Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Review of "Claustrophobia," season 3, episode 20 of Gunsmoke

Review of

Claustrophobia, season 3, episode 20 of Gunsmoke

Four out of five stars

 Some men can’t stand walls around them

 The episode opens with Matt and Chester coming across an isolated cabin. After sending out a greeting, they enter it and find a man dead. Later, they encounter two hardcase men that threaten them, Matt does not reveal that he is a lawman. Further down the trail, they encounter a man named Olie Ridgers, he raises pigs and the only roof he ever has over his head is the sky. His friend has convinced him to travel to Dodge for a brief getaway. Olie is reluctant, but consents in order to humor his friend.

 While they are in Dodge, someone kills Olie’s pigs and mule, he is devastated and takes the law into his own hands. As Matt says many times in the series, “the law says I have to take you in.” Unwilling to fight Matt, Olie surrenders and stands trial, receiving what for him is an intolerable sentence.  Although he hates to do so, Matt follows the law and at the end there is a bit of justice rendered.

 This is an episode where the viewer sympathizes with the victim Olie. All he wanted to do was live his life in peace with his farm animals and two brutal killers violently invade that space. His reaction was understandable, yet there is no sympathy from the court. You see Matt and Chester torn between their duty to the law and what they know is right, a significant moral dilemma.

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