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Bonanza episode
Season 2, Episode 1
#33 in Series
Air date September 10, 1960
Guest starring:
Written by Dean Riesner
Directed by Lewis Allen
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Death at Dawn
Next Episode:
The Mission
External links
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Showdown on IMDb
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A bank robber takes a job with the Cartwrights to prevent the sheriff from tracking down his accomplices.


After John Pardo and his gang rob the Virginia City Bank, they go into hiding on the Ponderosa. One of Pardo's men, Sam Kirby, goes to the Cartwrights. The plan is for him to hire on as a ranch hand so he can keep tabs on the posse or the Army, if they're called in.

As Adam, Hoss and Joe Cartwright are breaking horses, Sam rides up and watches. When one of the horses throws Joe, Sam's laughter gets their attention. He asks for a job and claims he has a reference from a previous Ponderosa hand he worked with in Arizona. He earns the job by breaking the horse that threw Joe.

Sheriff Coffee arrives and informs the Cartwrights about the robbery. He asks them to ride posse over the Ponderosa. They do, but to cover more area, they break into pairs. When Sam learns that Hoss will be going the direction of the gang's hide out, he volunteers to ride with him. Hoss stumbles across some suspicious markings and is investigating. Sam initially tries to make excuses, but when Hoss is down on his knee checking tracks, Sam pulls his gun. Fortunately, Joe arrives in time to stop him. Hoss doesn't believe Joe when Joe says it looked like Sam was going to shoot Hoss. Sam claims he heard a rider coming and pulled his gun out for protection.

When the Cartwrights check in with Roy, Sam learns where all the posses are located. He's there, too, when a telegraph arrives, stating the Army will arrive in a few days. Roy is suspicious of Sam, a newcomer who arrived in town the same time the bank was robbed. The Cartwrights believe he's OK. , the telegrapher, pulls Joe aside and says tells him he saw Sam hanging around town the night the bank was robbed. Joe becomes more suspicious of Sam.

That evening at the Cartwrights' hoedown, Sam becomes friendly with Ellie McClure who Joe thinks he has some claim to. A fight breaks out and as Sam's shirt is torn, it reveals whip scars on his back. He's angry and humiliated, wanting to leave. Adam gives him his vest to cover his back. Ben demands to know what Joe has against Sam. Joe feels bad now and says he's going to go apologize to Sam.

Sam returns to Pardo's hideout and reports the Army's coming. Pardo wants to know where they'll be coming from but Sam doesn't know. Pardo insists he return to the Cartwrights, even though Sam doesn't want to go. Pardo notices the vest and asks about it, thinking it's funny that Sam has the Cartwrights fooled. When two of the gang bring Joe in, he's been beaten. Joe knows now that Sam is part of the gang. Pardo beats Joe more, but Sam stops him. Pardo thinks Sam's going soft, then ties Joe up. He sends Sam back to learn more about the Army.

When Sam returns, Adam asks about Joe. Sam claims he hasn't seen Joe and Adam is surprised. He says Joe left right after Sam to apologize. This just makes Sam feel worse. Adam says he considers Sam a friend and Sam says a man only has one friend, himself. Adam doesn't argue and tells Sam that the sheriff is there to see him.

Roy says he sent a telegram to the ranch hand in Arizona. Yes, they know Sam, but fired him when they learned he had a record in Texas. Sam admits he was in jail for murder. Sam had killed his step-father several years after his mother died. The man routinely beat and whipped him and when he was big enough and strong enough, Sam fought back. Sam served did his time. Ben thinks that's sufficient, but Roy wants to take Sam with him. Ben takes responsibility for Sam.

That night, Adam checks on Sam in the bunk house. He's packing to leave. Adam wonders if the friendship was too much for Sam. Sam knocks him out and runs. When Adam wakes, Ben is looking for him. They realize Joe might've been right all along. They'll start tracking Sam and maybe find Joe at first light.

Sam returns to Pardo's gang. Pardo's trying to beat information out of Joe, who remains sient. Pardo tells Sam to beat Joe and Sam won't. Pardo accuses him of going soft and orders one of his other men to kill Joe. Sam convinces Pardo not to hurt Joe. He says with Joe as hostage they'll get away, but they have to leave now. Pardo agrees and when the men leave to pack up, Sam holds a gun on Pardo. A scuffle breaks out and Joe is able to get a gun and shoot Pardo.

The next morning the Cartwrights are searching and see the Pardo gang being led toward them. Joe's riding up front and Sam brings up the rear. Seems they all misjudged Sam after all.

Cast and Characters

The Cartwrights




Did you know?

  • Ray Teal makes his first of 88 appearances as Sheriff Roy Coffee.


  • In the scene where Sheriff Coffee tells the Cartwrights about Sam Kirby's past, Ben angrily throws a piece of paper into the fire and misses. The paper is seen in front of the fireplace for a while and then disappears.
  • In the scene where Joe and Sam are fighting at the picnic, Ben can be seen laughing before quickly returning to his serious face.


"If you'll excuse me, ladies, it's time for your riding lessons."
Joe to Adam and Hoss[src]

"Well, you wouldn't happen to have an easy job and a cool place now would you?"
"Yeah, but my brothers and I take all of those.
Sam Kirby and Joe[src]




Showdown (1960) Bonanza., Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, FULL EPISODE

See also