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:
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.
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.
Jamie and McQuarrie
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”:
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.
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.