Episode 115 – Wentworth Prison

Whenever I get to this part in the book, I always think “I could just skip it and jump to the Abbey.” But I don’t, because you’ve got to go through the deep darkness if you want to appreciate the light.

These episodes feel the same way to me. I get so frustrated and upset – which means I’m in the hands of skilled, master storytellers – but the end is in sight.

Of course, there’s a lot more awful to come in season two (Dragonfly in Amber is not my favorite book). But let’s leave that for now.

I like that we open with Jamie and MacQuarrie watching the hangings. It’s unfortunate that they chose the choking-to-death-and-having-to-be-pulled-down-to-suffocate rather than instant neck-breaking for MacQuarrie, but he was always a fighter.

And then Randall rides in and death would be a kindness for Jamie.

They stick pretty close to the books in this episode, with some embellishments from Jamie’s perspective. I do adore that Frazer Hines plays Sir Fletcher, since his Jamie McCrimmon partially inspired our Jamie Fraser (though DG says she didn’t know the actor’s first name was Frazer – she picked Fraser because of the quote that is so important in DiA, the one about the Fraser of Lovat’s group that escaped Culloden).

Catriona Balfe kills in this episode, from the way she is so obviously close to breaking, but manages to hold herself together in front of Sir Fletcher, to her vomiting in the gatehouse.

Angus and Rupert are amazing in the pub. I adore them, and how they play off of each other. Their camaraderie is genuine and delightful. Of course, Murtagh’s dour reaction is also perfect.

Marley doesn’t look much like I’d pictured him in my mind. I was thinking something more along the lines of an evil Sloth from The Goonies.

The complaint is dealt with very easily, probably because it was a silly side-step on the part of the production to create an episode’s worth of conflict with Sandringham, and now needs to be removed in order to get back to the main course of the plot.

I start to sweat the moment Claire re-enters Wentworth. I wonder why they didn’t keep the part where she had a vague idea where Jamie was being held? I think there’s plenty of conflict, and higher stakes, in going to a place you think is right, only to end up being wrong. Wandering around in the dark is only frustrating, and lacks purpose.

The scenes with Randall and Jamie really anchor and propel this episode. They’re the backbone upon which Claire’s frantic efforts rest. I like the elaboration of very tiny things that Jamie tells Claire in the book. This whole episode’s worth of interactions is condensed into a few sentences. The flashbacks in the final episode are more fully fledged.

I have never personally broken a bone, but my son just broke his forearm in wrestling practice and it was agony watching what he went through, so I ache for Jamie’s broken hand.

The part where BJR leaves Jamie alone feels weird to me. “I will not give in to course passion.” I think, rather, that it’s another form of torture. The pretend reprieve, the attempt to make Jamie feel that what is happening is his fault- that makes more sense to me.

Also, deus ex machina door much? Claire, I know you’re from the future, but even you can’t see what’s going to happen next, only the big strokes of history.

BJR comes back really quickly to interrupt Claire’s attempt to free Jamie. What, exactly, was he doing when he went off? And what’s with the soldiers? Did they just need to fill a few seconds of screen time?

Poor Claire. It’s hard to kick ass when you’re wearing bulky wool skirts. She’d have done better in her nurse’s uniform. And it leads to the worst devil’s bargain. But it’s the only way Jamie knows to be strong, to save the life of the person he loves the most. As he’s said, he can withstand pain. It’s the rest of Black Jack’s darkness that warps and scars him. The gentleness, the twisted love and hate and pride and bitterness.

I have wondered about Claire giving BJR the hour of his death. I mean, she knows it’s at Culloden, and over a year away. I guess it was the only thing she could think to do. But he keeps his word. It’s the one bit of honor he has, and it will come back in season two, when he makes the deal with her to care for Alex in return for information about English troop movements.

I miss the wolves. They gave us the little howl, almost an “I’m sorry.” They cut both of the interactions with wolves – the first on the road, and the second here, when Claire manages to kill one bare-fucking-handed.

MacRannoch is a bit of a disappointment. I want a Beorn-like bear of a man, and we get a smallish hobbity-man instead (his hair is distinctly hobbit-like). And the pearls- how did he possibly recognize a generic rope of pearls? Maybe the clasp?

Also, I miss Rupert’s cow-wrangling skills. It is heavily hinted in the book that he got bored and stole MacRannoch’s cattle. It was still Murtagh’s idea to use them, but I like it when the bit players get to do actual plot-related things, rather than just hanging out like wallpaper.

This episode really works for me because they never stray too far from the plot of the books. There’s a rather big break in the next episode, but it was done for expediency and production reasons, and I understand the choice. But I’m glad that what they elaborated on in this episode was almost entirely plausible and would have fit perfectly into the book.

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