Episode First Shown: January 26th 1969

Hoss is trading beef for wild horses with Indian Chief Red Eagle when he notices the tribe’s best horse catcher, Erin O’Donnell. Erin was adopted by the Sioux and has been brought up in the tribe. Erin has recently been thrown by a horse and has an infected shoulder so Hoss takes her to the Ponderosa to look after her. They fall in love and Hoss wants to marry but the Cartwrights neighbour, Murray, is afraid that Erin will attract Indians into the area.




I've at last had time to watch this very fine episode all the way through so I have some thought to share with all of you.

I found this to be a very satisfying episode - Hoss in love, a very believable character in Erin, issues of racism and injustice and some fast paced adventure as well as some nice parts with horses.

Hoss and Erin's quiet attraction is very well presented. From the time that he meets her with the Indians, then as they use first names and his compassionate caring for her shoulder wound on the trail home. Hoss/Dan's kind face is very memorable. There is a very nice line from
Erin when she says, with a depth of feeling that he is an "uncommon man". (Lovely comment from Erin about Sioux Stew -
meaning rabbits!)

Early on we learn of Ben's neighbour Murray who harbours hatred for Indians. A good point is that is not just straightforward racism but mainly influenced by the massacre of some of his relatives by Indians.

The episode also has its lighter moments - as when the
Murrays bring their niece to the Ponderosa to set her cap at Joe or Hoss. Erin has been explaining that an Indian man would bring horses to a father signifying that he wished to marry the daughter. Mrs.Murray waspishly says that she never needed this kind of arrangement and Erin replies, with dry dignity "How fortunate for your father." The humour is beautifully timed and Hoss is visibly proud of Erin. Once the dreaded Murrays have left Hoss breaks into that wonderfully, hearty laughter of his and so did I!

There are some nice touches with
Erin's skills at handling horses and breaking them in her own way, one being talking. (Remember the Horse Whisperer? Well Bonanza was ahead of its time here!) Kudos to David
Canary for his range of very good, silent expressions as he watches
Erin at work. (I've always liked Candy and I find him growing on me more as I see more of the later episodes.

As the Hoss/Erin relationship develops there is also a sense of fate and foreboding of a prophecy mentioned early on that
Erin was a wolf child will die to defend the Indians.

The episode reaches its climax when
Erin's Indian friends have gone to collect beef cattle for which they have lawfully traded horses with the Cartwrights. (Watch out for the Vasquez Rocks location Joe
fans!) Murray and his gang attack the Indians, Hoss and Erin who rides out to draw off the fire and is, inevitably, shot.

The last scene, where she dies with Hoss holding her hand, is very moving, especially the suppressed pain and grief that shows on Hoss's face.

I thoroughly agree with
Erin's words about Hoss, "He is a man of wisdom and great strength who prefers to be gentle."

A couple of comments about Mary Pickett who I thought gave a very fine performance which conveyed Erin's strength (mental and physical), her wisdom, her understanding of racial conflict and differing kinds of freedom, her boldness and compassionate nature. Pickett was in her 30s which matches the character's age I would think. How refreshing to have a "real", mature woman portrayed so well.

I was very interested to read that Pickett was a regular in "All My Children" and so worked with David Canary again.

For anyone that hasn't yet watched "
Erin" you are in for a very satisfying episode and one with the "grittiness" that we were talking about recently.







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