One of the things I love about Jamie Fraser is the seemingly contradictory elements of his personality and how they coexist in harmony. He is vulnerable yet, strong. He is wise and yet, naive. He is serious and yet, terribly funny. He can be shy and then bold. He can be ruthless and kind. He is stubborn and yet, willing to listen and doesn’t have to be right. He is a man of his time and yet, in many ways he is forward thinking. In this episode of Outlander, we were treated to the complexities of Jamie. When he smiles because he now has the chance to see Jack Randall’s blood leave his body, I smiled along with him.
And,… it felt right.
Can I just say bravo. Bravo to Sam Heughan , Toni Graphia, and Douglas Mackinnon. This bit of, at the least, anti-social behavior was delivered with such unmitigated joy that I was tearfully smiling for our hero. He was going to get to commit murder,… bless his little heart.
The irony of my feeling this way isn’t lost on me and neither is the brilliance of this performance and adaptation. It was a captivating blend of intrigue, action, humor, foreshadowing , character development, and tender moments all fans have been waiting to see.
I love being right. At least, I love being right about what the writers and producers are doing on the set of Outlander. I said last week that I thought I could see a theme for the series emerging:
In one of the trailer’s for the show, Jamie is heard saying “Promise me we will always find a way back to each other.” … I’m beginning to suspect that this is a theme for the whole season. Isn’t it always about finding your way back to each other in a marriage? It doesn’t have to be getting carried through the stones or PTSD; it can be something as mundane as a career or as challenging as raising children that causes a couple to lose touch with each other, grow distant, and lose intimacy. Ask any married duo if they did not struggle to maintain their identity as a couple through different phases and events in life. http://wp.me/p4mtBT-317
And , this week we got, “Jamie, find your way back to me, to us.”
The journey to this moment was arduous and painful for the characters and for us long-suffering fans. My angst wasn’t relieved by last weeks’ teaser articles. As I said, I like being right about Outlander and last week, I went on record saying that I hadn’t seen anything in the series, so far, that “might not have happened”. I hadn’t seen any character motivation or changes to intent that were a large enough departure from the book to cause any real concern that the adaptation had gone too far. And, then,… I had the misfortune of reading a few entertainment news articles leading up to this week’s episode that seemed to tease that Jamie had deliberately sought out the services of a prostitute. I was afraid I was going to have to eat my words about not seeing any “fatal” changes. The Jamie I know would NEVER have done that. So, I have to say I watched the episode with a bit of trepidation.
I paid special attention to Jamie’s explanation for the bites on his legs. I’ll admit it took me two viewings to hear what he was saying because the first time I was right there with Claire, “You did what?! James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser!” But, to my relief, it was a wonderful example of the Jamie I know from the books. He really expected Claire to be as excited as he was that he felt lust for a prostitute! LOL! Once again, I am impressed with how the writers made this moment believable by allowing us to see how Jamie had reacted to the prostitutes before Claire told him Black Jack lived. He paid them no attention and couldn’t stand for them to touch him.
This is just one more piece in Jamie’s recovery and how the adaptation is honoring that recovery process. In the book, Jamie finds his way back because Claire went into his darkness and gave him a chance to fight his demons in a mystical, drug induced fog. He was brought back because he got to fight back. In the adaptation, Jamie is finding his way back because he knows that he WILL have a chance to fight back. With this hope he begins to feel like himself again and his real self is a man who wants to be a husband who makes love to his wife.
And, for those of you who still believe he would never have felt lust for another woman…
“… it was … well, those women. What I felt like with them. I didna want them, truly not …” “Yes, I know,” I said, reaching for him, but he wasn’t stopping there. He held back from me, looking troubled. “But the … the lusting, I suppose ye’d call it … that was … too close to what I feel sometimes for you, and it … well, it doesna seem right to me.” Diana Gabaldon Dragonfly in Amber
Jamie doesn’t understand himself sometimes. He tends to have a much less charitable view of his own thoughts and feelings than we do or Claire does. In the book, part of this scene includes a conversation about his seemly contradictory sexual urges with Claire. He wants to worship her and yet use her hard. He might not understand himself, but he always tries to be the man he knows Claire needs him to be and that is an emotionally honest man. His integrity is nothing short of staggering. And, the series’ commitment to showing us characters that struggle to do the right thing and be good people continues to win my loyalty as a viewer. It is a rarity on TV to be sure.
So far, the writers have kept their promise of bringing the story and characters back around to where they need to go. They may change the time-line, they may combine and compress, but this episode convinced me once again that they get it. They get it and because they get it,… we got the lean-to.
I was right again!
Jamie is finally able to tell us how he has been feeling and what Jack Randall’s action did to him. Jamie does not have the psychological terms to explain how he feels, but what he does have (and it’s one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with him) is a way of poetically expressing himself that is both visual and moving. That place where we keep the thing that makes us uniquely ourselves was destroyed. He felt naked and exposed. His core, his identity was gone. He has felt like he has been trying to hide his nakedness under a blade of grass. His being able to build a lean to with Claire’s help is a tenuous , but hopeful sign.
Claire and Jamie’s return to physical intimacy felt like a nod to the book lovers who missed that scene in the under ground springs at the end of the first book. This scene, in the private little blue cove Jon Gary Steele, Outlander production designer, created, felt very reminiscent of the tender and healing moments Claire and Jamie spent together in the water. I predict more tender moments in this little oasis. Mark me 😉
Jamie and Claire have found their way back to each other and it’s all going to be okay….sigh…but we all know it won’t. Because,… I can still hear Claire’s anguished screams from the hill of Craig na Dun.
A lot has been said of the last two episodes of Outlander Season 1. Ron D Moore has said that they knew it was coming and so, they shadowed it from the beginning. They made the possibility of Jamie’s rape a reality by subtle foreshadowing. I feel like they are doing the same thing this time by subtly reminding us this isn’t going to end well. Claire’s conversations about child rearing with Louise and Master Raymond’s foretelling that Claire will see Frank again are making every tender moment more poignant and every plan seem so futile.
But, for now, I will bask in the knowledge that Jamie has found his way back to Claire and they have built a roof to keep out the rain.