Saturday, September 10, 2022

Highlander 4x08 - Reluctant Heroes


This episode contains a Fop. A Dandy Lad. Anyone who has seen Rob Roy knows how despicable an evil foppish dandy can be. Outside of a strong villain (another of the many who should have lasted more than one episode), there isn't a lot to this one. We get some good Duncan and Richie hangout moments though, and I'll enjoy those while they last since Richie is entirely absent from the last 40% or so of the season.

We start with Duncan and Richie seeing a movie at a Foreign Movie Festival. Richie isn't into it, and says he'll never watch another movie whose title he can't pronounce. Also he says it's two hours of his life that he'll never get back, and Duncan says they don't have to worry too much about that.

...later events make lines like this feel a lot less fun. Mistakes were made later on for sure. In the interest in staying away from spoilers in these episode reviews from here on out (something I've gradually tried to do more and more) I'm not gonna get into it any more than that, but most series fans know what I'm talking about.

Richie is eyeballing every cute girl who walks by...and chances are some of them are eyeballing him back.

Duncan stops Richie's amorous gazing and asks what he'd want out of a movie. Maybe some memorable lines? Duncan then quotes Terminator 2 a bunch of times. I enjoyed that.

Of course, our heroes hanging out and having fun can't last more than 30 seconds, because in yet another crazy coincidence, an immortal happens to show up to assassinate this shopkeeper next to the movie theater. He misses thanks to our heroes intervening, and they take off in pursuit of the guy.

Unfortunately, the shopkeeper's wife took a stray shot, and dies on the scene.

Richie demonstrates some good form as he confronts the assassin in a nearby parking lot. It's...

...Kinman, noted Dandy Lad. I mainly know this actor for torturing (or trying to) Jack Bauer early in 24, probably the first time anything like that happened to him.

A chilling scene and character.

Duncan shows up and stops their potential fight, since Kinman is his to deal with. So this is one of those episodes where the immortal of the week is a bad guy Duncan knows from the past. It's nice when things are this cut-and-dry, rather than the immortal of the week being a friend of his who has fallen.

Kinman is JUST DELIGHTED at this turn of events. If he had a handkerchief, he would flick it into the air.

They have a quick fight and it's clear Kinman is quite good. Probably lucky for Richie that he didn't have to fight this battle, as Kinman has a few hundred years of experience on him with a similar weapon.

The police arrive and Kinman does a curtsey before running off and getting caught. Only THE dandiest fops curtsey. He'd fight Duncan, but you must be this dandy to battle Kinman and Duncan simply doesn't have the foppishness.

Duncan is still working on the fixer-upper house. I really like this component of the season. Not even sure why. Probably because a lot of Bro Time happens at the house and sometimes it rains there during these scenes, which gives it a nice bit of ambiance.

In any case, Richie informs Duncan that the shopkeeper's wife was killed...and Duncan is sad to hear this but says they can't get involved.

Flashback time! It's 1712, and this is Mary, Queen of Scots.

Duncan is wearing his best Englishman Garb to talk to her about, well, the Scots. They've been dying for her in France, and yet English nobles are taxing them into oblivion while doing everything they can to keep the war with France going.

She's willing to listen to him, at least.

One of the cool things about this program is that very often you have episodes like this that raise more questions than anything else, and make you want to pick up a history book (or nowadays, look it up online). Lots of times I've watched an episode of this and wanted to know more about a particular situation or era, so I went and looked it up and learned about it.

After the talks sort of fizzle out, Duncan goes to a nearby bar. There are other episodes with flashbacks to this time period that flesh out what exactly is going on. Someone out there should string together every flashback in the entire series in chronological order. It'd be a monumental undertaking, and a pretty great video to watch. The flashbacks often connect to each other very well, except they'll be a few episodes apart from each other, or even a couple seasons. So if you don't remember the scenario surrounding a flashback from other flashbacks in other episodes, you won't be as informed and a lot of it might seem random. In short, this show asks that you have a strong memory.

I'd give it a shot myself. Problem is, the early episodes don't have dates on the flashbacks. I think that's the case throughout Season 1 and some of Season 2. That would make it significantly tougher to put them in order.

Kinman arrives at the pub and is APPALLED at the stench of all these low-born common folk.

He calls out Duncan's friend Dennis, this English nobleman turned man-of-the-people. This leads to passive-aggressive bickering, as prancing noblemen tend to do.

Dennis challenges Kinman to swords at dawn. Kinman immediately goes from being angry and taunting to being visibly thrilled, and heads out.

...if the guy you're arguing with suddenly becomes thrilled when you challenge them, chances are that was their goal and you're getting played.

Duncan implores Dennis to let him take the challenge instead, that Kinman is a bigger threat than he appears, and Dennis refuses because he's basically a fool. Which Duncan points out.

Duncan meets with Kinman and asks that the duel tomorrow be "first blood" rather than to the death, since Kinman has an advantage. Kinman reluctantly agrees after asking why Duncan cares so much about these...people.

He bids Duncan a good day, then he covers his nose as he walks away. Man, this guy is a DOUCHE.

Next, the fated day arrives. At first, Kinman lets Dennis get a couple hits on him, to build overconfidence.

He pretty much lands a hit on Dennis at-will, though, and it's clear this was a mismatch. First blood has been drawn, fight's over. Except then Kinman taunts Dennis about banging his mother and sister, which causes Dennis to snap and attack. One quick behind-the-back counterattack later and Dennis is dead.

Kinman drops his weapon and goes "oh my!" in a comical moment of foppery.

He curtseys at Duncan before taking his leave and flicking a handkerchief in the air or whatever it is that dandy lads do.

Next our heroes get a visit from the FBI. Something something topical "raid his empty under-construction house for paperwork" joke here.

She's investigating the store owner's wife's death and wants to know if Duncan and Richie are going to testify against Kinman. I don't care about this FBI sub-plot at all, moving on.

They go in for questioning and say that they saw nothing. They can't be linked to all of this, plus Duncan doesn't want Kinman actually imprisoned where he can't get to him.

Store-owner shows up and he's PISSED. "You COWARD" he yells. This gets us a flashback...

Duncan asks Mary for permission to fight Kinman. She says they can't have a Scotsman kill an English highborne, it'd create too many problems. Regardless of the moral imperative involved here, Kinman walks.

Duncan argues with her to the point that she becomes incensed that he'd show so little respect, and ultimately he bows down and vows not to go after Kinman...while she's queen.

Kinman knows this and visits Duncan at the pub to humiliate him, taking jabs at Dennis' pathetic loss and challenging Duncan to a match right then.

Duncan...has to say nothing, and leaves while onlookers yell "COWARD" at him.

The stunt doubles of Chris Jericho and Owen Hart: "COWARD! YA COWARD!"

FBI lady questions Kinman. Even in the present he seems rather foppish.

But wait! It turns out they're having an affair! I DON'T CARE.

This guy shows up at the dojo with his kids. That's right, he's using his kids as an emotional weapon to get Duncan and Richie to testify.

But seriously, Richie at this point doesn't get why they won't help the guy out, at least so he can feel like he got justice.

Duncan goes over for a talk, and we learn that he took a loan from a Russian mobster to pay for the store. When he didn't want to pay it back, the mobster put a hit out on him. It should have been him.

"Do you know what it's like to have someone lose their life because of you? No, of course you don't."

Duncan has the expected reaction to this.

He confronts the mobster and basically orders him to back off.

He beats up a goon! We're gonna send these guys BACK TO RUSSIA!

Mobster agrees to back off, at least.

Elsewhere, FBI lady holds her own partner at gunpoint while they're transporting Kinman. To be fair, she did try very hard to get him to let her deal with the transport alone, and he just wouldn't leave because he didn't want her to be in danger.

It's clear she's struggling with what to Kinman basically orders her to shoot, which she reluctantly does.

They escape out into the woods, where Kinman kills her too. Sure, why not? "But...the house in Tuscany!" she says as she crumples onto the forest floor.

Kinman continues his rampage by going to the mobster who hired him, and shooting that guy because he knows too much. I think. I think that's why he did it. This episode is a little bit convoluted.

"The elegant weapons of yesteryear, reduced to this...machine." Yeah, I imagine people who are used to centuries of fighting with swords would find it pretty jarring that people can now defeat them at a distance with something a lot less stylish.

Which makes me wonder what immortals did before edged weapons were a thing. The earliest record of any immortals in this show was around 3,000 BC with the dawn of Noah, Methuselah, and Methos. Presumably some existed before those 3. Before edged weapons existed, though, they'd have had no way to kill each other. Well, not cleanly anyway. Maybe those 3 really were among the first batch.

Duncan arrives to fight Kinman, and they battle it out in a meat locker. Or at least, start to battle it out before...

...Kinman OPENS FIRE! If he were smart, he would have dropped to the floor and shot underneath the hanging meat. As it is, Duncan just ducked and weaved around and all the shots missed.

Eventually Kinman runs out of ammo, and like the first night of Fight Club, has to fight. He quickly draws first blood on Duncan, much like the Dennis duel.

The difference is that Duncan quickly gains the upper hand, and defeats Kinman with the same behind-the-back stab that Kinman defeated Dennis with. Nice detail there.

For how much they hyped Kinman up as a threat, Duncan dispatched him pretty handily. That continues to be my one problem with Season 4, nobody in this season is any kind of threat to Duncan...except himself, but we'll get to that.

Luckily S5 finally gives us some real threats again and is much better for it.


Weird one here, where Duncan sort of splits into two images that move around independently, like he's having trouble keeping it together for a second.

Duncan visits The Store, where all of this guy's problems have been solved now. The Russian mobster is dead, which he attributed to Duncan. Nope, Duncan says, Kinman took care of it. Why? Don't know.

It's just too bad Kinman got away with all of it.

After lots of dragging this out, Duncan finally turns around and tells the guy that Kinman is gone, and justice was served.

Obviously the guy is relieved to hear this, and at least got some measure of closure. I don't know why Duncan dragged his feet on telling the truth about this for so long. Looked like he almost wasn't going to tell the guy anything, which would have been pretty unfair.

"Duel over imagined insult"... I wonder if he threw a tirade at a media scrum right before that.

Good villain here, who probably should have been in a two-parter and been a bit more of a threat in the last fight given all the buildup. With all of the FBI / shopkeeper stuff, this really felt like a Season 1 "crime drama" episode script that got held over and revived later. No telling, but yeah, it definitely felt throwback-ish. Not necessarily a good thing. Not a great episode, but not a bad one either, and the flashbacks are significant ones of Duncan's time dealing with the Scotland/England drama leading up to Culloden.

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