Highlander (Season 1, Ep 14): For Evil’s Sake

Welcome back to Highlander the Series. We are continuing our episode-by-episode recap and reaction. Spoilers ahead.

THE QUICK & CLEAN SUMMARY:

Duncan witnesses a murder committed by a mime. While answering questions for the police, he overhears that similar murders have occurred nearby. He recognizes that the murder fits the pattern of the Immortal assassin Kuyler. Kuyler was an antagonist for Duncan at the time he met Tessa in Paris twelve years earlier.

Duncan manages to track down Kuyler by staking out liquor stores which sell Kuyler’s preferred (illegal) drink, absinthe. Kuyler arranges for a duel with Duncan by sending a policeman on his criminal payroll to pick up Duncan and take him to Kuyler’s lair under false pretenses. However, Duncan is aware of the policeman’s true allegiance. Duncan wins the duel with Kuyler. When Paris police find the assassin’s body, MacLeod feigns ignorance of what happened and Tessa offers herself as a (false) alibi.

THE EXTRA DUSTY REVIEW & RECAP:

In case you forgot the show has moved to Paris… the episode begins by following a mime. Actually, this is more like a mime montage. We see one mime pretend to murder a man with a pistol – which shoots a stick with a note that says bang. Somewhere else, we see a mime pretend to stab a man. However, the blade retracts back into the knife upon contact with the would-be victim. Each “attempted murder” is met with a laugh from the target of the attack. The third mime murder involves a handgun. When the mime pulls the trigger (pointing the gun at an old man cowering on the ground) the end of the gun produces a small flame. We get relief and more laughter.

However, we cut back to the first pretend murder. After the gag with the stick and paper, the mime pulls the trigger again – and shoots the man in the head. Returning to the second attempted murder, the retracting knife stops retracting and the second man is actually murdered. The third man is also murdered by another pull of the gun-flame trigger.

Duncan was walking by with groceries in hand while the third murder takes place. He sees the mime, face to face, and then watches the mime speed away on a motorcycle.

MacLeod gives an eyewitness report to the French detective and overhears that a similar murder occurred, a mere twenty minutes earlier, across town.

FLASHBACK!

We are in the powdered wigs era of France. Mac is in a fancy chateau protecting the baron who lives there during “peace talks.” The baron has a powdered wig, white face paint, and dark lipstick. The entire scene is gaudy enough to inspire the French Revolution. An immortal – also with white face paint, a powdered wig, dark painted lips, and surrounded by less adorned acrobats – is performing.

The Immortal – over Duncan’s objection – coaxes the baron to join him in front of the gathered crowd as part of the performance. In front of the gathering, the Immortal does a disappearing trick. He holds up a cloth that obscures both himself and the baron from view. A moment later he drops the cloth. The Immortal has vanished and the baron has a dagger in his back.

Back in the present, the French detective believes that he recognizes Duncan. That seems ominous.

Later, Tessa and Duncan are talking on the barge. Duncan is sure that an Immortal named Kuyler is behind the murders. (This must be the guy we saw who murdered the baron during the flashback.) Duncan is convinced because the murders fit Kulyer’s “pattern.” There can be only one… mimey murderer.

Tessa is worried about “the gathering” and states that she had hoped they would leave it behind in the States. Alas, no. The gathering is everywhere. Duncan assures her that Kuyler does not know he is in Paris, and even if he did, that he would not challenge him. Kuyler is an assassin, not a warrior.

A moment later Richie wanders in holding an oversized bust of Napoleon. He describes it as a barge-warming gift. Tessa is clearly not excited but tries to act pleased, calling it “very historical.” However, while he is finding a home for the new art piece, Richie notices some men outside carrying automatic weapons. Duncan advises Tessa and Richie to call the police before going outside to check things out. Duncan sneaks up on one of the armed men, chokes him out, and finds a police badge inside his pocket. At that moment, the French Detective from earlier – as well as several other police officers – emerge with guns pointed at Duncan.

I remember you now.

The Detective and Duncan are having a more amicable conversation than I would have assumed under the cirumstances. The Detective believes Kuyler is behind the murders and that Duncan knows something about it. Apparently the detective, Duncan, and Kuyler were all involved in some prior crimes and crime-stopping 12 years earlier.

FLASHBACK!! #2

Kuyler attacks an unarmed Duncan. MacLeod has shorter hair and is wearing a stocking cap. So the ponytail is a recent wardrobe change? Back to the fight… Duncan grabs and uses a metal pole to fend off Kuyler’s sword attack before jumping through a window and running away. The French Detective – 12 years younger – sees MacLeod leaving a building through the glass window as his police car arrives. The police give chase to MacLeod. In order to escape his pursuers, Duncan jumps the side railing of a pier and lands on a riverboat which was giving a tour of Paris. Who is giving the tour of Paris? Tessa Noel! #MeetCute

I think the tourism office of Paris put together this scene. The next minute or so is uplifting classical music accompanied by breathtaking views of Parisian public art and architecture from the vantage point of a river boat.

Back in the present, the Detective is forced to let MacLeod go. “His paperwork checks out.” Can you send a squad of armed officers to someone’s home, in France, to check on their passport paperwork? I guess so.

Duncan – the only person who actually knows what Kuyler looks like – has decided to find him. He knows that Kuyler drinks absinthe, so he travels around Paris looking for places that will sell it under the table for a bribe. When one establishment asks him “who sent you here” he describes Kuyler physically and names him as “a friend whose tastes I share.” And just like that… absinthe. The barge party tonight is gonna be lit.

In the next scene, we see a man walking through a room of mannequins calling for Kuyler. Wait… not all of these are mannequins. Some of the non-movng people are mimes. Eww. Eventually Kuyler points a gun at the unnerved man and counter-intuitively the man relaxes. He works for the Parisian PD and he has intel. He lets Kuyler – and the other mimes present – know that Duncan MacLeod was a witness to one of the murders and that MacLeod told police he could identify the murderer with no makeup on. The informant also lets Kuyler know that it is believed Duncan could ID Kuyler himself.

In the next scene, we see Duncan and Tessa discussing how she should tell Richie that the Napoleon bust fell and shattered. As they are talking, the French Inspector arrives again. He has apparently spoken with Sgt. Bennett in the United States and both men commiserated about not understanding how Duncan always turns up in the middle of crime investigations. As the three people are talking, another man, on a motorcycle, drives by, shoots the Inspector, and flees.

Back at Kuyler’s creepy lair, we learn that one of the mimes – no longer in makeup – made the decision to go after MacLeod without proper authorization to do so. Kuyler is, uh, not happy. Kuyler shoots the guy and casually sips some absinthe after he watches his lifeless body falls backward into several mannequins. As one does.

MacLeod visits Inspector LeBrun in the hospital. I guess in France detectives are Inspectors? Makes sense. But does that mean Inspector Gadget takes place in France?

We learn that the Inspector’s arm bone is shattered. He believes this will ruin his opportunities for career advancement. Duncan tells him that one of his police officers is owned by Kuyler (“how else would Kuyler know where I live?”) The Inspector seems to mull it over in his head after Duncan leaves.

In the next scene Kuyler is back at the liquor store picking up his absinthe. As he is leaving, the store owner says “I hope your friend was happy with his purchase.” Kuyler plays it cool but he now knows Duncan could be staking out the liquor store. And so he is! The two Immortal men lock eyes through the liquor store door. Duncan is across the street on very conveniently located Holy Ground. They talk there on the steps outside the church.

Kuyler lets us know that he has killed 2,760 mortals over the years. He explains his career choice as being a function of 1) murder being what he is good at, and 2) having expensive habits and needing a job that pays well.

I know it sounds like bragging but I am the greatest assassin in all of history.

Some time later, the French policeman on Kuyler’s payroll stops by the barge. He lets Duncan know that Inspector LeBrun checked himself out of the hospital against doctor’s orders. MacLeod casually says “with the way Kuyler drinks, you would think you would have caught him by now.” The policeman in the barge slips up, agrees, and says “or that the absinthe would kill him.”

The officer drives Duncan to where Kuyler is waiting. As they get out of the car, MacLeod lets the officer know that he can go and that Duncan knows he works for Kuyler.

MacLeod enters the creepy mannequin lair alone. We finally get a wide angle view of the room and see that there are a few hundred of these mannequins. Duncan can sense Kuyler but he cannot see him.

Meanwhile, the bad guy officer meets with Inspector LeBrun. LeBrun apparently put a transmitter in his car. So he knows that this officer works for Kuyler and that he took MacLeod somewhere. He insists on finding out where.

Kuyler reveals himself to Duncan for pre-fight conversation before their duel. But lest we be upset that he removed the advantage of conceiling himself among the mannequins, fear not! He immediately conceals himself again once the right starts.

But this was not much of a challenge for the Highlander. He finds Kuyler and beats him easily.

Just after Duncan gets the Quickening, he hears Inspector LeBrun calling for him. Understandably, Mac did not want to have a conversation about a headless body so he sneaked away.

Later that night, LeBrun visited the barge. Duncan and Tessa are together, drinking, wearing robes. They both insist that Duncan was home all night and that they know nothing about what happened with Kuyler. Duncan even pretends to be disgusted at the news that Kuyler was decapitated.

LeBrun leaves but states that he suspects he will be seeing Duncan again.

REACTION:

I enjoy the Parisian backdrop for this show – and not just because I hated Seacouver. The mimes should have felt a little bit “on the nose” for the show’s relocation – especially going that route immediately after moving filming to France – but I did not mind it. Let’s not make it an every week thing, though, okay?

After the challenge posed by Grayson in the previous episode, stepping back the degree of difficulty was a necessary move. Therefore, if your Immortal baddie is going to be less dangerous as an adversary, then why not make him a weirdo? In the case of Kuyler, his weirdness was at least purposeful and advanced his goals. There is just something unsettling about a menacing mime.

Inspector LeBrun will be a nice fill-in for the rotating cast of Seacouver police officers (Sgt. Bennett most recently.)

The most memorable part of this episode, though, was the Duncan-Tessa first meeting. If a guy fleeing the police, and jumping onto your tour boat, while it is moving, is not the gold standard for what the kids call “#meetcute” then I do not know what is.

We now know that Duncan and Tessa have known each other for twelve years. He managed to avoid telling her about “the game” from about 1981 until the pilot episode of this show in 1992? Incredible. When we think about undercurrents of mistrust in the Duncan-Tessa relationship, this seems like it has to be a major source of that distrust, right?

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