The Gathering (episode)
Series Highlander: The Series
Season One
Episode 1
Protagonist Duncan MacLeod
Friends Tessa Noël, Connor MacLeod, Richie Ryan
Enemies Slan Quince
Set In Seacouver, Washington
Flashbacks American Northwest, 1872
Previous Story None
Following Story Innocent Man
Written by Dan Gordon
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Produced by Gary M. Goodman
Broadcast On October 3, 1992
Running Time 48:50
Production Code 92102-1
The Pilot Episode for The Series, The Gathering introduced fans of the first film to another Highlander, Duncan MacLeod, as well as his love interest, Tessa Noël and his soon-to-be protege, Richie Ryan.

Plot SynopsisEdit

Night in Seacouver. A man and woman are making love in the loft above a local antique shop. Below, a young man is breaking into the first-floor rear window. The boy stares around apreciatively, mimicking a commercial: "Check it out ... One night only ... everything must go." Without warning, the man upstairs - Duncan MacLeod - breaks away from his foreplay with Tessa Noël, stating that someone else is there.

Picking up a sword from the side of the bed, MacLeod sneaks downstairs to search the shop, where the young thief is busy stuffing antiques into a bag. As the boy picks up and tests an ornate Rapier, MacLeod confronts him: "I am Duncan MacLeod of The Clan MacLeod, and you are dead." The young thief, now scared, drops the weapon and confesses to his crimes, offering to call the police himself. Duncan moves as if to strike down the boy, but then shifts his attention to the skylight, just as a large figure smashes through it. The new arrival announces himself as Slan Quince, who has come for Duncan. As MacLeod prepares to face Quince, a third intruder steps forward with a warning: "Quince will not fight until he has destroyed everything his enemy cares about". Irritated, Quince demands to know who the newcomer is, and is told: "I'm Connor MacLeod. Same clan, different vintage." As Connor advances on Quince, police sirens begin to wail nearby, prompting Quince to break off the fight. Promising to meet The MacLeods again, Quince leaps through the front window, escaping into the street. Connor remains only to grin at his kinsman, noting that Duncan looks good before he walks away.

Duncan arrives at the police station the next day, to identify the thief, Richie Ryan, as the one who broke into the shop. After speaking to the detective, Duncan announces his intention not to press charges, to the consternation of the police. Duncan only wants to speak to the boy before he is released. In an interrogation room, Richie attempts to butter up MacLeod, but Duncan has only one thing to say: if he lets Richie go, he does not want Richie spreading stories about the events from the previous evening. Richie quickly agrees, unnerved by Duncan's stern demeanour.

That night, Duncan presents Tessa with a gift for her birthday: a jeweled bracelet which he picked up during The French Revolution. Tessa is overjoyed, but begins brooding on their relationship, noting that when they first met, he appeared as the older of them. Now they look the same age, and Tessa wonders how long it will be before Duncan is tempted to move on. Duncan tries to disarm her with humor, but soon becomes serious: he wants to grow old with Tessa, no matter how impossible. When Tessa asks how he copes with loss, Duncan tells her no matter how long a loved one is with him, when they leave or die he is left "naked and alone." Dismissing the topic, he suggests not to worry about it, but to focus on what will happen later that evening. The next day, Quince parks outside the antique store, observing Tessa's movements. However, Connor appears, making his presence known to the other Immortal, who quickly drives off. In the shop, Duncan senses the presence of another Immortal, as Connor walks through the door. After a proper introduction to Tessa, the two drive off to practice their sword fighting skills.

Later on, preparing dinner, Duncan explains his relationship to Connor, how Connor found him, trained him, and taught him The Rules. When Tessa displays confusion over The Rules and The Game, Duncan explains to Connor that he explained only part of The Game to Tessa, informing Connor that he had removed himself from The Game. Sternly, Connor rebukes Duncan, reminding him that there is no "out" and then explains the full details of The Game, The Rules, and The Prize to a shocked Tessa. Connor reminds Duncan of the last time he tried to stay out of The Game. As Duncan snaps at Connor, he flashes back to an earlier memory:

It is The Pacific Northwest, 1872. U.S. Troops have slaughtered Duncan's adopted Sioux tribe and killed his mortal lover Little Deer and her son. In a somber ceremony, Duncan and Connor burn the bodies on a funeral pyre. As his kinsman, in tears, recites a ritual chant for his lost ones, Connor expresses his deepest sympathy for Duncan's loss, and reflects on whether or not the Immortals ever lived as a unified tribe or people.

Later, Duncan, returning from an errand, feels The Buzz yet again from the antique shop. Entering slowly, he approaches Tessa, working on a sculpture, only to find that it is Slan, wearing her protective gear as a disguise. Revealing Tessa, tied to a chair and helpless, Slan demands that Duncan drop his sword, pressing an electric saw to the side of Tessa's head. In response, Duncan slashes a nearby electrical cord, cutting power to Slan's tool. A brief fight ensues, until Slan bats Duncan away and grabs Tessa again, using her as a shield. He taunts Duncan: "Be a good boy, and I might just let her live." He lunges at Duncan again, but breaks off and runs away, leaving MacLeod to see to his terrified lover.

After cleaning up, Duncan tries to approach Tessa about the subject. Tessa tells Duncan she wants to leave. Duncan thinks it for the best, but Tessa says he misinterpreted her: she wants to leave with him and go into hiding in Paris. Duncan refuses: he will not run from Quince, and Quince could still find them in Paris. Duncan tells Tessa she should leave; there was no way for her to know what was coming. Tessa counters with her own refusal. In a rage, she curses Duncan and all Immortals, before Duncan takes her into his arms, reminding her that he is not her enemy. As Duncan holds his lover, he finds himself reflecting on his past again ...

Duncan is building a cottage on a sacred island near his tribal home, with Connor nearby. It is Duncan's intention to take up residence on Holy Ground, away from all the killing and fighting around him. Connor tells Duncan he understands how much he loved Little Deer, but admonishes that everyone dies in the end and hiding on Holy Ground is not the answer for Duncan. Connor's protege replies that he doesn't care: he is sick of the endless killing and isn't seeking Connor's permission. "The battle between good and evil can do without me for awhile," he states.

The next day, Connor and Duncan meet again to practice their combat skills. However, they are followed by Richie, who has become fascinated by the swordplay and watches the exchange between the two Highlanders. When Connor and Duncan arrive back at the antique store, they find a somber Tessa waiting for them. Slan has called and demanded that Duncan meet him at Soldiers' Bridge. He has also promised to come for Tessa should Duncan lose or not show.

As Duncan sharpens his sword for the coming fight, Connor jokes with him, noting that as long as he can remember, Duncan has had all the fun and all the good women. Duncan readily quips back, reminding Connor of a liaison in London about 160 years earlier. With Duncan's guard down, Connor makes his move, knocking Mac out cold. Tessa puts two and two together, and tells Connor not to go, but Connor is determined. As Connor gets into his car, Richie stows away in the trunk. Meanwhile, Duncan comes to and announces his intention to go. He also informs Tessa he will not be returning to her, for her own protection. Arriving at the bridge, Connor approaches Quince, and challenges him. Quince agrees, donning his trademark mask, and the fight is on. As Duncan arrives, Quince unleashes a sneak attack, firing a dagger into Connor's heart. The elder Highlander is able to escape beheading however by diving into the river before he expires. In a rage, Duncan comes at Quince in a blinding flurry of speed and skill. As Richie watches, transfixed, Duncan slashes Quince across the stomach, forcing him to his knees, and then beheads him in a single swift stroke. A horrified Richie watches as The Quickening takes Duncan, and afterward, he begs The Highlander to pretend he wasn't there. Without answering, Duncan quickly dives into the river after his lost clansman. He fishes Connor out, and removes the dagger, restoring him. He fills his clansman in on what happened, and that he will not be returning to Tessa. Connor says that he understands, but Tessa won't. Noticing Richie watching from several yards away, Connor asks about him, and Duncan promises to watch over him.

Arriving at the antique store, Connor gives Tessa the news: Duncan is alive, and Slan won't be calling again. Guessing Duncan's actions, Tessa demands to know where Duncan went. Connor admits he doesn't know, but can guess. Taking Tessa with him, he arrives at Duncan's island retreat, still intact and now improved upon. As Tessa flies into Duncan's arms he reminds her that The Game is not over, and Connor reminds Duncan that no one knows how The Game will end, but as long as they are there, some lucky few should still "have all the fun and all the good women." Wishing Duncan and Tessa farewell, Connor leaves the happy couple to be alone.


Actor Role
Adrian Paul Duncan MacLeod
Alexandra Vandernoot Tessa Noël
Stan Kirsch Richie Ryan
Christopher Lambert Connor MacLeod
Richard Moll Slan Quince
Wendell Wright Sergeant Powell



Story NotesEdit


  • This was the only episode Christopher Lambert appeared in, and his fee used up much of the ep's budget. There was simply not enough money to have him back for any other appearances.
  • This episode was originally conceived as a made-for-TV Highlander movie, but was developed into the series pilot instead. Even so, Adrian Paul wasn't sure for a while if he'd be playing Connor MacLeod or a new character.
  • Connor's remark about Richie needing watching is widely believed to be an early hint about his pre-immortality.
  • Tessa's shower scene in this ep needed slight alterations for air in the U.S. because European television standards are more liberal than those in the States. More steam had to be added to the glass door to make it suitable for American TV.
  • The footage of Duncan and Connor at Little Deer's funeral pyre was later re-used in the episode Line of Fire, but Connor had to be edited out because there wasn't enough money to pay Christopher Lambert to use his image again.


With the premiere of the show, the producers had made it very clear that this is continuation of the first film, by featuring Connor MacLeod as a guest star. Fans had debated for a whole season whether the show had been taking place before the first film or after, considering how Connor apparently won the Prize in that film. But with the premiere of the second season, and the appearance of the Watchers, it was made clear that the show was indeed taking place after the events of the first film, and Connor had simply defeated a very powerful Immortal. This event constitutes the show as an alternate continuity to the first film, seeing as how there are many more Immortals still around, and the Gathering still very much at large.

DVD & Other ReleasesEdit

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