Highlander Forums

(ended 1998)

Issue with the show's mythology

  • Avatar of Katerine_M

    Katerine_M

    [1]Jul 13, 2006
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    The following is my review of the Season 5 episode, "The Messenger." I'm reposting it here because it asks a very basic question about the show that I'd really like to see discussed/answered.

    Am I the only person who's ever wondered why there can be only one?

    --Begin review--

    Finally, five seasons in, somebody in the show notices what I noticed in the first episode - that the Game, in and of itself, is insane. The question is finally raised here, "Why can't we just... stop playing the Game?" And the show does a good job of answering the question - it certainly gave me food for thought.

    Unfortunately, the far bigger question, in my mind at least, has still not been addressed, and that is, "Why does the Game exist in the first place?" This is a fundamental part of the Highlander mythology that has simply never been addressed. And by that, I don't mean that it's never been sufficiently answered - I mean that the question has never been acknowledged AT ALL.

    Five seasons in, I still have yet to see anything that could refute my theory that some alien race saw Immortals as a threat, so they invented the Game as a ruse to convince all of the Immortals to kill each other off, so they wouldn't be a threat anymore.

    Things are truly sad when THAT is the most logical explanation for the show's mythology.

    And in that sense, this episode was disappointing. Because it ALMOST asked the fundamental question (I don't even care if the question is never answered - at this point, I would settle for the question being ASKED, at least once in the show's lifetime), but didn't.

    Otherwise, the show was quite good. Any show with Methos is quite good, of course, and the Watchers chronicles for both Methoses on the DVD are hilarious. And it did raise an interesting question - does it matter if the messenger is a liar or insane, as long as the message is a good one?

    --End Review--

    That's it. Any comments (even, "Yeah, I've wondered that too") are welcome

    Edited on 07/13/2006 9:28am
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  • Avatar of MultiMedea

    MultiMedea

    [2]Jul 13, 2006
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    Many folks have asked the very same question over many, many years of the movie series' and show's existence. I suppose the most practical, rational answer is because the producers/creators want it that way. 'The Game' gives them built-in dramatic tension for the life of the series that they can base multiple storylines on.

    The Why of its continued existence inside the show's framework is a bit more problematic. Its very simple and seductive to ask 'why don't all Immortals just put down their swords and stop fighting each other and there would be no Game? What do they get out of it?'

    Well, I suppose you could also ask why do theives rob and kill people? Why do corporate fat cats go to jail for running their multibillion dollar companies into the ground out of greed? Why are the Israelis and Palestinians still fighting like cats and dogs after thousands of years? Because they can. Because they are selfish. Because they see some gain in doing what they do. Because they're bad. Because they don't care, etc, etc...

    Most Immortals fight in the Game for either self-protection or to win the Prize or both. Quite a few fight because they love death and mayhem. Or they nearly all love the power and gratification of a Quickening, the stronger the better. Why the Game exists in the first place, everyone in the know is mum about. But it's been hinted answers are forthcoming in the upcoming Highlander: the Source movie.
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    asecooper222

    [3]Jul 13, 2006
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    As it was said before, "Why don't we just put our swords down and just get along?" Well, why dont all these countries who have massive weapons and armies just stop? Because there will always be those Immortals out there who do it for the love of it, and the others who do not WISH to be part of the game but defend themselves, since you cannot trust everyone... look where it got the second, or "fake" Methos - he trusted everyone, and while it almost always worked, in the end, he lost his head for it.

    EDIT: As for WHY it started in the first place, I'm guessing it had something to do with alot of the first Immortals coming together and creating rules... or maybe it's just something they are compelled to do, such as some Immortals are compelled to kill themselves without knowing why until after they revive and meet another Immortal. Plus, death is a nessesary thing for mortals, maybe it is for Immortals as well, just in a different way.

    Edited on 07/13/2006 12:03pm
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  • Avatar of ICE0ne

    ICE0ne

    [4]Jul 16, 2006
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    some other issues about the show i always wondered. the more people you defeat, the more powerful you become right, but we never really see that. i mean, the more you stay alive the more experience you have to keep staying alive, but that's just a given. no one seems to really gain any tangible power. the only exception i can remember is that guy from one of the movies that can create illusions.

    another thing is is it even possible to win the game. i mean if immortals are constantly being created worldwide, how is anyone suppose to kill them all and be the last one. which brings us back to your point of what do you get for being the last one. if no one knows, why bother fighting. yes, supposedly it's for power, but as i said, no one really seems to gain any power.
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    makgambit

    [5]Jul 17, 2006
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    I agree with IceOne in that how can the game be won if there are always new immortals. I think the game exists just to get the power of the quickening. I think its like an addict getting a fix. That the power gained is just the quickening.
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  • Avatar of MultiMedea

    MultiMedea

    [6]Jul 17, 2006
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    The Game can be won because of the Gathering. To explain: in the original Highlander film it was established that at the time of the Gathering all living Immortals would feel a compulsion to gather together in one place and duke it out for the top spot (while they killed off their weaker brethern along the way). The series continued that idea as part of its canon (tho skipping over the glaring fact that Connor won the Gathering and all the combined powers of the Immortals to rule the world if he chose ). Even the newest Immotals will feel that pull to fight, but as they have little to no experience in swordfighting and very little power of their own, they'll probably become cannon fodder pretty quickly.
    Edited on 07/17/2006 10:09am
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    maxxie_m

    [7]Jul 18, 2006
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    I've also heard that the last remaining Immortal will discover the Meaning of Life or something along those lines. 
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  • Avatar of Jon47

    Jon47

    [8]Jul 26, 2006
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    Katerine_M wrote:

    Five seasons in, I still have yet to see anything that could refute my theory that some alien race saw Immortals as a threat, so they invented the Game as a ruse to convince all of the Immortals to kill each other off, so they wouldn't be a threat anymore.

    Things are truly sad when THAT is the most logical explanation for the show's mythology.



    I don't think that theory holds water because one Immortal with all the power is probably more dangerous than many immortals with just a little power.
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  • Avatar of Katerine_M

    Katerine_M

    [9]Aug 1, 2006
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    Jon47 wrote:
    Katerine_M wrote:

    Five seasons in, I still have yet to see anything that could refute my theory that some alien race saw Immortals as a threat, so they invented the Game as a ruse to convince all of the Immortals to kill each other off, so they wouldn't be a threat anymore.

    Things are truly sad when THAT is the most logical explanation for the show's mythology.



    I don't think that theory holds water because one Immortal with all the power is probably more dangerous than many immortals with just a little power.


    But the thing is, the only thing that says that in the end, the one Immortal left will hold "all the power" is... the Game. The only reason anybody believes that the last Immortal will be all powerful is that the Game says so.

    So if the Game is a hoax...
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  • Avatar of Jon47

    Jon47

    [10]Aug 30, 2006
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    The game can't be a hoax, it is proven everytime an immortal chops off a head and gets the Quickening - they visibly absorb the power of the immortal they killed. I guess there are different versions of the mythology, depending on how you feel about Highlander 2's alien thing, but this much at least is pretty clear.
    I don't know whether there is a point at which immortals will stop being born but if there is a Gathering and one immortal gets all the power of every single previous immortal, it would probably be no big deal for him to go around hunting the nascent immortals and picking up what little power they have.
    I don't have the answer to why the Game was started but I suggest that it's just an allegory of humanity's nature to seek power at the expense of others.
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  • Avatar of Acovell

    Acovell

    [11]Nov 1, 2006
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    It's been a long time since I've seen the television show, but as I recall, the question of "why can there be only one" did come up, and no one had the answer.  Frankly, I think that's part of Duncan McLeod's quest.  Duncan, I think, would be happy to accept that there can be more than "one".  Methos and Amanda would be fine with it, too, I think.  I think it's the Immortals' version of faith.  Why can there be only one?  Because that's what we've been brought up to believe.  Why do Christians believe in Christ?  Because that's what they have been brought up to - or chosen to - believe.  Any attempts to explain either question will always end with no clear answer because it can't be proven true or false.  Just my opinion.  And I'm really looking forward to the movie!
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  • Avatar of jaybee63

    jaybee63

    [12]Jan 25, 2007
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    I think that the original film can not be extended into the series, HL the series has a different perspective. The phrase 'there can be only one' is just something they used from the original movie. The purpose was that if there is only one, it must be Duncan Macleod, because he is a good guy. Aliens are not even an issue in HL the series, it was brought up in the second part of Highlander the movie, that they all came from planet Zeist or something and was one of the worse plots they could think of in this saga. Luckily we got HL the series to make it all right again. You should only remember the original movie with Sean Connery and Christophe Lambert, and than the series. Forget the rest.
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  • Avatar of MultiMedea

    MultiMedea

    [13]Feb 5, 2007
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    jaybee63 wrote:
    I think that the original film can not be extended into the series, HL the series has a different perspective. The phrase 'there can be only one' is just something they used from the original movie. The purpose was that if there is only one, it must be Duncan Macleod, because he is a good guy. Aliens are not even an issue in HL the series, it was brought up in the second part of Highlander the movie, that they all came from planet Zeist or something and was one of the worse plots they could think of in this saga. Luckily we got HL the series to make it all right again. You should only remember the original movie with Sean Connery and Christophe Lambert, and than the series. Forget the rest.


    HL: the Series does consider both the first and fourth movies to be part of the show's canon. Both Connor MacLeod and the Kurgan are part of the show's mythos; it's just that Panzer/Davis doesn't count their showdown as the ultimate Gathering.
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  • Avatar of lythea

    lythea

    [14]Feb 18, 2007
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    My theory is that Methos came up with "There Can Be Only One", and the myth of it all, the whole tradition of secrecy, to distract the nastier immortals from trying to take over swaths of humanity. If they think they can get ultimate power by fighting each other one on one in ritual combat, then why would they let the lure of lesser powers distract them? And as soon as one gave up and established himself as warlord or king, he'd get a lot more visible to the ones who still had faith. I mean, imagine it. He's done with the Horsemen, he's been wandering around meeting other immortals, and he sees that a lot of them want to test their new power, see what mark they can make in the world. He doesn't want the world to have to suffer new versions of the Horsemen, or worse, but he also doesn't want to spend all his time being the Force of Light, battling down all the petty immortal warlords and narrowly evading death. He wants to be a scholar. So he bascially gives this young, stupid, pugnacious immortal a reason to kill that young, stupid pugnacious immortal, instead of teaming up with him. Of course it causes a lot of pain and suffering too, but Methos is a net effect kind of guy.

    Of course they'll ruin my lovely theory with the new movie, but I'll hold onto it for now.
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    Katerine_M

    [15]Feb 25, 2007
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    lythea wrote:
    My theory is that Methos came up with "There Can Be Only One", and the myth of it all, the whole tradition of secrecy, to distract the nastier immortals from trying to take over swaths of humanity. If they think they can get ultimate power by fighting each other one on one in ritual combat, then why would they let the lure of lesser powers distract them? And as soon as one gave up and established himself as warlord or king, he'd get a lot more visible to the ones who still had faith. I mean, imagine it. He's done with the Horsemen, he's been wandering around meeting other immortals, and he sees that a lot of them want to test their new power, see what mark they can make in the world. He doesn't want the world to have to suffer new versions of the Horsemen, or worse, but he also doesn't want to spend all his time being the Force of Light, battling down all the petty immortal warlords and narrowly evading death. He wants to be a scholar. So he bascially gives this young, stupid, pugnacious immortal a reason to kill that young, stupid pugnacious immortal, instead of teaming up with him. Of course it causes a lot of pain and suffering too, but Methos is a net effect kind of guy.

    Of course they'll ruin my lovely theory with the new movie, but I'll hold onto it for now.


    That is a great theory. I like that theory, except for one thing:

    It ended with Methos being one of the most hunted immortals. Not an "end" that I would imagine him wanting.
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    BoringPolitico

    [16]Feb 28, 2007
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    Obviously it is not an answer to the question of why the immortals keep playing the game in the television series, but I recall in the animated series, which in its timeline takes place hundreds of years in the future, all of the immortals did decide to end it and vowed never to fight one another again.
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    Too-Much-TV

    [17]Apr 18, 2007
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    A couple things. For one, the movies played by different rules. The physics of immortality were different. In the movies (or at least the first few). An immortal never died, unless it was their true death. There didn't have the temporary deaths that happen routinely in the series. They could breathe underwater. A stab didn't kill them, it just knocked them down. In the series, being immortal pretty much means you don't age and you heal from just about everything. Very different situations.

     

    The second thing is that I also never understood the quickening (I'm talking about the series now). It never amounts to anything other than a tiring light show. What power do they ever gain? They don't even really gain knowledge. It would be interesting if they had immortals that suddenly spoke a new language because of a quickening (and as a common thing, not a freak occurence), but the immortals' impressive knowledge was always from centuries of experience. The only effects they ever showed us from quickenings were someone good becoming evil (or vice versa) and someone inheriting an affinity for a particular woman (when Richie killed Mac's friend Alec and ended up bedding Alec's widow). What I'm trying to say is that the line Joe speaks in the opening sequence, that taking an immortal head gives you their power, was never really proven or explained, and that was very disappointing (but I loved everything else about the series).

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    ludmilas

    [18]Jun 9, 2007
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    Jon47 wrote:
    I don't have the answer to why the Game was started but I suggest that it's just an allegory of humanity's nature to seek power at the expense of others.

    I like that idea.

    Whatever the Game is, it seems to be part of the inmortalsnature, whether they choose to be a part of it or not. And I'm not sure if I want an answer, some stories are better if they have certain mysteries.

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    raqanroll_1

    [19]Jun 29, 2007
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    !!!!If you have a question about "the game", you really want to read this...this is the answer to why the Game exists!!!!

    a couple of quick pre-suppositions, then my point.

    1. Quickening:From the initial film, it seems that immortals are supposed to gain some substantial power from the quikening they recieve from their enemies. The series watered it down to almost nothing, but lets stick with the idea that knowledge and power are gained. There is undoubtedly a reaction when a quickening happens, so its in the nature of an immortal to kill another immortal

    2. even immortals who have not obtained alot of knowledge or lived for more than a normal life time give off a quickening, expressing the fact that there is some inherent power in their existence as an immortal. Which leads me to believe there is some need for "singularity" or completeness of the power place in every immortal. there is an undeniable drive for all the power to become one collective power.

    3. every immortal who has lived forever wants to die, not be killed, but to have an end to their existance, this was a center theme in the first movie, and is touched on on many episodes especially the one where tessa Dies. Its why Queen made the song "Who wants to live forever" to show that there must be and end to their existance, it becomes tormentuous to live forever. everything with a begining must have an ending.

    ...its not a social club, its not just a romantic notion of people living forever, its a quest to acquire all the power placed in the immortal race, its the most accelerated form of evolution that could ever exist, its living exponential lifetimes, not just one person living 100 lifetimes but a thousand people living a thousand lifetimes that eventually will end up manifested as one. The whole point of their existence to to come to a point of Singularity. having a treaty defeats the purpose, why do they even have the ability to take anothers power if there is no purpose? it is simply what they are created for, they serve there purpose, in this universe the best by coming to a point of singularity.

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    mpmooreblvu

    [20]Jan 28, 2008
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    Immortals are like gangsters. They have something to gain by killing each other, they can't hide from each other, and they can't go to the authorities for protection. So they are in a constant low-level war of each against all, just like the Crips and the Bloods or the Mafia Families. As long as those three conditions apply, they really don't have any choice except to fight. Pacifists don't survive for long in The Game. Living forever on holy ground doesn't appeal to most of them.

    The Game sounds a lot like a criminal rationalization. Most criminals rationalize what they do - they don't say "I steal because it is easier than working", instead they say "I only steal from people who got their wealth illegitimately". Criminals don't say "I am a bad person", instead they say "My father drank, my mother ran away, the System is unfair.....". Immortals don't say "I have committed murder for gain", instead they say "There can only be one". It doesn't matter who invented this rationalization first - it spread because it fulfills a psychological need.

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