What do you get when you combine the Highlander TV series with the magic of the sexual assault-happy redneck antics of Deliverance? You get Marc Singer, you get pain, and you get the episode titled “Mountain Men,” but which I like to call “In the end, there can be only YEE HAW.”
Our story begins with the three titular mountain man casually murdering two cops deep in the woods. As we find out later, these cops are only trying to bring a warrant to the leader of the trio, Caleb, played by Beastmaster’s Marc Singer, who’s doing a weird voice like Yosemite Sam getting ready to commit sexual assault. Now, I certainly wouldn’t qualify myself as a survivalist, but I am pretty sure murdering two police officers is a pretty good way to draw attention to yourself, no matter how far out in the woods you are.
Cut to Seattle! Duncan MacLeod’s girlfriend Tessa bids goodbye to their button-challenged friend Richie to go take some pictures of what she calls Native American paintings despite them actually being stone carvings (I have no idea why this is). She parks in an outpost and starts wandering around the woods aimlessly, where she’s noticed by… the mountain men. “That’s a fine-lookin’ hunka woman,” says Eddie rape-ily. “Yes she is,” utters Caleb in a voice that Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs would find unsettling.
Eventually, Tessa finds her carvings/paintings, but she’s barely taken a picture when she’s accosted by Caleb, Eddie and Joshua, who immediately begin sexually harassing her, which is mere prelude to Caleb proposing to Tessa while simultaneously kidnapping her. As they march through the wilds of Washington state or British Columbia or wherever the hell they’re supposed to be, Caleb talks about leaving behind “the human stench” of civilization, apparently opposed to the delightful odors of nature and shitting in the woods. Better still, Caleb explains how they’re taking her to place “no white man’s never been, Indians neither,” which is a neat trick since, you know, all three dudes are white.
When Duncan returns home from Beijing (“The Forbidden City," as he calls it in all seriousness, because he’s a douchebag) he is distressed to discover Tessa has not returned home. He heads out after her after, immediately running into a mulleted Native American sheriff, who explains that she’s been kidnapped by the titular mountain men. Duncan, in his best hiking denim buttondown shirt and khaki slacks, begins his hunt.
On the way, he has a flashback to 100+ years ago, where he’s attacked by Carl the Hermit (that’s how he’s listed in the opening credits, seriously) who was clearly a dangerous lunatic, albeit one that didn’t abscond with women. After a brief wrestling match, Carl the Hermit teaches Duncan all about tracking and the woods, which is supposed to explain how he tracks Caleb now. “I can think like any animal that ever was!” yells Carl the Hermit, which is… a good thing, I guess? His big revelation is that when humans enter the woods, they always go north. No explanation whatsoever is given for this.
Back in the present, the sheriff and his posse are examining the tracks, and Caleb’s tracks lead south, but Duncan’s tracks lead north. They assume Duncan is a moron, but we know better! A goddamn lunatic told him that everybody heads north! Silly Native American sheriff, doubting a white man with a ponytail!
Meanwhile, Caleb is truly falling for the weirdly accented Tessa; when Eddie catches her trying to signal a plane with a compact mirror, he tackles her, only to be pulled off by Caleb; when Joshua points out that people are following them on account of her, Caleb slaps him and yells “You gotta treat her with more ree-spek!” This newfound ree-spek is somewhat belied by the fact that Marc Singer says every line of dialogue like he’s actually saying “You sure got a purty mouth,” but whatever. We know Caleb is falling in love, because he finally asks her her name — a few hours after his marriage proposal — and tells her he’d die for her, which isn’t creepy at all.
Then it’s exposition time! As it turns out, Caleb abandoned civilization because a doctor let his girlfriend die, and he took the lady’s son Josh into the woods, so he’s kind of Josh’s step-dad, and Tessa figures out he’s an Immortal because Immortals can’t have kids, and god forbid Duncan not have to fight an Immortal in a first season episode. While Caleb’s explaining all this, master tracker Duncan sneaks up on Josh and then completely fails to notice Eddie sneaking up behind him. They march him to a ravine, tell him to jump, and then are completely surprised when he jumps.
When they bring Duncan’s katana to Caleb, Caleb realizes he’s also dealing with an Immortal, and decides they need to get a move on. “We travel by night! No more stops!” he declares, apparently aware that if they only travel by night they will technically have to stop during the day. Meanwhile, Duncan’s bones knit, he climbs out of the ravine, and begins his hunt again — after tearing his shirt into strips and wrapping them around his forearms for some unexplainable reason. Oh, and then he eats some berries, because HE IS OF THE LAND. Then this happens:
It might be tough to tell, but this what happens after Duncan sneaks up on the solitary Joshua — he screams like a madman and gives him a flying body tackle. Caleb runs to the scene to find no one, and, like an ostrich that buries its head in the sand because it assumes if it can’t see you you can’t see it, he immediately assumes Duncan has killed Joshua because there’s no body.
This is the point that Tessa begins her high-stakes mental assault on the mountain men. She tells Caleb that Josh and Eddie were fighting over her, which even Caleb isn’t stupid enough to believe it. But when Tessa suggests Eddie killed Joshua, because of that non-existent fight they had earlier that Caleb didn’t believe, CALEB IS CONVINCED OF THE TREACHERY IN HIS RANKS. He shoots Eddie, based on an unfounded claim by the woman he’s kidnapped.
Thankfully, this is the point Duncan shows up. “I HAD YER WOMAAANNNN!” screams Caleb helpfully. When this has no effect, he yells, “Dunkin McClowd! Yoo don’t fergit a name like that! Carl had some mighty nice things to say ‘bout yoo!” OH SNAP, CALEB KNOWS CARL BECAUSE… well, because the scriptwriters are phenomenally lazy, mostly. Duncan assumes Caleb killed Carl, because apparently that’s when happens to everybody once they disappear from sight.
Although Caleb has a rifle, he’s quickly felled by Tessa hitting him on the head with a stick, allowing Duncan to get close and justifying the inevitable fight scene. Oddly, Caleb has Duncan’s sword from earlier, while Duncan manages to grab Caleb’s big-ass axe. There is a duel that… well, let’s just say it’s a duel between Adrian Paul and Marc Singer, and I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. (There’s a lot of flipping involved.)
Caleb is beheaded off camera, without the tiniest semblance of special effects. Clearly they needed to save their money for the Quickening.
When the sheriff and his posse finally find Duncan — after having discovered Joshua tied up in the woods — Duncan has buried Caleb in a stone cairn. Now, although Caleb is clearly a bad guy and a murderer and potential rapist, he’s also clearly been murdered by Duncan, and no one gives a shit. Well, that’s not 100% true; Joshua yells, “He murdered him!” just to make sure everyone’s aware of what’s happened, but the sheriff is so impressed with his tracking skills he just leaves.
And that’s how Duncan of Clan MacLeod murdered a redneck in cold blood with no consequences whatsoever. And it was still better than Highlander 2.
What Did We Learn:
• We learned what the lowest point of Marc Singer’s career was.
• Someone had the restraint not to include banjo music in the episode, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.
• If someone is not within eyesight, they're probably dead.
• The ‘90s were a time when TV characters could just walk around with their shirts completely unbuttoned, indoors, and no one thought they were insane. Magical times!
• If you fall down a ravine, make sleeves your first priority.
• I assume that survivalists would have been really upset at the way this episode stereotyped them, if, you know, they had TVs and watched them.
• It is either legal to kill rednecks in Washington, or it's legal to kill Marc Singer. One of the two!