Highlander (Season 3, Ep 55): Vendetta

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.


Immortal Benny Carbassa is in trouble with a mobster named Simon Lang. To save his own life, he offers the gangster Duncan MacLeod. He tells Lang that Duncan knows a long buried secret from fifty years ago. Benny renews his friendship with Duncan in order to get Duncan to ship docks where Lang can get to him. Lang has Duncan killed. After Duncan revives, Benny apologizes and explains that he needed Duncan to die to save his own life.

Unfortunately, Duncan subsequently runs into the mobster while at a black tie dinner with Anne. This leads to an attempt on Duncan’s life. Duncan eventually goes to the old mobster’s home. There he reveals to his wife the secret Duncan has hidden for fifty years. While she believes Duncan’s grandfather, also named Duncan, killed her first love Joey – her current husband’s brother – the real story is that her husband had both Duncan and Joey killed so that he could have her away from his brother and for himself. She shoots her husband and Duncan helps her conceal her involvement in his death. Not long later, Benny leaves town on a bus ticket paid for by Duncan.


A man, “Mr. Carbassa” is being fitted for cement shoes by a mobster. As he pleads with a mobster he called Sid, initially, and then Simon Lang after being corrected on the name via pistol whipping, he promises that he will keep Mr. Lang’s secret safe.

Mr. Lang erupts into a coughing fit. When he is finished, he tells Carbassa that when one’s time is getting short, one begins thinking about a legacy. Silence follows. When the younger mobsters begin shoveling cement into the bucket where Carbassa’s feet are located, Carbassa tells everyone that it is cold out, that the cement will take hours to dry, and that they should just shoot him instead of waiting around. Next he suggests that they jab him in the ear with an ice pick. Lang tells him that he needs to deal with traditions. Increasingly desperate, Carbassa offers to make a trade with Lang.

Lang: What could you have that could possibly interest a man like me?
Carbassa; Duncan MacLeod.
Lang: MacLeod’s been dead for fifty years.
Carbassa: Him, yeah, but his grandson’s still alive.

When Lang seems indifferent to “MacLeod’s grandson” Carbassa continues and says that the grandson knows everything and told him personally. Lang says Carbassa is lying. Carbassa insists that it is true. The mobsters drag Carbassa to the rail and are about to throw him overboard. Carbassa makes one last appeal to Lang and he says that if he is right, getting rid of MacLeod’s son will protect his secret forever. He adds that if he (Carbassa) is wrong, Lang can always buy another bag of cement.

Sometime later, Carbassa is trying to reach Duncan. He is in the dojo. Richie tells him that MacLeod is busy and that he can leave a card. We see Duncan trying to sneak away through the side door. Suddenly “Benny” notices him and shouts his name. Duncan feigns happiness to see him, turns, and asks him what he wants.

Benny Carbassa is now in a nice suit and tie. He pretends to be insulted by Duncan’s question.

Benny: Does it always have to be about money? I’m loaded now!

He tells Duncan that he is on his way to Chicago for a little bit of action but that he wanted to first stop by and see how he is doing. Duncan pretends to relax and enjoy the sight of Benny, even responding with exuberance to Benny while introducing him to Richie, but he clearly also still seems hesitant and wary of the man. It is the wariness one might have with a friend who always carries trouble in tow when he visits. In fact, Duncan after introductions advises Richie to keep an eye on his wallet. Benny tells Richie that Duncan must not enjoy hanging out with a small time hustler with fingers in bootlegging, bookmaking, and blackmail. He asks Duncan if he is leaving anything out.

Duncan: Yeah, how about the part where you manage to lose money in every scam?
Benny: Yeah, well, Okay. So I’m not Michael Milken, right? Well he’s not Al Capone, either, right?
Richie: You knew Capone?
Duncan: [to Richie] Don’t encourage him.

Benny tells Richie that he knew Capone, Lansky, Legs Diamond, and all the rest. Richie asks again about Capone and MacLeod rolls his eyes as Benny talks about how great Capone was when cheating at cards. Richie is impressed and Duncan tells them both that he is leaving. Benny offers to buy Duncan lunch and MacLeod is so taken aback by an offer to pay from this man that he stops, smiles, and says that this is something he has to see.

On the way out though, Duncan runs into Anne at the doorway of the dojo. She asks if it is bad timing and he tells her no. Benny, breathless, tells her that it is nice to meet her.

Benn: I’m…
Duncan: [cutting him off] just leaving.

Duncan tells both Benny and Richie that he will catch up with them at Joe’s. They leave and Duncan begins talking with Anne. She tells him that she has been thinking about “this guy she knows” and how he is slow to open up. MacLeod knows she is referring to himself. She says he is slow to open up and he suggests that she give him more time. She agrees and says she was thinking the same thing. She tells Duncan she has decided not to push him. He asks if she is really okay with that and she says yes. He asks her what the next step is and she says she was thinking could go out sometime. Duncan walks toward her and asks about tonight. She replies that she is on double rotation tonight. As they stand inches apart, he asks about tomorrow night. She tells him that she has a black tie event tomorrow and says he does not want to go to that. They end the discussion by making out.

At Joe’s, Benny tells Richie about Dillinger. MacLeod is now with them. Benny tells a story about Dillinger wanting to see “Manhattan Melodrama” starring Clark Gable because he wanted to know what it would be like to die in an electric chair. Richie knows the famous story. Benny explains that it was his idea to take him there. Richie asks him next about the lady in red, Anna, and Benny brags that he introduced them.

Richie: So you got John Dillinger killed?

Benny says, in a self-deprecating way, that his timing is not perfect. Richie replies “I’d say” and they all laugh. Benny excuses himself to make a phone call. MacLeod jokes that the bill for the meal has not come yet. Benny calls him a kidder and goes to make his phone call. Alone, Richie tells Duncan that he knows the guy is full of it, but that he thinks he is fun. Duncan says Benny is trouble. Richie says he has to go and he tells Duncan that if Benny stiffs him with the bill that it was worth it for the price of admission.

When Benny returns, he tells Duncan that he got him in. Duncan asks “in where?” and Benny says that there is an amazing poker game going on at the docks tonight. Duncan declines but Benny presses him. Just then, Duncan begins to pat him down and Benny insists that someone swiped his wallet. Duncan laughs as though this was expected.

Benny goes outside and runs into a couple of gangsters with baseball bats. Benny asks what is going on and how Leon is. They tell him Leon is pissed and that he should say goodbye to his kneecaps. Duncan joins them outside, sees the two men holding Benny against a wall, and smiles.

Duncan: Well, well, well.

As Benny pleads with Duncan for help, one of the two gangsters aggressively tells Duncan to get lost. When the large gangster swings a bat at him, Duncan finds himself helping out Benny. After quickly dispatching both men, but taking a punch to the face in the process, an angry MacLeod opens the passenger door of his car and tells Benny to get in and start explaining himself.

Later, Benny explains that he is in major debt. He tells Duncan that this is why he wants him to attend the poker game because there will be a man there who owes him a lot of money. Benny replies that it is not that simple and says that Leon’s boys are not the type to just go away – especially after what MacLeod just did to them. He quickly adds that he is eternally grateful for that, by the way. Duncan asks him what he wants. Benny says that he is hoping Duncan can just walk him over to the poker game for old time’s sake. Duncan laughs and says that the worst they can do to him is to kill him. Benny replies that will involve pain and says that he is not good with pain. After a long pause Duncan agrees. Benny hugs him and tells him that he is a lifesaver.

That night at the docks, Duncan walks Benny around. Benny asks him if he will stay for just one game and MacLeod tells him no. They turn a corner and find Mr. Lang. The old gangster tells Benny that he looks just like him. Then Lang asks Duncan what he knows about himself and his grandfather. MacLeod, confused, asks Benny what this is about. Benny hits him and knocks him out.

Benny: Who cares what he knows. Now he sleeps with the fishes, huh?

Gangsters cuff an unconscious Duncan’s hands behind his back and toss him over the side of the docks and into the water. Lang tells Benny that they are square before advising him to never give him trouble again. He tells Benny Carbassa that he can always find him.

The next morning, Benny is searching for Duncan along the shore. After shouting his name several times, Duncan’s head emerges above the water. He looks… playfully angry? Benny begins apologizing profusely. He tells Duncan that he has the keys to the cuffs. He insists that Duncan promises not to kill him before unlocking the handcuffs though. Duncan agrees. However, once his hands are free, Duncan tells Benny that he lied. Benny rapidly explains that he had to kill Duncan so that he did not spend the next two hundred years underwater with his feet in cement. Duncan asks why he had to be killed and Benny says that Duncan did not recognize the man. He tells Duncan that the man calling himself Simon Lang used to be Syd Lankovsky.


Coconut Lounge 1938

A well dressed Duncan is alone at a table sipping a drink. Benny enters the room. They sense each other. Benny approaches Duncan’s table.

Benny: My name is Benny Carbassa, you looking for me?
Duncan: No, you’re not my type. Duncan MacLeod.
Benny: Yeah? Well I guess I’ll let you go.

Benny nervously tells Duncan that he has never seen him in town before. Duncan explains that he is just passing through. Benny invites him to a poker game tonight on the south side. Benny tells him that he can get him in and says that if Duncan has not seen Lucky Jim’s he has not seen the town. Just then, a very beautiful lounge singer emerges. Duncan asks who she is. Benny tells him that he does not want to go messing around with her and says that she is Peggy McCall, Joey Lankovsky’s girl. Duncan asks who Joey is and Benny points him out explaining that he is a born wiseguy. He says Joe started out by knocking over candy stores before graduating to hijacking booze. Benny shouts at the waiter to bring them some highballs and the waiter replies that he has no credit. Duncan tells the waiter to put it on his own tab.

Duncan, who still seems interested in the lounge singer, says that Joey does not look like a small time hustler. Benny explains that he and his brother Syd opened up this lounge during the middle of Prohibition and made their fortune. Benny points out Syd to Duncan and says he over there cooking the books. Benny explains that Joey and Syd are the biggest whiskey runners in town and now their business is all legit.

Benny: What a country, huh?
Duncan: Only in America.

The camera pans around the room. Syd stares at the lounge singer admiringly. Joey is with another woman. Syd looks over at his brother with the other woman disapprovingly.

When she is done singing, Peggy McCall notices Joey with the other woman. Duncan notices her looking and catches her eye himself. When she sees Duncan, she smiles and approaches. Duncan stands as she comes closer. She asks him to dance.

Duncan: I hear you’re dangerous to know.
Peggy: Afraid of a little danger?
Duncan: Mm-mm.
Peggy, Well then?

Duncan excuses himself from Benny and follows her onto the dance floor. While they dance, she asks him what he does. He introduces himself and tells her that he is in antiques. As they dance, we see Syd looking angry about the entire situation. Duncan asks Peggy if her boyfriend is looking yet. When she pretends not to know what he means, he asks if her boyfriend is jealous . She tells Duncan to shut up and dance.

Syd approaches Joey and tells him to pay attention to what is happening on the dance floor. Joey walks over to Duncan and Peggy and asks Duncan what he thinks he is doing.

Duncan: Dancing.
Joey: With my girl?
Duncan: Well, if she’s your girl, maybe you should dance with her.
Joey: Maybe you should stay out of what ain’t your business.
[Joey grabs Duncan]
Duncan: Careful, boy.

Syd walks up next and advises Joey that they do not want to make a mess in here. Joey puts up a hand and asks Peggy who this guy is. She tells Joey his name and that he is in antiques. Joey orders someone unseen to get rid of him. Peggy tells Duncan that she appreciates the dance but she tells him that he now sees how it is. Duncan tells her that she does not need to explain. He kisses her hand and tells her that she is a true beauty. Duncan tunrs to leave, he tells Joey to relax, and he says that she is all his.

Duncan returns to his table with Benny and asks where all the drinks came from. Benny blames “that dame over there” and tells Duncan that hse likes him.

In the present, Duncan is dressing up for a black tie party with Anne. Richie is in his apartment and tells him that Benny is downstairs and really sorry. Duncan explains that Benny’s problem is that he cannot get killed. Every time he screws up, Duncan says, he just starts over again. When Duncan gets out of the elevator, Benny runs up to him in the dojo. He apologizes again saying that he would never really let Duncan get hurt. He adds that he should have checked with him first.

Benny: It was just one of those really awkward situations that you can’t get out of without doing something really impulsive like killing a good friend.

Benny tells Duncan that the great thing is that it worked. He adds that as long as Duncan does not run into him, everything is copacetic. Duncan tells Benny to get it straight that he has a life here and that he is not about to run and hide form this guy. Benny tells Duncan that this is the beauty of it. he says Lang has cancer and that he will be dead himself within three months.

Duncan: You’re all heart, Benny.

Benny explains that all he means is that the chances of Duncan running into him are next to nil.

At Anne’s blacktie event, we learn right away that Simon Lang is giving the keynote speech as he is the donor for the new wing of the hospital. He is now married to Peggy McCall. An old man recognizes her at the event and raves to her about how wonderful she was. Simon/Syd cuts them off and apologizes saying that he has to go give his speech. Separately, Anne and Duncan walk inside. She is telling him that they only have to stay for one speech and that they can e gone after an hour at the most. An inebriated Duncan disagrees.

Duncan: Nope. There’s plenty of champagne, plenty of music, so why waste it?
{He pulls Anne onto the dance floor]
Anne: Oh my.

As they are dancing, Peggy sees and remembers Duncan. She mutters that it can’t be. After a minute, Duncan notices her staring at him. He tells Anne that maybe they do want to go home early after all. Just then, Simon/Syd notices Duncan also and shouts at him. Duncan meekly answers with “hi.”

Later, Lang is complaining to one of his men that Benny took him and he asks how Duncan pulled it off. As they speculate the Benny must have had a diver waiting for him Land says that he does not care what Benny had, he wants Duncan dead. He says he wants teh littel weasel dead, too.

Duncan and Anne end up in bed together.

Anne: Not that I minded leaving early, but what did you do to totally piss off the iggest philanthropist in the city?
Duncan: He must have mistaken me for somebody else.
Anne: I don’t buy that.
Duncan: You’re pushing it.
Anne: I am not pushng.

This goes on playfully for another minute and then they resume, uh, intimate relations.


Benny tells Duncan that he is heading over to the poker game on Front Street and asks again if he wants to join. Duncan says he has not played high stakes poker in years. Benny pushes saying that it is not as though you forget how. Duncan finally relents saying that he supposes it will come back to him. Benny leaves to get a taxi and Syd approaches Duncan. Duncan tells Syd that he is not lookin for trouble. Syd replies that he is just a delivery boy. He relays a message that Peggy wants Duncan to meet with her after the last show. Duncan passes a message that he will be there.

Elsewhere, Joey is telling Peggy that he loves her. She asks him why he makes her crazy with all of those bimbos. He downplays his actions and says that he only flirts a little. He explains that a guy in his position has to keep up appearances. Joey asks about the guy she was dancing with and she replies that she was only dancing with him to make Joey jealous. When he tells her that she makes him crazy, she replies that in that case she forgives him. Syd enters the room while they are kissing. He nods away from the room and simply says “business.” Joey asks if it can wait and Syd says that it cannot. Joey tells Peggy that Syd’s timing stinks and then he follows.

Outside of the room, Syd tells Joey that MacLeod is in his booth. Joey asks why he should care and Syd tells him, as though he did not just arrange it himself, that MacLeod says that he is supposed ot meet Peggy. Joey looks enraged. Syd walks back over toward teh door with Peggy. When she asks what is going on, he replies that it is just business. She pushes back and sys that Joey is cool when it comes to business. She tells Syd that was not his business face. Syd enters the room and tells her that Joey is ging after MacLeod.

Peggy: Because I danced with the guy? I told him that meant nothing.
Syd: You know what Joey’s like.
Peggy: Syd, please, you’ve got to go after him.

Syd tells her not to worry and that he will take care of it.

Joey finds Duncan and tells him that he thought he would be smart enough to be out of town by now. Duncan coolly replies that he thought he would stick around and see the sights. Joey responds by saying that maybe that was not a good idea. Joey tells Duncan that maybe that was no ta good idea and explains that it is a dangerous town where people who do not mind their own business have been known to get hurt. Syd advises Joey to stay calm. Joey tells him that this is not a deal that can be negotiated to death. Syd says that it is and then he shoots Duncan dead. He says everything is negotiable. Joey asks him why he did that. Instead of answering, Syd shoots Joey next with a different gun. He wipes his prints from both guns and then places them next to the two bodies.

Syd walks to Peggy’s room. She asks what happened and says that she heard shots. He tells her that he could not stop him and says that he was too late. She asked what happened. Syd tells her that they shot each other and that they are both dead. Peggy begins to blame herself and Syd tells her that he will take care of her. She cries on his shoulder as he assures her that he will take care of her.

In the present, Anne commends herself on her good job of not pushing Duncan for answers about his life. He asks if she thinks that entitles her to a bonus and she smiles, laughs, and says yes.

Anne: Something small, like say, where are you from.
Duncan: Well, let’s just say my uh, family’s Scottish.

They walk toward the door to leave the dojo when another man enters. He has the look of a mobster and asks to confirm Duncan’s name. When Duncan confirms, the man pulls a gun. Duncan shoves Anne out of the way and kicks the handgun away as it is being fired. He then kicks the man through the door, outside. Duncan runs back to check on Anne and asks if she is okay. She says that she is and that she is not pushing as hard as she can.

Later, Duncan is with Benny as the other Immortal tells Duncan that it was all just bad luck. Duncan asks him why this always happens with him. Benny says that at least they did not get him, and even if they had, it would not be permanent. Duncan answers angrily that they did not get him but they almost got Anne. Benny offers to go meet with Lang to fix things. Duncan tells him no. He firmly tells Benny to stay put and to stay out of trouble.

Duncan drives to Lang’s house. He tells the doorman that his name is MacLeod. Peggy sees Duncan arrive and tells James, the doorman, to let him in. Duncan apologizes to her and says that he is sorry to bother her. He adds that he thought it was necessary. She confirms that it was him last night at the event. When he confirms, she tells him that he reminds her very much of someone. He asks if that person is Duncan MacLeod. She asks if it is his grandfather and Duncan does not answer. He tells Mrs. Lang that he needs to see her husband.

At the dojo, Benny is telling Richie about old mobsters that he used to know. Richie tells him with increased vehemence that he does not care. Benny acknowledges that Duncan is pretty angry with him and Richie asks if he blames Duncan for that. Richie then asks Benny if he ever thought about going through life without trying to work some type of angle. Benny asks if Richie is trying to ask him about getting a real job. He says yes. Benny stands there dumbfounded at the idea of getting a real job. Richie excuses himself to go take a shower. As he goes, Benny finally says that he has thought about it and that it is not as though it never occurred to him. He concludes by saying that even if he wantd a real job, why would anyone want to hire him.

Once Richie is gone, Benny stands alone in the dojo looking sad and somewhat pathetic. He softly punches a punching bag. A voice behind him tells him that’s a nice punch. When Benny turns, he is punched in the face and knocked out.

Back at Lang’s house, Peggy asks Duncan why he wants to find Simon. He tells her that he needs to clear up some history.

Peggy: About your grandfather? It’s all so long ago. What happened, happen. Accept it like I did.

Peggy tells Duncan that it took her husband decades to become a respectable business man and that now he is acting like a cheap hoodlum. She concludes that the past always comes back to haunt you. She comments about how much Duncan looks like his grandfather.

Peggy: But who is this dried up old woman beside you?
Duncan: I still see a beautiful woman.

She tells Duncan that when she thinks of herself, she always thinks of how she was then. Duncan tells her that her beauty never fades and he kisses her hand. She asks Duncan what he wants to know and he tells her that he needs to know where to find her husband.

Elsewhere, Lang has Benny. He tells him that he is done wasting his time with lowlife scum like him. Benny agrees and says that he is sure Lang has more important things to do. Lang says that he has done great things for his country and that he deserves some peace of mind in his final days. Abruptly he says that this time he will do it himself. He pulls out a pistol and shoots Benny as Benny shouts for him onot to do it.

After the shooting, Duncan calls out to Lang. The old mob man telsl him that it’s a nice surprise and he says that now it is Duncan’s turn. He asks Duncan if he has any famous last words. Duncna answers that he has nothing that is not a cliché. Lang tells his men to get rid of Duncan. Duncan beats both of them up quickly. Lang shoots and Duncan and MacLeod dives out of a way and hides behind a barrier.

Duncan: [calling out] Why are you doing this? You’ve been Simon Lang for fifty years. Why risk it all?
Lang: Duncan MacLeod and Joey Lankovsky killed each other. And that’s the way it is going to stay.
[Lang fires more shots]
Duncan: We both know you did it, Syd.
Lang: So the little weasel was right. You do know!

Duncan asks if that is what it was and that he just wanted Joey’s girl. The camera pans back and we see that Peggy is watching this happen from a distance. Lang shouts back that Joey got everything, the press, the girl, and he is the one who put it all together.

Peggy: You b******!

Duncan yells for her to get out of here as she chides Simon for shooting his own brother and taking away the best thing that ever happened to her. Duncan yells for Peggy to get out of there. She yells at him some more and pounds on his chest weakly with her fists. He throws her down easily. Duncan checks on her and warns her to stay out of this.

Duncan: [to Lang] You should’ve left the past alone.
Lang: And you, you should’ve stayed dead at the ferry.

We hear a gunshot and see a handgun in Peggy’s hand. We see that she shot her hsband. As he looks down in surprise at his chest, she shoots him two more times. He dies. Peggy asks Duncan what happens now. Duncan wipes the gun with a cloth and tells her that he will take her home.

Benny later tells Duncan that she was a class act and says that they don’t make dames like that anymore. Duncan tells him that they never made them. He says she was one of a kind. Benny tells Duncan that she will be okay and he points out that with Syd gone she is free and she’s loaded. MacLeod points out that she has lost a little time. Duncan changes the subject to starting a new life and Benny, knowing that this refers to him, tells Duncan that he is starting a new leaf as soon as he gets a stick. Duncan hands him a piece of paper and Beny asks if this is the stick. Duncan tells him that it is a ticket to Chicago. Duncan tells Benny bye as the other Immortal protests being sent away. Benny looks at his ticket again.

Benny: This is a bus ticket?
Duncan: Yeah, bon voyage. Hasta la vista. Write when you get work.

Benny protests that Chicago is 2,000 miles away and says that it will take thirteen years to get there by bus. He asks Duncan what he is supposed to do about food. Duncan tosses him a roll of quarters. Benny says that he will be dead before he even gets to Chicago. Duncan walks him to the elevator as he protests and closes the door on him as he protests. We hear Benny tell Duncan that he will call him when he is back in town and he suggests that Duncan might introduce him to some of those Immortal babes of his.

The episode ends with Duncan listening to a record of a young Peggy McCall alone on a chair in his loft.


Highlander dips its toes into comedy and… it’s not great. Benny is a hapless Immortal gangster wannabe. The episode is filled with just about every gang movie cliché imaginable. I felt like the script writers were in a contest to see how many they could wedge into the episode. At one point, the show even kind of winks at the audience about all of that with some of its own dialogue. Duncan is asked if he has any famous last words and he answers that he has nothing that wouldn’t be a cliché. (i.e. “Just in case the audience does not know that we are doing this on purpose, for fun, here is our way of letting you know.”)

If you can accept that this is an attempt at comedy, it helps a little. The problem is that it’s not very funny. Benny kind of works as comedic relief in a dated 1980s buddy kind of way (fast-talking, hapless, physically unimposing, always getting himself and others into trouble, etc.) Duncan plays the straight man who is not as angry as he would be in a drama pretty well. The acting was fine. The problem is that the comedy does not fit well against the backdrop of the subject matter happening around them. Duncan getting killed is just not funny. Peggy spending fifty years with a murderer only to realize the truth as the episode ends… not funny. Anne nearly being shot… not funny.

Speaking of Anne… why is she back? My head canon is that she has decided an exclusively physical relationship with Duncan is fine and he makes a good-looking date for black tie events. She is probably also just insanely curious about his backstory and after chatting with her friends decided to slow play things so that she could find out if possible. But that doesn’t justify her being in the story again. They obviously have something in mind for her with a future episode but this is a long play to get there.

I just don’t have a lot to say about this episode. The flashback costuming was great. But other than that, this is one of Highlander‘s weakest offerings ever. I think comedy could work on this show, really well, but let that happen with the regular cast (Richie, Amanda, Fitzcairn, etc.)

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