Bonanza episode
“The Avenger”
Season 1, Episode 26
# in Series
Air date March 19, 1960
Guest starring:
Written by Clair Huffaker
Directed by Christian Nyby
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Escape to Ponderosa
Next Episode:
The Last Trophy
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Summary[edit | edit source]

Ben and Adam are locked in jail, about to hung for a crime they didn't commit. Joe and Hoss must find out why the witnesses to the alleged crime have perjured themselves before the execution takes place. They receive help from an unexpected source, a drifter called Lassiter who is searching for the men who committed a lynching in Kansas years ago.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Adam and Ben are in prison, accused of murder and waiting to hang on testimony of a witness, the dead man's daughter. Joe and Hoss ride in to help, and Ben asks them to talk to the accuser, Sally Byrnes, in order to revoke her testimony. Ben also asks them to put something in the newspaper to change public opinion, and to get a petition going for a stay of execution. Meanwhile, a stranger rides into town.

After a brief scuffle with Joe in the livery, the stranger goes over to Sally Byrnes' restaurant and boarding house to get dinner. While he's there, Joe and Hoss show up, trying once again to reason with her, but she won't hear of it. She is bitterly angry, and expresses to the stranger her thankfulness that the haughty Cartwrights will finally get what they deserve.

The stranger, Lassiter (he's called this because he's from Lassiter, Kansas), has his own reason for showing up to the hanging. He believes that Ben might be the one he was hoping to avenge for the death of his father. However, upon sight of him, he realizes that Ben is not the man he's hunting, and instead takes an immediate liking to Ben when he overhears him telling Little Joe and Hoss that there can be no violence.

Unfortunately, the townspeople are all cowering due to the threat of the murderous gang whose leader is actually responsible for the death of Sally Byrnes' father, as well as another man. No one will sign the petition out of fear, and the newspaper editor is roughed up and his office sacked when he goes to insert the article defending Ben and Adam. Lassiter shows up at the last second with his gun when Joe and Hoss have to stand up alone to the gang of thugs. Lassiter goes over to talk to Sally one more time, as he knows the woman is attracted to him. She recounts her story of the night her father died, saying that Ben and Adam had accused him of thievery, and she saw them kill her father from the kitchen window. Lassiter points out that the window is filthy with dirt, and it would be hard to see through.

Meanwhile, Ben and Adam are marched up to the scaffolding. While this is happening, Lassiter begins to describe to Sally the horrors of hearing a hanging, since Sally says she won't watch it. As he goes into detail about the sounds, she loses composure and in a flurry of horror and guilt, calls for a cessation of execution, admitting that she didn't see Ben and Adam kill her father. The murder posse gets into it immediately with Lassiter, who by a series of well-timed somersaults manages to kill them all one by one until the sheriff says, "That's enough killing" just as the last one dies.

Ben and Adam are free to go, and Lassiter leaves as well. They try to persuade him to stay, but it is evident that his mission is clear to him: he will avenge innocent men in cities wherever he can find them.

Cast[edit | edit source]

The Cartwrights

Other[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Did you know?[edit | edit source]

  • Vic Morrow's character's real name was not mentioned during the episode. He is called Lassiter by the people he meets because he says he comes from Lassiter, Kansas.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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See also[edit | edit source]

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