Highlander (Season 3,Ep 57): Blind Faith

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:

Anne treats an Immortal, John Kirin, who gets up off of her table after dying. Duncan is appalled that an Immortal would play messiah in this way and goes to meet him – only then learning that Kirin is a man he once knew as Kage. Duncan knows Kage as a war profiteer and as a man who left a bunch of children to die violently at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1975.

Eventually Kirin is able to convince Duncan that the transformation is real. However, one of Kirin’s followers becomes disillusioned about the Immortal when he overhears Kirin and Duncan recounting their history together. The follower kills a reporter looking into Kirin, he kills Kirin himself, and then he commits suicide by police rather than turning himself in. As the episode ends, Kirin blames himself for his follower’s actions before he and Duncan part with a handshake and the hope that they might be able to become friends someday.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

♫I have no rival. No man can be my equal.♫

A religious leader is hit by a car while helping a group of homeless men. He is rush to Dr. Anne Lindsey’s hospital. She treats him but he passes away. In the hallway outside, she tells the man’s followers that he is gone and is told by one of them that John Kirin cannot die. Moments later, John Kirin is alive, on his feet, and in the hallway with both of them.

Later that night, Anne – in a state of total disbelief – visits Duncan and tells him about what happened.

The next day, Duncan shares Anne’s story with Richie. Richie asks what Kirin was supposed to have done and MacLeod explains that Kirin should have waited until everyone was gone and sneaked out the backdoor when nobody could see him, so that he could leave his life and start a new one. Duncan says that these are the rules of the game. As Richie and Duncan approach Kirin’s base of operations, Richie begins to ask about the possibility that Kirin is not Immortal. However, he is cut short as both he and Duncan feel Kirin’s presence. Outside of the building, one of Kirin’s followers warns a reporter to stay away and leave the leader alone.

Duncan and Richie go inside Kirin’s building. They find a large banner on the wall that says:

JUDAISM: WHAT ISHATEFUL TO YOU, DO NOT TO YOUR FELLOW MAN. THAT IS THE ENTIRET LAW; ALL THE REST IS COMMENTARY.
THAT TALMUD. SHABBAT.

Other similar banners adorn the walls of the room where Kirin’s group is headquartered and they reference other religious faiths including Buddhism and Taoism.

Richie: He seems to have all his bases covered.

The two Immortals eventually find Kirin as he is explaining to a group that each of us have within ourselves the seeds of godliness – manifested in ways such as kindness and forgiveness. Richie says that it looks like they found him and…

FLASHBACK!

Spanish Civil War 1937

Duncan notes that Franco is using German heavy artillery, causing Kirin to reply that the Germans need to test their weapons somewhere and Spain is the only available place. Duncan expresses a belief that a bigger war is coming and Kirin agrees saying that Hitler knows that there is nothing like a war to pick up an economy – especially if you win and you can force the loser to pay for it.

Duncan: Nobody wins, you know that Kage.
Kirin/Kage: The people making the money do.

Duncan and Kirin appear to be war correspondents. Another man addresses the two Immortals and asks that they get his name right and that it is Timothy Parriot. He tells Duncan and Kage that he sees opportunity in the place where they are now. A fourth man speaks up calling Parriot a capitalist, which leads to Parriot remarking about how easy it is for a rich kid to be a socialist. Everyone laughs. Parriot tells the group that in the morning they will take the bridge at Del Marino and he suggests that the war correspondents in the group can write about them in their newspapers. Parriot says they only need to hold back the Nationalists until the international brigade pushes around Franco’s back. He and the others leave Duncan and Kirin alone. Kirin calls them foolish kids and proclaims that they will be dead in a week.

The following day, the attempt to take the bridge fails because Kirin/Kage betrays the soldiers to Franco’s troops. As Franco’s troops surround them and take them into custody, Duncan asks Kirin why he did it and the other Immortal tells him that he likes to be on the side that win because it pays better.

In the present, Duncan confronts Kirin. The first thing Kirin tells Duncan is that he has a right to be angry. He explains that he is here to help people and Duncan asks if he is doing that by playing messiah. Kirin responds that it was not intentional but that his work was not done here, yet. MacLeod asks him where the profit in this work is, causing Kirin to say that he is a changed man. One of Kirin’s followers, Matthew, asks if Duncan is causing trouble. Kirin tells him not to worry about it. Duncan leaves but promises to be back.

After, Richie says that he takes it Duncan is not a fan of that guy and asks exactly how bad he is.

Duncan: Bad enough to kill.

Later, Richie is with Dawson. He tells Joe that he went back to where Kirin is operating and saw for himself that he is helping people. Joe angrily tells Richie that he has hundreds of pages of history on Kirin which says he is a liar and a murderer. Richie defends Kirin again though saying that the Immortal is running a soup kitchen, donating to food banks, and helping half a dozen other places too.

Richie: If he’s such a bad guy, what’s he doing all this stuff?
[Duncan walks up]
Duncan: Money.

Duncan says that it pays to rise from the dead and adds that the day after he came back, his church collected a quarter of a million dollars in donations. Duncan tells Richie that with Kirin or Kage or whatever he calls himself, it is always about the money.

FLASHBACK!!

On the way to the POW camp, Parriot asks Duncan to deliver a letter for him. Duncan says he will be able to deliver the letter himself and advises him to just do what he is told in the camp, saying that he will most likely be fine if he does. Abruptly the car is stopped. As the POWs are lined up outside, Kirin tells MacLeod that this is cheaper than feeding them for and he adds that he will be back for Duncan. As MacLeod shouts at him not to do this, he is knocked down. Parriot lies down on the ground by Duncan and asks what is going on. Duncan tells him to wait until he makes the first move and a moment later MacLeod charges at a soldier, disarms him and takes his gun, and fires at other soldiers as Parriot runs. Parriot is shot while running, but is subsequently picked up by Duncan and carried to safety. As MacLeod tells him that they made it, and that they will be able to hide in Loyalist territory, he realizes that Parriot has died. Duncan finds the aforementioned letter in Parriot’s jacket pocket and takes it.

Sometime later Duncan is playing chess with Anne. She says that she did some checking and found out that John Kirin has no medical history. When she gets no reaction from Duncan, she asks if Kirin is his cousin and if this is something else he wants her to drop.

Anne: Duncan, do you believe in miracles?
Duncan: Don’t deify the man.
Anne: So you do know something about him.

Duncan says he knows Kirin is a fraud and that he has taken in a quarter million dollars in the past twenty-four hours. Anne says that she heard he gave most of that to charity and asks why he would do that if he is a fraud.

FLASHBACK!!!

Cambodia 1975

Duncan is leading a group of small children and a nun through a field as we hear the explosions of a war in the distance. They clear a hill and find a building destroyed with several dead lying on the ground. A helicopter lands and Duncan leads the group toward it hoping to escape the warzone. MacLeod senses and then sees Kirin/Kage and asks what he is doing here. Kirin tells him that he exports goods.

Duncan: Heroin.
Kirin: Well, it’s a living. I see you’re still playing the Saint of Lost Causes, huh?

Duncan tells him that they need the helicopter because the Khmer Rouge will be there any minute and he tells Kirin he knows what they will do to the children. Kirin tells him that the helicopter is full and will not lift with more weight. MacLeod shouts for him to unload it but the other Immortal tells him that he will not. He tells Duncan that war is hell and gets back on the helicopter. As it is lifting off, Duncan runs toward him shouting to take the children and that they will be slaughtered. Kirin leaves.

In the present at Kirin’s church, Matthew pleads with the Immortal to take his safety more seriously, arguing that people are no good. He tells Kirin he does not understand because he did not experience the evils of the world himself. As he makes this argument, Duncan arrives. He tells Kirin to take a walk with him. After protests from Matthew, Kirin agrees.

Outside, Kirin tells Duncan that he studied with religious leaders in Cambodia and elsewhere, and he also says he took the name of a mortal man, John Kirin, to honor the man. He tells Duncan that Kage died when he became Kirin. Duncan does not believe him and accuses him of being a liar.

Kirin: We’re beasts when we kill, men when we judge, and God when we forgive.
Duncan: Maybe God has forgiven you but I sure haven’t.

After Duncan leaves the church, he runs into a reporter outside who wants to know what Duncan knows about Kirin. The reporter tells Duncan that Kirin is a fraud and a liar and that he knows Kirin adopted the name of a man who died four years earlier in Indonesia.

Anne meets with Kirin to thank him for a donation to the children’s wing of the hospital. She tells him that he is alive when he should not be and she asks if he wants to know why. He laughs and tells her that he is here now and that this is all he needs to know. She asks if she can run a couple of tests but he tells her that no tests will show her anything she would be satisfied with and he adds that some things are best left alone. Just then, Matthew emerges from the building to tell Kirin that there is a call for him. Kirin tells Anne that Matthew can show her the way out.

Later, we see the reporter on the phone with someone, stating his belief that Duncan knows something and that he can sense there is bad blood between him and Kirin. He tells whoever is on the other end of the phone that he wants to snoop around on MacLeod to see what he can come up with. After getting off of the phone, he enters Duncan’s dojo and starts looking around inside of its office. Someone obscured by the dark room enters the dojo, shooting and killing the reporter.

The following morning, Duncan is upstairs in his apartment asking Richie if the police are gone yet. Richie says that they are and asks if Duncan thinks Kirin had something to do with it. Duncan says that he does and that he believes Kirin is playing with him. Duncan looks at his sword and says that he is not playing anymore.

Kirin is on the phone and tells someone that he knows the place and will be there in an hour. Matthew is in the room and says that he does not understand why people will not believe in miracles. Kirin tells him that he is going to meet a friend. Matthew wants to come with him but Kirintells him to stay behind and lead the prayer. On his way out he tells Matthew that whatever he wishes to become he already is.

With Duncan, Kirin apologizes for the dead man but says he did not kill him. He adds that he was in his ashram with his people at the time. Duncan notes that they would say anything for him. Duncan asks if this charade has gone on long enough, causing Kirin to ask him what it will take to convince him. MacLeod has his sword out and Kirin tells him that he will not fight him. He tells Duncan that he can take his head if he has judged that to be right. Duncan angrily answers that he is not judging him, he says the men and children he murdered do that. Kirin explains that in Cambodia, he returned to find Duncan and finish their fight, but he says when he did go back, the sight of what happened to the children broke him. Duncan wants to fight Kirin but Kirin continues to refuse. Finally Duncan screams in frustration but cannot bring himself to fight the unarmed Kirin. After, Kirin tells him that he is the better man and always was. When Kirin walks away, we see that Matthew has watched this entire exchange.

Later, Duncan discusses the situation with Joe. Dawson says that even if the other Immortal has changed, he does not see how twenty years of doing good deeds begins to cover his tab. Duncan agrees that perhaps it does not but he says he will not be the one to decide. Joe asks who is better than Duncan to judge him, causing Duncan to reply that one Immortal playing god is enough.

Alone in his apartment, Matthew sneaks in and points a gun at Duncan. MacLeod is nonchalant and says that this reminds him of a joke.

Duncan: You ever hear the one about the ex-con who murdered the reporter?

After Matthew denies shooting the reporter, Duncan tells him to hand over the gun then so that they can talk about it. Matthew tells Duncan that he warned the reporter to mind his own business. Duncan stands up and asks Matthew if he is here to warn him or shoot him. Matthew asks him who Kage is, what the story is with murdering children, and why Duncan had a sword. Just then, Duncan senses an Immortal and tells Matthew that Kirin is here now. When Kirin enters, Matthew points a gun at him and asks who Kage is. Kirin admits that Kage is who he once was and when Matthew tells him that he lied to him, Kirin admits that he did. Matthew tells Kirin that he is worse than he is, but Kirin tells him that whatever they face, they will face it together. He also tells Matthew that the police are on their way. Matthew shoots Kirin and flees the apartment.

Duncan follows him out and tries to convince him to give himself up peacefully. He uses Kirin’s words to talk Matthew down but he is unsuccessful. Matthew runs out the door and points his gun at the police but with no intention to actually shoot. He wants them to open fire on him and they do.

Later, Duncan meets with Kirin. The other Immortal tells Duncan that his own need for redemption caused two people to die and that this situation was all his own fault. He says he only wanted to do good and Duncan Duncan tells him that he knows and that he needs to get going. Kirin extends his hand and says that he hopes someday that they can be friends.

REACTION:

I liked this episode. Most of the Immortals we meet get progressively worse over time. It is interesting to meet one who suffered a trauma and became a better person as a result.

Duncan has some experience with this, though. He knows that Darius was a violent man (who almost certainly left many dead innocent women and children in his wake) who abruptly became a holy man. In his case, though, the change was the result of a Light Quickening. Here we just have someone who finally sees his own bloody handiwork and rejects it. Kage’s change into Kirin is actually more meaningful in that regard. The character development is earned. The fact that it is earned is also why Duncan struggles to believe it.

Kage/Kirin is an example of why Immortality is such a wild notion. In three hundred years, if we believe that the Kage to Kirin transformation is genuine, Duncan might consider him a good man or maybe even a good friend. Considering where they start, that is almost impossible to believe. The potential for things like that makes the moral choices for someone like Duncan a lot more difficult. Does Kage deserve to die? By usual show and real world societal standards, yes. Might he do profound good in the world for centuries if he is allowed to lie? Also yes. If Duncan can ignore the past crimes of Darius, isn’t he obligated to ignore the same for Kirin? How does he make that judgement?

Since the is still on this show for some reason, how does this all go with Anne after? Do you think she wonders why one of Kirin’s followers killed a reporter in Duncan’s dojo? Or why a reporter with questions about Kirin went looking for answers from Duncan? Of course she does. Duncan essentially told her that he knows nothing about Kirin, too, so the explanation will be difficult. My guess is that the writers will not make us sit through that conversation at all and we’ll just skip ahead to her having moved on from it.

Sidenote: I should be bothered – but I am not bothered at all – that the writers consistently demonstrate that Duncan is working through a problem by having him play chess. I was kind of intrigued that his opponent was Anne rather than Richie. If they need the “I’m thinking” moment to last a little longer, they just have him drive around town in his convertible with a pensive expression. I wish I looked that cool doing either of those things. I also would love to own Duncan’s chess set.

To the extent I have any gripes with this episode, it’s that the whole thing felt rather predictable despite the bad guy Immortal going in a different direction than the one to which we are accustomed. I suspect I never anticipated an eventual evil turn, leading to a duel, because the actor playing Kirin/Kage (Richard Lynch) did not look like a physical threat. That said, predictable or not, I enjoyed the character study provided here. It’s also kind of wild to put that Cambodia incident within the context of Duncan’s actual life. He went through that only a few years before meeting Tessa.

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