Saturday, September 17, 2022

Highlander 4x09 - The Wrath of Kali


Highlander posts seem to be the most-read and most commented on posts on here, so it's time we do more of 'em. This one here is probably an average episode by most standards, maybe a shade above average. However for me, it's one of my favorite episodes. I think it was one of the first ones I saw as a kid, since I started really watching this early in S4. Prior to that I'd only sometimes caught it in the first 3 seasons. I had no idea who Kalas was until the DVD sets came out years later. In any case, here we go, one of my first episodes and one of my favorites, and I'm going to use WAY too many words.

London! 3 AM! New York time because of time zones

Kamir, our immortal of the week, is visiting this artifact dealer. The dealer is "one step above a grave robber" and somehow came into possession of the sacred Kali statue, precious to Kamir's sect. They believe(d) the statue to be the actual embodiment of the deity Kali.

Kamir is a Thugee, a sect that died out ages ago in India. He's probably the last one. Course, this guy doesn't know that, and laughs about how the Thugee are no more anyway.

He says that he sold the statue to a university's art gallery. Kamir is not pleased. There's a good line here where the dealer says that one of his artifacts is unique in the entire world, and asks if Kamir can appreciate its value. Kamir looks him over and says "Yes. Can you?"

He could just go on his way, but it's his code of honor to strangle anyone who disrespects Kali.

Somewhere, a young Bryan Danielson was watching this episode at home and immediately got fired.

"What? Why??"

The university puts on an art exhibit to show off their new acquisitions. Duncan is here at the behest of the dean of students Shandra Devane, who must have gotten the Dragonballs together and wished for a college student 'bod.

Duncan introduces her to Richie and gives him the window to make a move, only to have Richie instead make things awkward by saying he pictured her being a stuffy old professor with a pipe.

The statue of Kali that is causing all of the fuss. It appears to stare right into the soul of onlookers.

These three now gawk at the statue. Shandra thinks it's gorgeous.

Richie: "She's not exactly my type."

Man this is so awkward.

Wait a minute...Shandra Devane? An Irish name for an Indian? She has been many things.

Kamir shows up and greets everyone, making sure to bow to Shandra.

India! 1764!

The British have completed their acquisition of India and are trying to iron out the wrinkles, like the Thugee "cultists" that are resisting them. From the British perspective, they're gaining an empire. From the perspective of a good portion of the Indians, an empire is being lost.

Anyway, here's Colonel Ramsey, a stuffy "officer of the crown", and his hot wife.

He mistakes fellow British officer Duncan for a Random Indian, and swats at him with his swatting-stick to get out of his chair. I don't know how Duncan puts up with these guys.

Nope, turns out Duncan is Ramsey's liaison in the region. This is after Culloden, when I guess the Brits sent him here to work towards their new goals. Ramsey is incensed that Duncan is wearing native garb, to which Duncan suggests perhaps having some respect for the places you're visiting.

"I rather enjoy the idea of going native!" says Col. Ramsey's Hot Wife while eyeballing our hero. Then she scowls at the Colonel because he never wants to do anything interesting. Neither of them want to be here but here they are.

Kamir arrives, representing the Indian side. A nearby tiger just sort of shrinks away from him as he approaches. Probably the best entrance of an immortal in this entire series.

Kamir is here to work with Duncan and Ramsey on unifying India into the British Empire. Though he clearly isn't thrilled about it, he's doing his job. He and Duncan, being immortals, immediately have a mutual respect while they basically ignore the chihuahua-like Ramsey.

Col. Ramsey's Hot Wife waltzes over and wants Duncan to give her a tour of the wilderness, as she flirts incessantly. Surely there are many good outdoorsy places to plow! For planting crops.

Duncan nearly chokes on his food when she leans in and asks him how well he rides.

She might as well have leaned in and said "I'm completely soaked, Mr. Macleod"

Back in the present, Kamir dispenses wisdom, and Richie in particular immediately likes the guy. However, he wants them to know that he believes the Kali statue should be returned to India.

Later, he visits Shandra (w/ college student bod) in her office and tries to talk her into giving the statue to him to transport back to India. Considering the university just paid untold amounts of money to get it, that's a no. We also find out what's up with her name: She's half-Irish.

He's quietly seething, because not only has she disrespected Kali by treating her as commerce... she has disrespected her own people. He was actually reaching for his silken murder-cord when Duncan showed up at the office and he had to act natural.

Back at the ranch! An increasingly-buff Richie is practicing his staff-fighting. Seriously, compare this guy's arms here to his arms in the first episode, a mere 3 years earlier. There's no comparison, he looks about 10x better.

Kamir shows up and offers to demonstrate some staff fighting technique of his own, which Richie - always ready to learn - obliges. Kamir then proceeds to do an incredible display of staff manuevers, though the scene is hampered a bit because it's clearly a stunt double who is shorter than the actual Kamir.

Kamir tells Richie about India and how wondrous it is. They survived one empire after another trying to conquer them for 3,000 years. The Persians, the Romans, the British, all fell short.

Then he looks right into the camera and says "And so will China! DO YOU HEAR ME, XI JINPING?"

I did NOT see that coming!

After asking who Kamir is talking to, Richie comments that he hopes he'll be able to visit India at some point in his future. Yeah.

Duncan shows up and seems slightly annoyed that Kamir is showing up all over the place. He just won't leave, like Spock Prime at the end of Trek 2009.

Kamir challenges Duncan to a staff fight and he reluctantly accepts after pleading from Richie. Hey, I'd also want to see this.

Kamir wins...with a Japanese move that Duncan recognizes. Then Kamir claims it was mere luck. Duncan thinks this guy is showing some false humility and has a lot more going on than he lets on.

They sip tea and talk about how the British did get one thing out of their occupation of India (that's right...tea). Kamir then tries to get Duncan to talk to Shandra about giving the Kali statue back, and once again, he doesn't want to do that.

Kamir: "The British stole from us with impunity as if it were divine right!"

Duncan: "Buying art is not a crime."

Yeah, because if it were, antique-dealer Duncan would be a huge criminal!

Back in the past, Duncan is having a picnic with Ramsey and his wife, who we now know is called Alice. This shot could be framed in a painting. They did such a good job with the composition and the costumes and everything in this episode.

Alice learns from Duncan that the Thugees kill their victims by choking them with silk, which gets her all hot and bothered. Well, more-so.

Ramsey then obliviously wanders off and leaves his wife alone with DUNCAN MACLEOD.

Duncan goes to help her up, and she has a sudden cramp of the leg! And the only cure... for Duncan to massage her leg. Preferably as high as possible.

Then he proceeds to give her a full-on under-the-skirt handie! My God!

This oblivious dorkus returns with the horses and somehow didn't see anything. I remember seeing this as a kid and wondering what exactly Duncan was doing to her.

It would have been hilarious if Duncan stuck his hand in Ramsey's face like The Rock, only for Ramsey to not detect anything unusual because he's never been down there.

Alice is quite irritated at his interruption because she hadn't orgasmed yet. Nor would she for another 8-12 years.

Elsewhere, this woman is about to be sacrificed via burning. Her husband died and they're going to place her alongside him on the funeral pyre. Her name's Vashti.

Duncan swoops in and rescues her, much to the chagrin of Col. Ramsey and wife. Ramsey doesn't want to get in the way of any locals, the wife just doesn't want Duncan around any other chix. Funny how possessive she is of a guy she isn't even with.

Col. Ramsey tells Duncan he better not disobey him again. Duncan has no regrets.

But wait! Much to his surprise, Vashti is also angry at him! Turns out she CHOSE to be sacrificed and now her entire family is disgraced.

Duncan doesn't know what to say, but assures her that maybe her life isn't over just because she lost her husband.

I mean, he did well to respect the dress code when he got here. However, now he's interrupting a local tradition and claiming to know better, while swooping in on a newly-widowed comely maiden. Plus he just handblasted another guy's wife halfway to completion.

Jirard: "Please leave me out of this!"

Duncan tries to talk Shandra into at least finding out where Malay (the seedy dealer) got the Kali statue. Because Kamir is quite adamant that it was stolen. And if that's true, it could mean that they do need to return it.

Pretty sure Malay acquired it "legitimately"...but somewhere along the line, someone likely did steal it. Doesn't matter at this point. Well, to Kamir it does.

Duncan turns on the charm and Shandra pretty much has to entertain his crazy theory. She calls Malay...only to find out that the man was found murdered.

Elsewhere, Richie feels like Duncan and Kamir hail from places with such rich history, while all he has is the alleyways and grunge of where he grew up.

Kamir says "You have more than that, and you'll know it when it starts to die before you."

Yeah, it's easy enough for people to cheer on a supposed great leap forward, until they realize that they now have to live through the destruction of their civilization. But enough about that, I don't want this to turn into Wrath of Kali Yuga.

Duncan shows up and asks Kamir if he killed Malay. Kamir basically admits it, then says "The Duncan I remember was not so judgmental!"

I mean he has a point. He has a lot of points.

Back in the past...this episode has been high on flashback, and really, the whole thing could have been flashback and I'd have been fine with it. At this point we've jumped forward: Duncan is close to being involved with Vashti. Alice just wants him to forget Vashti and finish her off, dammit!

Alice: "It's a full moon...they say the full moon can make you forget yourself."

Duncan: "And forget your husband apparently."

Alice talks about how the villagers are dancing around a fire, playing drums and losing themselves with passion. "God knows what they're doing down there" she says as she starts rubbing against him like a flirtatious cat.

I've seen some horny women in this show, and I think Alice here might take the award for Horniest Woman In Highlander History.

She forces a kiss on him, then when he refuses to go to bed with her, she starts yelling at him and bein' all racist about Vashti.

Well, have fun with Ramsey. Duncan has other things to do.

Speaking of Ramsey, he stumbled into some sort of coup over in the village and gets murdered by a bunch of Indians.

Kamir strikes the killing blow and seizes Ramsey's hair as a trophy.

Dammit, NOW who's going to not-please Alice?

Kamir: "If you want to challenge me, do so. But do not judge me."

I don't think Duncan knew that it was Kamir who killed Ramsey until this moment.

Later, our heroes have a really interesting discussion about right and wrong. Kamir lives by a different code of rules. Richie asks if enforcing a different code of rules makes someone evil, and Duncan admits that it doesn't.

Basically what it comes down to is that Richie doesn't think Duncan should be passing judgment on this guy and fighting him, especially over the death of some shady arms dealer. Everyone Kamir has killed, debatably, had it coming.

The only problem with Richie's that Kamir is legitimately dangerous to anyone who ends up on his naughty list. Like Shandra Devane and her perky college student 'bod (thanks Eternal Dragon)

Another flashback! They talk about Ramsey, who Duncan has no love for. "The likes of his kind destroyed my country, scattered my people" says Duncan. He's had a lot more in common with Kamir than just immortality. So why work for them now?

Kamir has a way of being coy about things, and points out that anyone could have killed Ramsey because, in Ramsey's own words, this land is just so barbarous. Duncan doesn't read between the lines.

Vashti is gorgeous. She's kind of like if Nefertiri wasn't a raging narcissist.

These two admit their feelings for each other, and he offers her his hand.

I hope he washed his hands since the previous flashbacks.

Vashti later invites him to her room and lights a bunch of candles. If he were an anime protagonist, he would be scratching his head and asking what she means.

She then begins disrobing and making out with him. If he were an anime protagonist, he would be scratching his head and asking what she's doing.

After a slow, romantic roll in the hay, which clearly means something to both of them, she thanks him for helping her figure things out, and leaves.

Back in the present, Duncan has retrieved the Kali statue from the university, and Kamir is free to take it back to India. I guess they did a 180 once they found out it might have been stolen.

Annnnnd back in the past (I'm getting whiplash) we see that Vashti went ahead and allowed herself to be killed. Regardless of how much she likes Duncan, she still wanted to join her husband in the afterlife.

Kamir is apparently the one who helped her die, and Duncan is INFURIATED. Kamir calmly tells her that Vashti was set in her ways and Duncan had no right to tell her otherwise. He's...he's kinda right.

The weird thing is, for a long time I remembered this episode differently. When I saw it as a kid, for some reason I thought Alice had killed Vashti with poison or something. Not sure why I thought that. Maybe there's a Mandela Effect thing going on here. So I was pretty surprised to see this again as an adult and see what actually happens. Alice pretty much drops off the face of the Earth after that last scene she was in. Highlander's horniest woman, long may she reign.

Back in the present, Kamir is stalking Shandra Devane in the halls of the university. Duncan shows up to see her, and finds him. Kamir got the statue he wanted, why couldn't he just leave well enough alone? Because in his mind, Shandra is a traitor, the worst kind of moral offender.

What follows is a good duel that is TOO DARK TO SEE. I couldn't get any real pictures of it. The fight spills over into a Planetarium, which had a lot of potential, if only the brightness were turned up a bit.

Interesting, if subdued quickening here, with the Planetarium putting on a light show. I'm just glad Shandra didn't hear any of this from a few hallways over.

Duncan slumps over. This is one of the fights he wasn't thrilled about having to do. Rarely does this show examine what must be a horrendous psychological impact that this guy goes through every time he has to kill someone who doesn't, or might not, deserve it.

Richie: "I don't feel good about him dying."

Duncan: "You're not supposed to."

As for the Kali statue...Kamir wanted it to go home, and that's where it's going. I can't imagine how much bureaucratic red tape the university is gonna subject this guy to now. Then again, I think this might be the last episode where he actually works there. Feels like there might be a side-story we totally missed here. We'll see.

Definitely one of the cooler (and older) immortals in a while. Like so many others, I wish he'd been around for more than one episode. Then again, he was a menace, and if he'd been spared in this one he would have relentlessly gone after Shandra later. Wouldn't have made any sense to let him go. Regardless, he got a lot of things right.


  1. Kamir's a great villain. Definitely would've liked to have seen more of him, but considering that immortals solve everything with duels, I'm not sure how you'd bring him back. He's not duplicitous enough to play games with Duncan.

    Kinman from the last episode though, he could've definitely been in a couple more episodes. What a delightful bastard he was.

  2. What I like about this episode is that it shows it’s characters in many colors. In India we see Duncan show a certain appreciation for the local culture, but only a limited appreciation. When he comes across something he doesn’t like, it’s a whole new story. He tries to stop the bride burning and the insensitive colonel tells MacLeod to stop interfering with local customs.

    In a strange way the colonel has more respect for local culture than MacLeod. And it’s not like Mac respects Western traditions any more than he does Indian customs. He stopped fondling the colonel’s wife not out of any respect for marriage vows, but because he decided he didn’t like the woman. Hardly the act of an honorable man.

    And Mac was willing to let Kamir get away with murder of the grave robber. The robber didn’t have to die. Kamir could have just taken the statue back. But Mac has a certain sympathy for lost treasures taken by the English. See Stone of Scone for further education.

    In the end, Mac was willing to tolerate a lot before going into action and issuing a challenge.