This week’s post is brought to you by Kenwood 2013 Sonoma County Chardonnay. Had to take a break from all the Scotch.
It’s been an Outlander Watershed Week
“The Devil’s Mark,” met with severe criticism from long-time Outlander fans for minimizing a significant and much loved section of the book. I too was disappointed these scenes weren’t included, but I still found the episode excellent in its own right. Thus, I decided to enjoy the television show for itself without reference to the books.
Also, I finished reading Voyager, the third book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and there I will stop. Well, I might pick up a Lord John Grey novel or two, because he’s a wonderfully sympathetic and honorable character.
In a week of minimal action, Jamie and Claire had a much needed reprieve. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t drama.
Remember when I wrote about how much this show moves me? The scene of Jamie and Claire riding across a verdant field evoked a love so profound, my heart exploded. And now, that scene has arrived (although the actual galloping scene wasn’t in the episode). They’ve put their time at Castle Leoch behind them. The horror of the witch trial is over, Jamie now knows the truth about Claire, and they’re traveling toward a new life. To Lallybroch—and home. It”s a beautiful ending to a rich story. Except we’re only ¾ of the way through the story.
“Lallybroch” was full of wonderful scenes. After naming a couple I particularly loved on an Outlander forum, I realized I couldn’t list them all because then I’d be listing the entire episode. (Well, except for one or two scenes that featured a mustache twirling villain.) But here I can do whatever I like.
1. Jamie returns home to Lallybroch with Claire
But it’s not quite the happy event one would think. Even before they reach its gates, Jamie is troubled by memories of his last time there, being strung up in the archway and whipped by Jack Randall. His worst fear is that Randall then raped his sister Jenny. His fear is borne out by some very wrong accusations. Thankfully, this idiotic misunderstanding didn’t go on for pages and pages as it did in the books. Man, that was painful to read. (I know, I wasn’t going to bring the books up. So, drink!)
Oh, and Jenny is pretty bitchy to Claire, which I don’t mind at all.
2. Jenny relates her encounter with Jack Randall
Jamie needs to know what happened to Jenny at the hands of Jack Randall. As it turns out, Randall couldn’t “get it up.” Jenny laughed, which infuriated him, and he knocked her unconscious. At least her virtue remained intact.
Man, Starz’s idea of “Brief Nudity” and mine are very different. I always thought brief nudity referred to a glimpse of a breast or a buttocks. I never imagined it meant an actor pulling his penis out of his pants, regardless of how quickly the camera passes. This makes me very afraid for future episodes.
3. Jamie’s attempt at playing Laird doesn’t go well
Fans of the books (Drink!) are criticizing this portrayal of Jamie. I guess they want him to be perfect. Various Outlander wikis describe Jamie as a “natural leader,” so I suppose this is what people were expecting. But watching Jamie flounder a bit and learn from his mistakes is much more compelling. (Sam Heughan said in an interview it’s an indication that Jamie’s not perfect and isn’t the “king of men.”)
4. Brian Fraser
Jamie’s memories of his father are heartbreaking and key to the episode.
If you looked closely at the end credits for “The Garrison Commander,” you saw Brian Fraser listed. He shows up here, just before Jamie’s second flogging. It’s a brief scene, but it underscores the love between father and son. It’s all the more heartbreaking because it’s the last time Jamie sees his father. Brian kisses Jamie on the cheek, which is key to Jamie’s decision to be flogged rather than submit to Jack Randall’s sexual desires. Midway through the flogging Jamie loses consciousness, and the crowd thinks he died. It literally kills his father. That’s a jumbo jet load of guilt to carry around all these years.
5. Drunk Jamie
Drunk Claire was sublime in episodes 102 and 103. There’s nothing sublime about drunk Jamie. He’s downright hilarious, toppling onto the bed trying to remove his boots. He tells Claire he dealt with a difficult, abusive tenant (by fisticuffs), and proudly says if the tenant does it again, he’ll “have to answer to Laird Broch Turauch.” Jamie slaps Claire on the butt and proudly points to himself. “That’s me!” Claire chastises him for reeking and pushes him off her, but she smiles, and we know she’s happy.
Did you notice the camera is slightly tilted during this scene. It throws us off a little, and gives us “Jamie-eyed” view of the room. It’s a great touch.
6. The broken mill
While Jamie tries to fix a broken mill, a redcoat patrol comes by. Jamie hides under the water while a redcoat checks to see what’s wrong. Just when the redcoat prepares to enter the water, the waterwheel begins to turn, complete with Jamie’s shirt as the supposed culprit. The redcoat ponders “How did a perfectly good shirt get stuck in the mill?” He cohort replies, “It’s Scotland, sir.” Those English bastards! They don’t even return the shirt.
This leaves Jamie bare. It’s a funny scene until he turns around and Jenny sees the scars on his back for the first time. Watching Laura Donnelly’s (Jenny) face turn from annoyance to shock is a privilege to watch. (To say nothing of Sam Heughan’s body. Good to know my libido-inhibiting medicine isn’t 100% effective.)
7. Ian explains the Frasers to Claire
In a nutshell, “Their hearts are as big and soft as their heads are thick and strong.” His advice to Claire on how to handle them leads Claire to confront Jamie about his priggish behavior as laird.
8. Jenny and Jamie make amends
Jamie and Jenny find themselves at their father’s grave. Jenny admits a “small dark part of her” blamed Jamie for their father’s death, never having realized the price Jamie paid. Now she blames herself. If she hadn’t laughed at Randall, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so hard on Jamie. Jamie finally realizes the person responsible for Brian Fraser’s death is Jack Randall.
I think I have something in my eye. It keeps tearing up.
9. The Outlander set designer team outdid themselves.
The Lallybrock interiors are gorgeous. Gorgeous! I don’t care if it’s not exactly true to the time (supposedly wallpaper wasn’t yet available). It’s a glorious sight to behold.
10. What? Nothing about the “I love you” scene?
Nope. While Jamie’s story of wanting Claire from the beginning, and loving her nearly as long was lovely, Claire’s simple and not particularly emotive “I love you” paled in comparison. Plus, they’re just words. Anyone can say them. It’s their actions that show the true depth of their connection.