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:
Immortal Ceirdwyn’s mortal husband Steven is murdered by a gang of thieves in Paris. They kill her as well in the robbery. When she sets out to revenge kill the people involved, Duncan intervenes and tries to convince her to stop with just the shooter. Ultimately, Duncan succeeds. Nevertheless the gang finds her at her home and tries to kill her before she has a chance to pick them off one by one. Duncan is able to arrive in time to help her stop them without further bloodshed.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
♫Heeeere we are. Born to be kings. We’re the princes of the universe.♫
A man, with a woman named Ceirdwyn, eats dinner and expresses surprise that she is not happy for him. Ceirdwyn replies to Steven that she is happy for him but she tells him their life is in Paris and his new job is in Madrid. He tells her that it is the opportunity of a lifetime, and when she tells him there will be other opportunities, he seems bitter.
Steven: For you. Maybe this is all I get. Some of us don’t live forever.
She replies that she thinks they should continue the discussion in private. Steven tells her fine and gets up from the restaurant table to go get their car. Outside, Steven is confronted by a few members of a gang who proceed to rob him. As they are beating him up, Ceirdwyn joins Steven outside. She watches from across the street as the thieves shoot Steven. She screams and charges at them and is shot three times as she runs toward his body. The gang members run away but the camera focuses on one of the young thieves from their group who watched the entire incident.
Later at a motorcycle race, Duncan and Maurice watch Richie. The older Frenchman asks MacLeod if he worries about Richie getting hurt and he replies that he does worry.
Maurice: Young men. They all think they are going to live forever.
After, Maurice greets Richie and tells him how well he raced before leaving for work. Duncan chides Richie’s aggressive riding and asks if he would take the chances that he takes if he thought he could get hurt. Richie asks if Duncan believes he is cheating and Duncan asks him what he thinks. Instead of answering, Richie walks away and tells Duncan he needs to go clean up.
In the parking lot outside of the track, the young thief who watched the bodies of Steven and Ceirdwyn strolls through the parking lot. He bumps into Duncan before walking away. After a moment, Duncan realizes the boy has picked his pocket. He sneaks through the cars and appears suddenly on front of the kid’s path. After demanding his own wallet back, he takes the kid’s wallet also and when the boy complains about how he is supposed to get home without money, Duncan instructs him to walk.
A moment later as Duncan is starting his car, the boy gets in on the passenger side. Duncan yells for him to get out and the boy replies that he has a sick sister he’s got to get home to.
Boy: [unconvincingly] Yeah, it’s her heart. She needs an operation real bad. That’s why I’ve fallen into a life of crime.
Duncan says “give me a break” but drives away with the boy in the car.
Elsewhere, Ceirdwyn is putting paint on her face as the audio memory of her conversation replays in the background of her telling Steven that there will be other opportunities and his reply that not everyone lives forever.
England, 60 A.D.
Ceirdwyn approaches a woman, Neva, and asks if it is her time. Neve tells her no. Ceirdwyn is wearing tribal paint markings on her face that look like what she was wearing before the flashback sequence started. Neva’s husband announces that they are on their way home for the birth of his son. Ceirdwyn asks if he knows the baby will be a boy, getting a reply from the man that the boy’s name will be Callum, son of Callum. When both Neva and Ceirdwyn laugh, he tells them that Callum is a fine name.
Neva tells her husband to fight well and he answers that he always does. After he goes, Ceirdwyn whispers “for a man” to a laughing and worried Neva. In a sparsely treed area, Callum, Ceirdwyn, and other members of the tribe fight with a group of Romans. After a fierce battle, Ceirdwyn and her tribe are slaughtered. When she revives, she finds Neva and Callum are both dead. She burns their bodies and performs a funeral rite.
In the present, adorning herself in tribal paint markings like she might have nearly two thousand years ago, Ceirdwyn gets a sword and leaves her apartment.
Duncan is driving the boy home and is surprised by his neighborhood, as it is particularly dangerous. The kid is telling Duncan that he has no parents and lives with his brother Mario. Suddenly Duncan feels the familiar buzzing of another Immortal’s presence so he stops the car and instructs the boy to remain where he is.
MacLeod walks into a dark empty warehouse as the kid outside gets out of the car and follows Duncan inside from a distance. Duncan eventually comes upon the dead body of one of the thieves who killed Steven. He looks up and sees the younger boy following and asks the boy if he knows the person who is now dead. The boy shakes his head that he does not and runs away. Duncan shouts at the boy, Paolo, asking who he is but the boy simply takes off.
As Duncan follows him, he eventually feels the presence of Ceirdwyn and vice versa. They wander through the smoky warehouse for a few moments before finally coming face to face. Duncan recognizes her and calls out her name. She replies that it is good to see him again.
Duncan: It’s not your part of town. You out walking or hunting?
He tells her that he is doing the same. She tells him that she is looking for a killer and he says that he is also. He tells her that there is a dead man back behind them, in the warehouse, killed by a sword, and asks her to tell him that it was not her. She tells him to do them both a favor and not ask any more questions. He asks her when a warrior became a murderer and she asks if that is what he calls it when a killer is killed. She reminds him that she calls it justice and that he did once also. Duncan tells her that there is no war today and she asks him, “isn’t there?”
Finally she explains that they killed her husband and Duncan tells her that he is sorry and that he did not know. She tells him not to be sorry, just to stay out of her way.
Duncan is riding with Prince Charlie and suggests that they stop to rest for the night. Prince Charlie replies that he just suffered the worst defeat in Scottish history and that the English will soon be saying that he ran away with his tail between his legs. Duncan tells him that the English can way what they will but that they ought as bravely as men can. He asks Charlie, for the sake of the men, to stop at a tavern that is nearby. Sarcastically, Charlie agrees adn says that the English can say they stopped for a pint of ale before leaving.
At the tavern, Duncan is greeted by Ceirdwyn with a leaping hug. he says her name but she whispers that she is called Flora MacDonald now. He tells her that they need a place to stay for the night. She looks at the group Duncan is traveling with and points out how sorry a lot they appear to be, without any coins to rub together. Suddenly she realizes that Prince Charlie is with them and drops to her knees in apology, telling him that if ever there was a cause worth dying for, it is this one.
Inside, Prince Charlie is put in a disguise to look like a woman.
Charlie: Ah, “the Pretender” I am called. Now I’m pretending I’m a woman!
They argue about the attire and Charlie complains about his dignity. Duncan tells him that dignity rides with the House of Stuart and that he cannot lose it whatever the dress. As Charlie prepares to leave, Duncan requests leave to stay behind. He explains that the English are butchering farmers who have never seen a war. Charlie tells him that one sword will not turn a war, and Duncan agrees, but he says that he will nevertheless make the English pay dearly. Charlie gives his ascent.
After they are all gone, Ceirdwyn tells Duncan to stay with her. She reminds him that the land is filled with Scottish graves and he replies that there will be English ones by the time he is through. She asks if enough blood has not already been shed andhe recites the English cruelty in war. When he says that he does not ask her to understand she replies that she does and only too well. He leaves but as he goes she shouts at him that more blood does not make it better.
In the present, Duncan has told Richie about all of this. As Richie prepares to race, Duncan tells him that he will be looking to see if Paolo is working the crowds. Richie asks him if he is looking for a reason to stop her or a reason not to stop her and Duncan answers that either one works for him.
On the track, just before the race, Richie and his teammate argue over the teammate’s recent efforts to run Richie off of the track during time trials. The other man warns Richie to be careful and Richie tells him to save it for another rookie.
In the parking lot, after Paolo has just stolen food from a booth, he runs into Duncan who tells him that the two need to stop meeting like this. The boy tries to get away but Duncan grabs him. Paolo tells him that he was there and that it was not him. Duncan is confused and the boy tells him that he saw Duncan with the dead woman. He explains that he saw her die and then come back. Duncan asks for the name of the man who died in the warehouse and Paolo tells Duncan his name was Gaston. Dunan wants more details about who was there that night.
In the car, as they drive around together, Paolo tells Duncan that Gaston kept shooting at her and that she kept coming back. Duncan asks where the others are and the boy replies that he does not know. Duncan tells him that he is not safe on the streets and when Paolo asks who Duncan means, Duncan says he means Paolo’s brother and guesses that he was one of the murderers. They argue about whether the brother, Mario, was at fault when Gaston had the gun but Duncan points out that whether he is at fault or not that if she finds him, he is dead. When Duncan drops the boy off, he finally shares that the gang hangs out at The Black Door and he asks Duncan not to share who told him to look there. Duncan promises that he will not.
Duncan finds The Black Door and only moments before Ceirdwyn does. He tells her right away that this is not the answer andthat the shooter is already dead. She replies that there were five.
Ceirdwyn: A head for a head, and a body for a body, since the dawn of time. It’s no different now.
Duncan: Revenge does nothing Ceirdwyn, nothing! You know that.
Duncan attacks a group of English soldiers, killing several of them, before succumbing to gunshot injuries of his own. When he wakes up, he is in a bed. Ceirdwyn is with him. She explains that he made the English pay but that they are not the only ones who paid.
Ceirdwyn: We’re warriors, MacLeod. We avenge our own. We kill the killers. But there’s a time to stop, when enough is enough.
He tells her that it might be too late for him, given the things he has done, and the number of people he has killed. He says he has killed hte young and old with their wives and children watching.
Duncan: I’ve become the thing I hate.
Ceirdwyn: You’ve seen too much death. What you need is a taste of life. [She kisses him]
In the present, Duncan and Ceirdwyn converse about being in love with mortals. She explains that she was with Steven for fifteen years and remarks on how quickly mortals change. When she asks Duncan if he ever loved and trusted a mortal enough to try to make it work, Duncan nods and tells her that his love was killed over a few dollars and a car. She asks Duncan if he thinks he will ever love again and Dunacn quickly says yes. Ceirdwyn correctly guesses that Duncan already loves someone again and asks her name. He tells her that his new love is named Ane. She asks Duncan if Anne knows what he is an he tells her no. When she asks why not, Duncan answers firmly that it is because mortals die. Ceirdwyn tells Duncan that Steven did not die, he was murdered, and that avenging his death is his memorial. He reminds her that she already killed the guy who pulled the trigger.
Duncan: Let the rest go. Let that be his memorial.
They embrace ans she tells Duncan that she misses him so much.
Sometime later, Ceirdwyn places flowers and a coat on Steve’s grave and tells him goodbye. She admits that pain and rage and revenge will not bring him back. Then she walks away.
At the warehouse, the gang passes out weapons and makes a plan to go after her before she picks them off one by one. They think they know where she lives. Paolo tells his brother Mario that he cannot do this and that she will kill him. Mario seems to reluctantly choose to go after her.
Duncan and Maurice watch Richie’s motocycle team race. Richie’s teammate is again aggressive toward him, trying to run him off of the track. Finally the aggression causes a crash. A pair of motorcycles spin out and off of the track, and then one of them explodes. Duncan jumps the spectator’s wall and runs to check on the injured. Duncan and Maurice watch from a distance as the paramedics check on the injured, but it appears that one of them does not make it.
Later, on the barge, Maurice tells Duncan that it is always so sad to lose one so young. As Maurice is saying that for his first wife, who was a religious woman, the dead were closer than you might think, Duncan suddenly senses an Immortal close by. He excuses himself. Maurice leaves.
A short while later, Richie enters the barge and Duncan notes that he can see he got out of the morgue okay. Richie admits getting across town with no clothes was difficult but he supposes that this is supposed to be some kind of lesson. Duncan tells him it is one lesson. Richie infers that his teammate Basil is dead and Duncan confirms it. Richie tells Duncan that he keeps playing the race over and over in his mind but says he did not consciously try to kill him.
Duncan: I don’t think that matters to Basil right now.
Richie asks what all of his means and Duncan explains that it means he is dead in France, in Europe for almost a generation, and that he will need to disappear. He adds that it also means Richie will have to live with this for the rest of his life. Richie asks Duncan if he ever screwed up like this and Duncan admits that he has done so. Their conversation is interrupted by a knock on the barge door. Paolo is there and looks very concerned.
We see Ceirdwyn in her home as her power is cut and the gang enters. As teh gang members creep through her home, one of them runs into Duncan. He tells the gang member to leave but when he says no, Duncan disarms him and knocks him out. Ceirdwyn finds Paolo’s brother Mario and kicks him down two flights of stairs. Duncan finds a second gang member and disarms him. He warnsn the man that he can leave or die. The man leaves.
We see Ceirdwyn with a sword to Mario’s throat as Mario is pointing a gun at her. She tells him to do it. Mario sets the gun down and surrenders to her as we hear Duncan calling for her from a distance. She raises her sword as if to strike when Paolo show up and begs her not to do it. Duncan gets to them and asks her to leave it to the police. With rage, she puts her gun down and the police arrive.
After, Duncan asks Ceirdwyn if she is okay and she says no before reflecting that it was all worth it and that she would trade the fifteen years with Steven for fifteen or even one hundred years of pain. Duncan aks her about the price that mortals pay in relationships with their own kind – no family, the secrecy, waiting for a night that their Immortals go out and then do not return.
Duncan: Maybe we’re not supposed to be with them.
Ceirdwyn: They’re not children, MacLeod. They make their own decisions.
She tells Duncan that Steven knew what she was and chose to be with her, before she asks him if he is certain that Anne would not choose the same thing. She tells Duncan not to make the choice for her.
Later, at Joe’s bar, Anne shows up and talks to Joe. She says he sounded nervous when he told her that coming by was important. Joe says that maybe it is before asking her how she is holding up. She tells him that he is working hard and trying not to think about it. He offers her a drink and when she declines, he pours her one anyway and tells her to trust him that she needs a drink. Joe tries to have small talk with her but she cuts him off and tells him to get to it as he told her it was important.
Joe: Look, you know how there were always things, uh, about MacLeod he couldn’t tell you? Things he didn’t get to explain before he died?
Anne: Yes. So?
Joe: It’s time for the explanation.
Joe hands her a plane ticket to Paris and says that it is from MacLeod. She asks if she is gong ot Paris and Joe tells her that it depends. When she asks what it depends on, the phone rings and Joe tells her that it is for her before handing her the receiver. She is flabbergasted to hear Duncan on the line.
Groan. More of Dr. Anne Lindsey who just does not work well on this show. Other than that, I enjoyed this episode. That said, I thought the Joe and Anne scnee at the end was really well done.
The “moral” of this story was that love is worth it, even if you knowingly endanger the lives of relatively defenseless mortals by being in a relationship with them (at least as long as they choose the danger for themselves.) I probably would have agreed more with the sentiment of this episode if I actually liked Anne as a character on this show.
I wonder what it’s like being Ceirdwyn and being two thousand years old and then having the hots for a twenty year old. That feels creepy to me. I feel that way re: Duncan and mortals, too, by the way.
The section with “Bonnie Prince Charlie” is interesting from a historical perspective because it confirms that Duncan was a Jacobite. I’m not sure that was ever clear on the show before. This war appears to be the thing that broke his ties with Scotland and sent him wandering to Asia and the Americas.
I am really impressed by the costuming in this episode. Ceirdwyn manages to transform – believably – from a somewhat bland though attractive middle class “modern” woman, to an ancient warrior in the time of the Romans, to an 18th century woman who works in a tavern. The spiral war paint on her face was really interesting visually. All of the changes with Ceirdwyn over time somehow work. I went from being almost bored by her to wanting a spinoff where I can learn more about her life.
The flashbacks in this episode were a lot better than the main plot. There wasn’t much that was interesting about her hunting down murderers except for the unknown of whether she would kill more people than she needed to. But… the flashbacks kind of clue us in that she will not, so the ultimate decision is a bit unsurprising. The revenge killing of the shooter is treated by the show as more or less okay but the killing of his gang is where the line is drawn. I guess that’s fine as a place to draw the MacLeod Morality Line.
Richie’s side story comes to a fiery end. This subplot was made somewhat interesting by the fact that he dies, in public, and has to go into hiding. I guess this means he’s gone from the show for the rest of the season?
All in all, this was not a great episode but it was not too bad either. Come for the awesome flashbacks. Endure the stuff from the present.