“The Murder of Jesse James”
January 23, 2018
Wyatt is at San Quinton sitting across from Wes Gilliam. The convicted double murderer eventually admits that yeah, he knows who Wyatt is and he knows who Jessica was. And if he could change things, he would, but he can’t. Neither of them can.
Wyatt says quietly, barely a whisper, “Not unless I had a time machine.”
Lucy is having am anxiety dream about Amy, mentally berating herself for forgetting about her sister and not trying harder to bring her back. And scene.
Rufus is sitting at a computer in the hanger. Jiya walks up and kisses him. Yay! Kissing! She excitedly shares the news that she’s going to be the next Omni pilot. She thanks him for putting in a word with Holy Wayne. Rufus somehow manages to choke down his rage and simply says she deserves it.
Rufus chases down Holy Wayne who tells him their “benefactors” insisted on a new pilot. What did he think was going to happen when he threw down the gauntlet and made his pretty speech to the Affable Man?
Rufus pleads with Holy Wayne not to do this, but Holy Wayne coldly says he’s picked his side. He suggests Rufus reconsider his allegiances while he still can. Jiya is going to replace him in six months. And then Rufus becomes expendable.
Luka makes a jump to April 3, 1882. Lucy says that’s the day Jesse James died – double-crossed and shot in the back by the Ford brothers while he was dusting a painting. “I always remember that detail.”
Luka shoots the Fords first. He and Jesse James repair to a saloon where Luka asks Jesse to lead him deep into Indian country. He says he’s not seeking treasure, but a person, someone important to a great patriotic cause. Jesse James laughs and rolls his eyes. “Is there anything more dull?”
Luka drops a small bag of gold coins on the table. James takes its weight in his hand and says Luka should have led with that. The outlaw will get the rest when
they get to Alderaan the job is complete.
Two marshals walk into the bar. James guns them down where they stand. He’s ready to go now.
The Time Trio follow the bodies into town. Wyatt learns from the bartender that Luka is heading south and marches off to buy them horses. When Rufus tries to slow him down, he snaps that they’ve survived worse than blundering through hostile territory. Jesse James is killing people! People are dying who aren’t supposed to die and history is being changed.
Wyatt suddenly realizes he’s the one being the history protecting time cop and is like, WHAT’S UP WITH THAT? Just as quickly he turns his ire on Lucy. She’s staring off into the distance not following the conversation. He says he doesn’t know what’s going on with her, but she needs to get her head in the game, right now.
Wyatt takes a breath and a mental step back. He suggests they secure a local guide. Lucy knows just the person. US Marshal Bass Reeves was responsible for over 3,000 arrests during his career. Lucy says he was arguably the best lawman in the Old West, and may have served as inspiration for the Lone Ranger.
Marshall Reeves greets the Time Trio on the porch as they approach his house. A huge smile blooms across Rufus’s face.
“ … The Lone Ranger’s black? That’s awesome!”
Lucy explains that they’re heading south and are in need of Reeves’ particular help navigating the territory. She also warns that James and Luka will carve a path through anyone who gets in their way – including the people on that land. People that other lawmen won’t help and don’t care about like he does. Reeves agrees to join them but says they do this his way. That’s fine with Wyatt as long as Luka and James catch bullets in the end.
“Catch bullets? What the hell is wrong with y’all? This ain’t the 1820s!”
They will capture Luka and James alive and bring them to justice. Reeves allows no debate or disagreement on this point. Wyatt reluctantly gives the marshal his word. Reeves balks at Lucy joining them but she tells him that’s not up for debate either.
Grant Johnson rides up and Wyatt nudges Rufus. He like, dude. That’s totally Tonto. Johnson overhears him and that’s how Wyatt learns that “tonto” is Spanish for “fool.”
Rufus can’t help but be delighted that they’re in a posse with the real Lone Ranger. Wyatt tells him to enjoy it while he can, because handshake or no, he’s shooting Jesse James. Rufus is nonplussed. He says one, Wyatt gave Reeves his word. And two, “does the casualness with which we talk about murder every bother you?”
Wyatt bluntly says it’s not murder. It’s stopping a bad guy from hurting good people. And no, it doesn’t bother him.
Lucy ditches her dress for an outfit better suited to a horse-mounted manhunt. It’s Reeves’ turn to be nonplussed. “A woman wearing pants …” Wyatt says it’s very Eastwood.
Lucy mounts her horse … and promptly falls off the other side.
They return to town and Wyatt wonders what’s up with all the stink eyes from the local folk. Reeves is like, uh because you’re riding with two black guys and an Indian? Why do you think? Rufus calls it the scary version of Blazing Saddles.
Rufus asks Johnson how they’re going to track James. Follow his horse’s footprint, stuff like that? Johnson says yes, they will look for broken twigs and follow his scent on the wind. The Spirits will guide them … or they can conduct an investigation and interview witnesses like the lawmen they are.
A saloon waitress with an apparent photographic memory is able to draw them a map of Luka’s destination. The posse is three miles out and closing when Luka spots them. James isn’t concerned. He says they have time. Time to wonder what happens if Luka wins the cause he’s so quick to kill for. Luka says it will be a better world. Not winning has never occurred to him.
James tells Luka that’s his problem. It should have.
James says he was once like Luka. He fought and killed for the Confederate cause and, when it was over, he kept right on killing. Because deep down a killer is what he always wanted to be. He just needed an excuse. He asks Luka if he knows another word for excuse. “Cause.”
By the time they’re done jibber jabbering, a group of armed men has secured the pass through their land. James checks his gun and says Luka is about to find out why it was such a good idea to bring him along.
When the posse reaches the pass it’s littered with dead bodies. Johnson says they need to be buried and Reeves agrees. That night, Rufus offers to help as Johnson is placing stones on the row of cairns. He mistakenly thinks Johnson is performing a Native America ritual; Grant disabuses him of the idea. Johnson says he’s a lot of things – some black, some white, some Creek Indian. So the only place he’s ever really belonged is with Bass.
Sitting around the fire, Wyatt argues that Jesse James is wanted dead or alive. Bringing him in may be right but wouldn’t it be easier – and a lot less risky – to just shoot him on sight?
“Who the hell ever said easy and right were the same thing?”
Reeves says he’s no hero. He’s killed several men – and he sees them every time he closes his eyes. Every time he looks in the mirror. And Reeves thinks Wyatt knows exactly what he’s talking about.
Rufus asks Bass if it bothers him that he’s fighting so hard for the law that once held him in bondage. The marshal says the law isn’t perfect, but it’s all they’ve got. “If we ain’t got that, we ain’t got nothing.” Reeves leaves the fire and joins Johnson at the cairns.
Rufus quietly says these are good men. They can’t double cross them. Wyatt is like, law shmaw. Jesse James can’t hurt anyone else if he’s dead like he’s supposed to be, so. Rufus calls him out, but Wyatt says he’s fine. “Spoken in a way that is far from fine.”
Wyatt takes a deep breath and reveals that he met Jessica’s killer after Luka gave him the name as promised. He says Gilliam killed two other women in addition to Jessica. If Wyatt could go back in time and stop their murders he wouldn’t think twice. Rufus admits that it’s been hard living with the memory of the man he shot in Houston.
“Maybe killing shouldn’t be an every day thing. Maybe it should be harder for the good guys.”
He says Bass is right – it’s getting harder for him to look in the mirror. How far are they willing to go?
Wyatt insists that what they’re doing is right. Rufus counters that Luka probably tells his men the same thing. Lucy has been silent through the conversation. Wyatt asks her for some backup. She’s not sure if she can. Lucy says the day before was Amy’s birthday, and she didn’t remember. “I should remember, because I’m the only person on the planet that ever knew she existed.” Lucy says Luka seems to be telling the truth. Rittenhouse is real and it is dangerous.
“Who’s to say what’s right and wrong anymore?”
Lucy cuts Wyatt off when he tries to give them the ‘buck up, we have a job to do’, speech. She says she doesn’t want to do this job anymore. She wants her sister back. She wants to go home.
Luka and James reach their destination the next morning. Luka holds up the sketch in Lucy’s journal and compares it to the little cabin sitting alone in the middle of the snowy woods. The animal bones and skulls placed decoratively about the place give off a distinct, ‘Turn around and walk away’, vibe. James is considering just that when the first warning shots ring out from the house.
Luka tells the outlaw to stand down and calls out that he has a ship. He can take the cabin occupant to it. He breaks cover with his hands up and is confronted by a rifle-toting red-headed woman. She’s one of the Eric Kripke players – the mom from Supernatural Season 2’s “Playthings” and Emma, the mother of General Monroe’s secret love child in Revolution.
Here, she is Emma Whitmore, the mother of shooting trespassers in the face.
Luka shoos James away and steps into the cabin for a private chat with Emma. The room’s sparse period furnishings are complemented by modern electronics. A battered MacBook, GameBoy, cellphones, hard drives, and loose circuit boards. There’s a stack of paperbacks on the workbench. Philip K. Dick’s “Blade Runner” sits on the top. Emma’s not exactly from around here.
Jiya’s flight training gets off to a rocky start. She dies in the simulation but Holy Wayne says her take off was much better that time. Jiya says the issue is sticking the landing. How does Rufus do it every time?! Holy Wayne reassures her that she’ll get there, just like Rufus did.
She suggests that reviewing video flight logs from the other pilots would be a huge help to her. Holy Wayne is like, FLIGHT LOGS? OH SNAP, THOSE WERE LOST. YEAH. POWER SURGE. WIPED RIGHT OUT. NOTHING TO BE SEEN HERE.
A little covert computer-fu later and Jiya has downloaded the lost files. She slips off to a server room to review the footage in private. In the first video, Emma introduces the Heart of Gold and proudly announces that she gets to pilot it. In a later video, Holy Wayne says something went wrong and they couldn’t retrieve Emma. She’s lost to them.
In the cabin in the past, Luka tells Emma that she and Max Headroom should be up there with the likes of Glenn and Armstrong. But then Rittenhouse happened and Emma says she found a way out. With Max’s help, she faked her own death and hid in the past. Emma puts down the gun. She says it’s been a decade, living alone, but she had no choice.
Luka tells Emma that the time for running is past. It’s time to fight. Emma warns that he has no idea what he’s up against. She knows things that Max doesn’t. Things that no one else knows. “The things that have planned for that machine …”
Luka convinces her to come with him and parts company with James. He pays the outlaw his bounty and covers his escape by telling James that Bass Reeves is leading the posse pursuing them.
You might say that Jesse James is a posse magnet.
Luka images killing the greatest lawman in the west would make quite the headline. James agrees and then asks for one further bonus – the semi-automatic rifle that Luka is carrying.
The posse approaches the cabin under cover of darkness. They burst through the door and are collectively like, … the hell? Rufus sifts through the computer parts as Wyatt picks up a copy of “The Hunger Games”. There’s a piece of paper on the table marked with symbols that could be Enochian because SuperTimeless is a thing. Rufus starts putting the pieces together when he finds Emma’s flight jacket.
Lucy catches sight of something through the window just as James opens fire, emptying his clip into the cabin. Johnson yanks Lucy to the floor but not before he takes a bullet to the chest. As his lungs fill with blood he gasps that he should be dead, but he ain’t. Reeves tells him it’s going to stay that way. Grant says it’s the first time he’s ever heard his friend lie.
James evil monologues as he loads another clip, giving Wyatt time to slip up behind him and shoot him in the arm. “Oh my god, you do not shut up!”
Reeves joins the party with a gun trained on each man. James says he wishes to surrender and Bass barks at him to zip it. He tells Wyatt to holster. The third time he says it, James pulls off his gun belt and drops it. He says he’s unarmed, like that’s going to make a difference to the man standing in front of him. Hi, have you met Wyatt?
The standoff continues until finally a shot rings out. It comes from behind James. Lucy is holding the gun.
The body of outlaw Jesse James is put on public display in town. A picture is taken for posterity. Lucy stumbles through the crowd, still slightly shellshocked. Reeves walks out of the sheriff’s office and hands her her reward money. She tells him to give it to Johnson’s family but Bass turns and walks away from her. Wyatt is like, YOU’RE WELCOME.
“Killing an injured man when he plain said he wished to surrender? That’s a lot of things. Good ain’t one of ‘em.”
He gives Lucy a hard look. She has to live with that now. When asked for comment by a reporter, Reeves disavows any involvement. Rufus follows him and encourages Bass to talk to as many reporters as he can. If he doesn’t tell his story, no one else will. And if they do tell it, they’ll get it wrong.
“Some white dick in a mask might end up the legend instead of you.”
Rufus realizes that makes no sense to the man and reels it in. Instead, he simply says people are going to want to know Reeves’ story. “Today. Tomorrow. Maybe even a hundred years from now.” Bass says he’s not doing this for them and rides off.
He and Grant make it into the history books anyway. Lucy scrolls through an article on her tablet. It quotes Bass Reeves’ only statement about the Jesse James incident. In it, he speaks about Grant. “He will always be with me, and with us all, and was of the firm belief that this was a harsh land, and while vengeance was easy, justice was hard. But was still right.”
At the bottom of the page is the photo taken outside of the sheriff’s office. A group of men is gathered around James’ body. Lucy is in the foreground, facing the camera, looking off in the distance.
Holy Wayne calls out Jiya for hacking into the logs. He says he’s insulted by her surprise and explains that he simply didn’t want her to be discouraged or afraid. He reminds her that there’s no room for error in this project. If he thinks that scares her, Jiya says he doesn’t know her very well. Holy Wayne menaces into her dance space. “Try to deceive me again, and we’ll see how scared you get.”
Rufus updates Holy Wayne and Agent Christopher with the discovery that Emma is alive. Christopher wonders why Luka would have gone to all the trouble when he already has Max Headroom as his pilot. *cough* expendable *cough*
Later, Rufus joins Wyatt at a bar. Wyatt says he loved westerns as a kid. The heroes he grew up watching never crossed the line. Things were black and white. There was a code. And then he went to war and learned the truth that nobody is that good. Until they met Bass.
All of that is Wyatt’s round about way to telling Rufus that he needs his help. Help him stop a bad man from hurting good people. Help him steal the Omni and save his wife.