"We don't know when it's going to end, we never do. But while we're here, living in this time, in this place, some of us - the lucky few - will still have all of the fun and all the good women." - Connor MacLeod
And so we go back to where it all began for Duncan MacLeod, with the passing of the baton from the film canon to the then new series and a new Highlander, in "The Gathering", the only time both Immortal MacLeods appeared together - in the television series, that is. This episode introduced us to Duncan and his lover, Tessa Noel, and introduced them to street kid Richie Ryan. With hindsight, much that is said in this episode echoes what is to come, not least MacLeod's words to Richie at their first meeting - "It's over when I cut off your head". All opinions expressed here are my own, as is the retelling of the storyline.
Written by Dan Gordon
|Duncan MacLeod||Adrian Paul|
|Tessa Noel||Alexandra Vandernoot|
|Richie Ryan||Stan Kirsch|
|Slan Quince||Richard Moll|
|Connor MacLeod||Christopher Lambert|
A quiet evening at home together is rudely interrupted for Duncan MacLeod and Tessa Noel when he senses something and goes to check it out. He finds that a young thief by the name of Richie Ryan has broken into their antiques store and, finding the boy wielding one of swords displayed there, confuses him for an Immortal and threatens to cut off his head. Taken aback, the boy is keen to call the police, when the skylight shatters as Immortal Slan Quince drops through and challenges Duncan. The two prepare to face off, when a mysterious voice from the shadows challenges Slan in turn. Quince is startled to be confronted not by one, but two Highlanders, as Connor MacLeod steps out of the darkness. Richie, by now convinced that he's the only sane one there, races away to be arrested by the police. Hearing the sirens, Slan leaves, but not before telling Tessa that he only came to see her. With a laugh, Connor leaves as well.
The next morning, Duncan is summoned by the police to identify Richie. Much to the displeasure of Sergeant Powell, Duncan refuses to press charges, but insists on speaking to the boy before he is released. Alone with Richie, the Highlander makes it quite clear that the boy is keep silent about what he saw if MacLeod is not to have him prosecuted. Intimidated, Richie agrees, but his curiosity is piqued. Later that night, Tessa and Duncan celebrate her birthday and we learn that Duncan is just short of 400 years old. Tessa is starting to feel old in her own eyes and is worried that Duncan will stop loving her. When she presses him on his past, Duncan admits that there have been others, but tells her the terrible price of loving a mortal - you know that, one day, you will be left alone to cope with the loss.
The following day, Tessa is startled to see Duncan walk through the store sword in hand. He has felt the presence of an Immortal, but relaxes when it turns out to be Connor, who has just watched Slan drive away. The two Immortals take the opportunity to spar together and, back at the store later on, Tessa learns of their relationship, how Connor taught Duncan to survive the Game. However, she is disturbed when Connor explains why Slan wants to kill Duncan, as Duncan never told her about Quickenings or about the one rule that overrides all their lives - in the end, There Can Be Only One. Duncan protests that he has been out of the Game and Connor coldly points out that he isn't any more.
Duncan had retreated from the Game once before. In 1872, Kern led the U.S. Cavalry to the massacre of the Sioux tribe that Duncan was living with, ("Line Of Fire"), and Connor had helped him bury Little Deer before he went on his vengeful hunt for Kern. He was not destined to find the Immortal until many years later, but encountered the Hayoka, Kol T'ek, ("Something Wicked"), who helped him come to terms with his grief. The following year, he made his way to the Pacific North West and, after learning the ways of the wild from the hermit, Carl, ("Mountain Men"), constructed a cabin on an island that was Holy Ground. Whilst Connor did not approve of his decision to step away from the battle between good and evil, he had understood it.
The following day, Duncan returns to the shop to find that Slan waiting for him, with Tessa his prisoner. Tormented by his challenger, Duncan fights with Slan, who has no real interest in taking his head yet, wanting to humiliate and provoke the Highlander. Terrified, Tessa wants to leave Seacouver for Paris, but Duncan mistakes her intent and thinks that she's leaving him. She rails at him for his lack of understanding, not comprehending why he won't leave, but he tells her that it would only be a matter of time before Slan or someone else came for him. Later, he returns from another practise session with Connor, (this time furtively watched by the curious Richie), to find that Slan has called- the challenge is for Soldier's Bridge that night and, once he's killed Duncan, Slan told Tessa that he was coming for her. As Duncan prepares to leave to face Slan, Connor provokes him into a light-hearted argument, but when the younger Immortal is distracted, lays him out with a nifty left hook.
Connor goes to face Slan, with Richie tagging along unseen in the boot of his car. Slan, disappointed at first, finds the challenge of an enthusiastic opponent acceptable and the two fight, watched by Richie. When Connor gets the upper hand, Slan uses a knife projected from the pommel of his sword to save himself and Connor is thrown off the bridge. Before Slan can chase him, Duncan arrives and the fight is renewed, this time with victory going to the younger Highlander. Richie watches appalled as Duncan beheads Slan, then slack-jawed as he sees the power of the Quickening rip apart Slan's car and light up the night sky. Duncan leaps from the bridge to save Connor from the river and the Immortals agree that the boy will need watching. Duncan tells Connor that he is leaving Tessa, but this time Connor will not stand aside and takes Tessa to the island, reuniting the lovers before leaving them to work out the path of their future together.