For Silas the thing to explore is what seems like a contradiction in him: he's a big, happy, guy who seems like a nice bloke when he's with horses or monkeys or weak small things, but then really really likes hitting things with an axe. But he doesn't seem to feel that's contradictory. He just likes to fight.
So he's about how soldiers can be bastards in battle but nice blokes the rest of the time.
The thing is, most Immortals we watch are fighters. They have ordinary lives, people they love, can be nice cuddly people sometimes... then they go around a corner and hack bloody pieces off each other. Silas is just the most obvious example. If he's a bad guy, what part makes him bad?
Caspian is less of a contradiction, more of a complete and total bastard. He's introduced as a serial killer: "Nobody knows how many people he killed. They found parts in his basement, in his garden, in his freezer." And he eats the bug in his cell. Implication, he eats everything. Famine.
The interesting thing about Immortals is the Quickening. Take their head, and with it their power. Immortals consume each other.
With most Immortals we watch this is a single quick burst of power, an electrical storm, clean and overwhelming. It's not totally voluntary - they can choose not to kill, but once they kill they consume. And when people we like do it, we still like them.
Caspian basically just doesn't stop with the Quickening. He eats the rest too.
The question with him is, how is it that makes him a monster? Where precisely is the line he crossed that makes him the guy to lock in a cell and leave that way?
And for both of them part of the answer in Highlander is that they don't stick to just Immortals. They fight, they kill, they consume, but they don't have one set of rules for Immortals and another for mortals. And that makes them the bad guys?
But another part is the scale of what they do, the raids and serial killer numbers.
So if they only did it once a century would they still be monsters?
There has to be some other ingredient, some line that Duncan MacLeod is on one side of and the Horsemen are on the other.
Kronos... he's all about scale. He wants to watch the world burn. But there's also a thing where Silas is about the fighting, Caspian is about what happens to the bodies after, but Kronos is about the moment of death. He wants to kill, not just fight, and it's not about what he'll achieve by it. For him killing is an expression of power.
Methos: Don't you understand?! I'm not like that anymore. I've changed.
Kronos: No, you pretended to. Maybe you even convinced yourself you had. But inside you're still there, Methos. You're like me.
Methos: Not anymore.
Kronos: No? Tell me you haven't missed it.
Methos: The killing?!
Kronos: The freedom! The power! Riding out of the sun knowing that you're the most terrifying thing that they've ever seen. Knowing that their weapons and their gods are useless against you. That you're the last thing they'll ever see. That's what you were meant to be, Methos. Don't fight it. Feel it.
Duncan MacLeod kills people every week, but he does it for a reason, to achieve something, to stop something. Kronos does it because he can. If you're going to do his origin story you do the moment he crossed from one mode to another.
Methos... as ever, the most interesting one. Because whatever line he's dancing on, he's still dancing. Duncan may aspire to Boy Scout status, may be the hero of the piece, but Methos is always more ambivalent. If the story about the other horsemen is when or how precisely they cross the line and become people that need killing, the story with Methos is when or how or if he crossed back. Cassandra still wants him dead. Duncan wants him to live. CaH and Rev6:8 already argued their sides. So what's the other story, of Methos and the Horsemen? It seems like a thousand years of riding together should have a thousand stories, but which one hasn't already been covered?
Methos: [pause] The times were different, MacLeod. I was different. The whole bloody world was different, okay?
Duncan: [pause] Did you kill all those people?
Methos: Yes. Is that what you wanna hear? Killing was all I knew. Is that what you want to hear?
Duncan: That's enough.
[Methos throws Duncan against the 4x4.]
Methos: No, it's not enough! I killed. But I didn't just kill fifty, I didn't kill a hundred. I killed a thousand. I killed ten thousand. And I was good at it. And it wasn't for vengeance. It wasn't for greed. It was because — I liked it. [giggle] Cassandra was nothing. Her village was nothing. Do you know who I was? I was Death.
[Methos laughs. Duncan throws him against the 4x4.]
Methos: Death — Death on a horse. When mothers warned their children that the monster would get them, that monster was me. I was the nightmare that kept them awake at night. Is that what you want to hear? The answer is yes, oh yes.
That scene is so much fun, launched a thousand fics, because I think of two things - the times were different and is that what you want to hear. Methos the adaptable - how much he's shaped by people around him, how much he changes himself to fit. It's fascinating and makes so many versions of him plausible. So we see Methos shaping Cassandra, and the ways he was a right bastard. But we don't see if he was more of a bastard than the next guy. They were the monsters, then, but how long has it been? How often does he bring out the monster? What ages call for it?
You can get a whole series out of that one.
If you sum up Highlander as 'talmudic discussion with swords' you can find a lot of questions it explores, but I think the central one is 'when, if ever, is it right to kill?' And Duncan MacLeod finds an answer to that every week. (The answer usually being 'now'.)
The story for Methos isn't simply about the sword fight, it's being the manipulative scheming bastard, 'one who understood the true use of terror'. Being the monster. When, if ever, is that right?
And when does it tip over into being the Horsemen?
xposted from Dreamwidth here. comments. Reply there