The Evolution of a Hat

Johnny’s Hat

I’ve watched Westerns my entire life, and one thing that I’ve noticed is that a cowboy’s hat is like a part of him. Most of them never change their hat. Now in reality, it was part of the show’s wardrobe, so maybe there were more than one of each hat – but when you get a hat that fits just right, it’s hard to change it.

Even in the non-western show Justified, Timothy Olyphant’s character Raylan Givens was known for his hat, it kind of defined him – heck he was even mocked about it. When the hat was ruined by a bullet hole in the very last episode, he changed from the stetson to a new hat, which just did not suit him – and frankly, looked a little weird.

Having a love affair with hats myself, it can be difficult to find that perfect hat. On my favorite hat I changed up bands and stampede strings, even going as far as changing the shape of the crown – but I realized that I purchased it because I liked it the first time I saw it, so I eventually went back to how it originally looked. Here is my personal collection.

The brown hat front and center is my favorite, and I pull that one out as soon as the weather cools off. I wasn’t a fan of the high round crown, but after manipulating it into various shapes I went back to the original look.

Before we get started actually digging into the Lancer hats, I want to make sure I give a great big shout out and thank you to our beloved queen of Lancer pics, Marilyn from the Johnny Madrid Lancer’s Fan Page on Facebook. Her relentless pursuit of the best screen captures have made it possible for me to find the best “hat” pics. Thank you Marilyn!

The characters and their hats

James Stacy as Johnny Madrid Lancer

So why did James Stacy, as Johnny, change his hat a couple of times until finally landing on the one that stuck for the majority of the series (and my personal favorite). We may never know if it was his choice, or just a matter of wardrobe finding one that he was comfortable in. Either way, the one that landed on his head for the remainder of the series suited the character, and fit him to perfection – although he did seem to lose his hat quite a bit. Lets take a look at the evolution of Johnny Lancer’s hats – and I’m not convinced that one of them wasn’t just modified a bit to look like a new hat. Curious what everyone else thinks.

Wayne Maunder as Scott Lancer

Wayne Maunder must have been a good sport. A couple of the hats that he wore were a little on the ridiculous side – but as Scott Lancer he pulled it off very well, and I even liked the jaunty hat that he wore before he went full on cowboy hat. A couple of other things that I noticed, as I pored over countless pictures in an attempt to get a good sampling, is that Scott doesn’t wear a hat consistently through the episodes. He is more often hat-less. He also tends to wear his pushed back on his head quite a bit, which made it difficult to see if the styles had changed even more than I note below. It’s hard to see the crown of a hat when it’s pushed back on the head. But I think I got a pretty good representation. Let’s take a look at Scott’s hats.

Andrew Duggan as Murdoch Lancer

As Murdoch Lancer, Andrew Duggan brought a style that is pure cattleman, big and bold. And his hats were no different – you need a big hat for such a tall man.

Elizabeth Bauer as Teresa O’Brien

Poor Teresa never gets to wear a cowboy hat, and that’s a damn shame because she was raised on Lancer and should have been given the opportunity to show that side of her. But maybe it was the choice of the actress, I mean she did have great hair – and it would be criminal to mess up those lovely tresses. She did wear a couple of hats, though, as seen below.

Paul Brinegar as Jelly Hoskins

Now I know Jelly isn’t actually a Lancer, but I thought it would be nice to include him. Jelly does not wear a typical cowboy hat, but instead prefers a small cap; however there are a couple instances where he did change it up for a scene or 2. And of course there is the time he swapped with Scott in the episode “Cut the Wolf Loose”.

And just for fun – a quick clip of Johnny where he mentions a hat….

There are some great resources on the internet to learn about hats worn in the West, and so many online shops to buy a great hat. I found one place really interesting. They have re-created the hats worn in popular movies and even a few current TV shows. Check it out:

cowboy hat styles

Every hat basically starts out as a “Boss of the Plains”, and using only steam, you can manipulate the crown and the brim into the various shapes you see here. Brims can be trimmed to suit the shape of the hat; and bands can be added for some flair. Hats will “learn” to fit the owner’s head, but can be re-shaped if needed. There are a lot of great YouTube videos on how to shape a cowboy hat, and I learned a great deal while doing this research.

So what do you think? Do you find it strange that there were quite a few hats switched up; or do you think some of the same hats were used, just modified over time to suit the actor once they were fully immersed in the character? These are some of the small things that I’m always looking at, and when I see things changed up I try to find out who made the decision and why. I certainly hope the actors had some say in the hats that were stuck on their heads for a great deal of the time. Like so many other odds and ends, we’ll just have to put this in the pile of “we’ll never know”.

Thanks for indulging me in this little side project all about hats.

Lots of Lancer Love,


Season 1: Episode 4 – Foley

“If you don’t get that gun out of my old man’s neck…”

Original air date: October 15, 1968

Synopsis – Scott helps a very pregnant Polly flee the Foleys – the family of her abusive late husband. He and Johnny attempt to take her to Lancer, but the Foleys are already at the ranch, putting Murdoch and Teresa in jeopardy. They take refuge in the home of a old woman that they know, as Polly goes into labor. Gant Foley wants his grandchild, and leverages Murdoch to get the baby – but Johnny is having none of that.

Now for my thoughts, as I watch the episode.

So saddle up, here we go —

The Green River sequence

  • The episode opens with three men riding into the quiet town of Green River. A couple of men walking down the street give them the once over – they may be strangers, or maybe not very welcome. One of them rudely enters a building that looks to be a boarding house, the other two wait outside.
  • Scott (in his jaunty hat) walks out of the bank, with the assistant bank manager (we know that because that’s how the actor is credited – there is no mention of bank manager in the credits); gun fire interrupts the quiet town.
  • Scott makes a dash toward the gunfire, and a pregnant woman runs out of the building. One of the men outside grabs her and calls her Polly. She is fighting to get loose, and Scott steps in, grabs the man and punches him. The other man that was waiting outside, is now shouting from the second floor that someone is dead, and that she killed him. He sees Scott fighting with his buddy and begins shooting at Scott. Scott of course fires back. Scott hits him, and then is also hit in the hand – the man falls off of the roof – dead.
  • Polly picks up the gun that Scott dropped when he takes the shot to his hand and she hightails it out of there on a buckboard – leaving Scott in the street.
  • But Scott is no slouch and we soon see him on a horse following her, and as he catches up, he pulls her to a stop. She still has Scott’s gun and tells him to back off. He tells her he wants his gun back, and wants to know why he was forced to kill a man – she fires a warning shot. He slowly gets off his horse and approaches her – she gets blurry eyed and faints – right into Scott’s arms (lucky lady).
Scott catches up with Polly

The Foley Camp sequence

  • The one man left from the three that rode into town is entering a campsite, he has a dead man draped across a horse. He tells Foley, “here’s your boy”, and then tells him that he went in first (as I stated previously, quite rudely) and that it was Polly that killed him. Foley wants to know if he killed her. He tells Foley that she got a way with a man named Lancer, from Morro Coyo. Way to give up a good customer, Mr Assistant Bank Manager. Boy, this Foley is a real peach.
  • Foley tells his nephew Corey to gather all of the men in the family old enough to ride, and to meet him in Cross Creek. Corey would rather just take care of Polly himself, but he does as he’s told.

The Abandoned Weigh Station sequence

  • Scott finds an abandoned weigh station and gently carries Polly into the barn and settles her on a pile of straw, making her comfortable. Polly asks for a drink – and Scott tells her there is a pump outside, and he’ll get her some water. Water! she cries, pretty indignant, and then grabs he belly in pain. She’s kind of an ungrateful thing.
  • Polly tells Scott that the man she killed was her husband, and describes him as a viscous, lying animal, and explains that if she hadn’t shot him, he would have killed her and her baby. Scott replies back, with that oh so wonderful sarcastic wit of his, “sounds like you married into a very nice family”. I love his dry humor – he really does crack me up. This is Scott’s finest characteristic. Kudos to Wayne Maunder, he delivers these types of lines perfectly.
  • Polly tells Scott that she was 17 and a minister’s daughter, she thought falling for Frank Foley was exciting, he was different. Scott hides the buckboard and rides to a doctor a few miles south of where they are.

The Doctor’s Home sequence

  • Foley has already arrived at the doctor’s house. His poor frightened wife explains that the doctor is not there. Foley is pushing to find out if Polly was there, or if she knows a man named Lancer. They hear a horse ride up – it’s Scott. Foley and his men hide in a back room.
  • Scott asks for the doctor, and the doctor’s wife tells Scott that he left for town earlier. She’s visibly shaken, and Scott is suspicious. He walks in and starts to look around. He figures out that someone is hiding, and he knocks over a coat rack to get their attention.
  • Scott asks Foley who he is, and he replies that they are the Foleys. Again, Scott with the smarmiest of smiles and wit answers back, “good for you”. This entire exchange is comedy gold for Scott. I just love it.
  • All of the Foley men have now gathered and are heading back to town – but first they stop at the weigh station. Polly sees them coming and runs, finding a hiding place under some debris.

The Morro Coyo sequence

  • Hold on to your hats Johnny girls, this is the scene we’ve all been waiting for.
  • Foley tells one of the towns folk that he’s looking for a man named Lancer – he is directed to the blacksmith’s shop.
  • Poor Murdoch, gets slammed into a door by Foley, and to add insult to injury tells Murdoch that he’s a lot older than he thought he’d be. Foley wants to know where Polly is, and Murdoch tells him he’s made some sort of mistake. One of Foley’s men cocks his gun at Murdoch’s head. Oh no!
  • A quiet voice threatens – well, just see for yourself….
Morro Coyo
  • And then we get it – the Madrid lean and stare. Hot damn! The camera angle here is perfect – it’s a long shot of the entire leaning persona, then it zooms in to show the intent look on Johnny’s face. Cool and calm, his hand hanging dangerously by his gun, he doesn’t move a muscle, and then only barely when Foley asks who he is. He replies that he’s Johnny Lancer. Foley wants to know why he got involved with the girl. Johnny tells him he has no idea what he’s talking about. Foley hesitates, not sure if he believes him or not, he makes a threat and then leaves.
  • Murdoch gives Johnny a little side eyed glance. Johnny, still leaning, very slowly puts a tiny little smile on his face. Priceless!
  • Realizing that the Foleys are looking for a Lancer, and Scott is unaccounted for, Johnny asks if he should ride towards Green River to try to run him down. Murdoch tells him to make sure Scott stays away from town.
  • This is where we find out that Gant Foley has no interest in Polly, he just wants her baby – the child of his only son, now dead.

Johnny Catches up with Scott sequence

  • As Scott heads back, we hear a whistle, and Johnny rides down to meet him. He tells Scott that somebody came into town looking for him – called the Foley’s. Scott asks, “Morro Coyo, how’d they know where to look”. He tells Johnny to follow him and he fills him on on what’s going on.
  • In the meantime, Polly is worried that she’ll be found, so she makes an attempt to leave – but she’s in no shape to go far.
  • Scott sees that she’s gone, and goes to look for her – knowing that she couldn’t have gone too far. Johnny is not convinced, but goes with him anyway.
  • From the long overhead camera angle, and they way they are searching the ground looking for tracks or clues – it appears that Polly did in fact get pretty far.
  • Scott sees her first, calls for Johnny. She’s lying in an area trying to get a bit of shade – it looks pretty stinking hot out there. Scott hands her a canteen and she’s not too indignant about drinking water now. Yep – that blazing sun will do it every time.
  • But now for the kicker – it seems little miss Polly isn’t what she pretended to be when she first told Scott why she married Frank Foley. Johnny recognizes her, and she him. Scott notices that something is wrong, as Johnny looks away. When he asks Johnny what’s wrong, Johnny replies, “ask her”. She fesses up that she and Johnny used to share a bottle – and that she was a dance hall girl. She tells Scott that he’s “been had”. But Scott is undeterred, and sends Johnny back for the buckboard, so they can take her back to the ranch. Johnny rides off dutifully – although he has a bit of a smirk on his face when he goes. I don’t think he was too happy about it.
Scott and Johnny find Polly

The Lancer Ranch sequence

  • Murdoch arrives back at Lancer. He sees a ranch hand waving and he waves back, but the ranch hand doesn’t look too confident.
  • Murdoch is greeted as he walks into the house by a man holding a gun on him – once again. And there are the Foleys – making themselves quite at home, while poor Teresa is sitting in one of the chairs looking a little nervous. Murdoch gives her a couple of quick reassuring taps on the shoulder as he walks by. Gant Foley and Murdoch walk over to the large window, and Foley shows him that his men are hidden everywhere – just waiting for Scott to show up with Polly.
  • Foley tells Murdoch that he’d wipe out him, his family and half the territory to get his grandson. Hmm, didn’t know they had sonograms back then. Pretty presumptuous of him to just assume that the baby is a boy.
  • Teresa thinks that she might have a plan, and asks Murdoch if he wants some coffee – he shakes his head no. She tells him – in a very awkward way – they she’ll bring him back some in case he changes his mind. She heads to the kitchen…but as she tries to sneak to the front of the house Corey is there and catches her. He roughly grabs her and tries to kiss her. As she’s struggling to get out of his grasp, Murdoch hears her trying to fight him off and makes a mad dash – like a bull – knocking over one of Foley’s men and rushes to her rescue. Murdoch is a big man – and he plows through that guy. It was great to see him take the hero role, usually reserved for the two younger Lancer men. As much as I can’t stand Gant Foley – he at least is not about to put up with that behavior, and he apologizes to Murdoch and Teresa. And we wait.
  • Coming up right after they pass the Lancer arch is Johnny on horseback, Scott driving the buckboard with Polly laying very uncomfortably in the back. It looks like a horrible bumpy ride. They pull up in front of the house and dismount, but one of the hands yells a warning, and is shot for his trouble. Scott jumps back on the buckboard and quickly starts to head away, as Johnny jumps back on his horse and fires back at a couple of Foley’s men. He takes out three men as he is taking fire, and speeds away on Barranca (at this point in the series we don’t know Barranca’s name yet, but I’ll use it here since it’s pretty well known by fans of the show, and he is as much a character to many of us as the “human” cast). Of course Johnny’s hat flies off his head – thankfully stopped from going any further by the stampede string, but it’s miraculously back on his head a second later. It looks like it got in his way at one point, but we’ll talk about hats some other time.
  • Murdoch tries to get (presumably) a gun from his desk, but one of Foley’s men stops him, and like the bull that he is, Murdoch pushes past him and runs out of the house. I have to say, I find it a little weird that he would leave Teresa in the house with what is left of the Foley men. But he’s stopped, and now Gant Foley has a new plan.
  • Scott stops the buckboard – Polly is about done in. Johnny asks if she can hold on for another quarter mile, she nods her head yes, and Johnny tells Scott to head to Maria’s place. By the way, Johnny’s hat is not on his head (just thought I’d point that out).

Maria’s House sequence

  • They arrive at Maria’s house, and she tells Scott to put Polly in the bedroom. Johnny in the meantime is looking around, and sees a rider coming up. And he’s wearing his hat (I know, I sound like a broken record). Maria tells Scott it’s only a matter of a couple of hours before Polly will have the baby. Scott walks into the bedroom as Polly is getting dressed and tells Scott she’s getting out of there. She doesn’t want to bring any trouble to Maria. But Polly is in obvious labor, so she has no choice but to stay.
  • Gant Foley shows up and wants to see Polly. He tells Johnny that if he touches him Murdoch is dead. Johnny takes Foley’s gun and tells him to go inside. When Foley walks in and sees Scott he recognizes him from the doctor’s house. He looks quite surprised – he was right there with him earlier and had no idea that he was the Lancer he was looking for. HA!
  • Scott allows him to see Polly, as he and Johnny watch from the doorway. Foley offers her $3000 to turn the baby over to him. She tells him he must be crazy. Polly goes into a great monologue here, really telling Foley off and further expressing her desire to keep her baby, even to the point of telling him that she’d kill herself and her unborn baby rather than see it raised by him. Now that’s harsh.
  • Foley tells Scott and Johnny that they have until midnight to turn over the baby, or he will kill Murdoch. Something tells me that giving the two Lancer men an ultimatum isn’t really going to gain him any points.
  • Night has fallen and Johnny is watching from the window. He tells Scott they are still out there, and they have two choices; either turn over the girl and get out of there or make a stand and their “old man” will probably be killed. Scott replies back to Johnny “and you vote that we sell the girl out”, but Johnny corrects him, and says “no brother, that ain’t the way I vote at all”. Johnny leaves the house. So rather than making a stand or turning over the girl, he seems to have another plan unbeknownst to Scott – kind of like when he had his own plan in “High Riders“.
Johnny’s Plan

The Foley Camp sequence

  • The Foleys are waiting out the midnight deadline in their camp, and Murdoch is there as the leverage to get Polly’s baby. Corey is getting very impatient with his uncle, and Gant is getting pretty pissed at Corey.
  • In the distance we see Johnny sneaking around to get closer to the camp.
  • Murdoch is so great here – explaining to Foley that he understands what it is to lose a son, he lost both of his for 20 years – they were taken away from him.
  • We hear Johnny call out – tells them to untie Murdoch. Murdoch runs to Johnny, and to make sure there’s no funny business, Johnny fires a shot at the camp. Foley yells over to Johnny that it’s all for nothing – they girl is still trapped in the shack. The shack!! Poor Maria – her house is not a shack. Foley is an ass (but we already knew that). Johnny firs two more shots for good measure. Foley tells his men to mount up – we know where they’re heading.

The Second Maria’s House sequence

  • Murdoch and Johnny make it back to Maria’s shack house. Scott hands Murdoch a gun, and hands Johnny his gun belt. Johnny holsters his gun and grabs a rifle.
  • While this is going on, Maria is in with Polly who is very close to giving birth.
  • It’s midnight, and Foley is telling the Lancer’s to clear out and leave the girl. But Corey is getting very impatient and wants to burn them out. He orders one of the men to go ahead with a burning torch – but Foley shoots the man with the torch, and there is a scuffle. Corey pulls a gun, but Gant Foley insists that there will be no bloodbath – he’s still worried about the safety of the baby.
  • Corey tells Foley he’s on his own and starts to leave with the rest of the men. But Foley picks up a gun and aims for Corey. Corey turns and fires a shot – hitting Foley. He then grabs a flaming torch and heads for the house. But Johnny steps out of the door with the rifle and takes down Corey. Murdoch runs out to help Foley back to the house. We hear a baby cry. By the way, we never see Polly again in the episode.
  • Foley tells Murdoch that if he doesn’t make it to give Polly the $3000. Maria comes out of the bedroom carrying the baby. Foley asks if it’s a boy or a girl. Maria tells him it’s a girl. (oh, and by the way, there’s Johnny leaning in the door way). Yep Foley, you fool, all that trouble for a girl. He finally decides maybe it’s better that it’s a girl. I guess so, since Polly wasn’t giving up the baby regardless of whether it was a boy or a girl. What a bonehead.

The End sequence

  • Back at the Lancer ranch Teresa walks in to the room with the baby and announces that Polly is upstairs resting. She introduces the baby as Martha Ann Foley, and jokes that no matter how hard she tried, Polly couldn’t do anything with Johnny, Scott and Murdoch. Murdoch asks if she knows she’s free to stay as long as she wants, but Teresa explains that she still wants to move on.
  • Johnny says it doesn’t add up, Polly passing up $3000, but Murdoch asks is it so hard to figure. Johnny explains for that girl he knew in the dance hall – yes. But Murdoch explains that leaves only one answer, and Johnny answers, that it’s not the same girl.

Guest Stars

  • Lynn Loring as Polly
  • R.G. Armstrong as Gant Foley
  • Don Quine as Corey
  • Joseph V Perry as Marsh
  • Harper Flaherty as Lew
  • Rosa Turich as Maria
  • Bert Sanots as Vaquero
  • John McKee as Man
  • Lorne McKellar as Assistant Bank Manager
  • June Dayton as Doctor’s Wife
  • Arvo Ojala as Dee

Some final thoughts:

  • Lynn Loring as Polly – Not only does Ms. Loring appear as a different character in a later episode of Lancer (considered a fan favorite of the Johnny girls), but she also played opposite of James Stacy in the 1966 pilot “And Baby Makes Three”. I was watching the pilot a few months ago and recognized her voice, but wasn’t 100% sure, so I went over to IMDB, and there it was. It was a cute pilot, but didn’t get picked up as a series – and I for one am glad, because who knows what would have happened to the role of Johnny had he been busy when Lancer came along.
  • Rosa Turich – I loved doing the research for this guest star. It all started when I was looking up the episode on IMDB to get the list of guest stars. There was a picture of the actress Rosa Turich, credited as Maria. I took one look and thought my goodness, she was a beauty. I went to her IMDB page, and saw that her career goes from 1932 to 1978. What a long career.
Rosa Turich
June 9, 1903, – November 20, 1998
  • This episode is the first that gives us an indication that Morro Coyo and Green River are fairly close to each other. We see the town of Morro Coyo in the “High Riders” pilot. In “Chase a Wild Horse” Johnny is sitting in a saloon that does not appear to be the same saloon we see him in with Day Pardee in “High Riders”. The town is never mentioned in “Chase a Wild Horse”; and they were in a completely different town in “Blood Rock”, which I don’t believe was ever mentioned again. Maybe the Lancer aficionados can confirm that for me. We also hear of the town Cross Creek – which seems to be in fairly close proximity as well. So we’re starting to get a lay of the land, so to speak.
  • When Johnny has the conversation with Scott about the two choices they have, he removes his gun belt; but we know he keeps his gun because he uses it when he confronts the camp. What is Johnny doing here? Is it just easier to sneak around in the dark without wearing it? Probably. It just seems like such an inconsequential move that someone would put in the script or the directions – so I wonder why it was done, and who made the choice? The character, or the actor? Am I missing something here?
  • The scene where Murdoch is riding back to Lancer and one of the ranch hands waves, and he waves back reminds me of something else. For some reason I keep thinking there’s a similar scene is “Gone With the Wind”, but I haven’t pulled out my DVD set to watch it. It’s driving me a little crazy, but I keep thinking it’s GWTW. I’ll figure it out one day.
  • This episode seemed to have a lot going on – back and forth for the Lancer’s and the Foley’s. It just seemed like there was a lot of scene changing, and this post is a little longer because of that.

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Lots of Lancer love!

Season 1: Episode 3 – Chase a Wild Horse

Johnny comes home

Original air date: October 8, 1968

Synopsis – Used to living on his own and not answering to anyone, Johnny finds the structured life at Lancer a bit stifling. In his own words he even states: “the only way to beat the system around here is to get ahead of it”. After capturing a wild stallion instead of completing his work, Murdoch chides him and tells him that shirking his responsibilities has repercussions. Johnny feeling the pressure decides to leave Lancer.

Now for my thoughts, as I watch the episode – which has always been one of my favorites.

So mount up, here we go —

The Fence sequence

  • The episode opens with Johnny putting in some fence posts. Yes he is shirtless, and yes he is sweaty. I will say no more…
  • Helping Johnny is Wes, a ranch hand that sounds like he may have known Johnny before, or at least knows him fairly well at this point. He’s trying to get Johnny to slow down – it’s a hot day and he’s about done in. But Johnny keeps pounding away at that fence post. He wants to finish quickly so he can have some of his own time. Wes is a bit of a whiner and starts to get in Johnny’s head.

The Wild Horses sequence

  • In the meantime three men, Sam Stryker and his two sons Davie and Eli, are wandering around looking for some stray cattle – obviously up to no good. In the distance, they see a few wild horses and a beautiful black stallion. Just as they figure how much the horses would be worth, Davie takes his rifle and shoots at the stallion, thinking it would help them round up the horses if the stallion was brought down – not even realizing that the stallion is worth the most. Thankfully he misses and the horses, including the stallion run off. He’s not playing with a full deck – and his father is quick to remind him of that. They go after the horses, even though they know it’s Lancer land. Sam Stryker – father of the year!

The Watch sequence

  • Back to the fence, Murdoch rides up and smiles when he sees Johnny working so hard. He’s impressed with the work that’s been done.
  • Johnny’s pretty pleased with the compliment from Murdoch, but that quickly turns a bit sour when Murdoch tells Johnny that some problems have come up and he needs to help Scott at 2:00, and later that evening some bookkeeping needs to get done. When Johnny asks how he’ll be able to tell when it’s 2:00, Murdoch gives Johnny his pocket-watch. It’s a sweet gesture, and Murdoch starts to say something, but Johnny’s a little bit sharp with him, so he just tells him to be back by 2:00 and rides off.
  • As Johnny resigns himself to finishing up his work, the black stallion makes an appearance, and Wes convinces Johnny to go after it.

The Confrontation sequence

  • Johnny has the stallion, so of course now here come the Strykers – attempting to thank Johnny for catching “their” herd. But of course Johnny isn’t about to give up the horses, and he tells them he knows they’re lying about how they tracked the horses. Stryker is not pleased.
  • I’m not a fan of whiny Wes, but I do love him in this scene.
Johnny and the Strykers

The Lancer Ranch sequence

  • We’re in the Lancer great room, and Murdoch is looking at the clock. It’s 3:00 and Johnny is late. Murdoch is not pleased, but Scott tries to cover for him. Then they get the bad news that at least 50 head of cattle got loose and are stuck in the gully where Johnny was working – and never finished the fence. Uh-oh!
  • Here comes Johnny and Wes with the horses, and of course the coveted stallion. Not knowing the problems that were caused by the fence not being completed, Johnny seems pretty sure that Murdoch will be fine that he comes bearing gifts…..oh boy.
  • Johnny and Murdoch butting heads again, very reminiscent of their conversation in the pilot, and Murdoch loses his cool. Teresa, a cool voice of reason, tells Murdoch that he’s never run his life by a clock before.
  • Here comes trouble – the Strykers are now at Lancer, and I can guess what they want. Stryker gives Murdoch a story about how Johnny stole the horses from him; Murdoch tells him to take the horses, but leave the stallion.
  • Of course Eli goes for the stallion, and Johnny jumps in and a fight ensues. When Johnny’s back is turned Eli goes for his gun – but he’s no match for Johnny Madrid, um.. Lancer.

The Leaving sequence

  • This is a tough scene. I felt so bad for both Johnny and then Murdoch. They both seem so at a loss with each other – and it’s heartbreaking. Again, reminding me of their one-on-one conversation in the pilot. Desperate to find some common ground. Murdoch telling Johnny he needs to figure out who he is and what he wants.
  • So now Johnny is asking Wes to get his gear – what – doesn’t he have anything else? Not gonna pack a bag or anything? I know he arrived with only his saddlebags – but didn’t he at least drop his stuff in a dresser somewhere? Oh, that’s television land – where everything is off somewhere we can’t see.
  • Oh my goodness – everyone’s heart is breaking. Where is my box of tissues?
  • And then we find out that Eli has died. Sorry, not wasting my tissues on Eli – I have better use for them later in the episode.

The Scott and Murdoch sequence

  • Scott is always at his absolute best when he calls bullshit on both Murdoch and Johnny. He is the glue that holds them together – because Murdoch and Johnny are so similar in their temperaments. A short scene, but one with great impact on the story.

The Second Watch sequence

  • So now Johnny and Wes are in town at the livery to bed down their horses, including the stallion. The owner of the stable offers to buy the stallion, but Johnny is adamant – the horse is not for sale. But Wes, once again in Johnny’s head, convinces Johnny to sell the watch that Murdoch gave him earlier. Johnny is reluctant, and agrees, but his heart just doesn’t seem to be in it.
  • After some time in the saloon, Johnny goes back to the livery stable and hunches down in deep thought – you can tell he is torn up about everything that transpired earlier in the day. Tissues please…
  • A drunken Wes comes in and interrupts Johnny’s thoughts. Wes – turning up like a bad penny.

Next Day Lancer Ranch sequence

  • Here comes Stryker and his men. He tells Murdoch Eli has died, and he wants Johnny – he’s looking out for a little revenge. When Murdoch tells him that Johnny is gone and not coming back Stryker doesn’t believe him and he gives the order for Davie to shoot Walt – a Lancer hand.
  • Stryker and his men are staking out Lancer waiting for Johnny to return.

The Saloon sequence

  • This scene is just priceless. One of the best scenes between Scott and Johnny in this episode, and in my opinion probably one of the best scenes between the two of them in the entire series. Scott as the older brother, and likely the more level headed of the two, took the step to make an effort to dissuade Johnny from leaving. The dialogue is perfect; the acting is perfect; and the emotion is perfect. These two together are always a goldmine – and it’s just sweet!
“It was nice to have met you brother”
  • And here comes Wes again – that darn bad penny. Johnny kind of tells him to take a hike – finally. But dumb-head Wes, he decides he’s going to break that stallion. But that stallion has a different idea, and winds up killing Wes instead.
  • Johnny comes running from the saloon and jumps the fence into the corral. Johnny takes out his gun and points it right between the eyes of the stallion – but thankfully doesn’t shoot. Instead he asks if the owner of the livery stable still wants the horse. They come to an agreement that if Johnny breaks the horse he’ll trade it for Murdochs’s watch. I always knew it was killing him to give up that gift from his father.

Johnny’s Return sequence

  • Scott has arrived back at Lancer, and Teresa tells him that Stryker’s son has died. Scott sets off to get help, but before he even gets a few yards, he’s shot. Luckily he’s only injured.
  • In the great room, Murdoch reaches for his rifle and is about to go after Scott, when Teresa sees Johnny riding in. Murdoch wants to keep him away, but Johnny hearing a shot sneaks in from the side.
  • This is where it gets ugly. Murdoch, in some weird sense of protecting Johnny by getting him away from the ranch tells him to leave, that he’s not wanted. A cruel way to protect someone. As Johnny is leaving, by yet another door, Scott stumbles in.
  • Murdoch doesn’t want Johnny to know what’s going on – but thankfully Teresa tells him the truth. Teresa seems to be the one that sets the record straight when no one else will. I really wish they had done more with her in the series (oh but wait, that’s for future episodes, and we’re not there yet).
  • Johnny goes out to see if he can sneak up on Stryker and his men. As he makes his way across the yard, Murdoch and Scott come out of the house shooting – to cover him.
  • Stryker and Davie see Johnny, and Davie sneaks around behind him. As he yells “Lancer” with his gun drawn, Johnny turns, draws and shoots him in the shoulder. Stryker takes aim at Johnny, but Johnny’s too quick and makes his way to Davie, where he holds a gun to his head. He tells Stryker to have his men drop their guns and ride out. They comply. Davie the sniveling coward whines and asks Johnny what he’s going to do. Johnny still has his gun to Davie’s head, when Murdoch just says “Johnny”. He releases Davie, who rides out with his father.

The End sequence

  • Johnny is back digging post holes, not shirtless this time (damn it). Murdoch rides up and, well, it looks like they have come to an understanding.
Father and Son

Guest Stars

  • Robert J. Wilke as Sam Stryker
  • James Gammon as Wes
  • Paul Carr as as Davie Stryker
  • Vaughn Taylor as Dan Spencer
  • Bobby Clark as Eli Stryker

Some final thoughts:

  • One of the best episodes of the series, but I feel like it was completely out of place. In the last scene of the pilot, Johnny signs his name as Lancer, not Madrid. But dropping the mantle of Johnny Madrid shouldn’t be easy. Notice I said “shouldn’t” and not “couldn’t”. He was after all fairly well known as Johnny Madrid up to that point in his life. As we see in future episodes, just the mere mention of that name made people nervous. In the pilot, we saw the inner turmoil that went through Johnny’s mind from the very beginning of the episode to the end. That same turmoil is even more visible in this episode – which makes it appear as a progression that takes place over time. In the second episode, “Blood Rock”, Johnny isn’t seen very much but he is seemingly already ingrained in the Lancer family lifestyle. Again, this is based only on my opinion, and the fact that we don’t see much of him at all. Why would the second episode of a TV show, where the pilot focused so much on putting this family together, change gears and focus on a kid and his outlaw father? And yes, I do see a correlation of Ben and Morgan Price with the two sons who should have known their father as well. I just don’t see that episode as putting their best foot forward after such a fabulous pilot episode. Of course, no one has any insight into the powers that be at CBS, or any other influence, but it seems like a misstep in the episode order.
  • I just noticed for the first time – after watching this episode numerous times – that Scott only takes off one glove to have his drink. A bit odd maybe, but I’ve come to think of Scott and his gloves, like Johnny and his spurs. Functional, but not really needed – other than to make them look cool!
  • In the scene where Scott is riding in to town, there are 2 women that pass behind him as he brings his horse to the livery. Both of them look very “Little House on the Prairie” with their bonnets. The one bonnet looks exceptionally large. I don’t think I recall seeing women wearing bonnets on Lancer. It just looks a bit odd to me. But then again, a lot of the women in the show wear their hair and make-up very 1968, so who am I to question.
  • OK, not to sound gross or anything, but let’s talk about Johnny and sweat. I’ve always felt that some of the older westerns of the 50s and 60s were a little too clean. What I mean by that is, the clothes always looked too clean, too ironed and buttoned down (with a few exceptions, like Festus in Gunsmoke). I like how Johnny is allowed to look hot and sweaty – a lot. It shows a grittier side and it works very well. Today’s westerns – the few that there are – tend to be a lot grimier and grittier, and likely more true to how a cowboy would look back in those days.

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Lots of Lancer love!