Why Outlander Spoilers? *sticky post*

Why call my blog “Outlander Spoilers?” That’s both an easy and a difficult question to answer. The easy answer is that the title tells potential readers immediately: “here there be spoilers.”

The slightly more complicated answer is that I wanted a place where I felt “safe” to gleefully wallow in all that is the Outlanderverse. There is a vast quantity of recap blogs/videos/podcasts/photo blogs available to anyone who cares to look (I’ve linked to my favorites over on the Outlander-Related Links page). And nearly all of them make a determined effort to be spoiler free (at least through whatever episode of the show they’re recapping) or to flag spoilers for new fans.

I applaud those efforts, truly I do. And I realize that by embracing spoilers I am excluding newbies and narrowing my potential audience. But by refraining from spoilers, I decrease my own enjoyment, and, I feel, the enjoyment of long time readers. Also, the books have sold over 20 million copies. I feel fairly confident that many of the purchasers of those copies want to dig into book vs show and discuss possible ramifications of changes as much as I do.

Another thing I want to do is not strictly recap the episodes. Summary does not equal analysis! Some of the summaries out there are hilarious, but I’m interested in analysis and making connections. So I may skip sections if I don’t have anything to say. If you have something to say about sections I skip, leave a comment! I want to talk with you about it.

So that’s why I’m here, and why I think I’m putting out a unique perspective in the veritable sea of recaps and reviews.

PS- if you’re just here to find out what might happen in Season Three, I have a page about that! Go to: Season Three Speculation to see what I think they’re going to do with the next season.

PPS- lots of my traffic is from people looking for book nine spoilers. No one has those yet, except Diana Gabaldon. I can say that I’m fairly sure that the Battle of Kings Mountain and the Battle of Cowpens are going to feature heavily, so it may be worth reading about those.  The Overmountain Men hiked over Roan Mountain, where Jamie and Claire live, just before the Battle of Kings Mountain. The Battle of Cowpens was fought by Dan Morgan, a recurring real world character in the series, against another regular series antagonist, Banastre Tarleton. So I’m pretty confident those two battles are in Jamie’s, and probably William’s, future. If you want “real” spoilers, look up the hashtag “daily lines” or “book nine” on Facebook, or check out the Outlander section of the CompuServ forums. Diana posts snippets from her work in progress. 

EDIT JULY 2016 – We have a title for book nine! It’s going to be called Go Tell the Bees that I Am Gone. Diana explained the title on her Facebook page thus: “It’s a very old Celtic custom (known in other parts of Europe, too) that made it to the Appalachians. You always tell the bees when someone is born, dies, comes or goes–because if you don’t keep them informed, they’ll fly away.”

Side note- my family is actually from Roan Mountain. My grandfather grew up in a cabin on the mountainside. It made me so happy when I realized where the Ridge was, geographically!

Note: I have read all of the main series books, the Lord John novels, and all of the short stories. I may, at any point, reference all of the above as well as any of the Starz show episodes that have aired to date.

Note 2: If you like what I do here, you might also like my fiction! I write fantasy romance as Cara McKinnon. Check out my website for more info: caramckinnon.com. I also have a podcast, The Feminist Romantic.

Episode 305 – Freedom and Whisky

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Here we are, with episode five of season three! There will be no new episode next week, which is actually good timing for me since I’ll be in a wedding and have a birthday party to go to. I was worried about how I would fit watching the episode a few times and writing this blog into my schedule, but now I don’t need to! (Note that IMDB has the break happening on the 22nd, but other sources have it as the 15th).

On with the episode–“Freedom and Whisky.”

Oh, wow. That handmade Christmas ornament from 1948 in the title card looks *exactly* like an ornament I made for my parents when I was in kindergarten. Except I mixed the red and green paint and the whole thing turned out brown. Not sure how this will be symbolic yet (especially since it’s from 1948), but I guess we’ll see as the episode progresses. (Note—it ends up being a touchpoint for Brianna in her grief after losing Frank).

I didn’t really need to see all of that blood in the surgery scene, but I’ll live, because it shows us Claire being an amazing surgeon, not only competent but extraordinary at her calling. I’m a little sad that this rules out her having been moved to head of surgery in the wake of the assisted-suicide event (Claire recounts that to Jamie later in the books), because I thought it was beautiful that Claire was willing to treat the patient and not the disease. But this works, too.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that they included the fictional prose and stories/legends/songs re-writing history bit in Brianna’s history class. I think most of the discussion of that was in Dragonfly in Amber when Claire was talking to Roger about the Jacobites and how Prince Charles wasn’t the amazing awesomeness that he appears to be in the songs. But it’s great that they managed to get something esoteric and literary like that into the TV show.

Briannas Ornament

Holidays are so hard after loss, especially the first one. Our culture focuses so much on family and togetherness at the holidays, and that’s wonderful when you have a family (whether a family by blood or the family you choose in your friends) around you. But when even one person is missing, gone forever, everything changes. I lost my grandfather last summer, and while it’s nowhere near the same as losing a parent, it still changed so much about our family holiday. There was something more missing than just my grandfather, something greater than the sum of our loss.

So I ache for Brianna, who has lost one father, and is grappling with the existence of another one that she thinks she will never know. This is probably the first time I am really sympathetic toward her in the show so far. I’ve liked her for Roger’s sake but haven’t really warmed to her as a character on her own. But this scene makes me feel for her.

Daft or Brilliant

Wow—Roger in Boston. I guess they’re pulling some ideas from Drums of Autumn. But I like the idea of Roger and Brianna both grieving their adopted fathers at Christmas.

Claire’s struggle with her fears about Jamie and worries about leaving Brianna is poignant but so different from the upswell of emotion and conviction to return from the season two finale. I do understand her not wanting to leave Brianna, especially with Bree being so unsettled about everything she’s learned, to the point of withdrawing from Harvard. But I hope this is where she decides to go to MIT and focus on engineering.

Geillis Skeleton

The Geillis skeleton! Spooky!

“Somebody” tried to cut the lady’s head off with a dull blade. “Somebody”—aka Claire! Except she hasn’t done it yet. But the inclusion of the skeleton tells me we will get to that part of the story in the Caribbean. I wondered what would be cut—they’ve got to cut something, or they’ll never fit everything into the few episodes they have left. But not that. I hope they cut the Fiend, though.

Brianna and Roger at Harvard is a beautiful scene, giving hints of the path she will choose to take with her life in the future. There’s more to like in this episode, and in this scene about Brianna, than we’ve seen so far. The show is doing a good job of opening her up and showing her vulnerabilities. Her character needs that, and I hope they continue to do it.

 

History is a Story

UGH TO THE SHADES OF FUCKING FRANK RANDALL. Why did we have to bring him back through Sandy? I’m fine with Brianna grieving and having complicated thoughts about who she is as a person and who her family is. Frank was her father, even if not by blood. And Claire grieving is fine, too, and her emotions are just as complicated for different reasons. But having this woman throw outright lies at Claire and for Claire to just accept them is terrible and unjust. Claire asked Frank for a divorce when Bree was little, and he wouldn’t give it to her. That’s not Claire’s fault. He chose to stay with Claire. That’s what Claire told Frank’s lover in the books, and I’m pissed as hell that she doesn’t say it here. Sure, Sandy is grieving, and I’m also sure that Frank routinely either lied about or obfuscated his motivations, so I don’t blame her for misunderstanding or for being jealous of Claire’s marriage, but she doesn’t get to make Claire feel guilty about something she could not control. Frank made his own choices, and it wasn’t Claire who refused to let him go. She gave him so many opportunities, and he never took them. UGH. But at least this scene only took a few minutes, and it led to Bree and Claire finally telling each other the truth about everything.

Frank Cheats

I like the inclusion of the Apollo 8 mission, and I’m actually OK with that brief voice over, because it’s a kind of ethereal scene, and having a voice from nowhere sort-of makes sense. And it will give Jamie and Claire a chance to have the conversation on the Artemis, talking about the future and going to the moon.

It’s weird to see Bree and Claire talking about what Claire will miss, since I know she’s not going to miss any of those things—Bree’s wedding or Bree’s kids being born. Yes, she’ll miss a little bit of the kids growing up when Brianna and Roger return to the 80s, but they come back, and will be on the Ridge again in Go Tell the Bees.

I hope we get to continue to see Brianna working through her complicated feelings about her parents next season, since I assume we won’t see her again this season. And positioning her as more like Claire than either Frank or Jamie works well, too, because Claire can be ruthless and seem cold while a lot of very hot emotions are roiling under the surface.

Joe Abernathy

I am so glad they cut out the fat-shaming remarks that Joe makes in the book. That has always bothered me, especially since Claire in the books is written as being short and curvy, and Jamie complains when she loses too much weight. This good-bye scene also works well enough, although it’s odd to me that she doesn’t tell him what she’s about to do. I just checked that scene in the book, and she doesn’t specifically say anything about time travel, but she does have him help her resign and take care of some legal things. He knows she’s going away and doesn’t plan to come back. I wonder why they didn’t have her say goodbye here? The scene was well-staged anyway, but I felt like she would have told him she was going.

It’s so funny that Roger gives Claire the book of Scottish history, since she’s not going to be staying in Scotland long. But that’s how it happened in the book, too. And interesting that they are claiming, in the show, that she had gemstones every time. In the books, her first two trips were just with gold (her wedding band to Frank) and silver (her wedding band to Jamie).

Claire Costumer

Wow—Claire sewing her dress is interesting. And how does she have a dress form? I have a degree in costuming and I don’t even have a dress form (although I want one). The corset pattern is familiar, though. The first corset I ever made was one of that shape. Although she would have needed about a million rain coats to make that skirt and coat, and she would never had had pieces of fabric big enough for those panels. Why didn’t she just buy fabric by the bolt? Lots of people still made their clothes in the 60s—many more than do so now—and if she has a dress form, she would have had access to fabric. But I shall attempt to suspend my disbelief.

Really, though, Claire, what did those poor scissors ever do to you? Didn’t anyone ever teach you to respect your tools? Would you toss your surgical instruments around like that? Not that I can blame you–those look like they would be awful for cutting fabric or thread.

I want to somehow jump into the show and hand her a pair of my Ginghers. She’d have to promise not to use them to cut paper, though. There is only one pair of scissors in that shot, which means she cut out the pattern and the fabric with it. *shudder* I know there are amazing costumers working on this show. Did they not get to have any say in what happened in this scene?? *tears of frustration*

OK, I’m done with my sewing rant. Please forgive me.

Brianna and Claire’s farewell is lovely. I wonder if Brianna will follow her, as she does in the book? Although it’s a little different to follow her from Inverness than from Boston. (Note—she doesn’t, but they also don’t show Claire actually going to the stones. In the post-episode chat, they talk about how going to the stones wouldn’t work, logistically, with their filming schedule. I kinda like that they skipped over it).

Bree Roger Christmas Carol

I’m really, really glad that this whole episode focused on Claire, Brianna, and Roger, rather than showing us what Jamie has been up to since Helwater. But I still think it would have been better to keep the structure from the book and not to try for linear chronology through the forties and fifties. For those that haven’t read the book, the way it was structured is that Claire, Bree, and Roger are searching for Jamie through history in 1968, just like they were doing last week in “Of Lost Things.” As they uncover new information, the book then breaks away to that point in Jamie’s life and we get his point of view for a while. Then it comes back to 1968 for the next revelation, and interspersed in the 1968 section are flashbacks to the forties, fifties, and early sixties in Claire’s life. I think it works really well in the book, because the plot continues to move forward no matter which time period we’re in.

In the show, it has all been fits and starts, with really rocky and jarring transitions between centuries. I guess I can see how this episode worked well on its own, but I would give that up to have a season that seemed to be arcing toward something from the beginning. Those first three episodes showed Claire stuck in one place, with no hope for the future. Jamie was the same—stuck in whatever circumstances he found himself in that week. That’s true of the Jamie segments in the book, too, but the Claire segments from the book keep giving us hope that a reunion is in the future. The show ruthlessly punctured the hopeful bubble of the season two finale, and refused to give back any of that hope, even last episode. This was the first time that I felt like we were actually building toward a reunion. And that’s great within the episode, but it would have been nice to have it back in episode one, too. The season is almost half-over now.

Another Sky

Ooh—the prologue from Voyager! (The bit about puddles). I’m OK with this as voice-over, too, and with it as a transition from twentieth century to eighteenth. Generally speaking, they’ve been much more judicious about the voice over this season, and that’s good. It was so over-used in the first season that I wanted it to be gone forever, but most of it here has worked well enough.

I kept expecting this episode to end every second of the last few minutes of the episode—especially as Claire opened the door of the print shop. But when it continued on after that, I guessed it would end as Jamie crumpled to the floor. And I was right about that!

Jamie Faints

And now, of course, we shall all have to wait two weeks to see what happens next, which is what I expected. Although it seems like it, it’s also not a cliff hanger—those happen when we’re in the middle of conflict and it’s left unresolved. This is absolutely a game changer. Claire has resolved (or well enough) everything that she’s leaving behind in Boston, and now she’s moving forward into a new phase of her story. So while it’s a dramatic moment to end on, and everyone is definitely going to be wondering about the next episode, it’s not really leaving us hanging. Rather, it’s leaving us imagining and hoping and curious.

But, as I said earlier, I’m going to be so busy next weekend I’ll barely notice the wait. Oh, and I saw on the preview that it’s going to be an extended episode, so that’s nice. Maybe they’ll manage to get a lot more plot into the episode that way, or just give themselves extra time to slow down and do the reunion justice.

What did you think of “Freedom and Whisky?” Are you glad, like I am, that they didn’t make up something to fill in Jamie’s part of the story on this episode? Or did you want to see what he was up to in the ten years between Helwater and Edinburgh? Do you hope that they allow Frank’s ghost to rest and never mention his name again? Let me know in the comments!

 

*All images are the property of Starz and used here for entertainment and critique. Quotes on the images are from the show, from Voyager the book, or my own invention.

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Episode 304 – Of Lost Things

 

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Last week’s blog post definitely struck a chord with some people—and not necessarily one in tune. Sorry for any misunderstandings, but I have to say I’m not sorry for my opinions. If I got something factually wrong, please feel free to let me know. And I’m open to changing my mind based on different interpretations, so also don’t hesitate to tell me what you think. More than once, someone else’s comments have swayed me to a different perspective. But do please try to be courteous to other opinions, and don’t malign or insult anyone who doesn’t agree with you—me, or any other people who comment on my blog. I reserve the right to delete malicious comments.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about episode 304! I am so glad we’re getting into the meat of the material from Voyager. I think it’s fair to say that one of my many criticisms of the change in focus this season from the book is that we don’t get to spend as much time with Roger and Brianna. They’re going to be much larger players in season four, and it would have been nice to see them more this season—especially since, once Claire returns to the 18th century, we won’t see them again. Unless the show does something really different!

I loved the title card of the carving of the snake. I’m writing this commentary as I watch the episode for the first time, so at this point I assume it’s Jamie carving for Willie (in reverse of the way the original was carved), but I could end up being wrong (nope!). And the snake was lost a time or two—or Jamie believed it was—so the title of the episode (“Of Lost Things”) actually fits with this specific image, and not just thematically with the episode (Jamie is lost to Claire; Claire, William, and his unknown child are lost to Jamie).

Rogers Research Board

Roger’s research boards are fantastic. I tried to freeze-frame and read some of the notes, but they’re just enough out of focus that it’s hard to make out anything but the big “post-its.” I love Roger’s reaction to Claire finding Jamie on the Ardsmuir rolls—“never too early for a whisky.”

Sam is amazing in this episode. The interview with Dunsany is fantastic—he reveals just enough to show the viewer the pain of Jamie’s loss, but he’s also containing it, showing Dunsany that Jamie is the master of his emotions. There’s even a little bit of defiance. That earns him Dunsany’s respect—and a warning to remember that he’s still a prisoner. I liked the inclusion of the phrase “the Scottish prisoner”—a nod to the novel of the same title set during Jamie’s years at Helwater.

Many Faces of Jamie Fraser

Roger is adorable. And so is Bree. The little interlude at the car made me smile. There was a lot of speculation on the internet about why it was Roger under the bonnet and not Bree, but this scene played out wonderfully in reversing expectations.

So did, amazingly, the scene with Jamie and Isobel. She’s young and naïve, but very likable. She’ll be a fantastic adoptive mother for William, and, I think, a good wife for John. She’s pretty much a non-entity in the books, so I’m really glad they’re giving her more of a personality and spirit in the show.

To the commenter who was worried we wouldn’t hear a “Lady Jane”—there it is! I’m a little confused about what they’re trying to portray in the scene with the phone call, though. Is this Claire, torn between her two worlds, or Claire grieving for someone who we haven’t yet met, or something else? Her curtness with ending the phone conversation tells me she’s feeling something very deeply, I’m not just sure what it is. I hope they make whatever it is clear by the end of the episode. (Note—they didn’t. Maybe next week, once she’s back in Boston?).

Marriage to an Earl

Despite how young the actors playing the Dunsany sisters appeared in their headshots, in the show they look much older, and I’m very, very glad of it. They also seem to have picked an actor who looks a lot like Caitriona Balfe to play Geneva—enough that I think it’s going to become part of what happens with Jamie and Geneva. (note—it doesn’t, at least not in any obvious way).

I’m surprised by how much I like Geneva. Oh, she isn’t perfect, and she’s spoiled and headstrong. But I think she cannot be completely awful. She laughs when Jamie drops her in the mud, and is half in love with him. Yes, she goes about everything wrong, but she’s an heiress and is about to be thrust into an untenable situation. She’s grabbing something she wants before she loses her freedom to do so.

Geneva in the Mud

I’m extremely intrigued by the addition of Hal into the Helwater portion! It was delicious to see him, John, and Jamie together, especially since Hal must know very well what John thinks about Jamie. But it makes sense, because it is an easier explanation for how Geneva discovers her blackmail material than the theft of letters.

In the end it’s the same, though—it’s Geneva’s threat to Lallybroch (though much more subtle than in the book) that sways Jamie. And as much as he dislikes her as he comes to her room, there’s a certain angry respect that he has for her as he disrobes. His display of his scars is both reluctant and deliberate.

Jamie Disrobes

Thank God they changed the script in this scene, letting Jamie offer her a way out, and affirming her consent. She’s ruthless in her methods, but it’s because she’s scared and trapped in a situation she can’t control, and is trying to find any way to claim that control. Jamie doesn’t really want to be there, but he’s made his peace with it, and is gentle with her. They definitely improved on what is in the books, while keeping the best of the dialogue from the text—Jamie’s talk of love versus lust, and describing his feelings for Claire. I’m very happy with this adaptive choice!

I’m so glad Brianna kissed Roger first!

Things go a little differently in the show at Ellesmere than they did in the book, but I’m glad they had Isobel and Jamie have a moment—even a moment of anger—to show her mettle. And then a reconciliation afterward, when she comes to terms with her sister’s death and the fact that Jamie is the father of her nephew. And for both Isobel and Lady Dunsany to give Jamie a moment with the child that everyone knows—but will never acknowledge—is his…I wept. And the longing in Jamie’s eyes when she spoke of Scotland—but the knowledge that he has a son, and that his son needs him, keeps him away from the rest of his family. Until leaving him is what will protect him better.

Claire Whisky

Claire’s despair is nearly palpable as she gives up on her search and heads back to Boston. I can’t decide if I like that better as a reason to get her back to the US and encounter Geillis’s skeleton or not. In the book, she goes back to take care of the business of her life, leaving things settled for Brianna as she prepares to go back to the past. Here, she takes Brianna with her in every expectation that they will stay in Boston. Although she’s left the clue of “Freedom and Whisky” for Roger, who I suppose will continue the search on his own in the next episode. So I’ll have to see how everything plays out next week in order to make a more informed decision.

Jamie and John Friendship

Aww. Sadness. The scene where Jamie offers himself to John in return for caring for Willie was well-acted, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t follow the book exactly. Both Sam and David are great, and they both capture the welter of confused emotions both men experience in this scene, so it’s certainly not a criticism of the acting. But I always thought it was sweet and poignant that Jamie kissed John, because he knew what it would mean to John, and his acknowledgment of their friendship and the desire to give John something meaningful overcame his memories of Black Jack Randall. It’s a little odd that they decided to cut it. The handshake with the deliberate touch calling back to the previous episode after the chess game is all well and good, but it’s not really the same. But I shall live with my disappointment.

My heart breaks hearing Jamie talk about a woman out there for Willie—one who might find him. One of the women he cared about in the books is dead, and the other is married to Young Ian. I really hope DG gives him his happy ending soon. Adaptation-wise, giving him the snake is poignant, but not quite as portable as the rosary, and it’s the kind of thing that’s easy to leave behind when you grow up, dismissing it as childish. The rosary is different.

Willies Snake

In the post-episode talk, Toni Graphia says they changed it because the rosary would have been taken from Jamie at Ardsmuir, but I thought it was something that was smuggled to him afterward, once he was at Helwater. I just checked the book and I don’t see anything definitive there about the rosary’s origins, although it’s mentioned in the section when Jamie is thinking about setting up the letters, and in the scene where he baptizes Willie, it’s mentioned that the Virgin Mary statue came from Jenny to Helwater, so that’s probably why I thought the rosary came the same way. I couldn’t find a mention of it in the Ardsmuir section (and it would have been found when he was searched for the gems, or afterward when the tartan was discovered). If anyone has a digital edition and wants to do a search for “rosary” and get a definitive answer, I would appreciate it. Until then, I don’t see why he couldn’t have gotten it from Jenny, although they didn’t establish in the show that he was communicating with his family, either.

But this is one of those changes that will ripple outward and make later meetings different. It’s especially noticeable in this episode, when Claire gets Ellen Fraser’s pearls back and will, presumably, give them to Brianna before she returns through the stones. And then Brianna will bring them with her when she follows her mother a year or so later. Not that these pearls are nearly as distinctive as the ones described in the book, but I suppose they’ll do the trick well enough when she lays them before the Murrays and Laoghaire.

Plot Relevant Pearls

Jamie’s face just before the final fade to black makes me cry. Even though he knows John and Isobel will take care of Willie, and raise him to be a good man, it tears him apart to leave behind his son.

The preview for next week makes it seem like Claire will return by the end of the next episode, which is good. I do wonder what they’re going to show us of Jamie’s life between leaving Helwater and when Claire returns. I know some people think they will actually show his marriage, but I don’t think they will. I think they’ll save that to shock viewers just as Claire is shocked.

What did you think of this episode? I didn’t feel nearly as jolted by the back-and-forth between time periods this week, probably because there was more care drawn to connect them thematically. It still isn’t unnoticeable, but it worked better, especially the closing scenes where both Claire and Jamie are leaving precious things behind.

Let me know your opinion in the comments. But remember—be respectful. Thanks!

 

(images are the property of Starz and are used here for entertainment value and to provide additional commentary on the episode)

Episode 303 – All Debts Paid

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This week’s episode has some awesome moments and some great adaptive choices–and some truly terrible ones.

The title card makes me think of pictures of my birthday parties as a kid, even though this would be several decades before my childhood. I had a big black lab, though, so it was nice to see the dog, even if he didn’t show up much otherwise.

I appreciate the chyrons telling us the year in this episode—did I miss that in the last episode? Although they don’t “update” us as time passes in Boston, so that was a little weird. I wish they wouldn’t have started on this conceit of dual time periods. It doesn’t make sense. Last week, we were only a year after Culloden for Claire and seven years later for Jamie. This week, Jamie’s story covers several months, or maybe a year, while Claire’s spans at least ten or so.

The introduction of Lord John was interesting. I understand why they moved the conversation from the offices to the yard (allowing John to see Jamie, and vice versa), but it felt less personal that way between Harry Quarry and John.

Murtagh Fitzgibbons

MURTAGH OMG. I feel so much joy right now, I can’t even describe it. I am so, so glad he didn’t die.

If they replace the role filled by Duncan Innes in the books with Murtagh I will be beside myself with happiness. To get to have him that far into the future would be amazing. Weird that they set up the plaid and then didn’t pay it off, though. Maybe we’ll get that as a flashback later? Or was it just a nod for book readers? But I’ll get to that at the end of the blog.

I kinda hate that Frank and Claire have agreed to an open relationship. Not because I’m against open relationships or polyamory, but because Claire clearly doesn’t want to be in one. Not that she really wants to be married to Frank anymore, either, but it would be better for both of them to divorce and share custody of Brianna. And it’s another way to try and soften Frank as a character. In the book, he still slept around, and was still “discreet,” but without Claire’s—forced? Or feels as though it’s forced?—agreement.

It’s taking a while for any kind of plot to develop in this episode. I was distracted by Murtagh being alive and the implications of that at first, but now I’m wondering when the story is going to start and how it is going to manage to work in both time periods. So far, it just feels like it’s a straight line: this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened.

The Randalls

Now I see–there’s a discussion of divorce, and why they’re not getting one. I’m happy the episode at least engaged with the problem and didn’t flinch away. But it really doesn’t make sense for Frank to disagree. His stab about Claire not keeping her promises is entirely unfounded. She has practically twisted herself into a pretzel to keep her promises to him since coming back to the twentieth century. As she says in their next argument, she has been faithful to him since her return.

It’s still so weird that Arsdmuir is happening at basically one point in time, and we’re jumping forward in huge leaps in Boston. I really can’t understand why they didn’t keep the arc the same as in the books. It made so much more sense to have them searching for clues about Jamie in 1968, and then to see what really happened to him that those clues uncovered—and for Claire to flash back to what was happening to her in the same time, relative to when she returned from Culloden. This is just super awkward, and it doesn’t feel like we’re actually getting a story arc. It’s just a timeline with punctuations.

But oh my GOD, I am so happy that it’s Murtagh in prison with Jamie. It gives him a single person who knows, who can talk to him and unburden his soul. It was something Gabaldon deliberately withheld from him in the book, but for the purposes of the television show it works better giving him someone to talk to. (Edited to add–I meant that it works better because otherwise things we learn in dialogue would have to be given via the dreaded voice over. And no one wants that!)

Jamie and John are SO CUTE and it hurts my heart to know that John is going to fall so hard. And then, to have Jamie recount the meal to the men—who want to hear about every morsel—is even worse (in terms of my heart hurting). All that is left to them is vicarious flavor, and I’m so sad for them. (Note that a commenter misconstrued what I meant here, so let me clarify–I realize that they are excited to hear about Jamie’s meal. But it’s so tragic that they can’t all be out, living their lives, and eating their own good food. That’s why I’m sad for them.)

Turnabout

The aftermath of Jamie’s escape and the juxtaposition of the night at Corrieyairack was good in theory, but I didn’t need the actual flashbacks. I suppose they’re there for anyone who hasn’t watched the previous seasons (although it seems weird to jump in on season three in the post-streaming era. It’s easy to binge-watch seasons one and two on Amazon, the Starz app, or blu-ray). But otherwise, I loved watching the back-and-forth between Jamie and John. The seeds of their future friendship are being sown here, and it’s gorgeous to watch.

I love you so much, John Grey. It takes a special sort of man to earn Jamie’s approval and respect, even if he’s still lying to you. My heart fluttered a bit at the blue sapphire–especially knowing its future. And a special sort of man to honor his debts and send a doctor for Murtagh, even when he could easily have done otherwise. I like watching Jamie’s opinion of him shift and grow.

John and Jamie Chess

I’ve imagined the scene with John and Jamie and the chess game—and John taking Jamie’s hand—so many times, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. So much pain on both sides—so many bad memories, and good ones that hurt because they are memories, and not reality. John is mortified and so full of longing, and Jamie is angry that this new friendship is being marred by demons from his past. I am all-a-tremble, waiting to see Jamie kiss John at Helwater.

It’s weird that Claire and Frank are having this fight about Brianna after she has graduated and is eighteen. Again, it’s trying to make Frank seem reasonable and Claire seem…well…crazy. Because it doesn’t make sense for her to hold on this tight after Bree is grown. She would be leaving for college anyway, and living on her own. It’s part of growing up. So it just makes Claire seem shrewish to fight over where Bree is going to go to college, or to be so possessive of her now that she’s an adult. In the book, the fight made sense. Brianna was still in high school, and Claire rightfully didn’t want to tear her away from her friends in her senior year. It’s so unfathomable why the show has to do this—except that there is obviously a mandate somewhere that Frank Randall must be written as a saint at all times. What the hell?

Trip to Helwater

I wonder if they are going to write out Duncan Innes and use Murtagh in that role. My first assumption is that they will, but I don’t know how they’ll explain him being in Edinburgh when Claire returns. Murtagh didn’t lose his arm and that was the reason for Duncan not to be transported when Ardsmuir closed. Maybe Murtagh escaped and made his way back to Scotland? I suppose we’ll see in two weeks–or next season when we get to America. Next week’s episode is going to deal with Helwater, Geneva Dunsany, and William, but I’m guessing the one after that will be about Jamie going to Edinburgh and getting involved in smuggling. I think they’ll conveniently gloss over the few years at Lallybroch where he married Laoghaire. They won’t want to spoil that surprise for non-book-readers after Claire returns to the 18th century.

I don’t understand why the show cut the flogging, especially after making it seem at the beginning of the episode (at least to book readers) that Jamie was going to take the punishment on Murtagh’s behalf. For those of you who haven’t read the books, in Voyager, it is a young Jacobite in the prison who still has the scrap of tartan, and it’s discovered right after the chess game when John makes his subtle “move” on Jamie. Jamie claims the tartan is his, and John has no choice but to have Jamie flogged—it’s the law. In the book, it’s Jamie’s way of reestablishing their relationship and the power dynamic, which is heavily weighted in John’s favor. And it’s even more of a shock for Jamie when John gets him moved to Helwater. I suppose the story still makes sense without the flogging, but it feels like a missed opportunity.

Lord John Cries

In broad strokes, this episode ended up where I thought it would. I’m more than pleased with the performances by Sam Heughan and David Berry. Lord John is one of my favorite characters in fiction, and although David Berry’s portrayal isn’t exactly like I imagined, he’s pretty damned close. And as the writers said in the post-mortem for the show, he can hold his own with Sam. I can’t wait to see him and Claire meeting on the deck of the Porpoise.

It’s going to sound callous, but wow, am I glad that Frank is dead. I have been consistently frustrated and baffled by the changes made to his character on the show. I am all for wanting to make him into a better man, but in order to make the plot points move in the same direction as the book, they had to shift all of the problems (or most of them) onto Claire. And she doesn’t deserve that. Claire in the books is no saint, and she has many, many flaws. But what they did to her in the show is beyond awful. So yeah, I’m glad Frank is dead. Now we can move on.

Next week, we’re back to Scotland and Roger!! My two favorite characters (Roger and Lord John) will now be on the show at the same time, and that makes me super happy!

What did you think of this week’s episode? Are you also happy Frank is dead? Let me know in the comments!

Episode 302 – Surrender

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I think I was a little harsh in my reaction to the opening last week. I re-watched one of the episodes from last season, and it is more different than I thought—it’s just that several of the clips are from previous seasons and so I recognized them. And others are, I think, from this season—but staged as “callbacks” to earlier shots, which made them feel familiar. But the music is tonally different, and I do appreciate the shot of Jamie looking out over the water (I assume we’ll see that in 303 while he’s at Ardsmuir).

I like the wanted poster for the Dunbonnet in the title card. It reminds me of Tangled and all of the posters of Flynn Rider with his nose comically exaggerated.

Jamie and Flynn

I continue to wish that the show would stick to the 18th century. The Lallybroch sections are fantastic—vibrant not only in color palette and tint, but in richness of story. The 20th century bits are at least drawn more directly from the books, but they lack something vital. Those sections feel soulless, void of conflict. I was pissed off at the conflict last week, but at least it felt fraught. This week is just hum-drum, ticking boxes to get back to the 1960s and Claire’s return to Jamie.

I love that the scene with Jamie and the baby hiding from the soldiers was shifted from Maggie to Ian. Jamie protecting Ian from the redcoats establishes that special bond between them that will one day be nearly as close as father and son. I am looking forward to seeing that develop next season–and meeting Rollo!

*Thanks to Zest203 for pointing out my error in memory!

It’s super weird that Claire is the one that initiates intimacy with Frank. I get that when she says “I miss my husband” she’s not really talking about him, but that actually makes it worse. They are still pushing really hard on making all of the problems Claire’s fault, and that’s really pissing me off.

The Smolder

Giving Fergus a little more agency in the scene that leads to his loss of a hand is both heart-breaking and a better choice. In the book, he’s simply delivering something to Jamie. Here, he is deliberately baiting the soldiers. And the scene afterward—where he jokes that he has become a man of leisure—is taken almost directly from the book. Sam and Romann both do an amazing job with it, capturing the humor and love and Jamie’s coming back to himself and remembering the weight of his responsibilities.

Fergus

During the dinner scene with Millie (I guess I heard incorrectly last week, but it was definitely Millie here) and Jerry and the sex scene afterward, I kept wondering where Brianna was. Babies are such convenient sleepers in fiction. But what really bothers me is how they are bashing at Claire for wanting what is so beautifully represented in the scene with Jamie and Mary MacNab—the touch of another human being, bringing pleasure and connection, even if it isn’t part of a great love.

I think the show is trying to contrast the two experiences, but the problem is that one of them is understood between both parties, and the other is one-sided. And that once again puts blame on Claire–she’s “using” Frank because she misses Jamie. Frank plays the longsuffering husband again, saying that when he’s with her, he’s with her, but she’s with Jamie. It’s baffling why the show keeps doing this. I’m OK with having them both be fumbling toward coming back together, and I even understand and sympathize with Claire’s needs. But I wish she would be honest about them, and that Frank would let her. Instead, he stifles her, and then blames her for still loving Jamie.

FUCK. The voice over is back. Damn it. At least it’s brief and only once. But I love the meeting between Claire and Joe. I wish we’d had a little more about her decision to go to medical school and that it wasn’t just voice over. Hell, she could have had a one-sided conversation with baby Bree. I did it all of the time when my kids were babies.

Claire and Joe

Claire and Frank having separate beds is a strange punctuation mark in their relationship. Why not separate rooms?

The scene of Jamie being taken by the redcoats made me weep. Watching Jenny shout at him, and yet seeing the pain and love in their gazes, tore my heart out. And then to cut to Claire, all alone, with memories of the past but no way to regain her lost love, is a poignant counterpoint. Jenny shouts that Jamie gave her no choice and she’ll never forgive him—which is true in a way. Jamie sacrifices for the people he loves. He forced Claire to go back through the stones, and forces his family to accept money in return for his capture. And both Claire and Jenny may technically forgive him, but they’ll never forget what he did.

Jenny Blood Money

The preview for next week makes it look like we’ll get all the way through Ardsmuir and possibly all the way through the Claire flashbacks, since it looks like we’ll see the argument where Frank wants to take Bree to England and ends up dying in a car wreck. And I will be SO HAPPY. Because this show needs to be done with Frank. Then in the episode after that, I assume we’ll be back in the 60s with Bree and Roger, or perhaps we’ll see Claire in Boston deciding to make the trip to Scotland first. Although how they’re going to fill up two episodes with material from the 60s, I don’t know. In my season speculation, I assumed they were going to continue with Claire and Frank through episode four. Maybe they’ll actually spend time developing Roger and Brianna. Or devote an episode entirely to Claire and Joe. We’ll see!

What did you think of episode 302? I’m still feeling decidedly skewed in favor of the 18th century segments with Jamie, and I feel like this episode could have easily cut the 20th century and given more time to digging deep into what happened with Jamie while living in the cave, and made a real arc out of his choice to give himself up for his people. The bones of the story are there, but by giving so much time to Claire and Frank, we lose the depth and complexity of what is happening with Jamie. And that’s unfortunate.

Episode 301 – The Battle Joined

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My apologies for not getting this up on the day of the premiere! I was out of the house all weekend and I just got a chance to watch this morning.

Thoughts on the New Intro

There don’t seem to be that many new shots included. And I was kinda hoping we’d get a sweeping ocean view for the new “closing” shot of the intro. But since the episode titles clearly don’t have us setting out to sea until the last quarter of the season, I suppose it makes sense to keep us anchored (haha) in Scotland for a while longer. Next season will have to be different, though!

Title Card - Scottish Flag

Thoughts on the Title Card

The ragged Scottish flag is a good choice. It represents everything that Jamie and Claire fought for last season, and in many ways what she is still fighting for during her pregnancy–to keep that memory alive for her daughter.

General Thoughts on the Episode

I was very pleased with this, overall. If I didn’t know they were keeping Jamie and Claire apart so long, I would be a lot more optimistic about this season, based on this episode.

On that note, I recently read a post in defense of keeping Claire and Jamie separate that talked about all of the other stuff in Outlander that is great and interesting and how people should be focusing on that instead of complaining about J&C not being together. And while it’s true that there is a lot more to this series than just J&C (and we’ll be getting a lot more of that other stuff starting in this season and moving forward), it is also true that Jamie and Claire are the center of Outlander‘s gravity. If we’re talking about favorite characters, mine is Roger MacKenzie, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the importance of Jamie and Claire.

Honestly, I think it’s interesting when they’re apart. I enjoy seeing how they deal with their multiple separations over the years (even the big one where she marries John). I was ready and willing to see three to four episodes with them apart. But six? I mean, they’re going to meet up somewhere in the course of the sixth episode, so it’s only five and a half or whatever, but that’s still nearly twice as long as what I think is warranted by the story.

Do I think the writers can keep things interesting and engaging for those five to six episodes? Sure. But it’s an awful lot of time, and there’s an awful lot of *story* left to tell once they’re finally together.

Getting back to this episode, though…

Jamie remembers a lot more of the battle here than he did in the books, but I’m glad we get to see a bit with Murtagh and more about Charles’ incompetence and the reason the battle went so badly. Later in the episode, Jamie indicates that he doesn’t know what happened to Murtagh after the brief flash of memory he has here, but I wonder if they’ll really make us wait for ages to find out how he died. My guess is not–I’m assuming he’ll figure it out by the end of the season.

Jamie VS BJR

Too much with BJR, though. Knowing he gave Jamie the wound in his thigh that nearly kills him and that Jamie is responsible for BJR’s death changes SO MUCH, removing a lot of nuance from later in the story. But I suppose television doesn’t work as well with nuance, and that they thought viewers would want more closure (as though book readers don’t??).

The image I’ve put above is basically where I would have wanted the fight to end, before we know the outcome. Forgive my Highlander humor–I couldn’t help myself.

Why is it that my favorite part of this post-battlefield section is the rabbit? It’s a little bit mercurial and whimsical, and a nod toward the fact that nature doesn’t really care about our squabbles and strife–until we start destroying habitats and ecosystems.

Jamie’s vision of Claire is poignant and beautiful, but it makes me wonder what DG has planned for the end of the series, and Jamie’s ghost. Unless the show manages to be extended through the full book series, they may never address the ghost again, or they may choose to handle it in a non-book-canon sort of  way, like Game of Thrones is doing now that they’ve gone past the book territory.

Rupert on the battlefield

I LOVE that Rupert is the one who saves Jamie on the battlefield, despite having seen him kill Dougal. It makes so much sense, and vindicates my feelings last season about what Rupert would do in the aftermath of that death.

Claire and Frank’s house in Boston is AMAZING, and I want it. If only my husband would let me buy a house that is more than ten years old. But the problems she has are indicative of why he won’t let me–too many things break and too much money is needed for basic repairs and updates.

I’m not sure about Nellie the next-door-neighbor. It’s nice for Claire to have someone to talk to (although their scene together shows just how much Claire can’t say), but her isolation is her major source of problems during the late 40s and 50s, before she goes back to school to become a doctor. So I don’t know if it’s wise to give her a “chum.”

But with this season, we have entirely broken from the primarily Claire and sometimes Jamie or Frank PoV conceit, and that’s a good thing. The scene from Rupert’s PoV is nice, even though we were in Jamie’s in the book (and arguably are here–I wrote this and then watched through the end of the scene where it shows Jamie watching, even though he couldn’t have seen them from the angle the camera used and perhaps wouldn’t have been able to hear them). I’m very glad that the show gives us a chance to remember everything we loved about Rupert before the inevitable happens.

The scene with Frank’s dean is painful, and reminds me just have far we haven’t come. These sorts of attitudes about women sadly still remain and are being allowed to flourish.

Hal

Hal (Lord Melton) is…a little disappointing on first glance. I wanted him to be a little more charismatic and dashing, because I love the hell out of him in the later stories. But Rupert is still perfect. “Traitors, all.” and “Thank you, milord” for being shot instead of hanged (although it’s true that it’s a cleaner death, especially since this was still the era of torture before hanging for traitors).

The writing in the scene with Claire and Frank at breakfast is fantastic. I love how the superficial humor and fun is such a thin veneer over the raw and aching wound beneath, and the ugly truth that this is not really a marriage.

After that, though, things break down very quickly, and I’m a little annoyed that the scene starts to edge over into pointing fingers at Claire, holding a little too much sympathy for Frank. In this version of events, she is holding back and not engaging (which is absolutely not what happened in the book), and he blames her for that, telling her that it was her choice to come with him and she needs to decide what she wants. Which, in truth, is a reasonable thing to say. On the other hand, this is the 40s, and single mothers were treated even worse then than they are now, so her choices aren’t quite as cut and dried as he’s trying to claim.

Claire and Frank Breakfast

I know that it’s “easier” to blame Frank in the books, because he makes mistakes and ends up doing some unconscionable things. I’m not saying I need that in order to justify Claire’s actions and falling in love with someone else. Even in the books, Claire is torn up about her choices long, long after Frank is dead. But BookFrank was never the right person for Claire, and that truth came out and became more and more clear during the course of their lives together–and would have done even without Jamie.

In the show, we are given a very different Frank–one who, according to what he shouts at Claire, never slept with anyone else. In the books, that isn’t ever proven, but it’s fairly heavily implied, and he canonically has affairs during their time in Boston. In the show, it seems like they’re setting him up to be faithful. Claire’s reticence and coldness, while understandable, doesn’t earn her any sympathy when held up against this man who appears to be bending over backward for her.

In fact, in the book I wanted her to be colder because of just how deep the disconnect was between them on an emotional and mental level. But now that I’ve seen that version play out on screen, I understand why DG made the choices she did. This Claire/Frank relationship is much harder to swallow, with only the tiniest hint that Frank is contributing to their problems.

Rupert and Jamie

The barn scene in the book is not fun by any means, but giving Rupert and Jamie their moment totally ripped my heart out and stomped on it. His memories of Angus and his desire to be reunited with him in heaven is beautiful. I love what Rupert says about Dougal’s death, and his deep sense of pragmatism, loyalty, and love. And you can just see the respect in Hal’s eyes for Rupert, who stayed when he could have run, and stood by his people until the end, accepting death with dignity.

I know the scene with Frank on the couch is supposed to show his frustration and the distance between him and Claire (although why they don’t have a second bedroom, I have no idea), but it made me laugh because my husband is exactly the same way about sounds at night. He has to have a fan running for white noise or complete silence, or else he can’t sleep.

OK, the actor playing Hal (Sam Hoare) is growing on me, rather like the character grew on me in the books. And after checking out his IMDB pic, he is *way* hotter in real life, without the stupid 18th-century wig and side curls. I hope we get to see Hal smoking a bowl with Claire someday.

The delivery scene made me want to go out and burn down the world. Taking her agency away like that was terrifying and terrible and I am so angry. Even during my C-section with my second child, I was awake the whole time. I’m not saying that every childbirth has to be unmedicated and “natural,” but a mother’s wishes should be respected until the point of medical necessity.

Lallybroch

It was a little weird to have Jamie still in the cart at Lallybroch and the driver sitting there while Jenny and Ian are having this emotional moment–and while Jenny is literally hanging off the side of the cart, which can’t be comfortable. Wasn’t she pregnant again at that point, too? Or maybe she’d just had another baby, I can’t remember. In any case, I didn’t really feel anything because the staging was so awkward. But that’s probably just me.

did feel something when Claire woke up, terrified that her baby had died. To have her and Frank come together through the body of Brianna was lovely, but the show did a great job of pressing at the wound in their relationship that is Jamie, and this time giving some of the reticence to Frank, too. I hope that in the future we get a balanced view of the fracture in their marriage. I won’t mind if they’re both shown as being at fault. Claire understandably thinks of her baby’s father when she sees Brianna’s red hair, but Frank is the one who takes it badly. Brianna is a Band-Aid over the wound in Claire and Frank’s marriage, but that’s a terrible position to put a child in, and her existence both pulls them together and keeps them apart.

Claire Frank Brianna A New Beginning

To be fair, Tobias is doing an excellent job with Frank as written for the show. He is a fantastic actor and I’m certainly not bothered by his portrayal–more by what is written for him to do. So don’t take my annoyance with the writers to mean I dislike the actors. They’re doing their jobs and playing the characters as they are written and directed to do.

If you watch the end chat with the writers and Ron Moore, you’ll see Toni Graphia basically saying what I feel about the whole show–one moment with Claire walking across the battlefield to the dying Jamie is much more gripping and important than all of the swords and horses and guns and explosions. The emotions and relationships are what drive Outlander. I think the show forgot that for a little while last season, getting way too much into the war story. But those emotions are coming back now, and I hope that the delay in reuniting Jamie and Claire doesn’t destroy all of the ground made up in this episode.

See you next week!

Updates to the Season Three Page

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We have episode titles for Season Three, and that means some adjustments to my episode breakdown. I am getting a lot of traffic going to the blog where I did the breakdown and I’ve put a note there to go to the Season Three Speculation page instead.

In the meantime, I want to rant a little about my feelings now that the titles are revealed. Here they are, in case you don’t want to read through the whole breakdown to see them:

  1. The Battle Joined (9/10)
  2. Surrender (9/17)
  3. All Debts Paid (9/24)
  4. Of Lost Things (10/1)
  5. Freedom and Whiskey (10/8)
  6. A. Malcolm (10/22) *note the break here!
  7. Crème de Menthe (10/29)
  8. First Wife (11/5)
  9. The Doldrums (11/12)
  10. Heaven and Earth (11/19)
  11. Turtle Soup (11/26)
  12. The Bakra (The Slave Master) (12/3)
  13. A New World (12/10)

So, if you’ve read the books, you understand why I’m peeved. “A. Malcolm” is clearly the episode where Jamie and Claire are reunited…and it’s halfway through the season.

Any way you look at it, that is just a bad idea. Storytelling-wise, it’s terrible. Even Gabaldon got Jamie and Claire back together before the end of the first third of the book. They are the heart of this series, and if they expect us to stick around through several more seasons as the story starts to splinter, they need to make that heart solid–which is not accomplished by that timeline.

Even looking at it logistically, it doesn’t make sense.

My copy of Voyager has 870 pages. Chapter 23, where Claire travels back to 1766, begins on page 244. I assume the episode will cover material through chapter 25, which ends on page 289. That number divided by six episodes is about 48 pages per episode. There are 580 pages left in the book to be divided over seven episodes–which is a whopping 83 pages per episode.

I don’t even know how they’re going to do that unless they strip out several subplots. Although, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind losing the Fiend storyline, which will save some time both in Edinburgh and at the end–although it will also mean losing the conjuring scene with Margaret Campbell, too.

Some people have also speculated that the season will end on a cliffhanger somewhere before the end of Voyager, but from the title of the last episode I am pretty sure it will end where the book ends. Technically the West Indies are part of the “New World,” but I feel somewhat confident in applying it specifically to America in this instance.

But I’m not even sure how I feel about that, because it means they’re going to try to shove so much of the book into so little episode time.

The only thing to do now, though, is what and see what they do. I wish I believed I could trust the writers implicitly, but they’ve already proved that they don’t always make choices in service of the characters and the story. Sometimes they go for spectacle and shock value, and that’s not interesting to me at all.

*fingers crossed*


Need something to get you through these last few days until Outlander begins? You may like my Fay of Skye series. Set in an alternate Victorian Era, the books are full of magic, romance, Scotsmen, and strong women who know what they want and aren’t afraid to fight for it.

The series starts with Essential Magic. A Theft of Magic and Memories of Magic are already available, and the fourth book, Secret Magic, will be released right after season three ends. Check out Essential Magic now!

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eBook
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Memories of Magic

I have managed to get three books released since the end of Season 2! (Almost–my first book came out in late June, and the season ended in early July). But I am proud to share with you the third book in my gaslamp fantasy romance series, set in an alternate late Victorian Era with magic.

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MEMORIES OF MAGIC by Cara McKinnon
The Fay of Skye #3
Gaslamp Fantasy Romance
Stars and Stone Books

Her visions could save English magic…if he can teach her to control them.

Olivia Seward never developed the magic of her elder siblings, but now she’s plagued by visions of the past. Etta, Duchess of Fay, asks her to use those visions to discover the source of the drain on English magic. Unfortunately, the visions draw too deeply from Olivia, leaving her weak and vulnerable.

Savitendra Reilly, a half-Indian, half-Irish historian, is hired by the duchess to research the origins of the Aegis Spell, but it is the magic of his birthplace that Olivia needs to learn to control her visions.

The only problem: Savit is an ascetic, performing magic by honing his mind and ignoring the needs of the flesh. Olivia is a hedonist, and accesses her power through pleasure. And every time they do magic together, Savit’s desire for her grows.

If he succumbs to their mutual passion, he believes won’t be able to protect her from the ravages of her unpredictable gift. But Olivia is convinced the only way to access the truth of the past is to immerse themselves in each other–sharing bodies, minds, hearts, and souls.


Memories of Magic 09 print
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cara McKinnon is the author of the Fay of Skye series. Cara wrote her first fantasy romance at the age of six about a unicorn couple that falls in love and has adventures (there is also pie). Now she can’t resist adding magic to everything she writes—including what would otherwise be classified as historical romance. Cara has a story in the anthology Crazy Little Spring Called Love and her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives in Western Maryland with her husband, two kids, and an oversized lapdog named Jake.

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Season Three Premiere Date!

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OK, so there isn’t an actual date yet, but we do know it will air in September.

EDITED TO ADD: THE OFFICIAL DATE IS SEPTEMBER 10!!

Despite adding about five months to Droughtlander, this is actually a good thing. I feel that some of the problems with Season 2 could have been avoided if they’d had more time during the filming and early production process. So I’m crossing my fingers for some wise decisions to be made about the ship-going and island portion of the story.

Along with the September premiere date, Starz also released a summary of the season (basically the same as the one they already put out, but edited a little), which does not bode well:

The story picks up right after Claire (Caitriona Balfe) travels through the stones to return to her life in 1948. Now pregnant with Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) child, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from one another, each haunted by the memory of their lost love. The budding possibility that Claire can return to Jamie in the past breathes new hope into Claire’s heart… as well as new doubt. Separated by continents and centuries, Claire and Jamie must find their way back to each other. As always, adversity, mystery, and adventure await them on the path to reunion. And the question remains: When they find each other, will they be the same people who parted at the standing stones, all those years ago?

I realize that they’re trying to build up tension, but let’s face it. More than half (if not significantly more than that) of their viewers have read the books, either before the show ever aired, on in response to seeing the show. We all know that Jamie and Claire are going to get back together and Things Will Happen™. So the fact that they’re putting so much emphasis on the time apart makes me think that we’re looking at more than a few episodes of separation.

When I did my season three speculation episode breakdown, I figured on about three episodes before the print shop in Edinburgh. There’s an awful lot to cover during the years apart, particularly for Jamie. But I also wrote my breakdown assuming the series would pick up in 1968 with Bree, Roger, and Claire. Obviously we’re going to get there because we have Joe Abernathy cast, but that summary basically says that the season will start in 1948 and 1746 concurrently.

Sigh. More freaking Frank.

The only good thing I can think of is that, after he’s dead, we will never see him again except in the rare dream/flashback. Same with BJR. And we have at least one more season after this one to live in the blissful world post-Randalls.

Den of Geek has a very comprehensive post about the latest news here.


In other news, I have obviously not yet done my Voyager re-read. I’m a terrible blogger, I know. I’ve been having a rough winter here with illness, injury, accidents, and holidays keeping me away from my keyboard. Plus I have a rather busy writing schedule for my fantasy romance series and a day job. So this blog is on hiatus, barring any Outlander news, for the next few months at least. I’m hoping to come back for the re-read sometime in the summer, a few months before the show returns.

Until then, try to get through Droughtlander as best as you can!

Announcing A Theft of Magic

If you were wondering why I haven’t been blogging much during Droughtlander, this is the reason!

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A Theft of Magic

The Fay of Skye – Book Two

A woman sworn to truth. A man who deals in lies. A passion lighting the way to love…or loss.

Sorcha Fay, known to the world as the reclusive Seeress of Skye, lives alone on the Fay clan properties in Scotland. Beneath the veneer of mystery is a lonely woman who has learned to live for duty.

Ronan McCarrick is a thief, smuggler, spy, and Irish republican. The new Duchess of Fay hires him to secretly retrieve some relics from the vault in Fay House on the Isle of Skye.

When Ronan arrives on the island, he stumbles into one of Sorcha’s wards and tries to free himself with magic. A defensive spell triggers, incinerating his clothing and everything he’s carrying—including the letter that would have told Sorcha why he’s come to Skye.

Despite an instant attraction to the naked and furious Irishman, Sorcha believes that Ronan is an interloper who has been attacking her wards for months. She binds his magic and puts him under a spell until she can find out the truth. But while she has him in custody, someone else steals the most powerful and dangerous artifacts in Clan Fay’s possession.

Now Sorcha needs Ronan’s help to steal them back. But the longer they’re together, the more she fears that what he’s stealing is her heart.


To get your copy of A Theft of Magic, visit any of these fine retailers:

eBook

Amazon | Kobo | Nook  | iBooks

Trade Paperback

CreateSpace | Amazon


I’m very excited to share this with all of you. And if you haven’t already started the series, the first book, Essential Magic, is available from a number of retailers, including Amazon.

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Casting News and a Synopsis

I haven’t posted in a while, sorry! I haven’t had much reading time lately, and my next plan for this blog was to do a series re-read. I actually made it through about a quarter of Outlander and wrote most of a blog post before I gave up. There’s too much on my plate right now.

It was probably a little ambitious when I decided that I could release four books in a year, but I’m pushing to do just that. My next book is out October 17th (you can preorder it here), and I’m looking at February and June of  2017 for books three and four. I’m also working on a serialized prequel to be released on a staggered schedule in between releases. That’s a lot of work!!

But there have been a bunch of casting announcements and I’m totally on board with all of them, so I wanted to jump over here and say how excited I am to see the world of Outlander expanding.

There’s also a season synopsis that is making me re-think my episode breakdown. When I have the time, I will do some adjustments accordingly, but for now, I’ve posted the full text of the synopsis on the Season Three Speculation page.

Now, on to the casting news!

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David Berry’s beautiful headshot. Image from EW.com.

David Berry isn’t a perfect match for Lord John Grey, but he is VERY PRETTY. I’ll have to head-canon him down almost a foot though; he’s nearly as tall as Sam Heughan. 🙂 With some highlights to bring him from brown to sandy-blond, he’ll be a good fit.

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John Bell as Bain in The Hobbit movies. Image from theonering.org.

John Bell looks maybe a little too cute to be “homely” Young Ian, but it’s hard to convince studios to hire un-beautiful people. And you can argue that Steven Cree isn’t exactly homely, either, and Jennifer Donnelly is bloody stunning. So we were probably never going to get a plain Ian.

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Wil Johnson. Image from The British Blacklist.

I didn’t have a very good image in my head for Joe Abernathy, except maybe James Earl Jones because of the descriptions of his voice. But now that Wil Johnson’s been cast, he fits seamlessly into my imagination. I can’t wait to see him and Caitriona Balfe chatting about Bree’s real father!

Here’s a link to the EW article about Young Ian and Joe Abernathy, and the one about David Berry.

 

And now we have an Adult Fergus!!

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César Domboy. Image from Zimbio.

This is César Domboy. I’ll be honest. He looks nothing like the Fergus in my head. But that’s OK, because he both looks like he could be an older Romann Berrux and a possible ancestor of/in the same family tree as Caitriona Balfe, depending on how much you read into the Saint Germain/Percy Wainwright stuff in the later books.

Another possible issue is that he is super young-looking (he’s 26 and looks about 20). Fergus is supposed to be about 30 in 1768. But again, considering that he’s supposed to be an older Romann Berrux, that might work (Romann is 15, playing 9 or 10). And, since Marsali is only 15/16 (I think…I need to check that), casting a younger actor who looks like he’s barely 20 is probably a wise decision.

On a side note, he looks strikingly like my husband. No, really. Like, I could be looking at pictures of my husband from when we met 13 years ago, except with way nicer clothes. It’s pretty crazy. 🙂

Here’s a link to the EW announcement. They also teased a Season 3 reveal of another member of the extended Fraser family. Anyone want to guess who they mean? I’ve got some theories–post yours in the comments!

 

And here’s Marsali!

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Lauren Lyle. Image from EW.

Lauren Lyle is a relative newcomer, but she looks a lot like Nell Hudson, so as long as she has the acting chops I can totally see this. The EW article announcing her says they are playing Marsali as 18, which I suppose is a good thing, since they are canonically 15 and 30 in the book (in chapter 41 of Voyager, Marsali shouts that she’s 15 and old enough to get married, and Jamie shouts back that Fergus is 30). I’m not sure what they’ll do about Fergus’s age, except ret-conning him younger in Paris, but 18 and 30 isn’t as big a gap (especially since it makes her legally an adult in American culture) as 15 and 30.

And now we have the Dunsany sisters, Mr. Willoughby (sigh) and Captain Leonard!

First, the Dunsanys:

On the left is Hannah James playing Geneva. On the right is Tanya Reynolds playing the younger Isobel.

All I can say is…wow. I mean, they’re pretty close to what I imagined in the books, but I was kinda hoping they would cast up in age. According to Tanya’s agency page, she’s supposed to be cast in ages 21-25 roles, but looks about like she’s 14. Hannah James is 24 but looks 16. I forget the girls’ actual ages in the books, but I think that’s pretty close. And it has always, always bothered me that Jamie actually goes through with it with Geneva, a minor (which is not even to engage with the fact that she says no…there are plenty of other people talking about that elsewhere in the fandom). And afterward, they do it again (at least she actually asks him that time…but still…a minor). It wouldn’t have killed them to cast an actress who actually looks like she’s in her 20s and then have the character actually be 19 or 20. Despite fictional accounts of teenage brides and stories of being “on the shelf” by 20, the average age for marriage throughout most of the last several hundred years has ranged from the early to late twenties.

So the fact that these ladies will be marrying much older men (Isobel marries Lord John) is kinda squicky. But much more squicky is the fact that there will almost certainly be a sex scene between Jamie and Geneva. And Sam is 36, and looks it. I can’t remember off the top of my head exactly how old Jamie is then, but that’s probably about the right age. So just..eww.

Moving on, we have the problematic character of Mr. Willoughby and the milquetoast but annoying-when-it-counts Captain Leonard.

On the left is Gary Young, playing Mr. Willoughby. The reports so far are calling him “well-versed in Eastern medicine” which was actually not true in the book (he spent some time with healers, but it wasn’t his job), so maybe they’re already going in a different direction? Not that we need another stereotypical portrayal of a wise Asian healer/mystic in pop culture, but I’ll take that over the drunkard with weird sexual fetishes.

On the right is Charlie Hiett. He looks pretty close to my mental image of Captain Leonard. The character isn’t around that much in the books, but maybe his role will be bigger in the show. He was annoying and more of a plot point than a character, so ultimately forgettable. Let’s hope the actor brings something new to the role.