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20 March 2007 @ 09:14 am
HLS3: Take Back the Night  
Highlander Season Three

Take Back the Night, Air Date: April 1995

When Immortal Ceirdwyn and her mortal husband are gunned down by a street gang, she calls upon her skills as an ancient Celtic warrior to exact her revenge on the members of the gang, one by one. At the racetrack watching Richie's success at racing, MacLeod befriends a young pickpocket, the brother of one of the gang members, and learns of the killings.

MacLeod, who has known Ceirdwyn since before they helped smuggle Bonnie Prince Charlie out of Scotland in 1746, feels he must stop Ceirdwyn and make her see that revenge is not the answer -- a lesson she helped MacLeod learn in the bloody aftermath of Culloden. In return, Ceirdwyn helps MacLeod see that, although loving a mortal can be dangerous for the mortal, it is the mortal who must choose whether to take the risk. MacLeod calls Anne. Meanwhile, Richie "dies" in a firey crash during a race, a crash that also takes the life of the champion, Basil.
~ recap via tv.com

Next week: Finale I

(And I'll try and get the seaosn four poll up at some point today too.)

macgeorge1macgeorge1 on March 21st, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC)
My episode summary and TPTB comments are at:

One thing I found interesting was the outtake scene they showed on the DVD: Gillian tells us the episode ran way long, so a fight scene in Cierdwyn’s pub had to be dropped and the subsequent bedroom scene re-written as a result. We see the original scenes, with Duncan sullen, drunk and aggressive in her pub. He deliberately provokes a fight, and when he taunts his opponent, saying he hits like a woman: “Come on, hit me like a man!” Cierdwyn comes up behind him and knocks him out with a metal vase. Then in her bedroom, Duncan wakes up in her bed, naked. “They’re gettin’ cleaned before they walk off on their own. A body like that, ye should take better care of it.” He’s obviously badly hung over, and when he gets a look at what had knocked him out, asks what kind of coward would hit me with such a thing. Ciedrwyn tells him she was the one who hit him, and that she wasn’t going to let him wreck her pub, “just so you can stop feeling guilty.”

My comments were: Despite Ken Gord’s reservations about the success of the episode, I liked it. I really liked the character of Cierdwyn. It was great to see a real warrior female Immortal, and this was one of the first episodes where we saw a fundamental aspect of Duncan’s character demonstrated fully. Going after Kern wasn’t an aberration. As Cierdwyn said, “We’re warriors. We kill the killers.” Except that eventually they become killers themselves.

It did make me wonder when, exactly, that lesson was brought home to Duncan. Certainly, he had changed by the time Tessa was killed, since he chose not to take vengeance on the kid who shot her. Was it the cumulative effect of time and events, plus Darius’ teachings? Or did Coltec’s magic do more than just take away the hate and rage that had driven Duncan after his Sioux tribe was slaughtered? Perhaps a combination of all of that? We’ve seen no moment of epiphany, and we know Duncan’s murderous rampage after Culloden had haunted him most of his life, and that he felt a reckoning was probably due.

I think, like most of life’s lessons, they are learned and re-learned and learned again until eventually they take root. I recall that there was a reply Duncan gave to the prostitute/friend of Tessa’s who was being stalked by the crazy new Immortal who thought he was an avenging angel. She asked him how he got so wise, and he smiled and said something to the effect that, like a rat in a maze, if you run into enough walls for a long enough time, you eventually find the right path. That stuck with me because it summarizes how I see Duncan’s character. Whatever wisdom he has is a result of making mistakes again and again, and dealing with the consequences of them. In that, he is just like the rest of us.

I thought Duncan’s reaction to Richie’s death was also interesting. He was upset and angry, but didn’t want to yell at Richie so he expended his energy by fiddling with his bookshelves. When he tells Richie he’s dead in France and Europe and will have to disappear, it can be interpreted that he is upset that Richie will be leaving, and won’t be under his protection anymore, and that Richie is making the same mistakes he has made himself (“This is something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.”) It is heartbreaking and maddening to see a child make really bad mistakes that truly screw up their lives, especially when Duncan saw it coming and tried to head it off by gently reminding Richie of who he was and asking him to be careful, but of course he didn’t listen.

So, this episode, at its heart, is about making tragic mistakes, and how hard it is to learn from them, even over hundreds of years.
airforcegrrl on March 21st, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC)
Basil totally got what was coming to him...
/end rant
Mischief: W3Ostaraem_kellesvig on March 21st, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
One thing I really liked about this episode was that Ceirdwyn was written as a fully rounded character. She was a strong female Immortal; intelligent yet flawed, old but not so wise that she was "perfect". No "Mary Sue" here.

I still think that she would have been the best choice for the Highlander: Raven spin-off.
amberleewriter on March 22nd, 2007 09:13 pm (UTC)
I am, in general, not a fan of the "Big Damn Hero" archetype. One of the reasons for this is that, often, this archetype is overdone: they are either given a "fatal flaw" so obvious that it becomes impossible for the reader/viewer to buy that the hero can't see their own issue, or they are so ideal as to be unrealistic and the reader/viewer can't identify with them.

"Take Back The Night" is one of the many episodes in Highlander that make me like Duncan even though he is, largely, based on the DBH. The Duncan of these flashbacks is one you could see going down another road and turning into a "Kimmie." He was bitter and full of vengeance. He was spoiling for a fight. His "noble" nature and his urge to protect his people had been twisted by a combination of long life and experience into something dark that might have consumed him. Many factors contributed in his turning from this path, but Ceirdwyn was certainly immensely important. The lesson he learns is that, at some point, there must be an end to violence -- that violence begets violence and that in the end all it does is turn you into what you abhor. This also sets up later episodes, such as "Forgive Us Our Trespasses," which continue to explore the idea of karmic retribution, the effect of violence, and what it means to have honor. The episode also deals with free will and decision-making. Mac warns Richie, much younger and still impulsive, that his choice of "job" might get him (and others) killed. Richie, like most young people his age, is sure he is right and keeps going down a path he is told is reckless. It's his choice to make and Duncan lets him make it. In the end, when Richie's choice ends in exactly the kind of scenario Duncan predicted, Duncan doesn't try to shelter Richie from the consequences of his actions. Ceirdwyn -- a well fleshed out and well-rounded female character -- is older than Duncan. Still, the lessons of her own life are forgotten in the heat of her passion and anger at the death of her husband. It shows the cyclical nature of life, even for an Immortal. Over and over you are presented with the same choices and situations. It is up to you how you respond. Each turn in the road gives you a fresh opportunity; the question is what you will do with the opportunity when it arrives.

Duncan once went left instead of right and nearly lost his soul in violence. Ceirdwyn helped him turn from that path. Duncan owes her much more than a debt of gratitude for this and, as such, he spends the entire episode trying to return the favor. I really enjoyed seeing that Duncan was a man that struggled with his choices -- and the results of his sometimes ill-advised actions -- just like Richie. Ceirdwyn's struggle shows that age and time will not save you from rash decision-making, only conscious thought and measured action can do such a thing and that you must make a choice each day about what kind of person you want to be.

Overall, this is one of the better episodes though I think it is missing a rather nebulous "something" that keeps it from going to the top of the list. Perhaps it is the pacing. As previously mentioned in MacGeorge's comment, this episode ran long and had some things I think were important cut out as a result. Still, it's a solid show that explores a lot of moral dilemmas and that is firmly about people and relationships -- a formula with at the writers of Highlander excelled. Had it not been for episodes like this one, Duncan would have remained for me a brash Big Damn Hero who doled out his idea of justice without being able to look in the mirror and see his own flaws. In "Take Back The Night" it is clear that Duncan has flaws and knows what they are -- that he struggles with them and that he feels guilt over his past mistakes -- and that is what not only saves his character for me, but makes me like him. He knows he makes mistakes but does the best he can. When he finds that he was wrong, he tries to make things right or to do better next time. He lives with his guilt and takes responsibility for his actions. In short, he is human even though he is Immortal. This is exactly the reason I watched Highlander and enjoyed it so much.