Highlander (Season 1, Ep 10): Revenge is Sweet

Just a bit of an update. As of July 7, 2020, Amazon Prime no longer streams Highlander: the Series for free. So I am now watching via the VUDU app.

As the camera pans over a sign advertising a New Year’s party for 1989, this episode begins with a duel. Duncan and an eye mask wearing Immortal are fighting while in formal wear. They’re either on a dock, pier, or the side of a ship. I cannot really tell for sure. They are high up and above the water, either way. I think this is our first bow tie vs bow tie bout. Mask guy sticks his sword into Duncan’s shoulder, in the vicinity of his heart, just before Duncan sticks him in return with his katana. In the shock of both injuries, Duncan pushes the as-yet-unnamed Immortal over the adjacent rail and into the water down below. Duncan is bleeding, but he is also now in possession of both swords.

He puts a dress coat back on, over his bleeding shoulder, and he returns to what appears to be a New Year’s Eve party. As he walks in, the group of party-goers is counting down from 5. Duncan kisses Queen Tessa upon reaching her. As one does. Or at least as Duncan does.

We flash-forward to the present. A very attractive woman, in a red coat, is parked outside of Tessa’s Antique Shop. She seems to be eyeing Duncan as he walks in. When she gets out of the car to follow him, a group of Seacouver’s young hooligans begin harassing her. Tessa – standing at the door and watching this happen – calls for Mac to come back out. But when he does, the attractive woman punches the most aggressive hooligan in the mid-section, knocking him to the ground, and causes Duncan to comment “I guess she can take care of herself.”

This antique shop is allegedly in the nice part of Seacouver. But it’s difficult to tell. Finding a nice part of Seacouver is like finding the upscale neighborhood in Hades.

The lady in red follows Duncan and Tessa into the shop. Tessa says “nice going out there, may I help you” and is met with silence. Our newcomer strolls right over to Duncan, instead, and asks him about something at the store and then casts eyes on a sword on display. It just so happens to be the sword Duncan kept from that fight as the episode began. When Duncan warns her about the sword being sharp, she says “I know how to handle myself around dangerous objects.” She gives Duncan… a look… that might inspire jealously from anyone other than Queen Tessa. But the Queen does roll her eyes discreetly.

The lady in the red coat continues on. She wants to test the authenticity of a priceless sword, before purchasing it, by fencing against Duncan. Right. She asks if he can meet her at 4 p.m., hands him her business card, says “don’t stand me up, Duncan MacLeod” and then strolls out.

After she leaves the shop, Tessa mockingly repeats “don’t stand me up, Duncan MacLeod” and it might be Alexandra Vandernoot’s funniest line of the series so far. When Duncan laughs, she says “I don’t find it humorous at all.”

Later in the day, we hear Richie complaining, after stepping on something, about the need for someone to clean up the Antique Store. (That’s his job, I think.) But notably he’s dressed in a suit and tie. Tessa comes into the room and is overly excited about the fact he is dressed up. Richie tells her that he is not cut out to be an Antique Store clerk so he is interviewing for a new job. After giving a big pitch about doing what he was born to do, we find out that Richie is selling used cars. Tessa is not excited anymore. But Duncan, who just entered the room, too, believes that Richie has the right to make his own mistakes.

Duncan is getting ready to go meet the still unnamed red coat lady. Tessa gives him some advice:

Be careful that you do not make any mistakes tonight. Men do not always know what they are doing. Even old men.

In case it’s not clear that Tessa is not thrilled to send Duncan out to meet with this woman, after saying that, she starts working on an art project that requires her to bang a hammer as loudly as possible.

Remember a few episodes back when Duncan was talking about updating his little black book? That felt weird at the time. There’s always been just a teeny tiny current of mistrust between Tessa and Duncan beneath the surface.

A few minutes later, we see Duncan walk into the home of the lady who wants his sword. Her house is nice. She might be the wealthiest person in Seacouver. She is not in a red coat anymore. She’s in a sports bra and some athletic wear leggings? Duncan suggests that she wear a fencing helmet and things get awkward.

We’re not going to need these. You’re not going to hurt me, are you? [as she runs the tip of her sword across his chest.]

Duncan is wearing his standard sword sparring clothes – billowy button down shirt, unbuttoned at least two buttons down, and some dress slacks. When Duncan insists that they wear sparring helmets, she starts swinging her sword. Duncan fends her off and says that she is very good, which gets an “only when I want to be” reply. I’m pretty sure Tessa rolled her eyes from across town. As the camera focuses on how she is holding her sword…

FLASHBACK!!

We are in the tri-corner hat and powdered wigs era. The Immortal baddie, Walter Reinhardt, from the beginning of the episode, is robbing a horse drawn carriage of wealthy folks. When we first see him, he is holding his sword in the exact same manner that our lady baddie of the week was holding hers when we flashed back. Powdered wig Duncan puts a stop to the horse carraige robbery. We are promised the two will meet again.

When we flash-forward, the lady baddie lets Duncan know that she is coming for him. And she tells him that he knows the way out. So… a non Immortal female challenger?

Duncan explains what just happened, and “Rebecca’s” fighting-style similarities, to Walter Reinhardt, to Richie and Tessa, while they are carrying and installing an apparently heavy outdoor public art project Tessa created. Richie suspects she just has the hots for Immortals.

When the three of them are driving home, the police are not far from the store. The guy who harassed Rebecca at the beginning of the episode is now dead and lying on the street. The police officer on the scene, Sgt. Bennett, knows who Duncan is by reputation. The victim died because someone thrust a sharp object between his ribs and through his heart. So… Duncan is a suspect. Duncan pointedly avoids telling the Sgt. about Rebecca altogether.

After the encounter with the police, Duncan sends Richie to the library to investigate the public details of Walter Reinhardt’s death. He also wants Richie to look into who Rebecca Lord is. (I guess Duncan does not cash in favors with his computer hacker friend very often.) I hope we see a montage of Richie looking through a card catalog and looking at newspaper articles via microfiche reader.

Duncan returns to Rebecca Lord’s house. We see that she is in the backyard practicing sword thrusts to the heart on a dummy with a heart shape sticker in the appropriate location on its chest. Their conversation is pretty straight and to the point. Did you kill that guy? What do you want? Why would I do that? What does any woman want? He pretty easily disarms her, barehanded, grabs her by the chin, declares an end to games, and walks off. She rage swipes at the dummy, with her sword, once he is gone.

Richie is at the car dealership. It is his first day of work. Angie is back! She’s looking at buying a car! Richie has her behind the wheel of a VW convertible! I think he’s going to sell this car. I am unclear about whether the two of them are dating. This has the feel of a situation where she would like to date Richie but he is oblivious to the subtext of a girl spending money she does not have, on a car, on his first day of work.

Duncan is back at home in his study… using the old computer! Richie comes in and hands off what he knows about Reinhardt so far – which is not much. But he is going to see the microfiche the next day.

Richie leaves. Tessa comes into the study through the other door. Duncan tells her that he has not told the police about Rebecca because he does not believe she is the murderer.

And what part of your 400 year old anatomy came to this conclusion?

Did Duncan cheat on her at some point early in their relationship? Like in a minor kind of way early on where she thought they were exclusive and he didn’t? I want to know the source of this lack of trust. There is something here. I’m working on my head canon.

Their conversation ends when Duncan gets a call telling him that “something has happened” to the public art display we saw the gang installing earlier. When Duncan and Tessa go to take a look, there is graffiti all over it. Tessa says, “your girlfriend left her calling card.” Yeah… something definitely happened between these two at some point.

Sgt. Bennett shows up and asks Tessa if she has any idea who did this. She plays dumb. I’m kind of amazed that the police are even investigating graffiti. The entire city of Seacouver looks like 1946 Berlin and every part of the city we have seen has been covered with graffiti.

That night, we see Tessa emotionally devastated by the damage to her public art sculpture, lying on their couch. This is as low as Tessa has been on the show to this point. Duncan and Tessa speculate that Rebecca might be under the impression that Duncan killed Reinhardt.

The next day, we see Rebecca, once again in her back yard, once again jabbing that dummy with the heart sticker on his chest. Jab. Jab. Pirouette. Jab. Jab. Pirouette.

Then we see Rebecca strolling into the antique store and just… taking Walter Reinhardt’s sword. I guess they do not have a lock on the display case? Seems like a bad idea. Conveniently, her conversation with Tessa confirms that she was Walter’s fiancée and that she believes Duncan killed him. She plans to kill Duncan. I love it when speculation from the previous scene gets neatly tied together in the following scene.

The strangest scene in the series so far happens next. Duncan drives around in the T-Bird and we hear him narrating a speculation over the nature of good and evil while he drives. But while he is speculating, the audience finds out via Duncan that Reinhardt is a game-player. So… maybe this whole thing with Rebecca is a game?

Richie is at the dealership and hard at work. Duncan drives up and asks for the rest of the information on Reinhardt. The microfiche paid off. Richie lets Duncan know that the feds were looking into Reinhardt’s shady business dealings. “Dying is the only thing that kept him out of prison.” I am disappointed that we did not get a montage scene of Richie in the library. Missed opportunity.

Duncan seems to have made his mind up and drives off.

Back at the ole loft, a gift is delivered to Tessa. It’s a fancy dress. So she takes her clothes off and puts it on immediately. As one does. Duncan walks in just as she gets the dress on. Things go south from there quickly.

It’s gorgeous.
Well, I didn’t buy it.
I feel… get it off me. My skin is burning!

Amidst some screaming, Duncan rips the dress off of Tessa and runs her to the shower. Duncan diagnoses it as a chemical burn.

Richie is still at work at the dealership. Angie pulls up and the car is having some real problems on day one. “I thought you said this was a good car, Richie!” Richie promises to help her out right as we meet his smug faced boss. “I’d like to help her out, but she bought the car as-is. And as-is means as-is.” But luck smiled on Richie and Angie. A stranger called, asking to buy a $40,000 Mercedes, and he specifically asked for Richie to deliver the car. So that gave Richie the leverage to get Angie’s car fixed in exchange for his not quitting. He also asked for the commission on the Mercedes. His boss agreed. Angie is elated. Richie’s lucky day…

Richie drops off the Mercedes and our Immortal bad guy, Walter Reinhardt, is the buyer. He points a handgun at Richie. Is he taking Richie hostage? Yes, he is.

We see the doctor leaving the loft. Duncan’s quick thinking to get her in the cold shower saved her from lasting injuries. After the doctor leaves, Tessa comes out of her room. Duncan tries to send her back to bed but Queen Tessa is as cold as ice… metaphorically. Maybe a little chilly literally.

I do not feel like sleeping. Light a fire for me.

She has never used this icy commanding tone with Duncan before on the show. He tries to hold her hand and she pulls away. After she sits on the couch, she fills Duncan in about Rebecca’s visit earlier in the day. In Tessa’s opinion, Rebecca believes that Duncan killed Reinhardt – which would rule out that she is working with Reinhardt.

Just then, Richie calls. “Is that you Mr. MacLeod?” His formal tone lets Duncan know that he is a hostage. Richie – in a car with Reinhardt – tells Duncan that Rebecca has him and that she wants to fight him at 9 a.m. sharp the following morning. Duncan sees through the subterfuge and knows that Reinhardt is the kidnapper.

The following morning, Duncan shows up early. He barges in and starts shouting about Richie and Tessa’s dress. The confusion on her face confirms that Rebecca is not our bad guy. So Duncan does the thing that makes sense and… pulls back his coat, exposes his chest, and tells her to get her revenge. She cannot do it. The two of them begin talking… finally.

Rebecca deduced that Duncan was Reinhardt’s killer by a process of elimination. After he died, she found a paper on his desk with a list of names. Every person on the list, except for one (Duncan) had been killed by a sharp object. When she saw Reinhardt’s sword at Duncan’s antique shop, it confirmed to her that Duncan was Reinhardt’s killer.

We see the aforementioned Reinhardt pull up outside of her house in a car. Richie is gagged and tied up in the front passenger seat.

Duncan and Rebecca are having a duel inside the house as the Immortal bad guy comes to the door. We hear Rebecca scream, see her on the ground, and then we see Reinhardt enter the room where Duncan is crouched over her.

Rebecca pops up, sword in hand, and… she mad. Reinhardt disarms her easily, punches her in the face, and… she out.

It turns out that Reinhardt was just manipulating all of the people around Duncan to throw him off his game before their eventual showdown. And then the showdown begins.

After a couple of clangs of the swords, the two men tackle each other… through a window… and then land on concrete steps outside the house… and then roll down those several steps to the ground. OUCH.

When they actually get to the sword fight itself, Duncan beats Reinhardt in short order. Duncan’s quickening destroys Rebecca’s flower pots and backyard landscaping. I bet setting that up was an entertaining few days at work for someone.

When Duncan has one final scene with Rebecca, the show opts to play Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” over the scene. She feels foolish for spending three years training to avenge a man she did not know. Duncan consoles her by pointing out that she was in love. After admitting that she wished she had met Duncan before Reinhardt, Mac kisses her gloved hand. She gives him a kiss on the cheek and walks away. He seems more sorrowful than usual before he wanders off, too, presumably to the car where Richie is waiting.

Roll credits.

REACTION:

If we think back to the pilot, we remember that Duncan only told Tessa about “the Game” in 1992. That means the sword fight to start the episode, in 1989, must have been kept secret even from her, on the day it happened. This episode also contextualizes Duncan’s efforts to be out of The Game. Even in a period of time – his relationship with Tessa to the pilot episode – when he was actively avoiding fights, he was still occasionally finding them, anyway.

This episode continued planting seeds of relationship dissatisfaction between Duncan and Tessa. In the previous episode, we saw that she still wishes she could have children – something that is not possible with Duncan. In this episode, there is a growing undercurrent of distrust between the two of them. I thought Alexandra Vandernoot was great in this episode. The longer that Duncan let things with Rebecca drag out, the angrier and moodier she became. It felt realistic. Duncan’s reaction to all of it was realistic, too, especially given that he was ultimately correct about an Immortal pulling string behind the scenes.

I wonder if the writers were giving themselves an off-ramp with the Tessa character? Duncan has met with potential love interest Reporter Randi a few times. He also now has a potential future love interest in Rebecca Lord. I guess we will see where this is going.

Rebecca Lord was portrayed by Vanity. That’s it. That’s her whole name. She was a protege of musical artist, Prince, and was part of a musical group called “Vanity 6.” As female musical guest stars go, I thought she did a great job. Her sword work was good but the show did not pretend that she was better than swordsmen hundreds of years older. My biggest gripe with her character was her choice to learn the sword at all. Did Reinhardt just not adequately explain to her how outmatched she would be trying to fight an Immortal that way? Did he explain anything at all? When she confronted Duncan with her intention to kill him, she seemed to know what Immortals are. But her knowledge seemed limited. Did she not really understand that you could temporarily kill an Immortal with a gun – making the head choppy choppy a lot easier? That is plausibly something her recently beheaded ex-boyfriend might have wanted her not to know.

One plot detail from this episode was especially convenient. Since Reinhardt is believed to be dead already, as long as they hide the body, the police will not come asking questions of Duncan. Another beheaded body might be one too many. Then again, if they find his body in Rebecca’s back yard 20 years after this episode, she would definitely be the leading suspect in his murder.

I was happy to see Angie return. Her relationship with Richie seems a little bit one-sided. But I like her. I hope the writers eventually force Richie to deal with her on camera.

Sgt Bennett was a new police officer relationship for our antique shop gang. He was portrayed by Tim Reid. Tim Reid is best known for playing the Dad character in the TV sitcom, “Sister Sister.” If you’re a little older, you might remember him better as Venus Fly Trap on “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

All in all, this was a pretty good episode. Reinhardt’s plan seemed kind of dumb. But I was not pulled out of the episode by his unnecessary scheming. This episode also did a good job of setting up future stories. We need some resolution with Duncan and Tessa, with Richie and Angie, and maybe we will meet Rebecca and Sgt. Bennett again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s