Thursday, December 26, 2013

Highlander: The Series 1x13 - Band of Brothers

Highlander returns with one of the series' high points. This episode is insanely good. Legend says that Adrian Paul himself went to the writers and told them that the Cop Show wasn't what fans wanted out of Highlander. From here on out, the Cop Show is almost entirely out the window. The writers would get it back with spin-off series The Raven, once Adrian Paul was out of the way. Yeah.

Here's the mighty Darius, making his debut onscreen. He's a 2000 year old monk. While he was once one of the most feared immortals on the planet, he has spent many centuries dedicating his life to peace. He rarely leaves his church, where he's safe from immortals like...

...Grayson, who looks oddly like Khan here. OG Khan from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, I mean.

Grayson: "You could have been the greatest leader the world has ever known. Instead, you choose to cower in this church."

Darius: "The world has changed!"

Grayson: "What has changed? The MEANS of destruction only!"

Darius: "You believed in me once."

Grayson: "I never changed... you did."

Grayson is intent on killing a student of Darius, a guy named Victor Paulus. This is likely in an effort to lure Darius out of his church so that Grayson can get him too.

Meanwhile, over in the states, Duncan gets a message from Darius...

...IN RUNE. So cool.

Duncan isn't too happy about this, because the runes mention Grayson being involved. Duncan knows that Grayson is more powerful than he is, so for the first time he finds himself outmatched.

Cut to the woods, as Duncan is out training. Even the visuals are better in this episode.

Richie: "So, this Grayson guy has you pretty spooked, huh?"

Duncan trains for the impending struggle by leaping over a spinning log.

Over a bonfire, Duncan relays the legend of how Darius, the warlord, rampaged across Europe with his army. This continued until he fought and killed an immortal priest at the gates of Paris. Whoever the holy man was, he was so pure-hearted that when Darius took his power, it... made him good. He then disbanded his army and became a priest himself, taking up residence in Paris.

Richie: "So, do you think if a really good immortal took the power of a really bad one, he could turn bad himself?"

Duncan doesn't have an answer. This idea is revisited later in another of the show's best storylines.

Meanwhile, Grayson is at the shop. Uh oh.

Grayson: "I see Macleod has kept you abreast of many things."

Tess: "You better just kill me now!"

Grayson: "What a remarkable woman."

Grayson is so impressed by her that he abandons his plan to take her hostage, deciding he'll fight Duncan without any foul play.

Meanwhile, Duncan and Richie continue their bro-time. It seems Darius' teachings of peace have a LOT to do with Duncan being who he is today.

Flashback to an unnamed war.

Quick look at a Watcher Chronicle for Darius. Looks like this is Waterloo. Duncan fought under Napoleon?

In the midst of the battle, Duncan senses something.

It's Darius, in one of the series' more memorable visuals.

Duncan expects to be attacked, but instead Darius helps the injured soldier.

Darius mixes up some medicine to clear up the soldier's fever. Duncan is clearly wary of him during all of this.

Darius: "It'll take a few hours for the medicine to help him."

Duncan: "A few hours? We're losing the battle!"

Darius: "Why does that matter to you? Napoleon may lose a campaign. But how will the outcome affect him? These men here on the battlefield have been robbed of everything."

Duncan's mind is blown.

An explosion goes off, as we see the mess that surrounds Duncan.

Darius: "You shouldn't take part in this tragedy."

Duncan got more and more disillusioned. Mark it down, 1815 was when he went from warlike buffoon to someone a bit closer to who he is now.

In the present, Duncan broods. Tess didn't tell him about the Grayson visit. There isn't much to tell.

She wakes up and they have some impromptu sex. Yeah, there they go, all grinding and moaning.

Then he practices swordplay with no shirt on. Where does he get all this energy?

I think Tess wants him to come back for another roll in the hay. She's awesome.

Duncan senses someone...

...and finds a headless figurine of a soldier outside. Yikes.

Victor Paulus arrives in Seacouver. Duncan is already on the scene to watch his back, knowing that Grayson is going to have the guy killed.

Duncan almost immediately saves Paulus from a limo driver with a gun. Well, for a few minutes we've reverted back to Cop Show...

Day turns to...

...night as we enter the second half of the episode.

The Sassy Female Reporter interrogates Duncan on who he works for. "CIA? FBI? Eagle Scouts?"

Meanwhile, he beats his head against the steering wheel.

Duncan: "I hope I see you again."

Sassy Female Reporter: "Wait a minute! You mean you might not?"

She was never made sweet love to on this show, and this might be her last episode. I have to say, I'm pissed.

We finally see Victor Paulus. Here he is giving a speech about peace while vaguely resembling Stephen King.

"We can't truly be at peace when somewhere else there is war, or hunger, or violence."

Flashback to Darius' church getting robbed by hooligans.

Duncan: "Weapons have no dominion over the souls of men."

This Guy: "Where do ya keep yer gold?"

Darius: "Gold? I have none. Anybody in the quarter could have told you that."

The guy cheap-shots Darius, IMPALING HIM. Come on!

That was a bad move, asshole. Because on the way out, the hooligans walk right into...

...Duncan, and he's pissed.

He, naturally, beats the crap out of them while Darius stumbles out and tells Duncan to spare their lives.

Duncan decides at this point to go to America. The New World. He's tired of all the hatred in Europe.

I refer again to the Chronicles.

These things are in-depth.

Back in the present, Grayson pays Duncan a visit.

Grayson: "I've wanted to meet you for a while. Holy ground sure is useful for business discussions."

Grayson will do whatever it takes to lure Darius out, including killing his disciples. That includes Victor Paulus... and Duncan.

Tessa angrily packs to go to Paris. She's worried that she won't see Duncan again. He wants her and Richie to cross the ocean where they'll be a bit safer, should he lose to Grayson.

Duncan and Grayson have another meeting.

Grayson: "I'm a student of your exploits. Almost a fan! You might not realize this, but there are few like you left. Because I've killed so many of them."

Grayson asks Duncan to join him. "Only for a century or so. We could do so much!"

Duncan: "With the Gathering close at hand, what makes you think any of us have a century left?"

Ah, this is when the show was still acting like the Gathering was a looming event. The show pretty much dropped any mention of it after Season 1. Would have been cool to see a huge climactic Gathering at the end of the final season, with returning villains who went unresolved earlier. They could have done a LOT with this show. Never really felt like it reached its potential.

Duncan saves Paulus again by beating up thugs in a boiler room!

The Sassy Female Reporter shows up one last time, questioning Grayson and getting no comment. My God, she's sexy.

Grayson has had enough of this. He heads out to some sort of sulfur plant and waits for Duncan in the rain.

Duncan arrives. He isn't his usual confident self.

Over-the-shoulder views from both sides.

Grayson has an AWESOME sword.

Grayson: "Ever done anything that really changed the world?"

Duncan: "........."

Grayson: "Too bad."

After an honorable bow, Grayson proceeds to beat the ever-loving crap out of our hero. It isn't pretty.

Grayson: "Another century and you might have beaten me!"

After knocking Duncan's sword away, he impales our hero, then stalks him around the plant. I've never seen Duncan get his ass handed to him like this.

Grayson: "There can be only one!"

Duncan finds his sword just in time.


Duncan comes back with a riposte, running Grayson through.

Duncan: "There can be only one."

Grayson is oddly happy at losing.

Duncan beheads Grayson in a highlight reel moment that would play in the opening credits for most of the show's run.


After all of that, Duncan heads to Paris. Time to pay his old friend a visit.

Darius is relieved that Duncan survived.

Tessa runs out of the church. The gang is all here.

Richie too.

Tess and Duncan run off, leaving Richie and Darius to have bro-time. Time for Richie to creep on the women of France.

Off they go. No more Seacouver, at least for now.

The episode ends with Duncan telling Tess that he wants to be a housewife and stay home all day while she works.

This episode is outstanding. It single-handedly saves the show from the probable early death it was headed towards. The difference between this episode and the previous episodes is massive. A complete 180. Best fight in the series thusfar, best villain in season 1, debut of an awesome new character, and a dramatic shift in overall tone. Great all around.

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