Monday, June 24, 2013

Highlander: The Series 1x03 - Road Not Taken

Highlander continues with an episode that shows a bit of Duncan's past in China. He also battles a nefarious herbalist in the present. Good stuff.

This is an interesting episode. The show hasn't found an identity yet, but this one shows hints of an identity on the horizon.

We start with an insane youth going nuts and throwing people through windows.

Finally, surrounded by police, he suddenly keels over.

Turns out the guy is a friend of Richie's. So Richie and Duncan go to the hospital, but by the time they get there, the kid is already dead. The police say he was hopped up on drugs, but Richie doesn't believe that.

The guy has purple marks on the side of his head, and of course...

...Duncan remembers seeing this before, long ago. FLASHBACK TIME~!

China, several hundred years ago (date undetermined). Macleod is visiting his friend...

...Kiem Sun, who is basically a scientist. He's working on a root tonic that can give someone super strength... at the cost of going berserk. He wants to use this to create an army of super-men who obey his commands and can fight endlessly without tiring. He'll then use this army to bring peace to the world, he says. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

He's also an Immortal. He likens himself to the greatest minds of all time. "Imagine if Galileo or Da Vinci had been of our kind, what they could have accomplished."

At first Macleod was happy to see him... until Kiem Sun has two of his students use the berserk tonic and fight each other. the death. It isn't pretty.

Macleod makes him stop the fight. "A noble future will not be achieved with men obeying your every command and fighting each other to the death!"

One of the guys has a seizure and dies... with purple spots on his temples.

"I will continue until I perfect the tonic... their deaths will not be in vain."

"Don't tell me you're going to continue with this madness!"

Either way, Duncan thought Kiem Sun stopped doing this... but it seems that he didn't.

Back in the present, Richie wants to find out who is responsible for the death of his friend. Duncan knows, and he'll handle this himself.

Meanwhile, we suddenly switch to grainy older camerawork as a bad dude who looks like a thin Bolo Yeung is looking for a few good men who want super powers. DON'T DO DRUGS, KIDS

Bikers get on his case, because whenever a biker bar shows up in any form of media, it means bikers are going to get on somebody's case. Having been to several biker-frequented bars in my time, I can't say I've ever seen a brawl at one of them. Just a lot of beer and pool.

Thin Bolo proceeds to beat down all of them, then offers them jobs testing root tonic. Well, huh.

Meanwhile, Duncan confronts the detective who looks like Gift of Gab from Blackalicious. He confirms that an herb was found in the kid's system.

Blackalicious: "Artificial Amateur Aren't It All Amazing, Analytically I Assault Animate Things!"

There's a subplot involving Richie's cute lady-friend from the 'hood.

She supplies Richie with info: his friend was spotted hanging out with Seedy Chinamen.

Duncan is having a look around of his own, and he's piiiiiissed.

Here's Kiem Sun, sure enough. He's happy to see our hero. You know, the one major failing of this show is that it all takes place in the general Seacouver area. If Duncan actually traveled to meet some of these guys, it'd be a lot better. What are the odds that Duncan hasn't seen or heard from Kiem Sun in hundreds of years when they live in the same city?

They have a friendly duel, and Kiem Sun reveals that one of his assistants stole the tonic. That'd be Chulin, aka Thin Bolo. Since both of these guys want the drug off the streets, they team up. If you're thinking Kiem Sun will pull a Dr. Wily and turn out to be the bad guy, well... not saying anything just yet.

Our hero(es?) looks for Chulin. He's gotta be around here somewhere.

There he is, now looking like a bizarre fusion of Dolph Ziggler and Derrick Rose. He's mortal, by the way. Chulin, not Derrick Rose. Well, him too.

In any case, he's offering the biker dudes Dastardly Root Tea. He's all "it's tradition before we do business" and they're all "tea is for homos, go back to Mehico".

...well, more or less.

Kiem Sun is here and wants his evil potion back!

Duncan arrives and battles Chulin (who dual-wields). For a mortal, the guy puts up quite a fight.

Duncan is having fun with this duel, and Kiem-Sun is just looking on.

He's probably having fun with this too, considering he taught all those moves to Chulin.

Duncan wins the fight handily, and asks Chulin to give up and confess. But wait! What's going on back there?

Duncan leaps out of the way of a Kiem Sun attack that hits Chulin instead. He may or may not have been aiming at his former assistant. So was Kiem Sun secretly orchestrating all of this, letting Chulin do his own thing so he could see what happened?

What follows is a great battle. Duncan had already tricked Kiem Sun into thinking he was left-handed earlier.

Another cool thing here: It's Chinese sword versus Japanese sword.

Duncan wins after a pitched battle.

He spares Kiem Sun... for now. Since the show at this point ran on self-contained episodes rather than any kind of serialized plot, Kiem Sun would never be seen again. Oh well. Definitely think he could have returned for another episode or two later.

Meanwhile, Richie brings his lady-friend back to his place... except it's actually Duncan and Tessa's place. That's their bed! Don't do it, Richie!

Ya know, this girl looks a lot like Tessa, weirdly enough.

They're about to get funky when...

...Duncan and Tessa get back. OOPS. That's gotta be embarassing for Richie.

Anyway, Duncan shoos them out after everyone quickly gets acquainted.

Tessa is all "come hither". She was absent from this episode, for the most part, due to an art festival.

Tessa: "Did you stay out of trouble?"

Duncan: "Well..."

This episode is pretty damn good for a hit-or-miss first season that tends to be abysmal at times. Quality-wise it feels more like an episode from another, better season.

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