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

Of the supporting and recurring characters, only a few had fully developed relationships with other specific characters.  Chief among these was Don Sebastian who had very unique relationships with his son, his daughter, and his son-in-law.  Of the bunk house boys, only Sam and Joe Butler had unique relationships that were developed very fully.  

The Supporting Characters
Don S. & Mano Don S. & Victoria Don S. & John
Sam & John Buck & Sam Sam & Joe 


Mano and Don Sebastian


From "Mi Casa, Su Casa"

Thick

1.17 Filibusteros
1.18 Firing Wall
2.47 Glory Soldiers
3.57 Time to Laugh, Time to Cry
4.97 New Lion of Sonora

Thin

1.09 Young Blood
2.51 Lion Sleeps
4.83 Only the Bad Come to Sonora

 
For all their claims to the contrary, Mano and his father, Don Sebastian, are very much alike.  They are both romantics at heart, attractive to women and appreciative of their charms.   In "Once on a Day in Spring" they even compete for the interest of the same woman.  They are both also something of a scoundrel and are constantly trying to outfox each other in one sort of trickery or another.  Despite many similarities, Manolito remains a disappointment to his father because Mano never expresses a desire to take on his responsibilities as the heir to Rancho Montoya.  Living at High Chaparral as a ranch hand and Victoria's protector gives Mano a legitimate way to avoid living up to his father's expectations.    


From "Once on a Day in Spring"


From "The Glory Soldiers"

Don Sebastian is also disappointed that Mano shows no signs of settling down in marriage and producing the heirs Don Sebastian wants so badly.  For all their differences in ambition and temperament, and their constant verbal sparring, their deep affection for each other is also clear.  Mano often laughs off his father's disapproval, but it bothers him enough that in "Only the Bad Come to Sonora" he risks his life trying to win his approval.  The unexpected death of Frank Silvera in the fourth season left many issues unresolved between Mano and Don Sebastian.  The final two-hour episode, "New Lion of Sonora", finds Mano despairing of the disappointment he was to his father.  In the end though, Mano's sense of responsibility to his father's legacy and to Rancho Montoya does not allow him to watch it fall into ruin.  As he often told Don Sebastian, he is the son of his father after all.

Don Sebastian:  You are a disgrace to the name of Montoya . . . .
Mano: You know, my name was yours before I was born. 
And by the way, I have heard many stories about you, padre mio.

Don Sebastian:  In my time a man was judged by his virtues. 
I had the common sense to practice my vices in private.
"The Glory Soldiers"


Victoria and Don Sebastian


From "Once on a Day in Spring"

Thick

1.03  Ghost of Chaparral
1.17  Filibusteros
4.85 An Anger Greater Than Mine

Thin

2.29 The Promised Land
2.50 Once on a Day in Spring
2.51 The Lion Sleeps
3.70 Mi Casa, Su Casa

 
No one holds Victoria higher on a pedestal than her own father, Don Sebastian Montoya.  She is his precious jewel and her continued affection is important enough to him that he even tries - obviously with great difficulty - to modify his usual chicanery for her.  It is Victoria who often scolds her father for his behavior, not the other way around.  Unlike her brother, Victoria can do no wrong in her father's eyes.  Of course, Don Sebastian has been frustrated for a long time in his efforts to control an independent daughter like Victoria.  Having failed in more than one attempt to arrange a marriage for her, he thought he had finally succeeded in getting his way when he arranged her marriage to John Cannon.  But as he later finds out, Victoria agreed to it only because it was what she wanted anyway. 


From "The Promised Land"

 


From "The Promised Land"

Because of his desire to remain in her good graces, Don Sebastian is easily manipulated by his daughter's charms.  Like his son, Victoria continues to disappoint Don Sebastian in his desire for grandchildren.  Of the tricks that Mano played on his father, one that was so hurtful that even Mano regretted it, was leading him to believe that his sister was expecting a child when she was not.  Victoria is probably most angry with her father in "The Lion Sleeps" when he fakes his deathbed scene in order to trick John into turning over his land to the Montoyas.  She and Mano beat their father at his own game, however, when they decide to turn his tricks back on him.  Don Sebastian is most tolerant of Victoria's bad behavior in "Once on a Day in Spring" when for once he acts like the parent, offering her refuge, but ultimately helping her find her way back to her life at High Chaparral.

"I found the man I wanted to marry. 
This is why I came here - not because you sent me.  
And this is why I will stay."

Victoria to Don Sebastian refusing to leave High Chaparral in "Ghost of Chaparral"

John and Don Sebastian


From "New Hostess in Town"

Thick

2.50 Once on a Day in Spring
4.85 An Anger Greater Than Mine

Thin

2.51 The Lion Sleeps
3.70 Mi Casa, Su Casa

 
John Cannon and Don Sebastian are two of the most powerful men in the southwest territory, one in Arizona and one just over the border in Sonora, Mexico.  They control many square miles of ranch and range land between the two of them and have many similarities beyond their wealth and property.  They share similar values for hard work, responsibility, and respect for authority.  They are both ambitious, driven men, comfortable with their own positions of authority and widely respected.  That drive and competitiveness would ordinarily put them at direct odds with each other except for the tentative truce that they have agreed to because of a mutual need to combat incursions by comancheros and Apaches.  


From "New Hostess in Town"

While they share much in position, power, and mutual interest, their business ethic is quite different.  John is a man of his word who puts great stock in honesty and the law.  Don Sebastian is practical and opportunistic with a certain moral flexibility when it comes to profiting most from his latest business deals - including those with his son-in-law.  Those differences leave them frequently exasperated with each other but their disagreements are tempered by their mutual love for Victoria and her love for the two of them.  Because they both adore Victoria they often allow her to manipulate them into cooperation rather than fall out of favor with her.  They also share a strong family allegiance and desire to leave a legacy to carry their family name, yet they have similar on-going problems with sons who do not necessarily share their ambitions.

"I have never been able to decide whether it is more of a thorn in my side to have a son or a son-in-law."
Don Sebastian in "Mi Casa, Su Casa"


John and Sam


From "Follow Your Heart"

Thick

2.39 Follow Your Heart

Thin

2.50 Once on a Day in Spring
4.89 Good Sound Profit

Not many episodes spend any significant amount of time on this relationship, yet it runs throughout the series in constant small reminders that this is a closer bond than simply boss and foreman.  Other than John's temper and intensity, Sam and John are similar in personality.  Both tend to be emotionally reserved yet fiercely loyal to each other and to those around them.  Both are comfortable in positions of authority.  Sam's more easy going manner tends to buffer John's intensity, even when Sam himself ends up on the receiving end of John's tirades.  One of the few times that Sam snaps back at John occurs in "Once on a Day in Spring" when John speaks down to him about how to make a harness.  

Sam's only serious confrontation with John happens in "Good Sound Profit" when he questions John's involvement in a disputed business deal.  His trust in John is great enough though that when John reassures him, Sam doesn't ask for or need further explanation.  On the surface they maintain a very business-like relationship, but when Sam is preparing to leave in "Follow Your Heart", John tells him that he has been like a brother to him and there will always be a place for him at High Chaparral.  Because he respects Sam's decision to settle his problems in his own way, John directs the rest of the men at the ranch not to follow him.  In the end, however, not only do most of the men follow him anyway, but John himself, gives in to his desire to help Sam, and he follows him as well.   


From "The Hair Hunters

Sam:  Am I the kind of man to be a part of this?
John:  Yes.
Sam:  All right then.  I'll try and hold down the trouble.
"A Good Sound Profit"


Buck and Sam


From "Gold is Where You Leave It"

Thick

1.01  Destination Tucson
1.06  Gold is Where You Leave It
2.34 The Covey
2.39 Follow Your Heart

Thin

1.15  Widow from Red Rock
2.49 Feather of an Eagle

 
As the ranch foreman, Sam is always the model of professionalism with his boss and with his crew.  He carries his responsibilities seriously and is never really "off duty" . . . .  except when he is with Buck.  The times when we see Sam at his most playful and least serious are usually around Buck.  Buck and Sam are in a similar position of authority at High Chaparral since Buck is neither Sam's boss nor one of the crew.  Probably because of that, Sam seems more comfortable cutting loose around Buck.  The two of them are obviously friends with a great deal of mutual admiration starting from their first contact when Buck hires him out of the saloon in Tucson.  


         From "Destination Tucson"

 


From "Ghost of Chaparral"

In John's absence, Sam is likely to defer to Buck for direction unless he thinks John would do otherwise.  Then, as always, Sam's allegiance to John takes precedence.  We see that most clearly in "Feather of an Eagle" when Sam refuses to go along with Buck's plans for retribution against the Apaches until he gets direction from John.   Sam is most uncomfortable when he finds himself caught between the two brothers as he was in "Widow from Red Rock" and "The Brothers Cannon".  Buck never seems to begrudge Sam's allegiance to John, however, but simply accepts that Sam must remain loyal to John.  Even though Sam and Buck both hold a kind of second-in-command position beneath John, they never seem to challenge each other as rivals, but share their authority easily as the situation warrants.

"John . . .  I want you to meet a friend of mine and a gentleman, Mr. Sam Butler.  
Sam - he's a good man with a good head on 'em."

Buck to John in "Destination Tucson"


Joe and Sam


From NBC Publicity Photo

Thick

1.01  Destination Tucson
2.34 The Covey
2.39 Follow Your Heart
2.49 Feather of an Eagle
4.91 Pale Warrior

Thin

4.89 Good Sound Profit

 
Sam and Joe are the third set of adult siblings at the High Chaparral and while they do not receive the level of focus in the series that the other two do, theirs is still an important bond that carries through many episodes.  Most of what we know of their background comes from "Follow Your Heart" where we learn that they were orphaned and raised by a foster family.  They seem to have spent most of their adult lives together, some of it on the shady side of the law.  They share a mostly unspoken closeness that no one else is privy to.  


From "The Covey"


From "For What We Are About to Receive"

Sam counts on Joe for support in his dealings with the rest of the work crew and he almost always gets it without asking.  In "Feather of an Eagle" and "Pale Warrior" when there is dissension in the ranks Joe is quick to back up Sam's decisions even if it looks like he may be the only one likely to do so.   Joe comes closest to challenging Sam's directives in "A Good Sound Profit" when he pushes Sam to defend what they are doing.  Joe's confrontation is disturbing enough to Sam that he in turn challenges Big John to defend what he is doing until he gets an answer that satisfies him.  When Sam is absent for much of the third season, Joe is the natural heir to the position and responsibilities of foreman, a position he handles well, but willingly turns back over to Sam on his return. 

"Sam, you know better than to loan me money when Iím drinkiní."
Joe to Sam in "The Covey"


Even Up Episodes

1.01 Destination Tucson
1.02 The Arrangement
1.03 Ghost of Chaparral
1.23 Champion of the Western World
2.30 For What We Are About to Receive
2.35 Ten Little Indians
2.37 Ebenezer
3.63 To Stand for Something More
3.79  Generation
4.89  Good Sound Profit
4.97, 98  New Lion of Sonora


From "For What We Are About to Receive"

A few episodes did an outstanding job of weaving most of the cast members into the story line and demonstrating multiple character interactions from many perspectives.  Certainly the first three, "Destination Tucson", "The Arrangement", and "Ghost of Chaparral" are here because their main purpose was to introduce and set up the characters and their relationships.  The next four, "Champion of the Western World", "For What We Are About To Receive", "Ten Little Indians", and "Ebenezer" all tend toward the light-hearted side and have full involvement of both the main characters and the bunk house boys.  The next two from the third season, "To Stand for Something More" and "Generation" are serious dramatic portrayals centered primarily around Blue's transition into adulthood, but all the main characters are integrally involved as well.  Most of the fourth season episodes focused on just a few of the main characters, and Blue, of course, was not in any of them.  For the remaining characters, the episodes with the broadest cast involvement in the fourth season are probably "Good Sound Profit" and "New Lion of Sonora", both also serious dramatic efforts.  

"Iím looking for something - something better. And with you, and Chaparral, Blue Boy, Victoria, 
Don Sebastian, Manolito, the bunkhouse boys . . . well, youíre all something better, all of you." 

Buck to John in "Bad Day for a Thirst"

(This section written by Charlotte Lehan)

Primary Family Relationships

Blended Family Relationships

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