Sunday, January 1, 2023

Highlander 4x14 - Deliverance

 

What I once thought was one of the apex episodes in the series... is STILL really good, even as not-into Evil Duncan as I am now. It's the 12th and mercifully final day of Christmas, and the last nod goes to Highlander.


Duncan arrives back in France on that boat he left on. He's been on this boat for a couple of weeks, wreaking havoc. Where is this, though?

Looks like it's northwest of Paris. So this is a new haunt for the show. The whole episode seems to be filmed in this general area by the ocean, and it is stunning to look at.

The captain is docking Duncan's pay for all the trouble he caused, and wants him OFF THE SHIP.

They could have probably done an in-between episode about the boat ride and showed all the trouble Duncan caused, because I want to know what happened and they don't tell us. Just an entire episode of him getting into fights, refusing to swab the deck, stealing people's lunch, and referring to his co-workers as "empty headed dumb f***s" at media interviews.

Duncan tells the captain that he's gonna regret not paying up, then sucker punches him!

The other guys on the boat seem more than happy to attack him en masse, eventually overpowering him with numbers and clubbing him to the ground. Man, what did he DO to these guys?

They literally launch him off the boat into the mud.

He puts on his best Shawn Michaels impression while snickering at the boat. He's got a lot of free time and nothing better to do than menace people.

He stops at a payphone and calls an old friend:

Sean Burns, psychiatrist who has helped many immortals (and regular people) break out of their mental struggles. If anybody can help, it's him.

Flashback time. It's World War 1 and Duncan is working as a medic. We see more of this in the recent episode The Colonel.

He walks through an infirmary and it feels super reminiscent of Kyle Reese walking through the bunker in the original Terminator. Like it's basically the same scene.

This French soldier goes ballistic and holds a nurse at knife-point. He's hallucinating and thinks he's still in the war getting shot at.

We get a rare glimpse of Duncan as a German as the guy continues to hallucinate.

Sean Burns, who is working with all of these PTSD-addled soldiers, walks in to deal with this situation. He expertly talks the guy down by making reference to the guy's father, who he had good memories of.

Pretty soon, the guy stops seeing Germans firing at him and sees his dad instead.

Just like that, he lets the nurse go. So right off the bat we can see that Sean Burns knows his mental health.

Sean tells Duncan that he can see him as soon as he's in town. Duncan is going to make his way over there tomorrow. Sean can tell something's wrong because Duncan sounds like hell.

Duncan interrupts his phone call when he spots the sea captain walking by. Man, if I were this guy, I would have left with a group after what Duncan pulled earlier. Guy was really tempting fate by leaving work like 5 minutes after Duncan did, by himself no less. No self-awareness.

Duncan hits him with multiple kidney punches, like right on the mark. Those hurt almost as much as attacks on the balls.

He gets out the guy's wallet and finds pictures of his wife. Then he drags the guy off to an unknown fate. I think he tied him up and left him under the dock or something.

He takes the captain's bag, and the flowers the captain bought for his wife, and walks over to her house while taking deep breaths and preparing himself.

By the time he gets there, it's dark. This house is like something out of a pre-rendered PS1 RPG.

Here's Dominique, the captain's stunningly cute wife. She wasn't friendly at first, until Duncan turned on the charm.

According to him, the captain won't make it to dinner, and sent him to bring his stuff back. It's cold out and Duncan is a friend of the captain, so she invites him in to have some food.

They drink LOTS OF WINE, while Duncan generally acts like this great guy.

However, at some point, he can't do it any more. She's too nice, and he can't maintain this facade. ..........He has to tell her the truth about her husband. "Your husband is a damn fool!" he says. He's late for dinner because he's cheating on her with some other person. Duncan says it in such a way that having met her, he's dumbfounded that someone would do this to her.

First of all, not believable. Why would anyone cheat on Dominique? Second of all, wow, Evil Duncan is a real POS!

She's shocked at this news and doesn't believe it. Duncan says he's seen the captain's cheating ways with his own eyes. "He sent me here to tell you you'd be sleeping alone tonight."

She's absolutely crushed and angry, while Duncan stares at her boobs.

Her being angry soon turns into this. You can actually see the moment when the light bulb goes off above her head that there's a silver lining to her husband cheating: She can do whatever she wants with THIS guy!

In the morning, she looks dead. Not sure if she's just sobered up and even more crushed at what her husband "did", or if Duncan was a terrible, loveless partner who just railed her inconsiderately. Probably both.

He swoops in and plants smooches all over her which she recoils from, so definitely both.

Now he tries on all of the captain's clothes. Why not, he's done everything else to ruin the guy's life, take some clothes too! He settles on this turtleneck that fits, and that's his outfit for the rest of the Evil Duncan saga.

The captain finally gets home after presumably freeing himself from whatever Duncan did, only to find...

...this ridiculous sight, with Duncan pretending they're doing it just so the captain would see it. Duncan is such a complete scourge.

He's ready to battle it out! Mano a mano!

Dominique flings boiling water all over him!

The captain breaks out a revolver and tells him to get out! I think at this point Dominique is pretty clear that the captain didn't actually cheat on her, and this guy in their house is some kind of psycho.

He gets too close to Duncan, who easily disarms his gun. Disarming someone with a gun isn't difficult if they get close enough and you have no fear of getting shot. The fear of getting shot is what will cause you to make mistakes, or hesitate, or wimp out at the last second and actually get shot. He doesn't have that fear, almost all normal people do.

They brawl, and Duncan exaggeratedly Kung-Fus the guy all over the place. This is after getting scalded and no-selling it, too (outside of a bunch of red splotches on the face).

The evil version of this guy is so goddamn charming. Half the women watching this probably started ovulating early.

Duncan goes for the kill when...

Dominique has the gun! And unlike her husband, she won't let him get close enough to grab it.

A very Sean Connery looking Duncan: "Ah, so now you must choose!"

::she immediately opens fire on Duncan:: BLAM BLAM BLAM!

He stumbles out and falls down some stairs. The Captain proceeds to follow him out and shoot him a few more times.

Methos drives up, horrified, as Duncan stumbles into the car and dies. Methos does this great eyebrow raise when something scary happens, and he does it a lot in this episode.

BLAM BLAM BLAM!

Well, let's think about this family for a second. I mean they're probably shattered from this little nightmare. If Dominique tells her husband everything that happened, then he's gonna have to live with the idea that his wife didn't trust him and hooked up with the very guy who lied about him. Even if she doesn't tell him, she's gonna have to live with the fact that she cheated on her husband, even though she was totally deceived into doing it. I mean that's gonna stick with these people for a long time and mess them up.

Well, at least he didn't kill them. Though if they didn't have that revolver, he almost definitely would have. Rather be caught with it than caught without one, as Xzibit would say. Provided there are no little kids or mentally off people in said house.

When he wakes up, Methos has him in a church. Duncan proceeds to yell and lash out at Methos, which...

Catches Methos entirely off guard. He's now realizing what everyone's talking about. He's here to help Duncan but he didn't expect it to be anything like this. I guess it was hard to imagine Duncan being anything besides Duncan.

Duncan asks Methos why he cares about helping him. In one of the best lines of the series, Methos bellows "BECAUSE YOU'RE TOO IMPORTANT TO LOSE!"

That line says so much about both of them and why they still have a friendship to begin with. Methos sees something in this person, something worth looking out for, even if the man himself doesn't see it right now.

Duncan then draws sword on Methos. Even just drawing a sword in Holy Ground is a no-no, and here he is about to use it! Methos clearly panics here, his sense of safety crumbling.

He tries to swing, or at least it appears that way. Not sure if his rational side is taking over long enough to stop him, or if there's a compelling force on Holy Ground that just doesn't allow it to happen.

Methos says that no matter how bad or evil you are, you can't do this. I don't know if I would have risked that if I were him. 5,000 years and he was almost undone by his belief in one hard-and-fast rule of immortality that might not actually be the barrier he thinks it is, something that only crossed his mind when he had a blade to his throat.

Duncan instead launches Methos across the room with a push. There was some "demonic entity gives it extra oomph" here I think.

This area where they filmed this episode is incredible. It's on the coast of Normandy somewhere. I'm looking into where this actually was specifically, but not finding much out yet.

Duncan then steals a car! The amazing scenery here might be the giveaway of where this is.

Duncan then peels around in his stolen car! Some good music plays on this part that feels very Miami Vice.

Methos upon finding out that Duncan is en route to see Sean Burns. Oh yeah, Sean Burns, that's who he called before he went off on the "Ruin Sea Captain's Life" sidequest. Also my least-favorite Witcher 3 sidequest.

Duncan arrives at Sean's house, in another ludicrously nice area. Sean immediately sees that Duncan's off.

He doesn't know what's going on, but he's wondering what he can do to help.

Sean: "They're calling it The War To End All Wars. Do you believe it is?"
Duncan: "I wish I could."
Sean: "Too many wars, too many shattered bodies and shattered minds."

Sean asks him to stay on and keep working with troubled soldiers. Duncan can't, but he'll remember this place.

Duncan: "Can psychotherapy work for immortals?"

Sean: "Maybe, but we're so much more complex. Upon our page, so much more is written."

Every scene with this Sean Burns guy is a joy, dialogue-wise. He returns in several later episodes in flashbacks, which was a good choice.

Regardless, Duncan's good side is clearly still around enough to seek help from this guy, and explain to him that he went through some kind of Dark Quickening. Sean has heard of such things but didn't think it was real. Once he realizes it is, he finally sees Duncan as the threat that he is.

Sean appeals to Duncan's runaway ego by saying "I could fight you, but you're better" which causes Duncan to momentarily like the guy.

Sean: "I can't help you if I don't have my head."

Well, maybe...the good in this guy will go a ways toward offsetting Duncan's badness? It's possible. Pretty rough for Sean though.

Methos shows up, but he's too late to do anything. Sean seems to be getting through to Duncan, but not for long. He extends a hand - a left hand - which allows Duncan to pull him in for...

...a big ol' surprise swing. Guy couldn't even defend himself. The last thing he expected was this kind of thing from Duncan. Not sure if he even brought a weapon.

Methos is horrified, yet again.

We zoom in on him during the Quickening and see his pain at what's happened. Up to now, Duncan just menaced everyone in his path, now he's actually murdered someone. And a very good guy no less.

Methos begins to express his disappointment, and wonders if maybe he should try to kill Duncan to stop him.

Note: This is one of several Quickenings throughout the series that turned day into night. I always wondered what was up with those. Do people in the surrounding areas notice this sudden complete change of time? How's that even possible? I assume it has to do with heavy storm clouds rolling in, considering thunder can be heard in the background every time it happens, but how heavy are we talking that it makes it look like night time?

Duncan tells Methos that if he kills him, he'll become just as bad as he is. Methos suggests that maybe he has more room for all the evil and hate.

Man, imagine Methos with a Dark Quickening from this guy. He'd be a blight upon the Earth. Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on 'roids.

Duncan goes back to Paris and looks at his stuff in The Barge. Looks like he keeps things covered up when he's out of town, which is a good way to keep dust out of everything.

Then he loses his temper and goes ballistic and trashes his own place while screaming "NOTHING" over and over.

Then he sits around outside in Paris, glaring menacingly at people and hallucinating that Sean Burns is with him, talking to him.

We get more flashback, this time with Duncan lamenting that he can't do more for all the injured troops he's meeting, and Sean pointing out that Duncan carries a lot of Scottish Guilt that doesn't accomplish much.

Duncan: "Bringing up my childhood again...is it Jung or Freud this time?"
Sean: "It's Sean Burns."

Duncan goes to visit Darius' church. He's, at the very least, remembering places that mean something to him.

He has a hallucination of another friend. Or is it?

Duncan asks Darius to help him, and expresses dismay at what he did earlier.

Methos shows up, and has an idea that might help Duncan if he's willing to go with him.

Methos: "You're not alone. Not out here, and not in there."

He points out that Sean Burns is in there somewhere, and his goodness is a part of him. Duncan does seem much more willing to be helped at this point.

Methos takes Duncan out to this supposedly holy spring that has been lost since the 700s. People used to cleanse their evil there and apparently it worked.

Duncan gets aggressive, and Methos manages to calm him down by presenting the Macleod Claymore that he used to wield. The somewhat plainer (but more realistic) show version, not the iconic movie version. I prefer that one. I've mentioned it before, but until I saw these episodes again, I actually remembered the movie version of the sword being in these episodes.

Duncan takes the claymore and begins climbing down a well to the holy spring.

There's some kind of catacomb down here. Again, they're getting a little too much into the mystical here, but I'll allow it.

The holy spring itself is basically the Lifestream from FFVII. Does it actually have magical properties? I don't know. What I do know is that if it's been stagnant for this long, that water must be full of moss and algae. It isn't glowing green because it's magic, it's glowing because it's radioactive.

Duncan meditates in the spring, and a fight takes place...in his mind.

Super-overconfident Evil Duncan appears (with his katana), and we now get the best fight of this entire season. Katana versus Claymore, Duncan versus Duncan. It's the only opponent he faces all season who actually gives him a bad time. A very bad time.

Evil Duncan has everything regular Duncan has...plus a killer instinct and complete disregard for fighting fairly.

They battle it out! This is a sick brawl.

Evil Duncan's one weakness is the same as Shao Khan in Mortal Kombat II: He spams Taunt too much.

Duncan catches Evil Duncan with a perfect block, throwing him off, and...

One of the best SHIIIINGs in this entire show is Duncan spinning around and administering a massive claymore swing. That's it for Evil Duncan.

Rain pours down from somewhere and Duncan is cured of his madness / evil / darkness / ball of hate. Not sure how much of this was the magic pool and how much of it was the stability brought to him by Sean Burns' essence, which talked to him several times throughout this scene. Basically told him not to blame himself.

Methos helps Duncan out of the pool. I'd be careful about that. He used his left hand, which is the exact same thing Sean Burns did a little while ago and got killed for it. Methos took a LOT of risks in this episode.

They go back to the Barge. Duncan notes that he trashed the place, and hasn't been himself lately.

Methos: "Really? I hadn't noticed."

Rachel Macleod, distant cousin, is in here fixing the place up. I guess when Methos showed up asking her to borrow the claymore, she decided to go along and see if there was anything she could do.

She's very happy to see Duncan. They didn't get together in Homeland but she'll be around for the next week (and next episode) and I'm sure they finally did the deed somewhere in there.

Methos realizes he's now the third wheel and does that thing he does where he's all "well look at the time, you kids have fun"

Duncan acknowledges what a good and important friend Methos is and Methos is just kinda like "don't mention it". He left Alexa in Athens and they still have more traveling to do, so we'll see him again later.

Outstanding episode, maybe the best in Season 4. I think Till Death is my overall favorite S4 episode at this point (I'll get to it eventually), and there are some standouts like Homeland and Chivalry, but Deliverance is probably the best this season produced. Ten out of ten, and so on. The only issue I have with it is that after the fact, they don't acknowledge it very much, aside from several S5 episodes following up on it. The rest of S4 doesn't really deal with the ramifications of it much, it's business as usual with Duncan just being a little quieter and humbler for a while.

Also, we don't see Richie again for the rest of the season, he's just forgotten about. Would have liked to hear that Duncan called him to apologize, or asked Joe to pass along what happened and tell Richie how sorry he is, or anything like that. At least in S5 they'll finally follow up on this very dark chapter with Duncan having to face Richie again and having to answer to Sean Burns' friends and allies.





2 comments:

  1. The pretty church and cliffs are in Etretat, not far from Le Havre

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    1. Oh and I'm loving those recaps btw. They're a lot of fun and make me want to rewatch a few episodes.

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