Highlander (Season 3, Ep 54): Blackmail

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:

Sleazy adulterous Robert catches Duncan winning a duel with Immortal Matlin on a video recorder. When Duncan tries to retrieve the tape, Robert wants to use it to blackmail Duncan into murdering his wife. Duncan visits Robert’s wife to retrieve the tape. While there, though, he tries to warn her that her husband wants her dead. When Robert finds out that Duncan did not kill his wife, he threatens to go to the DA with his eyewitness testimony.

Just then, Immortal Kurlow arrives. Robert overhears Duncan’s plans to meet Kurlow that night. After Kurlow goes, Robert proposes to Duncan that he kill Kurlow in exchange for Duncan killing his wife Barbara. Duncan tells him to go away. Nevertheless, Robert meets up with Kurlow that night. He shoots the Immortal, killing him, but is himself murdered by Kurlow after he revives. Kurlow takes Robert’s wallet and follows it to his house where he then holds Robert’s wife Barbara hostage until Duncan shows up. He lets her go once Duncan arrives. They duel in Robert and Barbara’s house. Duncan wins the duel. Barbara later agrees to be quiet about everything involving Duncan.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

♫I have no rival. No man can be my equal. Take me to the future of your world.♫

Our episode begins with a couple, the man named Robbie, who are making an adult video. Abruptly though Robbie calls a stop to festivities and says he needs to go. The woman he is with is angry and says taht she cannot continue doing this. Robbie says that they have talked about this already and that *she* will not give him a divorce. The woman with Robbie asks if Robbie ever actually asked. Robbie tells his still unnamed mistress that his unnamed wife does not get any of her money until her thiry-fifth birthday.

They are having this conversation on the still recording camera. She tells Robbie to get out and to take his camera with him while he tells her of his plans to lie to his wife about work over the weekend so that he and the mistress can go to the beach together.

Outside, Robbie puts the camera in his car. However, from a distance, he hears the clanging of sword against sword. He gets the camera back out to film the fight. As the fight concludes, with one Immortal taking the other’s head, we see that the winner of the fight is Duncan. MacLeod turns and see the camera as he begins receiving the Quickening. Robbie panics, packs everything up, and flees.

Later, an enraged Duncan goes into Joe’s Bar and asks him why the Watchers are using cameras. Joe tells him that they aren’t. Duncan shouts that he wants the tape now and Joe shouts back that they do not use video cameras.

Joe: What exactly did this guy see?
Duncan: Let’s just say that it’s not something I want on the six o’clock news.
Joe: [excited] Some guy got a beheading on tape!

Joe says the obvious – that Duncan better find him. Duncan tells him ‘no kidding.’ Joe tells Duncan that he is going with him to find the guy and his reason is that he wants to see his face, just in case it *is* one of his guys.

Robert is at home with his wife. He is putting something in a safe place. His wife asks him what is going on and he explains that the manila envelope in the cabinet is life insurance incase anything happens to him. She asks what might happen as Robert puts a handgun in his suit coat pocket. Barbara, the wife, asks if this is because of *her.* Robert replies with feigned ignorance tinged with real panic. He tells Barbara that his life is on the line. Barbara asks if Robert is worried about a jealous boyfriend. He replies that she is overreacting again. She tries to walk away and he tells her that while she accuses him of not communicating, she is the one who does not communicate. Robert tells her that work has taken a dangerous turn. She says that he is a corporate lawyer and asks what could possibly be so dangerous.

Robert: Look at me Barbara, I am scared to death.
Barbara: You really are.

She asks if this is for real and he tells her that it is. Robert then tells his wife that he loves her and that he needs to count on her. They hug.

Joe and Duncan are at the scene of the videography. Joe asks Duncan who he beheaded and Duncan reveals that it was an Immortal named Matlin. Joe says that Matlin was treacherous and adds that if Duncan killed him, that means Kurlow will not be far behind. Duncan replies that he knows and that he is counting on it.

FLASHBACK!

England 1805

Duncan is with a man named Johnny. Johnny is expressing to Duncan how much he never wishes to be on a boat again. As they express their happiness at their return home, Duncan says that he told Molly and the boys that Johnny was too stubborn to get himself killed. They both have a big laugh at that. The stop laughing as a Constable walks by. After he goes, Johnny thanks Duncan for looking in on Molly and everyone. Duncan tells him that they are like family to him. Then Duncan and Johnny have an awkward hug and say good night. An inebriated Duncan walks away singing “My bonny lies over the ocean.”

Elsewhere, a young man is thanking Mr. Matlin for his help. The young man asks Matlin to mail some letters to his family. During the request, we learn that the young man stole money from his parents to finance his trip abroad. He blames the fact that his older brother was going to inherit everything. Matlin pretends to be understanding. As the young man is thanking Matlin for his help, Kurlow walks up behind him and wraps a cloth around his neck. Kurlow drops a now dead young man to the ground and comments that mortals die so easily. The two of them take the young man’s money from his clothes. After they dump the body into a boat, and set a boat on fire, Duncan’s friend Johnny runs up and asks if they are just going to stand there while the boat burns. Kurlow knocks him out and puts the letters than the young man wanted Matlin to mail in his coat pocket.

In the present, Duncan and Joe are staging a stakeout at the parking lot where Duncan was filmed. They hope to see the car return. Impatient, Joe asks how much longer they have to wait. Duncan says that they will wait until the driver returns or until Duncan gets a better idea of how to find him. As Joe says that he needs to go to the bathroom, and Duncan offers him an empty coffee cup, Duncan sees the car that they are waiting on. With binoculars, Joe tells Duncan that he has never seen the man before. Duncan hops out of the car to get a license plate.

Robert recognizes Duncan and walks away quickly when he sees him exit the car. He wanders away until it appears that Duncan is gone. Once he believes that to be the case, he returns to his car. As he sits down though, Duncan appears and grabs his arm. Robert tells Duncan that he saw nothing and that his business is his business. In turn, Duncan tells him that he only wants to talk. Robert responds to that by threatening Duncan. He tells him that if anything happens to him then the tape will go to the six o’clock news. He adds that he knows the district attorney. Angrily, MacLeod says that this is not what he thinks and he tells Robert that he wants the tape.

Robert: Oh, I’m sure you do.

Duncan tries to calm himself and tells Robert that what he saw was self-defense. Robert now feeling more confident replies that he had the guy on his knees and then chopped his head off. Robert laughs and says he would take that to any jury. Robert tells Duncan that he is sure that they can come to a reasonable settlement. Duncan asks how much money he wants. Robert says he does not want money – he wants Duncan to kill his wife for him.

Duncan appears to take him up on the deal. Robert tells Duncan where his wife will be, when, and he shares that the alarm will be turned off. Duncan tells him that if there is a problem that he will be the first to know.

FLASHBACK!!

Johnny is arrested. A crowd is gathered around him calling him a murderer. Duncan is there too and Johnny pleads with him that he did not do it. Duncan promises Johnny that they will not hang him. Johnny describes the two men who are responsible – one of them is a big man with a strip of white in his hair on the right side. As they are separated, Duncan shouts that he will find the man.

Duncan visits Johnny inside his jail cell. Johnny tells Duncan that he is alright and that he should be used to seeing death coming by now. He asks how Molly is and Duncan informs Johnny that she wants Johnny not to worry about her or the boys. Now Duncan tells Johnny that he has been out every day and he says he cannot find the men. When Johnny says he will make his date with the hang man after all, Duncan says again that they will not hang him.

Later, the jailer comes to Johnny’s cell and sets him free. He explains to Johnny that they found the real killer – a man named MacLeod. MacLeod walked right in and confessed knowing every detail of what happened. Johnny protests and says that MacLeod is innocent and only knew what happened because Johnny told him. The jailer asks him what he cares.

Duncan is marched outside. Johnny protests that Duncan is innocent and he shouts at Duncan that he cannot just trade places with him. Duncan tells him that he has a wife and kids to look after. As the noose is placed around Duncan’s neck, the hangman advises him to try to make certain that it doesn’t hurt. Duncan replies that it always does. Just then, he senses another Immortal. Then he sees two Immortals – Matlin and Kurlow – walking toward the crowd to watch his death, each with a big smile on his face. Duncan shouts that the real kills are here. That is all he has a chance to say though before a bag is placed over his head and he is hanged.

In the present, Robert’s wife Barbara is watching the video tape – including the portion of the tape which shows his infidelity. As she watches Duncan behead Matlin, Duncan enters her apartment. He taps his finger on a glass to get her attention. As she walks through the house asking if somebody is thre, Duncan goes to the room where she is watching the tape and he ejects it from the VCR. At the door, prepared to leave, Duncan stops. He goes back inside where Barbara is holding a handgun. She recognizes Duncan from the tape and panics.

Duncan: Look, I know thi sis not good timing but I’ve come to warn you.

He takes a step toward her and she fires the gun. Duncan flees. He tells Joe what happened. Joe cannot believe he went back inside to warn her. Duncan asks what he was supposed to do and he says that if Robert wants her killed he will find someone to do it. Joe comments that it is a pain when your sense of honor gets in the way of your own best interest. Duncan replies dryly that it happens.

Joe: To you.

Duncan says Robert has got to e stopped. Joe asks Duncan how he proposes doing that short of killing him.

At the dojo’s office, Duncan is leaving a third message for Robert at his law office. Just as he does this, Robert arrives at the dojo. He arrogantly tells Duncan that it is vital the two of them not be connected in any way. He then tells Duncan going to the apartment showed initiative but he says Duncan failed to finish the job. Duncan says he did not go to kill the man’s wife, he went to get the tape and he adds that he has it now. Robert gets in Duncan’s face and says that he is an eyewitness and he asks what Duncan thinks will happen if he goes to his friend the DA with what he saw. Just then, Duncan senses another Immortal and walks away from Robert. Robert follows Duncan. Duncan tells him to get out. When he does not, Duncan knocks him out and drags him outside through a side door. Duncan comes back inside as Kurlow enters the dojo.

Kurlow: You know Matlin was my friend.
Duncan: Then you should have come yourself instead of sending him.

FLASHBACK!!!

After the hanging, Duncan is awake and on his feet when Lyman Kurlow and Peter Matlin find him and introduce themselves. Kurlow asks Duncan if he should not be leaving town before anyone sees that he is alive. Duncan tells them that he plans to leave after he has the head of whichever of the two of them killed the Lattimore boy and planned to let his friend hang for it. Kurlow says that Duncan is looking for him, then, and asks if dying once today was not enough for him. Duncan and Kurlow walk some distance away and begin to duel.

Their duel leads them into an enormous hedge maze. As the two men walk through the maze, looking for each other and their way out, Kurlow leaves first and shouts to Duncan that he will pick the time and the place. He meets Matlin as he gets out and wishes MacLeod well.

In the present, Duncan tells Kurlow that there are no bushes for him to hide behind now. Kurlow replies that he is a lot better now than he was then. As they are about to fight, swords out, Robert reenters the dojo through the front door shouting that Duncan committed assault and battery. He threatens to sue. Both Immortals put swords up. Kurlow leaves and tells Duncan to meet him in the tunnels tonight at midnight. Duncan says he will be there.

Robert: What’s with you guys and the swords?

Robert tells Duncan that there are easier ways to kill people. Suddenly he gets the idea for he and Duncan to switch murders. He offers to kill Kurlow in exchange for Duncan killing Barbara. He says neither one of them will ever become a suspect as neither of them will have a motive. Duncan grabs him and tells him that he is in way over his head. Robert tells Duncan that he is sensing reluctance and reminds him that they have a deal. Duncan throws him out, this time through the front door, and tells him that they have nothing. Robert brags that he can hold up his end and Duncan tells him that Kurlow would eat him alive. He tells him to forget about what he just saw and to forget about killing his wife.

Duncan: If anything happens to her, anything at all, I’ll come after you.

Robert leaves and tells Duncan that they will talk later.

That night, Robert shows up at the tunnels where Duncan is slated to meet Kurlow. He eventually finds Kurlow. When the evil Immortal asks what he is doing here, Robert tells him that he is a lawyer. Kurlow asks if MacLeod sent him. Robert laughs and says nobody sends him. Kurlow tells him to leave so Robert draws hs gun. Kurlow laughs.

Robert: You think this is amusing.
Kurlow: First time I’ve ever seen a lawyer need a gun to rob someone.

Robert tells him that he is not here to rob him. Kurlow asks if Robert is here to kill him. Robert says it’s not personal but yes. Kurlow pulls back his coat to reveal more of his chest. Robert shoots him. WHen the lawyer approaches to confirm Kurlow’s death, Kurlow reaches up and grabs Robert by the neck. he then cokes him to death as Robert tries in vain to barter with him.

Not long later, Duncan arrives and sees Robert’s car. He finds Robert’s body on the ground.

Duncan: Told you.

Duncan leaves the scene and goes to Joe’s Bar. He explains to Joe that when the police find the body, they will go to Barbara and she will in turn tell them about him.

Duncan: It will be the end of Duncan MacLeod. It means disappearing. Starting over again. Someone else. Someone new.

Joe adds that it means cutting himself off from everyone he knows and says that cannot e easy. Duncan says that it’s not. Joe says that there has to be something they can do and he offers to go talk to Barbara. Duncan asks him what he will say and Joe says he is quick on his feet and that he will think of something. They leave together. In the car, Joe suggests that they can tell her they were rehearsing a movie. Duncan look sat him like this is absurd. Duncan says he thinks that they are stuck with telling her the truth. Joe asks how much of the truth.

Duncan: Relax It’s not my life that’s in your hands. It’s just my life here.
Joe: That takes the pressure off. It’s a piece of cake, now.

As they pull up to Barbara’s home, Duncan notes that it does not look like the police are here yet. he says that they should at least have a few minutes, first. Duncan senses an Immortal. He gets out of the car. Inside, Kurlow has Barbara blindfolded and is holding her by her hair. He says Duncan had better get there soon. He senses Duncan and announces that he is here now. When Duncan walks in, he throws Barbara toward him. Duncan removes her blindfold and tells her that a friend of his outside will take her to a hospital. He then tells her to go. The moment she is gone, their duel begins.

After destroying the front room with their fight, Kurlow abruptly runs away – as he did two hundred years earlier into the hedge maze. Duncan, sword out, explores and looks for Kurlow from room to room. Soon though they find each other and the fight resumes. Kurlow cuts Duncan across the chest but he recovers well enough to knock Kurlow into a hot tub. Kurlow manages to exit the hot tub with his head. However, he is only out for a moment before Duncan takes it. His body falls back into the water after dying.

The Quickening is explosive and decidedly bad for Barbara’s furnishings.

Later, Duncan is in the dojo’s office as Joe and Barbara walk in. Duncan asks Barbara how she is and tells her that he is sorry about everything that happened. Barbara asks what Robert got mixed up in. Duncan tells her that knowing would not make it any easier for her. She says that she does not know why that lunatic wanted to kill them but she says that she knows that if it was not for Duncan she would not be alive. Duncan replies that she is giving him too much credit. She tells Duncan that if there is anything she can do for him and Duncan tells her that there is not. Joe interjects to say that she could forget about the video tape. Barbara tells him that she does not know anything about a video tape. She leaves the office and waits for Joe out in the dojo. Joe looks down and sees the aforementioned cassette tape just sitting on a table in Duncan’s office. He cannot believe that Duncan would just leave it lying around. Joe asks if he can hang onto the tape, for the Watchers’ archives. Duncan tells him that whatever is on the tape is his.

Joe: You erased it, didn’t you?
[Duncan smiles]
Joe: Worth a shot.

REACTION:

I think one’s ability to enjoy this episode depends on whether you like the “sleazy lawyer/businessmen” stories. I enjoy those so I was fully on board.

Duncan… bubby… I’m your white knight.

Objectively though, the Robert character is a bit much.

  1. Not only is he a cheater, he likes to film himself with his mistress.
  2. He thought he could blackmail a person (Duncan) he just saw *murder* someone with a sword.
  3. When that guy says no, and takes his leverage – the tape, Robert decides to try to murder someone himself as part of a negotiation with Duncan to get him to kill his wife.

That plan doesn’t really work out for Robert. He is the kind of person who won’t file for divorce but he will arrange murder blackmail and is willing to kill a stranger himself to that end? I want to say that this is not realistic but the human heart is… complex. He was obviously terrified so maybe the feaer made him go insane. Who knows?

More broadly, this episode introduces “video cameras” to Quickenings. Joe acts like the filming of a Quickening has never happened before. Is that even possible in 1994? I suppose usually that security cameras are hooked into a hard power source tyat might be disrupted by a Quickening. The video camera was battery powered and therefore not effected by the Quickening. So maybe it really was rare. Either way, the reboot will have to think hard about it because nearly everyone has a battery powered camera in their pocket or purse nowadays.

The Immortal Bad Buys Buddies thing with Matlin and Kurlow was fun. I’m a little disappointed that we did not spend more time with them. Kurlow’s fighting style, with a cape, and with runaway / sneak attacks was also fun to watch. That was one of my favorite duels.

My only big gripes with this episode (since I liked Robert) was the hedge maze during the flashback.

1. How did they just happen to wander into an elaborate hedge maze?

2. It felt like the show was five minutes short on run time so they came up with this as a way to stretch the episode. They were just walking around in that maze for a long time with nothing happening. Then abruptly Kurlow leaves and tells Duncan he will see him later.

All in all, this was pretty good and I am enjoying Season 3 quite a bit so far.

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