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The Rifleman/The Queue

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The Queue
Season 3, Episode 34
Airdate May 16, 1961
Production Number 3567
Teleplay by Arthur Browne, Jr.,
Beverly Fix and
Frank Ebey
Story by Beverly Fix and
Frank Ebey
Directed by James Clavell
← 3x33
Death Trap
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The Vaqueros
The RiflemanSeason Three
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The Queue is the thirty-fourth episode of the third season of The Rifleman, and the one hundred tenth episode overall.

Starring: Chuck Connors (Lucas McCain), Johnny Crawford (Mark McCain)

Additional Cast: Paul Fix (Marshal Micah Torrance), Joan Taylor (Milly Scott), Victor Sen Yung (Wang Chi), Dick Kay Hong (Wang Lee), Pat Close (Noah Fergus), Paul Wexler (Les Foster)

Special Guest: Peter Whitney (Vince Fergus)


Plot Overview

Wang Chi, a recent immigrant from China, arrives in North Fork with his son Wang Lee with plans to open up a laundry business in the town but runs into trouble when local troublemaker Vince Fergus starts pushing him around and making racist comments toward him after Fergus' son Noah is thrown from his horse when it is accidentally spooked by Wang Chi's wagon, forcing Lucas to intervene as he tells Fergus to back off, for which the latter mocks him for getting involved. A grateful Wang Chi asks Lucas to bring the McCains' laundry to him for cleaning to start up his business, which Lucas accepts. Outside the North Fork Saloon, a resentful Fergus makes plans with acquaintance Les Foster to make more trouble for Wang Chi, which they do by firing their guns noisily to spook the horses pulling Wang Chi's wagon. Lucas and Micah run over and chastize the half-drunk Fergus, who dismissively refuses to take responsibility for his and Foster's behavior and also refuses to take Lucas seriously when he warns Fergus about his behavior and racist attitude. Micah orders Fergus and Foster to go home before he locks them up for their actions and also warns Fergus about Noah, a habitual truant from school and a troublemaker like his father, continuing to cut classes.

When Noah starts bullying Wang Lee at school later on by making fun of him wearing his hair in a queue and calling him a "girl" for it, Mark steps in and tells Noah to apologize; he refuses and starts a fight with Mark, which Noah gets the upper hand in until Wang Lee intervenes and forces the bully off of Mark. Back in town, Milly helps Wang Chi set up his laundry business in her store in exchange for him buying his laundry supplies from her. Wang Chi goes to the saloon next to order a beer, but Fergus and Foster are already there and start making more racist quips against him regarding his choice of drink. Noah then runs into the saloon and lies to his father about Wang Lee, falsely claiming that he tried to "kill" him at school while conveniently leaving out that he started the fight against Wang Lee and Mark, which Mark quickly points out. When Wang Chi stands up for his son and they leave the saloon, Fergus runs out after them and pulls a gun on them, but Lucas steps in and tells him to put his gun away unless he wants to go up against Lucas' rifle, then gives him grief for using such drastic measures to settle a boys' argument. Micah then arrives and tells Fergus to stay away from Wang Chi, then to get Noah and go on his way. After Mark tells the truth about the incident at school, Wang Chi explains to the McCains and Micah that by Chinese law, its citizens must wear their hair in queues as they cannot return to China without them.

Back at the McCain ranch that night, Lucas explains to Mark in philosophical terms about people all being the same on the inside while looking different outside, saying that God made people look different outwardly because He figured that people would get tired of each other if everyone looked alike. Elsewhere, the Wangs are busy with their laundering as Wang Chi laments the trouble he and Wang Lee have faced in North Fork so far, but Wang Lee assures his father that they can face that trouble together, making Wang Chi proud of the wisdom his son displayed as he also tells him the same story Lucas told Mark about outward differences between people. Moments later, Fergus and Foster suddenly appear, overturn Wang Chi's wagon and start trashing the Wangs' camp and burning the laundry, then Fergus bullies Wang Chi while Foster restrains Wang Lee. The McCains, who had rode out to the camp to pick up their laundry, hear the commotion and arrive as Wang Chi overcomes Fergus and uses a judo hold to subdue him, leading Foster to interfere and hit Wang Chi from behind, then slice off his queue with a knife while laughing mockingly. Before Fergus and Foster attempt to use their guns on Wang Chi, Lucas shows up to stop the troublemakers by pulling his rifle on them, and Wang Chi responds to Fergus's aggression with more judo moves to take him down. Lucas then orders Foster to make amends by cleaning up the mess he and Fergus made with the laundry.

Soon after, Lucas and Micah are hanging out outside the marshall's office when they see the Ferguses go by on their wagon. Micah tells Fergus he is lucky that the circuit judge only told him to pack up and leave New Mexico Territory rather than imprison him for his antics. When Fergus grumbles that he is glad to leave North Fork and its people, Lucas retorts that people are the same everywhere and that he and Noah need to learn that in order to get along in the world as they leave town. Close by, Wang Chi is setting up shop for his laundry service in a new space when Mark comes along and notices, as do Lucas and Micah, that Wang Lee has also cut off his queue, which he explains he did so he can look like everyone else - American. Lucas tops off Wang Lee's new look by putting his cowboy hat on top of the boy's head.


Arc Advancement





The Show

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments


  • (At the McCain ranch)
Mark: I don't understand why Mr. Fergus doesn't like Mr. Wang in the first place.
Lucas: Well, Mark, there's just some people who think they're better than others.
Mark: Well, the Good Book says that everybody's just the same, it doesn't matter who you are.
Lucas: If you believe that, you'll be alright. It's the truth.
Mark (as he walks over to the dinner table): Well, if everybody's supposed to be just the same, how come we're not?
Lucas: What do you mean?
Mark: Well, how come some people are like Mr. Wang and others...well, like us? How come there's so many different kinds of people?
Lucas: Well, son, you ask a question like that, it's like asking why is every day the same. Some days the sun shines, other days it rains, but it's still a day. I think the Good Lord thought about that when He made the world and all the people in it. And you know what else I think?
Mark: What?
Lucas: I think He kind of figured that we'd get tired of each other if we all looked the same.
Mark: You mean on the outside.
Lucas: That's right, son, on the outside. On the inside, there's no difference.