John Farron and Matt Dillon are long time friends. It seems that Farron's family took care of Dillon many years earlier when Dillon was going through tough times.
Somewhere along the way, Farron ran afoul of the law. The episode doesn't provide details, but Farron tells Matt that robbery became easier after "the first one." Now Farron is wanted for murder, although he insists he has never killed anyone.
Farron makes the mistake of riding into Dillon's jurisdiction, which should have been the entire state of Kansas. Farron is tired of running, and is looking for a plea deal. Farron only trusts Matt and, through his wife, arranges to meet with Matt to discuss a deal.
Matt is able to get the Attorney General to agree to a deal, but it means a long prison sentence for Farron if he is found guilty. Farron is not too crazy about spending a huge chunk of his remaining life in prison, especially because he did not commit murder.
The politically ambitious Attorney General turns to one of his assistants, Charles Shepherd and instructs him to do what he can to see that Farron is brought to justice. Shepherd, who has ambitions of his own, sees this opportunity to advance himself politically.
These circumstances lead to a tragic conclusion that is not too surprising knowing the tendencies of the Gunsmoke writers.
This episode features some fine performances. Steve Ilhat is always good, and he plays the tired outlaw John Farron very well here. Sam Gilman is also great as Farron's sidekick Jim Gunther. As other reviewers have noted, Vincent Gardenia is outstanding as the despicable Charles Shepherd.
This is primarily a Matt Dillon episode, although Festus, Thad, Doc, and Kitty, as well as some of the Dodge City regulars, make appearances.
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