Highlander: Indiscretions

Methos: "You know, we actually make a really good team. We could be like Scully and Mulder."
Joe: "Yeah, right."
Methos: "Sipowitz and Simone."
Joe: "Whatever."
Methos: "Caligula and Incitatus. Well, maybe not Incitatus, because he was a horse..."
Joe: "Will you shut up?"

By far and away the best episode of season six.

It started a bit slowly and the daughter stuff didn't all flow, but the road trip, the hitchhiking scene a la It Happened One Night, the flashbacks, it all worked for me. Peter Wingfield and Jim Byrnes are both talented character actors and they were so good in this mini-buddy road movie; every scene they did together made me smile. I loved that Joe thought he had the upper hand but that Methos, as usual, was two steps ahead of him. The scene where Methos got Joe to admit he'd led them into a trap was a joy to watch.

Methos was the most intriguing character in the Highlander universe, and I never got enough of him. This episode was one final reminder of all those potential stories about him out there, waiting to be told. Methos was a slave once. When? Where? Was he a slave in ancient Rome? A galley slave, like Ben-Hur? If Methos was radical enough to secretly give slaves in the pre-Civil War south medical attention, did he ever work for the Underground Railroad, like Duncan did? Five thousand years of history, and the series barely touched the surface. There were only four episodes featuring Methos flashbacks, but all of them were excellent. And no one put two and two together and thought, this is it? This is our spin-off?

It appeared to me that someone in control just couldn't see past the "heroic immortal" character straitjacket. Methos wasn't a hero type like Duncan, and didn't fit into the vision they had of the spin-off they wanted. But you know what? Neither did Amanda. She was a freaking jewel thief. She was as much of an outlaw as Methos was, and they built a series around her, didn't they?

And Amanda wasn't even a Watcher. Methos was. The Watcher Chronicles could have been the source of so many story ideas. Just in this episode, Joe mentioned offhand that the Watchers began when the first Watcher saw Gilgamesh resurrect four thousand years ago. I personally would have loved a series about Methos, Amanda, Joe and the Watcher Chronicles. If they really thought they needed an immortal hero type, they could have added an engaging young actor as someone's new protege. They even had a possible love story on tap: Methos and Amanda always had a bit of a romantic vibe between them, and Duncan would have been out of the picture.

Sigh.

This episode was filmed last, after "To Be" and "Not to Be," and the final scene they did was the quickening. They used up all of the explosives they had left, and Peter Wingfield actually got burned in the face. He kept going, though, because he knew they couldn't refilm it. That's a trouper for you.

Peter Wingfield, if by any chance you ever read this, thank you for the fine work you did with this memorable character. They were nuts not to spin off a series around you. Nuts.

Flashbacks:

— 1808 New Orleans. Methos, as Dr. Benjamin Adams, secretly treated slaves. He had a romantic encounter with Charlotte, who belonged to the vicious immortal slave owner Morgan Walker. Methos took off to avoid confronting Walker, and Charlotte died because of it.

— Methos love scene. I enjoyed it, although the mood was slightly spoiled by a glimpse of the sheet tucked into Peter's undies. Methos had a diverse love life. He was married sixty-eight times. Imagine the possible flashbacks. Sigh.

Bits and pieces:

— I did like the idea of Joe with a daughter in the Watchers. (Apparently, there's a good reason why new Watchers right out of the Academy don't immediately get field assignments. What was Joe thinking?) The actress who played Joe's daughter Amy had a striking face. And nice, short hair so that we'd know she was serious about her job.

— This was the second episode without Adrian Paul. Joe said Duncan was in London because Claudia Jardine was playing the Albert Hall. Nice touch.

— The outtakes from this episode were great. In fact, all of the Highlander DVD sets have tons of added features, including interviews with the producers, directors, and all of the principal actors. Couldn't ask for more than that.

Quotes:

Joe: "Where have you been?"
Methos: "Here and there. There, mostly."

Charlotte: "Benjamin, why do you look after slaves? Not many doctors do."
Methos: "Perhaps I was one in a previous life."

Joe: "We're going the wrong way!"
Methos: "I beg to differ. The bullets are back that way!"

Methos: "You and me, we have to talk. Dad."


Methos: "Whenever you lie, you do this weird thing with your face."
Joe: "That's the last time I play poker with you."

Joe: "Why'd you drag it out so long?"
Methos: "Easily amused."

Morgan: "I've waited almost two hundred years for this."
Methos: "Do the words 'compulsive obsessive' mean anything to you?"

Methos: "Just because I don't like to fight doesn't mean that I can't."

Four stars. And one final sigh at what might have been,

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

8 comments:

Mark Greig said...

Ahhhh, Methos and Joe. Glad to have them both back. They’ve been deeply missed.

I agree, this was the best episode of season six. There’s no Duncan but that’s no biggie as this means we get more focus on the supporting characters. I’ll never understand why, when the star became unavailable, the producers didn’t just give more screen time to the other members of the cast. Hercules and Xena used to do it all the time whenever Kevin Sorbo or Lucy Lawless needed a day off. They should’ve done it for Highlander.

I wonder if when The Raven was cancelled the producers all looked at each other and asked “why didn’t we go with Methos?” before, hopefully, slapping each other across the back of the head. Methos remains the Highlander's most popular character, Google has since proven this, so I’ll never understand why they didn’t centre the spin-off around him.

One of the things I like about Methos is that he isn’t a fair fighter unlike the honourable Duncan. He cheats and uses dirty tactics to win because he knows, having lived so long, that only dead men tend to fight fair. There’s that great bit where he tricks one of Walker’s goons into thinking his gun is empty then shoots him dead as he’s gloating. Love it.

Billie Doux said...

I honestly think they just couldn't commit to a lead character that wasn't a standard hero. And they didn't even consider the irony of building a show around Amanda. I love Amanda, actually. I wanted to like The Raven.

Good point about the gun trick, Mark. I should have watched this one twice and added something about that, because it was typical Methos. I can tell I'm anxious to be done, simply because I'm so close.

Mark Greig said...

It was very Methos, cunning, resourceful, simple and effective. I also love the bit during the duel with Walker were Methos jabs his own sword into the electrics, zapping them both.

I love Amanda but I’ve never bothered with The Raven, even out of grim curiosity. For some reason I think of it as what Angel would’ve been like if it centred on Cordelia instead of the brooding vampire with a soul. Of course I still would’ve watch that show.

I think they went with Amanda was because she is a more adventurous character, willing to take risks and have fun, compared to the more cautious Methos. If anything, a Methos show would’ve had a lot less beheadings. A bad immortal would show and he’d just bugger off to Tibet or Dubai for a few months. They could’ve just compensated with lots of flashbacks to his angrier horse riding days. I would’ve loved to have seen an episode about how the Four Horsemen first broke up. I can imagine it started with Kronos enslaving a girl called Yoko :-)

Not long now, only two more to go. Looking forward to your Torchwood reviews, specially for the episodes with Captain John Hart.

pat_t said...

I absolutely loved this episode. Joe and Methos together is a lot of fun. I wonder how much that has to do with Jim and Peter's real life friendship and how that translated to the screen?

I had always thought a good spin-off should have revolved around Joe and the Watchers. That way you could keep Joe and various Immortals (Amanda, Methos, and maybe even Duncan would show up on the rare occasion if they could get Adrian on board) in the story-lines.

With a show about Watchers, you could focus on different Watchers weekly and their immortals as well as established Watchers like Joe. This way you could try out new young heroic Immortals, women and men - not so heroic Immortals like Methos and Amanda.

There would be no limit on history and story-lines. I think they really blew it with The Raven. But in fairness to the producers I think their decision had more to do with financing and what the money people wanted versus what they wanted to do.

Erika said...

This is my favourite Highlander episode. Every visitor I have staying has to watch it with me. Even my mum has said Methos is growing on her! I love the Methos and Joe road trip. And I love the reminder that Methos is peaceable nowadays because he chooses to live that way, not because he has no choice or is incapable of defending himself.

What really annoys me every time I watch it, though, is the opening credits. They added Elizabeth and Peter to them for this season and then just didn't use them. I know that they were 'auditioning' possible female spinoff stars (don't get me started on that), but seriously, with less Duncan they could've explored more Methos, Joe and Amanda in the time they had left. It would've been fantastic.

Ah well. Just watch all the good episodes and read the better fanfiction.

Billie Doux said...

I so agree, Erika. The sixth season could have been all Methos, Amanda and Joe. What a waste.

Kelly said...

Having just rewatched this episode, I felt inspired to reread your review. Such a great, funny episode. I loved the devious touches, showing Methos being Methos, like tricking the minion into thinking he was out of bullets or zapping Walker. Like you, I could've happily watched a whole season (or series) of episodes with Methos and Joe partnering up.

What strikes me even more now is that it was just bad timing. Back in the 90s you didn't have shows focused on anti-heroes (at least I can't think of any off the top of my head), while nowadays you've got shows like Dexter or The Americans. Back then the alternative of doing a show about such a gray character would've been... unthinkable. ;-)

Plus, I don't think Davis/Panzer was much for taking risks. They liked to stick to their certain hero formula. Amanda was about as much as they risked branching out, and only after struggling through some awkward episode auditions of female Immortals and deciding she was their best shot at this. Not that I had a problem with Amanda, but the best answer was clearly staring them right in the face with this episode. (And Peter Wingfield would've clearly been on board!)

It's still sad to think of what might have been. A Methos Chronicles spinoff would be a much better sell nowadays.

Dustin said...

At last! After five immortal babe tryouts the producers finally find a hit with the sixth one. Someone could really craft an excellent series around this immortal babe. The babe almost met all of Billie's babe criteria too - charisma, acting ability, athleticism, compelling immortal flashback. Only the requisite great hair was missing.

Unfortunately, this babe was a dude and the producers weren't looking for a dude. Were they just looking for an immortal Xena to complement their Hercules, was it like Star Trek Voyager where they specifically wanted a female captain, or did they just figure they already had two male MacLeods as leads and a female non-Scott would set the new series apart from its predecessors?

Even though I knew going in that it was going to be a Methos centered episode, I nearly wept when he actually appeared on screen. I was just so grateful to see him after all of the nonsense since Modern Prometheus. Especially after watching the opening credits to ten episodes that each teased that he was now a series regular.

It's sad when you consider how much creative brain power must have been sucked up creating five immortal babes with compelling backstories. Brain power that could have been better put to use crafting well thought out adventures for Joe, Methos, Amanda, Fitz (in flashback), or any of the other immortals we've already met.

There is one nice thing about them not making a Methos centered series. The perfect one can now live in our imaginations forever because surely they would have mucked up any attempt they made.