Episode 305 – Freedom and Whisky

Episode 305 Header

Here we are, with episode five of season three! There will be no new episode next week, which is actually good timing for me since I’ll be in a wedding and have a birthday party to go to. I was worried about how I would fit watching the episode a few times and writing this blog into my schedule, but now I don’t need to! (Note that IMDB has the break happening on the 22nd, but other sources have it as the 15th).

On with the episode–“Freedom and Whisky.”

Oh, wow. That handmade Christmas ornament from 1948 in the title card looks *exactly* like an ornament I made for my parents when I was in kindergarten. Except I mixed the red and green paint and the whole thing turned out brown. Not sure how this will be symbolic yet (especially since it’s from 1948), but I guess we’ll see as the episode progresses. (Note—it ends up being a touchpoint for Brianna in her grief after losing Frank).

I didn’t really need to see all of that blood in the surgery scene, but I’ll live, because it shows us Claire being an amazing surgeon, not only competent but extraordinary at her calling. I’m a little sad that this rules out her having been moved to head of surgery in the wake of the assisted-suicide event (Claire recounts that to Jamie later in the books), because I thought it was beautiful that Claire was willing to treat the patient and not the disease. But this works, too.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that they included the fictional prose and stories/legends/songs re-writing history bit in Brianna’s history class. I think most of the discussion of that was in Dragonfly in Amber when Claire was talking to Roger about the Jacobites and how Prince Charles wasn’t the amazing awesomeness that he appears to be in the songs. But it’s great that they managed to get something esoteric and literary like that into the TV show.

Briannas Ornament

Holidays are so hard after loss, especially the first one. Our culture focuses so much on family and togetherness at the holidays, and that’s wonderful when you have a family (whether a family by blood or the family you choose in your friends) around you. But when even one person is missing, gone forever, everything changes. I lost my grandfather last summer, and while it’s nowhere near the same as losing a parent, it still changed so much about our family holiday. There was something more missing than just my grandfather, something greater than the sum of our loss.

So I ache for Brianna, who has lost one father, and is grappling with the existence of another one that she thinks she will never know. This is probably the first time I am really sympathetic toward her in the show so far. I’ve liked her for Roger’s sake but haven’t really warmed to her as a character on her own. But this scene makes me feel for her.

Daft or Brilliant

Wow—Roger in Boston. I guess they’re pulling some ideas from Drums of Autumn. But I like the idea of Roger and Brianna both grieving their adopted fathers at Christmas.

Claire’s struggle with her fears about Jamie and worries about leaving Brianna is poignant but so different from the upswell of emotion and conviction to return from the season two finale. I do understand her not wanting to leave Brianna, especially with Bree being so unsettled about everything she’s learned, to the point of withdrawing from Harvard. But I hope this is where she decides to go to MIT and focus on engineering.

Geillis Skeleton

The Geillis skeleton! Spooky!

“Somebody” tried to cut the lady’s head off with a dull blade. “Somebody”—aka Claire! Except she hasn’t done it yet. But the inclusion of the skeleton tells me we will get to that part of the story in the Caribbean. I wondered what would be cut—they’ve got to cut something, or they’ll never fit everything into the few episodes they have left. But not that. I hope they cut the Fiend, though.

Brianna and Roger at Harvard is a beautiful scene, giving hints of the path she will choose to take with her life in the future. There’s more to like in this episode, and in this scene about Brianna, than we’ve seen so far. The show is doing a good job of opening her up and showing her vulnerabilities. Her character needs that, and I hope they continue to do it.

 

History is a Story

UGH TO THE SHADES OF FUCKING FRANK RANDALL. Why did we have to bring him back through Sandy? I’m fine with Brianna grieving and having complicated thoughts about who she is as a person and who her family is. Frank was her father, even if not by blood. And Claire grieving is fine, too, and her emotions are just as complicated for different reasons. But having this woman throw outright lies at Claire and for Claire to just accept them is terrible and unjust. Claire asked Frank for a divorce when Bree was little, and he wouldn’t give it to her. That’s not Claire’s fault. He chose to stay with Claire. That’s what Claire told Frank’s lover in the books, and I’m pissed as hell that she doesn’t say it here. Sure, Sandy is grieving, and I’m also sure that Frank routinely either lied about or obfuscated his motivations, so I don’t blame her for misunderstanding or for being jealous of Claire’s marriage, but she doesn’t get to make Claire feel guilty about something she could not control. Frank made his own choices, and it wasn’t Claire who refused to let him go. She gave him so many opportunities, and he never took them. UGH. But at least this scene only took a few minutes, and it led to Bree and Claire finally telling each other the truth about everything.

Frank Cheats

I like the inclusion of the Apollo 8 mission, and I’m actually OK with that brief voice over, because it’s a kind of ethereal scene, and having a voice from nowhere sort-of makes sense. And it will give Jamie and Claire a chance to have the conversation on the Artemis, talking about the future and going to the moon.

It’s weird to see Bree and Claire talking about what Claire will miss, since I know she’s not going to miss any of those things—Bree’s wedding or Bree’s kids being born. Yes, she’ll miss a little bit of the kids growing up when Brianna and Roger return to the 80s, but they come back, and will be on the Ridge again in Go Tell the Bees.

I hope we get to continue to see Brianna working through her complicated feelings about her parents next season, since I assume we won’t see her again this season. And positioning her as more like Claire than either Frank or Jamie works well, too, because Claire can be ruthless and seem cold while a lot of very hot emotions are roiling under the surface.

Joe Abernathy

I am so glad they cut out the fat-shaming remarks that Joe makes in the book. That has always bothered me, especially since Claire in the books is written as being short and curvy, and Jamie complains when she loses too much weight. This good-bye scene also works well enough, although it’s odd to me that she doesn’t tell him what she’s about to do. I just checked that scene in the book, and she doesn’t specifically say anything about time travel, but she does have him help her resign and take care of some legal things. He knows she’s going away and doesn’t plan to come back. I wonder why they didn’t have her say goodbye here? The scene was well-staged anyway, but I felt like she would have told him she was going.

It’s so funny that Roger gives Claire the book of Scottish history, since she’s not going to be staying in Scotland long. But that’s how it happened in the book, too. And interesting that they are claiming, in the show, that she had gemstones every time. In the books, her first two trips were just with gold (her wedding band to Frank) and silver (her wedding band to Jamie).

Claire Costumer

Wow—Claire sewing her dress is interesting. And how does she have a dress form? I have a degree in costuming and I don’t even have a dress form (although I want one). The corset pattern is familiar, though. The first corset I ever made was one of that shape. Although she would have needed about a million rain coats to make that skirt and coat, and she would never had had pieces of fabric big enough for those panels. Why didn’t she just buy fabric by the bolt? Lots of people still made their clothes in the 60s—many more than do so now—and if she has a dress form, she would have had access to fabric. But I shall attempt to suspend my disbelief.

Really, though, Claire, what did those poor scissors ever do to you? Didn’t anyone ever teach you to respect your tools? Would you toss your surgical instruments around like that? Not that I can blame you–those look like they would be awful for cutting fabric or thread.

I want to somehow jump into the show and hand her a pair of my Ginghers. She’d have to promise not to use them to cut paper, though. There is only one pair of scissors in that shot, which means she cut out the pattern and the fabric with it. *shudder* I know there are amazing costumers working on this show. Did they not get to have any say in what happened in this scene?? *tears of frustration*

OK, I’m done with my sewing rant. Please forgive me.

Brianna and Claire’s farewell is lovely. I wonder if Brianna will follow her, as she does in the book? Although it’s a little different to follow her from Inverness than from Boston. (Note—she doesn’t, but they also don’t show Claire actually going to the stones. In the post-episode chat, they talk about how going to the stones wouldn’t work, logistically, with their filming schedule. I kinda like that they skipped over it).

Bree Roger Christmas Carol

I’m really, really glad that this whole episode focused on Claire, Brianna, and Roger, rather than showing us what Jamie has been up to since Helwater. But I still think it would have been better to keep the structure from the book and not to try for linear chronology through the forties and fifties. For those that haven’t read the book, the way it was structured is that Claire, Bree, and Roger are searching for Jamie through history in 1968, just like they were doing last week in “Of Lost Things.” As they uncover new information, the book then breaks away to that point in Jamie’s life and we get his point of view for a while. Then it comes back to 1968 for the next revelation, and interspersed in the 1968 section are flashbacks to the forties, fifties, and early sixties in Claire’s life. I think it works really well in the book, because the plot continues to move forward no matter which time period we’re in.

In the show, it has all been fits and starts, with really rocky and jarring transitions between centuries. I guess I can see how this episode worked well on its own, but I would give that up to have a season that seemed to be arcing toward something from the beginning. Those first three episodes showed Claire stuck in one place, with no hope for the future. Jamie was the same—stuck in whatever circumstances he found himself in that week. That’s true of the Jamie segments in the book, too, but the Claire segments from the book keep giving us hope that a reunion is in the future. The show ruthlessly punctured the hopeful bubble of the season two finale, and refused to give back any of that hope, even last episode. This was the first time that I felt like we were actually building toward a reunion. And that’s great within the episode, but it would have been nice to have it back in episode one, too. The season is almost half-over now.

Another Sky

Ooh—the prologue from Voyager! (The bit about puddles). I’m OK with this as voice-over, too, and with it as a transition from twentieth century to eighteenth. Generally speaking, they’ve been much more judicious about the voice over this season, and that’s good. It was so over-used in the first season that I wanted it to be gone forever, but most of it here has worked well enough.

I kept expecting this episode to end every second of the last few minutes of the episode—especially as Claire opened the door of the print shop. But when it continued on after that, I guessed it would end as Jamie crumpled to the floor. And I was right about that!

Jamie Faints

And now, of course, we shall all have to wait two weeks to see what happens next, which is what I expected. Although it seems like it, it’s also not a cliff hanger—those happen when we’re in the middle of conflict and it’s left unresolved. This is absolutely a game changer. Claire has resolved (or well enough) everything that she’s leaving behind in Boston, and now she’s moving forward into a new phase of her story. So while it’s a dramatic moment to end on, and everyone is definitely going to be wondering about the next episode, it’s not really leaving us hanging. Rather, it’s leaving us imagining and hoping and curious.

But, as I said earlier, I’m going to be so busy next weekend I’ll barely notice the wait. Oh, and I saw on the preview that it’s going to be an extended episode, so that’s nice. Maybe they’ll manage to get a lot more plot into the episode that way, or just give themselves extra time to slow down and do the reunion justice.

What did you think of “Freedom and Whisky?” Are you glad, like I am, that they didn’t make up something to fill in Jamie’s part of the story on this episode? Or did you want to see what he was up to in the ten years between Helwater and Edinburgh? Do you hope that they allow Frank’s ghost to rest and never mention his name again? Let me know in the comments!

 

*All images are the property of Starz and used here for entertainment and critique. Quotes on the images are from the show, from Voyager the book, or my own invention.

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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)

Frequently Searched Queries

outlanderstones

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 213 – Dragonfly in Amber

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

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

OK, now into the finale!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’ve got my eye on you, Yank.

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

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

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

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

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Warning – super cuteness ahead.

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

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

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

213BreeandRoger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

213BreeandRoger03

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

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

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

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Purple heather, with a little bit of white.

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

213BreeandRoger04

Research always brings people close together.

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

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

213BreeandRoger05

I volunteer my hand as tribute.

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

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

213fergus

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

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

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

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

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

213murtagh

Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser, grinning in the face of death.

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

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

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

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

213claireandjamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

213claireandjamie02

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

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

213claireandjamie03

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you think?

 

 

Speculation – Seasons Three AND Four!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speculations – Season Two Episode Breakdown

EDIT: I have cleaned up this post and turned it into a permanent page. Check it out here

It has been a while. I meant to do more posts during the hiatus, but my real life and my own writing have taken precedence. Now there are only seven weeks until the second half of season one starts, so it’s time to get back in the habit of blogging. Between now and then, I’ll do commentary blogs on the teasers, extended scenes, and trailers that have been released as part of droughtlander, and I still want to track the evolution of Jamie and Claire’s relationship over the first eight episodes in a post. I also updated my blog post about the breakdown of the second half of season one. The big change was the addition of the titles that have been released, but I made a few tiny changes to my predictions, too.

But to get things rolling with a new post, I’m going to speculate about season two!

So all we know at this point is that Starz requested 13 episodes for season two. That’s three fewer than this season (although they may ask for more). The question is, how will Ron Moore et al decide to structure their season? From what I can tell from Matt B Robert’s twitter feed, they are already breaking the season and have started writing.

If I were in the writer’s room, I would have two big questions that need to be answered before deciding how to break the season.

EDIT Jan 2016: This question has probably been answered by the fact that they *just* cast Roger and haven’t announced Brianna yet. But they could always be planning to film the 1960s stuff at the end and still put it into the 1st episode. We don’t have an air date yet, so they’ve still got time. 

The first and most important: should the series keep up the 1740s story and run straight through until Culloden, then end the season with a few episodes in 1968? Or is it better to follow the book’s structure of using the 20th century as a framing device?

EDIT: The following question has become moot, since a different actor has been cast for Alex. But he looks similar enough to Tobias to make my breakdown still function. 

The second question: do they actually have Tobias Menzies play Alex Randall? This, I think, is a vitally important question that must be answered before you can start to pull apart the story and restructure it as episodes. Because, if you don’t have him play Alex, things start making less sense. The resemblance between all three men is supposed to be very striking. Alex is possibly the least similar simply because he is younger, but he is, after all, Frank’s true ancestor. So if they don’t cast Tobias, you have to ask if they will follow the books in that respect at all. Do they make BJR Frank’s direct progenitor? How does that change what happens in Paris? Do they cut Alex from the story entirely? If so, what about Mary? What about all of the stuff in Edinburgh?

To make my life easier, I’m going to assume that they will follow the books, both in the bookended story structure and having Tobias play all three Randalls so we can keep Alex’s story intact. Tobias isn’t going to have much, if anything, to do as Frank in this season. Claire has a few memories of what happened when she got back in 1948, but that’s it. They will have to do some tricky camera work to have him interact with himself as Alex and Jack, but that isn’t exactly unprecedented.

So. A 13-episode breakdown of Dragonfly in Amber, following the books pretty closely:

Episode 201 – Through A Looking Glass Darkly

I would condense all of the stuff from part one into this first episode. It’s a nice episode for montage, anyway, with all of the research bits and various travels into the Scottish countryside. It’s hard to decide which parts to keep, but you obviously need to have the first scene, where Claire and Bree visit Roger, and you need to have the scene where he visits Lallybroch. You also need the scene where Bree and Roger go to Culloden, and then the one in the garage since that’s where Roger finds the Reverend’s notebook that gives him the information about Bree’s parentage. Fiona will be there, although perhaps not quite so intrusively as she is in the book, since her flirtation with Roger isn’t really important in terms of the overall story.

Honestly, I think you can cut most of the stuff with Bree and Claire, and the several visits to the manse. Maybe keep the part where Claire wakes up from her erotic dream of Jamie and whispers, “You are so like him” to her sleeping daughter.

I would end the episode at St. Kilda’s, in the graveyard, with Claire collapsing on Jamie’s tombstone.

Episode 202 – The Pretenders

I would start this episode with the briefest of scenes in the manse, with Claire explaining the truth about what happened at the stones. We would open in medias res, so that you don’t bore the viewer with an overview of things they already know from last season. Instead, I’d start with her telling them about the Abbey, and then flash to the 18th century.

There, we’d get Abbott Alexander telling them Charles is in Paris, and then maybe montage some of the journey to Le Havre. There, we’ll get morning sickness and sex, and then break Claire’s perspective and follow Jamie to meet with Jared. Then back to Claire, then to the ship in the harbor. I’m tempted to say that they should pad this episode out with more direct conflict with Le Comte, but it may be enough just to do the plague ship. The episode should definitely end with the plague ship being destroyed.

Episode 203 – Royal Audience

This episode would be all about the Fraser’s introduction to the Court. We’d see a little bit with Jared because they need to introduce Mary’s uncle (and the subsequent conversation Claire and Jamie have about Frank, and Jamie being reassured that BJR is dead), but it would focus on the parties. There would have to be some kind of episode conflict, probably using the Comte since he also appears at society events. But this is where we’d see the King’s levee, Claire puking in the fountain, Raymond’s apothecary shop, Jamie’s story about dueling over Annalise de Merriac, and Alex Randall. I’d move the bit with Alex to the end of the episode, so it leaves the audience assuming it’s BJR. Of course, that only works if, as I said, they cast Tobias as Alex. (Edit: or maybe have them do a hazy dream-effect, and then at the beginning of the next episode, it clears to reveal the new actor.)

Episode 204 – L’Hopital des Anges

We open on Alex, and the realization that he is not BJR. Then I would have the scene where Claire dreams of Frank, and have her and Jamie’s talk afterward. Then we’d have the party where she meets Herr Gerstmann and he suggests she go to L’Hopital des Anges. The conflict in the episode will start with Jamie forbidding her to go, and then we’ll get the encounter with Charles and the monkey, and Claire waxing with Louise de la Tour. I would move Jamie’s meeting with Fergus up a little bit, and have her tell him, if he’s going to be getting into so much trouble and allowing Fergus to put himself in danger, then he shouldn’t mind if she does what she is meant to do. He will acquiesce, and we’ll get the introduction of Mother Hildegarde and Bouton. This may also be a good place to put Jamie having to discipline Fergus – maybe on Claire’s first-ever trip to L’Hopital she refuses to leave and gets home late, and Fergus demands that Jamie punish him.

Episode 205 – Deceptions (NOTE – this is the episode that can be trimmed in order to expand the episodes focused on the Rising – the only really important bits are what they learn from the cipher and Claire’s poisoning)***

I would open this episode with a montage of Claire at L’Hopital des Anges, possibly with some intercutting to Raymond. Then have the scene with Louise’s illegitimate pregnancy, some action shots of Fergus stealing and returning letters (nice bits of tension- will he be caught?), Jamie bringing the cipher to Mother Hildegarde, Claire’s poisoning, and the implications that St. Germain is still out to get Claire. I would probably excise the bits with Mssr. Forez. He’s interesting, historically, but doesn’t do much for the plot. I’d probably get rid of the bit with Jamie and the whores, too. Not plot-relevant, and we don’t need the Claire/Jamie conflict. The end of Part Two in the book makes a great end to the episode- Claire feeling Faith for the first time.

Episode 206 – Malchance

This is just about the half-way point, and the whole of Part Three in the book makes a nice episode. It starts with Claire and Mary Hawkins being attacked, and ends with Jamie agreeing not to kill BJR until after he’s fathered the child that will one day be Frank’s ancestor. In the middle, we have the revelation that Claire is Le Dame Blanche, the disastrous dinner party, Raymond acknowledging Claire’s skill as a healer (help to heal) and trading information for the true story of the party, Jamie and Claire encountering BJR at Sandringham’s, Dougal in Paris, Claire getting BJR arrested, and then the awful scene between Claire and Jamie when she begs him not to kill BJR for Frank’s sake.

Episode 207 – The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

I can’t decide if this episode should bother including the bit at the stud farm. It would be hilarious to watch Fergus with the stable boys and the horse, but they don’t get that much info there. So it might be better to go straight into planning to hijack the wine ship with the fake smallpox outbreak. There would have to be a little bit in here about how they know about the wine venture, but that’s easily explained by Fergus’s letter thefts. ((Assuming the previous episode was trimmed, there also needs to be at least some hint about the cipher promising money for landing on English soil – that becomes relevant at the end of the book, and very relevant in Voyager)). Something less random would have to draw Jamie to the whorehouse where he sees BJR raping Fergus. It needs to be something associated with their plot against Charles, something that will really make Jamie think that what’s happening is his fault. Then the episode ends with him and BJR dueling, and Claire collapsing in a pool of blood as she miscarries.

Episode 208 – The Coming of the Light

This episode has a lot of ground to cover. We have to get from Raymond healing Claire, to Fontainebleau, to Claire’s deal with Louis to get Jamie out of the Bastille, to the wizard’s duel and the supposed death of Saint Germain, to Jamie and Murtagh’s successful sea venture, to Jamie’s return to Claire. I would end it with her lie – that she didn’t have sex with Louis – but I would make sure that the audience already knows that it is a lie. It isn’t playing fair with the reader in the book when Claire lies to us, too.

Episode 209 – “I Am Come Home”

Start with Jamie and Claire reconciling in France (from part four), but probably skip the cave. It’s interesting and beautiful, but not plot-relevant. Montage to Scotland, and then the little bits of daily life at Lallybroch. Rabbie’s seizures, Ian and Jamie’s difficulty after Jamie tells Ian about BJR, and end with the letter from Charles and the Bill of Association, and Jenny telling Jamie to ask Ian to come. The Ian/Jamie conflict would be the driving force of the episode. ((NOTE – this is also a place where trimming could happen. If so, the battle of Prestonpans would end the episode.))

Episode 210 – The Flames of Rebellion

This episode would definitely have the infamous encounter between Jamie and young Lord John, and I think it would be best to go through the battle of Prestonpans, intercut from Jamie’s PoV and Claire’s. Then, it would have to segue to Edinburgh, and Colum and Dougal’s arrival. Colum dies, and Claire makes her deal with BJR for information. The episode ends with Charles sending Jamie to Beuly. ((If the earlier episode is trimmed, there is more time to expand on BJR and the MacKenzies.))

Episode 211 – The Stuart Witch

Again, lots of ground to cover. Highlights: Jamie eventually gets his Fraser family’s support, but is incensed when the Old Fox wants to take credit for the Lallybroch men. I would probably skip the part where they go back to Lallybroch, and just have them go back to Edinburgh and find the men in the Tollgate. I’d cut the bit where Jamie and Simon go to talk to Charles, maybe the whole bit where the men are imprisoned. Honestly, I would cut the whole section with Lovat, if not for that important line – “One Fraser from the Master of Lovat’s regiment…”) Claire encounters Mary, and Jamie and BJR become unwilling allies over Alex and Mary’s unborn child (Damn all Randalls!). I am fairly certain that the night of Alex’s death is also the night Claire got pregnant with Brianna, so there will probably be sex. Then the episode has to end with the battle of Falkirk, Rupert’s death, and Claire in the hands of the English.

Episode 212 – “Sing Me a Song of a Lass That Is Gone”

It’s too complicated to get Claire all the way to Sandringham’s estate, so I would just say that he’s taken over a local Scottish estate and Claire is brought directly there, along with Mary (who BJR has sent back to her family, although she is now protected by his name). Then the events cascade, leading to Hugh Munro’s death, Murtagh killing Sandringham for what happened in Paris, Jamie killing Dougal over Claire, signing the Deed of Sasine and sending it to Lallybroch with Fergus, then Jamie and Claire marking each other in the croft and Claire’s flight through the stones. ((see note below for how trimming would affect this episode))

Episode 213 – Hindsight

Brianna refuses to believe, but Roger is convinced. The changed wedding ring will come into play here, because it isn’t going to be engraved, and it won’t allow for that moment of absolute sorrow from Claire. Of course, it’s rather unlikely that a surgeon would never have removed her rings in twenty years, but I whistle past that when I read the books. In any case, Claire will present Roger with the choice to try and save Gillian Edgars. Of course he tries (and they fail), but in the process, Claire proves irrevocably to Roger and Bree that time travel is possible. The season ends with Roger quoting the line about the “officer from the Master of Lovat’s regiment” who survived. “He meant to die on Culloden Field,” Roger whispered. “But he didn’t.”

———-

If the decision is not to use the framing device, then all of the episodes get shifted. What I listed as 201 would become 212, and 202 would become 201. If the decision is not to use Tobias as Alex, that would cause subtle shifts in the way things are shot and written, and how much you can get away with in regard to the physical similarities. Does Tobias have a brother that acts? Or a very similar-looking cousin?

***Another thing I noticed while breaking out the episodes is that, like Diana, I spent a lot more time with episodes in France than I did with the actual Rising. It may be better for the show to shift things a little more and devote another episode to the ’45. Some of the court intrigue and plotting can go, and I marked the episode where pretty much everything can be cut or at least slipped into another episode (For example: is it really important that Mother Hildegarde solves the Goldberg Variation cipher? They could just get that info from a stolen letter). Also, although I love the quieter moments and character development at Lallybroch, that can be trimmed, too. Those cuts would allow for more time with the MacKenzie brothers and BJR’s deal with Claire, as well as providing a whole extra episode to split between dealing with the Frasers at Beuly and BJR marrying Mary Hawkins. I would call that episode “Damn All Randalls.” The existing episode 211 would then start at Falkirk. Everyone loves Rupert, and we need to have some time to grieve his death in the church. But then I stand by Claire’s capture and transport to Sandringham needing to happen much more quickly than in the book, and I would end the episode with Sandringham’s death. Then the final episode of the 1740s section would start with the party’s arrival at Culloden House, and end with Claire going back to Craigh na Dun.

I’m actually way happier with that breakdown, but I’ll leave my initial thoughts up since they follow the book a little more closely.

Whenever we get an episode order for Voyager, I’ll break that down, too. Although I would actually like to see Voyager as two seasons of twelve episodes. One season for before C & J are reunited, and one for after.

What do you think of my episode breakdown? What would you do differently? There are all kinds of things that could probably be cut, and characters that can be conflated. Leave a comment with your ideas.

Speculations – Time Travel

This is going to be a bit of a ramble and a wander through my ideas. I may go back and edit/revise my blogs at some point, as I tend to post them immediately with only cursory (spelling) revision. They could all stand to have some cutting and tightening.

Anyway.

Idea One: Time flows concurrently, no matter when you are. In (I think) episode two, my husband, who has not read the books, asked why Claire is in such a hurry to leave. “Can’t she just go back to the moment that she left?” He’s coming at this from a Back to the Future time travel perspective, where you program a date and time into the DeLorean’s dash, floor the gas pedal to 88, and bang: the flux capacitor delivers you to your time period destination. But that isn’t how things work in Outlander.

(EDIT- in a recent (April 2016) episode of The Scot and the Sassenach, Alastair referred to concurrent timelines as “San Dimas Time.” In the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (which is getting another sequel!!), for every hour that they spend moving in time, an equal hour passes in San Dimas.)

We don’t truly understand Outlanderverse time travel yet, even in the books. All of the characters that can do it have theories about how it works, but we have few definitive answers. The “default” seems to be that you always go 202 years from the point when you left. That suggests that time continues to run concurrently, no matter when you are.

Even though they’ve figured out quite a bit about time travel by book eight, Claire knows nothing when she first touches the stones, not even that she could possibly steer with a gemstone. So no, Steve (that’s my husband), she can’t just go back to the moment she left. That’s proven by seeing Frank dealing with the loss of Claire in episode 108 (EDIT: And again in episode 201, when she comes back in 1948). The same amount of time has passed for both of them, and he’s spiraling into despair and desperation.

In the book, Father Anselm says something similar. It has been nearly a year since Beltane by the time Claire and Jamie are at the Abbey, and he says, “won’t your husband have moved on by now, tried to put his life back together, perhaps even found someone else?” So it is a generally understood time travel principle in the Outlanderverse that time runs concurrently.

Idea Two: Outlander is a stable time loop. One of the fun things about time travel stories is figuring out how the author makes it work. Now, I don’t mean the physics involved (although both the show and, in the books, Brianna, try to explain it in terms of places of pooled energy), but rather how time travel affects the world.

A couple of time travel tropes:

  • The stable time loop. This is where everything always happened the way it happens. The Pern books are an example of a stable time loop. Lessa makes the enormous jump back in time to bring the Weyrs forward because she knows the Weyrs have been deserted for years and, therefore, she must have always done it. For the most part, the Outlanderverse is a stable time loop. It is hinted at that, if Claire and Jamie hadn’t managed to undermine Charles’ attempts to raise funds, that he might have been successful during the Rising. So not only did they not stop it, but they may have contributed to its failure. Since the Rising has already happened for Claire, it can be said that she was meant to go back in time and take part in those events.
  • The multiverse. This is time travel where things can be changed. But, in order to avoid paradoxes, each time something is changed, a parallel universe is formed. Back to the Future is a multiverse. Changes to past and future cause a new timeline to be spawned (as explained in the second film). Sometimes that’s a good thing (Marty’s much more successful family) and sometimes it’s bad (Biff’s gambling-land).
  • The paradox. HG Wells’ The Time Machine deals with paradox. It isn’t a stable time loop because things can be superficially changed. The protagonist tries to change the past, but both can and can’t at the same time. If his wife lives, what was his reason for building the time machine in the first place? So every time he “saves” her, time “fixes” itself by making her die again.
  • The everything. Doctor Who is an “everything” time travel show, depending on what the writers need that week. We’ve had paradox episodes (the one where Rose saves her father’s life) and the show has famous “fixed points” in time that not even the Doctor can change. Sometimes these turn out to be stable time loops – like with the 10th Doctor in Pompeii. But there are also indications of a multiverse. For example: why don’t people remember, in the 11th’s time, all of the things that happened with 10? That has yet to be answered satisfactorily.

There are other time travel paradigms, but those are some of the main ones.

The only clue we have that time travel might not be a completely stable loop is the reference that Roger makes, in An Echo in the Bone (pg 225 in the hardcover edition), to the newspaper notice having changed. But that’s ret-conning, because in the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes, we’re given the scene where the printer uses the wrong month because the slug for the correct month has gone missing.

Diana has ret-conned before. Originally the Montauk Five disappeared in New England; Bree remembers that a body was found in the mountains somewhere there. But when we meet Donner, he says they used the stones on Ocracoke. And, to muddy the waters even more, Robert Springer/Otter Tooth’s journal indicates that he came through at the circle near the rhododendron hell that Roger found. Some people point to this as evidence that travel between stones as well as between times is possible, but I don’t know about that.

In any case, I’m not sure what to make of the different death notice. But every other “can we change the past” question has been answered in the negative (or, if you accept that they are “changing” things just by being there, that those changes were always meant to have happened), so I’m still sticking with the stable time loop.

I think one of the reasons for the ret-conning is because at first, Diana didn’t dig into the whys and wherefores of time travel. It was just a mechanism that got her outspoken 20th-century heroine into her 18th-century Scottish story. But as the series has progressed, the story has required some changes to her original ideas, and some of the ideas have been clarified and codified. There’s a whole bit when Roger and Bree are back in 1980 where they write out a “Time Travelers Guide” a la Douglas Adams.

Idea Three: How Time Travel works, as of MOBY:

  • Using gemstones (possibly also blood and fire) helps you steer beyond the standard 202 years. This doesn’t quite negate San Dimas time, because it seems like it would be quite difficult to come back moments after you left.
  • Precious metals provide some protection (speculation that Claire’s gold wedding ring protected her on her first trip, and the gold and silver together on subsequent trips).
  • It’s easier to travel at the equinoxes and solstices, although possible (not recommended!) at other times.
  • There are some metaphysical speculations that connection to a particular person makes travel “easier.” When Jamie takes Claire to the stones the first time in Outlander, and she starts to enter the time passage, she can feel both him and Frank. Later in the books, although it isn’t “fun” for them, Jem and Mandy travel VERY easily because they have a deep psychic connection to each other and their family members. (More speculation about the nature of travelers below.)
  • You cannot travel to a point at which you already exist. Roger tried and almost died.
  • It is not advisable to travel forward, although we don’t know why. In “The Space Between,” Saint Germain wants desperately to do it because he is trying to extend his life. Raymond tells him it is a bad idea, and Joan’s voices tell her to tell him “don’t do it.” I was so mad at the end of the story that we switched back to Michael and Joan’s PoVs and didn’t find out what happened!! Diana, I am totally OK with waiting longer for a main series book if you will put out a “what happened next” story.
    • PS – Raymond has almost certainly traveled forward, given that he was originally from the prehistoric Orkney Islands. I think he’s come unstuck in time, and that’s why he tells Saint Germain not to try to go forward.

Side rant: some people have said that they couldn’t stick with the book series after Dragonfly because it started getting “too weird” or “too sci-fi” for them. I don’t think it is sci-fi enough. I love reading about the mechanics of time travel, and I am DYING to read the Raymond story that Diana mentioned (in the National Geographic article about the Orkneys) that she’s planning. But I’m a fantasy writer, and worldbuilding fascinates me. YMMV.

Idea Four: Wild Speculations.

  • The blue aura of Raymond’s family is a sort of “extra energy” that travelers have. It allows them to enter the passage, and depending on how strong it is, protects them in the space between time. This is why some people still die in there. The aura allows them to do what we might consider “magic.” Raymond tells Claire she has a blue aura in Dragonfly in Amber (it’s why he calls her Madonna), and she sees him through a haze of blue light when he heals her after her miscarriage. The blue light healing/connection is seen again with Dr. McEwan in MOBY and with Saint Germain in “The Space Between.” There is some indication that this aura is connected to an ability to manipulate physical reality. Claire is an excellent diagnostician because she can use that sixth sense to figure out what is wrong (physically and emotionally) with a patient. We know that it’s more than just reading people’s body language cues and palpating their abdomens because she does it to a skeleton (that turns out to be Geillis Duncan, who, by the by, is someone Claire has already/not yet killed with her own hand – talk about freaky time travel dynamics). Dr. McEwan has taken it a step farther- he can, in a limited way, manipulate people’s actual flesh (he says he knows what the body should feel like, and he attempts to make it more like how he knows it should be). He uses this to heal people, notably Buck and Roger.
    • From the Daily Lines snippets that Diana posts, Claire will be experimenting with using Dr. McEwan’s healing methods on Roger in Book Nine. I almost called it “Blue Magic,” but in the Final Fantasy game series, blue magic is when you can copy other creature’s attacks and skills. Not the same thing!
  • Mandy and Jem are very strong travelers, probably because both of their parents can do it. Even though Jem is haunted by his experience at the stones on Ocracoke, he has no problem going after Mandy when she dashes through at Craigh na Dun. And the two kids have a very strong psychic link with each other and their parents (and, to a lesser extent, other people). I think their auras are much larger than normal as a consequence of having two time-traveling parents.
  • At least one of Claire’s parents was a traveler. We’ve gotten stories about Roger’s family as travelers (from Gillian herself, to Buck, to Jerry MacKenzie), but nothing about Claire’s family. There are hints in the last couple of books that she may be related to the Beauchamp family that Percy Wainwright has married into. And it is not unreasonable to speculate that the child Percy seeks (who may or may not actually be Fergus) is the progenitor of Claire’s family line. I don’t think it’s Fergus, to be honest. But if there is such a child, and if said child reappeared and took up the family name, then escaped during the Terror to England and started using the English pronunciation of the name…it makes sense. Also, when Lord John goes to visit the Beauchamps, he notes that the brother is a terrible card player. Hello glass face? The corollary to this supposition is, if Saint Germain really did have a child with the lost sister, and that child is Claire’s great-great-whatever…Saint Germain might actually be her many times great-grandfather. MIND BLOWN.

I could ramble on about this forever, but I need to go and do my actual job that makes me actual money. Anyone else have some speculations about time travel in the Outlanderverse? What’s your favorite time travel story, other than Outlander? Do you love or hate a particular time travel paradigm? Leave me a comment and let me know!