The High Chaparral

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X-Brands as Nock-Ay-Del
"The Assassins"

John and Victoria under siege
"The Assassins"

Vaquero acting as interpreter
"The Assassins"

1.12  The Assassins            Vaquero
An Apache renegade and his followers plan to kill Cochise's peace representative in the Cannon ranch house and start a new Indian war.

Produced by William F. Claxton
Directed by Justus Addiss
Written by Ward Hawkins  
Originally Broadcast:  January 7, 1968    

Story Line: Medicine man Nock-Ay-Del explains that Cochise will agree to live peacefully if John Cannon offers sufficient gifts. Buck warns against a death trap when an outpost guard is killed during negotiations. Sub-chief Soldado and two warriors move in towards the ranch house to accomplish their purpose.

Guest Stars:

X Brands 
as Nock-Ay-Del

   James Almanzar 
as Soldado

Geoffrey Deuel
as Johnny Kelso


Derrik Lewis
as Kantu, Soldado's son

Robert Bolger
as Teecha


Character Highlights: The first scene opens to Blue and Mano riding range with Mano on Diablo. As they watch a chase between some Apaches, Manoís horse suddenly changes into Mackadoo. Likewise, as they ride up to help the injured Apache he is shown approaching on Diablo but arriving on Mackadoo. This is the last we see Mano on Diablo so it seems unintentional that we have a couple brief shots of the wrong horse. From here on in the series Mack and Mano are a team.

With Sam, Joe, and Pedro gone, Ira and Reno have larger roles than usual, especially when they end up trapped together with Mano in the bunkhouse while John, Victoria, Buck, Blue, Vaquero, and Nock-Ay-Del are under siege in the main house. There are tense moments when both groups are unsure whether Buck is alive or dead in the courtyard and yet cannot go out to his aid. When it turns out to have been an undisclosed ruse on Buckís part, John releases his ire in Buckís direction, but everyone is clearly relieved that Buck is safe. Throughout the episode Buck is very distrusting and hostile towards any Apaches, unlike John who at least wants to give them every possible chance for peace. Buckís hard edge in this regard is certainly not what we see in other episodes such as "Bad Day for a Thirst" or "Ten Little Indians". This is a strong episode for Vaquero.  It also includes the strange sitar music that accompanies Nock-Ay-Delís smoking of the peace pipe.

Complete Episode Synopsis
    As Mano and Blue are riding across a ridge line to the Salt Creek area of the High Chaparral, they witness three Apaches racing across the desert below them. One Apache is in the lead, followed by two others. When the first Apache is subsequently shot from his horse by one of the others, Blue is very confused. He turns to Mano with incredulity, making a statement about not believing that two Apaches would kill another. Mano finds it hard to believe also, and they make their way down to the shot Apache, whom they think is dead.

Blue watches in disbelief as two
Apaches attack another

     However, the Indian is just barely alive, and he manages to tell Mano before he dies that Soldado is planning to kill a medicine man by the name of Nock-Ay-Del, who is currently on his way to the High Chaparral on a peace mission. In previous episodes, we have learned that Soldado is a sub-chief under Cochise, and as a sub-chief, he carries a lot of power and has a large following. Mano and Blue immediately ride toward the ranch house to warn the others.

Teecha and Nock-Ay-Del ride into the yard.

     At the ranch, Reno is standing guard on the roof when Nock-Ay-Del and Teecha approach. He sounds a warning, and everyone races to defense positions. Buck is highly suspicious and deciding to err on the side of caution, he tells his brother that it might be a big mistake to let the Indians inside the compound. John decides he wants to see why the Indians have come to the ranch, and he tells Ira down at the gate to let the Indians pass.
     Seeing the disapproval on Buck's face, John says, "I think I know when an Apache wants to fight and when he doesn't." Buck doesn't buy into this reasoning. He reminds his brother that there is only Reno, Ira and the new hand Kelso currently at the ranch, but John is insistent. Through Vaquero's semi-expert translation, we learn that Nock-Ay-Del thinks John Cannon is a great chief, that he has come from Cochise to talk. John then invites the Indians inside the house to talk on his terms, instead of a pow-wow in the yard. The Indians think they will be taken prisoners, but John assures them that they will be safe.

Buck and John discuss their next move.

Buck instructs the new hand, Kelso.

When they all go inside, Victoria recognizes Nock-Ay-Del as the man who once saved her life and whom she once nursed back to health. While Nock-Ay-Del makes his preparations to talk, which appear to be lengthy, Buck leaves saying he is posting a guard. By this time, it is dark, and Buck decides to pull Reno from the roof to the corral and send Ira patrolling on foot. He puts Kelso in the yard and cautions him not to go shooting Reno and Ira, but to keep himself alert. He also tells Kelso, who is obviously a green hand, that everything will be okay. Kelso is very nervous.
     Inside, Nock-Ay-Del tells John that Cochise is willing to make peace if John will bargain and trade for the High Chaparral land, instead of fighting to the death. This intrigues John, but when he learns that the price is one cow and one calf for every woman in the tribe, as well as one horse for every warrior, John is outraged. Victoria steps in and says it is just the first offer, that John should bargain, which he does.

Nock-Ay-Del negotiates with the Cannons.

Buck draws on Nock-Ay-Del.

     Out in the yard, Buck and Ira are talking when they hear a noise. They carefully investigate and find Kelso dead. Buck is deeply remorseful. He sends Ira to find Reno with instructions for both of them to get to the bunkhouse. Then, he picks up Kelso and carries the dead man inside the ranch house, where he lets John know that he feels responsible for Kelso's death by saying that he shouldn't have left Kelso alone. He then pulls a gun on Nock-Ay-Del. At this point, Teecha races into the yard, where he is immediately shot by the Apaches outside. Mano and Blue then come riding madly into the yard, and dodging bullets, make it safely inside the ranch house.

     John sends Victoria to the bedroom, instructing her to stay there behind locked shutters. Blue tells his father that the Apaches outside are there to kill Nock-Ay-Del. From Mano's translation of Nock-Ay- Del, John learns that Soldado doesn't want peace, and he surmises that Soldado wants to kill Nock-Ay-Del at the High Chaparral in order to blame the Cannons and stir up the tribes. When Nock-Ay-Del tries to leave, Buck cracks him over the head, and they tie him to a chair.  It is John's plan to wait until morning, whereupon he will escort the Indians to Cochise and let Cochise deal with Soldado.

Mano and Vaquero act as translators.

     Buck plans to go to the bunkhouse to tell Ira and Reno not to kill the Apaches outside, but when he and Mano attempt to get there without being shot, they discover that Teecha is still alive. Buck takes Teecha into the ranch house, where Victoria says he will live, and Mano dodges bullets to the bunkhouse. Blue goes to the roof with instructions not to shoot, but to keep the Apaches alive for Cochise to punish. While up there, he is attacked by Kantu, the wild son of Soldado. When Buck comes to the rescue, he says, "What are you trying to do, Boy? Get yourself killed?" Blue, who had been in a life or death struggle, manages to mutter, "Pa told me to take him alive." Buck promptly gives John a look and says, "Big John, you should have told him to keep Blue alive."

Victoria pleads with John to help Buck.

     By this time, Buck is thoroughly disgusted with John's instructions to keep the Apaches alive. He tells John he is "fighting Apaches the way I know how." In disgust, he heads out the door, toward the bunkhouse, and is promptly shot. Blue races down from the roof, wanting to rescue Buck, but John tells him to get back to his post. Victoria then steps up, wanting John to go rescue Buck, and John tells her to get back to the bedroom. Victoria promptly blurts out, "He'd go to you!" John tells her that he will make the decisions, but it is obvious that he is deeply concerned about his brother.
     Out in the yard, Buck is just playing dead in an attempt to lure Soldado's man to him. It works. The Apache approaches, and Buck manages to kill the Indian. He then races back to the house, where John socks him a good one for killing the Indian. Buck complains, "You're going to wear out my face. You shouldn't hit that hard." While he's commiserating to John, he sees a rifle being aimed through the unguarded front door at Nock-Ay-Del, and he races to deflect the bullet. Soldado manages to hit Nock-Ay-Del in the head, but it is not serious.

Buck recovers after being slugged by John.

Blue is called down from the roof by John.

     John then gets this idea to fool Soldado, so they can capture him. He gets Blue to dress in Kantu's clothing, which Buck highly disapproves of, and when John opens the door, he pretends to kill Blue. Blue falls "dead" in the yard. In an effort to let the bunkhouse know what's going on, Buck sneaks out the back way with a warning to Vaquero to shoot into the sky. Vaquero says he will shoot four shots for protection. The shots confuse Soldado.
     They also confuse the bunkhouse. Ira and Reno are wondering what to do, when Mano opens the door for Buck. Buck tells them that 'Big John has got himself a scheme.' Seeing Buck safely ensconced in the bunkhouse, John says, "Now we'll see if an Apache father cares for his son." The trick works. Soldado comes to Blue, thinking it is his son. Blue and Soldado struggle, and all the ranch hands then help capture Soldado.
     In the morning, Mano is dispatched alone to Cochise with all the Indians. By late afternoon, everyone is noticeably nervous when Mano hasn't returned, but Victoria says she won't worry until after dark. Mano is then chased into the yard by Apaches, and Reno and Ira race to protect him. Mano is leading a paint horse, and as he is telling John that it is a gift from Cochise as a sign of respect, the horse eats Buck's biscuit. Mano tells John that Cochise did nothing to Soldado, since Soldado had many warriors who sided with him against the white man. But Mano also tells John that all that had happened at the High Chaparral "was not wasted on Cochise."

Buck feeds the paint, a gift from Cochise.

(Synopsis by Sandy Sturdivant)

Supervisory Producer:  Irving Elman
Production Manager:  Kent McCray
Music by Harry Sukman; Theme by David Rose      
Director of Photography:  Harkness Smith, A.S.C.
Color Consultant:  Edward P. Ancona
Unit Production Manager:  Andrew J. Durkus
Assistant Director: Ray de Camp
Stunt Coordinator:  Henry Wills
Story Editor: Ward Hawkins
Art Direction:  Hal Pereira, McClure Capps
Edited by Marvin Coil, A.C.E.
Set Decoration:  Robert Benton, Bill F. Calvert
Post Production Co-ordinator:  Bill Wistrom
Casting:  Russell Trost
Sound Recording: Joe Edmondson, Joel Moss
Make-up Supervision:  Wally Westmore, S.M.A.
Hair Style Supervision:  Nelly Manley, C.H.S.
Titles by CINEFX
Filmed at Paramount Studios, Hollywood, California

Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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