Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
Season 2, Episode 21
#53 in Series
Air date February 11, 1961
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Marion Parsonnet
Directed by Dick Moder
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
The Fugitive
Next Episode:
Tax Collector
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Hoss accidentally kills Willie the town drunk. His remorse may not be enough to stop Willie's hate-filled brother who only wants revenge even though the towns people know it wasn't Hoss' fault.

Hoss kills drunken neighbor Willie Twilight while trying to disarm the man and is devastated with guilt. Willie's brother Red is determined to get even and shoots Hoss in the back.

While Hoss lies in bed unconscious and clinging to life, a vengeful Joe vows to his big brother that he will kill Red Twilight.


Hoss is in Virginia City buying some supplies, he hears


some gun shots coming from the saloon and goes over to take a look.  Willie Twilight is drunk and firing his gun in all directions mostly to the sky. Mary, the saloon girl tries to stop him but he’s pushes her out of the way. Hoss calmly walks up to Willie and managed to easily take one of the guns he’s holding but is having trouble taking the second one from him.  As he wrestles with Willie it he separates him with it by shoving him away, as Willie falls back he hits a support column on the saloon and bounces off it and to the ground, Mary runs over to him and tells Hoss “You killed my Willie.”  Hoss is shocked and looks at his hands.

Mary is at the graveyard placing flowers on Willie’s grave.  She is approached by a man who asks her what she’s going to do about Willie’s death. When she tries to explain to the man that Willie was drunk, the man cuts her off and tells her that he didn’t deserve to be killed and that he knows because he’s his brother.  Mary is familiar with him through the Willie's stories and calls the man Red.  He asks her who she was to Willie, and she tells him she was in love with his kind and gentle brother. Red can’t believe his kind and gentle brother would end up getting killed.  Red tells Mary that he takes care of his own and that he knows the name of the killer. He asks Mary if she knows him.  Mary tells him everyone around town knows the Cartwright’s.  Red tells her he doesn’t but he will soon.  Mary tells Red that the Cartwrights were friends to Willie. Red responds that Willie was his brother and that a man killed him and that man will pay.


Back at the Ponderosa, Hoss is repairing a wagon wheel. Joe asks if he needs help but he doesn’t need it.  Adam tells everyone as soon as they’re done they can help the boys with round up.  Hoss lets the wheel drop and stares at nothing in particular.  Adam and Joe glance at each other, and Joe tells Hoss to stop brooding because it was an accident.  Adam begins to tell Hoss that he knows how he feels, but Hoss isn’t in the mood to be entertained and walks away.

Ben watches through the window in his office as Hoss begins to put on his gun belt. Adam asks where he’s going.  Solemnly Hoss tells them that he’s going to the low country to mend some fences, Adam tells Joe to go with him so the job will be done quicker.  Hoss tells them it’s a one man job and rides out.  Adam tells Joe that Hoss should stop feeling guilty and shouldn’t be alone at this time. By this time Ben has come out of the house.  Joe thinks it’s probably best that Hoss is alone at the moment.  Ben questions where Hoss has gone and Adam tells him where he’s gone.  Joe asks his Pa if he should keep an eye on him, Ben tells him not to and the best thing they can do for him is to leave him alone.

Hoss is out riding and looking for spots he can tend to. He dismounts for a brief period, and Red appears over some high ground.  Red points his rifle at Hoss, but Hoss remounts his horse, and the trees block Red’s line of sight, so Red continues to follow him.  Eventually the sun begins to fade, and Red turns around due to the loss of light.


It’s dark and Joe is sneaking out of the Ponderosa, he goes to the barn and starts harnessing up Cochise.  Adam appears and asks Joe what he’s doing, Joe looks like a deer caught in the headlights, he tells Adam that he’s worried about Hoss and it’s not normal for him to stay out all night and it’s almost daybreak.  Adam asks what he’s going to do, Joe tells him he’s going to look for Hoss because he doesn’t want him to be alone.  Adam asks if he’s told Ben and Joe tells him he has not and would prefer it if he doesn’t either, Adam tells him he’ll think about it.  Joe continues to saddle up Cochise.  Adam walks to the other side of the barn and gets his horse, she’s already harnessed and saddled up ready for riding.  Joe asks Adam where he’s going, Adam tells him that Hoss is his brother as well and Joe smiles, they both leave.

Hoss is over by the creek, Red is creeping up on Hoss, Adam and Joe are riding to find Hoss.

Adam and Joe arrive where Hoss should be mending the fence and Joe points out that there wasn’t much fence mending going on.  Adam begins to tell Joe that he probably didn’t intend to, but as he speaks he is is interrupted by gunfire. Hearing this Adam and Joe ride quickly to Mud Creek.


Hoss is face down on the ground as Adam and Joe ride up over the ridge. Seeing Hoss, they dismount quickly and run to him, Hoss has a wound in his back.  Joe looks around visibly upset and angry he tells Adam that they couldn’t have gotten far and starts to get up, Adam tells him to wait but Joe wants to find the person responsible.  Adam tells Joe that if he wants to save Hoss’ life he needs to get their Pa and the Doctor.  Since time is a factor Adam believes he can keep Hoss alive but he needs Joe and tells him to get going.


Back at the house Ben is waiting impatiently outside Hoss’ room, the Doctor finally comes out and tells Ben he’s asleep now and he’s given him a sedative and shouldn’t be disturbed.  Ben asks the Doctor to be truthful about his condition.  The Doctor tells him that Hoss has a serious wound and he lost a lot of blood, the Doctor tells Ben he used words of encouragement but Hoss didn’t want to listen, Ben knows and gets irate and tells the Doctor he’s been like that since Willie Twilight died.  The Doctor tells Ben that his death wasn’t Hoss’ fault but Ben tells him that they know it, he knows it, the town knows it but Hoss feels guilty and wants to find a way to show him that it wasn’t.  The Doctor tells Ben that Hoss won’t understand anything for a while and it’s likely that the bullet wound would finish him off.  Ben asks if there’s anything they can do, the Doctor tells Ben the only thing they can do is wait.

Downstairs the Doctor tells everyone he has to go but will be back later, he tells everyone to pray and hope, then leaves.

Joe doesn’t like the standing around and waiting, he decides to see Hoss but Ben stops him because Hoss is asleep and sedated.  Ben thanks his boys for disobeying him and going after Hoss.  Adam wants to know what the Doctor said and whether or not he could get anything out of Hoss but Ben tells them the Doctor spoke to him but nothing more.

Joe wants to find out who did this to Hoss and Ben tells Joe to let the Sheriff find out.  Joe wonders if it was a deer hunting accident but Adam tells him it was unlikely since he was shot with a buffalo gun.  Joe can’t understand it since Hoss has never had an enemy in his life, Ben hopes it’s not linked to Willie Twilight.  Joe decides to sit outside Hoss’ room in case he wakes up.  Ben whispers to Adam to take some men to town and ask the Sheriff if Willie Twilight had any special friends.


Later on Adam is back at the house and Joe comes down, Hoss is still asleep and someone is arriving at the Ponderosa.  Deputy Sheriff McNeil arrives and tells Ben and the others that Willie did have a relative, Ben asks who he is and if he’s around,  Joe tells the McNeil that he wants to see him.  The Deputy tells Ben he came to the Ponderosa to tell them first because he didn’t want them hearing it second hand and going off half-cocked.  He tells them that three days after Willie died a man came to town and visited Willie’s grave and spoke to Mary.  He them booked a room at the hotel under the name Red Twilight, Willie’s brother.   Joe all heated up tells the Deputy that he’s the man who shot Hoss and the Deputy asks him how he knows.  Joe tells him it’s because he’s Willie’s brother, he came to town three days after the accident, and Hoss was shot in the back on the fourth day.   The Deputy tells Joe he wants more positive proof, Joe’s temper flares and Ben tries to calm him down.  Joe asks the Deputy to give him one good reason why Red shouldn’t be arrested and hanged.   The Deputy tells Joe he has two good reasons, one is Hoss isn’t dead and the other is there’s no witness or material evidence.   Again Joe’s temper flares and Ben stays him.  The Deputy tells Ben this is the reason he came to tell them so they wouldn’t rush to kill a man who may be innocent.  Adam tells him that they never said that’s what they want to do.  The Deputy tells Adam and Joe to stay away from town until he can get some facts.  Ben assures him that his son’s won’t do anything foolish however Ben tells the Deputy he’ll ride back with him because he wants to talk to Red Twilight.  Ben asks Joe and Adam to stay in the house and not to disobey him this time.


In town at the saloon, Red is sitting at a table supping whiskey a hat flops down on the table next to him, it’s Ben and he sits next to him.  Ben starts talking and asks him if he’s Willie brother, Red confirms he is.  Ben introduces himself to him and tells him it was his son who got shot, Red tells him he heard about it and wishes he could be sorry but he never knew him, Red asks what he can do for Ben.  Ben tells Red that his brother’s death was accidental and is sorry it happened, Red tells him that makes two of them and he’s sorry it happened as well.  Ben comments on how he’s never seen Red before and asks him about what he does, he tells Ben he scouts for the army, fight Indians, hunt.  Ben asks him if he’s ever hunted buffalo, Red tells him he’s hunted just about everything.  Ben asks him if he owns a buffalo gun. Red tells him that’s his business whether he does or not.  Ben tells Red that man who shot his son owned a buffalo gun,  Red asks Ben if he’s accusing him of murder.  Ben tells him he’s not and it’s up to the law to make that decision but if his son dies, Red interrupts for confirmation that Hoss isn’t dead.  Red tells Ben he’s lucky because his brother is.


Mary is about to visit the graveyard when Red turns up wanting to speak to her.  He tells her that he’s going to be leaving town in a day or so and asks her if she wants to leave town with him.  Mary tells him he doesn’t owe her anything and she’ll stay in Virginia City.  Red asks her why, and Mary tells him that she still has memories of Willie here and it’s the only place she really knows.  Mary tells Red that Hoss didn’t mean to kill Willie and that Hoss didn’t even have a gun on him, Red tells her that Willie is dead and that’s all he sees.  He tells Mary he won’t be satisfied until Hoss Cartwright dies.  Mary realises it was Red who shot Hoss and he confirms it, he tells her he’s a good shot but he didn’t aim high enough.  Mary figures out that Red has been staying around town to make sure Hoss is dead and he tells Mary that by the time he comes to leave Hoss will be dead. 


Joe is pacing in front of the fire, he’s making it difficult for everyone to concentrate on whatever they’re doing.  Adam asks Joe to check his figures since he’s feeling a little tired.  Joe looks at the ledger and everyone is walking on eggshells.  Joe doesn’t believe Ben sat next to him, he sat next to the man who shot his brother and did nothing, he throws the pencil at the ledger and walks away.  Ben tells Joe there’s no proof he did it and if there is proof the Sheriff will find it, then when they find the proof the courts will handle it.  Joe is indignant.  Ben finally loses his cool exterior and raises his voice to Joe, he tells him that he’s not the only one who worried, and they’re all worried but there’s a right way and a wrong way to everything even to worrying.  Adam gets up and tells everyone that maybe they should all go to bed, Joe without speaking goes upstairs.  Ben tells Adam that it’s got to him and Adam tells Ben that he’ll simmer down.


During the night Joe sneaks out of his room, and into Hoss’ room and wipes his brow, he also tucks him in.  While Hoss is asleep Joe bends down to be closer to him and promises that he’s going to find the person responsible and when he does he’s going to kill him but before he does he’s going to make him know why.  Hoss stirs for a brief moment.

Red watches Mary ride off in her buggy and then goes back into the hotel, he asks the clerk there what’s West of Virginia City.  Red asks if there’s anywhere he can go to on a quick notice, except the Ponderosa, the clerk tells him there isn’t unless he wants to drop into Lake Tahoe.  Red tells the clerk that he’s moving on and to get his bill ready.  Red stares at the clerk and then pokes him, asking the clerk if he needs a forwarding address.  The clerk tells him that most transients don’t leave them, but Red tells him he is, he tells him he’s going to Sacramento, California via Giger Grade and camp at Sulphur Springs, the clerk asks if he wants all that put on his forwarding address, Red tells him he’s just telling him where he’s going.

Nancy is driving her buggy along a dirt road and Joe roars past her on Cochise.

Ben wakes up and checks in on Hoss, he then goes downstairs for breakfast; Adam has laid the table and brings Ben his food.   Ben queries Joe’s absence and Adam tells him that he’s probably still asleep, Ben tells Adam to get him because he wants to speak to him.   Adam goes upstairs and finds his room empty, he checks Hoss’ room to see if he’s in there but he’s not. Adam goes downstairs and checks the barn, Cochise’s stall is empty.  Adam runs back to the house and tells Ben.  Ben tells Adam to find him before he does something he’ll regret for the rest of his life.

Ben is sitting at the dining table alone, the food still sat there.  Ben decides to sit with Hoss. 

Mary arrives at the Ponderosa.

Ben talks to Hoss even though there’s no response, as he talks he finds it difficult.

Mary walks into the house and asks if anyone is there, she walks over to the dining table and sees the food still there, she calls out again but there’s no response, she decides to take a look upstairs.  Mary notices the door to Hoss’ room is ajar and goes towards it, she finds Ben in there and knocks gently on the door.  Ben finally realises she’s there and apologises to her, he finds her familiar and she introduces herself and tells him she was Willie’s girl.   Mary apologises for coming into the house uninvited.  Ben tells her that everyone was really sorry about Willie, Mary tells him that she knows and that she came to tell him that she holds no blame, Ben is grateful.   Mary asks Ben if he would listen to her, Ben obliges and sits next to her.  Mary tells him that Willie and her were very much in love and they were going to get married but Willie was sick and didn’t want anyone to know.  He went to Placerville to see a specialist there and was told that his heart could give out any time if he didn’t look after himself.  Mary tells Ben that when he heard this it was almost as if Willie was doing things on purpose so that he wanted to die, he started drinking and fist fighting with everyone, he told Mary he was tired of waiting and that he was going to die anyway and wanted it over with quick.  Mary tells him that when he went out with those guns she was sure he was doing it so that he would die.  Ben asks her if she’s sure about it and asks her how she can be so sure.  Mary tells Ben that Willie told her, and before he went out on the street he told her she would never see him again.

Hoss calls out to Ben, he’s heard the whole story.  Mary tells Hoss that Willie liked him and wouldn’t want any harm done to the Cartwright’s and didn’t want him to blame himself for what happened.  Hoss tells Ben he shoved Willie and killed him.   Ben tells Hoss he didn’t and that’s why Mary drove all the way out here to tell him that.  Hoss tells his Pa that he understands some of it but there’s something else, he tells him that something happened last night but he can’t remember what.   Ben asks if anyone else knows about this and Mary tells him she tried to tell Red but he wouldn’t listen and when he found out Hoss was still alive he said he was going to come and kill him.  Ben needs to tell the Sheriff and asks Mary if she’s willing to repeat everything she’s tol d him, Mary tells him she will.  Ben tells Mary that the Deputy is over at the Templeton’s that isn’t far and he needs to fetch him, he asks Mary to look after Hoss.  Ben tells Hoss he’ll be back soon, Hoss manages to say “Pa, don’t let Little Joe...”  Ben tells Hoss not to worry and tells him to rest.

Joe arrives at the hotel and asks where Red is, the Clerk tells Joe he left more than half an hour ago.  Joe asks if he happens to know where he went, and the clerk tells him he left a forwarding address and relays the information Red gave him to Joe.  Joe turns to leave and Adam is leaning against the door, he tells Joe he’s going with him on one condition.  He’ll go as far as beating a confession out of him if necessary and nothing more.  Joe tells Adam he didn’t hear him say anything different.  Adam re-iterates that they bring Red and his confession back to Virginia City, alive.  It’s obvious Joe’s not listening and Adam tells him he knows how he feels and he knows what he wants to do and it’s wrong, he also tells Joe that the forwarding address is just for their benefit.  Joe tells Adam he could see through that and if Red wants to see him he wants to see him too.  Adam reminds Joe of the conditions, confession and then the Sheriff takes over.  Joe tells him he heard him.

Red is riding on the dirt road, not far away Adam and Joe are on the same trail.  Red notices he’s being followed and decides to take another route.  Adam and Joe deduce that he’s double backed on them and is heading to the Ponderosa.  Joe tells him they can cut him off on the Mill Road.

Red arrives at the Ponderosa, there’s a ranch hand outside with a handful of firewood, he tells Red that he’s there looking after Hoss while everyone else is at the round up.  Red kills the hand.  Mary hears the shot and goes to the window and sees Red, Hoss tells Mary to go to the front room and get the gun that’s in his Pa’s desk.

Mary looks for the gun and Red enters the house just as she finds it.  She tells Red to go away and is greeted with a slap to the face, she falls to the floor.  Adam and Joe arrive at the house and find the ranch hand dead on the ground, they split up, Adam goes through the front door and Joe will take another route.

Red climbs the stairs to the house, Adam opens the front door and Red hears him, Red points his gun at Adam and tells him two for one.   Joe at this point has climbed through the window to Hoss’ room.  They both fire and Adam is hit.   Joe runs out of Hoss’ room and grabs Red as soon as he sees him, they fight.   Red runs out the front door and Joe follows.  Hoss is in bed and calls out to Joe weakly. 

Joe wrestles Red to the ground.

Mary gets up and goes to Adam, he has been creased on the temple and gets up, he tells Mary to stay in the house.

Hoss struggles to get out of bed.

Joe and Red are still fighting outside, Joe punches Red and he falls into the barn, Joe follows him and grabs him by the hair and pulls his gun on him, he calls Red a backshooter and that he’s going to kill him.  Adam arrives at the barn to hear Red pleading for his life.  Joe tells Red he made a promise and he wants Red to taste it first before he blows his brains out.  Adam tells Joe not to.  Joe tells Adam to stay out of it because he made a promise to Hoss and he’s going to keep it.  Adam tells Joe they have his confession it’s all the evidence they need.  Joe tells Adam it’s all the evidence he needs.  Adam tells him if he has to do it then he should go ahead and blow his brains out, it would only lower him to the same level as Red and hopes he enjoys it.  After a tense pause, Joe releases Red and re-holsters his gun.  Hoss calls out and they rush to him, Mary is with Hoss propping him up.  They ask if he’s alright, and Hoss tells Joe he’s going to be alright now.  Ben arrives at the same time and rushes over to Hoss, the Deputy runs into the barn to get Red.  Ben is surprised to see Red is still walking on two feet and looks at Joe.  Hoss tells Joe he’s glad he didn’t kill Red.  Joe tell Hoss he wouldn’t kill a man just because he took a shot at a big ox like him, they laugh and take him back into the house.


The Cartwrights


  • Adam Williams: Red Twilight
  • Beverly Tyler: Mary
  • Bob Miles: Cheering Cowboy
  • Keith Richards: Willie Twilight
  • Olan Soule: Hotel Clerk
  • Robert Griffin: Sheriff
  • Roy Engel: Dr. Tolliver
  • Tom Kennedy: Townsman


Did you know?[]

  • German episode title: "Als Mr. Twilight starb", meaning "The Day Mr. Twilight Died".




See also[]