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The Night of the Doomsday Formula - Recap

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Jim rides off from the Wanderer and heads into Denver.

Lorna Crane is sleeping on a couch in her home when three men break in through the window. As they advance on her, Jim knocks at the door and they hide as Lorna wakes up. She goes to the door, expecting her father, and Jim asks if Dr. Crane is at home. He says that he’s there to handle arrangements for her father’s security and Lorna invites him in. She tells Jim that her father isn’t well and just left for a meeting with the Secret Service. Lorna explains that Dr. Crane received a message from Jim West and that she doesn’t know where the meeting was taking place. Jim quickly leaves and the intruders grab her. Jim barges back in and knocks them out, but a fourth man knocks him out from behind, using a cane with a steel fist on the end. The cane is the last thing Jim sees before he passes out.

Artie arrives at the Crane house and tends to his friend’s injuries, and admits that there’s no sign of Lorna. They go to Dr. Crane’s lab and discover that someone has searched the place. Artie confirms that the letter Dr. Crane sent to the President said that his new explosive would revolutionize warfare. He notices a hot air vent on the wall even though there’s a pot-bellied stove. The fake stove contains a metal box containing three hermetically sealed ampules, meaning whatever is inside is highly volatile. Dr. Crane’s notes are also inside, including one mentioning that he was going to meet Jim at the Union Bar. Artie goes over the other notes and confirms that the contents of the three ampules are the ingredients to the doomsday explosive.

The agents take the ampules back to the Wanderer and use a pulley and winch to shatter the ampules and mix the ingredients from 500 yards away. The resulting explosion leaves a huge blast crater and they realize what would happen if the formula fell into the hands of a foreign power.

Jim and Artie, disguised as Crane, go to the Union Bar and the bartender greets Artie as Crane. He sees them at Crane’s usual table and the agents claim they had a bet that Artie could drink Jim under the table. The bartender points out that Crane was drinking the other night and they had to carry him out. He identifies the drinks as Shenandoahs and goes to get one. Jim tells his partner that when he mingled with the 7th Cavalry soldiers who called themselves the Improbables, they drank Shenandoahs. They drank a toast with the Shenandoahs after a death or a victory. Artie goes to wire Washington about the location of the remaining 7th Cavalry officers while Jim backtracks.

As Artie leaves, Jim notices a cane with an iron fist in the umbrella stand. He tips the bartender to inform him that the owner is the man that Crane was in with the other night, and was in the night before by himself. He left his cane behind but by the time Jim goes to the stand, he discovers that someone has taken it. Jim goes outside and sees a thug with the cane board a wagon belonging to the Double Tree Farm. As the wagon leaves, Jim secretly jumps into the back.

Artie is working at the train, expecting Colonel Richmond, when Verna Scott arrives. She introduces herself as Richmond’s new assistant and gives Artie the data he requested. Artie has her read the information on the three surviving 7th Cavalry officers. One is confined to a military hospital due to illness and the second has been out of the country for the last two years. That leaves Major General Walter Kroll, U.S. Artillery ret. Kroll is alive and living in Denver living the life of a gentleman farmer on Double Tree Farm. From time to time he entertains foreign visitors and is a member of the Hadrian Club. Artie asks Verna to have Richmond arrange a membership for him when she gets back.

The wagon arrives at Kroll’s farm and Jim dives into the bushes. He hears gunshots and ducks into the main barn, and discovers that the gunshots are coming from behind a wall. Before Jim can investigate, he’s forced to hide when two men bring ammunition into the barn. They open the wall, actually a secret panel, and enter a chamber where men are testing advanced submachine guns.

Kroll goes to the Hadrian Club and Artie, disguised as Hassan Emir Ortuglo, approaches him and suggests that they’ve met before. The ex-general dismisses him but Artie persists, saying that he’s come to see Kroll about arms purchases on behalf of his customers. Artie refuses to give the name of his client but explains that the man needs access to a high-power explosive. Kroll tells Artie that he’s wasting his time until Artie mentions his client planned to pay starting with a $500,000 installment. The retired general invites Artie to join him at his ranch while he makes inquiries.

That night, Jim leaves the barn and makes his way toward the house, but has to duck into a storage shed when Kroll’s men approach. They put a crate into the shed while Jim hides in a heating vent. He loses his grip and slides partway down to the pipe, and manages to stop himself before he slides into the incinerator. Jim climbs into a side shaft and produces a pair of palm suction cups.

Kroll arrives at the ranch and goes to his study, and then opens a secret panel. In the cellar below he goes to the combination cell and laboratory where Crane is being held. The doctor tries to put him off, but Kroll is well aware that he’s stalling. As they talk, Jim climbs up the side shaft and overhears their conversation through the heating vent. Crane refuses to give Kroll the formula, pointing out that he has already had two heart attacks and he’s living on borrow time. Undeterred, Kroll opens a panel in the wall revealing one-way mirror. Beyond is a chamber filled with flames, and Lorna at the center of the gas jets. Kroll will only let her go when Crane gives him the formula.

As Kroll warns that Lorna will soon tire and lose her balance, Crane has a minor heart attack and begs him to let Lorna go. Kroll gives him one hour to provide the formula and a sample to test. Once he leaves, Jim enters through the heating vent and introduces himself. Crane refuses to abandon Lorna and starts working on the formula, and Jim asks for an hour to save her. The agent points out that Kroll will never let Crane or his daughter leave even if he gives him what he wants. Crane agrees and Jim leaves via the heating vent.

Artie arrives at the ranch and goes to Kroll’s study. They share a drink and Kroll tells him that in one hour he’ll sell him the explosive.

Jim gets back to the shed and leaves, and runs into two guards. After knocking them out, he runs for the house.

Artie is describing Middle Eastern food to Kroll when a guard comes in and warns his employer that there’s an intruder at large. Kroll tells Artie to go to his room to rest and the agent agrees. The general escorts Artie to his quarters and the guard takes a drink of the good alcohol. Once they get to the room, Kroll tells him that they’ll consummate their deal in an hour and leaves, locking him in. Unsurprised, Artie removes a sitar from his bag and starts singing loudly and accompanying himself.

Back in his study, Kroll berates the guard for letting Jim escape and tells him to comb the grounds. He winces at the sound of Artie’s singing... unaware that the agent has left a small wind-up music box and snuck out. Jim catches up to him and sketches out a map of Kroll’s lair. He figures the entrance that Kroll used is somewhere in the house and Artie says that he’ll find it. Jim needs a diversion and Artie promises to make one. The guards spot both of them and open fire, and the agents split up. The head guard reports to Kroll that there are two intruders just as the music box starts skipping and repeating for a few seconds, and Kroll figures that he’s been tricked. He grabs his gun and they go to investigate.

Artie arrives in the room as the music box starts skipping again. When Kroll unlocks the door and comes in, he finds Artie playing the sitar and repeating himself. Kroll claims that he thought the intruder might have gotten in and taken the half million, and invites Artie to dinner. He leaves Artie in his study to talk to the cook and the agent removes several small windup devices from his satchel and plants them around the room.

Kroll checks with his guards and orders one to protect a particular door near the storage shed. Jim, hiding beneath the awning, overhears him talking. Kroll then goes back to the study and Artie offers a toast to better explosions. The devices go off, whistling and releasing smoke, and Artie screeches in terror. The guards outside are distracted and Jim jumps them. Kroll leaves and a guard emerges from the hidden panel and goes after his boss. Artie then goes down the passageway.

Jim comes down from the outside entrance and finds the fire chamber. He runs a rope through a wall support and fires it across the chamber with a dart. Jim then drops down on a hand trolley, grabs Lorna, and continues to the other side. However, when they enter the lab they find Crane having a heart attack. Before he dies, Crane tells Jim that he wouldn’t have given Kroll the formula no matter what. He passes away just as Artie comes in. Jim tells him to get a wagon to the barn in five minutes and goes back out the way he came.

Outside, Jim goes to the barn, opens the trick wall, and goes to the firing range to rig the gunpowder barrels to explode. Kroll shoots into a nearby sandbag from the observation gallery and then seals the door. He then activates bursts from the submachine guns by remote and explains that he resigned from the U.S. military because they were reluctant to create new weapons of destruction. Kroll went into business for himself making more efficient tools of death. He fires a final burst and Jim dives to the ground and then throws a grenade into the galley, killing Kroll. The agent then rigs the gunpowder to explode, sets the fuse, and runs. Artie and Lorna pull out in the wagon and Jim jumps onboard just as the entire complex explodes.

Later, the Wanderer is en route to its next destination and Artie is going over figures and calculating how far they’ve traveled on the train and how much they’d be richer if they were paid by the mile. Jim offers to show him some figures that their traveling has some side benefits and shows him some photos of the women they’ve met. Artie concedes the point and tears up his calculations.