Welcome back to Highlander: the Series, season 1. Spoilers ahead.
THE QUICK & CLEAN SUMMARY:
Immortal Xavier St. Cloud commits robberies through the use of poisonous gas. He releases the gas, killing everyone inside a building – including himself. He then gets up and takes what he wants. He is a long-time antagonist of the Immortal Catholic Priest, Darius, and this leads him to reveal himself to Darius, and taunt him, after a robbery to begin the episode. His next target is an art gala hosted by Tessa. To that end, he plants a poison gas time bomb inside an art piece that he donates to her showing through one of his pseudonyms.
MacLeod is able to uncover Xavier’s plans just in time to diffuse the bomb at the gala. After the showing, he fights Xavier and cuts off his hand. However, the Immortal Xavier escapes before Duncan can also cut off his head.
THE EXTRA DUSTY REVIEW & RECAP:
The episode begins with a very well dressed Roland Gift entering what appears to be a high end jewelry store, right before closing, in search of a pennant. For those of you who do not know who Roland Gift is…
Highlander has another musically gifted guest star!
As we see the door being locked, our still unnamed guest star apologizes to the attractive female store clerk for keeping her after closing. He expresses regret that he cannot make it up to her by taking her to dinner. When she says, “who says you cannot?” he replies that she will not be available.
He then drops a cannister which releases a probably toxic green gas into the air. He kisses the clerk on the lips before she, he, and everyone else in the store begin dropping like flies. When the gas clears, though, he wakes up. Someone – probably our guest star’s henchmen – enters wearing a gas mask. The musical guest starring baddie tells him to clean out the manager’s safe. After doing so, he tells the mask wearing man to take off the mask because the air is now clear. The henchman, seeing his boss with no mask, complies. He then coughs, collapses, and says with his last words “I’ll see you in hell.”
Roland Gift’s character replies, “probably.”
In the next scene, we see Darius taking the confession of a young woman:
YW: But my mother doesn’t know she’s breaking my heart.
D: Well, it’s not a sin for your mother to date your ex-boyfriend. Bad taste, perhaps, but not a sin.
Darius senses the presence of another Immortal. And our musical baddie of the week enters the confessional booth. Darius recognizes Xavier – who apparently wants to confess. Xavier appears to know that Duncan is in Paris because he insists that he bets Darius hears MacLeod’s confessions all the time. Then Xavier confesses to killing six people for money.
In the next scene, Inspector LeBrun is at the scene of Xavier’s heist. Six people are dead, including a known thief, and all killed by toxic gas. Xavier appears to have arranged for the security camera lenses to have been covered, too.
Duncan joins Darius for a game of chess. We are led to believe that Darius always wins. MacLeod notices after arriving that something is weighing on Darius. However, Darius – as a Catholic Priest – has vowed not to share the confessions of parishioners. He cannot tell Duncan what he knows.
Just as the game begins, Inspector LeBrun enters the room and is surprised to find Duncan. LeBrun has come to ask Darius what he might know about the jewelry store robbery a block away. Darius is willing to admit he saw a handsome black man in his early 30s but he is bound by oath to share not additional information.
LeBrun knows that the criminal (Xavier) released very poisonous gas, collapsed like everyone else, but two minutes later was on his feet again and leaving the store. The description seems to trigger a memory for Duncan…
We appear to have arrived at a WWI battle.
During a break in the battle, a mustache-wearing Duncan senses an Immortal presence. Moments later, a canister emitting a poisonous gas is throw in the direction of Duncan’s fellow soldiers. Everyone – including Duncan – dies.
We see a gas mask wearing Xavier St. Cloud walking through the bodies. As Xavier is stealing some type of supplies, and loading them into a truck, MacLeod awakes and Xavier senses him. MacLeod is saved when other soldiers wearing masks arrive on the scene to investigate what has happened. (Immortals don’t kill each other in public.)
Back in the present, once LeBrun leaves, Duncan confirms that Xavier is the murderer.
On the barge, Richie tells Tessa about a new love interest. He thinks of her as being “like Tessa” so we should know that the new girl is probably out of his league. He runs off without telling Tessa her name. Tessa then takes a work call. While she is discussing an Egyptian acquisition for the museum at which she works, a finely dressed Xavier steps inside the barge.
He introduces himself to Tessa as Gerard Fleurie. He says that he can offer Tessa help.
Tessa relays her good news to Duncan. An art piece she was looking for just walked right in through the front door. Duncan guesses right away that the art dealer specializes in 17th century African sculpture. But he does not seem to have guessed that the art dealer is Xavier using a pseudonym. In any case, Tessa has an art show the following day and I suspect Duncan and Tessa will get to meet Xavier at the event.
In the next scene, Duncan is approaching an old building looking for a man named Dalou. Outside the building are a couple of armed security types. Duncan disarms them and knocks them out when they will not take him peacefully to Dalou. Finally, an older man points a gun at Duncan from a distance. This is the guy Duncan was looking for.
The go inside the dilapidated building together.
Duncan: Don’t you recognize me?
Dalou: Duncan MacLeod? It’s… It’s impossible. You must be his son! MacLeod’s son. You could be no one else. Your father and I had a hell of a time in the Resistance together.
I guess we should assume that Dalou is a good guy? Duncan clarifies. “Duncan’s father” told him that not much went on in Paris without Dalou knowing the details. Duncan is trying to get the details from Dalou regarding the Xavier robbery. He asks Dalou what he knows about the thief Xavier betrayed at the start of the episode, admitted to Dalou that he believes the thief murdered a good friend and he admits that he wants the thief who lived to be made dead.
Dalou appears to have a soft spot for the now-dead thief whose name we now know to be Francois. Dalou was a previous employer of the deceased thief and Dalou had a thing for Francois’s mother at one time.
Richie is back at the barge with his new girlfriend, Renee. She is definitely out of his league. Unfortunately for Richie, as he was excitedly telling her about “the bedroom” Tessa lets them know that she is home. Young Richie was not expecting her to be home. Plot twist: Tessa and Rene know each other. “Renee is one of our patrons.” Yes, very twisty indeed.
In the next scene it is now night time. Tessa and Duncan are talking alone on the barge. It turns out… Renee is married. Richie does not know she is married. Tessa is deciding what to do next. Duncan seems to be playing chess against himself. As he talks with Tessa, he reluctantly agrees that Richie ought to be told.
Tessa: So… when are you going to tell him?
I guess Duncan was not playing chess against himself after all. Queen Tessas are the most dangerous pieces on the board.
Darius officiates Francois’s funeral. Duncan and Dalou are both in attendance. Dalou thanks Duncan for arranging the funeral. “It’s because of you that he will rest in holy ground” instead of a pauper’s grave. Duncan talks to Francois’s mother and learns the name of the cafe where he met with Xavier.
We next see Xavier in said cafe. Suddenly he senses the presence of another Immortal. He stands up and walks to the front door. Duncan appears from the balcony window of a building across the street. Xavier flees. Duncan jumps from the balcony and follows.
An epic chase between men in trench coats ensues. As Duncan closes in, the two men are nearby a construction site. Xavier stops and throws a canister in the direction of the working men. MacLeod grabs the canister and puts it inside a nearby cement truck before it releases any poisonous gas. MacLeod’s detour allows Xavier to escape.
Back at the barge, Tessa asks Duncan why Darius will not share what he knows with the authorities. We learn from her that Darius has been a Buddhist and a Hindu in the past. She does not understand his adherence to the rule about the confessional.
D: I think Darius, if he has to help mankind, he has to honor their codes.
T: Even when they protect a murderer?
D: The courts protect murders and innocents alike. No one suggests that we destroy them.
T: Why do I argue with you?
D: Because you’re contrary by nature.
T: I am not!
LeBrun shows up to the barge. The description of the man that Duncan chased, earlier, matches the description of the jewelry store murderer. He wants MacLeod to give him more information. Duncan, predictably, does not.
Later, Duncan tries to get more information from Darius. Speak of the devil… Xavier shows up while they are talking about him. Xavier taunts them, and holds a canister up in the air as a warning for Duncan to not follow him away from Holy Ground.
D: I’ll see you soon.
X: Sooner than you think, MacLeod.
Back on the barge, Duncan tells Richie that Renee is married. Richie assumes that this means she will leave her husband for him. Duncan seems content to allow Richie to learn, the hard way, that she will not be leaving her husband.
Tessa is talking to Gerard Fleurie (a/k/a Xavier.) He delivers the art piece he promised earlier in the episode. He will be attending her showing that night, at 8 p.m., and is looking forward to meeting her boyfriend, Duncan MacLeod. As Tessa walks away to take a phone call, we see that Xavier has planted a timb bomb, set for 9 p.m., inside a hidden compartment of the display stand holding up his sculpture.
Richie is greeting guests that night. His married girlfriend arrives with her much older husband. “Mr. Ryan” greets them formally and gives nothing away regarding his relationship with Renee. She seems intrigued to learn that Richie knows she is married and played coy about it. But after a moment, Richie asks Madame de Tassigny for a moment. He informs her that they cannot continue seeing each other. She looks at him, as though he is an adorable puppy, while he breaks up with her.
Inside the gala, Duncan and Tessa are talking.
T: Look at these people. Have you ever seen so many diamonds?
D: Once, inside King Solomon’s mines. But that’s a long story.
LeBrun arrives at the showing and asks for a word with MacLeod. He wants to bring Duncan into the police station for questioning. His officers dug the cannister out of the cement truck and discovered that it contained a nerve gas – the same kind of nerve gas used in the jewelry store robbery. Mac asks LeBrun for a moment, first, and LeBrun acquiesces. Duncan tells Tessa, goodbye, and leaves with the Inspector.
In the car with LeBrun, Duncan learns that Xavier has been trafficking West African sculpture. He suddenly realizes who Tessa’s mysterious donor is and leaps from the moving car.
The camera shows us that the bomb is slated to go off in 20 seconds.
We see Xavier sitting outside the gala and staring at his watch. He senses MacLeod as we see Duncan re-enter the building running as fast as he can. With no time remaining, he pulls a wire loose from the canister and defuses the bomb. “Fleurie is Xavier.” Moments later the police arrive as Xavier leaves.
Some time later, we see Xavier at Duncan’s barge, holding a gas canister. Duncan arrives and advises him not to bother with the gas as nobody is home.
Commence formal wear duel! Roland Gift is our best musical swordsman so far. The fight lasts for a few minutes before Duncan abruptly cuts off Xavier’s hand. He screams and jump into the water by the barge. Duncan dives in after him. The scene ends.
The following morning, Tessa and Richie are standing together on the dock beside the barge. There has been no sign of Duncan. Richie is confident that Duncan will return. He is so confident, in fact, that he asks Tessa about his own problems. He feels foolish.
T: She married for wealth and convenience. Passion is not something that is so easy to come by.
R: [suddenly pleased] Passion? She told you I was passion?
Duncan returns. He found blood and tracks a couple miles downriver but no sign of Xavier. He is still out there and he will be seeking revenge. Tessa lets Duncan know that LeBrun wants to speak with him.
Now inside the barge, Duncan picks up a chess piece and says “he’ll be back.”
The move to Paris has been great for this show. “For Tomorrow We Die” was anotehr excellent offering.
Roland Gift was terrific as Xavier. His take on the character was a brilliant combination of charismatic and menacing. His speaking voice has a gravitas that conveys an unnatural depth of experience. Or maybe he was just being himself. In any case, the best characters on this show just seem able to convey through their voice a confidence explainable by many lives’ worth of time walking the earth. Gift succeeded in his guest role here.
Darius continues to be a great addition. I enjoyed his inner struggle with the role of priest he has assigned for himself and the constraints of that role. Werner Stocker (the actor playing Darius) has those same ageless qualities that we see with Roland Gift, but he also brings a natural kindness to the character that fits Darius well. He also has a physical presence, too, that makes his ancient warrior past very plausible.
Inspector LeBrun must be under the impression that Duncan is deep cover Interpol or something, right? He clearly knows that MacLeod is a good guy. He also knows that Duncan has secrets. He cannot trust Duncan even though he would like to. I imagine he will end up viewing MacLeod in a way that is similar to the one adopted by Randi in Seacouver.
I enjoyed that we met an Immortal who utilizes a willingness to die to his own advantage. It seems like an obvious potential tactic but it takes a certain type of ruthless psychosis, or bravado, to be willing to actually do it. The fact that Xavier has those qualities makes him a compelling challenger for Duncan.
I also enjoyed that we finally met a baddie who was not defeated in a single episode. I am looking forward to meeting Xavier again in the future. The absence of a hand will motivate him, anger him, and undoubtedly change his fighting tactics.