“Gunsmoke” The Renegades (TV Episode 1963)

Comanches are raiding the areas around Dodge City to take whatever they can and sell it to “White Renegades.” The Comanches want money for buying guns, and the renegades take advantage of the opportunities the situation presents. Colonel Pate at Fort Dodge mistakenly decides to go after the Comanches, but Quint Asper – who is half Comanche, of course – tries to tell the Colonel the Army should go after the renegades instead. Quint tries to convince the Colonel if the renegades are stopped, the Comanches will have no buyers for their loot and will stop the raids.

The Colonel offers Quint a job scouting for the Calvary, but Quint is not interested to pursuing the Comanches. The Colonel is convinced stopping the Comanches is the proper course of action.

Meanwhile, the Colonel’s daughter Lavinia is visiting from Dallas. The Colonel introduces her to Quint, but Lavinia is none too impressed with a man that is “half Indian.”

It just so happens that Quint agrees to ride shotgun on the stagecoach that is transporting Lavinia. Three of the renegades ambush the stage. When they realize there is a woman on board, they recognize an opportunity to capture her and either hold her for ransom, sell her in Mexico, or both.

Quint manages to escape with Lavinia, and he kills one of the renegades during the escape. Once the surviving renegades report back to a man named Trask at the main camp, the entire gang sets out in pursuit of Quint and Lavinia.

Quint shrewdly disguises himself and Lavinia as Comanches. The story evolves into a situation where Quint and Lavinia are trying to elude capture by the renegades, Matt and Chester are trying to find the stagecoach survivors, and the Calvary is attempting to stop the Comanches. Everything converges into one somewhat climatic scene.

The real story in this episode is the transformation of Lavinia from someone who despises Quint to someone who cares for him. It is never made clear whether Lavinia can only appreciate Quint’s humanity, or if she has learned to set aside her prejudices.

This is the second episode of the series that puts Burt Reynolds in the lead role, with the first being the earlier season 8 episode where we first meet Quint. The difference here is this is the first episode where the idea of the Quint Asper character as a potential romantic lead is presented.

Audrey Dalton is excellent in the Lavinia role, and the rest of the supporting cast is very good. The John Meston script is solid, although predictable, and somewhat unexpectedly gentile compared to some of his other stories.