Here we are on the other side of a ridiculous cliffhanger, with the threat of rape still hanging in the air like a noxious, completely avoidable fog. (Although I did like the use of the fire engine for the title card, foreshadowing the print shop fire…but I’m not sure what that has to do with crème de menthe??)
I am pleased that Claire didn’t actually kill the man outright, but the complication that they create with her immediately reversing course and trying to heal him seems absurd. I can see Claire having qualms about letting him die, and needing to wrap her conscience around it, but actively working to save him when she knows what’s at stake? I don’t know–it doesn’t really feel like Claire. Yes, she has done some very ill-advised things because of her 20th-century sensibilities. But this? I’m having some trouble with it.
ARGH ARCHIE CAMPBELL. I was so hoping we would be excising (haha) that storyline.
Young Ian, be still my heart! I love watching him show his competence so early in the show while bargaining with the tavern owner. These are the seeds of the strong man he will grow up to be, and I’m delighted to witness them.
This episode is pushing the bounds of credulity for me with Claire’s insistence on healing the exciseman. Yes, she is a healer. Yes, she swore an oath when she became a surgeon. But she has killed before when necessary, and made her peace with that. She is, at heart, a pragmatic woman. The episode just barely manages to save itself (for me, anyway) with the scene after the exciseman died. Barely. But I can see this as being part of Claire readjusting to the realities of the 18th century, and needing some time to accept that she isn’t in Boston with her surgery anymore.
But, let me just point this out: the exciseman dies anyway and gets crated into a barrel, making everything moot, and there are no repercussions for Claire’s actions either way. Which is basically the definition of false conflict. Sigh.
On the other hand, I love, love, love Fergus and Young Ian at the tavern. Their friendship—and the thought of the future they both want to create—is beautiful. Fergus’s teasing really makes them feel like brothers. I’m trying to figure out how old Young Ian is here—I seem to remember him only being fourteen. OK, I just checked. It’s 1766, and he was born in 1752, so that’s right. That seems awfully young to me, but maybe I just can’t remember well enough being that age. I’m sure I felt I was old enough for everything Young Ian wants to do, and I wasn’t living in a period of history that didn’t have the same concept of childhood as we do. Although I think voting age in Scotland is sixteen now, which isn’t that much older than fourteen, and would be considered adulthood for most purposes. But I still had a moment of “he’s just a baby!” especially given the following scenes.
They’re going in a different direction with the Campbells, and I have to say I approve. Archie is definitely taking advantage of his sister, but I’m glad they’re changing him from the ultra-religious Fiend. We can do without that storyline entirely (and, I hope, the attendant problems with Yi Tien Cho), and this way we still have Margaret in the West Indies during the slave uprising without all of the mess of the other storyline.
Speaking of Yi Tien Cho, I’m glad that Claire calls him by his actual name. And that, after that first somewhat problematic scene, they aren’t using him for comic effect or pushing hard on him being Chinese. In this episode he was just a member of Jamie’s crew–if a more trusted one than most–and that was refreshing to see.
Ian’s visit highlights just how much Jamie is lying to everyone. In the first half of the scene, he lies to Ian about his son. In the second half, he admits to lying (by omission) to Claire about his second wife (not that anyone has said those words yet—but in each episode since Claire returned someone has remarked on the thing that Jamie isn’t telling Claire). Claire shines a light on that when they talk upstairs afterward.
Young Ian truly does take after his uncle (in more ways than one…no, it’s not so much like horses, or whores, Ian). He’s fearless, and thinks of the lass first, getting her out of danger. Yes, things rather blow up around him (and unfortunately the man got away with a stack of pamphlets), but he didn’t back down. His storyline is the only real plot that we get in this episode, but it works very well.
Claire and Jamie’s fight seems well-motivated, unlike the earlier arguments over the exciseman. Some of Jamie’s anger, however, is out of proportion to the topic. I think his guilt about Laoghaire is fueling the bitterness and accusations. Not that he says anything he doesn’t mean, but he’s a bit harsher about it than he might otherwise have been.
The print shop fire scene is great, and handles a lot of the plot threads from the book in a more convincing way than the betrayal during the smuggling shipment. But with that said, I am sorely disappointed that Jamie doesn’t save his printing press, even though I’m sure that part would have been impossible to film. The loss of Bonnie is going to cause rather large changes to future events—to lots of future events. The press was a huge part of Jamie’s life—to the point he even named it. So losing that here, while expediting this story and picking up the pace of this particular episode, means losing not only a giant chunk of future storylines, but a whole aspect of Jamie’s life and personality from the books.
This sort of thing is bound to happen in adaptations, but I do mourn the loss. Jamie as writer and printer is one of my favorite incarnations of Jamie. I am glad he saved the miniature of Willie, though.
Ah, now Fergus has actually said the words “other wife.” I’m very surprised that they did that, but I suppose they know that a good percentage of show watchers have already read the books and know what’s coming. And now there’s dramatic irony, since all of the viewers know something Claire doesn’t.
The final shot of Jamie watching the press burn is heart-wrenching, but there’s a lot of other stuff going on, too, and since the show hasn’t articulated his love for the press well, it could be just him mourning one way of life that is now gone, or worrying about what is going to happen next with Claire, Young Ian, and Laoghaire.
Speaking of what happens next–why wasn’t Ian there? If he’s out looking for Young Ian, you’d think a fire would bring him running. I suppose we’ll see him early in the next episode, or Jamie will mention him having already left for Lallybroch, or somesuch.
The “next time on Outlander” segment is spoilerific. They don’t actually use any clips of anyone saying Laoghaire’s name, so at this point all non-reading audiences know is that Jamie married again, but it seems clear enough that this is going to cause major friction and perhaps splintering between Jamie and Claire. I do wonder if Jamie will end up being shot—they show Claire and Jamie on the cliffs (I assume while Young Ian swims out to get kidnapped), but by that point in the book they had basically reconciled. So there are some questions going into next week.
Sorry for the lack of pictures again, and for the very late blog this week. My son has been sick and I had to wait until bedtime to watch the episode and start the blog. Rather than wait another half hour while I do screengrabs and edit them in Photoshop, I’m just going to go ahead and post. But I do intend to try and find an hour this week to add pics to both this blog and the one from last week!
What did you think of this episode? Do you agree with me that it was a lot of false conflict and created problems? What do you think of Jamie’s stance on lies? Let me know in the comments!