Highlander (Season 1, Ep 21): Nowhere to Run

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my episode-by-episode blog covering Highlander: the Series. There are spoilers ahead. Don’t lose your head at me if you see them and did not want to. I warned you.

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

Guest-starring Marion Cotillard in her first TV role, Duncan, Tessa, and Richie go to visit Tessa’s childhood friend Allen, who is now a wealthy French diplomat. Unbeknownst to them, Allen’s son Mark has recently raped Lori, the step-daughter of Immortal Col. Everett Bellian. Duncan is all that stands between Mark and the vigilante justice of Bellian and his mercenary solders.

After a stand-off at Allen’s chateau that leads to the death of many of Bellian’s soldiers, and the gun fire wounding of Allen, Duncan and Bellian confront one another despite neither really wanting to take the other Immortal’s head. In any case, Duncan wins their sword fight. Before Duncan can take Bellian’s head, their fight is interrupted by Mark who uses a pistol to command Duncan to kill him. Lori, the rape victim, also shows up at this fight scene, wherein she shoots and kills Mark.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:

We start this episode with a couple of young folks kissing in a car. The young woman is… Marion Cotillard! What’s more, Highlander: the Series is her first acting credit as an adult (she starred in a movie short and a TV movie when she was a child.) We have actually seen her on Highlander previously. She gave birth in the episode “Saving Grace” and was uncredited. She was seventeen or eighteen when this episode aired.

Anyway, the guy she is with does not seem to be taking no for an answer in his efforts to escalate kissing to something else. She finally gets out of the car and walks out into the woods. I believe she plans to walk home. He chases her out into the woods and apologizes. Unfortunately, his apology is started to seem a little bit grabby, too.

The show suddenly does a hard cut away to look up at the sky. We hear a scream sound. And the next thing we see is Marion Cotillard walking alone down the road with a torn dress.

Eventually a man driving down the road sees her and stops his car abruptly. She calls out, “Daddy.” After hugging her…

His name, Lori. I want his name.

Duncan, Tessa, and Richie appear to be staying with a man named Allen. They have just arrived in their car and Duncan sends Richie out to open the huge iron gate so that they can drive in. Before exiting the car to go inside, Tessa tells Duncan that Allen was the first man she ever loved.

D: Should I be jealous?
T: Very. I was seven. He was 19.
D: Oooh.
T: When he joined the diplomatic service after college I was heart-broken. Even then I had a thing for older men. Maybe I should thank him.

The place is palatial and in addition to the enormous iron gate at the entrance, we see vines crawling up the aged stone exterior.

As Allen opens the front door, Tessa literally runs to greet him. Then he calls for his son Mark to come down and meet the guests. Well, wouldn’t you know it? Mark is the rapist from the start of the episode.

Richie tries to make conversation with Mark. His efforts are… rebuffed. Richie keeps on though and eventually (regrettably) gets Mark to start talking. Mark complains about where they are staying because the place is not yet renovated. (Allen has not lived in the place for years because his diplomatic work has had him travelling the world for a couple of decades. In fact, help in assessing a potential renovation of the place is why Allen has invited artist Tessa to come see the place.) Anyway… Mark goes on. He says “and you can forget about the women. Even the cows have more style.” Richie tries to change the topic.

R: Tessa tells me you’ve lived just about everywhere in the world.
M: Diplomat brat, that’s me. Look, I know you’re trying to be friendly but what’s the point? I know we’re both guys but really that’s all we have in common.

In the other room, the three older adults are talking when suddenly Duncan senses the presence of another Immortal. He excuses himself to go outside and get something from the car. Outside, there is a thick fog covering the grounds of the estate. Duncan and Colonel Everett Bellian introduce themselves to one another. Bellian tells Duncan that he is here looking for Mark Rothwood. When Duncan asks why, Bellian tells him that Mark raped his step-daughter.

Bellian commands Duncan to bring him Mark and says that if Mac does not comply, he will go get Mark himself. As Bellian walks away into the fog, Richie comes outside and asks MacLeod if he is ready to leave.

R: I’ve been with this jerk for fifteen minutes and I’m ready to take him apart.
D: You’ll have to wait in line.

Duncan goes back inside and confronts Mark who denies even knowing Lori. The young rapist says that “these things happen all the time to people who have money.” He writes down the number of his father’s lawyers. Mark then says they will work out something “financially acceptable.”

Now Duncan is angry. Duncan pushes Mark backward until his back hits a wall and then MacLeod screams the question right in his face, “DID YOU RAPE HER? DID YOU?”

Mark again denies doing it.

FLASHBACK!!

A French soldier is being accused of desertion in the face of the enemy by his fellow soldiers. He says his comrades are lying. “It is their word against mine!” Duncan rides forward and flies off of his horse yelling that this is a mistake. His effort to shield the man with his own body does not prevent the commanding officer from carrying out the firing squad orders.

Back in the present, Duncan is talking with Bellian. He is trying to persuade him to let the courts handle this. Bellian counters that MacLeod has been around long enough to know that the rich are not bound by the law. Just then, a few vans filled with mercenary soldiers arrive. Bellian then asks MacLeod, “if this were your woman, what would you do?” He says that he has no desire to harm the innocent. Therefore, the safety of the innocent inside depends on Duncan bringing Mark to him.

The soldiers begin scaling the vine covered walls of the chateau. Duncan gathers everyone, explains the situation, and tells them that they need to leave in Allen’s Jeep immediately. They all go outside and apparently they have taken too long to leave. They immediately come under fire. It appears that Bellian is not attempting to kill anyone, just yet, though. The group has time to run back inside the building.

Duncan begins preparing the siege defenses of the chateau. They barricade windows and doors. Bellian does not know that the people inside are not armed so he holds his soldiers back to let the fog settle before moving in. The siege defenses include pushing furniture against the window and opening what looks like a bear trap in the middle of the floor. This episode aired after Home Alone came out. I know Duncan has served in too many wars to count but I cannot help but feel Kevin McAllister would be doing a better job here.

Now here we see the cold eyes and malicious mind of someone who can defend a mansion.

Bellian has gathered up his men. He tells them that he wants Mark alive.

Inside, Duncan and Allen are tying up a trip wire. Allen asks if Duncan believes Mark raped the girl. Duncan says that what matters is that the men outside believe that he did it. Allen says that he thinks he should ask Duncan to leave but admits he is not really that brave. “We don’t have a chance without you.” Suddenly Duncan senses Bellian and knows he and his men are coming now.

The soldiers breach the interior of the mansion with ease. While one of them is coming toward the more fortified position that Duncan and his crew have staked out, Mark mumbles that he cannot believe all of this is happening over that girl. Richie hears him and interprets this as a confession. Richie and Mark end up shoving each other a bit as a man with a machine gun appears to close in on their position.

As the man is a few feet away from the two who are now openly fighting, Duncan runs into the room and screams “RICHIE DOWN!” Richie pulls Mark down the to ground with him as Duncan throws a circular saw blade over their descending bodies, right into the chest of the soldier. He fires off a few shots into the air as he dies. Duncan now has an assault rifle.

Duncan and Bellian talk again on the phone. Bellian offers Duncan a last chance to give him what he wants. Duncan tells him to go home and we then see Bellian send several men toward the chateau.

Tessa is rigging a booby trap atop a kitchen door where a large pot now sits waiting to spill its chemical contents on some unwary person’s face. Duncan tells her not to hang around once she pulls the cord. He is bizarrely calm and confident.

In short succession, Duncan takes out one soldier who rappels in through a window. Tessa then takes another another with her booby trap of chemicals. Richie takes out a third soldier by hitting him with a two-by-four and inadvertently knocking him headfirst into Chekhov’s Bear Trap.

After machine gunning the front doors for 10 seconds, another soldier attempts to enter the chateau. He makes the mistake of putting his hand on the doorknob though and meets a fate of electrocution. Even “I’m not that brave” Allen gets in on the castle defense and he… SETS A MAN ON FIRE. It might be for the best if Allen does not survive this episode. He has a look of enjoyment in his eyes which seems to say something has awakened inside of him that he did not previously know was there.

When a soldier reaches Mark, the first part of the defense of his room (a trip wire) goes well. However, Mark freezes when it is his turn to finish a soldier off. His lengthy hesitation before hitting the downed soldier gives said soldier time to get up and quickly take out Richie who was attempting to jump in and save Mark. Fortunately for this episode’s rapist, Bellian – who does not know he is mere seconds from his quarry – blows a whistle outside and the soldier retreats from the chateau.

Why did Bellian blow his whistle? Lori has arrived. She is asking “Daddy” to take her home. Inside, Allen now believes that his son is a rapist. When finally confronted with the question by his father, Mark tells Allen that “she was asking for it.” Mark begins blubbering to his dad that he (Allen) is a diplomat and that he can take care of this. Allen hugs his son.

Outside, Lori is speaking with her step-father. “If you are going to commit murder, let’s at least be honest about why.” She accuses him of acting not out of love but out of vanity. “The great warrior’s ego could not stand it that his own daughter was raped.” She tells him that if he succeeds in killing Mark, he will go to prison and she will lose him. When he tells her that she does not understand, she threatens to get the police. Bellian has one of his men lock Lori up so that she cannot go to the police.

Allen is with Mark. They appear to have made a decision to leave without the others. Tessa catches them before leaving. She runs to tell Duncan that they are making a run for it. Duncan gives chase hoping to keep the father and son alive. He is not fast enough. One of Bellian’s men sees them. As he prepares to shoot Mark, Allen shoves Mark aside and takes the bullets himself. Duncan shoots the soldier and checks on Allen. Duncan and Mark carry a still-alive Allen back inside the house.

Through the fog, Bellian watches them escape back to the house.

Inside the house, Mark says he needs to do something. Duncan tells him that if he wants to do something, then he can stay alive.

I’m not going to let you throw away a life that he’s paid for.

Duncan speaks with Bellian again on the phone. MacLeod asks him if enough people have died and asks him to stop. Bellian replies that it is too late.

Duncan goes out into the fog alone. He starts attacking and immobilizing soldiers one at a time. Inside the house, Mark asks Richie to give him Richie’s gun. Young Mr. Ryan obviously refuses. However, undeterred, Mark convinces Richie that he hears a noise in the other room. As Richie turns his back to check it out, Mark hit him in the head with a led pipe hard enough to kill him. Mark then picks up the gun and walks outside with it. Improbably, Richie recovers a few moments later and he seems to be suffering zero ill effects.

Richie looks for Mark outside. Instead of finding Mark, though, he hears Lori yelling for someone to let her out of the little shed where she has been locked up. Richie lets her out. Lori takes off into the fog.

Duncan finds Bellian. Bellians tells Duncan that he could shoot him and then take his head. MacLeod replies, “You could, but you won’t.” The two Immortals then honorably begin a sword fight in the midst of a dense fog. Duncan is clearly the superior swordsman. He eventually gets the upper hand on Bellian and disarms him. Duncan does not want Bellian’s head and again asks him to let this madness be over. Bellian shakes his head no. Duncan hesitates again to take his head.

Mark arrives with a gun pointed in the direction of the two Immortals and tells Duncan tel kill him. Lori arrives, too. ♫Lori’s got a gun. Her whole world’s come undone. ♫ Actually, she just shoots Mark a few times as Bellian yells “no!” at her for doing so.

As the episode is ending, it appears Allen is going to survive. He is being driven to a hospital. Tessa, Duncan, and Richie are following him there because Tessa wants to be there when he finds out about Mark.

REACTION:

One might be forgiven for wishing – with the benefit of hindsight – that Duncan had listened to Bellian at the outset of the siege and done what he asked. Bellian’s mercenary soldiers could have survived this campaign. Allen would not have been shot. Lori would not have been forced to add the trauma of killing her rapist atop the trauma of being raped. Mark was just rotten and irredeemable from beginning to end. Even in the moments after his father was shot, instead of contrition, he clubs Richie in the head with a steel pipe and tries to kill Bellian. You could see those thoughts going through Duncan’s mind, I think, in the moments after Mark was killed.

I suppose it was of some small comfort that inattentive father Allen survived. He seemed like a decent man. He did not know his son was a monster. Once he found out, he tried to do the right thing. However, how does one cope with that as a father? In the span of a few hours, you find out your son is a rapist sociopath, you take a few bullets to save his life, and then he gets killed anyway. I guess we won’t see Allen again so we will never find out the answer.

It’s lost in all the trauma that started the episode, and all the trauma that followed, but maybe my favorite Tessa moment in the entire run of this show happened in her first scene of this episode. In that short conversation she had with Duncan in the car, about how she was in love with Allen when she was a seven year old, we saw more joy from Tessa than probably at any other moment in the entire run of this show. We have seen cleverness, passion, affection, compassion, rage, and kindness from her. We seldom get to see unbridled joy. She was genuinely pleased with her nostalgia and with herself over the joke she made about always having a thing for older men. And then she kept on with that joy by literally running to the door to greet Allen. It is a small thing but I liked that moment.

We learn a little bit about Tessa’s backstory. For the first time that I can remember, her parents are mentioned as having existed. It is strange that her family has not come up more since the show relocated to Paris.

Marion Cotillard was terrific. Even at 17 or 18, when she filmed this episode, her star power just jumps off the screen. What a bizarre first TV role for a future Academy Award Winner, though. I mean, just imagine her saying something like, “my first role on camera was as a guest star on Highlander: the Series, wherein my character was traumatically raped to start the episode, said rape was revisited several times throughout via flashback, my character had to talk my Immortal soldier step-father from carrying out a murderous revenge campaign on my character’s behalf, but she eventually ended the episode by killing the rapist herself.”

Let’s talk about Richie. This whole thing is just another day for him in Duncan’s vicinity. But he took a hit to the head that should have hospitalized him. That blow had almost no effect on him. I backed it up and watched it a couple of times. The direction, the sounds effects, the way he dropped motionless to the floor… everything about that scene… it was a blow that could have killed him. He was completely fine.

As for Duncan? He is almost always on the right side of a morality issue. I believe he was on the right side in this episode, too. You cannot just turn over even guilty people for vigilante justice. But if there ever was an argument for doing so, Mark made that argument in this episode. Adrian Paul did a really great job with just a quick facial expression of conveying all of that moral confusion right after Mark died.

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