The Hidden Enemy

Teleplay: Stanley Roberts and Jack B. Sowards  Story: Stanley Roberts  Director: Alf Kjellin
Guest Stars: Mike Farrell (Dr. James Wills), Melissa Murphy (Nancy Wills), David Huddleston (Miles Johnson), Clifford David (Evans), Gary Busey (Henry Johnson), Mons Kjellin (Chris Wills), Bing Russell (Clem), Mel Gallagher (Smitty), Russell Thorson (Judge Phelps), Jason Wingreen (Graham), Harry Holcombe (Dr. Martin), Ayn Ruymen (Evie Parker)
Air Date: 28 November 1972

New man on the ranch, Griff is still having problems fitting into life as a ranch hand on the Ponderosa.  His fellow ranch hands, Bates and Smoky have hoisted his saddle up to the top of the barn and have no intentions of getting it down.  Griff goes up to get it and gets injured in the process after falling down when he is surprised by thunder and lightning.

Candy, who has been waiting for Griff tells one of the ranch hands to go and get the doctor.  Unfortunately, Doc Martin is in Reno but there is a new doctor in town who can help.  Dr. James Wills arrives at the Ponderosa and fixes Griff’s injury and helps to relieve the pain by giving him a morphine injection.

Wills (played by guest star Mike Farrell) tells Ben that he was a surgeon in an army hospital during the war (three years before his big break in M*A*S*H).  Their conversation is interrupted by Henry Johnson who has come looking for the doctor to help his brother, Dave who has just been injured in a cattle stampede.  As he is leaving, Wills has a dizzy spell but tells Ben it is nothing to be concerned about.

When Ben (who has offered to drive Wills back to town in the buggy) and Wills arrive back at his home/surgery, Henry and his father are already there.  The Johnsons were also able to get the nurse, Evie Parker to come and take care of Dave while they were waiting for the doctor.  The doctor goes into his surgery and Evie tells him that she having problems stopping the bleeding.  Wills ignores her and heads straight into his office.

Some time later, Evie decides to get the doctor as things are not looking good for Dave.  Coming out of his office, Wills doesn’t seem to be quite with it as he begins to work on Dave.  A few minutes later he goes out into the waiting room and delivers the bad news.

A few days later (we are not really sure how long it is as it isn’t stated in the episode), Doctor Martin is back and at the Ponderosa checking Griff’s injury.  He is pleased with the work Dr. Wills did and finds out that Griff has been taking laudanum pills to help ease the pain.  Dr. Martin tells Griff that he doesn’t need the pills anymore and Griff reluctantly gives them back remarking how effective they were.  Knowing that the pills are good when they are taken as needed, he also warns Griff of the dangers of taking them when they aren’t needed.

Meanwhile, Evie Parker, who has been going out with Henry Johnson for about six months, has told Henry about her concerns about how the doctor was acting on the night Dave died.  The Johnsons turn up at the Ponderosa looking for Dr. Martin and they want Wills to be arrested for murder.

Ben decides to go and have a talk with Evie, who tells him that she thinks that there was something wrong with Dr. Wills.  Both of them go to Wills who gives them a plausible explanation about how tired he was at the time.  Evie and Ben accept it and after Evie leaves Ben offers his apology.

After Ben leaves, Wills’ wife Nancy (whom Ben had met earlier) goes to her husband.  She knows that there is a problem as it has happened before in at least three other towns.  She accuses of committing murder and he storms into office, leaving his wife pleading not to do it.

As Ben and Joe are leaving the post office, Miles Johnson comes over to them and tells that Henry has been drinking and he can’t find him.  Ben comes to the conclusion that Dr. Wills might be in trouble and goes to warn the doctor.  Finding out that Wills is out walking, Ben goes around town and eventually finds at the same time Henry does.  Henry takes a pot shot at Wills, missing him.  Clem turns up and get his deputy Smitty to take Dr. Wills back to the sheriff’s office for safe-keeping.

While he is waiting at the sheriff’s office, Dr. Wills starts becoming irritable and wants to leave.  In a violent outburst, he tries to get out but the deputy stops him.  A few minutes later as Clem, Ben, Joe and Miles Johnson are escorting Henry to the sheriff’s office, Smitty bursts out telling Clem they need the doctor as Wills is having some sort of fit.  Clem and Ben enter the office just in time to see Wills have a seizure.  Ben goes off to get Dr. Martin, while Clem and Joe restrain Dr. Wills.

Dr. Martin treats Wills and surmises that Wills is addicted to morphine.  This revelation leads to Wills being arrested and going to trial for the murder of Dave Johnson.  The trial is short and the case is dismissed due to the prosecution being unable to prove Dr. Wills did anything wrong in the eyes of the law.

Ben is not happy with the verdict and he asks Wills what did he specifically do in order to save Dave Johnson’s life.  Wills is unable to give him a straight answer and instead gives him an excuse.  Shortly after Ben leaves, Nancy tells her husband that there is something wrong with their son.  There is an abscess in the child’s throat and it needs to be operated on.

Knowing that her husband is an addict, Nancy decides that she doesn’t want him to operate on their son.  She tells him that she has had enough and is going to take the boy to Dr. Martin.  Wills goes into meltdown mode, wrecking his office and ultimately overdosing.

The main character for this episode is Ben, with Candy appearing only in a couple of scenes at the beginning.  Joe and Griff pop up in a couple of scenes but are essentially background characters.  There is no sign of Jamie.

The Hidden Enemy is a type of story that would not have been told 10-12 years earlier.  Television shows were heading towards stories that reflected the social issues at the time this episode was filmed in what was called “the relevance movement”.  Bonanza was changing with the times and this episode (as do most of the episodes of season 14) reflects this.

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