Friday, April 26, 2019

Highlander: The Series 3x06 - Courage

This is the best episode so far in S3. I mean, somebody got to write this episode and knocked it out of the damn park.

We start at Joe's Bar (sans Joe), where noted immortal Brian Cullen is getting completely drunk while Lil' Jon plays. Shorty Crunk!

Young Richie walks in. Every time he senses an immortal, he looks like he's being forced to watch 2016 election highlights.

To Richie's credit, he brushes right past the clearly-drunk Cullen's attempt to duel.

Cullen is like "EXCUSE ME" and Richie ducks a punch from him before he passes out on the floor.

Richie gives the bartender a $20 and asks him to call this guy a cab, then leaves. No drinks for Richie today.

Next thing we know, Duncan and Anne crash into each other on a bike trail. He's running, she's biking, and they run right into each other. Well that's just too much of a coincidence!

"This kind of thing wouldn't happen if they made this bike trail a safe space for the non-binary!"

"I don't know what that means."

"That's a fair point, Duncan Macleod. You know, for a white colonial oppressor, you seem okay."


ANNE IS THOU, AND THOU ARE ANNE. The Arcana of Death has reached Rank 1.

Duncan asks her to have dinner tomorrow, she's like "sure", and speeds off. And they say asking women out is difficult!

Elsewhere, Brian Cullen is hanging out in his sweet convertible and snorting cocaine while waiting to ambush Richie. This actor reminds me a lot of James Franco, and that isn't a bad thing at all. What is a bad thing:

In an attempt to run down Richie on his motorbike, Cullen swerves and crashes into this bus (which, to be fair, is in the wrong lane).

We get a weird special effect, which I think is what Cullen sees due to all that cocaine.

The bus crash created mayhem at the hospital, where Anne has been called in to deal with the emergency. Duncan returns her pager, which she dropped on the bike trail.

She doesn't know when she'll be able to do anything, especially with this crash. Duncan is 100% forgiving and tells her to take care of it, he'll see her some other time. I hope she changes those gloves after this, we all know where Duncan's hands have been.

Anne goes off to save children. Lots of people got hurt on the bus crash, and the driver was killed.

Duncan just kinda stands there for a minute. I think he might be realizing that she's too good for him. And he's right. Not that he isn't great, but if he lets someone else in, he's exposing them to The Baggage. Which there's an awful lot of.

They aren't even dating yet and she's already crossing paths with his problems. Because...

...Here's Cullen. So far this episode is a tale of two crashes...which is fitting, because Cullen is sort of an alternate universe Duncan. More on that in a bit.

Duncan senses him as he wakes up, and they're reunited after a century. Not only do they know each other, they're the best of friends. Or were.

Cullen says he feels super-great, which is weird because he was just violently killed in a crash. He admits that he might have caused it, but also notes that the bus was on the wrong side of the road. He then asks if Duncan wants to chill and watch Pineapple Express.

Duncan worriedly says he looks like hell, and it turns out these guys go WAY back. While Cullen is about 2x as old, they're both from the highlands of Scotland. They're both about equally powerful  (that almost never happens), and teamed up many times to wreak havoc against the British. Matter of fact, for a long time, Cullen was renowned as the best swordsman in Europe. Someone Duncan never wanted to mess with, and learned a lot from. But clearly, something's wrong with the guy now.

Duncan: "You're gonna attract a lot of attention if you walk outta here."
Cullen: "Don't I always?" 

And on that note, we go to Switzerland in 1810 as our heroes get drunk in a carriage and wonder aloud what the Swiss do besides make coo-coo clocks. 

Fun Fact: Switzerland is the ONE country on Earth that Anthony Bourdain refused to visit. Everything about their culture gave him the willies.

Some spry (mortal) youth shows up and demands a fight with Cullen, seeking to unseat the reigning top swordsman in Europe. Either that or he's asking to speak to their manager. 

Our heroes respond by turning their backs on him and peeing in the street!

After numerous warnings to the young dandy by our heroes, he refuses to let them pass without fighting The Best. 

Cullen accepts, and bids Duncan good day as he takes care of this. He'll catch up on the kid's horse. 

"See you, Briiian!"

With Duncan all drunken, he kinda sounds like Drunk Stewie talking to his best friend Brian. 

Back to the present, they get back to Duncan's flat and sense an immortal. Duncan says it's just Richie, no cause for alarm. Brian is still rattled by the sensing.

 Richie sees who it is and immediately goes ballistic, knowing the guy tried to run him down.

Cullen, for whatever reason, really wants to "finish the job", and Richie is happy to oblige. 

Duncan intervenes on Richie's behalf, and Cullen laughs that this kid wouldn't last ten seconds. 

Meanwhile, in 1850's San Francisco...the Gold Rush is in full effect, and Duncan is living it up with the residents of Mrs. Fotheringill's Residence For Women. 

We get the always-disappointing "immortal sense happens while about to make out with a lady, followed by Duncan looking REALLY SORRY as he runs off"


Around the corner, we get the biggest smile Duncan does in the ENTIRE SERIES as he runs into Brian. 

This guy is actually very Fitzcairn-like in some of these flashbacks. We haven't met Fitz yet, but he gets mentioned in advance a couple times during this season. 

Brian immediately wants to go get drunk, and Duncan still doesn't see any problem. 

Because Cullen can't just exist without someone trying to mess with his life, they're interrupted by the arrival of... 

...local immortal Zoltan Laszlo, who looks like The Big Show's ancestor. He wants to fight Cullen, and Cullen just declines before disappearing around a corner. Duncan accepts the challenge on his behalf, and Zoltan is like "lol" and leaves. OUCH.

The transition back to the present is noteworthy because it splits the screen between Brian and Duncan. I maintain that this episode presents them as parallels of each other. 

Duncan manages to diffuse this fight before it can go anywhere, clearly rattled at the prospect of a brawl taking place in his living room. 

"It's okay. I think I'll just find a hotel."

I feel kinda bad for the dude for running into issues everywhere he goes, but he started this one. 

Duncan shows up at the hospital again to try and get Anne to have breakfast with him. She's too busy, and mumbles something about The Patriarchy. 

He wins her over with some weird talk about how neither of them are too old for nightmares.

The breakfast goes well. They just kinda sat there and had food.

::persona S-Rank window crashes across the screen as the Anne arcana reaches level 2::

Anne: "They still haven't caught the guy. You know, they found methamphetamines all over that bastard's car." 

Flashback to San Francisco again, as Duncan tracks Cullen down in an opium den. He's fully bombed-out. 

Duncan recoils from the stuff, and says he's never seen Cullen like this. 

Duncan: "Why'd you run away?"
Cullen: "Ha, you think I ran away?"
Duncan: "It's what you did."
Cullen: "Truth is, I'm scared to death. This helps me forget what I am, and what's waiting out there."

Back in the present, Brian is getting cocaine from this cliché super-seedy street dealer. Nowadays they're just called doctors.

After snorting a very large amount of cocaine (because he can't overdose), Cullen shrugs off two gunshots to the chest and smashes a couple of cops who broke in on them, then runs off.

He then snorts some more cocaine before doing a Negan strut down some steps. He's dangerously close to making all of this seem really cool.

Duncan gets back from grocery shopping to Brian snorting up a storm in his kitchen. "Brian, I can't help you unless you stop putting that stuff up your nose!"

Brian explains that everything sucks for him, with people always on his back, and it's easier to just ignore all of it and be like this. Duncan says that he remembers how the guy used to be, and that there wasn't a better swordsman or a better friend out there.

"I'd trade everything I have, in a minute, for a normal life"

Duncan proceeds to take his drugs away and tell him that when he plows into a bus full of kids, he doesn't die, but other people do.

Cullen gets pissed at Duncan for all of this and says Duncan just wants him to be weaker, then takes off. Duncan is as out of sorts as we ever see him, likely realizing he's making a foe out of somebody who could probably beat him...and even if not, the alternative is just as shitty for him.

Anne calls about the dinner date they're finally going to have, and Duncan can't even muster up a smile.

Duncan gets suited-up for the dinner. Richie follows him and probes for info while Duncan no-sells. This scene, word-for-word, 100%, sounds like it was written for Charlie. Richie even has Charlie-esque mannerisms and intonations here.

Anne is looking gorgeous (or as the kids say, "thicc AF, would smash"). Duncan isn't very good company because he's got so much going on.

 They get to dance for a couple minutes, then she gets summoned back to the hospital.

 "It isn't always like this!" she says while leaving. "I'm lying, it is always like this."

 Cullen ambushes our hero right after Anne leaves, giving us the long-awaited return of sword sparks.

 A fairly quick duel follows, where a high-as-a-kite Brian crashes through stuff and falls on his ass.

 Duncan has a chance to finish him, and instead leaves because F this.

 Another flashback to the opium dens, where Brian is freaking out and thinks the den employees are enemies coming to get him too.

 Duncan talks him out of killing anybody, and clearly doesn't really know how to handle any of this.

 They hug, and Brian admits that he needs some help.

Duncan to Richie: "There are critical moments in everyone's life, and who you are can depend on who you meet. Who would I be if I hadn't met Fitzcairn or Tessa, or you?"

Richie: "I know where I'd be if I hadn't met you. I'd be dead. Do you think you can help him the same way?"

They revisit this in the final episode of the entire series, where we actually see what Richie's life would have been like without Duncan around. ...And he's basically correct.

 Brian calls Duncan and asks for help. At this point it's hard to believe anything the guy says or does.

 Duncan was waiting by the phone and grabs it quickly. This is as much as you'll ever see Duncan glued to a phone, with him waiting to hear from both Anne and Brian.

He heads to this...abandoned garage to find his friend, only to... ambushed again, this time by Cullen trying to RUN HIM OVER.

 Cullen completely flattens Duncan against a wall, though Duncan jabbed his sword through the windshield and impaled him too.

 He yanks the sword out of his torso and stumbles over to finish off our hero. Jesus Christ.

 This fight is a real shock to the system, and the worst-off we've seen Duncan since he fought Grayson. Though this is less a fight and more of an attempted murder.

 Duncan gets ahold of a tire iron to defend himself. Cullen is weakened as well due to being impaled (and completely bombed-out on drugs).

 Duncan gets his neck sliced and, not gonna lie, for a second it felt like this was the end. We see later in this very season (and the first movie) that neck wounds on immortals actually leave scars...if they're on the front of the neck, anyway. This was enough to the side I guess.

 For being a fight between two of the best immortals in the entire series, this is more sad than anything else. They both start the fight in a critical state and struggle to even stay on their feet.

 Duncan manages to reach his katana. He's got nothing left in the tank, and can muster up enough energy for one swing.

 Cullen looks at Duncan for a second and seems to be struggling with his emotions.

 Still, he leaps down to finish Duncan, and during his stumbling landing Duncan unleashes that one swing he's got.

 That's it for Cullen, as Duncan collapses in a heap.

 The Quickening, and stuff. Duncan doesn't want it.

 He sits for a while, and it's safe to say he won't be getting any sleep.

 As far as difficult things he's gone through, this one's near the top of the list.

 Still dusty and beaten-up, Duncan creepily looms outside the hospital. In real life the staff would be getting all suspicious of him by now and wondering if he has something better to do.

Anne interrupts the very visibly-depressed Duncan and offers to take him out for breakfast.

 He doesn't tell her anything. Honestly, she's probably a little skeptical of him given how mopey and awkward he's been around her.

 Now for the villain of the episode: ZOLTAN LASZLO. No wonder he wanted to fight Brian so much: The long, luxurious hair no doubt reminded him of his adulterous wife who stabbed him. And he later got felled by a woman, too. This guy had issues. Zoltan Laszlo, we salute you.

 Brian Cullen on the other hand is just a sad story. I'd have liked to see this guy in more episodes, but at the same time this was very much a one-episode situation given his modern state.

Adrian Paul is really at his best when he has someone charismatic to play off of, and in this episode we had both of those things in spades.

This episode is tremendous. It could have been a preachy anti-drug PSA, but it wasn't. Instead it presented an alternate universe version of what Duncan could have turned into if he went the wrong way.

1 comment:

  1. Look at their fancylad clothes!

    Fitz was in the last episode of season one, actually.

    Huh, despite that nearly every episode ends like this, for some reason I remembered Duncan sparing him being the end of the episode. I guess it wasn't meant to be.