Recap / The Wild Wild West S 3 E 19 "The Night of the Underground Terror"

West and Gordon are in New Orleans (during Mardi Gras, of course), where mysterious women set up meetings with each of them. At Gordon's rendezvous he is ambushed by a group whose leader turns out to be Colonel Tacitus Mosely (Jeff Corey), a former Confederate officer in charge of the notorious Susquehanna prison of war camp; West is also attacked, but escapes to meet a group of crippled ex-Union Army soldiers who are seeking revenge on Mosely for his crimes against them. The agents resolve to help bring Mosely to justice and manage to abduct him from his home for that purpose. Then things really get interesting...

Tropes present in this episode:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Colonel Mosely has spent years acquiring one to belladonna. He takes advantage of this to incapacitate Jim.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Major Hazard (Nehemiah Persoff), leader of the gang who wants to kill Mosely.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A low key variation; the disguised Artie shows up just in time to save Jim and Mosely from their torture at the whipping post.
  • Cowboy Cop: Literally and figuratively. Colonel Richmond warns Jim and Artie not to go after Mosely until they can verify his identity. They ignore him and pursue Mosely anyway.
    • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving: When Richmond calls Artie out for this after Jim and Mosely vanish, he has to admit that the agents did "a first-rate job" of capturing Mosely in the first place.
  • Death Trap: Mosely puts Jim in one that will culminate with Mosely's mansion burning down while he fakes his death and assumes yet another fake identity. Once he leaves, Jim escapes the trap easily.
  • Dowsing Device: Artie's weapon of choice when he comes to the rescue. He pretends to be an Englishman who can use the device to find gold and proceeds to lead the villains on a series of wild goose chases.
  • Dramatic Irony: At the climax, Hazard finally gets the gold he's been looking for, which was hidden in Susquehanna's water tower—as it spills over his corpse.note 
  • Evil Versus Evil: Mosely vs. his gang of sadists, with Jim and Artie trying to stop them all.
  • Greed: Hazard's gang is so desperate to find the treasure that they not only tolerate Artie's dowsing antics, but put their weapons aside so the iron ore won't interfere with his search for the gold.
  • I Call Her "Vera": At Mosely's plantation, one of his Mooks is a Cajun whose gun has not only a name, but a literal Hair-Trigger Temper.
    Jim: Emil is hot-tempered, huh?
    Cajun: You would not believe! He do things like (shoots at Jim's feet) and (shoots over Jim's shoulder)!
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Even in the mid-to-late 1870's. At least the crowds, costumes and festive atmosphere are used for dramatic effect, plus Artie takes advantage of them to slip away unnoticed after disabling his attackers.
  • Kangaroo Court: Hazard intends to put Mosely on "trial" at the ruins of Susquehanna, with himself as the Hanging Judge and his men as the Joker Jury. Jim, who insists on serving as Mosely's defense, disrupts the procedure by charging Hazard's gang with perjury, since he's figured out that they're actually Mosely's erstwhile torturers.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Two of Hazard's men wear masks, presumably because Mosely inflicted Facial Horror on them. When Jim figures out they're faking it like the rest of the gang, they remove their masks to reveal perfectly normal appearances.
  • Masquerade Ball: Jim and Artie infiltrate one (dressed as Don Juan and Hamlet, respectively).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Major Hazard's gang calls itself the Brotherhood of Hell.
  • Nazi Gold/Nazi Grandpa: Civil War-era analogues to both tropes turn up. Mosely hid one million dollars worth of the Confederacy's gold somewhere on his old P.O.W. camp's grounds and Hazard is after it. Hazard and his gang pretend to be former Union soldiers when they were actually Mosely's assistants at the camp; Hazard's daughter China is completely unaware of their true identities. Mosely himself has acquired a new face and a new name and become a respectable member of the community.
  • No Peripheral Vision: Why Artie apparently doesn't notice the three men - wearing elaborate ancient Roman costumes no less - waiting in what must be plain sight to ambush him.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Major Hazard's entire gang, who initially pose as crippled war veterans vicitimized by Mosely in order to play on the agents' sympathies.
  • Only I Can Kill Him: This is Major Hazard's attitude toward Mosely at first, but he agrees to give Jim and Artie two days to find him themselves. And when Jim shows the captured Mosely to Hazard and his "Brotherhood", they kidnap both men to put Mosely on trial. At least, that's their story until Jim figures out the truth...
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Hilariously, the outcome is exactly like that in The Princess Bride, except this time it's the villain who has the Acquired Poison Immunity.
  • Public Secret Message: Jim, in full sight of the villains, begins punching holes in a newspaper with a pencil. Artie picks it up later and figures out that the holes represent a message in Morse Code.
  • Retired Monster: Mosely is living as a plantation owner under an altered appearance and assumed name.
  • Sadist: Mosely is notorious for inflicting horrific tortures on his prisoners. Hazard's gang claim to be his victims, but turn out to be his fellow victimizers.
  • Shirtless Scene: Jim and Mosely are trussed up at the Susquehanna whipping post, where Hazard's man Quint will torture them; all three are stripped to the waist.
  • Shout-Out: Jim briefly quotes from Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter" when he first meets Mosely.
  • Shout Out To Shakespeare: Artie and Mosely engage in a brief verbal duel using Shakespearian quotations.
  • Spotting the Thread: How does Jim know that the Brotherhood of Hell are actually Mosely's former partners? Well, he knows that when Mosely disappeared, his seven lieutenants vanished at the same time. Then he notices that all the settings at Susquehanna have eight chairs. And since the Brotherhood had seven members until one of them was killed in the Cold Open...