Highlander (Season 1, Ep 19): Eye of the Beholder

Welcome back to my re-watch / review of Highlander: the Series. There are spoilers ahead for this episode. If that concerns you, go pull this up on a streaming platform (I’m watching via VUDU) and meet me back here in about an hour.

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

One of Duncan’s old friends, Immortal Gabriel Piton, murders his young model girlfriend. Richie gets involved in bringing Piton to justice – over Duncan’s objections – when he begins seeing the victim’s former roommate, Maya, and realizes that Piton may be a danger to Maya as well.

Richie eventually gets in over his head with the Immortal bad guy and lands in jail. From inside a jail cell, Richie warns MacLeod that Piton knows Maya suspects him. Duncan goes to Piton’s apartment, rescues Maya at the last moment, before dueling and killing his centuries old friend.

____________________________

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

♪I am Immortal… I have inside me blood of kings!♫

If you’re watching a montage of your own life, and that montage does not include a sword fight in an empty warehouse, are you really living at all?

This week’s episode begins in a nice bedroom. A very young and beautiful woman lies in bed with an older man, apparently named Gabriel, and she tells him that she wants to stop hiding her relationship with him. He says absolutely not. He is giving off some David Bowie vibes. However, our guest star giving off the David Bowie vibes – to me at least – is named Nigel Terry. Anyway, back to the episode.

The very young attractive woman gets out of bed and is looking for her earrings. She notices a music box (the kind with a spinning ballerina on the top) and she plays it. When the ballerina turns, a secret compartment in the wall opens up revealing another room. She walks into the room and finds high-dollar paintings, clothing, and jewelry connected – according to Gabriel who is now in the room – with the most beautiful women in history. He tells her this room is his secret place – his sacred place. She says then that he does not want her to tell anyone about the room and he says no. They kiss. Abruptly, he STABS HER IN THE NECK WITH A DAGGER!

Richie is at a restaurant. He is arguing with a waiter about his order. Richie believes he ordered fruit. The water informs him that he orders a huge platter of shellfish. A young attractive woman nearby starts laughing after the waiter leaves. She explains to Richie that in French, “fruits de mer” means shellfish. [I cannot laugh much at Richie here. As a young American visiting Paris, I once accidentally ordered uncooked ground beef.]

The woman (Maya) encourages Richie to try the shellfish. He asks her to try it first. She does. He reluctantly tries it also. He seems to have won her over with his boyish American charm. She abruptly leaves because she is late for a meeting. Richie’s improbable success with women who are much more attractive than he is finally runs into the reality of, well, reality. He somehow fails to get her contact information.

In the next scene, we are at a fashion runway. Immortal Xavier St. Cloud’s band, Fine Young Cannibals, are providing the music. ♫She drives me crazy. Like no one else.♫ Guess who has backstage passes? It’s Team Barge-life! Duncan got backstage passes from an old friend.

Richie suddenly sees Maya from a distance and tells the other two “I know her! I do!” and they do not seem to believe him.

Just then, Duncan and Gabriel sense each other.

T: Old friend?
D: Very old friend.

FLASHBACK!!

We appear to be in the late 1700s. There are beautiful women all around. Duncan is lounging on a chair, drinking, with one of those beautiful women kind of draped all over him. Duncan finishes his drink and tosses the empty glass on the floor. As one does. Then he and the beautiful woman begin kissing. Intoxicated Duncan gets up, dances around the room, grabs another woman, spins and dips her, then finds a drink and pours it on Gabriel – who is lying on a bed with yet another woman.

Duncan asks what they are celebrating and Gabriel shows him a pearl necklace.

D: You’re a thief! And a womanizer! (laughs uproariously)
G: No. A great thief! And a great womanizer! (more uproarious laughter)

The two inebriated men go outside and find several musket toting French soldiers. It seems that the stolen pearls have been missed. The soldiers fire their muskets, and miss, and drunk Duncan says that he will give them thirty seconds to reload. Then the two Immortals fight and beat up the soldiers. We do not actually see them kill the soldiers but they definitely are lying there as though they are dead.

The women – who appear perhaps to be in an 18th or 19th century brothel – have all come outside now, too. As Duncan and Gabriel jump onto horses and ride away, one of the women begins pouring water onto one of the downed soldiers.

The camera transitions from her pour to a pour of alcohol and we are back in the present.

The fashion show is over and Gabriel comes out to take a bow. Richie speaks with Maya. She is surprised to see him again. And he runs through all the synonyms that he knows for the word “great” to describe her. Tessa introduces herself to Maya.

R: Can I buy you a champagne?
M: Sure, but it’s free.
R: Great. Then I’ll buy you two.
M: Great, let’s go.

I should have known better than to think Richie would strike out with a random model he meets at random out in public.

Duncan speaks with Gabriel. It’s awkward. Gabriel tells Duncan he looks fit but not in his league. Duncan says something about putting his money where his mouth is. Gabriel counters that he has a training area in his apartment.

Maya talks to Richie about the show. She tells him that her roommate Cynthia was supposed to do the show, but she had to leave town suddenly. As a result, Maya is getting her big break at this event. Just then, Gabriel interrupts them and leads Maya away to a reception.

As The Barge BrigadeTM leave the event, they see that Gabriel and Maya are stopped by Paris police just outside Gabriel’s limo. The police officer asks to speak with them because they have discovered a body that they believe to be Cynthia Hampten. Gabriel notices that MacLeod is observing this interaction and I suspect he knows that MacLeod will guess how Cynthia died.

Back at the barge, Richie is telling Duncan and Tessa that he does not trust Gabriel. Duncan tells him that he has known him for a long time. He also tells Richie that Gabriel is an Immortal and is therefore someone that Richie does not want to tick off.

Later Richie is asking Maya questions about Cynthia. Maya tells him that she has only been roommates with Cynthia for a couple of months. Young Mr. Ryan is not very subtle and he asks Maya about Cynthia and Piton (Gabriel’s last name.) Maya does not seem to know much. She thinks that Cynthia must have been in a relationship with someone married because she never talked about the man she was seeing. Eventually Maya gets annoyed with the line of questions and the insinuations regarding Mr. Piton and she leaves.

When Richie returns to the barge, MacLeod is practicing with a weapon of some kind. Quarterstaff maybe? Richie asks Duncan to explain why women would be interested in Gabriel and Duncan points out that the Immortal fashion designer has a 300 years experience advantage on him.

R: You think that’s what this is about?
D: Isn’t it?

[On the one hand, this is unusually dense for Duncan. On the other, he is actively practicing to fight so perhaps he knows a confrontation is brewing and he wants Richie to steer clear.]

Maya and Gabriel are alone together. He tells her that he never realized how special she is. He says that Cynthia would be pleased at she is the one to fill her shoes. He places his hand on her cheek and then Maya asks for a drink. When Gabriel steps away, Maya stands up and notices one of Cynthia’s ear rings. She picks it up. When Piton returns, she excuses herself – poorly – and leaves.

We next see Maya and Richie together. She tells him that she found Cynthia’s earring at Piton’s apartment. She tells Richie that Cynthia was wearing the other one when she died. Richie tells her to go to the police. She replies that if she goes to the police, and they question Piton, her career is finished.

Master of Espionage, Richie Ryan, is staking out Piton’s apartment. When we see the Immortal Murderer get into a car, Richie emerges from a shadowed archway across the street. He picks the lock of Piton’s gate and enters his apartment.

We see Piton in the car. A mobile alarm begins to sound. The car he is riding in does an extremely abrupt U-turn. [Richie – you’re in danger!]

Richie is looking around the apartment as Piton returns home. [I hope Richie is good at hide and seek. ] He’s not. Piton found him and threw him on the floor. Richie lies about why he is there. He says that he was hired to steal Gabriel’s fall designs by some knock-off artists. Piton does not believe him. The Immortal Baddie asks Richie what the consequence of failure was going to be. Richie replies that if he did not get the designs, they were going to break both of his legs. Piton says Richie would have been better off with the broken legs.

Richie then accuses Gabriel of killing Cynthia and throws a bottle of wine on the floor by his feet. When Gabriel asks if he is quite through, Richie says not yet and THROWS A LIT MATCH CAUSING THE FLOOR AND THE MURDEROUS IMMORTAL TO CATCH ON FIRE!!

I have never needed this meme twice in one recap before.

Duncan is not happy.

R: I’m going to the cops.
D: And tell them what… you found an earring so you broke into his apartment and set him on fire?!!

Duncan goes to talk to Piton. We see the two Immortals practice-fighting in the aforementioned practice area of Piton’s apartment. They are using the stick weapon that we saw Duncan practicing with earlier on the barge. Gabriel is understandably unhappy with Richie. He guesses that Richie thinks he killed the girl. Duncan asks him, “did you?” Gabriel does not give him a straight answer and instead says that there are some things, such as perfect beauty, worth killing for. Duncan then says “you owe me.”

FLASHBACK!! #2

Duncan is, uh, having relations with a woman in the time period we saw him in earlier. Racy. Suddenly he senses another Immortal. We see Gabriel stealing jewelry while MacLeod is… busy. Or gettin’ busy, I suppose. Duncan tells the Duchess that he will be right back.

Duncan finds Gabriel. He learns that the Immortal thief has taken the pearls from the Duchess that we saw him admiring earlier in the episode. MacLeod is upset that Gabriel is taking the pearls despite telling him that he would not. Piton sees that Duncan is upset and prepares to duel him. The two men have something of a philosophical discussion. Gabriel values beauty. Duncan values friendships. MacLeod suggests that Gabriel wait until the Duchess dies and Gabriel counters that he has an impatient soul and that plan runs the risk of MacLeod also befriending the heirs of the Duchess.

The duel begins. They fight down the length of the type of staircase you might expect to find in a place where a Duchess lives. Duncan disarms Gabriel. He gets the necklace from the other man and then tells him to leave. Duncan – quite passionately – tells Gabriel how much he admires his talent for design. He makes women look and feel beautiful. Most importantly, to Duncan, he makes them happy.

G: I suppose this means I owe you.
D: Yes, I suppose it does.

Piton agrees not to hurt “the boy.”

Back on the barge, Richie is playing with Duncan’s katana. “I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. And I am Connor MacLeod. Same clan, different vintage.” LOL. Duncan watches this from a distance and finally says “no one has ever beheaded himself before but you might make history.” Duncan seems deeply troubled. Richie asks Duncan to teach him how to fight. Duncan says no. Duncan then abruptly asks him a question:

D: You know how you fight an Immortal?
R: With your wits and cunning.
D: You take out your gun and you shoot him in the chest. And you shoot him again and again. And when he rises…
R: I shoot him again.
D: No… you run like hell.

I suspect that MacLeod does not believe Piton will honor the agreement not to hurt “the boy.”

In the next scene, Richie is playing chess with Tessa. He wins. Just then the phone rings. Piton is calling. He tells Richie to come to the studio alone. The consequence of not coming at all will mean Maya dies. The consequence of coming with help will mean she dies. Tessa observes this call. Richie tells her that it was a wrong number but she seems to know he is lying.

Richie buys something in a long package… a sword? No, surely not. He then slides on a pair of sunglasses and uses a cane. I’m interested Richie. You’re pretending to be blind on the streets of Paris. I am excited to see where this is going. A police officer walks over to assist Richie across the street. Richie.. steals his gun. Good boy. I mean, it would have been better if you had told Duncan about the phone call but this is better than buying a sword.

Richie walks into Piton’s apartment and asks where Maya is. He points a pistol at Piton. Just then, police surround Richie and Gabriel tells them that this is the boy who broke into his apartment. Maya stands there and is shocked to see Richie with a gun. Checkmate, Richie. Piton gives her a threatening look as Richie is dragged away.

Tessa drives up to where Duncan is and fills him in. Richie is in jail. The police were waiting for him at Piton’s apartment. When Tessa and Duncan arrive, Richie learns that “bail” is not something they do in 1993’s France. He tells Duncan that Piton knows Maya found the earring.

We see Piton fitting Maya into a dress. She tells him that she did not think the earring was important. She also tells him that she did not know anything about Piton and Cynthia’s relationship.

Too bad. Now you do.

Piton stands close to Maya. She pleads that she will not tell anyone. As he tenderly – and ominously – puts his hands on her neck, she feels around on the table behind her and finds what I believe are some fabric shears. She shoves said fabric shears into his side and runs away. He catches her quickly, sword in hand. “I will always remember how beautiful you are.”

Duncan arrives. He jumps off a landing onto the floor below where the two are standing below him. Duncan tells Maya to go and that Tessa is waiting in the car.

Duncan and Piton fight. Gabriel actually disarms Duncan at one point in the fight. However, MacLeod manages to get his sword back. The two fight on and eventually the Highlander separates Piton’s head from his body. After the Quickening, MacLeod seems to weep and pounds his fist on a stair rail.

As the episode ends, Richie apologizes to Duncan.

R: I’m sorry Mac. I know he was your friend.
D: Eh. Things change. How’s Maya?
R: She’s fine. She ran off to Monte Carlo with a Formula 1 driver.
D: She’ll be back.
R: You really think so?
D: No. I was just trying to be nice.

Both men then laugh, Duncan puts an arm around Richie, and the show ends.

REACTION:

I do not remember Duncan ever crying over someone he has killed. This episode broke new ground. Obviously I have some thoughts and questions so I will work through my feelings with my internet audience.

Why was MacLeod so loyal to this guy? They partied a couple hundred years ago, apparently hired out an entire brothel together, and then Gabriel broke MacLeod’s trust, Duncan spared his life… Duncan should know this guy is not to be trusted, right? Except… the two Immortals apparently stayed in touch to some degree. How else did Piton and MacLeod get in touch when the episode began (Duncan got backstage passes to the fashion show.) I also think the reason he gives in the second flashback holds true. Duncan seems to have a deep and profound love for both art and for making people happy. Piton embodied both. He was a fashion genius and he also spent centuries making women happy. Duncan hated taking someone with Piton’s talent out of the world.

Piton and Amanda actually have a lot in common. Both break Duncan’s trust. Both unjustifiably are given his trust back again, anyway. Both are thieves. Both have partied with him. Perhaps there was little to distinguish the two for Duncan… right up until Piton became a murderer. (We actually do not know that Piton was not a long-term murderer but his killing of mortals appears to be brand new information to Duncan.)

Duncan, loyalty or not, subtly lets us know throughout the episode that he suspects the truth about his old friend. He is not very friendly when the two meet up at the beginning of the episode. He immediately starts training to spar with Piton – even before the two arrange to talk. Even after getting a promise from Gabriel to leave Richie alone, Duncan gives Richie a very troubled and impassioned speech about how to protect himself from an Immortal. Duncan clearly did not trust his old friend.

Adrian Paul is fantastic in this episode. He says one thing with his words and conveys something else with his eyes from beginning to end. Both messages – his words and his expression – are consistently true. There is a depth and complexity to his feelings that he manages to convey without actually saying it. It’s just a really good performance.

Nigel Terry was great, too. I said at the beginning of the recap that he had kind of a David Bowie vibe. Apologies to the Late Mr. Bowie. I feel somewhat confident that he never stabbed anyone in the neck with a dagger. In any case, Terry was awesome in this role. He was also a tremendous swordsman when it came time to duel. Do I think that living for a few hundred years might make a gifted artist murderous and crazy? Yeah. I completely buy that. From a story-telling perspective though, fashion moguls do not just disappear off the face of the earth. A murder here or there does not cause as much stir as it would have caused in Seacouver, or so it seems, but in Paris the press is going to notice Gabriel Piton’s disappearance. I suspect the show will never bring it up again.

The one character that I do not know what to make of, in this episode is Richie. Duncan’s reaction to Richie setting Piton on fire is completely on point. YOU DID WHAT?!? That was completely crazy. He also ended up in jail. I have no idea how he is going to get out of that trouble. Piton disappears so charges get dropped? On the other hand, Richie was the only person in this episode who saw Piton clearly for what he is from the beginning. If Richie had not asked questions of Maya, regarding Piton, to the point of her annoyance… she would have had no one to talk to after she found the ear ring later. Richie also had the funniest scene in the episode – playing with Duncan’s sword and quoting both him and Connor.

It’s a difficult comparison – because we lack the period piece clothing mostly – but Richie is quite similar to what we have seen of Young Duncan MacLeod. He rushes into danger to protect people he cares about – even if that danger is an Immortal. When he decides something is right, he will defend it. He is willing to learn and grow along the way. The thieving kid we met in the pilot could not have talked to a fashion model, he could not have played chess, he probably could not even conceive of living in Paris. He has grown a lot in less than a year.

Speaking of Maya… why did she participate in the sting operation that Piton set-up to trap Richie? That made no sense. Did she completely forget that Piton probably murdered her roommate? Maybe she reluctantly participated because she did not want to reveal to Piton that she knew about the ear ring. Then Richie threw her under the bus while the police were dragging him away. “Oops.” Like I said… mixed bag episode for Richie.

Good episode. Unexpectedly violent (even for this show) and racy a few times, though. I’m looking forward to the last couple of episodes of Season 1. We are close to the finish line.

One thought on “Highlander (Season 1, Ep 19): Eye of the Beholder

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