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 plot 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:
Amanda is visiting Duncan when Joe Dawson’s girlfriend is murdered. They learn that the murderer is an Immortal named John Dergan who is now calling himself Thorne. He murdered her because she was asking too many questions about how he acquired items in his personal museum. Duncan met Dergan over one hundred and fifty years earlier, in Montana, when both were passing through Snake River. While there, Dergan murdered a priest and stole a golden cross from him. The priest got Duncan to vow, just before he died, that Duncan would someday return the cross to the Church.
Dergan, who now calls himself Thorne, still owns the cross and stages it in his museum. Duncan and expert thief Amanda steal the cross from the heavily secured museum. Duncan does this in order to draw the other Immortal out for a duel. Dergan retaliates by kidnapping Dawson and proposing a trade of Joe for the cross on holy ground. Duncan agrees to the terms of the trade. Amanda hides inside the church, but does not reveal herself, when the trade occurs. Sensing an Immortal in the church, Dergan believes it to be Duncan, so he takes the cross, lets Joe go, and then lets his defenses down. Outside, he finds Duncan waiting for him. Off Holy Ground now, and with nowhere to run, Dergan fights Duncan and dies.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
Duncan is with Amanda at Joe’s Bar. Duncan introduces them.
Joe: THE Amanda? You know, I’ve heard an awful lot about you.
Amanda. I’ll bet you have. I hear you’re one of those guys who likes to watch.
Joe: It’s, uh, clinical. For history. We don’t get involved.
Amanda: Well tell me, um, do you watch us do everything?
Joe: Only the things I can’t get arrested for.
Amanda tells Duncan that she likes this guy. Joe is so expressively happy that Duncan asks him when he is coming back down to earth. Amanda comments that Joe is obviously in love. Joe confirms and says that she is an art historian named Lauren. Duncan asks when they will get to meet her and Joe replies that it will not be tonight because she is doing research at the Thorne Estate. Joe tells them, smiling, that he is going to meet her later at her place and that anything they want is on the house.
After he goes, Amanda confirms with Duncan that Joe is a Watcher. Duncan asks her what she thinks and she says that she thinks he is kind of cute.
Sometime later, Joe pulls up in front of Lauren’s house. As he is knocking on her door, he sees through a glass window that she is being strangled. He watches helplessly as she is murdered.
After, we see Joe playing a blues song on the guitar called “love is just a gamble.” While we hear him singing, a montage of her murder is replayed.
Jumping forward again, Duncan, Amanda, and Joe are all in black. Amanda comments quietly to Duncan that she cannot imagine what it is like for Joe because they can fall in love one hundred times. Joe is asking aloud, why, and the two Immortals try to console him. Duncan says that things happen sometime for no reason and Amanda relays that the police said she probably surprised a burglar. Joe angrily says that the police theory is wrong and points out that the killer was wearing a two thousand dollar suit.
Duncan: You did what you could.
Joe: Yeah, well that was not enough. Do you know what that feels like?
Joe asks Duncan to help him find the killer. The three of them later interview a security guard at the Thorne Estate where Lauren worked. The guard tells them that she was practically the last person to leave that night and that she seemed to be alone. Joe asks what that is supposed to mean. The guard tells them that Mr. Thorne’s security system is state of the art. Duncan and Amanda share a meaningful look at that admission and she wanders off. He tells them that if anything was going on that they would have picked it up. He tells Joe again that he is sorry.
Duncan tells Joe that he will get Amanda so that they can get out of there. He finds her in another room admiring Thorne’s collection of artifacts as well as his security system. She asks him if he has any idea how much these things are worth. He sarcastically says that does not interest her because she is no longer a thief. As they are about to go, Duncan notices a cross in a glass display case.
Snake River, Montana – 1817
A priest baptizes an infant baby, while holding the aforementioned cross, and gives the baby’s name as Timothy James Rayfield. As a small group is celebrating the baptism, two other men approach and greet them. They ask about the occasion and are told it’s a baptism.
Duncan is watching from a distance when one of the newcomers demands that the priest hand over the cross. One of the men warns that they have three seconds before they meet St. Peter. He counts to three and fires a shot and Duncan rides hard to stop them. Duncan fights off the two men, taking a gun shot in the process, before retrieving the cross from the river where they dropped it before fleeing. Duncan returns the cross to the priest who tells him that he brought that cross to Montana all the way from The Vatican. He notices that Duncan has been shot and without permission, pulls at Duncan’s shirt. He sees that there is no wound. The holy men decree it a miracle and state the the power of the Lord has healed him.
They asks Duncan if there is anything they can get him and he says he would like some whiskey – not to drink but for them to pour on their own cuts to prevent their own wounds from festering. He then tells them he was on his way to Ft. Wolf and asks if they can point him in the direction of a warm bath.
Sometime later after his warm bath, Duncan senses another Immortal nearby. He eventually finds the other Immortal – a backwoods man named John Dergan. Dergan is hunting for beaver pelts. He tells Duncan that he is a trader – pure and simple. Duncan says that this is good and that they have no argument. As they are standing together, the priest walks by holding the golden cross. Both Immortals stare at it.
Dergan: All that gold wasted on a priest. Enough to make a man take up religion.
Back in the present, a well-dressed John Dergan watches Duncan and Joe through a security feed. Aloud and without most of the accent he was using in 1817, he asks who Duncan’s friend is.
At Duncan’s apartment, Amanda enters the kitchen, She is in Seacouver because she is working as security for a musical group. She tells Duncan that she is not cut out to work for a living as Duncan asks if she is hungry. Amanda tells Duncan that the rock star she is working for has an enormous ego and compares the lady rock star, unfavorably, with Elizabeth I. Duncan asks her if she has ever heard of an Immortal named Dergan and she says no. He tells her that a long time ago, he and Dergan argued over the piece they saw at the Thorne Estate. She asks if he thinks Dergan has something to do with the murder and MacLeod says he does not know. He adds that he has not seen Dergan in over 100 years.
Dergan is complaining that someone wants to give him only twenty dollars for beaver pelts he spent two months trapping. The man he is trading with says that how long it took him is not his problem. During their discussion, as Duncan is nearby, it becomes clear that Dergan is illiterate.
Dergan asks Duncan if he knows how to read and how old he was when he did. Duncan replies that he learned when he was about fifty years old and admits upon questioning that it was difficult at first to learn. He tells Dergan that it got easier, though, and it would be worth his while to learn.
Sometime after Dergan approaches the beautiful young school teacher in the local town. He tells her that he is forty years old and unable to read a lick. He adds he cannot even sign his name. She lets him inside her home and tells him that she has taught classes for the men in the fort before. She adds that she has not done so recently due to raising money for the school. Dergan sees the money she has raised for the school collected, as she grabs a book off a shelf. Suddenly he wraps his hands around her throat and strangles her, telling her that the school will have to wait. He then takes the money.
In the present, Joe is looking at an old book at a table inside of his bar. He is also drunk. Amanda walks in to check on him and he offers her a drink, too. She tells him that it’s a little early even for someone with her constitution. She offers to buy him breakfast but he takes a drink and tells her that he has already eaten. She responds aloud by saying that she has been there. Joe tells her that it is frustrating to know he can find out what an Immortal in Spain had for lunch three hundred years ago but to also be unable to find out who killed Lauren. She asks him about the police and he tells her that the police have nothing to go on. Amanda changes the subject and asks him how accurate their records on Immortals really are.
Duncan is in search of Thorne and is told by Thorne’s curator that Mr. Thorne does not see anyone. He tells Duncan that as Thorne’s curator he knows as much about The Cross of St. Antoine as anyone. As he begins to give the history of the cross, Duncan interrupts him to give that history himself. The curator asks Duncan if he is in the trade but Duncan asks him instead that he wants to know if the cross is for sale. The curator tells him that it is not and that it is of tremendous personal value to Mr. Thorne. The curator walks away and Duncan tells him to send his regards to John Dergan . The curator is confused but Duncan tells him that he thought that he and Mr. Thorne might know of him.
Duncan is about to leave town. He asks a man where the priest is so that he can say goodbye. The man tells Duncan that the priest is at the river baptizing John Dergan. Duncan is alarmed by this news and rides toward the site of the baptism.
At his baptism, Dergan is asking the priest about the golden cross. Dergan asks the priest if he has the cross on his person. He tells Dergan that he does and Dergan asks if his baptism can be done with the golden cross instead of the wooden one. The priest agrees as Dergan’s eyes light up with lust for the gold. He takes the cross from the priest and stabs him.
Duncan rides up hard. He and Dergan shoot at each other. Duncan falls from his horse, Dergan roars like an animal, and then runs off into the woods. Rather than chase him, Duncan tends to the priest. The dying priest makes Duncan swear that he will one day return it to the church and Duncan agrees.
In the present, Duncan tells Amanda that he thought Dergan might be Thorne’s supplier. He tells her though that when he went looking for Dergan, all he came up with is air. Amanda tells Duncan that Dergan has not been seen in 120 years. He asks her how she knows that and she tells him that she went to Dawson. Duncan tells Amanda that they had an agreement to leave Joe out of this and she reminds him that she does not do what he tells her. She then adds that Joe lost someone he loves and that he wants to do something about it.
As they are talking, Duncan’s phone rings. He tells Amanda that Thorne’s curator spoke with Thorne and the other man wants to meet to discuss Duncan’s proposed purchase of the cross. Duncan adds that Thorne is sending a car.
When Duncan exits Thorne’s car, outside of a church, he feels the presence of an Immortal. Thorne’s driver tells Duncan that Thorne is waiting for him inside. Duncan enters the church and learns that Dergan and Thorne are one and the same. Dergan tells him that “John Dergan” has not existed for years. Thorne tells Duncan that the cross changed his life. He tells Duncan that since that moment, he has pursued beauty, wealth, culture, and education. The once illiterate man tells Duncan that he now speaks and reads in nine languages, including Greek and Latin. He tells Duncan that he lets nothing stand in the way of his pursuits.
Duncan: Especially Lauren Gale.
Thorne: Ah, the art historian. She was very good. She actually knew the history of my pieces that were procured through interesting channels.
Duncan: You mean stolen.
Thorne asks Duncan if he thinks the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum purchased their pieces from the original owners or from grave robbers. He asks Duncan what makes them different than him Duncan replies that he kills people. Thorne/Dergan tells Duncan that he hardly ever kills anymore before adding that the Gale woman asked too many questions.
Thorne: Everything I own is a part of me. I sell nothing and nothing is ever taken from me.
Duncan: How about your head?
Thorne tells Duncan that he is no longer in the game – at least until there is only one of them left. Duncan replies that is easier said than done. Thorne tells him that he might be surprised how much protection money can buy. He warns Duncan that if he comes after him, he will be killed. He adds that he would then be happy to make Duncan’s death permanent.
That night, Duncan tells Amanda that he needs her help to break into Thorne’s museum.
Amanda: For three hundreds years you have been telling me to go legit but now that I’m straight you want me to steal.
Duncan: You hate your job!
Duncan flirts with her until she relents. She agrees on the condition that she is completely in charge of the operation. Duncan kneels before her, starts kissing her hand, and tells her that he is her obedient servant. She then tells him that she likes the sound of that.
Duncan visits Joe’s bar and tells him that he knows who killed Lauren. He tells Joe that it was an Immortal named John Dergan who calls himself Thorne now. Joe is shocked that Armand Thorne is an Immortal. Joe pulls a pistol from under the bar. Duncan warns him that he will not get close enough to Thorne to use it and then asks Joe to let him be the one to kill him.
In the dojo, Duncan and Amanda are gathering the equipment for their heist. A few moments later, we see – in the dojo – Amanda suspended from a rope. Duncan is complaining that his arms are getting tired. She tells him that he is puny and that he needs to work out more. She eventually drops her and apologizes sarcastically.
Later, in the museum, Duncan and Amanda both drop down into the museum wearing harnesses attached to ropes. As they bicker, she tells him that they have exactly five minutes. They work their way through the room. Amanda uses an aerosol spray to neutralize the lasers. They successfully get the cross out of its enclosure and escape.
Back at Duncan’s apartment, he tells Amanda that she was magnificent. They, uh, celebrate.
The next morning, Duncan’s phone rings and wakes him up. It’s Thorne. He tells Duncan that he is impressed and also very, very angry. He admits that beautiful things are his weak point before noting that Duncan’s weakness is even more fragile. Thorne then puts a tied up Joe Dawson on the phone.
Joe: Kill him for me, Mac.
Thorne offers to exchange Dawson for the cross.
Joe and Thorne discuss their situation. Joe tells Thorne that he has more than the police to worry about. Thorne tells him that MacLeod will try to come for him but adds that combat is for barbarians and that a civilized man protects himself.
Amanda and Duncan are discussing what they will do. He tells her that Thorne does not want his head. She suggests twice that they give it back and walk away without an answer from Duncan.
Thorne exits his car at their meeting place, the church again, and feels an Immortal. He goes inside with Joe and tells his driver to wait outside. When Thorne enters the church, he sees the cross on the alter. We see Amanda inside the church hiding behind the alter as Thorne calls out to Duncan asking him why he is hiding.
Outside, Duncan sneaks around Thorne’s car and incapacitates his driver. Thorne yells into the church for Duncan not to bother him again. As Thorn grabs the cross and goes back outside, he feels an Immortal there, too. Duncan comes out from a hiding spot and Thorne asks who is inside. Duncan tells him it is a friend that cannot be bought or stolen.
Thorne draws a sword and tells Duncan that he is overreacting. Thorne runs into the neighboring building as Duncan pursues him. They fight inside what looks like a warehouse. Thorne holds up well in the fight, eventually roaring in a similar manner as he did after the 1817 Snake River priest’s murder. Eventuaally though, Duncan beheads him.
Duncan returns to the Church, goes inside, and tells Joe and Amanda that it is finished. He leaves the golden cross on the alter inside.
Later, Duncan and Amanda spy on Joe from a distance as he plays and sings the blues. Amanda asks Duncan if he knew Joe could do that and Duncan tells her no.
Duncan: You know, it’s funny, the man knows more about me than probably anyone else alive and yet I hardly know anything about him.
I did not enjoy this episode despite a couple of strong elements.
The main plot was really weak. In the first five minutes of the episode, we learn about Joe’s girlfriend, that he is in love, and then we see her murdered before we meet her. It’s hard to be invested under those circumstances or to properly feel for Joe’s loss. Does it undermine Joe’s credibility as not just a Watcher, but one of the most important Watchers in their entire order, that his girlfriend was murdered by an Immortal he did not even know about? Uh, yes. This whole story just needed to be re-thought and re-worked.
Then to make matters worse, John Dergan / Thorne is one of the show’s weakest Immortal villains to date. He posed no threat at all to Duncan. His transformation from illiterate backwoodsman to wealthy sophisticated man of culture was not well executed. The weird howling thing he kept doing when angry was strange and distracting.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Amanda is pretty much always additive to this show. Her assistance with the heist was the highlight of the episode. I even enjoyed the turnabout of Duncan convincing her to break the law for a good cause (that conversation always seems to go the other way.) The Amanda character brings out the best version of Duncan to see on screen. He is always noble and charismatic. But Amanda is the rare good character that makes him unsure of himself and also brings out his sarcastic humorous side.
The decision to give Joe Dawson a bar to run/operate pays off in this episode because it provided a platform for Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) to sing and play guitar. He is worth hearing.