Jamie… finding a way back…my reflection on Outlander 2.4 “La Dame Blanche”

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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.

THE ADAPTATION

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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63 thoughts on “Jamie… finding a way back…my reflection on Outlander 2.4 “La Dame Blanche”

  1. momt14

    I loved this episode and I see the symbolism and foreshadowing. Thanks for yet again a fantastic article. ♥️

  2. Great review. Great episode. I’ve felt the season progressively getting better with each episode. I thought the reconciliation was very well done and specific to the show-story yet still reflective of the fundamental elements of the healing from the book-story. But we also know that tthe healing is not over and that this was simply the first step in Jamie’s taking control of his own healing process, with Claire’s help. We’ll see the follow-up of this arc in the next episode, I’m sure.

  3. Anne Hetherington

    Yes, the foreshadowing. Seems to me that it is an aid for the non-book readers and a small stab in the heart to those of us who have read the books. I wonder if, later in the season, they will somehow foreshadow Voyager. This was a fantastic episode and, as you said, brought the story around to where it needed to go. Which reminds me to trust the show, even if I don’t totally understand how they are going to get there, in the end they do get the important bits into the show. Gotta go watch it again now!

  4. sheree1

    I rush to see what you have written; it captures it wonderfully! Always a joy to read…thanks, and for posting so early so I start my day, settled!

  5. S. A. Young

    “This bit of, at the least, anti-social behavior was delivered with such unmitigated joy that I was tearfully smiling for our hero.” Yes! That smile, which was the first time we’d really seen the “old” Jamie – though we had a glimpse of him at the end of ep3 – felt so right, because it was EARNED. The writers had given us the long, dark nights of Jamie’s soul and the sun was finally able to come out. This episode was everything. I’m amazed at how much was packed into a single hour and yet none of it seemed rushed. I must say, “Brava!” to Toni Graphia (and Bravo to Douglas Mackinnon) and to you, as well, for another insightful piece.

  6. Michelle

    Well, your post is so convincing I will consider many of your points and hopefully not find it as disappointing as I have. I can accept the premise that Jamie is evolving back to his prior self. I still miss their intimacy and humor that drew me to the series. I hope the relationship will continue to move forward. Otherwise, the characters will feel one dimensional where in the book and last seasons starz it was quite the opposite. I felt like I had almost gone through the stones and was living this fantasy. It was like I was watching The Way We Were, Love Story, and Terms of Indearment whenever Outlander was on. Well, I am dating myself here☺️. I am dreading the ending but praying for season 3. I would fast for a week just to see her walk back into that shop. And the resulting after. Love Outlander.

  7. Susan M Van Hoven

    Wonderful review Beth. I can’t say much more, I agree with you. I’ve been reading a lot of comments along the lines of, yay they finally got it on, emphasized, no doubt, with some fist pumping. I wonder how anyone can look at that love scene and only see that J and C are “back in the saddle.” Are they watching the same TV series? I can only feel regret that they are missing out on some of the most wonderful, poignant moments I’ve ever seen on screen.

  8. Denise McCabe

    I feel Sam Heughan was born to play Jamie. As an Outlander book reader for the past 20 years, I am so thankful to Sam for being able to bring all of these elements to life in front of our eyes. There are many book scenes, especially the ones with humor interwoven into difficult moments that show Sam’s brilliance. I love how you phrase it as harmony in seemingly contradictory elements. Thank you again Beth for capturing my thoughts so wonderfully. Coming to your website is like coming home to the safety and warmth of a cozy cottage in Scotland itself.

    Sam and Caitriona are magical. We are so lucky to have them playing our beloved characters.

  9. JKCohen

    I enjoy reading your blog. Whenever Claire maneuvers Jamie into another tough situation he will eventually have to confront, I remember his thoughts in a later book…did Adam ask Eve to leave the garden?

  10. Betty

    I always love reading your posts. As for the 2.4 – loved it. I thought things were good but not as good for the first three episodes – now I feel OL is back on track. This is what I expect from the OL series. Already watched it numerous times – especially the exchange between Jamie and Claire – I love those two together in a scene.

  11. Leslie Howe

    Loved this episode and loved your review. I felt you were typing my thoughts! I completely agree with you and can’t wait to see how they continue to develop “our” story and bring it to life. 😊

  12. Colleen Farrar

    Excellent insight as always and beautifully expressed. Enjoy the writers workshop, you will do very well

  13. Kat Farlowe

    You have such a wonderful way of eloquently putting into words what many of us also feel. We must trust in the wisdom and vision of Ron D. Moore, Maril Davis, the writers, directors, designers, et al. to put the true essence of the books on screen. This episode proves that they won’t dissapoint us. Nor will our actors who fight for honesty and truth in their portrayals. Caitriona has said in interviews that she & Sam fought for showing Claire’s pregnant belly in the “find me” sex scene. In my opinion this increased the intimacy ten fold. They are all digging down deep into our world of Outlander (I say “our world” of Outlander because we are so possessive of it) and unearthing the core of Diana’s storytelling. This episode did just that.

  14. I am truly enjoying the rhythm of my life right now…Waiting in anticipation for each new episode of Outlander on Saturday evening, watching with a group of women whom I am growing to love, and reading your blog on Sunday. Perfection. I read nothing else Outlander related all week and it makes it all the more enjoyable. I am growing to love the more human Jamie this season. I could watch the scene where he gives Claire what-for for working late over and over. It would royally piss me off if my husband did that, and he has, and showing Jamie in this way made him so much more real. I love how you relate Jamie and Claire’s struggles to real-life couples and the many ways and times that we are forced to find our way back to each other. I have to mention Claire and Murtagh too. The palpable connection between the three actors elevates each of them as they seem to bring out the best in each other. Thank you for another TRULY enjoyable post!

  15. Christine Finklein

    This is an amazing interpretation/impression, Beth. I so enjoy your commentary and thought-provoking insights. I find it’s impossible to only watch each episode once because it holds layers and layers of meaning and suggestion.

    I’ve listened to other commentaries about Outlander but certainly yours holds the most depth of meaning. Thanks for your patience and sharing. It’s sheer delight to discover your words and consider your take on the episode. There is so much more to “soak” in from your perspective. Keep it up!!!!

    😉

    Chris F

  16. Jodi

    This was the best episode of season 2. Also, I get his explanation of what the rape trauma did to him. It damages your soul. That explanation was very authentic, how he explained how it affected his core being. The writers nailed that one.

  17. Jodi

    Oh, yes, and the expression of unmitigated joy when he heard the news about BJR. I laughed outloud. It’s so rare you get a true moment of unexpected surprise when you watch a show, and that was a nice surprise. I can’t remember if that’s true to the book, but I don’t care. And Sam nailed that look of astonishment and radiance, while being thankful to Claire for delivering such uplifting news.

  18. Susan Steyl

    Thanks for your perspective Beth. I was captured watching Claire explain Jack Randall being alive to Jaime, with no camera back to his face, only hers, as we could see her wondering what his reaction would be with us. Great directing.

  19. Teresa

    Thank you for your wonderful words! I so enjoy reading your view of the show. I was struggling with the bite scene and your perspective of how he wanted Claire to share his joy in rediscovering himself helped put it all into a better place for me. I think the acting in those scenes was fabulous. Sam and Cait really hit it out of the park!

  20. sassysassenach

    I definitely had to watch that scene between J & C a few times in order to really hear what he was saying…I just wanted to flip a table the first few times.

  21. Karyn Donohue

    Seriously, Beth, you never disappoint with your incredible insight into the characters and episodes! You have such a talent for identifying exactly what it is I didn’t realize I was thinking! I now look forward to your weekly postmortem as much as the episode itself. Thank you!

  22. L.M. Roberts

    Hi, there, Beth,
    I’m sending along an essay I wrote at the end of Season 1 that references Jamie and Claire’s time in the water beneath the Abbey that you mention above, “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 … felt very reminiscent of the tender and healing moments Claire and Jamie spent together in the water.”

    I hope my comments are not too long for inclusion here. Many of the same thoughts may have been covered in your blog and the attendant comments at the end of Season 1, so forgive me if I am repetitious.

    “And the world was all around us, new with possibility.” Claire Fraser

    These are the last words of Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander. Claire’s hope for the future lifts our spirits and brings a satisfying end to the first novel as an entity unto itself.

    Starz presented a beautifully-filmed, superbly-acted, worthy and nuanced adaptation of the novel, but missed giving the viewing audience a sense of completion of the first book, and renewal at the end of Episode 16 by not counterbalancing the earlier scenes of Jamie Fraser’s mental and physical torture at Wentworth Prison that they took such care and time over. In my opinion, they did not give enough time and care to scenes of Jamie’s healing and redemption and the reconnection of Jamie and Claire as man and wife during his recuperation at the Abbey. (* Yes, the television version is an adaptation of the book and does not need to strictly adhere to the text, but in this case I believe the production would have been better served if they had more closely adapted the author’s final few chapters.)

    After the suffering Jamie undergoes, in the book equal weight is given to his healing and “rebirth,” finally symbolized by his and Claire’s immersion in the hot spring beneath the Abbey. It would have helped some of us recover from the trauma that had gone before if the televised story had followed the book and indicated some passage of time, then shown Claire and Jamie in the spring. This serves as a true catharsis as it symbolizes the Sacrament of Baptism during which Jamie himself is renewed as is his and Claire’s relationship, and leads to Claire’s uplifting last words. (This symbolic “baptism” is one of the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. It is interesting that in the Christian Latin literature of Late Antiquity [approx. 2nd-7th centuries CE] immersion in water always symbolized baptism, rebirth and renewal. E.g. see the works of Ambrose, Prudentius, et alius.)

    Instead, they filmed a scene of Claire and Jamie sailing away from Scotland to a new beginning in France that was quite lovely but not unique and did not carry the force and heart-soaring beauty of the original. A pall was cast over the last episode and, to some extent, the whole series, by the failure to take advantage of the author’s conclusion of the novel. That such a glorious story and amazing journey ended in such a muted, melancholy way was disheartening.

    Jamie and Claire’s time at the Abbey shows Claire’s battle to save or “ransom” Jamie’s body and soul so that he can survive, subdue, and prevail over the physical and emotional suffering he underwent at Wentworth Prison, and to give them time to resume the closeness of their marriage. Of course, Jamie will never forget what happened to him–physical and mental scars will remain–but the end of Outlander could have been a beautiful and exhilarating moment of television if Diana Gabaldon’s unique, powerful, carefully-crafted scenes had been presented.

    In the book we are led below ground by Jamie’s lantern, lighting the torch in the sconce on the wall, then the lanterns on the rock pillars surrounding the underground spring so that light is reflected in the clear black lake and on Jamie and Claire’s skin and in their eyes, and symbolically in their souls, as they descend into the warm womb of water.

    It’s a poignant, breathtakingly beautiful, incredible gift of a scene. Claire and Jamie’s physical and soul-connecting love in the gorgeous setting beneath the Abbey showed hope and healing for them, and for readers, too. It leaves us with a powerful, joyful optimism strengthened by Claire’s revelation that she is with child which reinforces the theme of rebirth. It is emotionally, thematically, and aesthetically uplifting, and brings closure to this part of Jamie and Claire’s story and to the book.

    * I realize that the writers and producers of the show did not aim to leave us in the same place the book did as they wanted the end of Season 1 to have some unresolved issues that carry over and lead into Season 2.

    Religious symbolism is not uncommon in the novel. The author has said that she used Christ imagery through the story (see Diana Gabaldon’s blog, “Jamie and the Rule of Three”). And it is interesting that there are references to, or representations of, at least 6 of the 7 sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. I do not recall that the Sacrament of Confirmation is mentioned or depicted.

    Baptism: symbolically represented by Claire and Jamie’s immersion in the Abbey’s hot spring.
    Marriage: Claire to Jamie.
    Penance/Reconciliation: Father Anselm hears Claire’s confession and offers Absolution.
    Extreme Unction/Last Rites: Jamie is anointed by his uncle the Abbot when it is feared he will die.
    Communion: Jamie receives the Sacrament during Extreme Unction.
    Holy Orders: represented by the priests in the story – the priest who married Claire and Jamie; Father Bain; and some of the monks at the Abbey would have been priests, ordained through the Sacrament of Holy Orders and therefore able to say Mass and administer the sacraments. Not all monks were ordained; some served as lay brothers.

  23. beckym

    Yes, yes, yes! You say it all so well! I too look forward to your posts about the episodes. I have read some others’ and found so many miss the deeper intimacy portrayed so beautifully by Sam and Cait. At least it seems sometimes all they care about is a sex scene. After 42 years of marriage I relate completey to what you said about finding your way back. I am enjoying this season so much and do not have anyone in my circle of friends to discuss it with. Thank you for filling that gap in my little life! 😘

  24. Susan

    Wow! So insightful. I look forward to reading your blog every week. Thank you, for your intellectual insight to these episodes.

  25. Beth, this was such a spot on review. I wanted to add that Cait and Sam were truly at the top of their acting game. According to Ron and Toni, many of these scenes were filmed out of sequence which makes it very difficult for the actors.
    There were three lovely pieces of acting that stood out for me.
    When Jamie is telling Claire how happy he is that BJR is alive- he looks up- that conveyed to me that he had prayed for help and this was his answer. Jamie is a man of faith and Sam conveyed that with a single movement. MTruly a gift to once again feel he had a measure of control. Sam played that scene so perfectly.
    Sam was once again superb when he delivered the fortress speech- and did you notice that Cait did not move- did not bat an eyelash. At first this bothered me- that she gave him no feedback, but as I watched later it struck me that this was very reminiscent of Jamie’s stillness when Claire told him she was from the future. She even said, “Do you hear me?” This acute stillness and really listening is a hallmark of their connection- their bond- they really listen to each other.
    Finally, that whole scene required an amazing range of emotions and behaviors for Sam in a very short space of time. Humor to poignant revelation that was delivered without overkill. That is outstanding acting.
    I look forward to reading your next piece.

  26. Ros

    Excellent points Beth [once again]. Wasn’t the Scripting/Direction so spot on. As for the costumes….drool worthy. I can’t get over how lucky we [the FANS, book n show] are, to get the actors of such great quality to bring these characters to life. Cait n Sam’s facial expression this episode said it all and I’m so pleased they showed Claire’s baby bump-so natural. I’m looking forward to watching it again a few times this week-so much happened [especially at the end] that I’m sure I missed most of the fight scene. I was too interested in looking at Stanley Webbers face. I find him just fantastic as the Comp.
    Looking forward to next weeks opinions [not sure how we’ll all take Episode 7 though….]

  27. chicagoshari44

    You are a Goddess of reviewers. I am completely in love with Jamie Fraser for exactly the same reasons you have described. I was so happy to hear the fortress dialogue in the television series. A part of what makes Jamie so special is his wit and humor, but also the beautiful way he expresses his feelings to Claire. It is poetry. And don’t we all wish we had a Jamie in our lives and some are actually lucky to have one.

  28. momt14

    Observation…Do you think Claire’s statement about no one getting their head cut off was a wink to the book readers? Foreshadowing perhaps?

  29. Beth it is not that I differ with you, it is that you often ‘see things’ differently that I miss. Never in my life ( and I have reached the Great Grama stage) have I ever tried to pay such deep attention to a TV Show or Movie. Sometimes for instance, I’m trying like heck to see Clair’s earrings, or the material in the Prince’s’ vest, and I miss the subtle detail of the spoken word. I listen first to Ron’s Pod cast, then your Blog to gain the full perspective.This is an astounding Production, A Gift ,that has been given to all of us, old and young, who read voraciously all of the Book Series.So like a Gift, I wouldn’t dream of saying anything negative about it We must remember there are time constraints and budget constraints from ever angle. Even in our own lives we can’t have it all. We also hear many times that the Directors,Producers, Writers and most Cast Members have also read the Books and do the darndest to stay true to that format. They know what is important in every scene, is a continuity, that they call an”Arc”. In Ron’s Pod Cast I hear often that this scene or that was cut because they wanted time for a certain emotionally charges scene they shot I say , sit back and relax for goodness sake, enjoy the best damn thing going on TV !

  30. Jessica

    My thinking now is that watching an episode only ends with my reading your posts! It does help me put all the pieces together and into a perspective that I might not have been able to reach on my own. Thanks as always!

  31. Diane

    Oh,Beth, do beautifully done, as always! The Lean-to broke my heart. Your insight and depth are always appreciated! So glad to have met you, btw, Tartan Week. I believe that was you that I sat behind, at the 201 viewing. Nice to have a face before me, when I read these!

  32. Tina

    Love your blog!….Your expressions on Outlander 2.4 was spot on for me….I couldn’t have put it any better than the way you wrote it out!!☺

  33. monica

    Ron said that the last 2 episodes of season, were foreshadowed throughout the season. Can you tell me where and how you saw that because i didn’t see that

  34. Diana

    My favorite bit of foreshadowing came from Le Comte in this episode when he interrupted the chess game: “How boring. The outcome is so terribly obvious that I do not see the point of watching the rest.” I didn’t catch on to that until the 2nd or 3rd viewing as I had already put Ep1 out of my mind. A poetic knife to the heart.

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