The High Chaparral

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Third Season
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John and Mano in "Journal of Death"

Victoria in "Journal of Death"

Dr. Mathew Kendel in "Journal of Death"

3.74  The Journal of Death      John, Mano
A former prison doctor accused of malpractice becomes the only man to whom John Cannon can appeal in efforts to save the life of his seriously ill wife.
Written by Frank & Ramona Chase         Directed by Leon Benson

Story Line:  Lawman Tad Garnet requests a night's lodging at the Cannon ranch while escorting Mathew Kendel, a one-time prison physician, to jail on charges of willfully causing the deaths of many of his convict patients. When Victoria suddenly falls ill and needs an operation to save her life, John must ask the now-embittered Kendel for help.

Guest Stars: 

Morgan Woodward 
as Marshal Tad Garnet

John Colicos 
as Mathew Kendel

Character Highlights:  While Victoria and the doctor are the central figures in this episode, Victoria spends much of the episode unconscious.  Buck is not present for most of the episode so the focus narrows to John and Mano's joint decision-making regarding treatment for Victoria's injuries.   They both behave admirably and jointly, agreeing with and supporting each other's positions on what to do.  They are both fiercely protective of her and yet never argue with each other about her care.  There are some very tender scenes between Mano and Victoria as well as between John and Victoria.   Pursued by a vengeful Marshal, John Colicos does an excellent job as the tortured civil war doctor who finally comes to terms with his past.

Complete Episode Synopsis:  The Civil War is reborn when The High Chaparral is visited by Marshal Garnet and a man he has just taken prisoner. While chatting with the Marshal, the Cannons are stunned to find out that Garnet only became a Marshal in order to apprehend Matthew Kendel, the man currently locked up in the bunkhouse. During the Civil War, while Garnet was jailed in a confederate prison, he watched Matthew Kendel -- the alcoholic prison doctor -- operate on Union soldiers, eleven of whom died. Blaming Kendel as personally responsible, Garnet, holding a journal he had kept through the entire ordeal, chased Kendel for years, ever since the end of the war, and is now determined to watch him hang.

While they are all having dinner, Victoria suggests that she take some food to the Marshal’s prisoner, so Garnet escorts her to the bunkhouse, where Kendel is writhing on the floor, apparently in pain. When Victoria moves to help him, the marshal stops her, suggesting that he is only pretending. Victoria scolds him for his lack of compassion and Garnet, ashamed, agrees to help him. A struggle ensues and Kendel, who WAS only pretending, forces Garnet and Victoria out of the bunkhouse. He has no desire to harm them, only to escape the bloodthirsty revenge of Garnet. When he goes for a horse, Garnet struggles with him and Victoria tries to flee, but the horse knocks her against a fence post and John, rushing from the house with Blue and Joe, finds his wife lying on the ground in an unconscious heap.

Later, after Mano returns from Tucson, he is met by Blue and Buck who tell him about Victoria’s accident. Blue tells him he is going for a doctor, but Mano breaks the bad news that the doctor is not in Tucson and is not expected back for days. Victoria, who is suffering a great deal, frightens John into begging the Marshal to allow Matt Kendel, the only “doctor” on the premises, to examine her. Kendel, bitter and resentful, refuses, but John reminds him that his wife took pity on him and now he is refusing to help her. Kendel reconsiders and examines her, only to discover that Victoria has a ruptured spleen. If the spleen isn’t removed, she’ll die. John, watching Victoria slowly go into shock, realizes the diagnosis is correct and makes a deal with Kendel that if he’ll operate on Victoria, he will set Kendel free with a day’s headstart on the Marshal. The Marshal tries to interfere but Mano pulls a gun on him. John and Mano take Garnet prisoner, with Garnet warning John that he will lose Chaparral if he carries out his plan, but John replies that if Victoria dies the ranch will then mean nothing to him.

Using left-over ether and primitive surgical tools hammered out of a ramrod, Kendel operates on Victoria. After the operation, Kendel explains to John that men did die, just as Garnet had said ... but only because they had no medicines, leaving Kendel with nothing to use but a knife. He also told John that he did drink, just as the Marshal had accused: “Yes, I drank. To give me strength for each operation. And to forget the horror of each one.” John listens to his story with compassion. He assisted Kendel during the operation and saw that he was a fine surgeon ... but also that he was just a human being who tried to get through the war the only way possible. Not knowing if Victoria will survive, John decides to give Kendel money and a two days’ headstart on Garnet. When Garnet tries to confront Kendel as he’s about to leave: “I watched those eleven men die,” Kendel finally defends himself: “So did I! I only knew ‘em as patients ... but when they died, I wept for ‘em, as you wept ... but you never understand that, because you don’t want to!”

At this point, Mano comes running in from Victoria’s room and begs the doctor to come back ... Victoria is tossing and turning. Realizing that she is only having a nightmare, Kendel awakens her. Victoria tells him she is frightened, but he assures her that there is no longer any reason for her to be afraid. Garnet, watching John thanking God as he hugs the wife he almost lost, realizes the truth and agrees to leave Matt Kendel alone. As a show of good faith, Garnet gives John the only piece of evidence against Kendel, the journal. John throws it into the fire and watches it burn as Matthew rides away, trying to find himself now that his war is finally over.  (Synopsis by Brenda Meskunas)

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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