In a Western version of the usual opening sequence, Number Six (Patrick McGoohan), dressed as a sheriff, turns in his badge and gun. As he is leaving town with his saddle, not having a horse, he is attacked by several men. He wakes from his beating in a strange Western town. A Mexican man named Sam (Larry Taylor) tells him he is in the town of Harmony. In the saloon, he meets the Mayor and Judge of the town (David Bauer), also an intense young man called the Kid (Alexis Kanner) and a saloon girl named Kathy (Valerie French).
He accidentally provokes a mob into trying to lynch him and is taken into protective custody, but the Judge allows the mob to string up Kathy’s brother. She fears for Six’s life and goes to the jail, distracts the Kid, steals the keys, and passes them to Number Six. He escapes but is lassoed and brought back to town. The Judge says he’s free to go because he was only in protective custody, but Kathy aided an escape, which is a crime. He offers to let Kathy go if Six will agree to be sheriff. He agrees, but will not carry a gun, so the Judge tries to force him to do so by urging men to attack him.
Number Six asks Kathy to escape with him, but the Judge gets the Kid to kidnap Kathy. He goes too far and kills her. Number Six finds her body and buries her, then turns in his badge and picks up the gun. He kills the Kid in a showdown. The Judge gives Six an ultimatum: work for him or be killed. Six kills the Judge’s men but the Judge shoots him. He wakes up lying on the saloon floor, wearing his Village outfit instead of Western gear. Also, he has headphones and a microphone. The town characters are cardboard cut-outs.
He wanders out of Harmony and finds it is just an annex of the village. In the Green Dome, he finds Number Two, the Judge, and Number Eight, the Kid. When he sees Number 22, Kathy, he walks out. Number Two and Number Eight discuss why the experiment failed. Number 22 rushes out of the Green Dome. Number Eight follows her to the saloon, calls her Kathy, and begins to strangle her. Number Six rushes in when he hears her screams but is too late. She dies in his arms. Number Two arrives and Number Eight kills himself.
This was the Western episode of the series. Every science-fiction series has one, usually because they are running out of ideas and think everybody loves Westerns, but Firefly actually made the Western tropes part of the series from the beginning. This episode was written by David Tomblin and Ian L. Rakoff and directed by Tomblin. Patrick McGoohan had conceived of the series as six episodes, but Sir Lew Grade wanted 26 of them so he could sell them to an American network. They compromised on 17, which would allow it to be a summer filler on CBS. Ironically, CBS did buy the series but did not air this episode because they thought it was critical of American involvement in the Vietnam War. But the fact is Patrick McGoohan just wanted to be in a Western.
The idea of this episode was to give the audience lots of gunfire but preach that violence doesn’t pay off. The story of a sheriff refusing to bear arms came from an incident known to writer Ian Rakoff in his native South Africa. Other ideas came from Marvel Western comics and Gene Autry. There was a dispute on the set with three people claiming writing credit. The unusual opening confused British viewers. Critics called it the British version of jumping the shark. Patrick McGoohan and Alexis Kanner argued about who was the quickest draw and watched the film with a stop-watch. Kanner won. In the saloon are pictures of Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickok, and Jesse James. Because sets were so expensive, the Western set contained disguised Medieval buildings. This was not, as some said, the first British Science-fiction Western story, because Doctor Who had gone there before.