Sunday, November 23, 2014

From the Archive: The Lone Ranger: "The Lone Ranger Fights On"

The second episode of The Lone Ranger (1949 – 1957) is called “The Lone Ranger Fights On” and it picks up at the cliffhanger ending of “Enter the Lone Ranger.” 

Tonto and the Lone Ranger battle the treacherous Collins (George Lewis), and shoot him down off his perch atop a cliff.  Afterwards, however, they express remorse that he too has died on this day:  “No one should have his life end like that.”

Then, the duo of Tonto and the Lone Ranger head to the Valley of Wild Horses, where they spy a buffalo about to stampede and kill a badly-wounded (and gorgeous) white stallion.  The Lone Ranger shoots the buffalo, and with Tonto’s help nurses the horse back to health.

After a time tending to the animal, the horse -- who Tonto has named Silver -- is healthy  and robust once again, and back on his feet.  The Lone Ranger notes: “I’d like that horse more than anything in the world, but if he wants to be free, he should go…

They free Silver, and indeed, the animal returns, choosing to be the Lone Ranger’s steed.  The voice-over narrator announces: “Here is a partnership…the Lone Ranger and Silver accept each other, as equals.”

With a magnificent steed (or “dream horse” in the terminology of the episode), the Lone Ranger and Tonto head to the troubled town of Colby, where Cavendish (Glenn Strange) has launched a campaign to murder public officials and replace them with his own corrupt minions.  

A friend of the Lone Ranger’s named Jim Blaine (Ralph Littlefield) is framed by Cavendish as the murderer of a local judge, and Tonto and The Lone Ranger decide to hide him at a nearby silver mine that the Lone Ranger once discovered.

At the silver mine, one more piece of the legend fits into place. Tonto and The Lone Ranger settle on creating silver bullets as a “sort of symbol…which means justice for all.

Outfitted with horse and silver bullets, The Lone Ranger decides it is time to take the fight directly to Butch Cavendish in Colby.  He enlists the services of the town doctor, Doc Drummond (George Chesebro), and the local Sheriff “Two Guns” Taylor (Walter Sande)...

As the preceding synopsis makes plain, a good portion of this sophomore episode, “The Lone Ranger Fights On” involves the Lone Ranger’s first encounter with Silver, his famous white horse. 

First the Lone Ranger shows Silver a kindness, by saving his life, and then freeing him.  And then Silver returns that kindness by becoming the lawman’s steed. The scenes involving Silver's training are really wonderful, and it’s great to see a story in which an animal’s needs are not considered secondary to tertiary to the demands of humans.  

As the dialogue I excerpted above makes plain, the Lone Ranger considers himself and Silver a pair, a team.  Call me mushy, but I love that.  I love that a sixty-year old something TV series understands the special bond that can be created between a human and an animal.

Silver bullets are also a key part of the Lone Ranger’s mythos -- even though the hero doesn’t fight werewolves -- and this episode shows Blaine refining silver for the lawman’s immediate needs, namely “money and bullets.”  Essentially, the silver bullet becomes the Lone Ranger’s calling card in the lawless West. He leaves them behind in his enemies as his signature. Therefore, lawmen know he has been involved, and outlaws know...fear.  

In terms of the overall arc, most of the ingredients for the series are now firmly in place.  The third and next episode “The Triumph of the Lone Ranger” involves the final take-down of the fiendish Butch Cavendish, and the climactic elements of each Lone Ranger televised adventure, but we’ll get to those in the next review...

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