1 + 1 = 2…How Math Made Me Love Outlander Starz Episode 13

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I watched Outlander on Starz Episode 13 last night and immediately after got a DM from one of my Twitter friends. The convo went like this:

TF: Well???!!!
ME:  Still thinking. I liked it, but I’m still thinking.
TF: I loved the adaptation!
ME: Me too! But, I think everybody will be writing about the adaptation.

Guess what…so am I …

First, let me say that the adaptation WAS wonderful and full of heart-warming nods that only the book reading fan would understand; favorite lines, Sawny, the bracelets AND the nod of all nods, the pregnancy description that started the chain of events that led Diana to be published. The acting was once again stellar and full of subtlety.  The episode was beautifully filmed and skillfully directed.

But, once again, I went to bed with particular scenes and words lingering in my mind. Strangely enough, of all the beautiful words spoken in this episode, the word that I couldn’t stop thinking of was the word…two.

Like most fans of the book, I began watching Outlander on Starz with the hope I would see my beloved story and characters come to life on my TV screen. Diana Gabaldon’s books have become my favorite because of the wonderful stories she tells of a passionately committed couple and their adventures through life. I’ve always felt there were truths about what it means to be human spoken between those pages. Diana spoke to the irony and wonder that is life. So, I hoped that Ron Moore’s “adaptation” would be able to capture what I loved about this story; it has, but what I didn’t expect to see was Ron’s story of what it means to be human.  The visual story-teller told Diana’s story and somehow made it…more.  I am seeing Diana’s truths about life AND Ron’s as well. Two creative people’s ideas came together and the melding of their genius has created a new and inspiringly delightful version of my favorite story.  1 brilliant author + 1 brilliant visual storyteller. Two.

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After watching this episode, I felt the need to be thankful for all my blessings because Ron showed us how tenuous life can be. I found myself thinking of the roles both women and men fulfilled in this time period.  Life was hard and fraught with peril and they could lose everything they held dear in a moment… and so can we. I couldn’t help but notice how different and yet how similar their crises, conflicts and concerns were to ours and I think what we fight to preserve remains the same whether it is 1743 or 2015.

Diana has shared that when she writes she eventually starts to see a geometric pattern to the plot line.  She said Outlander’s geometric pattern was three overlapping triangles. I don’t know for sure that Ron had mathematics or geometric shapes in mind for his screenplay, but in this episode I see the number two..a lot. He gave us pairs of situations, characters, conflicts, and truths and often in juxtaposition.

Two Men:

Jamie and McQuarrie

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From the very beginning, we are told that McQuarrie is a decent fellow. I’ll admit it was very tough for me to see this at first, however, over time McQuarrie showed some smatterings of honor like paying for the burnt hay. Here is a man who steals and fights for a living. He roams the country side truly as free as a Scottish man can be, “I realized the world was mine”.  He seems very interested in Jamie, especially after he sees him fight and recognizes Jamie for the warrior he is.

I believe that Ron was trying to show us how easily Jamie could have been a man like McQuarrie.  As Ian said, “He reminds me of you.”  Mr. Moore juxtaposed the two lives and showed us the difference Claire has made.  If Jamie had never met her would he ever have gone home? Would his potential ever have been realized? Would he have become the man we book readers know he becomes without her love and influence or would he have remained an outlaw and have become a “slightly less honorable” man like McQuarrie?

The Two “brothers”:

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Jamie and Ian

The scenes between Ian and Jamie were wonderful. We saw two men who were truly brothers to each other. They trust each other, confide in each other, protect each other and are there for each other. But, I couldn’t help but notice that even the best friends’ lives were juxtapositioned.

What happens to a man’s image of himself when he finds through no fault of his own he is no longer capable of being the man he once was? Ian is a man who believes the loss of his leg has caused people to look on him differently, “a crippled cur”. Here is a man whose ability to function has been impacted by the loss of his leg and yet, he has taken on the responsibilities of the missing laird of Lallybroch.  Ian is in a precarious position. It is difficult for him to fight and yet he must protect. He shoulders the burden of care for a wife, his child, the estate and the tenants. He knows he has limitations and does what he must including paying the Watch to help protect them despite knowing he is “paying one devil to keep him safe from another”.

What happens to a man’s image of himself when he finds through no fault of his own he is no longer capable of being the man he once was? Jamie, a fine tall able-bodied Scot, a bonnie fighter and rightful heir to Lallybroch seems to be constantly denied his desire to become laird.  Jamie tells Claire he thought they would be safe at Lallybroch. Instead, he finds that not only is he in danger, but his presence has put the whole family in jeopardy because they want to protect him. Home sweet home has been anything but and…Jamie must pay his own devil to protect him from a devil. Ron had Hoorocks tell Jamie that Jenny was bonny and so was his wife. He had heard these very words spoken by another villain and it had to remind Jamie of the danger Hoorocks represented to the women in his life. Without the recourse of a criminal or legal system, a man had to sometimes take the law into his own hands and so, when it became obvious that the money he gave the deserter wasn’t going to keep them safe, Hoorocks had to die.  I appreciated the irony that it was Ian the “weak” man who ran the devil through.

Two Women:

Outlander 2014

It is obvious that these two women have shared values and are both strong in their own ways. The moments they share delivering the child created a bond that will never be broken. I’m sure this scene will be considered ground-breaking like so many others that this TV series has not been afraid to produce. It was beautiful and nerve-wracking and felt pretty true to life. The two women have truly become sisters and family.  Once again, however, Ron juxtaposes the two women’s lives by allowing the viewer to see the power child-bearing wields.  Both Jenny and Claire are affected by their fertility.

With every pregnancy and birth, a woman’s risk of dying increases. This is a reality that Jenny knows only too well because she lost her mother to childbirth. The joy of motherhood is tempered by the knowledge that the chance that she could die is all too real. The helplessness of the time in which she now lives must have fallen heavily on Claire. She was armed with knowledge, but without modern medicine there was precious little she could do.

The scene between Claire and Jamie in the bedroom was heartbreaking. It was the heartbreak that only women who want children and can’t have them can truly understand. Jamie tells her he wanted to fill the rooms with their children. What her confession does to them both caused my own eyes to fill with tears.

My final two:

Episode 13 was full of the irony and wonder that is life. NOTHING is going like it should and yet,…love remains.

The episode took the characters and the story where it needs them to go. The scenes were full of subtle foreshadowing. I thought it worked. There were so many truths about life in this episode that I really could write pages more, but I’ll settle for just one more …two.

The two transitions, the two times the camera and Mr. Moore let the audience know things would never be the same. In episode one, Claire tells Frank she is going back to the standing stones. Frank gives her a kiss and rises to leave, Claire draws him back and time slows. Claire kisses Jamie good-bye and as he walks away…time slows. Things will never be the same.

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63 thoughts on “1 + 1 = 2…How Math Made Me Love Outlander Starz Episode 13

      • I’d be interested in Beth’s take! I’ve read several theories. On first viewing, I just took it as a non-verbal “I love you” “And I love you.” An affirmation of the obvious. I’ve also read some, thinking it was Jamie agreeing to “Haste ye back” and Claire’s “See that you do.” of “Take care.” and “I will.” Maybe the most interesting theory is Jamie’s nod being “If this all goes sideways, go to the stones” and Claire’s “I will”. I think that one is a stretch, myself, but still interesting. I like that they don’t explain everything and leave some of it for us to puzzle out (or not!).

  1. parveen

    I think they are doing a fantasia job on keeping the books true to the series, I felt that the subtilties were very apparent, and you can see them if you read the books, it seems ĺike it’s moving so quickly. I’m looking forward to the second season on France. I will miss Jenny and Ian as we needed more time with them.
    excellent work has been done for this series and I thank Diana and the actors and all behind the scenes that make it so authentic.

  2. Loved your recap and thoughtful analysis. I loved this episode particularly because it showed the development of the relationships between Claire/Jenny and Ian/Jamie. The moment when Claire kisses Jenny after Jenny gives her the bracelets (exactly as I pictured them!) was perfect – in character and spot-on for both of them. The scene between Jamie and Ian by the wagon was also a gem – Jamie confiding in Ian, his guilt over using the money left by his father, and Ian’s insistence that he take it. So much emotion and family dynamic backstory between the lines. And I loved, loved, loved the depiction of childbirth. I think it would be fair to say that it has never been portrayed that way in television before. The difficulty of finding a comfortable position, the need to move around and even get down on all fours, the blood visible on Jenny’s legs after the baby is born…wow. The rudeness of the men downstairs who are annoyed by all the screaming was a sharp jolt back to the shock of the reality of the world Claire finds herself in yet again.

  3. BjOhbee

    Every once in awhile you read an article that makes sigh in absolute satisfaction when you’re done reading,,,thanks for that moment!

  4. Lisa Ferris

    Outstanding analysis. I totally love your point of comparing ron and diana. I was looking for those words and you found them!

    Alot of the comments and analysis in the outlanderverse give me a twitch, but I have enjoyed your blog very much. Thank you!

    Lisa

  5. I look forward to your observations after each episode.
    The collaboration between RDM and DG is contributing to making this series epic in all the best ways, translating book to visual medium, casting, scenery, costumes, just EVERYTHING. 🙂

  6. Mary G

    Enjoyed your insightful comments regarding the episode (and past ones as well) and your readers comments. Everyone’s comments are deeply thought out, not comments looking to get a reaction. All of you have made my reading of the books and the watching of the TV episodes so much more enjoyable. It’s not just a flippant romance story with action, but a journey with this couple and their families learning along with them how to handle life’s situations.
    DG and RM have both done a terrific job, as have the actors in showing the readers and viewers this. Thank you!

  7. Janice

    Thanks Beth for this wonderfully literary essay on an episode that was so well deserving of your thoughtful insights. I was also moved to see your appreciation of Ron’s truths.

  8. Thank you for your thoughtful reviews and commentary on this show! I too cried when Claire tells Jamie she may not be able to have children. His reaction was wonderful – sad, but trying so hard not to make her feel bad about it, as it may not be her fault. As Jenny labors, he thinks about how he would feel if it were Claire. He tells her he would not have the strength to deal with her pain – Jamie, the warrior who is always so strong and can tolerate so much pain! Also made me sad because Jamie would have been such a great father, as he is so good with children. I love Jenny and Ian more each episode – loved the exchanges between both men and both women. Thanks again for blogging – keep this role filled for us, so I can enjoy your writing. After reading, I feel like everything that should be said has been said – and can then try to focus on other things I need to get done!

  9. Susan Grandt

    It should not surprise me that you have done it again. I now have a regular routine after an episode: look at the funny ones with screen caps to laugh off any residual emotional trauma; listen to Ron’s podcast for inside info; read Beth’s blog for greater insight and find that her words crystallize the vague thoughts running around in my mind. Thank you. Truly.

  10. Loved this review! I don’t think that I disagree with one thing you said. The body language and subtle looks between all of these actors in this episode were fascinating to watch. The scene of Jamie walking away brought a few tears to my eyes.

  11. Sherry

    I loved your summation. I, also, have thought that it was a lucky day that brought Ron Moore to produce this series. He is so enthralled by these books and the story that he moved to Scotland. He inserted themes from his own marriage (when they married each other, he told Terri that it was as if the sun came out when he saw her….and he included that in The Wedding episode). They are both, Diana and Ron, making this a true love story as only a love story should be. I have read the books since their arrival long ago, and now relish the series. The only thing I fear is how it shall end. I lost my husband, my Jamie, 2 years ago tomorrow. I cannot imagine either of them without the other. I tear up just thinking about it.

  12. Thank you for your really thoughtful blog post. I am really struggling to like this interpretation of Outlander. And your analysis helps. I find all my feelings myself before I can appreciate your posts though. 🙂

    We both appreciate the depth of the story and depth is what is missing for me in this re-imagining… at least until I read your post.

    When Jamie says he would seriously consider joining the Watch if it weren’t for the old ball and chain at home … that was like a record scratch to me. You think they were emphasizing that Claire is saving him from that life … hmmm…

    My favorite scene was Ian and Jamie at the wagon. As you pointed out, the poignance of Ian bargaining with the devil to protect Jenny because he is powerless to do anything else beautifully foreshadows Jamie’s own bargain coming up.

    I have an ongoing problem with the series and maybe you can help explain it: Jamie’s constant victimization.

    Contrary to the book where Jamie is the butt-kicker or, if he is victimized by BJR or Dougal, he always finds a way to get his own back. Staring BJR down after the flogging, starting a fight after Dougal uses him, screaming at BJR after being propositioned.

    They have taken all of this out. I feel it needed to be there to show you what not being able to fight back does to Jamie. The shame of it makes him not want to live anymore. In the show, and in this episode in particular, he is bullied around so much, that I … think it’s a problem for the overall story.

    What do you think?

    • That’s interesting that Jamie’s not fighting back was an issue for you. It was for me too. I wrote about it of course. I think I entitled it where’s Jamie on the blog. I felt there were some missed opportunities to show why Claire might be in danger of loving this man. However, I felt episode 9 went a long in rectifying those issues for me. Wrote about that too! I’m learning to delay my judgements because they always seem to bring the story back around to where it needs to go.

      • You mean when he goes up against BJR? He was powerless for so much of that interaction that I didn’t see that. Also, they left out the part where the gun was empty because he killed a man. I’m not normally so bloodthirsty, but I felt they had to make up for lost time! 🙂
        I felt the same about the witch trial. It was over so fast and there was no closeup that I missed it the first time altogether.

        So, you feel that they’ve resolved it. I was almost there until this episode.

  13. Beth, the nods that OMNIJ and I are referring to are after the Haste Ye Back scene and just before it goes into slow motion and Jamie walks away. He gives a small nod while looking into Claire’s eyes and she nods in reply. It’s pretty subtle, but it stood out to me.

  14. Peigi

    Ditto absolutely every point and every comment above! Someone could do a Psych. PhD thesis (or theses) on all the blogs alone. Call it ‘The meaning of Life, as illustrated and interpreted a la Outlander’ This whole Outlanderworld just gets richer and richer!

    Thanks Beth, for the wealth and depth of your vision.

  15. Thank you Beth. I am very grateful to read you rvery thoughtful assessment, and insight into Ron as a writer. Time and time again, Ron explores in all of his shows, “what does it mean to be human”. I suppose it is at the heart of all drama, an exploration all writers take on. but Ron has always so deeply explored the human psyche and what motivates us all.
    Outlander was another perfect vehicle to continue that journey in. I think for many of us fans, it is exactly that deep exploration of character, which has held us for so long.
    Thanks for another great piece.
    Terry D.

    • Thanks Terry! I’ve told everyone who will listen how grateful I am to have someone of Ron’s integrity at the helm of this show. It could have gone sooo wrong in the hands of a less talented, decent and dedicated person. I think it is safe to say he “didn’t mess up his wife’s favorite book” Thank you for the re-blog! Your seal of approval means a lot!

  16. The nods in “The Watch”….Jamie to Claire…..Claire to Jamie…. took me back to the very first episode. Claire was about to reset Jamie’s shoulder but took a beat to look him in the eyes and silently ask, “Are you ready?” Jamie gave her a single nod in return to say, “I am ready”. Je suis prest. Unspoken but understood. I think it was the same in the leave-taking scene.

    • Janice

      That makes a lot of sense, Barb W. The nods put a mutually agreed upon ending to the painful parting scene. Rather heroic on both their parts. I also liked the return-to-the stones theory posed by another commenter, though that one’s less plausible.

  17. “…Mr. Moore juxtaposed the two lives and showed us the difference Claire has made. If Jamie had never met her would he ever have gone home? Would his potential ever have been realized? Would he have become the man we book readers know he becomes without her love and influence or would he have remained an outlaw and have become a “slightly less honorable” man like McQuarrie?”
    Excellent…I could not agree more!

  18. Catullus 1000

    Well written and intelligent analysis. Enjoyed your blog very much. Looking forward to your insight on future episodes. So much going on in this episode – had to re-watch it right away to catch all the nuances. Wonderful blog — thank you!

    • Thank you! If you follow (there is a button somewhere) you can get notified of new posts. And…there is a lot to read about
      Outlander on the blog. I like to write!!!

  19. Binah

    The series is a slow, deep progression that builds a deep Intimate bond, a soul bond between Jamie and Claire. For Claire to return to Frank and resume her life, two hundred years into the future becomes no longer viable as a connected and intimate level of a relationship. Claires relationship with Frank is a beginners relationship, they had never attained that depth before the war or during their five year separation due to the war…at best, it’s a relationship in its infancy that lacks depth, a soul connection with layers of intimacy. There’s a connection between Jame and Claire that had not ever sprouted with her and Frank. Jame and Claire are intertwined in a dance of intimacy that is hard to attain in a lifetime, a gift, and blessed is one that has even once in a lifetime found this deep bond.

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