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).
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.
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?).
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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)