Highlander (Season 2, Ep 32): Epitaph for Tommy

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:

Duncan runs into Immortal, Gallen, while on a jog early in the morning. His encounter interrupts an attempt by a mortal, Tommy, to kill Gallen – though Duncan does not know this at the time. During the fight with Duncan, Gallen notices Tommy. He shoves Duncan to the ground and goes out of his way to run over Tommy – killing him – with his own car. Duncan feels guilty over Tommy’s death believing him to be an innocent Immortal bystander. Duncan attends Tommy’s funeral and meets his mother, Betty, and learns that she is originally from the Scottish Highlands. He offers to help her understand the circumstances of Tommy’s death.

Betty believes that Tommy was killed for something related to his work as a reporter for Honniger Communications. As Duncan looks into this, he meets Mr. Honniger and his daughter, the young and beautiful Suzanne. He learns that Mr. Honniger believes that a hitman is trying to kill him – and he learns that Tommy was hired by Mr. Honniger to take the hitman out first. Mr. Honniger also comes to believe that Duncan is that hitman. However, Duncan discovers that the real hitman is Gallen and that Gallen was hired by Honniger’s own daughter, Suzanne. She eventually succeeds in having her father killed and she attempts to double-cross Gallen who did the deed for her. After she shoots and kills the Immortal, he revives and kills her. Duncan eventually confronts Gallen, duels him, and kills him.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

The episode starts 1) at an amusement part, and 2) by telling us that the late, former professional wrestling superstar, RODDY PIPER (!), is this week’s guest star.

If you don’t know him as a pro wrestler, you might know him from the movie They Live (review at the link)

Duncan is going for a jog next to an empty amusement park when suddenly he feels the presence of another Immortal. He turns around to see Rowdy Roddy Piper swinging a sword at him. Duncan evades the first swing of the sword and is able to retrieve his sword from his nearby car. Now that both men have swords in hand, they introduce themselves. Piper is playing an Immortal named Anthony Gallen. Duncan – per his custom – gives his name and family clan.

The fight commences. MacLeod and Gallen fight up the staircase adjacent to a roller coaster’s lift hill. As they fight, someone else pulls up in his car to observe. Gallen notices the man and JUMPS from the top of the coaster hill to the ground below. When Duncan looks over the edge to the ground, he sees that the other Immortal is gone. A few moments later, the man who had been observing them is out of his car and walking toward the scene of the fight. Gallen – now in his own car – peels through the parking lot and drives the man down, sending him and the things he is carrying flying through the air. We see Gallen laughing about the most likely dead man from his car as he drives away.

Duncan jogs over to where the man lay on the pavement and gives him CPR. Duncan shouts at the man to live and breathe… and he does. However, he immediately dies thereafter.

Back at his apartment, Duncan is telling Richie about the man who died. The man’s name was Tommy Bannen. Richie asks him if he had ever met Gallen before, and Duncan tells him no. Richie guesses that maybe the fight with Duncan was more than Gallen bargained for when Duncan replies that it was an even match. Richie asks why he took off, if that was the case, and Duncan does not know. Duncan is clearly upset about the loss of Tommy’s life and he seems to be feeling guilty about it, too. Richie finally tells Duncan that if he does not want to talk about it, that’s fine, but he says there is nothing he can do about Tommy Bannen.

Later, we see Duncan standing in a cemetery. While there, he meets Betty Bannen. She thanks him for trying to save Tommy and Duncan, in turn, apologizes that his efforts were not enough. He tells her that he should be going but she asks him to stay noting that he was the last one to see her Tommy alive. Duncan says of course he will stay. He looks up at the trees, and….

FLASHBACK!

Duncan is in a haycart having a literal roll in the hay. Duncan and Bess, the woman with whom he is engaged in hay rolling, are interrupted at sword point by a man named Ned – the woman’s fiancé. The man demands that Duncan give him satisfaction and tells him to go arm himself for a duel.

As Bess begs Ned not to hurt Duncan, Duncan is telling Ned to let this go before there is more harm done. Bess gets too close to the fight and is inadvertently stabbed by Ned’s sword. The fight stops but Bess dies in Duncan’s arms within moments.

We see the funeral scene for Bess. Ned is in chains and Bess’s mother blames Duncan – who says that he would give anything to undo this. As Bess’s mother cries, and Duncan tells her that he will provide in any way that he can financially, she slaps Duncan and tells him that Bess was her only child. The flashback ends with Bess’s mother telling Duncan that he can rot in h*** and Ned looking at him murderously.

Back in the present, Tommy’s mother is telling Duncan that her husband died in Vietnam and that she raised Tommy by herself. We learn through their conversation that Betty Bannen is from the Scottish Highlands. She tells Duncan that she would like to go back there to live but she cannot afford to move. We also learn that Tommy was helping to pay expenses for her through his work as an investigative reporter.

Betty asks Duncan if Tommy’s death was really an accident. She confides in him that the last time she saw Tommy, he was really scared about something. She says that Tommy would not tell her about it for her own protection. As she finishes telling Duncan this, another car pulls up. An attractive woman steps out, along with a man. The woman apologizes for being late and Betty tells Suzanne that it is okay because she is here now. Suzanne introduces the man with her as Mr. Honniger, her father. Almost as soon as they arrive and do introductions, and Mr. Honniger has a chance to say that Tommy will be missed at the paper, the two newcomers leave to attend a board meeting. Suzanna promises Betty that she will call.

After the door closes behind the two as they leave, Betty tells Duncan that Suzanne will not actually call. Betty tells him that she is not the type. She concedes though that Tommy was in love with her. Betty gets in her own car to leave and Duncan gives her his card. He tells her to call him if she needs anything at all.

Duncan: [with a thicker Highlands accent] Us Highlanders have to stick together.

After Betty leaves and Duncan finds himself alone in the cemetery, Duncan senses an Immortal nearby. A car pulls up and rolls down the window. It’s Gallen.

Gallen: Too bad we’re on Holy Ground, eh?
Duncan: Oh, we’ll be off it one day.

Gallen smiles smugly at Duncan and drives away.

Sometime later, Duncan is discussing all of this with Richie. Duncan does not believe Gallen is hunting him. His reasoning is that his first meeting with the other Immortal was a chance meeting and that Gallen did not know his name when they first fought. Duncan tells Richie that what he cannot figure out is why Gallen was at the cemetery. Duncan does not believe that Gallen could have known he would be at the funeral.

Richie: So if he wasn’t there for you, and we know he wasn’t sentimental about Tommy Bannen, who’s left?
Duncan: Well there’s Betty Bannen. But I don’t think so. And there’s Suzanne his girlfriend. And her father Mike Honniger he worked for.

Richie says that Mike Honniger owns Honniger Communications, which owns multiple newspapers and television stations. Duncan wonders if it was not a coincidence that Tommy showed up during his fight with Gallen. He asks aloud if perhaps Tommy was investigating Gallen for Honniger’s paper.

Later, Duncan walks into the reception area of Honniger Communications and saks to speak with Mr. Honniger. The receptionist asks if he has an appointment and he says he does not. She tells him that he could not see Mr. Honniger even if he was here today. Just then, Duncan sees the boss’s office door open and walks inside. He greets Mr. Honniger and is surprised to see the chair swivel, revealing Suzanne. The receptionist asks her boss if she should call security and she tells her no. Suzanne remembers his name and greets Duncan, saying it is nice to see him again.

Duncan looks around the office and compliments the art pieces inside. Suzanne tells him that her father is a collector and asks him what he wants. He asks her, in turn, what Tommy was working on before he died. She says she does not know and that she and Tommy did not talk much about his assignments. She asks Duncan why he is asking. Duncan replies that Betty believes his death was tied to whatever he was working on. Suzanne points out that Duncan told the police, at the time, that Tommy’s death was an accident. Duncan says that at the time, it seems as though it was, but now he is not sure. Suzanne then says that if there is any chance that his death was not an accident that they need to find out. She also says that her father might know what he was working on. Duncan asks if he can talk to her father and she says yes, inviting him to come by their house in the afternoon.

Suzanne gives Duncan a card – which presumably has a home address on it. She tells him that she and Tommy were good friends. She says that the two of them were friend different worlds but that the differences worked for them.

In a news room, Richie is walking through a bunch of busy reporters. He stops one of them and asks about his friend, Tommy Bannen. The man he stops asks him what Tommy does and Richie replies that he works here as a reporter. The man replies, “not that I know of.” Another man overhears and tells Richie that Bannen works specials. Richie asks if that is like undercover. The second man just gives him a look. It becomes clear after talking though that the two men either do not really know Bannen or are intentionally lying about it as they badly describe his appearance and his age. When Richie asks where his desk is, the second says that he thinks Bannen works mostly out of his home.

Back at the apartment, Richie tells Duncan that the other reporters had no idea who Tommy Bannen is and that they did not know he is dead. Duncan wonders why Betty and Mr. Honniger would lie about where Tommy worked. However, Richie says that he knows Tommy did work there. After leaving the reporters, he says he went to payroll, introduced himself as Tommy’s friend, and told them that Tommy asked him to pick up his paycheck. Richie says that the check was for $2,000, and Duncan says that is a nice salary for a guy without a desk or a phone line extension.

Richie asks MacLeod, now what, when Duncan tells him that he is on his way to the Honniger’s home. Richie – who notes that he saw a picture of Suzanne – offers to come along. He suggests that Duncan could talk to the father while he talks to Suzanne. Richie even points out what he speculates her age to be, twenty-eight, when Duncan corrects him to say that Suzanne is twenty-five “and incredibly beautiful.”

Richie: Twenty-five? And how old are you?
Duncan: Four hundred. But you know what Richie? Today I feel like a kid.

Duncan drives up to the security gate for the Honniger Estate. There, he feels the presence of an Immortal. The audience sees Gallen watching Duncan from a car window as MacLeod drives up and parks his car. Duncan looks around as he waits at the door before going inside. Duncan is admiring an art piece when Mr. Honniger emerges and asks him if he likes it. He tells Duncan that it is a turn of the century Luigi Baldo and that he got it for almost nothing. Duncan asks him what almost nothing means and Honniger says $125,000. Duncan replies that he got a bargain.

Honniger offers Duncan a drink and Duncan declines. Honniger tells MacLeod that his father taught him to be suspicious of men who do not drink and Duncan asks Honniger in reply if he is suspicious of him. Honnger tells Duncan that he is curious about why he was at the amusement park so early that morning. Duncan says he was out jogging, minding his own business, and he asks Honniger whose business Tommy was minding. Honniger replies, “mine.”

Honniger asks Duncan about his interest in Tommy and MacLeod replies that when a man dies in your arms, you become interested in him. Honniger tells Duncan that Suzanne shared Betty’s concerns with him regarding Tommy’s work and he says Tommy was not working on anything that might get him killed. Honniger asks Duncan what type of antique dealer he is. Duncan says that he knows because he is certain that Honniger had him checked out.

Honniger: A man in my position can’t be too careful.
Duncan: And what position is that?
Honniger: On top.

Just then, Suzanne arrives. She tells Duncan not to worry about her dad noting that he is suspicious of everyone including her. Honniger tells his daughter that she is naïve. He shares with her that Duncan has lived here, Paris, and half a dozen other cities and that his name turns up in dozens of police files, too.

Honniger: Some antique dealer.
Duncan: That piece over there is worth $40,000. It came from Vienna, not Italty, and the carver’s Wolfgang Bosch. Who is Luigi Baldo? Your hairdresser?
Honniger: My attorney.

Suzanne tells Duncan that this was nicely done. She then directs the conversation to Tommy. Duncan tells her that her father does not think there is a connection. She says that she agrees with her father. She says that if he was working on something dangerous, he kept it to himself. She directs Duncan to Tommy’s apartment. Honniger tells Duncan that he will be wasting his time and MacLeod replies that it is his to waste. Duncan leaves.

Sometime later, Duncan enters a dark apartment. As he opens the door, he is attacked from behind. Duncan fights off the attacker and asks him why Honniger sent him. The man tells Duncan to go to h***. Duncan replies, “you first” and head butts him, rendering him unconscious. When the man wakes up, he finds that Duncan is hanging him from a window several floors off the ground. Duncan conducts the interrogation from the window. The man hanging from the window reluctantly tells Duncan that Honniger believed Duncan was trying to kill him. When Duncan asks why, the man replies it is because of Duncna’s personal file and his history with the police. He also tells Duncan that Honniger believes Duncan killed Tommy and that he believes whoever killed Tommy is the same person with the contract out on Honniger’s own life. Duncan makes the man ask “please” and “pretty please” before pulling him back inside the window.

Gallen is telling someone that he does not like letting that person out of his sight. He says that “it’s not that I don’t trust you, but…” and then he pulls Suzanne into his lap and kisses her shoulder. She asks what trust has to do with it. She tells Gallen that he is being well paid in more ways that one. She also tells him that she warned him about Tommy. She tells Gallen that he father believes MacLeod is the hitman after him and she says that her father sent Johnson after him. Gallen somberly tells her that Johnson will fail. She asks him how he knows and he roughly pulls her around and says that he knows. He tells her to leave MacLeod to him.

Suzanne: You’re hurting me. I love it when you play rough.

The two dramatically sweep everything off of Suzanne’s desk and…

Betty Bannen is placing flowers on Tommy’s grave. Duncan finds her there. She apologizes to Duncan for bothering him and he tells her that it is okay. He says that when he offered to help he meant it. She tells Duncan that she needs his advice. When Tommy died, he left her everything. She says that it was not much, other than a key to a safety deposit box. Duncan asks her if she opened it and she says she did. She tells MacLeod that there was over $200,000 in cash inside the deposit box. She asks him how a reporter could have come by all of that money and Duncan says he does not know. He asks her what she plans to do with it.

Betty: My mother says don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Duncan: Then use it. Go back to the Highlands. It’s what Tommy would have wanted.

She says that she thought of that but does not want to spend it without knowing where he got it. Duncan advises her to put it in the bank. He says that there is nothing wrong with just having the money.

Suzanne and her father are in a car together. Honniger asks why Johnson cannot drive and she tells her father that they never get to go anywhere together. Suddenly she says she forgot teh bank statements. She gets out of the car and says she will be right back. While she is outside the car, Honniger’s phone rings. Gallen is on the other end of the line. Honniger asks him who he is and how he got the number. Gallen tells him that his daughter gave him the number and that she wanted him to deliver a message – “goodbye.” Honniger turns to look out the rear window of the car, alarmed, and his daughter smirks at him from outside the car. A moment later the car explodes.

Later, Duncan visits Suzanne at work. He says that he thought she would be too grief stricken to work and she replies coldly that life goes on. Duncan asks her confrontationally what Tommy was doing that was worth $2,000 per week. He says that he has gotten Tommy’s pay stubs. Suzanne says she does not know what Duncan is talking about. Duncan argues saying that of course she knows and he says that she knows everything that happens inside the company. Now, Suzanne agrees. She says her father has not made any decisions at the company in years. Duncan asks her if she was unable to wait until he handed her the reigns. She says her father was healthy and that she did not have the patience to wait another twenty or thirty years. She presses a button on her desk that seems to signal security.

Johnson enters her office. Suzanne tells him that Duncan killed her father. Johnson asks Duncan if he remembers him and Duncan says he does and that he is the guy who is afraid of heights. Johnson points his gun at Duncan but Suzanne instructs him not to kill Duncan inside her office. While Duncan is facing Johnson, Suzanne clocks Duncan from behind, knocking him out. She tells Johnson to get MacLeod out of her office.

Later, as they kiss each other, Gallen asks Suzanne how the funeral was and she replies that it was wonderful. He asks her how much she is worth now and she replies $287 million. Gallen says that since he did the job, he will take the money. She says that it was for $1 million and Gallen corrects her saying that it was $2 million. Gallen and Suzanne toast to their contract. He tells her that maybe in a couple of months, he can come back. She picks up a handgun and points it at him saying that she does not believe he will be coming back.

Gallen: You may be surprised.

Suzanne shoots Gallen and he dies. She smiles and drinks. A few moments later, Gallen is back on his feet beside her and he says “surprise.”

The show does a strange montage of scenes from Duncan’s life – primarily Tommy’s death and Bess’s death – with MacLeod narrating that they have to be careful during their fights because human life is too fragile. The montage continues with MacLeod muttering that Honniger is dead, Tommy is dead, Suzanne is at the center of it, that it all happened for a reason, and that it is all connected.

Johnson hangs Duncan upside down from Tommy Bannen’s window. MacLeod – now awake – tells the man to shut up and let him go. Johnson wishes Duncan a nice flight and drops him.

Later that night, Duncan and Richie are walking by the amusement park where Tommy died. Richie asks what they are looking for and MacLeod tells him that they will know when they find it. He says that all they do know is that Tommy was being paid a ton of money by Honniger for some reason and that Gallen went out of his way to kill him. Duncan looks around for where Tommy dropped his things and finds a bag not too far away under a train track at the park. Inside the bag, Duncan finds a 9mm handgun and describes it as a hitman’s weapon. They conclude together that Tommy was carrying a gun and that he was coming to kill Gallen. Just then, they sense the presence of another Immortal.

Gallen steps out of the shadows. He tells Duncan that they will not be interrupted this time. Duncan asks Gallen how much Suzanne is paying him. Gallen laughs and says that she tried to double-cross him. Richie leaves with Gallen promising to see him soon enough. Duncan and Gallen begin their fight. It lasts for several minutes before Duncan finally wins. After Gallen drops his sword, and before Duncan receives his Quickening, the Amusement Park begins to power on. Duncan yells “come! come!” before the Quickening finally arrives. The rides are moving as he receives it. When it is finished, the lights from the rides turn off and they stop moving. Duncan leaves the scene.

In the next scene, we see a newspaper headline that reads “FATHER/DAUGHTER MURDER PACT.” Duncan is with Betty who is in disbelief. Tommy receives the by-line. Duncan admits to Betty that he wrote the article and he says that it is because of Tommy that those two people were caught. Duncan tells her that sometimes when a reporter is on a risky assignment, he can ask for the money up front. She is relieved that the money really was Tommy’s and Duncan tells her that it is her money now. Duncan tells her to go back to Scotland and see the Highlands for him. She says that she will. She asks Duncan if he will come to visit her and he says that he will.

REACTION:

Richie is back! Finally! No Charlie this week, either, which I am mostly fine with. We’ve seen plenty of Charlie lately.

The plot for this episode was somewhat complicated but it was also interesting right up until the bad guy reveal is made. I did not see the twist of Suzanne hiring Gallen coming. But then once they revealed the twist, it was a slog to get to the end of the episode.

Some notes:

The make-out on the desk scene between Gallen and Suzanne was awkward and uncomfortable to watch. It went on for way too long. Piper has a ton of individual charisma but his chemistry with Suzanne (Andrea Roth) was just not there.

The artistic montage sequence of Duncan talking about the fragility of human life was a little too high concept for this show. Duncan is a deep person. However, expressing his depth in this way, via poorly written narration, just did not work.

The show actually had a literal roll in the hay sequence between Duncan and Bess. In an actual hay cart. I’m sure one of the writers thought that was hilarious. It might have been funnier if the transition to that scene were not directly from a somber funeral.

The big highlight of this episode was the fight scene and the Quickening scene. I really enjoyed the physicality of the fight. Adrian Paul is a big guy and Piper made him look small by comparison. However, the weird strobe light effect during a portion of the fight was almost unwatchable because it hurt my eyes.

The Quickening was one of the best of the series so far. I really liked the effect of the park turning on and lighting up during that scene. I think this is also the first time we see Duncan admonishing the Quickening to “come on!” as though Piper’s life force was in denial about his loss. The sudden and abrupt shutting down of the lights and the rides was also effective visually to demarcate the end of the Quickening.

I did not mind that Duncan lied to Betty about her son. She did not need to know her son was a hitman. That said, Duncan writing the article and giving Tommy the byline was pretty far-fetched. Nobody is ever going to look into that and figure out that the guy wrote the article after he died? That won’t lead to questions for Duncan? Seems pretty sloppy for a guy whose life requires a high level of secrecy.

Overall, this episode was just okay. It’s worth watching to see Roddy Piper make the appearance but I wish he had gotten a better episode or a multi-episode bad guy run.

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