Main cast: David Morse (Tom McMurdo), Neil Gray Giuntoli (Billy Quintaine), Roderick Cook (Cornelius Bosch), Thomas F Duffy (Deputy Wilson), Monty Bass (Frank Little Bear), Paul T Murray (Harley), Tommy Townsend (Big Bart), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Richard Donner
Outlaw Billy Quintane is the last of his posse, the rest being gunned down or having died from injuries after a recent gig gone wrong. When Showdown opens, he has to mercy kill his wounded and delirious buddy Harley, so now he is all alone. No matter, he is still the fastest gun in the West. Hot on his tail is the Texas Ranger Tom “Tracker Tom” McMurdo and his squad, culminating in a showdown between those two in an isolated town. Billy cuts Tracker Tom down easily, but he doesn’t get to enjoy his victory much as it soon becomes apparent that this town is more than what it seems to be. Perhaps, just perhaps, Billy has finally found a place in which he can never leave alive?
This episode was initially meant for a spin-off series, Two-Fisted Tales, but alas, that series never happened, so this one, along with two others (including the excellent Yellow), is bundled into Tales from the Crypt as a result. This episode, therefore, has very little of the gore or shock factor typical of other episodes in this series, instead serving up some gradual, slow burn twists with an emphasis on characterization.
Billy is certainly a memorable protagonist. Neil Giuntoli plays him at first like a stereotypical outlaw with his own code of honor (he doesn’t kill unless he has to, and he takes his hat off and nods his head when he is in the company of a woman), complete with a low, sinister almost atonal baritone, but as the episode unravels, he displays a rough yet vulnerable side to him that I can’t help finding to be rather sweet. And that horrible laugh of his only makes him more endearing, if I can use that word here. Poor Billy is not the smartest man around (“I’m the one who deceased him!”) but he’s certainly a character alright.
The twist can be seen coming a mile away. Billy actually died during the showdown with Tommy – after he’d gunned down that man, that man’s posse shot him down – and the men he’d killed show up in the salon to try to make him understand that he too bit the dust and it’s time for him to join them in a cowboy Valhalla in the afterlife. But it’s a lovely, even heartfelt kind of twist that feels very right indeed. This is an episode with a great protagonist, some wry humor, a great frenemy bromance, and of course, some heart and soul. Go with the wind, Billy Quintane, it’s been a great ride.