Steven join him, as long as Steven stays out of the way of Ringo's bullets.

Johnny Ringo: "I'd blast you down as soon as spit at you!"
Steven: "....Thanks."
Doctor: "Disgusting habit."

Killing or spitting?

Over at the Sheriff's office, Bat and Wyatt are going over their numbers for the impending shootout. Morgan Earp apparently won't be able to make it, and Virgil Earp could be anywhere. But Warren Earp is here and excited to be in a gunfight, although Wyatt wants to keep his little brother out of this.

Phineas: "How long are you all figuring on kh-kh kh-kh kh-keeping me here?"
Wyatt Earp: "Just as long as it takes 'til the judge hits town."
Phineas: "Well, when that judge hears about you protectin' Doc Holliday, just you see what happens!"

You know, strictly speaking, I don’t think Wyatt Earp did anything wrong by locking the Doctor up and claiming he was Doc Holliday. The Clantons likely wouldn't have believed Earp that the Doctor wasn't  Doc Holliday, since they didn’t believe Steven, so telling the truth wouldn’t have solved anything. Basically, what Earp did was put the Doctor under police protection.

Strictly legal? Maybe not, but there’s only two lawmen in town, you do what you have to if you want to protect an innocent man.

Hey, speaking of the Doctor and the Doc, the Doctor comes in to inform Earp and Masterson that Holliday has absconded with Dodo. So Steven has gone to find him with a man named "Johnny Ringo," which worries Earp.

Wyatt Earp: "Boy, the hosts of Midian are sure on the prowl tonight."

Phineas is excited to hear that Johnny Ringo seems to be on his family's side, annoying Earp to no end. But as if that weren't bad enough, there's blood upon the sawdust in the Last Chance Saloon. Charlie's blood.

Bat Masterson: "Who in thunder'd wanna kill Charlie?"
Wyatt Earp: "Ho, that Ringo sure works fast."

"What'd you call me, Wyatt?"
So it looks like Warren gets to watch over Phineas while Bat and Wyatt look over the Last Chance Saloon with the Doctor. Over in Falkreath, Steven and Johnny Ringo have arrived, looking for Doc Holliday. Ringo knows that Doc Holliday is a drinker, and he wouldn't go any further than the nearest town before looking for a place to partake of some anesthetic. They decide to split up, which presents a problem.

Steven: "Hey, wait! How am I gonna know him?"

I forgot that Steven still hasn't actually seen Doc Holliday by this point.

Johnny Ringo: "You'll know him, boy. You'll know him."

...I guess that takes care of that.

I think I'll let the music tell you what happens next.

Music: "Johnny Ringo has found her, Johnny Ringo's found Kate. The gunslinger's got her, now what is her fate? Johnny Ringo has seen her, she's coming his way. Johnny Ringo and Katie were lovers, they say."

"They" being "she," since Kate admitted as such in Episode 2.

Kate's surprised to see Johnny, and he gets down to brass tacks. Rumor has it that she's getting married to the Doc soon. Kate lies that she dumped the guy a while back after he took off with a young thing named "Dodo."

Johnny Ringo: "So where's he takin' her?"
Kate: "They was headed for New Mexico."
Johnny Ringo: "...New Mexico."

The Land of Enchantment.

Johnny Ringo: "Well, I guess he'll just have to wait 'til I finish this job in Tombstone."
Kate: "What job?"
Johnny Ringo: "You'll find out when we get there."
Kate: "When 'we' get there?"

Geez, everybody's going everywhere in this story.

Johnny Ringo: "Kate, I've followed you for nigh on two years figurin' what I should do to you when I caught up."

...Tell her she's pretty, buy her a drink, and act like a gentleman, I hope?

Johnny Ringo: "Holliday was gonna be first, but according to you, he's in New Mexico."

And you were going to tell him he's pretty, buy him a drink, and act like a gentleman?

Johnny Ringo: "But you're right here. You're coming back to me, Kate."
Kate: "Oh, well, thank ya kindly, Johnny, but just supposin' I don't wish to come back?"
Johnny Ringo: "You'd better, that's all."

Johnny Ringo might not be able to actually persuade her, but his gun certainly can, so he tells her to go get her things to go to Tombstone. Oddly enough, he just lets her go without following her, so I guess holding her at gunpoint is working on the honor system.

"Time out, Johnny, I've gotta pack my things."
"You can't call time out. "
"Sure I can. I got times."
"...Fine."

Back in Tombstone, Phineas is stuttering at Warren Earp.

Phineas: "K-kinda young for responsibility, ain't you, boy?"
Warren Earp: "Talkin' to me?"

"I don't see anyone else here, so... you must be talkin' to me!"
Phineas runs his stuttering mouth for a bit, bragging that his own brothers would never leave him alone the same way Wyatt has with Warren. And to further that point, when Warren turns away from Phineas, he runs into the Clanton boys. With guns. They demand that Warren unlock the cell door, but they shoot him when Warren grabs the gun on the desk instead. As they make off with their brother, the singing starts up again.

Music: "It's curtains for Warren, they've gunned the kid down. And them bad, cruel outlaws are heading for town. On your way then, you cowboys, the time will be soon. When there's blood on the sawdust in the Last Chance Saloon."

Coming up in Episode 4! It wouldn't be a Western without a gunfight. And I wonder where it could be....

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