“Like The Wind Across Your Face, Lucas Boy.”

The previous year is already gone, replaced by a new year.  Thus, it seems fitting to quote marshal Micah Torrance’s description of the passage of time from The Rifleman:  “Like the wind across your face, Lucas boy.”  He is an older man talking to a younger man, Lucas McCain, about the fleeting nature of time, a major theme in the show.

The series shows the special relationship between widower, Lucas McCain and his son Mark.  We see how Mark changes, from a ten-year-old to an adolescent and how this affects the relationship with his father.  He learns to accept people’s differences(another major theme), and learn there is a time for different things in life.  But, even in the early episodes, Mark takes an active role in defending his father and saving his life.  The Rifleman really deals with Mark’s education in the broadest sense, from going to the confines of the schoolhouse to learning about survival amidst rugged terrain.  His interaction with his father gives the show its dynamic, as they confront outlaws, outcasts, people uncertain of what they want and people who are too proud to admit they may be wrong.

In the last episode, we see Mark with a potential girlfriend, though it is clear Mark is not ready for commitment.  If the series had continued, Mark would have become an adult, which was not what The Rifleman was about.  As an audience, we are visual witnesses to the characters’ swift aging, and we are forced to accept Micah’s statement about the sudden rush of time.