Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 13 (season finale)

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 313: “Eye of the Storm”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire is forced to play a game of cat and mouse with an old adversary as she searches for Young Ian. The Frasers race through the jungles of Jamaica to prevent the unthinkable.

My take:

It’s the season finale! Where has the time gone?

Major plot points:

  • Captain Leonard’s arrest of Jamie is quickly foiled by Lord John, who declares the arrest invalid without a warrant or witness affidavit and sets Jamie free.
  • Claire pursues Ian to Rose Hall, where she’s found wandering the slave quarters and is brought to Geillis.
  • Geillis confronts Claire and accuses her of plotting against her. Claire is finally able to convince Geillis that she’s been in the future for the past 20 years by showing her photographs of Brianna.
  • Claire is locked up, but is freed by Jamie, and together they chase Ian’s trail, first encountering a voodoo circle, Mr. Willoughby, and Margaret Campbell.
  • They follow Geillis to the cave Abandawe, where she’s preparing a ritual aimed at going back through the time portal so she can kill Brianna and fulfill the prophecy to bring about Scottish independence. She’s preparing to sacrifice Ian as a blood ritual to travel through time.
  • Claire and Jamie arrive in time. Claire kills Geillis, and they escape with Ian.
  • Claire and Jamie enjoy a romantic interlude on board the Artemis before a hurricane strikes.
  • After Claire almost drowns, the two wash up on shore and discover that they’ve landed in America.

Insta-reaction:

What an action-packed final episode to the season! Once again, kudos to the production team and the cast for their amazing work in such a physically demanding set of scenes.

The episode really never lets up, with chase scenes and high drama and life-or-death confrontations. Claire’s meeting with Geillis is powerful, as Geillis invokes their friendship and the fact that she sacrificed herself at the witch trial in order to save Claire’s life. When Claire finally convinces Geillis that she’s been back in the 20th century by showing her the photos of Brianna, it’s like all the pieces come together in Geillis’s mind. She remembers meeting Brianna at the White Roses rally back at the university in 1968, and realizes that the strange prophecy (about a 200-year-old baby dying in order to bring about the next Scottish king) must be about the daughter of Claire and Jamie. The fanatical look on Geillis’s face is crazy scary. Heck, this is a woman who killed her husband to move her plans forward (one of many, it turns out) — Claire is fully aware that Geillis won’t hesitate to kill Brianna if she can find her.

The voodoo scene is well-done, and I loved the call-back to the first season, as Claire flashes back to her first glimpse of the dancers on Craigh na Dun so many years earlier.

It appears that Margaret Campbell and Mr. Willoughby will have a happy ending of sorts, as she breaks free from her scummy brother (who’s ultimately killed by Mr. W.). The two seem to have connected, Margaret seems comparatively sane relative to the previous times we’ve seen her (apart from getting all spooky-eerie-creepy when she takes on Brianna’s voice to talk to Jamie and Claire), and the pair plan to run off to Martinique to start a new life.

In the cave, Claire can full the hum of the portal, and tells Jamie that if she gets pulled through, she may not be able to come back. They kiss. They both know that if Geillis manages to travel, Claire will have to follow to try to keep her from harming Brianna. Geillis is preparing a ritual involving gemstones, Brianna’s photo, and murdering Ian — but she’s stopped as Claire swings a machete at her, slicing her throat open. Claire remembers the skull Joe Abernathy had shown her back in Boston, and realizes that it was Geillis’s.

Jamie embraces Claire and Ian, as this dangerous chapter draws to an end. But they’re not out of the woods yet!

Jamie and Claire enjoy a very steamy romantic encounter on board the Artemis. Their plan is to return to Scotland and deliver Ian safely back to Jenny at Lallybroch. The gods of weather don’t seem to like this plan, as a hurricane hits. The entire ship seems about to sink, and Claire is swept overboard. Jamie saves her, and the two wash up on shore. A local family finds them and informs them that the other survivors from the ship are just down the coast… and tells them that they’re in Georgia.

And we pan out to see a lovely view of the land, as the series closes one chapter and sets the stage for what’s to come. From here on out, Claire and Jamie will be starting a new life in the American Colonies.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Visually, this was quite the impressive episode. You can just tell watching it that the cast and crew gave it their all. From the scenes of running through the jungle, to the dancing by the fire, to the fight in the cave, and then to the storm at sea, it was one magnificent set-piece after another.

The episode hit all the major beats that it needed to, from the relief at finding and rescuing Ian to Jamie and Claire’s lovemaking on board the ship to the devastation of the hurricane. It’s a lot, but it works. This episode marks the end of the story from Voyager, book #3, and is the turning point toward a new adventure as the Fraser family begins building a new home for themselves in America.

I loved the cinematography of the final scenes, as Jamie and Claire are bathed in sunshine. It’s bright and beautiful, and full of promise of a new day. They’ve survived the storm, and they’re together. It’s a moment full of hope and love, and the swooping shot of the Georgia landscape is a perfect ending, balancing out the gorgeous shots of green Scottish landscapes from the season 1 title sequence.

 

Wrapping it all up…

I’m so sad to see season 3 come to an end! Overall, it’s been a phenomenal season. It’s hard to think back and realize just how much has happened over these 13 episodes — Culloden, Claire’s life in Boston, the years apart, the search for Jamie, the reunion, the ocean voyage… it’s a huge amount of plot to get through, but the show has done an admirable job of condensing the story without losing the emotional connections at the heart of it all.

It’s been a beautiful, moving, exciting ride. And now, we’re back to Droughtlander! Let’s raise our glasses and drink a wee dram in honor of the wonders of season 3 — and now we can start counting the months, weeks, and days until season 4!

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 12

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 312: “The Bakra”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

The Artemis finally reaches Jamaica bringing Jamie and Claire much closer to their goal. During a ball on the island, the Frasers encounter old allies, as well as former adversaries who threaten to derail their mission.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • We learn more about Ian’s fate: After his kidnapping from Selkie Island, Ian is held captive on board the Bruja, then thrown into a prison cell in Jamaica.
  • He’s brought to see “the Bakra” — who turns out to be Geillis Duncan, alive and well and seemingly a wee bit deranged.
  • Claire and Jamie arrive in Jamaica and begin their search for Ian.
  • They go to the Governor’s reception in hope of getting more information, and discover that the Governor is Lord John Grey.
  • Captain Leonard from the Porpoise arrives, and although Jamie and Claire flee, the captain and his soldiers catch up and arrest Jamie for murder and sedition.

Insta-reaction:

Well, Outlander is certainly putting its South African sets to good use! We spend the entire episode on the (artificial) Jamaica created on the Starz sets in South Africa, and it definitely looks lush and tropical. Kudos, Outlander!

The opening scenes with Ian are disturbing, to say the least. Ian is kidnapped, forcibly taken across the sea, and thrown into a cell with other young male prisoners, who report that other boys had been there too, but then were taken to the Bakra and never seen again.

Finally, it’s Ian’s turn. He’s taken to an island plantation and shown into a beautiful room — where we see first a leg and then the rest of a naked woman’s body emerge from a bath of blood. It’s Geillis Duncan, alive and well! She says that bathing in blood (don’t worry, it’s not human, she assures Ian) keeps her skin young and fresh. Way to explain not aging your actress, show!

Geillis drugs Ian’s tea with truth serum. Apparently, the chest of jewels from Selkie Island was supposed to contain three sapphires, but when Geillis got it, there were only two. Geillis demands that Ian tell her where the 3rd is. Ian blurts out that maybe his uncle, James Fraser, has it. Geillis is VERY interested to hear that Jamie could be involved.

Apparently she needs the jewels for a mystical purpose. She’s hired Margaret and Archibald Campbell, the fortune-tellers we met several episodes ago, to find the truth behind a prophecy given by the Brahan Seer regarding the future king of Scotland, and the prophecy will only work with all three sapphires. (How does Geillis know this? Why these particular sapphires? No idea.)

Geillis also has need of young male virgins. She’s quite scary and creepy as she rubs her feet and other body parts all over poor young Ian, who doesn’t know whether to be terrified or turned on. He’s not a virgin, he tells Geillis… but she doesn’t appear to mind after all.

Okay, all that, and that’s only the before-the-credits stuff!

Jamie and Claire arrive in Jamaica and go searching for Ian. Claire, being Claire, pretty much immediately causes a public scene in the slave market. Way to stay incognito, Claire. Anyway, Jamie has to make amends to the slave owners, and he does this by buying the slave whose treatment caused Claire to snap. Claire is now a slave owner, and she is not pleased. (Later, we get a brief history lesson, as she lets Jamie know how many more years slavery will last in the British Empire and in America.)

The Frasers, along with the younger Fraser couple, Fergus and Marsali, attend a reception for the new governor in hopes of continuing their quest for Ian, planning to ask around and see if they can pick up any clues. Fergus and Marsali are giddy and adorable, and can’t seem to keep their hands off one another. As Jamie and Claire reach the front of the receiving line, Jamie is shocked to discover that John is the governor! John is flabbergasted and delighted and so totally awkward when he sees Jamie. Not exactly playing it cool, this guy. He takes Jamie and Claire into a private room, where he gives Jamie a quick update on Willie’s well-being. Claire keeps eyeing John in a knowing sort of way. The guy really is not hiding his delight over Jamie one tiny bit.

Later, Claire sees a familiar face and rushes after her, finding Geillis out in the garden. Geillis explains that she avoided her own execution (after the witch trial in season 1) with Dougal’s help, and eventually ended up marrying a plantation owner, now deceased, and moving to Jamaica. She is now known as Mrs. Abernathy.

Geillis manages to get hold of the 3rd sapphire (John is wearing it — a token to remind him of Jamie!), and has Margaret Campbell do a reading. Margaret’s words sound like gobbledy-gook, but seem to say that a baby that is born already 200 years old will have something to do with the future of Scottish independence. Hmmm, 200 years? Very interesting!

Claire and Jamie make a hasty exit when they see Captain Leonard arrive with armed men. As they flee, they learn that the slaves at the governor’s estate report seeing a young Scottish boy being taken to Rose Hall — the home of Mrs. Abernathy, aka Geillis! Captain Leonard catches up to them, and Jamie is dragged away, shouting instructions to Claire to go find Iam.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Huh. I’m not usually a stickler for faithfulness to the text, but this episode had some major departures from the book, and I’m not sure I like all of them. First of all, Geillis. It’s kind of too early for Claire to discover Geillis, and in the books by the time they meet, Claire already knows that Mrs. Abernathy is responsible for Ian (and other boys) being kidnapped. Also, Geillis has definitely aged and is suffering from syphilis, so there’s that as well.

The blood bath scene is dramatic and very impressive visually… but, well, I guess I’ll just leave it there. Was it necessary? Not really. But it sure does show a bit of Geillis’s crazy (and lets the show get away with yet another character being 20 years older than when last seen, but looking fresh as a daisy.)

Also, the John business. How much did Jamie tell Claire about John? Apparently he’s filled her in on Geneva and Willie, and how John married Geneva’s sister and raised Willie all these years. But did Jamie tell Claire that John was (is) in love with him? If he didn’t, she certainly picked up on something here. John was not exactly subtle. I’m actually fine with this version, since in the book Claire sees John and Jamie together and assumes (crazily) that Jamie has feelings for John, or perhaps was in a relationship with him. Anyway, as for the episode — I don’t know, it just felt like something was a bit off in the John/Jamie/Claire scenes. I can’t quite put my finger on why I felt this way, but it’s like the show is straddling two different stories. Either Claire knows everything (which is implied here), or she doesn’t, but it felt a bit muddled to me.

I did like the use of costuming to show the passage of time. Claire and Jamie are both wearing their old clothes from Paris, altered slightly and looking a bit less fresh. It makes sense — where would these people suddenly get fancy clothes from after sailing across the ocean for months? Luckily, Fergus brought them the clothes they’d stored at Lallybroch, so there’s some good continuity here. I like that Marsali was dressed up in one of Claire’s old gowns as well. It’s a nice touch, and seems to imply more of a warming up between Claire and Marsali. (Plus, Marsali and Fergus are quite adorable together, all dressed up and giddy with the excitement of it all.) Even Mr. Willoughby gets some fancy clothes to wear and looks smashing.

Wrapping it all up…

I thought this episode was just okay. Visually, it was quite impressive, from the Geillis-covered-with-blood scene to the tropical setting to the fancy party clothes (and Jamie in a wig!). Still, something about the pacing and the plot felt a bit off to me. I know there’s still a lot of ground to cover, but there was perhaps a bit too much exposition in this episode for my taste.

And suddenly, we’re only a week away from the season finale! Overall, I do feel that this has been a stellar season. It’s strange to think back and see how far we’ve come — from the battlefield at Culloden and Claire’s 20th century life in Boston, all the way to this moment of high drama in Jamaica! It feels more like several seasons worth of plot, rather than simply 12 consecutive episodes with one to go.

Cast and crew are doing a phenomenal job, and I’ve loved the show so much this season.

Trying not to cry when I think of saying good-bye after next week… it’ll be a long Droughtlander again until season 4!

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 11

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 311: “Uncharted”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

After making a leap of faith, Claire washes up on an island where survival is her only option. Navigating treacherous waters crippled the Artemis, so Jamie devises a joyful moment for his crew in the midst of setbacks.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • After drifting at sea all night, Claire washes up on an island, but has no idea where she is.
  • She sets off through the jungle in search of water and — hopefully — a town.
  • At the point of exhaustion, Claire ends up at the jungle home of Father Fogden, a somewhat deranged but kind-hearted disgraced priest, who offers her assistance and shelter.
  • Meanwhile, the Artemis was damaged in a storm and Jamie and the surviving crew members have come ashore to repair the mast and sails.
  • Claire and Jamie are reunited!
  • Marsali and Fergus are married on the beach by Father Fogden.
  • Claire drinks some delicious turtle soup (laced with A LOT of sherry), gives herself a penicillin injection to combat a fever from infection, and then she and Jamie have some hot and steamy reunion sex.

Insta-reaction:

Now THAT’s an episode! Action, drama, humor, and some sexytimes. What more could an Outlander fan want?

Claire is one hell of a woman. There’s just no debate about that. After finding herself alive but alone on the island, Claire starts her trek through the jungle. She’s swarmed by ants (ick!) and wakes up the next day with a humongous snake sliding across her (aaaack!). But does that stop Claire? Not a chance. She needs water to survive, and needs to find a way to find Jamie, and she is just not going to stop!

Kudos to Caitriona Balfe and the Outlander make-up team — they went all in with her sunburned, disheveled, bug-bitten look. (And of course, she still looked beautiful!)

Father Fogden was just as nutty as expected, and Mamecita was appropriately menacing, even while washing Claire’s clothes and treating her bites and scrapes. I loved the conversations with Coco the coconut — good for Claire for figuring out how to convince Father Fogden to help her.

Back on the beach on the other side of the island, Jamie and the men from the Artemis are busy making repairs. As they talk, we learn that they sailed through a gale, which damaged the ship and led to several deaths, including Captain Raines. Apparently, Jamie is now the senior man and therefore the captain.

Claire sees the ship offshore and is able to signal to Jamie just in the nick of time before the ship leaves. A dramatic reunion takes place on the beach, as Jamie and Claire run towards each other through the surf. It’s very, very romantic.

Claire has suffered a gashed arm while running through the jungle, and Mr. Willoughby stitches her up. Jamie remarks that the crew needs something to lift their spirits, and suggests a wedding. He’s given Marsali and Fergus permission to wed.

Claire and Marsali have a sex talk — and you just know that a sex talk from Claire has to be good! Marsali is looking forward to finally getting to sleep with Fergus, and asks Claire for advice on how to do it without getting pregnant. She wants to enjoy it first before starting to think about babies. Smart girl. She even admits that perhaps Claire isn’t such a devil after all.

Fergus and Marsali get married on the beach in a somewhat comical ceremony, with Father Fogden officiating. Favorite lines from the book are preserved, including the priest asking whether the groom has a c*ck, since you can’t get married without one. So silly and adorable. Fergus has no last name to give, until Jamie steps forward and says that Fergus’s full name is Fergus Claudel Fraser. (Don’t mind me, that’s just dust in my eyes…)(*sob*)

The ship sets sail, with Jamie and Claire sharing the captain’s quarters. Claire is getting drunk from the turtle soup and is feverish from the wound on her arm which has become infected — but she’s also feeling very amorous, and Jamie doesn’t resist for long. They’re funny and sexy having turtle soup sex (Jamie remarks that this must be what it feels like to have sex in hell), and the episode ends on that happy note.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Getting Claire and Jamie back together is a very, very good thing! This episode was a great antidote to the misery of the last one. Jamie and Claire are together, are in love, and are happy — at least for now. Being Outlander, we know this can’t last for long, but right now, it’s awesome.

I’m happy to see Marsali thawing toward Claire. The wedding was funny and sweet, and I loved Jamie’s naming of Fergus.

Although it almost seemed like Claire’s trekking through the jungle would go on forever, she found refuge just before it might have started to feel like too much. Oh, how that woman suffers for Jamie! I bet when she was back in Boston, considering all the pros and cons of going back, she never factored ant bites and snakes into the equation!

Of course, the Artemis is now bound for Jamaica so Claire and Jamie can continue their search for Young Ian — and where presumably there are British law enforcement men waiting to arrest Jamie. Can these people ever catch a break?

Wrapping it all up…

I loved this episode. The production team made excellent use of their South Africa filming location to give us some truly beautiful scenery. The first half of the episode felt like an adventure tale, and I thought the production did a fantastic job of showing Claire’s courage and determination.

The Jamie and Claire moments were wonderful, and thank goodness they included the turtle soup! There might have been a fan riot otherwise.

Yes, handfuls of details from the book were omitted, but nothing that couldn’t be spared. Frankly, this is the section of the book that feels overstuffed and too reliant on coincidence for my taste, so I’m glad to see the show paring it down to essentials, for the most part. (Still, what are the odds that Claire and Jamie would both end up on the same island? Let’s not worry about that too much, and just be glad that they did!)

Only two episodes left in the season! It’s really been stellar so far. I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up, although I’ll be devastated when it’s time for the next Droughtlander.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to seeing Claire and Jamie all fancied up (and Jamie in a wig!!!) next week.

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 10

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 310: “Heaven and Earth”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire races to discover the source of an epidemic aboard a disease-stricken ship before hundreds of sailors die. And as Jamie locks horns with Captain Raines, Fergus finds himself torn between loyalty and love.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • Claire and Jamie are separated once again — Claire on board the Porpoise, and Jamie left behind on the Artemis.
  • Claire gets down to business tending the sick. Jamie? Loses his sh*t completely, attempting a mutiny to get the captain to pursue the Porpoise and get Claire back.
  • Jamie is thrown in the brig. Fergus brings him food and water, but refuses Jamie’s command to steal the keys and free him so they can take the ship.
  • Meanwhile, Claire leads a valiant effort to stem the epidemic on the Porpoise and begins to see success once she traces the source of contamination to a cook’s helper.
  • Unfortunately, Claire also discovers that there’s a witness to Jamie’s crimes in Edinburgh on board the ship — the man who ended up burning down the print shop — and he’s informed the captain of the Porpoise that Jamie is wanted for sedition and murder. (The body in the cask of creme de menthe has been found after all).
  • Claire needs to find a way to warn Jamie, but the captain won’t give her the opportunity. A kind woman tending goats on the ship helps Claire escape.
  • As the episode ends, Claire jumps overboard, with hopes of drifting to the nearby island and finding a way to reach Jamie before he arrives in Jamaica, where he’ll be arrested.
  • Cutting back to Jamie, he’s released from the brig finally in order to help with navigation, after finally seeing Fergus’s point of view. He gives Fergus and Marsali his blessing to marry, but says they must wait and be married by a priest.

Insta-reaction:

This is going to be a short one, as I’m traveling this week and I’m viewing and writing on my laptop here in a little guestroom, without a whole lot of time to devote to getting this done.

Jamie and Claire had some brief moments of happiness last week, so of course this week they’re kept apart and are each dealing with a hellish situation.

Claire is amazing at dealing with the typhoid fever. She’s in her glory, giving orders and having them carried out, under the full authority of the captain. Claire’s knowledge of germs and diseases leads to some resistance and nastiness from certain of the men, especially after she orders the grog rations cut in half so that the rum can be distilled into pure alcohol. They men look at Claire as if she’s crazy, but all that dipping of hands in alcohol and her other cleanliness measure pay off, as by episode’s end, the epidemic seems finally to be under control.

Poor sweet Elias Pound! Elias is a 14-year-old on the ship, assigned to help Claire, and he’s sweet and oddly authoritative as he acts as her right-hand man. Sadly, just as most of the men seem to be healthier, even singing sea shanties in their hammocks. poor Elias is struck down by the disease. Like so many others, he’s buried at sea.

I wasn’t a great fan of the Jamie storyline. Jamie’s demands of Captain Raines aren’t reasonable, IMHO. He’s demanding that the Captain sail the Artemis at full speed in order to catch up with the Porpoise, which is a much bigger ship already at full sail. It’s just not possible, and the captain seems sincere in saying that what Jamie wants him to do isn’t safe. Jamie just doesn’t seem rationale, and his demands of Fergus aren’t particular fair or logical. Fergus is right to refuse — there’s the strongest likelihood that their attempted mutiny would lead to their deaths, dooming Marsali and Claire as well. Fergus’s decision not to obey Jamie is a huge step for him, and while Jamie thinks that only someone who understands love would move “heaven and earth” to rescue the woman he loves, Fergus’s reasoning about what’s best for Marsali is just as valid a demonstration of strong, true love. I’m glad Jamie finally gives in and offers his blessing.

Here’s where we get into parts of the story that never much appealed to me in the book, and which I hope will be resolved with less fuss in the show. The accusations against Jamie in the captain’s log on the Porpoise and the appearance of the witness against him seem like unnececessary plot complications at this point. The captains of the two ships were in agreement that they’d meet up in Jamaica, and Claire and Jamie could reunite then. But now, with Jamie at risk of arrest and possibly hanging, Claire is desperate enough to reach Jamie that she jumps overboard! What exactly the plan is once she floats ashore, I couldn’t tell. Annika (who helps Claire) gives her money — to buy passage on another ship? How does she expect to reach Jamie? Find a ship willing to intercept the Artemis for her? I’ve read the book several times, and I still don’t see the sense in what’s going on.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

I have a pretty mixed reaction to this episode. On the one hand, I do love seeing Claire in doctor mode. She’s so calm and authoritative and knowledgeable, and doesn’t back down no matter what opposition she faces. She may have been upset initially at being hijacked against her will, but she buckles down immediately and is determined to fight and stop the disease, and frankly, she seems to be right in her element, finally getting to act as a medical professional with the backing and support of the people around her.

On the other hand, Jamie threatening a mutiny seems far-fetched and unnecessary. He knows he’s headed in the same direction as Claire, and I understand he’d be upset, but he goes too far. Fergus is sweet, but also shows backbone in this episode. He reveres Jamie and would do anything for him, but he actually draws a line and defies his wishes here. That must have taken incredible bravery. Good for Fergus.

I try not to dwell too much on comparison between the book and the show, but in this case, what I really missed from the book was Claire’s shipboard encounter with Lord John — not knowing who he was other than the new Governor en route to Jamaica, each ignorant of their signficance in Jamie’s life, but connecting over the moment of peace and quiet, and the desperation of being responsible for men’s lives. It’s a lovely little moment, and could have been a nice addition to the episode.

Wrapping it all up…

Based on the previews, it looks like the Claire/Jamie separation will drag on a while longer. These two just never catch a break. I wonder how they would ever fare if they had a solid month to just live peacefully somewhere, with no kidnappings or smuggling plots or spies or charges of sedition. Would they even know what to do with themselves?

Maybe that’s another reason Claire’s marriage to Frank was doomed to fail — not enough brushes with the law, political manipulation, or hiding from excisemen!

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 9

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 309: “The Doldrums”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire and Jamie leave Scotland, sailing to the West Indies on an urgent quest. When the superstitious crew looks for someone to blame after a string of bad luck, rescue comes from an unlikely source.

My take:

Although we’re technically past the half-way mark of the season already, episode 9 is a real new beginning for the show and the season. And hey, we’ve got a new theme song to go with!

Major plot points:

  • Cousin Jared helps trace the ship that took Young Ian — a Portugese ship called the Bruja, sailing for Jamaica.
  • Jamie and Claire book passage on the Artemis. Jamie declares that he will not set foot in Scotland again without Young Ian.
  • Fergus and Mr. Willoughby join them on the ship. Also, a stowaway — Fergus has brought Marsali with him.
  • Fergus and Marsali claim to be married, having been handfast that morning. Jamie begs to differ.
  • Ultimately, he allows Marsali to continue the voyage, but declares that she will bunk with Claire and Fergus will bunk with Jamie, in order to preserve Marsali’s virtue until she and Fergus can be properly wed.
  • The ship’s crew are very superstitious, and when the ship becomes becalmed, they start looking for someone to blame — a “Jonah” to throw overboard.
  • The wind finally returns, and the Artemis gets back underway, only to be stopped by a British man-of-war looking to “borrow” the ship’s surgeon.
  • Claire goes to the other ship to advise on treatment for the typhoid fever ravaging the crew — and then the ship takes off with her aboard.
  • Once again, Claire and Jamie are separated against their will.

Insta-reaction:

This:

If I could just see Claire and Jamie looking this happy and in love every day, I’d be good.

Anyhoo…

One of the biggest changes revealed in tonight’s episode is the amazing new version of the opening theme song, tweaked now to incorporate an island/Carribbean feel:

I just love it. It really captures the feel of the remainder of the season, with the emphasis on the sea voyage, the island culture, a hint of the mysterious and the danger awaiting — and with a nice connection from the torches in the new scenes to the lanterns of the dancers at Craigh na Dun, going full circle back to the beginning.

This episode felt like a breath of fresh air after the tension and strain of the last two. Claire and Jamie’s problems won’t evaporate immediately, and yet being alone together on a ship for months on end will hopefully give them the space to reconnect and regain their comfort with one another.

The filming for this episode was pretty glorious, taking full advantage of the beauty of being at sea to open up the horizons and give the characters more breathing space. The sunshine and open skies seems to portend an improvement in Jamie and Claire’s relationship — and even though they’re worried sick over Ian, there’s nothing they can do at this point but go on the voyage. I enjoyed seeing them living in the moment for the time being and taking time to be together.

Poor Jamie! He is not cut out for the life of a sailor. Mr. Willoughby to the rescue! Take note — if you ever find yourself in the middle of the ocean retching your guts out, make sure you have a skilled acupuncture practitioner along!

Jamie in paternal mode is a fairly funny Jamie. He’s very upset about Fergus and Marsali, who claim to have been courting for six months and to now be handfast (basically, declaring themselves wed in front of witnesses). In the books, Fergus is about 30 at this point and Marsali is 15, but it would appear that the show is fudging the age difference quite a bit to make the relationship more palatable. Jamie is so determined to keep Fergus from sleeping with Marsali that he declares that Marsali will share Claire’s cabin for the journey — only realizing a moment too late that this means that he and Claire won’t be sleeping together. Silly Jamie. (Fortunately, he and Claire do manage to steal some private time, and they seem very… um… satisfied by their time together).

The whole doldrums section — no wind, not enough water, the ship becalmed, the men becoming more and more superstitious — was a bit boring to me, to be honest, but luckily it went by pretty quickly. I do love when Claire gets righteous about the stupidity of superstitions (like touching the horseshoe or — gasp — having women on board).

No sooner do they get back underway that further bad news comes along in the form of the Porpoise, a British man-of-war with a decimated crew. Typhoid fever is spreading unchecked throughout the ship, with all senior officers already dead and a very young, inexperienced lieutenant now the acting captain. Claire has been immunized and knows she can’t catch the disease, and agrees to go see what advice she can offer. She explains to Jamie about her Hippocratic Oath, which is something Jamie can understand. Taking an oath in the 18th century is a binding, practically holy thing. This will matter throughout the course of the books, as Jamie treats Claire’s oath as something sacred, and this allows him to support her in pursuing whatever she needs to do to fulfill it, even if her actions are bewildering or defy society’s accepted roles for women.

In any case, apparently Claire’s advice to the Porpoise is a little too good, because they realize they need her and cast off, leaving the Artemis behind. Claire and Jamie are separated once again.

Poor Jamie — first sea-sickness, then getting stuck full of needles, and then his wife gets kidnapped at sea! Life with the Sassenach just isn’t easy.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Wow! I really, really loved this episode.

I suppose you could divide this season into thirds: First, there’s Claire and Jamie’s lives apart. Second, there’s the reunion and their time together in Scotland. And this episode marks the start of the final third, the voyage of Voyager‘s title, in which Jamie and Claire set sail for the new world, of course having no idea that they’ll not return for a very, very long time.

Once thing I really loved in this episode was Claire’s changing look. She’s been looking very starched and stiff since she returned to Jamie, buttoned up and in lots of formidable looking clothes with a scraped-back bun. As the journey progresses, she starts to shed her layers. The hair comes down, held back in a simple tie. The outer layers of coat and vest get discarded, and her skirt gets bunched up (sorry, I have no idea what the term is — not a fashion person, I!) so that it becomes more utilitarian, out of the way of her feet and enabling her to move about the ship with ease. I love too that her gray hair is back. In preparing for her return to Jamie, 20th century Claire dyed her hair. Now it’s back to being natural — and I actually feel that the grey streaks in her looser hair style and more relaxed clothing adds to an overall younger look for her.

Granted, the show has acknowledged that it’s not heavily aging the actors. Still, I love the idea that Claire is looking more youthful here simply because she’s finally starting to relax into her new life with Jamie. We can see them gaining a feel for their marriage again, exchanging small looks and gestures and intimacies. If not for the fact that their nephew’s life is in danger and they themselves are in the midst of a perilous sea voyage, this could almost be a 2nd honeymoon!

I’m really liking the actress playing Marsali. She’s got spunk and speaks her mind, and I like that she looks a bit like young Laoghaire too. Jamie insists that Fergus can’t possibly really know Marsali well enough to marry her since he presumably hasn’t told her about all the girls he’s slept with before — so he goes ahead and does that, and Marsali doesn’t seem to care. She’s headstrong and stubborn and knows what she wants. I had to laugh when she told Jamie that if he sent her home, she’d tell everyone that she’d slept with Fergus even though she hadn’t — so Jamie’s choice is to see her wed or see her ruined.

Wrapping it all up…

Heading into the final stretch of the season, I have a few trepidations. To be honest, I always found this section of the book kind of over-stuffed — but I’m hopeful that the limited amount of screen time will mean that the show whittles the often convoluted plot elements down to their essentials and leaves out some of the fluff.

The visuals in these sea-based scenes are stunning, and I can’t wait to see the action shift to Jamaica. Kudos to the production for taking advantage of the sets in South Africa. It must have been a delight to film there, and based on this first episode, it’s yielding beautiful results.

I’m sad that there are only four episodes left this season! How did that happen so quickly? The work of the cast and crew has been phenomenal in season 3, and the production overall seems to get better and better.

Sigh… I’m off to enjoy the scenes of Claire and Jamie’s Atlantic cruise once again.

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 8

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 308: “First Wife”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire returns to Lallybroch with Jamie, where she does not receive quite the reception she was expecting. Unbeknownst to her, Jamie’s made some choices in their time apart which come back to haunt them with a vengeance.

My take:

For once, I may actually get an “Insta-Reaction” post up on the same day the episode airs… because I happened to be up late enough on Saturday to be able to stream the episode online instead of waiting to watch it when it aired on Sunday. The joys of being early! Onward…

Major plot points:

  • Jamie, Claire, and Young Ian arrive back at Lallybroch.
  • Claire is delighted to see Jenny and tries to reach out to her, but gets a very cold reception.
  • Jamie tells Claire that he’s been keeping something from her, but before he can get any further, two girls walk in and call him “Daddy.”
  • Uh oh! Turns out Jamie married Laoghaire two years earlier! Claire is horrified and feels betrayed.
  • Jamie explains that his marriage to Laoghaire wasn’t successful and that they’d been living apart.
  • Claire prepares to leave, but Laoghaire shows up again with a pistol and shoots Jamie.
  • Claire removes the birdshot pellets from Jamie, then gives him an injection of penicillin when he begins to become feverish from infection.
  • Lawyer Ned Gowan comes to Lallybroch to work out the dissolution of Jamie’s marriage to Laoghaire. The marriage itself is invalid, but Laoghaire wants to sue Jamie for distress.
  • To resolve the situation, Jamie agrees to pay Laoghaire a very high settlement and ongoing payments, which he can only manage by retrieving a box of jewels from an island, which he discovered during his escape from Ardsmuir prison years earlier.
  • Since Jamie’s arm is wounded, he can’t swim out to the island, so Young Ian goes instead. He finds the jewels, but is then kidnapped and taken aboard a sailing ship that arrives at the island.
  • Jamie and Claire can only watch helplessly from shore as the ship leaves with Ian.

Insta-reaction:

Whew. What a homecoming.

Inlaws – amiright?

It’s understandable that Jenny would feel so betrayed by Claire and treat her so coldly. The truth — that Claire traveled through time — simply wouldn’t be believed. (Okay, we can quibble about this. It’s a superstitious time. People believe in fairies and witches. Why wouldn’t Jenny believe that Claire traveled to a different time? It would explain so much!) Anyway, Jamie and Claire believe that they can’t share the truth with Jenny, which means they’re stuck with the lame story that Claire believed Jamie was dead, sailed off to the colonies, and has been there ever since. As Jenny points out later in the episode, she could have written! Jenny makes it very clear that life at Lallybroch has moved on without Claire and that’s she’s no longer a part of the family. Ouch.

As Claire and Jamie prepare for bed, Jamie’s on the verge of sharing with Claire what he’s been hiding… when we have the “Daddy!” moment. Not good. Claire is freaking out over the two girls — one of whom has very red hair — when it goes from bad to worse, as their mother walks in. It’s Laoghaire, right back to ranting about the “Sassenach witch”. It’s like twenty years never happened.

Jamie obviously has a bond with the girls, and Claire is heartbroken that he not only married the woman who once tried to have her killed, but that he apparently has a life and has children. How could he have let her think that she still fit into his life? Jamie and Claire have a very ugly fight, with broken things and face slaps and the beginning of angry sex, until Jenny literally throws cold water on them, since the whole house can hear what they’re up to.

Once Laoghaire shows up again the next day and shoots Jamie, Claire has cooling off time as she picks the pellets out of Jamie’s shoulders and chest. Young Ian makes an adorable surgeon’s assistant, even picking up a bit of Claire’s medical jargon. As he’s recovering, Jamie shares more with Claire — about his loneliness when he returned to Lallybroch from Helwater, after leaving his son behind and knowing that he’ll likely never see him again. He was rootless and disconnected, until Laoghaire’s daughters made him laugh again. He wanted to be a father, and he wanted to be a husband, and Jenny encouraged the match — but it just never worked. Laoghaire was twice widowed, and at least one of her late husbands was presumably unkind and harsh to her in bed, because things just never clicked her for her and Jamie. He didn’t love her, but thought he could make a life with her and her daughters — but in the end had to leave rather than live with a woman who was afraid to have him touch her.

Claire was relieved to find out that the girls weren’t Jamie’s daughters, but rather his stepdaughters. Jamie had a great line about there being other red-headed men in Scotland — little Joanie’s red hair doesn’t automatically mean Jamie’s the father. The older daughter, Marsali, looks so much like Laoghaire! Great casting, show.

Claire finally sits and talks with Jenny. Turns out Jenny is responsible for Laoghaire showing up at Lallybroch — Jenny sent her daughter to fetch her. Not cool, Jenny. Jenny didn’t trust Claire and thought her return would only end up hurting Jamie. Without telling Jenny the whole truth, Claire gives her a partial truth that helps Jenny start to thaw a bit. Claire tells her that she married another man when she arrived in the colonies and tried to build a life with him, thinking Jamie dead. It was only after her husband died that Claire decided to return to Scotland to visit Jamie’s grave, and that’s when she discovered he was alive. Jenny admits to having loved Claire as a sister, and Claire says she loved her too. Baby steps, but at least there’s a glimmer of hope that Jenny can start to accept Claire again.

It was great to see Ned Gowan! He credits his longevity with never having married — such a scamp! (Who can argue, given that Jamie’s marriages just led to him being shot.) Lovely to see the affection between Ned and Claire — it was one of the few times this episode when Claire’s smile looked genuine, without the shadow of hurt hiding behind it.

The scene with Ned was quite interesting. Yes, the marriage to Laoghaire is invalid since Jamie’s “first wife” was alive the whole time. Laoghaire is threatening to sue Jamie, which could get ugly — but at the same time, pistols are illegal at that time, and Claire is all for turning Laoghaire over the British, which could result in transportation to the colonies for her, most likely to Virgina. (Gotta love Claire’s snide comment about Richmond being lovely that time of year.) Jamie won’t hear of it — he has the girls to think of. In the end, the amount of “alimony” he agrees to pay Laoghaire seems extortionary; not just a settlement amount, but ongoing yearly payments until both girls are settled in marriage. This decision on Jamie’s part will have an impact on his life with Claire for years to come. Interesting to see Jamie’s compassion here contrasted with Claire’s desire for vengeance against Laoghaire. Some wounds never heal. (She tried to have Claire killed! It’s not a forgive and forget situation.)

And then the episode ends with Jamie and Claire on the cliffside, watching Young Ian swimming out to the island to retrieve the cache of jewels. Claire’s still not sure she belongs with Jamie. Maybe it’s all a mistake. She had a career and a home and friends back in Boston. Does she still fit into Jamie’s life? Can they be happy? Jamie tells her yet again that he loves her and wants her, and asks her if she can take a chance on who he is now, for the sake of the man he once was.

Their moment of romantic reconciliation is interrupted by the arrival of the ship, and they’re helpless to save Ian from being kidnapped. Disaster strikes again, because Jamie and Claire just can never catch a break.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Another strong episode, although with some key departures from the book.

Laoghaire and the girls show up in Jamie and Claire’s bedroom — but unlike in the book, they don’t walk in while they’re having sex. That’s a relief. Those girls do NOT need to see that.

The biggest change, I think, is that Claire doesn’t leave. In the book, she takes off (with Jenny’s encouragement), grabbing a horse and riding (slowly) back to Craigh na Dun, both determined to go back through the stones and hoping that Jamie will catch her before she does. He doesn’t come after her, though — Young Ian does, because Jamie’s been shot, has an infection, and is likely dying. Claire goes back to treat Jamie and save his life, but whether or not she’ll stay is up in the air. (Book spoiler: She stays.)

The changes work, although having Claire leave would certainly have been more dramatic. The action in the episode felt a bit rushed, but I guess it’s understandable, given how much ground the show still needs to cover.

The fight between Claire and Jamie was brutal, and Jamie says some things that border on unforgiveable. As she’s lashing out at him for marrying Laoghaire, he yells back at her that she left him! This is a devastating charge — she didn’t want to leave him; he forced her to go. It’s painful and awful, but also feels pretty real. Couples don’t always fight fair. Jamie knows that the facts don’t support what he’s saying, but at the same time, he’s saying what’s in his heart. She did leave, willingly or not, and he was left behind, and never got over the hurt.

One thing the show does very well, in some ways better than the books, is show the difficulty of Jamie and Claire’s situation. They can’t just pick up where they left off. It’s not all sunshine and roses. If they’re going to stay together and rebuild a marriage and a life, it’ll take real work, and it’ll take time. They knew each other heart and soul once, but they don’t really know each other at this point. They need to learn to be together all over again.

The Hogmany scene was excellent. It strongly conveyed how alienated Jamie felt, outside of the family and all the happiness right in front of him. It’s easy to see how the laughter of the girls and their affection and openness could charm him. Here are two girls who need a father, and here’s a man with two children whom he’ll never see or raise himself. Seems like a perfect fit, and even Laoghaire looked lovely at the party. We really can’t blame him for trying to fit himself into the role he’d spent so many years longing for. (Even though — ew — Laoghaire.)

The end of the episode represents the crucial turning point of the entire series. In the books, Ian’s kidnapping sets everything that follows in motion. If not for this event, Claire and Jamie would never have gone to America or built a life there. I suppose for viewers who didn’t know it was coming, this was probably a pretty jarring end to the episode. But it’s necessary for the next stages of the story, so off we go.

Wrapping it all up…

It’s definitely funny to see the ship at the end, and also to see more ships in the preview for next week’s episode. The production moved to South Africa for the filming of the seafaring part of the story, using the sets from Black Sails. It’ll be hard to watch the next episode and not be waiting for Captain Flint to show up! (Ah, wouldn’t that be amazing?)

All of a sudden (or so it seems to me), we’re 8 episodes into the season, with only five left. There is so much more that needs to happen to get through the rest of Voyager! Man, this is going to be a jam-packed rest of the season. Episode 308 felt rushed to me, and I’m afraid that the fast pace will only increase for the next several episodes. Which is fine – there’s a lot of story to cover — but I hope they do manage to slow things down enough for us to get more of the personal moments that we need. We really do need to see Jamie and Claire come together and start rebuilding their relationship. They still love each other, but they’re starting over again, and the show needs to give them a bit of breathing space to explore their relationship and rebuild the trust and the bond that has always connected them.

Still, terrific acting once again in this episode from the outstanding cast. They’ve breathed such life into these characters, so we really feel their pain, their anger, and their fears. Now let’s let the love back in a bit, shall we?

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 7

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 307: “Creme de Menthe”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Claire follows her conscience as a surgeon, even though it could put her and Jamie’s lives at risk. At the same time, Jamie attempts to evade the reach of the Crown as its representative closes in on his illegal dealings.

My take:

Major plot points:

Day 2 of Jamie and Claire’s reunion isn’t going so well:

  • We start where the last episode ended, with Claire being accosted by a stranger searching Jamie’s room. After a scuffle, he falls and hits his head.
  • Jamie thinks it would be best for the man to die. Claire is a doctor and can’t leave the man without trying to treat him.
  • In going to fetch herbs, Claire meets Archibald Campbell, who arranges for Claire to come see his sick sister Margaret later on.
  • Claire tries crude surgery on the injured man, drilling into his skull to relieve the pressure, but he dies anyway.
  • Sir Percival comes to search the brothel for Jamie’s smuggled liquor, but finds nothing, as Ian and Fergus have already removed it and sold it.
  • Ian has his first sexual encounter with a barmaid, after some coaching from Fergus.
  • Ian Sr. comes looking for Young Ian, and Jamie lies and says he has not seen him.
  • A man with a blind eye searches the print shop and finds Jamie’s seditious pamphlets. In a fight with Young Ian, the printshop catches fire.
  • Jamie rescues Young Ian, but the shop is completely burned.
  • Jamie agrees that he and Claire should take Young Ian home to Lallybroch.

Insta-reaction:

Well, the honeymoon is over.

Jamie and Claire had one blissful night of lovemaking in the last episode, but now in the cold hard light of day, the reality of the rest of the world comes crashing back in, leading to danger from without and conflict between Jamie and Claire.

I can only imagine what’s going through Claire’s mind during the events of this episode. She thought she knew what she was getting herself into, and had accepted the uncertainties she’d face. Before traveling back through the stones, Claire knew that it was possible that Jamie would no longer have room for her in his life. It was a calculated risk, and one that she took for herself and for Brianna, putting her faith in the love she and Jamie had shared, and hoping it would be enough for them to build a new future on.

And here she is, back in Jamie’s world — and in her shoes, I’d probably be asking myself what the f*** I just did to my life. Once again, she finds herself married to a man on the wrong side of the law, with no home, no standing, and no way to fulfill her professional goals. She asks Jamie if they can find someplace else to live (what, brothels aren’t homey enough for you Claire?), but Jamie says money is too tight. Claire suggests that she can set up shop in the back of the printshop as a healer, but Jamie doesn’t seem all that enthusiastic. Honestly, he seems to mostly be looking at Claire as if she’s trouble throughout this episode. A nice docile wife would, I guess, have agreed to let the injured man die — but instead, Jamie has Claire back in his life, putting her medical vows first even when it thrusts them into greater danger. Deja vu all over again, right Jamie?

As for Claire, she’s quite clear with Jamie that she’s a physician and a surgeon, and it’s also clear that she may be regretting walking away from her 20th century medical career, with its clean hospitals and surgical implements and medicines. No, she doesn’t regret finding Jamie, but I think it’s hitting her bit by bit that she’s back in the 18th century, where she has no authority and lacks the most basic of decent medical resources.

Mr. Willoughby seems like a good assistant to Claire. As I probably mentioned last week, I’m very thankful that the show is treating his character as a respectable adult, rather than as the caricature he is in the books.

Young Ian and Fergus are adorable together (and basically are adorable always, in any setting). So now we know that Fergus lost his virginity at age 15 in a menage-a-trois. Oh, Fergus. Never change. Fergus gives Ian a few tips that seem to work pretty well, because before he knows it, he’s heading to bed with the pretty barmaid. Sure, there’s the confusion that seems to plague the virginal males of the family — no, Ian, you do not have to do it from behind. Don’t worry, Jamie was befuddled at first too, but you’ll learn. Sadly, Ian’s first experience is interrupted by the printshop bursting into flames, but I’m sure he’ll have plenty of opportunities down the road.

Claire’s reunion with Ian Sr. was interesting and difficult. He looked at Claire with love, but also with hurt, I think. He tells Claire that he and Jenny mourned for her for years. It’ll be hard for them to accept Claire’s cover story — that she thought Jamie was dead and fled to the colonies. It begs the question of why she never wrote or tried to contact Jenny in any way, and there’s no good answer. Either Claire tells the truth about time travel, which they may or may not believe, or she sticks to a story that makes her sound hard-hearted and uncaring toward the Murray/Fraser clan. Still, Ian had tears running down his face while embracing Claire. He may be hurt, but he loves her anyway. I wouldn’t expect instant forgiveness from Jenny, Claire.

Claire is shocked that Jamie lies to Ian Sr. and says that he has not seen Young Ian. Clearly, Young Ian is involved in Jamie’s less-than-legal business dealings, and just as clearly, Jamie doesn’t want Jenny and Ian to know anything about it. Claire doesn’t understand how Jamie can lie to his family, and a rather ugly exchange ensues in which Claire makes a nasty comment about Jamie not understanding what it is to be a parent. Jamie of course brings up Brianna’s bikini as an example of Claire’s questionable parenting choices. Ouch. Boy, there is a lot of tension simmering beneath the surface.

And of course, the lies don’t end there. We finally hear spoken what we know already from the books, when Fergus asks Jamie the big question:

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Uh oh. Jamie’s lies (and lies of omission) are about to catch up with him in a big way. Next week’s episode should be explosive.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

After the highs of the reunion last week, this week’s episode feels pretty low. Lots of unhappy people, lots of tense situations, not a whole lot of joy for anyone.

Claire and Jamie are both now facing the reality of what her return means. She instantly (although through no fault of her own) causes dangerous complications for him, his business partners, and the family. She’s realizing that her fantasy of a quiet, peaceful, loving home with Jamie is as far from reach as when she was in Boston.

Both are realizing that there are things about the other that maybe don’t fit their rosie-eyed pictures. Claire sees Jamie both disregarding the value of a human life and telling lies, two things that are absolutely contrary to her values. Jamie sees once again that having Claire in his life means having a wife who can’t be relied upon to follow his orders or sit on the sidelines.

They do love each other. Jamie affirms yet again that he wants her. But the open question here is whether they truly fit together any more, after so many changes and so many years. Can they rebuild a new version of their life and their marriage that will give them the happiness together that they both want?

I must admit here that I found this section of the book kind of irritating, so it’s no wonder the episode didn’t especially appeal to me either. It was very well done, as they all are — but I just find this section of the plot getting on my nerves. Jamie is so busy with his random illegal business obligations that he doesn’t pay very much attention to Claire’s needs and just expects her to fit herself into his life. Okay, fine, so he didn’t know she was coming and does have an actual life that he was living, so it’s not like he’s not justified in his actions. Maybe there is no easy answer.

I just know that in Claire’s shoes, if I found the love of my life after 20 years and he was too busy smuggling, hiding bodies, and telling lies to make me feel welcome back into his life, I might be asking myself some really big questions right about now.

“Creme de Menthe” shows that perfect love still has jagged edges, and that no matter how deep and true the romance, people have to live in the real world. For Jamie and Claire, the question is whether their love is enough to see them past their differences and the changes wrought by their 20 year separation. They’re not out of the woods yet.

Wrapping it all up…

I probably should have mentioned this back at the beginning of the season — but I am not reading along with season 3, and it’s been years since I’ve read (or re-read) Voyager. I mention this because I’ve already heard that a lot of book readers are steaming over this particular episode and its omissions and additions vis-à-vis the book. During season 1, I made a point of reading the relevant book chapters prior to watching each episode, and I found that this approach actually detracted from my enjoyment of the show. It just put too great an emphasis on noting the differences from the original source material to the TV adaptation.

I decided going into season 2 that I’d do it book-free. I remembered enough to know where the major plot deviations were, but didn’t have the details so vividly in my mind that I’d get upset about the delivery of certain lines or whether something should have happened upstairs or downstairs (for example). It was a much happier viewing experience for me. I was able to savor the beautiful parts, admire the artistry and choreography of complicated scenes, and simply enjoy the production.

So far, this approach is absolutely working for me in season 3. Which brings me back to this episode. As I mentioned, I didn’t particularly love this part of Voyager, so if they skim over some of the smuggling adventures as a means of moving the plot forward, I’m fine with that. And no, Claire doesn’t drill into a man’s head in the book — but I’m okay with that too. Here, in the TV episode, it’s a shorthand method of demonstrating the differences Claire and Jamie still have to overcome.

So — no, episode 307 isn’t the best of the season, but I think it did what it needed to do to get us from point A (the reunion) to point C (the beginning of the rest of their lives together). It’s okay. It’ll all be okay.

And anyway, since when did Jamie and Claire ever have smooth sailing?

 

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Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 6

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 306: “A. Malcolm”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

After decades apart, Jamie and Claire finally reunite and rekindle their emotional and physical bonds. But Jamie’s new business dealings jeopardize the couples’ hopes for a simple life together.

My take:

Major plot points:

Really, what more do you need to know besides JAMIE AND CLAIRE ARE REUNITED! Okay, exuberant celebration aside, here’s what happened:

  • Jamie is living a busy life in Edinburgh as a printer, but apparently with some less legit business going on the side.
  • Jamie is shocked by Claire’s sudden appearance in his print shop.
  • Claire shows Jamie a packet of photographs of Brianna. Jamie is clearly moved. Jamie tells Claire about his son Willie.
  • They head out to meet Mr. Willoughby, first running into Fergus in the street.
  • Jamie brings Claire to his room in the brothel, where they reconnect over dinner before going to bed together.
  • Claire learns that in addition to being a printer, Jamie is also a smuggler. Also, he keeps a room in a brothel. (But he doesn’t partake of the wares.)
  • Young Ian makes an appearance.
  • While Jamie is out on business, Claire has breakfast with the ladies of the house. When she goes back up to Jamie’s room, she finds a dangerous man searching the room.

Insta-reaction:

Ah! The reunion! The printshop! It was all so glorious and romantic… and yes, awkward too. It’s been 20 years. I loved how the actors shows the strangeness of this reunion. For Jamie, it’s practically a supernatural moment. He never thought he’d see Claire again, and can’t quite believe she’s real. And for Claire, after years of yearning, and then all that searching, it all comes down to this moment.

They begin with tentative kisses. Neither quite knows the other at this moment. Claire can’t be sure Jamie wants her, and wonders if she still fits into his life. Jamie wants to know why Claire is there — has she come to be with him, or is she only there to bring him news of their daughter? It all feels so real. It might be nice to imagine that they’d simply fall back into one another’s arms as if no time has passed, but this is so much more realistic. They’re both self-conscious about having aged (Jamie is adorable in reading glasses!), and there’s so much life to catch up on.

Certain book moments are captured splendidly. I love the scene of Jamie looking at photos of Brianna. First, Claire has to explain what photographs are… and then she has to reassure Jamie that it’s perfectly normal for a teen-aged girl of the 1960s to be hanging out in a bikini. Somehow, I don’t think Jamie will ever get with the program on that one.

Jamie’s business keeps getting in the way of the reunion, but again, that makes it feel more real. Jamie has commitments and business dealings, and none of these stop just because Claire walks in the door.

The meeting with Fergus in the street was brief but lovely. I’ll miss young Fergus, but I think this grown-up version will do just fine! The love he feels for Claire is palpable, and there’s a sweet but sad moment when Claire touches Fergus’s replacement hand. For book readers, we all probably caught Fergus’s questions to Jamie “what about…?” and know exactly what it means. I’m glad the show kept the little hints that there’s something more to Jamie’s situation than what Claire knows.

As for their first night together, it was beautiful and sweet, and in some ways a call-back to their wedding night. Claire and Jamie are upstairs in his room, and first get to know one another all over again over dinner, filling each other in on the missed years — where they’ve been, what they’ve done, and who they are now. When they’re finally ready to go to bed together, they’re eager but shy. Claire covers herself up once she’s naked, not sure if Jamie will still be attracted to her after all these years. (He is.) They’re tentative at first (and Claire has to teach Jamie what a zipper is), but ultimately they fall back into the intense sexual chemistry that they’ve always had.

The show makes clear that their reunion won’t be easy. They have so much to catch up on, and really need to find out who they each are all over again. But this episode shows that the foundations of love and desire are still there, and indeed have never left.

 

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

The reunion was all I could have hoped for, and then some.

One change from the book that really made me happy is that Jamie tells Claire about Willie right away. We know that there are still some secrets he hasn’t told, but there’s no reason to keep this from her. Claire wanted to know if Jamie loved Willie’s mother, and he told her he didn’t, although we can assume he’ll tell her much more about just how Willie came to be at some point down the road. I’m so glad that this is out in the open between them. If they’re to succeed in rebuilding a life together, they have to be honest. For Claire especially, who gave up an entire world — her daughter, her profession, her own time — to be with Jamie, she needs to know what’s in Jamie’s heart if she’s to stay. Willie is too important to Jamie for him to keep secret from Claire.

The new cast members all appealed to me — Young Ian, Older Fergus, and Mr. Willoughby. Young Ian is a particular book favorite of mine — I can’t wait to see more of him in action!

Ah, this episode really delivered! The production team wisely gave extra time to this episode, and the story was allowed room to develop and blossom. We got to see the initial disbelief and euphoria, the joy, the shyness, the uncertainty, and everything else that would be natural for these two to feel after so many years apart. Neither has been fully their true selves for the past 20 years, always missing some essential part of their own soul. Now they’re together, and yes, they’ll have to work to rebuild a life that they can share and to rediscover how to be together, but their love remains, and with that, we can feel assured that Jamie and Claire will be okay.

If only they didn’t have to deal with dastardly villains and run-ins with the law for at least a day or two…

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Outlander casting news – season 4!

It’s never too early to get excited about future Outlander seasons, and here’s proof:

Multiple entertainment sites have share an announcement from Starz about key casting for season 4:

From TVLine.com:

Outlander has recruited two familiar TV faces — Orphan Black‘s Maria Doyle Kennedy and Downton Abbey‘s Ed Speleers — to take on a pair of key Season 4 roles, TVLine has learned.

Kennedy will play Jamie’s strong-willed Aunt Jocasta, whose plantation Jamie and Claire arrive at early in Drums of Autumn, the fourth of eight books in Diana Gabaldon’s international best-selling series (and the one on which Season 4 is based). Speleers, meanwhile, will portray Irishman Stephen Bonnet, a pirate and smuggler who [SPOILER ALERT] becomes very integral to the series moving forward, particularly in the lives of Brianna and Roger.

Kennedy is coming off of a five-season run playing Mrs. S. on Orphan Black. In addition to his role as footman Jimmy Kent on Downton Abbey, Speleers co-starred in Wolf Hall.

Outlander ‘s current third season will conclude in early December. Production on Season 4 got underway this week in Scotland.

Maria Doyle Kennedy is so talented, and Aunt Jocasta is a fantastic role — she’s tough, she’s shrewd (after all, she’s Dougal and Colum’s sister), and she’s deeply invested in Jamie’s well-being. As for Stephen Bonnet — it’s hard to picture someone going from playing a rather proper butler to the nasty piece of work that Bonnet is, but I suppose that’s the magic of good acting!

Season 3 is simply wonderful, and I’m so excited to see that season 4 will be introducing terrific actors as key characters.

This show. Love, love, love.

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 3, Episode 5

Season 3 is here! My intention is to write an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

Warning:

Spoilers

I may be talking about events from this episode, other episodes, and/or the book series… so if you’d rather not know, now’s your chance to walk away!

Outlander, episode 305: “Freedom & Whisky”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Brianna grapples with life-changing revelations and Claire must help her come to terms with the fact that she is her father’s daughter. Roger brings news that forces Claire and Brianna to face an impossible choice.

My take:

Major plot points:

This episode is 99% Claire — the focus is on her life in Boston following her return from Scotland, her relationship with Brianna, and the decision she must make about whether to attempt to return to Jamie again.

  • Claire is clearly a skilled surgeon, but her professional success and close friendship with Joe Abernathy still don’t fill the hole in her life.
  • At a ceremony honoring Frank, Claire is confronted by his long-term mistress. Awkward.
  • Roger shows up to experience “an American Christmas”, but also to hand something to Claire — proof that Jamie was alive, living in Edinburgh and working as a printer, only a year before.
  • Claire initially rejects Roger’s information, insisting that she can’t leave Brianna. But Brianna convinces Claire that the time has come to find the man she loves.
  • Claire heads back to Scotland, through the stones, and ends up back in Edinburgh in 1766. She finds A. Malcolm’s printshop, and enters to see Jamie working over the printing press.
  • Claire and Jamie lock eyes… and then Jamie faints.

Insta-reaction:

This was, by necessity, a slower episode — especially relative to the previous four, with their emphasis on Jamie’s travails post-Culloden. Here in 305, the drama is mostly internal. It’s all about the choice facing Claire — a choice she never really believed she’d have to make.

On the one hand is the man who still haunts her every waking moment. It’s been 20 years, but she’s never forgotten or stopped loving Jamie. But until Roger shows up with his new proof, the idea of actually seeing Jamie again was just a dream, not a real possibility.

And of course, on the other hand, there’s Brianna. Can Claire make a decision that will result in probably never seeing her daughter again? Claire has a powerful, touching conversation with Brianna about all she’ll miss — seeing Brianna marry and walking her down the aisle, being a grandmother to Brianna’s children — and simply being a part of her daughter’s life.

Brianna is a young woman who’s been through a lot in the past year, losing the only father she knew and finding out the truth about her real father, and now faces losing her mother as well. She handles it with grace and poise. She NEEDS Claire to go, to find her father and make sure he knows that he has a daughter. Brianna still isn’t fully formed as an adult, but she insists to Claire that it’s time. Brianna will be okay — now it’s time for Claire to find Brianna’s father.

The scene at the ceremony for Frank struck me as a bit unnecessary. Why bring Frank’s mistress back into the story? She accuses Claire of selfishness, of refusing to let Frank go when he could have had years of happiness with someone who really loved him. Now, we know that Claire did offer Frank a divorce after the debacle the night of her graduation. So why force this scene now?

In thinking about it, it ties in with the scene earlier in the episode in Brianna’s history classroom at Harvard, when the professor discusses Paul Revere, then talks about the difference between historical facts versus what gets passed down through time. History depends on whose version we’re hearing. So back to Frank — did he tell the other woman that he’s the one who chose to stay in the marriage? Perhaps her version of history feels real to her, but it’s based on her source, who didn’t share all the information with her.

And speaking of Brianna’s history class… The professor informs Bree that she’s failing the class. Bree suggests that she’s just not smart enough, which is nonsense. Before Frank’s death and the trip to Scotland, she was an outstanding student. Clearly, Brianna has been through some life-altering events. As she sits in class, she’s drawing sketches of campus architecture rather than taking notes on the lecture, and later, giving Roger a tour, she becomes animated talking about the intricacies of the building’s design. Brianna is a history major, following in her father’s footsteps, but this is a clue that her true passion lies elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to see how much more of Brianna we see this season, and whether her career/education path gets more attention.

Roger, as always, is a sweetheart. He’s so awkwardly romantic with Brianna, and he cares for Claire so much. It’s not just the historian in him that gets him to keep digging for Jamie when it seemed they’d hit a dead end. Roger is now entangled in the story of Claire and Jamie (and Brianna), and he doesn’t want to let go of the connection.

And finally, after soul-searching and conversation upon conversation, Claire decides to go. She makes herself an 18th-century-appropriate traveling outfit with lots of hidden pockets so she can store her penicillin, syringes, and other 20th century must-haves (the show calls it her Batsuit!), and she’s ready to go.

Claire says goodbye to Brianna and Roger in Boston. It would be too hard to have Brianna with her at the stones — perhaps she wouldn’t have the strength to really leave her. And next we see, she’s in Edinburgh!

From Boston…

 

… to Edinburgh!

Finally, finally, we get the start of Claire and Jamie’s reunion. There’s absolute joy on Claire’s face as she finally sees Jamie working at the printing press. And then Jamie hears her voice! He freezes, slowly turns and sees her, and then passes out! Well, naturally — Claire has been on a journey back to Jamie for months, but Jamie has had absolutely no warning. It’s taken him 20 years to come to terms with losing Claire and rebuild a life for himself, but he never expected to actually see her again. And then there she is, suddenly, standing in front of him! Fainting dead away is a reasonable response, given the situation.

And…. fade to black! That’s the end of the episode. Oh, it’ll be a long, cruel couple of weeks until we see what happens next, but we can be sure that good things are in store for Claire and Jamie!

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Another strong episode for a fantastic season. I can already imagine that there’s some grumbling going on among fans who can’t stand being Jamie-less for a full episode (or thereabouts), but anyone who’s read the book knows that we’d caught up to as much of Jamie’s life as we could expect to see as of the end of last episode. Yes, there are still some years to cover, but we’ll find out more about those when Claire does. Meanwhile, knowing that he’s a printer in Edinburgh is all that was truly important for the sake of getting Claire to finally go to him.

I’m glad that the show took a shortcut along the way, showing Claire stepping out of the taxi and into 18th century Edinburgh. We didn’t really need to see her arrive in Scotland, go to Craigh na Dun, travel through the stones, then find transportation to Edinburgh. We know that’s what happened without seeing it on screen. A book can take the time to show every detail, but in this visual medium, with a limited amount of minutes per episode, it was more important to get Claire to her destination than to spend time on the journey — especially since we’ve seen her go through the stones twice now, and Geillis once. We know how it works, so the show was right to get straight to what matters most, bringing Claire and Jamie together.

Thinking about the stones and time travel for a moment more, it’s lovely to think about the differences in Claire’s journeys. The first time she went through, it was purely by accident. She made no decision, but was pulled through without knowing what was happening. The second time, she went through the stones to save her child. It was deliberate, but done very much against her will and desire, and felt like the end of her real life. It was a moment of despair and heartbreak, from which Claire never truly recovered. How lovely, then, that Claire is owning her life and destiny here by choosing the stones this time. She’s fully cognizant of what she’s leaving, and makes the decision to go back in time in order to consciously choose a life with Jamie. Such a beautiful testament to the love she feels for him and its power.

On a different note, I enjoyed the scenes showing Claire and Joe Abernathy*. They’re colleagues, but also friends — probably the only friend Claire has. Claire tells Joe a partial truth about Jamie — that he was her true love and Brianna’s real father, and that she may have a chance to reconnect with him. Joe is supportive and enthusiastic (yet another person pointing out to her that no one really bought the fairy tale that she and Frank were happily married). Joe offers Claire reassurance that she’s still attractive.

*Side note: It’ll seem odd and unimportant to anyone who hasn’t read the books, but the scene with the skeleton in Joe’s office isn’t just a throwaway. It may seem weird in this episode, but there’s a reason to include it. ‘Nuff said.

It’s odd to see poised, careful Claire showing this type of vulnerability, wondering if Jamie will still want her now that she’s 20 years older. I was a little disappointed by her deciding to cover up her gray hair before leaving for Scotland. What will she do when the roots grow back in? Can she make a hair dye from acorns or something? Still, this too shows the internal fear which she hasn’t shared with Brianna. She knows she’ll always love and want Jamie, but she really doesn’t know what his life has been like over the past 20 years. Will he still want her, love her, or have room for her in his life? She’s stepping out into the unknown with no guarantees at all. I suppose I can understand her doubts and fears, as she looks at her gray hair and (completely unnoticeable) wrinkles. (Wouldn’t we all love to look like Caitriona Balfe as we age??) And this highlights how truly brave she is. It’s not just the danger of the time travel and the uncertainties inherent in the passage through the stones. Even if all goes according to plan and she finds Jamie, she really has no idea what he’ll be like and whether she can restart a life with him.

And she goes anyway. Like I said, that’s bravery — and love.

A final note:

Oh, the cruelty of whoever puts together the Starz calendar! We now have a two-week wait for the next episode, which means we won’t see the Claire and Jamie reunion until October 22nd. How shall we bear it?

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