Friday, July 14, 2023

Highlander 4x19 - Double Jeopardy


The cover image for this episode is a random cop lady... when the episode itself is a rare and coveted Xavier St. Cloud episode. That's right, he returns! Can't believe they didn't have him as the cover image. It's just as well though, because this is also unfortunately the return of Cop Show Highlander. For one night only! You know the creators of the show were chomping at the bit to bring back the Cop Show format, only to be held at bay by David Abramowitz like Gandalf holding off the Balrog.

We open in a rare jewelry store, where an old guy is notably out on a date with a sexy young miss. I guess he's taking her shopping.

This English punk looks like a mixture of Sting and Malcolm MacDowell.

He is Morgan D'Estaing (pronounced "disdain") and he's taking his blue-haired girlfriend diamond-shopping. She's as much of a punk-rocker as him. After he demands to see the biggest diamond they have...

...He drops a vial that quickly fills the room with poison gas, before grabbing up all the jewelry he can. He even lets his "girlfriend" die in the ensuing chaos while he puts on his gas mask. He should have told her that she wasn't "punk enough".

This scene might ring a bell for long-time, astute viewers. It's the exact same as the opening scene of Xavier St. Cloud's first episode.

Next, Duncan is hauled out of bed at 5 AM by French police on a "matter of national security". He's all miffed about this.

The cops are looking for a fugitive, Xavier St. Cloud, who has struck again. For some reason they think Duncan can help them find him, probably because Duncan's name is the one most closely-associated with Xavier. Nobody has seen him in two years though. Wait...who's that blonde back there?

Oh, it's...uh...what's her name! That detective who was in an episode or two. I seriously can't remember her name. Her and Duncan had... "a thing". They never did it, it was just... a thing.

She's all "omg it's Duncan, I hope this won't be awkward"

Duncan's thinking "oh hey, it's that...uh...what's her name. Well, she's still cute, at least."

He begins to flirt with ::checks notes:: Renee, so she shoots him down and tells him to refer to her as Agent Delaney. ZOWIE! She's all business, because they've got a menace to track down.

And that menace is...


Boco: "Coooo Cooooo!"

Duncan tells them he's got no information and storms out. Agent Delaney chases after him asking for anything at all that'll help them find Xavier. He's got nothing for her, and is likely busy trying to figure out who this Xavier copycat might be.

"Come on, you know I wouldn't screw you!" she says.

My God, this is all very comical. She's like "try not to think about boning, try not to think about boning". It's the return of one of the few women in this series Duncan hasn't boned at least once.

Just bone already.


...I'm an adult.

Agent Delaney (whose first name is Renee) says she understands if it's awkward working together given what happened between them.

Duncan: "Not much happened, as I remember it" ZOWIE.

Yeah they basically just made out one time. For her, it was a life-changing event. For him... it was Tuesday.

She lets Duncan know that she's engaged now! To a guy named Paul! Who is a lawyer! He has a stable job and is boring! At least he's reliable!

Duncan realizes he isn't gonna get laid in this episode and it clearly bums him out a little. He congratulates her and is on his way.

Have fun with PAUL, lady.

Where's the fast-forward button?

Duncan gets back to the barge and feels a Buzz. This is bad, it means the villain knows where he lives.

He chases a shadowy figure into this door, which is in the wall alongside the river. I never thought about what might be inside that wall.

The answer? Nothing, just a massive boiler room type place with a 20 foot drop from the doorway. Why do they keep death traps along the river?

Morgan tips his hat, having lured Duncan into a trap. This guy falls into the "irredeemable villain" category that not too many Highlander foes are in. Most of them are complex, ambiguous, neither good or evil, or maybe a good guy who fell to his worse impulses or got corrupted by revenge. Not this guy, he's just a straight-up asshole! Note how he's dressed just like Xavier. Guy is a Xavier copycat in every sense, and he wants revenge for Xavier.

Duncan is ready for a fight, and doesn't fear this guy at all. Turns out Morgan was Xavier's protege, his Richie, which is why he uses gas to win his fights.

Case in point, he drops gas on the battlefield and uses that to his advantage. Duncan barely escapes with his life by...

...crashing out a nearby window, which deposits him under one of the bridges. I walked all up and down this place and I had NO IDEA there were these giant antechambers right there.

Duncan visits Renee Agent Delaney, and thinks he might be able to help her after all. First he needs to see whatever they've figured out on "Xavier". I think the idea is that if he can get to Morgan before they do, he can take the guy out. He does tell her who Morgan is, though.

He also lets her know that it's definitely Morgan, because Xavier is no longer with us, which he knows via... A Source.

Methos: "The Source?"

Get outta here, Highlander: The Source. You aren't part of this series canon.

Agent Delaney lets him know that this is strictly professional and she isn't interested in him. While being all shifty-eyed about it.

I've had women say stuff like this to me several times in the distant past when I wasn't actually even interested, and let me tell you... few things cast as much shade as having someone you're not actually after make sure to let you know that they don't find you attractive or aren't interested in you, thinking you were after something, when you were literally just being friendly due to being classmates or whatever. Good job hurting someone's feelings for no reason.

Flashback, France, 1802. We're post French Revolution now and everyone's living high off the hog. Here's the D'Estaing family estate, home of noted wine barons The D'Estaings.

Also the French are currently fighting the British (again?) and the war isn't going well, so the D'Estaings are worried that their wealth is going to be seized soon by the redcoats.

Morgan (still mortal here) is their adoptive son, and was set to inherit the estate. All the wine and vast sums of wealth, jewels, paintings. Also lots of cake, these French aristocrats loved their cake.

Was, that is, because Baron D'Estaing informs him that he will NO LONGER inherit the estate. He's adopted, and later they had a child. Now BERNARD will inherit the estate!

::yawwwwn:: says Bernard. With his eyes.

Prince Valium here is like "lol, loser"

Nice how everyone in the room knew Morgan wasn't inheriting anything except Morgan. They made sure his loss was common knowledge to everyone except him. That's real nice.

Morgan is infuriated at this turn of events. They raised him like their own, and now they betray him?

Long story short, he tries to kill Bernard in his sleep, and Baron D'Estaing stabs him during the ensuing brawl.

The next day, Xavier St. Cloud happens to be riding past the church where Morgan's coffin is, and senses him.

It's an airtight coffin, so Morgan's been dead since he got stabbed.

Xavier explains what the deal is. So if Xavier hadn't happened to be in the right place at the right time, would Morgan have just gotten buried? At least it was airtight so he probably wouldn't have ever woken up.

Morgan is in shock that his family tried to kill him. Well, he did try to kill BERNARD first.

Duncan and Renee go on a platonic boat ride down the Seine to a restaurant. Sure beats taking the bus.

Once they arrive, that other cop guy shows up unannounced. And here Duncan thought it was a social call! The cops need his help, dammit, but he still has nothing for them outside of his off-record conversations with Renee.

It's funny how Duncan is so resistant to helping the cops in this episode, considering it echoes how resistant the show itself is to going back to being a cop show.

Morgan shows up and is all happy to see everyone. Duncan quickly ushers him out of the room and the cops seem to have no idea.

Flashback time, it's 1806 and the D'Estaing family basically has nothing left. They're trying to flee with their lives as the British army closes in and will no doubt confiscate their estate.

Morgan shows up and threatens to kill the living mannequin, BERNARD. Does this guy have any facial expressions?

Xavier is also in tow and introduces himself as a friend of the family, offering to mediate this dispute.

Morgan wants to kill 'em all and be done with it, Xavier recognizes that they might still have loot that can be procured. Baron D'Estaing is mostly just bewildered that Morgan is somehow alive again.

After some light, low-key threats of torture - and promises that the family won't be hurt if they comply - Xavier gets them to give away the location of their secret loot stash. He then leads the room in having a celebratory drink to see Morgan off. The family goes along with it, just wanting him out of their lives.

Little did they know...Xavier poisoned their wine, so they all promptly die. I imagine Bernard had the same facial expression when he was a corpse.

Morgan is a bit shocked that Xavier just killed all of them after giving them his word that he wouldn't.

"I gave my word to you!" says Xavier. "And it isn't whether you give your's WHO you give it TO."

The Redcoats arrive. Looks like Duncan is a fully-assimilated Brit at this point. We're about 55 years after Culloden if my math is right.

Xavier and his new immortal protege are on guard at the sensing of Duncan, but not to worry! Xavier knows him from back in the day.

Xavier claims that the owners of the house took their own lives and that Morgan is the only heir left. They're relinquishing the property to the British invaders and going on their way.

Duncan as a redcoat...pretty unsettling scenery given everything else we've seen as of late. It's a very Scotland-centric (and 1600s-1700s centric) season in the flashbacks.

They harken back to the flashback in "Finale: Pt 2" as Duncan tells Xavier that he doesn't easily forget those who kill his friends. Far cry from their first interaction in Season 1 that later got retconned.

What would have been really good is if Duncan said he didn't easily forget those who kill his teachers. Because that would tie directly into why Morgan D'Estaing is after him in the present to begin with. Actions have reactions.

In the present, Morgan alludes to his talents with assassination, and Duncan realizes his cop friends are about to drink poison wine.

He sprints in there and knocks everything over, saving Agent Delaney. It's too late for her French cohort though.

Meanwhile Morgan got away. He basically won this round. To add insult to injury, the wine was from the D'Estaing estate itself. They haven't been producing wine in almost 200 years (since the British took the place) but if anyone would have a bottle it's Morgan.

Now we get a sweet transition from the wine bottle to the D'Estaing estate itself:

Duncan figures if there's anywhere he'll find Morgan, it's here. Maybe the bottle was a clue and he wants to be found.

And there he is! They have a quick skirmish. The estate looks very different with actual electricity now.

The most interesting thing about this pairing is their respective attitudes towards each other. Duncan isn't the least bit afraid or even wary of Morgan. Also, since Morgan started this, Duncan doesn't have to feel bad at all about taking him out.

Morgan on the other hand is tremendously cocky and overconfident, believing himself to be a match for Duncan due to his training from Xavier. He relies heavily on feints in his offense, pretending to attack and then stopping just to mock his opponent. Not sure if that was a Xavier tell, it's been a while.

The cops show up and break up the proceedings, hauling Morgan off to jail. That was the last thing Duncan wanted, because now Morgan will be safe from HIM.

Sure enough, Morgan offs himself in jail and then slips away at the morgue. The Paris morgue must have the highest "lost body" rate in the world at this point. How are they losing so many bodies?

Everyone's gonna be peering with mistrust at the janitor. WHERE ARE YOU HOARDING THEM, STEVE??

These two go for a walk and Renee explains that she's getting married to Paul the Lawyer soon and yada yada. She very clearly has a crush on Duncan despite this. Just roll around with 'em and get it out of your system. I'm sure PAUL will be a good sport about it.

They have a goodbye peck about it, then Duncan senses Morgan. Bad timing, as usual.

He invites himself up to her place and swears he won't make any kind of a move. She says okay, and I seriously can't believe she's doing this. There's like a 100% chance stuff is going to happen if he walks her in and she must know that. Course, from Duncan's perspective he kinda has to walk her in because Morgan is nearby, unbeknownst to her.

They hang out on the couch while Morgan lurks somewhere. Is he in the bathtub? Maybe under the bed? Maybe his face will poke up over the windowsill outside.

Renee goes to slip into something more comfortable, and bellows forth that she kinda has to bang Duncan (or rather, be the bangee... well actually, I don't know what she's into) because if she doesn't, she'll always wonder what she missed, and it wouldn't be fair to PAUL.

Yeah, go on, get it out of your system. I hope Paul is currently rolling around with two models though. TIT FOR TIT, AGENT DELANEY.

She slinks out, ready for action, and...Duncan's gone. Oh well. He went up to the roof after figuring out somehow that Morgan was up there.

On the roof, Morgan slinks out in basically the same exact pose.

This time there are no incoming cops to interrupt the fight, so they can go full-blast.

It's a quick fight, but it's notable because it takes place in the snow and in front of the Eiffel Tower. This episode isn't as great as I remember, but it certainly has the ingredients to be memorable.

Morgan is quickly shown to be no match for Duncan, so he flings a fatal poison dart at him.

This gives Duncan 30 seconds to live, during which Morgan taunts him. Even on death's door and barely able to climb up off the ground, Duncan uses Morgan's overconfidence against him to...

...pull him in and get the killing hit with a massive, un-graceful golf-type swing. I think he's watching Morgan's head sail away.

Duncan dies from the poison and falls off the roof. He's actually getting the quickening while dead, which might be a first.

It's a pretty standard quickening though, not too big, some jolts. I feel like Morgan would have been a much better fight for Richie (protege versus protege). Where the hell is Richie anyway?

These two say goodbye and Renee is kind of thankful that Duncan didn't stay and plow her. On one hand she's right that it isn't fair to Paul if she's always thinking about "what she missed", on the other hand it's also not fair to Paul if she's always thinking about that time she cheated on him.

Duncan's no boy scout and I'm about 90% sure he was totally willing to fool around with her, Paul Be Damned.

She then drops her umbrella and TACKLES DUNCAN to make out. Watch out, there's a river!

And they fall into said river in a heap of clumsy humanity. Thus ends Renee's odd time on the show, and the ending really sums up the whole thing.

Good episode. I used to think it was great, but I was clouded by the presence of Xavier in the flashbacks. He does add a lot and it's great to see him again. The final battle also had some nice scenery. All the Renee stuff though, it didn't do much for me. Morgan was basically no threat to Duncan, even with poison darts and whatnot. It was clear he relied on cheats for easymode instead of actually learning to be a better fighter.

Then again, S4 is totally deficient on having any threats to Duncan in general, so this is par for the course. No other Highlander season has so many foes that pose no challenge to him, as I've pointed out before. At this point Kanwulf in 4-01 is probably his strongest opponent from the season, and Kanwulf wasn't exactly a dynamo of danger. This makes it kind of hard to get into this season at times. Nothing's ever a threat. They do a good job fixing this in S5, which has a bunch of decent threats and several major ones, pretty much right from the get-go. S5 having such stronger opponents would have been good setup for The Gathering, so it's too bad they abandoned that idea and went with other things for Season 6.

Fun Fact: This episode actually aired on TV during Season 5. So did the last episode of this season, "One Minute To Midnight", which was the first episode of S5 on TV. Given that both are in Paris in the winter, 99% chance they were filmed during late S4, thus why they're on the S4 DVD set. Kind of interesting that they were held over until the next season on TV though. Especially this episode, which really has no reason to be in S5, and depending on when it aired, might have been a jarring location-switch. I'd say these are the beginnings of the disorganization that characterizes Season 6.

Side Note: If one wants to do a "Xavier run" of the show, I'd watch the flashback from "Finale: Pt 2", then his S1 episode (ignoring them not knowing each other), then the two from S2, then this one. I don't remember if he was in any others. He's one of Duncan's best foes, though, right up there with Kalas. And I think they would have been evenly-matched in "Unholy Alliance" if Xavier wasn't missing a hand.

Next up: One of the best eps in the season.

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1 comment:

  1. Morgan D'Estaing is definitely an evil fucker, but I don't quite agree that he had no cause at all to be the way he was. If I was disinherited totally for being adopted, I'd be pretty pissed off too. I've always liked his actor, Marc Warren, in anything I've seen him in. He even played the Red Baron in "Young Indiana Jones: Attack of the Hawkmen."

    Agreed on Kanwulf. For a character who's supposed to be the big bad Viking who killed Duncan's father, he's not that menacing of a villain. He's trim, handsome, has a soft voice, and isn't all that much of a challenge for Duncan. In terms of Immortal opponents from S4, I always felt like Damon Case was probably the most formidable.