Bonanza episode
“Escape to Ponderosa”
Season 1, Episode 25
#25 in Series
Air date March 5, 1960
Guest starring:
Written by Robert E. Thompson

Bill Barrett
Malcolm Stuart Boylan

Directed by Christian Nyby
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
The Stranger
Next Episode:
The Avenger
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Summary[edit | edit source]

Adam is bushwhacked by three deserters from the Army who are hiding out on the Ponderosa. When Ben pursues them, he is hindered by a Captain Bolton, the arrogant commander of a military posse who is also after the men.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Three army prisoners have escaped Ft Dayton. Mertz still has chains around his wrists. Of the three, he's the big, dumb, strong one. Paul Tyler is trying to use a rock to break through the chains. He's not having any luck. The third escapee, Sutton, leans against a rock complaining. He chastises Mertz for having killed the guard on the escape. He says they'll never get the chain off with rocks. Mertz says maybe the friend Sutton's taking them to will have a chisel. "Sure, we'll tell her you always go around wearing chains." Tyler is surprised to find out they're heading to a woman's house. Adam, who's out looking for strays, hears them talking and goes to investigate. Unfortunately, they overpower him and he's knocked out.

A soldier patrol from Ft Dayton arrives at the Ponderosa. Capt. Bolton knocks on the door and introduces himself. Ben invites him in and introduces Hoss and Joe. Both hold their hands out to greet him, but Bolton ignores them completely stepping into the room and looking around. Bolton explains that Fort Dayton is a casuals post for troops deemed not fit for line duty. He says he's looking for three deserters who escaped from the stockade. He says their trail ends on the Ponderosa. Joe tells him that he was riding line and didn't see anything. Bolton can't believe Joe saw no tracks or campfires or any indication. Ben says three men could easily lose themselves on the Ponderosa. Capt Bolton wants to know who else is in the house and marches farther into the room. Ben tells him there's just them and Hop Sing. He resents the innuendo that he might be harboring the fugitives. Bolton says, "Then you'll have no objection to my men searching the area." But Ben does mind. He stops Bolton by standing in front of him at the foot of the stairs and says again, the men are not in his house. Bolton says they know the men are in the area and they had to get assistance. Anyone who helps them will the held and tried for obstructing military justice. Ben doesn't budge. Bolton starts to head for the kitchen when Ben asks Hoss to escort the Capt out. Hoss is happy to comply. Just then, a soldier calls out that they have a man. They rush outside and the soldiers have Adam, who staggered in without his coat and gun. He's bleeding from a head wound. He says some men bushwhacked him just west of where he and Joe split up. The Capt. asks if he saw the men's faces. Adam shakes his head no and they take him inside.

Ben and Joe will go looking for the men, since Joe knows the area Adam was in. The Capt believes it's the prisoners and wants to go search. Ben says it's his land and his son who was hurt. If Bolton wants to come along, "You'll ride where I say and behind me. Otherwise take your men and get off the Ponderosa." Bolton's not thrilled with it, but he doesn't really have a choice.

The three prisoners, Sutton wearing Adam's coat and Tyler carrying his gun, stop near a small cave. Sutton's trying to get his bearings. They're headed for Netta's house. Mertz tumbles into a prickly bush and cries out. Sutton tells him to be quiet and they start to fight. Tyler orders them to stop. Sutton reminds him that Tyler's not an officer any more and can't give orders. But he doesn't really understand Tyler. Tyler only had six months left on his sentence, so he doesn't know why Tyler didn't just stick it out. Tyler merely says he had his reasons. Sutton tells Mertz he can't go to the farm with chains, so he'll have to wait there for them. Tyler agrees and promises Mertz they'll come back for him.

Ben, Joe and the patrol have followed the tracks. They find Mertz in the cave. Bolton demands to know where the others are, but Mertz is silent. Bolton backhands him and Mertz says he doesn't know where the others went. Bolton starts to hit him again, but Ben stops him. Bolton reminds Mertz of "the box" and has Mertz dragged away. Mertz struggles saying he'd rather die than go back in the box. Bolton pulls his gun as he trips Mertz then takes aim. Ben pulls him off. Bolton claims the prisoner tried to escape, but Ben says Bolton tried to murder a man and he intends to tell the captain's commanding officer.

Tyler and Sutton have made it to Netta's barn. A young foul lies weak in the hay and Tyler goes to it. Sutton starts to clean up and wonders if Bolton is still looking for them. He figures the brass will give up eventually. Tyler puts on a clean shirt and asks if Netta will be waiting for Sutton. Sutton's sure she will be, they were real friendly. They hear a noise and take cover. It's Netta, who puts a warm blanket over the colt. Sutton comes up behind her. At first she's frightened, but when she realizes who it is, she's glad to see him. Sutton introduces Tyler and says he left the army and they're prospecting together. She says she hadn't heard from him in two years and thought he'd forgotten about her. He assures her that she's the only thing that kept him going. He asks about her father, but she tells him that he died.

Ben complains to Colonel Metcalf about Bolton. The Col. says Bolton claims Mertz was trying to escape. Ben asks if they talked to Mertz. The Col. says Mertz is dead. Bolton comes in and defends his actions as being by Army regulation. Ben doesn't know of any regulation for the killing of men. The Col says he has to stand with Bolton. Ben understands and leaves. The Col. warns Bolton not to step out of line. Bolton asks to go back to the Ponderosa to continue the search. He's acquired a warrant, so the Col. lets him go.

At breakfast, there's a knock on Netta's door. Sutton tells her not to let anyone know they're there. He explains that they just hit a big silver strike and they want to keep it a secret. Hoss is at the door and tells Netta that two prisoners escaped from the fort and are in the area. She acts a little nervous and doesn't invite Hoss in. He thinks it's a bit odd, but leaves. When she returns to the kitchen, Sutton is holding a gun. Now she's suspicious. She asks outright if they're the men the army is looking for. Sutton admits they are, but it's not his fault. He was framed. He tried to serve his time, but the captain is a sadist and he beats men down. He couldn't stay. He says Tyler was held in a sweat box for three weeks. Tyler, who hasn't liked all the lies, admits that's true. Sutton begs for her help and she allows them to stay.

After Hoss reports Netta's behavior, the Cartwrights decide they better go back and check things out.

Tyler and Netta are caring for the colt and Tyler tells her that he was raised with horses. He trusts them and wishes he could say the same for people. He takes off his shirt to clean up and she sees the scars across his chest. She's horrified that he'd be treated that way. He says not to worry about it, he's not worth it. She says she's only known him a little while, but she thinks he's worth it. Ben comes in and Tyler grabs a board to swing at him, but Ben has a gun. Sutton comes in behind Ben and when Ben turns, Tyler hits him with the board. Tyler and Netta drop down beside Ben and Tyler's worried he hit Ben too hard. Sutton realizes Ben knows who they are and cocks his gun to shoot him. Tyler grabs Ben's gun and stops Sutton. Sutton thinks Tyler's crazy. He'll wind up back with Bolton. Tyler asks where Sutton's going to go now. Sutton doesn't know, but he's not staying. He starts to leave the barn, but sees Hoss and Joe outside. He returns and claims he can't leave without Netta. Netta doesn't want to go with him. Hoss and Joe come in and take over and help Ben up. The men refuse to go back, they just want a break. Netta says she's seen the scars and also asks Ben for help. Ben says it's an army matter and takes the men's dog-tags. He's going to go talk to the Col. Tyler says if Bolton comes for them, no matter what it takes, he won't go back.

Ben is stopped by Bolton and his men. They find the dog-tags and know he's seen the men. Ben refuses to say where, but they know the direction he was coming from.

Back in the barn, Tyler and Netta still tend to the colt. Tyler says he wouldn't have given the colt much of a chance last night. Netta says last night she might not have thought Tyler was worth saving. "What makes you think I am now?" he asks. She replies that he saved Ben's life. Hoss asks what landed Tyler in the stockade. Tyler says he refused to obey orders. He was to take his small unit and attack a much larger band of Indians. It was suicide, so he didn't do it. He didn't know it at the time, but he was the diversionary attack and because he didn't do his job, many other soldiers were killed in the frontal assault. Netta doesn't think he should be punished for refusing a suicide mission, but Hoss says the Army usually knows what they're doing. She challenges, did they know what they were doing when they put those scars on Tyler. Joe says not to judge the whole army by Bolton. Sutton insists that's what they're being sent back to. All they want is a chance to get out the back. Joe tells him to be quiet. Sutton tries a different tactic claiming Netta will feel horrible seeing him being dragged away. She's waited two years for him. Netta doesn't answer and Sutton is suddenly suspicious of her feelings for Tyler. Tyler doesn't like the insinuation and there's a brief scuffle. As Joe and Hoss try to break it up, Sutton gets a gun. He holds the gun on Joe and threatens to kill him if Hoss makes a move. Hoss assures him, "You do that mister and all the bullets in that gun, ain't gonna keep me from squeezing the life outta you." Sutton takes Hoss' guns and leaves the barn.

He's about to take Joe's horse when he hears riders coming. He takes cover. He starts to sneak away and climb over a fence when Bolton shoots him in the back. Netta asks Hoss and Joe to tell Bolton that Tyler is unarmed and giving himself up. As soon as they leave, she begs Tyler to run out the back. He refuses. Bolton would shoot them both down and now he's got something to live for. Hoss and Joe tell Bolton that Tyler is unarmed, but when Tyler comes out, Bolton orders him to drop his gun. Tyler raises his hands and Bolton orders him again to drop his gun and then he takes aim. Ben shoves him and the shot misses Tyler. Sutton, who's been lying on the ground left for dead, rises up and uses his last bit of strength to shoot Bolton. The other soldiers shoot Sutton and Netta runs into Tyler's arms. Ben tells the Corporal to take Tyler back to the fort. Netta promises to wait for him.

Cast[edit | edit source]

The Cartwrights

Other[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Did You Know?[edit | edit source]

  • During the final day of shooting, Pernell and Grant were standing together when Pernell fired his gun, loaded with blanks of course. Grant heard the blast and automatically going for his throat, felt a sharp and burning sensation. Part of the shell casing had ejected into the left side of his throat with little bleeding. Two years later, Grant had surgery with the risk that the left side of his face would collapse from the injury and made a successful recovery and resumed his acting career.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"I just don't feel like getting married... Well, not for a couple of days, anyway."
Little Joe Cartwright[src]

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See also[edit | edit source]

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