Doctor Who 117 – Johnny Ringo (The Gunfighters Part 3)

Written by Donald Cotton
Directed by Rex Tucker

Faced with his boys’ inability to kill Doc Holliday, Pa Clanton decides to hire the merciless Johnny Ringo.

Johnny Ringo prepares to kill Charlie The Bartender for characterization purposes.

While the episodes have been rather light in tone thus far, things are beginning to change in part 3.  There’s still a bit of humor, but now that Ringo has been introduced, the tone is beginning to shift toward darker material.  This change is signaled when Ringo kills the largely harmless bartender Charlie.  I rather enjoyed how Johnny Ringo was foreshadowed in the previous episode.  His wanted posters repeatedly appear in the background, and at one point The Doctor is silently reading the charges one of the posters.  This was a nice use of prop to set the groundwork for a story development.

The funniest scene in this episode is when Dodo, suddenly more posh and proper as opposed than the cockney girl we met at the end of The Massacre, holds Holliday at gunpoint and demands he take her back to The Doctor and Steven.  Holliday takes her half seriously despite her obvious inexperience with a gun.  But he handles himself well, trying hard not to startle or shock Dodo.  It’s a fun scene and the two actors handle themselves well.

Perhaps what I find most unusual in this episode is how Johnny Ringo warms up a bit to Steven.  No, they aren’t buddies or anything, but Ringo, who has been portrayed as the loner up to this point, seems quite amiable toward Steven accompanying him in the search for Holliday.  Maybe he wants to use Steven in some way, but at this point we don’t really know.  I do admit a mild curiosity to what Steven and Ringo would have talked about on their ride to find Holliday.

As much of this episode was devoted to resolving the cliffhanger, introducing Johnny Ringo, and setting up the gunfight in the next episode, there isn’t much more to say.  Cotton is just moving all the pieces in to place and raising the stakes for everyone as Ringo has just taken Kate and The Clantons have shot Earp’s younger brother.

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