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 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.
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.)
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.
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?
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.
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!