Good old Bonanza. Since the last episode started out fun and ending up kind of annoying, the series is going to balance things out with an episode that starts out depressing and ends up even more depressing. Keep some tissues and maybe a bottle of gin handy for this one.
Also, I hope you like learning about structural engineering.
We begin the happy fun-time parade with a beautiful young woman in a fancy pink dress. She’s Helene Holloway, daughter of Andrew Holloway. It’s the night of Helene’s engagement party, but Holloway is more concerned with business matters. He owns the Ophir silver mine, and Helene is engaged to his superintendent. She makes her father promise to have a nice evening with no work-related discussions, just as the doorbell rings.
Wow, a doorbell! This family is really wealthy! (I’m not being sarcastic. Doorbells were not available to common folk in this time and place. The Cartwrights don’t even have one.)
Helene’s fiancé, Gil Fenton, shows up with his old friend and future best man, Adam Cartwright! Of the Ponderosa Cartwrights! Helene says she’s surprised that they were on time, and Gil says it’s all Adam’s fault. Our boy is punctual. And looking pretty chic in his fancy party clothes.
Holloway explains that everybody is under orders not to talk about work, so he’ll make this conversation about work really short. Gil shouldn’t worry about the mine’s output for the evening, because Holloway put the night shift on the third level.
“You what?” He gasps, “I told you we couldn’t work the third level without new timbering!”
Suddenly, the emergency whistle sounds throughout Virginia City. It means that something has gone disastrously wrong in one of the mines. Unsurprisingly, we find out that the Ophir’s third level collapsed, and the entire night shift is trapped.
Then we go to our jaunty title sequence. Because the intense episodes always give you whiplash like that.
When we get back, a crowd of concerned townsfolk and the families of the trapped miners have gathered at the Ophir. A gentle old woman in a black shawl looks terribly worried as she goes to Holloway and demands to know why her son was working on the level that needed new timbering. Holloway tells her that she shouldn’t concern herself with whether or not her son might die because of inadequate safety measures, and tries to get Helene to leave with him.
Helene decides to comfort the old woman instead.
Over at the opening to the collapsed shaft, several of the men – including Gil and Adam – are trying to dig their way in. One of the older miners comes over to Gil, grabs him by the shoulders, and demands to know how come he sent the night shift to work in what he knew were deadly conditions. Gil used to be one of the miners, he understood what it was to go down into the earth, and that’s why they liked him as a foreman. But now that he’s marrying the boss’s daughter, all the little people are just numbers, aren’t they?
Gil looks like he’s going to throw up.
Adam tells the distraught miner that Gil is doing everything he can, and he’s about to explain that Holloway ordered the work when the miner cuts him off. Apparently, the miner’s kid brother is caught in the collapse, and Adam doesn’t know anything because he’s an evil lumber baron who sells people faulty timbering.
Hey! Come on, now! Adam just supplies a product, he doesn’t install it!
The miner gets violent and tries to attack Adam, which is never a good idea. Adam handily knocks the man out and resumes his work trying to free the trapped miners.
A bell rings, indicating that somebody below has made it to the elevator. The men move the last of the obstructions, and pull up the car.
It’s Pat, the son of the old woman from before. He’s in bad shape, covered in blood and grime, but he manages to tell Gil that when they did a routine blast on the east slope, all of the timber on the third level buckled and there was a massive collapse.
Gil’s bitterly angry, since he reported the weakness the previous week when there was a smaller collapse, and isn’t this fun? What a fun episode, right?
It’s not even the kind of sad you can make fun of. It’s just sad.
Soon we’ll get to meet a wacky foreigner, but he’s not really wacky and his life’s work is of vital importance.
Okay. So, Gil decides to personally go down into the mine and try to help free survivors. Helene pleads with him not to, but he says that if he’d been down there that evening, the collapse probably wouldn’t have happened. He loves Helene, but he has an obligation to the men who risk their lives for her father’s wealth.
Adam tells him not to let what the old miner said mess him up too much, and Gil replies that if his kid brother was caught in a collapse, he wouldn’t have been as polite. Adam considers what he might do if Little Joe were in an industrial accident, and he jumps into the elevator with Gil. Forgetting, of course, that Little Joe is practically a one-man industrial accident all on his own.
Gil says it’s not necessary for Adam to come, and Adam argues that he has a business obligation. If there is any fault in the Ponderosa lumber, he needs to know about it. Down they go.
Holloway and Helene watch them descend, and Helene’s attention turns to the family members who are waiting. She wonders how they stand it. Not just during these emergencies, but knowing every day that something like this might happen. It’s like living on top of a powder keg.
In the worst display of human empathy yet seen on the show, Holloway says that this is just the normal risk that goes along with the business of mining. A clerk brings him a list of the men who were working that night, and Holloway tells him to enter it all onto the report and make sure that the widows get “the usual box of groceries.”
This guy’s a jacked up robot. But not a fun robot trying to learn about human emotions. An evil robot who only cares about silver and profits.
“A box of groceries in exchange for a dead husband.” Helene murmurs, staring at the opening to the mine. She’s absolutely horrified.
“It’s company policy.” Holloway replies, “I’m sorry this had to happen tonight. It spoiled your party, didn’t it?”
Dude, I don’t think your daughter is upset because her engagement party got cancelled. I think she’s upset because human lives are hanging in the balance and the man she loves just ventured into a dangerous underground realm full of treacherous falling rock. Even if you are a robot, I’m pretty sure a Roomba could’ve picked up on that, and they’re not programmed to think about things that aren’t sweeping.
By two o’clock that morning, all of the looky-loos have left. The only people who remain are the families of the trapped workers, and even some of them have been talked into waiting for the news at home. Helene’s still there, waiting for Gil.
She’s standing in her beautiful pink dress, like a rose blossom against the night sky, staring down into the mineshaft. It’s a really haunting piece of filming. This episode was directed by Joseph Kane, who also directed three films starring John Wayne, and was responsible for several of the more atmospheric episodes of Rawhide. (A show where the main character is named Gil! Fun random connection!)
Holloway comes to tell her that she should go home and sleep, but she says that she can’t do that. And she knows none of those women whose husbands are trapped will be able to sleep either. Everyone will just be waiting, wide awake, wondering if they’ll get the man they loved or their box of groceries.
The bell rings, and they pull up the elevator car. The only people in it are Gil and Adam, and they look like absolute hell. Helene rushes into Gil’s arms, and he holds her for comfort as he looks over at all the wives and grey-haired mothers that are waiting for news.
“Do you want to tell them?” He coldly asks Holloway.
“Tell them what?” Holloway looks puzzled.
“That there’s nobody else coming out of there.”
Damn it, Bonanza! You’re supposed to be about three cowboy brothers having silly adventures!
Holloway seems genuinely surprised to learn that surviving a mining collapse isn’t common. When Gil sees that Mr. Roboto won’t be able to handle it, he goes to tell the women himself. We don’t hear what he says, but we see the reaction his news brings.
It’s brutal. You can still hear them crying in the distance when Gil comes back over to Helene.
Holloway asks him how soon the report can be ready.
Gil barely manages to contain his rage when he says that he’ll have the report ready by mid-morning. Some nice black figures against clean white paper, telling Mr. Holloway exactly who died and how they can stop it from slowing up production. Apparently, though, they managed to pull out a few more survivors after Pat came up, which is good.
Adam tries to tell Gil not to say anything more until he’s clear-headed, but Gil tells him to shut up.
Exhausted, Adam leaves it alone.
Helene tries to soothe Gil, and she says that maybe he shouldn’t have gone down. Gil takes that the wrong way, and says that of course she thinks he shouldn’t have. He’s the new superintendent, and Mr. Holloway’s future son-in-law, he should have been drinking champagne and rubbing elbows with the other people who care more about money than human lives. Helene’s breed of people.
It’s pretty uncalled for, given that she spent the whole night comforting the bereaved and waiting for him to come back up.
Holloway says that Gil is being melodramatic. After all, Holloway has seen his share of mine disasters.
Gil says that he’d like to see how Holloway would handle facing the men who worked in that mine every day, how he would handle seeing those women on the street and knowing whose sons and brothers and husbands had died that night.
“That’s not my job. It’s yours.” Holloway tells him.
“No, it’s not your job.” Gil sneers, “It’s not your job to order those men into a mine that isn’t safe enough for a rat!”
“The Ophir is as safe as any mine on the Comstock.”
Gil says that all the mines on the Comstock are death traps, and it looks like he might physically attack Holloway when Helene steps between them. She pleads with Gil to rest and get some water, and she manages to calm him down and lead him away.
Adam starts to go home when Holloway demands to know why he went into the mine with Gil. It’s like this man doesn’t realize kindness is a thing people can do. Adam decides not to give him the part of the answer he won’t understand, and explains that he was checking the timbering.
Holloway angrily tells him that the Ophir has an employee for that. Adam says he knows about Philip Deidesheimer, and is hoping to speak with him. Holloway says that it’s his business to run the mine and Adam’s business to sell timber. As long as Holloway’s buying the timber, Adam shouldn’t have any kind of problem with how it’s used. He implies that if Adam gets too nosy, he’ll lose the contract.
Oh no! If Adam can’t sell that lumber, it’ll expire!
Holloway goes home to find that Helene is still awake. He offers her a brandy, and she declines. Because this is the show where everybody who’s not a villain declines brandy, but will occasionally drink beer or champagne. Helene starts to talk about the collapse, but Holloway cuts her off and asks her to sit with him so they can discuss something.
He wants to talk to her about Gil. He starts by saying that he’s as fond of Gil as Helene is, and I don’t think he quite understands the level of fondness Helene has, because he doesn’t seem to know that love is a thing. He adds that if he thought Gil was an unsuitable husband for his daughter, he would have fired him instead of promoting him. But he did promote Gil, so now he’s a superintendent. And a superintendent shouldn’t go underground.
Helene replies that the miners at the Ophir are Gil’s friends. He owes it to them to be the kind of boss who cares about working conditions. Holloway’s all: “What are these words you use, Helene? F…friend? Care?” According to him, people must stay on their own levels, and not socialize with people on lower levels.
Holloway says that everyone has to answer to their boss. The miners have to answer to Gil, Gil has to answer to him, and he has to answer to the worst kinds of bosses there are: stockholders. They have no faces, no hearts, no human emotions. But they’ve got stock certificates.
“If I get soft or sentimental, those stockholders will use it as a club to beat my brains out.”
What the hell is he talking about?!
Oh, wait. He thinks that Gil is trying to look good to impress his stockholders so he can steal his job. Helene tries to tell him how ridiculously insane that sounds, but Holloway tells her that her womanly brain is too generous. He says it’s lonely up on his level, but he can see a lot further than other men.
I’m kind of scared of Holloway. He’s talking like the crazy people we meet on, well, Rawhide.
Helene’s much braver than me, and she decides to be furious instead of scared. She curtly tells her father that she’ll try to understand his point of view.
The next day, Hoss and Adam are having lunch at a restaurant in Virginia City when Gil finds them. Adam is drinking a vat of coffee, and Hoss explains that he made Adam wake up and come into town with him because they have things to do today. Adam’s all: “Coffee is the only thing I love. I have no brother.” And Hoss is like: “He says that all the time, don’t pay it any attention.”
Gil looks ragged, and explains that Holloway has “suggested” to him that he should keep Adam and Philip Deidesheimer apart, but everyone can and will ignore that.
He and Adam decide to head out to the mine.
Hoss complains that Adam was supposed to pay for lunch, and Adam says he lost too much sleep and can’t do math anymore. Hoss’ll have to take care of it.
On their way to the mine, Gil and Adam bump into Tregalis, the miner whose brother had been trapped in the collapse. It turns out that the kid brother was one of the survivors, and Tregalis nervously apologizes to Gil about freaking out on him the night before. He says he’d hate to lose his job over it. Gil’s like: “I don’t fire people for having natural human emotions, sir.” They shake hands.
When they get to the Ophir, Gil asks one of the workers if Deidesheimer is around, and the worker decides to treat us to a flatly delivered speech about how weird “the Dutchman” is. It turns out that Deidesheimer has been down in the mine since very early that morning, so Gil and Adam get set to go into the tunnels again.
Right before they do, Helene calls to Gil and hurries over. He says that he’ll talk to her when they come back up. She teases that if it were another woman, she could handle the jealousy, but having a silver mine for a romantic rival is a little weird.
Helene tells Gil to be careful and he gives her a great big kiss. Adam and the guy working the elevator are all: “Whoa! Hey! It’s 1860! Stop kissing in public, you perverts!” Helene blushes and waves as the elevator goes down.
Adam and Gil wander around the mine with a couple of lanterns, while Adam examines the timbering. He says that the timber itself is really strong, and it looks like it’s been properly installed. Gil assures him that the installation was flawless. But, for one reason or another, the frames simply won’t hold.
An unscheduled blast rocks the tunnel, causing a light rain of debris to fall on Adam and Gil. Adam watches as the timbering around them trembles and creaks. It’s not supposed to do that.
Gil angrily calls Deidesheimer’s name and plunges forward to find him, and presumably yell at him for letting off an unscheduled blast. They find him working on his calculations, next to a crate full of dynamite and a pickaxe. He says that the way the timbering is set up is usually the safest way to do it, but the unusual temperatures of the rock on the Comstock Lode are causing the wood to expand and shrink during different times of the day. Which is somewhat inaccurate.
Philip Deidesheimer was a real dude who really invented the thing he’s going to invent in this episode. The actual reason that traditional timbering kept collapsing in the Comstock mines was because the rock that contained the silver was very, very weak. So, once the ore was extracted, the rock would collapse into the cavities of the newly mined areas. There was also a lot of clay in the region, and the clay would expand after it was exposed, putting stress on the timbering. Also, Deidesheimer wasn’t Dutch, he was German.
Deidesheimer says he can’t sleep while the widows of the dead miners are grieving. (He’s telepathic and sad thoughts keep him awake.) He asks Adam if he’s an engineer, and Adam says that he’s just a humble lumber baron trying to find out if he’s accidentally sold cursed timber to Gil’s mine. For some reason, he completely forgets to mention his fancy degree in architecture.
Gil doesn’t forget, though. He’s like: “Adam has a fancy degree in architecture. He designs houses that will last for hundreds of years. You should see the house he lives in, it’s bananas.”
Deidesheimer says he can’t enjoy beautiful houses while rocks are smushing innocent men to death. It’s both noble and repetitive. While he’s being all dramatic, the timber around them starts creaking, but only Gil seems to notice.
Adam tells Deidesheimer that he’s heard a lot of good things about him, and if he needs anybody to bounce stress calculations off of—wait a minute! Stress calculations are math, and you told Hoss that you couldn’t do math anymore! Oh my god, Adam, did you lie to get out of paying for lunch? What kind of man are you?!
Deidesheimer, who doesn’t know about Adam’s horrible deception, is excited to have a new engineering buddy. Adam is also excited, because hooray for math! (Let’s see if mathematics can help you win a bar brawl after Hoss learns what you did and resigns as your brother…) Deidesheimer says that his new friend can call him Philip, and I think I’m going to do that, too. I’ve already mistyped Deidesheimer like twelve times.
Adam and Philip start to leave the mine, with Gil following behind and making sure all of their lanterns are collected. The timber starts to creak even louder, and just as Adam looks around uncertainly, the whole tunnel collapses.
On the other side of the big wall of rock that wasn’t there a second ago, the other miners start to work to free our dudes. Adam is, somewhat ironically, trapped beneath an enormous log of ponderosa pine. Philip is wedged in a space between the bulk of the collapse and the wall of the tunnel. It’s a tight space and very dark. There’s no sign of Gil.
Adam calls for him but doesn’t hear an answer.
He asks Philip what they’re supposed to do, and Philip helpfully suggests waiting for rescue and worrying about death. Great engineers aren’t always good at social skills.
Up on the surface, Hoss has heard the news of the collapse. He pushes through the crowd and finds Helene crying at the opening to the mine. He tells her that everything is going to be just fine. Then he jumps down a mineshaft to go save Adam.
Down at the great big wall of rock, the miners tap out a rhythm to try and figure out where the survivors are. Adam manages to softly knock back, and they keep going. But, eventually, he’s too weak to keep doing it. There’s a giant tree crushing him, after all. The rescuers decide to give up, just as Hoss arrives. He demands to know why everybody’s leaving, and they say that Adam isn’t answering the signal anymore.
Hoss says that’s a load of malarkey, and starts pulling up enormous rocks and banging out the signal again. Hoss, shout through the rock that you have a fresh pot of coffee and some magazines from New York, but they’re only for people who survive cave-ins! I swear that’ll work!
Eventually, Hoss gets through.
“Bout time you got here.” Adam weakly coughs out when he sees him, “Gil’s back there somewhere.”
“Adam,” Hoss says gently, “ain’t nothing back there but five hundred tons of rock.”
I am extremely sad. I kind of liked Gil.
Hoss lifts the whole gigantic piece of pine off of Adam, and I should probably do a joke about his super-human strength, but I’m really bummed out about Gil. And Helene. And somebody having to tell Helene about Gil.
Adam and Philip are pulled free, and they ride up with Hoss in the elevator. When they get to the surface, Helene rushes towards them and asks where Gil is. Hoss takes her aside and says he’s got something to tell her.
“That Gil,” she says with tears in her eyes. “He’s always the first one down and the last one up. I suppose he’s still down there looking around.”
You can tell that she knows, but she’s hoping so hard that she’s wrong. Oh god, Hoss, you have to be the one to tell her! Wait, no! Don’t tell her! Let’s talk about the weather instead!
“Ma’am, let me take you home.”
“No, I have to wait here,” Helene begs, “He promised me he’d be safe. He promised me.”
She has a little meltdown while she accepts the fact that Gil isn’t coming back, and on the one hand, Hoss doesn’t actually have to tell her the words, but on the other hand, it’s certainly not fun to watch her break down. The actress playing Helene does a wonderful job here, since a lot of this could have come across as crazy-idiot instead of desperate-denial, but she swings it just right and depresses the hell out of everybody.
Adam and Philip take Helene home, because Hoss has gone to get the doctor. (He did good with all that rock. He should go have a pork bun on the way.) When they get to the Holloway family residence, likeable human Andrew Holloway demands to see Gil. Adam says that Gil is down in the mine. Like, forever.
Holloway can’t wrap his head around that at first, since evil robots aren’t good with poetic language. So Helene gives a great/gut-wrenching speech to help him.
“What he means is that Gil is dead. It’s a dirty word: dead. We don’t use it in this house, not on this level. The stockholders might not like to hear it. It’s a word for the men who go underground, not for people like us. We can’t talk about a man who’s buried under fifty tons of rock, but he’s dead just the same.”
Hoss turns up with the doctor, just in time to hear all of that and watch Helene break down into tears again. The doctor says he’ll give Helene a sedative and then properly look over Philip and Adam.
Holloway is left in the living room, and he starts bemoaning the fact that he’ll have to hire a new superintendent. Hoss calls him a soulless monster.
After the doctor has checked them over and ordered immediate rest, Adam and Philip decide to ignore his instructions and get to work on some safety math. I’m deciding not to yell at them, because sitting quietly and doing equations is probably the least strenuous way for them to contribute right now. And Hoss is nearby, in case they get tired and need somebody to lift their protractors.
Holloway comes in and starts to give Philip some ideas about how to cut corners and still look like they’re improving safety, but Philip tells him to go to hell. Holloway reminds Philip that he is currently in the guest room of his house, and Philip’s like: “Right now, this room isn’t part of your house. It’s my office.”
Holloway leaves, but he’s all door-slammy and upset. He storms back downstairs, where Hoss is talking to a couple of guys from the mine. One of them, named Casey, tells Holloway that he’s been elected by the men to report that they will not go back underground until the mine shuts down for a proper safety inspection. Holloway fires him on the spot. The man who’s with him, our old friend Tregalis, says that he thinks he can get the men to go back to work. So Holloway gives him Casey’s old job and tells him that his first order of business is to go upstairs and tell “that Dutchman” to stop trying to help.
Up in their newly commandeered office, Adam and Philip are wearing glasses and using various sizes of pencil while they talk about vertical bracing and overhead pressure. Tregalis storms in and starts yelling at Philip, who punches him out and sits back down to his very important math. Adam is amused. He thought he was going to have to handle the punching.
Meanwhile, Hoss decides to talk to Helene. It’s too sad. He tells her that grief is a process, and that she’s never going to be able to forget that she knew Gil and loved him. But, with time, the pain of losing him will stop being the loudest memory. It’ll fade into the background, and she’ll remember the brightest parts of loving him. He talks about his mother, and about Emily dying. He says that at first, grief is overwhelming, but you have to force yourself to keep on living.
Helene seems comforted.
Hoss is magic.
A few days later, over at the Ophir mine, Hoss comes up the elevator and walks over to Philip. He reports on behalf of Adam that “number six has shifted” and Philip knows what that means. This babble is awful. They’re like five seconds away from reversing the polarity on something. Philip looks exhausted, and he rambles on about the dead people buried under the earth. Luckily, Hoss is an amateur nurse, and asks Philip to describe any weird symptoms he might be having.
Philip says it’s mostly a headache from thinking so hard. All of these numbers and concepts are buzzing over each other and trying to work together. His head feels like a beehive.
That’s it! A beehive! A honeycomb! Hoss, he’s figured it out! Go get him some math supplies and fetch Adam and meet him back at the Holloway house!
After that extremely cliché eureka moment, we see the three members of Team No-More-Mining-Collapses standing around the first ever model of the square set timbering method. Picture the board from Q*bert made out of wooden frames. It’s a brilliant solution, and they take the model down to show it to Holloway.
Hoss calls Helene into the room to look at the neat cube building thing that Mr. Deidesheimer built, and Helene’s like: “Will it work?” And Hoss is all: “Probably.”
Holloway looks at it and can’t believe it’s supposed to be a system of mine bracing. He says he understands the principle of even bracing, and imagines that the idea is that as a mine expands, more boxes can be added, and the boxes in depleted areas can simply be filled in with excess rock. Hoss is excited and says that he thinks it’s neat you can add boxes up and down as well as sideways, and he’s pretty sure you could put in flooring because it’d be the same as a house! Holloway tells Hoss to shut up because he doesn’t know anything about engineering. Holloway can take a long walk, because he doesn’t know anything about engineering either.
He says that putting in square sets would cost a fortune, calls everybody impractical dreamers, and smashes the Q*bert model. The boys look disheartened and angry, and Adam leads everybody out.
Helene is stunned. She asks her father why he didn’t even give them a chance to explain their plan for offsetting costs. Maybe Adam was going to sell his lumber at a lower price in order for this new method to be tested. Holloway says he doesn’t have time to watch grown men play with toys, he has a mine to run. She tells him that he’s so horrifically detached from his own humanity, she can’t stand to be in the same room as him. She’s leaving.
She’ll let him know where he can send her box of groceries.
After the spectacular failure of their presentation, Philip is frustrated with their chances of implementing the new system. Adam puts on his businessman hat, and decides that he’s going to use his connections as a lumber baron to meet with the owners of the other silver mines and try to sell one of them the idea.
Hoss and Adam have a meeting with the owners of the Yellowjacket mine. Adam shows them the model, and while they’re impressed with the concept, they’re very much against the cost of installation. The owner is like: “Very clever, Adam. This is by far the most ingenious way I’ve ever seen an evil lumber baron try to sell more lumber.”
They’re not evil lumber barons, guy! They’re regular lumber barons very much concerned with workplace safety! Just because all the silver barons are disingenuous sub-humans it doesn’t mean that every category of baron is like that!
Hoss tells the mine owner he’s a woodpecker and a flannel-mouthed liar, and he picks up their little model and makes Adam storm angrily out of the office with him.
Turns out that was their last meeting with the last major mining operation, and all of the other meetings had gone down like that. But it’s cool, because Adam has a back-up plan.
Little Joe is going to clandestinely send lumber down from the sawmill after dark, and Adam and Hoss are going to oversee the secret installation of the new square set system in the Ophir mine that night. By tomorrow morning, ten cubes will be in place and then everybody will see how amazingly safe they are. Hoss asks how they’re going to get Joe to make certain the lumber gets there, and Adam explains that they’ll just tell Little Joe they don’t want him to help because they don’t think he’ll be able to get them the supplies in time. Hoss is sure that’ll work. Little Joe falls for reverse psychology every time.
Hoss goes to the mining office to tell Philip about the amazing new plan, when Helene stops by. Hoss asks what she’s up to, and she explains that she’s just been wandering around since she’s homeless now. She asks Hoss if everybody knows her father is a murderer, and Hoss says that Holloway isn’t a murderer. He’s just got messed up priorities, and nobody knows how to clean up the mess. Hoss has met a lot of really bad people, and he doesn’t think Holloway is all bad.
He tells Helene and Philip the plan to secretly put in the new bracing system. Helene says that they’re all being very naïve if they think that Holloway, or even the other mine owners, will allow them to do it. Hoss doesn’t see the problem, since Adam has decided to cover the costs himself. (With his restaurant money, one would imagine.)
So Helene explains that if the miners hear about improved safety measures, and see that they work, they’ll start demanding them. And the cost of timber and installation to use the system as the mines expand will have a direct impact on every company’s profits.
Hoss asks how the evil silver barons are going to stop him. Helene tells him that evil silver barons can just hire gunfighters, or even fifty men with clubs to stop him. He’s not dealing with kind, rational people. Hoss tells Helene that he’s very difficult to stop with clubs and bullets, and if she thinks that putting in the bracing is a good idea, then the team will do it.
The next morning, word of the installation project has gotten out and an angry mob led by the evil silver barons, minus Holloway, storm up to the Ophir. Philip, Hoss, and Helene are standing at the opening to the tunnel, having come to check on progress.
One of the evil silver barons announces that they’ve come to protect the interests of the Holloway Company. The mob attacks Hoss, but it’s not really a problem. He’s fending off about six of them when the elevator bell sounds, so Helene brings up the car.
It’s her father. She’s very much surprised. He calls a stop to the fighting, and that one silver baron from before explains that they’re only trying to kill Hoss because they heard he was planning to put square sets into the Ophir. Holloway’s like: “I know he’s doing that! I was just down there helping put the damn things in!”
He says it had been too long since he’d been underground. He hadn’t realized that the old timbering system was so ill-equipped to the unique challenges of the jacked up Nevada ground. Maybe more owners should go down and see the conditions they’re asking their men to work in. What good are levels, if you can’t get a different view from each one?
He still sounds like a nutcase, but at least he’s learning.
Helene looks at Hoss, and Hoss is like: “See? I told you he wasn’t an evil robot.”
We get some scenes of sweaty shirtless men building square sets.
Adam and Philip bring down all the mine owners for a test blast to show them the difference between the new timbering and the old. The improvement is vast and obvious, and everybody changes their minds. Hooray for progress!
Helene decides to give her father another chance, and Hoss says that history will remember Philip Deidesheimer’s innovation, even nobody in the future can pronounce his name.
High Point: It’s so pretty to look at. It's the most visually interesting episode so far.