Highlander (Season 2, Ep 28): The Zone

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:

Joe approaches Duncan with a problem regarding a potential Immortal named Canaan. Duncan agrees to investigate the guy, whereupon he learns that he is not Immortal after all but he is a crime lord and a murderer in the part of town (“the Zone”) where police and politicians will not provide help.

Duncan and Charlie – who is from the Zone – organize the local residents. In the end, Duncan fights Canaan and several of his men, taking them all down, and removing Canaan as a threat to the local community.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

The episode begins with a street preacher telling a small crowd that there is only one thing a person needs in the world – respect. After hearing him for a while, we finally see him. He is well dressed, well manicured, and young. His audience appears to be from the bad part of Seacouver (which is bad indeed if you’re familiar with this show.) He asks them where their respect is. He tells them it’s part of the game. He says though that in their game they take back their kids’ futures.

Speaker: And if the rich man gets in the way of that, sorry, it’s just part of the game.

Another young man walks into the crowd. He listens for a while. As he makes to leave, the speaker yells stop toward him. He says that the rich man sends in spies and police when the poor man tries to organize. He tells the crowd that this man is a rich man’s spy. The man says that he is a reporter, and not a cop. He shows his ID. As the crowd surrounds the reporter, the speaker says that if the rich man has no mercy for them, show the rich man how much mercy they have in return.

The reporter runs. A few people give chase but he appears to escape around a corner. However, a moment later we see the reporter backing up and holding a bloody wound on his abdomen. He collapses and dies. As the camera pans to his bloody hand, it pans farther down so that we can see the man has a tattoo identifying him as a member of The Watchers.

In the dojo, Charlie is sparring with another man and wins easily. Smiling and feeling good about himself, he tells MacLeod that he wants to teach him the lessons today. MacLeod agrees to spar with him and starts talking about the history of martial arts as they circle each other. As Duncan is talking, he knocks down Charlie easily a couple of times. Charlie suggests that they try boxing next. The throw a couple of bare knuckle punches before switching to karate. Duncan finishes embarrassing Charlie by doing some Three Stooges fighting against him. Joe Dawson walks in as this happens. MacLeod ends the sparring and goes to his office to talk to Joe.

In the office, MacLeod makes a joke about Joe’s suit right before Dawson tells him that he is going to a funeral . MacLeod apologizes and learns that the funeral is for one of Joe’s men. Joe tells Duncan that the man was murdered in The Zone (I guess this is a district in Seacouver) and that he thinks it has to do with a man named Canaan. Joe believes Canaan is Immortal, a murderer, and that he has to be stopped. Duncan tells Joe to do something about it himself. Joe says that they cannot get involved. He asks Duncan to check the guy out and then do whatever he wants after.

Duncan: I don’t want this to become a habit.

This will definitely become a habit.

Within Charlie’s earshot, Joe tells Duncan to be careful around Canaan and says that he would hate to lose another friend. Duncan asks him when they became friends. After Joe leaves, Charlie is staring at Duncan. MacLeod tells him it is not polite to eavesdrop. Charlie tells Duncan that he is not going to go to the zone. Vaguely, Duncan says that he has to do a favor for a friend.

Charlie: This better be a really good friend because anything that involves poking around in The Zone is one h*ll of a favor.

Charlie insists that Duncan should bring someone with him and says to at least bring Richie if he will not bring himself. Duncan says that Richie is out of this. Charlie replies that that leaves himself. Charlie says he grew up down there and still knows a lot of people there. Duncan tells him it is not his business.

Charlie: if you get yourself killed down there I lose my shot at a rematch.
Duncan: Look at the bright side, you’ll win by default.

Duncan is walking through the Zone. He ducks around a corner and waits. A moment later, he has Charlie pinned against a wall and held by the neck. Charlie tells him to chill and that he is there to help. Duncan is resigned to Charlie’s help so he tells the other man to lead the way. They walk through a small village of tents, dirty hands and faces, and trash can fires. Duncan asks where Charlie is leading him and the other man replies that they are going to someone in the Zone who did not give up on life.

They enter an old gutted warehouse with a painted plywood sign that says “CLINIC” on it. The person working at the clinic is an old friend of Charlie named Asia. She tells Duncan that the Zone is not exactly the safest place to go sight seeing. Duncan asks her about Canaan. She says that Canaan was a well known criminal and nobody cared until he began to create a “political rep” at which point folks in uptown began to freak. She tells Duncan that what Canaan does and does not do is something he would not understand. Duncan thanks her for her help and walks away. Charlie asks her why she is so angry and she tells him to stay out of it. The two men walk through the camp.

Later, in his office, Duncan tells Joe that Canaan is like a dictator in a banana republic. He says that he spoke with a dozen people, everyone knows what is happening, and nobody is willing to talk about it. Joe gives Duncan “his guy’s notebook.”

Duncan and Charlie return to The Zone. They get close enough to Canaan to determine that he is not Immortal. While they are listening to Canaan give someone a Tony Montana type speech about a choice between being his friend or his enemy, Duncan watches a mother and her young daughter walk past. The daughter is holding a doll that is homemade and much the worse for wear. The sight of the doll causes a…

FLASHBACK!

Duncan is with young man named Jesse Collins. He is a mine owner’s son who is enrolled at Princeton, studying engineering, but is sympathetic to the plight of the workers they are visiting.. They are walking through a miner’s camp in the 1920s. The workers in the camp are organizing against the owner – Jesse Collins’ father. They do not know that Jesse is the owners’ son. One of the workers is suspicious of Duncan. They ask if he is a cop or a Pinkerton and Duncan replies that he is not. Eventually the speaker says he can tell Duncan is no cop because his suit is too good. The men in the room laugh. The man who spoke with Duncan, Tom, is arguing that they should hit Collins where it hurts – the pocketbook. Jesse says that the owner (his father) will bring in scabs. He says they cannot win. Tom suggest that they will blow a mine entrance and then burn down Collins’ house.

Duncan tells the room of mine workers that they are all dead if they do that. He says the Pinkerton’s are looking for an excuse to earn their $8 per day and he says that they kill people like the men in the room for a living. Tom counters and says that a bullet is better than dying slowly inside a mine. The other men cheer to that. Tom asks Jesse if he is with them and Jesse says he does not know. Tom says menacingly that he is either with them or against them and that it would not be wise to side against them.

Back in the present, Duncan says they can go. Charlie is baffled and Duncan replies that Canaan is not what his friend feared that he was. Before they can leave, Charlie spots someone that he used to know named Tio. He tells Duncan that he is going to talk to him. MacLeod warns him that Tio has a gun.

As Charlie is talking to Tio about where he got the gun, and is being angrily rebuffed, Duncan fights a roughly one hundred against one fight. Duncan loses badly and is dragged away and tossed off a pier. Charlie finally notices what is happening to Duncan and rushes to the edge of the pier after Duncan has been tossed in.

Later, Duncan is still wet and telling Joe that Canaan is not an Immortal. Joe says that it’s over then and Duncan replies not quite. He tells Joe that he wants help nailing Canaan because Canaan is evil. He says that the police will not go anywhere near the Zone.

Duncan: There are people that watch and there are people that do.

FLASHBACK!!

Jesse is upset. He tells Duncan that he spoke with his father about the situation with the workers. His father called him a traitor and wants him to return to school. Duncan asks him what he plans to do and Jesse says he does not know. Jesse tells Duncan that Tom McGee thinks they can get his father to the bargaining table by shutting down the mine. Duncan says McGee is wrong and that he will not help anyone by getting them killed. He asks Duncan what he should do and Duncan says he should go back to school. Jesse asks him if he believes his father will order men to shoot the miners and Duncan says he will. Jesse tells Duncan that maybe some things are worth dying for. He leaves with the miners who plan to shut down the mine.

They approach the mine entrance and find it guarded by men with guns. Judd Collins is there and tells them to turn back. He does not see his son in the group. Tom McGee says Collins is bluffing and they charge forward. As the shooting is underway, Judd Collins finally notices his son Jesse in the group of workers. The older Collins gets to his son and finds him dead. He screams in anguish.

In the present, Duncan gets off the elevator and walks through the dojo. He surprises Charlie. They briefly fight before they realize who they are fighting. Duncan tells Charlie that this is getting to be a bad habit. Charlie replies that he thought Duncan was dead and that he spent half an hour diving for his body. When Charlie realizes that Duncan is planning to return to the zone, he says that he thought all of this was about helping Duncan’s friend.

Duncan: That was for a friend. This is for me. [Duncan begins fighting a punching bag…vigorously]

At the Zone, Duncan finds a homeless man and talks to him. The man does not like Canaan. He advises MacLeod against looking for that type of trouble and MacLeod tells the man to let him worry about it. He asks where to find Canaan. Duncan gives the man some money and leaves.

Charlie’s friend Asia visits him at the dojo. She says that she heard what happened. Charlie tells her that MacLeod is okay and she is stunned.

Asia: They said he was dead.
Charlie: Well I get the feeling that he’s a hard man to kill.

She then warns Charlie to stay out of this and to tell MacLeod to also stay out of it. Charlie tells her that once MacLeod decides something, he is impossible to dissuade. She tells Charlie, obliquely, that he does not understand and that sometimes you have to take what’s there. She leaves. Charlie calls after her but she continues going.

Duncan is at a warehouse in The Zone fighting a more manageable five on one fight. After knocking them all to the ground, he instructs them to get back up again. They run away.

Sometime later, Duncan is pressing Joe hard for help in finding Canaan. Joe asks him why he cares so much and MacLeod tells him they can talk philosophy another time.

Duncan returns to Asia’s clinic. He finds Tio inside, takes his gun away, and asks him where to find Tio. Asia asks Duncan to let the kid go and MacLeod does but not before Tio tells MacLeod that they can “finish this” any time he likes. Duncan asks Asia how long she will let Canaan use kids like Tio. She defends Canaan and defends the idea of “taking back what’s been taken from us.” She tells Duncan to look how they live.

Asia: Something’s gotta be done to wake people up to what’s going on down here.
Duncan: Then you do it.

He then says that somebody has to stop Canaan before there is nothing left to save. She asks how he would do that and he says that she needs to get people to stand up to him. She asks where to find these people and Duncan tells her that Charlie already has some of those people but he says they need a place to meet. She says that he can use the clinic. Duncan tells her that it will be dangerous but that he can protect her.

Later, Duncan tells Charlie that Asia is offering the clinic as a meeting place. Charlie thanks Duncan. Duncan tells him that he thinks Charlie would have probably made it back to the Zone to make a difference at some point anyway.

Canaan is with some of his henchman talking about MacLeod. They cannot believe he is still alive. They are speculating about what he wants when Canaan gets a phone call and learns that there is going to be a meeting at Asia’s clinic.

Asia calls Duncan and says that Canaan knows about the meeting and she says that he is coming after her. He tells her to lock the doors and says he will be there as fast as he can. Duncan arrives, the door is unlocked, and she is not there. Outside, he finds Tio.

He tells Tio that they should go to Canaan’s, that Tio’s job is to tell him how Canaan grabbed Asia, and how the whole thing is a set-up. He says he knows it is a set-up because it explains how Canaan knows about himself and Charlie and why Tio is there.

Tio: How did you know that?
Duncan: I didn’t until now.

Tio is now irritated with himself and tells Duncan that Canaan is going to kill him. Duncan suggests that they not keep him waiting. At Canaan’s place, after coming through the door, one of his men runs at Duncan with a knife. Duncan takes it away, knocks him out, and gives him a warning about playing with sharp objects. He walks straight ahead to Asia, who is inside, and notes that she does not seem surprised.

Tio: He knew what was coming down.
Asia: [smugly] And you still came.
Canaan: [enters room] The man obviously thinks he’s a hero.

Duncan asks Asia why and Canaan replies for her saying that he is the one who pays for the clinic to keep people alive. She says the city shut them down three months ago, people were dying, and nobody cared.

Canaan: Except me.
Duncan: So you took ten and gave back one.
Canaan: It’s good business. Speaking of business, you should have minded your own.

Asia sucker punches Duncan and knocks him out. Canaan instructs his other men to throw Duncan’s body into the freezer room. After, Canaan tells her that she did well. She asks if he is going to kill him and Canaan violently yanks her by the hair and yells at her not to tell him what to do. Tio is watching this happen in disgust and pulls a gun on Canaan telling him to let her go.

Canaan tells Tio that he was not going to hurt her and talks him down. When Tio lowers his weapon, Canaan pulls a gun and shoots Tio multiple times. Asia attacks him in retaliation but is quickly overpowered. Canaan’s men toss her into the freezer with Duncan. Canaan then announces that they have a meeting to go to at Asia’s clinic.

When Duncan wakes up, Asia apologizes, and he says that the most important thing is to get out of the freezer room.

At the clinic, the people who have agreed to meet are getting nervous, asking Charlie where Asia and Duncan are. Charlie tells them that they will be there. He tells the group that they do not have to be afraid. Just then, Canaan walks into the meeting and tells Charlie that a mouth like his should run for President.

Inside the freezer room, Duncan pulls a pipe free from the ceiling and uses it to bust out the small window on the freezer room door. He then sticks his arm and that pipe through the window to knock the lock on the door open. They leave together for the clinic.

Charlie is being beaten up by Canaan. They beating travels through the door out onto the street. Canaan tells Charlie no rescue is coming just as Duncan and Asia round the corner. Duncan tells Canaan that the problem with thinking the strongest can take what they want is that there is always someone stronger. Duncan then begins fighting Canaan and a few of his men. Duncan is winning. Canaan starts calling out for help and Canaan’s men run away. Just as the fight appears to be over, Canaan begins to draw a gun. Asia yells and then Duncan obliterates Canaans’s face with a kick to his head.

After in the dojo, Charlie asks Duncan what he is. He says that when he was in the SEALs, he saw guys with eyes like his – guys who had gone to too many battles and never came all the way back.

Duncan: Well I guess that describes me pretty good.
Charlie: [laughs] It don’t begin to describe you, man. We both know it.

Charlie says that MacLeod walks close to the edge and he wants to know what the other man is hiding. Duncan walks up to him, closely, and tells him that he does not want to know. He says that some of the people who have found out are not around anymore.

Duncan walks to the elevator. He tells Charlie to lock the door on his way out of the dojo.

REACTION:

This episode is designed to incorporate Charlie into the show. We get some of his background, the neighborhood he is from, an old friend, and evidence that he is a good guy who really cares about people.

The most fun aspect of this episode is Charlie’s growing fascination with Duncan. I would imagine that as a SEAL he is unaccustomed to meeting people that make him feel comparatively untrained for fighting. Duncan makes him feel that way though. The other fun aspect of this episode was the dojo sparring between Duncan and Charlie which included a hands on history lesson on the martial arts.

Functionally, this episode sets up “Joe goes to Duncan with a bad guy problem” as a plot narrative. I imagine we’ll see more of that going forward.

Overall, the episode was not really that great. Canaan was a one note bad guy. Asia siding with Canaan was a predictable twist. Tio dying did not really have the impact that it could have. No Richie in the episode is a negative for me. Instead of giving him a subplot, the writers added more to the flashback sequence.

I’m not entirely sure what the message of this episode is, either. The flashback sequence “moral” is that some fights are not worth fighting. They’re unwinnable. The present day sequence is that some strong men should be taken down. Maybe the lesson is for the audience in learning to distinguish one from the other.

2 thoughts on “Highlander (Season 2, Ep 28): The Zone

  1. I found the old original Highlander movie on Tubi over Christmas and enjoyed watching it. It’s a very 80s movie indeed, but it is an overlooked classic. Been meaning to write a post about it because if you cut out the 80s pageantry (though how could you, it makes it) it really is a cool plot – dudes who live forever and swordfight throughout the ages to take one another’s power. (Downside – I don’t think they quite had a grasp on this and didn’t explain exactly what that power is and or does.)

    Tubi has all the Duncan MacLeod episodes from the 90s. I tried to watch the first couple and…eh…they had their moments but just, yikes, I don’t know. It was a little too silly and low budget even for 90s standards and hard to watch as they haven’t remastered it for streaming TV and modern TVs.

    Overall, the first movie is pretty great.

    Liked by 1 person

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