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The Rattlesnake Brigade - Recap

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Elijah sends Sheriff Dowd on an errand to the Governor’s office at the capital and assures him that Deputy Sturgess can take care of things in his absence. Meanwhile, Cy comes down for breakfast and finds Bret doing some early-morning paperwork. Bret explains that he’s heading in town to set something up and assures Cy that Tom will go along with it.

Elijah is working in his office when a man enters his office and demands that he come outside him. When Elijah hesitates, the man shows the banker his gun.

Bret and Cy meet with Tom and Bret tries to convince Tom to take a short vacation and go fishing. Tom reluctantly agrees but insists that Bret don’t run any games while he’s in charge. Bret cheerfully agrees.

The man leads Elijah outside to an armored wagon and explains that he’s Matthew Varney, Chief of Security for the Overland Mining Company. He has $100,000 in gold and is taking it to the U.S. Mint in Denver. He wants Elijah to keep it in the bank because they were attacked en route. He asks Elijah to keep the gold until a military detachment arrives to pick it up. The banker agrees in return for payment, and Varney has no choice but to pay. Elijah deposits the money and assures Varney that his vault is impregnable. However, the banker is surprised to learn that Varney is riding off. The chief of security suggests that Elijah make sure that the sheriff is on top of the situation.

Colonel Bang and his band of raiders, the Rattlesnake Brigade, intercept Varney’s telegram to the government. They have their youngest member, John Henry, take out the town’s telegraph wire and cut Sweetwater off from the outside world.

Elijah comes to see Sturgess and finds him dozing at his desk. The banker offers him the chance to be sheriff but Sturgess admits that he isn’t up for it. He then approaches Tom and offers him the sheriff’s position for two weeks. Tom isn’t interested until he notices Bret meeting three new arrivals getting off the stagecoach. He offers to work as deputy just to see the look on Bret’s face.

Colonel Bang and his men ride toward Sweetwater.

Bret shows the three men around town and is surprised to see Tom with a deputy’s badge. They explain that they’re Bret’s acquaintances. Once they go inside, Bret explains that the visitors are stockmen and there will be more coming. Tom warns him that he’ll be watching and that Bret should make sure the cattlemen know he’s not running a game. As Bret goes inside, Bang and his men ride into town. The colonel notices Tom and thinks he looks familiar, and tells his men not to give Tom any reason to get involved while he scouts the bank. Meanwhile, Tom goes to the sheriff’s office to check the backlist of wanted posters.

Bang’s men go to the Red Ox, where Bret is supervising Jack and Shifty and making sure the stockmen get everything they want. Another stockman, Emmett Snow comes in and warns Bret that he’s there for a square deal and he’ll be keeping his eye on Bret to make sure he doesn’t pull anything.

Bang visits Elijah and claims to be a miner, T.K. Reed, looking for help financing a grub stake. He brings up Tom’s former career as a lawman and Elijah confirms that Tom was the sheriff. Bang continues his story and explains that he wants to deposit his live savings somewhere safe so his family can get it in case he dies. Elijah assures him that his vault has a time vault and is impregnable. Bang then gives him a check for $23

Sturgess and Tom watch as Bang leaves the bank. Tom knows who he is and wonders why he’s a thousand miles west of his normal stomping grounds. He figures that Elijah knows what’s going on and goes to see him. Tom convinces the banker to tell him about the gold, and Elijah admits he didn’t know what else to do.

Bang meets his men at the Red Ox and tells them what he’s discovered. He warns his men that Tom could be a problem. When the youngest member, John Henry, says they can handle it, Bang points out that John Henry is only there because his father was a member of the squad during the Civil War. John agrees to take on Tom.

Bret starts a bid... on a bull. Tom comes in and demands to know what is going on. Bret tells him that he’ll talk about it later, and Tom goes over to Bang and demands the Brigade’s guns. When John refuses to turn it over, Tom orders him out and the boy reluctantly leaves.

Emmett wins the bull for $1,400 and pays off Bret. Tom confronts Bret and explains that Bang is in town to steal the $100,000. Bret refuses to help and suggests that Tom retire, but Tom refuses to do so.

That night, Tom and Emmett come to see Bret. Tom takes the $1,400 and they explain that the bull has disappeared and the money is evidence. He then locks Bret up and waits until morning. Tom suggests that Bret might help him and sends Cy on his way. Bret realizes that they both set him up but still refuses to help until Tom guilts him into helping. However, he insists on doing it his way and Tom agrees.

John goes to a building across the street, draws a bead on Tom through the window, and fires. The shot misses and he rides off before Tom and Bret can catch up to him. He rides out to Bang’s camp and tells them what happened. The boy insists that he’ll collect his father’s share and promises to kill Tom the next time, but Bang is unimpressed.

Bret and the others visit Elijah and try to convince him to move the gold. The banker insists that the vault is impregnable, but Cy says that Bang will go after Elijah and force him to give up the vault combination. When Elijah still refuses to cooperate, Tom threatens to quit until he gives in.

Bret has Jack and Shifty start filling liquor bottles with sand. Bret comes in and collects several of the bottles, and then Cy comes in to get some more. Meanwhile, Bret goes into the bank while two of Bang’s men watch. Bret deposits the bottle and the teller takes them to Elijah. The banker exchanges the sand for gold dust and then Bret takes the bottle back. Cy comes in with more bottles and they make the same exchange. Bret goes back to the sheriff’s office and Tom confirms that they can get all of the gold out by sunset.

As Cy comes down the street with one of the bags, John demands to know what’s in it. When Cy claims that it’s dynamite, they shove him around until Cy shoves John back. Bang interrupts them and gives the bag back to Cy, apologizing for his men’s behavior. Cy continues to the sheriff’s office and they put the remaining bottles of gold in a cell next to where the town drunk, Levi, is sleeping off a drunken spree. Bret has an idea for getting rid of Bang but Tom hustles him out before Levi can overhear them.

Bang and his men go to the Red Ox to take advantage of a new offer for a free beer for every gun they turn in. Jack makes sure that they get plenty of beer. In the back office, Bret and Cy are rigging the shells by removing the gunpowder. Meanwhile, Tom goes to see John, who refuses to give up his gun for a free drink. Tom finally punches him unconscious and Bret runs over to file down the firing pin.

The next morning, John tells Bang what happened. The ex-colonel tells him that he’s an idiot, and John reminds him that his father thought Bang got his men killed by leading a charge at night. The boy dares him to shoot and then prepares to fire a shot, but discovers that his firing pin won’t work. They realize that they’ve been tricked, reload their guns, and ride back into town.

Bret and Tom go over the plan with Elijah. He has put the bank’s money in his personal vault and will play along with Bang when he arrives. Bret loans him a gun for assurance and leaves with Tom to watch the gold.

One of Bang’s men steals a wagon, knocking out the driver.

Bret and Tom go back to the sheriff’s office and discuss what happened. Bret wonders why Tom put the badge back on and realizes that his partner misses the job and would keep it if they’d let him.

Bang and the others enter the bank early and order Elijah to open the vault.

One of the Brigade members plants three sticks of dynamite in a crate and then gets aboard the stolen wagon as it drives by. Meanwhile, Dowd rides back into town and asks why Tom and Bret are in his office. He tells Tom to take off the badge, but before Tom can explain, the dynamite goes off. They run outside and see Bang and his men taking the gold. John opens fire on them from the balcony, forcing them to take cover. Tom fires back but Bret reminds him that they’re stealing sand, not gold. While Dowd tries to figure out what’s going on, Tom and Bret shoot back to make it look convincing. Bang and his remaining man get into the wagon and prepare to leave. John tries to jump down onto the wagon, misses, and breaks his leg. The colonel abandons him and rides off with the gold, but John fires one last shot, grazing Bang and knocking him off of the wagon. Dowd demands to know what’s going on and Bret suggests that he and Sturgess arrest someone.

Later, Elijah turns the bottled gold over to the army contingent. Dowd and Elijah take all the credit until the captain discovers that one bottle is filled with sand. Everyone looks at Bret, who says he has no idea what happened.

At the jail, Levi takes out the one bottle he grabbed and tries to drink from it, only to discover it contains gold dust.

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Warning: Bret Maverick season 1 episode 16 guide may contain spoilers
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