Saturday, August 24, 2019

Highlander: The Series 3x10 - Blackmail

This episode is really good, better than expectations based off the Season One-ish title. It features possibly the best swordfight in the series up to this point. The villain, seen here, is played by Anthony DeLongis, the sword trainer for the show and a legit master swordfighter. He's the one who teaches guest stars what they're doing. He's also so charismatic that they made him the villain in not one, but two episodes. The other is way later and he's a different character, but still.

 We start with the B-plot that is also the title for some reason, as some well-off businessman guy is cheating on his wife with some woman and filming it.

 "Oh yeah, work with me!" he says as he creepily films from different angles. The impressive thing is that they managed to completely avoid getting any of her naughty bits on camera while she rolled around. I mean they just narrowly avoided them with foreground objects blocking the view.

 Just as they're about to get busy, he HAS TO GO because his wife is calling. The mistress is all like "you're leaving her soon right?" and he's all "yeah, very soon". Har, what a creepy tool. I hope he gets killed. Weird how he just rushed out as soon as she called. He could have said traffic was bad and at least had a quick roll in the hay with this poor woman. I mean, looking at him, I doubt it would have taken more than 2 minutes.

 As he's leaving, he sees a nearby swordfight. How does this not happen more often? These immortals make a lot of noise.

 It's Duncan locked in combat with a bald guy, the vile Peter Matlin.

Instead of calling the authorities or something, creepazoid doctor guy gets out his camera and starts filming the fight like some kind of modern person.

Duncan is all O_O as he spots the guy RIGHT after beheading Matlin.

 During the ensuing quickening, the filmer escapes. This might be the only time in the series where a quickening happens at the very beginning of an episode. Matlin wasn't the villain though. He has a more powerful friend, the Vegeta to his Nappa.

 Duncan goes to Joe and immediately gets accusatory about whether the filmer is a Watcher. I don't know why Joe puts up with this guy at this point.

 Meanwhile, we get the cliché "housewife in a bathrobe wondering where you've been" as creepazoid hides the quickening tape (which also has his mistress rolling around, as well as him being peed on by Russian women).

In my day, being cornered by a freshly-bathed woman in a bathrobe means it's time for only one thing. To this guy, it means it's time for him to leave because Work Stuff Sorry.

What an asshole.

 Duncan and Joe are on the move, staking out the building where the creepazoid was parked before. Is this really the best way to track him down?

 Flashback time, as we go to 1805 England. Druncan is in full effect here, stumbling around and acting like a buffoon. With all the times he stumbled around with people and did stupid things while drunk, it's a wonder he lasted this long without an immortal taking him out.

 We get a really solid pan-over of a campground, showing Lyman Kurlow (our villain of the week) leaning against a tree with a big grin as he listens to Matlin talking to a townsperson.

 Matlin is the guy Duncan defeated at the beginning. He's the Nappa to Kurlow's Vegeta, as I mentioned before. He's a big, sturdy badass.

 After they get the townsperson's money, Kurlow emerges from the shadows and chokes him out with a tie. He then gets fired by WWE.

 Kurlow absolutely chews up any scene that he's in. This guy is an archetype "evil immortal" in every sense, just diabolical. Time for a controversial viewpoint: This actor/character should have been in the Kalas role instead. Not that Kalas isn't good for what he is, but having him as the Big Bad of the second half of the season might be a bit much. Kurlow here could have been tremendous in the same Big Bad type role, if fleshed out a bit more.

 THE STAKEOUT CONTINUES as our heroes deal with the B-plot of the tape.

 Finally the filmer guy shows up and parks, so Duncan sneaks out to get him. Meanwhile we get this awkward scene of Joe eating Duncan's food for a few seconds and making faces like it's gross. Joe always seems to get these extended awkward scenes.

 Duncan hides under the dude's car Cape Fear style and ambushes him.

 "Where is the pee tape?" yells Duncan.


The guy says it's in a safe place and he's not going to show it to anybody nor does he want any money. He wants something else: For Duncan to murder his wife.


 Flashback time again, as Duncan's drunken friend gets framed for the choking murder of the guy in the woods. He's hauled through the streets, screamed at by a Twitter mob that doesn't understand what "innocent until proven guilty" means. The more things change, eh

 Duncan tries to talk to him about it, knowing full well that the guy didn't kill anyone. Well, at least they aren't hauling him around naked like Cersei.

 Duncan then turns himself in as the real murderer and says that he framed the other guy for it. The town is like "WORKS FOR US" and lets his friend go. This means Duncan has to hang, though.

His buddy is NOT happy with this, because he knows Duncan's as innocent as he is. He seems like a good little dude. I'm glad nothing happens to him.

 Duncan shrugs as he gets the noose. He's done this enough times at this point to be used to it even though it's still a shitty experience.

 Just then, he senses the presence of THESE GUYS, the real killers, watching nearby and laughing.


 "LOLOLOL" they say as the hood gets lowered over Duncan's head.

Back in the present, the wife digs up the tape and sees the footage of the mistress.

 She then sees a guy getting beheaded and lots of electricity.

Then she sees nubile Russian girls jumping up and down next to her pee-drenched husband.



Just look away! Don't do this to yourself!

 "What's in the box! Uh oh Poe! What's in the booooooooox! Hee heeeee!"


As soon as she leaves the room, Stealth Duncan sneaks in and nabs the tape. Hopefully he just burns it without watching it, because if someone watched it all the way through their face would melt like that Nazi in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

As for what was in the box? ...Tinky Winky's head.

 She sees Duncan, who assures her that he isn't here to kill her.

She shoots at him anyway. There are two things that are insane about this episode: One, that the creepazoid gave Duncan the keys and info to go kill his wife in the same house where he keeps the tape in a not-hard-to-find place. Two, that this woman is with an awful guy like that. She could do a loooot better.

 Duncan leaves quickly, rattled at being shot at. He's got the tape, though.

He sits down with Joe and they drink over how tedious all of this is. Just noticing now how much drinking there is in this show. I mean there's a lot. Just constant drinking. Regardless, they've pretty much neutralized the creepazoid as a threat, but we're not done yet. Matlin's accomplice Kurlow is still out there, and likely en route as we speak.

The creepazoid shows up and interrupts Duncan playing darts. "WE HAD A DEAL" he screeches.

Duncan is like "I've had just about enough of you" and has security escort him out. is his fists.

He senses the arrival of Lyman Kurlow, then immediately knocks out the creepazoid.

He tosses him out into the alleyway, after which we can hear trash cans falling over and a cat meowing in one of the series' most comedic moments.

Kurlow is here, and seeks revenge for Matlin. He isn't too broken-up about his friend getting killed, and we still don't really know what happened between Duncan and Matlin in the first place. This really could have been a two-parter.

They prepare to fight, cuts away! Dammit!

Flashback to England, where a freshly-recovered-from-hanging Duncan is sensing an immortal in the woods. He's lucky nobody ever buries him.

The Villains arrive, and they think it's comedy gold that Duncan took the fall for their crimes. They're also going to kill him!

Kurlow shows how much Duncan scares him by tossing his hat onto the katana.

In this shot he looks like an evil alternate universe Conan O' Brien. I can't say enough about how good of a villain this guy is.

Duncan flips the hat backwards and Matlin catches it. So we're going to get the fight in a flashback instead of the present? Weird pacing but okay.

The fight goes on for about five seconds. Kurlow's cape is GLORIOUS.

After said five seconds, Kurlow spins his cape and escapes while Duncan tries to get out from under it.

What follows is a very, very lengthy sequence of Duncan stalking Kurlow through a hedge maze. It's one of those "I think they had extra episode runtime to kill" scenes. Still think it's weird to cut to this extra-long flashback right as they were about to fight in the present.

Kurlow goes all T-1000 and jabs through the hedge maze, narrowly missing Duncan's head. And I mean narrowly. This guy does his own stunts, folks.

Kurlow is a master swordsman and doesn't need to resort to tricks, but he does anyway because he's just that devoid of ethics.

The stalking goes on...and on...and we pan out to show the maze. In any case, they never finished their fight.

Back in the present, they're about to clash when the creepazoid stumbles back in. He no doubt had time to revive during that huge flashback. Kurlow again gives up on the fight and leaves, telling Duncan to meet him on a subway track later.

The creepazoid has a NEW offer: If Duncan kills his wife for him...he'll kill Kurlow for Duncan.

Duncan is like "you don't get it" and sends him on his way. Aside from having to deal with Kurlow, he's also worried about what'll happen to this guy's wife since he seems to be so set on having her killed.

He shows up where Kurlow told Duncan they'd meet up. By God he's gonna cap this fool and then Duncan will HAVE to help him!

He just class-changed from "creepazoid" to "repulsive creepazoid"


After being shot, Kurlow quickly snaps awake and chokes him out. He asks if Duncan sent him to do his dirty work for him, which demonstrates that dishonest people are often the first to instantly accuse other people of dishonesty. The creepazoid tells him that he has a lot of money at home if he spares him. Great move, guy. Your WIFE is there.

He then chokes him out with a tie before AGAIN being fired by WWE! NOT ON USA NETWORK, PAL!

Duncan finds the corpse, and no Kurlow. Well, that's one problem solved at least.

Duncan and Joe figure out that Kurlow is probably going to be heading to the creepazoid's residence, and that the wife is probably in a ton of danger, so they head over there.

Sure enough, here he is, and he's got the wife blindfolded with his murder-scarf.

The battle is joined! This is one of the better swordfights in the series, because both guys are legit sword masters. You can tell they were having a complete blast here.

Speaking of blasts, Kurlow DESTROYS A TV. I don't think this is the kind of TV rich people like this would actually have, even in 1994.

It parallels their earlier confrontation, as Kurlow quickly disappears into the maze of the house.

They end up battling next to a pool, which makes for some pretty cool visuals. Don't just take my word for it, though. This is one fight that I recommend going out of your way to see. It elevates the episode from average to very memorable.

Duncan gets slashed and reels from the hit. He rarely has this kind of trouble with an opponent. I still like that Season 3 has so many formidable villains in it that can go toe-to-toe with Duncan. In comparison Season 4 is a bit of a snooze-fest where nobody can scratch the guy.

A shot of the pool itself as Duncan barely manages to knock Kurlow into it and win via higher ground advantage.

We get a HUGE quickening that blows up everything in sight. For a while it felt like they were restrained on the quickening budget. Not in this episode!

Joe made sure the wife got out of there, by the way. He also told her the truth about her husband wanting to have her killed and blackmailing Duncan. She wants to know what the deal was with Kurlow and the beheading on tape, they just sorta tell her that it's better if she doesn't know about it, and she's just like "coo". I guess she didn't like the creepazoid much anyway. A nice detail that I just picked up on after the fact: She's wearing Joe's coat.

Joe: "By the way, if anyone asks about the tape-"

"What tape?"

Joe: "The one with...oh."

Duncan reveals that he erased the tape as soon as he got it anyway and Joe tosses it back to him. Joe was hoping to keep this super-inappropriate tape for "the archives".

...whatever that means.

 Here's Nappa. It's kinda cool and rare that these immortals traveled in a group. Aside from the Four Horsemen, you pretty much never see that unless it's a master and student. These two are accomplices and more or less equal in their alliance (even if one of them is clearly more powerful).

Here's Vegeta. Yeah, these two could have had an entire arc based around them. Neither lasted anywhere near as long as they could have. So it goes. At least this actor will be back later for the Season 5 episode Duende, and it's no coincidence that it's one of the best episodes in the series.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, these swordfights and quickenings would never be able to be so easily ignored by the populace these days. Hell, even in the original movie a guy randomly finds them.

    It's bad enough Joe ate his food, but then he didn't even like it!

    Yeah, the villains rarely buddy up like this.

    Occupation: "murdering thief"