Highlander (Season 4, Ep 77): Timeless

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.


Not-yet Immortal, but recently famous pianist, Claudia is in Seacouver for a performance. Duncan haw known her since she was 14 and paid for her education. Multiple attempts on her life are thwarted by Duncan before they both learn that her would-be killer is Duncan’s old friend Walter, who wants her to die now so that she can live forever in the prime of her genius. Eventually he succeeds in killing her. She is initially pleased to be Immortal but learns that the loss of mortality has robbed her of some of her talent. She gets some of it back when Walter threatens her life, if she does not continue trying to play. Duncan makes Walter back off. Claudia decides to live as an Immortal, without the protection of a sword or knowing how to use it.

Meanwhile, Methos meets and falls for Alexa, a young waitress with less than a year to live. He decides to take her on a tour of the world so that she can live what life she has left to the fullest.


The episode begins with a young woman named Claudia playing piano expertly on a stage. Someone unknown is above her in the rafters. Duncan arrives, and he senses another Immortal. He warns Claudia to get off the stage, and manages to pull her to safety just before something large drops where she had been sitting. The Immortal in the rafter curses and when Claudia asks Duncan how he knew, he tells her it was intuition.

♫I have no rival.♫

Duncan takes Claudia to his loft and tells her that she is staying with him. She agrees, despite thinking that he is being paranoid. She argues that this is not the first attempt on her life, reminding Duncan that someone once attmepted to poison her. Duncan retorts that she made herself sick by dining on too much caviar.

[Note: I guess it’s reasonable that Duncan has long standing friendships / relationships, with mortals, who we haven’t met by now. However, the familiarity between the two of them of jarring.]

When she points out another time someone allegedly tried to kill her, he says she was just making an excuse for playing badly. Claudia changes the subject to Duncan’s apartment and says she never imagined him living in a one room loft. He tells her, in a friendly way, that she’s a spoiled brat. She corrects him to say that she was a spoiled brat but now she’s a genius.

She tells Duncan that he thinks he owns her, because he paid for her education, and says that she would likely be playing lounge music but for him He denies thinking that he owns her and asks if he hears a thank you from her.

Claudia: I thanked you by being brilliant.

That both hear piano music in the distance. Claudia says that it’s about time while Duncan is confused. Downstairs, they find Claudia’s piano being delivered to the dojo. He offers to leave her alone in the dojo, with her one true love, and says he is going to meet friends. She tells him that he will be taking her, since there is a mad killer on the loose. When he acts as though he will leave her, she more meekly adds “please.” Duncan agrees.

At Joe’s bar, he is explaining baseball to Methos, or a waitress (it’s unclear who.) Methos asks the waitress if she is assigned to his table. She asks Joe, in turn, if Methos is a good tipper. Joe replies that he is not, but she says he makes up for it by being cute. He introduces himself to her as Adam Pierson. She asks him where he’s from, as she cannot pin down his accent, and he answers that he’s traveled a lot. When she starts talking about cities in Europe, he responds to each of them negatively, to her obvious disappointment.

Waitress: A little young to be so cynicle, aren’t you?
Methos: If you say so.
Waitress: I just did.

After she walks away, he asks Joe what he said, and Joe tells him that Alexa is not his type anyway.

Duncan and Claudia are walking down the street as a car tries to run her over. Duncan saves her again and quips that someone doesn’t like her Chopin. The two enter Joe’s Bar, with Claudia very shaken up, but Joe immediately begins gushing over her. She smiles and seems to relax as he tells her that he saw her play the previous year, and that she is brilliant. Joe asks if she would play blues with him.

Duncan: Oh, Claudia plays some blues, not well, but passable.
Claudia: How would you know, you’re tone deaf.

[Note: Again… why is Duncan acting like he’s known her for 300 years? This is bizarre.]

Somewhat brow beaten, Claudia agrees to play with Joe. The two walk away to the stage, and when they do, Methos asks Duncan how long he has known her. Duncan replies that he has known her since she was 14. He explains that she was living with a poor foster family who was quite intimidated to have a prodigy in their midst. Methos asks if she knows that she is Immortal, and Duncan answers that she does not have a clue. We see Joe and Claudia beginning to play together, as Duncan tells Methos that someone else knows she is Immortal and is trying to kill her. Duncan says he has no idea who is trying to kill her.

We watch Claudia and Joe playing, and she’s clearly pleased that Joe is actually good.

After, back at the dojo, Duncan is trying to get Claudia to admit she had a great time. She only confesses to having a tolerable time. Duncan presses her to admit that Joe is a good musician, but she argues that he is wasting his talents in the tavern. Suddenly, Duncan senses an Immortal at the door. We see that it’s the man who has been trying to kill Claudia. Duncan says “Walter” aloud.


England – 1663

Walter is on a rural stage, calling out to Kate. His next line is “prithee, be not angry.” The maiden finally turns and we see Duncan is in a dress. The crowd all begins laughing. He delivers his lines over the sounds of loud laughing, until one member of the audience then begins booing.

Backstage, Duncan is very angry to be doing this role and he adds to Walter that the play makes no sense.

[Note: It looks like Duncan is wearing Debra Campbell’s costume from the Season 4 premier episode.]

Duncan: If I were Petruchio, I wouldn’t give Kate the time of day. She’s a… creature. A shrew! It makes no sense for him to want her, let alone woo her.

Walter asks him to be serious, and Duncan continues, saying he wants to play her nicer. Walter incredulously asks Duncan if he wants to re-write Shakespeare. Duncan says that at least next time, he wants to do the men’s parts, so that he can use a sword.

Back in the present, Walter enters and immediately begins praising Claudia in flowery language. Unlike with Joe’s praise, she is pleased this time. Duncan calls him out for borrowing his lines from someone else, and he admits reluctantly that he is quoting a composer. He tells Claudia that he is one of her biggest fans.

[Note: There is no chance that this guy would not come off as wildly creepy if the plot did not call for Claudia to respond positively to him.]

He asks if he can hear her play, and while Duncan says no, Claudia says that as Walter is his friend, she doesn’t see the harm in it. Claudia plays Clair de Lune as Walter talks quietly with Duncan, revealing that he has watched her for quite some time.

Duncan: Okay, Walter, what do you want?
Walter: [grinning] To kill her.

Walter admits to being the one who is trying to kill Claudia, and says he is embarrassed about his efforts so far, noting that murder is not simple. He tells MacLeod that it makes sense and that there is nothing diabolical to it. Duncan counters that it is not for them to decide when a mortal life is over.

Walter: If she doesn’t die, now, at the pinnacle of her genius, it could be lost forever.

He wants her to be young and passionate forever. Duncan asks what will happen when her fans realize she is not aging, and Walter replies that she can just disappear for a few decades and then come back. As they argue, they go up the elevator. Claudia follows them and, outraged, states that one does not ask to hear her perform and then walk away. Duncan pushes Walter back toward the elevator and tells him to leave. After he is gone, she comments that Walter is very weird.


Walter reads Shakespeare to Duncan and asks him about it. He goes on to say that while he has been writing for five hundred years, he has nothing but drivel to show for it. He tells Duncan that he was the one who supported Shakespeare during his career and bemoans that he will spends a thousand lifetimes recognizing genius without ever having a spec of it to call his own. Duncan tells him that he is good at what he does, which causes Walter to say he is damned by faint praise.

Walter: All I ever wanted was to touch brilliance, to smell it. At the very least, to help it live. Without that, eternal life is nothing more than eternal hell.

Their conversation is interrupted as another man approaches their tent, shouting at Duncan. When MacLeod goes outside, he finds the man who previously had his role as Kate. The other man, Jeremy Beaufort, tells Duncan that Walter gave him his job because he is younger and prettier. The man rushes at Duncan with a sword, slicing his dress. The two fight. After Duncan disarms him, and knocks him to the ground, he tells Jerey to take care next time how he addresses a lady.

In the present, Methos is obsessing over the waitress Alexa, and he tells Duncan that he does not want to make a fool of himself. After asking Duncan if he has ever felt that way, MacLeod says he has, a couple of times, and adds that he does not see what the problem is.

Methos: What if she doesn’t like me?
Duncan: What if she does?

They then whisper together about Claudia, who is not far away. Methos suggests telling her the truth, so that she knows what she is facing. Duncan frets over her not having a semblance of a normal life and points out that once they tell her the truth, that will be impossible for her. Methos counters by saying that they cannot keep her in Duncan’s loft forever. She then speaks up and says she wants to go out that night. Duncan agrees. She invites Methos, who to her astonishment declines an opportunity to dine with her, and then instructs Duncan to make sure the paparazzi knows that the two of them are just friends.

At Joe’s Bar, he asks Alexa how it went, and she answers that it’s not getting easier. He says that he wishes there was something he could do for her, before telling her that she has a customer (Methos.) When she approaches him, he says that either he likes to drink, or he is crazy about the blues. He replies that he was waiting for her. She doesn’t reply.

Methos: I see I leave you speechless. This is a good start.
Alexa: A start to what?
Methos: To– dinner, a concert, a smile, a sunset, a walk, uh, all of the above. Whatever you would like.

She asks him if women really fall for that line, and he answers that he does not know, because he has never used it before. She suddenly become colder and asks his order. Joe takes it from her, and she then asks him why he wants to go out with her.

Methos: Because the alternative is unthinkable.

She finally agrees, and says that they can go out tomorrow if Joe lets her have the time off. Methos assures her that Joe will and states that he has pull with him. After she goes, Methos goes up to Joe and tells him that he was wrong, and that he is her type. He adds that one is lucky to find a girl like that once in every time lifetimes. Joe suggests that it looked like a lot of arm-twisting to him, and walks away. Methos presses him about what is wrong and Joe finally tells him that Alexa is dying. Methos is shook.

Elsewhere, Duncan and Claudia have just finished their fancy dinner out. She exits the car for Duncan to park it, and standing just outside the car, Walter approaches her with flowers. As she takes them, he pulls a pistol and shoots her.

Later, Claudia is awake and in Duncan’s apartment. She asks about him knowing this for her entire life, and not telling her, but he says telling her would have ruined her life. She asks if this is why he sponsored her and took an interest in her, but he says he did so because she is talented and he did not want it to go to waste. She asks if he liked her, even a little bit, however Walter answers and says that Duncan loves her. He goes on to say though that now she needs to be nurtured by someone who can better understand the depth of her talent. Claudia suddenly lets her new status sink in and she is gleeful. Walter jokes that if she has life insurance she can now cash it in.

Claudia: I can play forever!
Duncan: As long as you keep your head.

He tells Walter that he would take his, if he thought it was worth anything. She is ecstatic about not aging, though, as Walter discusses how he has had to stand aside, for centuries, as geniuses die too young. She playfully says that she has all the time in the world, but Duncan again reminds her that is only true if she keeps her head.

Duncan: You need to learn to use a sword.
Claudia: A sword? Moi?
Duncan: Yeah. As soon as possible.
Claudia: I don’t think so.
Duncan: Fine. You’re gonna lose your head.

Walter then vows to protect her. He quotes Robert Browning about riding together, to Duncan’s disgust, and then leaves with Claudia.

Methos meets with Alexa at a park. She tells him that she is not sure their date is a good idea. He jokes that she does not like his nose, or his accent, causing her to laugh. She asks him not to make her laugh, says that it isn’t fair, and he answers her that it rarely is. When he tries to kiss her, she pulls back and apologizes. She tells him that she’s dying. She says that they cannot go out tomorrow, so he agrees, and states that they had better make it tonight.

That night, Claudia is trying to play piano but cannot feel it. Duncan suggests that she just went through a big shock, but Walter agrees that it sounds off. She storms away.

Duncan: [to Walter] Did you ever think that there’s a reason why Shakespeare, Mozart, or Bach are mortal? Maybe that’s…
Walter: No! I won’t accept that.
[Walter storms off]
Joe: Maybe when the candle burns for a shorter time, it burns brighter.

Walter tells Claudia that she needs to go back and try harder. She tells him in turn that she needs space to breathe. As they argue, Methos arrives, and she feels the shock of his presence. She, Walter, and Duncan leave Joe’s Bar. Joe tells Methos that Alexa called in sick. He asks Joe where she lives. Joe angrily tells him that she is trying to protect him, which causes him to reply that he understands that she is dying. He explains to that him, everyone is dying and that it makes no difference to him. He asks again where she lives.

At the concert hall, Claudia is struggling through practice as Walter grows irate. Duncan tells him to back off before she yells at Walter that this is his fault.

Claudia: Preserve my genius? You destroyed it.

She storms off and Duncan again grabs Walter and tells him to back off. The two men stare each other down, as Walter warns Duncan that he can kill him if he stands between him and his dreams. Duncan replies that he can always try.

At the loft, Claudia is making plans to leave. Duncan sits her down and gives her a sword, trying to convince her of the wonders in front of her if she can just protect herself. She tells him that she is already dead and that she is nothing now.

Duncan: Claudia, talent is something that you have, it’s not who you are.
Claudia: Duncan, who will care about me if I cannot play.
Duncan: I will.
Claudia: Promise?

Methos shows up at Alexa’s house. He asks if he is late and she jokes that he is about a year late. She steps outside to talk to him, and he asks if she is hiding her husband inside. When she is surprised, he asks if it is her boyfriend, a love, or seven dwarves. She tells him that she has all of them inside. He tells her that he can take all of them on. Alexa says that it was stupid to agree to see him, and adds that he does not need to see her future. She says it’s going to get ugly, but he tells her that she looks beautiful to him. He promises that he can handle whatever it is that she is going through and she asks why he would want to.

Methos: Because the alternative is unthinkable.

He asks how long she has, and when she says less than a year, she then asks if he ever wishes that time could just stand still. Instead of answering, he gives her plane tickets to Paris. He says that she can go anywhere she likes. He tells her that she can spend whatever time she has left either dying, or living.

Duncan takes Claudia to a Buddhist retreat, so that she can figure out what she wants to do, and who she is, before she starts her training. He explains the concept of Holy Ground to her, just as they feel another Immortal approach them. Walter immediately shootes and kills Duncan. Claudia asks him what he wants, and he says he wants to guide her genius. She refuses and tells him that he stole it from her. Walter places a sword at her neck. Duncan revives and does the same to Walter. He instructs her to go inside the monetary and to wait for him inside. Walter in turn tells her that he will meet her inside in a moment. She goes, as Duncan and Walter take off their coats in preparation for dueling.

After she goes, they have a friendly but serious duel. Duncan disarms him and with a sword to his neck, asks him to swear that he will leave Claudia alone. With a sword to his neck, Walter quotes Shakespeare. Duncan quips that he should take his head, just to shut him up. Walter finally promises, and the two walk off together and discuss how much better Duncan has become since the last time they fought.

Later at the dojo, Claudia has regained her piano talent. The threat of dying sparked it again. She explains to Duncan that she needs to fear death in order to feel her music. He tells her that she needs to start her training. She decides to flirt with him instead.

Methos and Alexa are setting off on a coast-to-coast tour of The New World. Joe is there and ask what comes next, and he tells her Egypt. Alexa is clearly excited. She hugs Joe, who is there, and then gets into the van. Methos tells Duncan quietly that it is not long enough, and he agrees, saying that it never is. He leaves, as Joe and Duncan watch them drive away.

Joe asks about Claudia and Duncan tells him that she is gone and that she went unprotected.

Joe: One of them trying to die while the other is trying to live.

Joe tells Duncan that they (the Watchers) will keep an eye on her.


This was a kind of high concept plot that took a while to find its feet, however, I think it ended up in a good and thoughtful place.

I’ll start with the bad. Claudia and Duncan are jarringly familiar with each other right away. I think we have to assume that he and Tessa spent a lot of time with Claudia prior to the pilot episode. However, we have seen and heard zilch about her and we’re in season 4. If she had just mentioned Tessa once, it would have helped establish a feel of continuity. I think they avoided the Tessa topic because it would have made the awkward sexual tension too awkward (more on that below.)

The other bad was the way Duncan reacts to Walter, the thousand year old perpetual theater kid. Walter murders both Duncan and Claudia, obsessively and aggressively tries to control Claudia despite just meeting her, and Duncan shrugs it off. The idea of being obsessed with perpetuating genius, forever, is one of those things that the audience of this show can understand. It must be awful to know Shakespeare, or Bach, or Mozart, and to feel over and over like their lives were too brief. His motivations made sense. He was just kind of a dork who ventured into evil territory sporadically. I don’t know how it could have been played differently, though, because if it had been different, Duncan would have killed him. Maybe it would have been better had Walter been a bit darker. Claudia could have seen a Quickening and really understood. Then her decision to go off on her own would have meant more. Alternatively, it would have helped if the flashback had given us more reasons to like and trust Walter. I didn’t watch this with the same fondness for him that Duncan obviously felt.

The actor who played Walter was actually really good with a sword. I don’t know if we ever see him again, but I hope so, just to get more of him dueling.

Thought: Duncan might have believed deep down that killing Claudia in her physical prime gave her the best shot to survive for the long term, and this is why – even though he was mad at Walter – that he was not *that* mad.

The good of this episode was Methos and Alexa. His pickup lines were charming. I loved Methos telling Joe that a year, or six months, or two decades, is all basically the same to him. He’s five thousand years old. Every mortal he meets dies in the relative blink of an eye. There’s something noble in the way he chooses to face death and aggressively appreciate life.

I liked the juxtaposition of Claudia and Alexa. One of them is newly Immortal. The other is dying. They both meet someone new, who is Immortal, and that person completely changes each of their lives. They both make really significant choices at the end of the episode. Joe comments at the end that oe of them is trying to die, and the other to live, but I think he’s wrong. The only way Claudia feels as though she can live is to be at great risk. (She might have in the back of her mind that Walter will probably show up and protect her once she gets her piano mojo back.) Eventually Claudia will either die for real, or she will begin to develop an appreciation for her role as an observer of others. She seems like a good pupil candidate for someone like Amanda. It’s just as likely, though, tha tboth Claudia and Alexa will die soon.

This episode links art and mortality. Joe wonders if the candle burns brighter for mortals and Duncan speculates essentially the same thing. I thought it was a little corny that Claudia couldn’t continue to play, but maybe (as a person who is not a world famous pianist) that emotion really is necessary.

Three longterm Immortals interact with mortals in this episode. All three appreciate mortals, and love them, none of the three are overtly evil, but Walter is a bit disturbed due to his desire to be part of the mortal world. He wants to guide and control Claudia. Duncan and Methos see themselves as observers and facilitators only and they are both happier in their Immortality than most of the Immortals we ever meet.

I wasn’t sure how to feel about the Duncan / Claudia relationship. The overt familiarity and banter created an awkward sexual tension. She is clearly attracted to him. I think he’s attracted to her but won’t act on it due to their history. The whole thing is creepy, given that Duncan has known her since she was 14. That said, most Immortal romances are creepy when you think about it. How big a difference does it make that Duncan knew Claudia as a teenager? Will it still matter in 100 years? I think the writers wanted the audience to debate that internally, otherwise they would have brought up Tessa at some point to throw a wet blanket on the situation.

The flashback was definitely an attempt at comedy. I think it mostly works. The fight Duncan had with flashback Jeremy over stealing the other man’s role, beause Duncan was younger and prettier, was funny. My only gripe – because I always have at least one – is that I’m not sure Duncan had been gone from the Highlands for long enough, yet, for “Duncan in a dress” to be within character. He is in Walter’s play in 1663. This is three years after he breaks up with Kristin (where he had basically been in her words “a barbarian” who was chafing at her attempts to refine him.) He went from her straight to the theater? BTW, I feel almost certain that Adrian Paul was wearing the same bright red wig that “Debra Campbell” wore in the Season 4 premiere.

All in all, this was a pretty good episode. I always like being made to think. And any episode featuring Methos in a big dose is probably good.