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In the third Highlander film there are two women played by Deborah Unger who may or may not be one and the same person: the noble Sarah Barrington, a woman Connor MacLeod was in love with in the 18th century, and Dr. Alexandra "Alex" Johnson, an archeologist who becomes Connor's lover in the present day. It seems the filmmakers left it open to the watchers to decide whether Sarah and Alex are one and the same (immortal) person, or whether they're two different women who just look exactly the same (except for a different hair color). Or maybe I just didn't get it whether they're one and the same.

The Highlander wiki claims they're two distinct women, but if that's the case, all the references to Sarah would be pretty pointless since they're in no way related to each other, they're only of the same look. I prefer a stance that they are the same woman, and that Sarah/Alex forgot Connor who she thought had been decapitated back in the 18th century, while her children shown (immortals can't conceive children) were adopted or stepchildren (like Connor's adopted son John), and that she remembered and recognized Connor again when she went after him to Scotland where she stated herself that he is Connor MacLeod from Loch Shiel (for Connor had gone by his disguise alias Russel Nash).

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  • Connor definitely has a "type"
    – Valorum
    Jan 8, 2021 at 15:00
  • @Valorum The fact that Sarah and Alex have about the same personalities also implies they're the same woman.
    – user135774
    Jan 8, 2021 at 15:07
  • You're asking about continuity in the film franchise that may be the least concerned with continuity in all of SF.
    – The Photon
    Jan 8, 2021 at 19:12
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    Two of the same person? There can be only one... Jan 8, 2021 at 19:14
  • @John - Can you elaborate on your personal headcanon here? Do you think that Alex had forgotten about her former life as Sarah, as well as her prior romance with MacLeod? Or was it just MacLeod that she forgot about? Because if she remembered being Sarah, why does she act like she knows nothing about Immortals or the Game? Jan 9, 2021 at 2:55

3 Answers 3

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In the IMDB Faq there is this question:

Is Alex as descendant of Sarah Barrington?
No. But it is possible, Alex could had been a descendant of Sarah, Connor's lover during the French revolution, since Alex had a striking resemblance to Sarah. But when Alex sees Sarah's painting in Connor's old place, she doesn't know who the woman in the painting is and asks Connor who she is.

It would be nice if I could find a clip of that scene. That seems to be the most compelling evidence that she is a different person who just happens to bare a striking resemblance. Not exactly unheard of in real history.

If she is an immortal, Connor should be able to detect her (just as he is able to detect the presence of other immortals nearby). It would also mean that once again he thinks he had won the price, where he hasn't. Sarah/Alex would also be seeking the prize.

Ramirez: When only a few of us are left we will feel an irresistible pull towards a faraway land to fight for the prize.

Although, of course, with the TV series, and other movies keep changing things up on poor Connor. If you include Highlander Endgame, Alex is not to be seen, and is presumed dead.

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  • She could have asked just because it's a painting, who is portrayed on it. If she forgot Connor, she could also have forgotten more of that time (including her former self). And beware that Connor (respectively Russel Nash) owns a museum/archiv, and Sarah was a noble, so it is not quite a surprise there is a painting of a historical person in Nash's home. And if both are the last immortals there is no more need to fight for the prize, as both don't need to render themselves mortal to not lose each other. Connor refused to take Ramirez' and Nakano's head too.
    – user135774
    Jan 8, 2021 at 15:52
  • There's also a kind of counter-evidence when she states herself that Nash is Connor MacLeod from the clan of the MacLeods, born in Glenfinnan at Loch Shiel.
    – user135774
    Jan 8, 2021 at 16:14
  • After she hears him called McLeod, she researches and discovers a Connor McLeod had weird powers and was banished from his village. She then makes the leap that Russel Nash and Connor McLeod are the same person. Jan 8, 2021 at 18:41
  • @Jack B Nimble - I don't think Highlander 3 and Endgame exist within the same continuity. Endgame is an extension of the TV series, where Connor clearly knew that other Immortals (such as Duncan) were still around in the early '90s. He and Duncan met in the pilot episode, which was set in 1992. Whereas in Highlander 3, which is set in 1994, Connor seemed to be under the impression that he was the only Immortal left, and that he'd won the Prize, per the ending of the first film (which the TV series simply ignores). Jan 8, 2021 at 20:10
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The evidence strongly suggests that Alex isn't an Immortal

Around 21 minutes into the film, MacLeod indicates that he believed all other Immortals were dead, and that the Prize was his (this is shortly after he sees lightning streaking across the sky in Marrakesh, as a result of Kane beheading his minion, Senghi):

MACLEOD: How can this be happening? They were all dead, and the Prize was mine. So who is out there? And where is he?

Why would MacLeod believe there were no other Immortals remaining, if he thought Sarah Barrington was one of them, and knew of no evidence that she'd died?

Around 22 minutes into the film, MacLeod indicates that he needs to return to New York, the place of the Gathering, in order to find Kane.

MACLEOD: I know he's alive, and I have to find him. Going back to New York, to the place of the Gathering, is not what I had in mind. Once again, my life is about to change.

This suggests that MacLeod believed Kane would be irresistably drawn to the place of the Gathering, as all Immortals were supposed to be at the proper time, according to Ramirez in the first film:

RAMIREZ: You must learn to conceal your special gift, and harness your power, until the time of the Gathering.

MACLEOD: What Gathering?

RAMIREZ: When only a few of us are left, we will feel an irresistible pull towards a faraway land... to fight for the Prize.

And New York is precisely where both Kane and his other minion, Khabul, went, after leaving Nakano's cave in Japan, with no other in-story explanation given for that, other than the implication that they were drawn there by the Gathering. Which begs the question, why wasn't Alex drawn there, if she too were an Immortal? She did eventually go to New York, but only as part of her work. There was no suggestion that she was irresistably drawn there.

Around 39 minutes into the film, Alex translates one of the inscriptions found on the walls of Nakano's cave as the phrase:

ALEX: There can be only one.

She then asks herself:

ALEX: Only one what...?

This clearly suggests that Alex had no knowledge of the Game at this point in the story. Which begs the question, why not? And how could a female Immortal have managed to survive hundreds of years without knowing about the Game, without being on holy ground, and without having any apparent means of defending herself? She should've been easy pickings for other Immortals, if we go with your theory.

Around 44 minutes into the film, Kane is able to approach her in her New York office without being detected until he announces himself. If she were an Immortal, why didn't she sense him? Also, why didn't he take her head, or show any awareness of her being an Immortal?

Around 47 minutes into the film, Alex is able to tail MacLeod in her car, from his home in New York to the Japanese Spiritual Centre in Queens, and subsequently approach him on foot, with MacLeod reacting as if he were unaware of her presence until she spoke to him. If she were an Immortal, why didn't he sense her? The Immortal sense is clearly a thing in this film, as MacLeod repeatedly senses the approach of Kane and/or his minions during the film, like when Kane shows up in the same building just a few minutes later.

Also, if MacLeod thought Alex was Sarah, why does he treat her as if she's someone he's just met in this scene, and subsequent ones? He shouldn't feel any need to maintain the Russell Nash pretence with a fellow Immortal who was also a former lover of his. And if he didn't think Alex and Sarah were the same person, then why do you question his judgment in that regard? Wouldn't he be a better judge than either of us?

Around 67 minutes into the film, Alex approaches MacLeod in the Scottish Highlands, with him again showing no awareness of her presence until she speaks to him. The subsequent dialogue they exchange is pretty telling as well:

ALEX: You seem like you belong here.

MACLEOD Maybe I used to... but that was a long time ago.

ALEX: You spend alot of time alone.

MACLEOD: I'm used to it.

ALEX: Nobody is. You don't let people in, do you?

MACLEOD: I can't. It hurts to love and...

ALEX: ... and then see them die? Like the woman in the painting?

MACLEOD: Yes. I loved her very much.

Those last couple of lines strongly suggest that Sarah Barrington was mortal, and that both Alex and MacLeod viewed her as a separate individual, rather than a younger version of Alex. This contradicts your theory that Alex was regaining memories of a previous life as Sarah. The dialogue which immediately follows that above contradicts it even more:

ALEX: I know who you are. You're Connor MacLeod. Born into the Clan MacLeod, in Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel. You were driven from your home in 1536...

MACLEOD: ... and I cannot die...

ALEX: ... and have wandered the world ever since.

If Alex were merely regaining memories of a previous life as Sarah Barrington here, then she wouldn't know anything about MacLeod being an Immortal, or being driven from his village in Glenfinnan. Sarah was never shown to be aware of any of that. Alex was clearly piecing together the clues uncovered by the investigative work she'd done on MacLeod (since that piece of Scottish tartan was discovered in Nakano's cave, much earlier in the film), along with everything she'd witnessed since then, including hearing Kane address 'Russell Nash' as MacLeod in the Japanese Spiritual Centre, seeing Kane transform into a bird and fly through a window, and seeing photos on the wall of MacLeod's home, where supposed ancestors of his had his exact likeness.

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MacLeod basically admitted he was hundreds of years old to her when he confessed to having loved Sarah, a woman who lived during the time of the French Revolution.

Around 80 minutes into the film, Kane reiterates the idea that MacLeod, himself, and his two minions were the only Immortals remaining after the events of the first film:

KANE: Oh, I know, you must've been very disappointed. All those nice years, thinking you were the only one left. But you see the Prize was never yours, and now, it never will be. Amen.

Why would Kane (correctly) deduce that MacLeod had been under that impression, if he (Kane) believed Alex was an Immortal too?

Lastly, let's consider the final words spoken in the film:

MACLEOD: There's a fresh breeze blowing off the loch. The glen is snowy and cold; it's the most glorious sight on Earth. I've found no place to match it in 400 years. I'm back now, with a woman I love, and a son I've taken as my own. I'm at peace; it's finally over.

This strongly suggests that the Game is over at this point; that no other Immortals remain, and that there's no more fighting to be done. If Alex were truly another Immortal, MacLeod shouldn't be at peace here, because it'd mean the Game wasn't over. Remember, one of the central tenets of the franchise is the phrase:

In the end, there can be only one.

MacLeod himself says this repeatedly, in both the first film and this one. Virtuous Immortals such as MacLeod and Ramirez may be able to resist killing one another whilst other Immortals remain, but the logic of the Game has always implied that the last two remaining Immortals must fight to the death, even if they're friends, or lovers. If we go with your interpretation, the ending of this film is completely at odds with the whole premise of the Game.

As for the flashbacks with Sarah being pointless if she wasn't Alex, I disagree. Firstly, flashbacks of some kind are almost mandatory for a Highlander film, especially this one, which is clearly doing it's best to copy the formula of the original. (The producers of the Highlander franchise knew they screwed up badly with all that planet Zeist stuff in Highlander 2, so they played it ultra conservative with Highlander 3 by retreading the beats of the first film so closely, as to make it all but a straight remake.)

Secondly, those specific flashbacks with Sarah establish that there was at least one other major love of MacLeod's life -- aside from Heather -- prior to him establishing his Russell Nash identity in New York, which helps to fill out his backstory.

Thirdly, the emotional vulnerability that MacLeod shows when he confesses the love he felt for Sarah to Alex sets up the romance between him and Alex, by confirming to her that he is in fact a romantic; something that wasn't all that evident from everything she'd seen of him up to that point.

I will grant you that the striking resemblance between Alex and Sarah was a curious red herring in the film, if we assume it was purely coincidental (and no alternative explanation was explicitly given, or even implied, really). However, as unsatisfying an explanation as that may be, it's much more plausible, and far less convoluted, than assuming that they were the same person, considering all the apparent plot holes and contradictions which go along with that theory. The principle of Occam's razor is certainly not on your side here.

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  • I liked Highlander 2. H3 was boring.
    – Valorum
    Jan 8, 2021 at 19:36
  • Highlander 2 is a bad film, and that planet Zeist stuff was a horrible misstep, which the producers of the franchise thankfully realised. That said, the film is enjoyable to some extent, and certainly more original than Highlander 3, which as I said, is almost a beat-for-beat remake of the first film, but lacking the magic of the original. Jan 8, 2021 at 19:53
  • @John - I don't consider Highlander 3 to be a bad Highlander film (like H2 and The Source), but it is a highly deriviative and forgettable one, made by people who were apparently terrified to deviate from the formula of the first film in any way. In my view, the first film is the only one that's genuinely good, and it's one of my favourite films of all time. The other live-action films range from poor to mediocre, with H3 being in the mediocre category. The animated film, The Search for Vengeance, was pretty good though, and is actually my second favourite film in the franchise. Jan 9, 2021 at 14:11
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In the original script, the characters of "Jennifer Hillman", "Sarah" and "Isabelle" were very clearly intended to be three different women, played by three different actors. Sarah was a farmer's daughter, aged fifteen and obviously not an immortal. Isabelle is also clearly not an immortal (notably, Connor's friend warns him about forming a relationship with her because she'll die eventually. Also she goes on to have children and grandchildren who look like her) and Jennifer Hillman is clearly not an immortal, as evidenced by her surprise at discovering the existence of immortals.


In the final script they appear to have conflated these three female characters (and turned them into two), but there's no good reason to assume that they're the same person, merely because they're played by the same actor. In fact, if they were one and the same, Jennifer's lack of knowledge of other immortals would be baffling.

On her finger is a distinctive RING. It is very old intricate gold patterns carved in gold and set in ivory.

Macleod is shocked. He slowly raises her hand up before his face and looks her in the eyes.

MCCLEOD: Where did you get this ring?

Jennifer is more than a little frightened by Macleod intensity. MCCLEOD (continuing): Where did you get it?

JENNIFER: It's mine. It's been in my family for years. It belonged to my great, great, great grandmother.

... [Later - in flashback]

ISABELLE: (on the verge of tears) Why are you doing this?

MCCLEOD: Because, it's for the best. There are somethings that are better left unexplained.

Macleod takes a ring off his finger. IT IS THE SAME RING JENNIFER WAS WEARING. He gently slips on Isabelle's finger.

MCCLEOD: Take this -- and whenever you look at it, remember that it came from one who loved you.

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    How does Alex get to know then that Russel Nash is Connor MacLeod (as stated in my question and another comment)? Additionally, it would be very sad if Alex isn't Sarah, and the flashbacks would seem pointless.
    – user135774
    Jan 8, 2021 at 17:07
  • In the original script she overheard the name Macleod when he fights with the immortal a few minutes earlier
    – Valorum
    Jan 8, 2021 at 17:22
  • I'm talking of the final, actual, script in which she doesn't know Nash is MacLeod until going after him to Scotland.
    – user135774
    Jan 8, 2021 at 17:48
  • @John - It's often instructive to look at the original script because it often explains things that got edited out, but where they never fixed the dependencies. Modern script software tracks that and won't let you do it (like removing a character but having a character reference their dialogue later).
    – Valorum
    Jan 8, 2021 at 18:31
  • Alex heard Kane address 'Nash' as MacLeod in the actual film, when she witnessed their confrontation in the Japanese Spiritual Centre. We see a shot of her face, right after Kane says that; she was apparently listening to what was being said. Jan 8, 2021 at 20:32

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