Highlander (Season 2, Ep 23): The Watchers

Welcome back to Highlander: the Series. I am doing an episode-by-episode watch, recap, and reaction and blogging about it here. There will be no spoilers for the series beyond the current episode. You can find my prior recaps HERE.

For those of you that don’t want to read the long recap, I provide a quick episode summary here at the top. You can also just scroll down to the “REACTION” heading below.

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

Using a couple of numbers and an abbreviate, written in the mysterious Book that Darius left for Duncan, after his death, Duncan, Richie and Tessa return to the United States to search of Darius’s killers. Duncan’s search leads him to a man named Joe Dawson who when forced to do so, readily admits that he belongs to an ancient secret society dedicated to chronicling the accurate history of Immortals. Joe tells Duncan that his order is forbidden to interfere in any way with the activities of Immortals. Joe is unwilling to believe that one of the Watchers killed Darius.

Duncan hangs around Joe long enough to discover that his brother-in-law is James Horton – the man who led the squad of men that killed Darius. Duncan first confronts Horton in Joe’s presence and ascertains that Joe did not know about Horton’s actions. He confronts Horton a second time with Joe’s help. The showdown leaves Duncan shot and James ran through with Duncan’s sword. They both appear to die on the ground while Joe and Horton’s adult daughter observe. When Duncan revives from the gun shot, he is alone and no evidence of Joe or James Horton is anywhere to be found around him. The show ends with Duncan, Tessa, and Richie celebrating their return to the U.S. In the background, we see a couple of people staring at them ominously while the camera pans to Watchers tattoos on their wrists.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:

I’ve been practicing with the katana. My body is ready. Let’s go.

We have a new intro sequence narrated by Jim Byrnes who is new cast member named Joe Dawson. Queen’s Princes of the Universe is still here and completely iconic. The new intro montage also appears to be laden with some season 2 spoilers.

Season 2 begins where it left off – in Paris. We get a quiet nighttime city scape camera shot before we hear Richie in what appears to be a dive bar telling MacLeod that he had had enough. Duncan is so zoned out that Richie can barely get his attention from across the table. Richie is trying to get Duncan to talk about Darius’s death. Richie notes that while Duncan has lost a lot of friends, he has not lost a lot if three hundred year long friendships. Duncan has been spending his time staring at the book he find in Darius’s study after the old Immortal died. Duncan stares down at his ice cubes and we go back in time.

FLASHBACK!!

The show gives us a catch-up montage on events from the season 1 finale. Duncan remembers meeting Darius and remembers discussing the Book with Tessa and Richie. The Book is a chronicle of observations about Immortals – who they are and what they do – dating back hundreds of years. The Book implies that its authors belong to a secret order of humans with a mission to observe and record but never interfere.

Back in the present, a fellow patron of the bar screams in Mac’s face before laughing and walking away. Duncan ignores him for now and tells Richie that Darius left them the book for a reason. Inside the book Darius wrote 27NJS. MacLeod does not know why. The bad guy bar patron, who we can now see is a skinhead at a table of skinheads, grabs another patron to intimidate him. The younger man asks “please let me go.” Duncan decides to intervene.

Duncan: Leave him alone. Hey, I’m talking to you, Conehead!

Richie advises the other table that Duncan has had a bad week and to be careful. Then the fight starts. Duncan tells Richie to stay out of this one. One by one, Duncan obliterates the people at the other table, yelling at them to get up when he is done with them. Richie finally pulls MacLeod off of the biggest of their group and tells him that it is enough. Duncan pulls himself together enough to leave.

Back on the barge, Duncan and Tessa are boxing up their belongings. She notes that all he has are a few numbers and some initials. She asks him how he knows it is for a zip code in The States and he asks what else it could be. She asks how he will even find them if he goes.

Duncan: Well, if I go there, maybe they’ll find me.
Tessa: Revenge. That’s what all this is about. Is that what Darius would have wanted?
Duncan: I can’t ignore this Tess.
Tessa: When are we leaving?

He tells her that his flight leaves in the morning. She says hers too, then, and that they are either together or they are not.

Back in the United States, Duncan drives around in his T-Bird convertible looking at the 27NJS note. After visiting and leaving several places, one of which was 27 North Jay St., we see Duncan enter a bookstore. The young salesclerk stares at him like he knows what MacLeod is. Duncan asks him if they know each other. Then an older man approaches and offers to help. Duncan tells the older man he is an antique dealer. He shows the man The Book and says he came across it. He wants to know more about it before attempting to sell it. The older man tells him that it is not worth much in the condition it is in. The older man notes that the illustrations are beautiful and suggests that it might be the work of monks. He offers to buy it from Duncan and MacLeod replies that he thought the older man said it was not worth very much.

Older Man: It’s for me. I have a weakness for beautiful things.
Duncan: I’m sorry, it’s not for sale.
OM: I’d give you a fair price.
Duncan: Thanks anyway.
OM: Look if you change your mind. I’m Joe Dawson.

Duncan leaves the bookstore and looks down. Through his sunglasses he can see the faint outline of a red laser. He turns around and sees the red laser light land on his book. He looks at the windows across the street, appearing to decide where he thinks the light is coming from, and then crosses the street toward the source of the light. From inside the bookstore, Joe Dawson watches.

Once MacLeod has crossed the street, he runs to his right. We see two anonymous men coming quickly down a stairwell. As they reach the ground level, Duncan is waiting on them. He says he will take two. They feign ignorance and he asks if they are selling something in their briefcase.

Duncan: I promised the little lady some laser surveillance gear. You know, so she can keep an eye on the kids.

They rush toward Duncan, knock him down, and then take off running. Duncan chases. For some reason, they decide to attack Duncan while he is in pursuit instead of getting away outright. He takes one of them out easily. The other fights him one-on-one. It does not go well. The other man does not take Duncan’s request that he stay down and MacLeod throws him into a trash dumpster and knocks him out. MacLeod opens the brief case and finds the equipment inside. He tells the two men to talk to him.

Joe Dawson walks up on the scene.

Joe: You’ll know soon enough, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.
Duncan: So you do know me.
Joe: We know all about you.

Joe tells Duncan that he probably knows more about him than Duncan knows about himself. He knows the time and place Duncan became Immortal, the name of his first love, but then says none of that is important. He says that what is important is that Duncan cares about mortals and does not kill for pleasure.

Duncan: How about for revenge?
Joe: For that I’d have to be your enemy. And I’m not.
Duncan: Is that what you said to Darius?
Joe: Darius? The great general who became a monk? I hope the Immortal who killed him rots in h***.
Duncan: He was killed by a mortal.
Joe: How do you know?
Duncan: Because he was beheaded on Holy Ground. No Immortal would ever DARE break that rule.

Tessa and Richie are setting up their new antique store / apartment. She tells Richie to start with the blinds and the windows. Richie pulls down one of the blinds, to dust it, and he sees a face staring at him through the glass from the other side. He yells in surprise and runs outside. Tessa follows. He tells her that a guy was there just a second ago but now he is gone. They go back inside.

Joe and Duncan are still walking and talking. Joe explains to Duncan that his group has been watching Immortals for as long as there have been Immortals. Duncan asks why no one has ever noticed them watching and Joe replies that they would have no reason to notice another face in the crowd. He tells MacLeod that The Book is one of their Chronicles. It disappeared five hundred years ago and somehow Darius got it. Duncan asks if the Chronicles exist so that the group can hunt Immortals and Joe says no, the reason for lack of interference is that they want the truth to survive the passage of time, not a bunch of old wives’ tales. Interference would put that goal at risk. Joe tells Duncan that they would never kill Darius because he was one of his organization’s great hopes. He also says that Duncan is four hundred years old and that he would feel it if Joe were lying.

Back at the store, Richie is managing the unloading of the moving trucks in a very Richie fashion.

Richie: That’s good, that’s good, just like that, just like that, heeeey, be careful with that, these things don’t bounce, you know what I’m saying? Right through there. Perfect. Thank you very much.

Richie sees Tessa and tells her that it’s exciting being home. She says yes, she supposes. Richie asks her what the problem is and she replies that she wishes they were coming back for a different reason. Richie puts an arm around her and tells her that being in a relationship with MacLeod is like being in a relationship with a cop or a superhero. He describes what life might be like with a dentist, in boring detail, and then suggests that Tessa is not cut out for the boring life.

Tessa: Yeah. What was I cut out for?
Richie: I don’t know. Maybe something more the Mel Gibson type.

She laughs, he kisses her on the cheek,and Tessa suddenly notices someone watching them. She grabs Richie’s face and warns him not to turn around.

Back in his office, Joe shows Duncan a database and describes Immortal Kurgan. He notes Connor MacLeod did the world a favor by getting rid of him. Joe takes Duncan to a souvenirs wall. He has a shot glass from a now deceased Immortal named Okie. He has a short sword of a Native American called Iron Horse who served as a shaman for his tribe for three generations. Duncan next finds a battle ax on the table.

FLASHBACK!!!

We find ourselves in the Season 1 episode Mountain Men. Duncan is using the ax – in Joe Dawson’s office in the present – to kill Immortal Caleb Cole. This fight was the first time Tessa got to witness a Quickening.

Back in the present, Joe tells Duncan than one of his operatives was close by when the fight occurred. He also tells Duncan that he (Joe) has been tracking Duncan personally for the last fifteen years.

Joe: We know there can be only one.
Duncan: It should have been Darius.
Joe: That wasn’t his fate.
Duncan: Fate didn’t kill him. You did.

Duncan tells Joe that one of Darius’s killers had the same tattoo on his wrist that Joe has on his own. Joe says that’s not possible.

In the next scene, we see the younger guy from the book store, earlier, kissing a young woman… vigorously. They are making out in the bookstore and Joe walks up on them and coughs to alert them of his presence.

Joe: You know you’re lucky that your father is the boss.
Girl: Oh, uncle Joe.

The girl, who Joe names Lynn, has just graduated and she tells Joe that her father is throwing her a party. However, he forgot to send out the invitations. She has come by the bookstore to make certain that Joe knows he is invited, as well as to ask if she can borrow her fiancé for a few hours. Duncan follows Joe out from his office and Joe introduces him to Lynn and the younger man as an old friend. Duncan says he could not help but overhear and congratulates her. The bookstore employee she has been kissing looks at Duncan in a too knowing and somewhat uncomfortable way. He says he cannot leave work with her because he has things to discuss with Joe. However, Joe assures him that he can go.

After they leave, Duncan leaves too. Before he goes, he tells Joe that he hopes not to find out that Joe had something to do with Darius’ death.

Back at the apartment, the man who has been watching Tessa and Richie in their new apartment is surprised to see the moving truck back up and crash into his car. Richie hops out of the moving truck and right into Tessa’s car – with Tessa already behind the wheel and prepared for a fast getaway. Some distance later, Tessa pulls the car over.

Tessa: Why did you do that?
Richie: Better safe than sorry.
Tessa: What if you’re wrong?
Richie: If I’m wrong, the insurance will cover it. If I’m right, those just might be the guys who killed Darius.

Tessa points out to Richie that they no do not know where Duncan is, cannot warn him in any way, and now he may return to find those guys at the apartment.

Richie: Oh, this is great, just great. I’m mean, he’s there, they’re there, we’re here, nobody’s anywhere.
Tessa: Did you ever think of running for Congress?

We see Tessa using a pay phone, not getting anyone, and then returning to the car. She tells Richie that they may as well wait where they are and periodically try to get MacLeod on the phone. Richie replies that waiting is not his thing.

We see Duncan at the antique store calling out for Tessa and Richie. A moment later a couple of men attack him. One of them is the young fiancé Duncan just met at the bookstore earlier. Duncan fights them off, throwing one of them out of a window. He corners the bookstore guy and asks if Dawson sent him. He does not answer. Duncan tells him it does not have to be this way and then tells him to get out. The man runs away.

Later, Duncan is staking out Dawson’s bookstore. He sees Joe get into a car and Duncan follows him into the aforementioned graduation party discussed earlier. At the party, Joe is speaking privately on a balcony with James Horton. Horton was the man who led the group that killed Darius. Joe appears not to know about Horton’s Immortal hunting activities. On the balcony, Horton tells Joe that after Duncan left him, he killed a member of their organization. Joe says that is impossible because there is no way that Duncan misunderstood. He explains to Hortan that he was forced to speak with Duncan about what they are because Duncan was aware of them and believed they were trying to kill him.

Inside, Lynn sees Duncan looking at her family pictures. One of them is of her and Horton in softball gear. I guess Horton is her dad. She says hello and he tells her that he is looking for Joe. She walks Duncan toward Joe and Horton. Duncan immediately recognizes Horton but Horton pretends in front of his daughter that he has never met Duncan before.

The show flashes back to the Season 1 finale fight scene between Duncan and Horton.

When we flash forward the present, Duncan awkwardly refuses to shake Horton’s hand for a long moment before finally taking Horton’s hand and playing along. Dawson can see through the charade that Duncan has met Horton before and he appears to be surprised by it. Duncan tells Horton that he just got back from Paris and that an old friend died there unexpectedly. Horton says that it’s too bad and that these things can happen. Lynn seems to be regretting introducing Duncan to her father.

Lynn: Okaaaay, everybody, let’s get real here.
Horton: What do you mean?
Lynn: It’s obvious you guys know each other.

Duncan suggests that they take a walk and Horton tells him to go to h****. Duncan responds to that by punching him in the face. Lynn begs Duncan to stop while everyone at the party begins to look on. When Duncan stands down, Lynn asks him what that was all about and he tells her to ask her father.

Lynn: He won’t tell me.
Duncan: Neither will I.

Duncan leaves.

Later, after the party, Horton is standing on the balcony alone. Lynn’s fiancé knocks and enters. Horton calls to him to join him on the balcony. Horton tell him that Lynn is asleep and that she was upset when he did not join them for the party. The younger man explains that MacLeod put one of their men in the hospital and that he lost him while tailing him. Horton surprises the younger man by telling him that MacLeod was here, at the party earlier, and that he has arrived to destroy them. Horton says that the only way to avoid destruction is to destroy Duncan, first.

Younger man: What if we’re wrong?
Horton: What do you mean, wrong?
Younger man: What if they’re not all bad?

[It seems like poor judgment, in my estimation, to question a homicidal person while standing on a balcony with him.]

Horton tells “Robert” that it does not matter if the Immortals are good or evil because either way they are here to dominate humanity. Robert says that Joe does not believe this and Horton states that Joe is a hopeless romantic. Robert says that Duncan could have killed him at the store, earlier, but did not. It seems to have stuck with him that Duncan told him that it does not have to be this way. Robert stands up to his future father-in-law and tells him that he is done with watching Immortals. He says he will handle leaving their order with Joe. Horton says that questioning is a sign of active intelligence. When Robert turns his back, Horton rushes at him and throws him from the balcony to his death.

The following day, Tessa and Richie are still in her car next to the phone booth. Tessa slams it down after apparently missing Duncan again. Tessa says she is tired of running and hiding and that they are going back to the store.

Joe enters his bookstore and finds Duncan waiting for him. Joe asks, cynically, if Duncan is going to kill him, too. Duncan says he did not kill anyone. He notes that this is happening under Joe’s nose and suggests that while he knows Joe is not stupid, perhaps Joe is blind.

Joe: Tell me what I’m supposed to see?
Duncan: How about a softball coach who is running a death squad on the side.

Duncan tells Joe that Horton killed Darius. Joe says that Darius died in France and that James Horton was in Germany on business. Duncan suggests that Joe check Horton’s passport. He tells Joe that Horton was in Paris together with other killers he recruited from their order.

Joe asks why Duncan trusts him and MacLeod replies that if Joe was on the other side, he would have tried to kill him in the alley the other day. He also states that he believes the men with the laser equipment he caught and fought were spying on Joe and not him.

Duncan: Besides, it’s like you said. I have a little more experience judging men than you have.

Back at Horton’s apartment, Lynn appears to know that Robert is dead. She is crying on her father’s shoulder that she and Robert had a fight as they left the bookstore the other day. Horton tells Lynn that Robert most likely just lost his balance and maybe he had been drinking. They are interrupted by a phone call from MacLeod. He asks Horton where his friends are and Horton walks away from his daughter to ask him why Duncan believes he knows. MacLeod says all of this stinks of him.

Horton suggests that they meet to discuss things at Darrow Warf. We see that Lynn was listening to their conversation covertly as the call ends.

At the Warf, Joe meets Horton instead of Duncan. Joe tells him that he’s not coming and that his friends are safe. He also tells Horton that he knows Horton ordered their deaths. Joe sees an ax nearby and asks if Horton was planning to use that to kill MacLeod.

Horton: It’s not state of the art, I agree. But it’s effective.

Joe lectures Horton about the fact that what he is doing betrays their entire order. As the lecture is on-going, they hear Duncan take out one of Horton’s guards. Horton pulls a gun. As Horton calls out for his men, MacLeod appears and tells him that they will not be able to make it to the party. Joe tells Duncan that James does not know what he’s doing.

James points a gun at Joe’s head and tells Duncan that he will tell the order MacLeod murdered him. Joe, with a gun at his head, replies that James killed Robert.

James: In times of war, innocents get killed. I believe that generals call that collateral damage.
Lynn: [stepping out of the shadows] Is that what Robert was? Collateral damage?

Horton shouts at his daughter to go. As he does, he pulls the gun away from Joe. Duncan takes the opportunity to rush at Horton and wrestle him for the gun. Duncan slowly overpowers Horton and points the bad man’s gun toward the bad man. Lynn cries to Duncan not to kill her father. After a long pause, Joe also says “don’t” to MacLeod. Duncan sets the gun down on the table. He tells Horton, “another time” and walks away. Horton grabs the gun and fires it at Duncan. Duncan comes back toward Horton, shot, but runs him through with his sword. Both Duncan and Horton collapse and die on the floor.

Later, Duncan revives alone. All sign of the others is now gone. Duncan goes to Joe’s bookstore office and accesses his computer. He does a search for Kurgan and a message “No File Found” is returned. He searches for himself and gets the same message.

Later, Duncan is reunited with Tessa and Richie.

Richie: Secret societies! Mortals trying to kill us! I mean, you’re never gonna know where it’s coming from.
Duncan: Thanks for that happy thought, Rich.
Tessa: They’ll be back, won’t they?
Duncan: Maybe. But not today.

As Duncan, Tessa, and Richie walk away, the camera pans over to a couple watching them ominously from a distance. And just in case it was not clear why this couple if watching them, the camera pans to the man’s wrist.

Roll Credits

REACTION:

The mythology of this show / fictional universe expands to include “The Watchers.” The term might be a familiar one to anyone who has read through the Book of Genesis. The show writers appear to be drawing some inspiration from the Biblical narrative rooted in Genesis and The Book of Enoch / The Book of the Watchers. In the ancient Jewish tradition, The Watchers were an order of angels whose job was to observe humanity without overt interference. They disobeyed, took human wives, had hybrid offspring, and taught humans technology. This is what led to The Great Flood of Noah. And just in case it is not clear that the writers are pulling from the Bible, early in this episode, MacLeod refers to a guy at a bar (a guy he subsequently fights) as a “conehead.” There is a long-standing belief/tradition that the Biblical Nephilim had elongated skulls. (That’s a fun rabbit hole to dive down if you’re bored – there is WAY more there than you might think.)

Substantively, what do I think about the mythological expansion of the show’s universe? Honestly, I do not think it makes a lot of sense. For an order like The Watchers to exist, and not be detected by humans (let alone Immortals) they would have to have infiltrated and taken over almost every other intelligence gathering organization, in every country, in the world. Otherwise, it’s just not plausible that MI6, the CIA, etc., would not have caught on to this group, counter-infiltrated, learned what they know, etc. That would be a problem for The Watchers because it would mean the government would likely act on that information in some way and/or that Immortals who are members of those intel groups would act on that information in some way against The Watchers. The only way the concept of The Watchers works is if The Watchers basically govern the world in secret.

Setting that aside, I liked the episode. My biggest critique is that not a lot actually happens. Most of the episode is flashback to the Season 1 finale and/or info-dump. Duncan meets Joe. Joe explains about the Watchers. Duncan grows suspicious of Joe and follows Joe. He has an unplanned confrontation with Horton. With Joe’s help, Duncan confronts Horton again and it is unclear what happens after Duncan dies. The subplot is that Richie and Tessa find out they are being watched so they hide out in a parking lot for almost the entire episode.

I feel as though Horton’s reaction would be a lot more typical than Joe’s reaction to knowing about the existence of Immortals. I mean… how would you react if you found ou that Immortals are fighting to the death to see who gets to rule the world? At a minimum, you’d expect humanity to try to tip the scales in favor of the Immortals who are good guys. We did not see Horton’s dead body at the end of the episode so you know what the means for his place on the show.

It looks like “the setting” of the show is the United States for at least the first half of the season, again. For those that might not remember, this show was done in a partnership between Canada and France. I suspect then that we will have a story-driven reason to return to France by about the midway point of Season 2.

The new regular cast member, Jim Byrnes, is an excellent musician. He continues a long line of this show pulling heavily from the music world for acting talent.

One thought on “Highlander (Season 2, Ep 23): The Watchers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s