May 27, 2015

Trouble for Tonto in Lone Ranger

Another Native-themed episode of Lone Ranger (airdate: July 20, 1950)--the second one in a row:

Trouble for Tonto

Terry Baxter, a young white man, overpowers and kills Black Eagle, the Indian holding him captive. Black Eagle was taking Baxter to the notorious outlaw Buck Fargo. Fargo planned to blackmail Baxter's father into letting Fargo's gang rob the bank.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto arrive to see if Baxter is all right. He tells them what happened. They decide Tonto will take Black Eagle's place and escort Baxter to learn Fargo's exact plans.

At Fargo's hideout, Tonto has all the answers when Fargo questions him. He valiantly protects young Baxter from harm. Until Fargo presents Tonto with a ring from his "squaw," that is. It doesn't fit Tonto's fingers, so Fargo knows he's a fraud and subdues him.

That's about all the Native content. A few things stand out:

  • White Eagle = good, Black Eagle = bad. See previous episode.

  • The second episode in a row starts with someone killing an Indian. The circumstances were reversed; this time the good person killed the bad person. But the initial killing of an Indian may have been a cheap thrill for 1950s audiences.

    I wonder if an episode ever started with a good Indian justly killing a bad white man. Somehow I doubt it.

  • Tonto is a quick thinker but still gets taken captive. He still serves as a "damsel in distress" for the Lone Ranger.

    I wonder if an episode ever climaxed with Tonto saving a helpless Ranger. Somehow I doubt it.

  • At least Tonto gets a few minutes of solo time, and handles it well. Black Eagle is played by a white actor, of course. All in all, one of those mediocre episodes I mentioned in the previous posting.

    You can watch the whole episode here:

    Trouble for Tonto

    For more on the Lone Ranger, see White Man's Magic in Lone Ranger and Review of Lone Ranger: Vendetta.

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