Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Highlander: The Series 3x01 - The Samurai

Highlander returns~! with the first episode I've covered in like ten years. In this, our hero travels to the Land of the Rising Sun. Given that it's been years since I watched the show, I was a little worried that it might not age that well. The good news is, there's nothing to worry about in that department because it's as watchable as ever. And this is probably the best season. Let's do this.




Before I get going, remember to share this with your friends and fellow Highlander fans out there on the internet. If you don't share it, nobody is going to read it! 

 Here's one of the protagonists of the episode, Midori Koto. She has a magical name...and a Secret Lover named Akira to help her escape from her marriage of convenience.

 The proceedings are interrupted when she gets a phone call from...

 ...her husband, the villainous Michael Kent. This starts Season 3's chain combo of immortals with K names, which the vile Highlander fanbase online refers to as "Kimmies". Ugh.

In any case, this guy looks like an older, eviler Robert Patrick T-1000.

 He's on his way back to get something he forgot, so Akira must beat a hasty retreat. It'd be great if the main theme from Akira played as he sprinted out of the building.

 Unfortunately, it was a trap. Kent didn't forget anything, and in fact was waiting outside to ambush his wife's lover with a katana.

He swings, and that's all she wrote for poor Akira. 

 The vile businessman visits his wife now and OH GOD IT'S SO CREEPY MAKE IT STOP.

Before anything can happen, Midori MURDERS HIM WITH A KNIFE. My God! 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch! Charlie is sparring with this lady and being a bit of an a-hole to her about her form because she isn't kicking him hard enough. She responds by actually kicking him and he goes flying. 

Quite frankly, he deserved it. Hey look, it's our hero! 

I REMEMBER THESE GUYS. It's good to be watching this again. 

She's here, and points out that her family has an agreement with the Macleod family going back centuries: If they're ever in trouble, they can find a Macleod. 

Flashback time, as we go back to her great, great, great, great...great... well, he's her ancestor: Hideo Koto.

He finds a shipwrecked Duncan on the shores of Japan, clearly very dead. Little does he know that this mysterious gaijin CANNOT DIE. 

Next thing we know, Hideo is beset upon by the Shogun's troops. Apparently this is because they saw Duncan wash up, though they seemed to be after Hideo. Duncan wakes up and helps him fend them off by lumbering about and fighting with very little finesse. 

 He tries to make friends with Hideo after the fight, only to have Hideo break his sword and nearly kill him on the spot.

 Gaijin are NOT ALLOWED here, and Hideo must make a snap decision to spare Duncan. Of course, he does.

Back in the present, Midori asks Duncan about the agreement between their families, and Duncan says he'll absolutely honor it. She follows that up with "welp, I murdered my husband" and Duncan is very nonplussed. As if having to bail Richie out of jail wasn't bad enough, now he has to go dispose of a body. At least, I think that's what she wants. Speaking of, where is Richie anyway?


Duncan: "I've gotta go to Japan."
Charlie: "Japan?"
Duncan: "You know, the land of the rising sun. Hai!"
Charlie: "You just got back!"
Duncan: "From France. Different continent."

That's beside the point! It's a good thing this guy doesn't have cats.

As they go collect her stuff, who turns up? That's right, a very not-dead Michael Kent. He was immortal all along! 

Duncan immediately realizes what they're dealing with via The Buzz. Michael beats a hasty retreat, however. No word on if the theme from Akira played as he sprinted away.

Back at the ranch, they drink Sour Apple Pucker (tm) and Midori explains that Michael bailed the Koto family out of a lot of debt, which led to their marriage. She was essentially traded to him like an item, which explains their "relationship". 

We see some of that dinero on display, as Michael lurks in his fancy boat, which makes Duncan's barge look like an outhouse. 

"I want to know everything about this Duncan Macleod," he says. "Where he lives, how much money he has, what his connections are. Everything." 

"We'll get right on it, sir." 

"...What he's working with downstairs. Everything."

"Sir?" 

"I don't just mean length. ...I mean girth."

Luckily for everyone involved, Duncan and Midori don't have that kind of relationship. This is all-business, and he's obligated to help. But why?

Flashback time, as Hideo teaches Duncan how to fight...by absolutely brutalizing him. This is where immortal regeneration abilities are a bit of a godsend. Hideo doesn't know about that, though, so for all he knows he's shortening this poor gaijin's life expectancy by years.

 Duncan breaks out the pugilism! "I'll baste YOUR turkey!"

We get a bit of a training montage, as Duncan learns more about fighting from Hideo. Specifically, how to use a katana. Hideo says to think of it as if you're channeling the spirit of a mountain when you swing. Duncan scoffs at this, asking if they're learning swordplay or poetry. Pretty soon he begins to get it. 

Trouble is on the horizon, however. Here in feudal Japan, "whites" like Duncan are put to death, and people like Hideo who harbor them face the same punishment. "They regard you as inferior," explains Hideo, to which Duncan asks "Why would someone think like that?"

Come on, Duncan. You've met the British.

Speaking of being a stranger in this land, Duncan is nearly chased out of a bathtub by Hideo's daughters because he's "doing it wrong". Here, they wash BEFORE soaking in the bathtub. Instead, he just jumped right into it whilst all dirty. He's completely taken aback by their ambush and just wants to bathe in peace. 

They quickly give up and leave the horrified Duncan alone. 

He then Bourdains it and tries the local cuisine, like Raw Octopus. 

 Hideo's daughter, Maya, is a doppleganger for Midori in the present. She's also no fan of Duncan living in their house, endangering her father while also bathing wrong.

Meanwhile, on the boat... Michael is playing the newly-translated "FF2J" on emulator on Windows 95. He's fluent in Japanese so he didn't even have to wait for the translated version, but it was too much trouble to hook up a Famicom on the boat.

 It's a fine game and all. He just got to Salamand. In any case, he sends his goons to the dojo to get Midori while he farms stat-ups.

Duncan shows up, as I realize that Michael bears a striking resemblance to an older alternate universe evil version of Rami Malek. 

Duncan tries to talk things out with him and they have a surprisingly rational discussion. Michael sees Midori as something that belongs to him, Duncan says she doesn't want to be his wife, and the contention is drawn. After agreeing to kill each other over the issue later, Duncan returns to the dojo to find...

...Charlie battling the goons! 

Duncan is in full douche-mode here and doesn't even help. What a bastard. 

Charlie is like "feel free to jump in ANYTIME" and if this weren't a TV show on USA Network I can almost guarantee he'd have followed that with a "motherf**ker". 

Once the goons flee (never to be seen again), our heroes find that Midori snuck out and is nowhere to be found. She left a telescope, aka the Koto family "Macleod summon item", on the shelf here. Clearly she wants to relinquish his agreement to help the Koto family, but it isn't her place to do that. 

 Flashback time, as we get the story of the telescope. This was a gift from Duncan to Hideo, something they made in Europe that couldn't be found in Japan.

 With this gadget, one can see far away. It's pretty much all Duncan had after his shipwreck.

 Hideo sees the Shogun's troops on the horizon. These guys are even more persistent and obnoxious than Mongolians.

 He could stand his ground against them, but he realizes he has broken the law by Gaijin-Harboring and is willing to face punishment.

 Maya has tea with Duncan and very passive-aggressively lets him find out what danger Hideo is actually in...and that it's basically because of him.

Now that he knows about the sacrifice that Hideo is making on his behalf...he isn't okay with it. 

 They go over it and Hideo makes it clear that he doesn't mind death because he made his choice. It's a remarkable level of personal responsibility to a fault.

Duncan comes up with a brilliant idea: Hideo can "kill" him to appease the Shogun, and then Duncan can revive later...because he's immortal, you see. Hideo actually believes his story, yet refuses to rely on a lie to solve this issue. There'd be no honor in that. 

One of the most low-key important shots of the entire series: Hideo gives Duncan his sword. Duncan will have to kill him with it, and after that it's his forever. He should probably also get off of this island ASAP. 

Hideo commits seppuku while Duncan seconds him (essentially ending him once he does the deed himself, so he doesn't have a drawn-out death). From this point on, Duncan literally owed the Koto family his life, hence the modern debt. Not just for Hideo not killing him on the beach, either. Without the training he got here, or the katana, Duncan would have probably been killed in a fight a loooong time ago.

 Midori thinks she can renounce the debt, and returns to Michael to live the rest of her life unhappily. They then take off to Japan, and that's the end of the episode.

Just kidding, it's still going. Our heroes arrive at Michael's boat to see if he or Midori are there. No dice, though. This means it's time for Duncan to actually go to Japan. It's very likely that after Duncan left, Charlie used the bathroom on the boat. Take that!

Here we are in scenic Japan, specifically the Koto family home. 

 Japan is a huge place, so it's pretty lucky that Midori was here at the family home. Otherwise Duncan would have been backpacking around the countryside for weeks, fending off Mountain Men.

 Look who else is here! I like the pink tree in the background. Given how legitimate this show was with on-location filming I wouldn't be surprised if they really did film this one scene in Japan.

Duncan whips out Hideo's katana, which Midori actually recognizes. 

 The battle is joined!

 This is one of the better fights in the series, and harkens back to Mountain Men as the fight spills into the water.

 Michael is no joke, and we don't get katana vs katana fights very often.

Duncan's katana gets jammed on a rock and Michael goes for the kill-shot, only for Duncan to block it with one of the coolest defensive moves in existence: The blade-grasp. 

This is one of the great counter-moves of the series, right up there with the one he uses to win in Highlander: Endgame. 

 THIS ISH! SUPER SAIYAN 2!

 That was one of the weaker quickenings in the series. It was actually kind of peaceful, so maybe that was the point. Just some electricity and water splashing around, nothing really blew up.

 Midori is now free to live her life, and Duncan is off to a James Bond convention. Really good episode.


Here's the villain low-down. I'd be miserable and possessive too if I'd been killed in a threshing machine.

Tune in for the next episode, where RICHIE RETURNS and we get some serious Duncan backstory. This season is tremendous all the way through. And remember, share this with your fellow Highlander fans, otherwise nobody will know that I'm finally back to doing these!








1 comment:

  1. Man, I already think Duncan peering over his glasses is the best picture of him ever.

    Theeeere's my Creepy Richie fix.

    This IS the kind of guy who would enjoy FF2.

    Duncan's blade grasp game should be on point given how high his Brave stat is.

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