The High Chaparral

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Second Season
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Blue held hostage by Jessup 

Buck questioning Blue

Paul Winfield as Graham Jessup

2.32 A Sea of Enemies                 Blue
An Army deserter accused of murder takes Billy Blue as hostage.
Teleplay by Walter Black      Story by Christopher Helms      Directed by Robert L. Friend

Story Line: Graham Jessup enlists Billy Blue to help him escape by fabricating a story that he has been mistreated because he is a Negro. Jessup makes Billy his prisoner when the young man hesitates to lead him into forbidden Apache land. The pair are cornered in the forbidden land by a large band of Indians, complicating the rescue efforts of John Cannon, Buck and the cavalry.

Guest Stars: Paul Winfield as Graham Jessup, John Pickard as Sergeant Williams.

Character Highlights: Excellent episode for Blue fans. Even though he is the hostage, Blue does not play the helpless victim role, but handles his mentally ill captor adeptly. Blue has some intense interactions with Mano, with Buck, and with Jessup that are not overdone. Great breaking away scene with Buck where Blue stands up to him but does so in a very adult and caring manner. Buck struggles with himself to let him go and as Blue leaves says, "Vayo con dios, little Blue Button. Vayo con dios." Excellent performance from Paul Winfield as Jessup where he portrays the torment of mental illness in a realistic and sensitive manner at a time when the issue was rarely addressed on television, let alone in a Western.

Complete Episode Synopsis:  A routine day on the range for Blue turns dangerous, as he unexpectedly finds a gun in his face while planting a salt lick for the cattle. The man on the other side of the gun is Graham Jessup, an army deserter. Jessup sizes up Blue, and deciding that he is harmless, gives him back his gun. Blue listens as Jessup, who is black, tells of the cruel treatment that he has received at the hands of his commanding officer. He shows Blue the scars from a whipping that he claims he got from the colonel, and tells Blue that if he only had provisions and water, he could get away from the nightmare that he had been living. Blue, horrified at his story, determines to aid the soldier.

Riding back to the High Chaparral with Manolito, Blue clues him in on his intentions, and wants to swear Mano to secrecy. Manolito warns Blue that helping an army deserter would be bad for the High Chaparral, but then he says, "Your heart is ruling your head, and that is something I cannot resist." He agrees to keep Blue's secret. After dinner, Blue packs an extra saddlebag with provisions and prepares to ride out, but Buck sees him and questions him about the cover story Blue had given of going prospecting. Blue counters with throwing back some words that Buck has said to him, about a man needing to decide for himself. Buck knows that something is up, but he realizes that he can't force Blue to tell him, and he watches Blue ride off.

When he arrives at Jessup's hiding place, Blue delivers the saddlebag, intending to leave. Jessup, however, has other ideas, and clubs Blue with the butt end of his rifle. When he comes to, Blue finds himself tied up and Jessup's prisoner. Jessup rambles about many things, but mainly about the rough time that he has had living among white men. During the soliloquy, Blue realizes that there is more to Jessup's story of abuse, and that Jessup killed his commanding officer. Blue tries to escape when Jessup turns his back to him, but the soldier overpowers and nearly strangles him to death. Jessup backs off, says that he isn't angry at Blue, and advises him to get some rest, as they will be moving out in the morning.

Sgt. Williams, investigating the whereabouts of Jessup, visits the High Chaparral and asks for information from John. John, unable to give him any, gives him permission to question the men in the bunkhouse. Manolito asks the sergeant if Jessup is dangerous, and he tells them that not only did Jessup murder his commanding officer, but he also threw his body off the top of the sentry tower.

Jessup and Blue strike south, and after a few hours of riding, approach the boundary of Apache territory. There is a treaty between the army and the Apaches, and any violation of their land will be considered an act of war by the Apaches. Blue attempts to explain this to Jessup, but he refuses to accept it, asking Blue if he thinks that black men will believe anything a white boy tells them. They head into Apache territory, with Jessup feeling very full of himself. During a rest stop, Jessup asks Blue if he hates him. Blue says "no," something that Jessup cannot understand. He raves and postures, but finally believes Blue. He spots a scorpion and picks it up with his gun and holds it over Blue, forcing him to say that his warnings about the Apaches were false. Blue complies, but Jessup accidentally drops the scorpion, which stings Blue. He cuts Blue and sucks out the poison, adding yet more contradictions to the obviously insane Jessup.

As John, Buck, the sergeant, and some soldiers track the two, Apaches attack Blue and Jessup. Blue is still bound and without a gun, but Jessup fends off the first wave of the attack. John and the soldiers hear the shooting and assess the situation. Buck points out that if they fire on Jessup, then the Apaches will know that they were not breaking the treaty. He decides that he can get a clear shot of Jessup from some rocks overhead, and he positions himself there. Another wave of Apaches swoop down, and again, Jessup maintains his position. He regards Blue, though, and asks him, "You wanna make a run for it?" He approaches Blue with his knife drawn and places it on the ropes binding Blue's hands. Buck shoots from his perch and fells Jessup with one bullet. Shaken, Blue quietly sings the song that Jessup had sung so many times during Blue's captivity, as the soldiers move in.  (Synopsis by Lisa McKenzie)

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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