The Trial Of Jack McCall

Episode Report Card
Al Lowe: A | 2 USERS: A-
The Trial Of Jack McCall

In the office at the Gem, Al orders Johnny to set aside the Indian head for safe-keeping until after the trial. "It'll make a nice conversation piece," Johnny says, full of stupid. "I mean if it's handled the right way." My Lord, I love Johnny. Yes, yes -- Al is probably even now consulting Emily Post on "the right way" to handle his bloody severed head.

Speaking of bloody, E.B. is on his knees in one of his hotel rooms, scrubbing up the bloodstain left by Tim Driscoll. This will be tough to recap because, one, it's E.B., alone, monologue-ing for his life, and two, this scene contains what is possibly the greatest writing and acting of Season One. The overall gist is that E.B. has ferreted out the reason Al so badly wants to buy Mrs. G's claim. "There's gold on the woman's claim," he says, bitterly. "You might as well have shouted it from the rooftops." E.B. may be slimy, and he may be weak, but one thing he ain't is stupid. And now he's mad to a Shakespearean degree. So mad he sarcastically begins to quote what he believes is Al's secret mind: "'Thorough as I fleeced the fool she married, I will fleece the widow, too,'" he snarks, "'using loyal associates like Eustace Bailey Farnum as my go-betweens and dupes.'" E.B. has figured out Al's whole scheme -- all his bullshit about being afraid of the Pinkertons is just a scam to get E.B. to do all the legwork for him on the purchase. E.B.'s most upset that, should this sale go through, Al's just going to throw him a token payment, rather than cutting him in on the claim. I'd be mad, too. "'What's he ever done for me?'" he says, still speaking as Al's inner voice. "'Except let me terrify him every goddamned day of his life 'til the idea of bowel regularity is a forlorn fuckin' hope.'" He picks up the bucket to try to rinse away some of the blood. "'Not to mention ordering a man killed in one of E.B.'s rooms, so moment of his life, he has to spend scrubbing the bloodstains off the goddamn keep from having to lower his rates." And with a final damning of Al's name, he throws up his arms in frustration. Court is in full swing at The Gem. I don't know my legal history at all, so I am not sure if this provides an accurate picture of what went on at such a proceeding, but they seem to have it pretty formally arranged. The prosecutor, a guy who resembles a ringmaster in appearance and vocal range, goes full-on Hamilton Berger on the jury, giving them a dramatic opening speech. "Christmas," Al mutters to Dan where they are observing from the second floor. "We'll be here 'til fucking Christmas." Merrick, dutifully recording all these goings-on for the paper, sits in the back, listening. The prosecutor tells the jury that their decision comes down to this: "Either a man giving you a dollar for breakfast is provocation beyond endurance, or Jack McCall shooting Wild Bill Hickok was murder, pure and simple." Al is glad to see that the guy picked up his pace there at the end, but now it's the defense counselor's turn. He stands and asks McCall why he killed Hickok. Jack takes a breath, trying to remember. "He murdered my Kansas," he says. The defense attorney considers this enough on which to rest his case, but the prosecutor gets back into it, loudly, asking the accused when this brothercide supposedly took place. Jack says he can't rightly recall, and that no, he wasn't there when it happened, but, uh, it really did happen. As Jack fumbles around with these answers, Al sends Dan down to tell the judge he wants to see him. Giving credence to Al's bad-ass status, the judge orders a break in the middle of this questioning and goes to Al's office.

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