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The Protege Recap

At the Carlton, Paladin approaches an attractive woman but she leaves with an older man. He goes back to reading the paper and sees an ad for Kurt Sprague saying that he needs someone to come to Rapid City, California, to teach him how to shoot.

Paladin sends his card and soon rides to Rapid City. Kurt and another man watch Paladin are at the house. Paladin rides up and Kurt tells him that the job has been filled. He promised his new instructor the job, and Paladin points out that the ad said only experts should apply. The instructor says that he served with Dillon in Austin, and Paladin points out that Dillon didn't serve in Austin. Paladin unloads is gun and has the instructor do the same, and then has them both put one bullet in. The instructor obliges and Paladin outdraws him. The other man, disgusted, rides off, and Paladin asks why Kurt was so anxious to learn how to shoot. Kurt explains that Red Harper has taken over his hometown of Right Angle, New Mexico, and killed several men in gunfights. Red bumped into his father Joe on purpose and Red called Kurt out, but Kurt didn't have a gun. Since then, Red made a point to insult him in front of the entire town.

Paladin tells Kurt that he'll train him, but Kurt had probably realize that handling a gun has special responsibilities. He's impressed that Kurt wants to do his own fighting. They begin training and Kurt slowly improves. Kurt is eager to learn so that he can go home. He wonders if he'll be good enough, and Paladin tells him that he takes to the gun as if he was born to it.

The next day they work on Kurt's draw and continue working on his shooting. Paladin then has Kurt combine the two and he hits what he's shooting for. Once he's ready, Paladin tells him that it's time for him to home. Kurt wonders if he's fast enough, and Paladin says that Kurt is as fast as any man he's seen. The younger man asks Paladin to come with him to even the odds, and Paladin agrees. They ride to the town and one of Red's friends sees Kurt coming and rides to warn the others.

When Paladin and Kurt ride into Right Angle, they find Red at the saloon. Joe and the sheriff are outside and Joe asks if Kurt can shoot, and Kurt explains that Paladin trained him. Kurt calls Red out, and Red and his two men emerge. Red says that Kurt is still yellow-bellied even with a gun, and Paladin tells Red to get rid of his friends or he'll help Kurt. The bully tells his friends to step aside and invites Kurt to draw first. When Kurt doesn't, Red insults his mother and Kurt shoots him dead. Kurt tells Paladin that it felt like he was born to it, just like Paladin said.

Kurt and Paladin go into the saloon and Kurt pays Paladin off. Paladin tells him as a friend to forget about his gun because he doesn't need it anymore. Kurt removes it and Paladin offers a toast to a long and happy life. They shake hands and Kurt tells Paladin that he's been a good friend. As Paladin starts to ride off, Joe thanks Paladin for training his son well. Paladin says that Joe is thanking him for nothing and leaves.

Inside the bar, Kurt puts the gun back on once he hears that Paladin has left.

Three months later, Joe comes to the Carlton and shows Paladin of the newspaper clippings of Kurt gunning down various men. Joe explains that Kurt singles out a man and provokes him until he has no choice but to fight. The father says that Kurt is in worst trouble and asks Paladin to help him save Joe by convincing him to quit. Paladin figures that he owes Kurt that much.

Kurt is at the saloon playing solitaire and arguing with the bartender. Paladin comes in and says that Kurt is the matter, and Kurt figures that Joe sent him. He says that Paladin should be proud because he taught him, and says that the gun makes him feel like he's somebody. Paladin tells him that he's going out on the street and waits. Either Kurt turns himself in or tries his gun on Paladin.

Paladin goes out in the street and waits. Kurt comes out after him and says that he thought of Paladin. He figures that he's surpassed Paladin so Paladin is calling him out. Paladin says that he doesn't want to kill him, and Kurt tells him that paladin doesn't know how good he is. They both draw, and Kurt wounds Paladin... and Paladin kills Kurt. Joe comes over and the dying Kurt tells Paladin that he did everything Paladin taught him. Paladin reminds him that he didn't do what he said and take off the gun for good, and tells Joe that he wanted to be Kurt's friend. Joe tells him that Paladin was the best friend Kurt ever had, and Paladin walks away.

Written by Gadfly on Apr 1, 2018

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