The High Chaparral

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Pedro after being shot in the shoulder

Deacon confronts John Cannon

Richard Anders as Deacon

3.71  The Long Shadow            Pedro
The Cannon Ranch faces wholesale resignations by hired hands because of a series of attacks on men and cattle by an unknown assailant.
Written by Walter Black         Directed by Phil Rawlins

Story Line:  Convinced that the source of the fear is a former employee, John directs a search for the man. Cannon and his men are stunned on learning they have been tracking the wrong man after they find their quarry dead, victim himself of the mysterious marauder.

Guest Stars: Dan Kemp as Rhode, Gregory Sierra as Arrigo, William Vaughn as Matheny, Richard Anders as Deacon, Paul Sorensen as Beckert, Dan Scott as Rollins, Steve Raines as Bayliss, Dick Farnsworth as Lloyd.

Character Highlights: In many ways the plot of this episode is more like a detective show than a Western as everyone tries to determine who the culprit might be in the mysterious subversive attacks that have been taking place at High ChaparralThis is the third episode in which someone from John's civil war past has come after him seeking revenge , "Threshold of Courage" and "Road to Tucson" being the other ones.  It somehow seems that Buck's associates from the war come to convince him to throw in with their schemes, where John's associates from the war come across the country with a clear mission to kill him.  Joe and Pedro both have strong roles in this episode, with Pedro sustaining a serious gunshot wound and also insisting on riding with the men even though still recuperating.  One of the best scenes is when John insists on sending Victoria away to her father's over her objections.  When John offends her and she demands an apology, Blue, Buck, and Mano all offer well-meaning advice and encouragement for John to apologize.  The Cannons stage a very public argument near the end for the benefit of the remaining range hands in order to set up a trap for the culprit.  The episode includes references to Buck and John's shared past in Kansas at the time of the John Brown raids.

Complete Episode Synopsis:  It is not just a platitude that what goes around comes around, and that you can never really escape the decisions of your past. The High Chaparral ranch has been having a run of bad luck. First, a line shack, thankfully empty, burns to the ground, apparently struck by lightening. Then Buck, Blue and Pedro, who have discovered the accident, are mysteriously ambushed. No one is hurt, but it's a close one for Blue, and the author of the ambush cannot be discovered. And when, a little later, Joe's cinch breaks, nearly getting him killed, and Manolito discovers that it's been cut, the Chaparral crew begin to consider that their troubles are deliberate acts of sabotage, though John Cannon cannot imagine who might be behind it, or why. The men are understandably spooked, though, and some begin quitting. John is worried that he soon may not have enough men to run his ranch. And though Buck is certain that their saboteur must be a stranger, John considers that it could also be someone right there on the ranch.

The trouble continues. When Manolito and a ranch hand named Arrigo stop to fill their canteens, they discover the water hole poisoned, and suspicion falls on Arrigo, who has suggested that exact possibility. Back at the ranch, John and his family try to figure out what's going on, and down in the bunkhouse there is even more concern being expressed. Some of the men are more upset than others, but the bottom line is they all feel vulnerable to whatever grudge is being waged against the High Chaparral, and dissension is rift. Things finally come to a head when Joe rides in fast with the news that Sam has been shot in the leg in an ambush, and two other hands, Pedro, and a new man, Chaney, are missing, never having returned from hunting strays above Twin Peaks. John organizes a search, insisting that the men stay in pairs for safety. Some of the men protest, a hand named Rhode most strenuously, and even though they all comply eventually, Rhode's attitude now casts the suspicion on him. Pedro is finally found, unconscious and shot in the shoulder, but still alive. Chaney, however, is still missing, and when Pedro regains consciousness back at the house, the story he tells convinces everyone that Chaney is their real enemy.

As the situation on the ranch becomes more untenable, the men are forced to work double shifts to make up for the short-handedness. Exhausted, Arrigo falls asleep on guard, and someone sneaks out of the bunkhouse to turn the corral full of horses loose. It appears that the enemy is still among them, but John does not know that yet, assuming that someone, maybe Chaney, sneaked back into the compound from outside. He is ready to fire Arrigo for his negligence, when a young hand named Deacon steps in with a voice of reason, telling John that it could just as easily have been him who fell asleep, they were all that tired. John relents. He gives the men one last warning, and orders Joe to double the guard against Buck's protest that the men are already "tail-dragging" tired, but he turns them loose without further punishment. Nevertheless, more men are quitting. They feel it's just a matter of time, and Deacon seems to agree with them.

The final straw comes when an intruder tries to break in on Victoria while she's sleeping, terrifying her. John sends her, against her hearty protests, with Joe and an escort, to Don Sebastian, and mounts a full scale search for Chaney, in spite of the fact that it means stopping all other necessary work on the ranch. Even Pedro insists he's well enough to come, and John lets him, though he knows Victoria will be furious when she finds out he's let the injured man go along. They do finally find the man, but Chaney is dead, and probably has been since they found Pedro. Their enemy is not Chaney, and is still at large. John can no longer delay the work on his ranch. Though his brother and son protest vigorously, he sends all of them, and all the men, out to the herd to make up for lost time, while he proposes to stay home and work on the delinquent contracts and the ranch books. The others relent, but it is obvious no one is happy about leaving John alone.

John is in the house, alone, when the final blow comes, and when it comes it is a total surprise. The perpetrator is not any of the men they have already considered, but the young man, Deacon, who has been such a voice of reason in all of this. When John demands to know why, Deacon tells him that it was his father who died at Patowatomie Creek, during one of John Brown's infamous raids, a death that Deacon believes Cannon could have prevented had he gone for the army rather than trying to negotiate, himself, with Brown. He is bent on revenge, and almost gets it, when Buck arrives unexpectedly, distracting Deacon long enough for John to jump him, and knock him cold. The danger over, Victoria returns to the ranch, the doctor has assured John that Sam will be fine, and all seems to return to normal. However, John, one suspects, will be haunted for a long time by what Deacon has done, and why. He leaves Buck to explain what happened to the others, retiring alone with his wife.  (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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