Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 7

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing 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 507: “The Ballad of Roger Mac”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

The Regulator Rebellion reaches a boiling point, forcing Jamie to face his fear and confront the consequence of his divided loyalties.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • The militia and the Regulators prepare to face off in battle.
  • Brianna recognizes the name of the location, Alamance Creek, and rides in to tell Claire and Jamie that the Regulators lose this battle.
  • Jamie wants to warn Murtagh and get the Regulators to leave, rather than stay, fight, and get killed in a battle they cannot win.
  • Roger volunteers to cross to the militia camp to deliver the warning, but encounters trouble trying to get back.
  • Governor Tryon “honors” Jamie by giving him an officer’s red coat.
  • The British troops and their cannon are too much for the Regulators, who are defeated.
  • Claire treats the wounded men.
  • Murtagh is shot protecting Jamie, and dies.
  • The episode ends with the discovery of Roger having been hanged by the Governor’s troops, who took him for a Regulator

Insta-reaction:

I’m going to keep this brief, because my brain is absolutely fried this week!

The 7th episode of season 5 focuses exclusively on the Batttle of Alamance Creek, fought between the Governor’s troops and the rebel Regulators. As Bree explains in her hasty history lesson, this battle is later seen as a precursor to the War of Independence. For now, Jamie and Claire are on the government’s side, but they know they’ll have to switch soon.

Poor Roger! He has no business being a soldier. He’s an Oxford history professor! He never handled a gun in his life before traveling to the past, and now he’s a militia captain? He’s doing what he must for his family, but geez, do I wish he and Brianna had had the good sense to get the hell out of there by now.

And hey, it’s Jamie’s 50th birthday! May we all be so blessed to look that good at his age! He and Claire enjoy a tender, loving morning in bed before the battle arrives. Jamie later invokes the spirit of his late uncle Dougal MacKenzie, the warrior who taught him all he knows about battle and whose side he fought beside so many times.

You’d think Claire and Jamie would understand by now that they can’t change history — but Jamie still has to try, for the sake of saving Murtagh. Roger delivers the message and Murtagh declines to leave before battle, but Roger would have made it safely back to Jamie’s camp most likely had he not had the misfortune of running into his ancestress Morag Mackenzie, whom he’d saved (in the previous season) on board Stephen Bonnet’s ship. He tries to warn her away from the battle and offers her and her family a refuge on Fraser’s Ridge. But when he embraces her, her husband shows up and beats the hell out of Roger. (And good job, show, for bringing back the amazing Graham McTavish as Buck Mackenzie! With a full head of hair! Nice touch of casting, indeed.)

Well, things are not good. Jamie is forced into wearing the red coat of a British officer, which is just not a feel-good moment for him, considering that these coats represent the enemy in so many of his life’s worst times. As the battle progresses and the slaughter begins, Jamie finally encounters Murtagh in the woods, but Murtagh is shot protecting Jamie. In his last heroic act, Murtagh stayed true to his vow to Ellen Mackenzie Fraser to always protect her son. Murtagh is dead before Jamie can get him to Claire. It’s so damned sad.

Roger still hasn’t come back. Jamie has heated words with the Governor, disgusted by all the needless death, and throws down the coat and renounces his military role. The Frasers go looking for Roger, and eventually come upon a tree where some Regulators have been hanged for treason. Jamie recognizes one man, despite his face being covered. It’s Roger!

And…. scene!

So wow. Not an upbeat episode at all. It’s always great to see Claire in full doctor mode, and I wanted to punch whichever awful Brown that was who deliberately crushed her one and only syringe of penicillin.

My heart was busy aching preemptively for Roger and Brianna. Having read the book, I knew what was coming. I also know what happens after the cliffhanger ending, but I’m not telling!

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

I really did love seeing Graham McTavish again! So clever to cast him as a nasty Mackenzie.

And poor Roger! He should have known better than to hug Morag. I mean, HE knows that she’s his many-greats-great-grandmother, but she and her husband don’t. And while I don’t think he deserved what happened, he should have had the sense not to act so intimately toward another man’s wife, no matter how innocently intended.

I was surprised by Murtagh’s death. As we all know, his character dies at Culloden in the books, so any role for him past season 2 is new and different for the TV series. TV Murtagh was a fantastic character, but I didn’t love his role as Regulator leader. It just didn’t seem to fit him, and it led directly to his death. So what was the point of keeping him alive until now? I wish he’d had more time to live happily on the Ridge with Jamie, but I guess it wouldn’t have had enough drama that way. Jamie’s heartbreak over Murtagh’s death was incredibly well done.

And now, it’s two weeks until the next new episode… two weeks of dreading the outcome of that horrible last scene.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 6

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing 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 506: “Better To Marry Than Burn”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

At Jocasta’s wedding, Jamie learns Tryon’s true motivation for ending the Regulator threat.

My take:

Major plot points:

A wedding, locusts, and make-up sex in a barn. What more do you need to know?

In a bit more detail:

  • Jocasta is going through with her plan to marry Duncan Innes, despite a last minute plea from Murtagh to wait for him.
  • We learn more about Jocasta’s past back in Scotland.
  • Jamie and Claire get a lead on a connection to Stephen Bonnet, from the odious Philip Wylie.
  • Claire and Jamie fight, then have the aforementioned make-up sex in a barn.
  • On the Ridge, a plague of locusts descends, but Roger rises to the occasion and saves the day.
  • Governor Tryon is aiming for a transfer to New York, but meanwhile, he plans to defeat those pesky Regulators once and for all — this time, on the battlefield.

Insta-reaction:

We open in Scotland, 1746, just after the battle of Culloden, as Hector Cameron, wife Jocasta, and daughter Morna are on a mad dash to escape. An unfortunate interception by a pair of redcoats puts their load of gold at risk, and as shots are fired, the British soldiers and Morna are all killed. Hector drags Jocasta from Morna’s dead body and they continue their escape. Brutal!

Back in the main storyline of the show, it’s the eve of Jocasta’s wedding, a lavish affair at River Run. First, she signs legal paperwork making little Jemmy her heir. Guests arrive, and it’s all very fancy and posh. Duncan seems like a nice enough man — maybe wealthier and with property, as compared to book Duncan — but it’s not a love match for Jocasta by any means.

Lord John is among the wedding guests, being panted over by all the single society girls. Governor Tryon may be awful, but I do love his wife. Philip Wylie is gross and awful, coming on to Claire in a gross and awful way, and later trying to get physical with her — which she fights off very proficiently, but then Jamie appears being all “grrrrrr, unhand my wife” and things get even more tense.

Rather than stab the man with his pointy little knife, Jamie challenges him to a card game. He bets Claire’s wedding rings, which pisses her off. Jamie insists it’s all for Bree’s sake, because Wylie has a connection to Bonnet, and they’re trying to find a way to meet with him so Jamie can take revenge.

After winning the card game, a very drunk Jamie finds Claire in the stables, where the hot barn sex happens. Oh, these two. They’ve definitely still got it.

Back on the Ridge, we get what I hope will be an every-episode glimpse of adorable Adso, playing with something on the floor that turns out to be a locust. Uh oh. That’s not good. The people of the Ridge are in a panic about the oncoming swarm and want to burn all the fields, which Roger is sure is a terrible idea. He remembers a story from his childhood, which inspires him to use smoke to drive away the locusts instead. His efforts work, and suddenly he’s a hero! All the men who’d doubted him before are now fans. Yay, Roger!

There’s a tear-filled scene between Murtagh and Jocasta the night before her wedding. He asks her to wait for him, and she explains that she’ll never pledge herself to another man who loves his cause more than he loves her. Not only does she believe Hector’s devotion to the Jacobite cause cost her her daughter Morna, it turns out that her two other daughters died in the aftermath of Culloden as well. For a woman who usually comes across as hard as nails, it was a touching and very sad scene.

And we end with Tryon telling Jamie to gather up the militia and get ready for battle. This is not good. Neither is the parting shot of slimy lawyer Neil Forbes telling Stephen Bonnet that “his” son now owns River Run.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

There’s absolutely no fall-out from last week’s murder. So, apparently devout Catholic Jamie isn’t much bothered by the sin of taking a life? Show, this makes no sense, but okay, sweep it under the rug if you must.

I liked the contrast of the fanciness of the River Run party and the desperate, sweaty work of trying to save the crops and the settlement on the Ridge. It was nice to see Brianna and Roger working together, and to see Roger coming out on top for once.

As for Jocasta and Murtagh… well, we all wondered whether Murtagh’s role in the show would replace Duncan’s, and now we know. So Jocasta has herself a new husband, and Murtagh is heading back to be a rebel leader.

At least Claire and Jamie are happy! For now.

It’s been at least 5 or 6 years for me since I read The Fiery Cross, so I’m quite fuzzy on the details of what happens in the book and when. But I remember enough to know that next week’s episode is going to be very, very bad for the Frasers and Mackenzies.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 5

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing 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 505: “Perpetual Adoration”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Jamie and his militia arrive at Hillsborough to learn that Governor Tryon has proposed a rather unorthodox solution to deal with the threat posed by the Regulators and to resolve the growing political crisis.

My take:

Major plot points:

It’s Adso, y’all! Can we just ignore the rest of the episode and focus on this adorable ball of grey fur?

No?

Okay… here’s what happened in this episode:

  • We spend some time with Claire back in the 1960s, after Frank’s death but before her trip to England and Scotland when she discovered that Jamie had survived Culloden. She has an encounter with a patient that has had a huge impact on her.
  • In the main timeline of the show, Jamie and his militia ride into Hillsborough, only to discover that the governor is pardoning all the Regulators.
  • Lt. Knox learns about Jamie’s past and his connection to Murtagh… and Jamie straight up murders him!
  • Claire performs tonsil surgery on the Beardsley twins, after discovering that she’d finally made penicillin.
  • Bree and Roger have some trouble over Bonnet, but they work it out.
  • Jamie comes back to the Ridge WITH ADSO. So he and Claire can have the cutest reunion ever.

Insta-reaction:

Okay, I just need to say this.

JAMIE FRASER IS NOT A MURDERER.

Maybe the show thought it was adding intrigue and tension, but I do not for a minute believe that MY Jamie would have murdered Lt. Knox like that. He might have tried to get the papers from him, or mislead him, or do something sly to throw him off his track, but Jamie has too much honor to behave as he did in this episode.

Ugh.

Here’s where keeping Murtagh alive (instead of having him die at Culloden, as he did in the books) is starting to backfire. Once Murtagh showed up as the leader of the Regulators, I knew this could not be good for the story. Sure, it’s dramatic having godfather and godson on opposite sides, but it felt like a reinvention of Murtagh’s character to me, and is leading to Jamie acting in ways that Jamie never would. I’m more than annoyed by this turn of events. And then Jamie goes back to the Ridge and is all smiles and happiness when he sees Claire — no soul-searching or tormenting himself over the sin he just committed? This is not working for me. At all.

But other than that…

I pretty much liked Claire’s storylines in this episode — her ruminations on the nature of time, and how all things connect. How if she hadn’t encountered her Scottish patient, Graham Menzies, and then ended up taking a leave of absence after his death, her path would not have intersected with Roger’s, and she might never have made her way back to Jamie again. And the ripples go on from there — Bree and Roger wouldn’t have met, Bree might never have learned the truth about her father, and she and Jamie would never have had the opportunity to know one another and form a relationship.

Marsali is so full of win on this show. Her adorableness over the penicillin was superb. The surgery scene was gross but great, and I think Lizzie’s face was probably all of us at the moment when Kezzy was wide awake and Claire was cauterizing his throat.

Can we just ignore the whole Regulator storyline? Basically, the governor is going to pardon all the Regulators except Murtagh, who is public enemy #1 and must be caught and hanged for treason. Great. And then there’s the Ardsmuir business and the murdering business, and I just get mad again.

On the home front, Roger and Bree get cuddly, but later fight when he finds the gemstone Bonnet gave to Bree at the jail and learns that a) Bonnet is alive and b) Brianna told Bonnet that the baby she was carrying was his. And how dare she, when she’s never said as much to Roger? I think Roger was a bit of a jerk here, to be honest. He’s not the victim! Eventually, they make up, and Roger talks again about going back to their own time, once they figure out if Jemmy can time travel. Which is not a bad idea — because let’s be real, they’re really not safe where they are.

So yeah, I’ll stop talking about how pissed off I was by the end of the episode and just focus on what’s important, i.e., all the cuteness of Adso.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Why, show, why did you do this to Jamie? I don’t like what this might mean for the plot going forward, and I don’t believe that good, honorable Jamie would behave the way he did in this episode.

So, all the cuteness and Claire’s medical victory and the glimpses of the past/future are pretty much overshadowed for me by the murder.

Although I did really dig seeing mod 60s Dr. Claire again!

And three cheers for The Impetuous Pirate!

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 4

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing 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 504: “The Company We Keep”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Roger leads Jamie’s militia to the trading post of Brownsville and finds himself embroiled in a bitter feud. Jamie and Claire arrive to find that Roger’s unusual strategy may have cost them the loyalty of the militia.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • Roger leads the militia into Brownsville, kicking off a local feud.
  • Claire and Jamie consider what to do with Fanny Beardsley’s baby.
  • Roger has mixed results as a captain of the militia.
  • Brianna suspects that Bonnet is around, and is scared to death.
  • Jamie sends Claire back to the Ridge with the Beardsley twins to do some doctoring.

Insta-reaction:

Once again, I’ll keep things on the brief side.

This episode mainly takes place in the (dismal and depressing) town of Brownsville, founded and led by the Brown brothers, Richard and Lionel. We don’t know much about them at this point, but they don’t exactly come across like sunshine and roses. (And if you’ve read A Breath of Snow and Ashes, you’ll forgive me for feeling a deep hatred for them as soon as they appeared in this episode.)

Roger rides into Brownsville with the militia while Jamie and Claire are dealing with the Beardsley mess — and immediately starts getting shot at. One of the men in the militia, Isaiah Morton, has apparently “dishonored” Alicia Brown, and her father is having none of it. Because of their illicit relationship, Alicia Brown’s betrothal to a wealthy man has been called off, and the Brown family is not pleased. Roger makes peace by breaking open a cask of whisky and allowing Isaiah to be detained, which doesn’t sit well with all of the militia men, some of whom leave.

Jamie arrives to clean up Roger’s mistakes, berating Roger for not showing more loyalty to one of his men. He refers to Roger as “professor” rather than “captain”, which is a pretty serious Jamie burn. Poor Roger! But at least Roger gets in some good singing, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, Claire’s been caring for Fanny’s baby, Bonnie, but the baby obviously needs some mother’s milk. A local woman nurses the baby and takes a liking to her, and several of the women ask Claire if she’ll let them have the baby as their own and raise her. Later, drunk, Jamie asks Claire if she wants to keep the baby, since they never got to raise Bree together and he’d like to give Claire that opportunity if she wants it. She doesn’t, though — she loves her life with Jamie, and feels that the baby will be well treated in Brownsville, especially as she’s the heir to the Beardsley property.

There’s more drama around Isaiah and Alicia… the short version is that Claire and Jamie are suckers for a good love story, and eventually help them escape together, Jamie having created a diversion by setting the town horses free to gallop down the main (mud) road.

Roger is to travel back to the Ridge as Claire’s escort, along with Josiah and Kezzie, so she can take care of their infected tonsils. And after the surgery, she’ll rejoin Jamie and the militia once again.

Back at the Ridge, we get a few brief scenes with Brianna. After a trip to town, she finds a coin in Jemmy’s basket, and learns that an Irish gentleman placed it there. She fears that this means that Bonnet is around, and later has a small freak-out when she can’t find Jemmy. Marsali consoles Bree later and gets her to calm down and even smile again, but the show makes it clear that Bree’s fears are well-founded.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

It’s not every day that we get to see Jamie Fraser perform a Highland fling! What fun.

This was a very cute scene, and Claire was so obviously smitten. These two. So adorable.

Overall, “The Company We Keep” was another well-done episode, but Brownsville gives me the creeps. I liked the little character moments for Roger, Fergus, Marsali, and Bree, and even seeing a little more of Mrs. Bug was nice. On the whole, I’m enjoying the time with the Fraser clan this season, but knowing what a lot of the action pieces will center on makes me a little apprehensive about where the season is going.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 3

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing 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 503: “Free Will”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

The growing Regulator threat forces Jamie, Claire and Roger to embark on a mission to raise a militia.

My take:

Major plot points:

Roger and Brianna say good-bye

  • Claire continues teaching Marsali about medicine and experimenting with mold.
  • Jamie and Claire set off with Roger and other men of the Ridge to put together a militia.
  • Josiah Beardsley’s twin Kezzy shows up, and Jamie and Claire learn about their history.
  • An awful scene at the Beardsley property ensues. Yuck.

Insta-reaction:

I’m going to keep this brief, because it’s late and I’m tired…

One of the most disturbing scenes in The Fiery Cross takes place in this episode. It turns out that Josiah Beardsley, whom Jamie had already invited to settle at the Ridge (since he’s a skilled hunter), has a twin brother, Kezzy. The boys’ parents and siblings all died on the Atlantic crossing when they were only two years old, and the boys were indentured to Mr. Beardsley, a cruel master who worked them hard, beat them, and kept them starving. Kezzy was boxed so hard on the ears by his master, repeatedly, that his ruptured eardrums have never healed. leaving the boy deaf.

Jamie decides to buy the boys’ indenture, so he and Claire leave the militia in Roger’s hands and head to the Beardsley farm, which appears to be deserted. A suspicious Mrs. Beardsley opens her door, informs Jamie that her husband is dead, and shuts the door in his face. But Jamie needs the indenture paperwork to prove that the boys aren’t runaways, so he persists. When he and Claire go inside the house, there’s a horrible smell. Eventually, Claire finds the emaciated — but living — body of Mr. Beardsley upstairs in the loft. He apparently had a stroke a month prior, and his wife has left him lying in his own filth, feeding him enough to keep him alive, and torturing him. It’s so awful.

Claire, being Claire, insists that they take care of the man and tend to his (disgusting) wounds. His wife, Fanny, goes into labor suddenly, and with Claire’s care, gives birth to a healthy baby girl, who clearly is not her husband’s, as she’s biracial. Fanny describes the horror of being married to this abusive man, who killed each of his four previous wives and who would likely have done the same to Fanny if he’d been able.

In the morning, Fanny is gone, leaving the baby, the deed to the Beardsley property, and the indenture paperwork for Claire and Jamie. There’s nothing to be done for Mr. Beardsley. Jamie finally gives him a choice, and asks him if he wants Jamie to end his life. He blinks once, for yes. Claire, waiting outside with the baby, hears the gunshot.

That’s the main part of the episode, and it’s disturbing and creepy, as it’s meant to be.

Marsali working on her knife skills

Elsewhere, Claire continues to try to grow her own penicillin, teaching Marsali basic principles of medicine and how to conduct a scientific inquiry. Roger — Captain Mackenzie — leads Jamie’s men in his absence, adding more men to the roster of the militia.

Claire confides to Jamie that she wants Brianna and Roger to go back to their own time, where they’ll be safer. It’s obvious that Jamie finds this idea upsetting, although he concedes that they would in fact be safer there. Add to this the knowledge (which Jamie shares with Claire) that Stephen Bonnet is alive and in the area, and it’s for sure that Bree isn’t safe, and most likely, neither is her family.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Kudos to Outlander for casting Bronwyn James in the role of Fanny Beardsley. She’s fabulous in Harlots, playing a very different character who’s also named Fanny. I’m just sorry that we won’t see more of her.

This was a well-done episode, even though the focus on the Beardsleys meant we were in that disturbing place for most of the episode. As always, Claire and Jamie are a dynamic duo, rising to the challenge, and always so clearly in love.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 2

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing 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 502: “Between Two Fires”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

As Jamie continues to hunt Murtagh with the aid of the zealous Lieutenant Hamilton Knox, he’s forced to consider whether or not he’s on the right side of history.

My take:

Major plot points:

Jamie and Claire have no scenes together. So there’s that. Otherwise…

  • Claire applies 20th century medical techniques back in the 18th century.
  • Brianna tries to help Roger fit in.
  • Jamie and Lt. Knox are hunting for Murtagh.
  • The Regulators (led by Murtagh) carry out a gruesome punishment.
  • Stephen Bonnet is up to no good, as per usual.

Insta-reaction:

Well, the sweetness and light of the wedding couldn’t last long. After all, this is Outlander, so it’s back to mayhem and danger as of episode #2.

[Note: I’m probably going to keep this recap on the short side, since it’s late and I’m tired. Sorry!]

The Regulators are out for their own form of vigilante justice, and it’s gross. We’ve all probably seen cartoon versions of tarring and feathering (Road Runner, perhaps?). The real thing, involving actual hot tar and bare flesh, is really awful and disturbing. Love ya, Murtagh, but this is just terrible.

Jamie and Lieutenant Knox ride out together searching for Murtagh and the Regulators, and have some interesting conversations about duty and loyalty. Jamie is walking a fine line between his promises to the governor and his love for Murtagh. Things go bad in a hurry when the two men question the three Regulators being held in jail, and Lt. Knox kills one of them. Jamie covers it up as self-defense (although it was really murder), but Knox later uses hefty doses of rationalization to convince himself he acted honorably. Jamie later carries out a mini-jail break, freeing the other two men, who then find their way back to Murtagh and his rebels.

Back on the Ridge, a dying man is brought to Claire for help, but it’s too late. The man’s wife’s attempts to heal her husband with blood-letting and herbs end up killing him. Claire is frustrated by how powerless she is to save lives and apply her medical training. She ends up performing an autopsy on the man, which would get her killed (or accused of black magic) if she were caught, and later convinces Marsali to become her apprentice and learn about medical techniques. By the end of the episode, Claire is trying to grow her own penicillin! Bree questions whether she’s playing God, introducing 20th century medicine two centuries too early. What if she messes up the future? But Claire asserts that they (the time travelers) are changing the future every day they’re in the 18th century. She’s determined to try to make a difference in the health of the people she cares for.

Roger can’t shoot straight, and he can’t understand why Jamie would make him a captain in his militia. He asks Brianna if she wants to go back to their own time. He clearly does; she clearly doesn’t.

Like the baddest of bad pennies, Stephen Bonnet turns up in North Carolina, betting on a fight between two women. When another man takes offense and accuses Bonnet of cheating, Bonnet challenges him to a duel, and when the man yields, Bonnet blinds him. This is straight out of the book, but still. Yuck. We get it — Bonnet is the worst. And again, back on the Ridge, we see (earlier in the episode) that Brianna is still haunted by Bonnet, drawing dark and disturbing sketches of his face, over and over again. Sadly, he and the Frasers aren’t done with each other yet.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

I never really liked the Regulators storyline in the book (The Fiery Cross), and I’m not loving it here either. Unfortunately, this is the main historical focus this season, so I’ll just have to deal with it.

Some favorite moments from this episode:

  • Roger singing Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog to baby Jem. Can we please have a greatest hits of the 1960s and 1970s moment every episode?
  • Marsali carving up a deer while Claire surreptitiously checks out her knife skills.
  • Bree giving Roger a shooting lesson… and then completely one-upping him when there was actually something to shoot at.
  • Roger singing at the burial — hints of his future religious calling?

We met a few new recurring characters, including Mr. and Mrs. Bug, who will become important fixtures around Fraser’s Ridge.

Claire is taking a huge risk keeping a carved up corpse in her surgery! She never does stay out of trouble for long, does she?

As always, the look of the show is fabulous — the costumes, the homes on Fraser’s Ridge, the town, the food, the candle-making. Let’s hope the season doesn’t get too bogged down by Murtagh and the Regulators.

And furthermore…

If the whole reason for keeping TV-Murtagh alive years after book-Murtagh is long dead is to turn him into a Regulator leader, then I think Outlander has missed its mark somehow. I’m not loving seeing Murtagh in this role, and I’m not seeing a path to a good resolution of this storyline.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 5, Episode 1

Season 5 is here! I’ll be writing an “Insta-Reaction” post for each episode soon after viewing, to share some initial thoughts, questions, reactions — you name it.

(And hurray! While the season officially starts tonight, Starz made the first episode available early!)

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 501: “The Fiery Cross”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Following celebrations in honor of Brianna and Roger’s wedding, Governor Tryon reminds Jamie of his obligation to hunt down and kill Murtagh Fitzgibbons.

My take:

Major plot points:

It’s Brianna and Roger’s wedding day!

  • Claire and Jamie help Brianna and Roger prepare for their wedding at Fraser’s Ridge.
  • Lots of familiar faces in the crowd, including Lord John, Governor Tryon, and Aunt Jocasta.
  • Tryon seems unhappy with Jamie.
  • Roger doesn’t particularly fit in in the 18th century.
  • Lots of couples seem to enjoy the wedding night!
  • Jamie calls upon the Scots of the Ridge to stand by him, when and if there’s a need to go to war.
  • Jamie puts on his kilt!!

Insta-reaction:

For Outlander, it’s a surprisingly happy season opener!

We start with a flashback to Scotland, as a much younger Murtagh finds young boy Jamie and tells him that his mother has died, but swears to follow and serve Jamie forever. It’s sad and sweet, and little Jamie is adorable.

But quick, it’s time for a wedding!

Claire and Brianna share a sweet moment together before the big event. Jamie and Roger’s scene is funny and a bit more tense. Jamie’s still not completely sold on Roger as husband material, and Roger is well aware that he is ill equipped for this time period. He’s a historian and a scholar. He can’t hunt or farm or shoot. Or even shave his own face, apparently.

Still, it’s very sweet to see Jamie’s emotions as he talks with Brianna before the ceremony, and even though he’d have preferred a Catholic priest, Jamie does give Brianna away, and he and Claire are both beaming by the time the wedding ceremony is over. Plus, they share a sweet flashback to their own wedding day, now over 20 years in their past.

Food and drink and music make for a good time, and it’s nothing but happy faces and lots of drunkenness all around. The day is marred for Brianna when she overhears Jamie and Lord John discussing the fact that Stephen Bonnet has been seen in North Carolina. Why can’t awful people die and stay dead?

Fergus and Marsali are adorable as always, and apparently, baby #3 is on the way!

Jamie and Claire spend a passionate night together, in between tending to baby Jem. Brianna and Roger have a romantic wedding night, after Roger serenades Brianna with L-O-V-E and his guitar, and while they do make love, Brianna appears to be troubled by the memories stirred up by thoughts of Stephen Bonnet. And there’s a third couple enjoying some wedding night sparks — Jocasta and Murtagh rendezvous in a shack in the woods. Murtagh is still a fugitive (whom Jamie’s supposed to be hunting down). Jocasta shares that Duncan Innes has asked her to marry him, clearly giving Murtagh a chance to declare himself. He doesn’t. Is this the end for Jocasta and Murtagh?

Next day, Jocasta confronts Roger about the parentage of wee Jem — quite intentionally — provoking him into an angry outburst in which he declares Jem to be his son. He goes back to Brianna and Jem and formally claims the baby as blood of his blood, bone of his bone.

Governor Tryon made clear to Jamie that he expects him to gather up a militia of Scots within a week, to serve the crown’s interests and specifically, to find the traitor Murtagh. Jamie decides that if it’s a Scot the Governor wants, it’s a Scot he’ll get. He takes out his precious kilt and puts it on for the first time in years… and looks pretty darn spectacular in it.

Lighting a giant cross made of straw, Jamie invokes the old worlds used by lairds in Scotland. The men of Fraser’s Ridge aren’t a clan and he’s not their chief, but he asks them for their fealty and to swear to stand by him when the time comes. He calls Roger to his side and calls him “Captain Mackenzie”, and Roger swears to Jamie alongside all the others.

Claire and Jamie gaze out over their land, yet another straw cross by their side.

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Another season, another terrific new version of the theme song. The season 1 version will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’m liking this one too!

For once, it’s nice to start a season of Outlander without violence or bodily harm or terrible occurrences. While there were hints of tension and upcoming conflict, it was mostly a happy episode, and that was fine by me.

It was such fun to see the “big house”, still under construction but looking pretty impressive, especially seeing Claire’s new surgery, her thriving doctor business, and how she’s apparently attempted to explain the concept of bacteria and germs to Jamie.

I love seeing Jamie and Claire, a little older, a few more gray hairs, but still as passionately in love as always. In contrast, Brianna and Roger, while clearly in love, have a bumpy road ahead of them. Roger has already said something about “going back”, and Brianna didn’t look particularly enthused. Plus, with his lack of ability to fit in and be useful, and the fact that he’s a Presbyterian (gasp!), and Brianna’s PTSD, and the baby’s unknown paternity… well, let’s just say that they certainly won’t lack for drama.

Seeing Jamie release Murtagh from his vow and send him away so was sad… particularly seeing the tears falling down Jamie’s face as Murtagh walks away. Back in season 3, readers speculated that Murtagh would take over the role played by Duncan Innes in the book in regard to Jocasta, and it had appeared to be working out (more or less) that way… but now Duncan is around after all? Hmmm. Let’s see where this goes, shall we?

The Fiery Cross isn’t particularly my favorite book of the Outlander series, and while it’s super long, there are also long stretches where not that much happens. (After all, the first two hundred pages or so are devoted to a single day!). The show seems to be off to a good start in terms of consolidating storylines and keeping the action rolling along.

And furthermore…

It’s just so wonderful to be back in the world of Outlander! At this point, it’s like visiting family, seeing all the beloved faces — especially when the season opens with a joyous occasion. Outlander threw a wedding and we were all invited! So sweet.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Outlander season 5!

Question: Who needs a little Outlander in their lives today?

Answer: We ALL do!

Or anyway, I do, and probably lots of others do too. So, yay for Starz and these pretty sneak peeks:

First off, the official key art for season 5:

And the new trailer:

And the new opening credits:

Can it PLEASE be February 16th already???

Book Review: Finding Fraser by KC Dyer

 

“Jamie Fraser would be Deeply Gratified at having inspired such a charmingly funny, poignant story—and so am I.”—Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

Escape to Scotland with the delightful new novel that readers have fallen in love with—inspired by Diana Gabaldon’s #1 New York Times bestselling Outlander series.
  
     I met Jamie Fraser when I was nineteen years old. He was tall, red-headed, and at our first meeting at least, a virgin. He was, in fact, the perfect man.

     That he was fictional hardly entered into it…

On the cusp of thirty, Emma Sheridan is desperately in need of a change. After a string of failed relationships, she can admit that no man has ever lived up to her idea of perfection: the Scottish fictional star of romantic fantasies the world over—James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.

Her ideal man might be ripped from the pages of a book, but Emma hopes that by making one life-altering decision she might be able to turn fiction into fact. After selling all her worldly possessions, Emma takes off for Scotland with nothing but her burgeoning travel blog to confide in.

But as she scours the country’s rolling green hills and crumbling castles, Emma discovers that in searching for her own Jamie Fraser, she just might find herself.

For any devoted Outlander fan, Finding Fraser is sure to ring true — if only escapist fictional escapades ever really happened in real life.

Emma, at 29, is frustrated by her career (or lack thereof), her love life (or lack thereof), and her prospects in general. Why can’t she ever find a man who even comes close to the perfection of Jamie Fraser? Fed up and in need of a change, Emma sells everything and — against the sensible scolding of her younger but more practical sister — heads off across American towards the plane that will take her to Scotland.

Needless to say, all sorts of mishaps ensue, even before she leaves the country. Emma has a variety of run-ins with Outlander fans of the sane and not-so-sane variety, actually meets Herself (that would be the beloved author of the Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon) but bursts into tears when it’s finally her turn to greet her, has the unpleasant experience of seeing a stripper in a kilt and fake red wig, and meets some die-hard Braveheart fans who are willing to defend their story with knitting needles and other pointy objects.

… the very thought of meeting Herself in the flesh made my hands start to shake. She was the woman who created Jamie Fraser, who built him up from clay — or from ink and paper, at least. She has gone on to beat him, wound him, torture him in every possible way, and still nurture his unending love for Claire over the course of the entire series.

Emma doesn’t have all that much of a plan when she arrives in Scotland, other than using her Outlander paperback as a guide to follow in Claire’s footsteps and, hopefully, meet the kilted Scottish warrior of her dreams. Real life rarely follows careful plans, much less dreams, so Emma’s path is not smooth, and she encounters all sorts of challenges that could easily have sent her running back to the safety of her overbearing sister and a steady (boring) job.

Instead, she decides to stick it out, and finds a way to stay in Scotland, earn enough to pay for room and board, make friends and start to build what feels like home, and yes, fall in love. But is he the man of her dreams, or just a stand-in for what she really wants?

Finding Fraser is engaging and endearing. Of course, Emma’s plans are impractical and unlikely, but she throws herself into them, even when down to her last bit of cash and after having all her belongings stolen. She starts a blog, thinking to chronicle her journey, and develops a cheering squad of followers who encourage her not to give up hope. Readers will identify early on who the true love interest should be, but it takes Emma the entire book to catch up. Meanwhile, she ends up  in a relationship with a guy who is clearly just so, so very wrong — except for the looks and the fact of being Scottish. I wanted to give Emma a good shake every time she starts to realize that maybe Hamish isn’t such a great catch after all… and then talks herself into giving him another (and another and another) chance.

It was super sweet to see her find a home for herself, make friends, and start to feel a part of the town where she rather haphazardly ends up. Her stay is ended abruptly by immigration woes that seem a bit shoe-horned in for the sake of drama, but that’s okay. The real point is Emma’s search for her own perfect Jamie… and her ultimate realization that what she really needed all along was to find her own inner Claire.

What I hadn’t really thought about — beyond tracing the journey in the front of the novel — was Claire’s part in the love story. Claire’s heart was true, but there was never any doubt that the woman had standards. Jamie literally lived through hell and more to meet those standards. Even living with uncertainty and chaos all around her, she knew what she wanted.

Finding Fraser is a delightful summer read, perfect for a chair on the beach or a cozy hammock. It’s light and fluffy, but full of heart and more than a little humor. It’ll definitely hit the sweet spot for Outlander lovers. Wouldn’t we all love to hop a plane and go find our own Jamie?

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Finding Fraser
Author: KC Dyer
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: January 1, 2015
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased

**Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Insta-Reaction: Outlander, Season 4, Episode 13 (SEASON FINALE!)

Season 4 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 413: “Man of Worth”

The official synopsis (via Starz):

Jamie, Claire and Young Ian’s attempt to rescue Roger from his Mohawk captors goes awry when a ghost from Claire’s past lays waste to their plan. Meanwhile, Brianna worries Claire, Jamie and Roger might not return.

My take:

Major plot points:

  • Jamie, Claire, and Ian find the Mohawk camp where Roger is being held. Negotiations for his release don’t go well.
  • Claire’s opal upsets the Mohawk. A woman from the tribe shares the story of Otter Tooth.
  • Rescue plans are foiled. Eventually, Ian agrees to stay with the tribe in exchange for Roger’s freedom.
  • Brianna gives birth to a son.
  • Murtagh and Jocasta get busy. Oh my.
  • Everyone gets reunited in the end.

Insta-reaction:

I don’t know exactly why, but I was left feeling a little let down by the season finale. Maybe it’s just knowing that it’s the end of the season, and I’m already going into Droughlander shock. In any case, here’s what happened this episode.

Claire, Jamie, and Ian find the Mohawk village and ask to trade (pots, pans, and whiskey) for Roger. They seem to be making progress until someone spots the opal around Claire’s neck, which freaks everyone out. The trio is ordered to leave. Later, a woman from the tribe tells them the story of Otter Tooth, the man whose skull Claire found earlier this season. He showed up a few decades earlier and tried to convince the tribe to go to war against the white people and kill them all, in order to prevent their tribes from being wiped out in the future. No one believed him, and eventually his ravings were too upsetting, so he was killed. The woman offers to help them rescue Roger in exchange for the stone.

The rescue does not go as planned, and they’re caught. The woman ends up being banished by the tribe, and Jamie, Claire, and Ian are ordered to leave. The Mohawk will not release Roger, as no trade was completed. Jamie offers himself in exchange for Roger — but then Ian jumps in and makes his own bargain. Ian (and Rollo!) will stay and become part of the tribe, and Jamie and Claire are free to leave with Roger. Lots of tears at the good-bye!

Roger is naturally extremely pissed at Jamie, when all is said and done, and once they’re away from the village, he gives Jamie a very one-sided beat-down, since Jamie decides to take it as his punishment for beating up Roger and selling him in the first place. Once all the beating stops, Claire tells Roger what’s happened with Brianna — that’s she safe, but that she was raped after he left her, and that she’s about to have a baby, which may or may not be his. It’s a lot to take in, and Roger wants time to think. Jamie starts to get angry with Roger over his need to take a minute, but Claire basically snaps at Jamie to back the hell off. I mean, poor Roger has been to hell and back. Give him a second to breathe. Even though he really shouldn’t be hesitating for a second, but okay, let’s give Roger this moment to clear his tortured brain.

Back at River Run, Brianna is sad a lot. Then she has a baby. Then all of a sudden, the baby is two months old and Claire and Jamie arrive, but Brianna is heartbroken to realize that Roger isn’t with them. They prepare to return to Fraser’s Ridge. At the last moment, Bree sees a rider approaching and realizes it’s Roger! She runs across the lawn to him and they have a big, dramatic embrace. Roger asks her to take him to see his son. Awwwww.

Meanwhile, earlier in the episode, Murtagh and Jocasta argued and argued, she threw her drink at him… and they ended up in bed. Murtagh is quite the silver fox, amiright? Yowza. Let’s see if these two crazy lovebirds can make it work.

Maybe not, because the episode ends with redcoats arriving with an order for Jamie from the Governor: Form a militia to put down the Regulators, and find and kill their leader, Murtagh Fitzgibbons.

AND… fade to black! Bye-bye, season 4 of Outlander!

Insta-reaction wrap-up:

Jamie and Claire have been absent or underused during the last set of episodes this season, and while they do play a role in this final episode, it’s not much, and definitely not enough. Their screen time seems to be shortened lately to make room for Roger and Brianna, and I get that there needs to be a balance, but I think it’s tipped too far over to the non-Jamie and Claire side. Their moments this episode were powerful, but just too short. Jamie in particular only really had one truly strong emotional beat, in his good-bye to Ian (sob), but I didn’t care for his scene with Roger.

The Roger punching Jamie in the face bit wasn’t fun to watch, and didn’t feel true to the character. I get that Roger has a lot of rage and frustration to deal with, but by this point he’s heard the story of why Jamie did what he did. On top of that, Roger isn’t a fighter — he’s a history professor, for heaven’s sake, and isn’t someone who ever has had to use his fists to express his feelings. Roger is much more a man of peace and reason, so I just didn’t dig this scene at all.

Young Ian seems happy where he is, and seems to be excited about the new adventure ahead of him. In the book, one of the attractions for him was that he’d already fallen for a girl from the tribe and wanted a life with her. I wonder if we’ll see him at all in season 5? As far as I recall, Young Ian isn’t in book #5, but I suppose they could easily find a reason to have him show up for a visit if they wanted to.

I was really frustrated by the end of the episode. Why end with the Regulators business, the absolutely least interesting aspect of season 4? I get that they’re trying to set up the central conflict for the next season, but it just was not satisfying.

My preferred ending would have been Roger and Brianna holding the baby, with Roger naming the boy and claiming him as his own. It’s not enough that we see him telling Bree to take him to his son — after all the turbulence in their relationship and all the pain and suffering, we needed the pay-off of seeing the family together, with Brianna and Roger united and ready to start a new chapter. Wouldn’t that have been lovely?

And furthermore…

Overall, it’s been a good, strong season, despite the show moving the central storyline away from solely focusing on Jamie and Claire. There were some lovely moments along the way for the two of them, and it was nice to be able to spend time with Lord John and Murtagh again, as well as introducing teen Willie and Aunt Jocasta.

Now we start the waiting game again! Here’s hoping that season five comes along before the end of 2019!

Save

Save

Save

Save