This week I rewatched two more episodes of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. This time Brisco attends a bounty hunter convention and the next episode dispels any lingering doubts of this being a genre show. Saddle up and prepare to ride with the Chin That Won The West.
Bounty Hunter’s Convention
In Episode 16 “Bounty Hunter’s Convention” Brisco meets some of his colleagues (before they get murdered). Here’s Bruce:
Brisco, Bowler and Socrates arrive at an island hotel off the coast where they and other bounty hunters are gathering at the behest of Mr. Hayes, a wealthy recluse. Another bounty hunter intimidates the desk clerk into giving him Brisco’s room but the jokes on him. Someone has placed a bomb in the room and the rude bounty hunter is blown up...
Brisco meets the rest of the bounty hunters (including Sam Travis, an old family friend of Brisco’s), an inventor and Hayes’ assistant Miss Peters. Hayes himself greets Brisco and Brisco thinks there’s something familiar about him. The inventor shows Brisco a suit of light body armor and a shock pistol (I’m sure neither item will come into play later).
After another “accident” almost kills another bounty hunter, Brisco remembers where he has seen Hayes before. He’s really an actor hired to play the part of Hayes. He never met the person who actually hired him; the cashier’s check payment and script for Hayes were delivered. Hayes leaves the island with the staff on the supply boat. Of course a storm is coming and it looks like Brisco, the other bounty hunters and Miss Peters will be stuck on the island.
There is another death. The skeleton of Brisco’s old friend is found in a bathtub full of acid. Everyone is a suspect and accusations fly. After Brisco discovers another victim that night, he is knocked out. He wakes up tied to the flagpole in front of the hotel. With the storm producing lightning bolts it’s only a matter of time before the metal flagpole is struck and Brisco electrocuted...
Brisco shimmies up the flagpole, slips the rope over the top and drops to the ground clear of the pole as lightning strikes it.
Brisco rousts everyone out of their rooms thinking that whoever tied him to the flagpole will be wet because of the storm. But (almost) everyone is wet for various reasons. Brisco goes looking for the one bounty hunter who wasn’t in their room. Brisco and a young gun find the missing bounty hunter dead.
Bowler discovers a secret passage.It leads him to another room where he finds what appears to be a hit list of the bounty hunters and his name is next. Before he can leave the room he is knocked out.
Brisco and Socrates are looking for Bowler when the run across the remaining bounty hunters on the beach having target practice with a couple of large targets set up at the far end. Bowler is tied and gagged out of sight behind one of the targets. Brisco notices drag marks in the sand and stops the shooting before Bowler is killed.
Bowler leads Brisco through the secret passage to the guest room which turns out to be Miss Peters’. They switch a poisoned champagne bottle for a less lethal one as a trap to reveal the killer.
While Miss Peters seems the likely culprit she along with everyone else drinks the champagne, which the killer wouldn’t have thinking it was the poisoned bottle. She was the one who hired the actor to play Hayes and set up the bounty hunter meeting because John Bly killed her father. She figured getting the bounty hunters together to exchange information would help to get Bly caught sooner.
Brisco and Bowler put knockout drops in the champagne so everyone else passes out leaving no one as a suspect. Brisco and Bowler pretend to drink their glasses and pass out. Remember that suit of body armor? It moves. Someone is wearing it. The killer is jumped by Brisco and Bowler but manages to use the shock pistol on Bowler and escape with Brisco on his heels.
Brisco catches up to the killer on the beach. It turns out to be Sam Travis. He faked his death with a skeleton he brought with him. Travis killed off the other bounty hunters because he was getting old and wanted to get rid of the younger competition.
Brisco, Bowler and Socrates ride off down the beach. (Which seems a little odd when everyone else just walked down to the pier to the supply boat but it was a nice visual to end the episode.)
- Star Trek connections: Morgan Woodward, crazed starship captain on “The Omega Glory”, plays Sam Travis, crazed bounty hunter. “Hayes” is played by J.G. Hertzler.
- This episode is pretty much And Then There Were None (in the Old West!). As is often the case, the killer has the “death” that most easily faked. We see the killer planting the bomb while the rude bounty hunter is checking in so he could be eliminated as a suspect faking his death.
Fountain of Youth
Episode 17 is “Fountain of Youth.” John Bly is back and so is Brisco’s Chinese friend from the first episode. Here’s Bruce:
Brisco and Bowler rise into a camp of Chinese laborers looking for Professor Coles (the old man with the third Orb). At the professor’s tent they rescue a young woman from a gang of good looking men who look like they stepped off a romance novel cover. The woman seems very glad to see Brisco...
The woman is Lillian Coles, the professor’s daughter. Like Brisco, she received a telegram to meet Coles because he was in danger. Unfortunately Coles is gone. Lillian takes what she calls a special medication for arthritis (unusual for a young woman, so foreshadow warning). Bowler finds the tracks of the professor’s wagon (remember he is a world class tracker). Brisco, Bowler and Lillian ride off following the tracks.
In San Francisco Socrates meets with Lee Pow, the man who carved the distinctive handle of Brisco’s pistol (when it was his father’s piece). Lee Pow knows about the Orbs and gives Socrates a key with the instruction to get it to Brisco so he can fulfill his destiny with the Orbs.
Brisco, Bowler and Lillian find where Coles is holed up. Brisco and Bowler ride up to the old mission leaving Lillian behind under cover. Coles tells the two that he didn’t send the telegrams that brought the bounty hunters and his daughter. The good looking gang burst in with Lillian as captive. They knock out Brisco and Bowler and eave with Coles and his daughter.
Socrates is on Brisco’s trail and reaches the camp with the Chinese laborers. He’s at a dead end until the key begins to glow when pointed in a certain direction. It’s pointing the way to Brisco.
The good looking gang rides into a nearby town and ties up the professor and his daughter in a storeroom. The two have a cryptic conversation about using the Orb to make Lillian’s special medicine (though at this point you should be able to make a guess about what’s actually going on with that). Lillian manages to get free of her bonds. Coles tells her where the Orb is so she can get it to Brisco. But Lillian is really working with John Bly, who shows up then, so she can get her special medicine.
Once Bly learns the location of the Orb he double crosses Lillian, leaving her behind and taking one of her vials of special medicine.
But Lillian has one more trick up her sleeve. The good looking gang isn’t working for Bly, it’s working for Lillian. They capture Brisco and Bowler. The two are tied up in a boiler room that’s getting too hot and about to blow...
Brisco and Bowler break the pipe they’re secured to and get out of the building just before the boiler explodes.
Bly and Coles ride towards the Orb’s location. Coles is still alive because Bly needs him to harness the Orb’s power. Bly is evil and the Orb doesn’t like evil people. Bly says that with the Orb’s power he’s going home. A couple of the good looking gang catch up to them. Bly drinks the vial of special medication which gives him mental powers he uses to knock out the gang members.
Lillian and the good looking gang leader ride up on the unconscious men. The gang leader notices that Lilian looks older. She says she needs her special medicine and they continue after Bly.
Socrates catches up to Brisco and delivers the key.
Bly and Coles reach the entrance to the cave where the Orb is hidden. Lillian and her boytoy arrive then. Lillian is visibly much older now. The shallow superficial boytoy runs off when he sees the old Lillian. Coles agrees to help Bly so that he can also help Lillian. Bly gives his word to let Coles make more medicine (which I’m sure he intends to keep).
Brisco, Bowler and Socrates ride up after Bly and Coles have entered the cave. They find a very old Lillian who reveals she is actually Coles’ mother not his daughter. Water touched by an Orb rod had not only helped her arthritis but made her young again (like a fountain of youth). Old age catches up to her and Lillian dies.
The cave is a winding maze. Brisco and crew are lost until they try Lee Pow’s key. When Brisco pulls it out, not only does it glow but so does the grip of Brisco’s pistol. The key opens a hidden compartment in the grip that reveals a round of pistol ammunition. The bullet itself appears to be made of the same material as the Orbs. The glowing key then leads them to the Orb’s location.
Coles has already retrieved the Orb from its hiding spot and is pulling rods in a specific sequence. The Orb begins to glow with energy. Brisco confronts Bly, who reveals he is from 612 years in the future (the year 2506). He used a time machine to travel back for the Orbs. Two Orbs are gone but Bly only needs one to return to his time and use its power to rule the world.
Bly is already drawing power from the Orb and seems unstoppable. But Brisco uses the special pistol round. Bly becomes trapped in one of the Orb rods.
Coles locks up the Orb in a crate and gives it to Brisco telling him he’ll need the Orb for his final encounter with Bly. He say Brisco’s destiny isn’t fulfilled yet. It looks like we will see John Bly at least once more.
- Orb lore: 1894 was the last time the three Orbs were in existence (this episode is from 1994 so it’s still set 100 years in the past). John Bly could draw power from the Orb when it was activated but he is careful to not touch it himself because he is evil. How the Orbs treat people considered good versus evil has been a theme since the first episode.
All images via screencap