Working Girls

We open with Buck and JD riding over a hill, Buck is telling JD how to behave when they get there, not to go busting in like some bucking bronco, to get to know the ladies. JD protests that this isn't his first time, he's had a whole gaggle of women, Buck just wants to be sure the gaggle didn't miss some spots.

They get there, Wickes Town. It's a collection of tents, a water tower, all on the flat part of a grassy plain. Along with cowboys and horses, there are a few cattle around. The biggest tent is the saloon. Wickes is a friend of the local ranchers who brought in a few sporting women and built this paradise. Buck suggests sampling some whiskey to get JD in the mood. They go into the saloon tent, JD spots Chris at a table with one of the women, wants to say hi, Buck steers him to the bar instead.

They order whiskey, and Wickes himself comes over to welcome them, the first drink is on the house, he tells them if they want a special brand of whiskey, girl, card game, to just ask.

Wickes wanders off to greet one of his customers, a regular. He calls for Nora, the man's usual. Nora looks afraid, but goes over, tries to say she's not feeling good. The woman with Chris gets up and goes over to offer herself to this regular guy, but Wickes pushes her away and hauls Nora off. Lydia goes back to Chris who asks if she's okay. Lydia says she is, but Nora's not.

Back on Buck and JD, Buck is asking which one JD wants. JD looks around, finally picks a smiling blond. Buck says it's a good choice, asks if JD wants him to arrange it, JD says he can do it himself. He goes over to the girl, trips on his way, but they go out together. Buck is laughing with the bartender, saying how it brings back fond memories of his own first time. Then recalls that first times aren't always that good. Maybe he should follow him to make sure JD doesn't "trip over it" on his way to the tent. Buck goes outside and watches as JD and the girl make their way to her tent, she puts out the red flag and then grabs JD by the belt and pulls him inside.

The sound of a slap and a scream stops Buck from going back inside the saloon tent, he goes toward the sound where Wickes is slapping around Nora, telling her if she questions his authority again he'll kill her. Buck stops him and Lydia runs over to Nora, saying she needs a doctor. Buck is doing well against Wickes until two of Wickes' men grab him and pull him off. They hold him up and Wickes takes a couple of good shots at Buck's gut with his fists. The sound of a rifle shot breaks up the scuffle, it's Chris, he's on his horse, tells Buck they're leaving and they're taking Nora with them. JD runs out of the tent, Chris tells him to get the guns and their horses. Buck hands Nora up to Chris, they mount up and ride out, Wickes' final word to them that it's not over.

Roll opening credits.

In town, Chris and Vin are heading up to Nathan's place to see how Nora is. Nathan says she's in bad shape, broken ribs, nasty cuts, old bruises. Someone's been rough on her. Nora says she has to get back, Wickes'll be mad, she'll just owe him more if she doesn't. Wickes paid her way out there, she has to pay him back with interest, but the more she works, the more she owes. Vin comments that it sounds like a good deal, for Wickes.

Mary Travis comes in looking all stern, wanting a word with Mr. Larabee.

Over at the bath house, Buck, JD and Josiah are talking, JD is telling how they got run out of Wickes Town. Josiah says it sounds like a righteous fight. Buck corrects JD's assessment of Wickes as a bull of a man as a pig of a man. JD wants to know what got into Buck. Buck says you just don't treat women that way. JD thinks Emily and he could have had something. She said she might not even charge him. Josiah says that sounds right charitable. JD says what's it to him, women never meant nothing to him. Josiah says that what he doesn't know about women isn't worth knowing. That the act of love should be a spiritual experience. Adam and Eve got thrown out of paradise for doing it, so when they do it, it better be right, so their loss was not in vain. JD wants to know if there's anyone alive who doesn't want to give him advice.

Back with Chris and Mary, she's saying she's not telling him what to do, but he thinks she's suggesting awful strong. Mary says Nora is Chris's responsibility. He says he brought her because she needed looking after. Mary hopes when she's well, Chris'll take her somewhere else. Chris comments that it's mighty Christian of her to say that. She says it's hard enough for the town without her kind there. Chris asks if she means the hurt kind, and she says she means the working kind. Chris says it's only one girl, but behind him, in the street comes driving in a wagon full of women from Wickes Town, and Mary just stands there with a self-righteous "I told you so" look on her face.

The girls and the townspeople look at each other, the girls get out of the wagon. Lydia goes to Chris to ask about Nora, Nathan tells her she can't be moved yet, but she'll be all right. Lydia says they snuck out at dawn, grabbing what they could and came looking for them. When they saw there were men who would stand up to Wickes, they knew they could get out of that place, they need a safe place to stay. Chris tells Vin to go take a look around. Mary says it's best if they just move on. Lydia says maybe it's best if she lets the men answer for themselves. Chris has left the conversation, heading for the saloon. Mary says these men don't run the town, Lydia asks if Mary does. Mary says she has a say. Lydia says she bets Mary does. Buck excuses himself and goes after Chris.

Inside the saloon, Buck and Chris are leaning on the bar talking. They have a problem, but Chris says Buck can handle it. They argue some, Buck started the fight, but Chris carried the girl away, Chris says it's up to Buck, so Buck says the women can stay. Enter Mary, who disagrees.

Back with the ladies, Ezra has come along, all smiles and cheerful, offering to escort the ladies to the hotel or the bath house. Also says he has some ideas about solutions to their predicament.

Vin is riding out the way the ladies came in, sees a bunch of mounted riders coming in. He turns and gallops back to town.

Again in the bar, the conversation continues. Mary goes on about the evils of prostitution and Chris defends the women's right to stay where they want. Mary insists the town has the right to a decent community. Vin's entrance to warn of the riders coming in stops the conversation.

Wickes men ride in, one of the leaders is one of the ones who pulled Buck off Wickes in the beginning, he orders the men to tear the town apart to look for the girls.

In the bar, one of the men tells Vin he's looking for a woman, Vin says aren't we all. Man tells Vin to stay out of the way while they look, Vin says to suit himself, but the pickings are mighty slim. The men look in the stable, in the street, the bath house. Women are hidden in the straw, behind boxes, under Ezra at Nathan's, inside the lectern in the church, but Wickes' men don't find them.

As the men are mounting up to leave, Vin wanders out, asks them about their luck, tells them if they find any women wandering around out there to tell them they're welcome here.

In the bath house, Lydia is in the bath, Chris on the other side of the curtain, tells her she can come out, they're gone. She says she'll be out in a bit. Chris says they need to talk, she says he should come in. He looks a bit uncomfortable as he looks through the curtain, tells her to come find him when she's decent. She says she's not shy, implying they should just talk there. He stays, tells her he thinks the ladies should move on. She says unkind things about Mary's influence. He says it has nothing to do with her, that it could be Wickes show up next time and he doesn't want anyone hurt. She says Wickes won't stop until they're back or dead. Chris says they'll take the women to Ridge City where they can get a train, that they'll protect them. Lydia thinks Chris could protect her anywhere, that she thinks they'll stay and make a stand there. Chris says if they stay, they're on their own. She says always have been. Chris leaves with a heavy sigh, this has not gone how he planned.

Chris exits the bath house, Vin is outside leaning on a post abusing his harmonica, Chris puts an arm around his shoulder and tells him they need a new plan.

Vin doesn't say anything, he's looking down the street where Ezra is talking to some of the women. They're not thrilled with his idea of becoming mail order brides. He says that getting married is the only permanent solution to their predicament. They say getting married is like what they've been doing but for no pay. He says not if they marry well. He says only the well bred, well financed men need apply. Placement in the finest homes in the territory. They want to know what men like that would want with women like them. He says what they don't know won't hurt them, and if they'll consent to a little tutoring, charm school, the men will think they're marrying the queen of England herself.

JD is across the street watching Ezra and the women. Buck sneaks up behind him, startling him, tells him to go on over to her, meaning Emily. JD says if he's so hell bent on a roll in the hay to go buy one himself. Buck says he doesn't pay for it. Never has, never will. JD doesn't believe he's never slept with one of those ladies. Buck says he's been with plenty of them, he just doesn't pay for it. JD wants to know how it's possible. Buck says when you know them like he has you come to respect them and respect buys an awful lot of kindness. JD says he's talking like they're his family. Buck says they come to feel like family when you're raised up together. JD puts two and two together and figures out that Buck grew up in a ... and his mother was a .... Buck says that she was a saint. JD is left open mouthed.

We're looking out the window at Chris and Vin, from Mary's POV, they're talking. Lydia comes into the newspaper office, asking Mary about a job. She used to be good at her letters and such, wonders if Mary needs some help. Mary is surprised. Lydia says she's good at lots of things. Mary has no positions available. Lydia isn't surprised, seen many folks like Mary before. Mary says if Lydia is insinuating it's some kind of prejudice, she's wrong, it's a small business. Lydia says she understands. If he's Mary's, she'll leave him be. Mary is confused, asks who, Lydia looks across the street to Chris and Vin, Mary says "Mr. Larabee?" Lydia says she may be a lot of things, but she's no thief. Mary says she's mistaken, their relationship is entirely professional, her father-in-law is the circuit judge who hired the men. Lydia interrupts her asking if Chris is fair game. Mary says of course he is. Lydia smiles and says good and leaves the shop.

At Wickes Town, Wickes is throwing a tantrum, screaming at his head guy about how hard could it be to find a wagon load of whores. Man says they looked in three towns, couldn't find them anywhere. Wickes says he knows Lydia, that mother cat bitch wouldn't leave Nora behind, asks where the nearest doctor is. Man says there isn't one, just a black guy who takes care of the sick, but Nora wasn't there, in fact there was hardly any women in the town. Wickes wonders didn't that strike him as odd? Dismisses man and says they'll pay another visit tomorrow. He also dismisses the two women in his tent, he's not in the mood anymore.

In the morning, Josiah is on the church roof, watching down the road, sees riders coming in, rings church bell twice as a warning. It's Wickes and a bunch of his men. Our guys are lined up in the street taking a firm stand. Behind them, a wagon, driven by Vin, is heading out of town. It's Wickes' wagon. Wickes and his men turn to chase him down, they cut him off from the mountain, he heads across the flat, toward a cliff. Our guys are riding behind Wickes and his men. As the wagon goes on, Vin jumps onto the traces between the horses, pulls the hitch pin, steers the horses away and lets the wagon go over the cliff to crash.

Debris and bodies litter the bottom of the canyon. Buck is incensed, is held back by Josiah and Nathan. Wickes says it was their fault the women got killed, Nathan says he didn't have to chase them off the cliff, Wickes says all they had to do was stop. Wickes is more upset by how much this has cost him, Buck is ready to tear him apart. Chris tells Wickes he better git before Chris does something Wickes will regret. Wickes says he'd gladly put a bullet through Chris, but he wouldn't waste decent metal on a bunch of whores. He tips his hat, turns and leaves, his men following.

Buck is now all smiles, saying they tricked them. Vin comes up with the horses, says the job gets better every day. When we get a close look at the debris at the bottom, it's burlap dummies dressed in women's clothes.

In town, inside the church, Buck has flowers, is being charming to one of the women, tells her she's looking lovely, would she like a hay ride later. She says a hay ride sounds lovely. The moment is interrupted by Ezra as we pull back to reveal this is his charm school. Buck wants to know what the problem is this time. She says she said the word lovely. Ezra says she said the words, but her intent was clearly lascivious, that a lady would have slapped his oafish drooling face. Buck resents that. Ezra yells at Josiah to stop his noisy sanding, which he's been doing the whole time. Josiah says he has to get down to the grain, that things are best in their natural state. Buck agrees. Ezra says they won't attract husbands in their natural state. Tells them to try it again, with dignity. Enter Nathan, saying it takes a bold man to talk about dignity when he's trying to sell off women like cattle. Ezra says he'll ignore that. Nathan says he better do that, how else is he going to sleep tonight. Ezra asks if there's anything else. Nathan says, hell, yeah, about making profit off the back of another human being, but it would just be wasted on Ezra. Nathan turns to leave. Ezra is subdued, but asks where they were to start up again.

In the saloon, Vin bellies up to the bar, asks for a gut-warmer, looks over and sees Lydia at a table, turns to face her. She says to him not to worry, she's not working, she and the girls agreed to live by their rules while they're here. Vin wonders if she shouldn't be laying low, someone could recognize her and tell Wickes. She asks if Larabee sent him to say that. Vin asks if he looks like a messenger boy. Lydia apologizes, says that Chris isn't as friendly as he usually is. Vin says maybe he doesn't want to get caught between her and the town. Lydia says he means between her and Mrs. Travis, that she's tired of making decisions depending on what other people want. She leaves to go check on Nora, walks out past a man who does, indeed, recognize her. The man mounts up and rides out.

Buck and Josiah are sneaking around the barn, Josiah says he doesn't feel right spying on the boy. Buck says they're just checking up, seeing that he's doing all right. We hear Emily calling out JD's name passionately, howling. Josiah and Buck exchange some looks and grins and take off. Up in the loft, Emily and JD are fully dressed and just making noises to fool Josiah and Buck. After Buck and Josiah are gone, JD is talking about before, when they tried and he couldn't, she reassures him it's okay, he says he's ready, he could do it now. She says that's great, but his friends are gone and she has to go now. JD looks confused.

In Wickes Town, we see Wickes talking to a new girl, telling her things will go fine as long as she does what she's told. He's interrupted in getting acquainted with her by the man who saw Lydia. Wickes is not pleased to be interrupted, but he dumps the woman on the ground to head out.

Mary comes into Nathan's place bearing a tray of breakfast, wakes Nathan to give it to him, but he says Nora could use it more than he, would Mary mind giving it to her, he needs to go get some sleep. She says okay, wakes Nora, puts the tray down and turns to leave. Nora is coughing and having problems sitting up and Mary comes back to help her, pours the coffee. Nora has never had breakfast in bed, heck, in her family, hardly ever got breakfast. She apologizes, says it's all her fault, all the trouble. Mary says she didn't do anything wrong. Nora says if she'd only done what he told her, but she couldn't be with that man again, he always asked for her and he hurt her, it's what he likes to do, she couldn't take it one more time.

The door is slammed open, and there stands Wickes.

In the saloon, they're looking over a map, Vin is pointing out a route, saying that Whitley Pass is less traveled, it'll be safer. In runs Nora saying that Wickes took Mrs. Travis, that they have to go back by day's end or he'll kill her. Vin and Chris head out, Lydia right behind them, says she's going along, Chris tells her no. Chris and Vin stop and talk a minute, that if they head in there all spit and vinegar she's likely to get hurt. They're also watching Ezra teach bearing, going down the stairs with a book balanced on his head, as they say what they need is a distraction. Vin comments how Ezra walks awful graceful.

In Wickes Town, a new woman shows up in a fancy purple dress, heads in to the saloon tent. It's Ezra in drag, with a long curly dark wig. Bartender asks if he/she's applying for a job, he says yes, he's an entertainer. When a rude man puts hands on him, he smacks him in the crotch with his parasol, says not that kind of entertainer, that he's a singer. Bartender says a singer doesn't have to be a great beauty. Another fellow asks if he'd sing for them.

Cut to Wickes and Mary, in Wickes tent. She's tied to the bed, he's going on about her being all high and mighty, she says higher than him, yes. He laughs, says that there's no difference between her and any of the girls, only thing separating them is luck, luck of a decent family, family money. What if it went away, there was no family, no money, if she had mouths to feed, would she let them starve, is her pride worth the life of her child?

In the saloon, Ezra is singing "Red River Valley" and the men are entranced. A drunk paws at him, only to be pushed away. Another drunk gets his face punched, causing the needed distraction. The rest of the men are sneaking in, taking down Wickes men as they can. The fight in the saloon soon involves everyone including the women. Chris gets to Mary, leans over her, she says she's okay. He cuts her loose and takes her out, only to be caught just outside the tent by Wickes who has his gun drawn, ready to shoot Chris. But behind him, Lydia is there and shoots Wickes, twice. He falls. Mary goes to Lydia, Chris takes the gun. As they leave, Wickes isn't quite dead, grabs a gun and aims at them, but Buck sees him and draws and turns, shooting him dead. They hesitate a moment, but then head out of Wickes Town.

In town, Ezra has his first candidates for the women to marry. They tell him thanks but no thanks, they've decided to try their luck in 'Frisco. 'Frisco, he says. 'Frisco, they say, where the men are bound to be finer and you don't have to marry them. The women climb in the wagon and Ezra turns to the men to try and calm the situation as they ask about their money. He's doing his best when one of them, who was the drunk in the Wickes Town saloon asks him if he by any chance sings. Ezra is not pleased at being found out as Buck laughs and asks him for a song. Emily gives JD a big kiss before getting in the wagon and heading out. Lydia and Chris exchange a look as they go, and he tips his hat to her. JD says there's more to those ladies than meets the eye, but hell if he can figure it out. Buck welcomes him to manhood with a sweet smile and then turns to ride out with the wagon as we...

fade to black and roll end credits.