Highlander (Season 1, Ep 8): Deadly Medicine

Heeeeere we are, born to be kings, we’re the princes of the uuuuniverse!

Seacouver is doing Seacouver things when this episode starts. Some guy in a business suit locks up his building, after dark, and as he arrives at his car, we see his shadow pummeled by a couple of other shadows with baseball bats or something. The two prevailing shadow fighters peel out in the pummeled guy’s car.

Duncan is out at night, he steps into the street, and that aforementioned speeding car hits him and kills him. There are a lot of witnesses.

We cut to Randi the Reporter arguing with a man who appears to be her boss about job responsibilities. He’s dismissive.

Boss: “How do you think Barbara Walters got started?”
Randi: “Speech therapy.”

Ooooh, burn. What a savage. Look it up, kids. You’ll have to trust me on that one. Anyway… Randi does not want to be a news anchor. She wants to be an investigative reporter out in the field. I think this is being portrayed in a way that is supposed to endear Randi to the audience.

We see Duncan being wheeled through the hospital on a gurney. I guess he isn’t dead yet. One of the EMTs says “his respiration is ragged as hell and he also has extensive head injuries.” I think sneaking out of a morgue is something of a rite of passage for Immortals. But surely it’s a problem for Duncan that so many people witnessed this?

We are back to Randi complaining about her job. “Ten best dressed actors in Hollywood? Who cares!” She overhears the police scanner describe Duncan’s hit and run. She decides that she would rather “go interview one of the (she leaves it unspoken, but implies – many) victims in this city.” She defies her boss, browbeats her cameraman to come along, and goes to the hospital.

Queen Tessa is doing artistic Queen Tessa things and drawing something in the loft. She and Richie note that Duncan is late getting home

Duncan wakes up on the hospital bed. I guess they assumed he was stable because not a soul is watching him as he climbs out of the bed.

A doctor played by Joe Pantoliano (Dr. Wilder) and a nurse are looking at Duncan’s x-rays and they both seem surprised that he was not dead on arrival. They go to check on him, see he is gone, and try to find out who ordered him moved. When they cannot find him, Dr. Wilder calls the admittance desk to find out whether they have run a next of kin search on him, yet, the nurse at the desk informs him that Duncan’s “brother” just showed up to check him out of the hospital.

Dr. Wilder knows that Duncan has somehow checked himself out. So he encourages the nurse (Barbara) to not let the rest of the staff know what has happened. He wants to follow up on this personally. He calls back to the admittance desk and asks if he can see the photocopy of Duncan’s ID.

Randi the Reporter and the camera man show up at the hospital and find out that the accident victim’s name is Duncan MacLeod. Randi obviously remembers him from their prior run-ins. They also find out that he is inexplicably okay and gone.

Tessa and Richie are starting to worry about Duncan and they are speculating that he might have run into another Immortal.

Duncan finally returns to the front door of the loft/antique store. He still appears to be groggy. Just as he is fishing keys from his pocket, the good doctor sneaks up behind him and injects something into his neck. He tosses Duncan’s body into the back seat of MacLeod’s T-Bird and drives away.

For some reason, despite knowing that he has checked out already, Randi and the cameraman are rolling the camera and walking into the patient portion of the hospital looking for an interview with Duncan. They run into Barbara the Nurse who tells her that MacLeod’s injuries were minor and that the police scanner report of vehicular homicide was wrong.

Duncan wakes up again and appears to be on a hospital bed in Dr. Wilder’s basement. This is not Dr. Wilder’s first rodeo with “in home patients” apparently. He takes a tissue sample from the very sedated Duncan’s arm and sees small electrical currents arcing out of his arm at the spot of the injury… and then we see the injury heal.

The following day, Randi shows up at Tessa’s Antique Shop. Randi informs Tessa about Duncan’s accident. Tessa informs her, in turn, that Duncan did not return him the previous night.

Tessa and Richie go to the hospital and speak with Dr. Wilder. He informs them that he remembers Duncan, but that Duncan checked himself out of the hospital.

Randi grills the doctor separately. She seems suspicious of Dr. Kidnapper.

When Tessa goes to the police station, looking for answers about Duncan, the officer she speaks with says that Duncan most likely does not want to be found (after noting that Queen Tessa is beautiful and that Duncan would have to be crazy to make that choice.)

Randi looks into Duncan’s medical history and finds out that he does not have one. At all. She calls Dr. Wilder to point out to him that Duncan has no medical history of any kind. I think we (the audience) are supposed to think that she is pressing the issue with Dr. Wilder because her intuition is telling her that he knows more than he has let on. The doctor’s lack of reaction to “this medical miracle” leads her to conclude that Dr. Wilder requires some investigation, too.

Duncan is coming out of a morphine stupor just as Dr. Wilder returns home to check on him. MacLeod pulls himself free of his gurney straps and hides just as Dr. Wilder descends the steps. MacLeod attacks the doctor from behind and manages to fight and knock out the doctor before making an escape up the stairs and out of the house.

The doctor wakes up as his phone rings. Barbara the nurse is upset that he missed a dinner party. When he tries to put her off, she says that she knows he was busy because of MacLeod. “He wasn’t the first.” Dr. Wilder promises to go see her and explain everything. [I am not optimistic for Barbara that this will go well.]

Duncan is meandering down the streets of Seacouver, at night, and he is still mentally foggy due to the morphine in his body.

Remember my disbelief during the Joan Jett episode about people wandering the streets of Seacouver, without inquiry, despite wearing blood covered clothes? Here is another example. Duncan and Tessa should really consider moving.

Well, as expected, things do not go well for Barbara. Dr. Wilder stabs her to death. She is holding a camera that appears to snap a picture as it falls into some water (they met at a pier.) The doctor is still driving Mac’s T-Bird. After the murder, he just leaves her body on the sidewalk and drives said T-Bird away.

MacLeod is still stumbling along. Lots of stumbling in this episde, to be honest. He collapses in a pile of trash lying on the street next to an open dumpster. Maybe he’ll sleep this off?

Randi the Reporter is on the scene when Barbara’s body is discovered. She finds out off the record that a black T-Bird was seen leaving the scene after the murder. Clearly Randi remembers that this is Duncan’s car. But her very next move is to do an ambush interview in a hospital hallway with Dr. Wilder to ask if he has any comment about Barbara’s murder. She also asks if he has any thoughts on the fact that Duncan MacLeod is the prime suspect in her murder. That won’t be ideal news for Duncan when he wakes up.

The police show up at the antique store and let Richie and Tessa know that Duncan is wanted for murder.

Duncan emerges from the pile of trash. The post-Apocalyptic nature of this disaster city actually served a positive purpose, for once. He makes a collect call to Tessa, from a phone booth [pause to let the Zoomers look up what those two things are,] and he finds out that he is wanted for murder. So he is advised to stay hidden until Tessa can pick him up.

When Tessa heads out to her car, there are a couple of detectives in an unmarked car watching her. They (probably?) listened in on the phone call and they were planning to tail her. However… Richie crawls out and puts a shard of metal under one of their tires. When the detectives back up to follow Tessa, you hear their tire blow out.

The director of the episode then cuts the camera over to Richie sticking his head out from behind a corner and giving a smirk laugh. (Smirk laugh is a thing. That quick clip should definitely be a gif.

Tessa finds Duncan in the cafe where they had made arrangements to meet. Duncan does not remember very much about where he has been nor did he know how many days he had been missing. When Tessa explains who he is alleged to have murdered, and shows him the newspaper article, he recognizes nurse Barbara’s picture.

At this point we find out from Tessa that the only thing *stolen* from Barbara is her camera. The police believe her camera was stolen because they found her with a camera strap attached to her wrist – sans camera. But Duncan deduces that the camera may have ended up in the water by pier.

We next see Duncan in some kind of body suit emerging from the pier, camera in hand. Did Tessa just have that in her car?

This episode was before the digital camera era. But Duncan knows a guy who can discreetly process the film. So there we go. The random guy apparently appreciates the challenge of developing the film after it spent so much time immersed in salt water.

Success! Except that the last picture is blurry. Duncan suggests that our recently-met photographer could use a computer simulation (?) to enhance the picture.

Randi and her cameraman are mulling over Duncan. She points out that this is not the first time he has shown up in one of her stories.

“Coincidence?”
“I stopped believing in that around the time that I stopped believing in the tooth fairy.”

We cut back to Duncan, sitting at a 1992 box shaped computer. The “simulation” is taking what can be seen and putting it in its most probably form. That’s definitely something that people had access to in 1992. We eventually see a photograph of a finger with a ring on it. The ring has the Greek Letter omicron on it. Duncan appears to have some special insight as to what that means.

Randi is now by herself, snooping around Dr. Wilder’s home. She confronts the doctor on his porch about multiple other people who disappeared after being discharged from his E.R. In case we forgot that she is a reporter, she is still holding up a microphone while she is talking. The doctor offers to explain to her what is going on. So… she goes into his house by herself.

Duncan and his film developer friend are still playing detective. In what had to be among the very earliest days of the public internet, they do a search for which organizations “in the country” begin with the Greek omicron. And wouldn’t you know it? There is only one. It’s a medical fraternity of trauma care specialists.

Duncan finds out that there are 33 members of that fraternity in the city. But Dr. Wilder is one. They better hurry up and finish what would probably be 2 weeks of normal speed detective work because Randi is on her way down to Dr. Wilder’s basement.

As she is looking around, she finally turns to face the doctor. He is pointing a gun at her. And what ensues is some of the best “I’m about to kill you” dialogue in the history of television.

“People know I’m here.”
“I see. But this isn’t where they’ll find you.”
“This would qualify as an infringement of the first amendment. You’re trying to muzzle the press.”

Tessa goes to the hospital to sleuth the doctor’s home address. (Apparently the 1992 version of DOS command prompt google could search out groups associated with an omicron symbol but it cannot look up local home addresses.) But she succeeds. I won’t complain too much about extra screen time for Queen Tessa Noel.

So now Duncan and Tessa head out to find Dr. Wilder. As they pull into his driveway, we see Randi strapped onto his basement gurney. She is still trying to get him to provide more information about his experiments because she thinks it would make a great story.

“Do you think I’m insane?”
“Um, no, it never crossed my mind.”

Duncan asks Tessa to stay on the porch as he enters the house. The good doctor is explaining to Randi that his goal is to alter genes and prolong human life. This is some pretty early-days stuff for 1992.

Just then, Duncan shows up. He and the doctor fight. The doctor gets the upper hand by throwing something from his medical supplies in Duncan’s eyes. As that is happening, a fire starts, and Tessa runs down the stairs. Queen Tessa hits the doctor from behind with a barstool. And that gives Duncan a chance to regroup and throw the doctor across the room, knocking him out. Duncan carries Randi up the stairs and tells Tessa to leave the doctor while the fire in the basement spreads.

A little while later, Randi is on a gurney. Tessa lets her know that Dr. Wilder is dead. When the police officer asks Randi for a statement, she says “I think I just slept through the best story of my career.”

Reaction:

This week’s episode was more of a Randi and Dr. Wilder narrative than a Highlander episode – at least until the very end. Duncan spent most of the episode just stumbling around. Tessa and Richie spent most of the episode wondering where Duncan went.

I think at this point in the show, the writers were still trying to figure out what they wanted the show to be. The show was still making Immortal vs. Immortal combat more of a rarity. You can’t just ignore headless bodies turning up all over the place – even in Seacouver. Or at least that was the plan for season 1. So if we do not get a weekly sword fight, what makes sense? Maybe Duncan the pseudo P.I. was a consideration. To that end, having a budding “work” relationship with Randi the Reporter makes sense. Duncan as an early adopter computer-age guy makes some sense. Familiarizing Duncan with the local police in prior episodes makes sense to that end, too. I do not recall the show ultimately ending up on that path, though. So we will see what comes of this.

In general, the idea of “what happens if an Immortal ends up on an operating table and heals” is a question that takes away from the plausibility that Immortals could be kept secret for hundreds or thousands of years. It took a remarkable amount of luck for Duncan to avoid notice in the hospital after he woke up. Surely we are not supposed to believe that Immortals never get in severe car wrecks. Further, the show went to come great pains to show us that Immortal does not mean instant healing. It took Duncan a long while to shake off the car wreck, and then the morphine.

To be honest, I’m a little confused by how long it took him to heal. He threw himself off a cliff in “Mountain Men” and crawled back up relatively quickly.

Joe Pantoliano was good in this episode. If you have forgotten who he is, he played Cypher in ‘The Matrix,’ Captain Howard in the ‘Bad Boys’ movies, and Teddy in ‘Memento’ The writers just did not give him a lot to do. His character was a fairly one-note “Nazi doctor with a god complex psychopath.”

Speaking of one-note… I can see where they are going with the Randi character but I think they overplayed her zealousness for her job, to such a degree, that it distracted from the story.

Overall, this was an okay episode. It wasn’t great. The too-easy detective work that Duncan and his random friend achieved made me roll my eyes. The too-easy finding of the camera under water made me roll my eyes. Having Duncan just stumble around for most of the episode was a waste of Adrian Paul. But the concept of the episode was interesting. And I think we are set up for some kind of “what are you hiding” confrontation with Randi in the near future.

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