Episode 110 – By the Pricking of My Thumbs

My overall reaction to this episode was “well…huh.”

Firstly, I was quite certain that Ron Moore said in an interview at some point that they weren’t going to do the changeling. Perhaps I misheard? I can’t find it now, anyway, so who knows what he actually said. Maybe I conflated the changeling and the water horse. So I wasn’t expecting to see that.

Secondly, the whole fandom had pretty much decided that Dougal wasn’t married in the show, since his wife had never come up after nine episodes. It was weird to have it only come up here, and then to have Dougal’s extremely melodramatic reaction was out of character and just awkward.

There are times when sticking to the books makes the show have to turn itself in knots, and this episode is one of them. They needed to get to the plot points of Geillie and Dougal’s affair, and it’s more dramatic if they’re both married and both spouses die. It’s also a better explanation for why Colum exiles Dougal, but I’d have believed the exile even if the only reason Colum wanted him away was to keep them from eloping/take care of Geillis. Which is what happens in the book, anyway. So they kept things in that they didn’t need to keep and elaborated on things that didn’t need elaboration.

There are a couple of elaborations that I love. The Duke of Sandringham is one. I am fond of this new, “I don’t like work” version of the duke. The sportsman with the high-pitched voice from the book is funny, but this one feels like he’s part of a high-stakes political game, and that he would fit in perfectly at court.

I’m also a fan of Claire confronting him directly, and actually telling Jamie about the connection to Randall. It’s hard to understand why she doesn’t in the book.

The duel is a fun little moment, and I’m neither for nor against the addition. I don’t feel that it really adds anything to the story, but it doesn’t make anything worse and it gives us a little more time with Jamie, so I’m fine with it.

The summoning in the woods is gorgeous, but it makes me wonder what they’re going to do in the abbey. Claire learned the opium/hypnosis trick that she uses to save Jamie from Geillis in the book. Maybe she’ll have some kind of flashback to a soldier under opium in the war.

Speaking of flashbacks, OMG how many times are we going to have to see Reverend Wakefield and Frank opining about the Duke of Sandringham? Do they really think we’ve forgotten? Or that there are tons of people who haven’t watched the first nine episodes just now jumping in on episode ten?

Anyway, I adore Colum in the scene where he banishes Dougal and Jamie. We feel his power as Laird, not with physical menace the way that Dougal does things, or with wit and humor the way Jamie does it (although he can and will show physical menace, too), but by a kind of magnetism and strength that is inside of him. Jamie’s reluctant obedience is fantastic.

Dougal’s claim to love Geillis rings a little false until he mentions the child. We haven’t heard about his daughters in the show, and now that we’ve heard about Maura I would think they would have mentioned the girls. So I’m guessing that he is hoping to marry Geillis and finally have a legitimate child of his own. That need gives him vulnerability.

Mrs. Fitz is so sweet with Claire, but I wonder how much she guesses of her granddaughter’s affections and intentions. It’s Tammas who delivers the note – Laoghaire’s cousin – and I’m betting she asked him to do it. He probably just thought it was a prank. After all, Claire saved his life.

I like that Geillis is proud and self-assured when Claire comes to her, rather than drunk and dissolute like she is in the books. Although why Claire doesn’t say “Dougal is gone” when Geillis says he’ll protect her, I have no idea. It may be a function of the way they edited the scene, but it feels like Claire had plenty of time before Jeanie opened the door to say “Christ, Geillis, Dougal is miles away, with Jamie, and Colum is out to get you.” Then they could have both gone out the back.

Meh.

I haven’t mentioned the opening scene, although it was lovely and captured well the description from the book of butterfly wings. It felt very soft and loving and showed us exactly where Claire and Jamie are now. So did the scene with the changeling. Jamie says almost the exact same line he said in the Black Kirk (about the people not knowing much more than what Father Bain tells them), but this time with gentle affection. I still need to finish my blog post tracking the Claire/Jamie relationship arc over the season, but maybe I will wait until the whole season is done, and then I’ll have all sixteen episodes to work with.

In general, this was not my favorite episode. It did have a couple of very nice scenes, and I enjoyed it more than I did 109, but 109 tried something daring and failed (in my opinion). This one didn’t do much that was daring, and sometimes it’s better to fail spectacularly than to succeed mediocre-ly. *not a word*

Theory – Season 1, pt 2 Episode Breakdown (using book plot points)

This week, I’m posting my theory for the season one part two episode breakdown, based on plot points from the books.

EDIT – Post now updated with the episode titles! I’ve made a few tiny changes to my predictions, but I think I’m still pretty spot-on. The only real wildcard is that we’ll be getting Jamie’s PoV. That’s information even book readers don’t have, because The Exile ends after Claire chooses not to go back through the stones. We’ve already seen stuff in the trailers like duels and more stuff with the MacKenzie brothers, so who knows how that might affect things.

EDIT #2 – I am not going to update this post as the season progresses. After episode 112 airs, I will do a second post talking about things I guessed right and wrong, and updating my predictions for the final four episodes.

109 – The Reckoning

  • Jamie will bluff his way into BJR’s office and he and Claire will escape
  • J&C face the fallout from everything that happened in 108. In the books, there is a big argument, then the strapping, and then reconciliation, while they are still on the road. But the rumor I’ve heard is that the show is going to conflate all of that into the rough sex at Leoch. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. (see my last post about Jamie and Claire as of 108)

Other things that will happen either in this episode or the next:

  • Some kind of altercation with Laoghaire
  • Father Bain and the dog pack?
  • Hamish and Jamie talk about the birds and bees?
  • Claire helps birth a foal? (might be cut; but the jet rosary will probably show up anyway)
  • Claire overhears Colum and Dougal talking about Dougal knocking someone up
  • Geillis and Claire will have some kind of interaction – it won’t be the changeling, because they cut that. And it probably won’t be the opium interrogation until the next episode

Somewhere in between these two episodes, we need to have a lot of time pass. In the books, it is something like four months. Claire goes through the stones on May 1st, marries Jamie around mid-June, and the witch trial is on her birthday in late October. So if we assume that the witch trial happens around Jamie’s birthday instead, we’ve got about the same amount of time that needs to pass. Alternatively, they could place the witch trial around Imbolc (in February) or the Vernal Equinox in March.

110 – By the Pricking of My Thumbs

  • The Duke of Sandringham arrives
  • Geillis interrogates Claire under the influence of opium
  • Geillis murders Arthur
  • Jamie leaves to hunt with the duke
  • Laoghaire tricks Claire into going to Geillis
  • Confessions in the thief’s hole
  • The witch trial (EDIT- I’ve changed my mind about this due to episode titles)

I would end this episode with Jamie riding up on Donas, similar to the way they ended 108. So we know he’s there, but there’s still a great deal of jeopardy. I now think they will end the episode in the thief’s hole, with Claire admitting she loves Jamie. They may or may not do the bit with Ned Gowan arriving to stall the church examiners in this episode. If they’re going to do that at all, it would be better here, rather than in the next one, which needs to be all tension.

111 – The Devil’s Mark

  • EDIT – I now think the witch trial is going to happen entirely in this episode, or at minimum (as I said above) they will do the bit with Ned Gowan in the previous episode.
  • Jamie gets Claire out of the trial; Geillis reveals her pregnancy and Claire sees the smallpox vaccination scar
  • Claire confesses everything to Jamie
  • Jamie takes Claire to the stones
  • Claire chooses to stay
  • Jamie says “not begging you to stay was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Now I’ll do the second hardest thing.” And they set off for Lallybroch.

112 – Lallybroch (if the episode isn’t called that, it should be!) EDIT: Called it.

  • Jamie and Jenny fight about BJR
  • Jamie tells Claire “the final reason” he married her
  • Family stories
  • The soldiers come to the mill
  • Quarter-day
  • Confrontation with Ronald MacNab

I’m torn as to whether Quarter Day will happen in this episode or not. It almost makes more sense to have it happen in the same episode as the fall-out from Jamie’s actions, but either way one episode ends up with more “action” in it than the other.

113 – The Watch

  • Jamie and Claire talk about their next steps, now that Sandringham isn’t an option for Jamie’s pardon
  • Jenny gives birth
  • Ronnie MacNab betrays Jamie to the Watch
  • Jenny and Claire set off after Jamie
  • Murtagh catches up to the lassies; Claire tells Jenny to plant potatoes

114 – The Search

  • The Murtagh and Claire show travels north toward Beuly
  • The gypsies bring Claire to Dougal
  • Dougal gives the bad news- Jamie’s in Wentworth; he also propositions Claire
  • Claire convinces the MacKenzie men to help her rescue Jamie and they set off for Wentworth.
  • Claire goes to see Sir Fletcher
  • If they go for a cliffhanger, we’ll get all the way into the cell with Jamie and BJR in this episode. If not, this one will end with Claire getting ready to break into the prison.

115 – Wentworth Prison

  • The rescue attempt fails; BJR catches Claire in the act
  • Jamie bargains for Claire’s life
  • Claire fights the wolves? Probably not, since it will be summer?
  • Claire meets MacRannoch? Maybe?
  • Jamie is freed
  • Claire resets Jamie’s fingers? (I’m wondering if they won’t cut the whole breaking his fingers thing. It would be very, very difficult for Sam as an actor to remember not to bend his fingers ever again on screen. It’s also very hard to do on purpose – to keep those fingers held stiff and bend the others, I mean. I can’t see how he’d be able to do it consistently without a brace of some kind, and I don’t know how they would do that. So maybe he’ll still have the fingers broken, but Claire will be able to fix them. That’s a pretty big change- the stiff fingers are a marked physical characteristic of Jamie’s for the rest of the series, but it’s not like they can really break Sam’s fingers. That’s taking method acting a little too far.)
  • Claire, Jamie, and Murtagh make their escape to France
    • Will Claire have to kill the boy during the escape?

116 – To Ransom a Man’s Soul

  • Jamie tells Claire what happened with BJR.
  • Claire meets Father Anselm and discovers the vigil over the Blessed Sacrament
  • Jamie’s health and psychological state deteriorate
  • Claire confesses to Father Anselm; he absolves her and explains how he sees things, time-travel-wise.
  • Claire uses the opium-trance she learned from Geillis to force Jamie to relive his experiences with BJR-and this time, he fights back.
  • We may or may not see Jamie re-asserting his manhood via trips into the countryside naked, or their first sexual encounter post-assault, in Claire’s cot.
  • But we’ll definitely see them in the “womb of the earth,” and Claire will declare that they need to do what they can to stop the Rising – and that she’s pregnant.

Several suggestions have been made for how they might tease season two in the final scene. I like these two best:

  • Roger Mac is cleaning up the manse when the doorbell rings. On his doorstep are Claire and Brianna, and from their clothes and the cars outside it’s clearly the 60s. “Roger! My, how you’ve grown!” Claire says. Cut to black.
  • Frank is in his apartment in Oxford. There’s a woman in the background, maybe even in bed with him. The phone rings. “We’ve found your wife.” Cut to black.

As much as I’d like the first one, I think they might go with something more like the second. As far as I know, they haven’t cast Roger or Bree yet, and while they have six months to cast and shoot that little scene, I’m not sure they will. They can still open season two that way. I like the idea of leaving it with Frank. It tells the audience that something is going to happen that sends Claire back to the 20th century, but doesn’t leap all the way to Bree and Roger. It also gives us a little more information about what Frank was up to between 1945 and 1948. We know that he has moved on when Claire shows back up again. I think she even says in the books that she knew he’d been with someone else. And of course she counts half a dozen mistresses over the next 18 years. So I think that would be interesting. At some point during the hiatus, I’m going to do a tentative episode breakdown for season two, based on the assumption of 12 episodes (which is what I think Starz ordered). But I want to re-read Dragonfly before I do that. So what do you think of my breakdown? Is there anywhere you would move things around? Maybe cut things differently? We know that the show has moved out of sequence before, and made additions, but they tend to hit the big plot points in order, so I feel fairly confident with my list. They may cut some things, but I don’t think they can do too much with the big stuff like the witch trial, Craigh na Dun, Lallybroch, Wentworth, and the Abbey.