Highlander: Not to Be

Duncan: "I'm Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod."
Methos: "Never heard of you."

Again, I really had trouble with this.

A series finale is a difficult thing, yes, I know that. The problem was that they reached too high, went too far, and it turned into poorly written fantasy. I thought for awhile about what I would have enjoyed as a series finale, and it was much simpler. I would have enjoyed one final adventure with Duncan, Amanda, Methos and Joe, perhaps with flashbacks to include Fitz or Richie, even. Some discussion about the meaning of immortal life, maybe within the framework of Duncan leaving Paris to go on walkabout. Ah, well.

It was sort of hard to postulate that Duncan made such a huge difference in so many lives when Tessa, Richie and Fitz were already dead. So Richie didn't die a thief. Amanda didn't become a black widow. Fitz lived an extra 280 years. Yes, fine, okay. But Tessa was just living a life without "passion." I still think she'd rather be alive and with her children than dead, don't you?

And the whole thing with Methos evil because he never met Duncan just did not work for me. Methos and Duncan met for the first time three years ago. Three years of experiences trumped five thousand? His centuries as a doctor meant nothing? Come on. Lame.

So let's see, now. Methos was in love with a watcher named Jillian who told Horton that Methos was an immortal. Horton killed her and turned on Methos, and Kronos showed up to save him. The surviving Horsemen, Kronos and Methos, recruited Richie and sent him to assassinate Joe. Who had managed somehow (how, exactly?) to kill Kaspian and Silas two years before the bad wig. It was so convoluted that it was actually amusing. I don't think they were going for amusing.

At least we had two fairly cool duels. Duncan fought an evil Methos, and they were serious about it. And the duel with the forgettable O'Rourke, as Joe, Methos and Amanda were looking on, felt a bit like the duel with Kalas in "Finale." They gave us one final quickening, too, to (of all things) "Amazing Grace." "Amazing Grace?" Duncan did kill someone, didn't he?

The best thing about this final episode, the only saving grace (so to speak), was that lovely "farewell to the character" montage at the end to Duncan. It showed his life as a mortal, his first death, his friends and lovers, and some of the best duels and finest moments in the series. It was lovely. I wish the rest of the finale had lived up to it.

Flashbacks:

— 1995-1997. There were several alternate universe flashbacks to set up Richie and Methos as very bad boys. I liked that they brought Richie back. But then all they gave him was negative, depressing crap and an even worse death. What a drag. Stan Kirsch deserved better.

Bits and pieces:

— Tessa's husband was clueless. What husband would invite his wife's former "friend" over for dinner, especially one that looked like Adrian Paul, and then leave her alone with him? I might have believed it if he'd shown up later with a lawyer and divorce papers. But no.

— That location where Tessa kept her sculptures looked very familiar. I'm certain it was used before during the series.

— Where did Joe get that decrepit wheelchair? It looked older than he was. Did he get it at an antique store?

— Unfortunately, I caught a glimpse of O'Rourke's head as his headless body was falling to the ground. Careless, careless.

— In six seasons, there were 47 bad immortals with names beginning with a K or a hard C. And my favorite of all of them, Kronos, was in this episode.

Quotes:

Fitz: "The Horsemen rode again. And they made the Russian Mafia look like the Vienna Boys Choir."

Richie: "Methos is a great man."
Joe: "He could have been. But now he's scum, kid."
And how come Methos was telling people his real name in the alternate universe when he didn't do that for centuries?

Fitz: "So this is the world without Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod. Amanda's dead. Joe's about to die. Tessa will drift into bitterness, facing a life without passion. Richie Ryan lived and died a thief. And me? Well. I missed out on almost three centuries of living. Now that's an awful lot of unhappy women."

So that's it. I think I must have been writing Highlander reviews in my head all these years because it's been easy as well as a lot of fun.

Two out of four stars,

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

4 comments:

Mark Greig said...

The finale is a perfectly alright couple of episodes. But at the end of the day it’s just not the epic farewell I was hoping for. Take out the Frank Capra plotline with the cameos from all the old favourites (and Tessa) and we’re left with just a rather humdrum Highlander episode. Liam O’Rourke was a really one-note villain, simply there just so they could end things with a quickening. They should’ve introduced a big bad earlier in the season and then built towards the final confrontation to give it more significance. Bringing back Kronos, if however brief, only showed up O’Rourke and the indestructible James Horton for the naff villains they were.

That final montage, set to Bonny Portmore, was simply amazing. It always gets to me every time I see it. At the very least it ensures you can end the series with a smile on your face (unless you’re a fan of Charlie, Maurice and Anne in which case you’ll be disappointed). And, being a soppy old romantic at heart, I like that the final line of the entire series was Duncan telling Amanda he loved her (“You make my heart glad, you always have”). Why they left Amanda out of the later movies I’ll never know. Although, considering how The Source turned out maybe Elizabeth Gracen was the lucky one.

Thank you, Billie, for doing these reviews. They got me into this show and now its one of my all time favourites. Cheers.

Billie Doux said...

You're so welcome, Mark. I enjoyed doing them so much. I've been writing episode reviews since 1997, and of all the types of letters and comments I've gotten, my absolute favorite is what you just said -- that you started watching something because of what I wrote and now it's a favorite of yours. It's so rewarding for me. It means that I successfully passed on how I felt about a show.

And thank you so much, Mark, for all of the smart, well-thought-out comments.

Mark Greig said...

Thanks a lot, Billie. I’m currently doing retrospectives on classic fantasy shows over on my blog. I’ve just done Robin of Sherwood (which, BTW, I highly recommend) and am currently working on one for Xena. After that I’m defiantly going to write one on Highlander.

Keep up all the great work.

Dustin said...

So if you take these final two episodes and cut out the alternate timeline vision, then it’s a semi-ok 3/4 episode of Highlander. In fact, I prefer to look at the vision not as an alternate timeline or angelic visitation but as a delusional hallucination of an unconscious Duncan MacLeod. That way the obnoxiousness can be mostly forgiven.

Right after the opening credits, Duncan walks into Tessa’s gallery while she’s on the phone. She says, “I’d like to talk to Mr. Berry please. Hi Dennis, how are you?” Dennis Berry directed 33 episodes of Highlander. I only caught the reference because of all of the reviews in which Billie has commented on the trademark Dennis Berry fog scenes.

Tessa was clearly better off without Duncan. I’d much rather live to a ripe old age not following my passion than being murdered while I’m young. They should have come up with a better reason why Duncan made her life better.

The final montage of Duncan’s life really got to me. I had a chill run through me when a cloaked Darius passed by Duncan on the battlefield. You could only see his back, but you knew the significance of the event. That and the fact that we haven’t seen Darius since season one due to the actor’s untimely passing. Duncan’s first glimpse of Amanda brought a smile to my face. I agree with Mark and wish that Charlie, Maurice, and Anne could have been there too. Thankfully there was no Randi, she was just obnoxious. It’s too bad that they didn’t cut out some of the sleeping with alternate Tessa and add more montage. I also wish that there were first meeting shots for Joe, Richie, and Methos like the Amanda and Darius shots.

The final three exchanges between Duncan and Methos, Joe, and Amanda were also quite effective and touching. Maybe what they should have done is just show the last 5 minutes of the episode with 55 minutes of commercials. Now that would have been a better episode.