Episode 306 – A. Malcolm

Episode 306 Header

Huzzah for the return of Outlander! (I know it’s only been an extra week, but I’m still glad it’s back!) And huzzah for an extra-long episode!

It was weird to not have the theme song and title card before the show started, but I understand why. This is one of our first real cold opens ever in Outlander. And I see how they are trying to position Jamie’s business and hint at his relationship with Madam Jeanne and some of the Ardsmuir men, as well as his—what, indentured servant? I didn’t get the impression Geordie was anything but a coworker in the book. But it makes sense to have all of that before the scene where we left off in the last episode. It doesn’t give away everything about what he’s up to know, but it gives us a better grounding in his life since he left Helwater—the smuggling wasn’t stated outright, but it’s clear that he has nefarious business with the two men sleeping in his shop, and we know he’s printing seditious pamphlets. They were a little heavy-handed with Madam Jeanne, especially since there’s a much bigger fish swimming around back in the Highlands, but I’ll accept it.

Also, the title card is fantastic! Love that they put the writer credits onto the sheets.

Uh-oh. Jamie’s reaction and his “aye, we are” to the married line is such a giveaway if you know about Laoghaire. But his asking for permission to kiss her is so perfect and wonderfully Jamie. And yes, I cried. When this show gets it right, it is devastatingly right. “There’s the two of us now.”

Well, if Geordie can quit, then he’s not indentured. He must just have a tendency to overstate things.

The scene with the pictures of Brianna is tearing my heart out. I can’t imagine missing twenty years of my kids’ lives. And Jamie’s casual acceptance of Claire’s calling as a surgeon is also beautiful. She had to fight so hard for that in the 1950s and 60s and he just states it as absolute truth.

I’m happy that Jamie tells Claire about Willie right away, but his withholding information about Laoghaire is irksome. I suppose talking about a child is different than a wife—more forgivable, especially since he didn’t love or marry Geneva Dunsany—but

The reunion with Fergus is also nice—Cesar Domboy is so tall! And it sets a pattern for everyone in Jamie’s life automatically hiding his secret from Claire. Which, I suppose, makes sense, since she’s been gone for twenty years and their loyalties are very much with him. The mention of Ned Gowan makes me so happy! I can’t wait to see him again.

The introduction of Willoughby, while not quite as terrible as in the book, is still problematic. I hope they don’t push hard on the really awful bits, but I don’t have much confidence about that. The next episode should set the tone for his character better.

I’m not sure how I feel about the bribe and threats in the tavern. But this section of the book was entirely in Claire’s PoV and the show has broken that conceit for good, so we’re getting to see all sorts of things that she wasn’t privy to, and that does help with timing and pacing (and establishing conflict) for the show.

The rest of the reunion in the brothel is pretty much straight from the book, with some omissions for time. But UGH to the voice over. Was that really necessary? We get it, TV show. We can see what’s happening. A little montage of eating and music would have been plenty.

I wondered why they designed Claire’s dress to have the cravat and shirt, but the parallel undressing is nice because of it. WOW—they really managed to get Caitriona Balfe’s hair curly this season. It was never that curly in previous seasons, and I remember in interviews she said it refused to take a perm or curl. Honestly, this looks like a wig. Or at least like they used about a thousand hair products on it. I shouldn’t be distracted by that, but I am.

And now we have callbacks to “The Wedding” from season one. Except that Claire and Jamie so different now, and yet so much the same. The performances by Sam and Caitriona here are superb. And I’m glad they kept the awkwardness and the humor from the book, as well as the passion and the tenderness.

I’m really appreciating how well this episode is unfolding, allowing them the peace to rediscover each other. Jamie doesn’t talk as much about his love of his printing press and the power of words as he does in the book (one of my favorite lines from Voyager is about how the English took his weapons away, and speaking out via his writing gave them back). But although he’s giving her part of his truth, he’s still keeping much of it to himself.

I would have thought the scar from Culloden would have been much uglier, especially given what they had to do to keep it from killing him with blood poisoning. I know that type of scar is difficult to do with prosthetics, but they could have done better than that! It looks like a clean scalpel cut with the kind of stitches that dissolve from the inside.

The questions of twenty years apart are answered by Jamie’s “I never loved anyone but you.” And neither did Claire. But the niggling details of those twenty years still have the power to hurt them both.

I miss Ian barging in, though. (Old Ian, not Young Ian). Young Ian is not at all how I pictured him in the book, but they did find an actor who looks like Steven Cree, especially with the hair tied back. And the scene with the “hoors” is fantastic. I love how Claire just plays along, adding her wisdom and getting bedroom tips. Madame Jeanne is, again, heavy-handed, but I suppose they’re playing her as being in love with Jamie. Because who in the show isn’t?

UGH to rape threats. Aren’t we done with that? And cliffhangers, too. They couldn’t have used the setup from the book, where Claire encounters the man downstairs? I am so tired of sexual violence as the go-to for conflict, especially after an episode where they did such a great job of letting the story develop at a leisurely, intimate pace. I didn’t even have as much to say as usual, despite this being an extended episode, because it drew me in so well and the performances were so fantastic. So to have this ending is like a punch in the gut—and not in a good way. I like when things get shaken up before the next episode. But there were so many better ways to have ended this than with a cut to black over Claire being attacked.

My family is off to our local renaissance festival today, so I don’t have time for my usual screenshots, but I’ll try to come back and insert some later this week. What did you think of the print shop reunion? Did it live up to your expectations? Do you also hate the way it ended? Let me know in the comments!

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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 116 – To Ransom a Man’s Soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, enough nitpicking. Moving on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 114 – The Search

I have been putting off writing this blog post because I don’t know how to write it without being a giant Negative Nancy. The thing is, despite how disappointed I was with how the show handled the strapping, there’s still a lot to like in “The Reckoning.” But in “The Search,” there are only a handful of scenes that I actually like. Most of the episode feels contrived. No, worse. It makes no sense in the world that they’ve created. At least in the book, they do their little song-and-dance routine as a way to make a little coin and get attention to ask questions. The fact that Jamie will hear about Claire as a healer is a bonus – it might draw him to them – but it isn’t their entire plan. Plus, the whole thing takes up a few pages at most.

So…I don’t know how to be objective, and I don’t want to write a rant. But I do want to move on to the last two episodes, because they are gut-wrenching and painful and desperately beautiful. That means I’m going to focus only on the parts of the episode about which I have nice things to say.

First- the title card is…odd? I don’t hate it, but it does seem very on-the-nose.

Ian’s struggle strikes deep into my heart. How it hurts him to feel useless. Also, Jenny Fraser Murray is a BAM (Bad-Ass-Mother). While Claire is lost in voice-over, Jenny is like, “Get your ass in gear, Sassenach.” But it does bother me, thinking of what’s going on under her skirts since she just gave birth. Not to be too graphic, but things still…leak for a while. I’m seriously more bothered by that than the crow eating out the dead dude’s eye.

I LOVE that they put a lactating mother on screen. I approve of all child-feeding choices – every woman has to make the decision that best suits her life and her child – but we need to do more to normalize breastfeeding. Not because everyone should or must do it, but because it is a totally natural thing and we shouldn’t be afraid or shamed by women who do it.

  • Jenny – “He’s not daft enough to pick a fight with ten armed soldiers.”
  • Claire- Raises eyebrow
  • Jenny – Nods- yeah, you’re right

Jenny and Claire with the redcoat is brutal and terrifying, and is the best sort of scene to shove Jenny’s deep 18th-century practicality up against Claire’s 20th-century optimism. I wish they hadn’t taken the choice away from them by giving it to Murtagh, though. That was a misstep, in my opinion. Claire needed to choose, and we needed to see it. Jenny is right. Love forces a person to choose, and it isn’t quite enough to Claire to say she would have done it.

The girls reminiscing about their unusual childhoods is lovely. But UGH to more VO the next morning. We understand that she needs to get back to the baby. The milk-expressing scene should have done it. And then, their parting strikes home how different things are between them from when they first met.

And now we enter my least favorite part of the episode. Which is sad, because I love Murtagh, and I want to love Claire and Murtagh traveling in the lovely wilds of Scotland. Sadly, although it starts out well with her healing people and using her strengths at reading people, Murtagh’s sword-dancing is supposed to be quite good, and the Scots revered a good sword dancer. The show manufactures some very unlikely conflict, and then the episode takes a sharp left turn through the pumpkin patch to crazy town.

So I’ll pick up again with Claire and Murtagh in the cave by the sea. Damn, but I love watching Murtagh reminisce about Ellen, and then to bend enough to embrace Claire back and comfort her? It makes me cry. I hope we eventually get a book, or at least a short story, of Brian and Ellen.

Skipping over the remnants of the gypsy plot…

We find poor Claire, getting Dougal when she wanted Jamie. And what a right bastard he is about it, too. Fortunately, Claire knows exactly how to handle assholes. Although I chuckle on the “we won’t talk about Geillis today” line. I still wonder if they’ll put her into season two, other than as Gillian Edgars.

I like that they gave Willie the first vote to help Jamie when Claire goes to speak to Dougal’s men. It brings the character to a nice arc by the end of the season, from the raw lad who started on a journey in Rent to a man who can stand up for what he believes in, even when the path is hard.

And then we enter into darkness.