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:
While camping, Duncan and Charlie rescue Sara and her baby from a car accident. They learn that she was driving erratically because she is being pursued by a man she says is her late husband’s father. Duncan attempts to talk to the man and two men with him and they shoot at him for his trouble. Charlie’s Jeep will not start so the three adults and her baby have to hike more than twenty miles to get help from her pursuers in the nearest town.
The pursuers continue to give chase – going so far as to get hunting dogs to track their quarry. Duncan and Charlie manage to get Sara and the baby almost to freedom just as new details about their situation come to light. We learn that the baby is not Sara’s – it is the baby of her pursuer Avery Hoskins. We further learn that Sara’s daughter was killed due to mercury poisoning from mines at Avery’s property. Finally, we learn that Avery’s brother Billie was behind the mines, kept problems with them from Avery, and he also tried to keep Sara’s daughter’s death from Avery, too. As the episode nears an end, Avery shoots his brother Billie to protect his baby son from him, as Billie is about to put the baby in danger attacking Sara. Duncan arranges for Avery to get his son back and he also plays a role in Avery’s decision to decline pressing charges against Sara.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Our episode begins with an older man, Luke, imploring a younger man, Billie, not to lie to him. Billie tells Luke that he does not know what he is talking about. Luke gets to the point. He tells Billie that *those cattle* did not die of fever, they died of mercury poison from Billie’s mine. Billie tells Luke that he does not seem to be seeing the big picture and then asks Luke what the cattle are compared to twenty tones of gold ore from the mine.
Luke says he does not care about the gold and neither will Avery. Billie tells Luke not to tell Avery about it.
Luke: Either you clean up that mine or I shut it down.
Another man walks into the room and tells them to be quiet lest they wake up the baby. Just then we hear a baby begin to cry. We see a woman holding a baby in a basket running outside toward a pick-up truck. She loads the baby inside the cab and says to it that no one is going to hurt it. The man who warned Billie and Luke about being too loud runs outside after the woman calling her Sara. The truck struggles to start but finally fires on before the man yelling her name can reach her. Luke and Billie follow the other man outside as he chases the truck. She gets away as all three men appear frustrated by her escape.
Sometime later, Duncan is cooking fish at an outdoors campsite. Charlie crawls out of a tent and asks Duncan what time it is. Duncan replies that it’s time for breakfast. Charlie complains that if the jeep had not broken down, they would be eating at Louise’s Diner in Olympia.
Charlie: And I’d be smothered in hashbrowns and not mosquito bites.
Duncan tells Charlie he slept like a baby and the other man says that it figures. Charlie says that he likes trout but not for breakfast. Health-conscious Duncan asks him if he knows the nutritional value in trout. Their bickering is interrupted by the sound of a pick-up truck sliding down a gravely slope. They watch from afar as the truck slides roughly toward its eventual stop. They climb down the hill to find the truck on fire and Sara, the truck driver, unconscious. The force the door open as the truck is burning. They carry her some distance away noting that she does not look good. Sara wakes up and asks what happened. Suddenly we hear the baby crying from inside the truck, some distance away. As the fire intensifies, Duncan returns to the truck and pulls the baby from the floorboard. The truck finally explodes a couple of moments after Duncan retrieves the infant. He returns the baby to its mother. Charlie asks her why she was driving so recklessly as Duncan notes an injury to her hand they need to tend to at their campsite.
Later, as Duncan is wrapping a bandage on Sara’s hand, she implores Charlie to hurry as he works on the broken down Jeep. Duncan asks what her hurry is and she tells him *they* are coming to take her baby. Duncan asks her who *they* are and she doesn’t want to tell him.
Duncan: If you don’t tell me I can’t help you.
Sara: Avery. Avery Hoskins.
Duncan: Why does this Avery want the baby?
Sara: He just does, okay? I was married to his son.
Charlie asks if this is about custody and she says yes. She says that the father of the baby (Jamie) died before Jamie was born. Charlie asks her about Hoskins and she tells Charlie that he does not like her because he says she is not white enough.
Sometime later, we see Avery, Billie, and Luke inspecting Sara’s pick-up truck. Avery shouts up the hill to the other two that they cannot be far.
Duncan hears their shouts. He pulls Charlie to walk with him to where they can see the truck down below. When they look down at it, they see three men standing next to it. Sara tells Duncan that Hoskins is down there. Duncan advises Charlie to take her back to camp. He tells Sara he will go down and talk to them. She asks him to promise that he will not give them her son. MacLeod says alright and again instructs Charlie to take her back.
Duncan goes down to meet them and calls out for Hoskins. The man asks Duncan who he is and MacLeod says he wants to talk to him about an Indian woman and a baby. Hoskins asks if she wants money and Duncan tells him that she wants the baby. Immediately, Avery Hoskins threatens MacLeod to tell him where the woman is. We hear Billie and Luke ready their guns to fire and Hoskins holds a hand at his side like he plans to draw a pistol. Duncan tells the three men that they can talk about this. They seem uninterested in talking. They fire a shot at Duncan as he dives away.
The three men chase Duncan as he returns to the campsite telling Charlie and Sara that they need to get out of there. Charlie’s jeep still will not start so the three of them, plus the baby, leave on foot before the pursuers catch up. Luke fires a shot toward the Jeep and blows out Charlie’s windshield. Avery screams at him to put the gun down because he might hit the boy.
Sometime later, Charlie says that he thinks they lost them. Sara tells him Hoskins will track them and that he will not give up. Duncan takes off his coat and tells Charlie to take Sara downstream, staying on the hard ground. Charlie agrees.
[Note: In case everyone forgot, Charlie is a Navy SEAL and he is deferring to Duncan in an obvious combat situation.]
Duncan sets out laying a false trail in the other direction, breaking small twigs and turning over rocks. His plan works. Avery, Luke, and Billie see Duncan’s trail and follow that instead of following the direction that Charlie took Sara and the baby.
Charlie, Duncan, Sara, and the baby meet back up at Charlie’s Jeep. They see that Avery, Luke, and Billie have made certain that the Jeep will not run again anytime soon. Duncan says that they need to get out of here.
Elsewhere, Luke and Billie have figured out that Duncan’s trail doubles back. Avery says that he is going to make a call to get two more men there, Mike and J.J. Billie suggests that it might not be a bad idea to bring the dogs, too. Avery agrees.
Charlie is discussing with Duncan that they are forty-five miles from the nearest town. Duncan corrects him and says the distance is half, on foot, if they cross the canyon. Charlie does not think the woman and the baby can make the hike. Duncan says that they need to keep moving.
Luke and Billie find the spot where Duncan really crossed the river. Billie asks Luke if he is going to tell Avery about the mine. The older man replies that they can worry about that later. He says they need to get the man they are chasing first. Billie tells Luke that he will not be getting him because *he* just got him, first. Billie then raises his rifle and shoots Luke.
Charlie is at the top of a tall tree with binoculars. He is checking their trail to see who is following them. He calls Duncan Jack and tells him that he gets to climb the beanstalk next time. He also informs MacLeod that Hoskins, two others, and some dogs are now on their trail.
Billie and Avery are standing over Luke’s now dead body. Billie says that the attack came out of nowhere and that Luke never had a chance. Two of Avery’s men take the body back to the ranch. Avery, Billie, J.J., and the dogs continue onward.
That night, Charlie asks Sara to let him hold the baby. He assures Sara that MacLeod will be back soon having found a place for them to sleep all night. Sara wants to keep going but Charlie points out the baby cannot be kept outside all night. He tells Sara and he and her baby have something in common – they carry the blood of two different worlds.
Charlie: Yeah. I’m half Italian.
Sara: Get out.
Charlie: No. DeSalvo. Charlie DeSalvo.
Sara: Well, as long as you don’t tell me your great grandmother was a Cherokee princess…
They laugh. Charlie tells her not to worry.
Avery, Mike, J.J., and Billie are still on the trail but J.J. notes their quarry has doubled back so many times that the dogs no longer know what they are following. Avery suggests calling the police. Billie argues that since they killed Luke they need to finish this themselves without police. J.J. points out that the police helicopters might help them see farther ahead. Avery decides that he and Billie will go into the woods for another hour. He tells the other two to take the dogs back to the trail in hope that they find something. Avery says that if they find nothing, they’ll make camp for the night. He tells J.J. and Mike to fire a shot if they do find something.
Later, Sara, baby Jamie, Duncan, and Charlie are inside a lodge. Charlie goes outside to get more firewood. Sometime after that, Sara is sleeping while Duncan and Charlie take care of the baby. Charlie notes that the baby is hungry so Duncan prepares a bottle. When he hands it to Charlie, Duncan has to explain that Charlie has to take the cap off and that there is a nipple inside the bottle cap. Charlie manages to get the nipple on correctly but the baby is not interested in the milk. Duncan tells Charlie that he is looking at the wrong end of the baby.
Duncan: His diaper needs changing.
Charlie says that they should wake up Sara. Duncan says no. When Charlie says he does not do diapers, Sara opens her eyes. However, Duncan tells Charlie that he will do it and instructs his friend to bring diapers and wipes. Charlie tells Duncan that he is a real pro at this.
Charlie: You want to have one of your own someday.
Duncan: Yeah, I’ve thought about it. It’s not for me.
Charlie cannot believe Duncan feels that way and says a man like him needs to have kids to whom he can pass on all of the things that he knows.
We arrive at a raucous New Year’s Party in 1924. Duncan is vigorously dancing with a beautiful blonde-haired flapper. Another woman is solemnly watching the two dance together. The woman, Margaret, approaches Duncan and asks him if he thinks some things are best done in moderation.
Duncan: Moderation, Margaret, is for monks.
The woman Duncan has been dancing with tells him that is well said. She asks if she can use it in her next novel. Duncan says only if she gives him credit. The dancing woman says that’s impossible. She then says a man’s place is in the kitchen. She turns to Margaret and asks her how old she was when she lost her virginity.
Margaret: There are limits, Nora.
Nora: Only for the limited.
Margaret leaves. Duncan asks Nora if she was not a little hard on Margaret but Nora says in reply that Margaret is beautiful, rich, and the biggest snob on the eastern seaboard. Police break through the door of the party. Duncan pulls Nora’s hand and tells her that they need to get away. He leads the inebriated Nora into a Janitor’s closet and barricades the door but putting a step stool under the door handle. Nora is not being very quiet so Duncan asks her if she wants to get pinched. To keep her quiet, Duncan begins kissing her. Eventually the police go. They pour a glass, err, shoe of champagne to celebrate. Abruptly, Nora asks Duncan to marry her. Duncan says “marriage?” and Nora immediately backtracks noting that marriage is a convention wherein women are chattel. She then sits on his lap and says that what she really means is that she wants to have his babies. Duncan notes aloud that she is being serious. She tells him that if he shares this with anyone she will kill herself and haunt him for the rest of his life. Then she says that ever since she was a little girl she has always wanted to have children. A look of bleak sadness covers Duncan’s face. Nora notes that he is not saying anything. He says that he can’t.
Nora: Spare me the “I was wounded in the war” routine because I know that’s not true.
They laugh and Nora says that Duncan will probably have a laugh with his friends over this. He tells her that he is not laughing. She says it does not have to happen today and he reiterates that he can never have children. Nora suggests that Duncan see a doctor she knows about in Chicago.
Duncan: Nora, no doctors and no twins. And if you stay with me, you will never have children.
Back in the present, Charlie runs inside and wakes up Duncan. MacLeod is groggy as Charlie tells him they have company. A moment later, a bear pushes open the door of the lodge where they are sleeping. They discuss whether the bear pays rent on the place or whether he is one of the three bears looking for breakfast. Duncan gets a jar of strawberry jam from their pack. He carefully and slowly opens it and rolls it across the room. He then tells the rest of them that they need to slowly exit the building before the bear wants seconds. MacLeod is last through the door.
Duncan: Tastes good, eh? It’s good with trout, too.
Outside, Charlie asks Duncan how he knew the bear would go for the jam and Duncan replies that he didn’t. He then asks Duncan which way they can go now. Just then, they hear the sound of barking dogs. Duncan and Charlie leave to slow them down. They tell Sara and the baby to stay where they are.
J.J. and Mike come across one of Sara’s scarves tied up off the ground. J.J. says that they put the scarf there to throw them off the trail. He tells Mike that he has to get the scarf down or the dogs will go crazy. As he turns to climb up to get the scarf, Charlie appears out of the darkness and grabs Mike. Duncan re-emerges with Mike’s rifle. J.J. asks Duncan if he will kill him and tells MacLeod that he just works there. He hops down and fights Duncan who quickly knocks him out. Duncan tells him, then, to take a vacation.
Duncan and Charlie return to where they left Sara. Duncan sees no signs of a struggle and no other footprints. He begins tracking her.
The following morning, Avery and Billie find J.J. and Mike, wake them up, and ask if they had a nice night. Billie tells J.J. to not give them another chance the next time he sees them. J.J. asks about the baby and Billie tells him to let him worry about the baby.
Duncan and Charlie are still tracking Sara the following morning. They come within sight of Hoskins and duck down. Duncan leads Charlie away from the other two men.
All four pursuers are together. Billie notices something on the ground and tells Avery he is going to check up on the hill. Avery says that Billie cannot track at all but then says to suit himself.
Duncan and Charlie come across a wildberry bush with picked berries. Duncan deduces that Sara cannot be far away.
We see Sara picking some more wild berries when Billie walks up on her pointing a rifle at her. He asks her where the baby is and she tells him that those two guys took the baby. He does not believe her. He points the gun at her and says bye-bye but Duncan’s fist finds his face before he can pull the trigger. Just then, we hear the baby cry a few feet away. Duncan asks her why she ran but Charlie interrupts and says they have to move now.
Duncan, Charlie, Sara, and baby Jamie encounter a tall rock wall. Duncan says that they have to go up. They put the baby in a pack on Duncan’s shoulders. Their pursuers find Billie. Avery determines that the only place they could run to is over the ridge. He tells Billie to get their jeep and some rope and to go over the top.
Avery: We got ’em from both ends now.
Duncan, Sara, and Charlie climb up the sheer cliff face, with Duncan leading the way and showing the two behind him where to place their hands and feet. It is not an easy climb as small rocks continue slipping from beneath Duncan’s feet. They eventually find a small landing wherein Duncan has to pull Sara up. She can barely reach. After one near slip – and fall to her death – Duncan grabs her and she climbs up his arm to safety. There is some room on the ledge so Duncan tells Sara to take the baby from his pack and go a small distance farther to make room for Charlie. Duncan has to lean down, from the ledge, and pull Charlie up the way that he just pulled up Sara. Once Charlie is pull, Billie points a rifle down at them from above. Everyone leans their backs against the cliff face, denying him a clear shot.
Charlie: Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.
Everyone stays where they are until nightfall when Avery and J.J. arrive at the bottom of the cliff face. Avery shouts up to MacLeod to come out and he promises no one will shoot. He then shouts up at Billie not to shoot and the younger man finally puts down his rifle. As they are negotiating about whether to send the baby up, using harnesses and ropes, Billie fires a shot down on them from above. Avery is furious.
Sometime later, Charlie notices something around the baby’s lips. Duncan asks Sara if the baby has allergies. She says no. He asks her about the berries and she is silent. Abruptly, Duncan asks her when the baby’s birthday is and what his eye color is and Sara hesitates regarding the eyes, guessing first brown, then blue. Charlie tells her that she was right the first time.
Duncan speaks to her in a Native American language and Sara replies. Charlie asks them both to speak in English and Sara says that this is her baby. Duncan says that a mother would know the color of her baby’s eyes, whether her baby is allergic to babies, and he says that she would not refer to the baby as her baby daughter in her native tongue. Sara finally admits that she had a baby girl.
Duncan: And this isn’t your baby, is it.
Duncan asks her what happened and Sara says that they killed her baby. Duncan asks who and she says that Hoskins did. Sara says that the doctor told her it was mercury poisoning from Hoskins’ mine. She says that when she told Billie about it, he offered her money for her daughter’s life.
Sara: I took that ten thousand and I burned it on her grave, okay?
Duncan: You took Hoskins’ son to pay for your daughter’s life?
Duncan says that he has to go talk to Hoskins. He begins to climb down, leaving Charlie and Sara on the cliff ledge. He climbs down and then sneaks up on their camp. He tells Avery that he does not want anyone to get hurt. Avery tells him that Billie saw him kill Luke. Duncan says he killed no one. He tosses Avery the rifle he had been holding, leaving himself unarmed, and he then says that he has no reason to lie.
They talk. Avery is somewhat surprised to learn that this is all about the mines and Sara’s baby. Avery tells Duncan to imagine how he feels. He says that his boy’s mother died while giving birth. Then Sara took the only thing – his son – that gave him a reason to continue living.
Duncan: Grief can make a man go crazy.
Avery: You said it.
Duncan: It can do the same thing to a woman.
Avery seems to accept this.
The following morning, Billie – using ropes – begins descending the cliff face. He sneaks up on Charlie as he is sleeping and hits him hard in the head with the butt of his rifle. We see Duncan climbing the cliff face. As Billie points the gun at Sara, Avery yells from the bottom of the cliff at Billie and tells him to put the gun down. Billie angrily screams at Sara about the fact they had a deal. He says she took the money. As she is crying, Avery shoots Billie from below. He falls to his death. Duncan yells down to Avery that he will get his son. Charlie wakes up from the blow he took to the head.
Duncan reaches Sara and tells her that it’s over. He asks her to give him Jamie. She rocks the boy and says he is hers. She cries and says that Hoskins killed her baby. Duncan corrects her and says that Billie killed her baby. Hoskins, he says, knew nothing of it. She tells Duncan that he is lying. She stands up and says that she would rather they both die, first, before she gives up the baby. Duncan asks her about her daughter.
Duncan: Who will remember her if you go? Who will sing her song?
Charlie, dazed, stares at Duncan in disbelief. Duncan asks Sara if her daughter was like her. He asks if her daughter was beautiful. Sara, crying, says yes. Duncan tells her that all babies are beautiful. He says that they give us hope for a better tomorrow. He then tells her not to do this to Jamie because the baby boy is innocent. Slowly, Duncan eases the baby from Sara’s arms.
Sometime later, at Hoskins’ house, Avery Hoskins tells Duncan that he will be closing down the mines. Duncan tells him that he is sorry about his brothers. Avery says it is not Duncan’s fault. He says that a year ago, he had a wife and two brothers.
Avery: It don’t figure, none of it.
Duncan: You still have Jamie.
Avery says that it’s because of Duncan that he does and he says he will not be pressing any charges against Sara. Duncan says he will tell her that and the two men shake hands. Duncan gets into the car where Charlie is in the driver’s seat. He asks Duncan if the baby will be alright and MacLeod says the baby will be just fine. The two men share a long pause. Charlie clearly has a lot of things he wants to ask. Instead, he says that it’s about time that they should be riding off into the night. Charlie turns the key and his jeep does not start.
Duncan: Maybe next time we should try using a horse.
Charlie tries again as the credits roll.
Maybe I missed it earlier in the episode, but I did not realize that Luke and Billie were Avery’s brothers until the very end. That makes all of this particularly tragic.
Highlander has already done episodes about children and Duncan’s inability to have them. In season 1 though, the perspective on that topic was primarily sympathetic to Tessa. She wanted children but was sacrificing that desire because she wanted Duncan more than children. She clearly would have been a great mother. Her love for Duncan was the obstacle. Here we see more clearly the tragedy of being childless from Duncan’s perspective. He *clearly* would love to be a father. Charlie’s speech to Duncan about how someone like him should have kids clearly stung.
The flashback sequence was really fun and also probably the best part of this episode. 1920’s Duncan was a far more joyous character than the more somber version of him we see typically. I actually found myself really wanting to see more about his doomed relationship with Nora, too, so credit Carolyn Dunn for giving a memorable performance in a short few minutes. Duncan was clearly as happy as we have seen him, at any point in the show, which made him telling Nora that he cannot have children with her all the more painful.
Not for nothing, Nora reminded me a lot of Amanda. Read into Duncan’s joy what you will.
I wonder where the science was in the 1920s on the subject of infertility. I would imagine that whatever Duncan tells Nora regarding his infertility will not hold up to her scrutiny very well.
As for the substance of the plot? There were a few problems. I had the hardest time believing that Avery’s pursuers could pull of the logistics of going to the ranch to get the dogs, coming back, meeting up in a large wilderness, getting the jeep to cut them off at the top of the cliff, etc., with the speed and efficiency shown on screen. This was before cell phones. The place where they are traveling doesn’t have roads (we are specifically told that within the plot – and it’s the reason Duncan wants to cut cross-country to get to the nearest town because it saves time and distance.) I also did not feel as though Sara’s backstory was given enough substance to justify her actions effectively.
Other than my “how are they doing that?” logistics complaints, the other major problem with the plot was Billie. I guess the simple answer for his character’s motivations is that he is a psychopath. However, in the context of the story he just felt like a guy who was doing evil things to advance the plot.
Duncan suddenly speaking Lakota (I assume?) with Sara and Charlie’s look of bewilderment about it makes the rest of the episode worth watching. You could just see the gears turning in Charlie’s head. I really enjoy the Duncan-Charlie dynamic. This might have been the moment though where Charlie begins to consider whether Duncan is actually human. Something about the look on his face indicated that this was too much to square. So far, I think he has just assumed that Duncan is ex-military and probably some kind of Intelligence operative, too. The look on his face when Duncan started speaking as a Lakota said the internal calculus on what Duncan is – or could be – no longer rationally adds up for him. We’ll see where that goes in future episodes. At the end of the episode here, his expression said he was dying to ask Duncan about everything but he also knew better than to ask.
One point on the plot that I liked was that Avery turned out not to be a bad guy. Not only that, he turned out to be a good guy. Once he had a chance to digest all of the pertinent information he was even kind to Sara – a woman who had just kidnapped his son. Everything would have gone much differently without Duncan’s intervention. However, it was Avery himself who ultimately rescues Sara and the baby from Billie near the episode’s climax.
The weirdest plot convenience on the show this season has been cars not starting. I might have to go back and count when I do the season review exactly how many times a plot has been advanced by a car or motorcycle not starting. It has to be at least three or four times.
All in all, this was an okay episode. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. The flashback scene and Charlie’s growing bewilderment with what Duncan is are the highlights.