Kamir: Men like us must preserve where we come from because that is what makes us sane. That is what makes us holy.
Richie: Sure. If you come from somewhere. Or someone.
Kamir: You only say this because you don't know who your parents are? No Immortal does. We are children and heirs of the time and place that bore us.
Richie: So... Mac's got the Highlands. You've got India. I've got bowling allies and fast food joints.
--"The Wrath of Kali"
This exchange gets to the heart of what I like about Richie and what I would have liked more of with him. When MacLeod found him, he quite literally pulled Richie off the streets, out of poverty, and out of the kind of life of petty crime that's only going to lead to jail (best case scenario) and gave him a home, a family, and opportunity. He also introduced Richie to this epic and exciting world of Immortals and The Game and a whole bunch of other common nouns that have been upgraded to capital letters, and it was all like Richie had fallen into a fairy tale. MacLeod's 400 years old. Amanda's over a 1000. Richie routinely met or heard about other people with multiple centuries, if not millennia, to their ages and the colorful bits of history they lived through or helped create. Then Richie became an Immortal and took up a sword, and discovered that Immortality was nowhere near as glamorous as he'd believed. For starters, Richie hadn't been raised in a time that expected young men to become warriors who expected to fight, die, and kill, and now he was expected to do all of those. He became an Immortal, but he didn't come into a fount of knowledge/experience that made the world any clearer to him or become rich, or important, or develop any kind of grand purpose. Coming back from the dead didn't transform him into a fairy-tale Hero.
I think this was all very confusing to him, and more than a little bit of a let down. The world of Immortals is violent and dangerous and, frankly, not anywhere near as morally clear as Mac had presented it. Richie's life had changed in fundamentally important ways, but his world really hadn't. He still knew the same people he'd always known, went to the same places he'd always gone, and struggled with the same problems he'd always had. The only time he died in such a way that it became an inconvenience for him, he was in France. Yes, he saw the death of his dream to become a professional racer, but France was not his home turf. Leaving the country and giving up his identity there was a temporary setback in the scheme of things. In a sense, he died, and respawned back in Seacouver as if the whole France thing had been nothing more than a dream he'd had to wake up from too soon. Back to square one, without even a decent story to show for it.
What I wanted from his story was to see someone going down the road of Immortality for the first time, and to see the world he'd lived in slip further and further away because he couldn't keep growing with it. What would it have been like for Angie to run into him during season 5 and wonder how he'd barely aged since the last time she saw him? How would he deal when he had to face leaving Seacouver, the city he'd spent his entire formative life in, for a whole generation? At what point would he need to start thinking about faking a public death so that people he knew when he was kid (e.g. Maria Alcobar) would stop trying to reconnect with him? And then, how would he pull it off? How would he, specifically, deal with the kind of long-term relationships where his SO starts trying to transition from the fairly nomadic lifestyle that's acceptable in twenty-somethings to the kind of settled life that he's never going to look old enough to be able to reach? And what will he do when he wants
the lifestyle expected of older people? We got a glimpse of that story with Donna, but the threat of Kern came on so fast and so strong that the decisions were all but taken out of his hands.
What would happen when Richie's sitting in a college classroom next to Mary Lindsey and realizing that the version of Richie she knows cannot be who he is?
The experiences Richie'd have as a new Immortal would be very different as a perpetual adolescent than those Duncan had as a perpetual thirty-something, not just because of the eras of their first lifetimes, but because of the societal expectations put on them based solely on how old they appear to be. As American society continues to push the age of maturity further up, I think Richie's story would only become more interesting; what he'd be allowed to want with a twenty-year old face in 1995 is
different than what he'd be allowed to want in 2015, so in a sense he'd be forced to de-age just when he most wanted to be taken seriously as an adult. The unfortunate part about a show featuring characters who never age is that their actors do, so there's no way to come back to many of these ideas in live-action. Also, there's the whole matter of "Archangel," damn the producers. So, getting to see this story play out is sadly impossible.
Richie wanted to be connected to a place and a time where his presence mattered. I would have liked to have seen more focus on his journey toward discovering that one doesn't need to be a fairy tale hero to have that.