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21 May 2008 @ 10:53 am
HLS5: 'Comes a Horseman'  
I haven't posted one of these in a while since interest seemed to have been waning. But I thought there had been enough of a break that we could pick up the discussions again.

Highlander Season Five

Comes a Horseman
Air Date: Feb. 1997

MacLeod knew him as Melvin Koren, a desperado who left a trail of death and fire across the Old West, but Cassandra remembers him as an evil far older. He is Kronos, leader of the Four Horsemen, mounted Bronze Age raiders who murdered, raped, and pillaged their way across two continents. Never was a band of Immortals more cruel or more feared. He destroyed Cassandra's people and she's been hunting him across the millenia. But Kronos has a different target now -- Methos.
~ recap via TV.com

Next week: Revelation 6:8
(Deleted comment)
Ith: Methos - Lookithildyn on May 22nd, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
Duncan is being Duncan in this ep, even though he does abdicate thinking a bit too much because a woman is batting her eyelashes at him.

Heh. Yeah.
bleukittie: Fight another Daybleukittie on May 21st, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
Who do you think was who manipulating whom? Kronos manipulating Methos? Methos pushing Duncan's buttons? Methos pushing Kronos' buttons? Kronos baiting Methos with Duncan?

Cassandra was pushing Duncan's buttons all thru the episode. I think that's a given.
Ith: Methos - Bloody Swordithildyn on May 22nd, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
All of the above :)
macgeorge1macgeorge1 on May 21st, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
As usual, I will recap my summary comments here, but the entire description, TPTB comments, screen caps, outtakes, etc. can be found at:

My comments were very lengthy, so this may take several posts. Sorry about that. Post #1 - controversies and various interpretations of events:

So much has been said over the years about this and the following episode, there is little new insight to be brought to it, I think. I can only express my own interpretations and opinions about what internal monologue may have been going on with the characters, and address some of the disagreements in interpretation of events or emotions or motivations that always seem to surface.

#1: Did Methos recognize Cassandra when she first attacked him, or was he telling what he thought was the truth when he insisted he wasn’t the person she was after?

My view: This one isn’t even a close call, for me. He knew her instantly. In the first place, he knew Caspian and Silas were alive, so he has obviously been tracking Immortals from the “old days” over the years. For him not to have similarly tracked Cassandra, who has good reason to wish him dead, is nonsensical. Second, he has all-too-recently been reminded of those events of so long ago, so they would be fresh on his mind. Methos is a quick thinker, the consummate survivor, and he instantly did the one thing that would guarantee his survival at that moment – he appealed to MacLeod to protect him. Yes, it was a lie, and in the long run it would deeply damage MacLeod’s trust in him and make the ultimate revelation about his past much, much more problematic, but rational discourse and truth-telling didn’t seem like an option at that particular moment.

#2: Why did Methos reveal his past to MacLeod in a way virtually guaranteed to generate the worst possible reaction? Was he trying to push MacLeod away to protect him, or was it just a defensive response to an old, painful accusation?

My view: I don’t think there is one, straightforward reason Methos reacted the way he did, or that Duncan reacted the way *he* did. These are two complex men in a complex relationship that has, as its foundation, the general notion that they are destined to possibly meet someday in combat to the death, and that their friendship is in defiance of that destiny. I refuse to make any broad generalizations about either character because that denigrates the wonderful subtleties that make this scene such great, great drama. I *do* think Methos is a manipulator, but that most of his manipulations are done on the fly, because they amuse him, and especially amuse him when his manipulations have unexpected results as they sometimes do with MacLeod. In my opinion, Methos gave up trying to formulate large-scale schemes when he walked away from the Horsemen, but he certainly still has all the instincts for it.

As a result, when Methos physically grabs Duncan, refusing to let him walk away after the first confirmation that Methos was who Cassandra had said he was, I think it was fraught with multiple motivations. One was that he didn’t want to let Duncan go, that his friendship was something Methos truly treasured. Another was that he was angry that Duncan believed he understood when he didn’t understand at all. A third was the knowledge that he was still under an edict to kill MacLeod. If he succeeded in *really* pissing Duncan off, one of two things could happen: Duncan could challenge him, and Methos could kill him (assuming he could win that battle, but Methos isn’t known as an ‘honorable’ fighter), thereby fulfilling his promise to Kronos; or, Duncan would hate him so much that he would walk away and never speak to him again, which would also get him away from Kronos. Then, of course, Methos would have a different problem, but he could only deal with one crisis at a time.

...continued in next post
macgeorge1macgeorge1 on May 21st, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
continuing commentary post...

Methos couldn’t be positive of either outcome, but you combine all those urges, needs and motivations, and instinct has him grabbing MacLeod and slamming against the truck and forcing Duncan to understand just how alien, how ugly, how very, very different he was so long ago, and watching Duncan’s face as it moves from cold anger to disgust and dismay, with a very strong dose of betrayal thrown in for good measure. Methos is both relieved and horribly grieved when Duncan says their friendship is over and walks away. On the one had, that Duncan *hadn’t* challenged him, knowing that Methos had pushed virtually every one of Duncan’s hot buttons, must’ve been a revelation about just how much Duncan had treasured their friendship, and how much Methos had just lost. On the other hand, now Methos had to deal with Kronos, having not killed MacLeod, so he had to come up with a whole new survival strategy – ergo, the re-grouping of the Horsemen.

As for Duncan’s reactions, he is being pushed from so many different directions, he can hardly tell where he stands from moment to moment. For all that he had his own dark past, Duncan had never killed strictly for pleasure, and never deliberately killed innocents. His own village had been devastated and his father killed by marauders. And Cassandra was an icon from his past, a woman who had appealed to him for protection, further confusing his own sense of where his duties and responsibilities lay. So Methos reveling in his tale of killing ten thousand innocents just because he enjoyed the killing, and that Cassandra and her village were “nothing” to him, was appalling, especially coming from someone he considered a good and trusted friend, someone he could lean on, someone he could go to for advice, even if it was usually couched in sometimes-unpleasant cynicism and sarcasm. So he walked away, brimming with anger and a sense of betrayal, knowing that Methos had lied to him about Cassandra, wondering how many other things Methos had said were lies, filled with horror at Methos’ words, and with his gleeful attitude about all that death.

#3: Duncan was unfair in judging Methos’ actions harshly, when he knew Darius was also had a killing past, but considered Darius practically a saint.

My view: This assertion ends up on my ‘gimme a break’ list. Geez. You can argue that Darius was also a general, and that a conqueror isn’t doing so for the personal pleasure of killing individuals. But that argument is frequently met with philosophical discourse on the evils of war, etc., which I find tiresome – as though somehow because I don’t consider killing in war as evil an act as personal murder, I am de facto approving war, or that I don’t think that war itself is evil, which is absurd.

But the most compelling difference between Darius and Methos is the simple fact that Darius never hid his past – and actually frequently used it as an object lesson for how *not* to live, and lived a life that was a polar opposite of what he had been.

#4: At one point on various lists, someone who shall be nameless strongly argued, and there were even a few who purported to be persuaded (I think. I have blessedly forgotten most of that ‘conversation’) that Methos was the actual leader of the Horsemen and that some (unknown) momentous event occurred to elevate Kronos to the dominant member of that group. We don’t know what the momentous event was, but, according to the proponent of the theory, the evidence is clear and obvious that Methos was the original leader of the Horsemen.

My view: I can’t recall all the minutiae from which this scenario was inferred, but it is patently absurd. All you have to do is watch that first scene, where the instant Kronos inquires what is going on all three men defer to Kronos, who unhesitatingly acts as Solomon, splitting the robe and declaring the rule that they all share everything.

...even more in next post
Ithithildyn on May 22nd, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
At one point on various lists, someone who shall be nameless strongly argued, and there were even a few who purported to be persuaded (I think. I have blessedly forgotten most of that ‘conversation’) that Methos was the actual leader of the Horsemen and that some (unknown) momentous event occurred to elevate Kronos to the dominant member of that group.

I vaguely remember that. My basic reaction would be 'that's nuts!':)
macgeorge1macgeorge1 on May 21st, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
....sorry to be so long-winded.

#5: Cassandra was a vengeful bitch who was utterly unreasonable and irrational in her single-minded pursuit of Methos.

My view: Cassandra was a character with many possible interpretations, but I had no trouble believing that her first-death and post-death experiences were horrifying and would have left life-long scars, regardless of how long that life was. It was made clear that Methos used whatever methods were most painful to ensure her cooperation, and that he treated her as property to be used for his own benefit and pleasure.

I thought her character as revealed in Prophecy was ambiguous as to whether she was a cold, manipulative predator or a fearful woman getting by as best she could. There is also ambiguity here since she pursues both Kronos and Methos even in the face of her own probable death. She can’t have hoped to win against either of them physically, so she had only her demonstrably unreliable Voice. Both Kronos and Methos were significantly older than she, had survived for thousands of years and were likely to be extraordinarily powerful. To rely totally on her Voice as her defense against them was tenuous, at best. She had to have known she was putting her life on the line – although she sure didn’t hesitate a moment to rely once again on Duncan as her defender.

That she sees Methos as evil incarnate is in part a result of his own evil deeds, and in part a result of her guilt and disgust at her ultimate acquiescence and servitude to him under duress. She is blinded by both her history and her guilt. Was she irrational? Yes. Was it understandable? Completely.

#6: Methos was never *really* bad, not in context of the times. Ten thousand wasn’t that many, after all, if you extrapolate out over a thousand or so years, and that’s just the way people lived way back then.

My view: Hogwash. Kronos describes them as being the ultimate in evil, even for the times. Methos describes them as being living nightmares, and his use of the killing of “ten thousand” was merely metaphor for “a whole, whole, whole lot of people.” To minimize and trivialize what they were is to take away the sting of the whole episode and to paint Methos as simply a minor bad guy who eventually saw the error of his ways. Phooey on that. I want a *real* bad guy. I want a monumentally, seriously bad, bad guy who now lives with the reality of what he once was. That’s Drama!

....only a little more, about Joe.
macgeorge1macgeorge1 on May 21st, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
last bit...

Finally, I’ve always thought Joe’s stance on Methos was utterly inconsistent with the Vengeful!Joe who strongly urged Duncan to kill John Kiernan. In that instance, it was Duncan who was gradually coming to grips with the fact that a former conscienceless murderer had not only changed, but was now trying to redeem himself. It took time, and some real soul-searching, but ultimately Duncan acknowledged that Kiernan deserved that opportunity. Joe never did.

I think Joe’s initial dismissal of even the possibility that Methos might have a truly evil past was born of knowing him as Adam Pierson long before he knew him as Methos. He was unable to see that person as doing truly evil deeds, and perhaps has never grasped the true complexity inherent in living for 5,000 years. It is a very mortal reaction, as was Joe’s comparison of the acts of the Four Horsemen to his experience in Vietnam – which demonstrated that Joe was operating from as different a reality from Duncan as Duncan was from Methos.

As for the overall quality of this episode, it was first-rate in all respects. Val Pelka was brilliant casting, Tracy Scoggins less so, but they were stuck with her after they had established her in “Prophecy”. I didn’t like her mostly because I felt she manipulated Duncan even more than Methos did, and to questionable ends for questionable motives, but I felt that as a character, she was interesting and effective.

The flashbacks, both the one to Texas and to the Bronze Age, were wonderful. The “stick boy” who initially spots the Horsemen and dashes towards the village has achieved a small bit of notoriety, and Cassandra’s long talon-like nails have received criticism (although they tried to disguise them). Mostly, though, the atmospherics were wonderful – the power plant was dark, grim and threatening, full of sharp edges and mysterious machines, and the music matched the emotional context really well, adding to the power of the scenes.

All the characters were fabulously complex, their motives unclear and their actions fraught with unforeseen consequences – just like life.

Ith: Highlander - Friendsithildyn on May 22nd, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
All the characters were fabulously complex, their motives unclear and their actions fraught with unforeseen consequences – just like life.


Thanks for taking the time to type all that out. I really enjoyed your take on the episode.
(Deleted comment)
Ith: Methos - Shadowithildyn on May 22nd, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
I have no problem with Cassandra still being angry at what happened to her, but I had a major problem with the way she manipulated Duncan -- and how he fell for it -- especially as I still had a bad taste on my mouth from Prophecy and her behavior with Duncan as a child.
(Anonymous) on May 22nd, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
This was actually the first Highlander episode I ever saw. All I can say on that is thank goodness they were on re-runs and an episode every day. Waiting a week to find out what happened would have been evil.

pat: HL srslypat_t on May 22nd, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
Reading MacG's comments and all I can say is "yes!" Sums it up beautifully.

I really did not like Cassandra as a character. Not because she wanted to kill Methos. I understood that. But because of the way she used and manipulated Duncan.