"Showdown in Limbo"

(Original air date 03/27/67)


A sheriff asks friend and former deputy Heath to help him
and his son escort a prisoner to Stockton


Story: Ken Pettus

Teleplay: Ken Pettus & Philip Mishkin

Director: Bernard McEveety

In the town of Jubilee where he stopped to visit with his former boss, Marshal Frank Sawyer (Arch Johnson), Heath meets with his son, Chad (Tom Lowell), a young man desperately trying to live up to his father’s image.

On his way out of the saloon, Chad bumps into an unkempt drunkard (L.Q. Jones) who starts hurling insults at him when he refuses to get his chicken down from the beam. When the heated argument turns violent, Heath steps in, humiliating Chad who dashes out of the saloon in shame.


After settling in his hotel room Heath goes to Frank’s office where he engages in a casual conversation with Chad. The topic revolves around his father’s delight at having him back from Boston, a feeling that Chad obviously doesn’t share.

Frank shows Heath a wanted poster matching the drunkard sleeping in his cell. He’s Earl Vaughn, part of the gang of ruthless outlaws that he recalls having tackled with a few years back. If Earl is in Jubilee, chances are his brother Floyd (John Carter) and his bunch of merry men are not far behind.

Later Earl needles Frank into setting him free before his brother finds out he’s been taken to jail. Instead Frank plans to take him back to Stockton to stand trial for his crimes.

When he finds out that his friend will be alone with his son to escort the prisoner, Heath offers to tag along, much to Frank’s delight.


Meanwhile back in Stockton, Sheriff Madden (John Gavin) drops by the ranch to notify the Barkleys of Earl Vaughn’s apprehension in Jubilee and of Sheriff Sawyer’s plan to escort him back to Stockton. Nick and Jarrod agree to join Fred to go meet with the escort party when they learn that Heath will be riding along.

Floyd Vaughn and his gang arrive in Jubilee. His brother having failed to meet them at the rendezvous place, Floyd goes to the marshal’s office where he tries to wring the truth out of the nervous deputy sheriff George Rhodes (G.D. Spradlin). His right-hand man Rake (Matt Emery) comes in news that people have seen the sheriff and Heath Barkley head out with Earl early this morning.

Before leaving the office Floyd shoots the deputy dead for having lied to him.


At night, Chad takes first shift in guarding the campsite while the others catch a few Zs. Earl awakes to find the young man deep in concentration over his drawing. He quietly slithers on the ground to reach the rifle. Chad sees him in time to engage in a fight for the weapon.

Startled by the commotion, Heath jumps to his feet and lunges at Earl to overpower him. His heroic gesture embarrasses Chad even more knowing that he failed at his task.

Frank is incensed at his son’s lack of diligence and adamantly refuses to discuss his obvious talent for drawing, as he only wants Chad to follow in his footsteps.


Come morning the hit the trail. Seeing how there’s a huge snowstorm brewing in the horizon, Heath suggests an alternate route through Limbo. Frank agrees, knowing it’s the best way to lose whoever might be tailing them.

Shortly after they arrive in the ghost town of Limbo and establish their headquarters at the run-down hotel. While Heath and Frank are away, Earl makes an attempt at convincing Chad to hand him over the key to his handcuffs. He manages to get the upper hand but luckily Frank shows up to subdue the cunning outlaw.


Following the father-and-son altercation, Heath goes to Chad with the drawing he kept in his pocket, wanting to discuss his talent but Chad turns a deaf ear. Heath is also curious about his obvious antipathy towards him. Chad explains that his father wants another Heath Barkley to work by his side and not Chad Sawyer, the neat kid from Boston. He aims at making his father forget he ever knew Heath Barkley.

The Vaughn gang is closing in. As they prepare to follow the road to Wolf Pass, they hear riders approaching. Behind their place of concealment they identify one rider as Fred Madden. They conclude that he rode to meet Sawyer and his prisoner. However his coming this far can only mean that he has yet to meet with the escort party and therefore believe Sawyer veered off into Limbo instead.


Another incident involving runaway horses has father and son at loggerheads once more. Heath manages to gather the loose horses that he hands over to Frank before going to have a little talk with Chad.

Instead of agreeing with Frank’s methods, he encourages Chad to stand up to his father and follow his own path in life, an advice that irks Frank. He accuses Heath of turning his son against him. He refuses to listen when Heath tells him that Chad doesn’t have the makings of a lawman and that it’s likely the boy will eventually kill himself trying to please him.


The Vaughn gang succeeds in cornering their preys inside the hotel. Floyd makes one last request to have his brother released unharmed but Frank denies him, refusing to believe they intend to leave peacefully once the prisoner is free. Floyd then orders his men to wait them out instead of wasting ammunition.

On the trail Nick finds it odds that they have yet to meet with the escort party and therefore proposes to split.


Come morning Heath suggests a plan to overtake the enemy, but it backfires when Floyd’s men pin Frank behind a horse trough in the middle of the street. While Chad figures out a way to help his father, Floyd and Rake scale the courtroom wall to get on the roof in order to get a better shot at Sawyer.


Floyd issues a last warning to Chad and Heath to release his brother or Sawyer gets it. The five-minute ultimatum allows Heath enough time to weight his options. Chad is reluctant and believes it best to let Earl go. Heath strongly disagrees. Frank wouldn’t want it this way. That’s how he plays the game and if Chad doesn’t have the guts to run his own life the way he pleases he shouldn’t be telling his father how to run his.

Earl manages to remove the gag out of his mouth and makes one last attempt at convincing the young man to hand him the key. Instead Chad smacks him in the face


He then dashes outside to shoot randomly at the men holding his father hostage, thus creating a diversion that allows Heath to gun down Floyd and Rake on the roof across the street.

Nick and Jarrod arrive in time to lend two extra hands.


Frank’s pride for his son’s action swells up and promises to make him a deputy once they’re back in Jubilee. With Heath’s encouragement, Chad proposes instead to have a serious discussion regarding his future.


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