Episode Number: 1, according to broadcast order. Airdate: September 18, 1994. Director: Brad Turner. Writer: Kim LeMasters.
Guest Stars: Duncan Fraser (Colonel Monroe) / Michael Berry (William) / Eric Keenleyside (Doyle) / Richard Sali (Coughlin) / Rick Burguess (Touch The Clouds) / David McKay (Pvt. Holland).
Other Titles: In German: "Zwischen den Fronten (Teil 1)" ("Between Fronts - Part 1").
The time is 1755 in pre-Revolutionary America, during the French and Indian War. In the woods near British Fort Bennington in the English colony of upper New York, the white hunter Nathaniel Bumppo is hunting deer with his Delaware Indian blood brother Chingachgook. Raised by the Delaware after the death of his parents, Nathaniel is also known as ‘Hawkeye’ for his astonishing marksmanship with his long rifle, ‘Killdeer.’ They are attacked by a hunting party of Huron Indians, who are allies of the French. Hawkeye kills one, whose brother, Touch the Clouds, vows vengeance, while the rest of the Huron scatter.
In another part of the forest are two whites with a wagon and packhorses, following the trail to Fort Bennington. They are a merchant, William Shields, and his beautiful younger wife, Elizabeth. Having traveled many miles from their home in Virginia, Elizabeth is becoming disgusted with the dust and the uncomfortable conditions. She tells her older husband that her earlier enthusiasm for their plans is worn down from the travels, and that what they are undertaking is a job for a younger man.
As William remonstrates her for questioning his judgement, Elizabeth sees two Indians, part of the party that attacked Hawkeye and Chingachgook, now running to attack them. William picks up his musket, but it is apparent that he is not used to firearms, and Elizabeth knows that they are in great danger. Suddenly Chingachgook appears besides William, and shoots one of the Huron. William fires at the other, and to his surprise and Elizabeth’s amazement, he falls dead. Chingachgook is amused at the white man’s satisfaction, and says “you missed, he didn’t” and they see Hawkeye on the other side of the wagon.
After introducing themselves, William insists that it was he who killed the Huron, and Hawkeye, not wanting to embarrass him in front of his wife, agrees. As they point the way to the fort, Hawkeye and Chingachgook leave, but not before Chingachgook places Williams’ musket ball in Elizabeth’s hand. At the fort, they are welcomed by Taylor Shields, William’s brother, a captain in the 35th Regiment of Foot, British Army, stationed at the fort. He has persuaded them to open a trading post there with promises of lucrative trading contracts with the army, local Indians tribes and white settlers. Elizabeth is dismayed at the sight of the trading post they are to own. It is run-down and filthy, but two local indolent youths, McKinney and Peevey, offer their services and are hired as assistants.
Hawkeye and Chingachgook talk about the battle with the Huron, and Hawkeye knows that some day he will have to fight Touch the Clouds. But he will not to fight unless he has to, and Chingachgook says that now he is acting like a foolish white man. Hawkeye goes to the newly opened trading post, and asks Elizabeth, who is working behind the counter, for whale oil to whet his knife. She gives him neatsfoot oil instead, and, impressed by her knowledge of supplies, he begins to leave. Elizabeth, addressing him as “Mr. Hawkeye,” asks him if he thinks her husband can survive in this new land and life. He defers, saying that she knows her husband better than he. She thanks him for saving their lives, and not contradicting William in the matter of who really killed the Huron.
In the woods, Hawkeye confronts the Huron, Touch the Clouds, whose brother he has killed, and is taken to their camp, where he is challenged by the Huron to a knife duel on a log placed over a blazing firepit. Hawkeye outfights Touch the Clouds, who topples off the log and almost into the firepit. Hawkeye pulls him out, and then tells the Huron chief that the fight is over. This forces the Huron to forgo any further threats against Hawkeye by his chief’s orders.
William visits Taylor in his headquarters, and asks if Taylor has obtained the necessary trading contracts with the Army and the local settlers. Taylor defers, saying they will come soon, and William accuses him of not living up to his promise, and of having the same indolence that made Taylor squander much of their father’s fortune. William reminds Taylor that it was he that bought him a Captain’s commission in the King’s Army to save his good name, and threatens to return with Elizabeth to Virginia with the rest of their father’s inheritance. Taylor, furious over his brothers’ attitude, starts to plot to have him killed.
That night, Taylor catches two trappers, Doyle and Coughlin, stealing gunpowder and musket balls from the fort magazine, and blackmails them into taking William on a supposed trading mission to the Iroquois. They agree, knowing that they will hang if they don’t succeed.
Taylor comes to the trading post, and tells William that he has been successful in gaining a contact for William to trade with the Seneca, a tribe of the Iroquois Nation. Elizabeth is appalled at the risk William is taking, and says he is going to his death, and his obligation is to stay with his family. Incensed that she should question his judgement, William asks ironically if she has finally succeeded in giving him a family, and knowing she has been unable to bear him children, she reluctantly withdraws her objections.
That evening, when they go to bed, Williams reassures Elizabeth that he will succeed with his trading endeavors. He then apologizes
to her for his unkindness in berating her for failing to bear him children. She says that would give him children if she could. Realizing that the failure may be his, he comforts her, and then tells her that if something to should ever happen to him, to remember that she has made his marriage a happy one.
As William sleeps, Elizabeth writes in her diary the first of what will be many entries, trying to make sense of her new life in the wilderness. “I’ve heard it said by those that make their lives on the sea, that when you do not know the harbor you seek, then no wind in the right wind. I feel in my heart that same sense of being lost and yet, strangely, I am not afraid, for there is a wild and feral beauty here. Nature is free and untamed, and I know that is the way the hand which fashioned it meant it to be.”
All "Hawkeye" episode synopsis are © 2001 by Mark Meader for Wonderland.
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