The Mission Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #02, Episode #02
Bonanza, the 14-season-long Western television series, depicted the weekly adventures of the fictional Cartwright family as they run and defend the Ponderosa ranch and the town from forces of crime and greed. Robert E. Thompson wrote season two’s second episode, The Mission, which aired on September 17, 1960.
Former army scout Charlie Trent (Henry Hull), who feels guilty for the massacre of a group of soldiers, has turned into a town drunk. One day, cavalry captain Pender (John Dehner) sends the town a notification, looking for a reliable scout to go on a dangerous mission. Determined to restore the pitiful derelict to his former condition, Hoss Cartwright recommends Charlie to the captain.
Peter Whitney portrayed Lewt Custer, and Harry Carey Jr. played Corporal Burton.
Read the story and some behind-the-scenes trivia, or watch the complete episode below.
Table of Contents
Watch the Full Episode of The Mission
Watch the Full Episode of The Mission:
The Mission, the second episode of Bonanza’s second season, featured some of the show’s recurring and special guest stars in addition to the main cast. The actors in the episode are:
- Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
- Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright (credit only)
- Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright (credit only)
- Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright (credit only)
- Henry Hull as Charlie Trent
- John Dehner as Captain Pender
- Peter Whitney as Lewt Cutter
- Don Collier as Sergeant
- Harry Carey Jr. as Corporal Burton
- Lane Bradford as Buck
- Donnelly Rhodes as Latigo (as Don Rhodes)
- Dale Van Sickel as Morgan
- Mike Ragan as Kelly (as Michael Ragan)
- Ray Hemphill as Johnson
- Robert Adler as O’Hara
- Bob Hoy as Cowboy in Blue Shirt (uncredited)
- Ethan Laidlaw as Townsman (uncredited)
- Leo Needham as Bank Clerk (uncredited)
- Cosmo Sardo as Barfly (uncredited)
- Al Silvani as Bartender (uncredited)
- Cap Somers as Townsman (uncredited)
- George Sowards as Townsman (uncredited)
Full Story Line for The Mission
Charlie Trent, the town drunk, is in the saloon, having fun sharing his stories as an army scout. Most of the men in the bar enjoy his narrations, except for one who starts making fun of him. The teasing ends with the man pointing his knife at Charlie until Hoss arrives to help Charlie leave the saloon, hating to see his friend treated that way. Hoss returns the badge Charlie dropped, which acknowledges Charlie’s services above and beyond the line of duty.
Seeing he can’t do anything else to help Charlie, Hoss gets money to tidy up Charlie and send him to San Francisco. Charlie insists on staying since he feels he belongs in Virginia City, but that doesn’t stop Hoss from pursuing his plan for his friend.
Captain Pender, commanding an army wagon train carrying gold, makes a supply stop in Virginia City. Pender is on the verge of firing Cutter, their scout after Cutter chooses to see his friends despite the strict schedule they have to follow. Charlie saw what happened and offered to become their new scout. Pender initially hesitated but remembered Charlie as a scout when he showed his Fremont Exploration badge. However, it wasn’t enough for him to hire Charlie.
Hoss finds the devastated Charlie at the saloon. The captain arrives shortly after, firmly ordering Cutter to perform his duty immediately. He threatens to fire him, then declares to hire Charlie Trent, who knows the wasteland more than anybody else. Cutter finds it amusing since Charlie led the army into an ambush, almost killing everyone. Pender fires Cutter and, desperate for a guide, offers the task to him, including everything he needs. However, he runs away before making a decision. Seeing this can be Charlie’s chance, Hoss talks to the captain, asking him to let Charlie ride with him again. The captain, seeing he has no choice, agrees, so Hoss delivers the news to Charlie.
Hoss finds Charlie sitting pitifully outside. He encourages Charlie to scout the trail for the captain and his troop, warning that he’ll become a coward, even a murderer if he does otherwise. Charlie complies but asks Hoss to accompany him.
Cutter led a small gang that intended to steal the gold once they arrived in the desert. Cutter thinks it’s better to let Charlie guide the wagon train, allowing them to continue their plan. He believes people will assume that Charlie led the soldiers to their death in the desert, not knowing they stole the gold.
The troops set camp near a small body of water. Hoss finds Charlie searching for something in his pack, then figures he’s looking for his liquor bottle. Hoss informs Charlie that he disposed of it, much to Charlie’s disappointment since he believes it’s the only thing that can help him continue. He motivates Charlie, implying no one understands the desert much better than Charlie. Meanwhile, Cutter and his gang are watching them from behind.
Charlie leads the troop to the next watering holes. He decides to ride ahead, stating he’ll fire three shots if he finds it. Later, the army stops marching. The captain starts to think it was a mistake to trust Charlie, seeing how they’ve been walking for hours with no sign of the watering hole. However, they suddenly heard three shots—a sign that Charlie had found the next watering hole. The army celebrates and happily treks on.
When the troops arrive, Charlie informs them that the water contains poison after seeing a dead hare nearby. It was disappointing for everyone, but there was nothing they could do. The captain decided they’d cut rations and set camp before going to the next water hole.
Cutter and his gang arrive ahead of the troops on the next water. After getting what they need, he sets out to pour the poison. His men grew out of patience, suggesting they kill the soldiers instead of walking through the desert. However, they’re left to follow Cutter since he’s the only one who knows the way out.
Charlie and the army troops arrive at the next watering hole. However, Charlie tells them there’s also poison in the water. Unconvinced, one of the soldiers dives in. He suddenly winced from stomachache, then died a few minutes later.
They now figure somebody is riding ahead, poisoning the water holes. Charlie knew it had to be a scout, and the captain understood it must be Cutter. Although Cutter and his gang are already by the next body of water, Charlie believes they won’t poison it since those men will want the water for themselves. He then insists on scouting by himself at night. If he discovers that Cutter and his men are no longer by the watering hole and the water is clean, he’ll fire three shots, pause, then fire two more. That signal will inform them that it’s safe to go. Charlie tells them to head north to the Highlands if they don’t hear any. Hoss insists on accompanying Charlie, so they set forth.
Meanwhile, Cutter’s men are eager to steal the gold as they wait behind some rocks. When Hoss and Charlie arrive at the watering hole, Charlie finds the water free of poison, so the two dive in to enjoy it. However, their joy was short-lived when Cutter held them as hostages. Cutter asks about the soldiers and what signal will bring them back. Hoss refuses to answer, but Charlie chooses to talk after Cutter waves and pours a bottle of whiskey at him. He tells Cutter about the three-shot signal, so Cutter fires three times. After hearing the three shots, the troops figured there was danger up ahead, so they turned north out of the desert.
Charlie’s enjoying his liquor, pleased with himself for fooling Cutter, knowing the army will not arrive. He saved the soldiers and the gold. However, Hoss grows worried about what will happen to them once Cutter realizes the wagon train will not come.
Suddenly, the wagon train arrives. Cutter only sees three soldiers and presumes the other two are approaching from behind. He orders one man to watch Hoss and Charlie while the others go to separate places. Hoss and Charlie successfully overpower their guard.
A shooting commences against Cutter’s gang and the army troops. Captain Pender arrives with minor casualties. The army wagon train can make it out of the desert with clean water, and Charlie has successfully redeemed himself.
Full Script and Dialogue of The Mission
hahaha no now can i have that drink not until you finish your story charlie you have to tell us about general fremont all right let me see where i want to oh yeah yeah well that was the time that me and the general come through here together that was in the summer of 47. the matter of fact it wouldn't have been over virginia city if it hadn't been for me and the general i told you to shut up your line didn't i i lying you are lying i i can't yeah thank you yes sir yes sir now wait a minute oh charlie here don't mean any harm he's just an old man hanging around the saloon we'd like to hear his stories well i don't like to hear them now did anybody ask you to put in your two bitsworth all right old man that'll go me a knife what you aiming to do well now anybody that's for as many indians as you claim you have ought to have a few scars shouldn't he suppose we just scratch off some of this beard and [Laughter] so we can [Music] come on charlie let's get you out of here before you get in any more trouble thank you thank you my friend johnny don't like to be treated like that i don't like it neither drop something fremont expedition 1847 presented to charles trent chief scott for services above and beyond the line of duty hey charlie you wouldn't want to lose that [Applause] [Music] ah [Music] [Music] [Music] you about the only real friend i got in town all i seem to do is to cause you trouble charlie you promised me sell him he wasn't going back in that saloon again i i didn't mean to just them fellas wanted to hear some of my stories or something yeah for a couple of drinks i guess i guess you won't give me another chance when you dad bernie charlie how many chances you're gonna have to have i talked paul into giving you a job on the ranch and what do you do the first payday you take off and we don't see you again for a week and you come back drunk that was that was a mistake charlie it's up to you whatever job you got around here ain't nobody around here gonna give you a chance now i i guess you're right i'm gonna bother you no more i can promise you that much because i'm i'm gonna take up scouting again yeah the general freemont he'll be ascending for me anytime now today tomorrow for sure charlie i i wouldn't count on it too much general fremont's busy man with a war token oh i knew i know he he wouldn't go back on you see him and me we crossed a great salt flat together i better better go fix up a little though i guess charlie it just ain't no use i i don't made up my mind what i'm gonna do with you huh well i'm i'm gonna go in there and get some money and i'm gonna wanna fix you all up nice and clean i'm going to put you on the first stage coach out here for san francisco that's mighty kind of you lose i i appreciate it but i can't go to no big city i belong out here i got to stay here charlie i i've been all wrong about maybe you getting a new chance hear it the big city is the only place for you i you stay right here don't you go no place here hush hold on cutter where are you going all right a couple of friends of mine was passing through i thought i'd talk to them as all well i have a strict schedule on this mission you'll be back here and ready to lead out in one half hour captain i think it's about time you and me had us an understanding now i've been loaning through this territory for a goodly time and i ain't never taken no orders yet not from a savage and not from no soldier boy you sign an army contract to scout trail you're gonna fulfill it into the letter or you'll be relieved why mister you got about as much chance of crossing that desert without me as a blind hoodie bat has a reach in the sun all right carry on man got mine oh that whole desert i mapped out the first trail of salt lake city i know the whereabouts of every waterhole yeah well i i can't sign on anybody just because they claim to be a scout oh you you know you don't believe me huh hey look at that look at that fremont expedition yeah you can read but written on the other side too presented to charles trent chief scout for services trent [Music] are you the same trent that scouted for the border expedition against the apaches yeah that'd be back in back in 53. i wouldn't have known you i mean it's been so long of course you wouldn't remember me i was just a shave tale but that was my first assignment i guess it would have been my last of you hadn't let us out of that apache trap charlie trent ah you give me a chance then not charlie that gold shipment is vital maybe with a war coming on got a scum perhaps next time i make a trip charlie captain that old bum is pretty drunk thinking he can scout for you sir corporal that old bum was the finest scout in the united states army whatever i know about this territory i learned from him oh sorry sir i am too [Music] it was a bottom give a little buzzard bait a drink here too wake up the man's buying you a drink [Laughter] [Music] charlie oh uh-huh did i ever tell you about the time i led the expedition up the columbia river yeah yeah yeah you told me charlie come on let's go down the stable and clean it off i tried i was honest honest i tried hard you asked some soldier boys if i didn't that captain he just didn't want me joe give me a cup of coffee in a sandwich you ain't making no friends with none of us cutter where you're treating the cabin i told you to be back and ready in half an hour seems to me i do remember you saying something like that well don't you mind now i'll be long a little while but i keep send my friend the captain here up a drink last man that grabbed me like that was a blackfoot chief i cut his live out man don't live long without a liver captain that's a pure medical fact i'm giving you a direct order get outside and join the detail now oh what oh you're through well now that don't seem so likely mister you need a scout and i'm the only one there is you're a long way from being indispensable cutter there's a man knows the wasteland country better than you or any scot alive charlie trent trent where you gonna find him charlie that charlie trent the great charlie tranter remington massacre you remember charlie you let them soldier boys right into an ambush right smack dab up to where their engines was waiting he's just the kind of a scout you need captain collect your gear from the wagon and clear out take along plenty of water soldier boy plenty of water charlie charlie you asked me for a chance this is it don't give me any cause to regret it we'll provide you with your mount and your gear get anything else you need we'll move out as soon as you're ready well captain mike he'll do it cam hey charlie captain my name is cartwrighter i'm a friend of old charlie's i'll see two of these ready to go in no time we rode together captain let him ride with you again [Music] i have much choice you sir i'll get him charlie charlie i've been looking all over this town if you the captain's down there waiting for you you got to get your gear leave me alone please sir please leave me alone just go go tell that captain man you couldn't find me that's all charlie he's offering you the change you've been waiting for it was just me i i wouldn't mind but see it's it's panda and all his men depending on me that charlie you led the first map party across that desert the first white man that ever crossed it now if you can do that you can leave bender in his men now uh or was that just one of your lies about leading that map party no cause that was true loss that was true all right then charlie you listen to me and you listen real good if you let captain pender and those men go out across that desert without somebody to scout the trail for him you are gonna be a coward and a murderer charlie you got to do it if you have you helped me have you come with me charlie i just like just like you just like you said yourself this has a chance i've been waiting for will you please have me will you please come with me yes sir i'll go with you ah thank you boy well goodbye captain and good luck thank you mr johnson detail forward forward hey charlie this time don't go letting them engines get your scalp you stand there laughing like you just said something great cutter but all you've done was to mess up things real good it's working out just the way i wanted buck and how do you make that we had a plan a plan to get the gold now we've got nothing i changed plans for a better one we still get the gold maybe you'd better tell us what you got in mind way it works out now i don't have to explain me surviving they get lost sand covers everything ain't a trace of nothing left and everybody figures it's old charlie trent let them roar you're gonna lead them soldiers out into the desert what if this charlie takes them another way them renegade bands down south would like nothing better to get their hands on that gold cheyenne on the wall path up north they got nowhere to go but across that desert with us following them [Music] oh [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] oh mouse [Applause] looking for something charlie oh no no i wasn't looking for nothing just just looking a bottle one bottle you ain't gonna find it oh of course that was all i had i i didn't want to drink it i was i just wanted noted here that's all i i wasn't aiming to drink and drop my visit i i promise caused my heart i poured it out this morning charlie i can't make it without a green card oh i can't make it charlie you don't made it almost a week now just on a pint yeah what we've come through is nothing like taking a walk down a boulevard in a bright sunshiny day the way we get across that mountain and hit the great salt flats a man the man's got to have something in his insides and he tackles that desert and you then hook and poured my insides right out on the ground you're just going to have to grow some new ones because if you don't take us across that desert we're all going to die and ride out there i'll try horse i understand outside here you drink your coffee quit worrying you're gonna make it my there they be getting ready to bed down like nice soldier boys come doc we're going to ride from here on out we stay ahead of them what's our line of march uh do east yep you see once you hit that desert there ain't no landmarks to guide you you have to kind of kind of sense things you know kind of kind of feel your way along charlie charlie that's what we're depending on you for to take us to that first water hole in the two-day march and then after that you'll have to lead us to the next water hole then on to the last one can you do all that charlie i tell you what i've been i've been i've been thinking it over and i reckon it might be our best bet to head to north easy and that way we can circle the desert entirely you see with yellowstar and the whole cheyenne nation on the warpath look i didn't bring you along and tell me how to get us all killed we have to cross that desert are you signed on as a scout to lead us over it can you do it me and horse lead out prepare to move [Music] oh [Music] you aiming to take them on tonight nah you ever see the zunis hunt fox oh well they just let them keep on running till their tongues are all swole up and hanging out when they walk up to them real peaceful i can club them to death yes yesterday we're gonna let those soldier boys just ride on a piece far enough so there ain't no way back [Applause] [Applause] sort of like being out on the ocean ain't it only difference is it we're looking for water instead of land [Music] you got your bearing yet charlie circle back on ourselves do you gotten lost no no no [Music] ain't much daylight left charlie and you said we'd sure find that water hole for sundown that water hole has got to be within an hour's march of here i'm telling you you'll go back and tell the captain and got to bring them soldiers here's and up here right away you sure charlie sure of course i ain't sure but i gotta act like i was i gotta fool them soldiers into thinking i'm sure because if just one man panics it'll spread like wildfire we'll find ourselves a bunch of buzzard bait you you said you had faith in me didn't you yes sir i do we'll hang on to it son hang on to it cause that's all i got to hang on to myself i'll tell them no when i find out they're water i'll fire three shots near yes sir detail just a little piece father i made a mistake trusting him i think it's time we admit it both of us we're lost you know it kevin you're wrong with the captain's permission me and men like the captain to tell us straight out how we stand kevin man you got a right to know charlie he found the watermelon [Applause] wow oh [Music] hey what's wrong that your water's been poisoned [Music] see the animal over there it was the same thing that'll happen to any of us adventures here water [Music] we don't need a scout to find poison water for us sergeant yes sir move the detail to that area up ahead make camp issue half rations of water to the men and the mules none to the mounts detail board all right charlie how far to the next motorhome it's about a day's months but me and her nobody else can say whether that water will be any more fitting to drink than this is can you find it found this one did not what do you think kevin we can make our water last another full day we'll have to lose our amounts the mules can keep going as long as they get some water you got to make the decision kevin if we turn around go back the men in the gold will be saved but if you go on up ahead and that water is poisoned too be too late to turn back there's nothing in my orders about turning back the charlie will move out just before dawn while it's still cool [Music] oh you're gonna poison this one too that's what i'm gonna do but they're liable to get suspicious that don't make no difference besides they can't never know just how it got done now go on do like i told you start brushing out our tracks look all we've been doing is riding around this miserable desert now i say we stay here and finish off them soldiers all i want is to split that goal and i ain't got nothing so far but sun baked where'd it go i'll side with them now them soldiers have got to come here all we got to do is wait for them but if you feel you'd rather not make the stand with this you can clear out no hard feelings no hard feelings huh now you listen to me every last one of you there ain't one of you got a chance of leaving these salt flats alive lesson i lead you now where would you ambush eight men on flatlands like this but up ahead there's places where we can pull it off now go on do like i told you stop brushing out our tracks [Music] it's poison [Music] challenge okay you just struck your death man what is good that's not fine charlie make sure test that water again no need to cap kelly himself will prove i was right you drinking all such a billion loans with so much poison down from liquor you know what you're doing you'll keep us away from this water [Music] sergeant bring a canteen move him over under the wagon cover him with a blanket there's four riders and one spare horse only headed away from here riding fast for the next water hole and poison that one too another thing happened only a scout would know his way around here like them bushwackers are doing the scout that i have to be cutter [Music] go ahead while we still have some water left and try to fight our way through yeah captain captain his rocks around that their water hole best place in the world for an ambush they'd they'd pick us off before we ever seen them we're not gonna stay here and die not without a fight you got an idea better than that yeah if they are still at that water hole that water will be good until after they finish us off that makes sense charlie no yeah but we got to make sure they are still there so when the moon sets i'll start out me i should make it in one hour or two not charlie now i'll go with some of my men sergeant you and johnson will go with me corporal hello captain i'm a i'm a scout i can do a better job alone all right charlie but after you get there what then well if they ain't there and the water is still good i'll fire three shots no cut i may have heard that signal before so this time i'll fire three shots wait a while then fire two more and captain when you hear them five shots you come a running and if i don't hear the five shots if you don't hear them you head due north four smarts traveling by night and with any luck you ought to make the highlands and water in about two days of course the uh cheyennes might be there too but then maybe maybe it's better to be scalped than the diocese i'm sorry i ever doubted you charlie thank you captain thank you [Music] my horse charlie when i promised to come along this deal i'm in all the way no no you've done enough for me already i just ain't worth it can't you understand that if you leave me here i'll i'll just tag along after you horse you ain't coming with me sad i i travel faster alone charlie if i let you go out there alone i'd feel guilty the rest of my life that's better than being dead at it you know better than that five shots right kevin [Music] charlie she ain't no sign up i don't mean them fellaini up there hiding in their rocks well i don't like it they just they just don't feel good we're gonna have to take a chance on in here let's go all right but you be careful [Music] son [Music] that bernie charlie's gonna take you all day to make up your mind [Music] oh food drink your field boys then we're going to have a nice long talk about my good friend captain pender [Music] one of them soldier boys come with you how many of them are the left i already got something you're gonna have to find out mister well that's something i'm just gonna find out cut up the back of the other water waterhole charlie there's five of them one of them died they're waiting for my signal to come on ahead charlie captain pender got any suspicion of me no of course not now if if we had any suspicions you don't suppose that me in the hospital to come walking in here that may be done do you no i reckon not being the scout you once was what's that signal i ain't going to tell you you ain't going to tell me hey let it go fetch me my saddlebag you ain't gonna tell me charlie this ought to make you talk huh [Laughter] it's all yours charlie you just tell me what that signal is [Laughter] my i bet you got mighty dry for this too hmm smelly charlie huh what's the signal now huh don't you tell him charlie [Music] that's too good to waste on you but tastes good huh yeah what's the signal charlie and it's all yours every last bit of it signal three three loudest louder three shots charlie charlie three shots the signal is three shots i mean i'm getting to hear them they'll move out and join us here three shots just like before but i want to make sure hey just like before huh yeah that's right hey buck i'm time what about him ah sometime he ain't going no place yeah now here's your reward charlie is all right horse yeah i reckon you earned that one charlie this ought to bring him running like a flock of dumb sheep three go on charlie just fire two more times five shots he said he's trying to warn us they ran into trouble we we shall fool them out that means we huh carter thought he was tormenting me into telling truth and all the time was cutting himself to give the signal pretended to start moving north yep they're going to find out in a minute when they do they'll be real mean charlie yeah well i you know it was a funny thing i got plenty of this dog gone and stuff i don't seem to want it it kind of uh kind of burns me inside hey cutter three soldier boys only three ain't none of the pender he's a smart one maybe he figures i'm going behind this button and having himself a look-see hey latico you get up a little bit rocks keep your eyes peeled you let me know but don't you do no shooting you're here i i guess the only reason i drink the dog going stuff so that i can stop remembering that i just don't understand it that wasn't a signal for them to come up here you see yours years ago i laid a whole detachment cavalry into a cayaway trap it was all butchered and they died cursing me wasn't your fault charlie yeah that ain't good enough look you keep watching that wagon morgan you take those two and you keep them out of sight i may need the old man later to weigh these on youtube get over behind those rocks and don't try to let them know where here i'll break this gun bell right over your heads stay low no time at all now we're going to be divvying up that goal he must have spotted the others now you stay here buck no shoot until i start it you be mighty careful how you go hitting their mules two of them coming from high up behind us one of them's the captain well that makes it easier for us we'll just let them sneak up on us before we start shooting come on we gotta do something else we gotta shut up oh man don't be so hoggy with that whiskey fill that cup bring it over here careful good work charlie you'll get buck i'm going after cutter [Music] i don't know if they're down there and not giving it away let's get down to those four big rocks down there see yeah i'll go first dog going and i had him dead right we got him pinned down now we can blast him out of there easy [Music] [Applause] oh so cutter [Applause] [Music] okay either what the water is good captain you can drink it that's just a crease charlie a corporal corporal bring up the wagon get yourselves a drink scott lead us out sure captain [Music] [Applause] [Music] so [Music] so [Music] so you
Behind the Scenes of The Mission
Charlie Trent, a man who used to be a top Army scout for explorer John C. Fremont, is the name of the character played by Henry Hull. The actor married Juliet Van Wyck Fremont, the famous historical figure John C. Fremont’s granddaughter.
Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?
The legendary Western show Bonanza is a terrific show to watch alone or with family. Each hour-long episode of the series ran under NBC’s production from September 1959 to January 1973. There are 14 seasons and over 400 episodes, with The Mission as the 34th or the second for its second season.
You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>