Episode 313 – Eye of the Storm

Episode 313 Header

You’ll notice as you read this blog that I don’t have a lot to say about what actually happens in the episode. I predicted most of it last week, and while I liked the execution of many of the details, when I compare this week’s episode to last week’s, it just comes up short. Most of what I talk about in this blog are the things I think were missing.

I really, really hope that next season is better balanced in terms of assigning material from the book to each episode. Because I felt like this one was just ticking the boxes that needed to be ticked to finish Voyager and wrap up the season. I didn’t feel engaged by much of the story, even the parts I liked (John and Jamie, Yi Tien Cho and Margaret, some of the interactions between Jamie and Claire).

And, honestly, if I hadn’t already read the books, I wouldn’t feel any particular need to move on to the next season. They’ve wrapped everything up with a nice bow and here we are in the new world. This could easily be a series finale rather than a season finale. But getting back to the episode…

The title card seems to be foreshadowing the storm and Claire being dragged off the ship with a broken leg, but it’s curious to me that they’re showing that. In the talkback at the end of the episode, they said they were trying to set it up the same was as the premiere, but in the premiere, we kept coming back to Jamie on the battlefield, and the rest of the story was told via flashback until things moved forward. This was a time jump—starting at the end and then jumping back in time, to then later catch up to the opening scene. So if they were going for parallel structure, they missed the mark.

I do like the bit with Fergus and Marsali. It’s fantastic that she’s asserting herself in their relationship, and Fergus isn’t beating his chest and telling her no. And he’s no less masculine or manly for allowing his wife to be his equal. It’s really lovely to see.

Damn, I love Lord John. And yeah, things happen pretty much exactly as I said last week. John is never going to let any harm come to Jamie as long as he has the power to stop it. And damn, does he know how to throw his weight around. My heart fluttered as Jamie walked away. David Berry is killing it. All of my other complaints aside, they did a great job of casting this season.

Geillis is super nuts, y’all. And it’s odd to me that Claire used Brianna as proof. Why not just tell Geillis about seeing her at the stones in 1968? Or talk about Greg Edgars? Claire couldn’t have known those things if she wasn’t there, so that should be proof enough that she traveled. I mean, yeah, it’s in the moment and all that, but Geillis is off-her-rocker crazy. Wouldn’t Claire’s instinct be to protect Brianna at all costs? It was her instinct in the book, as I recall—Geillis found the pictures in Jamie’s pocket. “Because it needed to happen for the story/conflict” is not a good reason.

But we’ll just have to go with it. And the rest of the plot pieces come together, as predicted, with Margaret and Yi Tien Cho. I hope they make it to Martinique, and that she’s not too scarred about what happened to her brother, asshole though he was.

UGH to the voice over! It was so intrusive into the scene and threw me right out of the story. It drained every last bit of tension away. We all get it. The pool is the portal. It was clear from the moment they entered. And everything else in the scene made it clear, too. Stating it just made me start thinking and stop feeling—the exact opposite of what you want the audience to do in a moment like this.

And wow, they did not need to keep coming back to the shot of Geillis with her head partially severed from her neck, and the blood spurting. Ugh. Gross.

I did like Claire’s shock, and Jamie pulling her and Young Ian close. That was nice.

But of course, they get back onto a ship. And my first thought is that we just very volubly stated that Jamie could be taken—if he were at sea. (Spoilers: nothing comes of that. Inexplicably.)

I’m very distracted by the soap on Jamie’s face in this love scene. I know, nitpicky details. But soap tastes disgusting, and would be worse in this era—even if it’s expensive soap. There’s no way some of that isn’t going into Claire’s (Caitriona’s) mouth. Ah, finally wiping it off.

As much as I’m all for love scenes with Jamie and Claire—and this one’s dialogue was taken straight from the book—I hate to say it, but this is gratuitous sex. I’ve written a number of blog posts on sex scenes and romance, and the rule about sex is the same as the rule for any scene. If the scene isn’t pushing the plot forward or doing some other story duty (character development, raising stakes, creating conflict, etc.), it should be cut. And that scene should have been cut, because nothing happens except sex.

Or, rather, the scene should have been rewritten so that it acted as a way for Claire and Jamie to reconnect after everything that has just happened. If they’d had Jamie work through Claire’s trauma after killing Geillis, bringing her back with touch and love, this scene could have been amazing. Instead, it feels jarring. Here we are, after everything that has happened, and we’re getting this tongue-in-cheek, teasing, everyone’s happy and hunky-dory love scene. What??

And what about Young Ian? He was raped by Geillis. At least in the book, there was fallout from that act. Gabaldon dealt with it. She didn’t forget about it, or think we’d forget about it. I’m not thrilled with how it all worked out in the book, but she didn’t shy away from it, either. I don’t understand why they didn’t just cut that entirely. They are basically treating it as though it wasn’t a rape at all—which it entirely, 100%, was. And so was what happened to Fergus last season, but they dropped the ball on that one, too. What is up with that?

And then we’re tossed right into a storm. But there’s no sense that any of their actions are driving things forward here. It’s just random.

Why not write it so that they went into the storm because Jamie wasn’t on deck to tell them to avoid it? What if, like in the book, the Porpoise was actually pursuing them and that forced them into the storm? We could have lost the sex scene and done that instead. I still don’t understand why they cut the pursuit from the show. It feels like a mistake, even if I didn’t know how it worked in the book. There was very heavy-handed foreshadowing in the scene with LJG that never went anywhere—Chekhov’s gun that didn’t go off.

Basically, this episode is the culmination of all of their bad choices earlier in the season—and now not having enough time on this end to tell the story we need. They’re having to truncate everything, and the episode ends up just being a string of scenes that don’t feel totally connected.

The literal eye of the storm was a pretty visual, but I’m not getting the metaphor. What is the storm, exactly? Geillis and her prophecies?

Speaking of which, how does she manage to share that news? Did she send letters to like-minded people living in this time, and the word passes down 200 years until Brianna and Roger are living at Lallybroch? Or does someone else make a separate prophecy at some point?

The beach interlude was also baffling. It made more sense in the book to have Claire wake up in the house, and for their hosts to come and talk to them there. And at the end of the scene, the people just stroll away, no questions asked.

There also isn’t the sense of claiming their own identity again that we had in the books, since they’ve been using the name Fraser for most of the season, and certainly since arriving on Jamaica. That was always the big, dramatic bit for me, that pulled me through to the next book. Jamie has had to hide who he is for 20 years, even after Claire returned. But now he is in the New World, with a new start—and that allows him to regain his identity for the first time since Culloden. It’s a huge deal…and we didn’t get that sense at all.

All-in-all, I’m very disappointed with this season. The standout moments are the Jamie portions of the first few episodes, the much more nuanced and careful presentation of Yi Tien Cho, the lovely acting by David Berry, Fergus and Marsali’s relationship, and episode 312. Other than that…wow.

All I can say is that there is no Frank in Drums of Autumn (I don’t even remember any flashbacks, although it has been a while since I read it), and so maybe we will actually get a more balanced season four. One can hope.

Do you agree with my assessment of the season? I know several of you have been liking it, and that’s great! I really want to like it more, I swear. And I’m still hoping for the best as they move forward. There’s the potential for some truly epic stuff in the next book. *fingers crossed*

As usual, I will post a speculation page at some point during the hiatus to consider how to break Drums of Autumn into 13 episodes. But I doubt I’ll get that done until early 2018, as I still have to finish Secret Magic, the fourth book in my Fay of Skye series.

Despite my moaning and grumbling, I really do enjoy watching this show and writing this blog, and I enjoy getting comments from readers. So thanks for chiming in each week, and I can’t wait to see you all again for season four!

Advertisements

Episode 213 – Dragonfly in Amber

213dragonflyinamber

Here we are at the finale. I am both super excited and very sad that we’ll have to wait at least a year for more Outlander! But I still plan to blog during the hiatus. I think what I’m going to do is a re-read. I’ll start with Outlander and work my way through Voyager, since that will be season three’s main inspiration. I’ll have to figure out exactly how I want to spread that out to fill up 50ish weeks, and I’ll probably do other blogs when the Blu-Rays release and talk about deleted scenes.

Before I get started…I HATE that they chose to intercut the time periods. Every single time, it punctured the tension, no matter which direction they were moving. The ones toward the end of the story weren’t quite as bad, because both stories had picked up momentum, but probably all the way until the last ten minutes it was annoying to jump around.

OK, now into the finale!

In general, I’m a big fan of the changes they made to streamline the 1968 story. They gave action to different people than had it in the book, but it worked organically and in a much cleaner fashion than the clunky chapters at the end of the book. The Gillian stuff relied heavily on coincidence, but I’m willing to overlook that because it made everything move faster and gave Brianna a face-to-face relationship with the woman who would become Geillis Duncan.

The “title card” on “The Avengers” was…weird? I mean, I guess it places us well in the 60s, but it took me a while to figure out where we were and what was going on. Why are all of these kids here? And yes, I know who Roger is, and I could make an educated guess that this must be the Reverend’s funeral because of metatextual knowledge, but it takes forever for the show to tell us his name. Anyone who doesn’t know is going to be super confused. A good title card places us in space and time and sets up the theme for the episode. I’m not sure what “The Avengers” tells us about the story of “Dragonfly in Amber” and it doesn’t even set up time and place because we could be in 2016, streaming it online from anywhere in the world. So, title card fail.

213roger

Wee Roger, all grown up, and mourning his father.

But getting into the story, I am liking Richard Rankin. It is clear from his acting that he is just standing there, numb and devastated by the Reverend’s loss. And there’s Fiona, comforting him. I like this introduction better than the slightly more exasperated one of Roger already having dealt with the first blows of loss and now working through the aftermath of the Reverend’s “stuff.”

When Claire and Bree arrive, it’s a welcome distraction for him. Although I have to admit that it took me a while to recognize Claire. I was paying attention to the toast and trying to figure out the Scots, and then all of a sudden it was like, “Oh, that’s Claire. Weird makeup.”

When I watched it the second time, I noticed Fiona in the background as Roger searches for Bree – she’s plumping pillows and keeping a close eye on Roger.

The introductions are a little awkward, as Bree and Roger pretend they aren’t looking at each other, and Claire tries not to remember everything. Fiona is hilarious, giving Bree the stink-eye.

213fiona

I’ve got my eye on you, Yank.

I wish they hadn’t done the voice over as Claire looks over the mantelpiece. The music was more than enough.

I’m glad they moved Claire and Bree into the manse rather than a hotel. It makes things more immediate and draws them closer to Roger. And of course Claire notices Bree noticing Roger.

The change for how Claire finds out about Roger’s true name works well. And when he asks “how she did it” the first thing I thought was – how did she travel through time? But her answer is poignant and as raw for 20 years of grief as Roger’s is for only a few days.

And then we have the first break in time. I would have been OK with a brief “flash” back to Jamie, but the actual flashback, especially since Claire wasn’t there to witness the scene, feels jarring and odd. Then we’re all built up with doom and peril, and then we flash right back to Bree and Roger taking a happy drive with smooth tunes.

213BreeandRoger02

Warning – super cuteness ahead.

Bree and Roger poking each other over history is cute, but I’m not sure what it’s going to be setting up (other than referencing events that her parents will later witness and people her parents will later meet – like Benedict Arnold). Sure, having Bree react to the flogging post at Fort William makes sense, but otherwise I’m not sure what this is doing.

Claire’s visit to Lallybroch is much more poignant. After she promised to close off this portion of her past, everything is now flooding back. Except two hundred years have passed, and the house is a ruin. The Catullus reference is lovely and heartbreaking. I wish they’d found a way to put the quote inside the ring. This visit then instigates her visit to the records office.

But first we have to cut to the attic in Culloden, stopping the action in the 60s and shoving us into like a minute of high tension, then puncturing it again with a beautiful picnic by the loch. There are important things being discussed here, but it feels so much less important compared to planning to kill Prince Charles.

213BreeandRoger

Oh, Bree. You know that came out exactly right.  And who can blame you? I want him to see my BEDroom, too.

It is cute when Bree says Roger should see her bedroom and he takes it the way any red-blooded young man would; and then is flustered and rubs his head. Which, by the way, is a Dougal MacKenzie gesture.

I am not sure why they didn’t mention who owns Lallybroch now when Claire goes to the records office. Wouldn’t that be the point of her going to find out?

The relationship between Bree and Claire is at first teasing and fun, but then it switches to strife. Kids always see these things, and can sense the distance between their parents. Brianna knows something is wrong, but not what.

And then we jump again, and lose the thread of that scene to try and pick back up in the attic of Culloden House. This time, we see that Dougal is listening, but we don’t allow the action to proceed. Instead, there’s another jump so that Bree (and Roger) can meet Gillian Edgars. Will she remember Roger, now? It made sense that she wouldn’t know him after a brief encounter in the dark at Craigh na Dun, but she saw him and shook his hand. But when Roger and Buck go back, will she recognize the man she met (twice!!) in Scotland in 1968? Obviously she doesn’t know him as her seven-times great-grandson (or Buck as her son!) but will she remember his face? Or his name? Although perhaps Gillian/Geillis doesn’t really look at men except for how she can use them. And she would have sensed a kinship with Bree–the time traveler kinship–and perhaps focused on her instead.

Then we have Claire making disparaging remarks about Charlie at Culloden, and seeing the dragonfly in amber that was found on the battlefield.

But again we move in time. It would have made a little more sense to move here from Gillian, because the woman who led Dougal by the cock was Geillis. The dragonfly doesn’t make much sense as a jumping-off point, because she doesn’t give that to Jamie until much later.

The fight is fine, but I very much dislike how it ended. I don’t like the deliberateness, or Claire’s pushing the knife in. Dougal’s death was much cleaner in the book, much more a result of his attack on Jamie. Here, they had him down, and although he’s still struggling, I feel like they didn’t have to kill him. I’m sure the show wasn’t intending that viewers have that response, but it’s what I felt. In the book, it wasn’t quite an accident, but it happened during the heat of the battle. Here, because of the way it was shot and that Claire had time to jump in and help, it makes me question why they couldn’t have taken different action.

Then we jump again, back to a more light-hearted scene with Bree and Roger. Richard Rankin is SO CUTE when he sings the rat satire. And Sophie Skelton  play’s Brianna’s joint amusement and attraction well. I’m a little sad that we don’t go to St. Kilda and have their kiss, but I assume that will come at the beginning of season three.

213BreeandRoger03

Roger Mac, you may sing to me any time you like.

The rest of this scene follows the books, having them find the box and pictures.

Then we jump again. They do have Rupert be the one to see Dougal dead at Jamie’s hands. But what I don’t understand is why they had the scene play out the same way it did in the book. I would have much, much rather liked to have Rupert act differently, maybe witnessing more of the conflict and understanding what they were trying to do. It doesn’t feel right for Rupert to just let Jamie go, although I think from the way he looked at Claire, she was the reason he let it happen. It would have been better, I think, if Jamie had appealed on that basis – let me get Claire away, she’s innocent. I wonder why they didn’t do that?

213cullodenclanstone

Purple heather, with a little bit of white.

Claire at Culloden is a final catharsis for her. She says goodbye, after never being able to do it before. She has finally tried to put Jamie behind her, to make her peace with his death. I appreciate what they are doing, but it drains everything out of their leavetaking at Craigh na Dun. We know that she is going to finally come to terms with his death. It’s still devastating, still painful, but she has lived and is living now, for their daughter. I dunno. It’s beautiful and everything, but I wish they hadn’t done this. In the book, when she sees Jamie’s grave, she’s gutted. And then angry.

213BreeandRoger04

Research always brings people close together.

Back in the Reverend’s study, Brianna and Roger find the articles from when Claire disappeared and returned. Instead of Roger putting together the pieces later on his own and deciding not to tell Bree right away, they figure everything out together. This pushes the action forward and makes the confrontation happen faster. The pain and anger between Claire and Brianna is palpable and raw. I like that Bree asks Roger to stay and that they sit beside each other. In that moment, Bree feels closer to him than to her mother, and it’s good framing to have the character who is most emotionally vulnerable face the others.

Roger is fidgety and uncomfortable, but when Brianna would go, he stops her, reminding her that she wanted the truth. We see him rub his thumb over the back of her hand in a comforting gesture, and she settles back down.

213BreeandRoger05

I volunteer my hand as tribute.

We get a very brief flashback instead of the full story that comes in the book at this place. Again, everything is all out of order. We’ve already seen this in the future, so we know that Fergus will make it back to Lallybroch. In a way, that’s good, so we don’t worry about him.

But it’s an awfully brief cut to supposedly encompass the whole story that Claire has just told when we flash back to the 60s. They keep Brianna’s reaction pretty much the same, including her storming out and saying hurtful things. They do bring back the Deed of Sacine as proof, so when the show flashes back, there’s some connection. It is nice that they acknowledge Fergus as Claire and Jamie’s adopted son.

213fergus

I eagerly await casting news for adult Fergus, but there’s no way they will find anyone who can beat this kid for cuteness.

Brianna and Roger work nicely together, even when they’re at odds. I like that he’s there for Bree, willing to say difficult things to her, and doesn’t just try to say what she wants to hear because he likes her and wants to stay close to her. Roger is a stand-up man. And, to be honest, I’m way more enamored with him than Jamie.

I could, once again, live without the voice over when Claire recognizes Gillian/Geillis on the pamphlet, but I’m glad that Claire goes to visit Greg and that we don’t have the weird visits to the Institute. This scene works well to get Gillian’s notebooks into Claire’s hands and is much faster.

Gillian running into Bree at the pub is a bit more coincidence, but it makes a little sense that the Roses would come and celebrate after their rally. The next voice over is actually necessary to give us the information about Geillis, since there’s no good way to have Claire deliver that information via dialogue.

Back to Culloden, where Jamie gives Murtagh his orders. But Murtagh, as always, will go his own way. The show doesn’t deal directly with Culloden (and so avoids the issue of BJR’s death for this season), but it does frame Murtagh’s death with significance – he will fall beside Jamie, beside his laird and godson, where he belongs.

213murtagh

Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser, grinning in the face of death.

With a little liquid courage, Bree comes back to talk to Claire. Claire tells her that she fought against what she felt for him, but it was the most powerful thing she’d ever felt in her life. Roger is still looking at the research – deciding whether or not to tell Claire.

Bree liked Gillian. There is a definite connection between travelers, an instant thing that makes them want to like each other, even though the others may be a little crazy. This helps explain why Claire was willing to overlook eccentricity and creepiness with Geillis (even murder…although only when she thought she was coming to act as a healer) and some of the same things with Master Raymond. Not so much on Le Compte, though. And he’s even of Raymond’s “family” so that doesn’t mesh quite as well with the theory. Or maybe the particular circumstances of their meeting overshadowed what could have been a different time-traveler connection.

Roger’s explanation to Bree makes sense, and yet, I feel like he’s already started to believe Claire. He’s a historian, and he’s seen the Deed of Sacine and the research done by his father.

I would have liked a reference to the baby earlier than here, even though this is how it happened in the book. I’m not sure how they would have done it, but some kind of acknowledgment of the pregnancy in the last episode would have worked. Then we don’t have to mess around with dates and times and courses here, and can just move forward with the knowledge that Jamie will never let Claire die with him while she’s carrying their child.

213claireandjamie

Of course I kept track. I color-code the daybook in my sporran. Green=we had sex. Yellow=you were kidnapped. Red=you had your courses. (There are no blank days in Jamie’s daybook.)

Back in 1968, it looks like Gillian is wearing that odd grey outfit of felted wool from (I think) the first time we met her in the gardens at Leoch. I like that connection, but hate that they had Roger say “fucking barbecue.” What a terrible callback, and for such a terrible reason.

I also feel like the fact that Bree and Roger can both hear the stones would have been much more significant if we’d already seen Jamie and Claire at Craigh na Dun and had Jamie tell her he couldn’t hear it and touch the stone and have nothing happen. I don’t mind that we don’t have the quite as dramatic scene as the book, where Roger has to pull Bree back from going through with Gillian, but without having the Jamie scene first, we lose almost all sense that Bree and Roger can travel, too.

In general, I feel like we focused on the wrong things at Craigh na Dun with Jamie and Claire. That last frantic coupling made sense after a night of softer passion, but feels super awkward here. And I super miss them carving their initials in each other’s palms. I knew it wasn’t going to happen, but that’s one of the things I like most – that they literally carve themselves into each other to remember forever.

EDIT: Diana Gabaldon shone some light on the not-carving thing on her Facebook page. She mentions logistics (like how the blood knife for the blood-bonding ceremony was awful) as one of the possible reasons why they wrote this out of the series. And it would be an additional piece of makeup for the actors, since they would need a scar prosthetic put on their hands at all times, and hands are not a good place for makeup since we use them a lot. So I get it. But man, do I miss it. The stupid dragonfly doesn’t pack nearly the same emotional punch.

I am glad that they kept his speech about Purgatory, and loving Claire well. I wonder why they had him give her the ring, though? It becomes a little important later in the series…maybe there are two? And it’s just a tiny little Easter egg for book readers, it doesn’t actually have any significance except to prompt Claire to say she’ll name the child for Brian Fraser.

213claireandjamie02

If that tear is real, they must have done 500 takes to capture it. Either that, or it was total happenstance on take one. Or CGI.

The one thing I like is that Jamie was actually there, and literally held her hand, when she passed through. The fight with the redcoats made it more likely that Jamie would actually die there, at Craigh na Dun. It helped explain why she wanted to know the outcome of the battle, and whether he’d made it there, but since they weren’t doing that in the show, this works really well.

213claireandjamie03

Claire, you’re going to miss the awesome knitwear, aren’t you?

Oh, man, another reference to secrets but not lies. But it’s good that Brianna finally believes. And that Roger can now share what he knows – that Jamie survived.

They basically ended it where I thought they would, right where the book ends.

Except Claire is staring up at Craigh na Dun, and the music is sweeping, and there’s glorious sunlight, and she says she wants to go back, and all I can think is – THERE’S A DEAD BODY UP THERE DOES NO ONE REMEMBER GREG EDGARS JUST DIED???

213craignadun

THERE IS A DEAD BODY LITERALLY RIGHT IN FRONT OF US.

So, yeah. The end was a little soured for me by that. I’m sure I’ll get over it, but wow.

In general, I liked the changes made to the 1960s. They made everything flow more easily and much, much faster. They also started us off with tension between Bree and Claire rather than presenting them first as a somewhat typical mother and daughter. I know Diana Gabaldon has said that Bree was a difficult character for her, and I think we’re benefiting from the fact that she got to know her much better over the years, and we can jump right in with a good sense of who she is and how she would react in these situations.

Really, what bugged me were the time jumps. But if they hadn’t cut it that way, it would have been much more obvious that we only had like 15 minutes of material in the 1740s. Well, maybe 20. But not even half of the episode took place with Jamie and Claire. By chopping it up and serving it in tiny slices, it helped give the appearance that we’re really telling Jamie and Claire’s story. But I’m not fooled, and the sheer number of Bree and Roger screencaps in this blog should tell you where the emphasis really was for the episode.

And don’t get me wrong. I love Roger and Brianna. Or maybe I really just love Roger, but whatever. So I am happy to spend all kinds of time with him. But I feel like the show has completely moved away from Jamie and Claire now. Like even their final scene at the stones was undercut by the knowledge that Claire has now found peace. I think that’s supposed to pay off in the final scene, when Claire has to re-evaluate everything and decides to go back, but that didn’t work for me at all.

I guess, to sum up, there are lots of things to love about this episode. Gorgeous costuming, beautiful shots, incredible performances. Some very well-written scenes, particularly between Brianna and Claire. But an overall disappointment because of the intercutting killing the tension and there just not being enough Jamie and Claire.

What did you think?

 

 

Speculations – Season Two Finale

Murtagh01

Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser. Simply the best.

I was going to speculate about the next seasons this week, but I decided to sit down and think about changes that have been made this season and how they might shape the finale.

The truth is, of course, that for everything that was changed, most things were later wrangled back to match the course of the book. But there are still some lingering issues that may cause us to move in a different direction next week.


Rupert is alive.

Rupert survived the church, and I think the chances are that he will survive Culloden. Perhaps he will choose to desert with the Lallybroch men and go to live as Young Jamie’s tacksman during the long awful years that will follow. Depending on how closely they stick to the events of the book, Rupert may witness Jamie kill Dougal. Speculation on various fan pages is that Rupert is still loyal to Dougal and won’t be as easy to intimidate as the random Willie from the book. That may lead to another speculation – that Murtagh will die holding off the vengeful MacKenzies as Claire and Jamie escape to Craig na Dun. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. For one thing, if that were the case, Jamie isn’t going to be able to go back to the battle. It’s a bit of a loose-end in the book that Jamie decides to go back and “get lost” in the confusion and throw himself in front of the British cannon. Of course, it doesn’t matter to him at that point who kills him. But if he goes back to protect the Lallybroch men specifically (as it seems Claire thought he did at the beginning of the season), then there can’t be a big stromash over Dougal’s death.

So I think Rupert has been disillusioned by battle and war and death, and has latched on to Ross, and feels his loyalty split. So he will understand why Jamie and Claire would contemplate a last-ditch effort to thwart certain death.

Lotte Verbeek accidentally revealed that she is in the finale.

I really hope that this news doesn’t mean that we’re doing Gillian Edgars in the finale. At least, not the whole shebang. If anything, it would be useful for Claire to perhaps encounter her by “accident” in Inverness. But if I were the writers, I would save her part of the story for Season Three. Still, the fact that she’s in this episode means we’re either going to deal more directly with her Geillis persona or at least introduce the younger Gillian in 1968. I am quite afraid that we’re going to spend the bulk of our 90-minute finale in the twentieth century. I hope not, but her presence worries me. I certainly don’t think that they will reveal that Geillis did not burn at the stake at all, and is living comfortably in Paris during the events of the Rising.

Murtagh is amazing and everyone loves him.

Not that BookMurtagh isn’t amazing, but he doesn’t quite reach the level of TVMurtagh. One of the reasons (aside from Rupert being the likely choice to see Jamie killing Dougal) that people are speculating that Murtagh will fall defending the Frasers as they retreat to Craig na Dun is because the fandom wants him to have a meaningful death. And while we later find out in the books that Murtagh died protecting Jamie on the field at Culloden (something Jamie did not thank him for at the time), that is not revealed for a LONG TIME. The show will probably try to deal with his death a little more directly and promptly. I’m not convinced that he’ll die fighting off the MacKenzies, but he might be shown dying at Culloden. Or he might come with them to Craig na Dun and fall defeating the redcoat patrol that finds them there.

TV is an immediate, visual medium and it will be difficult to obscure Black Jack Randall’s death (without some level of fandom outrage).

If you aren’t a book reader, you may not realize that we still don’t know exactly how BJR died. Jamie has trauma-induced amnesia about the battle of Culloden, and has only ever remembered snatches of it. All he knows is that he woke up underneath BJR’s dead body, and assumes that BJR may have actually protected him (accidentally or on purpose) from being killed. Jamie does not know whose hand struck the killing blow for BJR, and from things that Jamie has told Brianna, I think he has made peace with that fact. I don’t know that we’ll ever find out exactly how Randall died. Or, if we do, it’s going to be part of the mythical last scenes of the final book, when we’ll find out the truth of Jamie’s ghost in Inverness. I believe Diana has said that that was Jamie during the battle, or perhaps in that moment while he was passed out.

But what I’m really getting to, here, is that I don’t think that level of obscurity will fly on TV. They may try it anyway, to stay consistent with the books, but I’m not sure how well that will work. I mean, I can see how they would do it, but I just don’t know how well they’ll get away with it. Also, BJR is way, way more monstrous in the show. In the book, I hated him, but kinda understood some of what drove him. His love and devotion to his brother made him a complex and much more interesting character. But after last week’s episode, I think we’re fully down the dark path that we started in “The Garrison Commander.” And that Black Jack needs to die horribly, on screen, where everyone can see it, and where there are no questions about how or why.

At least that’s how I feel. I may be wrong. And I’m not even sure I want to be right or wrong. It will be interesting either way.


 

So that’s my speculation for next week. As I’ve stated on my Season Two Speculation page, I think they will open in 1968 and get all the way to St. Kilda before flashing back to 1746. Others have speculated that the two storylines will be intercut, and while that’s possible, I can’t imagine how they’ll manage to build the tension of both stories simultaneously.

Do you have any wild speculations about the season finale? Or have I completely overlooked a change that will have long-term, rippling effects? Leave a comment and let me know!

Speculation – Seasons Three AND Four!!

Happy Outlander Day everyone! We received the news today that Outlander has been renewed for two more seasons!

The only hitch is that the press release mentioned they would be drawing from both Voyager and Drums of Autumn. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I think Voyager needs to be two seasons. But we don’t know yet how many episodes were ordered (I didn’t see that in the release, anyway – if someone has seen that information, please comment and let me know!), so it is possible that we’re getting longer seasons as well. If we have, say, 16-18 episodes per season, we could get at least partway through Drums by season four.

I can also see them trimming down Claire and Jamie’s separation and focusing more on what happens once Claire returns to the 1700s. I think that it’s important to spend a few episodes apart, but if there’s an episode for The Dun Bonnet, an episode for Ardsmuir, and an episode (or maybe two) for Helwater, that should do it. Then they have the rest of the season to do Edinburgh/smuggling, return to Lallybroch/Laoghaire, the seal’s cove/Young Ian, and finally their departure for the West Indies. If it were me, I would end season three there. But they may go all the way through until we see Geillis again.

Either way, that leaves plenty of room for season four to see them through the early days in North Carolina, meeting with Jocasta, and finally reaching the Ridge. It would be a very nice endpoint to get them there, just in case we don’t get a season five. And they can film two endings – if there’s a renewal, then in the last episode Bree finds the article about the Big House burning and goes back. If not, we wrap things up and she and Roger get to be happy together in the 60s.

I will do a full breakdown of my predictions (episode-by-episode, like I did for season two), during the hiatus, assuming that they make public how many episodes have been ordered.

No matter what, though, I am super excited!!

This concludes your unusual mid-week blog post from Outlander Spoilers!

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*

Episode 104 – The Gathering

I’ll start by saying that this is one of my least favorite episodes. Now, that’s not saying I actively disliked it or hated it. Just that I had more problems with it than I had with any of the others so far. Even the pilot, with all of its VO/pacing issues, could be forgiven a little. It had to wrestle with a massive amount of exposition and manage to ground us in Claire’s 1940s world in a short period of time before thrusting her and us into the 1740s. That’s yet another argument in favor of a two-hour or at least two-part premiere. More space to pace the story.

But I’m beating that horse into the earth, so I’ll get back to The Gathering.

Here are a few of my big issues:

  • Claire is trying to be a super spy, but has somehow missed the fact that there will be extra guards around and that these guys drink heavily every day. Side question: did anyone else think of Metal Gear when she’s darting through the shadows? I totally envisioned a big red exclamation point over the head of the first drunk clansman she encounters, and then, just like in the game, a bunch of other guys materialized out of nowhere. Claire doesn’t quite have Snake’s skillz, but she does manage to get one guy in the stones. Good job Claire!
  • The wisdom of Claire’s escape attempt is also problematic in the book, although in the book she doesn’t have this master plan with how many steps between guard stations and such. She also doesn’t have official “minders,” so doesn’t have to come up with distractions. The way it works is that pretty much everyone in the castle is keeping an eye on her. So the fact that they all have a lot of work to do for the Gathering is, in itself, a distraction that she plans to make use of. BookClaire doesn’t know about the extra guards because she hasn’t been making huge plans. It’s almost a last-minute decision: “OK, the staff’s busy, there are extra horses in the stables, and there’s going to be this big oath-taking where all of the warrior guys will be distracted. I’ll grab some food and head out.” So when Jamie explains about the trackers and guards, we don’t feel like she ought to have known better. But I do feel that way in the show because they try so hard to show us how smart and resourceful she’s being.
  • The kid playing Hamish is very good, but the rest of the mock boar hunt scene was weirdly awkward. Caitriona was being a little too condescending to the kids; I’m not sure if that was how she thought Claire would be (Claire having zero experience with children), or if it came out of having to do 20 takes with a passel of children who would probably have liked to be doing something else. In any case, it was distracting to me, and to my husband. He said it was the first time in the series so far that he thought it was “too TV.” That’s a pretty broad phrase for him, and includes: overacting, cheesy “swells” of music, flowery dialogue, wooden acting, clichés in plot or dialogue, stereotyping, and a host of other things I’m forgetting. He said the interaction with the kids was stilted, and I have to agree with him.
  • I was a wee-bit weirded out at Rupert and Angus drawing straws over who got to “settle their cock to roost,” with the lass by the cook pot, and even more weirded out that Claire encouraged this. But I was mildly assuaged when we later saw that the girl had made up her own mind who she wanted. (I’d pick Rupert over Angus, too).
  • Geillis. I’ve already said that, by the end of the scene in her parlor in 103, most of the internet had started to guess that she was a traveler. In this scene in Claire’s surgery, people were sure of it. The “when I first arrived in Cranesmuir with just my wits” bit couldn’t have been more obvious. So much for surprise smallpox vaccination scars. Although Claire will have to explain that one to the audience as much as Jamie, since we don’t vaccinate for that anymore in the US. Hmm…that’s an interesting question. I wonder when they stopped doing those? I’m in my thirties and didn’t get it. So when the younger MacKenzies show up in the late 70s, it wouldn’t have been a standard vaccine. Would Bree have had Jem and Mandy vaccinated in 1980, knowing they were going back? “Uncle” Joe could have hooked her up with the vaccine, I’m sure.
  • Colum & Dougal, again. This is tying in to the same issue I brought up in my 102 review. Obviously Colum is the star of the Gathering (and looks much more lairdly with his hair pulled back and face shaved), but there was definite tension when Dougal took his oath. Then he went off immediately and got totally shit-faced, rather than standing by Colum’s side as he did in the books. Now, let me remind everyone that I’m not opposed to changes. I’m just not sure I like where this one is going. But I’ll say more about it in a later blog (which I will post during the hiatus…OMG, I can’t believe we have to wait until APRIL) devoted to the brothers MacKenzie.
  • The bit with Laoghaire is both intriguing and problematic. It’s obviously another piece to add to the witch pile later, but I’m not sure that Claire would have done this. Later in the story, she begrudgingly starts to mix superstition with her healing because she hopes it might encourage people to actually do what she tells them (like she does with Mary MacNab in Dragonfly– Claire gives her the carved stones from Monsieur Raimond as a charm against the devils Mary believes are causing Rabbie’s seizures). But what Laoghaire asks for isn’t healing. It has no other explanation other than magic. So I dunno. It just doesn’t feel right. I will try to put it down as a snap decision, made under pressure, and out of character because she didn’t have time to think it through or figure a way out of it.
  • Claire beating Dougal over the head. I’m fine with Claire taking a more active role in repelling his advances (in the book she freezes with fear, and Dougal leaves of his own accord), so the slap didn’t bother me. But the rest of this scene was jarring to me. I can’t explain why. Maybe because, when she tells Jamie about it, he laughs it off instead of being pissed at Dougal.
  • Rupert knocking Jamie out. It was overkill, and out of character for Rupert. I have some questions about Rupert’s role in this scene anyway. Both in the book and in the show, Rupert is among the clansmen who force Jamie to go to the oath-taking. Rupert is supposed to be Dougal’s man, and Dougal wants Jamie as far from the oath-taking as possible, so why does Rupert push Jamie into it? Is this his misguided way of forcing the issue between uncle and nephew to come to a head? Or does he think Jamie would actually make a good laird? I’m not sure. I’ll come back to Rupert when I talk about Colum and Dougal in the separate blog.
  • The cheering when Colum accepts Jamie’s not-oath. It was way too enthusiastic, unless they’re cheering because now the party can really get started.
  • Claire apparently forgets about her patient who needs his leg stitched after the tynchal. I mean, I get it. A man just died at your feet, which is enough to distract anyone. And then you had some prime manflesh running around in front of you, beating each other with sticks. But I would have appreciated at least some acknowledgment that she was going to go off and finish stitching the dude’s wound.

That’s pretty much it. And none of those are dealbreakers, it’s just that there are quite a few of them. Of course there were still plenty of things I liked about the episode:

  • Claire’s little pout when Jamie wasn’t in the stables at first. “I don’t mean to be a bother to him.” Oh, Claire. You know you aren’t. And it’s so cute that you’re worried about what he thinks. Here’s a hint: he’s in love with you.
  • Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser. I love him so hard in the books, and Duncan LaCroix and the writers are totally delivering the best of Murtagh. You just know that Jamie took Murtagh aside that morning and said, “Look out for Mistress Beauchamp today. She’ll not know the Gaidhlig and I can’t be there to translate for her.” Then, when Jamie shows up at the oath-taking, Murtagh lays it all out for Claire, including her complicity in Jamie’s danger, with devastating understatement. And he tops it all off with a Lethal Weapon reference (well, Matt Roberts does): “I’m getting too old for this.” Love, love, love.
  • Jamie’s face when Claire tells him about the drunken clansmen. I immediately pictured an older version of that face, with the hints of violence and vengeance blossoming into a berserk rage, holding Bobble in the air and slowly, slowly breaking his neck. I got chills. I can’t say this often enough, or with enough emphasis: Sam Heughan is Jamie Fraser. We see it again when he and Claire are apprehended by the guards and the young guy says “can I keep the lass?” Jamie flips out. Here is a hint to anyone who is thinking about touching/hurting Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser: Jamie Fraser will end you.
  • Three words: Je Suis Prest.
  • The blocking in the scene where the clansmen are putting Jamie into his finery. He keeps his back to the wall so no one will see his scars.
  • Sam totally nailing Jamie’s gestures. Jamie sends Claire out to the hall to find a place to watch. As she’s leaving the room, if you look behind her, you’ll see Jamie “shrugging his shoulders as though his shirt is too tight.” Then, when he stands in the doorway, trying to decide what he’s going to do, his fingers drum against his leg. Sam, I love you. You are doing so much justice to this part!
  • Jamie knocking back the quaich of whiskey. I did miss the line about the clan “whose taste in whiskey is so fine,” but it’s all good.
  • Geordie’s death. This scene was so beautiful and poignant. The actor playing Geordie was fantastic, and between his acting and the writing, I mourned for this character who we have never met before the moment of his death. That’s when you know you’re doing a good job.
  • Jamie putting the smack down on Dougal. Sam’s expression goes almost berserk, but then pulls it back. I imagine Jamie had to take a very strong hold on his instincts, otherwise he would have brained Dougal with his shinty stick (I assume it has an actual name). And then he looks up and when he sees Claire, his expression lightens. But my absolute favorite bit is when he and Murtagh leave the pitch, and he says, “Did we win?” Perfection.
  • The moment of genuine accord between Dougal and Claire in the surgery, when he thanks her for what she did for Geordie. They immediately revert to antagonism, but for just a moment, they understand each other.
  • Jamie looking over his shoulder to make sure Claire is OK as they ride away from Leoch. I love those little touches that remind us that he is aware of her at all times.

The best thing about “The Gathering” is the fact that we’ll be getting out of Leoch and onto the road! And that road is going to lead first to a wedding, and then to a deep and powerful love that will change our characters forever. So that’s something to look forward to.