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Memo to a Firing Squad Recap

At Francine's club, Yancy is playing poker as Pahoo looks on. Yancy thanks her for getting Pahoo into the club, just as shots ring out from outside. Yancy runs out and finds a man on the club's doorstep. More shots hit around the man, and Yancy gets him inside. The man, John Fillmore, gives Yancy a letter and asks him to get it to John. Before he can explain, Lieutenant Weems comes in with several men and says that Fillmore is his prisoner, attached to Colton's staff. Fillmore insists that they'll kill him, and Yancy points out that Weems doesn't have jurisdiction over a civilian. Weems explains that Fillmore tried to assassinate John, and Yancy tells him to take Fillmore arrive.

Once Weems and his men leave, Francine and Pahoo come over. Pahoo signs that Weems is lying, and Yancy and Pahoo go after the soldiers. Fillmore begs them for help, and Yancy says that they're going to accompany the soldiers to make sure they can handle their prisoner. When Weems says that they don't need them, Pahoo draws his shotgun and Yancy figures that none of them are soldiers. Another man, Colonel Charles Tate, comes up behind Yancy and Pahoo and knocks them out from behind. Fillmore breaks free and runs off, and the fake soldiers shoot him dead. Tate tells Weems to dump Fillmore in the river.

The next day, Yancy and Pahoo go to Yancy's manor. Pahoo refuses to eat or drink out of shame for being ambushed, and Yancy tells him that he will go to fight alone if Pahoo stays there with a wounded spirit. After a moment, Pahoo takes the soup and eats. John arrives and Yancy tells him what happened. The administrator has never heard of Weems, and Yancy explains that the letter was from President Johnson and the fake soldiers took the letter. John explains that Fillmore is Johnson's messenger and he was carrying a pardon for a condemned man, Phillip Hampton. Phillip's case has been dragging in for three and a half year, and Phillip was a Southerner who joined the Union. Phillip was married to Meg Ashtree, and shot his commanding officer. His execution was stayed five times, and John insists that Phillip should be freed but he can't do it without Johnson's pardon. Yancy agrees to help once he sees Phillip.

Later, Yancy goes to the prison and discovers that Tate is the commandant. Yancy shows him the pass from John, and Tate says that Hampton is a traitor to the South. The gambler didn't get a look at Tate when he attacked from behind, but finds him familiar. Tate gives Yancy five minutes with Phillip, and says that he's shooting him in the morning.

Yancy goes to Phillip's cell and Phillip recognizes his old friend. Phillip says that Meg is dead and Yancy tells him that John is going to give Phillip a stay of execution until Johnson can pardon him. When Yancy asks for an explanation, Phillip explains that when the platoon he was with attacked his hometown of Alexandria, Meg raises the Union flag in the town square. His commanding officer shot Meg, and Phillip shot him. The officer was Arthur Tate, and Phillip explains that Tate is the dead officer's brother.

That night, Yancy goes back to New Orleans and reads a newspaper article about John's abduction. John's aide is in the hospital after being injured in the attack. Yancy talks to him and the man confirms that three men jumped them heading to Yancy's plantation, shot him, and took John. Yancy pays Jody a visit and interrupts him in the middle of a robbery. He holds Jody at sword point and asks what he saw in Bourbon Street. Jody finally admits that he went through Yancy's pockets after the soldiers left Yancy and Pahoo. He hands over the letter and says that he recognized the fake soldiers as hired hands from the Live Oaks Gang. Yancy lets Jody keep the money with his blessing and walks off.

Yancy gives the letter to Tate, but Tate points out that the real letter has to come through John. He dismisses it as a forgery, and insists that he's only carrying out orders. Yancy figures that Tate was involved, and Tate arrests Yancy. Yancy readily hands over his pistols and Tate has him locked up next to Phillip. Once Yancy is taken away, Tate tears up the pardon.

Once they're alone, Yancy tells Phillip that there's no stay of execution and Tate refused to recognize the pardon. He figures that Tate is willing to commit treason to execute Phillip, and Phillip describes how Tate marched him out five times. Yancy says that he's getting out, and reveals the pistol hidden in his hat. He then calls the guard in and orders him at gunpoint to open the cell door. Once the guard does, Yancy has him strip off his uniform and tells Phillip that he'll be back.

The next morning, Tate comes in and discovers the guard in his underwear, tied up and gagged. He takes Phillip to the execution yard where the firing squad is waiting. As Tate starts to give the order, Yancy and Pahoo swing down, knock them over, and train their guns on them. Once they free Phillip, Tate warns Yancy that he'll hang. Yancy tells Pahoo to save one barrel for Tate if he interferes and they head over the wall and ride off on the waiting horses.

The three men ride to the burned out plantation that Pahoo has tracked the abductors to. Yancy gives Phillip a gun and then he and Pahoo come in through the back separately. Weems is training a gun on John, and Yancy distracts him long enough for Pahoo to throw a knife into him. Once they take John to Yancy's plantation, Yancy explains that Tate is sick but his plan might still work. They don't have anything on Tate, but Yancy figures that Tate's own hate will stop him. He tells Phillip that he needs live bait, and Phillip agrees.

That night, Yancy and Phillip go to the club. They join John at the poker table, and he warns that the idea is foolish. Yancy deliberately opens the patio door and they start playing. Outside, Tate walks up to the door and prepares to shoot Phillip dead. Pahoo shoots at him, throwing off his aim, and Yancy runs out and shoots the gun out of Tate's hand. Tate says that Yancy should have killed him, but Yancy tells him that he'll leave that up to Tate's commanding officer: the President.

Written by Gadfly on Jul 1, 2017

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