Highlander (Season 1, Ep 9): The Sea Witch

This episode begins with Richie walking down a busy Seacouver street, looking for an antique store. Maybe someone with a trained eye can help me out here, but I *think* he is wearing a coat over a jacket. It’s a look. You can decide if it’s good. As he is learning that the store has changed locations, he sees a former friend being ruffed up by what appears to be her boyfriend. Richie intervenes.

The as-yet unnamed boyfriend has long hair, a mangy sort-of beard, and a deep gravely voice. “Oh, beautiful, now the Marines are here.” The girlfriend convinces Richie to let them go on their way but the looks exchanged promise a future encounter that will end differently.

So our bad guy boyfriend drags his girl into a dark tunnel where he meets a better manicured drug dealer. Richie follows them from a distance. After tossing over a bag with $50,000 in it, the gravelly voice guy pulls a gun and tries to rob the drug dealers higher up on the chain than he is. Rookie mistake. Now I feel like that rematch with Richie might not happen.

Bad guy boyfriend shoves his girl to the ground and tells her to pick up the money and drugs the other drug dealers have tossed to the ground. Richie yells from far away “hey knock it off!” The distraction gets our denim-clad piratey gravel voice boyfriend shot multiple times. In the chaos, Richie and the now single former female friend run off together.

Duncan calls the Antique Shop that Richie was supposed to find at the beginning of the episode, to ask what time Richie left, and he learns that Richie never showed up.

We next find the two well dressed drug dealers, from earlier, reporting up the chain of command… on a boat? Their boss is Russian, I think, and he is not happy that his money and merchandise are gone. I guess the girl took them when she and Richie ran away. So he is sending those two guys out to find her.

MacLeod decides to look for Richie.

Richie and “Nikki” are back at the apartment she shared with gravely voice guy. Richie is freaked out because he knows that this is the first place our drug dealer bad guys will look for her. But Nikki had to retrieve Melinda, her daughter.

As the three of them are attempting to leave the apartment, the two henchmen bad guys appear at the glass front doors of the apartment building. Everyone sees each other. The door is locked so our baddies shoot through the glass.

Wouldn’t you know it, MacLeod – who has been driving around in his T-Bird – hears the gun shots and slams on his breaks. The baddies corner Richie, Nikki, and Melinda at gunpoint outside the building.

“We’ve got one rule. You mess with us, you die!” Not much nuance in a legal system like that. But MacLeod walks up on them and prevents them from adhering to their one rule. He takes down one of them. Richie, surprisingly, takes down the other. In fact, Richie kind of banged the other guy’s head on the ground over and over for a little bit too long. Whoa, Richie, that’s probably enough.

While everyone is taking off in Duncan’s car, one of the baddies hops up and sees them drive away. Conveniently, there is a witness standing there who just so happened to catch the license plate number on the T-Bird.

LOL. In our next scene, we see a shirtless Richie getting his rib wounds tended to by our young attractive red-haired single mom. Her story is that she ended up with the abusive (now dead) boyfriend because she lacked other options. Apparently the child pre-dated this guy. So if we are keeping in mind that Richie is 18 or 19, then the story of what I am sure will be a love interest is that she had a baby as a young teenager, somehow ended up broke and on the street, and “who is going to give me a job?” No parents. No baby daddy. Seacouver strikes again. But they do discuss whether she ever had to turn tricks and the answer is no. So that’s something.

Whenever we meet anyone from Richie’s past, they act as though Richie abandoned them years ago. But reality is always that Richie moved into the nicer part of town a couple months ago. Angsty teenagers, amiright?

Tessa walks in and lets Nikki know that she is welcome to stay. Nikki is unnecessarily hostile. But pretty girls be like that sometimes when they meet a Queen.

Nikki and Richie then go and meet up with the KING. Duncan has been around the block a time or two. He knows that the drug pushers would not have tracked her down for no reason. So he asks her whether she took drugs from them or money from them? She shows them the drugs. Richie is floored that she did not tell him. Duncan goes all Father Flanagan on her and says “nobody makes it out [of the bad part of town] with this garbage.” Then he dumps $50,000 worth of cocaine down the sink.

Nikki wakes up Melinda and asks if she has had anything to eat. Melinda says she got food from Tessa and notes that she’s nice. Nikki says, “well, yeah, she’s rich.” Melinda pretends to be asleep while Nikki slides a satchel – filled with the missing $50,000, I assume – into a dresser drawer in the room. She has thus far failed to mention that money to anyone on Team Highlander.

The two recently battered bad guys report back to their boss. They remember that the guy who caused them problems had a pony tail, a long coat, and that the kid called him Mac. “Not… MacLeod?” He asks if the guy had a sword and they do not know.

Oh, boy. We have an Immortal bad guy.

Tessa is playing with Melinda. The Queen likes children. Melinda, a true daughter of horrid Seacouver, has never had a doll before. But Queen Tessa remedies the situation. For some reason, she apparently had one of her childhood dolls just sitting in a chest nearby. I think we are supposed to be feeling a little sad for Tessa that she cannot have children with Duncan.

Just then, the defensive mom Nikki rolls into the room… “she had toys you know!” She then disrespects our Queen to her face by bitterly describing Tessa’s money, clothes, etc., and then – again bitterly – complains about MacLeod flushing those drugs down the sink. “That meant a new life for us.” Little Melinda walks up on the two of them arguing and says that she wants to go outside. “Well you can’t!” Suddenly hearing her own voice, Nikki softens and suggests that Tessa could take her outside. Melinda is a creepily emotionless girl, but she smiles a faint smile, and reaches out for Tessa’s hand to go.

I’m going to predict that wound up Nikki decides that Melinda would be better off with Tessa before this episode is over.

Well, that bet paid off in 8 seconds. To be honest, Melinda probably *is* better off with Duncan and Tessa – even considering that Duncan fights to the death for a living. Nikki makes it as far as the door outside before running into our two bad guy goons. They take her straightaway to our Immortal bad guy. Nikki tells a disbelieving drug dealer audience that Duncan flushed the drugs down the drain. It was then her turn to be disbelieving when the satchel – formerly home to $50,000 – is revealed to be home to socks, instead.

So Nikki has a homework assignment. Go back to MacLeod’s place and get the missing $50,000. To seal the bargain, the bad Russian guy… clips off a piece of her hair? Why was he carrying around hair scissors? And I guess he also threatens her daughter should she should fail to deliver the money. Either way, message sent.

Nikki and one of the two bad guys (Marco) are at the Antique Shore loft getting the money when Duncan and Richie return with an Incan antique in tow. This is the one Richie was supposed to pick up when the episode started. Duncan sees knife wielding Marco and disarms Marco with ease. Then he holds a sword to his throat. As one does.

“He said you’d have a sword.” Marco’s phone rings. So Duncan answers.

Our Russian baddie tells Duncan to meet him on his ship, The Sea Witch 2, or else he will hunt and gut all of Duncan’s friends like rabbits. Wow. Well.. that escalated quickly.

FLASHBACK!!

Duncan is in Soviet Russia during the reign of Stalin. He’s on a ship dock. Most importantly, Duncan is speaking English with a Russian accent!

“Stalin ees madman. Ee keels those he fears, and he fears everyone.” – Duncan MacLeod

The dock appears to be filled with people fleeing the Soviet Union for parts unknown. Alexei Voshin – our current drug king pin / rabbit gutter – is the ship’s captain. They are all boarding his ship, The Sea Witch. I predict a betrayal.

That bet paid off in about 3 seconds. Again. The Soviet police car sirens ring out. We find out that Voshin betrayed a ship filled with people because he wants MacLeod’s head. But Duncan gets away.

 ♪ ♪ Cause baby now we got bad blood, you know it used to be mad love.. ♪ ♪

We flash back to the present and the two men, as pleasantly as is possible, promise to send each other to hell.

As Duncan is getting ready to leave, and send Voshin on a spiritual journey, he and Tessa discuss Melinda. Tessa confesses that for a few hours she felt like Melinda was hers and also that she liked how that felt. I’m not sure that this is the kind of pep talk you give to a man who is on his way to engage in a ritual combat to the death. “If you die, I might finally get to have kids!” But hearing herself, she says…

“I have my own life and it’s more than enough.”
“Are you certain? You could…”
“Never.”

Just then, Nikki and Melinda walk in and give Duncan the missing $50,000. Oh, Melinda, you rascal. If you think about it, this was a pretty selfless move by Nikki. Duncan was going to go square her debts with or without the money. Maybe she has decided that Duncan and Tessa might hire her on as a maid or something? Maybe she thinks that if Voshin gets the money from Duncan he will leave her alone whether he kills Duncan or not? I do not think she suspects that Duncan is planning to chop her problem’s head off.

Voshin makes sure that his meeting with MacLeod is private. So we should have a fair fight. But first, the pleasantries.

“I never fed off human blood and misery to gain power!”
“And pleasure. Don’t forget the pleasure.”

Duncan and Voshin have a very close quarters fight inside the ship. At one point, Duncan is pushed backward against a button and the ship’s propellers turn on. I bet that comes into play later.

A gritty, rough, dirty, realistic fight ensues. Eventually the two men fall overboard together. And my bet pays off a 3rd time – though I had to wait a couple minutes. We see red on the turning ship propellers. Duncan climbs back up on the ship’s deck. Does he get the quickening this way? Yes he does! This appears to be one of the more powerful Quickenings that we’ve seen. Maybe Alexei Voshin was a particularly powerful Immortal? I don’t think we find out.

Duncan peers into the water and says “So long, Alexei. Say hello to Comrade Stalin for me.” Burn.

Speaking of goodbyes, Tessa tells Nikki and Melinda goodbye, too. Nikki has bent the knee to our Queen and is being nice. Tessa, for her part, has given Nikki some of her clothes to wear when she goes job hunting. After Voshin died, the police took out his henchmen. With nobody looking for the money, anymore, Nikki gets to put the bad money to good use.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s up to you to get to it.” – Queen Tessa Noel giving sage advice.

We later see Duncan tossing Voshin’s sword off the pier and into the water. His hair is hanging loose and he hasn’t shaved in a couple of days. This is as unkempt as we’ve seen a present-day Duncan. I guess he is grieving the loss of a lot of people that Alexei led to the Siberian gulags.

Reaction:

This was one of season 1’s better episodes so far. It was convenient that Voshin’s death by propeller will not lead to yet another visit from the police commissioner. Nor will it lead to a notch on the local police precinct serial killer tally. But the plot convenience did not feel too much like a contrivance.

If I were to name an actual contrivance, it’s the scene where Duncan just happened to be nearby when the two bad guy henchmen find Richie, Nikki, and Melinda.

As duels go, MacLeod vs Voshin was one of the better duels of the series. Voshin was not particularly skilled, or at least if he was he did not get to display that in the tight quarters of their fight, but he fought with the type of desperation you would expect to see in someone who actually believes his life is on the line. I enjoyed the gritty realism of how it occurred.

It’s interesting that the show is revisiting Tessa’s sadness over not having children of her own. Is it building to something? She is believably committed to her choice of Duncan, over children with someone else, even though she seems sad about it. Duncan also played his side of that conversation well. He knows that a relationship with him is asking a lot. We know some Immortals adopt. I wonder if Duncan and Tessa ever considered it?

I guess the ending means that we won’t see Nikki again anytime soon. So she never turned into a romantic interest for Richie. Speaking of… whatever happened to Angie? How many other red heads does Richie know from the wrong side of the tracks? If we meet a 3rd I will start keeping track.

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