At Paladin's suite at the Carlton, a woman throws a vase at Paladin and storms out. Hey Boy comes in and Paladin complains that the woman wanted to vote and discuss universal suffrage. The house boy shows Paladin an article about "mad dog killer" Carl Soddenberg being freed on the grounds of insanity. Carl is being transferred from prison to the state asylum for a voluntary rest before being returned to society again and sent to an unsuspecting community.
Paladin is soon off to meet with Dr. Weiser. Weiser says that Carl is still with the sheriff, and says that Carl is responding to therapy and has been cured. He insists that it's important that Carl does not revert, and they go to meet with the sheriff as Weiser has arranged.
The two men arrive at a cemetery and the sheriff says that once they take Carl over the county line, he has no more responsibility for the man. Weiser agrees and tells Paladin that he'll pick up supplies and meet Paladin at Ben Murdock's place. Ben will then guide them through the mountains, and Paladin will take Carl to the hospital at Marysville. Paladin wonders if the relatives of the family that Carl killed, the Traynors, will be any problem. The sheriff says that it isn't a job that he takes for money, and Paladin tells him that he doesn't either but he doesn't believe in lynch law.
The sheriff directs Paladin to a metal box. Paladin is furious and the sheriff says that they let him out for a half hour every night, and it's better than a mob burning down his jail trying to get to Carl. He throws the key to Paladin, who lets Carl out. Carl squints in the sunlight, and says that he needs a shave and a bath. He sees Weiser and says that he feels pretty good.
Soon, Paladin watches and laughs as Carl bathes in a creek and sings. He shaves and says it was all good, and tells Paladin that whatever he has isn't catching. Carl notes that Paladin has chains, and Paladin says that he just carries them for the men he deals with. When Carl offers to let Paladin chain him up, Paladin says that he's there to help rather than hurt him. Carl explains that they burned Ben's place down because he hid Carl before they caught him.
The two men ride to Ben's farm and Ben and his pregnant wife Mary are out on the porch. Ben assures Carl that he's glad to see him and invites him into eat with them. Mary says that she rather Carl stay in the shed, and gives him a shirt of Ben's. She admits that she's scared of him and afraid for her baby, and Carl says that he understands. Mary invites Paladin in, but he starts to go with Carl. She says that Carl is two men and she likes one of them, but the other killed the Traynors. Mary asks Paladin to put the chains on Carl if he's going to stay, and Ben tells her to go into the house. Once she does, Ben tells Paladin that the Traynor relatives are in the hills and there's no telling what they're doing. Paladin wonders why Ben is helping Carl, and Ben says that he needs help.
Paladin and Carl set up in the shed, and Paladin admits that he's afraid of Carl and the Traynors. He figures that Mary is honest as well, and Paladin explains that she's built that way. Paladin is being honest because he figures that it'd show and there'd be no point to it. He says that it takes a very reasonable man to understand why he can't always be loved and appreciated, and Carl points out that a madman would think the same. When Paladin says that Weiser has hope in Carl, Carl figures that it's important for the doctor to believe in him. He talks about how he first got the feelings when he was 12 to kill things. He worked his way up from animals to humans, and when he killed something he was relieved. Paladin asks him if the world smells sweet now, and Carl tells him to put the chains on if he doesn't believe him. However, he warns that he has a bad temper and doesn't want to be put away because he loses his temper.
Carl lunges at Paladin... and pulls him to the floor. The Traynors outside open fire, just missing Paladin, and Paladin thanks Carl for his help. As Ben comes out, one of the Traynors climbs up on the shed. Ben yells a warning and Paladin shoots him through the roof, killing him. The others ride in and Paladin kills two of them. Ben kills the third and final one, and Carl asks Ben if he blames them. Ben finally says that he has no warmth for any man, and Carl realizes that he asked too much. He mounts a horse and rides off, and Ben offers to go after him. Paladin tells him to come back if he doesn't find Carl by nightfall, pointing out that there was a rifle on the horse.
Later, Weiser rides up and Paladin tells him what happened. Carl returns a short time later and Paladin tells him to bring the rifle in easy. The man hides it over and says that he didn't see Ben. Paladin checks the barrel and confirms that the rifle wasn't fired, and Carl tells him to chain him up before he goes after Ben. Weiser insists that it isn't necessary, but Carl says that he and Mary will both feel better. Weiser says that Carl shouldn't be chained, and Paladin asks if he's sure or if he's just playing a calculated risk. The doctor insists that Carl is harmless, but Paladin refuses to take the chance and chains up Carl to the water post.
Paladin finally locates Ben's corpse, lying by a creek. There's a knife in the nearby water.
The next morning, Carl breaks the water pump, freeing himself, and knocks out Weiser. He tells Mary to run and advances on her, and she takes out a derringer and shoots him. Paladin rides up as Carl staggers to his feet and advances on her, still begging her to run. As he reaches Mary, Paladin opens fire and kills him.
Once Weiser wakes up, Paladin tells him what happened to Ben. Weiser stares off into space, saying that he'll try again and again. Paladin tells Mary that he'll bury Carl and get Ben, and asks if there's anything else he can do for her. She asks him to stay until she gets a hired man, and Paladin agrees. She hopes that the baby looks like his father, and Paladin tells her that Ben was a brave and gentle man.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 1, 2017