The Watchers are an ancient order of men and women originally created by Ammaletu the Akkadian after he saw Gilgamesh come back to life. Watchers observe the lives of immortal men and women and record as much of their observations as they can. They are aware of The Game and The Rules. Their mission is to observe and record but never interfere. The Watchers stated that once all of the Immortals are no more, they will tell the world that Immortals once walk among them.
In 904 B.C.E the immortal Methos discovered the proto-Watchers organization after overhearing a conversation where immortals he was familiar with were discussed. He was able to infiltrate the organization thanks to his extremely low profile. He even met and married a Watcher named Rachel. Methos also met his own Watcher in the 16th century and enjoyed a friendship with him.
The heads of the organization are the Tribunal, three persons responsible for final decisions. Prior to the winter of 1996 Tribunal members were not elected, after the Galati Affair members were democratically elected.
Under the Tribunal were geographic leaders such as Jacques Vemas who was in charge of Western Europe when Methos and Dawson attempted to stop Christine Salzer's plan to reveal immortals and Watchers to the world. Vemas was likely replaced by Nathan Stern after Vemas was killed by Kalas.
There is also a philosophical and functional division within the organization between Watchers assigned to the field and those assigned to research.
Considering the requirements for secrecy and non-interference when dealing with immortals field operatives often faced the threat of brutal torture and death in order to keep the secret of the Watcher's organization safe. Some operatives were pulled from the field after enduring particularly hard assignments such as Amy Brennan-Thomas who was reassigned from the extremely dangerous and deceased immortal Morgan Walker to assist on the Methos Chronicle.
There is some indication that there are further divisions within the field section such as Special Operations.
Some immortals were considered safer than others for a new field agent. David Shapiro was assigned to Duncan Macleod before he had completed his training due to a manpower shortage. Macleod was selected due to his reasonably peaceful history and strong moral grounding.
Watchers assigned to research usually have advanced skills and aptitude for detailed research ranging from the collection and safe storage of ancient manuscripts and documents to computer, language, forensic, archival and investigative skills. While not necessarily 'unfit' for the field some prefer research to the field.
For instance Adam Pierson preferred research not only because he was immortal and would have been unable to function as a field operative but also because he had a talent and enjoyment of languages and technology. He managed to be assigned to his own Chronicle which allowed him to manipulate it in order to further obscure and confuse his history.
Similar to the further divisions within the field section Don Salzer is originally referred to as a Historian while Adam Pierson is noted to be in the Research section.
Known operatives including field and research Watchers.
- Ian Bancroft
- Daniel Geiger
- James Horton
- Rita Luce
- Don Salzer
- David Shapiro
- Nathan Stern
- Jacques Vemas
During his lifetime Duncan Macleod ran across mortals wearing a unique symbol or tattooed with it several times. It was not until the untimely murder of Darius in The Hunters in 1993 that Duncan began to earnestly investigate the symbol as it was the only clue to Darius' killer's identity available. Duncan's search brought him to Joe Dawson, Joe was forced to reveal the existence of the Watchers to Duncan and admit that he was assigned to Duncan's Chronicle in The Watchers. Joe's decision to reveal the Watchers to Duncan Macleod would have grave consequences down the road.
After Joe revealed the Watchers existence in a bid to calm and reason with Duncan, Macleod spotted James Horton, Joe's brother in law and the mortal who had attempted to kill him. Horton was revealed as the leader of a band of renegade Watchers dubbed The Hunters who were bent on killing all immortals considering them evil abominations.
Horton was the charismatic ring leader and instigator of the group, in the 1980s he spent several years assigned to the Kurgan, it is likely that this exposure strongly assisted in forming Horton's opinion of immortals as evil monsters.
Macleod managed to confront Horton and, when Horton wouldn't listen to reason and Joe was unable to talk him out of his mission, Macleod tried to kill Horton. However, Horton's daughter interceded, begging Macleod for her father's life, Macleod relented only to be shot in the back by an enraged Horton, Macleod managed to run Horton through. Believing Horton was dead Macleod returned to his life and began a tentative friendship with Joe Dawson.
James Horton returned twice more (Joe hid Horton's survival after Duncan stabbed him due to their familial relationship although he ensured Horton was removed from the Watchers). On Horton's first return he allied himself with the evil immortal Xavier St. Cloud in Unholy Alliance: Part One and Unholy Alliance: Part Two. Dawson shot him intending to kill him at the close of Unholy Alliance: Part Two. Horton returned again in Counterfeit: Part One and Counterfeit: Part Two before he was finally killed by Macleod.
The active Hunters largely went dormant, left the Watchers, or were exposed after Horton's initial exposure and final death. Sadly the legacy of the Hunters would linger for years and continue to cost both mortal and immortal lives.
Note: While the demon Ahriman masquerades as Horton in Archangel in 1997 James Horton died in 1994.
The Galati Affair / Joe's TrialEdit
In Judgment Day, Joe was lured to Paris by a false report of Macleod's death and captured by unknown assailants. Duncan convinced Methos to risk his cover to find out what was going on with the increased security among the Watcher's and Joe's kidnapping. Methos determined that Joe was taken by the Watchers in order for the Tribunal to put him on trial for treason at the New Watcher's Headquarters in Lyon, France. Joe was charged with betraying his oath, consorting with an immortal, and falsifying Chronicles. When Joe protested Jack Shapiro, Joe's long time friend and a member of the Tribunal, informed Joe that in the past three years they had lost eighty Watchers while in the previous fifty they had only lost two; further, it was exactly three years since Joe had revealed the Watchers to Macleod. Joe angrily declared he would quit if that was what they wanted, the Tribunal declared that should Joe be found guilty he would be executed.
Meanwhile the killer, Jacob Galati, continues to up his body count. Jacob's wife and fellow immortal Irena Galati was murdered by Horton and a band of Hunters in 1992 while Jacob was bound and forced to not only watch but take her Quickening. Enraged and sickened by Irena's murder Galati started killing Watchers not knowing or caring that Horton and the Hunters were an aberration and Horton was long dead.
Jacob killed Watcher David Shapiro, the son of Jack Shapiro, the Watcher assigned to Duncan Macleod replacing Joe Dawson after Dawson was brought up on charges of treason. Jack Shapiro reacted badly to his son's death partly out of natural grief but also because David was prematurely sent into the field due to a man power shortage, thanks to Galati's killing spree, adding massive guilt to Shapiro's burden.
While Duncan tracked Joe down he stumbled across Methos. Methos ordered Duncan to back off pointing out that the last thing Joe needed was Macleod crashing the party and landing Joe in more trouble. The two teamed up, Methos arrived at the compound at night and distracted the guard providing Duncan an opportunity to climb the wall and reach the main building. Duncan cold cocked Joe's guards but Joe refused to go noting that Macleod had likely been caught on camera already. The Watchers took Macleod into custody landing Joe in more trouble just as Methos had predicted. Duncan did his best to defend and explain Joe's actions but was unable to sway the Tribunal. Duncan and Joe did manage to convince the Tribunal to allow Joe to have a jury preside over his case, however they also decided that if Joe was found guilty by the jury Macleod would share Joe's fate.
While Joe's actions may have contributed to some of the deaths the Tribunal largely overlooked Horton's actions and the natural reaction to his actions by violated immortals as well as the increasingly shrinking modern world where secrecy comes at a premium. Ironically considering Methos and Macleod's roles in quelling the resulting violence a good argument could be made for positive interaction and keeping an open dialogue with at least some immortals and the Watchers.
Methos tried to assist Joe using the personal journal of Methos' Watcher from the 16th century as evidence of what knowledge could be gained if Watchers and immortals were allowed to interact more openly. While Methos' plea was eloquent and heartfelt it was dismissed almost immediately. Duncan attacked the Watcher's view that Joe's life was worth less than their rules, he seemed to be making some headway until Shapiro was informed that his son was the latest victim. The trial ended almost immediately and the jury found Joe and Macleod guilty. Note: While it is clear during the episode that David was killed while MacLeod was in Nice, France the Watchers do not seem to acknowledge that, it is possible that the time of death was unknown making MacLeod a viable suspect.
Macleod attacked their guards on the way back to their makeshift 'cell'. Duncan encouraged Joe to flee with him but Joe refused choosing to stand by his oath and the Tribunal's decision. Unable to persuade Joe to come with him Duncan tossed Joe the keys to the building and fled.
Methos and Duncan reunited and discussed their options. Duncan angrily tried to talk himself out of going back for Joe while Methos nodded along. The next morning the Tribunal, Jury, and Joe prepared for Joe's execution. Joe spoke to Jack and Jack half apologized for the situation. When Jack asked if Joe had any last requests Joe asked Jack to pull the trigger as Joe disliked the person designated to be the executioner. Jack took the gun but at the last moment handed it off, unable to execute his old friend. As Jack left Joe asked him to, "Say hello to Shirley and the girls for me." Jack drove away and the executioner stepped up. Joe snarked off at the executioner and refused to get to his knees, as the executioner readied his weapon Jacob Galati attacked spraying the crowd with gunfire.
Duncan returned to the HQ, perhaps thinking he could stop the execution or at least take Joe's body, he sensed another immortal and was nearly run over by an unidentifiable Galati on a motorbike. In One Minute to Midnight Duncan discovered the slaughtered Watchers and Joe, realizing Joe was alive he took him for medical treatment.
Shapiro concluded that Duncan returned to the HQ and slaughtered the other Watchers to save Joe. Jack declared war on Joe and Duncan. Methos managed to keep his cover intact and acted as an informant for Joe and Macleod while Joe recovered from his wounds in the basement of Don Salzer's bookstore. Duncan was jumped by a band of Watcher sanctioned Hunters near his barge and managed to escape without killing any of them. However, while their leader was calling in their status Galati murdered him further damning Macleod.
While Methos examined Joe's healing wounds he strongly and unequivocally suggested that Joe and Macleod get out of town. Duncan demanded to know where Shapiro was, he hoped to intercept the unknown murderer before he or she got to Shapiro, Methos informed him that Shapiro was hiding in a mortuary on the Left Bank of the Seine. Macleod arrived at the location and set up a watch hoping to intercept the killer. To Macleod's horror the killer was finally revealed to be Jacob Galati. A Watcher on guard shot Duncan and was about to behead him when Galati shot him dead.
Duncan awoke at Jacob's home where Jacob 'revealed' the existence of the Hunters. Duncan told Jacob he knew about the Watchers and Jacob told Duncan about Irena's death. Duncan explained the difference between the Watchers and the Hunters to no effect. Jacob lumped them together as murderers and pointed out the Watcher that tried had to kill Duncan earlier as proof, Duncan countered that they were only reacting to Galati's murders.
Jacob reluctantly agreed to meet with Joe. Joe refused damning Jacob as a murderer. Joe and Duncan devolved into a pointless argument until Methos intervened and sided with the Watchers, Joe sneeringly referred to Methos' immortality implying his defense of the Watchers was incapable of sincerety, Joe then ended the argument by leaving the room.
The next morning Methos and Joe bickered about what action to take outside the Watcher's hideaway. Methos flat out refused to help Joe but Joe persuaded him to act as Joe's 'hostage' to get them into the compound. Once inside Shapiro told Joe to let 'Pierson' go, he knew the two were friends. Joe threw their one time friendship in Jack's face then tried to explain who the real killer was.
Duncan met Jacob and Jacob sneered when Duncan admitted that Joe refused to come. Jacob was happy to continue blaming the Watchers and killing them off, he had no interest in peace. Duncan tried to reason with Jacob but Jacob declared blood for blood and threatened to kill Joe if he got in Jacob's way.
Back at the bookstore Duncan was furious with Methos for revealing Jacob as the killer. Duncan reverted to the same argument Joe touched on earlier telling Methos, You're either one of them or one of us, and left.
The Watchers closed in on Jacob who slipped out of their obvious trap and into a second, the second using Duncan as bait, Jacob spotted Joe near the obvious trap and made him for a Watcher, Jacob carefully confornted him. Joe apologized for Irena's murder and Jacob threatened to kill Dawson if he said her name again. Joe told Galati that Macleod had been taken prisoner and would be killed if Galati didn't help. On the way to 'rescue' Macleod Galati was shot and taken prisoner. Shapiro readmitted Joe to the Watchers but was so hellbent on vengeance he wouldn't even try to hear Jacob out. Macleod arrived and accused Shapiro of becoming a killer like Horton.
Unaware of Shapiro's double cross Duncan insulted Joe and tried to defend Jacob, Jacob was smugly satisfied with Shapiro's reaction, Shapiro moved to kill Galati and Duncan broke free but not in time to stop Shapiro. Joe watched Shapiro execute Galait and Macleod unwillingly take the Quickening. With Macleod incapacitated Shapiro moved to kill him as well but Joe pulled a gun and drove Shapiro off. Shapiro swore that the war wasn't over, Joe advised him that he had better hope it was.
Later Methos and Joe apologized to Macleod to little avail as Macleod was furious at their apparent betrayal. Joe demanded that Methos go after Macleod to stop the sick cycle of revenge as Duncan left them to go after Shapiro. Methos refused and said, "I am five thousand years old and I don't know who I am anymore. I just helped set up one of my own."'
Joe returned to Shapiro and attempted to warn him about what he had started. While Shapiro smugly assured Joe that Macleod wouldn't be a problem Joe warned Shapiro to back down unless Shapiro wanted a full out war. Joe pointed out that Shapiro was turning the Watchers into the one thing the Watchers swore they would never be, a threat to immortals. As they talked Macleod infiltrated the compound. Shapiro ordered Joe out of the room and seconds later Macleod burst in.
Macleod drew a gun and threatened Shapiro. Shapiro declared he would kill all immortals for his son. Macleod condemned Shapiro as a murderer, Joe drew a weapon and Shapiro begged Joe to shoot Macleod. Joe refused to kill his friend and Macleod demanded to know whether Shapiro wanted a war with more people dead over Horton or peace. Terrified and distraught Shapiro agreed to peace.
Macleod then regarded Joe silently before he moved to leave as more Watchers arrived, Joe told them to let it be, Macleod abandoned his weapon then left.
The next morning Joe met Macleod on the quay and told him the war was over, Shapiro was out of the Watchers and the organization might be salvageable. He asked Macleod if he had seen Methos as the ancient seemed to have taken off in the night. Macleod asked if Joe was surprise by that then refused Joe's offer to buy him a drink.
Note: It is curious that an organization dedicated to collecting information and security seemed to be shockingly inept at discovering the source of their ridiculously high body count, that is, Jacob Galati's one immortal war on the organization.
According to the The Watcher's Chronicles CD-ROM in July 1996 a democratically elected Tribunal replaced the previous Tribunal whose membership had included Jack Shapiro. The new Tribunal met to determine Jack Shapiro's fate, they concluded that the death of his son was punishment enough and retired him from the organization.
The Methos IncidentEdit
During Methos' attempt to steal the pieces of the Methuselah Stone held by the Watchers, to save Alexa Bond's life, he was shot and killed in front of Nathan Stern Watcher Administrator and head of the Western European area. Stern was later killed when Dan Geiger, one of his Watchers, attempted to steal the Methuselah Stone for himself. Unfortunately for Methos Stern had already reported Adam Pierson's immortality.
By June 1996 Adam Pierson was considered AWOL. In addition to the revelation of his immortality he had also left his duties to spend time with his dying lover Alexa Bond, he only left Alexa's side in Something Wicked and Deliverance to save Duncan from a Dark Quickening and in Methuselah's Gift in an attempt to save her life.
That July Dr. Amy Zoll took over the Methos Chronicle.
In November 1996 a Special Operations Watcher shadowed Macleod to his meeting with Methos in Paris where Methos related his history with Kronos to MacLeod and warned him about the pathogen laced bomb Kronos had planted. The Watcher reported the conversation.
Later that month Joe received an email confronting his knowledge of 'Adam Pierson's' real identity. Joe protested that by keeping Methos' secret he had managed to keep him from running and claimed that Methos could now be followed by a field Watcher. He also argued that Methos had changed since the Bronze Age.
Note: There is a slight date discrepancy of a matter of days between the point where the Tribunal could possibly have known about Methos' involvement with the Horsemen and the email Joe receives referring to it, the email arrives 7–8 days before the overheard conversation occurs. It is theoretically possible that a Watcher assigned to Cassandra, Kronos, Caspian, or Silas made the connection but it is not mentioned in The Watcher's Chronicles CD-ROM or elsewhere.
Dr. Zoll then spent considerable time trying to determine what portions of Methos' chronicle were accurate and which he had manipulated to hide his tracks. She also drafted a letter to the new Tribunal pointing out that attempting to discipline 'Adam Pierson' was pointless since A. he didn't exist and B. had already left the Watchers which left the only remaining punishment either capture or beheading neither of which were viable after the Hunters and the Galati affair.
In December 1996 Methos / Adam Pierson was formally dishonorably discharged from the Watchers organization.
Note: There is no provided information about what, if any, measures were put in place to prevent another immortal from infiltrating the organization though it is feasible such measures were considered and instituted where possible.
The Hall of MartyrsEdit
A building or location where Watchers killed in the line of duty are honored. Roger Harris the Watcher tortured and murdered by Kalas in his quest to locate Methos as well as Mathew Martin who was also murdered by Kalas, Jacob Galati's victims (David Shapiro, Jillian O'Hara and possibly as many as eighty more), and the Watchers killed during the debacle with the Methuselah Stone including Nathan Stern were added. It is possible Dan Geiger's criminal intentions were recorded by Stern and prevented him from being so honored. It is unknown if Horton or the other Hunters were honored at the hall although good taste and sense suggest that they were not.
Immortals who had grown tired of the Game or otherwise requested it were installed in the Sanctuary, a safe house run by Watchers. The immortals were drugged and held in contraptions intended to immobilize them and ensure mortal humanity would never be ruled by an immortal. Considering the unpleasant nature of the confinement it is possible that some or many of the immortal participants were unaware of how the Sanctuary actually functioned. The Watchers assigned to the Sanctuary were well armed to defend it against attacks.
The Sanctuary was destroyed in the early 2000s by Jacob Kell. Kell beheaded all the inmates, with the exception of Connor Macleod whom he had been hunting and tormenting for centuries. Connor entered the Sanctuary ten years previously seeking peace from Kell's torments.
Days after the destruction of the Sanctuary Mathew Hale the Watcher in charge of the Sanctuary captured and drugged Duncan Macleod in an attempt to create a new Sanctuary. Joe Dawson and Methos freed Duncan.
Considering the state of the inmates, the secrecy of the program, and the death of Mathew Hale it is unlikely a new Sanctuary was permanently established though it is possible. (Joe Dawson killed Hale when Hale attempted to interfere with Duncan's challenge of Kell, Hale intended to imprison both immortals in a new version of the Sanctuary).
Note: In the longer version of Highlander: Endgame Methos mentioned that the Sanctuary was built on holy ground. However Kell beheaded every inmate, aside from Connor Macleod, with no disastrous consequences. Since this is counter to the established canon that immortals cannot fight on holy ground per the Rules all references to it being built on holy ground were removed from the shorter version of the film. It is possible that the filmmakers interpreted the Rule in question as referring strictly to fighting on holy ground, since Kell's victims were drugged and immobilized no combat occurred. The footage of the Sanctuary still shows the guardian Watchers wearing coats reminiscent of monk's robes, which could be interpreted to mean the Sanctuary was on holy ground or the Watchers wished to imply the ground was sacred. The removal of the reference to holy ground leads to a logic error in that the Watchers carefully constructed a Sanctuary to deny an ending to the Game with the one caveat that it was wholly vulnerable to an incursion by a/n hostile immortal/s.