Highlander (Season 3, Ep 52): Obsession

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:

Duncan’s Immortal friend David Keogh wants to marry Jill. After he tells her about Immortality though, she wants to call it off. She seeks Duncan’s help to get David to leave her alone.

Duncan is unsuccessful in talking David down. David tracks Jill to her own apartment. She flees from him to her balcony railing many floors up. Duncan arrives and tries to talk Jill back inside. Just as Duncan is about to succeed, David bursts out to grab her. She panics, scrams, pulls away from David, and then falls to her death.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

The episode begins with David knocking on the door of a home looking for a woman named Jill. Jill’s sister answers the door and tells David that Jill wants nothing to do with him. David insists that she is there and he says that they just had a misunderstanding. He leaves the front door and sees Jill trying to get to her car quietly from the back of the house. He hopes a porch railing and jumps down to the driveway below, but not until after she is in her car. He then stands in front of the car trying to get her to come out and talk to him. Jill runs David over and drives away.

Later, David calls Duncan from a payphone. He is completely fine. Anne is at Duncan’s home when he answers. We see Duncan’s end of the phone call. He asks David why the other man wants to meet at a church. Then the call ends and Duncan asks a confused Anne if she minds letting herself out. She says that she does not. Duncan gives her a spare key to his elevator which makes Anne happy. He agrees to meet her later at Joe’s before leaving.

When Anne eventually does let herself out, she rinds Richie down in the dojo opening up the blinds. Richie offers her a donut – which she accepts with feigned reluctance – when Jill enters the dojo through the front door. She asks Richie if he is Duncan MacLeod. Anne answers by telling her that she just missed him. Richie adds that he will be back later and asks if he can tell Duncan who is looking for him. Jill says no. Anne asks her if she would like to stay and tells the woman that they are both friends of Duncan. Jill says she cannot stay before rushing out. Richie says as she goes that the encounter was strange.

Duncan meets David at the church. They embrace.

Duncan: Why are we meeting on holy ground?
David: It’s a matter of life and death. I’m getting married.

Duncan seems genuinely pleased and congratulates David. The other Immortal tells Duncan he is getting married on Sunday and that he wants Duncan to be the best man. Duncan is taken aback but then he agrees.

FLASHBACK!

Philadelphia – 1825

David asks Duncan to be the best man at his wedding. Duncan advises him to let the lady say yes, first. We learn that David met her through her father who delivers lumber for the houses he is building. As Duncan straightens David’s tie for him, David remarks that only fifty years prior he was an indntured servant.

As Duncan and David enter his love interest Julia’s home, they find another suitor inside. Julia remarks formally to David that it is nice to see him and she asks what they can do for him. David addresses Julia’s father, who is also there, saying that he had hoped to speak with him. Julia’s father asks if there is a problem with the mahogany. David says that there is not. David – awkwardly in front of the gathered group – tells Julia’s father that he had hoped to discuss his daughter with him. He asks what business David might possibly have with his daughter. David replies that he had hoped to discuss the possibility of marriage.

Julia’s father: Are you ridiculing me or are you insane?

Duncan reads the increasingly tense room and whispers to David that perhaps now is not the right time. David, increasingly indignant, asks Duncan why not. Julia’s father asks David why he would take advantage of the invitation into his home in this way. David tells him that he and Julia love each other. He adds that he is a free man and a business man, as he is. Duncan whispers to David that perhaps they should take their leave. David tells Julia to explain to her father how they feel about each other. Her father answers for her though telling David that he comes from nowhere and has no family.

Julia’s father: Do you believe that I would allow my daughter to marry a tradesman?

As her father calls for a man to see David out, David pleads with Julia to speak up. Finally she does and she tells David that he obviously misinterpreted her kindness as affection. Julia’s father is now indignant and he shouts at David that he will not tell him again to leave. Duncan intercedes and tells the man that he and David are able to find their own way out. David tosses the bouquet as Duncan guides him out.

In the present, David shows Duncan a rocking chair he has made. Duncan tells the other Immortal that he always was a master craftsman. David explains that he has a workshop upstate and he adds that he has a six month waiting list for those rocking chairs. He tells Duncan that he met Jill through his chair-making. He says that she is a decorator. He explains that she asked David to bump one of her clients to the front of his waiting list and when he did, she took him out to dinner to thank him. David tells Duncan that it has been a long time for him and Duncan replies that he was due. Just then, they both feel another Immortal and Duncan tells David that this is Richie.

Richie enters carrying food. He tries to give Duncan food but MacLeod says he is meeting Anne for lunch. Richie meets and greets David before asking Duncan if a woman came by. Duncan asks who he means and Richie explains that a woman stopped by the dojo earlier after he left but would not explain why she needed to talk to him.

David: What did she look like?
Richie: In her twenties, brunette, really cute, scared to death. Sound familiar?

David says no. Duncan tells Richie that if she comes by again, he needs to get her to wait. He then explains that he will be back in an hour. Duncan asks David if he is ready to go but David says he suddenly feels wiped and asks Duncan if he can crash at the apartment. Duncan tells him to make himself at home before leaving.

After Duncan goes, David tells Richie that Duncan is one in a million and he says that he wishes the guy who found him had been more like Duncan. Richie is surprised that Duncan was not his teacher. David says he was not but he adds that Duncan taught him a lot anyway. David tells Richie that when he was born, you could buy an eight year old boy from an orphanage for the price of a pig and keep him in an apprenticeship until he turned twenty-one. David says that after he changed, the Immortal who found him treated him the same way – like a pack animal.

David: Duncan was the first person I ever met who treated me like I was worth something.
Richie: I’ve been there, man.

As we see Duncan pulling away from the dojo, Jill walks up. David sees her from the apartment window and goes out the back way. Richie greets Jill from the dojo elevator. As Richie is explaining to her that Duncan just left, again, and that he advised her to wait, David comes in through the front door and gregariously greets Jill. She immediately looks alarmed and afraid. David puts his hands on her waist and tells her that he stopped by the church and talked to the pastor. He tells her that they are all set or Sunday. Jill pushes him away and telsl him to get away from her.

Richie intervenes and David tells Richie that Jill has wedding jitters. He advises her to go back to her place and offers to give her a nice massage. She pushes him away and yells at him that he is not listening. Richie intervenes again with a hand on David this time and says that he does not think Jill wants to go with him. David elbows Richie in the stomach and tells him to get out of his way. Richie shoves David down as Jill runs from the front door. David then pulls a sword as Richie expresses that they need to calm down. David circles Richie with the sword near Richie’s neck.

Richie: Don’t do this David.
David: Get between us again and I’ll kill ya.

At lunch, Anne asks Duncan how long he has known David. He replies that they’ve known each other for years. She asks how formal the wedding is and Duncan tells her that he is not sure. She asks him if he knows what time it is and Duncan says he does not know that either. She questions him and asks if he has a thing about weddings and Duncan says he loves weddings. She continues prodding and asks if a best man is supposed to know details like this but Duncan replies that he has only known he would be the best man for a couple of hours. Next Anne asks if Duncan has ever been married before and he says no. When she asks if he has been close, he admits that he has a couple of times. She says that she has also been close a couple of times. When Anne asks Duncan why his almost marriages did not work out, Duncan says that he needs to be going instead of answering her. She tells him that if he does not want to talk about it, it is okay. He kisses her on teh cheek and promises to talk about it someday.

Back at Duncan’s apartment, Richie explains to Duncan what happened. He tells Duncan that David is not pulling his punches and says the other Immortal might have broken a couple of his ribs. Duncan dryly replies to Richie that he will heal.

Richie: I know, that’s not what I mean. Mac, you don’t understand. One minute this guy was there, and the next, boom! He’s trying to take my head. And he’s not kidding around. I mean, this girl just came in and he just freaked. He totally lost it. Now what the h*** is this all about?

FLASHBACK!!

Pacific Northwest – 1882

Duncan is square dancing in a large group – as one does – and he is partnering in particular with a woman named Sarah. After the dancing is done, she tells Duncan that it has been a long time since she has danced. Duncan replies that you would never know it and she calls him a flatterer. Duncan asks if he has told her how happy she makes him. She tells him that he has said it several times in the last few months but she adds that she does not remember so he had better tell her again. While they are talking, he tells her that a few years ago he lost someone.

FLASHBACK-WITHIN-FLASHBACK!

We see Duncan with the Little Deer and the Lakota. This is a moment we have seen before. Duncan and Kahani are returning from a fishing trip. Duncan has just given him a pendant to wear and tells the boy that it is strong medicine and only for warriors. After Kahani runs along, Duncan kisses Little Deer. She tells him that he is handsome and says that sometimes she forgets that he is a white man. As they kiss, Kahani tackles Duncan playfully.

Not long later, we see the slaughtered Lakota settlement in the aftermath of Immortal Kern’s attack. We see Duncan cradling Little Deer’s dead body in anguish.

Back in 1882, Duncan tells Sarah that he has been on his own ever since and he tells Sarah that he never thought he would feel this way again. She asks him how he feels and he tells her that he feels alive and like he is not alone. She replies that he is not alone and suggests that they go home. He takes her arm and they run off.

As they are lying in bed together, Duncan begins to suggest that they get married, honeymoon in Paris or China, and even buy a house. Sarah does not want to talk about the future.

Later, Duncan goes to a bar and orders a whiskey. The bartender alerts Duncan to a man at the bar who has been asking about Sarah and saying that he is her family. Duncan approaches the man and introduces himself. The man introduces himself as Henry Carter. When Duncan asks him if he is her brother, the man says that he is her husband.

Duncan: Sara ain’t married.
Henry: I got the ring and I got the minister’s word.
Duncan: You’re a liar!

The man asks Duncan if he is crazy. He tells MacLeod that Sara is his wife and that he has come to take her home. The two men proceed to have a bar room brawl over whether Sarah’s husband is taking her anywhere. The bartender yells out for someone to get the Sheriff and to get Sarah. Duncan, crazed, is on top of the man shouting that she is not his wife. He is punching the man nearly senseless. Finally Sarah runs up and pulls Duncan off of him. Tenderly Sarah asks Henry if he is alright. When he says yes, she turns and asks Duncan, outraged and bewildered, what he did. Duncan seems stricken. Sarah asks someone named Jake to help her get Henry outside. As they take Henry outside, Duncan stops Sarah.

Duncan: Sarah, you can’t leave.
Sarah: He’s my husband.
Duncan: But you don’t love him.
Sarah: But I married him. It’s not his fault that I wasn’t cut out to be a farmer’s wife. He’s a good man and he’s always been good to me.

She tries to leave but Duncan grabs her again and asks about their relationship. She tells him that there is no “us.” Duncan pleads with Sarah that he loves her and she replies, crying, that he loves her so much that he almost killed Henry.

Back in the present, Duncan is shirtless and practicing tai chi in the dojo. As he reflects on his own history of obsession, with Sarah, he thinks about David. He knows that David will not let things go but he also knows that David has to.

Sometime later, Duncan tells Richie that David was not at Jill’s nor was he at his workshop. Richie suggests that they should hope that he does not find her. As Duncan says that he wishes they could talk to her and find out what happened, Jill shows up at the dojo. They go up to Duncan’s apartment and talk. Jill explains to Duncan that she and David were happy initially. However, she then tells Duncan that one day she came home and David showed her – but using a knife on himself – that he is Immortal.

Jill: He said I had to know but I wish he’d never told me.
Duncan: He loves you. He had to tell you.

Jill tells Duncan that he has a picture of how she wants her life to be. That life includes children, grandchildren, and a family. Richie says that after learning she could not have those with David that she called it off. Jill tells him that David will not let her, that he will not leave her alone and she says he nearly beat a guy to death just for talking to her. Jill addresses Duncan and shares that he told her that Duncan is like him. She says that David trusts Duncan and she says he respects him and will listen to him. She tells Duncan that he is her only hope and she asks him if he will explain things to David. Duncan tells her that he will try.

Just then Duncan and Richie sense David. When he knocks on Duncan’s door, Duncan tells Jill that she will be fine. David enters and tells Jill that he was worried about her. He then tells her to come with him so that they can go home. Duncan stands between David and Jill and David asks why she is here. Duncan tells him that she just wanted to talk. David tells Duncan that she can talk to him herself.

Duncan: She’s tried that, David. David, she doesn’t want to marry you. She wants you to leave her alone.
David: How do you know what she wants?

He walks around Duncan and addresses Jill directly. He tells her that he knows it will take a little getting used to but he says that they will work it out. She does not answer. Duncan tells David that she cannot do it. David addresses Jill again, tells her that he needs her, and he says that all he wants is for them to be together. When she does not answer again, he gets angry and tells her that she said she loved him. Richie jumps between the two of them and tells David that she said she was not interested. David, outraged, tells Richie to get his hands off of her. Duncan pulls David away and tells both of them that she is his. As Duncan is pulling David away, Anne arrives. Everyone falls silent.

David then tells Jill to come on with him so that they can go together. She says no. Duncan tells David to stop doing this and asks him if he cannot see what he is doing. David says he is not doing anything except trying to take his wife home. Anne interjects herself and introduces herself to Jill and offers to take Jill away from the situation back to her own place. Duncan suggests that might not be a good idea but Anne insists and the two women leave together.

David shouts as they leave and then says to Duncan that if he could just talk to her he could get her to understand. Duncan tells him that she cannot handle it. David says that she will learn. Duncan replies that she will not and he adds that she does not want to learn. He tells Duncan that he does not know that and he says that she is not Duncan’s wife. Duncan tells him that she is not his wife, either.

FLASHBACK!!!

Duncan shows up at Sarah and Henry’s farm. He rides up while she is pumping water from a well. He dismounts from his horse as Henry steps outside with a shotgun. He tells Duncan to get back on his horse. Duncan ignores him and asks Sarah to come with him. She also tells Duncan to go. He tells her that he left the newspaper so that they can be together now. She tells him that it is over and to go. Henry also reiterates that he needs to go. Duncan tells Sarah that it cannot be over. Henry tells Duncan that if he continues to get closer that he is a dead man. Sarah tells him to go but Duncan steps forward toward her. Henry shoots Duncan, killing him. Henry tells Sarah that it’s over and he goes back inside.

Sarah stands over Duncan’s body, before retreating to get a shovel from a cart by the house. Then Duncan revives. She is terrified. He tries to explain to her that he wanted to tell her.

Sarah: Please, whoever you are — whatever you are — if you do love me ou’ll go away and leave me in peace.

She runs inside the house. She watches through the window as Duncan gets on his horse and rides away.

In the present, Jill is with Anne. Anne asks if she wants to talk and Jill says that she is not sure Anne would believe her. Anne tells her to try her but Jill says again that she does not think Anne wants to know. Anne tells Jill that things must seem bad for her right now but she adds that she has seen many women in the same spot and she tells her that there are things she can do. Jill tells Anne that David and Duncan are not like other guys. Anne does not know what she means by that. Before Jill can explain, Duncan knocks on the door.

Duncan enters and tells Jill that they have to go. Anne asks why and Duncan tells her that David will find them here. He asks Jill if there is any place she can go while he handles this. Jill tells him that David will never stop. Anen suggests that they call the police and get a restraining order. Jill tells her that the police cannot stop David. She says that and that there is only one thing that will stop him. She tells Duncan that he knows what that is.

Jill: You have to.
Anne: What is she talking about?
Jill: Are you gonna do it or not?
Anne: Do what?
Duncan: I’ll make him see reason.

Jill realizes that Duncan will not do it as Anne says that this is ridiculous and that she is calling the police. Duncan tells her not to call the police. Anne tells Duncan that the police are the only way forward. She tells Duncan that she sees these situations in the emergency ward and she tells him that these guys do not stop until somebody is dead. Duncan firmly tells her not to call teh police and hen hangs up her phone.

Just then, they all hear Anne’s door open. Jill has left. She returns to her own apartment where she finds David waiting for her. Seeing him, she runs out into the hallway. She uses her elbow to break open a fire department ax from a casing on the wall in the hallway. When she sees David, she swings it at him and drives it into the drywall. David takes it away from her and drags her into her apartment. He then locks the door. David closes his eyes, tells her that it is okay, and he tells her that he understands. He walks toward her and tells her that she never has to be afraid of him. She is, though, snd she runs from him.

As he tells her that just because they are different does not mean that they cannot be together. She asks him to please just stay away. He does not. He says that he only wants to talk. She replies that she does not want to talk, she just wants it to be over. David asks if the woman at MacLeod’s influenced her. She then goes out onto her balcony window. David asks her to come back inside. Then he shouts at her to come back inside. She scrambles over her balcony ledge to the side of the building from there. Duncan arrives.

He finds the two of them on her balcony. He tells David to go back inside and talks to Jill.

Duncan: Jill, come back over.
Jill: He won’t leave me alone.
Duncan: Yes, he will Jill, I’ll make sure that he will. Come back.

She tells Duncan that she cannot. He tells her that he just needs for her to give him her hand. As she reaches for Duncan, David bursts back onto the balcony to grab hold of her. This causes Jill to jerk back in fear. She falls to her death. David looks down and says he did not mean this. He tells Duncan that all he ever wanted was to have what other people have. He asks Duncan what they can do now. Duncan tells him to walk out with him right now. On the stairs, David reminds Duncan that he always told him that they can have real lives and real happiness. He grows angry. He tells Duncan that this was all a lie. He tells Duncan that he never wanted him to have Jill and that this is what Duncan wanted all along.

Duncan: David, you know that’s not true.
David: Liar!

David pulls a sword and attacks Duncan. They begin to duel. David asks Duncan if he was jealous as Duncan tells him to stop this. David yells that everything was fine until Duncan interfered. Duncan replies to him that everything was not fine. David increases his attack on Duncan and Duncan starts to really fight back now. Within a few moments, David is on his ack and disarmed. David warns him to finish it or else he says he will be coming for him. Duncan lowers his sword. He bends down, tossng David’s sword some distance away.

Duncan: [angrily] Then you come for me.

Duncan walks away from him. David just lies there.

Later Anne visits Duncan in his apartment to console him. She asks if he is okay and Duncan replies that he should have stopped David and he says he should have gotten there sooner. Anne tells him that it was an accident. Duncan tells Anne that David was not always like that.

Duncan: He just needed so much.

Anne asks if Duncan knows where David is now and he tells her that he doesn’t know. WHen she asks Duncan if he is going to try to find David, he replies that he will not.

REACTION:

Lonely good guy Immortal becomes a bad guy Immortal over spurned love. I suspect that by a modern standard, David might be classified as something akin to an Immortal incel. We get to see here that he finally snaps from his lonely and emotionally fragile state. Jill pays for it with her life.

In the aftermath of the episode, I wonder what Duncan might have done differently. Killing him to protect Jill seemed pretty extreme when she suggested it. However, I think ultimately Jill was right. That was the only way to save her from him. The police would not have been able to stop David for long. He was not going to stop until she was dead, his unwilling captive, or he was dead. My guess is that Duncan might have eventually been willing to do that for her but he wanted to talk some more first. He just did not get a chance to do that.

It’s difficult to try imagining life in the shoes of someone like David who began life as an indentured servant. We are not told how many years David remained in that status after he turned and was with his teacher. Even with extra decades of time to heal / evolve, how do you shed your own formative years? With tremendous difficulty, I imagine. Even David’s perception of free will is colored by his own bad experience. If you’ve been an unwilling servant, it’s probably easier in some cases to mentally accept that someone else could be in that position for you. The pre 19th century view of marriage was not one wherein women stood on equal footing with men in the marital decision-making process, either. Maybe I don’t give enough credit to the Immortals who manage to evolve alongside humanity despite the baggage they carry from earlier centuries.

I don’t really feel bad for David – I feel bad for Jill – but I guess I understand how David might be a victim of his own circumstances to a certain extent.

I did not really enjoy the flashbacks this week. Duncan was very out of character. It’s hard for me to accept that Duncan – even at his lowest and most raw point – would become so obsessed over a married woman that he nearly beats her husband to death. Then he goes to her house and continues not to take no for an answer, getting himself shot and killed. At least at this point, Duncan leaves. So that makes him better than David. But it does not feel like the person I’m watching in these scenes is really Duncan. For a show that is usually extraordinarily adept at giving me a Duncan that remains the same man at the core throughout a vast variety of time and circumstance changes, this felt like a big misfire to me.

All in all, this was not a great episode. I would have liked to see *why* Duncan was so loyal to this guy. That might have helped to make his obsession with Jill more tragic than purely evil. Tragic would have made Duncan’s inner turmoil re David easier to relate to. I found myself on #TeamJill too quickly wanting Duncan to just take the guy out. There is less good justification for Duncan to hesitate in doing what needs to be done with a purely evil David.

I’m also still not interested in the Duncan-Anne dynamic. He is going to need to tell her the truth soon, though. Otherwise she will figure it out or break up with him over the secrecy. His life is too crazy to just accept at face value. I could almost see “oh no you didn’t” on her face when he would not let her call the police. She also clearly understands that Jill knew something about Duncan – something significant – that she does not know. I suspect that her patience is running out. Hopefully that means we can go back to bachelor Duncan which just works better for story-telling.

My biggest issue with Anne is that she is too grounded in reality. Her realistic reactions to scenarios on the show have the weird effect of taking me out of the episode by interrupting my suspension of disbelief. This is a show about Immortals who have combat to the death with swords. Too much reality is not a great thing.

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