Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Chains"

In this episode, Caine is arrested and imprisoned in the same cell as an inarticulate, shaggy, berserker named Huntoon (Michael Greene). Huntoon, it turns out, was in a prospecting gang with Cain's half brother Danny. Caine agrees to liberate Huntoon and himself from the jail to pursue Danny. Huntoon hopes to find not just Danny but a load of gold they'd acquired prior to Huntoon's run-in with the law - for a killing he says he did not commit.

Caine and Huntoon are pursued through the mountain wilderness by Sergeant Bedford (Warren Vanders), an excellently defined western archetype, the tough, stoic officer to whom duty is everything. A wonderful balance ensues between the three characters, with Caine in the center as the pivot. As Caine and Huntoon ascend the mountain, Caine, having recognized in Huntoon not the murderous savage that the civilized society labels him but a genuine human being capable of grace and communion, reveals to Huntoon his capacity for gentleness, friendship and love. Bedford, meanwhile, who starts out the episode the very epitome of law and order, becomes treacherous. In the climax, a bloody encounter in a mountain shack, the question of which is the noble and which the wicked is turned on its head.

As much as I enjoyed this tryptich there was something out of balance for me about this episode. I think it has to do with how much time is spent developing the character of Huntoon at the expense of Bedford. As the episode unraveled, Bedford's motives seemed out of place to me. He eschews money earlier in the episode, then is tempted by it later. Perhaps as he gets farther away from the fort that defines him, he loses his grip on his identity and principles.

Regardless, an enjoyable episode. The flashbacks to Shaolin underscore the theme; in one scene, Master Po asks young Caine to examine the problem of evil as applied to nature; which is evil, the rat that steals or the cat that kills the rat? "Each acts according to his nature," Po advises. And later, "A man may tell himself many things, but is a man's universe made only of himself?"

Duality, plurality, assumptions turned inside out, characters plunged into a symbolic wilderness, stripping them of exterior assumptions and revealing interior truth - "Chains" is a reminder of just how literary this show could be.

Three out of four yin-yangs. IMDB for this episode is here. Both Greene and Vanders were, like so many actors who contributed to the show, veteran character actors. Our good friend at Yin Yang Nature has got an excerpt from this show online.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous lakitha said...

go now!!

9:41 PM  

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