The scene opens with a train thundering across the prairie.A father and son are dozing.In the aisle,an angry man demands to look at a sleazily-handsome young man named Ira Pickett,whom the older man insists murdered his brother.
A scuffle ensues,and Pickett guns the man down.An elderly man says Pickett committed murder,and Ira backhands him savagely.
The father and son are awakened by the turmoil.The son smashes Pickett in the head and grabs a gun,training it on the killer.The son announces"he is holding Pickett for the Marshal in Dodge City."The father grabs Pickett's gun,also holding him at bay.Pickett lolls back in his seat,laughing ruefully at the irony.
An older man in black and a younger one arrive in Dodge to see a body loaded onto a wagon.A man declares there was a shooting on the train involving an "Ira Pickett,"but the body is his victim's;Pickett is in jail.
The old man(who peppers his speech with Biblical aphorisms)is Osgood Pickett,with his older son,Joseph.Osgood Pickett is the paterfamilias of a ruthless clan of gunslingers.
In Dodge,the witnesses(Arnie Sprague and son,Jared)will testify against Ira Pickett when Judge Booker arrives at 3 p.m.
The annoyingly talkative Edda Sprague picks up her father and brother in a wagon;she hectors Jared about his capturing Pickett.As they leave,the Picketts ride up, encountering the old man whom Ira assaulted(one Beecher),who praises the courageous Spragues.
The Picketts visit Beecher at his farm.He is under a wagon(supported by a wooden block),making repairs.Osgood Pickett kicks out the prop;the wagon falls on Beecher,killing him.
With Beecher dead,the Picketts go to intimidate the Spragues.Osgood Pickett hints to Arnie Sprague that if Ira is hanged,Sprague's wife and daughter will suffer,also.The Picketts remain at Sprague's to ensure "compliance."Osgood Pickett suggests that Arnie and Jared stop by the Beecher farm on their way into town.
The father(terrified of the Picketts)tells his unwitting hostage wife and daughter that the Picketts are cattle buyers from Oklahoma - Mr.Osgood,and son Joseph.
The Spragues find Beecher crushed to death.Arnie Sprague(mad with fear) recants his testimony,distressing his son and disquieting the Marshal.
A smirking Ira Pickett is freed;he sneeringly tells Festus Hagen about making his fortune soon in the "Clark Couty fence war."
Arnie and Jared return(Jared,ashamed of his father's cowardice.)Osgood Pickett tauntingly demands "restitution":Arnie Sprague's hundred head of cattle.
After hearing from Festus about Ira's involvement in Clark County,Matt Dillon sends a telegram to the local sheriff.
Edda Sprague rides off to fetch a wandering cow.Jared,sawing meat outside,starts to enter the smokehouse when he sees Ira Pickett ride up.Jared goes berserk,rushing inside to get a rifle.His father tried to stop Jared,slapping Jared hard across the face,knocking him down.
Jared leaps up,grabs a gun and wants to starts shooting.As they argue,Osgood Pickett enters,orders them(at gunpoint) to surrender the rifle,then smashes it against a table.
Outside,Osgood Pickett sees the sheriff coming,and sends Ira after Edda for "insurance."A suspicious Matt Dillon grills Arnie Sprague over his perjurious volte face in court,but Arnie sticks to his lie.Again,Osgood and Joseph are introduced as the cattle-buying Osgoods from Oklahoma.
Ira pitches woo to an unsuspecting Edda,and as they return with the cow, Jared,irascible,retrieves a hidden revolver,loads it,and conceals it again.
Later in the parlor,Ira sings as Edda plays the piano.Edda(smitten with Ira)betrays her brother,revealing that she saw him practicing with the gun in his bedroom.Jared lunges forward,but Ira shoots him in the arm.
Having worn out their "welcome,"Ira and Joseph Pickett go out to the barn to sleep.Their father,Osgood,keeps watch from a chair on the front porch.
Arnie Sprague,ashamed of his cowardice,decides belatedly to take action.
The Clark County sheriff returns a telegram about an outlaw family named Pickett - father Osgood, and sons,Joseph and Ira.Marshal Dillon heads immediately to the Spragues.
Morning dawns,and Arnie is cooking breakfast.Joseph Pickett opines that, in addition to the cattle,the Picketts want a hostage for "safe passage" - the daughter,Edda.
Arnie Sprague seizes Jospeh,pressing a butcher knife to his throat.Sprague removes Joseph's gun,shooting him,but the injured Pickett escapes through the kitchen door.
A gun battle rages.The Picketts cannot get inside,but Osgood Pickett orders Joseph to set the house ablaze.
Marshal Dillon rides up as Ira Pickett attempts to enter the house. the Marshal fires on Ira,killing him.
Seeing his favorite son die takes the fight out of Osgood who kneels beside Ira's body,grief-stricken.The story ends as the Marshal,the Spragues,and Joseph Pickett watch Osgood Pickett looking mutely at his youngest son,realizing the dynasty of terror he envisioned has now come to an abrupt,bloody end...
Harry Morgan excelled as Osgood Pickett,the sanctimonious gunslinger with a curdled smile who,with his sociopathic sons,terrorized a rancher and his family for doing their civic duty.
Tim O'Connor was convincing as Arnie Sprague,the timorous cattleman bullied by the sadistic Osgood Pickett until Sprague decided to fight back.
Dack Rambo(Ira Pickett)played the part well of a smug outlaw,groomed for his criminal career by his equally twisted father.
Barry Brown(Jared Sprague)effectively portrayed the moralistic cattleman's son whose sense of social responsibility,and innate heroism put his father's fecklessness to shame.
This episode's ending was predictable,but enjoyable when the faint-hearted father(seeing his son injured,and his daughter threatened) ultimately decided to stand up - like a true son of the Old West - against the vile,cowardly oppressors who had been menacing his family, and subverting justice.
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