The High Chaparral

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Second Season
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John waiting for Victoria's overdue stage

Victoria held hostage by Macklin's bandits

Forrest mistakes Victoria for his dead wife, Meg

2.41  North to Tucson                  Victoria
When Victoria saves the life of a man injured in a stagecoach plundered by Comancheros, she learns the man has sworn to kill her husband.
Written by D.C. Fontana       Directed by Harry Harris

Story Line: The injured man, James Forrest, blames John Cannon for the death of his family in the Civil War. The Comancheros, led by Macklin, capture the wandering pair, who are lost in the desert. Victoria again saves Forrest by convincing the bandits he is John Cannon and worth a high ransom.

Guest Stars: Kevin McCarthy as James Forrest, Jack Elam as Macklin, Jorge Russek as Molinero, David Renard as Pablo, Bee Tompkins as Margaret Forrest, Ted Jordan as Bayliss.

Character Highlights: A strong piece for Victoria who proves herself to be a tough and wily opponent for Forrest and for the bandits. This episode contains a reference to Forrest and John growing up together in Virginia, then fighting on different sides of the Civil War. Forrest suffers from a very strange amnesia, even for television amnesia. While not necessarily intending to be humorous, this episode has a few funny lines. When the American bandit, played by Jack Elam, is dictating a ransom note to Victoria, she gives him a disgusted look and says "You have very bad English." Also, when the bandits have John read the ransom note aloud he says to Mano, "It says she and I are being held for ransom." Mano says incredulously, "She and you?", then looks at the bandits in exasperation and says as only he can, "What does that mean?" When he and John rush the bandits it is almost as if they have finally run out of patience with their incredible stupidity.  

Complete Episode Synopsis:  

A stagecoach is traveling through the desert. The passengers are Victoria Cannon, and James and Meg Forrest. A shot rings out. A gang of Comancheros is in hot pursuit, firing their guns. As they race for their lives, the stage takes a corner at top speed and overturns. Only the horses are able to escape.  Victoria regains consciousness but pretends otherwise as the Comancheros ransack the spoils of the stage. It’s the strong box with the cash they’re after, and when they find it, they ride off.

Mrs. Forrest, the stage driver and shotgun rider are dead.  Mr. Forrest is alive but has a bad head injury and is unconscious. Alone, Victoria covers the bodies with stone, including a hand-written paper with each name for the headstone. But there is one stroke of luck - one of the stage horses is wandering nearby and Victoria is able to catch it.

When Mr. Forrest regains consciousness he calls Victoria by his wife’s name – Meg. Victoria knows it’s useless to tell him otherwise. The next minute, he doesn’t know who Victoria is and doesn’t remember anything about himself, including his name.  Victoria leads the horse with Forrest riding but he’s so weak that he falls to the ground. Now he thinks Victoria is Meg again. He tells "Meg" that they have to get to "that ranch" – the High Chaparral. Victoria plays along so she can find out why. Forrest announces that he has to kill John Cannon.

Meanwhile, Big John is at the stage station with Manolito.  Impatient at being kept waiting for three hours for the stage delivering his wife, he decides it’s time to go after it. John and Mano soon find the wreck of the coach and the graves but Mano is relieved to find his sister’s handwriting on the paper headstones – it proves she’s still alive. When they find luggage with men’s clothing, they deduce that she has a male companion to help her find her way.

Forrest compliments Victoria on the excellent rabbit that she has shot with the stage rifle. While they eat by the fire, Victoria asks in an off-hand manner what he will do when he reaches Tucson but the man is confused again. He calls her Meg and kisses her. She tries to push him away, but then plays along that she is his wife, getting him to talk about John. "Things would have been different before Cannon," he mumbles, but she can’t get him to say more. While she changes her blouse discreetly behind the horse, Forrest looks dazed and confused but something in his eyes says that he is remembering. When Victoria returns to him he has the rifle pointed at her. He knows she is Mrs. John Cannon and he wants them to find the stage route – the quickest way to the High Chaparral.

When Victoria tells him she has the right to know why he wants to kill her husband, Forrest explains that he and John grew up together.  John joined the Union army, while he fought for the South. He served as a spy and was captured by John himself.  For two years in a prisoner of war camp, the thought of retribution was his only companion. When he was released at the end of the war he went back to Virginia. He found John and tried to kill him, landing back in prison for three years. It took another year to locate his enemy in Arizona and now he won’t be stopped. Victoria appeals to him. She buried his wife - she’s been trying to help him. But Forrest will not be dissuaded.

Suddenly they are surrounded by the Comancheros. One of them recognizes Victoria as the daughter of the rich Don Sebastian Montoya and knows he’ll pay for her return. When the Comancheros are ready to dispose of the unnecessary Forrest, Victoria announces that he is her husband, John Cannon. The leader of the Comancheros knows of the High Chaparral. They are going to get a second ransom!

At their camp, the leader, Macklin, dictates a ransom note to Victoria. Victoria tells him sharply that he uses very bad English. The note says that she and her husband will be shot dead if the Comancheros don’t receive $5,000.

Meantime, Mano and John are still hot on Victoria’s trail. The two Comancheros who are in the process of delivering the ransom notes see them and hide. Mano tries to convince John to rest for the sake of the horses. But John won’t stop until Victoria is found. The Comancheros have figured out from this conversation that this is the true John Cannon. They jump out and point their guns. One of the Comancheros recognizes Manolito. Another good ransom has fallen into their hands. They show the ransom note to Big John. John is confused – why does it say that he and Victoria are being held? The Comancheros can’t explain it. When they attempt to take Manolito’s gun, he and Big John overpower them, taking their clothes, dressing themselves as the Comancheros to better infiltrate the camp. Big John tells Mano his getup reminds him of the day they first met.

While they wait, Forrest thanks Victoria for saving his life. She wonders if he is grateful enough to forget about revenge but he says it’s a separate matter. Angry, she tells him his gratefulness is premature, that the Comancheros will find out he is not John Cannon as soon as the real John gets the ransom note.

Big John and Manolito ride up to the camp. Splitting up, they sneak closer, overtaking the lookouts as they go. When Big John knocks one off his mountain perch, the noise alerts Victoria and Forrest. Forrest grabs the rifle that has landed nearby and runs off while Victoria runs into her husband’s arms.

The other Comancheros have also heard the noise and a gun battle begins. Mano and John are rapidly diminishing their numbers until Macklin is able to creep up behind them and hold the trio at gun point. A shot is fired and he falls. Forrest has saved them. But when Mano tries to thank him, he keeps the rifle pointed. "You’re Jim Forrest," says John in disbelief. John also thanks him, with no effect. Victoria steps in front of her husband. "Please!" she begs. Slowly, Forrest lowers the rifle and walks off. Mounting a horse, he rides off into the Arizona desert.   (Synopsis by Ginny Shook)

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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