Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Revisiting the Wild Wild West: The Night of the Running Death

"The Night of the Running Death" 
Written by Edward J Lasko
Directed by Gunnar Hellström
Synopsis: Gordon and West join up with a wagon train of itinerant entertainers while on the trail of an elusive assassin. Can they undercover his identity before he kills his target?

Jim: Before I get into the overall episode, I gotta talk about the final scene(s)...

Trey: Starting at the ending! That may be a first for this.

Jim: I'm a switching it up a little! Anyway, here were two places were I thought the episode was going to end and go into a freeze frame, but it didn't: When West bid farewell to the princess, and the again when Artie was wincing over the taste of cherry jubilee with molasses. But then, we get the poker scene, I began to wonder if I had missed some important plot detail.

Trey: Yeah, the "Three Act" denouement was weird.

Jim: Also, I think we are looking at a major rewrite for some reason. The way so many characters are introduced when West shows up to save the caravan from Indians makes me think this episode was going to lean on the wagon train setting more than it actually did. When the story moves to Denver, I feel like it loses its momentum a bit. Then the fight in the bar is completely unnecessary. It may have been tacked on, just like the three endings.

Trey: I can definitely buy your rewrite hypothesis, perhaps as a mashup of two ideas, neither of which added up to a full episode on their own? I am suspicious that everyone on the wagon train besides the ones that died and our two agents were Enzo's accomplices at some point in the script, but I could be wrong. Anyway, we are left with a lot of plot holes: How did Topaz escape being buried alive (or not getting buried)? What happens to Coco? Why does Enzo kill the people he kills? Do they even tell the authorities that two people were murdered on the trail and one disappeared?

Jim: On the positive side, It was nice to see Maggie Threat again in the show.  I also enjoyed seeing Ken Swofford in the bar fight scene. Swofford was a staple of 60s and 70s television, showing up in almost everything. He finally made it big with a recurring rule on Fame

Trey: I do think it's an effective episode in many ways. Enzo seems a real threat for West and Gordon in a way that super-villains with armies of thugs often don't on the show.

Jim: The reveal of Enzo's identity made for a good twist, though I find West's explanation of how he spotted the ruse to be a little unconvincing. 

Trey: He's a man with who pays attention to details. Matronly women's hands just happens to be one of them.

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