Welcome back to Highlander, Season 1. I will be reviewing and spoiling this episode so proceed with caution.
My previous episode recaps are HERE.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
Tessa reaches out to her friend Elaine. Unbeknownst to Tessa, this friend has become a prostitute since last they met when they were teenagers in school. On the night they plan to meet up, Elaine becomes the target of a mentally unstable Immortal, Albert Cahill, who believes he was sent by God to kill sinners.
Coincidentally, MacLeod is already familiar with Cahill before he started targeting Elaine because Duncan witnessed him die shortly before meeting Elaine. Duncan waited for his resurrection to explain Immortality. Cahill would not listen to Duncan’s explanation about Immortals or “The Gathering” because he believed Duncan was the Archangel Gabriel.
Cahill kills a few people, and has a close call with Tessa, before Duncan tracks him down and kills him.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Man, I need to visit Paris and just walk around wearing a trench coat and feeling dangerous.
Or not. I am absolutely not dangerous in any way.
We start the episode with a man praying in an empty cathedral for God’s direction. He seems desperate and sad. We cut quickly to another scene of the same man, at a nice bar with well-dress people, drinking alongside a woman who appears to be a prostitute. After he tells her about his time in the military, she tells him that he’s the third war hero she has had this week. That… sets him off.
YOU CALLING ME A LIAR, B****!!!
Her pimp asks if he has a problem. The screaming man tells the pimp to mind his own business. When he says “I am, she works for me” the man backhands her across the face and screams “then tell her to shut her lying mouth!” This starts a fight. Several men charge our screaming dude and the screaming dude fights them all off with some relative ease. He approaches his prostitute date, again, menacingly, and says he is going to correct her “nasty attitude.” At that moment, she shoves a knife right into his chest. He runs out of the building and outside down the street.
He runs right in front of Duncan’s car. The music tells us that MacLeod is sensing another Immortal. Duncan hops out of the car and follows the man with a knife protruding from his chest. The man runs into a church lies down against the wall and dies. Of course, moments later, he revives.
Crazy guy: It’s a miracle!
D: That’s what we all say the first time.
CG: I know you. You’re the angel Gabriel.
D: I’m Duncan MacLeod.
CG: [turns to talk to a statue] THY WILL BE DONE!
MacLeod tries to explain things to him but she shoves Duncan to the ground and runs out of the church shouting “I have seen the coming of the Angel of the Lord.”
On the barge, Duncan tells Tessa about what happened.
D: I tried talking to him but he thought I was an angel.
T: [laughs] I know better!
[After that whole “rented an entire brothel” story from the previous episode, I think she has a point.]
Tessa calls her friend Elaine. Duncan just lays down on the couch to do something on his 50 lb laptop. This is the most “hey girl” phone call / interaction Tessa has ever had on this show. Maybe all her hey girl friends lived in France this whole time? Elaine says it’s not a good time but Tessa basically insists. Tessa tells her that she has someone she wants Elaine to meet. “He’s ugly, short, and poor.” When she gets off the phone, she says she has not seen Elaine since they were teenagers. That checks out… assuming she followed Duncan to the U.S. pretty soon after they met 12-13 years earlier and never went home. Come to think of it, we have never met any members of Tessa’s family. Maybe she does not have any family? Tessa is probably in her early 30s. Very strange. Anyway, she sits on Duncan’s back and starts giving hi a back rub.
Elaine was beautiful and bright. I do not want to give her any ideas.
There’s that famous Tessa-Duncan relationship trust dynamic. I guess when people who look like models are together, relationships are something like Game of Thrones.
Tessa asks if Duncan is hacking on the computer again. He tells her that he took the man’s wallet the night before and that hacking is faster than filling out forms and waiting six months. Duncan learns that the Immortal’s name is Alfred Cahill, he is English, and he was discharged from an elite unit within the military after he failed a psychological screening.
T: Finding out you’re Immortal must be quite a shock to the mind.
D: You have no idea.
T: But what will it do to somebody who is already insane?
We are back at the fancy prostitute bar where the craziness occurred earlier in the episode. The pimp exits a car tells someone named Jean Paul that he will be right back. He finds the woman from earlier who did the stabbing in the back. He tells her that the guy she stabbed disappeared. He also tells her that he has work for her to do.
She goes outside and gets in Jean Paul’s car. He does not respond when she sits down in his backseat. When she touches his shoulder and tells him to wake up, his corpse leans over in the seat. The military-trained crazy Immortal Albert gets into the car.
When she says “you were dead” he replies “that’s what I thought.” Then he tells her God resurrected him and gave him special work. He explains what that special work is… by choking her to death.
We are in a new apartment. I am guessing this is Tessa’s friend Elaine. She is on the phone and she is receiving bad news. She abruptly gets off the phone though, and tells a man named Charles that he needs to go because her friend is visiting.
Girlfriend? Perhaps the three of us…
Surprisngly, she does not stab him. He leaves. Immortal Alfred is standing outside her apartment door holding a cross. He and Charles exit the building together.
Once they are outside the building, Alfred asks Charles “how was she?[…]Was she better than your wife?” Then he tells Charles that he is a sinner and chokes him to death.
The man that committed the aldultery and the adulteress she surely be put to death! Leviticus.
Duncan and Tessa find Charles’ body outside Elaine’s apartment.
Duncan Tessa, and Elaine end up talking. Elaine purports to have never met Charles before. Duncan seems suspicious of that claim. He walks over and looks at fresh flowers on her table. We learn that Duncan talked to the building concierge who saw someone come into the building. “From the description I think it’s [Albert] Cahill.”
Tessa says how strange it must be to find a dead body on your doorstep, even if you did not know the person. Duncan then tells her that Elaine knew the man. The concierge told him that she had seen the man visit her before. “He was a regular.” Tessa refuses to believe what she is hearing. Duncan points out that a rose they found by the body matches roses he found in her apartment. I guess he swiped one of her roses because he pulls it out of his jacket pocket for the dramatic music moment.
The pimp from earlier in the episode, Battini, pays Elaine a visit at her apartment. He tells her that he has guys looking for the lunatic. After he leaves, Tessa calls and leaves a message on her machine.
We cut back to Tessa and Duncan at the barge. Tessa tells Duncan that she is not answering her phone or returning phone calls so Duncan suggests visiting her. Tessa is clearly angry at Elaine.
D: Tessa, she hasn’t killed anyone.
T: Yes she has. She killed a good friend of mine. Young, intelligent, lovely… she had so much! She became a whore! [long pause] I sound like a judge and jury.
Duncan and Tessa knock on Elaine’s door and she opens it. Elaine lies and says she just returned. Tessa tells her that they believe she is in danger. Duncan tells her that he talked to the concierge. This seems to let Elaine know that they know her profession. Duncan leaves the two women alone and tells them not to open the door to anyone but him.
Elaine tells Tessa that when she found out that she had returned to Paris, she began preparing a lie about her life as an interior decorator.
Duncan wanders down the street while the two women are talking. The camera cuts to Duncan seeing him holding a cross and bible, screaming at passersby. The camera cuts to a couple of men inside a car – presumably Battini the Pimp’s guys.
Duncan approaches him and he stops preaching. “Archangel Gabriel…”
Elaine explains her career path. She got tired of being poor. Tessa tells her that it is not too late to change paths.
Duncan is talking to Cahill. We learn – not for the first time in this episode – that his step-father was a very religious man who used to beat him regularly. Battini’s two guys exit their car. Cahill lets Duncan know that he killed his step-father. “They could never pin it on me, I was always too smart.” Duncan tries to tell him again that he cannot kill people. Cahill decides that Duncan is not the Archangel Gabriel. Instead he believes that Duncan “was sent by the Fallen One” to stop him from doing his work.
As Cahill runs away from Duncan, both Immortals are suddenly attacked by several men. Both men fight off Battini’s henchmen. However, Cahill is able to escape from Duncan in the tumult.
Back on the barge,, Duncan and Tessa are trying to explain to her that Battini will not be able to protect her from Cahill. She is resistant to Duncan’s offers of help. Duncan jumps off her couch, gets in her face, and shouts “Fine! Go on and get yourself killed!” Elaine backs down and asks if she can at least go to her apartment and get a few things before leaving Paris.
Duncan takes Elaine to her apartment. While the two of them are there, collecting her things, Battini arrives. Duncan is less than friendly. Battini gets the idea that Duncan is trying to poach his property. He pulls a gun. Duncan takes him down quickly.
Elaine’s retired. When you get a chance to think about it you’ll realize that’s for the best. [pats his cheek]
Duncan and Elaine take the stairwell instead of the elevator. While they descend, the camera cuts to Battini. He seems to form a resolve, picks up his gun, and I would guess he plans to go re-acquire his property (i.e. Elaine) from Duncan. As he leaves the apartment, he runs into Cahill. Duncan senses Cahill and sends Elaine to his car. He tells her to drive straight to the barge. A few seconds after Duncan re-ascends the stairs, Elaine hears a man yelling. As the audience, we know the yelling is from Battini who is being attacked by Cahill. Instead of following Duncan’s instructions, Elaine also returns upstairs.
Duncan reaches the top of the stairs in time to find Battini dead on the floor. Elaine soon arrives after. Cahill is nowhere to be found. The two go back down the stairs again. Elaine says she regrets that her choices mean she will not be able to be with a man like Duncan. He tells her that she does not know that and that the world is a big place. People reinvent themselves all the time. She asks him how he got so smart and he says “trial and error.”
[Maybe Tessa was right earlier in the episode to tell her friend that Duncan was short, ugly, and poor. Elaine is definitely flirting with her man, now.]
Back on the barge, Tessa hears a knock on the door. Cahill says “I came for the devil and now I’ve found his whore.” He begins choking Tessa. Thinking quickly, Tessa plays along with Cahill’s delusion. She says the Lord told her Cahill would be coming to save her. She says the Lord watches and favors him. When the Immortal Baddie decides she must be lying, and that she is a whore, Tessa says “So was Mary Magdalene. He said a messenger, a man reborn, would free my soul.”
Cahill asks Tessa to pray with him. Then he asks her where MacLeod is. She tells him that MacLeod is looking for him but she does not know where he is. She says he would not tell her because he (Duncan) knew she was his enemy and that she would betray him. Cahill kisses her forehead. She promises to tell him when Duncan returns… and he leaves. Tessa survives.
Sometime later, Duncan and Elaine return to the barge. While Elaine sets her things down, Duncan notices that Tessa has sketched Cahill’s portrait. She is crying. She tells Duncan that Cahill believes himself to be on a holy crusade. He told Tessa that he believes he is the reincarnated Jacques de Molay, the last leader of the Knights Templar.
Duncan knows that the ancient headquarters of the Knights Templar were in Paris. He leaves the two women alone and goes there. Duncan was there earlier in the episode when Cahill died in front of him so he is probably irritated with himself that he did not consider that this might be his hideout already.
MacLeod finds Cahill where he expected to find him. Cahill is dressed in chain mail like a Templar Knight and wielding a battle ax against Duncan’s sword. Mr. Cahill holds out longer against Duncan than one might think – he was a very highly trained soldier after all – but Duncan wins the duel. At the end, Cahill tells him that he won’t do it. Then Duncan does it (takes his head.) This is one of the first times I remember seeing any blood on the ground after an Immortal beheading.
Tessa joins Duncan on a park bench. She tells him that Elaine is gone. She packed up and left without saying goodbye. Duncan tells her that sometimes you have to cut ties to start over. He also says that perhaps she will reach out again someday when she gets to where she needs to be.
This episode answers the question of what would happen if a military-trained crazy person became Immortal. The answer? Nothing good. Obviously. Most of the Immortals we met seem to go crazy over the course of time. I suspect that even if Duncan had not come along, some other Immortal would have taken him out sooner rather than later. In the cruel world in which they live, he was essentially an easy Quickening for any of their kind who is well trained.
There was no flashback in this episode. We can’t have had more than one or two so far in Season 1 without at least one flashback. I love the trips back in time but I did not really see how it fit into this story.
We did get more Duncan-the-computer-hacker story, though. I suppose if this show were set in 2020, everyone Immortal would need to be a master hacker just to change identities, move around the world undetected, etc.
The story… let’s talk about it. 1) Duncan just so happens to be there when Cahill dies. 2) Tessa’s friend just-so-happens to be in the story this week, 3) Tessa’s friend just-so-happens to be a prostitute, 4) Tessa’s friend just-so-happens to work for the same pimp as the prostitute that stabbed Cahill, 5) Cahill just-so-happened to start his prostitute killing spree with Tessa’s friend Elaine and we ar enot told why he picked her or how he knew about her.
I mean… come on.
Tessa’s friendship with Elaine was… weird. In that first phone call, Tessa was more excited about talking with Elaine than any person she has ever talked to in the history of this show. Then we find out they have not seen each other since high school. That felt a little strange to me. It is understandable to be excited about an old friend. HOWEVER… Tessa’s emotional reaction to Elaine’s, uh, job was something else. Disappointment might have made sense to me. But fury? They haven’t seen each other in over a decade. Despite Tessa’s warm nostalgic feelings, the two women are not close. If I found out at my 10 year HS reunion that a former classmate – one I had not talked to since graduating – had become a prostitute, I don’t know if I would jump to fury. Surprise? Disappointment? Sadness? Curiosity? Maybe all of those. But anger? Tessa is an artist, though. She has a more diverse pallet of emotional color than I do.
One of Tessa’s first thoughts about meeting Elaine is that she might “get ideas” about Duncan. That turned out to be true, I think. It’s a strange move, in my opinion, to gush over your friend’s love interest, to his face, when the two of you are alone together. Elaine did that with Duncan. But as we have established, Elaine and Tessa are not actually that close.
I want to establish a timeline of events. Duncan, Elaine, and Cahill left Elaine’s apartment at roughly the same time. Cahill left because he had just killed Battini. Duncan and Elaine left after finding his body. They heard him scream before he died and found him only moments later. Cahill had time to stop by his Knights Templar hideout and pray before going to the barge. Nevertheless, he beat MacLeod and Elaine to the barge by enough time to have a frightening conversation with Tessa and for her to draw an accurate portrait of him after he was gone? Where did Duncan and Elaine go after they left her apartment? He was at the barge half an hour before they were. Maybe longer. Keep in mind, too, that Cahill stopped off someplace on the way over and he had to figure out where Duncan even lives. Something about all of that does not add up, Duncan MacLeod.
I enjoyed both the scene of Tessa talking her way out of being murdered by Cahill and her reaction to it after. She described crawling into his head as though it is a superpower she has. In this case, her superpower 1) saved her life and 2) gave Duncan a good guess as to where to find him.
Was it a good choice for Duncan to leave the two women alone on the barge to go find the guy? I guess it worked out.
All in all, this was not one of this show’s better outings from a writing standpoint. The characters were tied together with implausibilities. Richie was irritatingly missing. The timeline continuity did not make sense near the end of the episode. I mean, I still enjoyed the episode. The visuals of this show are so good (pretty people, classic architecture) that I suspect they would have a hard time putting something on the screen that I could not enjoy even with bad writing. But the show usually delivers a more cohesive and well-developed story than this one. It felt like a rough draft whose problems were not ironed out before it was produced.
4 thoughts on “Highlander (Season 1, Ep 20): Avenging Angel”
“This episode answers the question of what would happen if a military-trained crazy person became Immortal. The answer? Nothing good.” – This made me laugh. Very thorough review. Cheers. =D
I found your site when I started watching a couple of months ago and have been referring back to it for clarity on episode plot points ever since so thanks for writing it! Also it’s really nice to read well written reviews where the author has taken the time to spell and punctuate properly – very much appreciated.
I got confused with this episode though, surely where MacLeod killed Cahill was hallowed ground? I could be talking out of my arse though…
Thanks for reading!
As for the question, I *think* the Templar hideout in this episode is not considered “Holy Ground” per se, though the decorations make that a little confusing. The franchise is really vague about what constitutes “Holy Ground” but I think the place has to primarily be a place of worship and the underground Templar HQ probably did not qualify – even if it was decorated with crosses.
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