Episode 303 – All Debts Paid

Episode 303 Header

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!

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12 thoughts on “Episode 303 – All Debts Paid

    • Me too. I really dislike the changes they made to Frank’s storyline at the expense of Claire. I feel so many of the changes just made her out to be the bad guy in all of this and Frank the poor martyr. His questioning Claire’s fidelity from the beginning begged the question: Just what were you up to during the war Frank?? I am a bit resentful they waste so much precious screen time on making Frank in to the poor, long suffering spouse, instead of the cheating, spiteful man he was in the books.

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      • I agree 100%. It’s all Ron Moore’s fault. He said from the beginning that he liked and was sympathetic to Frank. Over the course of the books, my feelings about Frank have softened a bit because he truly did love and care for Brianna, but that doesn’t mean I forgive him for everything he did to Claire. I hate what the show did with him and I’m so glad he’s gone now!

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  1. Nice recap. 🙂 I’m extremely happy that Frank’s dead. I’ve hated every pro-Frank change the show has made. I’m glad that’s done now.
    I’m fine with Murtagh being alive. He can easily fit into the rest of the story.
    I know they MUST establish John and Jamie’s relationship, but I’m disappointed we haven’t seen much of the same with Joe and Claire. If he never calls her Lady Jane, I’m gonna flip.

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  2. The book didn’t have much of Claire and Frank’s life so I wasn’t really surprised that their marriage went through 18 years pretty quickly. Glad to see the old Jamie smile when he spoke of Claire. Love that Murtagh is alive ( hopefully he’ll be Jamie’s neighbor in the states ( maybe he’ll find a squaw) didn’t
    Like that they changed the way frank was going to take Bree ( she was younger in the book) it was harsher of him in the book I also would like to see him marry loaghaire ( with Jenny seeing Claire in between them on the altar) but don’t want to see them do any consummating and onto the reunion. The book is so much better but they are doing a great job bringing it to the screen. I know you love John gee and I love him for taking care of Jamie’s son and Bree but don’t care for the storyline that he loves Jaime

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    • I’m not surprised that the show jumped from Bree as a baby last episode to Bree at 18 in this one, since there really isn’t much story there to pull from. But I am baffled that they didn’t follow the blueprint laid out in the book. As I replied in another comment below, it was still clear when I read the book that not as much was going on in Claire’s life that was “interesting,” but I still felt like the plot was moving forward at the same pace for both the Jamie and the Claire/Roger sequences. The show jolts back and forth and makes me really feel how much *less* there is to Claire’s story.

      I am so glad about Murtagh! I don’t know what they’ll do with him next (I’m not the only one who has speculated about Murtagh being used instead of Duncan Innes), but I certainly don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.

      I think the show will do the wedding to Laoghaire as a flashback after Claire finds out. I could be wrong, but they like their surprises and shocks, and it would be much more of a shock for new viewers to find out at the same time Claire does.

      John’s love for Jamie is sometimes problematic, but in general I like the way it is handled and the plot conflicts that arise because of it. I really hope we get up to books seven and eight in the show, because I’m very interested in seeing how all of those elements play out on screen!

      And yes–the books will always have more depth, space, and time. But the show is making a few adaptive choices that I like and am excited to see where they lead, so it’s adding a whole new level to my enjoyment of the Outlander series.

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  3. I couldn’t even finish reading your remarks, they are so off base. Why should Murtagh be brought back as Duncan Innes, when the door is opened for him to be brought back as himself. Do you not understand that the prisoners looked forward to hearing about the meals that Jamie shared with the governor every week? It was a way of elevating out of the drabness of their existence. How could the timelines be on a par. Jamie’s is full of events, Geneva, Willie, and all that happens as Helswater and back at Lallybroch. Claire’s is operations, medical problems, a normal, or as normal as her life can be during the same period that Jamie is living as a servant, being seduced, saving the life of his child, trying to exist without the one person who was his whole life. Your empathy for these people is invisible. Except for John Grey, who is a very find actor, but he ain’t no Sam Heughan this season. The entire three episodes so far belong to Heughan. About time!

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    • I don’t want Murtagh to become Duncan Innes in the sense of personality, and I’m glad that he didn’t lose an arm! But I would love for him to fulfill that role in the story–the one man Jamie can trust among the smugglers, and then looking into the future, it would be an interesting twist to have him end up with Jocasta, since he was in love with Ellen. Or he could just show up next season in America. Who knows? But I’m guessing he’ll at least return in this season, even if he isn’t in that role, since viewers have responded so well to his character and he has been developed so much more than he was in the books.

      And yes, I do understand that the prisoners looked forward to hearing Jamie’s accounts of his meals–which is why I am appalled, because it’s so sad that they are being forced to live that vicarious experience through Jamie. They followed a cause they believed in–a cause some still say they were correct to fight for–and the English have forced them into this filthy, freezing prison with inadequate food, a plethora of back-breaking work, filth, and rats. And life outside isn’t much better, with famine, illness, and the destruction of their way of life. It’s a tragedy. If I didn’t explain that well enough in the blog, I apologize, but that’s what I meant.

      The discrepancy in interesting events does come from the book, you’re correct. But in Voyager, Diana Gabaldon gave us two stories that were arcing in the same direction at the same time. As Claire, Roger, and Bree made discoveries in the 60s, we found out about those discoveries in the next section of the book in Jamie’s PoV, and then would get occasional flashbacks to the 40s/50s/early 60s from Claire. It made sense, and I never felt jolted from one time period to another because the momentum of the plot kept pushing forward. But that’s not what is happening in the show. When the show switches time periods it makes me *feel* the discrepancy between what is happening to Jamie and what is happening to Claire. And I think that short-changes Claire and everything she endured in exile from her true husband.

      With that said, though, I am loving Sam in this season, too. I absolutely agree that he is doing a fantastic job, and I certainly don’t want to take away from the Jamie side of the story! Sam Heughan is a brilliant actor and I have never once seen him on screen and not felt like he is embodying Jamie.

      But Lord John Grey is one of my favorite characters in this book series–and in most fiction–and so I was heavily invested in his onscreen portrayal. I hope you’ll forgive me for being a little overjoyed after seeing David Berry absolutely knock the role out of the park. If you go back and read my reviews of the first season, I gushed all over Sam and how he got all of Jamie’s little tics and mannerisms. I’m very happy to see the same thing happening with Lord John and David Berry, and so I’m gushing over him now, too. Praise for him does not mean criticism of Sam! They were excellent together, and I’m looking forward to seeing Sam, Caitriona, and David onscreen together in the future. They’re all amazing actors and I’m excited to see what they do with the upcoming material from the book.

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