the crucible
Bonanza Western TV
The Lone Writer  

The Crucible Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #03, Episode #28

Adam finds himself stranded in the desert after being robbed of $5,000 and his horse by two thieves. Near death, he encounters an old prospector named Kane, who assists him as a mule and supplies in exchange for three days of labor at his mine. However, Kane’s true nature is revealed when he reveals himself as a deranged individual. He traps Adam and subjects him to torture, aiming to prove his theory that even someone as logical as Adam could be driven to commit murder. The Crucible is particularly notable as it is Pernell Roberts’ favorite, alongside “The Wooing Of Abigail Jones.”

You can delve into the plot details, discover intriguing trivia, or watch the full episode below.

Table of Contents

Watch the Full Episode of The Crucible

Watch the Full Episode of The Crucible:

Main Cast

Apart from the main cast, Bonanza’s twenty-eighth episode for its third season, The Crucible, featured some of the program’s recurring and one-off supporting actors. The episode’s cast consists of:

  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Lee Marvin as Peter Kane
  • Howard Ledig as Frank Preston
  • Barry Cahill as Jim Gann
  • William Edmonson as Blacksmith
  • Roy Barcroft as Sheriff
  • Paul Barselou as Bartender (as Paul Barselow)
  • Betty Endicott as Townswoman (uncredited)
  • Bob LaWandt as Poker Player (uncredited)

Full Story Line for The Crucible

Following a robbery in the desert, Adam encounters what appears to be a benevolent prospector named Peter Kane, who extends an offer of a mule and provisions in exchange for three days of labor.

However, Adam soon discovers that Kane is a disturbed individual intent on inflicting psychological torment. His twisted aim is to push someone as seemingly rational as Adam to the brink of murder. As Ben, Hoss, and Little Joe search to retrace Adam’s steps, Adam must rely on his resourcefulness to outmaneuver Kane.

Full Script and Dialogue of The Crucible

(fanfare plays)




Boy, you know, it
got so hot on that trail,

I thought we were gonna bring

the cattle here
already barbecued.

(bartender laughs)

(Little Joe sighs)


Hey, brother,
how'd you make out?

Oh, pretty good.


LITTLE JOE: Hey, $5,000.

Pa was right when he said

the people around here
were hungry for meat.

Little celebration money.

- Bartender, two more of the same.
- Thanks.

I don't know what I'm
gonna celebrate in this town.

Hey, bartender, what do you
do in this town for celebrating

besides getting heat
rash and sunstroke, huh?

Well, we got a big trial
starting up tomorrow.

Folks'll be coming
in for miles around.

Trial... what's it all about?


Obediah Johnson.

He owns the Lucky Seven Mine
with a fella name of Jeb Early...

Uh, the late Jeb Early, that is.

Seems Obediah up and kilt
his wife and his, his partner both.

Claimed the partnership
was going too far.

Hmm, I'd kind of
like to see that trial.

- (Adam sighs)
- How about you, Adam?

No, I think I'll just get
away for a few days.

No people, no cattle,
just peace and quiet.

Yeah, what do you have in mind?

Oh, I think I'll cut east
over the mountains,

do a little hunting, work my
way over to Pyramid Lake,

and, uh, get in a little
fishing heading home.

LITTLE JOE: Come on,
you must be out of your mind.

Tha-That country you're going
to go through is ten times as tough

where we just brought
that cattle through.

What's the matter, you
can't take it anymore?

- No.
- (Adam laughs)

I'll get some supplies,
get a nice, hot bath,

and then head on out.

You ready?

I'll go with you as far
as the bath is concerned,

but jumping out of the
frying pan into the fire

isn't my idea of a rest cure.

I think I'll just hang
around town for a while

and take it easy.


Tell you what I'll do.

I'll meet you in three
days up at Signal Rock.

All right, Signal
Rock in three days.

Now let's get that hot bath.

LITTLE JOE: All righty.

Thanks a lot, bartender.

(Little Joe exhales)

Hey, friend, where can a
fella get a bath in this town?

Right over there.

Well, thank you.

The dark-haired fella...
He's carrying $5,000.

A live one, huh?

But not for long.

(theme song playing)

(Little Joe sighs)

Oh, boy.

Adam, I can't, for the life of
me, figure out why you want

to wander around
in the wilderness

when you can stay here
in town for a couple of days

and just relax and take it easy.

Besides, we can take
in that trial together.

Nah, the cattle buyer
told me about the case.

Man confessed, so he'll hang.

I don't want to
stay around for that.

How can you be so
sure he's going to hang?

Simple logic... He's
guilty, he'll hang.

It's the law.

Ah, does everything
have to be so logical?

No, not if you don't
want to use your brains.

Look, Joe, a man's
responsible for what he does.

If he loses control of himself,
he has to be punished for it.

That's the way it is.

Yeah, just wondering
if you'd feel that way

if you were in Obediah's shoes.

Well, I could never
be in Obediah's shoes

because nobody could
ever drive me to murder...

With one exception.

Oh, yeah, who's that?


- What?!
- (Adam chuckling)

Doggone you, Adam, I'm gonna...

Oh, no, you're not
'cause I'm leaving, ha.

See you at Signal
Rock in three days,

and be on time for a change.

(door closes)

Signal Rock in three days.


Now, hold it
right there, mister.

Just don't move.

Drop your gun belt... easy-like.

Didn't I see you in East Gate?

Yeah, you did.

Been a long trail.

You fellas sure took your
time about making your move.

In our line of work
we like privacy.

You know what we want.

Yeah, I'm intuitive.

Yeah, just toss it down here.

And no tricks, huh?

That's it.

Now get down off that horse.

You got your money.

Climb down!

We're gonna let
you walk out of here.

I'll never make it
without food and water.

Nobody would.

Well, now, I feel
real sorry for him.

(laughing): Don't you, Frank?

Yeah, Jim, I'm all shook up.

I don't want your pity,
I just want a chance.

We're giving you a chance.

We ain't killing you.

Very funny.

Ain't it?

(both laughing)

Ain't it?



(quietly): Hey, hey.




May I help you?

(clears throat)

(whispering): Uh... some water.

Oh, excuse me, uh...

I couldn't believe
my eyes at first,

seeing a man alone out here
on foot in the middle of nowhere.

Oh, my name is
Kane... Peter Kane.

Uh, Cartwright.


If you don't mind my
asking, Mr. Cartwright,

uh, just where are you headed?

Back... I hope eventually...

Back home, Ponderosa.

The great Ponderosa.

Oh, yes, I've heard of it.

As, indeed, who hasn't?


But you'll need food and rest.

Won't you accept my
humble hospitality?

There's nothing, nothing humble

about hospitality
out here, Mr. Kane.

Quite true, Mr. Cartwright.


Well, how much
money did the men take?

$5,000, but that's
not what rankles me.


$5,000 is a considerable
sum of money,

but I've been
given to understand

that the, uh, Ponderosa is the
equivalent of a ancient empire.

Well, that empire, Mr. Kane,

represents a lot
of plain hard work.

Well, I'm sure of that, but I'm
a man that's used to hard work.

Mr. Cartwright, 20 years ago
I came out here from the east

to stake my claim.

At that time I sold all
my earthly possessions

for the total sum of... $3,000.

Well, don't get me
wrong, Mr. Kane.

I'm not making
light of the $5,000.

Well, I'm sure of that,

but you said that
something else rankles you.

Yeah, being left
out here to die,

and I suppose I would have
if I hadn't stumbled into you.

Well, I'm glad that you did
for your sake and for mine.

It gets lonely out here
with only Epicene to talk to.


KANE: That's my mule.

Oh, yeah.

Mr. Kane, I wonder if I
might, uh, borrow your mule

and, uh, enough supplies
to get back to civilization.

I'd see that they
were returned to you.

What's your hurry?

I mean, why don't you stay
around a few days and rest?

Well, I, uh, feel
pretty good now.

Besides, I'm overdue to meet
my kid brother at Signal Rocks.

Signal Rocks?

Well, that's better than 30
or 40 miles south of here.

Yeah. Good long haul on foot.

Besides, I want to catch
the men that left me out here.

And when you catch them,
what are you going to do,

kill 'em?


I'll let the law
take care of 'em.

You're a remarkable
man, Mr. Cartwright,

to be content with
mere legal revenge.

I mean, after all, they
left you out here to die.

Well, it's just a
civilized process.

Mr. Cartwright,
I found in my life

that most men aren't
particularly civilized.

In fact, I find that men can
be driven to do most anything.

Oh, yeah... but
I'm not one of 'em.

Are you sure, Mr. Cartwright?

Who was it that said,
uh, "Know thyself?"


Here, let me show you something.

You know what this is?


Yes, the gold I've been
looking for for the past 20 years.

Well, you're a lucky
man, Mr. Kane.

Yes, indeed. So now
you understand why

I can't let you have my mule.

'Cause I'll need her to
help me work the claim.

Well, I'll only need
the mule for a few days.

Well, now that I'm so close
to the main vein, that, uh,

you know, a few days could
seem like an eternity to me.


Mr. Cartwright, I'll
make you a bargain.


Yes. If you stay here

and help me work the
claim for three days,

I'll let you take the mule

and the supplies you
need to meet your brother.

And the two men...
They can wait, too.

And if everything
goes like I hope it will,

I might even join you.

What do you say, Mr. Cartwright?

Well, it's your mule,
your food and your water.

And you did save my life.

- It's a deal.
- Good.

It'll be a pleasure to talk to
a civilized man for a change.

If you'll come with
me, I'll show you

what progress I've
made towards the vein.

Oh, I see you've made
considerable progress.

Oh, but you're gonna
need a lot more shoring

before you get
much deeper in there.

Oh, I see you know about
mining, also, Mr. Cartwright.

Well, I picked up a
little theory in college,

and a lot more practical
experience in Virginia City.

Have you ever done any blasting?

Well, off and on.

But always with respect.


Well, time's a wasting.

Um, I assume you
also have knowledge

of the star drill and hammer.


(crow cawing)

(shouting): Hey, Adam!

Yo, Adam!



Well, what do you know?

Big brother says,
be here on time,

we get here, and
he's nowhere in sight.

Well, Cochise, we're just
gonna have to make camp

and wait a while.

He doesn't show up soon,
we just might not tell him

Obediah got off
with only five years.



I'm not gonna need
any more of the powder

until we get that
new shoring in.

We have to hurry,
Mr. Cartwright.

We only have two
of our three days left.

Yeah, but you go putting
any more charges in there

before we get the shoring in,

that whole thing's
just gonna collapse.

Well, I'd like to hit that
vein before you leave.

Yeah, yeah. So would I.

And it looks to me like
that's about the only way

you're gonna give me any rest.



Once more into the breach.

(clicks tongue)

Come on. (clicks tongue)



Can you imagine that?

"Be on time," he says,

and here he is
already a day late.

Well, Cochise, we can...

we can either sit
around this rock pile,

or we can start
out looking for him.

What do you think
we ought to do?

Oh. That's right. You don't talk

before you had
your morning coffee.

There you go.

Careful. It's hot! It's hot!


All right, that's enough.

Let's go.

Come on. I think we
better start looking for him.


(Adam coughing)


What are you doing out here?

Just getting a breath
of fresh air before...

before I keel over in that oven.

Well, don't take
all day about it.


Mr. Kane, for the past two days,

you have worked me

from sunup to sundown
without a break.

And any time I straighten
up for one second,

you are breathing down my neck,

complaining about
not wasting time.

I thought you were used
to hard work, Mr. Cartwright.

Isn't that what you told
me built the Ponderosa?

Well, it doesn't look too good.

Adam must be in real trouble.

Better get to a nearest town.

Get some supplies while we can.

Whoa there.

(Adam sighs)



(clicks tongue) Here.

(Adam sighs)

Those sacks are only half full.

Well, I don't want to
work the animal to death.

Since when have
you been so concerned

about animals, Mr. Cartwright?

Look, Mr. Kane, a
dead mule isn't going

to get your gold
or us out of here.

Get back to work.

No, thanks, Mr. Kane.

(bags thudding onto ground)

My three days are
up as of right now.


I give the orders around here.

Now get back to work.

We made a bargain, Mr. Kane,
and we're gonna keep it.

The only bargain
you're gonna keep

is to work that
mine till I strike it.

That mine isn't gonna be
good for anything but a grave.

Now, we don't have
enough food and water

to stay here and get out alive.

We got to leave right
now. Come on. Hyah!

Do you know what you've done?

How do we get out of here now?

We don't until I hit that vein.

Without the mule?

There's you, Mr. Cartwright.


Yes, you.

And if I refuse to be
your pack animal?

You won't refuse.

No work, no water.

I'm giving you a chance to live.

And after all, every animal's
first instinct is to survive.

Well, Hoss, how's it going?

- Oh, hi, Pa.
- Yeah?

Yeah, I'm gonna have
this done in a minute.

Want a drink?

Yeah. Don't mind if I do.

Hey, uh, I found a, uh, hole

in that fence in
about east range.

You'd better get to
that as soon as you can.

Yeah. Pa, when's the rest

of the Cartwright
family gonna get home?

Not that I'm complaining,
you understand,

but it seems to me
like I'm doing the work

for all three of us
while they're gone.

Well, uh, Hoss,
that just shows you

how much
confidence I got in you.

Pa, that's flattering,
but I'm afraid

that flattery is
gonna get at my back

before it goes to my head.

(laughs) Well, they ought
to be back any day now.

Good. I'll see to
it they get a load

of that flattery
when they get here.

Now, Hoss, they
ain't had it so easy.

Yeah, pretty rough
country up there.

I'll trade with them.

I'll trade.

(Ben chuckles)

We can stop this foolish
cat-and-mouse game

if you give me your word
you won't try to escape.

That way maybe both
of us can relax some.

There's today's rations.

You can take half
and serve me the rest.


Not too close.

Not there.

Over there. In the sun.


So you've come down another
notch as a civilized man, huh?

Eating with your
fingers like an animal.

Who's an animal?

Don't you judge me.

I still have that right.

"Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Get back to work.

Time's running out.


Go on!

I'm afraid you're right, son.

That horse has got a split hoof.


Ain't gonna be able
to ride him for awhile.

That's right. But you're
welcome to stay here if you want.

No thanks, I gotta push on.
You got a horse I can use?


But, son, I'd advise
you to stay here tonight.

'Cause the next
town, Salt Flats,

is a mighty long haul from here.

I'm not going to Salt
Flats, I'm heading south.

(chuckles) Oh, Mister,

there ain't nothing out there

but sand, and
mountains, and dry bones.

What about that horse
you said I could use?

All right.

Okay, I'll get it.

Giving you a little rest.

(bird squawks)

Well, here he is, Mister.

Real fine animal.

Where'd you get this horse?

Why? Is something
wrong with him?

That's my brother's horse.

Well now, look, Mister,

I don't know anything
about your brother.

(cocks gun) I asked you
where you got the horse.

I, I...

bought him from
a couple of fellas.

You got a bill of sale?


Where is it?

Back in there.

Let's get it.


There it is.

All legal and proper.

All right. Who's this Jim Gann?

Well, a stranger to me.

All I know is he
wanted to sell a horse.

What about the other
fella? You know his name?

Seem to recollect that
Gann called him, uh...


You have any idea at all
where they were headed?

Yeah, matter of fact I do.

They mentioned that
they was going onto, uh,

Salt Flats.


Looks like I'm going
to Salt Flats after all.




KANE: Cartwright.

For shirking your duties,

I'm cutting your food
and water ration in half.

As of today.


Oh... (laughs)

You gave me kind of a start.

I wasn't expecting anybody
quite so early this morning.

Well, my name's Joe Cartwright,
and I'm looking for two men.


A Jim Gann and a
Frank something or other.

Frank Preston?

That could be it. They in town?

Well, what do you want them for?

I think they may
have killed my brother.

(groans) Hmm.

Think you're
a little bit late...

for that.

What do you mean?

Well, they tried to shoot
up the town last night,

including some of
our good citizens.

And as a result, I've
got em' stretched out

in the back room
there, both cold dead.

Where's your telegraph office?

Oh, just a couple doors west.

Thank you.

Uh, Cartwright.

Anything I can help you with?


I'm gonna wire my family.

Try to find my brother.



(cocks gun)

Why don't you use
the rifle, Cartwright?

Not ready to kill yet, huh?

I don't want to kill ya, Kane, I
just wanna get away from ya.

You can't escape me, Cartwright.

Or yourself.


Drop it right there.

(coyotes howling)

Not there. On the stool!


I use these ropes
to hobble my mule.

They'll do fine for you.

Unfortunately, I'll have to
tie you up every night now.

You have proven
yourself unworthy of trust.

Therefore, you must
be treated like an animal.

Tie your feet
securely; I'll check it.

Why don't you just kill
me and get it over with?

I'm not gonna kill
you, Cartwright.

I have other plans.

Now, put your hands
around that post.

(sighs) Who's the
animal now, huh?

You're pretty good at judging
others, aren't you, Cartwright?

Well, I claim that same
privilege for myself.

In spite of your advantages
of being a Cartwright,

I'm as good a man as you.

In fact, I'm gonna prove
that I'm a better man.


We ran out of the last of
the water and food today.

So, now the real test begins.

Are you still so sure of
yourself, Mr. Cartwright?

Don't you want to kill me yet?

(distant gunshot)


BEN (distantly): Adam!






(horse snorts)





Tracks show three horses.

One man on foot.

Tracks peter out
there by the rocks.

We'll have to spread out,

cover every direction.

Pa, you need to
get some rest, Pa.

You ain't had no
sleep in three days.

Not till we find him.

Not until we find him.

Hoss, you go around
by these rocks.

Joe, you go in that direction.

I'm following this trail.

Yes, sir.


Now, that's it, Kane.

Now let's see what you
got in that stinking pit.



That's all there is, Kane.

Just rocks.

There's no vein in there.

I know, Cartwright.

I've known for some time.

Then why?

Why all this?

When I realized that this
wouldn't be my strike either,

just another failure
like all the rest,

I knew that my time was up.

I'd run out of everything.

I never had the breaks
like you, Cartwright.

You wouldn't know what to
do with them if you had them.

You still think you're a better
man than I am, don't you.

That's right.

Well, I'm gonna prove
it's the other way around.

I claim that you
can be driven to kill

like anyone else.

I'm gonna give you
a fair chance to kill

or be killed.

(shovel scraping)


There was... there was food
and water all this time, huh?

All part of the plan.

There's just enough there

to get one of us
out of here alive.

This gun... (gunshot)

is loaded.

Now, I'm gonna put it
between you and me,

and we'll both go for it.

On the count of five.


One, two... (screaming)

No more games!

(grunts) No more games.

No guns.

No games.

Kill me. Kill me!

I... Either way, I win.




You're leaving me here to die

just like those two
animals left you.

I win.



You can't go on, Pa.

You can't do it.

We're gonna have
to face it, Pa, I mean...

We're not gonna find Adam.

HOSS: Pa, it's been two
weeks since he left East Gate.

Yeah, I... I
suppose you're right.

All right, let's... let's
go on back home.







Adam... Adam.

- Adam!
- Adam.

Adam, Adam, Adam.

There was no gold.

There was no... No more... Adam!

(sobbing) Oh, Pa.

He was dragging a dead man, Pa.

He's been through
some kind of hell.

Behind the Scenes of The Crucible

This episode held a special place for Pernell Roberts, providing him with a significant platform to demonstrate his acting powers.
A keen-eyed viewer might notice Michael Landon sporting a bathing suit during the bath scene.

The episode’s title is inspired by Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible,” which delves into the events of the Salem Witch Trials between February 1692 and May 1693 in colonial Massachusetts.

In the opening scenes, as Adam and Little Joe engage with a resident outside the saloon, a boom mic inadvertently appears from the top center of the frame.

An observant viewer might notice a continuity error: after Adam destroys Kane’s rifle, he staggers toward a large boulder where a canteen is placed. Upon reaching the boulder, it visibly rocks back and forth, highlighting a slight inconsistency in the scene.

Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?

Bonanza provides wholesome entertainment ideal for both individual enjoyment and family gatherings. The Crucible is the 94th episode out of 430. Produced by NBC, Bonanza aired on their network from September 1959 to January 1973, spanning 14 seasons.

You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>

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