Highlander (Season 2, Ep 43): Counterfeit

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:

Richie is attacked by men with Watchers tattoos while he is at a carnival. A mortal, Pete, helps Richie escape but takes a bullet wound in the process. While Duncan is treating Pete’s injuries he notices that Pete has a scar suspiciously covering a spot where a Watchers tattoo might be. As he and Richie look into the details of the attack, Pete looks increasingly suspicious to Duncan.

Pete in fact works for evil Watcher, James Horton. Pete is only part of Horton’s plan. Horton has also kidnapped a woman from prison and forcibly given her plastic surgery to look exactly like Tessa Noel. While the story with Pete, Richie, and Duncan is playing out, Horton is teaching the woman, Lisa, to speak with Tessa’s voice and to know what Tessa knows. The adept woman picks it all up. Meanwhile, Duncan and Richie continue arguing about Pete. MacLeod sets up a stakeout of the barge to prove that Pete is a bad guy. He has led Pete to believe that they are leaving town in the morning and that the Watchers’ shot to get Duncan will leave when he does. At the stakeout, early in the morning, Pete shows up. He then speaks with men in a car who followed him to the barge. Just as it looks like Duncan will be proven correct about Pete, the men in the car kill him on the side of the road. Richie angrily blames Duncan for the man’s death because he had wanted to warn Pete about the men in the car.

We see as the camera pans out that the murder was part of Horton’s plan to drive a wedge between Duncan and his Immortal pupil.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

Our episode begins with a shadowed person telling James Horton that nothing happens until he gets his money. Horton repeats his demand price – $10,000. The money is produced and the man says that he is worth it. Horton replies that he is certain the man is worth it. He then walks to a furnace and removes a red hot poker therefrom. The man asks what is going on and Horton tells him that he is about to earn some of his money. After the steel is placed on the man’s skin, he shouts in pain. When this is done, Horton tells him to go out and be a hero.

Sometime later, we are at a carnival. Richie is at a booth using a prop gun to shoot at balloons. The recently branded man is next to him. Richie finally hits a target and wins a prize. The branded man next to him jokes with him about the stuffed animal and Richie offers to give it to him. While they are interacting, some other men in the nearby area are looking at them and whispering to each other.

One of the whispering men walks up to them and begins firing at targets, too. Richie sees from the corner of his eye that the newcomer’s wrist has a tattoo marking him as a member of The Watchers. He walks rapidly from the booth and toward his motorcycle. When he finally reaches it, he sees that his rear wheel tire has been cut and the air let out. A moment later, all of the men who were near him at the booth have now surrounded him. Richie runs. The men catch up to him on a street away from the carnival. Someone arrives on a motorcycle and tells Richie to get on. As Richie gets on, the men start shooting at them. Richie and the unknown man escape on the motorcycle.

Later on the barge, Duncan sees to the hero’s arm. Richie’s savior, Pete, is the man who was with Horton to begin the episode. Pete asks Richie what he did to those guys and Richie replies that he never saw them before in his life. A moment later, both Duncan and Richie see a place on Pete’s wrist recently burned. They do not comment on it aloud. Duncan tells Pete that he is welcome to stay at the barge for the night. He goes up on the deck and makes eye contact for Richie to follow him.

On the deck, Duncan asks Richie if he saw the burn. Richie says that he did. Duncan says that it looks as if he had a tattoo removed, and recently. Richie plays devil’s advocate and says that it might just be a burn. He then defends Pete by saying that he did just save his life. Duncan agrees but then asks Richie why Pete saved his life.

Richie: Maybe he’s the hero type.

Clearly neither of them are satisfied by that possibility. Richie then suggests that they go back to the carnival and talk to the guys there and find out more. As they walk through the carnival, Richie quickly IDs one of them who shot at him. Others arrive and surround Richie also. Duncan abruptly asks one of them men if he has a tattoo. When Duncan looks at his wrist, the Watcher tattoo is no longer there. Duncan quickly pulls Richie away and tells the man that this was a misunderstanding. As Duncan and Richie quickly walk away, Riche tells Duncan that he knows what he saw. Duncan tells him that the tattoo is not there anymore.

Later, Richie is agitated that Duncan does not seem to believe him about the tattoo. Duncan says that it is not that he does not believe him, it is that the tattoo is gone. He asks Richie if they are supposed to go back to those men and take them on over a tattoo that does not exist. Richie says no. Duncan also points out that there is a possibility that somebody is playing with them. When Richie asks why, Duncan says that he does not know.

Duncan tells Richie that there is someone else that they can talk to. Richie defensively protests questioning Pete and tells Duncan that he has already made up his mind about Pete. He accuses Duncan sarcastically of reading Pete’s mind.

Richie: I knew we were Immortal but I didn’t know we were psychic, too.
Duncan: We’re not psychic, tough guy. But we are cautious.

Elsewhere, a handcuffed female prisoner is being transported by bus to a new location. She starts loudly insisting to the driver and the guard on the bus that she needs to go to the bathroom and asks them to pull over. She then promises to be a good girl and even purrs at them. The three of them are the only people on the bus. A few moments later, after they do not stop, the bus is forced to a stop by a car ablaze in the roadway. A man, bleeding, bangs on the driver’s window for help. When the driver opens the door, the bleeding man pulls a gun and shoots both the driver and the guard. Another man joins the shooter on the bus. They pulls the detained woman from the bus and force her into a car. She starts loudly insisting to them and the driver to tell her where they are taking her. A moment later we see that Pete is the driver. He turns around and tells the woman that if she wants to live, she needs to shut up.

Back at the barge, Pete is gone. Richie speculates that his arm was hurting and that he went to the hospital. He concedes to Duncan that he does not have four hundred years of life experience but then tells Duncan that Pete is no one to worry about. Duncan says that he hopes Richie is right. A few moments later, Pete pulls up on his motorcycle. When they ask him where he has been, he tells them that after they left yesterday, he saw a man peaking around outside of the barge. Pete tells them that when he went outside to ask the man what he was doing, the man took off. Pete says he followed him straight back to the carnival. Richie asks Duncan what he thinks and Duncan says that he thinks Pete should show them. The three men then return once more to the carnival.

On their way, Duncan asks Pete where he is from. He evades an answer by saying that he moved around a lot. He tells them that his dad left when he was a kid and that he attributes his own rambling ways to that. He jokes that he figures he will run into his dad sooner or later. Richie tells Pete than when he sees his dad to ask him if he’s seen Richie’s old man.

Just then, they arrive at a trailer on the carnival grounds. Richie says that there does not seem to be anyone around and Duncan opens the door citing age before beauty. Inside, they find several pictures of Duncan and Richie tacked to a wall.

Pete: This is getting to be like the movies. You guys CIA or something?

Duncan suddenly advises Pete to leave Paris. Pete pushes back and says that he wants to help. Duncan then tells him that he is in way over his head. Pete argues that he can take care of himself and he appeals to Richie asking what kind of guy he would be if he took off from a friend in need. Duncan and Richie are silent.

Pete: I’ve got to go back to the hospital. If you guys need me, fine. If you don’t, fine.

Once Pete goes, Richie angrily asks Duncan what that was all about. MacLeod replies to him that all of this is too neat and that Pete has been in the right place at the right time too often. Richie says Pete’s story checks out and he tells Duncan not to be such a cynic.

Richie: Why don’t you trust him?

FLASHBACK!

Duncan appears to be in the early 1700s and he is poaching. A Sheriff and a deputy arrive to arrest him for poaching. Duncan argues that if he does not poach, the people will starve to death. He then says that if they starve to death, no taxes will be collected. If no taxes are collected, he says, then there will be no Sheriff.

Duncan: Surely the King can spare one small bear for his loyal subjects.

As Duncan is talking, another man knocks him out from behind using the butt of his rifle. When Duncan wakes up, the Sheriff tells him that he has been charged and found guilty of poaching. He sees a headsman nearby sharpening an ax and asks who found him guilty. They tell him that it all happened while he was unconscious. Duncan argues that he is a free man and that he has rights. He begs to be hanged as that is the correct penalty for poaching. He is told that they have no rope. The Sheriff tells that he hopes God has mercy on his soul. Duncan abruptly feels another Immortal’s presence.

As Duncan frantically frees his wrists from their ties, a man shoots the headsman. Duncan finishes freeing himself, picks up the ax, and then fends off the Sheriff and the men with them. Once they are scattered, a large graying woodsman with a large full beard approaches. He introduces himself as Charles Browning. Laughing, he says that he could not help but notice that Duncan was on the wrong end of that ax. Duncan thanks him. The man then tells Duncan that he killed a fine bear and then he confesses to Duncan that he is very hungry.

That night, in the village, Duncan is very drunk and celebratory. Browning addresses the gathered people in a large room and tells them that he hopes they are enjoying the bear. As Browning calls out to the bar wench to bring them more wine, Duncan insists on paying. Browning will not let him. Duncan says that he owes him his life and Browning, suddenly very clear eyed, says that they will settle that debt another time. A few moments later, they are back to drinking and celebrating.

That night, as Duncan is lying down and apparently passed out, Browning approaches him sword in hand. He makes noise as he lifts his sword given a suddenly awake Duncan time to roll away. Duncan protests and reminds the man that he saved his life.

Browning: Why waste a Quickening?

Duncan asks him why and reminds Browning that he called him a friend. Browning replies that he has no friend.

Back in the present, Richie tells Duncan that Pete is his friend. Duncan tells Richie that Pete is a liar. Richie asks him why and Duncan tells him that a police report he has handy proves that Pete is a liar. He shows it to Richie and tells him to read it. We learn from the police report that Pete is wanted for armed robbery and that he broke parole. Richie says that even with this information, Pete still saved his life.

Richie: The guy still saved my life.
Duncan: And I still want to know why.

The female prisoner from earlier is handcuffed to a table. Horton and a doctor discuss plastic surgery for her. The doctor says that she will require a lot of work but that he can do it. The woman, Lisa, asks Horton what is going on. Horton tells her that she should be grateful. He tells her that they are going to give her a new face, a new identity, and a great deal of money. She asks them who she has to kill.

Horton: All in good time, my dear.

Richie meets up with Pete later. Pete is in the middle of answering Richie’s question about why he lied earlier and points out that that honesty would not have gone over well.

Pete: What was I supposed to tell you, that I couldn’t go to the hospital because I jumped bail?

Richie accepts the story and points out that Pete has had a pretty rough week with getting shot in the arm and whatever happened to his wrist. He asks Pete how it happened. Pete tells him that he touched his wrist to the manifold on his motorcycle while changing a flat, after going a couple hundred clicks. Richie is convinced by the story.

Duncan is in the location where Pete and Richie were shot at and he is looking around. Something seems to occur to him and he goes inside the building. Inside, we see that the building is a church. Duncan finds Brother Andre and asks if he can ask a few questions. He is told yes. Duncan asks him if he rings the church bells every day at noon. Andre replies that he does and that the church has never failed to ring the bells for three hundred years. Duncan then asks him about the view. Andre tells him that his view of the outside world is spectacular but uneventful. Duncan asks if yesterday was uneventful. Andre admits that the view yesterday was eventful. He tells Duncan about two men being chased by other men with guns. Duncan asks him then if he saw anything else and Andre tells Duncan that he saw a sports car parked in the alley.

Duncan: You wouldn’t happen to know what kind of car it was.
Andre: A silver Aston Martin, 1966 DB6. It still had dealer plates on.

As he tells Duncan about all of the car’s features, he opens a cabinet and reveals a collection of model sports cars. Duncan looks amused and Andre says that even a priest can dream. Duncan thanks him for his time.

Andre: Are you a police officer?
Duncan: No. I’m an Immortal.

Elsewhere, Lisa – post surgery because her face is completely covered in cloth – is being coached on her new personal history. A woman is telling her that her new name is Lisa Millon, that she was born in Paris in 1964, that her mother’s name is Marie, and that her father’s name is Jacques. The woman coaches her to lower her pitch when speaking and to remember that she is supposed to be French. Lisa practices speaking. As she does, her voice begins to sound like a former character of this show.

Horton enters the room and says that sounds much better. The vocal coach approaches Horton and tells him that Lisa is quite a study. Horton replies that she has to be as they do not have much time. He tells the woman that even MacLeod has a weakness and that he now has the right weapon.

Later, Duncan is walking and talking with Richie. He tells the young Immortal that he checked the alley. He tells Richie that he found shells but no bullet holes and no bullet fragments.

Richie: So what are you saying?
Duncan: That the whole thing is a set-up. Fake tattoos and blanks.

Richie continues to doubt Duncan’s instincts. We see that he and Duncan are talking inside a car gallery. Duncan speaks with the dealership owner and asks about an Aston Martin DB6. The dealer says that there is no finer vehicle and offers to show Duncan a green one. Duncan tells him that he is interested in a silver one and wants to know if one has been sold recently because he would like to speak with the man who bought it.

Dealer: What could he tell you that I can’t?
Duncan: If it’s worth $80,000.

Back in Horton’s lair, Lisa is still on a bed and her face is still covered. Horton is quizzing her about Andy Warhol and Kandinsky. She claims not to know why Horton tells her that she does. She demonstrates that she has been learning a lot about art history but insists to Horton that she is ready and that she needs to sleep. Horton tells her that she will sleep when she’s dead.

Duncan and Richie pull up to a building on a street. They go inside together.

Horton gets a phone call. He tells a pair of men with them that MacLeod has found the car. The two men go outside and find Duncan and Richie by the door. The two Immortals beat them up quickly. Richie’s fighting skills have improved enough that Duncan tells him “not bad” after. They then go inside. They find Pete injured and on the floor. He tells them that they got him right after he left Richie and that the men wanted to know about Duncan and the barge. He says that he didn’t know anything but they did not care and kept smacking him around anyway.

Richie pulls Duncan aside and asks if he believes Pete now or if the man will have to take a bullet to the head to convince him. Duncan tells Richie to take Pete to a hotel under an assumed name. Pete protests that he cannot afford that and MacLeod replies that it’s on him and the least he can do. He then tells Richie that they are packing tonight and going on the run. Richie cannot believe that Duncan would run and MacLeod asks if he has a better idea.

Horton is with Lisa. He asks her if she knows what greatness is.

Horton: Someone who is truly great celebrates in silence.

He tells her that he is about to do something that many have tried and none have ever achieved. He tells her that he will destroy Duncan MacLeod and then relish the fact he did so every day after for the rest of his life.

Horton: In a way it’s sad. Because whatever else I do I shall never equal this.

Duncan is on the barge staring at a chess board when Richie returns from getting Pete checked in. Richie asks Duncan why he is not packing and Duncan tells him that it is because they are not going anywhere. He says though that they do have to get ready. Duncan tells Richie that what he said about leaving was or Pete’s benefit.

Richie is angry that Duncan still does not believe Pete. Duncan is losing patience with Richie and angrily points out that Pete’s injuries were fresh, that there was no congealed blood, and most importantly, that Pete was left alive at all. He tells Richie that Pete was left alive for a reason and that the people they are dealing with do not leave mistakes behind or people alive. He grabs Richie by the coat and asks if he wants to stay alive or not.

Pete is speaking with Horton. He tells the evil Watcher that he blew it. He states that he got Richie on his side but that MacLeod does not trust him. Horton tells a surprised Pete that MacLeod was not intended to trust him.

Horton: Divide and conquer.

Horton tells Pete that they are going to get MacLeod. Pete asks how they are going to do that and Horton slides a pistol to him.

The following morning, Duncan and Richie are staking out the barge from a distance. Richie says that he is freezing and that he wants to go back inside to get a coat. Duncan tells him no and points out that no Immortal ever died from a chill. He also says that they will be here soon.

On cue, Pete rides up on his motorcycle. Richie asks what Pete is doing there then points out to Duncan that Pete is alone. Duncan tells him that Pete is the point man and that the others will be along soon. Richie tells Duncan that he wants to warn Pete about the others coming along behind him and Duncan tells him sternly not to say anything. A few moments later, a car arrives. Pete leaves the barge and approaches the car. He makes a hand gesture to indicate that the barge is empty.

Richie pleads with Duncan to warn Pete saying that he is out in the open and does not stand a chance. Duncan tells Richie that he is not wrong about this. A moment later, a gun from the car window shoots Pete. Richie and Duncan run to Pete to help him as the car wheels around after the shooting. Pete collapses onto the street. When they get to him, he’s dead.

Richie: You just couldn’t be wrong, could you?

Richie walks away angrily. Horton watches them from a distance.

Later, Horton tells another of his henchmen that Peter’s mother is burying him in Paris because she could not afford to fly him home. Now in the room with Lisa, he tells her that the minor actors have played their roles and now it’s up to the star.

A doctor approaches and begins unwrapping her head. When all the bandages are finally unwound, we see that Lisa has been remade to look exactly like Tessa Noel. Lisa hobbles over to a mirror and stares wonderingly at her new face.

To be continued

REACTION:

This is a difficult episode to review because it amounts to really nothing more than an elaborate set-up for Part 2. That said, the set-up was not terribly well executed.

Richie has seen enough of the world by now to take Duncan’s side when his older Immortal friend has an intuition about a situation. Duncan has more than earned his trust. The fact that he did not do so felt… forced. The plot shouldn’t dictate the character choices but here it did. Would Season 1 Richie side with a stranger over Duncan? Probably – especially if the stranger was an attractive woman. Season 2 Richie though probably shouldn’t – especially if the stranger is not an attractive woman.

As a result, it was hard to get invested in the wedge that Horton was driving between Duncan and his pupil. I mean.. I was glad to see Richie finally go once the episode ended. His terrible instincts are endangering both himself and Duncan. I like normal Richie. I don’t much care for chip-on-his-shoulder-for-plot-convenience Richie.

As for Horton’s plan? This entire set-up episode is completely bonkers. Horton steals a sociopath from a prison transfer gone wrong, completely (and forcibly) changes her appearance to be a replica of Tessa, and then somehow also teaches this person the entirety of art history… in a few days? He also teachers her to fake Tessa’s voice? All of this is on top of the overly elaborate plan to make Pete into Richie’s best friend and then to kill Pete in such a way that Richie will blame Duncan for his death?

And it’s not as though there are not giant holes in this plan with all of its craziness. (i.e. Hopefully Duncan – who knows French – never puts English speaking Lisa in a position where she has to speak to him in her native language.)

Bonkers. The plot is just too crazy to take it all seriously. I’ll give Peter Hudson some credit for how he plays Horton in this episode… he sold the heck out of it anyway. The speech he gave to Lisa about greatness was just pure psychopathy. He’s gone from a psychopath obsessed with killing Immortals to a psychopath obsessed with killing one particular Immortal.

One thing I have to wonder about all of this with Horton is how he is doing it. How did he survive a sword through the abdomen and then a gun shot? Where is he getting money to travel, hire henchmen, hire doctors and voice coaches, get intel to pull off stealing a prisoner during a transfer? Exactly how many Watchers are on his side after Joe allegedly kicked him out of the group? It seems very much like Horton is funded by a government or something.

At any rate, it will be fun to see Alexandra Vandernoot in Part 2.

There are a couple of fun guest star notes for this episode.

Lisa was portrayed by Meilani Paul.. Adrian Paul’s then wife. I guess I understand the impetus for having her own the show. From a story-telling perspective though, having a dark haired, dark eyed woman turned into a light haired, light eyed woman did not make much sense to me.

Pete was portrayed by Martin Cummins. If any of you are Riverdale fans, he plays Tom Keller on that show. He was also one of the leads in the long-running show, When Calls the Heart.

We’ll see you next time for part two – and if we are lucky – a final goodbye to James Horton.

2 thoughts on “Highlander (Season 2, Ep 43): Counterfeit

    1. Yeah! I can remember when Travolta and Nick Cage switched faces.

      This episode might have been better if the character played by Adrian Paul’s wife had morphed into Nick Cage.

      Like

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