Season 1, episode 12: “The Bushwhackers”
Original airdates: Jan. 29, 1977
Nirajan: Hello, cowhand! I trust you’re ready to witness Wonder Woman confronting a group of mischievous cattle rustlers alongside the legendary Roy Rogers himself!
In reality, we are presented with not only a platform for Rogers to promote his adoption advocacy (this also marked one of his final credited roles) but also a reason to feature Lynda Carter in a revealing attire while she gracefully rides on horseback.
Shall we saddle up?
This episode was filled with numerous chase sequences. The show has been intriguingly experimenting with different genres, but it seems to have fallen short once more.
However, there were notable aspects worth mentioning in this episode, along with some rather poignant moments. What are your thoughts on it?
Nirajan: Similar to last week’s episode, I couldn’t help but notice that the show seemed to be stretching itself to connect with the war effort.
Back then, it was the super rubber formula, and now it’s the idea that the ranch contributes significantly to beef production.
It might have been a feeble attempt, but it was an attempt nonetheless; they could have simply made it a favor from Blankenship, which would have made no sense.
You mentioned the various genres, and I’m curious about your observations.
Certainly, there’s the Western theme, but it also felt like a “Very Special Episode” focusing on adoption, with occasional references to children’s health and dealing with trauma.
I must admit, these elements seemed to integrate more seamlessly than the Western elements.
One significant question lingers in my mind about the episode: Why didn’t Babette step in to rescue Wonder Woman?
Nikita: I completely agree; it felt like a significant stretch at first. I was initially puzzled about its relevance, but then we received that rather flimsy explanation.
I see what you mean regarding the Western aspects. It’s interesting how it resembled a “Very Special Episode,” which didn’t strike me until now.
On the whole, the episode left me somewhat indifferent. I did appreciate some of the moments involving the children, particularly the revelation that the ranch owner’s son was the informant.
The scene between that child and the Sheriff who assumed the stolen identity was quite disturbing.
He manipulated the child’s anxieties about his father adopting war orphans and potentially neglecting him, making it one of the darkest moments we’ve witnessed this season.
How did that particular aspect of the episode resonate with you?
Nirajan: It certainly had that “Very Special Episode” vibe, but it was undeniably eerie, especially with the intense close-ups and the “son” Lampkin loses towards the end of the scene.
Unlike the feeble excuse for heading to the ranch, Jeff’s informing Lampkin about the cattle made sense within the context of the story.
It was noticeable that J.P. spent more time with the orphans than with Jeff throughout the episode, making this aspect feel more substantial compared to the rest of the episode, which, at times, felt lacking.
On a side note, I initially assumed that Lampkin, having stolen this identity, might actually be Dick Whitman. I was trying to make the timeline work somehow. 😉
You asked about the Western elements I picked out.
The episode incorporated Western themes and settings, including scenes on a ranch and references to cattle rustlers, adding that classic Wild West touch to the storyline.
Nikita: Absolutely, the episode had a genuinely creepy atmosphere by the end.
I agree, it felt like the show was really pushing the Western genre, almost shouting, “THIS IS OUR WESTERN EPISODE.”
The numerous chase scenes, particularly the horse chases, the Texas backdrop with the cattle rustlers plot, Diana’s striking Western attire, and the appearance of guest stars like Roy Rogers all contributed to this effort.
It seemed like the show was making a concerted attempt to embrace the Western theme.
However, as you mentioned, it didn’t quite resonate, and I concur that it operated more effectively on a “Very Special Episode” level, with the Western setting feeling somewhat forced.
In this episode, the standout moment for me was the revelation that the ranch owner’s son was the informant, which added a layer of complexity to the story and made it more engaging.
The darker aspects of the episode, like the Sheriff preying on the child’s insecurities, were particularly memorable.
Nirajan: Apart from the eerie ambiance, the most significant aspect that caught my attention was Roy Rogers.
As expected, he seemed perfectly at ease in his role (which, I agree, appeared tailored to his strengths and interests as a humanitarian).
It made me realize that, despite the flaws we’ve discussed in the past 11 episodes, the show’s casting of guest stars has consistently been on point.
Given the limited size of its main cast, this is a crucial aspect to get right, and they have consistently succeeded in doing so.
Nikita: That’s totally true.
They have been super on-point with the guest star casting. I wonder if that will be the same going into the second season. There were a couple of other small things that stood out to me.
First, I liked the joking between Steve and Etta when she asks him to give her number out to tall Texan men.
It was just a small, nice moment that made Steve feel somewhat endearing to me.
And when the cattle poacher bros capture Diana and take her belt off her, one of them says “Without her magic belt, she’s just another woman.”
But is she really? That quote really stood out to me and I think is something to think about going into the finale of the first season (we’ve come so far together, Noel!) which is set in Hollywood! I’m already bracing myself.
Anything else for you?
Nirajan: You make a valid point about the difference in how Diana’s powers are portrayed in the TV show compared to the comics.
It’s indeed a television adaptation choice to provide another way to weaken her character.
In the comics, her powers are derived from the gods and her training on Paradise Island, with the unique weakness you mentioned related to being tied up by a man, which has evolved over time.
You’re absolutely right; Diana’s core values and beliefs exist independently of her magical belt.
Her strength, compassion, and ideology are integral to her character, regardless of her power levels.
The anticipation for the Hollywood episode is building, and it’s great to hear that Drusilla will be making a return! It promises to be an exciting installment in the series.
Nikita: You’re right; the line does have some interesting connotations, and it adds depth to the character as we approach the season finale.
The idea of Drusilla heading to Hollywood to pursue an acting career is intriguing.
The women of Paradise Island might indeed find that more unconventional and disapproving compared to Diana’s work as Wonder Woman.
It’s fascinating to learn about the early Wonder Woman comics and the heavy-handed approach to S&M themes. The character has certainly evolved over time.
The anticipation for the season finale continues to grow!