Highlander: Archangel

Duncan: "According to Landry, it's coming for me."
Richie: "Yeah. Well, I'm not going anywhere."

What were they thinking?

Yes, I know what they were thinking. What's the most exciting, dramatic way we could possibly write Richie out? They probably weren't thinking, hey, what could we do to piss the fans off as much as we possibly could? But that's exactly what they did.

It wasn't just killing a friend, like Sean Burns. Since immortals can't have children, their most intimate, important relationship is the one of teacher and protege. Richie was an orphaned teenager when Duncan "adopted" him at the beginning of the series; in every way that mattered, Richie was Duncan's child. Four years of raising Richie, teaching him to survive, and it was all wasted. Killing him in such a stupid way robbed Richie's death of the impact he deserved as an important character in the series.

Yes, the Richie character had run its course. I had no objections to them writing the character out; it was past time. But literally anything would have been better. They didn't even need to address the situation, since Richie wasn't in every episode, anyway; they could have covered the actor's departure with one line. Richie is on a road trip in South America. Richie is racing bikes in Texas. Richie is in love with a girl who lives in Sweden. Anything but this.

I understand they were trying for a specific change, to expand on the whole "chosen one" theme, Highland child, winter solstice, a thousand year cycle of evil, yadda yadda yadda. It might have worked if they had done it with more care, although it was probably too late in the series for such a big theme change. And as I've said way too many times by now, magic and mysticism never really worked on Highlander. These immortals worked best as secret beings compelled to play their deadly game, alienated from the real world of ordinary mortals. You'd think the producers would have realized this after five seasons.

As usual, with episodes I hate, I try to mention the stuff I liked. It was great to see Valentine Pelka as Kronos again, although there wasn't enough of him; Kronos was a character that deserved a long story arc like the one they gave Kalas, not just a two-parter. I was moved by Duncan, silent and prostrate with grief, presenting his sword to Methos as if begging him to take his head. And I especially loved Joe crying in Methos's arms. It was the best scene in the episode, the one with the most genuine emotion.


Flashbacks:

— 1625 Scotland. Duncan had been immortal for three years and still didn't know what he was when he encountered an immortal seer in a cave. Who had been waiting for him for six hundred years. Uh huh. Even Duncan looked around the cave skeptically when he heard that one.

— Duncan's first quickening. The seer essentially beheaded himself. I honestly don't think that's possible. It was way too much of a stretch, pun intended.

— There was a brief flashback to Horton's death in, was it the second part of "Counterfeit?" Horton died so many times that I honestly lost track.

— Richie got a "farewell to the character" flashback montage, with musical accompaniment by Jim Byrnes. That was nice.

Bits and pieces:

— I'll admit Duncan losing his mind was somewhat frightening. A demented, hallucinating immortal with a sharp sword and a lot of practice dismembering people is nothing to sneeze at. But they already did it in season three's "Shadows," didn't they?

— Always avoid creepy demonic statues, especially at archaeological sites. I think I'll add this to Billie's rules of television.

— I just now realized that the evil taking the form of dead people to talk to Duncan strongly resembled the First in the final season of Buffy. Except that one of them was Richie, and Richie wasn't dead yet.

— Tons of seeping Dennis Berry fog, this time colored a jarring and improbable red. The Latin chanting in the score bugged me, too. Were they deliberately going for something that felt like a cheap takeoff of The Exorcist?

— Adrian Paul's hair looked like his own in some scenes, and like a wig in others. He must have had his hair cut before the shooting was over.

Quotes:

Duncan: "What about paperwork? There must have been an official request to have the body exhumed?"
Guy in cemetery: "In France, monsieur, paperwork is our national pastime."

Duncan: "You find someone the right size, you put him in Horton's clothes, and it doesn't prove that Horton is dead, does it?"
Joe: "Yeah, he's down at the park right now with Elvis and JFK, and they're listening to Jerry Garcia."

Methos: "Millennium theory is nothing new, Richie. Every thousand years I hear the same stories." I love it when he says stuff like this.

Methos: "Blind loyalty. Very common in the young."
Joe: "Yeah. I guess that's why we both feel like rats."
Richie stayed loyal to Duncan. And look what it got him.

One out of four stars,

Billie
---
Billie Doux knows that there can be only one. And that's Methos.

3 comments:

Mark Greig said...

Someone should’ve sat the producers and writers down and made them watch Highlanders 2 & 3 before they went down this dark path. I know it’s cruel but it would’ve been for their own good as well as ours. Like you I prefer Highlander to more grounded in reality with immortals the only fantastical element. The further they get away from reality the worse things seem to get.

The minute Ritchie said he wasn’t going anywhere you just know he’s a dead man. They might as well have painted a bull’s-eye on his head, or at least an outline on his neck. All the demonic music was supposed to be ominous but just came across more like a bad Omen parody. Mostly the shape-shifting demon plot felt like a transparent excuse just to get Valentine Pelka back as Kronos.

It wasn’t all terrible. I also liked Methos holding Joe at the end as he broke down over Ritchie’s death. He’s not such a heartless bastard after all. Plus the sequence where the demon stalks and kills the granddaughter was quite effective.

Err…that’s it really. Two good points don’t outweigh all the really bad. This was Highlander at its worst. I think you were being too generous when you gave it one star.

Dustin said...

I've disliked it every time Highlander has gone to the magical - beyond of course the basic immortal mythology. Whether it was a seer like Tracy Scroggins' character or the immortal who sucked up the evil of other immortals, it has all felt hokey and always brings the show down. This time was no exception and was the worst of them all.

I knew already that Richie died before the end of the series, but what a horrible way to be rid of him.

The image of Duncan on his knees trembling while holding his sword out to Methos was quite haunting as was the way Joe and Methos reacted to Richie's death

While I liked Joe's music over Richie's farewell montage, I did miss Queen’s signature "Who wants to live forever" that the show usually played.

Finally, to add on to what Mark said, what the producers should have been forced to repeatedly watch Highlanders 2 and 3 if not as a preventative measure, then at least as a punishment because they took the series down this path.

Makes me wish that the series had been cancelled on the last shooting day of Modern Prometheus.

abby Sand said...

For me I really do not mind the magic and the mystic because there is already magic in highlander. For example who decided whether they should fight on holy ground and what makes an area holy ground. Why do immortals exists and please do not include highlander 2 that explanation was painful as it is.

The reason I love the three episodes archangels, avatar and Armageddon is it showed another possibility on why immortals might exists other then just cutting of each other head and absorbing their quickening. Lets face it immortals do not get any stronger, powerful nor do they inherit the skills of their fallen foe. For example Duncan killed an immortal who had the power of persuasion. After Duncan took his head he did not inherit his talent, he went as far to say what a shame all those skills are now lost.

Like Ritchie said no-one knows why immortals exists what if it is to to fight Arhman. We know Arihman can enter the Earth every millennium and only an immortal can fight him.Without the reason all you have is a bunch of immortals running around cutting of people heads with no reason on why they are doing.