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The Experiment-WHN by Annk

Word Count 1,224


Episode tag to The Experiment

 I like the Experiment because it says so much about the relationship between the 3 lead characters, how Murdoch feels about Johnny’s past and about how Johnny feels about Murdoch bringing him back from  that ‘road leading nowhere’.

At the end of the episode, you see the boys in the background, they have obviously gone back to the farm with Murdoch’s old friend, who has now recovered, the boys are wearing different shirts from the spying incident, so it’s not the same day that  Billy was shot.  This short piece is how I imagine they are feeling and how I would have liked the discussion at the end to go.

Murdoch Lancer saw his two sons out of the corner of his eye. They were talking and jostling with each other.  Every time he saw them like this he was amazed by how different they looked, yet how much alike they were in other ways.  He hadn’t spoken to them since they brought two cows to the farm as a pretext to checking up on him.  Well, he had made his feelings clear about that then.  He thought they had complied with his wishes, but obviously not because they ignored him as soon as they were out of sight.  He would have plenty to say to them about that in a minute, but first, he had to say goodbye to his old friend. 

He thought about Billy, the young man who had died.  He was intelligent, a born leader, and although full of anger, he also had a lot of charm, just like Johnny.  His background had been just the same as that of his younger son too.   Johnny’s fate could easily have also been that of Billy.  If it had taken him just a little longer to find him Johnny would have been dead, he was sure about that.  He shuddered when he remembered looking at Billy when he had just been shot, and for a minute thinking  it was Johnny lying there.   Johnny, his complex, sometimes wild and disrespectful but always brave, sensitive, kind, and caring son with a smile that could charm anyone, even a stubborn hard old man like him.  If things had been different he might never have got to know him at all. 

He glanced over at his sons again; he was very angry with them. He wasn’t happy that they had ignored his instruction, but he was grateful that they were safe and that he had been given a chance to know them.

His old friend was leaving. He looked over to his sons again. He met their eyes as they tried to read his thoughts.  They knew as soon as they saw his glance that he was furious.  He strode over to them just as they turned away towards their horses, trying to pretend they hadn’t seen him.  But he wasn’t fooled. 

“Scott, Johnny!” he boomed at them as they stopped in their tracks and turned round to face him. 

“Hey Murdoch,” said Johnny.

He looked a bit afraid. Murdoch suppressed a smile. The famous gunfighter Johnny Madrid  was scared of him! He thought again of what might have been if he had been able to find him before he was forced to become a killer.  He felt guilty for all the pain his son had endured growing up.

Scott also looked very unsure. This confident, educated, sophisticated young man. When did those two rebellious young men who hated him two years ago and didn’t care at all about what he thought, turn into two young men who cared more than they would ever admit? Well, maybe they are right to be scared, Murdoch thought, they were both out of line.

He looked at them both. He was very proud of them. He loved them more than he thought possible, but he was also very angry.  He called the tune, he expected them to obey him and they knew it. 

Johnny looked down as he so often did when he was feeling emotional and didn’t want to show any feelings. Often he just wanted time to think. Sometimes he just didn’t want to look at anyone, although that happened a lot less now than in those early days.  Normally these days he was confident and relaxed. Scott held his head high but looked unsure. Their father just stared at them both waiting, giving them ‘that look.’ 

They broke first.

“Murdoch,” said Johnny eventually. “I’m sorry about Billy, I met him, he seemed a good guy.”

 “He could have been,” said Murdoch, staring hard at Johnny.

“We know you were trying to do something good, I’m sure the others know that and it will make a difference in time,”.

“Why did you ignore me when I told you to go home,” Murdoch said, keeping his eyes focused on both of his sons now. 

Scott answered, “We did go home; we just came back.” 

Murdoch glared at them both, giving them that look that could turn anything to stone.  “I meant for you to stay home and don’t pretend you didn’t know that!”  he barked.

“Yeah, we knew,” said Johnny softly.  He paused then went on. “‘You know, Murdoch, most of the time we don’t just pretend to be obedient sons we are obedient sons.  We do just what you say even if we argue about it you always win and we always do what you want.” 

“We know you call the tune,” Scott added.  “You tell us to go rescue your friend’s daughter…”

“or go hundreds of miles to sell a property you forgot you had, or sit and watch a man build a jail,” interrupted Johnny

”We just do it,”

  “You tell us to mend a fence, buy some bulls or move cattle, we do it.   We do it not just because you are our father but because we respect your judgment. But the trouble is we are both chips of the old block we are Lancers through and through and Lancers look after their own.” 

 “You know what that means, don’t you?   Johnny added. “ It means we are stubborn, and boneheaded. You can’t argue with a stone wall. You should know that.”  Johnny grinned and looked at his father, who was looking at them both bemused.  “Besides,” quipped Johnny, “a wise man once said there comes a time when you have to let your children say no.”

Scott looked at his brother, a broad grin covered his face, then he continued, “So if we think we are right especially if someone we love may be in danger we won’t back down, we can’t back down.”

“Maybe we were wrong, maybe you weren’t in danger, but we would do it again if we had to,” added Johnny. 

Murdoch looked at them speechless, maybe for the first time ever he didn’t know what to say, what could he say? He wanted to stay angry, part of him still was angry, he didn’t like being defied or having his own words used against him, especially by his own sons but how could he answer that? These two boys of his were right. They were Lancers through and through and he couldn’t have been happier. 

Murdoch put his arms around their shoulders. “Let’s go home, boys.”

August 2020


Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email Annk directly.


14 thoughts on “The Experiment-WHN by Annk

  1. Such a nice story. I love your dialogue and how you brought in examples from the episodes. Well done and continue to write!


    1. Thank you. I enjoy stories that relate to the series so I wanted to include reference to as many episodes as I could.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it


  2. This was a very believable WHN for The Experiment. The boys wanted to obey Murdoch and were a bit fearful of their father, but the desire to protect him was more important. You did a good job pointing that out in your story. Once Murdoch realized this was the motivation behind his sons’ actions, he calmed down. I liked how you brought that about in this piece. Good job. Thanks for posting.


    1. Thank you. It was fun writing this. When Murdoch tells them to pretend to be obedient sons it set me thinking. They are in the main obedient sons. That thought promoted me to write it.


    1. Thank you for this story that puts a credible end to the episode.
      You handled the family feelings of respect and affection of the children for their father very well.


  3. Thank you, I have always felt there is so much emotion under the surface in this episode. The scene between Johnny and Billy says such a lot and Murdoch’s expression when he realises he has been imagining Johnny shot speaks volumes.


  4. Thank you I’m glad you enjoyed it. Lancer and dabbling in writing about Lancer helped get me through the Pandemic lockdowns in 2020.


  5. Nice episode WHN. Murdoch really ought to have known better, it wasn’t the first time that his sons felt it was necessary to watch their old man’s back!


    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      I wrote this during the Pandemic lockdown. Lancer and writing really helped me get through it. I’m not sure I will write anymore, but you never know 😉


  6. This is a perfect episode tag for The Experiment. The tables were turned on Murdoch-usually he is the one hovering over them. I hope you write more stories.


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