Episode 306 – A. Malcolm

Episode 306 Header

Huzzah for the return of Outlander! (I know it’s only been an extra week, but I’m still glad it’s back!) And huzzah for an extra-long episode!

It was weird to not have the theme song and title card before the show started, but I understand why. This is one of our first real cold opens ever in Outlander. And I see how they are trying to position Jamie’s business and hint at his relationship with Madam Jeanne and some of the Ardsmuir men, as well as his—what, indentured servant? I didn’t get the impression Geordie was anything but a coworker in the book. But it makes sense to have all of that before the scene where we left off in the last episode. It doesn’t give away everything about what he’s up to know, but it gives us a better grounding in his life since he left Helwater—the smuggling wasn’t stated outright, but it’s clear that he has nefarious business with the two men sleeping in his shop, and we know he’s printing seditious pamphlets. They were a little heavy-handed with Madam Jeanne, especially since there’s a much bigger fish swimming around back in the Highlands, but I’ll accept it.

Also, the title card is fantastic! Love that they put the writer credits onto the sheets.

Uh-oh. Jamie’s reaction and his “aye, we are” to the married line is such a giveaway if you know about Laoghaire. But his asking for permission to kiss her is so perfect and wonderfully Jamie. And yes, I cried. When this show gets it right, it is devastatingly right. “There’s the two of us now.”

Well, if Geordie can quit, then he’s not indentured. He must just have a tendency to overstate things.

The scene with the pictures of Brianna is tearing my heart out. I can’t imagine missing twenty years of my kids’ lives. And Jamie’s casual acceptance of Claire’s calling as a surgeon is also beautiful. She had to fight so hard for that in the 1950s and 60s and he just states it as absolute truth.

I’m happy that Jamie tells Claire about Willie right away, but his withholding information about Laoghaire is irksome. I suppose talking about a child is different than a wife—more forgivable, especially since he didn’t love or marry Geneva Dunsany—but

The reunion with Fergus is also nice—Cesar Domboy is so tall! And it sets a pattern for everyone in Jamie’s life automatically hiding his secret from Claire. Which, I suppose, makes sense, since she’s been gone for twenty years and their loyalties are very much with him. The mention of Ned Gowan makes me so happy! I can’t wait to see him again.

The introduction of Willoughby, while not quite as terrible as in the book, is still problematic. I hope they don’t push hard on the really awful bits, but I don’t have much confidence about that. The next episode should set the tone for his character better.

I’m not sure how I feel about the bribe and threats in the tavern. But this section of the book was entirely in Claire’s PoV and the show has broken that conceit for good, so we’re getting to see all sorts of things that she wasn’t privy to, and that does help with timing and pacing (and establishing conflict) for the show.

The rest of the reunion in the brothel is pretty much straight from the book, with some omissions for time. But UGH to the voice over. Was that really necessary? We get it, TV show. We can see what’s happening. A little montage of eating and music would have been plenty.

I wondered why they designed Claire’s dress to have the cravat and shirt, but the parallel undressing is nice because of it. WOW—they really managed to get Caitriona Balfe’s hair curly this season. It was never that curly in previous seasons, and I remember in interviews she said it refused to take a perm or curl. Honestly, this looks like a wig. Or at least like they used about a thousand hair products on it. I shouldn’t be distracted by that, but I am.

And now we have callbacks to “The Wedding” from season one. Except that Claire and Jamie so different now, and yet so much the same. The performances by Sam and Caitriona here are superb. And I’m glad they kept the awkwardness and the humor from the book, as well as the passion and the tenderness.

I’m really appreciating how well this episode is unfolding, allowing them the peace to rediscover each other. Jamie doesn’t talk as much about his love of his printing press and the power of words as he does in the book (one of my favorite lines from Voyager is about how the English took his weapons away, and speaking out via his writing gave them back). But although he’s giving her part of his truth, he’s still keeping much of it to himself.

I would have thought the scar from Culloden would have been much uglier, especially given what they had to do to keep it from killing him with blood poisoning. I know that type of scar is difficult to do with prosthetics, but they could have done better than that! It looks like a clean scalpel cut with the kind of stitches that dissolve from the inside.

The questions of twenty years apart are answered by Jamie’s “I never loved anyone but you.” And neither did Claire. But the niggling details of those twenty years still have the power to hurt them both.

I miss Ian barging in, though. (Old Ian, not Young Ian). Young Ian is not at all how I pictured him in the book, but they did find an actor who looks like Steven Cree, especially with the hair tied back. And the scene with the “hoors” is fantastic. I love how Claire just plays along, adding her wisdom and getting bedroom tips. Madame Jeanne is, again, heavy-handed, but I suppose they’re playing her as being in love with Jamie. Because who in the show isn’t?

UGH to rape threats. Aren’t we done with that? And cliffhangers, too. They couldn’t have used the setup from the book, where Claire encounters the man downstairs? I am so tired of sexual violence as the go-to for conflict, especially after an episode where they did such a great job of letting the story develop at a leisurely, intimate pace. I didn’t even have as much to say as usual, despite this being an extended episode, because it drew me in so well and the performances were so fantastic. So to have this ending is like a punch in the gut—and not in a good way. I like when things get shaken up before the next episode. But there were so many better ways to have ended this than with a cut to black over Claire being attacked.

My family is off to our local renaissance festival today, so I don’t have time for my usual screenshots, but I’ll try to come back and insert some later this week. What did you think of the print shop reunion? Did it live up to your expectations? Do you also hate the way it ended? Let me know in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Episode 306 – A. Malcolm

  1. Starting with a comment on Freedom & Whisky – did not like the “Batman” theme. I know that you got hung up on the seamstress/scissors part, which makes sense. But, from the non-seamstress viewer side, I just thought she should be so invested in sewing garments for herself to return to the 18th century to the “love of her life” (& leaving Brianna behind) would warrant more angst, than the “Batman song”. The books did it better. So, getting to A. Malcolm – again the books felt better. I get that they are different yet still the same, but Jamie’s character did not feel the same as he was in the books. He doesn’t seem as open and insightful as he was portrayed in the books. In this portrayal, I would be a lot more nervous about him if I were Claire. BUT, of course I am still TOTALLY IN LOVE with him (& them together)!!!

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    • You’re right, I got distracted by the sewing problems, but I also hated the use of the Batman theme. It felt like a writer’s room joke that inexplicably made it into the episode.

      I have to agree with you on Jamie. Sam is playing him as much more…distant. But I think that’s deliberate. He knows how big of a secret he’s keeping, and they need to show that in a different way in the show. So although I miss many of the aspects of BookJamie, I do understand why they’re making those choices for the show. And yes, I’m totally still in love, too!

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