athersgeo: Darth Vader meets Riverdance (Default)
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A Quick HL Primer

A lot of this is going to come up in-story, as everything unravels, but since those in-story explanations are taking me longer to get to than I'd hoped and I know some of the terminology is a little weird if you're not familiar with the Highlander concept...so here we are.

Immortal - someone who cannot permanently die unless you cut off their head. They're born mortal, and they age and grow until they suffer some kind of violent and/or sudden death (HL canon kinda contradicts itself on this point - particularly once you get into any movies beyond the first one!), at which point they get frozen in time. They cannot have children and they are often (always?) adopted or foundlings.

Pre-Immortal - someone who could become Immortal but isn't yet.

The Buzz/Immortal Presence - Immortals can sense when another Immortal is nearby. They can also sense Pre-Immortals. Pre-Immortals cannot sense Immortals/Pre-Immortals. Someone newly Immortal is usually depicted as feeling it like an intense headache. As they get more experienced, either the headache lessens or they learn to ignore the pain (I lean towards the former, but your mileage may vary).

The Game - simply put: There Can Be Only One. Immortal scuttlebutt is that they have to fight one another to the death (ie beheading) until there's only one of them left. The Game has rules: All fights should be one-on-one; Holy Ground is sacrosanct. (Further Immortal scuttlebutt is that Mt Vesuvius' erruption in 79AD was caused by two Immortals fighting on Holy Ground - no one's tested that theory since!) There's also an unspoken rule that fights are supposed to be fair. Shooting and running away is generally frowned on; beheading your opponent while he's in shackles is even moreso! The last one standing wins The Prize.

The Prize - um...yeah. No one actually knows what this is. If you go by HL2, The Prize was mortality (which actually makes a kind of sense...which is probably also the only thing about that film that makes sense within the rest of the universe). HL1 is a little more vague. The TV series quietly dropped the concept altogether and I'm not even going to touch any other iteration!

Holy Ground - anywhere consecrated as Holy, and not just in the Judeo-Christian tradition, either. Arguably, some world-famous sporting arenas probably also count by now. I also once read a suggestion that Immortals take airports as safe havens too. (No in-flight beheading is probably a good thing!)

Quickening - an Immortal's life force; when an Immortal is beheaded it's released and adds itself to the victor's life force. If a mortal beheads an Immortal, the Quickening either attaches to the nearest passing Immortal or is lost forever. Whether the victorious Immortal actually gets anything out of a Quickening (other than a very pretty lights show) is open for debate. The show/films weren't specific - I tend to think they must do (and write that way accordingly) but that's personal canon rather than anything I can substantiate!

Watchers - a mortal (well, MOSTLY) organisation with the credo to "observe, record and never interfere"...except on Tuesdays. And Fridays. And sometimes on days ending in y. This was an organisation that was added to the universe by the TV show, rather than the films (though the later films do make use of them). The idea is, this group of mortals follow Immortals around with a view to recording their lives for the history books. In practice...well it goes about as well as you'd think! There's three basic sub-groups:
-Field Watchers - the people who actually tail Immortals for a living (or befriend them by becoming their local bar tender or ME, depending!)
-Researchers - people who are based in Paris (Watcher HQ) who look after the archives
-Hunters - people who've been Field Watchers (mostly) and who've decided that Immortals are an abomination to be wiped out
The Watchers are also known as The International Assets Corporation. Oh, and most Watchers have a small blue tattoo on the inside of their left wrist.

In terms of HL characters, I'm not going to go through details of every single one I've referred to (we'll be here this time next year!), but I'll give you a few quick details on the three key ones (Wiki and Google will probably supply you with more, should you need it):
Amanda Darieux - She is the classic trouble on two legs. She's an accomplished thief and con artist who, at 1200 years old, doesn't just know all the tricks; she pretty much wrote the book. She's also Duncan MacLeod's on-again-off-again lover. She's a reoccuring character from the HL TV series and had her own spin-off show called Highlander: The Raven.
Joe Dawson - He's been a Watcher ever since an Immortal saved his life in the jungles of Vietnam. Formerly a Field Watcher (for Duncan MacLeod), in my own personal HL canon, he's now head of the research department. He also owns and runs a bar in Paris called Le Blues Bar. Joe was a series regular, from season two onwards in the TV series.
Methos/Adam Pierson/Remus - The world's Oldest Man, Methos is at least 5000 years old. Even he doesn't know exactly how old he is, but ancient just about covers it! His current guise is as Adam Pierson, formerly a grad student and now a lecturer at University de Paris, but he's been just about everything in his life time - from doctor to lawyer to member of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to Roman Senator's slave. As Adam Pierson, he was also (for a time) a member of the Watchers, curating the Methos chronicle... Methos was a reoccuring character from the TV series.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-02-01 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dianeb-047.livejournal.com
Thanks for this primer. I appreciate your commentary, too, and find I agree with all of it. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-02-04 01:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] athersgeo.livejournal.com
*grins* Glad you liked it. It was a fun exercise and a good excuse for me to dust off my thoughts on HL - I'm clearly going to have to dust of the DVDs pretty soon!

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