Thursday, October 28, 2021

Revisiting The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Fugitives

"The Night of the Fugitives" 
Written by  Ken Pettus
Directed by Mike Moder and Gunnar Hellström
Synopsis (from IMDB): To break a powerful crime syndicate, West and Gordon must capture its wily bookkeeper before Diamond Dave and his goons get him first.

Jim: Oh man! This episode is infamous for the scene where Conrad tries to swing on the chandelier and nearly breaks his neck! I had just learned about this incident recently, but didn't expect to see it so soon.

Trey: Yep. This show was actually the last show shot in the third season, but was aired until the middle of Season 4. The first part of the episode was filmed by Hellstrom, but there was a 12 week shutdown in production after Conrad's accident and Moder was brought in. After the accident, the insurance company restricted Conrad from risky stunts. 

Jim: He went out with a bang. That saloon fight is a doozy! It may be the most action packed fight scene we've ever seen so far.

Trey: Yeah, this is a pedestrian episode in many ways, but it does have good action from the saloon fight to the zipline out of the church bell tower. I've said this before, but it feels like the episodes without a science fiction/fantasy element tend to be the ones with the most action.

Jim: I would agree there is very little to make it "wild." Probably the wildest thing about this episode was the last act arrival of the real Hallelujah Harry. (A plot twist that left me a bit baffled.). As the kids say: I have so many questions about that plot twist--namely, at what point did Artemis steal the original Harry's wagon? Was Harry someone Artemis captured earlier, as part of the mission, but then escaped? 

Trey: The appearance of the real Hallelujah Harry is odd for a number of reasons. Not only why did Artie steal it, but why did Harry have any reason to believe Desmond would help him get it back? I mean, Desmond liked the Artie Harry because he was a criminal. Why would the fact he stole the wagon from (maybe) another conman make him turn on him?

Jim: I enjoyed seeing Simon Oakland in the role of Diamond Dave Desmond. Also, nice performance by J. S. Johnson as Norbert Plank. I love the way Norbert vacillates between arrogant bookkeeper and sniveling coward. 

Trey: Simon Oakland seems sort of like he might be trying out for the role of Al Capone--or maybe just Edward G. Robinson! Susan Hart's character Rhoda joins the Pantheon of women not swayed by West's charms. I like how her motivations are pragmatic and she is never discovered and put in peril by the villain.

Jim: After a certain point, she's too smart to be involved in the episode period!

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