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Midnight Movie: Return to Lonesome Dove – #1/4

24/01/2019

Part I – The Vision

Captain Woodrow F. Call, having just buried his friend Augustus McCrae near Lonesome Dove in Texas, plans to return to his ranch, signposted as “Hat Creek Cattle Company”, in Montana. Call sends word to Newt Dobbs that he intends to meet him in Ogallala, Nebraska at the home of Clara Allen, with a herd of wild Mustangs that he hopes to drive north to interbreed.

To help drive the herd he seeks the help of former companions Gideon Walker, a San Antonio dressmaker and ex-ranger, and wrangler Isom Pickett. They are also joined by Pickett’s family and his brother, Isaac. Walker also hires a group of Mexican vaqueros, who are led by a woman known as Augostina Vega, who harbors a resentment against Call for some unknown reason.

Newt, still in charge at the Montana ranch, leaves Pea Eye Parker in charge and heads off with Jasper Fant to meet Call, but while in Miles City they are involved in a bar fight that concludes with the shooting of two locals. Surrendering to the sheriff, they are helped by his neighbor, Gregor Dunnigan, and paroled into his custody as employees (Newt had previously rescued Gregor’s young wife, Ferris Dunnigan, from cattle rustlers). Meanwhile, Call captures an outlaw named Cherokee Jack Jackson, but barely escapes with his life after Jack’s gang rescues him.

Part II – The Forge

Call, having jumped into a river and trekked barefoot across the plains, stumbles half-dead into a Cheyenne village. The chief, recognizes him as an enemy, but nevertheless honors his bravery with a horse, a rifle, and his widowed sister Many Tears. Call then heads off to meet Clara Allen, and learns of Newt’s situation.

While on the trail, however, Isaac is killed by the outlaw Cherokee Jack, and is buried with a headstone dated “4 August 1878”. Isom has to take his place in leading the herd. When the children become sick, Augostina heads off to Fort Wallace for medicine, but is forced to shoot her army escorts when they attempt to rape her. Gideon then helps her with a fabricated alibi when an army patrol arrives to investigate.

After his return to Montana, having left his ‘wife’ with Clara, Call is disturbed to find Newt working for Dunnigan, believing that he is only there because of his young wife. But Newt is determined to honor his debt to Call’s neighbor, and later confronts his father and tries to explain why he was unable to finish his mission. Meanwhile, back in Ogallala, lightning strikes start wildfires that destroy all of the Allen homestead.

Part III – The Legacy

Miraculously, Clara Allen, July Johnson, Clara’s two daughters, Johnson’s son, her ranch-hand, Cholo, and Many Tears, survive the inferno but Johnson is badly burnt. They head off to town to recover, just as Gideon and the others arrive. Through Gideon, Clara soon learns of Gus’s secret daughter, Augostina, and also agrees to allow her herd to go north with Call’s.

Call meets Dunnigan on the range, and comes into conflict with him and his “Montana’s Cattleman’s Alliance”. Things come to a head when he decides to surround his property with barbed wire, and the wagons and the wire are destroyed by a group of masked men. Newt, now distanced from Call, becomes uneasy with Dunnigan because of his campaign to drive the other ranchers of the region out of business, but is reluctant to part ways because of the debt he feels he owes him. Added to this is the pressure being placed on Newt by Dunnigan who starts to treat him “like a son”, and his wife, who begins showing an increased romantic interest in him.

As the herders head north, they stop at Miles City, where Johnson has his bandages removed. Gideon begins showing a romantic interest in Clara, inviting her out on a dinner-date. They are observed by Dunnigan, who secretly hires Cherokee Jack to stir up trouble between The Alliance, and unaffiliated groups including free-rangers and homesteaders. Dunnigan’s aim is to solidify The Alliance’s hold on the territory, so they will have complete control over the cattle/beef market in years to come.

Part IV – The Passing

Upon reaching Montana, the horse drovers begin to settle in at Hat Creek ranch. Call and Agostina have a confrontation, in which she reveals the reason for her animosity towards him: he had accidentally shot her mother. Call convinces her that her mother’s death was an accident. Call had tracked her mother’s brother, a bandit, but she had jumped in front of a bullet meant for the bandit. He also reasons with her that her father, Gus, had not raped her mother by pointing out that her name, Augstina (the feminine derivative of “Augustus”), was given to her by her mother to honor her father’s memory. Call then makes her a partner in the ranch.

As part of their deal, Cherokee Jack attacks a small herd of cattle on Kenilworth Ranch, killing two cattlemen in plain view of Dunnigan and Newt (who is now aware of Dunnigan’s plan to name him his inheritor). Dunnigan uses this attack to stir up fear, and to begin to consolidate his control. Jack also attacks Clara’s family and Gideon while they are on their way into town. Gideon and four others die in the ambush, and Clara is severely wounded. However Johnson manages to warn Call of the attack. Call returns to canyon where the attack had taken place, finds Gideon’s body, and also finds a blood trail leading away in another direction. He, Pea, and Isom follow the trail and find Cherokee Jack attempting to flee into nearby hills. Isom chases Jack down, and before Call executes him, Jack tells him about the arrangements he had made with Dunnigan.

Dunnigan’s alliance begins persecuting the smaller outfits, using cattle his men had planted in the other men’s herds as an excuse. Call rounds up all the men he can, and attempts to stall Dunnigan long enough for reinforcements to arrive from other unaffiliated groups. He confronts Dunnigan with the money purse about his relationship with Cherokee Jack, which Dunnigan denies. Newt, seeing the evidence, knows that Dunnigan is lying, and goes to join Call. Dunnigan attempts to shoot Call, whereupon Newt shoots Dunnigan and the others surrender.

Call and Clara bury Gideon, whereupon Clara decides she wishes to leave Montana and return home. Newt goes to speak with Ferris, and tells her that he doesn’t feel that their arrangement of him assuming Dunnigan’s estate should still be valid. She tells him that she feels it is, but he cannot accept. He goes on to say his goodbyes to Call as well, expressing a desire to move on, and Call finally proudly identifies himself as Newt’s father.

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