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Comstock Conspiracy Recap

Bret arrives in Virginia City and tries to get into the Comstock Club to participate in the biggest poker game. The doorman Tom has never heard of him and refuses to let him enter. Club member Jerome Horne leaves and a man, Alex Jennings, confronts him in the street. Alex complains that the committee voted not to give him the money. Jerome says that the committee doesn't give money to crackpots, but Alex doesn't believe him. Bret comes up behind Alex and disarms Alex, and Jerome thanks him for intervention but says that Alex didn't have the courage to pull the trigger. He gives the gun back to Alex and invites him to shoot. Alex can't, and says that Oliver would have been a martyr if he died but can be beaten if he's alive. He figures that Jerome will eventually go too far and then he'll fall hard.

Once Alex leaves, Jerome tells Bret that Alex plans to build a five-mile long line into the Comstock mine to cart out the ore and vent the mines. They exchange introductions and Jerome dismisses Alex as someone who shows up after the hard work is done and petitions for better working conditions. Bret says that he couldn't get into the club, and Jerome takes him back and brings him in.

Jerome introduces Bret to the businessmen playing poker, including his partner John Bordeen. He wishes Bret luck and leaves, and Bret sits down to play. He soon beats John, and John asks for a chance to win back the $5,000 that he's lost. John offers Bret a bet for the money that he can cut to the Ace of Spades. Bret accepts double or nothing, and shuffles a deck. John takes out a knife and stabs it through the deck, and declares himself the winner. Bret tells him that he owes $10,000 and reveals that he palmed the ace out of the deck. John angrily leaves, saying he'll have the money in his office in one hour.

Bret goes to John's office and the clerk, Mr. Venner, says that John is waiting. John is in his chair, and turns. He complains that Bret has bad manners, and says that he's not going to pay Bret. John figures that Bret is a card shark and refuses to pay off card sharks, but Bret tells him that he doesn't get off that easy. He promises to spread the story that John is a welsher, and starts to leave. John pulls a gun from his drawer and shoots, hitting the door behind Bret, and Bret is forced to shoot him in self-defense.

Venner hears the shots and hovers outside the office door. Meanwhile, Bret confirms that John is dead and leaves. He tells Venner to get the sheriff, then realizes that he'll have to do it himself because Venner is too shocked. Bret ends up going to the sheriff's home to report the shooting. The sheriff says that it shouldn’t go too badly for Bret if it was self-defense, and they go back to the office. Venner claims not to recognize Bret from two hours ago. They go into John's office and find no sign of the body, no bloodstains on the carpet, and no bullets in the door. The sheriff assumes Bret is playing a joke and tells him to get out.

Bret wonders where to begin to get his $10,000 back and goes after Venner. A man, Norman Brock, follows him. Bret gets Venner's address and looks for his address. When he arrives, a woman says that Venner was stuck down by a wagon.

The next day, Bret visits Jerome at his ranch and tells him what happened. Jerome says that John is in his foyer, and John apologies for his rudeness and pays the $10,000. Bret leaves and Brock comes out. Jerome tells Brock to follow Bret and that John will have to put up with it if he wants to be a millionaire.

Returning to Virginia City, Bret figures that he should head for San Francisco rather than try to prove he "killed" John. As he waits for the stage the next day, Jane Vaughn calls to him by name and says that they only met once in a club in New Orleans. Bret says that he remembers her and Jane tells him that she's staying with her brother. He invites her to join him for a ride in the country and picnic lunch, and Jane accepts.

As they picnic, Bret asks why Jane talked to him. He tells her that he made up where he claimed he remembered her from, saying that he would have remembered her because she's beautiful. "Jane" admits that her real name is Ellen Bordeen, John's niece and the daughter of his brother Ralph. Ellen says that John is missing. They live on a small ranch and she left for a few days. When she returned, John and his clothes had disappeared and there was no note. Ellen came to Virginia City to see if Ralph had seen him. Ellen asks if Bret killed John, and Bret says that he did but in self-defense. She explains that 20 years ago John cheated Ralph out of a gold claim and he used the money to build his business. Bret says that Ralph is posing as John and is at Jerome's ranch. Ellen insists that Ralph is posing as John against his will, and the sheriff was put into office because of Jerome. Bret says that he won't help her because he has his money.

Bret packs up the wagon and Ellen draws a gun on him. She says that she's going to take his $10,000 until he helps her find out why Ralph is posing as John. Ellen fires a warning shot and demonstrates her marksmanship, and says that if he doesn't help she'll kill him and use his $10,000 to hire someone who will help her. She has Bret set the $10,000 in the wagon and step aside, then gets in the wagon, takes the money, and drives off.

That night, Ellen returns to her apartment and Bret grabs her. He's already checked the place and confirmed the $10,000 isn't in there, and figures Ellen has it on her. Ellen says that it's glued to the bottom of a drawer, and knocks Bret over the head with a flower vase as he checks.

Later, Bret wakes up and finds the $10,000 next to him on the carpet. Ellen is calmly sitting nearby and says that the money is all there. She admits that she gave up, and says that she misjudged Bret. Ellen admits that he came after the money rather than do what she wanted. Bret starts to go, and then kisses Ellen and tells her that they're in business. He agrees to find out more about why Jerome is using Ralph.

Bret breaks into the office and figures that Jerome and Ralph had time to switch the doors. He checks the hinges and discovers that they were worked on recently, and works out that it's been switched for the closet door in the main room. Brock gets the drop on him and has him kick over his gun belt, and then prepares to shoot Bret in the back. Alex shoots at Brock and misses, and Brock runs off. Bret assures Alex that he did fine, and Alex explains that he was following Bret and saw Brock. Alex confirms that Brock works for Jerome and John, and asks to talk to Bret about his having shot John.

They go to Alex's place and Alex explains that there's heat coming from underground springs, releasing gas into the tunnels. His line would lower the temperature and release the gases, and he's been working for 16 years. Jerome and Ralph have been delaying him for all of that time, making him a figure of public ridicule. They make their money from the railroad carting out the ore, and Alex's tunnel will reduce the distance to a tenth and eliminate their money. Over 400 miners who have died working in the Comstock Lode due to the gas or heat, and Jerome and Ralph have kept the information secret. Alex figures that Jerome is covering up John's death because it would throw the company into probate and the company records would be made public. The investors might panic and withdraw their money, forcing the company into bankruptcy. Bret confirms that Jerome is forcing Ralph to pose as John, and Alex figures that it's chance to expose Jerome. The gambler isn't interested in helping, and Alex warns him that sometimes they can't stay out of other people's business.

The next day, Bret goes out to Jerome's ranch with a wagon. He tells the guard that he's delivering a fence post from the lumber company, and offers to show the guard the shipping orders. Ellen is there with a gun and they capture the guard. They then go inside and find Ralph, and he assures Ellen that he's fine. Ralph explains that he no longer objects to Jerome's scheme. He likes the idea of being a millionaire partner and wants Ellen to join him. Ralph says that John cheated him out of what was his so they've lived in poverty. Ellen agrees with Ralph and Bret wishes them goodbye. She figures that Bret objects.

Jerome and Brock come in, Brock holding Bret at gunpoint. Ellen refuses to let Brock kill Bret, insisting that they're not murderers. Bret notes that he can't hurt them and they should let him go. No one believed him when he said he killed John, and no one will believe him if he tries to say that Ralph has taken John's place. Bret says that he'll head to San Francisco, and Brock holsters his gun. Ellen tries to slap him and Bret stops her, wishing her "happy money". Jerome tells Ellen not to let Bret disturb her, and she claims that he doesn't.

As Bret boards the stagecoach, there's a gas explosion at the mine and the locals insist on taking Bret with them to help. They get out the survivors and Alex finds Bret. Alex figures that Bret couldn't stay out of other people's business, and Bret passes out from the heat. He wakes up outside and finds Ellen at his side. She says that she's on Alex's side and Bret's after hearing that Bret had "volunteered". Ellen thanks Bret for volunteering and making her see things differently. They kiss and Ellen tells him that they'll have to rescue Ralph again. They go to Ellen's carriage, and Brock sees them go, having overheard them talk.

At the carriage, Brock draws on both of them and orders them to a nearby barn so he can kill them. Bret whispers to Ellen to faint on cue. Brock says that they'll die accidentally in a carriage accident, and Ellen faints. Bret dives to the side and shoots Brock dead, and discovers that Ellen fainted for real. She wakes up and Bret assures her that everything is fine.

Five days later, Jerome is arrested for murder, Ralph is rescued again, Alex goes to Washington, and Bret and Ellen go on their picnic.

Written by Gadfly on Jul 14, 2019

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