The High Chaparral

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Second Season
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Mano with Anita, the girl Don Sebastian has chosen for him to marry.

Don Sebastian feigns his
deathbed scene.

Victoria and Mano believe Don
Sebastian is dying

2.51  The Lion Sleeps   Don Sebastian, Victoria, Mano

Produced and Directed by William F. Claxton       Written by Tim Kelly
Original Broadcast:  March 28, 1969

Don Sebastian, wounded by a would-be assassin, plays on the sympathy of his family and friends in a scheme to gain control of the Cannon Ranch.

Story Line: On his pretended deathbed, Don Sebastian extracts a promise from Manolito to marry Anita Santiago, a beautiful but headstrong neighbor in a plot to join the two ranchos. Victoria gives in to her father's wish to persuade John to sign the Cannon Ranch over to Manolito. Don Sebastian's plan begins to falter when Mano learns that his father is faking, and the assassin returns for a second attempt on Don Sebastian's life.

Guest Stars:

Brenda Benet
as Anita Santiago

Jorge Russek
as El Coyote

Rico Alaniz
as Armando


Luis De Cordova
as the Doctor

Martin Garralaga
as Francisco

Alberto Monte
as the Bandito

Character Highlights: Very good portrayal of Don Sebastian and his relationship with his children which runs the gamut from true love and concern to consternation and conniving. Excellent scenes between Mano and Victoria. John is clearly out of his element at Rancho Montoya and he does a good job of portraying how helpless he is in the full clutches of the Montoya family dynamic. Excellent contribution from Brenda Benet as Anita Santiago, Mano’s intended bride. Mano has some very attractive scenes as her suitor as well as when he playfully but firmly turns her down. Buck and Blue are relatively minor players in the episode, though they play essential roles in the capture of the bandit.

Complete Episode Synopsis

    Victoria and Manolito, preparing for their father's visit to Chaparral, are notified that Don Sebastian -- also known as "The Lion of Sonora" -- has been shot and is not expected to live. Distraught, the entire family hurries to Rancho Montoya where they find their father on his deathbed, attended by a physician. The Old Lion, preparing to die, has made two last arrangements for his family. First, he wants Manolito to marry Anita de Santiago y Amistad, the daughter of a rich landowner who will give the Montoyas a huge section of land as her dowry. Second, Don Sebastian wants John to take his ranch and combine it with this new land and Rancho Montoya, making "one grand ranch" which will be under Manolito's control.

Victoria and Mano try to comfort their father as he lays wounded with an assassin's bullet.

While both Mano and John balk at these extreme conditions, everyone realizes that Don Sebastian is dying and it would be dishonorable to refuse him these requests. Mano goes off to ponder his future, all the unhappier because Anita is already on her way to Rancho Montoya. John, who hasn't yet signed the documents Don Sebastian has had prepared, tries to reason with his grieving wife, who insists he should sign them to make Don Sebastian happy, and then tear up the papers once her father is dead.

Anita explains to Mano what she expects
from their alliance.

While the Cannons still don't know what to do, Mano's struggle is temporarily eased when he meets his intended bride. Anita is all beauty and grace, and Mano mistakenly thinks she is attracted to him as well. The next morning, however, Mano is given a glimpse of the real Anita: A vain, heartless, shrew of a woman who has no fondness for Mano and has only agreed to marry him because she is convinced the marriage will be profitable.  She envisions a life for them on the social circuit in Europe, far from his friends, whom she considers undesirable to associate with.
Mano, angry at the predicament he finds himself in, goes off to town with the Chaparral boys, where they find that the townspeople have caught his father's "murderer" and are preparing to hang him. Mano sees that this man, Armando, who claims to be a humble wood cutter, is wearing his father's gold and diamond ring, claiming that he traded his burros for it.  Mano takes the ring back, and, in response to the man's pleadings, sets him free. While Mano doesn't believe his story, he reasons with Buck that he can be followed back to the hideout where the rest of the bandidos are.  So Buck and the boys follow Armando while Mano goes back to the ranch.

Mano examines his father's stolen ring after recovering it from one of the bandits.

Don Sebastian swears the doctor to
secrecy in order to maintain his ruse.

Meanwhile, Don Sebastian, who has been drowning his final moments in the comfort of the wine bottle, is discovered by the physician, who tries to take it out of the old man's hands. Don Sebastian fights with him and, in the ensuing struggle, he falls out of bed. The doctor checks him over, then informs Don Sebastian of an incredible bit of luck ... the bullet has moved and the Old Lion of Sonora will NOT die after all. Don Sebastian, always ready to pounce upon any opportunity for personal gain, threatens the doctor to keep silent about this discovery. He wants Mano to marry Anita and he wants Chaparral, and he now sees a way that he can accomplish both.

When Mano returns to the ranch, however, he walks into his father's room and sees that Don Sebastian is not in his bed! He immediately thinks the worst, but then sees that his father is up on his feet, eating and drinking and reading a newspaper. Mano steps out of view before his father discovers him.

He then informs his sister of their father's treachery. Victoria, enraged, threatens to tell John, but Mano persuades her not to do this, as it will end their "father's game" too quickly. Victoria agrees, and then she and Mano plot to torture their father by playing along with him, yet not giving in to him.

Victoria is furious when Mano explains
their father's trickery.

When they go to visit Don Sebastian, Mano and Victoria inform him that they have a small, simple funeral planned for him, and Mano tells him that the funeral director is unhappy because "the ice is melting" (it's taking D.S. too long to die). Don Sebastian, not realizing his children are taking him for a ride, is angered by their lack of sensitivity, but he is mostly frustrated because John has not signed the papers, which now state that the land will be governed by "the head of the house of Montoya" (which would be, of course, Don Sebastian if he survives!)

Now it's Victoria and Mano's turn to pretend as they plan their father's funeral.

El Coyote orders Armondo to go back
and finish off Don Sebastian.

With all of this plotting going on, however, Don Sebastian doesn't realize that his life is again in danger. Armando has returned to the bandido hideout, where their leader, El Coyote, is very unhappy that Armando has led the Chaparral men to their hideout.  He orders Armando back to Rancho Montoya to make sure the Old Lion is dead, and to hurry him along a little if he takes too long in his dying. That night El Coyote and his bandits try to kill the Chaparral men in their sleep, but instead they fall into Buck's trap and are captured.  When the rest of the bandits' plan becomes clear, they race back to Rancho Montoya to stop Armando from killing Don Sebastian.
In the meantime, Mano, Anita, John, and Victoria have gathered once more at Don Sebastian's "deathbed." Victoria weeps crocodile tears and prays with her rosary beads.  John, unaware of the ruse, can't bear to see Victoria suffer and agrees to sign the papers, but Victoria stops him. Just outside the door, however, Armando is waiting to kill Don Sebastian.  Just as he begins to make his move he is stopped and captured by Buck and Blue.

Don Sebastian pretends to be dying while
Victoria pretends to be grief-stricken.

Blue is stunned when Don Sebastian leaps
from his deathbed to attack Armando.

Buck and Blue drag Armando into the room and show Don Sebastian his "killer". The Old Lion, forgetting to feign illness, jumps out of bed and tries to strangle the man. Everyone now realizes that Don Sebastian has been using his injury to coerce the family into cooperating with his schemes.  Victoria is especially hurt, asking him, "How could you?" after he has allowed her to weep over his deathbed in order to serve his own selfish motives.

Don Sebastian swears his quick
recovery is "a miracle"!

Don Sebastian pleads for understanding ("A miracle, I swear it!") as everyone proceeds with plans to depart the ranch immediately. Mano bids farewell to Anita, but decides to keep the famous lion's ring as a reminder that the Lion of Sonora is really a Fox.

Mano bids a not-very-fond farewell to Anita de Santiago y Amistad.

(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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