THE ELECTRIC SWORDSMEN
HIGHLANDER is a hit. Whether you like the concept or hate it, it’s impossible to deny that the original movie, its sequels, and its subsequently spun off TV series, have all reached an enthusiastic audience in America and throughout Europe.
However, it is an equally undeniable fact that the continuity of the concept has glaring internal inconsistencies, and worse, that each different aspect of the “Highlander” concept raises a great many fascinating questions that no real effort is ever made to answer. In fact, to the devotee who pays attention, it starts to seem as if these questions have no ‘official’ answers... that the creators involved in the series have no more real clue why ‘there can be only one’ than we do out here in the audience.
Nonetheless, the various aspects of Immortal lore that have been brought out over the years do show something of a pattern, and that pattern, after careful analysis, suggests a certain hypothesis.
It’s possible that the creative team behind HIGHLANDER has an overall, satisfying, and fulfilling explanation already written down in some secret bible, and that it may well be the same hypothesis that I’ve put together over a year or so of watching the television series, and repeated watchings of the first movie (the second it seems safe to dismiss as general nonsense, while the third really adds nothing much to the overall canon... except the vital information that whatever happened to Connor MacLeod at the end of the first movie that he mistook for the completion of ‘the Gathering’, actually was not... a piece of data I’m very pleased to have, for reasons I’ll detail further on). Or, at least, there may be points of similarity.
However, having seen how the TV series has changed its approach from one season to the next, occasionally contradicted points of clearly established canon for the sake of easy melodrama, and generally proceeded in a haphazard fashion best described with the phrase ‘making it up as they go along’, I’m of the opinion that if any of these questions are going to be answered, it won’t be in any official HIGHLANDER production. The writers, directors, and producers of the show seem pleased to simply continue giving us a good swordfight and an off camera decapitation in every episode. Analysis, coherency, and explanation are apparently in our hands. Let me then, in the best Immortal tradition, take a hack at it.
I. The Rules of the Game
The best way to proceed, it would seem, is to set out exactly what it is we ‘know’ about the workings of the various Immortals, as established in movies and television episodes. From there we can pick out patterns and hopefully, eventually, suggest some sort of central, all encompassing, internally consistent explanation that answers most, if not all, of the mysteries and enigmas raised by the various adventures of the two separate eternal warriors of the Clan MacLeod... the Highlanders.
1. Immortals can sense each other when they come within a certain range of each other. Sound f.x., and later on in the television show, visual effects surrounding this perception, seem to indicate that it is electrical in nature. This range seems to vary, and until an immortal has ‘died’ and been reborn, other immortals cannot sense his nascent nature.
2. Immortals do battle one on one, face to face, in fair combat with steel swords. This is apparently the only allowable method for Immortals to fight each other. These battles are invariably to the death, and all Immortals, no matter how ruthless or otherwise unprincipled they may be, adhere to this particular code.
3. Immortals do not fight on holy ground. Again, no matter how otherwise amoral, vicious, or murderous an Immortal may be, they all follow this stricture. And holy ground is not merely the blessed land of any one religion, but apparently, any ground held sacred by any culture or society, past or present. Or at least, so it would seem.
4. Most Immortals seem to feel an urge, or compulsion, to mentor younger immortals, teaching them ‘the rules’ and showing them the basics of the particular form of ritual combat on which their lives will later depend. This point is especially odd, since by the nature of the Gathering, this merely means that the mentor is protecting and training someone who may kill him at some future point.
5. Immortals not only do not age once they have ‘died’ and been reborn, but they do not suffer any sort of permanent harm, and regenerate even the most painful and lethal wounds, apparently without even scars... with the exception, of course, of decapitation, which is the final death for all of them. What this generally means is that, barring a really strange accident, or running afoul of the Committee For Public Safety in 19th Century France, the only way most immortals die is at each others’ hands.
6. When one Immortal kills the other in fair, single combat fought with metal swords, a spectacular phenomona ensues in which the surviving Immortal seems to absorb some sort of electrical energy. Immortals apparently vaguely believe that when they do this, they are absorbing the ‘essence’ or ‘life energy’ of their fallen foe.
7. Once an Immortal becomes Immortal, they also become sterile.
8. There can be only one! All Immortals seem to accept as a basic and inarguable postulate of their lives that eventually, they will all die in single combat with each other except for the sole survivor... who will, at that point, become the most powerful entity on the face of the Earth.
II. The Charge of the Immortals
Looked at as a whole, the above collection of Immortal ‘lore’ seems to suggest one overwhelming thing -- electricity. Whatever Immortality is or the Immortals are, electromagnetic energy seems to be a large part of it. In fact, it would be reasonable to postulate that electromagnetic energy is the basis of Immortality... that Immortals are, by their nature, walking powerhouses of electrical energy, their bodies permeated with it... yet, normally, this bioelectrical energy which may well be their animating force is so well integrated into the day to day workings of their metabolisms as to be completely unnoticeable... they don’t give off sparks when they shake hands with people, attract metal objects to their bodies, disrupt the workings of radios when they walk by, or cause any other overt electromagnetic phenomena during their normal functionings.
However, they DO sense one another when they come within a certain range of each other, in much the same way two magnetized objects will respond to each other’s presence when brought close enough together. They do insist on fighting fairly long, extensive battles with archaic weaponry, which happens to primarily consist of one of the most electrically conductive materials discovered by man. They do refuse to fight on holy ground... the sites of which, according to some occult scholars, may well be intersections of ley lines, places where the Earth’s own powerful electromagnetic energies come together and are vastly amplified. And the explosive special effects display that accompanies the lethal resolution of every Immortal duel is inarguably electrical in nature. All of which leads one to the inescapable conclusion that Immortals are a more highly charged form of life than normal humanity... and that their innate bioelectricity is probably the basis for their Immortality.
Our own science uses electromagnetic energy as the basis for information storage in at least two different media. And various alternative researchers have suggested in the past that large magnets, and carefully administered electrical charges, can be used to alter the function of the biological body. Acupuncture uses large steel needles placed within the ‘dragon lines’ or at the ‘healing nodes’ of the human body to redirect the electrical energy that flows through even normal living humans constantly. It’s not difficult to theorize, then, that a human life form with a vastly more powerful innate bioelectrical charge might well be a vastly more healthy one... capable of feats of regeneration and healing far beyond normal humanity, the consequences of which could be as subtle as never perceptibly aging, or as spectacular as a shotgun blast to the chest healing almost instantly.
It would seem, then, that electricity plays a large and vital part in the nature of Immortality, as established in the HIGHLANDER continuity.
III. Fighting For Survival
Why ‘the Gathering’? Why is it that ‘there can be only one’? Why do Immortals have to fight each other... and why are those few Immortals who have given up the sword generally deemed by all their fellows as crazy? Why, above all, do Immortals, who are all fully aware that there can, indeed, ‘be only one’, bother to train young Immortals, rather than simply killing them as novices, when it’s easiest to do?
These are important questions. The battle cry “There can be only one!” is the vital, melodramatic center of the HIGHLANDER concept. Without it, you only have a show about an immortal warrior with a code of honor, battling evil across the ages. You might, perhaps, throw in the occasional evil Immortal for our hero to battle, but you lose all the neat stuff with one on one sword duels, Immortals sensing each other at a distance, and, far more poignant, the fact that when an Immortal befriends a fellow Immortal, they always know that at some point, that friendship must end in murder... and the best they can hope for is that some other Immortal will do it for them.
To my mind, the reason for compliance with these codes and traditions are in two separate categories -- practicality and compulsion.
Observing an unbreakable truce on holy ground is probably a pragmatic restriction. As briefly stated above, there is a theory that modern ‘holy ground’ is often actually the site of ancient places of power... conjunctions in the Earth’s ‘ley lines’, where Earth’s natural magnetic energy is greatly amplified. Since the purpose of Immortal combat seems to be for one Immortal to free the electrical essence of the other with a ritual deathstroke and then absorb it into their own lifeforce, it might well be very dangerous to do this in an area where the Earth’s own powerful electromagnetic energy already charges the scene. Any Quickenings occuring in such a ley line conjunction might well be disrupted from their normal function, becoming explosive, painful, and actively hazardous not just to the surviving Immortal but to anyone else within a certain radius.
Or, on the other hand, the ley line conjunction might simply absorb the dead Immortals life essence into itself, invalidating the Quickening for the victor and setting back or even ruining the whole Gathering process.
A third possibility might be that as the victorious Immortal absorbs the electrical energy of his fallen foe, the energy of the Earth itself might also flow into him, burning him to a crisp.
Whatever the case, such a risk would be unacceptable not only to the Immortals themselves, but to the Entity within all of them that originated the Gathering in the first place (see below)... and thus, the ban against fighting on holy ground would be universally observed.
It may very well be that not all ‘holy ground’ is actually at a conjunction of ley lines. However, the stricture is one that comes down from prehistory, when probably all such places of power WERE on these energy nodes. Immortals may well be able to sense when holy ground is dangerous to them, with the same perceptions that let them sense each other at a distance... in which case, while some holy ground may not be ‘forbidden’ to them, we simply haven’t seen it yet. On the other hand, it’s possible that Immortals can’t sense the ley line conjunctions, and therefore, they simply don’t fight on ANY holy ground because they’re unwilling to take the risk.
In point of actual fact, it’s most likely a combination... Immortals sense something about holy ground that makes them feel very uneasy about the thought of fighting there, so all of them honor the taboo regardless of how otherwise unprincipled they may be. It’s likely none of them understand why they feel that way, and rarely or never discuss it, simply taking it for granted.
The strict code of combat ethics that all Immortals observe is also almost certainly pragmatic. Immortals in the modern day could well use modern weaponry to incapacitate each other from a distance, allowing them to then approach their chosen targets as they writhed in the throes of painful regeneration, and more or less safely take their heads. Yet even Xavier St. Cloud refused to use poison gas to incapacitate Duncan MacLeod, and we’ve never once seen an Immortal so much as shoot another Immortal prior to entering sword range with them, although it would seem a basic and nearly inevitable tactic for the ruthless and the power hungry (or just the sensible; if a 2000 year old swordsman who once fought in the arenas of Rome came at me with a scimitar, I’d damn well shoot him in the face with a large caliber handgun and then behead him at my leisure). Yet, if the Four Horsemen never used pistols (much less grenade launchers) in the modern day, we can assume there was a good reason why.
If Immortals are indeed beings of an electrical nature, then it may well be that each of them has his or her own individual wavelength, or frequency, and that prior to a successful Quickening, Immortals must attune themselves to each other. This could very well be accomplished by the all out exertion of face to face combat to the death. The clashing of the swords, or the occasional non-lethal strikes, would conduct each warrior’s electrical field to each other, and over a course of seconds or minutes, those fields would begin to resonate in unison. The final deathstroke would act as a catalyst, freeing the defeated warrior’s electrical energy and letting it flow into the body of the victor, whose own electrical signature is now, briefly, compatible with that of his foe.
This may also explain why, occasionally, we see Immortals ‘winning’ a duel by getting their opponent into a helpless position... and then shrugging and letting him go. Obviously, we want to think that it’s because Duncan MacLeod is a nice guy, but nice guys don’t run around with swords beheading other people because it’s the rules of the game, and Duncan can be ruthless enough when he wants to be. It’s more likely that, for some reason, that particular combat did not lead to a close enough attunement for a successful Quickening to occur, and both Immortals, through their enhanced electromagnetic perceptions, would be aware of this. Obviously, the loser has nothing to gain in letting combat be joined again (he’s already been beaten once, and now he’s tired) and the winner won’t get anything from killing him... so the winner lets the loser go.
Thus, practicality can explain some things -- why Immortals only do battle with swords, and why they don’t fight on holy ground, specifically. But it can’t explain the primary question: why fight at all? Nor does it explain why many Immortals spend time protecting and training ‘rookies’, instead of simply killing them as quickly as they find them. And while the actual explanations are probably very simple (they fight because the creators of the concept want them to, and they protect young Immortals because the creators of the show want them to seem like nice guys and have a melodramatic emotional conflict later on when they have to kill their mentors/wards), such exterior explanations aren’t the purpose of this paper.
Personally, if I were an Immortal, I’d probably sound out my fellows until I found two or three others who felt the same way as I did about this Gathering nonsense. We’d form an enclave, arm ourselves with any weaponry we could find more advanced than metal swords, pledge ourselves to each other’s protection, perhaps live on holy ground... and announce that any Immortal who showed up looking for our heads had better bring a tank... and if he did somehow survive killing one of us, the others would hunt him down as a lesson. Any such defensive alliance of even three or four Immortals would be more than formidable, it would be all but invincible, since all the other Immortals would be forced to adhere to the one on one, single combat rules of the Gathering, while the Immortal enclave, having opted out of the whole silly business, would not be bound by those arbitrary restrictions. The more advanced technology became, the more unassailable any such alliance would become, as they’d have no compunctions about equipping themselves with firearms, Kevlar vests, grenade launchers, LAW rockets, anti-personnel mines, and heavily armed personal bodyguards... while the poor Immortals outside their numbers would necessarily have to work alone, armed only with a sword.
Once such an alliance was established among even a small number of Immortals, the entire point of the Gathering would become moot. Other Immortals would join, or simply hang up their swords in disgust, realizing that there would likely never be only one. And if I can think of such a strategy after only a year or so of watching TV, surely it would have occurred to more than one Immortal over the course of centuries.
There must be a good reason why they don’t do it, just as there must be a good reason why most Immortals choose to mentor and teach and protect young Immortals, despite the fact that by doing so they’re putting their own unending existences at significant risk from the hands of their own wards. Yet, racking my brain, I can’t think of any good, sound, logical explanation for this behavior... it makes no sense, it’s contrasurvival, and Immortals have so much more to lose by behaving irrationally than mortals do. So... why?
Well, if it’s irrational, illogical and foolish, we can then assume that it’s a compulsion, not a choice... and apparently, it’s a near universal compulsion among Immortals. They may not discuss it in those terms; most may not even be aware of it, preferring to think that they choose to fight each other, and protect young Immortals from each other, out of respect for their own cultural traditions... but in point of fact, it’s fairly clear that they really have no choice. They are compelled to behave in this way, for the most part. With a very few, singular exceptions, they can’t help it... and those few, singular exceptions are usually regarded by their fellow Immortals as either mad or evil to the point of universal revulsion.
Societies always call those who substantially deviate from their own compulsive codes of behavior ‘mad’ or ‘evil’, and Immortals are apparently no different.
So, it’s a compulsion that the overwhelming majority of Immortals cannot resist... they must fight each other, and they must protect young Immortals, at least, for a time. There are immortals who are so ruthlessly vicious, like Xavier St. Cloud, or the Kurgan, that they never mentor anyone, and in the case of the Kurgan, at least, apparently they actively seek out new Immortals to slaughter before they can become dangerous.
IV. I Know Its Name
So, what do we have so far? Apparently, the actual impetus to continue fighting, to pursue the Gathering, and to keep risking one’s Immortal life in single combat with other Immortals, has to be an irresistable compulsion. Why? Because it’s stupid. If one is an Immortal, why unnecessarily risk one’s life... and why support a stupid tribal superstition which will cause the inevitable death, not just of yourself, but of every other Immortal in existence except one? I can’t imagine anything lonelier than being the only Immortal in the world, and yet, that’s the goal of the Gathering, and every Immortal knows it. Now, some of them are stupid and some of them are greedy and some of them are just plain crazy... but not all of them are any of those things... so why do virtually ALL of them continue to go for it, contrary to all ration and good sense?
Greed for power doesn’t explain it, nor does an idealistic desire to keep that power out of the hands of an evil Immortal. Both of these are the most commonly suggested rationales for continuing to fight, yet neither holds up to logical analysis. The type of person who is generally the most greedy for power is also usually the most unwilling to take great personal risks -- unless he or she is a sociopath, in which case, chances are some other Immortal, less passionate and more cunning, will cut them down fairly early on.
More importantly, not all Immortals can be greedy enough for the ultimate power to be willing to risk their own unending lives, or to kill their only real friends. As for the idealistic desire to keep someone like Xavier St. Cloud or the leader of the Four Horsemen from gaining the Ultimate Power... well, again, such idealism is all wonderful, but it tends to stick in one’s throat a bit when suddenly one finds oneself facing an old friend, as will inevitably happen if the Gathering is pursued, no matter how good the reason for it may be.
Furthermore, keeping an evil Immortal from becoming all powerful is actually relatively easy without killing anyone... all any one Immortal has to do is opt out of the Gathering and live out his or her life on holy ground, and there will never ‘be only one’.
Compulsion also seems to lie behind the common trait among Immortals that leads them to protect young Immortals, teaching them the ‘rules’ of their new existence, and how to protect themselves in ritual combat, at least at a basic level. It’s a selfless and noble thing to do, but pointless and foolish, so again, I have to assume that at base, it’s an irresistable compulsion.
Where do these compulsions, these common, apparently uncontrollable, almost reflexive behaviors, originate?
Well, we’ve seen that Immortals are basically a highly charged, electrically based form of life. We know that they are apparently born normally, to normal mothers, in different areas of the world and at different times throughout history. And we’ve seen that there seems to be a universal desire among them to guard ‘young’ Immortals from harm, to give them time to learn the nature of their existence and gain some experience before they place themselves in harm’s way.
Postulate, then, a powerful, sentient, extradimensional lifeform, perhaps electromagnetic in nature. For some reason we may never be able to understand, it desires to entire our material realm, to experience humanity. Call it a god or a devil, a demon or an angel, or something completely beyond our ability to perceive, comprehend, or adequately label.
Perhaps some other entity that it hates has already entered our realm and is pursuing its own agenda. Whatever the case, our electromagnetic Entity wants to become a part of our World, for whatever reason.
However, it has a problem. Its mission here on Earth requires self awareness, mobility, and a capacity to manipulate its environment... in other words, it has to possess a biological host, preferably, one that is a member of the Earth’s dominant species for ease of access to centers of social power. Yet the nature of its existence makes it incompatible with human biology; no biological body could support even a substantial fraction of its basic essence without being immediately destroyed. Therefore, the Entity divides itself up into smaller units of energy... for example, if its whole body were comprised of 10,000 volts of electricity, it divides itself up into 10,000 units of 1 volt each... which then simultaneously enter our space-time continuum at 10,000 separate discreet points, bonding with 10,000 otherwise normal human infants.
It’s worth noting that such a simultaneous entry into our space-time from an extradimensional source would scatter the Entity’s hosts widely, not only throughout space, but throughout linear time as well. And if we assume that the sub-Entity units would be scattered more or less randomly throughout spacetime, then the largest concentration of them would be ‘born’ into the time periods with the densest human populations.
This seems (deliberately or not) to be reflected in HIGHLANDER continuity, where truly old Immortals are very rare, and more and more Immortals seem to be being born more and more recently. It may very well be that an Immortal ‘population explosion’ is either occurring in the present day, or is about to occur in some even more densely populated near-future Earth. The Gathering may well be just getting started, perhaps a crop of several thousand Immortals is still waiting to be born, or are still in their childhoods, now.
Divided up like this, it might very well lose self awareness, and thus, no longer have the capacity to actively pursue whatever agenda it is that drew it here in the first place. However, electromagnetic energy can be used to store information, and so each host of the Entity would have certain ‘lore’ fed to it, in the form of subconscious programming, that would cause it to behave in a manner compatible with and commensurate to the gradual reconstruction and reunification of this electromagnetic entity here, on Earth, in a biological host body capable of tolerating and supporting the Entity in its complete form.
The Gathering, then, is designed to gradually reassemble the original Entity into one coherent being, housed in a body that will have been through incremental exposure made more and more resistant to and compatible with the Entity’s powerful life energy.
However, reassembly is not the only goal of the Gathering. The Entity has a mission, and in order to perform that mission properly, it needs to prepare itself. Knowledge is power, and as each Immortal kills and absorbs the essence of other Immortals, it also adds, at least at a subconscious level, the sum totals of those Immortals’ skills, talents, and life experiences. At the far end of the Gathering is not only an Immortal possessed of all the electromagnetic energy of the original Entity, but one that will contain the sum of the life experiences of the hundreds or thousands of Immortals who also once walked the Earth. If indeed knowledge is power, then the Immortal who emerges at the end of the Gathering may well be the most powerful single being to ever walk the Earth.
It would thus be a waste for new Immortals to be immediately killed before they’ve had a chance to gather experience. It may also be that the electrical life essence of an Immortal grows and amplifies itself through time, so letting a young Immortal live for a while could be the equivalent of letting a calf mature before the slaughter. Either way, though, these are things that wouldn’t be seen as much mattering to the individual Immortals involved in the mentoring process, and it would make much more pragmatic sense for them to cut these young Immortals down as fast as they show up... and I personally think that one thing any Immortal older than, say, a century would become is very, very pragmatic. Since it makes no sense to let these ‘fledgelings’ live long enough to become a threat, it must be part of an Immortal’s programmed behavior to do so.
V. Who Wants To Live Forever?
So what lies at the end of the Gathering? As stated previously, I can think of few things more lonely and miserable than being the only Immortal in existence. Therefore, we have to assume that whatever lies behind the Gathering is something beyond the purposes and desires of mere humanity. Perhaps the reconstructed Entity has an enemy it will then proceed to do combat with, and the fate of all the Earth will hang in the balance. Or maybe it just wants to be in a position to conquer the human race and use it as slave labor to build a really really big laser ray so it can communicate with its girlfriend three galaxies over.
Ah, but wait. Something else occurs. Perhaps the final Immortal who emerges from the Gathering will merely be a biological lens that will focus the energy of the cosmos for some grand reshaping of humanity. Perhaps what the Entity’s real purpose is is to learn how human bodies really work... so that at the end, it will simultaneously infuse the entire existant human race, making all of us Immortal, and imparting to all of us some of the wisdom and experience it has brought together over the long millenia. An overly sentimental and maudlin suggestion, perhaps... but HIGHLANDER is, at its heart, a sentimental and maudlin show, about a heroic, honorable Immortal who runs around with a sword trying to right wrongs. It would be pleasant to believe that at the end of the tunnel, there lies a reward, not just for the successful Immortal, but for the entire human race as well.
VI. Take Me To TV Land
As the purpose of this monograph is to examine the various inconsistencies and mysteries of the overall HIGHLANDER mythos, and attempt to reconcile and suggest plausible explanations for those contradictions and enigmas, I will here attempt to untangle the most onerous discrepancy of all: the contrast between the apparent resolution of the Gathering in two separate HIGHLANDER movies, and the fact that the Gathering is still underway with no apparent end in sight in the HIGHLANDER television series.
This is an ambitious undertaking, and it’s unlikely that any solution I suggest will fully satisfy every HIGHLANDER fan. The first explanation that occurs to me, and that is probably generally accepted by most fans of the concept who think about such things at all, is that the movies (both HIGHLANDER and THE FINAL CONFLICT) all take place some indefinite time period ‘after’ the events still being detailed in the popular syndicated TV series. This explanation is unsatisfactory for many reasons. First, time keeps marching on; in order to accept this, we have to accept that both movies take place, now, some time after 1999, and probably (if the series continues to be popular and Adrian Paul doesn’t die or get a better offer) will soon have to be set even later. Since we’ve all seen the movies, we know this isn’t so, and it’s bothersome to be forced to assume otherwise.
Far more important than this, though, is the inherent assumption in the films that eventually, Connor MacLeod will be the final, victorious Immortal. This wouldn’t be so bad if Duncan MacLeod had never been introduced, and personally, I think it would have been far more sensible to have the hero of both film and TV show be the same character, played by different actors. However, for whatever reason (probably some tedious legality) this didn’t happen. We have two separate heroes, and frankly, I personally find Duncan to be a far more appealing protagonist than Connor. I intensely dislike the concept that Duncan dies at some nebulous point in the future and Connor survives, and would really rather not accept that. If possible, I’d like to find some way to reconcile the films and the TV series that does not require us to accept Duncan’s death and Connor’s triumph as inevitable. After all, it’s kind of pointless to have the narration introducing Duncan’s adventures every week say “There can be only one... may it be Duncan MacLeod... the Highlander...” if we all know damn well every time we hear it that it just isn’t going to happen.
An obvious solution would be to set the films in one universe and the TV series in another, but as the very first episode of the series featured Connor MacLeod’s only meeting to date with Duncan (and this was doubtless done deliberately, to establish the ‘legitimacy’ of the TV series), we’re shut out of that option.
However, in other areas of serial fiction, wonderful strides in the revision of established continuity have been made over the past ten years. One of the gimmicks occasionally used has been to take entire segments of objectionable character history and consign them to oblivion through the device of explaining that those adventures were all just a comic book about the character, or a TV series, or a movie... the events therein were exaggerated and distorted, had nothing to do with the real events concerning the real character, and can safely be ignored. It is, of course, a variation on “it was all a dream”, but it’s a more palatable version, and sometimes a useful one.
Therefore, I suggest that the HIGHLANDER movies, within the fictional universe inhabited by both Duncan and Connor MacLeod, are the same thing they are in our universe... movies. They actually exist as movies. They probably were never as popular as they are here; made for cable or straight to video fodder with a small cult following, they’re an embarrassment to both Duncan and Connor, who prefer never to mention them.
This isn’t as much of a stretch as it seems. We’ve already seen that at least one bestsellling fantasy-romance novel about Duncan MacLeod has been published. A movie deal wouldn’t be at all unheard of, but when Duncan got wind of it, he’d doubtless take legal action to quash it. Wanting to sidestep injunctions, the producers might well ask some writer for an alternative... who, after a little research, would turn up other legends about a similar, but older warrior of the Clan MacLeod named Connor. So, the names all got changed from Duncan to Connor, and the first movie and a few not particularly great sequels got made... and then someone influential in the Watcher organization stepped in and decided enough was enough, and studios quietly lost interest in the franchise.
So, we have a real life Connor MacLeod, and a real life Duncan MacLeod, but the ‘futuristic’ events depicted in the movies are all speculative fiction, and not binding in any way. The Gathering has no foregone conclusion, and those of us who like Duncan can continue to hope that he wins, while Connor’s fans can hold out for the older Highlander.
VII. The God of Kingdom Come
As mentioned in my opening, it seems unlikely to me that there is actually any ‘official’ hypothesis that answers the various questions raised in the HIGHLANDER creative projects. If this is so, and producers, writers, and directors continue to make things up as they go along, then doubtless some aspect of the hypothesis I’ve suggested in this monograph will eventually be invalidated. It’s even very possible... perhaps likely... that some detail or plot point or overlooked piece of dialogue has already punched a hole in all my theories and speculation. If so, I invite any and all to let me know; perhaps there’s still a way any such difficulties can be reconciled with my own central suppositions.
As HIGHLANDER is a concept that is based on its characters pursuing a goal which they can never reach without invalidating the ongoing story, it seems safe to assume that the culmination of the Gathering will never actually arrive, and thus, most of these speculations will necessarily remain unconfirmed.
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The author can be reached with any questions, comments, or cash contributions at e-mail address docnebula(at sign)gmail.com. Well, the cash contributions will have to be sent snailmail, but he'll be happy to supply his r/t address for such a good cause. ;)