The High Chaparral

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Fourth Season
Plot and Character Highlights

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Sam holding Casement at gunpoint.

Victoria protects Joey during Apache raid.

Sam and Casement under Apache fire.

4.87  A Matter of Survival        Sam, Pedro

Returning home from a visit to her father's ranch, Victoria and her escorts Sam and Pedro find infant Joey, the only survivor of an Indian raid on his parent's wagon.
Written by Frank & Ramona Chase         Directed by William Wiard

Story Line:  When the boy's grandfather, Dan Casement, spared only because he had gone ahead to scout for water, insists on leaving with the child, a concerned Victoria balks, insisting that she can better care of the baby en route to the safety of the Cannon ranch. Relenting, Casement joins them in their slow trek across the desert while Indians stalk them, awaiting the best time to attack.

Guest Star:

Barry Sullivan 
as Dan Casement


Character Highlights: A strong episode for Sam and Pedro since most of it revolves around their efforts to protect themselves and Victoria on the journey to High Chaparral.  John, Buck, and Mano play only minor roles.  Pedro is seen here in one of his more forceful and heroic roles where he takes more initiative on his own rather than just obeying directions.  He does this when he draws his rifle on Casement and again near the end when he amends Sam's plan to have himself be the one to ride for help in what could well be a suicidal mission.  Sam is also very strong here, caught between following Victoria's immediate wishes and what he knows is his directive from John which is to bring her home safely.  He never waivers from his sense of duty however and continues to think in terms of the safety of the whole group even to the point of putting his own life at risk in the interest of protecting Victoria and the rest of the group. Casement, while clearly a tortured soul, never gives the viewer much reason to care about him. 


Complete Episode Synopsis:  Traveling home from Rancho Montoya with Sam and Pedro as her escorts, Victoria spots a column of smoke.  She convinces Sam, against his better judgment, to investigate, as both Sam and Pedro know the smoke has been caused by Apaches.  They find a burned out wagon, with a dead man and woman beneath it, but no other survivors, they think.  As they get ready to leave, though, they hear a noise, and Pedro finds one survivor - a small baby, perhaps nine or ten months old.

Sam, Victoria, and Pedro discover the baby.

Casement fights off Apaches at the wagon.

Back on the Chaparral range, John is fretting because he needs to find fresh water for his stock, meaning that he won't be home when Victoria is scheduled to arrive. Little does he know that Victoria's party is climbing around the inside of a burned wagon looking for something to feed a baby.  As they search, a man rides up, the baby's grandfather, father of the dead man.  Despite  the danger, the man, Casement, insists on burying his dead.  Victoria refuses to leave the baby, so the others stay there and watch.  As they do, the Apache attack, and it is only Casement's sharp-shooting that drives them off, again. 
Sam's conviction that they need Casement's rifle with them, and Victoria's refusal to be parted from the baby make them force Casement into staying with them against his wishes as they try to return to the High Chaparral.  Sam insists it's a matter of survival for everyone, and Victoria keeps the infant with her, to ensure Casement's cooperation.  The four, with the baby, ride out, Victoria now on Pedro's horse, and Pedro riding one of the team. When they finally make camp for the night, Casement presses for release, insisting that he can better make it alone with his grandson.  Sam agrees that he might, and so might he and Pedro make it alone, but Victoria might not, therefore they will all stay together.  Casement is grateful for Victoria's tender concern for baby Joey, but he also warns her that, if anything should happen to the child, no matter how right she and Sam believe they are, he will kill them.  

Casement is forced to hand over Joey.

Sam and Casement cross the river last.

The next day they head out again. Sam anticipates they will be attacked at the river crossing, and sends Pedro ahead with Victoria and the baby, giving Casement back his rifle.  The two drive the Apache back from the river, but Sam knows they will return, and he sends Casement on ahead with the others, choosing to make the second stand alone.  Pedro suggests that Sam might feel he owes Casement a life for having forced him to come with them.  A distant shot as they ride away convinces Casement that Sam may just have paid that debt.  They ride on until the horse falters, and then make camp.

Sam, pinned down alone.

Victoria is worried that Sam might really be dead, but as it turns out, the Chaparral foreman is too tough for that, and he rejoins them later that evening.  Casement takes the opportunity of the happy reunion to pull a rifle on Sam, but when Pedro offers to return the favor on him, he backs down.

Pedro protects Victoria in Sam's absence.

Victoria assisting in the battle.

Having found his fresh water, John Cannon sends Buck and Manolito to meet Victoria and her party where they are expected on the road.  Victoria and the others, however, are pinned down in the rocks, surrounded by Apache.  The Indians attack with flaming arrows, and Joey is nearly lost. Victoria's relief when Casement rescues his grandson, calling the child "my baby" possessively, proves to Casement just how attached she has become to the boy.  There is little time to worry about it, though, they are well trapped in the rocks, and Sam has come up with a desperate plan to send one man out to try to get through to Chaparral and bring help. 
Pedro volunteers because he says he rides better than Sam, and Sam agrees.  After he leaves, Casement asks Sam about Victoria, if she has any children of her own.  As Sam replies, he is shot in the leg by an Apache arrow, which Casement must remove with only whiskey and muscle to help either of them. Sam is  grateful, and despite the circumstances, it is apparent that the two men have developed a  grudging respect for each other.  Later, Casement and Victoria talk, and she admits that her real reason for wanting to keep Casement with them was so she did not have to be parted from Joey, but she never wanted things to turn out like that had.

Sam takes some whiskey as Victoria 
tends his arrow wound.

Victoria and Casement prepare 
for their final stand.

As Sam and Casement prepare for the final battle, Victoria shares a last moment with Joey, giving him a small silver cross she is wearing. The moment of respite is short, though, the Apache are gathering. Sam gives Victoria a gun, and she secures Joey in the rocks, joining the men in their last defense. before the Apache strike, Casement forgives Victoria for keeping him and Joey with them. The attack never comes, though. The Apache ride in, and leave a war lance in warning to the future, but then they leave mysteriously. 
The reason? Pedro has gotten through, after all, and is returning with John and the others. Before they arrive, though, Casement makes his good-byes, and takes his grandson. He has no interest in staying to see John, he only wants to take Joey and go home. As Victoria is reunited with her husband and family, she is deeply relieved, but the memory of Dan Casement and baby Joey will be with her for a long time.  

.(Synopsis by Sheryl Clay)


Victoria is reunited with John.

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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