Highlander (Season 4, Ep 71): Double Eagle

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’s friend Kit is in town, on a gambling losing streak that has lasted more than a century. His bad luck started when he lost a saloon, The Double Eagle, to Amanda a century ago. He wants Duncan to partner with him on a racehorse also named Double Eagle. Kit blames Amanda for his bad luck and wants to kill her if he meets her again.

Amanda shows up to check in on Duncan. She still remembers Kit and wants to kill him in turn. She blames him for a fire that burned down the saloon, which she had renamed The Queen of Spades. Duncan goes to great lengths to keep the two Immortals apart, but they eventually run into each other. They are surprised to learn that they are partners on the racehorse – Duncan having given his share to Amanda. After Double Eagle wins a race, and Duncan proves to Amanda that Kit was offshore on a ship that sank, when her saloon burned, everyone agrees to put their swords down. Amanda and Kit eventually stage a bet for full ownership of Double Eagle, when it is clear that they do not like each other well enough to work together, and Amanda wins but lets Kit believe that he won. Duncan is very happy with her for this mature gesture.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

The episode opens with a white man gambling against a group of Asian men. He wins the game they are playing, earning $65,000, but before he can do anything with his winnings, another white man arrives and pulls a gun on him, telling him that the money he has just won can go toward paying off his debt. The first man refuses and is murdered. However, a little while later, and to the astonishment of one of the Asian men still in the room, the murdered man revives and leaves with his winnings.

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

The Immortal from the opening scene visits Duncan at his home. We learn his name is Kit and Duncan greets him warmly. Kit asks Duncan what he is doing, and when Duncan explains that he is ducting, Kit replies that he could hire this task out.

Kit: They’re called workers.
Duncan: Maybe you should try it.
Kit: See these hands? Not one solitary callous. Now that’s something a man can be proud of.

[I sense a comedy in the works. Duncan seems to have several financially hapless friends from his past.]

FLASHBACK!

[Instead of the usual buzzing, the flashback is indicated by a computer graphic of a flipping coin]

MacLeod is at a casino and catches an opposing player at his table cheating. The other man draws a weapon against Duncan, but the casino owner (Kit, with a mustache) steps in, knocks it from the man’s hand, breaks his arm, and then tosses him out into the street.

San Francisco – 1888

Kit returns to apologize to Duncan, who in turn tells him that what he just did was not necessary. Kit counters that the man might have ruined Duncan’s perfectly good shirt. As they discuss recovering Duncan’s losses, they feel another Immortal – Amanda. Both men admire her and Duncan quips to Kit that he should see her exit. Duncan introduces them and Amanda feigns not to speak English. MacLeod plays along, as she speaks French, and Kit leads her around the casino – the Double Eagle. In a moment, Amanda begins speaking English but in a thick French accent, gushing over the casino.

Amanda asks Kit if the Double Eagle is a family crest. He tells her that it’s a coin, explaining that when he sailed into San Francisco, years ago, the only thing he possessed with a goal coin. He shows her that he has the coin mounted on the wall. MacLeod interrupts them to tell Kit his game just walked in. Amanda asks if they are playing cards and if she can join in. Kit allows it, over Duncan’s protests. MacLeod pulls Amanda aside and furiously whispers to her that she must not cheat. He also asks about the phony French accent and she replies by reminding him that he used to be so much fun.

[we get another CGI coin flip to indicate the flashback has ended]

Back in the present, Duncan and Kit flip a coin to decide where they should eat. Kit loses and admits to MacLeod that he is on a 107 year losing streak, causing Duncan to suggest that he give up gambling.

In his apartment above the dojo, Duncan finds Amanda in nothing but a towel – waiting for him when he arrives. He asks if she’s ever heard of calling ahead and she tells him that she likes surprises. He asks if she is planning on staying, and she tells him she was hoping to.

Amanda: What do you say?
Duncan: Welcome home.

Sometime later, Amanda is making food (in her underwear and an apron) when Duncan hurries out of teh apartment to meet Kit. He finds the other Immortal downstairs in the dojo and is trying to keep him from going upstairs. It is clear that Duncan does not want Kit and Amanda to see each other. Duncan asks Kit to put off their dinner for thet following morning. The other man guesses that Duncan has a lady upstairs and moves toward the elevator with a mind toward meeting her. Duncan insists that she is shy and blocks his path. Kit says that he remembers the last time he saw Duncan with a lady and asks if he remembers.

Duncan: No.
Kit: Sure you do. It was that thieving b****, Amanda.

Duncan pretends to be surprised that Kit remembers her, but the other Immortal says that not a day goes by when he does not think about Amanda.

FLASHBACK!!

Back at the Double Eagle casino, in 1888, Amanda is winning big at cards. She and Kit end up head to head on a big hand, with the stakes continuing to be raised. eventually ending with Kit including the deed to the Double Eager in their wager. Kit lays down his cards, a Full House, thinking that he has won. However, Amanda beats him with four Queens. She stands up, having now abandoned her bad French accent, and welcomes everyone to the Double Eagle, introducing herself as Amanda their new host.

In the present, Kit reiterates that not a day goes by when he does not think about Amanda dead.

Back upstairs, Amanda notices that Duncan is agitated and asks if he is hiding something. Abruptly they senes another Immortal and Duncan tells her that it must be Richie. Duncan tries to hurry Amanda out of the apartment, telling her to come with him to a lecture at the university where he teaches. He asks hurriedly if she knew he is now teaching. Duncan explains that they are doin ga St. Thomas Aquinas lecture. He tries to hurry her down the stairs, and when she asks about the elevator, he replies that he has been failing to work lately. Just then, the elevator lurches upward. Amanda insists that she wants to see who is coming up the elevator.

To Duncan’s immense relief, Richie arrives at the top of the elevator.

We find Kit with another man looking at a race horse. Kit plans to buy the horse, named Double Eagle, for $65,000. The man tells him someone else has made a bid on the horse for $120,000. Kit is angry, butthe other man says that if he only matches the offer, he will sell to him instead of the other buyer.

Duncan gets a phone call from Kit, who asks him to meet him. Amanda and Richie stare at Duncan who is clearly agitated, as he says into the phone that he will meet him at the University Commons. Duncan tells them that there is an emergecy at the school he needs to attend to. Amanda is suspicious and asks what kind of emergency a school can have. Duncan suggests that she hang out with Richie and says he will be back soon. Duncan whispers to Richie that he is going ot the track, and Amanda overhears, just as he leaves.

At the track, Duncan chides Kit, telling him that nobody buys a horse based on its name. Kit starts praising the racing ability of the horse and notes that Duncan has always been an astounding judge of horseflesh, adding that he values Duncan’s opinion. MacLeod admits that the horse can run.

At Duncan’s apartment, Amanda flirts with Richie, to his growing discomfort. She tries to trick Richie into confessing that Duncan is seeing another woman. She eventually gets him to blurt out that Duncan is at the racetrack.

Back at the track, as they examine the horse, Kit tells Duncan that he feels in his gut that if he can get this horse, he will end the 107 year losing streak Amanda put him on. He then details some of his bad luck since losing his saloon to her. Duncan suggests that if he got to know her, he might even like her.

FLASHBACK!!! [we get the coin flip CGI again]

Kit meets with Amanda and Duncan, having raised the money that he hopes will buy his establishment back from her. She tells him that it is not for sale. The discussion elevates into a shouting match. To add insult to injury, he accuses her of cheating and she tells him she renamed the establishment “the Queen of Spades.” To Kit’s horror, he looks over and sees that the signage has indeed changed,. His lucky coin remains in place, in the midst of the changed signage. He leaves angrily.

[flipping coin CGI]

At the track, while Duncan and Kit discuss the price for the horse, they feel Amanda approaching. Duncan lies and says that it must be Richie, a friend of his, and he convinces Kit to remain behind while he goes to find the other Immortal. Kit agrees. Duncan finds that the newcomer is Richie, who immediately explains to an understanding Duncan what happened.

Richie: Well, I didn’t stand a chance.
Duncan: You wouldn’t be the first.

Kit rushes over to meet the two of them, and Duncan puts him off by saying Richie handles most of his financial affairs. Duncan in turn leaves the other two to go look for Amanda – who he is certain must be close by. He finds her a few moments later.

Amanda telsl him that he should have told her. Duncan realizes she thinks he is meeting another woman. When Amanda asks what he sees in her, Duncan begins describing the horse.

Duncan: Beautiful brown eyes, amazing legs.
Amanda: Better than mine?
Duncan: Well, what can I say? She has a powerful chest, endless stamina, doesn’t let up in the final stretch.

Amanda hits Duncan and he shouts, pointing, that she has four great feet. Amanda asks why he didn’t just tell her, and as she asks, Richie approaches to tell Duncan that he closed the deal. Amanda suddenly thinks the horse is for her, and she kisses Duncan. As Amanda is petting the horse, very pleased, Duncan walks away with Richie and asks where Kit is and is told the other man is registering the horse.

Richie is now aware of the fact that Dunacan is trying to keep Kit and Amanda apart and asks how he can do that now that they are co-owners of the horse. MacLeod says he is working on it. Kit approaches and tells them that he registered the horse for the next day’s race, and he says Duncan will make back his investment in that race. Duncan leads Kit away so that they can celebrate while Richie returns to Amanda.

That night, Amanda is giving Duncan a massage in his apartment in appreciation for what Duncan did earlier and how she had been acting. While she is doing this, she brings up Kit O’Brady, angrily, and he asks how long she can stay mad at someone.

Amanda: Until h*** freezes over.

FLASHBACK!!!! [coin flip CGI]

Amanda is running the saloon and tells Duncan how happy the place makes her feel. She then adds that she’s feel even happier up in their hotel room. In bed, upstairs, Duncan asks her to give Kit back his lucky coin.

Amanda: I only kept it because he called me a cheat. All he has to do is ask.
Duncan: He’s too proud for that. I’m asking.

Amanda agrees, and asks Duncan to reward her. They are interrupted when one of Amanda’s newly one employees tells her that the Queen of Spades is burning down. Later, the place has burned down, and Amanda blames Kit. She vows that he will die the next time she sees him.

In the present, Duncan and Amanda are dressed to go out for dinner when they feel another Immortal. Duncan says that it must be Richie, but they see him emerge from the other room (implying he was too close to be a new Immortal.) They finally run into Kit. He and Amanda immediately start bickering, and threatening each other. She punches Kit in the face before running to retrieve her sword. Duncan carries Kit into the elevator and asks Richie to hold her off while they go down.

Richie grabs a hold of her, but she begins flirting with him again. Once he is distracted, she punches him, and runs toward the stairs. She catches up to them in the dojo downstairs. With their swords drawn, Duncan says that it is a bad time for the two of them to fight, given that they are partners. They stop. He tells them that they co-own the horse. The two touch swords again but stop, and agree not to right, at least until they have seen the horse run. Kit says that after the horse race tomorrow, one of them will die, and the other can keep the horse. Amanda agrees.

At the race, Amanda promises Kit that she will change the horse’s name after the race is over and she takes his head. Double Eagle wins her race. Amanda and Kit hug each other, while celebrating. Meanwhile, Duncan is on the telephone trying to get something ordered, as soon as possible, and tells the person on the call with him that it is a matter of life and death.

Kit and Amanda are preparing to fight. Kit confesses that he has never enjoyed killing anyone but says this will be a first for him. Duncan, on his call, celebrates that the person he is speaking with ha got it. He goes outside and finds Kit and Amanda preparing to fight. Duncan comes outside with a copy of a news article from 1888, about a ship that sank on the ocean. Kit was aboard the ship and since the sinking occurred on the day that the saloon burned down, Duncan considers this as proof that Kit did not burn it down.

Kit is outraged that she thought he would burn it down. She asks what she was supposed to think. Amanda, begrudgingly but at Duncan’s insistence, apologizes. Kit tells her that she owes him more than an apology and raises his sword again. Duncan asks Kit how much he won on the bet and the other Immortal replies that it was 12:1 and he had wagered his last $5,000. The two Immortals realize once again that their horse won, and their good feelings return.

Later, we see Amanda and Kit arguing over the horse’s training. Duncan tells them that this is not working, and suggest they bet each other over ownership of the horse. He gets out a deck of cards and says that the high card will win. Kit draws a Jack of Diamonds. Amanda then goes, and we do not see what card she drew, but she slaps it down and tells Kit that the horse is his. Kit celebrates, asks Amanda if there are hard feelings, and she says no. Kit runs out of the apartment.

After he goes, Amanda tells Duncan that this was his money anyway and asks if he forgives her. He flips the card over, sees that it was a Queen of Spades, and kisses her.

REACTION:

Occasionally, it is nice to see that there are Immortals other than Duncan who are not psychopaths. It’s nice for Duncan to have friends. This episode let us spend time with three of them. Kit is another of Duncan’s hapless Immortal friends, who tend to crop up in comedic episodes. Did “Double Eagle” work? Eh, kind of. I think that this is the first episode of the series that stays in the comedy lane from beginning to end. Most of the other attempts at comedy have veered into tonally confusing drama at some point. The problem for me was that it was only mildly funny. Duncan mediating a fight between his friends, and continuously running into tense moments in that effort, was just not my comedic jam. I’ve seen enough television over the years to know that this style of humor must have an audience, even if that audience is not me.

The biggest plot arc advanced in the episode was Amanda doing a mature good deed and letting Kit have the horse, despite the fact that she won it from him. As we can see from the flashbacks, she would not have made the same choice a century earlier. She is clearly working hard to be someone that Duncan wants to be with. She has clearly wanted to be with Duncan for centuries – maybe since they met.

The plot resolution was well done. The obvious solution to the problem, in hindsight, was proving to Amanda that Kit was innocent of the arson. The episode does a great job of putting that solution out of your mind, as it goes along. Thus Duncan remembering and proving Kit’s innocence as the two are about to fight, was thus an entertaining surprise.

I like to picture these types of episodes from Richie’s perspective. The still 21 year old Immortal learns, every time he gets a peek into Duncan’s past, that four hundred years brings with it a lot of baggage, both serious and unserious. This leaned in the direction of unserious (though it could have escalated into something significant.) I particularly enjoyed how Richie acknowledges that dealing with Amanda is well above his own capacity. Duncan agreed, as it was likely still true for himself, and commiserated.

The highlights of this episode for me were the goofy CGI coin flip graphics before and immediately after flashbacks (I don’t think those looked great even in the 90s,) and Kit’s tendency to sneeze when the Immortal “buzzing” thing occurs. I also laughed (probably my biggest laugh of the episode) when Kit insulted Amanda with a long string of things, and her only objection – and it was vehement – was to being called French.

Overall, this is not a bad change-of-pace episode. I didn’t really connect with the style of humor they were after but I could tell it was reasonably well-executed. At any rate, it’s always good to see Elizabeth Gracen featured in an episode. Her Amanda brings out the most realistic version of Duncan.

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