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 – sensing an Immortal – follows a moving truck to a warehouse. Inside, he frees Egyptian Immortal Nefertiri from a wooden crate and from a sarcophagus inside the wooden crate. She has been entombed for two thousand years. Duncan attempts to help her adjust to the modern world. However, soon after she begins exploring Paris with him, she runs into the Immortal who found her sarcophagus, had it shipped to Paris, and planned to open it himself before Duncan intervened. His name is Marcus Constantine. Two thousand years ago, he betrayed Nefertiri and Cleopatra to the Romans. While it feels like two thousand years ago to Constantine, the event feels only days gone by for Nefertiri.
In the intervening time, Constantine gave up war and fighting to become a teacher, a museum curator, and a pacifist. He is now married to a mortal woman named Angela. Nefertiri feigns good will toward Constantine so that she can get access to his home with Duncan. While there, she murders Constantine’s wife. Later, as she plans to attack Constantine himself, Duncan intervenes and fights her instead, ultimately killing her.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Our episode begins as a large unmarked truck is hijacked. After it is stole, we follow it. It drives past Duncan MacLeod, who is getting into his car on the side of a Parisian street. He feels the presence of an Immortal as it goes by and decides to follow the truck with alacrity. The truck pulls into a warehouse and a large wooden crate is unloaded from its rear.
As the wooden crate is wheeled across a warehouse floor by two armed men, Duncan shows up and disarms them. Feeling the presence of an Immortal, Duncan discerns that the feeling is coming from within the wooden crate. He pulls the wooden crate away and reveals within a sealed wooden Egyptian sarcophagus. Duncan removes the lid and finds a wrapped body inside. He unwraps the body, from around its head, and reveals the eyes of a woman beneath. She opens them.
Duncan: It’s okay. I don’t want to hurt you.
Woman: Does Rome still rule the world?
Duncan; No. No they don’t.
A moment later, the now naked woman steps out of the sarcophagus. Duncan puts his trench coat around the naked woman and asks where she is. He tells her she is in Paris and she asks where that is. He replies that Paris is a long way from Egypt. Duncan introduces himself and she replies that her name is Nefertiri.
Duncan pulls the fire alarm to create a distraction – something that frightens her. He then walks her outside to his car. She asks him what that is and he tells her it is a kind of chariot. She asks where the horses are and he points at the hood and tells her that they are under there.
Duncan: They’re real tiny. I promise you’ll be safe.
As they drive away, we see that another man is watching them go from a distance.
Later, at the warehouse, one man, Victor, explains to another man that the robbery does not make sense. He says the drive indicated that two men stole the truck. However, the only thing stolen from the truck was the contents of the sarcophagus. The man to whom he is speaking tells Victor that there was nothing inside the sarcophagus. Victor argues saying that Nefertiri’s mummy was inside and he shows the other man the packing list. The other man says that the list is wrong and he instructs Victor to tell the police that nothing is missing.
Farther away, Duncan and Nefertiri exit his car. She says that the ride was terrifying. Duncan explains that Paris traffic takes some getting used to. Maurice runs up to them and greets them. Duncan tries to lead Nefertiri past Maurice but he continues talking.
Maurice: I knew it the minute you stepped out of the car. You have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that no French woman possesses.
Duncan continues trying to lead them past Maurice but he continues trying to offer them things – food, help with her coat, and a tour of the city sometime later. Duncan leads her inside the barge and Maurice continues talking to them through the door, sharing that he was born and raised in Paris. Duncan opens the barge door partially to tell Maurice goodbye. Then he closes the door again.
Outside the barge, Maurice peers in through one of Duncan’s barge windows as Nefertiri drops her coat to the floor.
Maurice: Oh, looking fun.
Duncan sees him and covers the window angrily.
Sometime later, Nefertiri asks Duncan how long it has been and he tells her that it has been about two thousand years.
Nefertiri: Everything I knew is gone. My home, my world, my queen.
We learn that Nefertiri was sworn to Cleopatra. She tells Duncan that she failed her. Duncan replies that Rome is a lot to take on, even for Immortals. She laughs and smiles. She notes that this is her world now and asks Duncan to teach her about it. He asks her where she wants to start and she picks up a clock and notes that it moves. He explains to her what it is. She understands that it is like a sun dial. Next, he shows her a lamp and explains that it gives off light. A montage of Duncan showing her a handheld vacuum, an answering machine, a pay phone, and other modern amenities ensues. When he shows her the motorcycle, she asks where one keeps the horse in it. He explains that newspapers are a form of hieroglyphics. He next takes her shopping.
Inside a store, with an attendant, she tells the attendant that she likes the dress and orders him to undress her. Duncan, nearby, tells her that she will have to do that herself. He then has to hurriedly stop her from doing it in the middle of the store and guides her to a dressing room. The shopping excursion also included heels because Nefertiri almost falls over while walking out of the store.
Nefertiri: This is completely asinine!
Duncan: You’ll get used to them.
Later, we return to a warehouse again. The unnamed man, earlier, who did not want to report a missing Nefertiri mummy is looking at Egyptian artifacts with another man. We see that this other man has a Watchers tattoo on his wrist. They discuss the earlier theft and we learn that the police believe someone who works at the museum may be the thief.
Duncan and Nefertiri are walking together through Paris. They appear to be in the Place de la Concorde in Paris 8. She tells him that it is strange how some things remain so similar while others are so different. Just then they come upon a large obelisk – the Luxor Obelisk. She tells Duncan that she used to see this obelisk from her window in the summer palace. She says that she needs to know how her world turned into this world. Duncan gives her a short summary of human history since the time of Cleopatra while taking her to the museum.
After Duncan gives a particularly scathing analysis of The Crusades, they come across a Renaissance painting. Nefertiri speculates that she would have liked the world in this time period. Their tour of the museum eventually takes them to the exhibit of Egypt. Nefertiri stops and says that she feels like a ghost.
Nefertiri: Do they remember her Duncan? Do they know how she saved Egypt with her wisdom and her beauty when whole armies could not? Do they know her name?
Duncan: Everyone knows Cleopatra. She became the most famous woman in history.
Nefertiri: Would that I were with her in paradise.
Nefertiri is in ancient Egypt. Men are wrapping the body of a woman. Nefertiri abruptly tells them that they must stop their work so that she can speak to the queen.
Nefertiri: [speaking to the body of Cleopatra] Forgive me my queen, but I cannot go with you any more than I can stay behind. Everything we loved is gone, and now Rome will rule our world. And so I shall rest with you until all of this is nothing more than a faded memory.
Nefertiri drinks poison and collapses in a heap on the floor next to Cleopatra’s half-wrapped body.
In the present, Nefertiri storms out of the Egypt exhibit and Duncan follows her. He tells her that now she knows why he did not want her to go in there. She replies that he cannot protect her from the past. Just then, both of them sense the presence of another Immortal… and it’s the man from the warehouse who has been denying that Nefertiri’s body was in the sarcophagus. That man is with a woman who appears to be either a wife or a girlfriend. She asks him if there is something wrong. He tells her no but he also tells her to return to the office.
Nefertiri tells Duncan that the man has come for her and she says that she needs a sword. She runs off. Duncan blocks the man from chasing after her and instructs him to let her go. Duncan has to tell him twice. Finally, the man asks Duncan his name. The still unnamed man’s wife approaches. She asks him if he is alright. He tells her, Angela, that he is alright.
Duncan leaves in search of Nefertiri. In her short time without oversight, a mugger attempts to rob her. She manages to stop him with a fierce kick to his groin. As he lays on the ground in agony, she gives him an addition fierce kick, in the small of his back, for good measure. Sometime later, Duncan finds her in the plaza beside the Luxor Obelisk.
Duncan: Who was he?
Nefertiri: He name is Marcus Constantine. He is a Roman general – my enemy.
Nefertiri tries to seduce Duncan. He tells her that she cannot buy his loyalty with sex. She replies that she is not asking Duncan to die for her, but he adds “yet.” They walk back to the barge.
Nefertiri: Women never use sex to their advantage anymore?
Duncan: [laughs] Let’s say hardly ever.
On the barge, Nefertiri is in new clothes. He tells her that she looks sensational. Maurice is also on the barge making dinner. Duncan says that he has errands to run. When Nefertiri says that she wants to go with him, Duncan replies that she does not. She realizes that he is going to see Constantine. Maurice promises to take good care of her while Duncan is gone.
Elsewhere, Constantine asks Victor “why” and he points out that Victor comes from a wealthy family and does not need the money. Victor feigns that he does not know what Constantine is getting at. Constantine grabs him by the jacket.
Constantine: You set up that robbery!
Victor: If you have proof, go to the police. But you won’t, will you. Your kind never do.
As Constantine asks him what he means by his kind, he feels Duncan’s presence. Constantine tells him that they will finish this later. Victor agrees that they will. Duncan asks if he treats all his help that way. Constantine asks him what he wants and Duncan says the real question is what Constantine wants. The Roman tells MacLeod that he does not want to kill Nefertiri, or for that matter, anyone. He wants to show Duncan something. He motions him toward some statues and says that the biggest farce in mankind’s history is the notion that wars exist to preserve civilization. He says to Duncan that he used to make history but now he works to make certain that history survives.
Duncan asks him why the change.
Constantine: Rome and what we did in her name. You should have seen it – the roads, the amphitheaters, the libraries. It was magnificent. We lived like kings.
Duncan: All except the slaves that made up most of the empire.
Constantine: Yes, that’s true.
Constantine says that they conquered nations so that others could do their work for them. He says that after some time, the Romans became lazy, stopped learning, and eventually they stopped remembering. Duncan introspectively adds that those who forget history are bound to repeat it. Constantine says that mankind forgets again and again. He says that this is why he teaches rather than kill. He tells Duncan that he has his work and a new wife that he loves very much.
Elsewhere, outside the barge, Victor the Watcher is lurking around outside. Inside, Maurice is assuring Nefertiri that Duncan will be back. He asks her if she might ever be interested in an older man. She replies that she has never met an older man. Maurice does not quite know what ot make of that and he leaves. A few moments later, Nefertiri hears Victor inside the barge. She asks who he is.
Victor: Doesn’t matter. What matters is that I know who you are.
Nefertiri: What are you talking about?
Victor: You’re an obscenity that should have died 2,000 years ago.
Nefertiri: I do not know what you mean.
Victor: Don’t like to me you Immortal b****.
Victor pulls out a pistol and she asks him what that is. He fires it – though not at her – and she screams. Victor tells her that he will kill her first, then MacLeod, then Constantine. He says that all he came for was the Roman but he is getting three for the price of one instead. She approaches him closely and asks if this is what he wants. She then suddenly and ferociously takes a knife from the table and stabs him with it. He collapses in a heap on the floor of the barge.
Elsewhere, Duncan is still talking with Constantine. We learn that the Roman Immortal spent centuries looking for her tomb. He notes that she is history, uncorrupted, living and breathing in their own time. Duncan notes that this is not all she is and Constantine agrees. He tells Duncan that she used to be his world.
Barely clothed, Constantine and Nefertiri are in bed together. He says that he wants to be with her forever and she advises him to be careful what he wishes for. He replies that nothing can come between them and she asks if this includes war. He tells her that he will not let anyone hurt her. Nefertiri replies that this is about her country and her queen. He tells her not to worry about things that will never happen.
Back in the present, Duncan returns home to find Victor dead He notices the tattoo on his wrist. Nefertiri tells Duncan she had no choice because he said he was going to kill her and Duncan. She asks him how the man could possibly have known she is Immortal. Before Duncan can explain, Maurice gets up holding his head. Duncan tells his neighbor that he must have taken a nasty fall. He gives Maurice a bottle of wine for medicinal purposes and tells him to go home and rest. Once Maurice is gone, Duncan tells her that he has taken care of the body and that it will not be found.
Nefertiri tells Duncan that Constantine must have sent the man because she saw him with Constantine at the museum. Duncan argues saying that Constantine would not hurt her and that he told him tonight that he once loved her. Nefertiri angrily replies that he did not love her, he loved Rome.
Nefertiri is fighting Roman soldiers. After killing one of them, she tells two others to come to her and die. Constantine enters the room and yells for the two Roman soldiers to leave them.
Constantine: It’s over, Nefertiri. She was ordered to Rome in chains.
Nefertiri: My lady treated as a slave?
She asks Constantine to tell her where Cleopatra is so that she can go to her. He tells her that she cannot because Cleopatra is dead. He tells her that her queen has taken her own life. Furious, Nefertiri attacks him with a sword and tells him to fight her. She cries that she trusted him. He tells her that he loves her and he asks her to come back to Rome with him. She attacks him again and asks if he intends to make her his slave. He says he intends to make her his wife. She says she will never and she attacks him again. Their fight is interrupted by other Egyptian soldiers. She leaves.
In the present again, Nefertiri – in a robe and having just bathed – tells Duncan that Constantine betrayed her and destroyed everything she loved. Duncan tells her that Constantine has changed. She says that he still sees with the same eyes and has the same heart in his chest.
Nefertiri: He may have forgotten who he was but I have not. He is still Roman. I am still Egyptian.
Duncan implores her to think about the amount of time that has transpired since while acknowledging that it must feel like yesterday to her. She asks Duncan what she can do and he advises her to go see him and talk to him.
Nefertiri: How can I without betraying everything that I am?
Duncan: Nefertiri, you’re not Cleopatra’s handmaiden any longer.
Nefertiri: Then who am I? What am I?
They embrace and she tells Duncan that she is so lost. The show makes a sudden “mature audiences only” turn.
Later, Duncan is with Constantine again. They are walking down a street and Constantine points out a chapel. He tells Duncan an Immortal priest used to live in it. Duncan lets him know that he also knew Darius. Constantine says that he and Darius were very good friends.
Constantine: There was a time that I found it difficult to forgive him for bringing the Goths to Rome. I couldn’t forgive him for destroying everything I loved.
Nefertiri: [suddenly approaches] So you do know how it feels.
Constantine tells her that he is glad she came. She asks what he wants and he tells her that he wants her to live and be happy. He says he also wants to convince her that he is not her enemy. She asks what he calls someone who lies and then destroys everything someone loves. He tells her that he defended Rome and that she defended her queen. He asks her to please let the war be over.
Duncan: 2.000 years is a long time to hold a grudge.
Duncan says that this is a new chance for all of them.
Sometime later, Constantine, Duncan, Angela, and Nefertiri are gathered together for dinner and Constantine’s home. They are awkward and quiet together. Duncan says that the music playing sounds like Sidney Bechet’s soprano sax, but he notes that the phrasing is a little different. Angela is surprised that Duncan knows of Sidney Bechet and Duncan adds that it is a shame he left New Orleans. Angela replies that New Orleans’s loss was Paris’s gain. Angela remarks that Duncan talks about Bechet as if he was there. Nefertiri replies that perhaps Duncan was there. Angela suggests that maybe Duncan’s grandfather was there and Nefertiri replies that some men do not look their age.
Duncan suggests that they get coffee. Constantine agrees that this is a good idea. Angela and Nefertiri rise and carry their plates into the kitchen. In the kitchen, Angela tells Nefertiri that she is so glad to get to know her and admits that she was a little nervous when her husband told her that Nefertiri was coming. Angela says that when she first saw Nefertiri, she was a little jealous. Nefertiri replies that she can tell from the way her husband looks at her that she can tell she means the world to him.
Angela: I hope so.
Nefertiri: The whole world. [STABS ANGELA!!]
She walks back to where the two men are sitting, holding a bloody knife. Constantine asks her what they have been talking about and Nefertiri drops the bloody knife in front of him.
Nefertiri: A life for a life, Marcus.
Horrified, the two men run to check on Angela. Nefertiri follows them. She tells Constantine to live and be happy. Duncan drags her outside. Constantine leans over his wife’s body and weeps.
At the barge, Duncan tells her that he wants her out of his barge and out of his life. She protests saying she has not done anything her queen would not have done. Duncan points out that her queen was saving a nation while she herself is saving nothing – not even herself.
Duncan: You don’t even know how close you are to losing your head.
Nefertiri: Marcus would never kill me.
Duncan: I’m not talking about him.
She tells Duncan that he is like Constantine. She says he makes love to her and then betrays her. Nefertiri tells Duncan that he used her. Duncan, now furious, tells her that she used him to get into Marcus’s home so that she could kill his wife. She tells him that this is not about him and he replies that it was not about Angela, either. He tosses her a bag filled with the clothes he bought for her and tells her to get out.
Later, Duncan approaches Constantine at a graveyard. The Roman Immortal tells Duncan that he always knew he would bury her but he did not think it would be so soon. Duncan apologizes and says that he should have seen it. Constantine says that this is his own fault and he says that he should not have brought Nefertiri to Paris.
Constantine: I thought that because I had changed she could, too.
Duncan asks him what he will do now and Constantine asks if he is asking if he will avenge Angela. He tells Duncan that in a way, Nefertiri did not kill Angela, he did. Duncan points out that she will be coming for him. Just then, she appears at the edge of the cemetery and draws a sword. Duncan tells her that it is over and to let it go. She says that she will not until one of them is dead. Constantine tells her that he could not fight her two thousand years ago and that he will not fight her now.
She swings a sword at him and Duncan blocks her blow with his own sword. She tells him not to interfere in their fight and he replies that this is not a fight, it’s an execution. She says the oath to her queen is all that she has left. She turns her attack on Duncan. Their duel begins.
She tells Duncan that she loved and trusted him. He tells her in turn that what she calls loyalty and love are nothing more than anger and fear.
Nefertiri: I have no fear.
Duncan shouts at her, asking how much love can turn into so much hate. She shouts back that she has nothing and that the world has changed around her. As they fight, Duncan eventually pins her sword arm against a wall.
Nefertiri: You cannot win, Duncan. You cannot kill someone you have taken into your bed and loved.
Duncan: Can you?
Duncan steps back from her and she stabs him in the chest. He drops to his knees and she swings her sword at him. Outside the building wherein they had been fighting, Constantine sense that one of them has killed the other. A moment later we see Duncan on bended knee, weeping, as he receives her Quickening.
Sometime later, Constantine apologizes to Duncan for his having to kill her. Duncan replies that he keeps thinking that there is something else he could have done.
Constantine: You could have died. What would Darius have said to you now?
Duncan: I don’t know.
Constantine: I’ll tell you. That you musn’t blame yourself. That she made it war and you fought with a warrior’s instinct. That life always chooses life. That’s what he would have said.
Duncan: [nods] Yeah.
They both say that Nefertiri was an extraordinary woman.
I guess I’ll get a content warning out of the way right off the bat. We have actual nudity in this episode and probably the raunchiest sex scene in the history of the show. If you’re here for sword fights, violence, and decapitations, but not for hanky-panky, proceed with caution.
There are a lot of things wrong with this episode but let me start with what I liked.
- Nia Peeples was really good as Nefertiri. She was the most believable / ferocious female sword wielder on this show thus far. She accomplished that while being quite tiny, too.
- Marcus Constantine (James Faulkner) was a really good character, also. He fits the ex-general turned pacifist, wise older mentor role, formerly occupied by Darius, quite well. In fact, the references to Darius within the episode really worked to help him create a believable bond with Duncan, IMO.
Let’s now talk about what did not work.
- Duncan senses an Immortal in a car, at the start of the episode, and just follows the car? Why? Does he regularly just follow Immortals in cars once he senses them?
- Nefertiri wakes up from a 2,000 year long nap and speaks perfect English? How hard would it have been to have Duncan / Constantine speak to her in Latin or Greek? The episode could have indicated that this was happening in some way short of hiring translators and teaching the actors an ancient foreign language. We assumed in Nefertiri’s flashbacks that she was not speaking English. Just gives us something to imply that they are not speakign English in the present and all would have been well. Almost none of Nefertiri’s dialogue outside of what she had with Duncan and Marcus was very necessary.
- The show does not really explain this… but I guess we are to assume that if an Immortal is dead and buried, they stay in something like a suspended animation until they can breath again?
- Duncan and Constantine, for smart guys, seem to put an amazingly little amount of thought into the fact that Nefertiri is experiencing multiple kinds of trauma – for her, it feels like her queen died about two days ago and it also feels like she woke up in a new world one day ago. “I thought I had changed so she could too.” Bruh, you had two thousand years to do that. She has had – from her vantage point – about two or three days.
- What was the point of the “evil Watcher” side plot in this episode? James Horton was supposed to be an anomaly. The further we get into this show, the more it seems that Joe Dawson is the anomaly. Is this guy a Horton acolyte?
- I am really upset that Richie Ryan was not around for this episode. His commentary would have been priceless.
- Nefertiri would have made for a really interesting, occasionally recurring, character, if the writers had taken her story in a different direction. I understand that the writers were probably going for a scenario where Duncan killing a woman was almost the humane choice but I would have preferred to see the Egyptian handmaiden / fish out of water, learn and adapt over a period of time.
Regarding Egypt and Cleopatra, it always astounds me to consider that her life occurred closer to the present than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid. The Dynastic Period in Egypt lasted a LONG time.
All in all, I really liked the concept of this episode. I wish the final product had been a little more fine-tuned. I consider this episode a missed opportunity more than anything.