Episode 207 – Faith

This was a very difficult episode to watch, but for the most part I thought it was very well done. I have one major issue with it. Well, maybe two, but I’ll get to that as I go on.

The title card didn’t wow me. I think I understand what they’re going for here, symbolically. A quick check of the internet reveals a number of traits associated with the heron, including determination, independence/self-reliance, strength, patience, and intelligence. And if you’ve listened to Alastair’s Storywonk book seminars on Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, you know that birds are not used lightly in this series. Most notable in the show is the starling murmuration that was the title card in 111, “The Devil’s Mark.”

I also think the show wants us to know that Claire is going to have a healthy child the next time; that she isn’t going to lose her next pregnancy. At this point in the book, readers already know, because the framing device used Bree in the 1960s. So this is the show’s way of reassuring non-book readers that the pregnancy from 201 is still in the future, and that it will not result in another stillbirth. Also – Claire is still wearing Jamie’s ring in 1954.

So I get all of that, but I still didn’t like it.  I would have gone with it, except that Claire said she saw one in Scotland – and then we dissolved to Paris. What?

Whistling on…

The next few scenes are a lovely adaptation from the book, but painful to watch. I have only lost one pregnancy, and that very early on (only just enough to register as being pregnant), so I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a stillborn child after so many months. Claire going a little mad and wanting to see the child makes sense. I’m glad we find out later in the episode that Mother Hildegarde lets her hold Faith.

Especially since, at that moment, she breaks the statue of the Virgin – a perhaps slightly too overt symbol of the breaking of Claire’s faith. I assume after that is when she held the baby all day, and Louise had to help out, but I’ll talk about that when the show gets there.

Claire does acknowledge her need for Jamie here, when she thinks she’s dying. Maybe to pass her sins on to him? To reconcile? To blame him?

I like that Master Raymond has a more cordial relationship with Bouton than in the book.

I do wish we’d seen a little more magic – that what Master Raymond did was more overt and blue and less Claire’s voiceover telling us what he was doing, but the show made a decision back in season one not to show things like time travel, so I guess they’re sticking to their creative guns.

I’m glad that Raymond still had her call for Jamie. It’s important that he understood that Jamie was an integral part of Claire’s healing. And I am so happy that they included the auras – and that Claire’s is like Raymond’s.

It’s nice that this episode finally starts to deal with Claire’s divided loyalties, and doesn’t pull punches between Frank and Jamie. She says that Frank is still alive – but at what cost?  And at this point, now that she thinks she will live, she becomes angry at Jamie, blaming him for their child’s death.

Mother Hildegarde’s response is great, but Claire’s anger is greater.

The time-compression in this episode versus the book is better. Months at Fontainebleu don’t make any sense. Although I had feared that Louise would be entirely absent from the episode because they cut that section, and I was pleased to see her appear, if only for a moment, at the end. I don’t know that we’ll get to say goodbye next episode.

The welcome by the servants is touching, but…odd? I’m not sure what this scene is supposed to be doing or showing, except that Claire doesn’t take her servants for granted?

We finally have Fergus brushing Claire’s hair, but instead of being a moment that draws them together, it’s a foreshadowing of the confession he will soon make.

I wasn’t sure about the apostle spoons when they showed up, but they work well in this episode. First, to spur Claire, in her own despair, to find Fergus in his. And later…well, I’ll get to later.

There were so many ways to have Fergus relay this information. I wish we hadn’t actually seen it. It was enough for him to say that he couldn’t say it in front of a lady. Everything else came through in the performances between Romann and Caitriona. We didn’t need to see it.

Mother Hildegarde’s remark about what the king will expect in return for Claire’s request is a warning, and Claire’s response is devastating. That she will add the sacrifice of her virtue to the list of things she has already lost in Paris. But the camera stays on Mother Hildegarde long enough for us to see that she understands what is driving Claire is not just anger, but a deep well of pain and loss.

It’s hilarious when Claire drinks the chocolate that Louis offers. After doing a little research, it seems like it would have been quite heavily sugared for le Roi. So, while I thought Claire might be reacting to bitterness/chile flavor, it could be a reaction to intensely sweet chocolate. I’d be curious to find out what it tasted like.

The king remarks on Claire’s loyalty. It is, indeed, a bedrock principle of her personality, and is why this offering is difficult for her. It’s also a nice call-back to the fact that she’s still wearing both rings in 1954 in the title card/opening scene. Her loyalty to Jamie won’t allow her to let go.

The voice over is unfortunate. I think we already understand enough of what Louis is like by this point in the season. We don’t need Claire to remind us that his power is absolute.

Slight changes were made to the wizard’s duel, turning it more onto an actual trial with Claire as the judge. I don’t mind the changes, especially since they reveal that Saint Germain was the one who tried to poison Claire (although nothing else – I believe him when he says he wasn’t part of Les Disciples; he has bigger fish to fry). It’s nice that Claire still tries to save both men, even after she knows St. Germain tried to kill her. And in the episode, as in the book, Master Raymond forces her to hand St. Germain the cup that she thinks will kill him. I wonder if the show will reveal that he doesn’t die? Rather, what happens is that Raymond understands that only a death will appease His Majesty, and a death must be supplied. It’s easier to have that “death” be St. Germain’s, and for Master Raymond to disappear for a while.

At least, I hope that’s what will happen in the show. It’s only tangentially referenced in the books. Actually, “The Space Between” is one of my favorite and, at the same time, most frustration-inducing bulges from the main series. It provides some time-travel answers, but not others. What happened when Le Comte and Master Raymond went through the time-rift?? Where did they go? Did they manage to go forward? Ugh! We’d better get answers to that eventually.

There is a brief moment when Le Comte acknowledges that Claire didn’t really want this to happen, but then he takes the cup, curses them both, and collapses.

I dislike immensely the Wizard of Oz reference. “I’m going to miss you most of all,” is what Dorothy says to Scarecrow before she leaves Oz. It’s the remnant of a brief romantic subplot that was cut from the film, and has absolutely no place here. In my opinion.

I think that when Claire says she lay on her back and thought of England, it’s supposed to be funny, but all I want to do in this scene is vomit. Claire handles herself with dignity, only beginning to fall apart on the way out, but man do I hate Louis. What an entitled asshole.

Jamie’s return is almost perfect. Like in the book, he asks if she will make him beg, and the room is full of shadows and light. The scene’s tension builds well, with Claire telling him everything that has happened, and grows when she admits that, for a while, she did hate him. We are returned to the hospital, to the breaking of her faith through the virgin statue, and then to her holding her daughter. Claire sings to her dead babe, and holds her for hours, until Louise comes. I am so glad that they brought her in for this scene. As someone who is about to become a mother, to see her friend in pain at this loss must be devastating, but she gets Claire through it. She forces Claire to acknowledge the loss, and give the baby up.

I am forcefully reminded of Claire holding the dead child on the mountainside, the changeling babe that she could not save, just as she could not save her own baby. It is hard for healers to accept loss, but so much harder now, for Claire, with her own baby.

The tension then peaks when Claire turns things around to take some culpability. She admits that Frank shouldn’t matter – he isn’t there. This, I am 100% behind. We needed this moment, to finally sever Claire from any responsibility to Frank. She made her choice a long time ago, and it’s time to let him go.

But I HATE HATE HATE that Claire takes the responsibility for what happened to Faith and that Jamie lets her. No, Jamie. I don’t want to hear about forgiveness. THIS WAS NOT CLAIRE’S FAULT. It wasn’t yours, either, and it wasn’t Randall’s. It wasn’t anybody’s. This scene could have been saved by a single added line. All Jamie had to say was “It wasna your fault, Claire. But even if it was, I would forgive ye.” And then the scene can continue as written.

I am not going to stop watching this show, because I am a fan of the books and I can headcanon that Claire knows she had placenta previa and would have lost the baby anyway. But if I were a show-watcher only, I’d be tempted to turn it off and walk away at this point. I am so disappointed that this show, with its sensitivity to so many issues, would allow a grieving mother to believe that the loss of her child was her fault.

Because guess what – every mother who has lost a child already believes that. And she needs the people around her, the people who love her, to hold her up, and remind her that it wasn’t. To say “You couldn’t have changed what happened” and “It’s not your fault” over and over. She might never believe, but the one thing her husband should never do is say, “I forgive you.” Because forgiveness implies it is her fault, and he’s being magnanimous in staying with the woman who killed her child.

Can you tell I’m a wee bit upset?

EDIT- I am perhaps overstating it when I say “every mother,” but perhaps I can change that to “every mother who has lost a child that I have spoken to.” Which is probably not a representative sample, but it represents my experience with the issue.

Except for Claire putting Frank before Jamie, nothing about this entire situation requires Jamie’s forgiveness, not even the “something else.” At least Jamie acknowledges that Claire with Louis is the same as him with BJR. No forgiveness needed on either side.

I need to calm down, and I don’t think I’ll be engaging much with live-tweeting and such this week. I’m also quite ill, so I think tonight I’ll just go to bed early.

At least the episode ends with something worth holding on to- them carrying their troubles together, with hope for another child, and a return home, to Scotland.

It’s good that they both go to the grave, together. This was a pretty big misstep in the book, in my opinion, because Gabaldon doesn’t have them go together. Each goes separately. I can now insert this scene into the books in my head and be happier for it.

And the apostle spoons finally pay off – Jamie can leave St. Andrew (and a piece of Scotland) with his daughter, and he and Claire can grieve their loss.

Claire crosses herself, I think for the first time (she might have done it before, but never as deliberately or purposefully as this). If I can whistle past the glaring outrage I feel for Jamie allowing Claire to take the blame for Faith’s death, this is a very beautiful and touching scene, where Claire reconnects both with Faith, the babe; her faith in Jamie and their marriage; and her faith in God.

But I’m not quite ready to whistle yet, so I’ll see everyone once I’m cool and collected again.

Not sure how next week will go. It looks like maybe Lallybroch first, then the Bill of Association, then to Beuly. But who knows?

EDIT: OK, I have slept on this and listened to some podcasts and read some reviews. I posted down in the comments some of my thoughts, but here’s where I am as of the “next day.” 

I do not think it is the show’s intention to blame Claire for the loss of her baby. I feel that what happened was an oversight, or perhaps they thought Jamie’s unconditional forgiveness would suffice. And I do think that it’s important that Jamie’s love be unconditional. And I also think it’s important that they both acknowledge the ghost of Frank Randall and that Claire should have done things differently. But when I say that, I mean that she should have been more gentle with Jamie, not that I think her choices caused her to lose her child.

So. It’s possible that Claire will self-diagnose in the next episode, at which point they can state with clarity that the stillbirth was not Claire’s fault, or they may not. They may have Jamie tell her that the loss of the baby isn’t her fault. Or not. I’m going to try and give as much benefit of the doubt as I can, because I do love this show. But I also think it’s important that Jamie be seen not to blame Claire by omission, and to actively support her in her loss. He says they will carry it together – but they should carry the pain and sorrow, not blame.

 

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Episode 116 – To Ransom a Man’s Soul

Trigger Warning: If you haven’t already watched the season finale, be aware that there is graphic rape depicted in the episode. I will not be describing any of those scenes in detail, but I will be discussing them because what happens permanently affects all of the characters involved. So, fair warning.

I realized after posting my last blog that I neglected to discuss the ramifications of Jamie’s hand. Since the repair happens in this episode, I’ll save my discussion for that point.

This is a nice title card, set in the Abbey with implements that are important to the episode. It is simpler and quieter than the previous title card, set over implements of torture. But I would suggest that this episode is more emotionally grueling to endure.

Jumping to morning exercises at the prison is a little odd. It strikes me as strange to have quite that many soldiers quartered there. It made sense at Fort William – it was a fort that also held prisoners. But this is a prison. Even assuming every guard is a soldier, that’s a lot of soldiers.

It is a crime that Sam Heughan wasn’t nominated for more acting awards this season. I mean, Tobias Menzies is obviously amazing and horrifying in this entire season, but Sam has shown incredible range and deftness in his performance. God, when he whimpers and begs Black Jack to kill him, it tears at my heart.

The bit with the cows was a little much. I mean, in the books, they find a mangled body and just assume it was BJR. He was never really there – that was Marley. Here, we actually see him get trampled. Or the door, anyway. Maybe you can argue that just his arm was broken, and maybe some ribs. But now that I’ve watched the episode again, I didn’t see where anyone actually thinks he’s dead. Honestly, why wouldn’t Murtagh just slit his throat? Murtagh has to know what happened to Jamie, after what Claire told them, and if he knew BJR was just lying there unconscious, he would have killed him. As he is going to do next season to Sandringham. Murtagh is bad ass, and he has no compunction against slaughtering those who have hurt the people he loves.

Speaking of Murtagh, the look on his face when he carries his laird out of the prison is so absolutely perfect. He is the perfect vassal, and he loves Jamie so much. Rupert’s reaction to their delay in the wagon makes me laugh.

I’m trying not to be upset about the move from France to Scotland, but I understand why they had to make logistical changes. I miss MacRannoch here.

The flashbacks to the prison make my stomach hurt, so I’ll focus less on what happens and more on what it means for the story. I can’t figure out why BJR would break Jamie’s left hand. In the books, they break the right because it is assumed to be the dominant hand. BookJamie is left-handed, but the damage is still substantial because he’s been taught to write and use a sword with his right hand. Obviously Sam is right-handed, so why go for the left hand?

Even if you’re thinking logistically, it’s not like he does much in this episode after they leave the Abbey. And you can say that it’s mostly healed by the time they get to Paris. So what’s the thinking behind going after the left hand? It just doesn’t make any sense to me, and won’t have many, if any, future repercussions. In the books, Jamie’s stiff fingers cause him lots of problems, some of which affect the plot (especially when Claire has to amputate!). I realize it isn’t a huge thing, and I’m not worried if they cut it out, but why bother to do it in the first place if you’re not going to see it through?

OK, enough nitpicking. Moving on.

I think what makes Black Jack Randall so horrifying is that he is not mustache-twirling evil. He’s perverted and absolutely sure of himself, and at turns gentle and brutal. I have difficulty assigning “degrees” of rape, because every assault, no matter what happens, is degrading and awful, but there is something particularly nasty about what BJR does. His manipulations are so intense, his understanding of how to break Jamie so complete, that it has a powerful impact that senseless, impersonal violence can never have. It reminds me that most sexual violence is perpetrated by people we know. Everyone is afraid of the stranger in the dark, but it’s usually someone you love, trust, or are at least familiar with.

Father Anselm does not live up to my expectations. He is kind, and understanding enough, but in the book he was…unique. His drive to know, to understand things, to discover, is what drew Claire to him. He was a man out of time, in many ways, and that is what led her to eventually confide in him. I miss the perpetual adoration, too, and the way Claire learned stillness and her place in the universe. I understand that stillness doesn’t have as much place in a TV show, but I do wish Anselm were a little more…foreign. Not in the sense of nationality, but in the sense that he doesn’t quite belong with the other monks. In the book, he isn’t even a member of the same order. He’s visiting because he’s doing research. He’s an outsider, like Claire, not a part of the daily workings of the monastery. Plus, having him as the head of the monastery means we don’t have Jamie’s uncle Alex. I thought that having Abbot Alex there added some pressure on Jamie. He doesn’t want to appear weak in front of his father’s kin.

This absolution of Claire’s sins comes too quickly from Anselm. It doesn’t feel earned. She rushes to confess and he rushes to absolve. It doesn’t work for me at all.

I understand why the Gaelic isn’t subtitled when we’re in Claire’s PoV, but it really should have been for Murtagh and Jamie. I mean, the emotion of the scene comes through no matter what, but we’re in Jamie’s PoV here. He understands what’s being said, so we should, too.

People were remarking on the scar on Jamie’s chest in the provocative images for season two – that isn’t a weird mole or some kind of bad Photoshop job. It’s from this next scene with BJR, where he forces Jamie to brand himself. The mixing of Claire and BJR sets up the summoning that happens later (although I dearly miss the scene where Geillis tries to drug and interrogate Claire…man, do I wish they’d filmed that).

I love Claire with the guys. They have all come to love and respect her, and it is so lovely to see her with them, after the rough start they had at Castle Leoch and on the road in “Rent.” When Rupert says “the offer stands” and Angus adds, “Aye, the MacKenzies will always stand with ye,” I want to give them both a big hug.

Poor Willie, trying to help a man who doesn’t want to be helped. But it is such a big step for Willie to help the man that stood up for him many times, and to refuse him when he wants to die.

I love Murtagh. He is the best. Father figure, best friend, right-hand man, advisor, steady rock, and doer of all the things that need to be done.

It physically hurts to watch Claire trying to drag Jamie back to the light. It is obvious that Jamie would have been able to withstand pain and torture. But Randall is evil, and he sought to break Jamie, not just have him. He knew that Jamie could withstand massive amounts of agony, since he would not break while being flogged. He knew he would have to use seduction, and gentleness, a mockery of love, to truly break this strong, amazing man. That Jamie was also delirious with pain and mixing up Claire and Randall makes it so much worse.

Total side note. The makeup people are amazing. Jamie still has a scar on his shoulder from the gunshot wound when he first met Claire.

The summoning in the books makes more sense to me than what we get in the show. In the book, Claire gets him to fight back against Randall, to do what he could not in Wentworth. In the show, she does it by telling him she would die without him. It feels very abrupt and, again, not earned. I wish they’d had more time in the episode for this scene.

Either way, book or show, there’s a long road to go before Jamie can manage to forgive Randall (and the series is very good about dealing with the long-term effects of rape), but I get the feeling at the end of this scene that all Jamie has decided to do is to fight, rather than give up and die. And that’s not nothing, but it isn’t quite as satisfying as what happens in the book, or the true reconciliation in the hot springs.

I LOVE RUPERT. He is so gallant. 🙂 I’m sad that it will be at least half of season two, if not more, before we see these three knuckleheads again.

Jamie doesn’t look very seasick…despite assurances to the contrary by Murtagh. I wanted to see him break away from Claire and run to the rail once they set out to sea. Because I will be pissed if we don’t get Jamie with acupuncture needles sticking all over him in season three (or maybe four, if they split the book over two seasons – which I think they should).

I think it’s the news about the baby that truly brings Jamie back to the light. Claire is worth fighting for, but the child is worth living for. If that makes sense.

Up next – I plan to do at least one, maybe two blog posts between now and April 9th. One will track Jamie and Claire’s relationship, from his ghost watching her in the window in 1945, to the final shot of them standing on the ship to France.

The other, if I have time, will be looking a little more in-depth on the overall changes made this season and where those changes might lead in future seasons.

At some point, I also want to take a look at the supporting cast of characters and do some analysis of book versus show. BJR and Murtagh will be the first, and then I’ll work my way though Geillis, the MacKenzie lads, Frank, and Laoghaire. I’ve already got a post on the MacKenzie brothers.

But that is all for season one episodes, finally! I promise to keep up with the blog this season, and post my reactions before the next episode airs. I’m looking forward to seeing what the show has in store for us in Paris!

Episode 108 – Both Sides Now

First things first: every time I see the title of the episode I start singing Joni Mitchell. The lyrics of the song do have some relevance to the show. It’s a song about changing perspectives, about seeing familiar things, important things, in different ways.

And that is what happens to Claire in the past. She starts to look at love and life in a different way, and that change is part of what drives her decision to stay with Jamie. And part of why she is never truly happy or content, back in her “own” time, during Brianna’s childhood. So it’s thematically appropriate, even though the title is a more literal reference to the audience being able to see both sides – Claire’s and Frank’s – of the story now.

I would also like to crow a little bit and say that I totally called the cliffhanger ending. And although I don’t think I said so in any of my previous blogs, I always imagined them ending the first half of the season with Jamie in the window, saying “I’ll thank ye to take yer hands off my wife.” It just made sense, given what we knew about the episode splits (since we knew episode seven would be the wedding, this one had to end with Randall).

One thing I want to bring up before I dig into the changes in the episode:

A friend of mine who is new to the series (hasn’t read any of the books and just marathoned all of the episodes to catch up right before the mid-season finale), made what I feel is an accurate criticism of the books/show: there’s an awful lot of rape, or at least attempted rape, in it. I wanted to say: “you don’t even know what is going to happen at the end of the season,” but I didn’t. I try not to spoil people, really I do. That’s why I named this blog Outlander Spoilers- so you would know what you were getting into if you stopped by!

She’s right, though. While rape was commonplace in the 18th century (and is still more commonplace today than most people want to admit), it isn’t something that would have happened quite as frequently to the same woman (unless she was a prostitute). The fact that nearly every man who meets Claire wants to rape her does stretch the bounds of verisimilitude.

I didn’t give my friend any spoilers, but what I did tell her is that, while I do feel that rape is slightly overused as a form of conflict in the series, Diana doesn’t treat it lightly. It’s never glossed over, used purely to push the plot forward, or forgotten by a character in the next scene. It stays with the characters forever. You know, just like in real life.

I also think it is important to point out that Claire killed the English deserter before he raped her. I’ve seen several reviews today saying that Claire was raped by the soldier. Depending on your definition of the word rape (and that’s a touchy subject), you could argue that any sexual assault with the intent to rape is tantamount to rape, at least in the psyche of the person being assaulted. But in most places, the legal definition of rape includes penetration, and that didn’t happen here. It sure looks like it did, because the camera goes all fuzzy and things start to lose narrative cohesion. But Claire wasn’t penetrated in the book, and per the interviews I’ve read with Ron Moore and Anna Foerster, she wasn’t in the show, either.

I don’t know that that makes a difference to the viewer, or even that much to Claire. But it is something BookClaire clings to, in the aftermath. It didn’t happen. And, in the book, Jamie and Claire have desperate sex afterward. It is absolutely not making love; they’re driven by the need to copulate, to remind themselves that they’re alive and together. They couldn’t really do that in the show. It wouldn’t make sense without an awkward voiceover, and they needed to move on more quickly to keep the forward momentum of the narrative. In the book, Claire has a little while to recover and try to start making sense of what happened. But the show needs to use her disconnection to reality and her shock and anger to fuel her flight to the stones.

Moving away from that touchy subject, I want to say that I adored Jamie and Claire in their quieter moments together. I’m still waiting for the honesty conversation (and I think my call that it will show up during their fightsex scene may turn out to be accurate), but I was very happy to get “Is this usual- what it is between us – when I touch you, when you lie with me?” As I said in one of my last blogs, I’m re-reading Voyager right now, and I just got to Claire and Jamie’s reunion, and Claire reminds him of that question. And they both acknowledge that whatever it is, is still there.

I also LOVED that they included the bit where Jamie says he feels like god himself when he’s inside Claire. Although I hope they echo the “does it ever stop, the wanting you?” later in the show, in a quieter moment. It was a little rushed, this time, since they put it into a sex scene that wouldn’t end well. But the laughter, and the fun between them, before the deserters show up, made me very happy. That’s one of my favorite parts of Jamie and Claire. They go through so many horrible things, and their relationship isn’t all sweetness and light, but they are able to laugh together and let go of pretense and solemnity.

One sad thing – the “I feel like God Himself when I’m in you” scene is the one where BookJamie goes down on BookClaire for the first time. It’s also where the hedgehog joke originally appeared. I’m fine with losing the joke, but I’d really like to see Jamie get into the business of pleasuring Claire. Obviously not in this context (in the book they’re still at the inn when that happens), but maybe we’ll get it later.

I was a little confused, as a book reader, about what was happening during the scene where Claire makes her break for Craigh na Dun. In the book, she’s like a day’s walk away, but in the show she can actually see the stones. I had a wild moment where I actually calculated dates- Jamie says they’ll be back at Leoch by Yuletide, and I was thinking “OK, so how close are we to the solstice, then? Will she actually be able to travel?” But then I realized that was silly. They only changed things so that Claire and Frank could have this moment, talking across time and at cross purposes. Because Claire has come in a desperate attempt to get back, and Frank has come in a desperate attempt to let go.

The slightly extended scene with Randall, where Claire pretends to know things about Sandringham, made me want to throw up. I say this about all scenes in which characters pretend to have knowledge that they don’t. Something about that particular type of conflict makes me queasy, because I know it is going to turn out badly. And it does. At least in the book, Claire had the sense to shut up and not fabricate too much. TVClaire tries to get all super spy, and Randall sees right through her.

After he ties her up, they deviate from the books a bit in a way that I’m not sure I agree with. It’s in this scene that BookClaire learns that Randall is only aroused by someone else’s fear and pain. When she stops acting afraid, he literally can’t get it up. It’s only when Jamie arrives, and Randall is able to feed off Jamie’s fear, that he becomes aroused. That’s important, and is reinforced later- Jenny’s revelations about what happened when she “went with Randall” indicate that he can’t get an erection because she laughs at him.

I feel that’s an important aspect of BJR that isn’t coming across yet in the show. We understand that he’s aroused by other people’s pain. We saw that in the way he recounted the flogging. But we don’t yet know that he has gotten to the point where he can’t feel pleasure unless there’s also fear and pain.

And that’s an important distinction, I think. There’s the bit with Jenny still to come, though, so we may still see this.

EDIT #1 One of the recap/reviews from this week (I can’t remember which one- it may have been “Talking Outlander”) talked about this problem, and they got at the heart of what I was fumbling around and trying to say here. It isn’t so much that we need to know this about BJR (although we do), but that Claire had agency in this scene in the novel. She had power here. BJR had the power to kill her, but he couldn’t rape her unless she cooperated by being afraid. And that is taken away in the show. I’m not sure how they would have done it, logistically, but I wish they would have tried. /edit

Now I suppose I need to talk about Frank.

Despite none of the Frank stuff happening on the page in Outlander, every moment of this felt like something that could have happened. And the bit with Mrs. Graham…I wonder if Ron talked to Diana about that scene? She keeps saying she’s going to write a book called “What Frank Knew.” We see in the letter that Brianna finds (she finds a draft in Echo and the actual letter in MOBY) that by the time she was a teenager, he’d done the research and had come to cautiously accept the possibility that Claire was telling the truth about the stones. He’d found Jamie Fraser (had possibly found proof that Claire would eventually travel again…I’ve often wondered about that) and was at least afraid that it was true- afraid enough to warn Brianna about it.

If something like this did happen “off screen” in the books, then it suggests that Frank already knew or suspected something about the stones.

Edit #2 I just re watched the episode, thinking about what Frank knew, and I was struck by the way he looked at Wee Roger Mac. Because he knows who Roger is. “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” tells us that Frank has met Roger before- when he brought the news of Jerry MacKenzie’s death/disappearance. And Reggie (the reverend) is Frank’s best friend. They would have talked about Reg’s adopted son. So, I think when Frank sees Roger there, he has to be thinking: is this the same? Weren’t there standing stones in Northumbria? Could this be true?

He denies it, of course. But it’s nagging at him, enough so that he drives up to the stones, trying to come to grips with what is real. I don’t think he should be able to hear her through the stones, btw. Her hearing him makes sense. There’s a precedent for that in the books. But even so, he convinced himself that he’s a fool, and that he has to let her go, or go mad. /edit

And then when Claire does come back, nearly three years later, pregnant and talking about time travel, some part of him will believe her. Being the practical and rational man that he is, he will ruthlessly suppress that inclination. But it will always be there, niggling. And so, eventually, he will start to look for James Fraser. Will ask Reverend Wakefield for help. Will start asking discreet questions of his old colleagues at MI6 about time travel. And will discover a Fraser lineage with his daughter at the bottom.

It all makes sense. And those are the best kinds of extrapolations in this series- the ones that fit as though they were always meant to go there.

The scene with the intended extortion, where Frank goes a little mad and shows that the ruthless anger of BJR is somewhere inside of him, makes me wonder. Why does he have a cosh in his pocket? One possible answer is that, even drunk, desperate, and despairing, he is smart enough not to trust a random woman in a bar. I’m leaning toward this explanation. He was, after all, a spy. Another possible answer, though, is that he always has it with him. Just in case. And that says something maybe a little darker about Frank. Or about the world he lives in- a world Claire knows little or nothing about.

Edit #3 I was double-checking my use of the term “cosh” for Frank’s weapon (some of the podcasts were wondering what it was called), and the Internet tells me that it is also called a blackjack. Hello prop symbolism. /edit

Either way, the answer to that question is intriguing. Also – hooray to getting to finally see Wee Roger! He was so bleeding cute! Now I shall wait until we get casting announcements for adult Roger and Brianna.

And so, here we are, with six months of drought looming ahead of us.

I plan to fill that drought with more blogs. I plan to put something up at least once a week, and will look at individual characters, story arcs, the plot structure of the series as a whole so far, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I’ll also be posting some of my pet theories about Dougal and Colum, a treatise on time travel, and some other fun stuff.

So keep checking in during the hiatus. I’ll also share any Outlander-related news we get during the down time, and I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you!