Highlander (Season 1, Ep 5): Free Fall

Joan Jett guest stars as Immortal Felicia Martins.

The episode begins with Richie Ryan blasting “Cherry Bomb” while cleaning up the antique store. Felicia wanders into the antique store but appears to be having mental problems. She does not know why she wandered into the store. “Something drew me here.” Despite the fact she’s clearly disoriented, Richie hits on her anyway and gives her his card.

“Perhaps we could get together sometime when your wheels touch the ground.” SMOOTH!

He finally notices that she’s got blood all over her hands and goes to look for band aids. When he comes back she’s gone.

Side note: Someone was tailing her before she wandered into the antique shop and he continues to tail her after she leaves.

Eventually Felicia takes a lot of her clothes off, takes an elevator to the top of a tall building, and then throws herself off. As one does. She really defies physics, does some flips, and manages to land on a car instead of on the pavement.

We see the guy who had been tailing her after the ambulance arrives. He looks like “Great Value Brand” Duncan MacLeod. Similar appearance, just not quite as attractive and he has weird facial hair.

Next we see Duncan and Tessa, dressed to the nines, coming out of an antiques auction. Despite owning an antique store, Tessa is still amazed at how much a 500 year old sword in perfect condition is worth. I guess she’s more of a paintings and sculptures gal.

As Tessa and Duncan are talking, the police commissioner strolls into their store and tells them about “Jane Doe” who jumped off a building. Tessa is unnecessarily sassy with the police commissioner. The only potentially identifying information on her mostly unclothed person was a business card tucked away inside her clothes.

Everyone realizes that she must have talked to Richie. So the whole gang heads over to the morgue. When they pull out the body to make the identification, um, bye Felicia. She gone. Duncan says “I guess you must have misplaced this one” and walks out of the room like a boss.

In the next scene, Great Value Brand Duncan visits the morgue, punches out a guy, opens a freezer, sees that Felicia is gone, and then he swings his sword around in frustration.

Then… Felicia wanders into the antique store covered in a blood stained sheets. How does that work exactly? Did they not clean off the body when they put her in the freezer? Is that white sheet from the ambulance? Continuity error? Maybe something happened in her walk to the antique store from the hospital?

By the way, how many miles did she walk from the hospital to the antique store? Even a few blocks seems like a long way for 1992’s Joan Jett to go, without being stopped by concerned citizens, while covered in a bloody sheet. The skyline shot from her jump at the beginning of the episode let us know Seacouver is a major city. Ah… but of course. I almost forgot that Seacouver is apparently a post apocalyptic hell on earth once one gets beyond the doors of Tessa’s Antique Store. Maybe people walking around in a bloody sheet is just another day.

Richie apparently tells Felicia she can stay with the gang at Tessa and Duncan’s place. “She can have my room.” So… Richie lives there now? Tessa is pretty ticked off, though. Duncan is understandably pretty secretive. I’m also guessing that Tessa has probably pieced together that Felicia is Immortal. So she might not want an attractive Immortal woman living under her roof for other reasons. In any case, she accuses Richie of not thinking with his brain and Richie completely embraces the accusation.

Richie is both the worst… and also somehow the best… at the same time.

Duncan walks in, he knows Felicia is both alive and in his loft, and he orders Tessa and Richie to leave in a very “Ima ’bout to kill Joan Jett” kind of way. Duncan and Felicia talk and it appears Felicia is newly Immortal. So he explains what is happening to her. But he does so while casually keeping a hand on a sword hilt. So he does not trust her.

Duncan offers to teach her how to defend herself. As the conversation ends, she notices one of the antique shop’s old maps. She says it’s from the 1600s. But she also says that it is a fake. If they wanted to give the audience a reason to doubt Felicia’s story, they just punched us in the nose with that reason.

We cut back to Great Value Brand Duncan. He’s doing bench press, shirtless, in an apartment. Then he walks over to stare lovingly at a sword on his dresser. As one does. And then he stares mournfully at a painting of a woman and a baby.

FLASHBACK: We see an 18th century (?) French woman doting on her baby. Felicia, with period appropriate long hair, walks up on them wearing a black dress. Unfortunately for the scene, she’s still got a thick Philadelphia accent. In any case, she says that she wants Devereux to have nothing to live for when she faces him. So she drowns the French woman by holding her face underwater in a fountain. And then she kills the baby (thankfully off screen.) Brutal. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, indeed.

I assume Devereux is our Great Value Brand Duncan.

In our next scene, Felicia seduces 18 year old Richie. Is this even grosser knowing Felicia is hundreds of years old? Yeah. But before things go too far, Duncan and Tessa show up and break up the festivities because they are taking Felicia shopping. Obviously she cannot go on wearing Tessa’s clothes.

Not long after they leave, Devereux shows up to the store and asks Richie if he knows Felicia. Richie denies knowing her. Devereux demonstrates that he does not believe Richie by punching him in the face. But the young lad grabs a sword and fends him off. I’m pretty sure Great Value Brand Duncan could have taken the sword from Richie relatively easily, but he decides to just come back later. When Richie tells everyone what happened after they get back from shopping, Felicia finds Devereux’s wallet on the ground but does not tell the others.

The next day, Duncan starts training Felicia. He lets her use the fancy sword he bought at auction as the episode began.

Felicia uses the wallet to find Devy. She kicks open the door to his apartment and is holding her new sword. She also did her hair. It looks fierce. We find out she killed his wife and adopted baby 120 years ago. And we find out that she jumped off the building because of MacLeod. Devy also apparently knows Duncan because he says “MacLeod is here?”

It turns out neither of these two are particularly good sword wielders. But Felicia is better. She knocks him onto the weight bench and takes his head.

When she gets back to the loft, somewhat exhilarated by her win, she crawls into Richie’s bed.

The next day she continues her training with Duncan. He gives some great sword (and life) advice. “Anger doesn’t give you an edge. It blunts it. Make your adversary angry.”

We cut to Richie and Tessa talking. We find out Tessa has never met a female Immortal before. We also find out that Tessa and Duncan both do not trust her.

Police Commissioner Cominsky returns to the antique store to talk to Richie. He obviously now knows about headless Devereux. And then he tells Richie that he believes Felicia might be the Seacouver Head Chopper Offer (reminding the audience that the local police have thought they have a serial killer in the area dating back to the pilot.) Richie ridicules the idea that a woman who committed suicide is behind a series of beheadings.

We find Duncan with the “fake” map from earlier in the episode getting it looked at by an expert. The oxidation of the ink on the map shows that the map was forged 200 years ago. It is a fake. But a very old fake. So now Duncan knows for sure Felicia has been lying since her first visit to the store.

As we cut back to Richie and Felicia, she confesses to killing Devereux. She says it was to get him to leave her alone. “It was the only way.” And she asks Richie to run away with her. “I want to be with you until the day you die and that’s a promise.” Uh, I bet it is. Richie agrees to go! She sends him to get money from her apartment saying that she’s worried someone there would recognize her. Then she says she’ll say bye to Mac and Tessa and pack Richie’s things. After Richie leaves, Felicia ominously closes the door and goes into Tessa’s workshop. Tessa is… welding. As Felicia pulls her sword, Tessa gets… a blow torch! YES! A Warrior Queen! Felicia recognizes that Queen Tessa with a blow torch is going to burn her face off, so she backs off. But she tells Tessa to have Duncan meet her at 8 on the beach by her apartment. And if Duncan doesn’t agree to meet her, he will not get to say bye to Richie.

Next we cut to what promises to be a face off between Duncan and Felicia. The show starts playing “Don’t Lose Your Head” by Queen in the background. Perfect. Richie is standing on the beach and Felicia has her hair done up again like she did for Devereux. This must be her killing wardrobe. Is there *any* chance this episode slightly inspired Tiger Woods to wear red on Sundays? That’s my new head canon for Tiger’s golf career.

Duncan suddenly appears, sword in hand, and explains that Felicia popping off about the map let him know she was lying about her age. They start fighting while Richie kind of watches from a few feet away. I hope he wasn’t attached to his girlfriend.

The show tries really hard to make this look like a somewhat difficult fight for Duncan. But I don’t think our lady rock star was quite up to Adrian Paul’s swordsmanship standards.

After Duncan finally sticks her in the gut with his sword, she makes one big final lunge at him with her fancy new sword and Duncan shatters said sword with his own sword. Apparently he has the only sword better than the one she was using. As he is about to kill her, Richie asks him to spare her. Duncan does. You can’t go around killing your rock star guest stars in one episode. The show ends with Duncan just walking away down the beach. I bet his was angriest of all about how much he spent on that sword to only lose it within a couple days.

Reaction:

This was probably a better episode when it aired. 1992 was not that far removed from when our guest star was at her musical career apex. But some of the things you forgive on account of star power do not hold up when the star power fades away with time.

Joan Jett is not a great actress. Or maybe more charitably, she was not well cast for this show. Between 1987 and 1997, this episode was the only acting she did. Her sword work was not up to standard for this show. And it seems like a very strange choice to ask her to believably pull off European with her trademark raspy Philadelphia voice. It was probably something of a coup to get her on the show, and in its fifth episode, no less, but the episode does not hold up very well largely because of her spot in it.

The story might have worked if Felicia had worked. She did not quite sell me on being a manipulative mastermind. And she did not sell me on being good enough with a sword to beat a guy who had been out for revenge against her for 120 years. One of the mysteries of the show is how female Immortals survive within “the game.” Tessa having never met a female Immortal before might point to women not surviving very successfully. But it *is* interesting to see how a woman might use being physically overlooked to her advantage. Hopefully we get more of that later in the series.

I am interested in Felicia’s made up story about being drawn to kill herself. She was trying to fool a fellow Immortal. Presumably there is some truth about this type of experience. Do most Immortals, before they’ve died the first time, start to feel thoughts of suicide at some point? If so, that would seem to be an adaptive advantage. I assume an Immortal would rather die initially in his/her physical prime than die later in life when one’s body cannot match up with other Immortals as well. We have not met any elderly Immortals, yet.

That’s a dark thought. And what is the ideal age to die if your Immortal life consists of fighting to the death all the time? Mid 20s? Does your brain need time to fully develop, too?

The Devereux story was a major throw-away plot. We never find out how he knew Duncan. His backstory with Felicia was so intense and it just petered out in a really bad and anti-climactic duel. He must have spent too much time on bench press and not enough time practicing the sword.

We also never really found out why Felicia was targeting Duncan. She knew of him before the episode started. But we never got any details surrounding that.

For all the problems with this episode, (Richie is way too horny, Felicia is not great,) Queen Tessa with the blow torch makes up for all of it.

Ten out of ten stars. Would watch again.

QUOTES:

“This blade is 500 layers of carbon steel. It’s a work of art.”
“Personally, I prefer a Cézanne landscape. But of course, you can’t slice bread with a Cézanne landscape.”

“Ah, Tessa, come on! I’m young! My libido is in melt down.”

“If I were to take your head right now, I’d get all your knowledge and strength.”
“I don’t have much knowledge or strength.”
“I guess I better wait a while.”

“I may not be able to kill you but I can give you a facial you will not forget!”

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