Monday, March 20, 2023

Highlander 4x15 - Promises

Time for the Paris episodes of Season 4. I said before that I think Season 4 is the only one where the Seacouver episodes are better than the Paris episodes...we'll see if I still think that as the season progresses.

We start with Duncan and Rachel walking around Paris In Winter. She's been staying with him for two weeks and it's pretty clear they're a temporary thing. Good to see these crazy kids finally got together after he kinda rejected her in Homeland.

She complains about sore feet so he CARRIES HER AROUND while she giggles a lot and he tells her nobody's watching. He's right, in Paris people probably don't bat an eye at these kinds of expressions of affection/joy like they do here in American yankeeville.

She wants him to go back to Scotland with her and spend some time there. He says "some day" with a pretty sad expression. I don't think it's in his plans at all.

As much as they're just walking around having fun, he really does have a "recovering drug addict" vibe in these scenes, like he's feeling the effects of an injury on the inside. It's hard to explain, but it's there. Probably has a lot to do with the fact that he's coming off of a very traumatic previous episode.

They continue to walk around and laugh it up. This is so nice! Glad to have some normalcy in the life of - annnnd Duncan gets the buzz. Goddammit.

Course, SOMETHING has to happen, and that something is an assassination attempt on the president of an unnamed country. Duncan springs into action and subdues the would-be assassin.

Our immortal of the day, Kassim, then GUNS DOWN said assassin. He's the President's bodyguard. Weird thing is, he shot the guy when Duncan clearly had him neutralized.

The President thanks Duncan, and he's a seedy guy with sunglasses. I'm trying to place what country he might be the President of. Morocco is the most likely candidate, especially since Kassim is a Moor. It could also be Libya or any North African realm.

Duncan isn't too thrilled to see Kassim, and wants to be on his way quickly. Unfortunately, the President invited Duncan to some sort of ball, and Duncan pretty much has to go. Kassim warns him against refusing the President's generosity.

Meanwhile, in the past!

Duncan is loafing around outside a Moroccan city. He's been hoofing it around with just a rolled-up tent and some supplies, and having a ball. This is the cool part of his history, being able to just walk around everywhere and see all kinds of places, without worrying about getting murdered or getting sore from carrying a pack.

This Thief Guy appears and immediately becomes Duncan's new friend, bantering with him about how lame Gypsies are. The kid is apparently a boot-maker and needs a travel buddy. Duncan agrees to travel with him for a bit if he'll make Duncan some new boots.

The next day they're walking around and enjoying the sights, when...

Kassim shows up and DEMANDS SATISFACTION.

He's the chief of the guards here, and the kid committed the most vile of sins: He defiled the sultan's daughter.

Kassim then clarifies this by saying that the kid "SPOKE to her as if she were a common whore!"

Wait, so that's his definition of "defile"? Allllrighty then. He's like the American mainstream media, using new definitions of words that most regular people don't use, to make the crimes of their targets sound worse. Oh yes, the English language is taking a real beating as of late.

Rachel: "So you just saved a president, does uh, does this kind of thing happen a lot?"

One problem is that Rachel doesn't have anything to wear to this party they're supposed to go to. I'm guessing she only brought one or two outfits and none of them are dresses. That and she probably, well, hasn't needed any outfit for a good portion of the last two weeks, if you catch my drift.

::returns suddenly:: Because they're hooking up.

Duncan takes her shopping in the interim, and by party time they're both looking Dapper AF. Damn!

The President, who I'm now realizing is probably supposed to be Muammar Gaddafi, is a real stuffy rigid guy. In the middle is Nasir, the Minister of Education. He's beloved by The People, while the President is despised, and they both know it.

Yeah, this guy is definitely Gaddafi, look at the shades. According to Kassim, he's a monster who terrorizes his people.

Kassim tells a very James Bond looking Duncan about how bad the President is and how he needs to go. We then go into flashback to 1500's Spain:

The Spanish are defeating the Moors and driving them out of what is now Southern Spain. Kassim is, as usual, the bodyguard to the king. He fights off what is probably hundreds of mortals, but it's to no avail, as the Spanish smash their way into the castle.

Kassim flees with the king, but again, it's to no avail. The king has an arrow wound that isn't gonna go away like Kassim's do.

The king dies after imploring Kassim, who he knows won't die, to make sure that House Al-Deneb reaches its former glory, even if it takes an age. Kassim promises he will, and that's it for the king. And with that, House Al-Deneb, which Kassim grew up serving, is no more.

Now, centuries later, Education Minister Nasir Al-Deneb is the closest any of the king's descendants have gotten to rulership of the country. So we ARE talking about Morocco, despite the Gaddafiness of the president.

Kassim says that the president has to be killed and replaced by Nasir, and since his previous assassin failed, he now wants it to be carried out by Duncan.

Wait, hold on, stop the bike! Kassim hired the assassin earlier? Well that explains a few things. Also Duncan isn't gonna assassinate anybody.

Back in 1755, Duncan rescues the thief from jail, and I find out his name is Reza. After Duncan knocks out the guards, Reza kicks at them with his skinny legs.

"This is for what you have done to me! I speet on you! Patooie! Patooie!"

This guy really is the comic relief. He's like something out of Conan the Barbarian.

They quickly get confronted by Kassim in a stairwell.

"What right has a lowly BOOT-MAKER to court the princess?"

"How can loove be a clime!" says Duncan in Scottish.

He then raises a very important question: "Did you ask her how SHE feels?"

Guaranteed that no, no he did not.

Duncan manages to get them out of this by promising Kassim that if he lets the boy go, Duncan will owe him a debt. He gives Kassim his word that at any point Kassim can call on him for help with any situation and Duncan will handle it. Kassim then pockets this promise for use in another 240 years.

"Has your...memory become weak, Macleod?"

Rachel interrupts this discussion. Given that her last name is Macleod, Kassim thinks she's Duncan's wife. She explains that no, she is in fact his distant cousin.

I'm sure Kassim will play a banjo in her honor.

Duncan's a bit of a sour-puss in this episode. Everyone else is lively, while he's just beyond done with everybody's shit at this point.

A package arrives with a gun in it, designed specifically for an assassination. Rachel sees it, though, and she's kind of like "what is this guy into"

She trusts him though, and says whatever is going on, she thinks he'll do the right thing.

The President goes to have lunch at a restaurant Kassim chose, and little does he know, Duncan is lurking nearby. Between the tuxedo and this silenced pistol, he's going full Bond in this episode.

Duncan hesitates on taking the shot, even though this guy is a despot. He hesitates so long that Kassim awkwardly starts looking over at him, and the President starts to think something's going on.

When he realizes Duncan isn't going to take the shot and the whole thing is blown, Kassim tries to take the shot instead and gets gunned down by the guards. He's going to be pissed.

Duncan sits around with Rachel and mulls over things. She doesn't know what's going on, but figured out enough.

Duncan: "Sometimes I think a man of honor needs to do what he says he's going to do, and say to hell with the consequences."

Rachel: "I think a man of honor...lives with whatever he does."

Yeah pretty much. Make a choice and live with it.

Kassim shows up, and as predicted, he's pissed. At this point I'd be worried about Rachel even being around with all this stuff going on. God forbid the guy have a girlfriend in peace or something.

Sure enough...Kassim wants to fight. Duncan has no interest in this. He doesn't particularly like the guy or anything, but there's a mutual respect / honor thing going on here where Duncan knows Kassim isn't a villain.

Kassim tells Duncan that there's a good chance Nasir will be killed now, since the President will assume he was behind everything. That would take away the last surviving Al-Deneb, and Kassim can't have that. Duncan isn't going to fight him, but he's going to at least try to do something.

Duncan meets with Nasir, who is now a lot less friendly than before, and Nasir wants nothing to do with him. Duncan tells him that he's in danger, and Nasir just doesn't care.

Now Duncan meets with this guy.

"Before me, there was anarchy in my country. Now, the people go to sleep with full bellies, and still they call me tyrant."

Duncan "Sean Connery" Macleod tells him that he has only one request: Spare Nasir from any harm. That's how he wants his "debt" repaid. The President doesn't understand why Duncan would make this request to help a guy he barely knows.

Duncan goes home, only to find that...

...the barge is on fire! NOOOOOOOOOO!

The President talks to Nasir...and immediately breaks his word to Duncan by having him thrown out a window.

Yep, there he goes. He was too much of a threat. He should have taken heed of what Duncan tried to tell him.

Elsewhere, Hot French Detective La Femme Nikita is firmly grilling Duncan on why his barge blew up. She just KNOWS he had something to do with it. Something something insurance money, I guess? I mean, like, why?

I hope we see more of Hot French Detective La Femme Nikita though. She brims with SASS.

Kassim calls Duncan up. It was HE who set the fire, and he has Rachel captive.

He isn't necessarily going to hurt her, but Duncan better show up and repent.

Duncan arrives, and Kassim is full-on Manspreading and ready for battle. That's a pretty nice saber.

Kassim informs Duncan that Nasir is dead. Duncan thought he'd taken care of that situation, but The President broke his word. Now Kassim has lost the thing he lived for, the Al-Deneb line.

The battle is joined! Lot of light and shadow in this one.

Actually, this is one of the better fights in the series. Kassim's actor is clearly well trained in the use of swords, and uses genuine fencing stances at all times.

And Duncan wins, sparing Kassim. Most of the fight was in quasi-shadow, and hard to get any shots of. Suffice to say, Kassim was good, but he never really had the advantage. His style of attacking was high up, Duncan's was low, and Duncan 's win was never particularly in doubt or anything. Kassim did have the nerve to suggest to Duncan that he let Kassim win to repent for his broken word.

Regardless, Kassim is spared, and leaves in a huff. I don't think we see him again, which is unfortunate because he's a cool character and debatably owed Duncan one after this episode.

Well, cool character aside from kidnapping Rachel and setting the barge on fire. She's unharmed, though, and they take off.

This area of Paris is fookin' sweet. I guess this is their hotel since Duncan is now homeless. Hopefully that gets resolved by the next episode cause we all love the barge.

Rachel actually gets teary-eyed at having to leave, but she can see that this guy has a lot of stuff going on.

That and every girlfriend he has seems to be in danger.

He bids her adieu, and I think that's it for Rachel. He's not gonna get up to the Highlands again.

And that's it for this episode.

Well, wait...

He's got a wrong to put right for Kassim.

Holy shit! Duncan tells the President that he broke his word by killing Nasir, then throttles him and throws him out the window!

You live by the...throwing people out windows, you die by it.

Been a while since Duncan committed an actual murder of a mortal. Generally something to be avoided at all costs, probably because you're ending something that's already short.

Hamza el-Kahir might sound familiar, and that's because he's the guy who fought Xavier and lost in "Finale: Part Two". He was Duncan's teacher for a little while in Morocco, and apparently well before that he was also Kassim's teacher. Cool.

But wait, his base of operations is Kuwait. And Morocco doesn't have an Emir. Wait a minute, was this episode about Kuwait all along?

Anyway, next.


  1. I am glad you pointed out the drug addict thing. I always felt Duncan was trying too hard to show he was all right. He was trying to prove to himself that he was good again. So well spotted.

  2. Yep, I like this episode too. The DVD bonus information really supplements this one well.

  3. This episode is great. As one reviewer put it, it's an episode where Duncan (for understandable reasons) basically does everything wrong. He refuses to kill the President, which gets Nasir killed and makes an enemy of Kassim, and then proceeds to kill him when it's too late to undo any of that. It makes for really compelling viewing.