Highlander (Season 2, Ep 26): The Darkness

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:

An evil Watcher is on the loose in Seacouver, killing Immortals by luring them into pitch black rooms and using night-vision goggles to kill them while they are relatively helpless.  Tessa is kidnapped by said Watcher shortly after Duncan finally proposes marriage to her and after a palm reader has a vision predicting the kidnapping. 

Duncan tracks down the place where Tessa is hidden.  He is able to beat the bad guy Watcher, in the darkness, by the fortunate circumstance of having a pack of matches in his pocket from which he can create light.  After Duncan rescues Tessa, and kills The Watcher, he sends her and Richie home while he stays behind to learn more about her kidnapper.  However, a thief outside robs Tessa and Richie at gunpoint by their car.  When they do not have as much money as he wants, he murders both of them.  Duncan hears the gunshots but cannot arrive in time to help.  Richie revives, newly Immortal.  Tessa dies. 

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:

This intro is different.  The opening guest star / director / music composition / etc. credits are in a strange green font. 

Ah, now I see why.  The green font was symbolic of a green hue of seeing through night-vision goggles.  The show opens with a woman screaming in a dark room.  The camera displays her and the room through night vision goggles.  We hear what sounds like lightning strikes as the episode opens. 

A woman is tied to a chair in a room with a checkerboard floor.  She asks someone why he is doing this.  She tells the man in the room with her that *he* has done nothing to him.  The man in the room with her tells her that it is not personal.  He then asks her if she ever wears red dresses as that would be a good color on her.  She replies with despair on her face that she will wear whatever he wants her to wear.  She then tells the man in the room with her that it has been three days and he will not come.

“He’ll come.  They always come.”

We hear a man arrive at the place where she is being held. 

Woman:  You’re not an Immortal.  What chance do you have?
Man:  You want to know a secret?  I cheat.

She starts yelling for James to stay away.  Unfortunately, for James, that draws him to where she is being held.  He arrives and finds the man holding her captive and notes that her captor is not an Immortal.  He is, however, wearing night vision goggles on his head.  James tells the man that he will find the woman elsewhere in the house after the man is dead.  The goggles wearing man replies that talk is cheap.  Then he turns off the lights. 

Whatever advantage hundreds of years of sword training might have afforded an Immortal is more than outweighed by the other man being able to see in pitch blackness.  James the Immortal is killed quickly.  After the fight, the evil bad guy opens the door to where the woman is tied up, just a few inches, enough for her to see his face.

Man:  Guess who won?

Richie is at a bar talking to a palm reader. 

Palm reader:  I sense you’re not ready to have a serious relationship.
Richie:  No, but I could live with frivolous.

Duncan and Tesssa are having some flirty banter.  He tells her that she is beautiful.  She suggests that they go home. 

Richie approaches them with the palm reader in tow.  She introduces herself as Greta and is not shy about telling Duncan and Tessa about her gifts.  Tessa is excited to have her palm read.  Duncan is skeptical. 

When Greta takes Tessa’s hand, she initially jerks back.  She tries again and sees Queen Tessa, first of her name, Sculptor of the Arts, Painter of the Paintings… in a dark room.  It’s not a pleasant vision.  Greta drops Tessa’s hand.

Greta:  What the h*** was that about?

Greta tells Tessa “you have to get the h*** out of this city.”  [If you watched the first half of season 1, that should be Seacouver’s city motto.]  Tessa asks her what she is talking about and Greta tells her she is talking about trouble.  She looks at MacLeod and tells him that he is right in the middle of it.  Duncan gets up and says that they have heard enough.  She says she knows it sounds crazy but she saw swords. 

Tessa and Duncan walk away but Tessa is shaken.  Duncan admits that it is possible the woman saw a psychic glimpse of their life together.  He also says that nothing is written in stone and that only the two of them decide their future.  They tell each other that they love each other and as they kiss…

FLASHBACK!!

Duncan is kissing another woman, far enough back in time that he still has a thick Scottish accent, when she abruptly slaps him and tries to stab him with a knife. 

Woman:  I am not a whore!
Duncan:  What did I do?  What is this about?

The woman approaches someone else in their camp.  She tells a man that Duncan used her and lied to her. 

Woman:  He said he would marry me!
Duncan:  I will marry you!
Woman:  Liar!  I saw it in your palm.  You will have hundreds of women but you will never marry.  Not me.  Not anyone.

The man is the woman’s brother and his name is Roman.  Her name is Carmen.  Roman challenges Duncan to a knife fight and tells him that he raped and dishonored his sister.  He kicks Duncan out of the Gypsy camp they share.  As Duncan leaves, alone, Carmen shouts at him that he will bury many women and marry none. 

Carmen:  You will always be alone, do you hear me? Alone!

Back in the present, Duncan looks at Tessa’s smiling face and decides that they should get married. 

Duncan: Let’s get married.
Tessa: What do you mean, married?
Duncan: I mean married, as in, married.
Tessa: You mean, as in a proposal? You mean, as in “will you marry me” married?
Duncan: Is this better? [gets down on one knee and starts singing]  Will you marry me? Will you marry me?
[Tessa pulls him to his feet]
You still haven’t answered my question. [to passing strangers]  Do you think she should marry me? I think she should marry me. Yeah? I think she should marry me. What do you think?
Tessa:  All right, all right, all right! Yes! I’ll marry you!

Duncan notices someone watching them as he twirled Tessa through the air.  He follows that person out of the room.  Richie approaches and asks what happened.  Tessa elatedly explains that Duncan just proposed. 

Some time later, Tessa and Duncan are lying in bed discussing their lives together.  She wonders what would life be like if he had not jumped into the boat with her on the day they met.  He tells her that she will drive herself crazy with questions like that.  She tells Duncan that she cannot imagine a life where they are not together and she asks Duncan if he believes in fate or something that drew them together.  Duncan tells her that what drew them together is her. 

The next day, Duncan, Tessa, and Richie are sitting together.  Duncan says that it will be strange re-opening the store tomorrow.  Richie asks them about their wedding, whether it will be traditional, and who will give Tessa away.  Then he says he was hoping Duncan would ask him to be best man.  Duncan agrees and the three of them clink glasses together and say “cheers.” 

Duncan notices a shadow on the other side of the blinds and abruptly runs off to check on it.  MacLeod sees a man outside on the street who runs away.  Duncan chases after him.  As Duncan closes in on the guy he is chasing, now blocks from the store, another man in a nice car pulls up in front of the store and enters through an unlocked front door.  Richie approaches him and the man tasers Richie.  Duncan finally catches the other man and tries to look at his wrist to find a Watchers tattoo.  As he is wrestling with him, another man approaches on a motorcycle, knocks Duncan away, and gives the other man a ride to get away. 

Back at the apartment, the man who tasered Richie is now approaching Tessa.  She tells him to take whatever he wants and he says he will, placing a hand over her mouth. 

Duncan returns home and finds Richie on the floor and Tessa gone. Richie tells MacLeod that the man was large and has blonde hair. Duncan says he has a feeling that he was just set up.

Tessa is now tied up in a house somewhere in Seacouver. She asks the man who tied her up what he needs her for and he replies, “bait.” Tessa tells the man that Duncan will fight him anywhere and he replies to her, while touching her face, that he has to be a little more careful.

Tessa: You’re a Watcher.
Man: Oh. So you know about us.

She asks him why he is doing this and he lets us know that he is crazy. Well, he says that his friends think of what they are doing as saving the human race but that he simply “gets off on it.” Tessa asks him why target Duncan, noting that Duncan is a decent man, and her captor replies that Duncan is not a man. He hands Tessa a telephone and tells her that he thinks it is time that they spoke to Duncan.

He calls Duncan. MacLeod threatens him. The man puts Tessa on the phone and she warns Duncan not to come because it’s a trap. The man pulls the phone away from her and says to Duncan that of course it’s a trap but that he knows Duncan will come anyway.

Duncan tracks down Greta the palm reader and begs for five minutes of her time.

Greta: Something happened to her, didn’t it?
Duncan: Tessa was kidnapped last night.

Greta tells Duncan that he should be talking the police and Duncan tells her that he needs her help. She confesses that what she does is an act, that her mother had the gift, but she never did. Duncan tells her that she has the gift now. He begs her to read his own palm.

She reluctantly agrees and has another vision. She tells Duncan that she saw Tessa as a prisoner somewhere and that she saw a guy in a mask swinging a sword.

Greta: What kind of weird stuff are you people into?

Duncan asks if there is anything she can tell him about Tessa’s location and Greta tells him that she saw a wall with animal heads on it.

Duncan visits a taxidermist. The man who works there does not have much help to give him regarding tall blonde haired customers. However, while Duncan is in the store he sees a man spying on him through the shop window. A lengthy chase follows. Duncan finally catches up to the man on a fire escape. A short fight ends with the man falling a few floors to the pavement below.

Later, Duncan is talking to Richie. Duncan lets him know that he just killed a guy who could have led him to Tessa and then asks Richie to not make him explain. Richie is calmly reflecting on the fact that Greta predicted these events and he asks Duncan if he is beginning to believe in this psychic stuff.

Duncan: I don’t know, Richie. You know, sometimes, just because something cannot be proven now, doesn’t mean it will never be proven. People used to believe the earth was the center of the universe.
Richie: A couple years ago I would have never believed an Immortal could exist.

Richie keeps digging for information from Duncan that is not directly related to the crisis at hand. He asks Duncan why he has never been married before and why he wants to be now. Duncan avoids answering. Then Duncan apologizes and says he is worried both about what Greta said and the thought of losing Tessa.

Duncan: I’ve been around a long time, Rich.
Richie: Four hundred years, I’d say that’s quite a bit of time, yeah.
Duncan: Sometimes I feel even older than that. I’ve seen so many things. I fought so many battles. People become part of your life and then they… they just die. It all stays with you, Rich. You live with it.

He tells Richie that Tessa makes him feel young. Richie says it sounds to him like MacLeod is in love. Duncan then says they need to get back to the store so that they can be by a phone.

Tessa and her captor are talking. She asks why he is waiting and why not just get this over with. He tells her that the longer MacLeod waits, the edgier he becomes, and he says that edgy people make mistakes. Tessa’s captor gets a call and learns that MacLeod killed one of his men.

Captor: Your good and decent man just killed my friend.
Tessa: You have no one to blame but yourself.
Captor: [slaps Tessa]

He storms out.

Greta approaches Duncan and Richie. Richie sees her and says he thought she wanted no part of this. She says that she did not but the visions and images are making her crazy. Duncan pulls her aside and asks if she saw anything new. She tells him that she has seen him fighting with the guy who wears a mask. She sits down on a bench and Duncan sits beside her. He asks her to read his palm again.

Greta: Huh, my G-d, you’ve got a lifeline the size of the Mississippi. Wait a minute. How old are you?

She has visions of Duncan’s entire life, starting with his first death in Scotland. She sees events from his life from throughout the past four hundred years. She also sees an old house and pitch blackness.

Duncan: You mean the vision stopped?
Greta: No it was different than that It was pitch black like someone turned out the lights or something.
Duncan: Was it night? [she shakes her head no]

She is able to describe the house and she remembers that some of the windows on the outside of the house are colored glass. She pulls out some matches and writes her number on it. She tells Duncan that she will not sleep until this is all over.

Tessa is still tied up to a chair on a room with a checkerboard floor.

At home, Duncan pulls out a computer and begins looking for a Tudor house with colored glass windows.

Tessa jams a fork, from her food, into the door lock mechanism. Her captor yells and asks what she is doing in there. He busts the door open and bursts inside. QUEEN TESSA breaks a chair across his back and knocks him to the floor. She flees the house and runs out the front door.

In the middle of the street, she yells for an on-coming car to stop. She pleads with the driver to help her but once she moves around to his window to talk to him, the driver moves on down the road. The driver is maybe 20 yards down the road when the large blonde haired man grabs Tessa and drags her back inside. He had to have seen this happen and he did nothing because Seacouver is the worst place on earth.

The captor calls for MacLeod but Richie answers the phone. He taunts Richie and asks him if he is still stunned. Richie asks him to come by and find out. The man decides to give Richie a message. He tells Richie that Tessa is at 3490 Briarplace Street. Richie rides his motorcycle over to the house. Duncan grabs him from the shadows outside the house and tells him that Tesssa is the only one he wants to worry about while inside.

Richie ignores MacLeod and goes inside anyway. The kidnapper sees both of them outside, from a window, and smiles.

A moment later, we see the kidnapper waiting for Richie inside the door. Richie walks off camera view. A moment later the kidnapper is dragging a now unconscious Richie back through the camera view. Duncan enters through the front door, sword in hand. He creeps up the staircase. He enters the room where the blonde haired man is waiting, goggle on, and sword in hand. The man tells Duncan he arrived sooner than he thought.

The lights go off. Duncan removes his jacket and holds out his sword. The man strikes at Duncan a few times and Duncan is able to fend him off. Duncan pulls match sticks from inside his pants pocket. He lights the matches WITH HIS SWORD and uses the light to stab the kidnapper. Duncan rescues Tessa from the room where she is being held. Richie wanders into the room where they are and says that he is fine, too, if anyone cares. Duncan tells Richie and Tessa to leave in his car and says he will go home on Richie’s motorcycle. He wants to stay behind for a little while to learn more about the kidnapper and his friends.

Tessa: Don’t be too long. I love you.
Duncan: I love you, too.

On the street outside, Tessa and Richie are standing by Duncan’s car. Ominous music begins in the show’s musical score. Duncan is inside the house on its owner’s computer.

A man walks up to Tessa and Richie. He says that it’s a nice car and he asks for a ride. Then he pulls out a gun. He gets their keys, money and jewelry. He insists that Tessa must have more than she gave, says she is lying when she tells him that’s everything, and then he shoots her. He shoots Richie twice also.

Duncan hears the gunshots from inside the house and runs outside. The music crescendos and then goes silent. Duncan walks to the car and finds Tessa lying dead on the ground. As he cradles her head on his lap, Richie revives.

As the episode ends, Duncan is wearing black and looking around at the Antique Store. He does not speak, but what he sees trigger memories. Dust in the Wind by Kansas plays behind a montage of scenes from his life with Tessa.

Duncan leaves the Antique Store and he senses another Immortal outside. It’s Richie.

Duncan: You’re one of us now. [looks down at the key to the store] Sell it.
[Richie walks away]
Duncan: Richie… watch your head.

Roll credits.

REACTION:

This episode made me profoundly sad the first time I watched it… a quarter century ago or thereabouts. It still makes me sad. The close examination I have been making of this show has helped me to see some clues that this outcome was inevitable. Duncan is easier to write if he is single and out there rescuing damsels in distress. There is only so much to say about a relationship between a mortal and an Immortal and the show spent a year telling us those stories. There was really nothing left to say about the relationship itself. Nevertheless, Tessa Noel was amazing and she will be missed.

The montage sequence at the end of the episode was really moving.

Tessa actually means “gathering” which seems appropriate for a show about The Gathering.

Richie is Immortal! That seems pretty obvious in hindsight. There were a ton of clues going all the way back to the pilot episode. Connor told Duncan he would need to watch Richie. Richie is an orphan with no parents. Gregor kind of hinted at Richie being Immortal a couple of episodes ago. And why else would Duncan keep Richie around all this time? Why else would he feel so comfortable sending Richie on dangerous ‘help me out’ assignments for the first season+ of this show?

This episode gave us another “Evil Watcher.” I suppose if there are humans who know about Immortals, it makes sense that some of them would feel threatened by Immortals. But I just did not really enjoy the bad guy in this one. He was a little bit too one note. We already met Horton. In any case, if there is a supervisor in the ranks of their organization, that guy should be fired. Duncan has hopefully warned pretty much every Immortal he cares about.

This was not a great episode. It was good, just not great. My main issue with The Darkness is that the bad guy kind of fell short for me. He was creepy. The way he chose to attack Immortals was clever. But I feel like we have had “crazy mortal captures Immortals in a Seacouver basement” storylines before. I liked that Tessa got an entire episode as a send-off. The twist with her death – right after it felt as though she was going to survive – was well executed, too. This episode is remembered, though, for the enormous consequences that it has on the series moving forward.

We learn in this episode that Duncan has never been married and never will be married. We also learn that he lived with gypsies at some point in his life’s travels. If MacLeod has believed that he is cursed for hundreds of years, it might explain some of the weirdness of his relationship with Tessa and his personality in general. The show goes out of its way to paint Immortality as more of a curse than a blessing and this episode really brings that home. Duncan will bury many women but he will marry none of them.

Guest star Greta was played by Traci Lords. One wonders if the writers brought in this character thinking about having her as a potential “Duncan solves crimes” assistant for future episodes.

Goodbye, Alexandra Vandernoot. You were a wonderful Tessa. The memory of your character will linger with us on this show, like a ghost, until it ends.

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