|"The Three Amigos"|
|Season 3, Episode 16 (31)|
|Airdate||March 2, 1992|
|Writer(s)|| Mitchell Burgess|
← Episode sequence →
|"Democracy in America"||"Lost and Found"|
The death of a rugged hunting companion sends Holling and Maurice packing for the wilderness, intending to make good on a promise to bury him miles from civilization at a paradise called No-Name Point. But they're bogged down with disasters, including hooking up with the man's headstrong widow.
Holling and Shelly are in The Brick late one night, Holling remarking on a new dishwasher detergent and Shelly engrossed in a kitchen supply mail-order catalog, when Maurice enters with a solemn air. He tells Holling that Bill Planey is dead. As Shelly asks who Bill Planey is several times, Holling tells Maurice that they will leave at first light, Maurice says he will get the horses, and the two men leave to make preparations, leaving Shelly wondering who Bill Planey is.
The next morning, Maurice is purchasing supplies at Ruth-Anne's store as he prepares to go bury Bill out at No-Name Point. Maurice and Ruth-Anne discuss Bill but Ruth-Anne expresses concern about Bill's extreme burial desire and the danger and trouble it will put Maurice and Holling in. Regardless, she gives Maurice a pack of Black Jack bubblegum to bury with Bill since it was his favorite.
Outside The Brick, as Holling packs a Ford Explorer with hitched horse trailer, Shelly brings out sugar for the horses and a pillow for Holling's butt in case it gets sore. Shelly acts motherly towards him, making sure he has his mittens, and won't get frostbite. As Ed wheels Bill's coffin over on a handtruck, Holling remarks that the coffin is "skinny and long, just like Bill". Shelly expresses concern about the long trek out to No-Name Point, but Holling explains how he and Bill, then later them and Maurice, would go out there frequently together. Ed tells Shelly people used to call the trio Porthos, Athos, and Aramis. Shelly doesn't know who they are but Holling tells her The Three Musketeers. Ed begins to start a story but gets the year wrong as Holling corrects him and takes over, telling Shelly about the winter storm of '64 and how Bill's mule went over a bottomless crevice and how they had to kill one of their horses, take turns sleeping inside the carcass, then eat the horse's liver after the avalanche broke. Holling was dressing Bill's wounds when Bill looked at him and Maurice, telling them "boys, it just doesn't get any better than this" and that he wanted to be buried there.
Maurice shows up with the supplies and everyone says their goodbyes as Maurice and Holling get into the truck, and drive off. As they depart, Chris watches them, and begins his radio reading of Call of the Wild by Jack London. Down the road somewhere, the trailer gets a flat tire and they stop to fix it. Holling's back suddenly goes out and he is unable to help. While Maurice works, the two men reminisce about their exploits with Bill. Over a campfire that night, they both consider their decision to lead more domestic lives. Holling says that part of him is still out there in the wilderness, and they sleep.
The next day, the two men ride to Bill's cabin with their supplies on a litter attached to one of the horses. Upon arriving, they are surprised to find Solvang Planey, who was Bill's wife. Neither of them knew Bill had a wife, and they are equally surprised to find his body, fully twice the size they expected. They realize the coffin will be too small. Solvang cooks them dinner and they soon realize why Bill gained so much weight over the past few years.
Chris' reading of Call of the Wild is given as a voice-over to Maurice and Holling's acitivity, and is often similar. When Chris reads about Skeet setting her sights on Buck, Solvang approaches Holling, who is working on the coffin. Solvang begins hitting on him, but Holling quickly explains about his relationship. Solvang thinks he is a fool and leaves. The next morning, when the men prepare to leave, Solvang announces that she is coming along and hops behind Maurice on his horse. Maurice and Holling exchange an annoyed glance and the three ride off.
In camp that night, Solvang sneaks into Maurice's sleeping bag with him and tries to kiss him. Maurice is completely uncomfortable and concerned by Bill's body which is so nearby. Solvang is annoyed by his squeamishness, saying Bill is dead and he won't mind, but Maurice denies her and she goes back to her own sleeping bag. The next morning, they awake to find the horses gone, and as Maurice and Holling argue, Chris reads about a fight among the dogs. They finally track the horses down at Two Forks, a small bar out in the wilderness. Solvang is pleased to find that the wife of the proprietor, Reinhard Shoulder, left him weeks before, and she eyes him like a predator. Meanwhile, Maurice and Holling play a game of bridge with two men and end up in a fight in which they barely emerge triumphant. They prepare to leave and Solvang announces her intentions to stay with Reinhard. The two men are confused but ride off anyway with Bill in-tow.
As they ride along the edge of a river, Holling's horse rears up and Bill's body goes sliding down the slope and into the river. The two men follow and manage to catch the body, although the salt in which it was packed is beginning to leak out. That night, Maurice is fearful of frostbite and Bill's body is beginning to ripen. They finally decide to bury Bill by the river rather than risk a trip to No-Name Point with few supplies. The next morning, they bury him, say a few words over the grave, and then head back.
In Cicely, they are greeted warmly by their friends, as Chris talks about the longing for the wild. As Holling recounts the story of their trip to Shelly, music begins playing and a montage of scenes from the episode is shown. The uniqueness of this episode, which focuses almost solely on two characters, is elegant and offers a welcome change of pace from earlier episodes.
Holling: As Bill used to say, "You don't get cold in the bush. Either you're warm or you're dead."
Chris (on-air): There they go into the last great gasp of the wilderness known as Alaska. We all have our own relationship with the wild. Out there or in here, in our hearts, in our souls. Wheeling, West Virginia, 1983; I'm in the joint--prison library--working my way backward from Z. Stendahl, Proust, I'm in the Ls and--eureka, baby! Jack London; my main man. If Whitman gave me poetry then Mr. London took me into a place inside myself that I didn't even know existed but instantly recognized like I'd been heading there my whole lost life. There was Buck, big civilized mutt from the south land, slapped down in the frigid north to redefine himself for what he really was. I was Buck, Buck was I, Buck is us.
- "It Won't Hurt" by Dwight Yoakam
- "Grand River" on Jumpin' the Strings by Byron Berline
- "The Whiskey Ain't Working" by Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart
- "Acoustic Duet 1" on Country Blues Guitar by Brendan Croker
- "Hands on the Wheel" by Willie Nelson
- Ruth-Anne recalls the night Bill Planey threw a miner though the barbershop window after the man insulted his lead dog.
- Bill, Maurice, and Holling cut down caribou all over the Kodiak Preserve.
- No-Name Point is 45 miles on a switchback trail, through bogs and mire, over boulders and slate, with thousand-foot drops on either side.
- Even in death, Bill is dragging them into trouble.
- Bill liked Black Jack chewing gum.
- Bill used to be long and skinny.
- Ed made Bill's coffin.
- One fateful day in 1964, "the three musketeers" were trapping out on No-Name Point when a storm blew up, sending Bill's mule down a bottomless crevice, lost all their food, bedrolls, and tarp. The rope cut Bill's leg deep. They only had three matches left and killed one of the horses, took turns sleeping in its carcass, and ate its liver for breakfast. Bill decided right then and there it doesn't get any better than that and wanted to be buried there.
- 1983 in Wheeling, West Virginia: Chris in the prison library reading backwards from Z and discovers Jack London.
- Solvang's third husband worked the pipeline up in Barrow. He ate nothing but fish and fried potatoes. He died of hypothermia after a storm blew him off the platform.
- Holling's father's body was shipped back to Quebec and rests next to Holling's mother.
- Maurice has never been married.
- Maurice and Holling have known each other 30 years.
- Maurice writes a check to Solvang for $1643.81 and Holling gives her a $50 bill.
- Shelly's earrings: frying pans with eggs (Maurice comes into the bar with the news of Bill Planey), tropical fish (Holling returns from his trip)
- Though Chris cut his hair in the previous episode, it appears long again here. It returns to its shorter length in the following episode.
- ↑ http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_523196-Ford-Explorer-UN46-1991.html
- ↑ Maurice brings news of Bill's death to Holling at The Brick.
- ↑ Maurice buys supplies for his trip at Ruth-Anne's.
- ↑ Maurice and Holling sit by the fire.
- ↑ Maurice and Holling play cards.
- ↑ Lookback at the trip while Shelly gives Holling a bath.