Highlander (Season 2, Ep 29): The Return of Amanda

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:

Amanda shows up in Seacouver to see Duncan and check in on him because she has heard that Tessa died. While she is in town, rekindling her centuries old on-again, off-again romance with Duncan, she also tries to get some stolen World War 2 era printing press plates engraved with a date change so that she can print herself some U.S. currency. This engraving project goes wrong and gets both herself and Duncan involved with a rogue FBI agent who then blackmails them in an effort to illegally take the plates for himself.

To get out of the jam, Duncan devises a scheme whereby he has Amanda give the agent the plates so that Richie can film the agent murdering them after taking the plates. Richie gave the murder tape to authorities anonymously. The agent is arrested for possessing the plates and for the murders – despite the two bodies never being discovered (because, you know, they are Immortal and revived.)

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

I have not yet adjusted to these opening credits. There is a Tessa-shaped void.

And… here comes Amanda. We find her singing in a club in what appears to be 1940s Germany. The entirety of her stockings are showing so maybe this is a burlesquer establishment. Amanda saunters over to an older German man watching her perform and asks him, Heinrich, if he has been a bad boy. He replies, “very bad.” She asks him how bad and her shows her something that looks like an ink stamp for American dollar bills. Amanda tells the man he has made her very happy and she implies that there will be a reward of some kind, sometime later.

A few moments later, three other well dressed men enter the room. Heinrich stands and makes as if he is going to leave. One of the men yells for him to stop and then shoots him. Heinrich is dead. The shooter walks over to Amanda and orders her to play something. She resumes her performance.

In the present, at the dojo, Duncan is teaching Richie how to fence. Richie is doing well when an Immortal, in fencing garb that includes a face-obscuring mask, walks into the room. The Immortal silently points a rapier at Duncan and they begin to fight. Duncan gets the upper hand relatively quickly, disarms the unnamed Immortal, and then unmasks… Amanda.

Amanda: I’ll say this, MacLeod. You sure know how to treat a girl.

Amanda checks out Duncan’s new apartment and tells him that she likes it and that it’s really him.

Duncan: Don’t get used to it. What do you want, Amanda?
Amanda: You mean besides you?

She says that it has been ages since they’ve seen each other and he reminds her that it was last year in Paris.

FLASHBACK!!! [to The Lady and the Tiger]

Back at the museum, in the dark, Zachary is lowering Amanda down to the book using a pulley and rope. As she touches the book, we see a now smiling MacLeod watching on from a distant opposite balcony. Once she picks up the book, MacLeod switches on the lights.

You know, you’re really good. I should let you get away with it. You know what? I’ll toss a coin. Heads I let you go. Tails I call the police. Okay?

Duncan tosses the coin and intentionally misses catching it, letting it fall to the floor below This sets off the alarm. “Oops.” The two thieves flee the building, book in hand, as the police arrive.

Amanda and Zachary escape. As they are catching their breath, she asks where MacLeod is. Zachary suddenly feels as though this is a set-up. Amanda pulls out a sword and challenges him. Zachary, though, pulls out a pistol. As he is about to shoot Amanda, Duncan arrives and Amanda uses the distraction to disarm him.

A moment later the three Immortals are standing in a circle, each with a sword drawn. MacLeod and Zachary begin a duel and Amanda steps back. After a furious duel, Duncan finally knocks the sword from his hands. At this point Amanda steps forward and beheads Zachary. Duncan looks at her wonderingly and Amanda just shrugs. Then she gets the Quickening.

Back in the present, Amanda laughs and says that things slip her mind every once in a while and Duncan replies, without skipping a beat, “into your pocket.” Amanda tells Duncan that the real reason she came to see him is because she heard about Tessa. She says she thought he could use the company. Duncan thanks her for the warm thought and tells her that he is doing okay. Amanda changes her approach, lies down on his couch, and tells him that she believes that she can help him forget about what has happened. Duncan steps close to the couch, pulls her up to her feet, inches from him, and says he is wondering where she is going to sleep tonight.

We next see Amanda and Duncan in a hotel walking down a hallway. She tells him that of course she had a room but did not think she would need it. She asks him whatever happened to good old fashioned hospitality. Duncan replies that it went out of fashion with covered wagons and hoop skirts.

Amanda: You know, you won’t let me change. You really expect me to steal, don’t you?
Duncan: I expect sharks to bite, too. Don’t take it personal.

Men with drawn guns enter what we should assume is Amanda’s hotel room while she and Duncan are in the hallway outside some distance away.

She tells MacLeod that she thought they used to have something but she guesses she was wrong. Duncan tells her that she does not do the “hurt woman” very well. She beams a smile at him and says that it was worth a shot. She then tells Duncan that she really likes him and asks if they can play house for seventy or eighty years

The men with drawn guns are searching Amanda’s room.

Duncan laughs and tells Amanda that maybe in the future they can get together, have a drink, and laugh about old times. She replies that she cannot wait.

The men searching Amanda’s room do not appear to find what they are looking for. We see Amanda returning down the hallway toward her room, alone. Abruptly, one of them men who had been searching Amand’s room grabs her and pushes her against the wall. Duncan, who has not left the hotel yet, hears her yell “leave me alone.” Duncan returns and tells the man to leave the lady alone. The man tells Duncan to back off and that it is not his business.

Duncan: Unfortunately, it is.

The two Immortals fight and knock out the man. Another of the room searchers hears them and fires shots. One of them appears to hit Duncan. He hells for Amanda that htey need to go and they run.

Amanda’s room has an open window. The two men, with guns drawn, look out the window. We see the two men running around on the hotel roof when one of them says that they lost them. We see that the two Immortals were hiding inside a vent shaft that exits onto the roof. When the men are gone, Amanda asks Duncan how his arm is.

Duncan: I’ll live. Which is more than I can say about you.

Duncan gets out and inspects the roof. He returns to ask Amanda, who is still in the vent shaft, who those men are.

Amanda: I swear on my mother’s grave…
Duncan: You don’t have a mother! [slams vent door in her face]

Later, while walking down the sidewalk, Amanda continues to reiterate that she does not know who those men are. Duncan notes that they seem to know who she is. Amanda asks Duncan if she would come running after him if someone was chasing her. He replies that it would not be the first time. A man walks past them, as they walk through the park, and puts up a sign that says “DO NOT FEED THE DUCKS.”

FLASHBACK!!

A German soldier is hammering up a red, black, and white colored sign in a very tell-tale Nazi Germany font on a tree in a park. A man walks by a short while later and tears the sign down. Duncan strolls up and warns the man not to do that. He reminds the man that even the children around them are watching. Some distance away, a group of older men in Bavarian garb are playing music. The other man tells Duncan that Berlin has become dangerous. Duncan tells the other man that getting into Berlin is easy but getting out is the hard part. The other man replies that they do not have much time.

Later, still in the flashback, at a nightclub, Duncan is advising the same man, Werner, that he needs to watch his temper. The man replies that it was only a poster. The man justifies the action by noting what goes on in Berlin day after day and Duncan responds that it draws too much attention that they cannot risk. Werner replies that Berlin has become an asylum and that the inmates are running it. Duncan tells Werner that what he is doing is important. He then asks Werner for travel papers for a man who is 5’8″ with gray hair and brown eyes, fifty-seven years old. Duncan asks him to make the man an English tourist returning home to see a sick relative. Werner says that someone wants the man out of Berlin very badly and Duncan says that Werner’s job is to deliver papers and he asks the man if he can do it. Werner says yes if he hurries. They stand up to get started when Duncan feels the presence of another Immortal.

Amanda comes out from behind the curtain, where she is soon to perform, and she greets Duncan. She kisses him full on the lips. Werner leaves and Duncan returns inside the club to dance with Amanda. She asks him what he is doing in Berlin. He replies that he is seeing the sights before they are all gone. She tells him, heavy with innuendo, that she can show him a few that are not on a tourist map. Duncan declines saying he is all booked up. He looks at her and says she must be pretty busy herself and she says she is never too busy for Duncan. We see another man, with a scar on his face, staring dourly at the two of them. MacLeod points the man out to Amanda and she says that he is a cop and not to worry. She says that the club had a little bit of trouble the previous night and that it was nothing to do with her. Duncan replies sarcastically that it never is. He kisses her on the hand and tells her he has to run.

Amanda: Not until you tell me where you are staying?
Duncan: And why would I do that?
Amanda: Because I’ll scream if you don’t.

Outside, Werner asks Duncan if Amanda works for him. Duncan says she only works for herself. Werner notes that Duncan seems to know her very well and Duncan says that it is a long story and that he does not want to know. Werner replies that he does want to know because he needs to know if she can be trusted. She saw the two of them together.

Duncan: The answer is no. But she won’t betray us either.

Sometime later, Duncan is with an older man who says he always wondered what it would be like to be English. Duncan tells the Professor that now he is going to get his chance. Duncan tells the man to take the vital papers only because “they” will be looking for them. The man says that the vital ones are in his head and he asks Duncan if he knows anything about physics. Duncan replies that he left off at alchemy. The Professor tells Duncan that numbers are a map to the secrets of the universe.

Professor: You don’t think science knows the answers, do you Herr MacLeod?
Duncan: I’m not so sure it knows the right questions, Herr Doctor.

Still in the flashback, we see Amanda walking down the street. A man emerges from shadows, grabs her by the arm, and asks her how well she knew Heinrich Foss. Amanda says she hardly knew him at all. The man holding her says that he heard she was his lover.

Amanda: Me and that sweaty little man? Hardly.

She says he was just a regular who liked to tip her. The man holding Amanda asks her if Heinrich told her how he makes his money and Amanda replies no. She tries to leave and the man tightens his grip on her arm and states that she will accompany him to the station. She says alright and then begins to seduce him. When his guard is down, she hits him and doubles him over. Then she runs away.

Duncan is still with the Professor and asks if anyone can follow his research. The Professor replies that with a little luck and his old papers, perhaps. Duncan sets his old papers on fire. Two men burst into the room and the papers are burning inside a trash can. Duncan fights and disarms the two men. After, he tells the professors that the fight was just physics. Outside in the hallway, Duncan runs into Amanda. She tells him that she is in a bit of a jam and asks if she can use his hotel for the night. Duncan tells her to be his guest but he warns her that the room service stinks. They part ways. Amanda enters the room, sees the unconscious men on the floor, and says aloud that the room service does stink.

Duncan is standing outside a car. Werner pulls up in another car and hands Duncan some papers. He tells Duncan that whoever he is taking out, “they” don’t like it and he notes that the roads are crawling with police. Duncan says aloud that this means the borders will be watched closely, too. Duncan asks the man if he can procure a small plane. MacLeod says he will fly it out himself. Werner replies that this is going to take real money because it will mean procuring genuine Luftwaffe codes. MacLeod tells him that he will pay whatever it takes.

Sometime later, Duncan and the Professor are standing in front of a small prop plane. The professor is doubtful that the plan can fly all the way to England and MacLeod assures him that he has made the flight in one before. Duncan and the Professor walk across the airport landing and meet Werner. MacLeod asks the man if he has the codes and Werner says, “of course.” Werner greets the Professor.

Werner: So, you are the one everyone is looking for.
Duncan: That’s not your problem anymore, Werner.
Werner: No, it’s yours. [motions to the airplane hanger from which two men are emerging]

Duncan asks Werner what they bought him with. Werner replies that they did not buy him.

Werner: War is coming. You will fight for your country. I will fight for mine.

As the two men are detaining Duncan and the Professor, Amanda emerges from behind the plane and attacks them. This gives Duncan a distraction to join the fight himself. Werner warns Amanda that he has hurt women before and she proceeds to know him out. Duncan starts the plane. Amanda asks him to let her ride and he warns her that it only has room for two. She tells Duncan that the Germans will kill her. He asks if she can fly the plane and she says she can. He tells her to make sure that both the plane and the professor get to England in one piece.

She asks Duncan what he will do and he says he will manage. She says she will not forget them and he kisses her. He then says “yes you will” and closes the plane’s door. Amanda starts the plane and it takes off while Duncan fights off and distracts a large number of Germans who are trying to shoot the plane down. Amanda and the Professor escape Germany successfully.

Back in the present, Duncan tells Amanda that the guys attacked them in her hotel might be Watchers. She is not excited to learn that there is a secret group of mortals who have known about them for centuries.

Amanda: How can you be so calm about this?
Duncan: Because there’s nothing I can do about them.

She asks Duncan how they can identify a Watcher and he says that they have tattoos. She asks where the tattoos are. She walks seductively across the room to meet Duncan, pulls down the sleeve of her blouse, and asks if the tattoos are on their right shoulders. Duncan replies no. She then pulls down her blouse over her left shoulder and asks if they are there. He says no. When she reaches her hand inside Duncan’s shirt and asks if they are there, he replies “no, not there.” Finally, he taker her by the hand and says “they are right here” as he kisses her wrist.

Sometime later, in bed, with Duncan draped over her, Amanda says that she could get used to this.

Duncan: What, for about three or four days?
Amanda: I’m serious. Sometimes I think about settling down.

They have a conversation about whether Duncan believes her. Amanda believes Duncan is laughing at her for what she has just said and Duncan says he was not laughing at her, he was smiling at the idea.

Duncan: Why can’t I just smile? You know, I mean, I’m happy. We’re safe for now. I just made love to the most devious, scheming, deceitful… beautiful woman in history.
Amanda: Do you really think I’m one of the most beautiful women in history?

Richie is working out in the dojo. MacLeod enters the dojo through the front door and Richie tells Duncan that he slept like a log the previous night. He asks Duncan if he slept okay and MacLeod says that he did. They tip toe around the fact that Richie knows Duncan slept with Amanda the previous night before the younger Immortal finally tells Duncan that he believes Amanda is setting him up for something. They get on the elevator to go up to Duncan’s apartment.

Duncan: I thought she wanted me for my mind.

We see Amanda walking through a parking lot, hurriedly. She enters a building and speaks with a man privately but we do not hear what they are speaking about. The sign on his window says that his name is Harry Kaufman and he does ‘fine engraving.’

Richie and Duncan enters MacLeod’s apartment. Duncan calls out to her and gets no answer. Richie, smugly, asks where she is. Richie sees that Duncan’s window is open and he notes that Amanda is still leaving through the back way. Duncan guesses that she went shopping with his credit card.

Amanda is still in the office at the engraving business. She is watching the front door of the business, through the security camera, and sees that Duncan has enters the building. She asks how he found her and he says he did so via shopping receipts. He asks if this is related to theft and she says she came out of professional interest. Through the storefront window, they see the two men who attacked them inside the hotel pulling up outside. They leave through the back. The two men enter the business and see that Duncan and Amanda went out the back. They follow.

Later, the older of the two men watch the engraver’s security footage. He freezes the image on Duncan when he enters. The man says Duncan is the one he wants. The engraver tells him that he has never seen Duncan before today. The other man is searching for Amanda and Duncan outside.

Inside, the older man tells the engraver that he was informed Amanda was looking for a discreet engraver and that she ended up at this business. He asks the man where the plates are. The engraver says she did not have them with her. He says she was just checking him out and that she wanted to know if he could change the dates.

Outside, Duncan jumps from a fire escape onto the second man and knocks him out.

The older man, inside again, tells the engraver that it is a long ride downtown. The engraver complains that he did what the man wanted and called as soon as she showed up.

Outside again, Duncan is checking the unconscious man for tattoos. He finds none. He does find a badge inside the man’s jacket pocket.

Inside again, the engraver tells the older man that he heard the name MacLeod

Duncan is incredulous with Amanda that the man he just knocked out is with the FBI. Back at the dojo, she tells MacLeod that she did not know the men were cops. She asks Duncan why he will not believe her and he replies, “experience.” They take the elevator up to Duncan’s apartment and he asks her why the FBI is after her. The older man from the engraver’s shop is waiting for them inside Duncan’s apartment.

FBI agent: I can answer that.

He asks Duncan if he likes home movies. He says he has a VHS tape of Duncan killing his partner. Duncan replies that the man was still alive when Duncan left him. The FBI agent says he does not believe a jury is going to buy it. Duncan notes that if the agent was planning to arrest them, he would have done so already. The agent says Duncan is smart. Duncan asks him what he gets out of this and the agent replies that he gets two plates that counterfeit one hundred dollar bills. He says that the plates have been around since before the second world war.

Duncan: Why am I not surprised?
Agent: Ask around for an engraver to change the date and people talk. Either I get the plates or you go down.

Duncan tells the agent to meet them at State Street Bridge off the access road. The agent says that they have two hours. He warns them not to run saying that there is no place on earth for a cop killer to hide. The agent leaves. Duncan calls Richie.

Later, at the bridge, Amanda tells Duncan that she is not a thief anymore.

Duncan: So you turned to counterfeiting instead?
Amanda: I ran out of money. What else am I supposed to do.
Duncan: So a job is out of the question?
Amanda: Will you get serious, MacLeod? The only way to go straight is to print more money and all I had to do is get someone to change the dates.

She tells him not to be picky about how she was trying to go straight because her heart was in the right place. The agent arrives. Duncan asks if she is ready and Amanda says no, but that she wants to do it.

The agents gets out of his car and says he wants to see the plates. Duncan replies, “the tape first.” He gets the tape from his jacket pocket and tosses it to Duncan. MacLeod tells Amanda to toss the plates to the agent and she does so reluctantly. The two Immortals walk away from the agent. He pulls a gun on them. The agent directs them to stand next to the water. He shoots them and they fall into the water. He stares at their floating bodies in the water and says “more random violence.”

Duncan revives first and drags Amanda from the water. She notes that dying felt terrible. As they are recovering, Richie walks up holding a camcorder. Duncan asks if he got it all and Richie says he got every second. He high fives Duncan and they all smile.

Later, on the news, Duncan, Amanda, and Richie watch a reporter that says that even without the unidentified bodies, prosecutors feel that the plates, in addition to the video, are enough to lay several charges on special agent Palance. Richie claps his hands and says he needs to get out of there. Amanda stands up and tells Richie to take care of himself. In turn, Richie tells her that what she did took guts.

Amanda: Thanks, Richard. [kisses him on the cheek]

Richie leaves. Amanda tells Duncan that giving up the plates really hurts. Duncan replies that they were not hers to lose in the first place. In turn, she says that she loves it when Duncan gets angry with her. She asks him again if he is absolutely sure that he does not want to play house for seventy or eighty years.

Duncan: [laughing] You’re impossible.
Amanda: Not for you.

Duncan tells her that it’s not the right time. She replies that she knows but that it was worth one more shot.

Amanda: We’ll always have Paris.
Duncan: And London. And Rome. And Tulsa.

She walks toward the elevator to leave, saying that she has a bus to catch, and Duncan grabs her hand and says the bus will still be there in the morning.

Roll credits.

REACTION:

In hindsight, it’s easy to see why Tessa had such a problem with Amanda in her guest appearance last season. I am not so sure that Duncan fully disclosed his relationship history with Amanda to the late Tessa Noel. I am sure the very intuitive Tessa could accurately sniff out that history anyway.

As much as I loved the Duncan-Tessa dynamic, Duncan-Amanda is much more interesting to watch. Amanda is something of a female rogue. She likes to break the rules but she does not want anyone to get hurt while she does so. She likes to get into trouble and she likes to play the damsel in distress when Duncan is around so that he can get her out of trouble. Do I think she *needs* Duncan to get her out of trouble? No. I think it’s fun for her. Does Duncan know that she does not *need* him to get her out of trouble? Yes. But he also likes to play his part in that game with her. Were there a lot of female rogues with hearts and pockets of gold on television in the 1990s? If so, I do not remember. Elizabeth Gracen’s Amanda is genuinely unique and fun to watch.

You cannot believe most of what Amanda says but you can believe the intention of what she says. When she is manipulating Duncan in their game of “I’m in trouble, rescue me,” I believe she sincerely does mean the affectionate things she says to him. Duncan is also correct when he points out that she does not mean the things she says. She is usually lying with respect to the surface level of her words even if her subsurface meaning is honest. William Faulkner is oft quoted as saying “the human heart in conflict with itself is the only thing worth writing about.” That’s what we have here. Amanda wants – and I think genuinely loves – Duncan. She also wants to be free. She wants to play house for seventy or eight years and Duncan is correct that she would grow bored of it in three or four days. She wants to walk the straight and narrow and she wants to do it by breaking the law.

Duncan is more relaxed with Amanda than he was with Tessa. Well, kind of. With Tessa, he was cautious about displaying the side of himself that has engaged in violence and frequented brothels throughout history. He trusted Tessa completely on a surface level, though. In some sense, Tessa brought out Duncan’s best and most honorable self. But he did not show Tessa his “worst” self. With Amanda? I think we get Duncan’s real self. He is sarcastic, cautious – because he does not trust her on a surface level – and playful. Duncan does trust Amanda’s subsurface intentions completely, though. He knows she might do something that gets him into danger or trouble but she will always have his back and put herself at risk to do so if necessary. The chemistry with both women is real but the onscreen chemistry with Amanda is more fun to watch.

As for the rest of this episode? I really enjoyed that the flashback made up the bulk of the story AND that it directly tied into the plot in the present. It makes perfect sense, and is in character, that Duncan was in Germany during WW2 undermining Hitler’s regime. Does it make sense that printing plates from the 1940s would still be useful in the early 1990s? That… I do not know. My ignorance on that point helped me to suspend disbelief.

Anyway, I am a fan of this episode, and Amanda generally, because I think it/she brings out a more fleshed out and interesting Duncan.

3 thoughts on “Highlander (Season 2, Ep 29): The Return of Amanda

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