Highlander (Season 3, Ep 79): Something Wicked

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 Immortal friend, Jim Coltec, has killed one too many evil Immortals and has become the victim of a Dark Quickening. Duncan is forced to take his friend’s head head and succumbs to the Dark Quickening himself.

After being stopped from taking Richie’s head by Joe Dawson, Duncan boards a cargo ship bound for who knows where.


Duncan is on the phone with an Immortal, James “Jim” Coltec (A.K.A. Kol T’ek, born in the 12th century, Gahokia) making plans to meet up. Coltec stops and walks up on a robbery in progress, with the robber being an Immortal named Harry Kant (A.K.A. Horvan Kant, born in 1798 in East Prussia.) Kant tells Coltec that this is none of his affair. However, after sensing that he was going to have to deal with the other Immortal, Kant pistol whips the cashier and walks outside with Coltec.

Coltec wins their duel. After the fight, Coltec returns to the cashier, who is happy, and notes that the other man was going to kill him. A foggy aura seems to blink around Coltec. He robs the cashier himself and then kills the other man.

♫I have inside me blood of Kings.♫

Sometime later, Duncan and Richie are together, planning to meet Coltec. Richie asks if he is a real medicine man and Duncan replies that he’s a Holy Man.

Duncan: Coltec’s a hayoka. His job was protecting the tribe from evil by absorbing it before it got to them.

Richie asks what happened to his tribe and Duncan answers that he couldn’t protect them from famine or drought or the white man. He says they all died off, except for him. Duncan says that Coltec then turned outward and started acting as a hayoka for the world. Richie says that Duncan is making it sound as if the guy can do real magic and goes into a monologue about how becoming has changed his outlook on the world, causing him to wonder what else might be possible in a world where Immortals exist. He brings up seeing a tabloid about a werewolf in England.

Richie: But we exist Who’s to say that there’s not other weird stuff running around?
Duncan: Richie, I’ve lived for 400 years. I’ve never seen a werewolf, an elf, or a vampire. Mind you, that I did hear that there was a troll that lived underneath a bridge around here somewhere.

Richie laughs but pushes back, saying that Duncan does believe in Coltec and that he can do real magic, and MacLeod concedes that there are some things that defy logical explanation. He suggests that Richie ask him about doing magic when they meet.

The two start off across a narrow wooden bridge and encounter Coltec on the other side. Richie approaches him to introduce himself, and we see a white glow around the other man that Richie apparently cannot see. Coltec looks immediately angry and dangerous. He draws a sword and Richie dies out of the way. Duncan intervenes, with his own sword drawn, and tries to talk him down but Coltec increases his attack.

Duncan: What’s wrong with you man? Are you out of your mind?

Duncan forces Coltec over the side of the bridge down to the river far below. Duncan and Richie go down to find him, with Richie complaining about the fact that they are doing so. On the riverbank, Duncan finds a piece of Coltec’s tribal regalia.


Duncan narrates that in 1872 after he had been sickened by the white world’s bigotry, hatred, and wars, he lived with the Sioux for three years, and was about ot take a Sioux woman, Little Deer, as his wife, and a boy named Kahani as his adopted son, when they were wiped out by Immortal Kern. Duncan tracked Kern for weeks and months, like an animal, but he says he was the one who was becoming the animal.

He continues, explaining that later that year, when he was completely consumed by hatred and a desire for revenge, he heard from a group of American troops that they knew where Kern was. Duncan says he went completely berserk trying to make them tell him where Kern is, until they finally overwhelmed him and dragged him into a holding cell. Coltec was already in the cell when Duncan arrived. Duncan screamed at the soldiers that he will find Kern and kill all of them, too.

Duncan and Coltec speak in Sioux, with Coltec chiding him for his lack of politeness. Duncan points out that Coltec is not a Sioux name, so the other Immortal tells him that his tribe long pre-dated the Sioux. Duncan calms enough to sit, and introduces himself. Coltec comments that Duncan is from a European Tribe, then. MacLeod asks him why they are holding him, and Coltec explains that he stopped some soldiers from running down a young Indian boy, adding that he waved his hands, the soldier’s horse reared, threw him, and the soldier died. Duncan says that they cannot hang him for that, but Coltec says they will and that who is to say he didn’t make the horse rear.

Duncan: [screams] I hate ’em all!
Coltec: [calmly] I can tell.

Duncan says that all they know is how to take and destroy, and that it never stops. Coltec tells him that it can stop for him. Duncan says it will stop when he kills Kern and those responsible for his family’s slaughter. Coltec warns him that his hate will not destroy them, but it is destroying him. When Duncan asks who he is to know, the other Immortal replies that he is hayoka and that his purpose in the world is to take the evil from others, into himself, so that they can heal. He offers to do this for Duncan, who he says is blind in his hatred but not evil.

Coltec gives Duncan something to put in his mouth. Duncan finds himself in a wooded area, and Coltec is with him. He tells MacLeod that they are in a holy place.

Duncan: This isn’t real. This is a dream.
Coltec: This place is real. Perhaps we are a dream.

He explains to Duncan that a soul can only hold so much hate, and so much anger, and he tells Duncan that he is like a cup filled to its brim. He says that Duncan will remember those he loves, but the hate will leave. Duncan asks what will happen to him, and Coltec says that he is hayoka and that his own cup has no bottom. Duncan agrees to be helped. Coltec places somethin around Duncan’s neck, and puts his hands on his head, and we see an aura, like a white misty cloud, transfer from Duncan to him.

In the present, Duncan tells Richie that Coltec saved him. He says none of this makes sense. They see a report on the TV about Coltec murdering the cashier, with the surveillance camera clearly showing Coltec’s face. Duncan is stunned.

Sometime later at Joe’s bar, he is as equally stunned.

Joe: Coltec is as close as an Immortal gets to being a saint.

Duncan says that when they talked on the phone, Coltec sounded fine. Joe asks if he thinks Coltec tried to set him up, and Duncan says no, but Richie says he thinks he did. Duncan pushes back, though, saying that he’s seen Coltec take heads and that the other man does so calmly, not angrily. Abruptly Duncan asks Joe what he knows about Dark Quickenings. Joe tells Duncan that he’s reaching, and Richie asks what Duncan is talking about.

Duncan: When we take an Immortal’s head, we take his energy, his power, his strength.
Richie: Right.
Duncan: In a Dark Quickening, if you take in too much evil, you overload.
Richie: You become evil yourself?
Joe: There’s no proof.

Richie asks how much is too much, and Duncan replies that no one knows, and Joe says the reason is because it’s a myth. Duncan tells Joe that something changed Coltec. Richie asks if it matters how he got to be evil and Duncan says that it does to him.


Greenwich Village – 1958

At some beatnik club, a man opines on a stage that most murders and fire happen at 3:00 a.m. because the night time is the right time and that it’s the time Death digs the most. He says Death digs the dark and that’s also why he digs New York. He keeps going, and suddenly he senses Duncan enter the room. He keeps going on about Death, and points out Duncan to the audience, saying that he may be paranoid.

Immortal: But I believe that cat has come here to kill me. But hey baby, that’s cool with Death, because we all know there can be —
Duncan: Only one. Show’s over.

The Immortal performer pulls a sword and suggests that he and Duncan go up on the roof. Someone in the crowd tells Duncan that he’s utterly and completely square and Duncan, with sunglasses on, coolly turns around and says he likes it square. He follows the performer off the stage and the crowd applauds.

Before Duncan reaches the location for his duel, he senses a Quickening happening. He introduces himself and the Immortal victor, Coltec, tells Duncan that he knows who he is. Coltec tells Duncan that a man cannot take too many monsters like this one inside of him. Duncan asks if he is still a hayoka and Coltec replies that he is too old to change. We see Coltec halter as an aura flashes around him. Duncan asks if he is okay and the other man replies that he is tiptop, but needs to be alone for a while.

Sometime later, in the present, Joe tells Duncan and Richie that a Watcher saw the robbery, and that he saw Coltec and Kant fighting. Joe adds that sometime later, after the right, Coltec was spotted wearing Kant’s jacket. Duncan stands immediately and Joe yells that this does not prove anything. Duncan tells Joe that he needs ot know more about Kant, because that is who is inside of Coltec. Joe says he is already breakin rules, but Duncan insists that he break them some more.

Joe explains that Kant is a sociopath who enjoys killing. As he talks about him, we see Coltec indiscriminately murdering and stealing. The scene of Coltec murdering transitions into the present as MacLeod approaches him and offers to help him. Coltec says that he likes how he is now. Coltec attacks and they begin dueling. Duncan is eventually forced to knock him unconscious.

Duncan drags Coltec out into the wilderness, tied up, to talk to him. When Coltec wakes up, he asks why Duncan did not just take his head in teh alley. Duncan tries to reason with him about who he is and he says that Coltec knew his own cup was about to overflow, and it was why he stopped taking heads years earlier. Coltec tells him that all Immortals eventually end up with their cups overflowed.

Coltec: And you know it MacLeod! That’s why you are trying so hard. You look at me and you see your fuure!

Coltec asks Duncan how he plans to help him, and Duncan says he intends to try in the same way that Coltec helped him previously. The other man cackles about the idea that Duncan could be a hayoka. Duncan places his hands on the other man’s head, causing him to yell out, but a moment later Coltec has freed himself.

Coltec: Next time we won’t be on Holy Ground.
Duncan: Jim, let me help you.

Coltec leaves.

Richie and Joe are discussing Dark Quickenings at his bar. Joe does not believe they exist, but Richie points out that Duncan does. Joe says that even if they are real, they must be extraordinarily rare, or there would be records of it. He asks how long an Immortal would have to live to kill that many bad guys, and RIchie is not comforted. Just then, he senses an Immortal and Duncan returns. He says he both did find and did not find Coltec and that the other Immortal has become as evil as it is possible to become. He announces that he has to stop him.

We see a scene of Coltec using a bomb to blow up a pawn shop. This transition to Joe explaining what happened, and that Coltec torched the place after he blew it up and killed the owner. Duncan suddenly remembers the Immortal that Coltec killed in New York was obsessed with fire.

He says that Immortal’s name, Bryce Korland, aloud.

Duncan: It’s not Coltec or Kant, it’s Korland. That’s his M.O. He kills, then he burns.

Joe says Korland died years ago, and Duncan says that Coltec is the one who took his head. Duncan seems to realize that it’s not just Kant inside of him, it’s every Immortal he ever killed. Duncan tells JOe that he tracked Korland back in 1958, knew how to find him then, and that he thinks he knows where to find him now.

We see Coltec performing at an open mic at some club in Seacover as Duncan arrives. He tells the audience, who is not enjoying him, that he will be right back. They duel in a parking garage and Duncan takes his head, almost nervously, saying something in the Sioux language as he does. Joe watches the Quickening from a distance. Auras seem to flash around Duncan and as it ends, and he opens his eyes, we see that Duncan is now evil.

Sometime later, Duncan is drinking at Joe’s Bar. He starts harassing a female patron. She goes for it, initially, since even evil Duncan is still a little bit charming, but he gets very aggressive with her and won’t let her leave when she tries. She slaps him across the face, and he backhands her in return.

Joe: What the h*** are you doing?
Duncan: Hey, the little b**** hit me.
Joe: What are you nuts?

Duncan then punches Joe to the ground and laughs. Joe gets up quickly enough to keep anyone from coming to his aid and making the situation worse. Duncan leaves. We find him later, in the dojo, where Richie is practicing with his sword. Richie asks if he is okay, and Duncan replies that he is fine. Richie can sense something is off, and tries to talk to him about Coltec, but Duncan soon attacks him.

Richie: What are you doing, Mac?
Duncan: You’re a smart kid. Why don’t you figure it out?

They duel, but before Duncan can kill Richie, gun shots ring out Joe Dawson is at the door of the dojo holding a gun. Duncan dies and Joe tells Richie that he needs to run, and that this is no longer MacLeod. When he revives, Richie is gone and Joe has him tied to a wall in the dojo. Duncan immediately begins threatening Joe.

Joe: Whatever monsters are in you now, I know you’re still in there, too.

Duncan tells Joe to pick up his sword and cut off his head, or else he will kill oe eventually in turn. Joe picks the sword up, holds it to his neck, but will not do it. He cuts Duncan free. Duncan pauses and just for a moment, it looks like MacLeod is looking through his own eyes again. Then he holds his hands to his head and runs out of the dojo.

Later, Duncan boards a cargo ship, as a crew member, without knowing where the ship is going.


This is a great episode. The actor who played Coltec (Byron Chief-Moon) was fantastic, moving from a holy man version of himself into an evil version. Adrian Paul was also great in switching Duncan into evil mode at the end of the episode. From beginning to end, the tension built and then it went very sideways. The Richie Rescue was also extremely well done and surprising.

[Note: Assuming Duncan returns to Seacouver at some point, won’t there be an assault charge waiting on him courtesy of that woman from the ar? Or is being harassed and backhanded by a stranger just like a normal Tuesday in Seacouver?]

First, the show set this Dark Quickening possibility up all the way back in Season 1. We learned that Darius went from conquering general to holy man – after killing a holy man Immortal at the gates of Paris. That was a Light Quickening. It stands to reason that the inverse should be possible, too, and we find out here that it is. Duncan was well aware of what happened to Darius, as were many other Immortals, so it made total sense that Duncan had spent time thinking about Dark Quickenings. It made less senes that Joe was so resistant to the idea – though of course Watchers aren’t usually close enough to Immortals, emotionally, to make that type of attribution.

Second, it’s incredibly interesting that Immortals not only absorb strength, power, etc., of their defeated foes, but also their personalities are absorbed in a dormant way too. Duncan seems to be the same evil guys he just got from Koltec, but he could also turn into Xavier, Kalas, Kern or any of the other extremely evil guys he’s knocked off over the years. I wonder how that works. The implication (my interpretation) of the episode seems to be that the real danger is the force of the other Immortal’s personality. It’s not just that the guy is evil. It’s that he has a particularly powerful personal drive to be evil. Darius didn’t kill a ton of holy men. He killed one *very* holy man. Coltec was fine until Korland. Duncan seems to be kind of fighting them off a little bit as the episode ends, so perhaps Duncan has a stronger personality than Coltec. Alternatively it’s now Duncan and Coltec internally vs. the army of internal baddies happening inside of MacLeod’s body. Or is Coltec one of the bad guys inside of him, too, since he went bad before the end? Hopefully the next episode sheds some more light on it.

It’s hard to miss the demonic possession connotation / ties in this episode. Coltec was removing evil from people prior to taking one too many. Though the method was Native American in the vaguest sense, it was similar to an exorcism. We saw a force moving out of people. That implies that within the Highlander universe, at a certain point, hatred can take on an almost tangible form of its own, inside of anyone (hence you can pull it out like you might remove a splinter in your skin.)

It gets lost in the episode, but Richie’s reaction is (will be) really interesting. His Immortal safety net just got taken away. Beyond that, Duncan was as much a father figure to him, as he was a friend and mentor. Now he is more or less a baby Immortal, in a world where people are trying to cut off his head, he has nothing (money, connections, etc.) to help him out, and he has to worry about not just surviving, but the possibility that he might go evil even if he does survive.

What would make sense for Richie in this moment? He could seek out help from Amanda, assuming he can find her, but he’d also worry that doing so would put her in serious danger if she tried to help Duncan. He doesn’t really know Methos / Adam Pierson well enough to do that. He’s pretty much got to get on his motorcycle and just ride away. Immortal or not, he’s still only about 21 years old.

Joe obviously gets involved. I think he pretty much has to get the other Watchers involved in the Duncan situation now. MacLeod knows too much. Horton is the reason they know each other, personally, but Joe didn’t sever those ties. It actually is beginning to feel like Joe’s job with the Watchers might end up being the big story arc of this season since Joe’s friendship with Duncan already got Charlie DeSalvo killed right at the start of the season. Joe broke the rules to help Duncan escape the underground prison Killian put him in. Joe’s friendship with Duncan just exposed their entire organization in an incredibly dangerous way. I wonder how that organization fires people like Joe?

Great episode. Great cliffhanger. I have no doubt Duncan’s ship will take him to Paris. I am looking forward to seeing Duncan’s barge again.

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