The High Chaparral
Through
Thick and
Thin:
A Closer Look at Character Relationships

The Blended Family Relationships
The blending of the Cannons and Montoyas greatly increased 
the complexity and character dynamics.

Buck
&
Manolito
Buck
&
Victoria
John
&
Manolito
Victoria
&
Blue
Manolito
&
Blue


Mano and Buck

.

From NBC Publicity Photo


From "New Lion of Sonora"

Thick

1.11  Mark of the Turtle
1.24 Ride the Savage Land
2.34 The Covey
2.42 A Way of Justice
2.47 Glory Soldiers
3.60 Piece of Land
3.66 Little Thieves
3.68 Friends and Partners
3.75 No Trouble at All
3.79 Reluctant Deputy
4.97 New Lion of Sonora

Thin

1.17 Filibusteros
1.26 Bad Day for a Thirst
4.89 Good Sound Profit

In the first part of the series Buck introduces Manolito as "my sister-in-law's brother", but soon starts calling him "my brother-in-law".  Buck and Mano, while not blood relatives, become best friends and partners, closer than any blood brothers might expect to be.  As evidenced by the sheer number of episodes that revolved around their partnership, it is clear that it was a partnership that worked well between them and was popular with many viewers.  Whether this is what was intended from the beginning or not may be hard to determine, since in the first few episodes it appears that Mano, being closer in age to Blue, is more often paired with him than with Buck.  Yet less than halfway through the first season it becomes apparent that the natural partnership is between Mano and Buck.  Even with 15 or more years separating them, even though one is a Mexican aristocrat and the other a home-spun American without much book-learnin', they are obviously kindred spirits in many ways.  

Both have spent much of their lives playing second fiddle to powerful relatives - for Mano, his father, Don Sebastian, and for Buck, his brother, John.  Both are largely viewed by the outside world as extensions of those relationships.  No where is this more apparent than in "A Piece of Land", where no one will extend credit to either of them on their own.  They share similar high standards regarding loyalty and honor though they are often viewed - and view themselves - as irresponsible.  Both also come to the series with a somewhat shadowy past and connections to individuals from the seamy side of the law.  Neither one is driven to take on the ambitions of Don Sebastian or John Cannon, but prefer instead to live for the moment, especially if the moment includes a cantina with plenty of Red Eye and attractive hostesses to pursue. 


From "Reluctant Deputy"

 


From "The Reluctant Deputy"

They are both instinctively drawn to defend the underdog, no matter how much it may appear to be a lost cause.  Even if one of them does not take up the cause as his own, he understands and supports the other in his efforts. This is demonstrated in "Ride the Savage Land", "Glory Soldiers", "The Little Thieves", "Joyful Noise", "No Irish Need Apply", and probably others as well.  In the rare instances where this is not the case, "Filibusteros", "Bad Day for a Thirst", and "Good Sound Profit", it is painfully obvious how much they depend on each other's support and how difficult it is for them when they do not find it.  Probably the most serious rift for them occurs in "Good Sound Profit", when Buck makes it clear to Mano that he will remain loyal to John even if he is wrong, rather than side with Mano, even if he is right.  It is a "blood is thicker than water" moment that is clearly devastating to Mano. 
 

Perhaps because they have so much in common, they often require little conversation between them.  In tight spots, they virtually never disagree about strategy, but seem to almost read each other's thoughts, responding seamlessly to each other's cues.  Buck and Mano act as each other's protector not only from outside dangers but from their own demons as well. Buck saves Mano from his own self-destructiveness in "Glory Soldiers" and pulls him back from despair and self-recrimination in one of the series' most powerful scenes in "New Lion of Sonora".  Mano's allegiance to Buck is most strongly evidenced in "Ride the Savage Land", not only by the sacrifices he willingly makes for him, but by the way he understands better than anyone how tormented Buck is by the situation.  His feelings for him are best summed up when he offers him his rainy day fund:


From "Ride the Savage Land"   

 "It is money I have saved from my father for how do you say? a rainy day. 
And when you decided to get yourself killed well, for me that is a rainy day."

Mano to Buck in "Ride the Savage Land"

 

Victoria and Buck


From "Gold is Where You Leave It"

Thick

1.06 Gold is Where You Leave It
1.10 Sudden Country
2.38 Tornado Frances
2.53 No Bugles, No Drums
3.77 New Hostess in Town

Thin

1.17 Filibusteros
2.49 Feather of an Eagle

For Victoria and Buck there always exists a level of sexual tension since they obviously care a great deal about each other and enjoy each other's company.  Yet even when they are both occasionally stung by John's insensitivity, they never cross the line to jeopardize their loyalty to him.  The closest they come to it is early in the series in "Gold is Where You Leave It" when Buck misinterprets Victoria's loneliness and need for friendship as something more.  After a single attempt to kiss her, Buck is so guilt stricken that he feels he should leave the ranch.  After that incident, their relationship stays strictly platonic although "New Hostess in Town" throws them into a situation where they must pretend to be husband and wife.  While it is clearly awkward for both of them, they end up working together very well as a team, both more concerned with the other's safety than their own.

In "New Hostess" as well as other episodes, it is Victoria who reassures Buck that he would make someone a fine husband.  She is often tuned into his feelings, especially regarding matters of the heart, as we see in "Sudden Country" and "No Bugles, No Drums".   Buck in turn often opens up more to Victoria and depends on her for her feminine perspective.  Perhaps because he himself is so often the object of John's critical nature, it is Buck who is most likely to notice when Victoria is hurt by John's harshness and he often intervenes to encourage better behavior from John toward Victoria.  Whether it is pushing John to finally let go of Annalee, or buying a hair ribbon for him to give to Victoria, or suggesting he go to Sonora to patch things up with her, Buck is often the one behind the scenes tempering John's behavior on Victoria's behalf.


From "Feather of an Eagle"


From "New Hostess in Town"     

Buck usually exhibits great patience with Victoria's frequent tirades over trivial matters and rarely disagrees with her.  The one episode where he loses his patience and responds angrily to her is "Feather of an Eagle" when she does not appreciate the burden he is carrying in his efforts to win Blue's release from the Apaches.  But in most episodes, Buck, like almost everyone else on the Cannon ranch, very nearly idolizes Victoria and there is no sacrifice he would not make to protect her. 

"Hey, Senora Cannon, we Scotch-English-Welsh-Irish-Spanish-Arizonans 
- we don't give up, do we?"

Buck to Victoria in "New Hostess in Town"



John and Mano

From "North to Tucson"

Thick

1.02 The Arrangement
2.41 North to Tucson
2.42 A Way of Justice
3.74 Journal of Death

Thin

1.03  Ghost of Chaparral
2.43 No Irish Need Apply
3.58 Bad Day for a Bad Man
4.89 Good Sound Profit

John and Mano are the two men closest to Victoria - her husband and her brother - and they are forever bound by that relationship  But they also have a mutual respect for each other independent of Victoria, that starts from their first encounter in "The Arrangement", when neither of them even knows who the other is.  After the wedding there is tension between them when Mano accompanies Victoria to High Chaparral as her protector in order to determine whether John can be trusted to care for her.  He makes his position as her guardian clear in "Ghost of Chaparral" when Victoria is being held hostage by Apaches and he tells John, "If he hurts her, the first bullet will be for him, the second for you."  

Before we are halfway through the first season, however, Mano is convinced that John is indeed an honorable man, and that the feelings between John and his sister are now much deeper than the initial cordial relationship of their arranged marriage.  Rather than Mano asking Victoria, "Why do you stay?", as he did earlier, he is now the one encouraging his sister to stay and support her husband.  Throughout the series the relationship between Mano and John remains more formal and polite than most other relationships on the ranch.  John rarely criticizes Mano directly the way he does Blue or Buck.  Mano usually treats John with deference and respect, rarely confronting him head on the way he does his own father or even Buck.  


From "The Arrangement" 

By far the most serious breakdown in their relationship occurs in "Good Sound Profit" when John leads Mano to believe he is willing to betray the Montoyas and the Mexican people in order to increase his own profits.  For a moment Mano believes John will even kill him in order to advance his own plans.


From "Journal of Death"

For two men who love Victoria as they do, they seldom clash over decisions regarding her.  No where is this clearer than in "Journal of Death" when they must make life and death decisions together about her medical care and they do so in full cooperation without challenging each other's judgment or authority.  On the occasions when John sometimes does assert his authority over "my wife", Mano is quick to remind him that he is also talking about "my sister". We see that in "North to Tucson" and most clearly in "A Piece of Land" when John objects to Mano's use of Victoria's jewelry as collateral:   

John:  So you took the necklace that belonged to my wife.
Mano:  No, I took the necklace that belonged to my sister.


Victoria and Blue


From NBC Publicity Photo

Thick

1.23 Champion of the Western World
2.54 For the Love of Carlos
3.63 To Stand For Something More
3.76  Generation

Thin

1.02 The Arrangement
3.67 The Legacy

 
This is a problematic relationship from the very beginning.  Within days of his mother's death, Blue's father is remarried to a woman much closer to his own age than his father's.  Standing on the brink of manhood at twenty and still deeply grieving his mother, he views this new step mother in anything but a maternal role.  Victoria has genuine maternal feelings for Blue but does her best to avoid pushing herself on him prematurely.  She tries to be patient and understanding despite his anger and animosity toward her, but she is nonetheless hurt by his rejection of her friendship and guidance.  Gradually, as he comes to know her and particularly as he sees how she stands up to his father, Blue's regard for her grows. By "Champion of the Western World" he almost idolizes her yet continues to keep her at arm's length when it comes to treating her as his step mother.  When he finally accepts the gift of the saddle he had initially refused from her, it marks a turning point in their relationship.  


From "Champion of the Western World"


From "Generation"

As the series continues Blue turns to her more often for advice and a feminine perspective even if he still occasionally bristles when he feels she is trying to replace his mother.  Blue and Victoria partner very well in "For the Love of Carlos", backing each other up in the school room and against John's objections.  Victoria's efforts on behalf of Blue are often behind the scenes, as we see in "Generation" when she submits his artwork for publication without telling him, or when she intervenes with John if she believes he is behaving too harshly with Blue, as in "To Stand For Something More".  Probably her most selfless and unappreciated actions on Blue's behalf occur in "The Legacy" when she recognizes that he is being conned by a pretty girl, but carefully tries to spare his feelings and his pride even though he continually rebuffs her interventions.

Blue:  I mean no disrespect, ma'am, but you could never be my mother.
Victoria:  Never is like always, Blue.  there is no such thing.

"The Ghost of Chaparral"


Blue and Mano


From "To Stand for Something More"

Thick

1.03 Ghost of Chaparral
1.05 Shadows on the Land
1.09 Young Blood
1.18  Firing Wall
3.55 Time of Your Life

Thin

3.79 Reluctant Deputy
 
Blue and Mano begin the series as a likely duo since they are less than a decade apart in age and share similar positions within their families.  They are both the only sons and likely heirs to their respective fathers' considerable wealth and land holdings, a position neither of them are comfortable in.  Their fathers, John Cannon and Don Sebastian, are both powerful, ambitious, and authoritarian men, highly regarded by the people around them.  Blue tries to emulate his father in an effort to please him, but often comes up short, either because John is overly critical, or because Blue himself is not as driven as his father would like him to be.  Mano has pretty much given up trying to please his father, and is resigned to the fact that he will always be a disappointment to him.  


From "Young Blood"

 


From "Follow Your Heart"

Despite these significant commonalities in age and position, they never quite gel as equal partners.  Because Mano appears to have been more or less on his own for at least a few years he has collected  considerably more worldly experience than Blue, who has led a rather sheltered life with his parents.  Mano tends to be tolerant and protective of Blue as an older brother might be, but does not rely on him as a full partner the way he does Buck.  Mano empathizes with Blue's struggles with his father but his advice regarding it is more likely to be a reference to his own struggles with Don Sebastian rather than anything very useful to Blue.  "Fathers are always angry with their sons.", Mano tells him in "Follow Your Heart" when they contemplate disobeying John's orders not to follow Sam.  

Mano:  You know Blue, we've got the same problem, you and me.
Blue:  We have?
Mano:  Sure.  Our fathers - yours and mine.  We are children to them.  They are giants.
"Young Blood"

(This section written by Charlotte Lehan)

Primary Family Relationships

Supporting Character Relationships

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