Aargh, I just wrote a whole long post here and IE destroyed it. Let me try again.
I am now listening to old Escape Pod episodes, in order. That allows me some perspective; for instance, it let me realize that, while this is not the first episode that didn't quite thrill me, it is the first one that is actually a bad story.
It's not the premise that is bad (it's actually pretty good), or, for the most part, the writing. It's rather several specific things that overshadow the good.
The first, and really irritating, was the pro-hemp PSA that wsa stuck in the middle of the story. It served no role in the story, being placed in the middle of exposition and never being really referred to again. And it was clearly a political message for now rather than having anything to do with the story. Hemp, we learn, is a panacea for all the world's problems. If the US would just legalize it, it would somehow restore the rainforests, solve pollution, and probably rescue Little Timmy from the well while it's at it. How would it do so? That's not mentioned. Now, don't take me wrong - I have nothing against hemp production. I just find it difficult to believe that it will solve all the world's problems with one fell swoop. If anything in the story had to do with this, I would have at been able to suspend disbelief. But this was clearly a political messages shoehorned into a story for no good reason other than the fact that the author had a platform and he wanted to use it.
Beyond that, there was just too much else I found difficult to believe. So, we live in a utopian future (thanks, hemp!), where time travel is possible but restricted to the government and rich beautiful women, who live in Hawaii, in a large estate surrounded by hemp fields, which she managed all alone. So she spends her time kidnapping historical gunslingers, curing their diseases, murdering them, and then apparently taking the time to bury them and put nice headstones on their graves. It's good to know that in the future, instead of wild partying, wealthy heiresses will master the skills of shooting , medicine, and undertaking. Now sure, I could suspend disblief on all that, if it was put to a good use. But instead, well, her plan is so insanely stupid that disbelief comes rushing back in. Why the hell does anyone play by her rules? Why, once they figure out how the internet works, does no-one try using it to call for help? In the end she is brought down by the simple trick of someone shooting her when she's not expecting it. Why did no-one think of it first? And if she really wanted to compete in a fair duel, why did she accept this?
Also, since she was cheating, why did Doc Holliday so happily accept it in the end?
Now, this isn't a terrible story. It's just a bad story, composed of parts that make no sense together, with a plot that's a thin veneer for several cool setpieces. It feels like stuff I wrote when I was 15. It's only remarkable because it was the first bad story in Escape Pod, which is itself only remarkable because bad stories are pretty rare here.