Episode 304 – Of Lost Things

 

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Last week’s blog post definitely struck a chord with some people—and not necessarily one in tune. Sorry for any misunderstandings, but I have to say I’m not sorry for my opinions. If I got something factually wrong, please feel free to let me know. And I’m open to changing my mind based on different interpretations, so also don’t hesitate to tell me what you think. More than once, someone else’s comments have swayed me to a different perspective. But do please try to be courteous to other opinions, and don’t malign or insult anyone who doesn’t agree with you—me, or any other people who comment on my blog. I reserve the right to delete malicious comments.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about episode 304! I am so glad we’re getting into the meat of the material from Voyager. I think it’s fair to say that one of my many criticisms of the change in focus this season from the book is that we don’t get to spend as much time with Roger and Brianna. They’re going to be much larger players in season four, and it would have been nice to see them more this season—especially since, once Claire returns to the 18th century, we won’t see them again. Unless the show does something really different!

I loved the title card of the carving of the snake. I’m writing this commentary as I watch the episode for the first time, so at this point I assume it’s Jamie carving for Willie (in reverse of the way the original was carved), but I could end up being wrong (nope!). And the snake was lost a time or two—or Jamie believed it was—so the title of the episode (“Of Lost Things”) actually fits with this specific image, and not just thematically with the episode (Jamie is lost to Claire; Claire, William, and his unknown child are lost to Jamie).

Rogers Research Board

Roger’s research boards are fantastic. I tried to freeze-frame and read some of the notes, but they’re just enough out of focus that it’s hard to make out anything but the big “post-its.” I love Roger’s reaction to Claire finding Jamie on the Ardsmuir rolls—“never too early for a whisky.”

Sam is amazing in this episode. The interview with Dunsany is fantastic—he reveals just enough to show the viewer the pain of Jamie’s loss, but he’s also containing it, showing Dunsany that Jamie is the master of his emotions. There’s even a little bit of defiance. That earns him Dunsany’s respect—and a warning to remember that he’s still a prisoner. I liked the inclusion of the phrase “the Scottish prisoner”—a nod to the novel of the same title set during Jamie’s years at Helwater.

Many Faces of Jamie Fraser

Roger is adorable. And so is Bree. The little interlude at the car made me smile. There was a lot of speculation on the internet about why it was Roger under the bonnet and not Bree, but this scene played out wonderfully in reversing expectations.

So did, amazingly, the scene with Jamie and Isobel. She’s young and naïve, but very likable. She’ll be a fantastic adoptive mother for William, and, I think, a good wife for John. She’s pretty much a non-entity in the books, so I’m really glad they’re giving her more of a personality and spirit in the show.

To the commenter who was worried we wouldn’t hear a “Lady Jane”—there it is! I’m a little confused about what they’re trying to portray in the scene with the phone call, though. Is this Claire, torn between her two worlds, or Claire grieving for someone who we haven’t yet met, or something else? Her curtness with ending the phone conversation tells me she’s feeling something very deeply, I’m not just sure what it is. I hope they make whatever it is clear by the end of the episode. (Note—they didn’t. Maybe next week, once she’s back in Boston?).

Marriage to an Earl

Despite how young the actors playing the Dunsany sisters appeared in their headshots, in the show they look much older, and I’m very, very glad of it. They also seem to have picked an actor who looks a lot like Caitriona Balfe to play Geneva—enough that I think it’s going to become part of what happens with Jamie and Geneva. (note—it doesn’t, at least not in any obvious way).

I’m surprised by how much I like Geneva. Oh, she isn’t perfect, and she’s spoiled and headstrong. But I think she cannot be completely awful. She laughs when Jamie drops her in the mud, and is half in love with him. Yes, she goes about everything wrong, but she’s an heiress and is about to be thrust into an untenable situation. She’s grabbing something she wants before she loses her freedom to do so.

Geneva in the Mud

I’m extremely intrigued by the addition of Hal into the Helwater portion! It was delicious to see him, John, and Jamie together, especially since Hal must know very well what John thinks about Jamie. But it makes sense, because it is an easier explanation for how Geneva discovers her blackmail material than the theft of letters.

In the end it’s the same, though—it’s Geneva’s threat to Lallybroch (though much more subtle than in the book) that sways Jamie. And as much as he dislikes her as he comes to her room, there’s a certain angry respect that he has for her as he disrobes. His display of his scars is both reluctant and deliberate.

Jamie Disrobes

Thank God they changed the script in this scene, letting Jamie offer her a way out, and affirming her consent. She’s ruthless in her methods, but it’s because she’s scared and trapped in a situation she can’t control, and is trying to find any way to claim that control. Jamie doesn’t really want to be there, but he’s made his peace with it, and is gentle with her. They definitely improved on what is in the books, while keeping the best of the dialogue from the text—Jamie’s talk of love versus lust, and describing his feelings for Claire. I’m very happy with this adaptive choice!

I’m so glad Brianna kissed Roger first!

Things go a little differently in the show at Ellesmere than they did in the book, but I’m glad they had Isobel and Jamie have a moment—even a moment of anger—to show her mettle. And then a reconciliation afterward, when she comes to terms with her sister’s death and the fact that Jamie is the father of her nephew. And for both Isobel and Lady Dunsany to give Jamie a moment with the child that everyone knows—but will never acknowledge—is his…I wept. And the longing in Jamie’s eyes when she spoke of Scotland—but the knowledge that he has a son, and that his son needs him, keeps him away from the rest of his family. Until leaving him is what will protect him better.

Claire Whisky

Claire’s despair is nearly palpable as she gives up on her search and heads back to Boston. I can’t decide if I like that better as a reason to get her back to the US and encounter Geillis’s skeleton or not. In the book, she goes back to take care of the business of her life, leaving things settled for Brianna as she prepares to go back to the past. Here, she takes Brianna with her in every expectation that they will stay in Boston. Although she’s left the clue of “Freedom and Whisky” for Roger, who I suppose will continue the search on his own in the next episode. So I’ll have to see how everything plays out next week in order to make a more informed decision.

Jamie and John Friendship

Aww. Sadness. The scene where Jamie offers himself to John in return for caring for Willie was well-acted, but I’m disappointed that they didn’t follow the book exactly. Both Sam and David are great, and they both capture the welter of confused emotions both men experience in this scene, so it’s certainly not a criticism of the acting. But I always thought it was sweet and poignant that Jamie kissed John, because he knew what it would mean to John, and his acknowledgment of their friendship and the desire to give John something meaningful overcame his memories of Black Jack Randall. It’s a little odd that they decided to cut it. The handshake with the deliberate touch calling back to the previous episode after the chess game is all well and good, but it’s not really the same. But I shall live with my disappointment.

My heart breaks hearing Jamie talk about a woman out there for Willie—one who might find him. One of the women he cared about in the books is dead, and the other is married to Young Ian. I really hope DG gives him his happy ending soon. Adaptation-wise, giving him the snake is poignant, but not quite as portable as the rosary, and it’s the kind of thing that’s easy to leave behind when you grow up, dismissing it as childish. The rosary is different.

Willies Snake

In the post-episode talk, Toni Graphia says they changed it because the rosary would have been taken from Jamie at Ardsmuir, but I thought it was something that was smuggled to him afterward, once he was at Helwater. I just checked the book and I don’t see anything definitive there about the rosary’s origins, although it’s mentioned in the section when Jamie is thinking about setting up the letters, and in the scene where he baptizes Willie, it’s mentioned that the Virgin Mary statue came from Jenny to Helwater, so that’s probably why I thought the rosary came the same way. I couldn’t find a mention of it in the Ardsmuir section (and it would have been found when he was searched for the gems, or afterward when the tartan was discovered). If anyone has a digital edition and wants to do a search for “rosary” and get a definitive answer, I would appreciate it. Until then, I don’t see why he couldn’t have gotten it from Jenny, although they didn’t establish in the show that he was communicating with his family, either.

But this is one of those changes that will ripple outward and make later meetings different. It’s especially noticeable in this episode, when Claire gets Ellen Fraser’s pearls back and will, presumably, give them to Brianna before she returns through the stones. And then Brianna will bring them with her when she follows her mother a year or so later. Not that these pearls are nearly as distinctive as the ones described in the book, but I suppose they’ll do the trick well enough when she lays them before the Murrays and Laoghaire.

Plot Relevant Pearls

Jamie’s face just before the final fade to black makes me cry. Even though he knows John and Isobel will take care of Willie, and raise him to be a good man, it tears him apart to leave behind his son.

The preview for next week makes it seem like Claire will return by the end of the next episode, which is good. I do wonder what they’re going to show us of Jamie’s life between leaving Helwater and when Claire returns. I know some people think they will actually show his marriage, but I don’t think they will. I think they’ll save that to shock viewers just as Claire is shocked.

What did you think of this episode? I didn’t feel nearly as jolted by the back-and-forth between time periods this week, probably because there was more care drawn to connect them thematically. It still isn’t unnoticeable, but it worked better, especially the closing scenes where both Claire and Jamie are leaving precious things behind.

Let me know your opinion in the comments. But remember—be respectful. Thanks!

 

(images are the property of Starz and are used here for entertainment value and to provide additional commentary on the episode)

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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 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!

Casting News and a Synopsis

I haven’t posted in a while, sorry! I haven’t had much reading time lately, and my next plan for this blog was to do a series re-read. I actually made it through about a quarter of Outlander and wrote most of a blog post before I gave up. There’s too much on my plate right now.

It was probably a little ambitious when I decided that I could release four books in a year, but I’m pushing to do just that. My next book is out October 17th (you can preorder it here), and I’m looking at February and June of  2017 for books three and four. I’m also working on a serialized prequel to be released on a staggered schedule in between releases. That’s a lot of work!!

But there have been a bunch of casting announcements and I’m totally on board with all of them, so I wanted to jump over here and say how excited I am to see the world of Outlander expanding.

There’s also a season synopsis that is making me re-think my episode breakdown. When I have the time, I will do some adjustments accordingly, but for now, I’ve posted the full text of the synopsis on the Season Three Speculation page.

Now, on to the casting news!

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David Berry’s beautiful headshot. Image from EW.com.

David Berry isn’t a perfect match for Lord John Grey, but he is VERY PRETTY. I’ll have to head-canon him down almost a foot though; he’s nearly as tall as Sam Heughan. 🙂 With some highlights to bring him from brown to sandy-blond, he’ll be a good fit.

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John Bell as Bain in The Hobbit movies. Image from theonering.org.

John Bell looks maybe a little too cute to be “homely” Young Ian, but it’s hard to convince studios to hire un-beautiful people. And you can argue that Steven Cree isn’t exactly homely, either, and Jennifer Donnelly is bloody stunning. So we were probably never going to get a plain Ian.

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Wil Johnson. Image from The British Blacklist.

I didn’t have a very good image in my head for Joe Abernathy, except maybe James Earl Jones because of the descriptions of his voice. But now that Wil Johnson’s been cast, he fits seamlessly into my imagination. I can’t wait to see him and Caitriona Balfe chatting about Bree’s real father!

Here’s a link to the EW article about Young Ian and Joe Abernathy, and the one about David Berry.

 

And now we have an Adult Fergus!!

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César Domboy. Image from Zimbio.

This is César Domboy. I’ll be honest. He looks nothing like the Fergus in my head. But that’s OK, because he both looks like he could be an older Romann Berrux and a possible ancestor of/in the same family tree as Caitriona Balfe, depending on how much you read into the Saint Germain/Percy Wainwright stuff in the later books.

Another possible issue is that he is super young-looking (he’s 26 and looks about 20). Fergus is supposed to be about 30 in 1768. But again, considering that he’s supposed to be an older Romann Berrux, that might work (Romann is 15, playing 9 or 10). And, since Marsali is only 15/16 (I think…I need to check that), casting a younger actor who looks like he’s barely 20 is probably a wise decision.

On a side note, he looks strikingly like my husband. No, really. Like, I could be looking at pictures of my husband from when we met 13 years ago, except with way nicer clothes. It’s pretty crazy. 🙂

Here’s a link to the EW announcement. They also teased a Season 3 reveal of another member of the extended Fraser family. Anyone want to guess who they mean? I’ve got some theories–post yours in the comments!

 

And here’s Marsali!

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Lauren Lyle. Image from EW.

Lauren Lyle is a relative newcomer, but she looks a lot like Nell Hudson, so as long as she has the acting chops I can totally see this. The EW article announcing her says they are playing Marsali as 18, which I suppose is a good thing, since they are canonically 15 and 30 in the book (in chapter 41 of Voyager, Marsali shouts that she’s 15 and old enough to get married, and Jamie shouts back that Fergus is 30). I’m not sure what they’ll do about Fergus’s age, except ret-conning him younger in Paris, but 18 and 30 isn’t as big a gap (especially since it makes her legally an adult in American culture) as 15 and 30.

And now we have the Dunsany sisters, Mr. Willoughby (sigh) and Captain Leonard!

First, the Dunsanys:

On the left is Hannah James playing Geneva. On the right is Tanya Reynolds playing the younger Isobel.

All I can say is…wow. I mean, they’re pretty close to what I imagined in the books, but I was kinda hoping they would cast up in age. According to Tanya’s agency page, she’s supposed to be cast in ages 21-25 roles, but looks about like she’s 14. Hannah James is 24 but looks 16. I forget the girls’ actual ages in the books, but I think that’s pretty close. And it has always, always bothered me that Jamie actually goes through with it with Geneva, a minor (which is not even to engage with the fact that she says no…there are plenty of other people talking about that elsewhere in the fandom). And afterward, they do it again (at least she actually asks him that time…but still…a minor). It wouldn’t have killed them to cast an actress who actually looks like she’s in her 20s and then have the character actually be 19 or 20. Despite fictional accounts of teenage brides and stories of being “on the shelf” by 20, the average age for marriage throughout most of the last several hundred years has ranged from the early to late twenties.

So the fact that these ladies will be marrying much older men (Isobel marries Lord John) is kinda squicky. But much more squicky is the fact that there will almost certainly be a sex scene between Jamie and Geneva. And Sam is 36, and looks it. I can’t remember off the top of my head exactly how old Jamie is then, but that’s probably about the right age. So just..eww.

Moving on, we have the problematic character of Mr. Willoughby and the milquetoast but annoying-when-it-counts Captain Leonard.

On the left is Gary Young, playing Mr. Willoughby. The reports so far are calling him “well-versed in Eastern medicine” which was actually not true in the book (he spent some time with healers, but it wasn’t his job), so maybe they’re already going in a different direction? Not that we need another stereotypical portrayal of a wise Asian healer/mystic in pop culture, but I’ll take that over the drunkard with weird sexual fetishes.

On the right is Charlie Hiett. He looks pretty close to my mental image of Captain Leonard. The character isn’t around that much in the books, but maybe his role will be bigger in the show. He was annoying and more of a plot point than a character, so ultimately forgettable. Let’s hope the actor brings something new to the role.

 

Speculation – Season Three Episode Breakdown

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EDIT: With the episode titles now released (as of late August), this post is kinda obsolete. It remains an example of how *I* would have broken down the episodes, but for my up-to-date speculation, please visit the “Season Three Speculation” page where I’ve updated based on the episode titles.


You guys, this took a really, really long time to do. I have HUGE amounts of sympathy for the Outlander writers.

I also think that they will not follow this exactly. At least, I hope they don’t. I’ve broken up the book into more-or-less equal chunks, and I haven’t deviated from the book at all. But many of those chunks don’t hold together, narratively-speaking. There isn’t a strong sense that these are individual stories making up a bigger story. Some work as individual pieces, and others don’t work at all when taken on their own. So I really hope the season doesn’t end up looking exactly like this!

I’m posting this as a blog, but it will also be available on its own page, like I did with Season Two. And when Season Three starts, I’ll update each episode breakdown on that page after it airs, so that the page will stand as a summary for the season. (And yes, I will eventually do that for Season One. Eventually!) This post will remain, so that people who are interested in seeing what a direct book-to-episode breakdown looks like can still do that.

EDIT- go check out the page linked in the last paragraph for an update based on the synopsis recently released by Starz for Season Three, and an EW article quoting Ron Moore’s plans for Culloden.

EDIT #2 – So, despite my having read in one of Maril Davis’s interviews that there would again be 13 episodes this season, I have heard elsewhere that there will only be 10. That means I have to totally re-think this breakdown. There has also been talk that Claire and Jamie won’t be reunited until halfway through the season. Which is baffling. In any case, what is represented here is what happens in the book. So take that as you will!

OK, here goes:

Outlander Season Three Episode Breakdown

EPISODE ONE  – THE DUNBONNET

  • 1746
    • Jamie wakes after Culloden. Black Jack Randall’s dead body lies on top of him. Some other Highlanders find him and they hide in a cottage. But the English find them. The major in charge is one Lord Melton – the older brother of John William Grey. In exchange for saving John’s life, Hal spares Jamie’s, and sends him back to Lallybroch.
  • 1968
    • Roger and Bree convince Claire not to go jump through the stones immediately. They should try to track Jamie down in history first, so she knows where to go, and can be certain that he didn’t die.
  • 1746
    • Jamie arrives at Lallybroch. He is very badly wounded and his leg is infected. Jenny scalds it with boiling water and he survives.
  • 1968
    • Bree finds the story of the Dunbonnet
  • 1746-1752
    • Jamie lives in the cave. He comes down from time to time. Ian is imprisoned in the Tollbooth. Jenny has her baby and the soldiers come. She lies and says the baby has died to protect Jamie hiding with the bairn in the wardrobe.
  • 1968
    • Roger receives a packet from the historian Linklater with passages from Hal’s journal. Claire flashes back to 1949/1950 when Bree was a baby and remembers the ruined dinner party.
  • 1752
    • Fergus loses his hand when he tries to protect Jamie from a British patrol. Jamie decides it is time to give himself up in exchange for the reward money. Mary MacNab visits him in the cave.
  • 1968
    • Fiona tells the story she knows of the Dunbonnet and how he gave himself up and went to prison so that his people could live off the reward money. They decide to start looking at prison rolls.

EPISODE TWO – ARDSMUIR

  • 1968
    • Claire talks about becoming a doctor; flashbacks to trouble balancing motherhood and medical school – Frank takes Bree with him to work; Roger talks about becoming a historian. Claire finds Jamie on a roll at Ardsmuir.
  • 1755
    • Harry Quarry turns the prison over to its new governor, Lord John Grey. LJG realizes he has Jamie in his power, but resolves to avoid him. Jamie is known now as MacDubh, and is pretty much the laird of Ardsmuir. All of the men look to him.
    • A man is found, delirious and speaking in Gaelic. Lord John must ask Jamie to translate because the one thing they know is that he speaks of French gold. Jamie agrees to a bargain. Jamie learns more than what he tells John, and keeps exactly to the bargain while still escaping. He finds gems and coins, and hides them on an island, but when John blackmails him, he tells him he threw the gems into the sea. He produces a single gem that he swallowed. He says he ran because he was hoping for some sign that his wife was still alive.
    • John and Jamie begin having meals together and playing chess. John falls in love with Jamie, but Jamie can’t abide another man’s touch after BJR.
    • After they part in anger, Jamie takes a flogging that should have been given to another man. John thinks Jamie is doing it to hurt him. Jamie is doing it to remind him of their relative positions in the world, and because that’s what lairds do.
    • Even wounded and surrounded by his men, Jamie is still fundamentally alone.
  • 1968
    • Roger finds Jamie’s pardon. Claire goes back to Boston.

EPISODE THREE – HELWATER (TITLE PER IMDB–NOT TRUSTWORTHY–ALL DEBTS PAID)

  • 1968/1950s
    • Flashback to Claire meeting Joe Abernathy. Claire visits her house and flashes to the night Frank died, after he told her he was leaving her and taking Bree.
  • 1756
    • Jamie and John arrive at Helwater.
    • ???Lord John mysteries???
  • 1758
    • Geneva Dunsany stalks Jamie; blackmails him into sleeping with her before her wedding.
    • Geneva dies giving birth to baby William. Jamie kills Lord Ellesmere to save his son’s life.
    • Events of the Scottish Prisoner??
  • 1761/2
    • Jamie realizes that William is starting to look like him. He already knows that the Dunsany’s suspect William’s parentage, but they are grateful to him for saving the boy’s life, and offer to help him however they can. Jamie finally asks John and them to get him a pardon so he can go back to Scotland.
    • Jamie leaves Helwater, and baptizes his son before he goes. He gives him the baptismal name “James” and gives him his wooden rosary.
  • 1968
    • Claire closes her house in Boston and visits Joe. She helps him with some bones found in the Caribbean; these are the bones of Gillian Edgars/Geillis Duncan…and the wound in her skull is one Claire herself will/has already inflicted. TIME TRAVEL WIBBLY WOBBLY.
    • Claire confesses everything to Joe. He tells her she should go back (except that in the show Claire had absolutely no reservations…maybe their meeting will go differently?)

EPISODE FOUR – A. MALCOLM, PRINTER (TITLE PER IMDB–NOT TRUSTWORTHY–OF LOST THINGS)

  • 1968
    • Roger finds Jamie’s folio and the anachronistic Burns reference. Claire plans her trip. Goes through the stones.
  • 1766
    • Claire travels to Edinburgh and goes to the print shop. Jamie thinks she’s a ghost, then faints when he realizes she’s real. When he wakes, Claire shows him photos of Brianna.
    • Jamie rushes off to take care of Mr. Willoughby. *sigh* Willoughby causes a scene and they have to run to a brothel where Jamie has a room. Misunderstandings abound.
    • Claire and Jamie dance around the awkwardness of 20 years apart, and finally come together.
    • But Jamie is keeping a secret. Claire senses it, although she’s distracted by discussions of smuggling, and by speaking once again to him of Brianna.

EPISODE FIVE – UP IN FLAMES (TITLE PER IMDB–NOT TRUSTWORTHY–FREEDOM AND WHISKEY)

  • In the morning, Ian arrives and more misunderstandings commence. Ian is shocked to see Claire, and tells them he’s come to retrieve his son, Young Ian.
  • Ian and Jamie go out, and while they’re gone, Young Ian shows up. Claire tells him his father is in town, and he runs off, believing Claire to be a prostitute that Jamie and Ian have both visited.
  • Claire has breakfast with the brothel ladies. She learns about a Fiend that has been killing women. She meets Fergus as an adult, who is quickly whisked away by Jamie to deal with their smuggling cargo.
  • Willoughby kills a man who claims to be an exciseman and accosts Claire. His body is disposed of in a wine cask, and Claire finds out that Young Ian is working with Jamie.
  • Jamie takes Claire to dinner and is warned off his usual smuggling route by Sir Percival Turner. They make love in a private dining room and he explains how he became a printer.
  • On their way back to the brothel, they see smoke – it’s Jamie’s printing press. He goes in and rescues it and Young Ian. After they’re all safe, Young Ian tells two versions of his day. In one, he follows a suspicious man into the print shop and sets the fire to stop the man from getting some seditious pamphlets. But really, he was fighting with the man, and had thrown a small lead forge at him. He thinks he has killed a man.
  • Fergus takes Young Ian to drown his sorrows with a lass.
  • In the morning, everyone goes to confession except Claire, who goes to get medical supplies from an apothecary and meets Reverend Campbell. She arranges to meet with his sister, who was severely traumatized post Culloden. She was once betrothed to a friend of Jamie’s.
  • Jamie and Fergus decide to go to the second rendezvous point to meet their cargo, but everything goes wrong and their party is separated. The excisemen have been killed, and Jamie and his people set up for the crime. But they all manage to escape and head back to Lallybroch.

EPISODE SIX – YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN

  • At Lallybroch, Young Ian is castigated by his parents and Jenny reacts to Claire’s return. Ian makes Jamie give Young Ian his punishment as a way to punish them both.
  • Jamie tells Claire the true story of the seal cove and the treasure – he didn’t throw it into the sea as he told John Grey. The treasure is still there, with gemstones and ancient coins.
  • Claire and Jamie are interrupted mid-coitus by Marsali MacKimmie and Laoghaire Fraser. Claire gets understandably upset, and she and Jamie argue. They have angry, loud sex until Jenny comes in and tosses water on them. While Jamie is gone, Jenny helps Claire clean up and leave.
  • Halfway to Craigh na Dun, Young Ian catches up to Claire. Jamie has been shot by Laoghaire and is dying.
  • Claire returns, and uses some of her precious penicillin to keep him from dying from fever after the gunshot wound. They are both still angry, but Jamie explains how the marriage happened, and how it had failed.
  • All of the Murray family arrives, and Claire enjoys the company. Soon Laoghaire, her brother, and Ned Gowan come to tell Jamie that they are suing him. A settlement is reached, but in order to pay Laoghaire, Jamie must go fetch a jewel from the seals’ cove. They take Young Ian and plan to go to Paris and stay with Jared, where Ian can go to school.
  • But at the seals’ cove, Young Ian is taken by men on a rowboat, along with the treasure.

EPISODE SEVEN – FORCES OF NATURE

(NOTE – I would totally cut all of the stuff in France)

  • In France, Jared puts Jamie in charge of the Artemis and they get ready to sail after the Bruja, the ship that took Young Ian. It’s headed for the West Indies.
  • While in France, they meet with one of the Rothschilds, who indicates that coins matching the ones in the treasure were owned by the Duke of Sandringham.
  • Even though they go separately in the book, I would absolutely have Claire and Jamie go together to visit Faith’s grave. And Claire will speak with Mother Hildegarde, but Master Raymond is gone.
  • They return to Scotland to pick up their crew, made up of the smugglers (because Jamie suspects one is a traitor), and Fergus brings Marsali MacKimmie (Laoghaire’s oldest daughter) on board. They are handfast, but have not yet consummated the wedding. Jamie wants to put her ashore, but Fergus insists that she stay. Jamie says they must not sleep together until their union can be blessed by a priest – which means probably months away, after crossing the ocean.
  • Jamie succumbs to seasickness. Claire makes friends with the ship’s cook, Murphy. Fergus tells Claire that someone has been trying to kill Jamie – there have been a few “accidents” recently. They think it’s one of the men on board, except for Duncan Innes, who is one of Jamie’s Ardsmuir men who lost his arm in prison and doesn’t want Jamie dead.
  • Jamie’s seasickness gets worse until Mr. Willoughby tries acupuncture. (If the character is written out, which would be helpful, Claire could have gotten this knowledge elsewhere). Claire and Jamie sit up and talk about the future – moon landings, and Bree. Jamie looks at the pictures and wonders about what kind of woman she is. Claire says she left a letter, with all of the advice she could think to give.
  • Jamie is feeling the effects of celibacy, since Fergus is in his cabin and Marsali is in Claire’s, and there’s no good place for them to have sex. They talk about what it was like for him in prison. The next day, they find a spoiled cask and throw it out to lure sharks. Murphy relishes the thought of cooking them, since one got his leg. Mr. Willoughby catches a pelican to fish for him. He tells the crew of his escape from China.
  • Marsali and Claire start to warm up to each other, and Marsali talks about her relationship with Fergus and his past. She also asks how not to get pregnant, because she thinks that having babies is what made her mother dislike sex. Claire shows her how to use sponges (not that those are all that effective).
  • While they are talking, a commotion on board signals the arrival of a British man-o-war.

EPISODE EIGHT – WE MEET A PORPOISE

  • The man-o-war has typhoid fever aboard. Claire can’t get it, and wants to help. Jamie is reticent, but she’s insistent, citing her Hippocratic Oath, and hopes it will stop them from pressing too many sailors from the Artemis.
  • Claire starts to get things in order aboard the Porpoise, and they set sail with her still on board. The captain is apologetic, but they must make haste.
  • Claire treats the typhoid epidemic, and her days begin to blur in exhaustion. She becomes friends with the gunner’s wife, Mrs. Johansen, when she needs milk for her patients.
  • Claire goes to speak with the captain one day and he accidentally calls her “Fraser” (she’s using the name Malcolm). He has to leave, and she reads from his logbook that one of the men on board gave him information about Jamie and his smuggling activities.
  • Claire tracks down Harry Tompkins, none other than the man who Young Ian thought he killed. (In the book, he finds her, but I think that robs her of some agency). She withholds medical treatment in exchange for information, and finds out that Sir Percival was behind everything in Edinburgh.
  • One night, she goes on deck and meets the passenger that is responsible for the haste – the new governor of Jamaica, Lord John William Grey. He doesn’t know who she is, and she doesn’t remember him. But they speak about what it feels like to have to watch men die and only being able to do so much, and the responsibility of it. He says, “What it comes to, I think, is the knowledge that you are not God….And the very real regret that you cannot be.”

EPISODE NINE – LAND HO!

  • Claire escapes the Porpoise by jumping overboard and floating on a current between islands. She washes ashore and meets an elderly priest who is quite mad named Father Fogden, and a naturalist named Lawrence Stern. Who coincidentally knows Jamie. Because who doesn’t know Jamie?
  • Claire learns about a cave called Abandawe on Hispaniola, which is considered sinister and sacred. She also learns that Father Fogden has been defrocked because he ran away with an upper class woman named Ermenegilda from Habana, Cuba.
  • The Artemis runs aground, but Jamie isn’t with the ship. The sailors and Claire try to get it back in the water.
  • Jamie got aboard the Porpoise, but Claire was already gone. Then he was imprisoned, and during a storm, Mrs. Johansen got him overboard. He washes up on a beach and pretends to be French when he meets some island children. They tell him that the Bruja—and Ian—have recently been in port.
  • A group of soldiers arrives at Artemis. Jamie is with them, and tells them that if they get the ship into the water they can have it. But he double-crosses them, and his men launch the ship and take the soldiers prisoner.
  • Claire de-louses Jamie and his beard. Marsali and Fergus are “officially” wed by Father Fogden. Jamie gives Fergus the name Fraser. The wedding reminds Claire of her choice to be with Jamie.

EPISODE TEN – WORLDS UNKNOWN

  • The Artemis hauls bat guano from Barbados to Jamaica to a certain Mr. Grey’s sugar plantation.
  • Jamie speaks with Master Masons in the West Indies asking about news of Ian and the Bruja.
  • Claire freaks out when she sees a slave auction and causes a scene. The only way to get out of it without violence is for Jamie to purchase the man, Temeraire.
  • But they do learn something at the auction site – the Bruja’s cargo included some slaves with previous owners. One is a Mrs. Abernathy of Rose Hall, Jamaica. They plan to head there to unload their cargo and speak to her. But first, they have to check the pile of dead bodies ready for burning, in case Ian died aboard the ship and was unloaded there. The experience triggers Jamie’s PTSD about Culloden.
  • Claire tries to free Temeraire, but the others argue that he won’t be able to make a living as a one-armed former slave. (This SUPER bothers me, and I hope the show cuts it).
  • The pirates from the Bruja board the Artemis. Claire is wounded trying to save her and Marsali’s lives. Jamie and Fergus have the unusual experience of doctoring Claire, but Mr. Willoughby sews her up.
  • Claire says that her wound hurts, and Jamie says that he was worried because she didn’t think it hurt when it happened. That mortal wounds don’t hurt. She asks how he knows, and he says Murtagh told him. Then he tells her what he remembers of Culloden and how Murtagh died.
  • Claire learns that they have a prisoner from the Bruja. Claire patches him up and eventually he tells them his name is Ishmael and he’s from one of the islands. He tells them about the 12 Scots boys in the hold of the ship. Claire drifts into a kind of trance while he talks, and thinks that he might be an ancestor of her friend Joe Abernathy. (I am assuming this is some kind of time-traveler skill, like the way she can diagnose things by touching). This seems to mesh with the fact that her unwanted slave was owned by someone named Abernathy and that Ishmael has removed a brand from himself that was in a similar location to Temeraire’s.
  • Claire’s wound gets infected and she has Jamie inject her with penicillin. He can’t do it at first, and she has to start it herself. But when he sees how much it hurts, he takes over. Claire tells him about a patient that she helped commit suicide in Boston. Shortly after that, she was moved up to administration so she would have little patient contact. That was right before she went to Scotland with Bree and found out Jamie was alive.
  • Jamie and Claire discuss the future, and possibly moving to America. Jamie could become a printer in one of the larger cities. Murphy sends Claire some turtle soup laced heavily with sherry. Claire gets quite tipsy and she and Jamie have fever-drunk sex, during which Mr. Stern tries to come in and Jamie attempts to tell him nicely to go away, but ends up shouting at him. (This is many people’s favorite sex scene in all of the books).

EPISODE ELEVEN – PROMISED LAND

  • When the Artemis arrives in Kingston, Jamaica, the Porpoise is there. Claire explains that they were bringing the new governor. When Jamie hears the name, he explains that they’re friends, and that John was in charge of Ardsmuir Prison.
  • Ishmael and Temeraire head into the hills of Jamaica, most likely to join with a band of Maroons.
  • The Frasers settle in at Jared’s plantation. They learn that Reverend Campbell has arrived, and that there is gossip about Mrs. Abernathy and the way Mr. Abernathy died. They also find out that there’s a ball being held to welcome the new governor. Jamie decides to attend.
  • Since Jamie is a wanted man, they decide to masquerade as French couple – Etienne Alexandre and his wife, Claire. John finds Claire first, and is pleased to see her. She introduces her husband, and John is floored to realize it’s Jamie. And that this isn’t any woman, this is his lost wife, Claire.
  • Claire mingles and gossips and finds out that everyone thinks Mr. Abernathy perished under suspicious circumstances. Reverend Campbell is there, and goes on a diatribe about the Jacobites. His sister is missing, and he wants help from the governor to find her.
  • Jamie and John meet privately. Claire overhears them talking, and witnesses them embracing, and sees the way John looks at Jamie – and how much Grey is in love with her husband.
  • Claire can’t face Jamie, because she can’t reconcile his friendship with a man who is in love with him with his past with BJR. So she goes to the retiring room and stumbles upon a dead woman. The assumption is that Mr. Willoughby killed her, so as his friend, Jamie is questioned. Fergus takes Marsali home, and Claire speaks with John. The captain of the Porpoise arrives and Claire pretends a swoon so she won’t be recognized. John plays along until the captain leaves. Claire is still jealous, and she and John talk, and John mentions Willie. Claire has no idea who he means, until he shows her the portrait of the little boy. John explains what he knows of the circumstances of William’s birth.
  • Flashback to Helwater, and the day Jamie asked John to look after William. He offers himself in exchange, and although it is what John wants more than anything in the world, he turns down the offer. It is beneath his honor, and Jamie’s. But Jamie kisses him before he goes.
  • Back in Jamaica, John says that he ought to have recognized her, and reminds her of the night before Prestonpans. Then John says one of my absolute favorite lines from the series, about how he feels about Jamie: “To know that you cannot give them happiness, not through any fault of yours or theirs, but only because you were not born the right person for them?” And of course, Claire does know that. It is her relationship with Frank, exactly. When they part, they acknowledge that they liked each other at their first meeting on the Porpoise. Now, there is something very big and awkward between them – their love for Jamie Fraser.
  • Claire and Jamie talk about William. Jamie explains the circumstances of William’s birth, and talks about loneliness, and longing, and how that is why he married Laoghaire. He thinks it may be what Willoughby felt and why he might have murdered the girl. He also explains that he didn’t tell her about William because he’d have to tell her about Geneva, and how would she believe that he has only ever loved her? But she says, if he tells her, she’ll believe him, because she loves him, and will keep him honest. They reaffirm their marriage vows.

EPISODE TWELVE – THE SCENT OF GEMSTONES

  • Jamie and Claire visit Rose Hall. Mrs. Abernathy is actually Geillis Duncan/Gillian Edgars. She plays coy, and talks to Claire about time travel, the Rising, and how she survived being burned as a witch. She escaped to France and tried to help the Rising there. She also talks about zombies – men who have been drugged and made susceptible to suggestion. Jamie goes to help on the estate in an attempt to look around, and Claire tries to help with healing some of Geillis’s house slaves. Claire tries to question the house girls about Ian, but they won’t talk. When she goes back to see Geillis, she is looking at the pictures of Brianna. Then she realizes that Claire has gone through the stones three times. Geillis has the gemstones from the seals’ cove, and is keeping them in case she needs to travel again.
  • As Jamie and Claire leave, Reverend Archie Campbell arrives. They come back at night, to find Campbell still there and Geillis gone. Campbell is suspicious, but talks to her about the Brahan Seer prophecies (note – important for later in the series!). Mr. Willoughby arrives and tells Claire that Archie is the Fiend from Edinburgh who was killing women, and is the one who killed the girl at the ball. Mr. Willoughby kills Campbell, and admits that he is the one who gave away Jamie back in Edinburgh. Then he flees.
  • Claire searches for clues to where Geillis has gone. The clue is the prophecy that the line of Lovat will produce Scotland’s next ruler. And the only person alive in the 20th century from Lovat’s line is Brianna Randall. Geillis is going back.
  • Claire tries to meet back up with Jamie and Lawrence Stern, but stumbles onto some slaves instead. They are about to rise up against the plantation owners, and are summoning spirits. They have Margaret Campbell with them, and she is the mouthpiece for their summoning. During the ceremony, she even channels Brianna, who speaks to Jamie and Claire. Jamie makes Ishmael tell them where Geillis has gone—to the cave of Abandawe, on Hispaniola. They run toward Ian, while the escaped slaves begin their uprising.

EPISODE THIRTEEN – VOYAGER

  • John offers Jamie his boat, and Jamie says they’ll have to steal it so John won’t be implicated. John offers Claire sanctuary, but Claire must go to Abandawe. John misunderstands, and Claire wishes she could tell him the truth, but he is hurt when he says goodbye.
  • Jamie forces Fergus to stay behind with Marsali, and then they set off for Hispaniola. On the boat, they discuss philosophy with Stern, and religion, and science. Duncan Innes takes control of the ship while they go inland.
  • Claire starts having visions of Geillis, and is drawn toward Abandawe. In the cave, Jamie holds tightly to her in the darkness, because they are both afraid she will be drawn back into the time passage.
  • Geillis has Ian – she planned to kill him and use his blood to pass through time. When Geillis threatens Brianna, Claire goes into a blood rage, and kills Geillis with the axe she meant to use on Ian.
  • Ian, Jamie, and Claire manage to get out of the cave and into the storm with the gemstones, but Claire and Ian are terrified.
  • Lawrence leads them back to the jungle, and Claire treats Jamie’s wound, only to find he has a pistol ball in his scalp. She removes it, then goes into shock. When she wakes, she hears Ian telling Jamie about what happened at Rose Hall, and how the other boys had all died. Then I really, really, hope that they don’t keep the part with Geillis raping Ian, but if they do, I hope they treat it as rape, and without any overtones that Ian wanted it or participated willingly.
  • If Geillis rapes Ian, Claire treats him with penicillin, as she believes Geillis was suffering from advanced syphilis. Then they go back to the coast.
  • There, they meet the men, and get back on the boat, which is being pursued by the Porpoise. They were really after the escaped slaves on a different ship, but would be happy enough to recover their governor’s stolen vessel.
  • The Porpoise chases them into a hurricane. They manage to get through the storm (the Porpoise is swamped and goes down with all hands, including Captain Leonard), but have no idea where they are. Eventually, they sight land, and shortly after that, the topmast snaps and drags Claire into the water. She’s tangled in rigging and her leg breaks. Jamie jumps in and brings her to shore.
  • Claire wakes up in a house, and when they ask the owners where they are, they find out they’re in Georgia. They’ve made it to America. And for the first time since Claire came back to him, Jamie is able to openly and honestly introduce himself as Jamie Fraser, and his wife, Claire.

THE END!!

Frequently Searched Queries

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It is taking me longer than I’d hoped to figure out how to break Voyager into 13 episodes. We’re doing some remodeling, and between that and my own writing, I have only finished breaking 4. But I should be able to devote some extra time to it this week, so I’m planning to have it out next weekend.

In the meantime, I decided to put together this post. I’ve gone through the search terms that lead people to this website, and have put together answers to some of the most frequently searched-for terms and queries. Most of these answers are somewhere in the blog, but will be difficult to find because of the format. If your question isn’t here, ask it in the comments and I’ll add it to the post!

Outlander Spoilers Frequently Searched Queries

  1. Outlander book 9 spoilers
    1. As I mentioned in the sticky post, no one has these except Diana Gabaldon and anyone she uses for beta reading/editing. But my guess is that some of the events chronicled will include the battles of King’s Mountain and Cowpens.
  2. Why did Jamie Fraser not die at Culloden?
    1. We don’t really know. The show may come down one way or another (especially since Ron Moore has now revealed that they’re filming part of the battle), but in the books Jamie doesn’t remember most of the battle. He was badly wounded, and woke up with Black Jack Randall’s corpse laying on him. It is possible/probable that BJR’s body kept Jamie from view, and that kept him from being killed after receiving his wound. But he doesn’t remember being wounded, and doesn’t know if it was BJR who did it. He also doesn’t know how BJR died – if it was at his hand, or someone else’s.
    2. Part two of this answer is that, even though Jamie survived the battle, he managed to escape because of Lord John Grey. That young boy who infiltrated their camp before the battle of Prestonpans (who said his name was William Grey) had an older brother, Hal, who happened to be in charge of the troops that found the Highlanders hiding in the cottage near Culloden. Hal gave Jamie his life in return for sparing John’s.
    3. Part three of this answer is Jenny Fraser Murray, who saved her brother’s life by scalding his wound with boiling water and killing the infection.
  3. Black Jack Randall Queries:
    1. Black Jack Randall book
      1. Not sure if this one is just wondering how he’s different in the book, or if someone actually wants to read a whole book about BJR. I don’t think there’s going to be a book, but I do think his character was less overtly evil and demonic in the book than on the show. Not that he wasn’t awful. He was. But I think his characterization in the book was more nuanced and layered. No one is entirely evil, and the book presented us with additional aspects of BJR that could be understood and even sympathized with, while 100% hating everything he did to Jamie and others.
    2. What happened to BJR/When does BJR die/Does Jamie kill him?
      1. He dies/died at Culloden (April 16, 1746), as Claire predicted. In the book, he has a headstone at St. Kilda’s, but it is unclear whether his body actually lies there or not. I may be getting confused because Frank had Rev. Wakefield put up a fake headstone for Jamie there, and I can’t remember if both stones were fake or just Jamie’s.
      2. We don’t know if Jamie killed him or not, because Jamie doesn’t remember. The show may choose to show us what happened (they’re filming part of the battle), or may follow Diana’s example and obscure the truth for many seasons to come.
    3. Black Jack Randall and Claire
      1. I hope this wasn’t a shipping-related query. In the book, they have a strange connection that is never precisely defined. It is antagonistic, of course, from the moment she passes through the stones, and gets worse after everything he does for the next two years. By the end she hates him with a furious passion, which doesn’t lessen over the years (as shown by her reaction to seeing his grave in the 1960s- something that didn’t happen in the show yet).
    4. Why does Black Jack beat Alex after his death?
      1. You’ve got me. I think it’s because Alex was the last thing holding him back from descent into true darkness. But you’d have to ask the writers and Tobias Menzies to know for sure!
  4. Murtagh Fraser spoilers
    1. Most of these boil down to- is he going to die at Culloden? Honestly, I don’t know. He does in the books, but the show has made him a much more important character. I imagine that the show will follow the books in this regard, though, because it’s the way he would want to die. He wouldn’t want to be hanged as a traitor, starve to death, or be transported to America. And if he survives Culloden, he would be separated from Jamie of necessity, which would be worse than death for him.
  5. What happens to Mary Hawkins?
    1. In the books, she marries a Jewish man named Isaacs, and gives birth to Alex Randall’s son, named Denys. I have no idea what the TV show will do with her, except that I’m sure her son will still run into our characters again in America.
  6. Voyager/Book 3/What happens next?
    1. See the Season Three Speculation page for more info.
    2. When I finish each book’s re-read I may post a synopsis for each book, and a synopsis for each season of the show so far.
  7. Jamie and Bouton
    1. Best thing ever! I’m not even sure what this person wanted to find, but in the book, Jamie argues playfully with Bouton and Bouton is having none of it. What they put in the show was more brief, but still super cute.
  8. When does Rupert die in Dragonfly in Amber?
    1. Rupert dies during the battle of Falkirk. It’s Chapter 43, appropriately titled “Falkirk.”
  9. Does Rupert tell anyone Jamie killed Dougal?
    1. Only the Outlander writers know the answer to this one. In the book, it’s a random MacKenzie named Willie who sees Jamie kill Dougal. And no, he doesn’t tell. We meet him again in America much later. As I recall, I think he tried to blackmail Jamie at that point? I will update this once I finish my re-read. But I seriously doubt that Rupert wouldn’t tell. He was incredibly pissed off. Not sure how or if that will make things play out differently.
    2. RELATED:
      1. Why does Dougal dislike Jamie?
        1. Lots of reasons, and none of them are specifically articulated in the books, but we can make educated speculations. First, because Jamie is what Dougal is not–a canny leader. He doesn’t let his passions drive him the way Dougal does. Second, because he knows that Colum would choose to make Jamie the next chief of Clan MacKenzie (for those reasons–Jamie has the charisma and savvy of Colum, but he is also strong and can lead men to battle like Dougal). Third, because Jamie is the son of Ellen MacKenzie, and both Colum and Dougal feel that Ellen betrayed them when she eloped with Brian Fraser.
        2. But I also feel that I need to point out that Dougal also loves Jamie intensely. This is not a simple relationship of antagonism. Jamie is the son Dougal wanted but never had (and in the books, he actually fostered Jamie for a time). And when Dougal does father a child–Hamish–he is forced to allow the world to believe he is Colum’s. So Dougal feels very parental about Jamie. But that doesn’t negate everything listed in the first bullet point.
      2. Why did Outlander choose to keep Willie alive?
        1. I’m assuming this means Willie from the MacKenzie Rent party in the show, who got married and emigrated to America between seasons one and two. Technically, the Willie MacKenzie from the books lived, too. He ended up being transported to the colonies. This Willie is just already there. I’m not sure why- maybe the actor had other commitments?
  10. Jamie and Claire’s reunion in Voyager.
    1. Oh, for those of you who haven’t read the books yet, you’re in for a treat. I highly suggest you go get a copy and read it, but here’s the gist: Jamie has been working as a printer in Edinburgh, using the false name Alexander Malcolm (A. Malcolm). But he’s also smuggling alcohol and writing seditious pamphlets, because Jamie can’t ever just do one, safe thing. Claire shows up after 20 years at the print shop, and at first Jamie thinks she’s a ghost. Apparently he has seen her a few times over the years. But she’s real! And he immediately faints. 🙂
  11. Did Jamie kiss Lord John?
    1. Non-book readers won’t understand why this question is being asked, but the answer is YES. More than once (although never with the sort of passion John would like!).
  12. Tynchal
    1. This search term comes up often. I assume people don’t actually care about the Outlander tynchal, so here’s a brief definition: In the most basic sense, a tynchal is a hunt. But in the Highlands, it took on ceremonial value and became a rite-of-passage and a chance to prove physical prowess and cunning. The subjects of a tynchal were typically boar or stags.
    2. In Outlander, the tynchal is a boar hunt, and two people are gored. One of them dies, and the experience bonds Claire and Dougal MacKenzie.
  13. Catullus in Outlander
    1. Here’s a link to the translated poem by Richard Crashaw that DG references. It’s gorgeous. But if you want a literal translation, here’s the Wikipedia page with the Latin.
  14. Who will play Lord John Grey in Season Three of Outlander?
    1. The super-sexy David Berry! The link goes to his IMDB page. 🙂 I’m actually pleased with this choice, as he is a very pretty man. He’s a good bit taller than John in the books (who is described as short and slight, even for the time), but from what I can see of him in pictures he’s a very lean actor, not big and bulky like Sam Heughan. So it should still make for a good contrast.
  15. Outlander Avengers 213
    1. Yeah, I’m baffled, too. No idea why they went with this choice for their episode 213 title card. The explanations offered by Ron Moore and co. don’t entirely make sense.
  16. Why do they need gemstones to travel through the stones in Outlander?
    1. Well, you technically don’t. Claire went through once in the show and twice in the books without them. But they make the passage easier. It’s said by the characters that they help you “steer,” or find the right time on the other end. See my post on time travel for more info.
  17. Does Brianna time travel?
    1. Several times. And so does Roger. 🙂
    2. And their kids. ^_^
    3. Hey, this place is called Outlander Spoilers for a reason!
  18. What happens to Fergus in Outlander?
    1. I’m guessing this question is about what will happen after season two. If they follow the books, as a young man he loses a hand in an altercation with a British officer in order to save Jamie, who is hiding nearby. When Claire travels back to 1766, he is all grown up and in love with Marsali, Jamie’s step-daughter. (Yes, you read that right). He and Marsali eventually marry and have several children and Fergus becomes a printer in America.
    2. But in case you meant to ask about Fergus and BJR, yes, BJR raped him. In the books, it was slightly more transactional (not that a child can ever consent to sex, no matter if said child is being paid), but just as awful.
  19. Outlander time travel theories
    1. See my post!
  20. When did Lord John Grey marry Claire Randall?
    1. Well, she was very much Claire Fraser when they got married in Book 7. Also, if you haven’t read the books, you’re probably like, “Who is Lord John Grey?” and “Claire marries someone other than Jamie and Frank?”
    2. Yes, she does. She thinks Jamie has been lost at sea, and the British are about to arrest her for spying, so LJG marries her to keep her safe. And yes, the marriage is consummated. Which is kinda weird for both of them.
    3. And Jamie is super pissed about it when he shows up, and DG LEFT US ON A CLIFFHANGER FOR YEARS UNTIL MOBY OMG.
  21. Was Claire raped by the red coat deserter?
    1. Almost, but no.
  22. “Dragonfly in Amber” Stones Sex
    1. I know, I hated it, too. In the book, there was so much more time, and they had a lovely sex scene, and the initials, and everything was poignant and meaningful. Jamie does basically fuck her right before she runs for the stones, but I wish they would have just cut that for the show. Having him walk her to the stones worked much, much better as a goodbye than a last quickie.
  23. Ned Gowan
    1. He is the man. No more needs to be said on this subject.
    2. OK, but since you asked.
    3. He helps save Claire’s life at the witch trial.
    4. He advocates for the clans during the aftermath of Culloden and helps many people keep their property when the English wish to seize it.
    5. He represents Laoghaire in her bigamy suit against Jamie. Yep. Bigamy.
    6. He remains awesome, and friends with Claire, despite #5. (EDIT: So, when I’m in the WordPress editor, these indented items show up as numbers. But on the actual webpage, they show up as letters. Ugh. So #5 should be E.)
  24. How does Echo in the Bone end?
    1. With a cliffhanger, damn it! I’ll get to this at some point in my reread, but suffice to say that we were all slavering for Written in My Own Heart’s Blood to find out what was going to happen to Jamie and Lord John on the road.
  25. Claire steals some of Gillian’s notebooks in “Dragonfly in Amber” (the episode).
    1. Yes. That happens in the book, too, although in much more contrived and thief-like circumstances. Those books become the basis for many of the characters’ later theories about time travel. I assume we’ll see them again in Season Three.
  26. Did Ross (from Lallybroch) die at Culloden?
    1. In the books, all of the Lallybroch men got home safe. Roger found three men with similar names on the list of the dead at Culloden, but his trip to Edinburgh proved that those three weren’t the Lallybroch men (and none of them were named Ross). So they all made it home! Sadly, many of them didn’t stay there. Roger says two went to America, four died within a year, and one moved to a different parish. But Ross would have had good reason to stay, so I’m pretty sure he made it home to take care of Kincaid’s wife and bairns!

Ask additional questions in the comments below!

 

Episode 209 – Je Suis Prest

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This week’s blog is very choppy. In some places, I just wrote a single sentence. Other elements got more attention. I don’t have time to re-watch the episode and do a more thorough job. My daughter has her big dance recital today and my husband is away for work, so one viewing is all I have time for!

If I get the chance later this week, I’ll come back and flesh this out. What you’re seeing is my initial gut-reactions, that I typically tweak and expand after my second watch. But it might be interesting to see those, anyway.

Nice title card, reminding us that Claire was in WWII. It has been said that all wars are the same war, being fought endlessly.

Murtagh’s wink at Claire is so sweet!!

Claire touches her wrist when Jamie mentions a watch. Different meanings for different words.

RUPERT AND ANGUS – Ye Wee Smouts!

Willie got married and isn’t here? Who is going to witness Jamie killing Dougal? I really thought that was the point of making him a bigger character last season?

Seriously, show. Dougal is right. There really is no time to waste. So why are we wasting this episode on something completely pointless?

Drill Sergeant Murtagh? Also, the snow in the air proves that this is really the wrong season.

Not sure how I feel about the training montage(s).

I like that Jamie is more interested in the welfare of his men in particular than the Cause overall, or what he can gain by being near the prince.

The origins of JHRC! I wonder if this is something they made up, or if it’s from DG’s notes.

I am starting to figure out what they’re trying to do in this episode – to pit the old Highland ways against modern warfare. Because the truth is, the Highland Charge is going to be broken with terribly efficient and brutal ease at Culloden. Jamie is right – Prestonpans and their other wins worked because of a mixture of surprise and good fortune.

Claire tries to psychoanalyze Dougal, but she isn’t entirely successful. Her own psyche is too troubled. I’m not sure how I feel about what they’re doing with Claire this episode. PTSD is a real thing, but Claire has always dealt with hers by compartmentalizing, by fracturing part of herself and focusing on the immediate, literal dangers and problems. She turns off emotion and then deals with it later. In the post-show behind-the-scenes, Matt B. Roberts talked about how PTSD can be triggered years after the fact, so, again, I believe that this really happens to people. I just think Claire already has a coping mechanism for hers. I also think that, while her conflict speaks to tone and theme, it doesn’t do much for plot or even much for characterization. Claire isn’t transformed by what happened. Rather, it reinforces her beliefs and convictions. So while it is interesting, I don’t know what it adds to the story.

I really, really don’t like that they changed the reason for Ross and Kincaid’s lashes. The men were brought in by Dougal. Why shouldn’t they have believed they were supposed to be there? Jamie’s punishment seems unduly harsh. It makes sense to punish them – and himself – for Lord John (or William, as he calls himself at this point) managing to enter the camp and attack. That is a totally legitimate dereliction of duty. This is…not.

After watching the rest of the episode, it’s clear that they were: 1) putting Dougal’s men on sentry duty with weighted emphasis and 2) establishing the penalty for this kind of infraction, but I think we all understand that corporal punishment was used at this point in history for military discipline. No need to flog two men who didn’t really do anything wrong in order to justify doing it later to Jamie. Or, if you want to contrast the two floggings, make the first one for a real offense.

Claire’s dialogue attempts to anchor us into a more specific time – for two years she’s tried to stop this war.

I am confused about why they added them swearing that Claire wouldn’t be alone again after she tells Jamie about her WWII experience. He already asked her to promise him that she would go back to the 20th century if things got bleak. He’s going to hold her to that promise. I don’t like that he’s going to break this one. Unless he decides that it isn’t alone as long as she’s pregnant and is going back to Frank? But that’s the letter of the vow, not the spirit of it. Dislike.

Why change the Lord John scene from him attempting to help Claire to just attacking? It makes it feel much more awkward when Claire happens along and starts the farce that she’s being held against her will. Maybe it’s just that I dislike whenever Claire tries to pull one of these scenes (like lying to BJR about Sandringham, faking her vision last episode, etc.). It made sense to me in the book that Jamie really didn’t want to torture this boy, especially since he didn’t yield at first, and was looking for a way out of it. The fact that John had attacked to protect Claire in the first place was what gave Jamie the idea to use her to coerce him.

I can see that Claire’s trying to do the same thing in the show, but why does she think it will work? It is nice that Jamie picks up on Claire’s idea and jumps to use it, because it’s always nice to see Claire and Jamie working together, but it doesn’t feel particularly motivated. And, sigh, here’s another threat of rape, even if it’s not a real threat and is being used as an alternative to torture.

Also, Lord John never finds out in this version that Claire is actually Jamie’s wife. So his little speech at the end isn’t motivated by the same feelings of shame and humiliation. He’s unhappy at being forced to give up information, but he would feel justified because of the inducement. We could have trimmed a few training montages and allowed him to ask, as he does in the book, what assurance he has that they will let the lady go. And then why not allow Claire to treat the broken arm? This is their first interaction of what is going to be a long and very fraught relationship. It needs to be…more.

Not that I advocate for keeping things just because they set up something in the future. I honestly feel that the scene in the book works to establish character, and it is plot-relevant because of the cannon and the upcoming battle. I can’t imagine why it was trimmed and changed so much. Although I did love when he shouts that he isn’t a spy, since I know what’s in his future. 🙂

I don’t mind adaptive changes when they enhance the story, bring out unexpected nuances, or fix minor problems in the source material. But this show has started to create problems for themselves that they’re going to have to solve in unnaturally twisted ways if they want to keep the broad strokes of the story intact (which they say they want to do).

In aggregate, I’m really not sure what this episode adds to the overall story. I guess it is trying to show Jamie changing from a Laird into a General, not just in the eyes of his men, but particularly in the eyes of Dougal. But I still feel that most of what happened wasn’t necessary and didn’t advance the plot. A much shorter training sequence, then Lord John, and then the battle of Prestonpans could have all fit neatly into this episode.

But perhaps my feelings will change when I get the chance to come back and watch again. I won’t be live-tweeting tonight, but I hope everyone has fun watching and tweeting!

Episode 106 – The Garrison Commander

Even having seen (and loved) the wedding, this is still my favorite episode. Tobias Menzies is amazing in ways that words cannot express. He takes fantastic writing and elevates it to a transformative experience.

Black Jack Randall is one of my favorite characters in the books. He wasn’t when I first read them, but I’m older now, and have written a few books of my own. I understand the darkness better, and the need for it.

Because pretty much this entire episode is an expansion/extrapolation/fabrication and is not in the book, I’m going to abandon my usual review style (looking at differences from page to screen) and just talk about what is going on with BJR (and Claire and Jamie). I’ll make some comments about Dougal at the end, too.

One of the things I love about BJR is that, within his own particular boundaries, he has a very intense sense of honor. Claire has never fallen within these bounds. He doesn’t know who or what she is, but he knows what she isn’t: a stray 18th century Englishwoman lost in Scotland, as she claims to be.

Even without Claire’s legendary glass face, BJR is very, very good at reading people. He knows she is lying from their very first encounter, and the lies and her reasons for them both intrigue and infuriate him, the moreso because he cannot ascertain them. Nothing about her makes sense, or will fit into his understanding of the world. Therefore, he needn’t treat her as he would treat a real stray 18th century Englishwoman lost in Scotland.

To that woman, he would show absolute courtesy and hospitality, if not actual respect. To Claire, absurdly, he can show his true self. In the show, he does it here, at Brockton. In the books, he doesn’t do it until Edinburgh in 1745, but there is something about the way she is outside of his understanding, and the way they are both connected to Jamie, that allows him to speak of things he hides from everyone else in the world.

Tobias has spoken of his portrayal of Jack as someone who was changed by war, just as Frank was. Jack’s is an insurgency war, on the edge of rebellion, and we know (from the books, and it’s hinted at with the talk of Sandringham in 101) that he is an agent provocateur in the Highlands. Whether he means to draw out Jacobites and arrest them, or rile the Highlands to later support the Jacobites is unclear. But we know he has been given the task to be, basically, as vile and despicable as possible to the people of the Highlands.

What happened to him in that process was that he discovered that he liked it. That the brutality, the cruelty, the pain and blood and terror, woke something inside him, called to him with a lover’s song. And so he reveled in it, steeped himself in the sweet miasma of fear, until one day he met a boy named James Fraser. And in that boy, he found a spirit and a flesh capable of withstanding everything he could inflict. At least in public. He promises Jamie that he will break him, and in that promise is a lust and a longing, and a sick and twisted form of love that binds them through Jamie’s flesh and blood.

“I will break you,” Randall says.

And he will.

But not by flogging.

In the episode, we also see that BJR has a flagrant disregard for his foppish superiors. Lord Thomas is not stupid, but he is lazy and willfully ignorant. Jack cannot respect a man who is more interested in the integrity of his claret than in possible Jacobite sympathizers sitting in the taproom below.

In fact, Jack doesn’t truly recognize the chain of command at all. He is somewhat protected from it by the Duke of Sandringham (in ep. 101 we’re told he must have had a powerful patron to protect him from the censure of his superiors), but it’s another example of him adhering only to the code and the rules inside his own head. He gets to decide who is worthy of respect, and Lord Thomas isn’t.

Foster might be, by the way. BJR doesn’t condescend to him, although he does play off of him. But I get the sense that, of everyone in the room during the officers’ meal, the only two men who are actually soldiers and not just officers are Randall and Foster. That is probably because they are the only two who aren’t wearing wigs.

Note that that’s a change from the books- there’s a scene where Claire pours blotting sand into Jack’s spare wig, and after he punches her during this first interrogation, she tells him, “your wig is crooked.” But I’m totally fine with the change, because it makes him seem more…connected to his job. The wearing of a wig is an adherence to faraway London rules of etiquette. Jack is beyond those, now.

There is also a sense in this whole episode that Jack is a mixture of a cat toying with a mouse, and a spider spinning webs to ensnare its prey. I can see Claire as both mouse and fly here, unwittingly falling into his trap. She wants so very much to help him, both for Frank’s sake and his own. Although her good sense is probably screaming that there’s nothing she can do, that he’s dangerous and shouldn’t be trusted, she needs for him to be redeemable. She needs that for Frank, to be able to believe that he isn’t descended from a sadistic sociopath and that he might eventually find solace for the horrors he was responsible for during his war. And she needs that for Jack, because she is a compassionate healer who can’t stop herself from helping anyone who needs it. Even people who have tried to kill her (see Lionel Brown).

So she is sucker punched along with the audience. I’ll admit that I wasn’t certain what was happening, when BJR talked about redemption and making Claire happy. They were so far away from the books at that point, I wondered for just a moment if his plan was to take her away, but head south toward Edinburgh and the Tolbooth, not west to Inverness. I never really thought he would let her go. And then he punched her, and we were right back to the book.

Let me talk for just a moment about Jamie and the flogging. I’m sure we will get Jamie’s perspective on the scene in an episode or two (if they follow the books, it will be after the spanking, as part of his attempt to explain his notions of justice and punishment and his guilt about his father), and so the show may veer off in some way from the books and therefore change what I’m about to say. But here’s my take on things, from my reading of the books.

Jamie is very sensitive about the scars on his back, obviously. There are several reasons for that. The first is what he told to Claire when he wouldn’t let her remove his bandages in front of Auld Alec. It makes people pity him. The second is the reason he fought with the lads in the book after Dougal showed him off- because it makes people think him weak. (If you don’t remember what happened, it’s at the end of chapter eleven. Another lad makes a disparaging personal remark to Jamie, and Jamie beats the tar out of him. We aren’t told what was said – it was in Gaelic – but Claire assumes that it was something similar to what she heard murmured another time, and was in ep. 105: “I would die in my blood before I let a whey-faced Sassenach use me that way.”) But neither of those reasons are strong enough, on their own, to explain why Jamie still is sensitive about the scars thirty years later. He hesitates when his daughter innocently tells him to take off his shirt to keep it from getting dirty. He flinches when his grandson, who idolizes him and could never see him as weak or pitiable, touches the scars.

The reason for that has everything to do with Jack Randall, and with the death of Brian Fraser. No matter how much Jenny tries to take some of the blame for their father’s death, Jamie will bear the guilt of it for the rest of his life. The flogging (or rather, believing Jamie had died from it) is what made Brian have a stroke. And if Jamie had given in to BJR’s “request” to have his body, he wouldn’t have been flogged the second time. So that’s one part.

And the other, of course, is because the second flogging – the one that truly marred him and made his back a pulpy mass of scar tissue rather than simply striped by weals and gashes – was done at the hands of Randall. After Wentworth, everything Randall ever did to Jamie has become part of that invasion, that breaking of his self and his soul. The flogging, the rape, the death of his father, the attacks on Claire, all of it has attained a kind of critical mass.

So it is more than fear of pity or of being seen as weak that makes Jamie want to hide the scars. It is guilt and shame.

Jamie has to constantly reaffirm to himself that he has forgiven Jack Randall. And in the later books he has, as far as that goes. But he has never “gotten over” it. Here is the truth: you don’t. You don’t get over trauma. You learn to live with it.

And the scariest part, the part that is hardest for people to accept, is that Randall is proud of what he did. He sees it as beautiful, as this deep, transcendent connection between them. As an act of love.

OK, enough about Randall. Let’s talk about Dougal.

This is the episode where we see Dougal start to respect Claire and to believe her when she says she isn’t a spy. And it isn’t a magical spring that convinces him (although that’s part of it). It’s the way she defended him in front of her countrymen, and warned him away when she thought he might be in danger. It’s the fact that she didn’t spill his secrets to Randall under coercion or punishment. And that she’s willing to marry Jamie (and to sleep with him) in order to escape BJR’s clutches. But the thing about Dougal is that he’s always thinking, always trying to manipulate situations to his best advantage. So while he appears to be solidly on Claire’s side in this episode, the desires that drive him are still under the surface.

It suits his purposes to have Jamie marry Claire. An English wife neatly removes Jamie from consideration as Laird of the MacKenzie Clan. It also keeps Claire safely where he can see her- even though he is pretty sure she isn’t an English spy, she is still an unknown quantity. And now Jamie is going to watch out for her, and is too honorable to do anything that will overtly damage the Clan, even for his wife.

But let’s face it. Dougal wants Claire for himself. This is coming out much earlier on the show than it does in the books (the groping kiss in the corridor during the gathering notwithstanding), but it is definitely present in both. So he’s pissed off at the thought of Jamie getting to have the thing he wants. And even more pissed off when she so clearly wants Jamie, too.

So Dougal gets to be a complicated, three-dimensional character and not a flat stereotype. He gets to do things that we don’t understand or that don’t seem to make sense right away. He gets to make decisions based on motivations that are muddy or selfish or practical.

And that is what makes this an amazing series. Because no one always makes the right choice, not even Jamie and Claire. Because everyone does bad things sometimes, or can’t forgive mistakes. And because even Black Jack Randall has redeeming qualities. Don’t believe me? Ask Roger MacKenzie. Ask Jack’s brother Alex. Now, those qualities may not be enough for Claire and Jamie, but think of it this way: in Dragonfly, Jamie actually walks BJR back to his quarters after his marriage to Mary Hawkins and Alex’s death. It tears Jamie to pieces, and he is angry and outraged and hates himself and the world while he’s doing it, but he does it. Because Jack is devastated at the loss of his brother, and for that single moment, Jamie can also feel something like pity for him.

And I am so glad that we have a second season so that we’ll get to see that moment on screen.

Although I am re-reading Voyager right now and praying to all of the gods that we get at least through season three. Although they’re going to have to cast someone as young Lord John Grey for season two, I imagine they’ll cast someone else to play him as an adult. And I cannot wait to find out who that is, and to see him and Sam Heughan interact. There will be much rejoicing.

So I know I didn’t really talk about the episode much. If you have a comment to make about any part of the episode, please do so! I’d still love to talk about the actual scenes, I was just more interested in the characters for my review. But please do comment, especially once we get into the hiatus and we’re all starved for more Outlander!