Mrs Wharton and the Lesser Breeds

Writer: Preston Wood  Director: Leon Benson
Guest Stars: Mildred Natwick (Elizabeth Catherine Wharton), David Canary (Candy), Jess Pearson (Ed), Oren Stevens (Billy Buckman), Jeff Morris (Dunne), Chanin Hale (Laura Mae), J.S. Johnson (Carmody), Charles Bail (Reese), Ollie O’Toole (Bartender), Bill Beckett (Drummer)
Air Date: 19 January 1969

This episode begins with Candy on a stagecoach travelling from San Francisco to Virginia City with his new and temporary employer, Mrs. Elizabeth Wharton.  After sharing her lunch and Candy making sure that he gets the chicken leg, the stagecoach is accosted by three men.

The three men (the lesser breeds) do what any other good stagecoach robbers would do and go for the strong box followed by any other item of value they can get from the passengers especially Mrs. Wharton.  One robber checks the picnic basket that contained lunch and finds Candy’s half-eaten chicken leg in the process, subsequently throwing it away.

Deciding that there is nothing of value in the picnic basket, he throws it only to have a (not very well) concealed box fall out.  The box contains jewellery and personal items belonging to Mrs. Wharton who insists on Candy doing something.  Candy very wisely decides not to do anything as…

“Gettin’ myself killed comes higher than 75 cents a day.”

Later on, when they arrive at the Ponderosa, Mrs. Wharton is more interested in getting into town and finding her stolen property.  Ben convinces her to stay the night and Candy tells him the story of how he met her.

In the morning, Candy takes Mrs. Wharton to Virginia City and by the time the viewers catch up with them, she has already gone to the Sheriff’s office and done a search to find if anybody knows anything.  Candy suggests that they go and check in with the Sheriff.  On their way, Mrs. Wharton does some sight-seeing noting some English-made teapots and pottery at the hardware store and taking in the sights at The Golden Nugget Saloon.  At the saloon, Mrs. Wharton finds her brooch on the chest of one of the saloon girls.  After bribing Laura Mae, the saloon girl, they get the information they need as well as the brooch.

Shortly after they get back to the Ponderosa, Ben, Hoss, and Joe are fixing to leave on a two-day roundup.  Knowing that he is not really needed, Candy suggests to Ben that he stay behind to keep an eye on Mrs. Wharton who has expressed interest in going to Valeho, the town where the robber who gave Laura Mae the brooch may be hanging out at.  Ben agrees and the Cartwrights leave (for most of what is left of the episode).

During the night, Mrs. Wharton makes her escape, steals a buggy and heads off. Candy catches up with her the next day driving the buggy in the direction of Valeho under the escort of two men that Candy knows.  After getting rid of the two men (apparently they aren’t as kind-hearted as Mrs. Wharton thinks they are) and trying to convince her to go back, Candy decides to accompany her on the rest of the journey.

When they reach Valeho, Mrs. Wharton, who is eager to find the robber, is told by Candy to stay put in her hotel room while he goes and finds out some information.  Eventually, he runs into Billy Buckman, the robber who gave the brooch to Laura Mae.  He strikes a deal with Buckman (before and after a fist fight) and heads back to the hotel only to find Mrs. Wharton has already gone.

As soon as he gets the details of where Buckman and his friends are staying by the local druggist, Candy goes there only to get himself captured.  Inside the cabin where he is taken he finds Mrs. Wharton, who apologises to him shortly after he is tied up.  She then proceeds to make a deal with the robbers, who thinks that she must have a lot of money (based on the $5000 money belt she had taken with her on the trip) and decided to “kidnap” instead her in order to get some ransom money.

Candy is both helpless and bewildered as he watches Mrs. Wharton deal with the robbers.  He thinks that they should wait until the Cartwrights come and rescue them but she is having none of that.  She puts her plan into action and after a few twists and turns both she and Candy end up catching the robbers.

This is a Cartwright-lite episode, with the three main characters only in a few scenes.  Even though this is David Canary’s second year on the show he is still relegated to guest-star status on the credits even though he is the main focus in many episodes during season 10.

On the character side of things, we see that Candy has become a trusted employee (Ben has given him the responsibility of getting a contract signed) and that he trusts the Cartwrights as well.   He knows that they Cartwrights will come to his rescue and is not willing to take any unnecessary risks.

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