McKenna - Episode 7
The Hired Hand

Opening Scene:

Walter is walking through the woods when he hears a strange noise. He starts running and, while doing so, he catches sight of something large and hairy running away from him. He is convinced he has just seen Bigfoot. He tells someone about his claim and a researcher arrives with lots of gadgets, hoping to capture live footage of Bigfoot and prove its existence. This forms the secondary plot in the episode.

Cass has an argument with her boyfriend, Paul, and they break up. She is very unsettled, finding life at the Outfitter's too demanding and restrictive.

In the meantime, Brick is in town putting up 'help wanted' posters while waiting for the Evergreen Stage Line's bus to arrive at the depot. He is due to pick up a client called Mr. Armstrong, and when the bus pulls in, he waits nearby, holding up a sign that reads 'McKenna'. An old Indian steps off the bus and comes over. He tells Brick that he is Mr. Armstrong, and that he wants to be taken to Mount Thomas.

While putting up 'help wanted' posters, Cass meets a young man called Jonathan. He is looking for a job and so he goes to McKenna's ranch, climbs a ladder and starts painting the barn/stable. Jack calls him down and asks what he is doing, and he explains that all he wants is enough for a bus ticket to Boston, where he has a scholarship waiting for him at the university.

Brick arrives back with Mr. Armstrong. Armstrong is sitting down at the table with Jack, to eat and talk. When Armstrong tells Jack where he wants to go, Jack refuses to take him as that particular mountain is made up of loose, shale which is impossible to climb. Armstrong tells him that his son was supposed to take him, and that his people know the secret passage that leads through a valley to the top. Jack still refuses, but Brick sits down and says that he will take the old man, much to Jack's annoyance.


Cass meets her ex-boyfriend, Paul, in the supermarket and, though he is apologetic, she no longer cares for him after meeting Jonathan. While she is there, she spots a magazine and discovers that Jonathan is a missing oil heir.


Brick discovers that Daniel Armstrong has a secret too. He is 79 years old and 'escaped' from a nursing home in Willow Creek three days earlier. He is a ward of state but Brick hates the thought of nursing homes so he says nothing, figuring that he could allow Armstrong this moment of freedom.

Brick takes Armstrong out on the tour he requested, and learns that Armstrong's son is very much alive but that he lost him when his son went to work at the casino on the reservation. They had not spoken since. Brick asks him why he ran away from the nursing home but Armstrong tells him very little.


Cass goes to the school dance with her friend, Claudia, who is stunned when Jonathan arrives and asks Cass to dance. Jack has discovered who Jonathan is and going to tell Dale. Cass overhears and tells Jonathan, and they run away together.


At Mount Thomas:

Brick and Armstrong arrive at the base of Mount Thomas and Armstrong tells him that, halfway across the eastern face  is a crevasse. Inside is a rock shaped like a leaping coyote. The crevasse leads to a tunnel, formed by running water, and beyond it is a series of stone steps leading to the top of the mountain.

Armstrong becomes unwell and needs Brick's help to get his medicine, and it is then that Brick realizes that it is heart medicine, and the container is almost empty.

Brick: With or without your cooperation, I'm taking you back

They set up camp for the night and talk around the fire. Armstrong asks him about Brick's dead brother, Guy.

Brick: He was my best friend. He used to cover for me a lot. He fought for me. He was everything I wanted to be, partly because he was everything Jack wanted me to be.

Brick asks what is troubling Armstrong.

Armstrong: You know that I am dying, Brick?
Brick: What about the medicine you're taking?

Armstrong tells Brick he will think of him when his time comes, and he will hear him say goodbye, and will say goodbye to Guy for Brick. Then Armstrong goes to sleep, and Brick follows soon after.


Jack goes after Cass and finds her in a motel room with Jonathan, just sleeping. He talks to her about her mother, who abandoned them all when Cass was seven years old. He tells her of his fears, that she would turn out to be just like her mother. He tells her that he wants her to come home, and she agrees.


When Brick wakes up, Armstrong has gone. He starts up the mountain after the old man and finds the crevasse with the rock shaped liked a leaping coyote. He crawls through the tunnel and is amazed when he comes out the other side. He calls out to Armstrong, and catches up with him at the top, after climbing the stone steps. Armstrong tells him that this is where his people come to die, and that the last time he was there it was to hold his father's hand. Armstrong asks if he has come to take him back down but Brick says 'no', realizing that Armstrong knows his time has come.

Armstrong: You leave now, if you wish, or you can stay... hold my hand.

Daniel Armstrong offers his hand, and Brick takes it, sitting with the old man until Armstrong closes his eyes -- and dies.


End of Episode 7 - The Hired Hand