Highlander (Season 3, Ep 64): Reasonable Doubt

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 agrees to help his friend Franklin recover a stole piece of art after it is stolen. We learn that the thief is an Immortal named Kagan who was working with a mortal woman named Simone – a beautiful woman who just so happens to be the niece of Duncan’s barge neighbor Maurice.

Both Kagan and Simone are tragic figures who are unable to overcome their brokenness. Kagan was kidnapped as a boy by an evil immortal named Tarsis who trains him – against his will initially – to lead a life of violence and crime. Simone lost her mother at a young age, was abused by her father, fell into a life of prostitution, and ultimately continues going back to Kagan despite his misdeeds. Kagan eventually kills Simone when she refuses to help him kill Duncan. Duncan then takes Kagan’s head.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

♫Heeeere we are. Born to be kings. We’re the princes of the universe.♫

The episode begins with a beautiful woman, Simone, looking at the engine of her car, which is apparently stalled out. A few moments later, she approaches another car and knows the drive – a man named Claude. She asks him for help with her car and he declines, telling her that he is on the job. As she asks for a lift, instead, a man approaches Claude’s car on the passenger side and points a gun at him. The newcomer with the gun suggests that they all try to get out of this situation while remaining alive. Claude asks Simone what is going on and turns his head to the man with the gun. Just then Simone draws her own gun and apologizes to Claude.

The male gunman instructs Claude and his passenger to exit their car. Once everyone is outside, Simone does something unseen with the back of Claude’s car. She hands something to the gunman, and he then looks at a sketched picture of a woman inside. The gunman tells Simone that it is time to go. Simone gets onto a motorcycle and revs the engine loudly, obscuring the sound of gunshots as Claude and his passenger are gunned down. When Simone returns, she tells the man that nobody was supposed to get hurt. He replies that the two men were going to kill him and that he had no choice. She looks regretfully at the two bodies before leaving with the shooter.

Elsewhere MacLeod is with a man, Franklin, we have never met before, looking at a painting. Duncan notes that the brushwork indicates it is an original and that the man made a good buy. Franklin replies that he knows but seems troubled anyway. Duncan asks him what is up and the man asks if Duncan remember a Da Vinci sketch. When Duncan indicates that he does, the man tells him that the sketch was stolen the night before on the way to its buyer.

Franklin: Three million dollars down the drain. Ten years I have been in the business. Nothing like this ever happened.
Duncan: Well, at least you’re insured.
Franklin: …
Duncan: Don’t tell me…
Franklin: The premium was outrageous.

Franklin says that he put the painting in an ambulance the night before, with a couple of guards, and asks Duncan who robs an ambulance. Duncan asks him who knew that it was traveling and Franklin tells him nobody did. When Duncan asks about the guards Franklin tells him that they were murdered. Franklin tells Duncan that the thieves want to sell the sketch back to him and that in a call he received a couple of hours before, he was told that he would be told the when and where tomorrow.

Duncan offers to make the exchange for him. Franklin exclaims that he cannot ask Duncan to do that but he replies he is not being asked, he is offering.

Franklin: What can you do that I can’t?
Duncan: You’d be surprised.

Later, Duncan goes to eat at his barge neighbor Maurice’s restaurant. While there, Maurice introduces him to his niece – Simone. As Maurice herds Duncan to a chair across from her, Simone stands and tells her uncle that she was just beeped and must go. Maurice asks her who works at 10 o’clock at night and Duncan answers for her that people with ambition do. After she goes, Maurice confides that his niece has no time for eating, or a life at all, and says he was hoping that Duncan could talk to her about it. When Duncan protests that he does not even know her, Maurice replies that Duncan has a special way with women. Duncan protests but in a way wherein he seems to know Maurice is right. Finally Duncan agrees to take her out to lunch.

Duncan later meets with Franklin to set up the exchange. The friend protests that Duncan should not be doing this, but MacLeod reasons with him that he has no children, whereas Franklin has four. Reluctantly the other man agrees but urges Duncan to be careful.

As Duncan sits on a bench, disguised in a hat and sunglasses, Simone approaches him with a gun drawn. Thinking that Duncan is Franklin, she explains that he is not to turn around and that after receiving the money, the drawing will be returned to his gallery in the afternoon. Duncan recognizes her voice suddenly, and startled, says her name. She tells him that she will shoot him, leading Duncan to stand up, face her, and advise her to go ahead and shoot. She asks him to give her the money, and when Duncan says no, he then disarms her. He asks where the Da Vinci is and suggests that they go talk to her boss. She replies that he will not like this, but Duncan pushes her forward saying that he does not care.

As Duncan and Simone reach her boss, on a motorcycle, Duncan senses that the man is an Immortal. The two men lock eyes and…

FLASHBACK!

Paris – 1930

Duncan is at a bank explaining that an account he is interested in accessing was opened in 1837 by his great, great grandfather. Duncan jokes with the teller that he supposes his great great grandfather had an eye toward the future. Finally the teller finds records of the account and explains that with an original investment of 10,000 francs, accruing interest over a period of ninety-three years, that the account now has over one million francs. The teller nervously says he hopes that Duncan is not planning to withdraw it. Duncan tells him no and says that maybe he should move the money into a checking account. As the teller begins the paperwork to do this, Duncan feels the presence of another Immortal. Outside, the man who is Simone’s boss in the present, looks around nervously after sensing Duncan.

However, after a moment’s pause, he and another man, who also appears to be an Immortal, walk inside the bank and begin firing machine guns. The immortal bad guy who is Simone’s boss in the present approaches the bank teller and announces to everyone inside that if they stay calm nobody will get hurt. He then tosses a bag to the teller and instructs him to fill it. Simone’s boss begin collecting cash and jewelry from the patrons of the bank. The other immortal who walked in with him tells Duncan that he taught his partner everything he knows. Duncan sarcastically answers that he must be very proud. The man tells Duncan that they are just making a buck and that it is not personal. Duncan advises him that so long as nobody gets hurt, it can remain that way. A short while later, the two robbers leave. On their way out, they shoot some patrons with machine gun fire.

Sometime later, the two Immortal bank robbers are at an adult entertainment establishment. As they celebrate with the women inside, they sense an Immortal outside. Duncan enters and knocks Simone’s boss out with a cudgel before turning to the other Immortal and reminding him that he did warn him. The bad guy nods and Duncan and the two men leave the room together. Outside they duel and Duncan beheads him somewhat quickly. After the Quickening, the man who is now Simone’s boss finds Duncan outside. Duncan warns him that the fight does not have to be between the two of them if he does not make it so. He does not.

In the present, Simone’s boss greets Duncan by name from his motorcycle. He shoots at Duncan, causing him to take cover, giving Simon time to get on the motorcycle and for the two of them to flee together.

Later, Franklin says to Duncan that he should have called the police, reminding Duncan that it is only a piece of paper, not worth Duncan’s life. MacLeod tells him that he can worry about his own life. Franklin tells him that he will not have Duncan’s life on his conscience but Duncan forcefully tells him again that he can take care of himself.

Duncan visits Maurice at his restaurant to talk to him about Simone. Maurice shares that he already spoke with Simone and that his niece informed him that her talk with Duncan convinced her to leave the city on a trip. Duncan asks if she said where she is going and Maurice tells Duncan that she is going to Italy. He thinks this is the perfect place for his niece. Casually, Duncan asks if Maurice has her address because he would like to stop by to say bon voyage. Maurice gives it to Duncan and expresses hope that MacLeod can catch her before she leaves.

We see Duncan staking out Simone’s home and watching from his car down the street as she leaves. He follows. She enters a house with a lot of beautiful young women. Inside an older woman asks Simone where she has been and tells her that a man has been waiting in her room for her for two hours. The older woman tells her that she has seen this type of man before and warns that they bring trouble. Simone says that he will not be trouble to her.

In her room, Simone finds her Immortal lover and boss. She tells him that she got money from her uncle and that their car is waiting downstairs. He tells her that there is no hurry and that Duncan will not go to the police despite having seen them and knowing who Simone is.

We see Duncan enter this house of ill repute and become immediately surrounded by young women. After a lot of stammering, Duncan is finally rescued by the older woman who runs the brothel. He tells her that is looking for Simone and she apologizes, telling him that Simone is otherwise engaged. When Duncan says that he is probably interested in the guy she is with, in that case, the madame tells him that he is in the wrong House in that case. Suddenly Duncan then senses the other Immortal as he leaves Simone’s room and follows him outside.

Alone together, the other Immortal drops his sword. When Duncan tells him to pick it up, the other man refuses and says that it is not as though the world will miss him when he is gone. The man then says that if he is not a prince, it is because he was not raises by a king.

Immortal: Maybe if you’d found me instead of Tarsis.

FLASHBACK!!

We see two boys running down a muddy street, with the larger of the two boys keeping the smaller boy’s knife away from him. Tarsis, the Immortal that Duncan beheads in 1930, watches on in amusement as the younger, smaller boy beats up the larger boy and gets his knife back. A few moments later, Tarsis grabs the boy and we learn that the boy’s name is Kagan and he grew up to be Immortal – and Simone’s future art thief boss.

We flash forward in Kagan’s life. He is now an adult and has just completed a robbery with Tarsis. The older Immortal tells Kagan that he is still too slow. Tarsis refuses to give Kagan his share of the loot, telling him that he will get it when he has earned it. This leads to a fight between the two men that ends with Kagan overpowering Tarsis. The older Immortal laughs, tells the younger man “not bad” when when the younger man pulls him up to his feet, Tarsis tells him that this is a great day for him.

Tarsis: Today, you become Immortal.

Tarsis then kills Kagan and waits for his first resurrection. When Kagan revives, he mutters that he should be dead, as Tarsis gives him a drink. He hands Kagan a sword and tells him that they have a lot to talk about.

In the present, Kagan defends himself to Duncan while refusing to fight, saying that everything he is is what Tarsis made him. He asks what he was supposed to do, given that the guards would have killed him otherwise. Duncan shouts that he was not supposed to be there in the first place. Just then Simone finds them outside and pleads for his life. She gives Duncan the picture and begs him not to hurt Kagan. Kagan himself offers to go to prison or do whatever Duncan says. Duncan lets him go with a warning that he will return if he finds out that Kagan is lying about the two guards he killed. Duncan then takes the Da Vinci sketch and goes.

Franklin tells Duncan that he owes him his life and when Duncan accuses him of exaggeration, Franklin specifies that he owes Duncan his house, his children’s education, his marriage, and his eternal gratitude. MacLeod agrees to take the last one. Franklin asks Duncan how he did it and MacLeod asks if it matters. When Franklin asks what he is supposed to tell the police, Duncan tells him that he can say whatever he likes so long as his name is left out of it.

After Duncan leaves Franklin, Kagan is waiting outside and asks how it went. He is friendly with Duncan and wants to know that they are cool. Duncan informs him that letting him live does not mean they are friends, which causes Kagan to ask him if he thinks that he likes being a thief and would not rather be like him. The younger Immortal tells Duncan that he never learned how.

FLASHBACK!!!

We see Tarsis teaching cruelty to Kagan not long after they met, while Kagan is still a boy. Tarsis tells him that mercy is for fools and priests and when the fiery boy asks who died and made him god, Tarsis replies that lots of people have. He tells the boy Kagan that he does not know what he is and that from now on, he belongs to Tarsis.

In the present, Duncan tells him to get a job and earn something instead of stealing it. Kagan suggests that maybe Duncan can help. Duncan tells him that he is not a social worker and walks away.

Later, Simone visits Duncan at his barge. He tells her that he thought she would be halfway across the country by now, leading her to point out that if Duncan was going to call the cops they would have found her already. She stands very close to Duncan and asks him why he did not call them. He replies that he did it because her uncle is a very good friend and that it would break his heart.

Elsewhere at Simone’s apartment, Maurice stops by while Kagan is waiting outside. Kagan asks if he is looking for Simone and when Maurice tells him it is none of his business, Kagan assaults him under the belief that Maurice is one of Simone’s clients. He stabs the old man in the hand with the sharp end of a stiletto.

On the barge, Simone tells Duncan that after her mother died, her father fell apart. She says her father depended on her to be her mother, and not just for companionship. She goes on and explains that as a ten year old, her father’s approval meant so much that she would have done anything he asked.

Simone: And he asked.

Duncan asks if she told anyone and when she says there was no one to tell, he asks about Maurice. Simone explains that Maurice was a basket case and that his wife died in the same accident her mother did. She says Maurice crawled into a bottle of brandy and stayed there for five years. She tells Duncan that when Maurice dried out it did not matter anymore.

Duncan: It matters.
Simone: Oh. To who? To you?
Duncan: Yeah. And Maurice.

Just then Maurice enters with a bandage around his hand. Duncan asks what happened and the other man tells him he cut it at work. Maurice is surprised to see Simone and says he did not know she was here. She tells her uncle that there are a lot things he does not know but that she is sure Duncan will fill him in. She goes and thanks Duncan for everything on her way out. Duncan follows her outside to tell her that if she does not like what she is that she can change it. He tells her that he and Maurice will help her. She promises to think about it. Duncan asks her how the two men died at the robbery and she asks him how she would know. She leaves. Maurice joins Duncan outside of the barge and tells him that Simone is always in a hurry.

Back at her apartment, Simone runs into Kagan. She tells him that she thought he was gone and he replies that it would be impossible for him to leave without her.

On the barge, Maurice tells Duncan that he knows about Simone and that he has suspected all along. He admits to Duncan that tonight he went to her apartment to talk to her and says one of her clients knows how to use a stiletto.

Duncan: Tall? 25? Good looking?
Maurice: You know him?

MacLeod stands up and leaves as Maurice chases after him, asking where he is going.

At Simone’s apartment, she and Kagan are lying entwined on her bed. She tells him that she is glad he came back and he replies dryly that he noticed. He promises to get her out of this life and away from this h*** hole. He asks her to call MacLeod and to get him over here. She asks him why and he pulls out a hand gun. Simone then asks Kagan not to ask her to do this, leading him to reply angrily that she said she would do anything for her. When she tells him that she will not do this, he punches her in the face. Kagan accuses her of wanting to do MacLeod and says she would also be doing the old man he stabbed tonight. She realizes that he stabbed Maurice and says his name aloud. Kagan angrily asks if that is his name before she tells him to get out. Menacingly, he tells her that no one sends him away. Then he stabs her. Kagan smiles and she collapses onto the bed, bleeding. After a moment, she appears to die.

Duncan and Maurice arrive at her apartment and find her lying on the bed. The police are notified and Maurice tells them nothing, as Duncan has apparently asked him. Duncan asks if he can make it home okay and the old man tells Duncan he is going to get a gun to kill the b******. Duncan tells him firmly to go home. Duncan tells him that he will find the killer and take care of this.

Duncan returns to the brothel. The madame there says that it is a pity the guillotine was abolished because that is what a murderer deserves. Duncan asks if she can tell him where to find Kagan and she replies that it would not do any good as his kind never pays the price. Duncan tells her that sometimes they do. She understands Duncan’s intentions and gives him the address of a woman Kagan used to see before he began visiting Simone.

When Duncan arrives at this address, he finds Kagan outside. Kagan plays it cool and pretends that nothing is amiss, asking Duncan how things are. Duncan responds by hitting him in the chest and the face. As Duncan beats him up, Kagan continues to feign ignorance.

Kagan: You told me to stay away from Simone. I stayed away! Maybe if I hadn’t she’d still be alive… not that I think it’s your fault or anything.
Duncan: I guess I owe you an apology.

Duncan sticks out his hand, as if to give an apologetic shake, and Kagan takes it. Then Duncan returns to beating him up. Kagan runs and grabs his sword as he goes. Duncan, calling him a little boy, tells him to run and promises to find him. The two men begin an on-foot chase and pursuit along the canals in Paris. Kagan eventually runs into an open field at which time Duncan catches up with him. Kagan says he is innocent and Duncan tells him that this is not a court of law. Kagan then tells him he never meant to harm anyone. Duncan tells him that he does not care what he meant.

Kagan: This is an execution. I never had a chance.
Duncan: You had more of a chance than Simone did.

The episode flashes back through the tragic events of Kagan’s life. When it flashes back to the present, Kagan is on his knees with Duncan’s sword at his neck He mutters to Duncan that it is not his fault. Duncan tells him that he knows and then takes his head. We do not see the Quickening.

Later we see Duncan with Maurice. MacLeod consoles him by telling him this was not his fault. Maurice tells Duncan that Simone was only ten when she lost everything and says someone should have been there for her.

Maurice: If I would have listened – if I had opened my eyes–
Duncan: You would have done something. Looking back it’s always easy to think of what you should have done.

Maurice asks Duncan if he found the man who did this and Duncan tells him that the man who did this is dead.

REACTION:

This episode title, “Reasonable Doubt,” serves largely as a question for the viewers when judging the characters involved in the story. When is it that someone’s actions become their own fault? We get several characters in this episode to examine through that prism.

Is there reasonable doubt that Kagan is the one at fault for his murders and misdeeds? You can certainly feel sorry for him. Kagan grew up without parents and on the streets. He never experienced love or stability. He was taken in as a boy, before he became immortal, and trained – against his will initially – by an evil teacher. However, sixty-five years pass between the time Tarsis is killed and when Duncan encounters Kagan again. Is sixty-five years a long enough amount of time to start holding Kagan accountable for his own actions? Duncan lets him go in 1930. He does not do that again in 1995.

And yet… it’s hard not to wonder how things turn out if Duncan takes Kagan in under his wing when the man is asking him for help. He seemed genuine in hating his own life and in wanting a better teacher. Duncan may have been the only good Immortal he ever met – perhaps the only good person who ever took interest in him. When Duncan rejected his request, Kagan returned immediately to what he knew – evil and violence. Of course, I think it’s likely that Kagan was at that time too far gone to be helped – even by Duncan – and that Duncan knew it. You can make the argument that Kagan killed Simone knowing and intending that it would lead to his own death.

Simone is another deeply tragic figure. She loses her mother and then her father begins sexually abusing her at the age of ten. This leads her eventually into prostitution and crossing paths with Kagan. It might be easy to declare her actions as “not her fault” due to horrible circumstances beyond her control but it’s worth remembering that after Kagan commits two murders, she wants nothing more than to be with him before she is killed. She was not phased for long by the double murders and even lies to Duncan, in her last conversation with him, about how the two guards were killed. It is only in the very last moments of her life – when she learns that Kagan stabbed Maurice and wants her help to kill Duncan – that she turns on him slightly by telling him to leave. How much responsibility should she bear for her life? It’s hard ot say though she is certainly not blameless.

How much blame does Maurice have for all of this? Is the loss of his wife and his ensuing grief a sufficient excuse for not seeing what was happening with his niece? How much blame should he bear when he suspected what she was and did nothing about it?

I liked this episode inasmuch as I think the writers did a great job asking the audience tricky questions of moral guilt and blame.

This was by far the best Maurice episode of the series.

My one complaint with this episode was that I thought the coincidence of Simone robbing Duncan’s friend AND being Maurice’s niece was a little clunky.

Season 3 is almost over. On to the two part finale.

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