Episode 310 – Heaven and Earth

Episode 310 Header

I am actually doing this episode’s blog in advance! I am having several Thanksgivings this year, and one of them is tomorrow (well, later today), so I stayed up late and am watching at midnight. I’ll schedule the blog to go up around 10 am.

Whoa, another cold open. Although I suppose it makes sense to get the last few minutes of the last episode from Jamie’s perspective before we officially start this one.

Still loving the new intro, especially the melding of the folkdances from the women around the stones to the African dances around the bonfire.

Oh, there they go with the title card, opening the cask of crème de menthe.

UGH VOICE OVER. We get it. A shot of her looking wistfully out to sea would do as much—if not more—than the terrible voice over.

Elias is super cute, and I hope they don’t kill him off like in the book. I know that deaths make for drama and we have to kill our darlings, but I like him. The actor is doing a great job of capturing that odd reality of the British navy in the era, when junior officers were almost always the younger sons of gentlemen or family of other officers, and could go to sea at a very young age. And yet they were meant to be in charge of much older men, many of whom had been pressed into service and had absolutely no desire to be there.

Wow, I was super right about how awful this scene with Jamie and Fergus would be. It was bad enough disparage Fergus’s feelings, but then to bribe him with his blessing is just…icky. I know Jamie is frantic, but wow. I want to say #notmyjamie, but we’ll see how the rest of the episode goes.

Overbearingly evil men are overbearing and evil. Ugh to the cook being so moustache-twirlingly bad.

Elias saves the scene, though, as he is saving the episode for me so far.

The Johansen scene was a little weird—especially since alcohol poisoning can be very serious, including making you go blind or die. It felt like the only reason it was there was for Claire to see the Portuguese flag, which in turn sends her to the captain’s cabin where she can read the log entry about Jamie. I don’t like it when the plot elements are so painfully obvious and not actually motivated by character action.

Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ. This show already has a rape problem, which is to say that it relies on rape too heavily as a source of conflict. But to feed into the lie in our culture that women routinely lie about rape to get their way, or get out of trouble, or just to be bitches, makes me want to scream. Especially right now, when we are finally, finally listening to and believing women when they come forward to talk about being assaulted. This is such a step in the wrong direction. Do better, Outlander writers. Do better.

The Fergus and Marsali scene was nice. I like how they’re both strong-willed and stubborn, but accept each other with their strengths and weaknesses. It was also very well-acted. I was convinced that Fergus was on the edge of giving in, and then finally brought himself back to reality. Well done.

I dislike Claire using Elias to get to Tompkins, but just like Jamie, she’s willing to cross some ethical lines to keep the person she loves safe. But unlike Jamie, Claire thinks she’ll be able to keep this particular situation under control and that it won’t end up hurting anyone who doesn’t deserve it. I like that she’s actively seeking Tompkins, though. I always hated that he just randomly ended up needing surgery in the book. I loathe deus ex machina coincidences.

And again with the rape threats, against Marsali this time, and with their “friendly” crew. What the hell? Although I imagine that’s going to mean that Fergus refuses to set Jamie free and risk Marsali being hurt.

Claire is certainly a little vindictive against Tompkins, but he did set the print shop on fire and try to kill Young Ian, so I can’t be that mad about it. And putting him into the brig with the typhoid carrier is a nice touch.

I love that Fergus stands up to Jamie, and throws his words back at him. Jamie isn’t seeing clearly because he’s blinded by his worry for Claire, but Fergus has the pulse of the ship and he knows he’s doing what is best for all of them.

Oh, crap. They are going to go there. Poor Elias. I wish I didn’t know that at the beginning. And damn you, Bear McCreary, because you’re ripping my heart out right now.

I like that Claire makes an attempt at escape and fails, and Captain Leonard tells her the truth about everything. Nicer to have things out in the open, even if Leonard is being too stuffy and honor-bound about it.

EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to talk about Jamie’s return to the crew and giving his blessing to Fergus and Marsali. Basically, I kinda hate this entire plotline. Jamie would never do the things they had him do in this episode. He’s not an idiot. He has walked tightropes of politics and danger before (remember giving the oath at Leoch? Not to mention pretending to be Prince Charlie’s friend while secretly working behind his back to thwart his ability to start another Rising). I know he’s upset about Claire, but does that take away everything that makes him who he is? They are writing him as though he was like Dougal, slave to his emotions, instead of like Colum, canny and intelligent. Jamie would make a plan to save Claire. He wouldn’t go off half-cocked and he would never, ever hold something so important as his blessing in marriage over Fergus’s head to do something that he knows could literally get Fergus killed. No way, and no how. #NOTMYJAMIE And then they somehow just bring him out at the end and he’s back to normal. WTF?

(back to the original blog)

Oh, sadface. We haven’t had the scene with John and Claire on deck and she’s about to jump ship (literally). Maybe they’ll move the conversation to later, once they’re actually on the island. Because I really adore that particular exchange. Or maybe they couldn’t justify it because John has had flashback-style memories of Claire and they didn’t think we would believe that he wouldn’t remember her (although her not recognizing him isn’t an issue since he was only 16 before Prestonpans). And it doesn’t work as well after he knows who she is and she knows what John means to Jamie.

Or maybe they’ve removed him from the Porpoise completely, and it will just be a surprise to find him already installed as the governor in Jamaica. I can’t imagine that he won’t appear at all in the rest of the season—although the revelation about Willie has already happened. But so much of Claire and John’s friendship is established in that scene where they talk while Jamie is being questioned about murder. I doubt there will be a murder since there wasn’t a Fiend in Edinburgh, but I still want them to have that conversation.

The preview for next week doesn’t look very exciting in terms of changes, except that it looks like Jamie will still be with the crew when the Artemis beaches. And I didn’t see anyone who might be Lawrence Stern, so we may just have Father Fogden. But I really hope we get a wedding with attendant sheep!

Well, now the writers have clearly stated (in the talkback) that they are planting rabbits throughout the season to be references to Bree. It made no sense whatsoever on the battlefield at Culloden, but I guess I see what they were trying to do. Matthew B. Roberts suggested that it will have a payoff at the end—I’m guessing that will somehow tie into the Bakra episode and Margaret summoning the vision of Brianna.

This episode wasn’t terrible, but aside from the Elias and Fergus storylines, I wasn’t very impressed, either. The stuff with Tompkins just feels like a distraction. How did they know about the dead man in the crème de menthe? It obviously wasn’t an accident that they opened that cask. And why was Tompkins pressed? He made it sound like Sir Percival did it on purpose, but why would he do that except to cover up something? And yet, the warrant was sworn for Jamie anyway. It doesn’t really make sense.

What did you think of the episode? Did you miss Lord John as much as I did? They’re cutting storylines left and right. Are any of your favorite pieces from the book missing? Or did they keep in something you love? Let me know in the comments!

(PS–if you aren’t watching Lani Diane Rich’s Outlander vlog Sex and Whisky, you are missing out! I almost always agree with her opinions and comments.)

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8 thoughts on “Episode 310 – Heaven and Earth

  1. I’m also really upset that they left Grey out of the Porpoise. I was waiting for him to pop out all episode and was heavily disappointed when he didn’t. They keep doing stupid changes like that throughout the season and it’s getting annoying. I know the show needs to have its own style away from the books but they’re just making terrible decisions regarding what to include. Hopefully the rest of the season is better and picks up the pace a bit. Really enjoyed your take on it by the way!

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    • There isn’t much time left this season, and I’m worried that my “maybe it will be better next week” is going to end up as “maybe it will be better next season.” I also realize that changes need to be made. Some of the changes have been great and I’m all for adaptation that enhances and celebrates the material. But some of the changes are baffling. And there just isn’t enough time at this end of the season to handle all of the material from the book. They took way too much time at the beginning of the season languishing in terrible Frank stories, and everything I feared would happen when I found out the episode titles is coming true. A huge chunk of the book is falling away, and the show is lesser for it.

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  2. Amazing – they have managed to take the most fun book of the series and make it dull and boring.
    I was really looking forward to this season but now I don’t even know if I’ll bother to watch the rest of it.
    The stuff they are putting in place of what they are cutting out doesn’t even make sense – it adds nothing and they’ve once again managed to mangle Jamie’s character.

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    • It’s odd and inexplicable sometimes. There have been adaptive choices that I love, but also many that just baffle me. I’m not giving up, but that has more to do with the excellent actors, gorgeous music, and the few minor characters that are still pitch-perfect than it does with the show as a whole.

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  3. Well, I totally agree with your assessment and the above comments as well. I was looking forward to the exchange with Lord John, and was disappointed also. But in all, I did not like the episode, and found myself thoroughly confused with the portrayal of the story. As per your reviews, this has not been as good this season. I am afraid to be too critical, in fear of it being cancelled. This was one of the only good things on TV! Diana Gabaldon – please help them!!!

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    • Well, we definitely have a season 4, at least, since they’re already working on it. And if that’s the end? Who knows. But they are actually getting decent viewing numbers this season, from what I’ve heard (at least as of a few episodes ago), so unless season four really tanks, we’ll probably get at least one more after that.

      Having seen another episode and the preview for episode 312, I’m pretty sure they wrote LJG out of the end of the season. It makes some sense, because they’ve already dealt with Willie’s existence and Claire knows about him, so the scene at the ball couldn’t happen the same way. It’s still very disappointing to me because Claire and John’s relationship is in many ways one of my favorite in the books. Sigh.

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  4. OK, so I have given it more time, plus have read other’s opinions and synopses. I realize that, having expectations after reading the books themselves, I am not seeing the depth of the portrayals of the characters and story lines. And, I will admit that they are there. It is just that it has to be truncated so drastically for the few episodes that are available, that there isn’t time for gratification and happiness of the reunions that have happened after 20 years (& 200 years of travel)! The books afforded us the satisfaction of more time and less subtly of action, so we knew how Claire & Jamie, stated clearly to one another how totally incomplete they were when apart. I do still love watching it, and look forward to tonight’s episode. I am going to try to watch without my insight from the books.

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    • It’s definitely true that I bring the baggage of the books with me. On the other hand, though, I like to think that I’ve been a fan of some of the changes and choices the show has made. And I actually like picking apart the adaptation (going both ways). I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be critical of art that I love–it’s part of the enjoyment for me. But this episode did terrible things to Jamie’s character, and that’s much worse than just truncating characterization because TV is a different medium than a novel.

      Also, writing this after the fact of having seen Uncharted, I’m really not sure what to think anymore. Because they tried almost too hard to stay close to the books this week, with predictably unfortunate effect. They can’t seem to find a good middle ground for the adaptation.

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