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:
Richie meets Mikey, a mentally challenged Immortal. He goes to Duncan for advice. The three of them soon discover that another Immortal is trying to kill Mikey and that Mikey has an unintentionally checkered past of his own.
After Mikey unintentionally kills a police officer who wanted to bring him in for questioning, regarding an earlier murder, Duncan and Richie conclude that they cannot protect him, nor can they hide him safely anywhere. Mikey seems to realize that they have decided to take his head, so he spares Richie the job, and takes his own head to spare Richie the horrible duty.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
The episode opens while introducing the audience to a pair of Immortals, Alan and Mikey, the latter of whom seems to have a learning disability of some type. He is obsessed with trains. Alan appears to be his protector. Helen, Alan’s mortal girlfriend greets them just before a third Immortal arrives. Alan tells Mikey and Helen to go hide. The two go oto an abandoned bus, at first by the insistence of Helen. As they watch the duel, and see that Alan loses, Mikey forcefully makes Helen continue to be quiet as she is now screaming. He uses too much force and unintentionally suffocates her to death. As the unknown other Immortal takes Alan’s quickening, we see Mikey running away.
♫We’re the princes of the universe.♫
Some time later, Mikey is hiding and traveling just off the side of the road. Richie passes by on his motorcycle and senses him. He stops and calls out to ask who is there. Mikey emerges and tells him that he is hungry. Richie is in a little bit of disbelief but he reaches into his jacket and gives the other Immortal some food. As they talk, and Richie tries to learn more about him, Mikey begins telling Richie about trains. Richie smiles and invites Mikey to come with him. Mike accepts. As they go, we see the Immoral who killed Alan watching them with binoculars at a distance.
Richie arrives as Duncan’s apartment as MacLeod is closing the deal on a property purchase over the phone. He introduces Duncan to Mikey and explains to Duncan how he found him.
Richie: When you find someone who’s helpless, you’ve got to protect him, right?
Dakota Territory – 1868
Duncan encounters a man violently whipping a Native American slave. He intervenes to stop it, infuriating the man, who then leaves promising retribution. When he looks at the young man who had been whipped, Chaske, Duncan says that he needs to see a doctor in the town. Chaske says he does not want white man’s medicine but is too weak to do anything other than be led along by Duncan.
In the present, Duncan questions Mikey about his background. The other Immortal becomes nervous and reverts to speaking about trains and train tracks when asked probing questions. Duncan gives Mikey a wooden train and talks privately to Richie. They speculate about whether another Immortal had been taking care of Mikey, but Duncan concludes they might never know. In the interim, Mikey opens the tailgate of a pickup truck, filled to overflowing with empty water cooler bottles, causing thet bottles to spill out onto the ground. They run over to calm the now angry truck owner down, but as they do, and pick up the bottles, Mikey wanders off.
The three of them seem to be at a train museum, as Mikey arrives at a ridable but small replica train, which he describes as the most famous train in the world. As he looks at it, Duncan and Richie realize he is gone, and the Immortal who killed Alan arrives to where Mikey is standing. He tries to lure Mikey away, promising to show him a train he can ride all day long . Mikey nervously climbs on the model of the Orient Express and tries to drive it, which causes the park crew to come over to where he is to stop him. This causes enough of a commotion that Duncan and Richie find him. The other Immoral in the interim has gone.
Upon returning to Duncan’s dojo, they enter to find two people fencing. Mikey panics and charges toward them to break up their duel. Duncan calms down Mikey and the three of them go upstaits to discuss the situation. MacLeod thinks that they need to find a place for Mikey to go, where he will not get into trouble. Richie believes that he met Mikey on the side of that road, for a reason, and wonders if he is supposed to be the one to protect him.
Duncan; Richie, he’s not a puppy, he’s a man and he’s an Immortal.
Duncan asks Richie if he is prepared to watch over Mikey, twenty-four hours per day, from now until forever, and Richie sees the sense in what Duncan is saying. He tells MacLeod that he will go speak with a couple of social workers he knows. Richie says goodbye to Mikey, leaving Duncan alone with him. MacLeod gives Mikey a glass of milk, with some cookies, and starts asking him more questions again about where he is from. Duncan presses him gently, but Mikey becomes nervous. We see a flashback to Mikey accidentally killing Helen.
Mikey: Mikey’s fault! Always Mikey’s fault.
As they talk, they both sense another Immortal. Duncan warns him to stay where he is. As Duncan exits the elevator, the Immortal who is after Mikey swings at Duncan, but MacLeod deflects him. They introduces themselves. The other man, Tyler King, advises Duncan to hand Mikey over, saying that if he does so, he will live for another day. They begin to duel. Mikey has come down now and throws himself between them, making it more difficult for Duncan to fight back. MacLeod urges him to run away, and Mikey complies. With Mikey gone, Duncan easily dispatches Tyler King, but he cannot finish the fight due to the fact Mikey has run out the front door and he feels compelled to find him.
We see a montage of Duncan driving his T-bird through the incredibly sketchy city of Seacouver, with cuts back and forth between MacLeod driving and Mikey yelling about trains at people walking past him on the sidewalk. Mike starts yelling all aboard as he wanders out into an intersection and is struck by a car. He strikes a police officer and shouts at the man that he hurt him. Duncan arrives as he is being cuffed and arrested.
McKewansville – 1868
Duncan and Chaske ride through the village, with the latter noting that the people in the town hate him. Duncan states that they will be on their way just as soon as they get the man patched up. As they ride to the doctor’s office, a small crowd, armed, begins following them on foot. The doctor meets them outside of his office and tells them that they need to go, and that seeing him is just asking for trouble.
Doctor: Half the town lost friends or relatives to the Cheyenne.
Chaske: I am sorry to hear that. But I am not Cheyenne.
Finally, the doctor agrees to see him and Duncan stands guard outside of his office, staring down the mob, rifle in hand.
In the present, Richie and Duncan discuss Mikey’s arrest. Richie is angry but Duncan tells him that the police usually arrest people who assault them. Richie deflects stating that none of this would have happened but for Tyler King, and Duncan reminds him that whether it is King, or someone else, something like this was bound to happen to Mikey, noting that it is simply the reality of the other Immortal’s life.
Richie: He doesn’t have a life, don’t you think he deserves one?
Duncan: Of course I do.
Richie: Then we have to figure out a way to give it to him.
Richie asks Duncan if he thinks it’s all random how people turn out, whether they are beautiful, intelligent, or like Mikey. Duncan answers that it depends on which century he is asking from, but adds that he thinks there is a plan, he just does not know what the plan is. Richie asks Duncan how old he thinks Mikey is, and Duncan says he does not know and also that he doubts Mikey knows. Richie says he just wants to get him out of jail and states that he is working on something else for him, after they do. When they find Mikey in a cell, he is rocking back and forth, in a daze, stating facts about railroad tracks around the world.
As Chaske is being treated in the doctor’s office, a mob grows outside. Duncan banters with one of the men leading the mob. Chaske sees the mob outside and sneaks out the back of the doctor’s office. Local law enforcement arrives, and the sheriff tells Duncan that he could have picked a friendlier town. Duncan tells him that as soon as his friend is fit to ride, they will move on. That seems to satisfy the sheriff.
Meanwhile, Chaske is spotted by his former owner, who promises him that this time he will not be able to walk away. They fight, and struggle over a pistol. It goes off, killing the slave owner, leaving Chaske standing over him, gun in hand. Duncan and the mob hear the shot. Duncan goes inside the doctor’s office to find the man is gone. He and the sheriff hurry to find him, just ahead of the mob. They advise him to drop the gun and cooperate. The sheriff says Chaske will have lots of time to explain what happened to a jury. He runs. A member of the mob then raises a rifle and shoots him in the back, killing him.
Back in the present, Mikey keeps muttering “1916” seeming almost not to recognize that Richie and Duncan are with him. Richie gives him a model train and a conductor’s hat to wear, which rouses him to his feet and brings him some joy. The three Immortals leave together. In Duncan’s apartment, Richie arranges via telephone a place for Mikey to stay, on Holy Ground, until they can find something more permanent. Mikey is very resistant to going, but Duncan offers to take him to a switching yard just off hte road on their way, and he changes his mind, enthusiastically beckoning them to the elevator.
The Hallelujah Chorus plays as Mikey visits the switching yard. Unfortunately, the three Immortals suddenly feel another of their kind. Tyler King shows up because he apparently has a death wish. Did he just forget that Duncan dusted him easily once already? Duncan sends Mikey and Richie to wait by his car, as he and King leave to duel.
At Duncan’s car, police officers arrive, with guns drawn, and announce that Mikey is wanted for murder. They yell for Mikey to get on the ground, as Richie encourages him to cooperate. Instead Mikey attacks the two officers, knocking both of them unconscious. Duncan beheads Tyler King, not knowing that the arrest is happening outside. As Duncan receives the Quickening, we see Mikey running away, with Richie chasing after him.
Duncan finds the two police officers down on the ground, by his car. Richie is talking to Mikey and tells him that as soon as MacLeod finds them, they will be on their way. When Duncan finds them, he tells Richie that one of the two police officers is dead and that Mikey broke his neck. He says this means Mikey cannot go to the school upstate and that the death means they will never stop searching for him. Duncan tries a final time to get Mikey to explain what happened. Finally, Mikey tells him that a bad man came, and that Alan told them to be quiet. He tells Duncan that the bad man hurt Alan. He confesses that Helen was making a lot of noise and that he made her quiet. Mikey drops to his knees and says that after he made her quiet, he tried to get her to get up.
Duncan asks Richie what they should do and Richie finally, reluctantly, admits that there is no place for Mikey. MacLeod tells him that he’ll do it. Richie stops him and says that he will.
Richie and Mikey walk off together as we hear a train horn blowing. As they enter a tunnel together, Richie daraws his sword and apologizes to Mikey. The other man, alarmed, begins to run away. Finally, he stops and puts his hands up.
Mikey: I didn’t mean to hurt anybody, Richie.
Richie: I know.
Mikey then lays down and puts his neck on the track, in front of the approaching train.
Mikey: I’m OK. I’m OK. Look, not even scared. Mikey go see King of Trains.
Richie puts his hand over his mouth, in shock, and the train takes Mikey’s head. Richie receives his Quickening.
Some time later, Richie finds Duncan at work on his new property. He offers to help. Duncan asks if he wants to talk about what happened, but Richie merely asks what there is to say. In the distance, they both hear a train horn blowing.
The Hallelujah Chorus renews, as we see a short montage of Mikey’s joy upon visiting the switching yard.
♪♪ And He shall reign,
and He shall reign for ever and ever,
for ever and ever,
And He shall reign for ever and ever, for ever and ever.
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Holy moly. I don’t even know how to process this one. That ending with Mikey was… a lot.
Before we get to that, though, let’s look at the episode as a whole which was unfortunately something I just couldn’t really get into. We have seen prior “helpless Immortal” episodes. There was Ursa, in Season 1’s “The Beast Below” and also the child Immortal, Kenny, from Season 3’s “The Lamb,” who turned out to not exactly be helpless after all. We have met a few new Immortals along the way, too. Mikey is closest to a repeat of Ursa. Since Ursa was placed in a monetary to end his episode, something different needed to happen here. Boy, did it ever.
Richie returns in this episode. As usual, Mac’s young friend finds himself trying to rescue someone. While I suppose that an Immortal life provides those opportunities regularly, I always get the feeling that the writers don’t know what to do with him. He’s always either riding his motorcycle or rescuing someone who needs help – often with the help he wants to give being more than what he can actually deliver. Still, you always come away from a Richie episode feeling like Duncan chose a good pupil. The show needs to give him something more permanent to do. Once Duncan ended their direct student-teacher relationship, giving Richie a reason to be featured in the plot has been difficult. Maybe he should open up a repair shop in town or something? The idea of Richie managing the dojo seems ot have gone nowhere.
The bad guy plot in this episode was its weakest point. We have no idea why Tyler King is after Mikey – so much so that he’d willingly face Duncan to get to him. Once he fought Duncan in the dojo, lost badly, and got away, surely he knew he was no match for him, right? Yet he chooses to fight him again. WHY? It would have helped this episode a lot if he had a motivation of any kind whatsoever that made sense.
The flashback had a relatively thin story (though Duncan’s period piece costuming was outstanding as usual.) The idea there seemed to be that you cannot always help someone who does not want to be helped, or someone who does not know how much help he actually needs. Chaske would have left that town safely, with Duncan, if he had just let Duncan get him out of there. I guess that kind of parallels the way Mikey continuously runs off, or tries to intervene on behalf of his protectors, but I just didn’t connect with it.
So… once again, Highlander teaches the audience that there are some people you just cannot protect, despite your best intentions. Mikey could not be protected for the rest of his life and he could not safely be hidden away on Holy Ground after the murders he had committed. Was there only option to take his head? I want to say no, but then again, Mikey’s Immortality really ties their hands. Since we have learned the “you can’t protect everyone” lesson several times, the episode needed to give that lesson a new spin, which it did with its dramatic ending. Mikey knows enough about his situation that he decides to kill himself, rather than force Richie to do it. The whole episode focuses on Richie’s desire to protect Mikey, but the other man’s self-sacrifice is how he protects Richie. That scene was so good and so powerful that it largely made up for the rest of the episode being a little boring.
I’m not sure what to make of the very ending. The episode gives us more of the Hallelujah Chorus as we see a Mikey montage. Is the show telling us that Jesus Christ is the King of Trains? Do Immortals end up in a Heaven-ish place when another Immortal has absorbed their life force? Maybe. The series is a little vague on that. Sometimes you get a sense that the defeated Immortal souls are just kind of congregating inside the soul of the remaining Immortals.
One final thought for this episode. By the end of it, Alan, Helen, Tyler King, Mikey, and a police officer are all dead. Three of those are beheaded. Duncan is at the scene of a homicide in Seacouver for about the 20th time in a four year span. Do the police even bother to bring Duncan or Richie in for questioning? Absolutely not. Is this even on the news? Absolutely not. Seacouver has apparently devolved into such a hellscape since Season 1 that the authorities no longer even want to look into stuff like this, anymore. I miss the good old days of police interrogations and Randi the Reporter visits.