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Season 17, Episode 9
Airdate November 8, 1971
Production Number 1615-0506
Written by William Blinn
Directed by Irving J. Moore
Produced by Leonard Katzman
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My Brother's Keeper
GunsmokeSeason Seventeen
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Lijah is the ninth episode of the seventeenth season of Gunsmoke, and the five hundred forty-eighth episode overall.

Starring: James Arness (Marshal Matt Dillon)

with Milburn Stone (Doc) (credit only), Amanda Blake (Kitty), Ken Curtis (Festus), Buck Taylor (Newly)

Special Guests: Denny Miller (Lijah), Harry Townes (Hale Parker), Erin Moran (Rachel), William Wintersole (Will Standish), Tom Brown (Ed O'Connor), Woodrow Chambliss (Lathrop)

and Pat Hingle (Dr. Chapman)

Lane Bradford (Dump Hart), Howard Culver (Howie), Herb Vigran (Judge Brooker), Pete Kellett (Frank), Glenn Strange (Sam), Charles Wagenheim (Haligan), Ted Jordan (Burke), Dan Flynn, Jr. (Tack), Henry Wise (Hank)


Plot Overview

Lijah, an itenerant mountain man, stumbles on a grisly murder scene in a remote cabin, and soon discovers a little girl named Rachel Mae (nicknamed "Ladybug") hiding in the root cellar. Ladybug's uncle, Hale Parker, arrives at the cabin and, assuming Lijah had killed members of his family, gets into a fight, and Lijah knocks Hale unconscious. Fearing the real killer may still be lurking about, Lijah leaves with Ladybug. Hale regains consciousness and, realizing Lijah and Ladybug are gone, goes to Dodge City to alert Matt about a possible killer on the loose.

Lijah is soon arrested on murder charges and stands trial. At the trial, Ladybug is made (by her Uncle Hale) to testify against Lijah; he had told her that her parents — the murder victims — would not "get into heaven" if she had not testified that Lijah was the killer. Meanwhile, Lijah's combative behavior and constant eye contact with the jury fuel further speculation that he indeed was the killer. One of the jurors, a doctor named Chapman, has his curiousity piqued. Chapman shares his curiousities with Matt, but Matt reminds him that he is limited in what advice he can give.

During deliberations, Chapman is the lone holdout in a jury that otherwise want to convict Lijah; Chapman said he isn't convinced that Lijah is guilty, but doesn't know why ... until one of the jurors angrily remarks that the trial has turned into a circus. Chapman then confirms to Matt and Newly what he had suspected after getting permission to search his files: He had treated Lijah years ago for an illness that caused him to lose his hearing. Chapman had attempted to teach the orphaned Lijah to read lips and was successful ... until a meddlesome aunt demanded and won custody and ordered the treatments stopped. The aunt soon grew frustrated with Lijah and sold him to a circus promoter, who forced Lijah to perform in a "wild boy" act. Lijah eventually escaped the circus and made his getaway to the mountains. The constant eye contact had to do with Chapman being the last person who seemed to care about Lijah's well-being.

Just as Chapman is finishing his story, a telegram comes in revealing that the man who actually killed the Parker family had confessed to the crimes.

When they go to the jail to have Lijah released from custody, they see that he has escaped ... back to the mountains to find Ladybug and Hale Parker. During a final confrontation, Lijah reaffirms his innocence and tells Parker that he is angry that he would make Ladybug lie on the witness stand (and exploit her belief in God and Heaven to get her to do his will). Parker is agitated and begins fighting with Lijah. Ladybug runs over to get the two to stop fighting, but she accidentally falls into a rattlesnake-infested well. Lijah realizes the danger Ladybug is in and risks his life to save her, despite Parker's pleading warning about the danger he is about to face. Matt, Newly and Festus arrive in time to help out and rescue both Ladybug and a snakebitten Lijah, then tell Parker that he will be arrested for perjury. Lijah reassures a tearful Ladybug that he isn't going to die.


Arc Advancement





The Show

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments