Episode 305 – Freedom and Whisky

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Here we are, with episode five of season three! There will be no new episode next week, which is actually good timing for me since I’ll be in a wedding and have a birthday party to go to. I was worried about how I would fit watching the episode a few times and writing this blog into my schedule, but now I don’t need to! (Note that IMDB has the break happening on the 22nd, but other sources have it as the 15th).

On with the episode–“Freedom and Whisky.”

Oh, wow. That handmade Christmas ornament from 1948 in the title card looks *exactly* like an ornament I made for my parents when I was in kindergarten. Except I mixed the red and green paint and the whole thing turned out brown. Not sure how this will be symbolic yet (especially since it’s from 1948), but I guess we’ll see as the episode progresses. (Note—it ends up being a touchpoint for Brianna in her grief after losing Frank).

I didn’t really need to see all of that blood in the surgery scene, but I’ll live, because it shows us Claire being an amazing surgeon, not only competent but extraordinary at her calling. I’m a little sad that this rules out her having been moved to head of surgery in the wake of the assisted-suicide event (Claire recounts that to Jamie later in the books), because I thought it was beautiful that Claire was willing to treat the patient and not the disease. But this works, too.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that they included the fictional prose and stories/legends/songs re-writing history bit in Brianna’s history class. I think most of the discussion of that was in Dragonfly in Amber when Claire was talking to Roger about the Jacobites and how Prince Charles wasn’t the amazing awesomeness that he appears to be in the songs. But it’s great that they managed to get something esoteric and literary like that into the TV show.

Briannas Ornament

Holidays are so hard after loss, especially the first one. Our culture focuses so much on family and togetherness at the holidays, and that’s wonderful when you have a family (whether a family by blood or the family you choose in your friends) around you. But when even one person is missing, gone forever, everything changes. I lost my grandfather last summer, and while it’s nowhere near the same as losing a parent, it still changed so much about our family holiday. There was something more missing than just my grandfather, something greater than the sum of our loss.

So I ache for Brianna, who has lost one father, and is grappling with the existence of another one that she thinks she will never know. This is probably the first time I am really sympathetic toward her in the show so far. I’ve liked her for Roger’s sake but haven’t really warmed to her as a character on her own. But this scene makes me feel for her.

Daft or Brilliant

Wow—Roger in Boston. I guess they’re pulling some ideas from Drums of Autumn. But I like the idea of Roger and Brianna both grieving their adopted fathers at Christmas.

Claire’s struggle with her fears about Jamie and worries about leaving Brianna is poignant but so different from the upswell of emotion and conviction to return from the season two finale. I do understand her not wanting to leave Brianna, especially with Bree being so unsettled about everything she’s learned, to the point of withdrawing from Harvard. But I hope this is where she decides to go to MIT and focus on engineering.

Geillis Skeleton

The Geillis skeleton! Spooky!

“Somebody” tried to cut the lady’s head off with a dull blade. “Somebody”—aka Claire! Except she hasn’t done it yet. But the inclusion of the skeleton tells me we will get to that part of the story in the Caribbean. I wondered what would be cut—they’ve got to cut something, or they’ll never fit everything into the few episodes they have left. But not that. I hope they cut the Fiend, though.

Brianna and Roger at Harvard is a beautiful scene, giving hints of the path she will choose to take with her life in the future. There’s more to like in this episode, and in this scene about Brianna, than we’ve seen so far. The show is doing a good job of opening her up and showing her vulnerabilities. Her character needs that, and I hope they continue to do it.

 

History is a Story

UGH TO THE SHADES OF FUCKING FRANK RANDALL. Why did we have to bring him back through Sandy? I’m fine with Brianna grieving and having complicated thoughts about who she is as a person and who her family is. Frank was her father, even if not by blood. And Claire grieving is fine, too, and her emotions are just as complicated for different reasons. But having this woman throw outright lies at Claire and for Claire to just accept them is terrible and unjust. Claire asked Frank for a divorce when Bree was little, and he wouldn’t give it to her. That’s not Claire’s fault. He chose to stay with Claire. That’s what Claire told Frank’s lover in the books, and I’m pissed as hell that she doesn’t say it here. Sure, Sandy is grieving, and I’m also sure that Frank routinely either lied about or obfuscated his motivations, so I don’t blame her for misunderstanding or for being jealous of Claire’s marriage, but she doesn’t get to make Claire feel guilty about something she could not control. Frank made his own choices, and it wasn’t Claire who refused to let him go. She gave him so many opportunities, and he never took them. UGH. But at least this scene only took a few minutes, and it led to Bree and Claire finally telling each other the truth about everything.

Frank Cheats

I like the inclusion of the Apollo 8 mission, and I’m actually OK with that brief voice over, because it’s a kind of ethereal scene, and having a voice from nowhere sort-of makes sense. And it will give Jamie and Claire a chance to have the conversation on the Artemis, talking about the future and going to the moon.

It’s weird to see Bree and Claire talking about what Claire will miss, since I know she’s not going to miss any of those things—Bree’s wedding or Bree’s kids being born. Yes, she’ll miss a little bit of the kids growing up when Brianna and Roger return to the 80s, but they come back, and will be on the Ridge again in Go Tell the Bees.

I hope we get to continue to see Brianna working through her complicated feelings about her parents next season, since I assume we won’t see her again this season. And positioning her as more like Claire than either Frank or Jamie works well, too, because Claire can be ruthless and seem cold while a lot of very hot emotions are roiling under the surface.

Joe Abernathy

I am so glad they cut out the fat-shaming remarks that Joe makes in the book. That has always bothered me, especially since Claire in the books is written as being short and curvy, and Jamie complains when she loses too much weight. This good-bye scene also works well enough, although it’s odd to me that she doesn’t tell him what she’s about to do. I just checked that scene in the book, and she doesn’t specifically say anything about time travel, but she does have him help her resign and take care of some legal things. He knows she’s going away and doesn’t plan to come back. I wonder why they didn’t have her say goodbye here? The scene was well-staged anyway, but I felt like she would have told him she was going.

It’s so funny that Roger gives Claire the book of Scottish history, since she’s not going to be staying in Scotland long. But that’s how it happened in the book, too. And interesting that they are claiming, in the show, that she had gemstones every time. In the books, her first two trips were just with gold (her wedding band to Frank) and silver (her wedding band to Jamie).

Claire Costumer

Wow—Claire sewing her dress is interesting. And how does she have a dress form? I have a degree in costuming and I don’t even have a dress form (although I want one). The corset pattern is familiar, though. The first corset I ever made was one of that shape. Although she would have needed about a million rain coats to make that skirt and coat, and she would never had had pieces of fabric big enough for those panels. Why didn’t she just buy fabric by the bolt? Lots of people still made their clothes in the 60s—many more than do so now—and if she has a dress form, she would have had access to fabric. But I shall attempt to suspend my disbelief.

Really, though, Claire, what did those poor scissors ever do to you? Didn’t anyone ever teach you to respect your tools? Would you toss your surgical instruments around like that? Not that I can blame you–those look like they would be awful for cutting fabric or thread.

I want to somehow jump into the show and hand her a pair of my Ginghers. She’d have to promise not to use them to cut paper, though. There is only one pair of scissors in that shot, which means she cut out the pattern and the fabric with it. *shudder* I know there are amazing costumers working on this show. Did they not get to have any say in what happened in this scene?? *tears of frustration*

OK, I’m done with my sewing rant. Please forgive me.

Brianna and Claire’s farewell is lovely. I wonder if Brianna will follow her, as she does in the book? Although it’s a little different to follow her from Inverness than from Boston. (Note—she doesn’t, but they also don’t show Claire actually going to the stones. In the post-episode chat, they talk about how going to the stones wouldn’t work, logistically, with their filming schedule. I kinda like that they skipped over it).

Bree Roger Christmas Carol

I’m really, really glad that this whole episode focused on Claire, Brianna, and Roger, rather than showing us what Jamie has been up to since Helwater. But I still think it would have been better to keep the structure from the book and not to try for linear chronology through the forties and fifties. For those that haven’t read the book, the way it was structured is that Claire, Bree, and Roger are searching for Jamie through history in 1968, just like they were doing last week in “Of Lost Things.” As they uncover new information, the book then breaks away to that point in Jamie’s life and we get his point of view for a while. Then it comes back to 1968 for the next revelation, and interspersed in the 1968 section are flashbacks to the forties, fifties, and early sixties in Claire’s life. I think it works really well in the book, because the plot continues to move forward no matter which time period we’re in.

In the show, it has all been fits and starts, with really rocky and jarring transitions between centuries. I guess I can see how this episode worked well on its own, but I would give that up to have a season that seemed to be arcing toward something from the beginning. Those first three episodes showed Claire stuck in one place, with no hope for the future. Jamie was the same—stuck in whatever circumstances he found himself in that week. That’s true of the Jamie segments in the book, too, but the Claire segments from the book keep giving us hope that a reunion is in the future. The show ruthlessly punctured the hopeful bubble of the season two finale, and refused to give back any of that hope, even last episode. This was the first time that I felt like we were actually building toward a reunion. And that’s great within the episode, but it would have been nice to have it back in episode one, too. The season is almost half-over now.

Another Sky

Ooh—the prologue from Voyager! (The bit about puddles). I’m OK with this as voice-over, too, and with it as a transition from twentieth century to eighteenth. Generally speaking, they’ve been much more judicious about the voice over this season, and that’s good. It was so over-used in the first season that I wanted it to be gone forever, but most of it here has worked well enough.

I kept expecting this episode to end every second of the last few minutes of the episode—especially as Claire opened the door of the print shop. But when it continued on after that, I guessed it would end as Jamie crumpled to the floor. And I was right about that!

Jamie Faints

And now, of course, we shall all have to wait two weeks to see what happens next, which is what I expected. Although it seems like it, it’s also not a cliff hanger—those happen when we’re in the middle of conflict and it’s left unresolved. This is absolutely a game changer. Claire has resolved (or well enough) everything that she’s leaving behind in Boston, and now she’s moving forward into a new phase of her story. So while it’s a dramatic moment to end on, and everyone is definitely going to be wondering about the next episode, it’s not really leaving us hanging. Rather, it’s leaving us imagining and hoping and curious.

But, as I said earlier, I’m going to be so busy next weekend I’ll barely notice the wait. Oh, and I saw on the preview that it’s going to be an extended episode, so that’s nice. Maybe they’ll manage to get a lot more plot into the episode that way, or just give themselves extra time to slow down and do the reunion justice.

What did you think of “Freedom and Whisky?” Are you glad, like I am, that they didn’t make up something to fill in Jamie’s part of the story on this episode? Or did you want to see what he was up to in the ten years between Helwater and Edinburgh? Do you hope that they allow Frank’s ghost to rest and never mention his name again? Let me know in the comments!

 

*All images are the property of Starz and used here for entertainment and critique. Quotes on the images are from the show, from Voyager the book, or my own invention.

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Episode 303 – All Debts Paid

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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!

Episode 302 – Surrender

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I think I was a little harsh in my reaction to the opening last week. I re-watched one of the episodes from last season, and it is more different than I thought—it’s just that several of the clips are from previous seasons and so I recognized them. And others are, I think, from this season—but staged as “callbacks” to earlier shots, which made them feel familiar. But the music is tonally different, and I do appreciate the shot of Jamie looking out over the water (I assume we’ll see that in 303 while he’s at Ardsmuir).

I like the wanted poster for the Dunbonnet in the title card. It reminds me of Tangled and all of the posters of Flynn Rider with his nose comically exaggerated.

Jamie and Flynn

I continue to wish that the show would stick to the 18th century. The Lallybroch sections are fantastic—vibrant not only in color palette and tint, but in richness of story. The 20th century bits are at least drawn more directly from the books, but they lack something vital. Those sections feel soulless, void of conflict. I was pissed off at the conflict last week, but at least it felt fraught. This week is just hum-drum, ticking boxes to get back to the 1960s and Claire’s return to Jamie.

I love that the scene with Jamie and the baby hiding from the soldiers was shifted from Maggie to Ian. Jamie protecting Ian from the redcoats establishes that special bond between them that will one day be nearly as close as father and son. I am looking forward to seeing that develop next season–and meeting Rollo!

*Thanks to Zest203 for pointing out my error in memory!

It’s super weird that Claire is the one that initiates intimacy with Frank. I get that when she says “I miss my husband” she’s not really talking about him, but that actually makes it worse. They are still pushing really hard on making all of the problems Claire’s fault, and that’s really pissing me off.

The Smolder

Giving Fergus a little more agency in the scene that leads to his loss of a hand is both heart-breaking and a better choice. In the book, he’s simply delivering something to Jamie. Here, he is deliberately baiting the soldiers. And the scene afterward—where he jokes that he has become a man of leisure—is taken almost directly from the book. Sam and Romann both do an amazing job with it, capturing the humor and love and Jamie’s coming back to himself and remembering the weight of his responsibilities.

Fergus

During the dinner scene with Millie (I guess I heard incorrectly last week, but it was definitely Millie here) and Jerry and the sex scene afterward, I kept wondering where Brianna was. Babies are such convenient sleepers in fiction. But what really bothers me is how they are bashing at Claire for wanting what is so beautifully represented in the scene with Jamie and Mary MacNab—the touch of another human being, bringing pleasure and connection, even if it isn’t part of a great love.

I think the show is trying to contrast the two experiences, but the problem is that one of them is understood between both parties, and the other is one-sided. And that once again puts blame on Claire–she’s “using” Frank because she misses Jamie. Frank plays the longsuffering husband again, saying that when he’s with her, he’s with her, but she’s with Jamie. It’s baffling why the show keeps doing this. I’m OK with having them both be fumbling toward coming back together, and I even understand and sympathize with Claire’s needs. But I wish she would be honest about them, and that Frank would let her. Instead, he stifles her, and then blames her for still loving Jamie.

FUCK. The voice over is back. Damn it. At least it’s brief and only once. But I love the meeting between Claire and Joe. I wish we’d had a little more about her decision to go to medical school and that it wasn’t just voice over. Hell, she could have had a one-sided conversation with baby Bree. I did it all of the time when my kids were babies.

Claire and Joe

Claire and Frank having separate beds is a strange punctuation mark in their relationship. Why not separate rooms?

The scene of Jamie being taken by the redcoats made me weep. Watching Jenny shout at him, and yet seeing the pain and love in their gazes, tore my heart out. And then to cut to Claire, all alone, with memories of the past but no way to regain her lost love, is a poignant counterpoint. Jenny shouts that Jamie gave her no choice and she’ll never forgive him—which is true in a way. Jamie sacrifices for the people he loves. He forced Claire to go back through the stones, and forces his family to accept money in return for his capture. And both Claire and Jenny may technically forgive him, but they’ll never forget what he did.

Jenny Blood Money

The preview for next week makes it look like we’ll get all the way through Ardsmuir and possibly all the way through the Claire flashbacks, since it looks like we’ll see the argument where Frank wants to take Bree to England and ends up dying in a car wreck. And I will be SO HAPPY. Because this show needs to be done with Frank. Then in the episode after that, I assume we’ll be back in the 60s with Bree and Roger, or perhaps we’ll see Claire in Boston deciding to make the trip to Scotland first. Although how they’re going to fill up two episodes with material from the 60s, I don’t know. In my season speculation, I assumed they were going to continue with Claire and Frank through episode four. Maybe they’ll actually spend time developing Roger and Brianna. Or devote an episode entirely to Claire and Joe. We’ll see!

What did you think of episode 302? I’m still feeling decidedly skewed in favor of the 18th century segments with Jamie, and I feel like this episode could have easily cut the 20th century and given more time to digging deep into what happened with Jamie while living in the cave, and made a real arc out of his choice to give himself up for his people. The bones of the story are there, but by giving so much time to Claire and Frank, we lose the depth and complexity of what is happening with Jamie. And that’s unfortunate.

Episode 301 – The Battle Joined

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My apologies for not getting this up on the day of the premiere! I was out of the house all weekend and I just got a chance to watch this morning.

Thoughts on the New Intro

There don’t seem to be that many new shots included. And I was kinda hoping we’d get a sweeping ocean view for the new “closing” shot of the intro. But since the episode titles clearly don’t have us setting out to sea until the last quarter of the season, I suppose it makes sense to keep us anchored (haha) in Scotland for a while longer. Next season will have to be different, though!

Title Card - Scottish Flag

Thoughts on the Title Card

The ragged Scottish flag is a good choice. It represents everything that Jamie and Claire fought for last season, and in many ways what she is still fighting for during her pregnancy–to keep that memory alive for her daughter.

General Thoughts on the Episode

I was very pleased with this, overall. If I didn’t know they were keeping Jamie and Claire apart so long, I would be a lot more optimistic about this season, based on this episode.

On that note, I recently read a post in defense of keeping Claire and Jamie separate that talked about all of the other stuff in Outlander that is great and interesting and how people should be focusing on that instead of complaining about J&C not being together. And while it’s true that there is a lot more to this series than just J&C (and we’ll be getting a lot more of that other stuff starting in this season and moving forward), it is also true that Jamie and Claire are the center of Outlander‘s gravity. If we’re talking about favorite characters, mine is Roger MacKenzie, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the importance of Jamie and Claire.

Honestly, I think it’s interesting when they’re apart. I enjoy seeing how they deal with their multiple separations over the years (even the big one where she marries John). I was ready and willing to see three to four episodes with them apart. But six? I mean, they’re going to meet up somewhere in the course of the sixth episode, so it’s only five and a half or whatever, but that’s still nearly twice as long as what I think is warranted by the story.

Do I think the writers can keep things interesting and engaging for those five to six episodes? Sure. But it’s an awful lot of time, and there’s an awful lot of *story* left to tell once they’re finally together.

Getting back to this episode, though…

Jamie remembers a lot more of the battle here than he did in the books, but I’m glad we get to see a bit with Murtagh and more about Charles’ incompetence and the reason the battle went so badly. Later in the episode, Jamie indicates that he doesn’t know what happened to Murtagh after the brief flash of memory he has here, but I wonder if they’ll really make us wait for ages to find out how he died. My guess is not–I’m assuming he’ll figure it out by the end of the season.

Jamie VS BJR

Too much with BJR, though. Knowing he gave Jamie the wound in his thigh that nearly kills him and that Jamie is responsible for BJR’s death changes SO MUCH, removing a lot of nuance from later in the story. But I suppose television doesn’t work as well with nuance, and that they thought viewers would want more closure (as though book readers don’t??).

The image I’ve put above is basically where I would have wanted the fight to end, before we know the outcome. Forgive my Highlander humor–I couldn’t help myself.

Why is it that my favorite part of this post-battlefield section is the rabbit? It’s a little bit mercurial and whimsical, and a nod toward the fact that nature doesn’t really care about our squabbles and strife–until we start destroying habitats and ecosystems.

Jamie’s vision of Claire is poignant and beautiful, but it makes me wonder what DG has planned for the end of the series, and Jamie’s ghost. Unless the show manages to be extended through the full book series, they may never address the ghost again, or they may choose to handle it in a non-book-canon sort of  way, like Game of Thrones is doing now that they’ve gone past the book territory.

Rupert on the battlefield

I LOVE that Rupert is the one who saves Jamie on the battlefield, despite having seen him kill Dougal. It makes so much sense, and vindicates my feelings last season about what Rupert would do in the aftermath of that death.

Claire and Frank’s house in Boston is AMAZING, and I want it. If only my husband would let me buy a house that is more than ten years old. But the problems she has are indicative of why he won’t let me–too many things break and too much money is needed for basic repairs and updates.

I’m not sure about Nellie the next-door-neighbor. It’s nice for Claire to have someone to talk to (although their scene together shows just how much Claire can’t say), but her isolation is her major source of problems during the late 40s and 50s, before she goes back to school to become a doctor. So I don’t know if it’s wise to give her a “chum.”

But with this season, we have entirely broken from the primarily Claire and sometimes Jamie or Frank PoV conceit, and that’s a good thing. The scene from Rupert’s PoV is nice, even though we were in Jamie’s in the book (and arguably are here–I wrote this and then watched through the end of the scene where it shows Jamie watching, even though he couldn’t have seen them from the angle the camera used and perhaps wouldn’t have been able to hear them). I’m very glad that the show gives us a chance to remember everything we loved about Rupert before the inevitable happens.

The scene with Frank’s dean is painful, and reminds me just have far we haven’t come. These sorts of attitudes about women sadly still remain and are being allowed to flourish.

Hal

Hal (Lord Melton) is…a little disappointing on first glance. I wanted him to be a little more charismatic and dashing, because I love the hell out of him in the later stories. But Rupert is still perfect. “Traitors, all.” and “Thank you, milord” for being shot instead of hanged (although it’s true that it’s a cleaner death, especially since this was still the era of torture before hanging for traitors).

The writing in the scene with Claire and Frank at breakfast is fantastic. I love how the superficial humor and fun is such a thin veneer over the raw and aching wound beneath, and the ugly truth that this is not really a marriage.

After that, though, things break down very quickly, and I’m a little annoyed that the scene starts to edge over into pointing fingers at Claire, holding a little too much sympathy for Frank. In this version of events, she is holding back and not engaging (which is absolutely not what happened in the book), and he blames her for that, telling her that it was her choice to come with him and she needs to decide what she wants. Which, in truth, is a reasonable thing to say. On the other hand, this is the 40s, and single mothers were treated even worse then than they are now, so her choices aren’t quite as cut and dried as he’s trying to claim.

Claire and Frank Breakfast

I know that it’s “easier” to blame Frank in the books, because he makes mistakes and ends up doing some unconscionable things. I’m not saying I need that in order to justify Claire’s actions and falling in love with someone else. Even in the books, Claire is torn up about her choices long, long after Frank is dead. But BookFrank was never the right person for Claire, and that truth came out and became more and more clear during the course of their lives together–and would have done even without Jamie.

In the show, we are given a very different Frank–one who, according to what he shouts at Claire, never slept with anyone else. In the books, that isn’t ever proven, but it’s fairly heavily implied, and he canonically has affairs during their time in Boston. In the show, it seems like they’re setting him up to be faithful. Claire’s reticence and coldness, while understandable, doesn’t earn her any sympathy when held up against this man who appears to be bending over backward for her.

In fact, in the book I wanted her to be colder because of just how deep the disconnect was between them on an emotional and mental level. But now that I’ve seen that version play out on screen, I understand why DG made the choices she did. This Claire/Frank relationship is much harder to swallow, with only the tiniest hint that Frank is contributing to their problems.

Rupert and Jamie

The barn scene in the book is not fun by any means, but giving Rupert and Jamie their moment totally ripped my heart out and stomped on it. His memories of Angus and his desire to be reunited with him in heaven is beautiful. I love what Rupert says about Dougal’s death, and his deep sense of pragmatism, loyalty, and love. And you can just see the respect in Hal’s eyes for Rupert, who stayed when he could have run, and stood by his people until the end, accepting death with dignity.

I know the scene with Frank on the couch is supposed to show his frustration and the distance between him and Claire (although why they don’t have a second bedroom, I have no idea), but it made me laugh because my husband is exactly the same way about sounds at night. He has to have a fan running for white noise or complete silence, or else he can’t sleep.

OK, the actor playing Hal (Sam Hoare) is growing on me, rather like the character grew on me in the books. And after checking out his IMDB pic, he is *way* hotter in real life, without the stupid 18th-century wig and side curls. I hope we get to see Hal smoking a bowl with Claire someday.

The delivery scene made me want to go out and burn down the world. Taking her agency away like that was terrifying and terrible and I am so angry. Even during my C-section with my second child, I was awake the whole time. I’m not saying that every childbirth has to be unmedicated and “natural,” but a mother’s wishes should be respected until the point of medical necessity.

Lallybroch

It was a little weird to have Jamie still in the cart at Lallybroch and the driver sitting there while Jenny and Ian are having this emotional moment–and while Jenny is literally hanging off the side of the cart, which can’t be comfortable. Wasn’t she pregnant again at that point, too? Or maybe she’d just had another baby, I can’t remember. In any case, I didn’t really feel anything because the staging was so awkward. But that’s probably just me.

did feel something when Claire woke up, terrified that her baby had died. To have her and Frank come together through the body of Brianna was lovely, but the show did a great job of pressing at the wound in their relationship that is Jamie, and this time giving some of the reticence to Frank, too. I hope that in the future we get a balanced view of the fracture in their marriage. I won’t mind if they’re both shown as being at fault. Claire understandably thinks of her baby’s father when she sees Brianna’s red hair, but Frank is the one who takes it badly. Brianna is a Band-Aid over the wound in Claire and Frank’s marriage, but that’s a terrible position to put a child in, and her existence both pulls them together and keeps them apart.

Claire Frank Brianna A New Beginning

To be fair, Tobias is doing an excellent job with Frank as written for the show. He is a fantastic actor and I’m certainly not bothered by his portrayal–more by what is written for him to do. So don’t take my annoyance with the writers to mean I dislike the actors. They’re doing their jobs and playing the characters as they are written and directed to do.

If you watch the end chat with the writers and Ron Moore, you’ll see Toni Graphia basically saying what I feel about the whole show–one moment with Claire walking across the battlefield to the dying Jamie is much more gripping and important than all of the swords and horses and guns and explosions. The emotions and relationships are what drive Outlander. I think the show forgot that for a little while last season, getting way too much into the war story. But those emotions are coming back now, and I hope that the delay in reuniting Jamie and Claire doesn’t destroy all of the ground made up in this episode.

See you next week!