Episode Number: 10, according to broadcast order. Airdate: November 27, 1994. Director: Jeff Woolnough. Writer: Linda Elstad.
Guest Stars: Lindsey Gintner (Sharpe) / Zoltan Buday (Davis) / Richard Faraci (Zak) / Dave “Squatch” Ward (Sam).
Other Titles: In German: "Die falsche Fährte" ("The Wrong Track").
A surly woodsman comes to Fort Bennington, seeking Elizabeth Shields. He enters the trading post and bars the door from the inside, and hearing a noise, turns to find Elizabeth pointing her musket at him. He tells her his name is Sharpe, and he only wants to speak to her in private. When she asks what about, she is shocked to hear him say that her husband William is alive and well, and he can take her to him, for a reward.
Outside the post, a distracted Elizabeth stops Hawkeye. She tells him of the man and his message. When Hawkeye questions that he may not be telling the truth, she tells him not to dash her hopes, and seeks out Captain Taylor Shields. She tells him that William is alive, and that the man will take them to him for 200 pounds sterling. William and Elizabeth go to the tavern to talk to Sharpe, and although he is rude and uncouth, he persuades them he is telling the truth by describing William, and saying how they escaped from the French. Taylor reluctantly agrees to the quest, and he and Elizabeth leave to prepare for the journey. They do not see Sharpe signal satisfaction to a man in the bar.
Hawkeye tries again to persuade Elizabeth that the man is a liar, but Elizabeth stubbornly says she must if there is any chance of William being alive, she must see for herself. Hawkeye then offers to accompany them; Elizabeth says he does not owe anything to William, but he says he owes it to her. Elizabeth gratefully accepts his offer. He suggests that she dresses in men’s clothing for ease in traveling, but she insists on wearing proper clothes if she is going to meet her husband, bodice, petticoats and skirt.
Hawkeye goes to Taylor’s quarters, and tells him that he is going along, even though the man may be leading them into a trap. Taylor agrees, and accepts Hawkeye’s company, but Hawkeye tells him that if they do find William alive, he may be changed, even insane, and may do harm to Elizabeth. In that case, they would do him a kindness in putting him out of his misery. Knowing this would stop William from accusing Taylor of plotting to have him kidnapped, he easily agrees.
As they leave the fort on their quest, Sharpe insists in seeing the 200 pounds Taylor is bringing along as a reward. Satisfied, he leads them off on a grueling pace that soon exhausts Elizabeth since her dress hinders her movements through the woods. When they stop to rest, Sharpe goes on ahead, and Taylor takes the opportunity to tell Elizabeth of his discussion with Hawkeye. Dismayed at the thought of having her husband killed out of mercy if he is insane, she accuses them of being cruel, and says she will take William back, even if he is mad.
They near an abandoned cabin for shelter the evening, but are ambushed by four men. Taylor accuses Sharpe of being a party to the ambush, but Sharpe kills one man, and Hawkeye and Taylor kill two more. Sharpe pursues the fourth into the wood, and catches up with him. The man, Zak, is horrified to see that Sharpe, who arranged the ambuscade, has killed Davis, one of his own men. Sharpe tells him he did what he had to do, then cocks a pistol menacingly at Zak. Hawkeye and Taylor hear the shot.
Elizabeth has entered the cabin for shelter, but is horrified to find the skeleton of a man on the rude bed. Taylor and Sharpe offer to bury him, then stand the first watch. That night Hawkeye tries to cheer up Elizabeth by a feeble joke about the bearskin she is going to sleep in, but she is still upset at their conversation about killing William, saying she cannot abide the thought. Hawkeye tells her that if it he was too ill to go on with life, he would want someone to be merciful to him. When Hawkeye pulls out a waistcoat and breeches he has brought along for Elizabeth to wear so that she may be more comfortable when they resume their journey the next morning, she realizes that he is trying to help her cope, and she forgives him. They sleep, but are awakened by a groggy Taylor, who tells them that Sharpe has attacked him and fled, taking the ransom with him.
Hawkeye sets off to catch him, leaving Taylor and Elizabeth to follow as soon as possible. Taylor watches in secret as Elizabeth changes into the waistcoat and breeches brought by Hawkeye, then as they leave he compliments her on her choice of the proper clothes, marveling that she has changed so. She tells him that everyone can adapt if the situation demands it. He then asks her if it was hard to adapt to his brother, since Taylor courted her first, but failed to win her hand, or did his fortune help her decide to choose? She angrily insists that the money meant nothing to her, but that she saw in William goodness and wisdom, and that a person can never be made to love someone.
They set off after Hawkeye, who is coming closer to Sharpe, but is driven off by his fire. Taylor and Elizabeth are seen by a French patrol, who fire on them and wound Taylor. Hawkeye hears the shots and finds them at the edge of a cliff overlooking a deep pond, and all three jump into it to escape the French. Elizabeth and Hawkeye make good their escape, and Hawkeye builds a shelter and a fire to warm Elizabeth. He persuades her to take off her waistcoat and as they draw closer for warmth and he massages her back and shoulders to restore her circulation, she tells him she does not know what she will do if William is in his right mind and wants to return to Virginia. Hawkeye says that a wife will obviously do what her husband wants her to do, and she is surprised, knowing how Hawkeye cares for her. “What if she no longer wishes to be his
wife,” she says, and moved, he strokes her cheek and hair. As they lean close for a kiss, they are hailed by a soggy, wounded Taylor, who has seen their fire. Coming into the shelter, he sees an uncomfortable Elizabeth and Hawkeye moving apart from their forbidden embrace that he has interrupted.
The next morning Hawkeye catches up with Sharpe, and brings him back to Taylor and Elizabeth. Sharpe takes them to the edge of a lake, and from the shore they can see a figure sitting covered with a blanket. He tells them that is William, and he will take the money from Taylor. Taylor argues that he will go and see, but Elizabeth insists that she will go instead. Hawkeye stops both of them, and says he will go with Sharpe and get William, then return for the money. Elizabeth makes Hawkeye promise that he will bring William back, even if he is dangerous.
As Hawkeye paddles the canoe with Sharpe towards the far shore, Elizabeth and Taylor watch with a mixture of fear and hope. They see the blanket-clad figure of William rise up with a musket, and Hawkeye drops his paddle and shoots him. Elizabeth screams in horror and anguish at what she has seen, that the man she loves has killed her husband. When the canoe returns with Hawkeye, a bound Sharpe and a blanket covered body, Elizabeth accuses Hawkeye of breaking his promise to bring William back safe. Hawkeye steps ashore, and pulls the blanket off the body. It is not William, but Zak, the man Sharpe chased from the cabin, dead. In relief, Elizabeth embraces Hawkeye as a startled but relieved Taylor watches. Back safely at Fort Bennington, Hawkeye finds Taylor counting the money, and tells him tells him that Sharpe knew something about Williams’ whereabouts, and perhaps should be kept for questioning. Taylor, because of his own reasons, says that is of no consequence, as Sharpe will hang the next morning, thus halting any more chance that William will be found for the present. Elizabeth, with mixed feelings writes in her diary about the incident, “When I admitted I might no longer wish to be William’s wife, I feel I had crossed an ocean from which there is no return. I searched the woodsman’s eyes to see if he knew where I was going….I think he did. But when I believed William to be dead, I also felt a pain more profound than I would have dreamed possible. It makes me pray for his safe return, so that I may begin to resolve these conflicts within my heart: the affection I have for William, and the even more stronger, more powerful emotions I feel towards this remarkable man, Hawkeye.”
All "Hawkeye" episode synopsis are © 2001 by Mark Meader for Wonderland.
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