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Highlander Highlander

"I never thought one of the good guys would lose" - Richie Ryan

It got better with "Band Of Brothers", but it took off, for me, with "The Hunters", the story that introduced the then-unnamed zealot determined to destroy Immortals, a man both we and Duncan MacLeod were to come to know as James Horton. The man so "quiet in conscience, calm in his right, confident his ways are best" returned again and again to haunt the Highlander, whether in person or just the consequences of his actions, (in "One Minute To Midnight"), as the manifestation of the demon Ahriman in the "Archangel" tryptych and, inevitably, as himself unchecked in "To Be"/"Not To Be". And a full size vidcap of your favourite character to anyone who spots which song I've misquoted there, just e-mail me and tell me the song and album. All opinions expressed here are my own, as is the retelling of the storyline.

The Hunters

Written by Kevin Droney


Duncan MacLeod Adrian Paul
Tessa Noel Alexandra Vandernoot
Richie Ryan Stan Kirsch
Darius Werner Stocker
Hugh Fitzcairn Roger Daltrey
James Horton Peter Hudson

The visit of old friend Hugh Fitzcairn to the barge is a pleasure for Duncan MacLeod, until he and Fitzcairn start talking about the reason for Fitz's visit to Paris. Immortal friends have been disappearing and Fitz doesn't believe that they have simply been killed by other Immortals. When he tells MacLeod that the latest to disappear is Thackeray, who he was due to meet in Dublin, at Thackeray's insistence, Mac becomes worried, because Darius told him that he had had a dream about Thackeray's death. Fitz tells Duncan that Thackeray had found something that he had never seen in all his centuries, but he disappeared before he could tell Hugh what it was. Duncan and Fitzcairn go to see Darius at the chapel, but do not sense him as they approach. They enter and their worst fears are realised. Darius lies inside, beheaded.

Trying to make sense of Darius' murder on Holy Ground, MacLeod and Fitzcairn go back to Fitz's hotel, where they find a group of men hanging around. The inevitable fight ensues, with Mac and Fitz pursuing the men into the street. Duncan chases after one of the men and starts to question him, but the man kills himself rather than talk to the Immortal. MacLeod searches the body looking for clues, but all he finds is a tattoo on the man's wrist, a symbol he first remembers from when he and Fitzcairn were in service to the Duke de Milano in 1639. During a fight with the Duke's enemies, a bystander was killed, a bystander who wore a medallion with the same symbol. Now terribly worried, Duncan races to find Fitzcairn, only to see the men drive away, leaving Fitz's pipe lying in the street.

Back at the barge, Mac cannot find any trace of the symbol in any of his books, so he goes back to the chapel, where he remembers his first encounter with Darius and their ensuing friendship. Looking through Darius' belongings, he spots a piece of the MacLeod tartan wedged in a hole in the wall. Examining the hole, he finds an old book, bearing that same mysterious symbol. Shocked, he realises that Darius knew about these men. Reading the book back at the barge, he finds it to be a chronicle, written in ancient German, telling of a mythology of gods and immortality. After studying the book and deciphering the archaic writings, he realises that it is a history of an order of men who have known about Immortals and have been watching them for centuries.

Aware that he is being followed, Mac tries to confront these Hunters, but they elude him. Worried about Ritchie, who has gone to collect an antique, Mac follows him, only to walk into a fight with a group of the men. Only the timely arrival of Ritchie saves MacLeod from being overpowered. Meanwhile, the calm leader of the men has Fitzcairn shot, to prove that he is Immortal, but refuses to answer Fitz's questions, keeping him imprisoned in their headquarters.

As a second night falls since Fitzcairn's arrival, Duncan spots one of the men in a car on the Quai de la Tournelle, watching the barge. Ritchie distracts the man and Mac knocks him out. Whilst he is unconcious, Ritchie moves the barge. When the man wakes up, he sees that the barge is gone and returns to the Hunters' base, followed by MacLeod, who knocks him out again. Inside, the Hunters are preparing to guillotine Fitzcairn, but the Highlander saves the day, defeating the men and confronting their leader, a paranoid psychopath who is afraid that the Gathering will lead to the domination of mankind by the last Immortal. He gets away, leaving a sorrowful MacLeod and friends to bid farewell to Darius.

The episode ends with MacLeod swearing to find the killers before pouring Darius' ashes into the Seine, to travel onward to the ocean he had never reached when he stopped his march westward at the gates of Paris 1500 years before. In a tragic twist of fate, Werner Stocker, the actor who played Darius, died during the filming of this episode, forcing the script to be rewritten.

Werner Stocker In memory St Julian le Pauvre

Next, an ancient secret is exposed as Duncan seeks vengeance on "The Watchers"