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31 October 2007 @ 12:16 pm
HLS4: 'Promises'  
Highlander Season Four

Promises, Air Date: March 1996

In 1755, MacLeod made a promise in order to save the life of a young friend. It comes back to haunt him when Kassim, the Immortal to whom he made the promise, demands that MacLeod assassinate the tyrannical dictator of a small Middle Eastern country. When his refusal gets a good man killed and puts Rachel's life in jeopardy, MacLeod is torn between doing what he believes is right and keeping his promise.

Next week: Methuselah's Gift

pat: holiday boopat_t on October 31st, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
You know, this episode asks some important questions. But, for some reason, it's not a favorite of mine, and I have a hard time sitting through it. I don't like the flashback and Duncan and Rachel simply don't work as a couple.

I know that's not the kind of fb you were wanting, but it's the best I can do without going back to watch it.

maybe I will
Ithithildyn on October 31st, 2007 07:46 pm (UTC)
It's not a favourite of mine either, but enough people liked it to get it on the list. Hopefully those that voted for it will come over and discuss :)
amberleewriter on November 9th, 2007 02:29 am (UTC)
Yet another late response. I doubt it will be helpful for discussion purposes at this point but what the heck:

"Promises" is another of the season four episodes which was a powerhouse for asking thought provoking questions. When you're an Immortal, how long should you be held to an oath? Should you even make them at all? Where does the line get drawn? What is murder and what is justifiable killing?

I think part of the reason this episode isn't on my favorite list as an actual episode (though I really do, as a writer, admire the premise) has to do with the characters. While I quite like the character of Rachael MacLeod, I never liked them trying pairing her with Duncan. It seemed kind of forced to me and her presence seemed rather pointless. Additionally, the character of Kassim was not someone I was very sympathetic to. I think this had more to do with the way he was played than the way he was written. In order for me, as a watcher of the show, to really get emotionally involved in Duncan's dilemma I needed to care about Kassim and his devotion to the "House of al-Deneb." I didn't. Kassim came off to me as more of an inflexible zealot than a devoted servant who was willing to give up anything for the good of "the people." I thought of him as more of a thug who wanted to drag Duncan down to his level all because of a promise elicited hundreds of years ago. While this increased the dramatic tension it also meant that I never really connected to anyone in the story and, therefore don't think of it as one of my favorites.

The whole episode is full of dynamic conflict and is not easy for the viewer. No one here seems like a good guy -- even Duncan. In the end, when Duncan kills the President, all I could think was, "If you'd just done that in the first place it would have saved us all an hour and good people might still be alive." However, I think that's actually part of the point of the episode. Showing that 400+ years of living doesn't necessarily make you wise or infallible is a good premise for an episode. Showing that Duncan doesn't always make good choices but that, in the end, he lives with the results of his actions (or inactions) just like the rest of us is also a good premise for an episode. Still, given the timing (hot on the heels of the Dark Quickening arc) the ambiguity, chilling coldness, and struggle to determine what is right and moral (only to find that there is not right or moral answer to any of the questions posed) makes this a difficult episode to watch. There is nothing hopeful in this story nor does Duncan seem to have come to terms with his own decisions. His interactions with mortals and Immortals seem convoluted, difficult, and somewhat hopeless.