Highlander (Season 4, Ep 73): The Colonel

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.


Duncan is attacked and kidnapped by the henchmen of Immortal Simon Killian, who wants revenge against MacLeod for working to have him imprisoned in a mental hospital for seventy years. Amanda meanwhile, is trying to get Joe and Duncan to renew their friendship. In the process, she meets a mortal thief named Melissa and takes her under her wing. Duncan escapes from Killian, knowing that the other man will continue to pursue him.

Eventually Killian captures Amanda’s new friend Melissa and leaves her in the dojo, near death, as an “invitation” for Duncan to find him. When he does, Killian’s henchmen murder Duncan with machine gun fire. Killian places Duncan in an abandoned prison facility with the intention of leaving him there for seventy years. Amanda presses Joe to help her rescue Duncan, and he gives in. Freed, Duncan finds and kills Killian. Amanda is so shaken by what happened tot Melissa that she leaves town indefinitely, but not before convincing Duncan to go see Joe.


via HighlanderWiki (but with edits):

The episode opens with Amanda at Joe’s bar, trying to convince him that he and Joe should renew their friendship. Joe tells her forcefully that MacLeod was right to end their friendship and that Charlie DeSalvo died on account of it. Amanda counters by pointing out that they both clearly miss each other, as is evident by the angry and sullen way both respond to the mention of the other’s name.

At the University, Duncan MacLeod is exiting the stairs into the parking garage, humming to himself while he strolls to his car. The General gets out of the car parked next to his and starts past Duncan. He turns, though, just as Duncan is putting his bag in the back. “Hey, pal, you wouldn’t have change for the meter, would you?” The General asks. Even before The General finishes speaking, another man dashes up behind Duncan, swinging a length of pipe. Duncan tosses him over the hood, and starts fighting them both. He slugs The General with his own car door, then shuts the same door on the second thug’s head and vaults over the top. In the garage, Duncan is still holding his own. He kicks The General while dangling from a pipe, and starts pounding on the other guy again. The General finally starts to get at Duncan, driving him back with a series of punches. He grabs the General and slams his head into a car as a van pulls into their section of the parking lot As the van pulls up behind Duncan, Cisco leans out and zaps him with a taser. Duncan falls to his knees, dazed, and The General is able to take him out with a punch. The General drags Duncan around the van to the side door, while Cisco gets out of the van and follows, carrying a straight-jacket and put Duncan in it.

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

The van pulls up somewhere on a dock. Cisco and The General get out, and Cisco slaps The General on the shoulder telling him that they should put him inside. Duncan abruptly revives and starts fighting, kicking at Cisco, then The General until Cisco takes him down with a pipe.

At the bar, Amanda observes a blonde haired woman stealing from a patron and calls her out privately and invites her to discuss why she did what she did. When the woman refuses, Amanda shows her that she (Amanda) has stolen her keys and renews the offer.

When Duncan is unconscious, they grab his arms and drag him up a ramp to a building. Duncan is lying on the floor, coming around while The General and Cisco talk over him.

General: “What’s the Colonel want him for, anyhow?”
Cisco: “You’re not paid to ask questions.”
General: “You’re a real friendly guy, you know that?”

Duncan finally wakes up enough to sit up or try before he realizes the jacket is in the way. He rolls over swiftly and gets to his knees, looking around warily.

At the bar, the woman, Melissa, explains to Amanda that she is unsatisfied with her life. Amanda asks if she steals because she is bored, and Melissa says she does it for the rush. Melissa explains that she just wants to take the guy’s car for a drive and adds that she intends to give it back. Amanda offers to accompany her, which pleases Melissa.

In his prison, Duncan has crept up to the door, listening to Cisco and The General talk. He then tries to get free from the jacket to no luck.

Amanda is teaching Melissa how to be a proper thief, with the younger woman enjoying the experience. Amanda shows Melissa how to break into a store with digital security, only to purposefully set the alarm off once they are inside. The two women run away giggling. After, as they sit in the “borrowed” car, Melissa guesses that Amanda does this thing all the time and Amanda says that she used to. Melissa again guesses that Amanda gave it up for a guy, and in particular, the one who stood her up tonight. Amanda says that Duncan must have had a good reason, Melissa seems to doubt it, and they both laugh about it.

In his prison, Duncan is kneeling quietly on the floor, eyes closed. He raises his head, breathing deeply, then grits his teeth and snaps his shoulder forward, dislocating the socket. Wincing, biting his lips from the pain, he unwraps his arms, freeing the straps from around his back. Outside, the Colonel, Simon Killian, arrives. He and Duncan sense each other. Moving quickly, Duncan squirms the rest of the way out of the jacket and darts off.

Killian: “Any problems?”
General: “Nah. I took him down in two.”
Killian: “Place him in the car.”
General: “Yeah.” He and Cisco head back for the main door.
Cisco, as they go up the ramp: “You didn’t take him in two.”
General: “Shut up.”
Cisco: “You couldn’t take my mother in two.”

On cue, Duncan lashes out from the doorway, felling The General with one kick. Killian whirls as he hears the noise, and sees Duncan pummel Cisco, then turn to The General. Behind the scenes, hidden from the others, Andrea Henson starts snapping pictures, catching Duncan as he fights off the two thugs and breaks away. Killian turns to his driver, who whips out a machine gun and starts firing. Duncan ducks away, rolling under the van for cover, but one bullet hits the gas tank and before long the leaking fluid is ignited and the van explodes. While Andrea continues taking pictures, Duncan lurches out, the back of his sweater in flames, howling from pain. She turns her arm to follow him with the lens as he stumbles toward the water, revealing the Watcher tattoo on her left wrist. Cisco and The General run up, followed closely by Killian, just in time to watch Duncan take a dive from the pier into the water. Killian pushes between them, staring at the waters as they close over Duncan’s body.

Amanda takes Melissa back to Duncan’s dojo. As Melissa asks Amanda about her life, before becoming a thief, Duncan comes in, hair disheveled, his sweater torn and bloodied, one huge rip showing in the front. He stops as he spots Melissa, and quickly brings his hand up to hold the rent together as Amanda brings Melissa over. After introductions, Duncan tries to compose himself Amanda laughs, and Duncan stops near them, smiling fixedly. Amanda gives him a long look. Amanda notices that Duncan is not himself sensing that there’s something wrong but not able to ask with Melissa there. Melissa, though, clues in quickly and exits the room. Amanda asks what’s wrong with him and he mentions Killian. Amanda asks if he will keep coming. Duncan says he will and for good reason.


France 1918

A battlefield. Dead soldiers are lying on the bare ground, wearing gas masks. Guns are firing, and men are calling to each other from the trenches. Duncan, in uniform and wearing a Red Cross armband, ducks down into a trench, making his way along until he senses another immortal. He looks round, then spots Killian. He goes up to him. Killian turns to face him, smiling. He introduces himself to Duncan and Duncan introduces himself. Killian wonders why Duncan is not a soldier. But Duncan explains that he has seen a lot of wars and asks about the wounded. But before Killian can respond, Sergent Merton arrives to give him an urgent message. Killian opens the orders. He scans over the “Urgent” stamp, and reads the message: “CEASE HOSTILITIES IMMEDIATELY. STOP. WAR IS OVER. STOP.” Killian closes the paper, his mouth tightening, then turns to Merton. Ordering him to get the men ready. Duncan is shocked by this and manages to make Merton rethink resulting in Killian killing him. Duncan leaps for him, struggling with him, but Killian clubs him with the butt of the pistol and leaves him. He dashes down the trench, calling to the men. As he urges them up, “Tipperary” begins to play in the background. Killian leaps out of the trench, pistol drawn, and blows the whistle. The men surge up, Killian in the lead, and start over the ground. The song gets louder as Duncan follows the men out of the trench, still trying to stop them. But Killian turns and shoots him, and Duncan only manages to get his hands on Killian’s shirt, reaching weakly for Killian’s throat before he falls back. Killian stands there, pistol upraised, and the shot pulls back to show him standing alone on the still battlefield.

London – 1918

Killian is standing at his court martial, while the charges against him are read. In which he is sentenced to death. Killian says nothing, his expression not altering, but Duncan, sitting at the back of the room in civilian clothes, closes his eyes. Duncan then stands up asking to speak steps forward, holding his hat in his hands, his voice meek: “I fear a grave injustice will be done if I do not speak. Please, I beg the court’s indulgence.” The officer nods, and Duncan glances at Killian before stepping forward. “I am a simple man. But I was there when he ordered those men into battle, and I can attest he was not in right mind.” He glances at Killian, then back at the judges, his face the picture of honest sincerity. “He is as he was then, the victim of his own delusions. I beg you show mercy. Spare his life.” Killian is sentenced and is led to a cell by two orderlies, while an inmate beats his head gently against the wall next to the door. Someone is laughing maniacally in the background as they open the door to his cell. “Here’s your new home” an orderly tells him.

In the present, and in bed with Duncan, Amanda asks Duncan why he didn’t let them shoot him to which Duncan replies “He had to pay the price for the men he’d killed.” Amanda looks at him. He turns back. “Amanda. His crime was committed in the mortal world. It was only right that he was sentenced by mortal justice.” Amanda worries about this sense of morality that he has. The two then have sex.

The next day, Duncan and Amanda are walking in the street talking. Amanda tells him that they are going to meet her friend Melissa. Duncan wonders why Amanda is having her as a friend and teaching her how to steal. But Amanda assures him that everything will be ok. He then comments about the way she is dressed(Amanda’s wearing a short black skirt, high black boots, a black tank top with spaghetti straps and a short black jacket with long sleeves.). They arrive at a café but do not see Melisa. She looks around, then turns to Duncan and shrugs. The dark-haired woman sitting in the chair finally swivels around, though, and Amanda takes a step back as she finally recognizes Melissa, dressed in black and with her long blond hair cut and dyed to resemble Amanda. Amanda is shocked speechless for a moment, and she turns to look at Duncan, who’s regarding Melissa with equal horror. She turns back to Melissa, and forces herself to smile.

At his hideout, Killian is sitting in a room festooned with vines, surrounded by glass tanks holding various spiders, most of them tarantulas. He’s holding one on his arm, letting it crawl over him. The General comes in, pausing at the door. General then comes in. transfers the tarantula to his other hand, watching it crawl over his palm: “For years they were my only companions. Bees have a complex social structure. Ants are arranged by class, into an efficient army of workers. But I prefer spiders. Each so unique. Solitary. Spinning their fragile webs alone. This one is a tarantula. A harmless pet.” He points to the wall. “That one–” He points to a spider crawling up the wall. “–_Loxoceles reclusa_. Deadly as a bullet under the right circumstances.” He returns to the tarantula on his hand. “Rather like people. Some are poisonous. Some are harmless.” Suddenly businesslike. “What do you have for me?” General hands him a photograph. Killian looks at it. It’s a picture of Duncan and Amanda, Duncan facing the camera while he talks to Amanda, who has her back turned in the picture. “perfect bait” he says. The General then has a blindfolded woman brought to him. Killian tells him to Remove her blindfold.” The guard does so, revealing Melissa’s terrified face. “Very pretty.” Killian holds up the spider. “But not as pretty as this.” At Killian’s home, Melissa is scared while angrily trying to ask questions.and then lets him know that she is not Amanda(they have snatched the wrong woman).

In Duncan’s loft, Amanda and Duncan realize that Killian is downstairs with Melissa covered with tarantulas. After removing them he tells a shocked Amanda to call an ambulance while he chases after Killian. Duncan pulls up on a rainy street and stops. Inside his house, Killian senses his approach, and smiles. He moves to a chair and sits, waiting. A moment later, Duncan opens the door and walks in, his sword held behind his arm. He starts forward, but whirls as a side door opens and The General steps out. Cisco appears from another hallway, flanking Duncan. Duncan turns to Killian. “This is between you and me, Killian. Isn’t that what you dreamed of all these years?” Duncan asks. “My dreams would terrify you.” Killian replies. To the thugs. “Kill him!”. They raise their guns, but Duncan whips his katana underhand and throws it into Cisco’s chest, killing him. Duncan lunges forward, sword raised, but The General pulls out a machine gun and shoots him in the back, gunning him down. Duncan falls down, dead.

Later, Duncan revives in a barred cell, set in one corner of a concrete basement. He’s lying on a cot, still wearing his old sweater, riddled with bullet holes. He gets up, looking around. There’s a cot, a sink, a toilet, and a stack of boxes along one wall, labeled “U.S. Army Ration Packs.” He opens one of the boxes, prowling through the cans inside. He straightens up, though, as he senses another immortal, and turns around as Killian opens the outer door and steps into the room. He’s holding Duncan’s sword, and taps the blade against his palm as he walks in. Killian: “Lovely piece of work. How do you feel, MacLeod? Naked? Helpless? Just as I felt when they took my rank and my sword?!” He turns and drives the katana into the concrete pillar beside him.

Duncan: “You deserved it.”
Killian: “Did I?” He steps forward. “You know, you were right. I have dreamed of this day. Seventy years. Seventy years they locked me away. So long that no one remembered where I came from or who I was.” Duncan looks bored. “And all I thought about was you.”
Duncan: “Really?”
Killian: “And how to return the favor.”
Duncan: “Oh, I’m flattered.”
Killian smirks: “Get used to your new home, MacLeod. No one’s used this brig in forty years. And the only one who knows you’re down here thinks you’re dead.”
Duncan paces to the far wall and turns back: “So, what’s my sentence?” He salutes mockingly. “Colonel, sir.”
Killian laughs nastily: “Fair is fair. I did seventy years. You’ll do seventy years. Unless, of course, someone takes my head. Then you’ll be here forever.”
Duncan sits down on the ruins of a concrete wall, folding his arms: “Maybe I should take up a hobby.”
Killian: “There’s enough food and water here for the first fifty years. Long enough for everything you loved to die. And so you don’t think too badly of me . . .” He gestures. “The light bulb is an extended life. It should burn for at least two years.” Duncan looks away. Killian’s voice grows more serious. “I’ve heard the madness grows more slowly in the light.” He smiles. “And I want you to experience every precious moment, as you wait for the darkness to come.” He turns and walks to the door.
Duncan, calling after him: “I guess you didn’t leave me anything to read?”
Killian turns back at the door: “Just the walls and the ceiling, MacLeod.” He leaves, locking the door behind him. Duncan sits up and rubs his face, then looks straight ahead, thinking.

At Joe’s, Amanda is pacing up and down, wringing her hands. Joe is sitting on a stool, watching her. Joe tells her that it is possible that Duncan might be dead. But she won’t here of it and asks to know where Killian is. Joe reluctantly tells her that he will check. In his prison, Duncan is opening a can of liver, and singing, Tossing the can of liver over his shoulder, he goes to the bars and scrapes at the concrete pillars supporting them. After a moment, he sits down and starts scraping again, singing “99,000 Bottles of Beer.”

At Joe’s, Andrea Henson, Killian’s watcher comes in, and walks across to where Joe is sitting at the bar. She tells him that he hasn’t killed Duncan and that He’s locked him in one of those old cells at the abandoned Air Force Base.” She raises a brow at Joe’s surprise. “You didn’t know?”. Joe says he didn’t. They continue to talk and she shares with Joe that there is a rumor about him, even in the Paris office, that Joe is more than Duncan’s Watcher. She asks if he is going to get involved.

Meanwhile, in his cell, Duncan is busily moving boxes of liver from one end of the cell to the other, building up a wall in front of the bars. He stops as he senses another immortal, and quickly moves to unscrew the light bulb as he hears someone at the outer door. He crouches down behind the boxes, waiting. The door finally opens, and Amanda peers through, unhooking her stethoscope from her ears. Duncan moves to the door of the cell as Amanda starts working on the lock. He asks how Melissa is. She tells him that she is still in the hospital. He asks how she found him. Amanda pushes open the cell door: “I had a little help from a friend.”Duncan starts through the door, and stops dead as he sees Joe. Duncan is not happy to see him. Joe suggests to Duncan that they can always throw him back inside, and MacLeod replies to both of them that he needs to take a trip to Gleason’s Bar.

Killian finds the General drunk, and the General tells him that he saw MacLeod alive at Gleason’s Bar. He is in disbelief, remembering that he put seven slugs in Duncan’s back. Killian asks if he checked the cell. He didn’t. Killian continues down the hall, and stops as he senses an immortal. He cocks his head curiously, and a moment later bursts through the outer door into the prison room. The light is on, but the cell is empty. Killian walks over and pushes at the door, which swings open. He backs away, and turns to back of the room as he hears a noise from the stairs. Duncan appears at the top of the steps and trots down them, sword ready, Killian: “How did you . . .?”Duncan, raising his sword: “Used to be in the Boy Scouts.” He keeps coming forward, grinning, as Killian starts to retreat. “I got a merit badge just for this.” He beats at Killian’s blade as Killian backs through the door, and follows him the corridor, where they begin to fight in earnest. They fight for a while, Duncan continually pressing Killian into retreat, until finally he forces him over a low wall. Killian falls, and Duncan jumps after him. They continue the fight down a low corridor, open at the roof but spanned with concrete supports. Killian quickly scrambles up to the top and retreats by jumping from beam to beam, Duncan following him underneath, sword ready. They make periodic swipes at one another, Killian slashing from above while Duncan stabs up from below. Finally, Duncan engages Killian’s blade and cuts him from below, sending him sprawling over the beam, head and shoulders sticking out. Duncan disarms him, and in the next blow sweeps up, taking his head from below.As the Quickening begins, Duncan snaps to attention, sword held down. As the Quickening goes on, he stands stiff and still, presenting his sword in different positions, until finally he falls to his knees. He flashes on Killian’s face, just before his death, and turns his head, snapping around, and then back. Finally, the Quickening is over, and Duncan slumps down, giving one last, tired, salute.

In the loft, Duncan is leaning against his desk, wearing his robe and slippers, looking out towards the windows while Amanda bustles around the bed, putting things in her trunk. She’s barefoot, wearing an oversize nightshirt, but it’s clear that she’s packing up her things to leave. Amanda notes that her stuff used to fit before. She glances quickly at Duncan, then turns back to the trunk.

Duncan, gently: “Amanda, it wasn’t your fault.”
Amanda, looking around, not looking at him: “Oh yeah? Well, then who’s fault was it, huh? She was trying to be like me, she almost died, and I just let her do this . . .”
Duncan: “It was Killian’s fault, not yours.”
Amanda, still packing feverishly: “I know, but it doesn’t feel that way. I don’t know what to tell you.” She leaves off her packing and goes up to Duncan, putting her hands on his shoulders. “Look.” He puts his arms around her. “I love you, and you’re my best friend. But, I just have to go away. I’ve got to get it together.”
Duncan nods: “Door’s always open.”
Amanda: “I know.” She shakes her head again. “God, I just . . . I forgot how fragile they are.”
Duncan nods: “Yeah.”
Amanda looks at him a minute: “Okay, so I’m going to call you when I get there, and you can send my stuff to me.”
Duncan, smiling a little: “Anything you need, anything I can do. I’ll always be there for you, all right?”

Amanda kisses him, and they hug each other. After a minute, Amanda opens her eyes.

Amanda, quietly: “You want to do something for me?” She pulls back to look him in the face. “Go and see Joe.” Duncan looks down, but she puts her hands on his face, making her look at him. “Duncan,” she says softly. “Life is too short. For him.”

Duncan sighs, and looks away.

Duncan goes to see Joe. Joe turns and sees him, then looks away, sighing deeply. He glances at Lou, who’s working at the other end of the bar. He reaches over the bar, and gets two shot glasses, thumping them down firmly between himself and Joe. Then he reaches for a bottle of whiskey, and sets it down between them, taking the cap off. He waits, and after a beat Joe takes the bottle and pours them each a shot. He puts the bottle back down and they stand there, looking at each other


This episode accomplishes a couple of things: 1) Joe and Duncan are friends again, and 2) Amanda has a reason to leave for a while (so Duncan can freely flirt with the damsel-of-the-week going forward.)

There were a few things about this episode that I did not like, but I thought Amanda’s argument for restoring the Joe & Duncan friendship was really good. Friendship is more important than the rules, sometimes, and life – for Joe – is too short not to live it. Joe’s fragility as a mortal finally won the argument for Duncan.

Speaking of fragility, the sub-theme of this episode centered on that. Duncan saw to it that Killian spent decades locked up because Killian needlessly sent men into a battle that did not need to be fought. He did not appreciate properly their lives and how delicate they are. Amanda learned that lesson with Melissa. Every Immortal knows that becoming friends with a mortal endangers that mortal. Mortals are just so frequently either bait used by other Immortals, or they find themselves caught in a crossfire. I thought the theme was strong but the execution was lacking.

First, it was extraordinarily convenient that Amanda made a friend who fell so hard into that friendship that she changed her appearance to mirror Amanda’s own the very next day. Then the same day that she changed her hair and clothes to look like Amanda, that mortal friend is mistaken for Amanda and held hostage. Obviously the writers couldn’t use Amanda as the bait, so they conjured up an Amanda lookalike. Since this was all about restoring friendships, I think I would have preferred a situation where Joe is used that way. The story would have had to be reworked, though.

The Killian-in-captivity story did not work for me. He was in a cell for 70 years, in the modern era. Somehow the records of who he is were lost? Hospital staff did not notice he wasn’t getting older? How did he get out at all? They’re so neglectful of him that his cell becomes overrun with spiders? Then he gets out, has Duncan captive multiple times, and *does not* take his head? Insane Immortals do things for insane reasons but I thought the writing here could have been a lot tighter.

The spiders thing was just a weird and probably unnecessary addition to the episode. They complicated the story without adding a lot to it.

My favorite part of this episode was Duncan’s reaction to being locked up. I think he knows that he’ll either break out or be found by Amanda, but he seemed almost cheerful to be challenged in this way (singing 99,000 bottles of beer on the wall… lol.) I love how Adrian Paul plays this character. Most of the time, Duncan is somber, bordering on stoic, but whenever Duncan is fighting or challenged in some way, Duncan’s eyes light up as though he’s finally *really* alive in those moments. It’s a consistent acting choice and it’s very smart.

There is a clear mirror / echo between this episode and the previous one, “Reunion.” In both, we feature an Immortal who was trapped in isolation for decades. In both cases, said Immortal was trapped because Duncan prevented his death with an appeal to mercy. In both cases, the aggrieved evil Immortal is working with others in the present to get revenge. In both episodes, we get an Amanda lookalike. I’m not sure what to make of that, but the similarities jumped out at me.

Overall, I liked the episode, flaws and all. It was a good change of pace to see Duncan overpowered more than once (he got tasered, set on fire, placed in a straitjacket, forced to dislocate his arm to get out of said straitjacket, and murdered by machine gun fire.) It was fun to see his total non-reaction to a 70 year sentence of isolation issued by Killian. I liked the argument and the execution of Duncan’s renewed friendship with Joe.