Guest Characters Include:

Margaret Herrick - Directress of the acting troupe
Edmund Herrick - Margaret’s husband, actor.
Jonathan - a pretentious young actor whom Cody has to fill in for after he is shot.
Jenny St. Clair - A young and beautiful actress
Eastman - A government official

For some reason this episode falls between ‘Requiem for a Hero’ and ‘Judgment Day’ but confusingly, there is no mention of Hezekiah Horn and Cody’s depression over his death (which is explored in the next episode, Judgment Day). According to the episode guides at ‘Rider’s Coming’, 'The Play’s the Thing' was originally scheduled to air much earlier. This episode is also interesting because it show’s Cody’s keen interesting in performing. As you probably know, the real William F. Cody eventually became a performer in his wild west show.

The episode opens with a scene of a play where two male actors (one a bad character, the other good) are fighting over a woman. Guns are drawn and the hero is shot. The woman then shoots the ‘bad’ man and the play ends. Cody is in the audience and applauds enthusiastically. He later waits outside with flowers wanting to meet the actress in the play. It is the third night he has waited there. He instead meets the leader of the acting troupe and her husband (Margaret and Edmund Herrick). Margaret says that he has "a light in his eyes that only one mistress could inspire - the theater" Cody goes inside the theater and looks around. The actress ‘Jenny St. Clair’ is not there so Cody throws the flowers out the window. Unbeknownst to him, they land beside a man’s dead body out in the street below.

In the meantime, Jimmy is trying to read a children’s book out loud, Noah hears him and teases him. Hickok gets angry and says it’s a stupid book. Noah tells him that "not reading would be stupid", and that "reading can open up the mind". Kid arrives back from a run and tells Lou, Jimmy, Noah, and Ike that General Freeman’s chief of staff was killed outside a theater in Ransburg and that Freeman may be next. They talk about now the war is approaching.

Cody is alone and reenacting scenes from the play with his horse when he hears gunshots. He investigates and finds that the acting troupe are being shot at by a group of men. The lead actor (Jonathan) is shot is the leg. Cody intervenes and shoots their attackers. After it is over, he finds an unusual rifle. Miss St. Clair thanks him for his help and puts out her hand for him to kiss. Cody doesn’t realize what he is expected to do so he shakes it instead.

Teaspoon examines the rifle and concludes that a government official probably owned it. Teaspoon is introduced to the acting troupe and asks them about the murder at the theater in Ransburg. They act surprised and claim to know nothing.

Cody is still excited about the theater and watches them rehearse for their performances in Rock Creek. Jonathan cannot perform because of his wound and Cody takes his place. There are some amusing rehearsal scenes and Cody hams it up too much (he keeps getting back up and refusing to die after he has been shot).

The next scene is of two men who are discussing how they are going to round up the actors, gather evidence, and bring them in.

Ike and Buck watch Cody in rehearsal and laugh. Margaret (the director) pulls a real gun on Cody to help him ‘believe’ in the material saying "Nothing can get in the way of what you truly believe". Buck comments that Cody will probably learn pretty fast with a teacher like that. Buck and Ike leave. A man is seen hanging around the theater. Teaspoon sees his rifle and realizes that it is the same type as the one Cody found. He questions the man about it but he will not explain because he doesn’t know which side Teaspoon is on. Teaspoon then sees Margaret sending a young boy to deliver a message and he gets suspicious.

All the riders go to the play. They cheer when Cody comes on. As a part of the play, he kisses the actress (Jenny). Rachel comments on how well he is performing. Cody is a huge success and receives much applause.

Margaret and Edmund are discussing how they are going to kill General Freeman. They plan to set Cody up to take the fall for the murder.

The same man (with the rifle) who had talked to Teaspoon earlier, approaches Cody and Jonathan who are talking in the theater. He introduces himself as ‘Eastman’ and says he is a fan of Jonathan’s and has seen him perform before. Jonathan then introduces his 'temporary replacement' as "William F. Cody- Pony Express Rider, Marksman, and Thespian", Cody snaps back "Who are you calling a Thespian?". Eastman asks them where they are headed next. Cody gets suspicious and asks him a few questions which he refuses to answer.

Back at the station, the riders are sitting around listening as Jimmy reads from 'Last of the Mohicans'. A book that Noah bought him. He reads only the last page saying "Enough things happen in my life where I’ve gotta worry about what’s gonna happen next, and often I can skip the anticipatin’ and get on with it." They then start talking about how Cody is neglecting his duties. Cody enters and they confront him. He apologizes and thanks them. He then tells them that he is thinking of leaving with the theater group the following afternoon.

Later, Teaspoon talks to Cody about his decision. He tells Cody how he once fell in love with a Shakespearean actress. He said that she was the one that got away. He tells Cody that he needs more life experience to be a good actor but Cody is not convinced.

Cody has a fight with Jenny St. Clair. She is angry at Cody’s natural talent. Cody says that she is just jealous and then explains to her how much he loves the stage. They bond.

In the meantime, Margaret goes to Teaspoon to convince him that it would be best if Cody went with them. She pleads with Teaspoon to give Cody his blessing.

The riders farewell Cody. It is interrupted by Margaret who has shot Eastman (the stranger with the rifle). Cody says that he didn’t trust Eastman. Teaspoon finally gives his blessing for Cody to leave and the troupe head off for a town called ‘Apple Creek’. Eastman slowly regains consciousness and tells Teaspoon that the actors are assassins and that they plan to kill General Freeman.

The troupe changes itinerary and head to Fort Laramie (where Freeman is). Cody gets cozy with Jenny. The theater in fort Laramie is packed and Cody gets nervous because General Freeman is in the audience. Margaret tells him "Mr. Cody, after tonight no one will forget your name". The next scene shows Margaret and Edmund discussing Cody backstage.
Edmund: "Too bad, he would have made a fine actor."
Margaret: "He’ll make a better scapegoat."

Because of what Eastman told them, the riders and Teaspoon go to Fort Laramie. They are not allowed to enter so they sneak their way into the theater by dressing up as soldiers. The last act of the play is in progress and General Freeman is shot. Edmund points at Cody in shock and says that Cody’s gun was real and he shot the General. (Actually, it was Margaret who shot him from the wings). Cody is about to be shot when the riders enter. Teaspoon has to shoot Margaret. As she is dying, Cody asks her why she did it. She echoes her word "Nothing can get in the way of what you truly believe". Cody looks up to see Jenny with a gun, she is about to finish Freeman off. He shoots the gun out of her hand. She is arrested and taken away.

After the excitement, the theater empties and Cody sits alone on the stage, angry at being used and at not being able to see the truth. He’s worried that he really wasn’t a good actor after all. Teaspoon tells him that after the war, the theater will be waiting for him. Cody asks him "What’s gonna happen when war comes?" and Teaspoon replies "God only knows son but it seems to me we’ll all be involved." Cody leaves Teaspoon alone in the theater and he stands on the stage and recites Shakespeare. (Something to do with Dogs of War, I can’t identify the piece.) The last scene is an indication of how the war is going to affect them which it does in later episodes.


Want to see more of:
Cody and TYR
Main Page

Contact Us!