Highlander (Season 4, Ep 75): The Wrath of Kali

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’s university colleague Shandra obtains a statue of the Hindu goddess Kali, with some help from Duncan. Immortal Kamir comes to the States seeking to reclaim the statue for India.

After some back and forth, Duncan agrees to help him. However, after Kamir gets the statue, he still wants to kill Duncan’s colleague, citing that she is a traitor to her Indian heritage. He duels Duncan and MacLeod wins. After the fight, Duncan returns the statue to India.


The episode opens with a large Indian man, with a deep voice, discussing a statue of the Bengal Kali with a man who traffics religious artifacts. When the smaller dealer tells the Indian man that a University in the States has just purchased it, the Indian man ominously removes a silk cloth from his pocket and states that the statue is sacred to the Thugee cult. The other man, unaware of the ominous situation he now faces, correts him to say that it was sacred to the cult, as it has died out long ago.

Indian Man: [begins strangling the other man] Not all of us died, old boy.

♫No man can be my equal!♫

Sometime later, Duncan and Richie are at a private fundraising event at the University, where the new Bengal Kali statue is the event showpiece. Richie cannot believe that all of these people are here just to see a statue.

Duncan: Academics, university alumni, one or two foreign ambassadors – come on, you fit right in.

Duncan spots a colleague, Shandra Devane, and introduces her and Richie. She suggests to Duncan that they go look at the statue. As they stand in front of it, Shandra asks the others if she is not beautiful. Richie comments that the ominous statue is not exactly his type, and notes that he thought the statue was supposed to be a mother goddess. Shandra tells him that she takes on many forms in Hindu mythology.

Shandra: She is the mother, but she’s also the destroyer, the end of time itself.

She credits Duncan for the university’s acquisition, and he replies that all he did was give her a few contacts who finally came through. She tells Duncan that one of his contacts turned him onto a guy named Millay. Duncan replies that Millay is one cut above a graverobber. She says that she was not exactly crazy about him either, but she says Millay swears the acquisition was legal. Shandra tells Duncan that the point is that the status is here and that she (the statue) is worth it.

Just then, Duncan and Richie sense another Immortal. We see the tall Indian man from the opening scene staring at them, before he bows to Duncan in recognition.


India – 1764

A British officer and a well-dressed woman are on their way to meet a local king, though the woman, Alice, says he is not a real king. She complains about bowing and scraping to savages and hopes that the person they are on their way to meet at least speaks English. The soldier, Col. Nigel Ramsey, tells her that they are meeting with someone who is British, at least – a Scot.

When they find the Scot, Duncan, he is wearing local attire, causing them not to recognize him initially as their liaison.

Ramsey: MacLeod? What the devil are you doing got up in that?
Duncan: Everyone’s got up like this, Ramsey. This is India. Or do you expect me to scour the country wearing the likes of that.

Ramsey orders Duncan to wear a proper uniform while he works for him. Duncan replies that he will wear what he likes, and corrects him to say that he works with him, not for him. Duncan introduces himself to Alice, learns that she is Ramsey’s wife, and she immediately starts flirting with Duncan. They are interrupted when the tall deep voiced Indian Immortal approaches. He introduces himself as Kamir, advisor to His Highness. Ramsey says that Kamir’s king is the one who will be helping them with this Thuggee nonsense.

Duncan: It’s hardly nonsense. I’m Duncan MacLeod.
Kamir: MacLeod, sir, have you encountered any of these mysterious Thuggees?
Duncan: Only their victims.

When Duncan says that he has heard rumors of other killings, in other provinces, Kamir replies that India is a land of rumors and that not all of them are true. Ramsey complains about chasing rumors, but his wife, voice full of flirtation, says that she fancies going native and suggests that Duncan can show them the countryside as it really is. She asks Duncan if he rides well.

Back in the present, Dunan speaks with Kamir, who asks Duncan if he cannot get India out of his system. Duncan introduces Kamir to Richie and Shandra Devane. He tells Kamir that Shandra is responsible for bringing the Kali to the university.

Shandra: With a little luck, and a little help.
Duncan: Kamir doesn’t believe in luck.
Kamir: Karma, luck, destiny — in the end I suppose they are all the same.

Kamir begins a polite argument with Shandra, telling her that the statue, now that it has been found, can take its rightful place. She replies that it already has found its rightful place, where it is now, being studied. He asks her how one studies a god.

Kamir: This is no ordinary statue. Look at her eyes. See how they look through you, right into your soul.
Richie: [staring] He’s right…. very weird.

When Richie turns around, Kamir has vanished. Shandra notes that Duncan has an interestin friend, and MacLeod tells her he always was.

Sometime later, Kamir visits Shandra in her office and comments that Devane is not a name one hears every day in Calcutta. She answers that the reason is that her father is Irish. When she asks what she can do for him, Kamir says that she can do nothing for him, personally, but she can do something for India. She responds that if he thinks she will repatriate the statue, he is barking up the wrong tree. Shandra suggests that he follow the official channels, and he answers that he has. Shandra tells him that it is called trade, and it is perfectly legal.

Kamir: It is sacrilege. You should know that. You’re Indian.
Shandra: You think I sold out on my Indian heritage? I want people to understand the culture. That’s why I brought the Kali here, and that’s why she stays.

Kamir ominously pulls a silk cloth from his pocket, as her back is turned, and tells her that she still has time to reconsider. She replies that her answer is no, and as Kamir takes a step toward her, he feels Duncan approach and stops. Duncan asks if he is interrupting.

Later, Richie is practicing with a quarterstaff in the dojo when Kamir arrives. Kamir complements Richie’s diligence with the weapon but says that there are other ways of using it. Richie hands him the staff and asks him to demonstrate. Kamir then gives a brief demonstration, causing Richie to suggest that what he is doing looks like a cross between Ta Chi and Kendo. Kamir answers that it might be older than both of them.

Richie: You don’t know?
Kamir: My friend, modern India began more than 3,000 years ago. We were invaded by the Persians, the French, the British. Empire after empire tried to destroy us, but we are still there.
Richie: Must be an amazing place.
Kamir: It is. But to really know India, you have to live there, see it, taste it, breathe it. There is no place in the world like India.

As Richie suggests that he might have time to go someday, Duncan arrives. Richie tells Duncan that he should see Kamir with a quarterstaff and Duncan answers that he is sure the other Immortal is very good. Richie heaps praise on Kamir and encourages Duncan to spar with him. Kamir and Richie both tell him that it is all in fun. Duncan relents. Both men, still in dress clothes, spar, with Kamir eventually taking Duncan offo fo his feet. When Kamir says that his victory was luck, Duncan tells him that in Japan, the same move he used to win is called the ashi harai. The two older Immortals go upstairs.

Kamir: Two hundred years of occupation, and to think that all we learned to teach the British is how to drink tea.
Duncan: Then the British Empire wasn’t a total waste of time.

Kamir asks Duncan for his assistance in getting the Kali returned to India and asks him what puropse she could serve at the university. Duncan answers that she can teach, enlighten, and help people to understand. Kamir says that Europeans tried to uderstand them for centuries, stealing tings here and there to fill their museums.

Duncan: You think getting the Kali back would make a difference?
Kamir: This Kali is alive. She is a part of India herself. MacLeod, you saw us during British rule. If anyone can see us with Indian eyes, you can.


Duncan, Ramsey, and Alice are dining together, discussing India and the Thuggees. Ramsey tells Duncan that he underestimates British resolve, and argues that they can subdue the country. Alice, flirtatiously, asks Duncan if they are really so dangerous. She asks if they cut their victims’ hearts out and eat them raw. He tells her that Thuggee assassins strangle their victims with a silken cord.

Alice: [gasps] Deth by silk? Mr. MacLeod, you are giving me goosebumps.

Ramsey says that they will stamp them all out in no time, before getting up to walk away. Duncan whispers to Alice that her husband is an arrogant man, and she whispers back that he has no idea. When Alice stands up, she suddenly sits back down, telling Duncan that she has a cramp in her leg. Duncan rubs her calf muscle as she asks him what brought him to the mysterious East. He tells her that he came for the food. She glances quickly over at her husband, standing some distance away, and says she would like to put a little spice in her own life. She then asks Duncan to rub higher on her leg, but her husband returns.

A little while later, the three of them approach the scene of a local funeral. Duncan explains to them that while the man’s body is burned, the wife is to become Sati and join him in the fire. Ramsey and Alice are horrified. Ramsey says that there is nothing to be done, but Duncan rides forward to intervene anyway. He grabs the woman and pulls her up onto the back of his horse. Kamir watches this from a distance.

Later, Ramsey rebukes Duncan for his actions and cites the backlash that they will have caused. The woman that Duncan saved also rebukes him, telling him that it was her choice to die in the fire with her husband. She tells Duncan that he shamed her in front of her people, her gods, and her dead husband.

Duncan: I’m sorry. You must have loved him very much.
Wife: Whether I loved him or not is not important.

She tells Duncan that it was her duty. Duncan tells her that just because a thing has always been done a certain way does not make it right. He tells her that he saw in her eyes that she wanted to live. She tells him that it does not matter what she wanted, and adds that her life is now over. Duncan replies, naming her Vashti, that her life might just be beginning.

In the present, Kamir tells Duncan that the British enslaved them, and stole from them, and called it their right and destiny to do so. Duncan tells Kamir that the British left India a long time ago, but Kamir asks him what the difference is between looting with guns or with money, adding that a people and its art cannot be separated because they are one.

Duncan meets with Shandra and makes the case that the piece should be returned. She is astounded and points out to him that he is the one who helped her acquire it in the first place. He tells her that he did not help her get it from Martin Millay, and when she asks if that makes a difference, he tells her that it does, if Millay stole it.

Shandra: Look, I dreamed about this, and you want the University to lose it because some guy from Calcutta with a sob story drops by?
Duncan: It’s just one piece.
Shandra: Why stop there? Why not empty out all the museums? You know the Louvre, the Met – hey, we’ll send them all back.
Duncan: That’s not a bad idea.

They finally agree together to find out from MIllay whether or not the Kali was actually stolen. Duncan asks Shandra to call him, find out where he got it, and Duncan says he will check it out from there. She calls and finds out that Millay is dead.

Shandra: They found him in his shop, strangled.

Karim is at the dojo with Richie, giving him some teaching with the quarterstaff and telling him about the greatness of India.

Karim: Men like us must preserve where we came from, because that is what makes us sane. That is what makes us holy.

Richie says that this is true if you know where you came from, or from who. Karim says that no Immortal knows who his parents are, and he argues that they are the children and heirs of the time and place that bore them into the world.

Richie: So, Mac’s got the Highlands. You’ve got India. I’ve got bowling alleys and fast food joints.
Karim: You have much more than that, Richie, and you will know it when it starts to die before you. And you will fight for it, even if you are, as I am, the last of your kind.

Duncan arrives and asks Richie to give them a moment. After Richie goes, Duncan says that Martin Millay was killed. Kamir states that the great wheel turns and the goddess takes her revenge. Duncan suggests that maybe Kamir helped her out. Kamir asks him what it matters if he did. He reminds Duncan that he was once not so quick to judge.


Duncan walks through the Palace where the British leadership are staying and runs into Alice, who comes onto him very overtly. After he rejects her advances, she becomes angry, accuses him of impropriety with the Indian woman he saved from the pyre, and begins shouting about how she hates everything about India. Duncan retorts that of course she hates it and accuses her of believing that she is of a superior race.

Alice: At least I’m white.
Duncan: Get out of my sight, Mrs. Ramsey, before I do forget myself.

As he walks away, we see that Vashti, the Indian woman he saved, was listening to them.

Elsewhere, Ramsey and a couple of other British soldiesr are waylaied by Thuggees led by Kamir. As the men are killed, Kamir quips to Ramsey that perhaps he will have a more auspicious birth in his next life.

In the present, Duncan confronts Kamir about Millay. Kamir is unapologetic and sys that the nature of the other man’s life determined his death. He tells Duncan that Millay was worse than a murderer, as he was not robbing his people of their lives, but instead of their souls. He tells Duncan that he came for his help, and suggests that Duncan can challenge him if he wishes, but he admonishes Duncan not to judge him.

Later, Richie and Duncan debate Kamir, with Richie defending him on the grounds that Millay was a scumbag and Kamir did what he believed to be right. Duncan agrees that Kamir is not evil.


Duncan is with Kamir, stating that something is wrong, and that Ramsey should have returned by now. Kamir suggests that they were delayed. Kamir notes that Duncan does not like Ramsey, and he explains that Englishmen like Ramsey destroyed his own country and scattered his people. Kamir pionts out that it is odd then for Duncan to worry over Ramsey’s life, but MacLeod corrects him saying that he worries over the retaliation, to local people, if Ramsey is dead. Kamir admits to nothing, and then takes his leave when they both see Vashti at a distance.

Duncan and Vashti discuss the similarities of their circumstances, as both of them are now cut off from their own people. She asks him why he refused Alice, noting that the other woman is beautiful, white, and like Duncan. He argues that Alice is nothing like him, that she is vain and cares for nothing except herself.

Duncan: She doesn’t find the beauty in this land, not like I have.

That night, Vashti calls for Duncan to come see her. They discuss life and reincarnation before sleeping together. When Duncan wakes up, she is already dressed. She tells him that she must go to the temple, alone. He tells her to hurry back, as they have much to discuss. She kisses him and reminds him that when they met, he told her that she’d never truly bene nin love. She says that now she has.

Duncan sets out to find her later that day. As he looks for her in the palace, he finds Alice, who informs Duncan that Ramsey is dead and that he was strangled.

In the present, Kamir visits Duncan’s apartment. Duncan has obtained the statue. Kamir drops to his knees in prayer, before turning to Duncan and thanking him. Duncan advises him to show his gratitude by taking it and leaving on the next flight out of the city.

Later, we see Shandra Devane being followed down a dark hallway by Kamir. Before he can catch up to her, and strangle her, Duncan arrives knowing full well the other man’s intentions. Kamir tells Duncan that Shandra Devane is the worst kind of traitor.

Kamir: Kali has judged her and her punishment is death.

When Duncan argues that she is not part of Kamir’s world, she is part of his own, Kamir argues back that he himself is Kali’s law as he himself is Kali’s priest. He tells Duncan that this is why Vashti lost her life, also.


Duncan finds Vashti on a funeral pyre. She is already dead. He asks what she has done, but Kamir answers that she did what duty requires. Kamir explains that Vashti became a Sati to atone for her actions in loving MacLeod.

In the present, Duncan tells Kamir not to cheapen her death, stating that the woman died for her beliefs, not for him. Kamir tells MacLeod that she died for him, and that he is India.

Duncan: You are not a god. You never were.

Duncan tells him to take the Kali and leave, but Kamir says that he will not while the traitor lives. Duncan then challenges Kamir, and he accepts, noting that Kali is watching. They duel inside the university planetarium, with Duncan winning.

Later, while in front of the statue, Richie and Duncan discuss Kamir, with Richie bemoaning the other man’s death. He tells Duncan that there was a greatness about the man, and that what he wanted was good. Duncan reminds Richie that Kamir did not speak for India, though he seemed to. He only spoke for himself.

Richie: I know, but some of it still felt like the truth.
Duncan: Some of it was.

Richie asks Duncan what he plans to do with the statue. Duncan tells him that he is returning it to India.


This episode leans hard on a moral philosophical debate and was enjoyable for that reason. Much of Kamir’s perspective is compelling. He tells Richie that he will find himself fighting to preserve his own homeland, someday, when he sees it dying. We know Duncan went through this himself. I also thought Kamer’s notion tha tImmortals are the offspring of particular time and place to be a fascinating perspective on Immortality. However, he is also using his own piety as a mechanism to justify murder. Duncan wisely explains to Richie, at the episode’s end, how easy it can be for Immortals to forget that they are not gods.

This episode spends a lot of time in the flashback sequences. The costuming for this was excellent, though I’m not expert enough to know exactly how accurate it was. It’s not surprising that Duncan would adopt the local customs. His adaptability to his surroundings is one of his strengths as a character, though (I would add) it’s probably also true that Duncan’s tolerance for a wide varieties of foods is his secret weapon. I’d be a terrible Immortal, as I have the palate of a five year old American child. Maybe I’d end up like Richie, fighting for and defending Pizza Hut and Five Guys.

My biggest gripe with the episode is that it embraced the “Thuggee” stereotype of India (these are the same bad guys depicted in Temple of Doom.) The episode subtly refers to the movie by having Alice ask about the cult removing the hearts of its victims. Despite being home to a lot of interesting history, in the States, just about the only thing you see in our media, concerning pre-20th century India, is the Thuggee stuff.

Kabir Bedi was an awesome Immortal. He is big, imposing, and as Richie notes, he imbued Kamir with a sense of greatness that you’d expect from an Immortal. Lusty, racist, beautiful Alice was played by Molly Parker. I couldn’t figure out where I knew her from, but she apparently played Alma Garrett in Deadwood. The acting added a lot to an episode that is otherwise another “evil Immortal of the week” episode.

I enjoyed the debate over artifacts and whether they should always be returned to their country of origin. Duncan appears to lean in that direction, though he is not a hardliner on that topic. I think 30 years after the episode aired, Kamir’s perspective would find even more sympathy with today’s audience.

In any case, I enjoyed this one. I wish we could spend more time with Duncan in India.

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