Sometimes when I watch Outlander on Starz, I get an epiphiany. I’ve read the books… a lot…, but sometimes this visual version helps me understand something from the story better. There are advantages to seeing emotions on an actual face.
Starz showed us a small scene with Jamie’s father Brian. That particular scene in the hallway of Ft. William was all that I pictured when reading Outlander and more. It was right after Brian had just had a session with Black Jack.
Let me repeat that.
BRIAN HAD JUST HAD A SESSION WITH BLACK JACK!
What that means to the story, I am only now truly coming to appreciate. The panic I heard in Brian’s voice, the earnest need to have a “moment” with his son written all over his face and the assurance that “whatever happens” he would be there for Jamie, took on new meaning for me. What must have happened in that session?! We can only imagine what Black Jack said, but most assuredly, what DID happen was Jamie’s father recognizing what sort of man held his son’s life in his hands.
I get the feeling that Brian knew there was no “way out” for his son. The Captain was going to give Jamie 100 lashes upon 100 lashes and there was nothing he could do to stop it. At the very least, Brian had to believe that Randall meant harm that would effect Jamie for the rest of his life; torture, imprisonment. I believe Brian’s real fear was that his son would die a horrible death right in front of his eyes. So, he left his “Braw Lad” the only things of value he could give him; his faith in God and his love. How many times must Jamie have thought of that kiss over last four years…heart-breaking.
In the books, Brian’s character and back story are revealed when Jamie tells Claire the stories of his own childhood. Here is what I know of Brian Fraser:
- He is a fair man
- He is a loyal man
- He is a wise man
- He is a man of faith
- He values education
- He respects women
- He is a leader
- He is a family man
- He has a wry sense of humor
- He Is a man of honor
- He is a man of integrity
And…he wants to be a better man than his own father and…he is. Jamie was lucky to have such a father as a role model, but it’s a lot to live up to.
Like many of us who lose someone close to us without the benefit of closure, Jamie has regrets and feels guilt. His father died while watching the whipping and at some level Jamie believes it is his fault. We all know someone who feels this type of guilt and regret. It is one of the common themes in the human condition. Jamie’s response to these events is understandable and maybe even predictable. Guilt and regret are feelings that aren’t always rational or accurate, but they still plague us. We cannot help what we feel when we lose a loved one.
Feelings just are.
Due to circumstances beyond his control, Jamie has been unable to return home. He has had a loooong time to think and feel. In a very real way, his ability to deal with his grief has been delayed. Jamie has been unable to finish his business with his sister and deal with what the death of his father means to his position at Lallybroch. Left unaddressed and unexpressed feelings can warp our views and maybe even change how we react or in Jamie’s case overreact, to what we think we see and hear. I think Jenny’s comment, “No word in four years” speaks volumes. Jamie is struggling with his feelings to the point that he couldn’t even bring himself to write home. Guilt.
I’ve seen some social media posts that have suggested that Jamie becomes an instant “arsehole” when he goes through the gates of Lallybroch and that it was just too big of a change in his personality for them to believe. I’ve even seen folks write that the change was so extreme that Claire didn’t “recognize” the man she married. I don’t think this is the case at all! I think Claire knew exactly what was happening to Jamie. She just didn’t know exactly what to do about it! The subtle and significant looks on Claire and Ian’s faces during the uncomfortable exchanges between the siblings told the viewer that EVERYONE knew! My God, the tension was so thick you could have cut it!
It really wasn’t hard to understand. Jamie feels guilty about Jenny and that makes him misinterpret situations and act defensively. Jenny is angry and secretly blames her brother for her father’s death. Her brother brought home a Sassenach to be lady of Lallybroch. A Sassenach who has never run an estate or home…like she has…for four years. She’s coming out sideways too!
Jamie doesn’t want to let his father down. He wants to be the Laird his father was. He has a new wife and tenants he wants to impress. So, maybe….he tries too hard at playing the “Laird”. Understandable. In my opinion, Jamie becomes the more loveable for his misguided attempts to be the man his father would be proud of. The fact that his sister called him on his shite was so true to sibling form that it made me laugh out loud! He isn’t perfect. He is stubborn and at times brash, but he is willing to admit when he is wrong and move on. I loved Ian’s advice and Claire’s “dealing” with her “I’m the Laird” husband. She dumped his ass on the floor to get his attention! Wonderful.
I think Brian would have been proud of his children as he looked down at them embracing in the graveyard dealing with their grief and their love for one another.
“Frasers, their hearts are as big and soft as their heads are thick and strong” Ian Murray, Jamies’s best friend and Jenny’s husband.