Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Highlander: The Series 3x04 - The Cross of St. Antoine

Today on Highlandah: Joe's Bar, Amanda returns, the guy from Blade Runner gets psycho, and other stuff happens. It isn't really a good standalone episode, but it's very eventful from an "overarching events" perspective and sets up the rest of the season nicely.

Joe's Bar: Now open! It's a classy joint, with live music. Wouldn't be surprised if Joe had the place sanctified to keep immortals from brawling.

This overhead view makes it look like a location from Final Fantasy VII.

Amanda is back, and now has long(er) hair. She looks gorgeous. We join our heroes en media res as they've been hanging out for a bit. Duncan looks happier than he has looked in ::checks watch:: exactly one season.

They track down the master of ceremonies, Joe, and he meets Amanda for the first time. They're both like "I've heard all about you" while Duncan just kinda grins and nods. Been there!

Amanda: "So, do you watch us do everything?"

Joe: "Only when it's legal"

For the less-reputable stuff, they've got...

"Oh yeahhhh. Nice."

Duncan is SO HAPPY to be there.

 This is the good life. I wouldn't mind seeing an episode that's just this trio hanging out at the bar talking about stuff, with nothing bad happening. It's what the world needs!

Joe reveals that he met someone he's interested in, and as a matter of fact he's on his way to go see her now! Look at that happy Joe face!

This is a new era for Joe! A new era for HIGHLANDER!

Matter of fact, this is the end of the episode. Great episode! Nice to see everyone all happy. Now to pull an Anne and usher all of ya'll out. Happiest episode ever! NOW GET OUT!

He arrives at his friend's house in time to SEE HER GETTING MURDERED.

The scene goes on for WAY too long in slow-mo as Joe tries to break in and can't, watching her get strangled. The culprit gets away by the time Joe gets past the door.

We never even got to meet Joe's new friend. I thought Richie could never have anything positive happen for him...this takes that to a whole new level. Why do the Highlander creators hate Joe?

The next scene is Joe playing an entire song on his guitar. This is the first time we ever hear Joe play the blues. The actor himself is a legit musician.

The screen fades back and forth between him playing and the murder he had to watch, again in slow-mo, again going on for way too long.

They're not respecting our attention spans very much here. Showing us something again, in full, that we just saw right before the commercial break... what is this, WWE RAW?

Duncan and Amanda decide to take a break from catch-up flirtation and help Joe find the killer.

This relationship that the two of them have is kind of magical. They can drift apart for a while and always just adore each other when they see each other again. It's like a warm blanket that never quite goes away for them, and makes the rest of life, and their struggles, just that much more tolerable.

Joe is about as distraught as we ever see him. Just absolutely ready to murder somebody. Mortal or not, and handicaps be damned, I would NOT want to get on this guy's bad side.

Joe: "You don't know what it's like to see something horrible happening and not be able to do a damn thing about it!"

Yes, he does.

Duncan: "Yes, I do."

The trio heads for the art gallery that Joe's friend worked at, in an effort to pick up some leads. Duncan is hoping to talk to the owner of the gallery, but he doesn't meet with...peasants. Instead he sends out his minion:

The next White House Press Secretary, everybody!

They're getting nowhere here, so Duncan tracks down Amanda and says it's time to go.

He also tells her to put back whatever she stole from the art gallery. It wouldn't surprise me if she opened that jacket and out fell a pair of beautiful, priceless, glistening treasures.

 While looking for any possible lead on the murder or the mysterious owner, Duncan spots a cross on display that he recognizes. Flashback time!

Long ago, that cross was used by priests in a Montana pilgrim settlement to conduct baptisms.

Seen here viewed through Duncan's spyglass.

Yep, he got another spyglass since the one he left in Japan a few decades earlier.

Highwaymen in raccoon caps beset upon the priests, and Duncan saves them. Turns out the cross is adorned with all kinds of expensive gems, which means a lot of folks are probably gonna try to steal it whenever it's out in the open. They should probably put it up on the wall in a cathedral or something and bring regular wooden crosses out into the woods instead.

Here, Duncan meets trapper John Durgan, an unsettling lunatic. This actor played the giant android in Blade Runner, the Nappa to Rutger Hauer's Vegeta.

"I'm only here for beaver. You a good at catchin' beaver too?"

...You have NO idea.

Back in the present, we see that John Durgan is now highly-respected art collector Armand Thorne. Aside from having the most badass vampire-name ever, the esteemed Mr. Thorne acquired his considerable wealth by stealing over the decades. Either that or he just poached a LOT of beaver caps. LIVE TO WIN!

The village is home to this supple miss, a schoolteacher who teaches reading. This is a golden opportunity for our big friend to go to school, because...

...he can't read, as it turns out. Duncan encourages him to try, as reading will help him become more cultured and knowledgeable.

He shows up for her class about 8 hours late, though. I don't think he's taking school very seriously. He also strangles the supple miss and runs off with some of her books. Strangles, eh?

On cue we're back to the present, with Joe mourning his friend. Pretty clear now (to us) who the culprit is, and where he is.

Amanda joins Joe at the table and we get more of these quiet character-to-character moments that I didn't realize just how important they were to me the first time I watched this back then.

Duncan goes back to the art gallery and offers to buy the cross. Turns out it's stolen and he wants to return it to the church. The Gallery Minions snobbishly tell him off and still won't let him meet with the eccentric owner. He makes a substantial monetary offer, and drops the name "John Durgan" in case the owner knows him.

Back in the past, time to see how the cross got stolen, and it's what you'd expect. Durgan want off with a priest to be baptized. Duncan hears about this and, noting how weird things have been since Durgan's arrival and his obsession with the cross, beelines off to find them.

Unfortunately for Durgan, the priest brought a plain old wooden cross. "Where's the other one" he mutters.

Priest: "Do you pledge to reject Satan?"

Durgan: "Yeah, yeah, where's the cross at now"


In any case, the priest shows him the actual cross, and he quickly kills the priest to get it.

Duncan shows up too late, and they exchange gunfire.

Durgan emits a blood-curdling yell that'd be at home in Blade Runner, then flees for the hills.

And then Duncan never saw the guy again.

There really isn't much stopping immortals from being mostly-evil, given that they usually have zero consequences for their behavior.

After the bad guy roars off, Duncan tries to help the priest to no avail. He was on borrowed time, rocking all of these priceless artifacts in some lawless backwater Montana town with beaver hunters roaming about.

We should just sell Montana to Canada to help pay off the national debt. 

Duncan finally gets a meeting with the mysterious Armand Thorne. 

And of course, it's John Durgan, which pretty much solves the mystery of who killed that woman. 

Duncan isn't impressed with this new, improved Durgan. 

"I study culture and the arts," he says. "I know nine languages."

Before he starts sounding like Ric Flair listing his accolades, Duncan points out that he got his immense wealth by stealing and killing, and that he's still a savage under his modern pretense of being a peaceful scholar. 

 Back at the ranch, these two discuss the drama. I've noticed that every time they hang out, they drink a LOT of red wine. Don't really see Duncan drinking much otherwise. Some of my fondest memories are red wine fueled romantic evenings.

Duncan wants her to help him break into the museum and steal back the cross, both to return it and to draw Thorne out where he can be fought. Amanda refuses, despite Duncan's best Charm Face. 

"It's not working on me."

"It's...not...oh goddammit."

He went for the slow neck-kiss, which is like a cheat code. 

Next thing you know, they're rehearsing for a museum break-in. Duncan's face here looks like the icon of a Punch-Out character. 

They break into the museum! Very successfully too. It's clear they've done this before. 

The cross is found! This episode has some pretty rad visuals. It's actually surprising this wasn't filmed in Paris, as it feels a lot more like a Paris episode. 

Back to drinking lots of wine, as our heroes marvel over the cross. Duncan looks like he's gritting his teeth from having to hold the thing though. Is there something you aren't telling us, Duncan? ARE YOU... L'ANTICHRISTOS? 

What follows is a bout of the ol' rough and tumble. I knew all that red wine was inevitably going somewhere. 

18 orgasms between the two of them later (and By God, it was somehow a 50/50 split!) and Duncan gets the phone call he's been waiting for. Thorne wants his cross back, and is willing to meet Duncan for it.

But wait! He's no fool, and also doesn't want to fight. So he has kidnapped Joe for collateral to force an even exchange. 

Duncan always gets the same disgusted look on his face when someone else is in danger because of him.

Wait a minute...I hope that isn't nip in the lower right there. I don't need a visit from the FCC here okay? 

Joe is NOT happy to be their prisoner. This would be a good time to get Charlie involved, since (being mortal and undetectable) he could lurk and rescue Joe while Duncan deals with Thorne at the meeting spot. Unfortunately they wrote him off.

Heading to the meeting spot (a church), Thorne snarls quite a bit, showing his hateful uneducated real self starting to return to the forefront. He senses an immortal, but can't see them. Once he figures Duncan is lurking in the church... 

...he grabs the cross and runs. Unfortunately for him, it was a hidden Amanda he was sensing, which means he's walking right back outside to... 

...yep. Duncan is wasting no time getting to the bottom of this either. 

The battle is joined! 

I like when Highlander switches to a "watching shadows fight" perspective. It's almost as cool as when swords spark against each other. Which hasn't happened since...when was the last time that happened? Xavier St. Cloud? I really miss that. Wish they'd just save it for the really powerful villains instead of using it in all the early fights and then stopping. It might yet return, too...I don't remember what this or the later seasons did in that area. 

Earlier Joe's Bar looked like something out of FFVII. Now we're fighting on top of a train on a darkened street that could be anywhere in Lower Midgar. 

Thorne fully reverts to the psychotic John Durgan, who was there all along even as he learned nine languages. There's a powerful statement being made here. 


Finally a more traditional quickening occurs. This one zaps Duncan up against the train and looks pretty uncomfortable. 

He also gets momentarily magnetized to the train and can't escape from it. 

Legitimately interesting character here, though once again, I'm glad he's been defeated already. Also, Armand Thorne was a much better name than any of the others.

With that, another bad guy is done, the cross is returned to the church, Joe can feel a little better knowing justice was had for the person who was murdered, and Amanda... 

...well, she just really loves this dude, even if they aren't destined to be together. And that sure is something.

Here's another moment of Joe getting out his feelings through music. It's worth seeing.

1 comment:

  1. As I recall there was something of a post-series special where a few of these characters just hang out and talk, sans-Duncan. No doubt it was a million times better than The Source.

    Usually that sort of "you don't know what it's like" scene goes right into a flashback on this show.

    Yeah, "Armand Thorne" is definitely a name you give yourself.

    Oh as if Amanda needs to be talked into stealing from a museum!