Highlander (Season 4, Ep 70): Leader of the Pack

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.


Kanis, an Immortal who uses dog packs to attack other Immortals, begins hunting Duncan. Richie meanwhile runs into the guy who murdered Tessa – though the man denies it.

Duncan eventually utilizes a dog in heat to lure away Kanis’s pack while he fights and beats the other Immortal. Duncan and Richie both decide to let Tessa’s killer go, because he did not remember doing it, due to drug use at teh time, and because he currently had a pregnant wife that they did not want to widow.


plot summary (mostly) via https://highlander.fandom.com/wiki/Leader_Of_The_Pack

An immortal runs through the underbrush, his sword in his hand. He turns as he hears a dog snarl, and he falls back as a black dog jumps on him and starts tearing at his sword arm. He eventually succeeds in pushing the dog off, and it dashes back into the bushes. The immortal staggers to his feet and runs in the opposite direction. As he runs, he hears more dogs, and three dogs burst from the place where the first one disappeared, running in a tight pack after the immortal. He runs and they pursue him until finally he takes a stand with his back to a tree, sword ready. But instead of attacking, the dogs sit, forming a semi-circle around him. Then the immortal senses another immortal, and Kanis strolls from the bushes, his sword resting on his shoulder. “Kanis.” The Immortal says recognizing him. Kanis merely dips his head in acknowledgment, and when the other man raises his sword he strikes it from his wounded hand with an easy blow. The dogs rise up, still growling.”And friends,”  and takes the man’s head.

♫Heeeere we are, born to be kings, we’re the princes of the universe♫

MacLeod is walking through a narrow passageway, like an alley between buildings. As he passes an opening, a dog steps out, and starts to follow him. Duncan walks up to the street, the dog behind him, and he turns as he hears it. He walks on, then stops and turns around. The dog stops when he does, and waits. He takes a step forward, holding out his hand, but the dog becomes aggressive, growling and barking. Duncan takes a step back, and shrugs and walks off, and the dog trots after.

In the dojo office, Richie Ryan is sitting at the desk, staring at the accounting program scrolling over the computer screen. He sits up, suddenly alert, as he senses another immortal, but it’s Duncan. He returns to the screen. Duncan walks in and tells Richie that he has taken a teaching job at a local university.

Later, Richie is buying a hot dog from a street vendor. He glances idly at Mark Roszca, who’s just coming down the steps to the street. Richie  frowning as Roszca walks by. Richie’s glance follows him, and he remembers the kid who shot him and Tessa. Richie attacks the man chasing him to his apartment until the police arrive and arrest Richie and take Roszca and his pregnant girlfriend Julie to the station for questioning. Meanwhile, at the University, Duncan is getting started with his class. After the lesson Macleod and a student are clearing up and having a laugh when he catches sight of three dogs, sitting and watching him from a distance. Duncan puts the last of the swords in the car, still watching the dogs.


England 1785

Riders, along with a back of baying dogs, are riding over an open field. Duncan is among them, and he pulls up as he hears a child’s voice, yelling for help. As he watches, a young boy breaks from the trees, running across the field with a pack of dogs in pursuit. Kanis, on horseback, watches from a distance as the dogs chase the boy back into the trees. Duncan rides in pursuit of the boy, who finally fetches up against a tree. One of the dogs leaps, and Duncan fires his pistol, hitting the dog. The boy closes his eyes in relief, and Duncan dismounts, pulling out his musket. He goes to the boy as Kanis rides up, looking in distress at the wounded dog. Duncan asks if the boy is injured and replies that he is ok. Duncan and Kanis sense each other, but Kanis only spares a moment for Duncan before kneeling down by the hurt dog. He glares at Duncan. “You did this.”

Duncan : “I had no choice. They would have killed the boy,”
Kanis: “They were supposed to kill the boy!” He stands, pointing. “He threw a rock at one of my dogs.”
Duncan: “It is not sport to hunt a boy!”
Kanis: “Men like us hunt what we wish.” He snaps his fingers, and the dogs begin to growl. Duncan raises the weapon, the boy cowering behind him. “You killed the finest hunting dog in the land!”

Duncan aims his weapon telling Kanis to call of his dogs but Kanis does nothing, even as they stand there the rest of Duncan’s party rides up, led by the Duchess.

Duchess: “MacLeod. It is deer we are hunting, not hounds.”
Duncan: “They were after the boy, my lady. This man owns them.” Kanis bows to her. “If I hadn’t stopped them they would have killed him.
Duchess: “On my lands?” She jerks her head at the pack. “Destroy the dogs.”

Kanis protests and threatens the duchess, who has him arrested.

Back in the present, Duncan meets Kanis, and the two men talk. Duncan glances at the studded leather collar Kanis is wearing around his neck. They talk about Kanis’s new dogs then Duncan offers to fight him. Kanis asks him where the fun and anticipation is in that. He faces him. He says that will happen soon enough and turns as if to go, then stops and turns back. His voice drops into almost a whisper, low and intense.

Kanis: “You can’t sense them coming. The first thing you feel will be their teeth, as they tear you down. And as they rip out your throat, I’ll be right behind them, MacLeod.” The dogs begin to growl, and Duncan glances at them, almost nervous.”

He smiles and walks off, and the dogs go with him, except for one, who barks and growls as Duncan starts after Kanis. The dog stays there only a moment, but it’s long enough for Kanis to escape. The dog then runs off, leaving Duncan to look after Kanis. At the police station, Detective Sheridan is talking on the phone, while Richie, Roszca, and Alicia wait. Duncan walks in and stares at Roszca.

Sheridan asks who he is. Duncan tells him his name. Richie tells Duncan that they don’t believe him.

Duncan: “If Richie said he did it, he did it.”
Sheridan: “Mister, I don’t know you, and I don’t know him. What I do know is that this report says there were no witnesses. And if you did see it, why’d it take you two years to come forward?”

Richie and Duncan don’t answer, and Sheridan tells Roszca that he can go home. Alicia and Roszca stand up and start to leave, but Alicia stops in front of Duncan. She tells MacLeod that Roszca didn’t do i. She leaves, but as Roszca starts to follow, Richie puts a hand on his chest, holding him back. One of the cops pulls Richie away. The cop escorts Roszca past Richie. Roszca tells Duncan that everything is cool that he will not press charges seeing that a mistake was made. Duncan and an angry Richie leave.

Later at Roszca’s place, Roszca is loading up a compact pickup, shoving boxes around. There’s furniture as well, and it seems he’s moving out. Alicia comes out, carrying a sleeping bag, and puts it in the truck. Duncan stands in a nearby alley, watching. Roszca jumps down from the truck, and Duncan takes a step forward, then stops as Roszca starts talking to Alicia. Duncan, takes a step back, watching as Roszca kisses her, then hugs her tightly. Then Duncan turns and leaves. At the house, Richie is watching Duncan clear out the rafters, throwing debris down to the floor. Richie asks what he is going to do but Duncan tells him not to do anything. Duncan closes his eyes, but before he can say anything else he hears a dog bark outside. He starts up, swinging himself down from the rafters without even bothering with the ladder. He goes out to the deck, his sword ready, only to see a kid walking a perfectly ordinary dog by on a leash. Duncan puts the sword down, looking after the kid.


England 1785

Duncan and the Duchess are interrupted by the sound of hounds barking Duncan tries to calm her down when a sheriff arrives telling her that Kanis’s dogs tried to help him escape. Leaving one man dead and another maimed. The duchess orders Kanis executed.  The Duchess and Duncan, mounted, watch as the Sheriff reads the charges to Kanis. Kanis is sitting on a horse, a rope around his neck. After the hanging  the dogs are sitting around Kanis’s grave, growling and waiting patiently until a hand thrusts up from the earth.

At Joe’s bar, Richie goes to see Joe about his problem with Duncan concerning Roszca. but he leaves. At a park, Duncan, in the T-bird, pulls up in the parking lot of a park. As he shuts off the engine. He gets out, and as he shuts the door his katana is visible, propped between the seats. Duncan’s wearing sweats and running shoes, and he walks to the grass and heads for the jogging trail. As he remembers how he and Tessa were, he also sees Roszca and Alicia holding each other, remembers how Roszca put his hand on Alicia’s stomach, held one another like he and Tessa used to. Duncan rounds a curve and stops short, seeing one of Kanis’s dogs sitting in the middle of the trail. He backs up slowly, and as he does so another dog appears from a side trail. He turns calmly and starts to walk back, and the two dogs growl and follow. As he walks, a third dog appears on the trail in front of him, cutting him off. Duncan steps off into the undergrowth, takes a few slow paces, and then breaks into a run. The dogs run after him. Duncan runs, making it almost back to the car before they run him down. He falls with one of the dogs mauling his arm, and the others set in, biting his arms and legs. He struggles with them, before he finally gets away and makes it to the car door. Another dog latches on as he reaches inside, but Duncan pushes him off and gets his sword. He waves it at the dogs, his back to the car, and they stay, barking and growling, but not attacking. 

Duncan calls out for Kanis. There’s no answer, and Duncan eases the door closed. One dog jumps on the hood, but then jumps off as Duncan starts moving. He drives out of the parking lot, the dogs in hot pursuit, and speeds across the intersection. One dog, is hit by a van.

Richie finds Alice who tells him that he has made a mistake and to let his anger go. In the loft, Duncan  hobbles to the kitchen island and grabs a bottle of water, drinking some and pouring the rest over his face. He then receives a call from Kanis who threatens him for killing his dog. Richie steps out the elevator to find Duncan waiting for him, dressed in a robe and holding his sword. He lets the blade relax as he sees it’s Richie who tells him that Roscza has moved. Duncan tells him he knows. Richie asks why he didn’t stop him when Duncan mentions Alice being pregnant. 

Duncan: “So she’s pregnant. What are you going to do, make her a widow, too?”
Richie: “Mac, I don’t care. I’m going to keep looking until I find that boy’s ass.”
Duncan: “Richie. I’ve tried revenge. I’ve hunted men and I’ve slaughtered them with their wives and children watching. You’ll care.”
Richie: “Are you going to stop me?”

Duncan looks at him, and shakes his head slowly. Richie gives him a look, and walks off.

Kanis is at a dog kennel talking to Miss Meach talking about her work. Kanis then appears threatening, grabbing her arm, trying to get free, but he has her held tight. Just then, though, Kanis senses another immortal. He turns, looking around worriedly, then smiles as he sees MacLeod roar up, stopping with a screech of tires. Kanis lets Meach go and walks off, and Duncan gets out and follows. He pauses by Meach, still leaning against the fence and rubbing her wrist. Duncan asks if she is ok. She nods, and he walks after Kanis. He finds him leaning against a tree, looking at something. Duncan walks up behind him.

Duncan: “It’s time, Kanis.”
Kanis: “Not quite yet.”

Duncan follows his gaze, and sees Billy sitting at a park table, petting one of Kanis’s dogs. Kanis heaves away from the tree and strolls to Duncan.

Kanis: “All I have to do is think about it, and he’ll rip the boy’s throat out.”

He walks around Duncan, and points a hand down at his feet, telling him to stay. He walks off, leaving Duncan staring helplessly at the dog and the boy. Meach, Billy and Duncan are walking by the kenneled dogs. Meach tells Duncan that Kanis wants to breed his dog with a bitch named Lucille.

At a loading dock, Richie confronts Roscza threatening to kill him and making him remember what he did those two years before.

At the house, Duncan is working when he senses another immortal. He straightens up, and looks around to find Kanis lurking behind some sheets of plastic, sword in hand and the two men fight with Kanis‘s dogs standing by. Duncan continues to retreat, the dogs following. He snatches up a jacket, and wraps it swiftly around his arm. He’s backed up to an inner wall now, beside a door, and he reaches down and opens it. Lucille is sitting inside the little room.

Duncan: “Hey, Lucille. Your dates are here.”

The two dogs start whimpering, and edge forward. Duncan watches as they dash past him, into the room.

Kanis commands his dogs to attack Duncan, but they do not obey because Lucille is in heat.

One against one, the two duel. Kanis retreats, but Duncan pursues him, leaps into the air, twisting over his head, and takes his head with a swipe as he lands. During the Quickening, the house behind Duncan lifts a good ten feet into the air before settling back down again as the Quickening ends.

Later, sitting in the loft, reading a book and petting Lucille.  Duncan looks up as senses another immortal, and Richie lifts the gate. He takes a step inside, sees Lucille, and gives a little laugh. Richie tells him he found Roscza but decided to let him go.

Duncan: “There is no justice. Just mercy.”


Wow, this was pedal to the metal from start to finish. We covered a lot of ground.

  • Duncan has a new job. He’s a college professor teaching a seminar on ancient weapons. In the time we’ve known Duncan, he has been an antiques dealer, a dojo owner, and the quintessential “cool” male teacher with long hair.
What if Mr. Turner from “Boy Meets World” was an Immortal?
  • Richie is managing the dojo again. I guess we can assume that he got an education in how to do this off-screen at some point. Would a few episodes of Duncan watching over his shoulder while he learned on the job have been too much? Probably.
  • The show lets us know that Duncan and Joe are still keeping each other at a distance. I thought that was a nice brief bit of continuity.
  • The beheading / Quickening were absolutely ridiculous. Duncan does a Power Rangers-esque jump/spin/slash to win his fight. Then during the Quickening, his house literally lifts off of the ground. We’ve never seen anything like that before. They were swinging for the fences with that effect but I think they went too far.

The A plot of this episode concerns an Immortal, Kanis, who uses dogs in his fights with other Immortals. I wasn’t bothered by how on the nose his name is. If JK Rowling can have a werewolf named Remus Lupin and a herbology teacher named Sprout, Highlander can have a dog guy named Kanis.

This was an interesting and intense Immortal challenge. The show does a great job of creating a sense of threat throughout the episode, from the first encounter with the dog, to hearing them bark in the background, to their direct aggression later on. The standout scene in that regard was when Duncan was mauled by one of the dogs and barely got away. That was… a lot. In the aftermath of that mauling, the villain loses one of his pack, to an oncoming car, and BURNS THE DECEASED DOG ON A PYRE LIKE IT WAS A VIKING WARLORD. The leadup to the final fight was great, too. When Kanis and his dogs show up to Duncan’s house, one of them jumps through a pane of glass. I wanted Duncan to survive but I regret that this villain did not bother Duncan for multiple episodes. These dogs were great.

I particularly enjoyed that Duncan had them in his apartment after the Quickening. Did he obtain Kanis’s control over the dog pack when he took the other Immoral’s head? It seems so.

The B plot was the extremely heavy resolution to Queen Tessa’s murder. We finally find out more about the guy who did it and we see the fallout. I thought it was a really interesting and good choice to have Richie as the one who goes berserk seeking revenge. Adrian Paul does some of his best acting on his face, without talking, and I thought his silent grappling with finding the guy was A+ work. The end result was that we got this line from Duncan to Richie when the latter says he doesn’t care that Tessa’s killer has a pregnant wife:

“I’ve tried revenge. I’ve slaughtered them with their wife and children watching. You’ll care.”

As a fan of Tessa, I was extremely pleased to see another montage of her, complete with “Who Wants to Live Forever” by Queen playing in the background. Her death was a big deal and it should continue to echo throughout the series. Moments like this let us know that it does.

It was an interesting choice to have the murderer being an unknowing one. He did not remember killing Tessa and Richie and only when Richie described the clothes he was wearing that night does the kid realize he was actually guilty. That sets up the question left to us by the way the show ends. Richie asks Duncan where the justice in this is. Duncan says there is none — only mercy.

All in all, this was a really solid episode, the stakes were high, the two plots meshed together well, and the villain was a real threat. Adrian Paul and Stan Kirsch both did some excellent acting along the way as they re-mourned Tessa in different ways after finding her killer.