Growers and vintners in the valley persuade Chase (Robert Foxworth) to run for the local Board of Tuscany County Supervisors. As he is the only one with the apparent nerve to stand up to his aunt Angela (Jane Wyman) who has had the board in her pocket for years they feel they have a chance to pry away her monopoly on water rights and form a public utility.
The opening on the board came about when frustrated grower Phil Eberhardt (Andrew Robinson) decided to assassinate one of Angela's political stooges. Eberhardt escapes and phones up Angela to tell her he is going to kill her next. The incident and election place Angela's actions before both the scrutiny of the electorate in her community with her own nephew publicly pointing the finger in her direction.
Meanwhile Angela's daughter crazy Emma (Margaret Ladd) gets nabbed for shoplifting in San Francisco. The last thing Angela wants is for Emma to begin talking to the authorities so Lance is dispatched to resolve the matter out of court. Lance also orders the firing of any Falcon Crest workers who support Chase's candidacy which, given the way the series has gone probably resulted in those same workers getting jobs in Chase's vineyard giving him a leg up in terms of experienced manpower on other vineyards in the valley.
The continual comparison of the way Chase and Angela do things is made stark in yet another way in this episode. He runs for office to champion fair play on water rights for everyone. She bankrolls candidates who support her monopoly compounding her self-interested malfeasance by employing obfuscation in concealing her skulduggery.
A real surprise is how Angela tries to skew the election result. She is not above anything including capitalizing on resentment in the community towards herself. She even tries to smear Chase in the media through his family by raising the issue of Cole's assault & battery charge in New York (but not the other one from his bar-fight in the Hideaway) as the only reason the Giobertis are in Tuscany.
What she doesn't do is raise the issue of Chase's employment of illegal migrant workers touched upon in previous episodes. She can't raise that issue for the simple reason that Falcon Crest employs more of them than anyone in the valley. A shame really. Chase doesn't deserve a free pass on that one.
Again Chase shows Angela that his presence in the valley is more than just a manifestation of mid-life crisis or an experimental venture. Again he also shows her that whatever her manipulations he can use them to elevate himself building an empire simply by working hard, having a sense of propriety and being fair to people.
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the familiarity in theme vis-a-vis the Phil Eberhardt character to the case of Dan White - the former San Francisco city councilman who assassinated the mayor of that city and another councillor named Harvey Milk back in 1978. The casting of Andrew Robinson in the role is interesting he portrayed the Scorpio killer (a composite of San Francisco's real-life Zodiac killer) in Dirty Harry (1971).
Andrew Masset who had appeared on Dallas and Dynasty in minor guest roles and starred here as Peter Burns, Chase's political opponent, would guest star later in the series as a completely different character.
Part of the formula of night-time soaps in the 1980s was the use of former Hollywood studio contract players as cast-members and guest-stars. Such performers had every bit of the kind of training and audience recognition to be successful in the genre. Here we see Dana Andrews in a cameo role adding a type of sophistication that didn't come cheap for episodic television back then.
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