The High Chaparral

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Buck and Charot

Sam driving the El Paso Stage Lines

John and Charot

2.44  The Last Hundred Miles
John Cannon risks the loss of his ranch to improve freight and stage service to Tucson.  
Written by Al C. Ward           Directed by James Pevney

Story Line: Lucien Charot raises his freight prices by having Indian attacks faked against his wagons. John interests an El Paso stage and freight line in extending operations to Tucson with local merchants financing the plan. Charot increases the phony raids and the frightened merchants withdraw from the deal. John then puts his ranch up to guarantee the initial safety of the new line. Victoria joins John for the first ride into Tucson while Charot and his gunmen wait in ambush.

Guest Stars: Robert Clary as Lucien Charot, Walter Brooke as Bob Morris, stage operator, Michael Keep as Cochise, Tom Tully as the General, Dave Sharpe as Regis, Jack Searle as Carter, James Gavin as Heffner, Henry Wills as Stage Driver.

Character Highlights: Robert Clary seems a bit out of place in a western, but the cast of regulars turn in pretty even performances. When Charot refers to Buck as Johnís "man", Buck says, "I ainít his man. Iím his brother, his blooded brother." Good scenes where Mano is teaching John to speak Apache. Victoria is also fiercely loyal to John when she offers to make the coach run with him, saying, "If your dreams are mine, your dangers are mine also." When John asks him to intervene on his side Buck demonstrates how adept he is at not taking sides between Victoria and John. Very satisfying final fight scene when Buck finally bests the French kick boxer and retrieves his "genuine imitation gold watch".  Side note:  In the beginning of the episode we discover that John has ordered a new water pump for Victoria, but somehow it never seems to get installed because two years later we are still get water out of the well with a bucket.

Complete Episode Synopsis: Shipments of goods into Tucson are being repeatedly lost, forcing the prices of those things that do get through higher and higher. The Cannon family waits eagerly in town for their latest orders: John for a surprise he had ordered for Victoria, Blue for new boots, and Buck for a genuine imitation gold alarm watch despite Sam's and Pedro's insistence that he has no need for it - after all, Buck doesn't take pills and has no need of an alarm to tell him when to take a drink. All will be disappointed, however. The wagons have been attacked, again, most of the goods stolen, and those that are still available are now twice the price. John suspects the truth, that freighter Lucien Charot has sabotaged the shipments himself to drive up the prices, but he cannot prove it. There have been too many such incidences in the past few months. Buck, however, doesn't need proof.  He's furious, and threatens Charot with bodily harm if he insists on raising his prices. Charot, ever cool, counters with a challenge: if Buck can fight Charot's henchman, and win, Charot will keep the prices as they were. If he loses, the prices will be doubled. It is a challenge Buck can't resist. He's confident, and so are his friends as they put their bets down, but moments later, Buck finds himself eating dust. It seems Charot's man, Regis, is an accomplished kick-boxer. Buck never stood a chance.

The Chaparral has no choice but to accept the higher prices, even double the price for the new sewing machine that John has purchased for Victoria. He insists, despite her protest that the price is too high, but John also warns Charot that his days of fleecing the town of Tucson are numbered - for he has contacted a competitor, the El Paso Stage and Freight, to set up its own freight line to Tucson. Charot, however, is not concerned. He has a counter plan to discourage El Paso Freight from settling in Tucson. Charot intends to stir up Cochise - or at least the rumor of Cochise to drive the new freighters away. And it seems he may be successful. While Buck is practicing the new kick boxing technique with Blue, back on Chaparral, Pedro rides in with an Apache war lance that he has pulled from the neck of a Chaparral steer. There seems to be no way to interpret the attack except as Cochise's displeasure over the coming freight line, which will cross Apache treaty lands. But John is adamant. They must have that freight line, even if he has to go talk to Cochise, himself.

The El Paso Stage representative arrives in Tucson to meet John, but he is also accompanied by an army general who is not in favor of the risk putting a freight line through Apache territory would mean. As they go to freshen up before the meeting, Charot approaches John with a proposition. He offers to cut John in on the profits to be made if John will drop his attempt to fund the competition. John, of course, wants none of it - especially when Charot intimates that his real goal is to underwrite the return of French Napoleon III's empire to Mexico. John delivers a compelling argument to the freighters, and to his neighbors who must be willing to invest if the enterprise is going to be successful, but Charot intervenes with the intelligence that Cochise has already attacked the Chaparral, and the ranchers back out of the deal. It looks as if the new freight line is not to be, until John offers to go himself to talk to Cochise, if El Paso Freight and Stage will just give him three more days.

Using smoke signals in the mountains, John contacts Cochise. As he negotiates, Buck, Blue and Manolito ride up to protect his flank, having followed without John's knowledge. When the negotiations end, John is presented with his brother, son, and brother-in-law, captives of the wily Apache. He is not particularly happy to see them, and saves his news for his next meeting with the other ranchers. Cochise has agreed to let the freighters through, and moreover, Cochise swears he had nothing to do with the attacks on the Chaparral. John believes him, but Charot manages to cast enough doubt that the other ranchers refuse to back the project. John, at Victoria's insistence, is forced to put up the entire Chaparral as collateral to prove that the route is safe - and to agree to drive the first trial run over the last hundred miles through Apache Gap with only one driver, and Victoria as his passenger. The El Paso Freight folks agree, but Charot hasn't given up, yet. He will attack John's stage, himself, and make it seem like the Apache. And he will also make very sure that John Cannon is dead before it ends.

With Sam beside him as driver, and Victoria ready to go, John prepares to pick up the stage at the final way station. He's in for a surprise, though - for the General is coming with them, to time the run and be sure nothing goes wrong. At the first sign of trouble, an old, overturned stage, the General wants to turn back, but John won't be thwarted, and insists on continuing, even if it means keeping the General at gunpoint. It is not the Apaches who are to be feared, however. Charot's men are waiting just a little way up the trail. It's nine to three, and the situation looks hopeless until Buck, Blue and Manolito, with the rest of the Chaparral men, come to the rescue. Most of Charot's men scatter, except for Regis, who has gained the stage. Intent on John and Sam, he does not see Buck, who has climbed up behind him. Buck throws him to the ground and then, with a swift kick to the shins and a good right cross, knocks him unconscious. Buck takes his watch back, finally happy he has won a fight with the man. The General is impressed enough, and chagrinned enough, to promise John his support. And Charot, with Cochise now watching the proceedings, surrenders, expecting John to just let him go. John gives him a choice: he can come back to Tucson and face the townspeople he has cheated, or he can stay with the Apache. Shocked, but helpless, Charot chooses humiliation as the lesser evil, and agrees to go back to Tucson with John.  (Synopsis by Sheryl Clay)
 

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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