Recap / The Wild Wild West S 3 E 20 "The Night of the Death Masks"

In Como Creek, Nevada, West rescues a young woman who is being annoyed by a group of cavalry officers. She introduces herself as the daughter of the Superintendent of the San Francisco Mint and recalls how, five years ago, West and Gordon thwarted an attack on the Mint by Emmet Stark (Milton Selzer) and his gang. West and the young woman board the stage, but she gets off again on a pretext and West quickly finds himself being abducted. After waking up from gas-induced unconsciousness, he finds himself in strange clothes and in an apparently abandoned town called Paradox, where very strange things begin to happen. Meanwhile, in Virginia City, Colonel Richmond informs Gordon that Stark has just escaped from prison, out to fulfill the vow of vengeance which he made five years ago—and West is missing...

Tropes present in this episode:

  • Damsel in Distress: Betsy Cole seems to be an innocent young woman who wanders into Paradox, then is killed by Stark's men while Jim watches helplessly. However, she's actually very much alive—and her true identity is Betsy Stark, Emmet's daughter.
  • Evil Gloating: Stark does this while Artie sobs over Jim's "corpse". Hardly surprising, given Stark's sadistic nature.
  • Faking the Dead: Betsy pretends to be killed by Stark's men. At the climax, Jim (with Artie's help) pulls the same trick on Stark.
  • Foreshadowing: Stark invokes this when he sends Jim a telegraph message saying "Count the hours, Mr. West. Tomorrow you will die hating yourself for what you will have done."
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Jim does this to himself in an attempt to resist Dr. Prior's knockout drug.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D./My God, What Have I Done?: Stark tries to induce these tropes in Jim by tricking him into killing Artie. However, when Artie (seemingly) kills Jim instead and breaks down sobbing, he's happy to accept that result.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Jim and Artie trap Stark (along with his daughter) in the same rigged stagecoach he'd used to capture them.
  • Hope Spot: Stark causes one of these for Jim as part of his prolonged psychological torture. A stagecoach rolls into Paradox with three passengers who invite the agent to go with them; one of them, Dr. Prior, even treats Jim's leg wound. However, they're all working for Stark, and the "doctor" then injects Jim with a knockout drug that gradually renders him unconscious. The drug takes effect just as the stagecoach leaves, with Jim desperately hanging on to the back of the coach before finally passing out and falling off.
  • Knockout Gas: Used on Jim once he's alone inside the stagecoach. Later, the phony stagecoach passengers try it on Artie; he outwits them, but falls unconscious anyway because they'd already drugged his coffee.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: All of Stark's Mooks wear masks in the shape of his face. At the climax, Stark himself is wearing one of the masks.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: The only character who Jim interacts with in the entire episode who isn't in on the plot against him is Artie.
  • Mexican Standoff: Occurs near the end, with the agents and the villains holding each other at gunpoint. Artie even calls it one.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Some attempts at averting this trope are made when it comes to Jim's leg wound; it's clearly painful and somewhat debilitating. Artie's is treated much more lightly, but at least he and Jim are both shown to be limping back on the train afterwards.
  • Sadist: The whole point of Stark's Evil Plan is for him get Revenge on Jim and Artie by tormenting them before killing them—and he enjoys every moment of it before he's Out-Gambitted through the heroes' Xanatos Speed Chess.