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:
Xavier St. Cloud is back and he is using mortal soldiers to incapacitate Immortal opponents before taking their heads. He targets Duncan at the dojo but fails in his initial effort. Charlie, who was present for the dojo attack, wants to help. Despite Duncan trying to keep Charlie uninvolved, Charlie involves himself anyway. Duncan learns that Army Intelligence is also after Xavier because a “wet works” team comprised of former U.S. military are the ones Xavier has contracted. He learns this through an encounter with Army Intelligence Special Agent Reenee Delaney.
Duncan gets information from Joe Dawson about a warehouse where Xavier is said to be hiding out. When he arrives, though, it’s an ambush. Duncan is shot – and Charlie sees it happen. Charlie is also subsequently shot. Duncan learns here that Xavier is working with former Watcher James Horton as Horton is the one who shoots Duncan and Charlie. Duncan escapes from Xavier by jumping down an elevator shaft. Charlie is rescued by a late arriving Army Intelligence unit who have been tracking the soldiers working with Xavier. Later, Duncan confronts Dawson about keeping Horton’s status among the living from him. He tells Dawson that the next time they see each other will be the last.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Our episode begins in Paris, France, with a look at the Arc de Triomphe. A French woman closes a store. A man in the store with her senses the presence of another Immortal. She notices the look on his face and asks him not to go face one of them tonight. He replies to her kindly that if he does not do so tonight, it will be another night. Or another.
The unnamed Immortal steps outside and finds fellow Immortal, Xavier St. Cloud, in an alley outside. He sees that St. Cloud is missing an arm – cut off by Duncan MacLeod last season – and he asks Xavier if he is not “a little unarmed” for this confrontation. Xavier replies to the other Immortal that he well knows Xavier used to use poisonous gas.
Xavier: But gas is so inadequate. So indiscriminate. Hardly a gentleman’s weapon. I found something so much better.
When the other Immortal asks Xavier, “you have?” Xavier taps on the door of a van parked beside him. Two men with machine guns climb out of the van, gun down the other Immortal, and then flee in the fan. As the Immortal dies from the machine gun fire, he asks Xavier “who are you?”
Xavier then beheads the fallen Immortal. Sometime later, inside a parking garage, we see Xavier and the same van approach another Immortal. Again, when the other Immortal mocks Xavier’s missing arm, he points to the van adjacent and men with machine guns exit. The other Immortal tells him that he cannot do this. Xavier replies, “oh, but I can.” Again, once the Immortal is down, one-armed Xavier beheads him. We next see Xavier watching footage of MacLeod with another man.
Xavier: That’s him. That’s Duncan MacLeod.
Later, Duncan and Charlie appear to be inside a museum. Duncan is commenting on a ship that was stuck in the ice for two years.
Duncan: [mockingly] St. Roch, the first ship to sail the northwest passage.
Duncan tells them that the ship had a crew of eight, not all of whom made it. He says it took them twenty-seven months. Charlie asks him if he is reading this info somewhere and Duncan replies that he must have read it somewhere.
Duncan notices over his shoulder that a man is following them. It is the same man who was with Xavier St. Cloud earlier. Duncan returns his attention to Charlie who is thanking him for his friendship and keeping the dojo open. The two of them stop, Duncan sees the man behind them also stop, and he feigns light-headedness. He tells Charlie to go on ahead joking that he must be a little seasick. After Charlie leaves, Duncan ducks around a corner and waits for the man to follow. As the man passes by Duncan without seeing him, Duncan asks him why he is following him. The man immediately attacks Duncan. MacLeod restrains the man and guides him outside. Charlie runs over to ask Duncan what he is doing and Duncan tells him that the man was tailing them. Charlie then says that the man is a friend of his named Rick Davis and he says that they served together.
Duncan lets him go, says sorry, and that maybe he made a mistake. Rick Davis angrily asks Charlie if Duncan is a friend of his. Charlie tries to introduce them to each other but Rick says once was enough and Duncan walks away. Charlie asks him what he is doing here. Charlie says he assumed Rick would spend his career in service.
Charlie: Wonders never cease, Ricky Davis goes private?
Rick: Look, I’ve got to go. I think you should check out some new friends.
Charlie runs to catch up to Duncan and asks him what that was all about. Duncan says it was nothing. Charlie replies that Duncan always says it was nothing and it is always something. MacLeod tells him that maybe he was wrong but it seemed that Rick was following him.
Sometime later, in his apartment, Duncan is staring at a chess board. Joe Dawson arrives and says that he is glad Duncan is home. MacLeod offers him a drink and he accepts. Joe starts by saying that something strange is going on and he is not sure that he can believe it himself. In the last two days, he says, two Immortals have been killed – one of them being Duncan’s friend Anton Legris. When Duncan says that these things happen, Joe corrects him to say that they do not happen like this. Joe tells Duncan that both killings were set up by mortals.
Joe: They were shot first, then beheaded by an Immortal. They were working together.
Joe goes on to say that his people were right there after both Quickenings and that both killings were identical.
Duncan: And the Immortal?
Joe: We haven’t identified him yet.
Duncan: Why are you telling me all of this?
Joe: I thought you’d want to know.
Joe advises Duncan to watch himself and then leaves. Duncan returns to staring at his chess board. As the camera focuses on a white knight…
Duncan – still looking very much the Highlander – is playing chess against a young nobleman. As the young man is bragging about besting his teacher, Duncan makes a move and declares “checkmate.” The young lord then complains that his father is paying Duncan to teach him about waging war, not about playing games. Duncan tells Master Auric that the game is about war and about rules. Auric says he does not care about the rules.
Duncan: Some rules are unbreakable, Master Auric.
Duncan goes on to say that those pieces will soon be real men on the field of battle and he asks the young man how he will lead them.
Auric: They’ll learn to fear me.
Duncan: Then they will only fight for you. If they love you they will die for you.
Auric: You talk like an old woman.
Just then Duncan sense another Immortal. Duncan introduces himself to the newcomer as the other Immortal introduces himself as Michel du Burgoyne. Auric tells Michel that he will be dead if he does not leave these lands.
Michel: So young to be such a buffoon.
Michel tells Duncan to deal with the boy as theirs is not a fight to be viewed by spectators. Duncan tells Auric to go, over his protests. In order to dissuade Auric, Duncan has to punch him and knock him out. Once the young lord is on the ground, the duel between Michel and Duncan begins.
Back in the present, Duncan is still staring at his chess board. He stands up and goes downstairs to the dojo. The camera shows us the familiar black van from earlier in the episode outside of the dojo. Duncan finds Charlie and tells him that something has come up and that he will be going away for a while. Charlie figures out that Duncan is not going away for rest and relaxation. He asks Duncan what he should tell anyone who asks where Duncan has gone and MacLeod replies that Charlie should just tell them that he does not know.
Duncan senses the presence of another Immortal. Duncan tells Charlie to get out of there. Xavier walks into the dojo, dressed well. Charlie tells him that the opera is on the other side of town and that they are closed. Xavier asks if they are closed even for an old friend.
We go back to last season and Duncan’s fight with Xavier that ended in the loss of Xavier’s forearm.
Back in the present, the camera pans in on the metal hook that now replaces Xavier’s lost hand. Xavier says that they have so much to talk about. Charlie replies by saying that if they have things to talk about, he has other things to do. Xavier asks him not to go. Just then, other men run into the dojo and MacLeod screams at Charlie to go as they both run and duck for cover inside the dojo’s office. When the gunners obliterate the dojo, the office, and the equipment. When they run out of ammo, they change clips and Xavier instructs them to make sure. They approach the room where Charlie and Duncan had hidden. They then rain down more fire on the office. Duncan pulls the office phone down from the desk above. He also manages to pull the fire alarm.
Upon hearing the alarm, Xavier calls off the attack. After Xavier and his gunmen leave, Charlie and Duncan lean up to look out of the office.
Charlie: I don’t think your friend likes you.
Duncan: What makes you say that?
Sometime later, Xavier is speaking with Rick Davis. The mortal is in a recliner while Xavier has his hook hand pressed against the mortal man’s chest.
Xavier: Sloppy work leaves trails and trails lead to me.
Rick: How could I know he’d be with MacLeod? It was a million to one shot.
Xavier: I guess it wasn’t your lucky day.
Rick says that DeSalvo vouched for him and MacLeod believed it. Xavier points out that this would not have been an issue if MacLeod had not seen him at all. Davis says that he did the best he could and Xavier mocks him. Rick then says he made a mistake.
Rick: What are you gonna do, kill me?
Xavier: Sounds good to me.
After the police leave the dojo, MacLeod says thanks and that he hopes they find them. Charlie complains after the police leave that they would have better luck funding the shooters if MacLeod told them the whole story. MacLeod says he left out nothing important and Charlie barks back that he only left out the part about the guy with one arm who started the whole thing.
Duncan: His name is Xavier St. Cloud and he’s not for the police.
Charlie is in disbelief but Duncan reiterates that Charlie needs to know that it is personal. Charlie says that it may be personal between Duncan and Xavier but he also says he wants a piece of those other guys. Duncan asks if he has any ideas and Charlie says that based on the way that they moved, they have to be Rangers or Berets, something like that. Duncan says that this is what he thought, too. He asks Charlie where he would start if he were looking for a wet work team. Charlie looks at Duncan and says “Davis.”
Outside of Davis’s house, Duncan asks Charlie what Rick Davis was like. Charlie says he likes danger a little too much and that he cannot imagine Davis going civilian for too long. Charlie announces himself outside and gets no answer. The door is unlocked. Duncan and Charlie enter. They find Rick Davis inside, deceased. Duncan says he has been dead for a few hours. There is a drug needle nearby and Duncan says that Davis got off on more than danger. Charlie says that Rick Davis never touched drugs.
Charlie: He hated needles. He couldn’t even handle a flu shot.
Duncan: Then somebody handled it for him.
Outside, Charlie asks why they made it look like an overdose and Duncan answers saying that somebody wanted Davis out of the way with no questions asked. As they leave, the camera pans to a woman watching them intently from her own car.
Later, Duncan is alone on a park bench. Joe Dawson walks up. Joe tells Duncan that Xavier St. Cloud killed his friend in France. Duncan tells Joe that he knows.
Joe: They came for you, didn’t they?
Duncan: Yes, but they missed.
Joe wonders aloud why Xavier has started breaking the rules. Duncan suggests that Xavier is not as handy as he used to be. Joe says that he will put his people on this and Duncan tells him no and points out that someone is finding Immortals for Xavier. Joe denies that his people might be helping and Duncan asks him how he can be so sure. Duncan tells Joe that this is his fight. Joe appears reluctantly to agree.
Sometime later, in a parking lot, Duncan is approached by a woman having car trouble. She is the same woman who watched Duncan and Charlie leave Rick Davis’s home. She feigns car trouble and asks Duncan for assistance getting her car started. Duncan looks at her engine and tells her that she lost the hose to her fuel pump. She asks how she is supposed to get her groceries home.
Duncan: Well, maybe I could drop you somewhere. Don’t worry, I don’t bite. I haven’t had to wear a muzzle in years.
She hands Duncan three grocery bags and tells him that for reasons she does not understand, machines seem to hate her. She says that her name is Reenee Delaney. Duncan introduces himself in turn and she says she cannot place his accent.
Duncan: I travel around so much sometimes I can’t remember myself.
She guesses that Duncan is an army guy and says she knows the look. Reenee tells Duncan she grew up an army brat and moved around ten times. Duncan says that she must have a stint in Texas – leading her to say she lived in Dallas for a time. He says he would also guess she spent time in Iowa, leading her to correct him that she lived in Kansas. She asks how he knows all of that and he says that he is pretty good with accents, himself.
When they arrive at their destination, Duncan is laughing and tells her that she is a funny lady. He asks if she is cooking dinner for her boyfriend. She says dinner is for her mother. She thanks him and says she does not know what she would have done and Duncan replies by saying she probably would have called a taxi. She hands Duncan the groceries and asks him to hold them as they go through the front door. With Duncan’s hands full, she says she normally does not let strangers into her apartment.
Duncan: Unless you trust them?
Reenee: [cocks gun] No, unless I have a gun.
With a gun pointed at Duncan, she asks him why he killed Richard Davis. Duncan says that she followed him to Davis’s apartment. Reenee orders Duncan to answer the question and Duncan tells her that Davis was dead when they found him. She asks him why he did not call the cops and she asks why he did not call the cops.
Duncan: Did you? He died hours before we got there but you already know that.
Duncan tells her that he’s leaving and she asks him why he does not think she won’t use the gun. He says she won’t use it because she does not think he is guilty.
Duncan: Besides, this apartment is strictly government issue. What are you Army Intelligence? Criminal Investigation Division. When you’re going to use an unmarked car, remember to take the Army Maintenance sticker off the air filter.
Duncan smiles at her and gives her the sticker. He then concludes that she must be Special Agent Delaney because CID does not like rank. Reenee asks Duncan, if he knew this was a set-up, why he came along. Duncan tells her that he wants to know who is following him. He asks her if she was investigating Davis when he was killed. She tells him that is classified.
Duncan: Well, that’s too bad. When it’s not, call me.
When Duncan gets back to the wrecked dojo, he finds Charlie sitting in a chair. Charlie tells him that he will be leaving in the morning. Duncan tells him that they can fix the place up. Charlie tells him that it took five years to get the downpayment for this place but then he says this is not about the dojo.
Charlie: You asked me to trust you before. When are you gonna start trusting me?
Duncan: Charlie, I don’t know everything.
Charlie: Yes, but you do know something.
Duncan tells Charlie that Xavier is going to keep coming until he kills Duncan, or until Duncan kills him. He tells Charlie that they fought each other before. Charlie realizes – and says aloud – that Duncan cut off his arm.
Charlie: [huge smile] No wonder he’s p*****.
Duncan asks Charlie if he will help him rebuild the dojo. Charlie smiles again and says “like new?” and Duncan smiles back and says “like it was.”
Duncan meets again with Joe. Another Watcher named Barton is there. Duncan tells Joe that he does not want his people involved. Barton says that if Duncan does not want this guy it’s fine with him. Duncan asks Barton if he knows where Xavier is and Barton replies that he knows where Xavier will be.
Later, we see Xavier speaking with James Horton. Xavier asks Horton if he is sure that Duncan will come. Horton says he will noting that Duncan trusts Dawson and that Dawson trusts their young friend. The young friend steps out of the shadow and reveals himself to be Barton.
Duncan leaves the apartment in a hurry. Charlie sees him and wants to go with him. Duncan tells Charlie that this is not his fight. Charlie reminds Duncan that he is going up against a special ops team – something Charlie the ex-SEAL knows something about. He also reminds Duncan that they tried to kill him and did kill his friend Davis. Duncan tells Charlie sorry.
Later, Duncan goes to the meeting point Barton told him about. It’s a large empty warehouse. He drops in on a rope from the roof, unseen, on two of them and takes them out quietly. Charlie drops in behind Duncan. When Duncan sees Charlie, Charlie apologizes and says that he wants a piece of these guys. Duncan tells him no, then punches him, knocking him out. He drags unconscious Charlie away and apologizes to his friend while doing so.
Duncan walks around until he feels Xavier’s presence. When they see each other, they begin to duel. Despite having only one arm, Xavier is still a competent opponent for Duncan. While they duel, Charlie wakes up and watches the two Immortals fight. He also sees Horton from a story above call out to Duncan before shooting him in the chest. Duncan drops to the ground no far from an elevator shaft. Xavier approaches Duncan with a raised sword causing Charlie to run out to stop the one-armed Immortal. When he does, Horton shoots Charlie numerous times in the chest. Duncan uses the distraction that this causes Xavier to roll into the elevator shaft and away from Xavier.
Horton tells Xavier that they need to go. Xavier calls out angrily that he wants Duncan’s head. Horton replies that Xavier will have his chance. Xavier steps over Charlie’s body as he leaves. A few moments later, Reenee Delaney and other officers storm the warehouse and find Charlie’s body. Reenee announces that Charlie is alive and calls for an ambulance.
At the hospital, Reenee is waiting by the check-in desk when Duncan walks in. She says she was wondering when Duncan would show. He tells her, forcefully, that they will not talk now. He asks the nurse about Charlie DeSalvo. She tells him that his friend is not doing well, having lost a lot of blood. She asks if Charlie is a relative and Duncan tells her that he is a friend. She tells Duncan that there is a place he can wait down the hall. Reenee says aloud that Duncan was with him and she says she wants to know everything. They begin shouting at each other with Duncan telling her that his friend dying means he is not in the mood to talk and Reenee, in turn, saying that his friend is alive and in the hospital because of her. She wants to know who Duncan is working for and he does not answer.
Duncan is at Charlie’s bedside when he opens his eyes. Duncan welcomes him back and Charlie tells Duncan that they are dead. Duncan asks if he looks like an angel. Charlie says he saw Duncan take a bullet to the heart.
Charlie; Tell me I’m wrong.
Duncan: You’re not wrong, Charlie. You saw what you saw.
Charlie: What are you MacLeod?
Duncan tells him it’s hard to explain and Charlie asks him to try. He asks Duncan to tell him before he dies. Duncan tells Charlie that he is not going to die. A moment later though, Charlie’s heartbeat flatlines. Doctors and nurses rush in and usher Duncan out.
Later, Duncan is at a church. Reenee finds him inside. She asks if he is praying and he tells her he is waiting. She apologizes for what she said in the hospital and says that it was a cheap shot. She says that she hopes Duncan’s friend makes it and he tells her that they are in a good place to hope.
Reenee: Do you believe in that? [motions toward the cross and the lit candles]
Duncan: I believe that there’s an order in the universe, that there’s purpose, that things eventually fit, even if you can’t see how or why.
Reenee tells Duncan that she prayed for someone once, that she prayed for days, and that it didn’t work. She says that she guesses no one was listening.
Duncan: “He works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.” That’s the “why” part. Hopefully someday you get to understand.
Reenee: If I live for four hundred years.
Duncan: Sometimes it takes longer than that.
She changes the subject and asks what she is supposed to do with him. He tells her to let him finish this alone. He puts his hands on hers, before knowing what he is doing, and they both pull their hands back.
Later, Duncan is speaking with a nurse. She tells him that they removed two bullets from Charlie’s chest cavity. She says that they had to close him back up before they could remove the bullet from his spine. Duncan asks when they can go back in and she says they will know in a day or two. As they finish talking, Dawson arrives. Duncan tells Joe not to even say Charlie’s name and he blames the old man for Charlie being in the hospital in the first place. Joe asks what he is talking about and Duncan says that Joe set him up. Duncan says mercenaries were waiting on them – as was Horton.
Joe: That’s impossible. You know Horton’s dead.
Duncan: He wasn’t last night.
Joe tells Duncan that he is seeing things. Duncan responds by saying that Joe is lying. Hospital security sees their heated conversation and asks Joe if he is here to see Dr. Crane. Joe says he is here for his twenty-thousand mile check-up and pats his prosthetic leg. He asks the security officer to walk him out to his car and the man agrees quickly.
Later, Duncan carries a flashlight and appears to be inside a tomb. He wipes the dust off James Horton’s name plate and then begins smashing it open with a sledgehammer. Once it is open, he finds no body inside. Horton speaks up from behind Duncan and asks him what the problem is.
Duncan lifts the sledgehammer and tells Horton that he needs to join the rest of his family inside this tomb but Horton reminds him that they are only holy ground. He says that he tried to convince Xavier to come with him – knowing they would find Duncan here – but he says that even Xavier will not kill on Holy Ground. Duncan asks him what this is all about and Horton says that it is about Duncan and his kind.
Horton: You’re an abomination.
Horton asks Duncan if he is frustrated to be face-to-face with a man he cannot kill. He suggests that Duncan would probably prefer to kill him, if he could, with his bare hands. Duncan asks about Xavier’s ties to this and Horton explains that he shot Xavier and was about to behead him when he realized that Xavier could lead him to Duncan. Duncan surmises, correctly, that Horton promised Xavier that he would be the last Immortal. Horton describes his partnership with Xavier as an unholy alliance. Duncan asks Horton how much Dawson knows and Horton says that he and Dawson are family.
Abruptly, Horton leaves the tomb and closes Duncan inside. By the time Duncan is able to force his way out, Horton is gone.
Later, Duncan is back in the hospital. He steals a piece of unaddressed mail from a tray and takes it to the front desk. He pretends to be a delivery man. He tells a nurse that he has a delivery for Joe Dawson who is a patient of Dr. Crane’s. The nurse asks him why he is telling her and he says that they didn’t give him Joe’s address and that they said she could give it to him. She does and Duncan says thanks.
That night, we see Duncan staking out Joe Dawson’s residence. He follow Joe as he leaves and drive toward a wharf. Joe steps on board a boat and is greeted there by Horton. Duncan runs down the dock toward the two men. All three of them notice each other and Horton’s boat casts off before Duncan can arrive. After, on the dock, Reenee appears and asks Duncan who they were. He tells her no one.
She tells him that she’s got Army intelligence computer and informants, and that every time she arrives somewhere Duncan is always one step ahead of her.
Reenee: What’s going on MacLeod? Who are you?
Duncan: You wouldn’t understand.
She suggests to Duncan that they could help each other. As they are talking, he lifts up the hood of his car and finds a tracking device inside. He hands it to her. He tells her not to follow him again.
Duncan is waiting outside of Dawson’s home with the Watcher returns. He asks Joe how Horton is. Joe finally admits that he knew Horton survived the fight from the year before. He tells Duncan that he made sure Horton was an outcast from The Watchers. He says though that he did not tell Duncan because he knew Duncan would kill him. When Duncan asks if Horton deserved it, Joe tells him that Horton is his sister’s husband.
Joe tells Duncan that he did not know Horton was in the country until Duncan said he saw him. He met with Horton tonight to find out why Horton came back. Angrily, Duncan tells him that Horton is back to kill Immortals.
Duncan: Horton buys the mercenaries and Xavier takes the heads.
Joe swears to Duncan that he did not know. Duncan asks Joe what he would have done if he did know. They stare at each other for a long time in silence. Duncan tells Joe that the next time they see each other it will be the last.
To be continued
This was a dense episode. Sometimes Highlander gives me a couple of driving around doing nothing scenes that take up 5+ minutes of air time. Those recaps are easy. Sometimes it fits a movie’s worth of dialogue into 45 minutes. This episode was the latter.
Xavier St. Cloud is back. He’s menacing enough in his own right. But near the end of the episode, we learn that he’s essentially an Immortal underling of James Horton – who is not dead after all and on a quest to kill off Immortals.
Roland Gift is once again phenomenal as Xavier St. Cloud. His sword work is great. He’s a terrific actor – blending charisma and menace extremely well. That’s not all, though, we also get the terrific Peter Hudson back as James Horton. It’s hard to rank the villains we have met on this show so far but these two are in the Top 5 and it’s a lot of fun to watch them both appear in the same episode. Both of them feel like a real threat to Duncan – which is not something most of our guest bad guys present.
I think Duncan was finally planning to tell Charlie the truth – or some version of it – just before Charlie went into cardiac arrest. To be honest, I think Duncan should have just lied and said he was wearing Kevlar or something. But at this point, I want Charlie to know.
This episode introduces Stacey Travis as Reenee Delaney. My sense of things, with her introduction, is that the writers are *still* searching for a way to make this a show that is mostly about Duncan fighting mortal bad guys and only occasionally about fighting Immortal bad guys. We’ve kind of cycled through Randi the Report + Seacouver police, Duncan and the Paris Police, Duncan and Charlie the ex-SEAL fight bad guys together… and now Duncan and military intelligence might fight crime? The stage is at least set for that possibility, anyway.
I liked the Reenee character and her chemistry with Duncan. I like the story-telling approach by bringing the military and intel into things. But the best version of this show is when it has a more consistent Immortals vs. Immortals feel to it.
Note: I noticed use of the term “wet works” in this episode to describe Rick Davis’s death squad. I had never heard that term used before a few years ago – probably because I had failed to notice its use or understand the meaning Was this always a thing? I guess so.
All in all, this is a good and gripping episode. I’m looking forward to how they wrap this up. I suspect the story will be moving full time to Paris in the very near future.
3 thoughts on “Highlander (Season 2, Ep 36): Unholy Alliance”
I wanted to check on something about this episode and I see that there’s a criminal lack of Highlander episode recaps on Tv Tropes.
The criminal lack of general digital remembrance of this show was the primary force of motivation to create this blog. Everything else on here has more or less been window dressing.
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