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Bitter Wine Recap

At a county fair wine exhibit, Paladin is acting as taster and judge. He finally declares a blue-ribbon award winner and the fair chairman confirms that it's from the Donatello Vineyards. He calls the owner, Renato, up to the stage and Renato thanks Paladin for the honor. He agrees to share a bottle with Paladin, and explains that he came to America 20 years ago. Renato says that in a year, his wine will be ruined, and he needs a band of cutthroats to help him. Paladin gives him his card and leaves for a horse contest.

Later, Renato hires Paladin and they take a stagecoach to the vineyard. Renato explains that his neighbor, Irishman Tim Gorman, is drilling for oil and the oil ruins his grapes. Tim refuses to pay damages or change his ways. When they arrive, Renato's niece Teresa greets them. As she takes them to eat her scaloppine, a gunshot rings out. Renato claim that he's getting some wine for the scaloppine and goes out. Paladin realizes that Teresa is worried about Renato, and she says that Tim is a bad enemy but could be a bad friend. She sent Tim some scaloppine as a peace offering.

Renato comes back and claims that the noise was a bottle exploding. He invites Paladin to compare the previous year's wine to the current one, and Paladin admits that the current batch is foul-tasting. A shot rings out and the three people run out. Teresa's pan of scaloppine is lying in the dirt, a bullet in the kettle. Renato insists that it's an insult, and Paladin says that it's his job to deal with Tim.

Tim and his men are working at the neighboring oil drill. Paladin slips in and helps Tim move a heavy casing. He introduces himself and asks why Tim has rifle guards around the place. Tim says that his crazy Italian neighbor is trying to ruin him, and asks if Paladin is for hire. Paladin says that he works for the "crazy Italian" and insists that Renato isn't crazy and he's an American, not an Italian. He says that he worked a rig in Texas and has Tim show him around.

Afterward, the two men share cigars and Paladin points out that the waste drains out on Renato's land and the smoke contaminate the vines. he suggests that Tim dig a sump and drain it down the opposite side of the nearby rise. A high stack would carry the boiler smoke over the downdraft. Tim admits that it would cost a lot of money and he doesn't have it, and Renato has fought him every step of the way. He's not interested in wine, and Paladin asks him what he thinks of Teresa. Tim says that she tried to poison him because his stomach can't handle Italian food, and warns that Paladin could end up the same way as the kettle.

Paladin returns to the vineyard and Renato says that he can lead the attack. The gunfighter says that it's not that simple, and Renato admits that the vineyard is the only thing he has. Paladin warns that Tim feels the same way about his oil well, and tells Renato to loan Tim $3,000. Renato refuses and tells Paladin to go back, but Paladin refuses to leave until his job is done. He asks for a horse to ride into the nearby town of Stockton, and Renato agrees but makes it clear Paladin doesn't have to come back. Once he leaves, Renato and Teresa start handing out guns to his workers and says that they must fight or lose everything.

That night, Renato and his men open fire on the oil rig. Tim and his men take cover and shoot back, and a shot hits the oil tank. Tim climbs up to plug it, and then shoots two of the workers.

Paladin returns to the vineyard and hears the gunshots. Teresa begs him to help before Renato is killed, and Paladin heads over.

Tim and his men charge forward and Renato's men fall back. Renato tries to rally his workers but they run off. Paladin puts a gun to Tim's head and tells him to call his men back, and Tim does so. Tim warns Paladin that the next time they meet, he'd better be ready to fight. Paladin unloads Tim's gun, throws it away, and leaves.

Back at the vineyard, Paladin tells Renato that he knows his move was a foolish one. Renato says that he won't stay there to see Tim ruin his vineyard, and will leave as soon as the wounded can be moved. Paladin says that he wants to use a keg of his wine and Renato agrees. He and his niece have dinner, and Paladin returns. He asks Renato to come with him so he can show him something, and Renato agrees.

Paladin and Renato arrive at the rig and they watch as two of the oilmen spot Renato's keg of men. They grab it and take it inside, and soon the Irishmen are passed out drunk. When Paladin climbs up the tank, Tim jumps him and the two men fight. Paladin knocks Tim out and drags him over with his men, and then soaks a timber in oil and lights it. When Tim threatens to shoot him, Paladin holds the flame over the oil and tells him to put the gun over. Tim realizes that shooting Paladin will cause the timber to fall into the oil, destroying his life's work, and holds his shot.

Renato runs over and tells Paladin to burn the oil. Paladin refuses and tosses them a contract, and says that it's an agreement that the lawyer in Stockton drew up. Renato will agree to loan Tim $3,000 to build a new drainage setup and a stack on the boiler. In return, Renato will get a share of the profits and a say in how the rig is run. When Renato refuses, Paladin points out that if he ignites the oil then the fire will spread to the vineyard, wiping it out. He tells them to choose: operate both their business profitably or lose everything. After a moment, Renato offers Tim his hand and they shake to their new partnership.

Later back at the Donatello house, Paladin, Renato, Tim, and Teresa share a toast to the new partnership. Tim admits that the wine isn't half-bad, and admits that when he came in he hated everyone. Now he feels better, and Paladin figures that his job is done. Renato assures him that he will deliver a cask of his best wine to Paladin each year, and Teresa goes to get some food. Once they're alone, Tim tells Paladin to get him out because he can't stand Italian food. Paladin tells Teresa to show Tim her special new dish, and she brings out a kettle of Irish stew.

Written by Gadfly on Dec 17, 2016

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