Recap: The Wild Wild West S 1 E 21 The Night Of The Puppeteer
Supreme Court judges are dying under mysterious circumstances. Judge Chayne is nearly killed by a puppeteer performing at his grandson's party; West saves him, but is hit with an anesthetic dart fired by one of the puppets. In the subsequent confusion, the puppeteer disappears. Chayne tells West and Gordon that the culprit may be Zachariah Skull, a sculptor convicted of murder whose case the court refused to review; Skull escaped by jumping from a speeding train and his body was never found. Examining the puppets left behind leads the agents to a dockside tavern, and then below it, where Skull waits to put on yet another show...
Tropes present in this episode:
- The Cast Showoff: Imelda de Martin was a dancer. She's given a chance to show off her skills.
- Distress Ball: Jim gets a lead from inspecting one of the puppets, suspects that it's a trap and runs off to investigate anyway, without telling Artie where he's going or why. Not surprisingly, he's captured very shortly afterwards and Artie is left in the dark.
- Foreshadowing: Skull seems to be obsessed with deformity; almost all of his puppets are maimed in some fashion. This is addressed briefly and then apparently discarded until the big reveal at the end of the episode that the handsome man who has been calling himself Skull is actually a puppet. The real Skull was horribly injured in his escape.
- Joker Jury: Skull puts Jim on trial for killing a puppet. Skull is the judge, his marionettes are the jury and Jim is tried, convicted and sentenced without being present. Jim stalls for time by trying to argue his case.
- Marionette Master: Skull has an army of life-sized marionettes at his command which he controls via steam lines. They can serve wine, play music... and kill.
- Miscarriage of Justice: Skull was convicted (or so he claims) of a crime he did not commit. He jumped out of a train to avoid being sent to jail and then spent years plotting revenge.