I have a particular Twitter friend who I met through Outlander that I at times use as a sounding board. Most times, I am okay and have a very clear idea of what I want to say. But sometimes, I need a pair of trusted eyes. Sometimes I send her my rough thoughts/notes on an episode because I’m not sure if I’m seeing things that are actually there or if I’ve brought too much of my own feelings and book lover desires to the situation. It’s tough for us book readers. I’ve said before that I am often jealous of folks who get to watch the show with “virgin” eyes. But, it is what it is. I can’t unread the books. So, my reflections are a mixture of my reactions to what is actually shown and the connections I make to my reading of Diana Gabaldon’s books. This was one of those episodes where I needed an additional pair of trusted eyes.
“Great I can’t WAIT to talk about it!”
“I should have loved this…”
“I actually thought the same thing. I want to be extra careful not to say too much because I wanted to hear you first. But, on this, we unanimously agree.”
Hmmmm, she’s struggling to like it too.
“I appreciate that. There were three scenes so well done they were worth watching the entire episode. I need to think. Well, I’ve got to be honest or I will lose credibility, but …is it wrong that I still love them all? LOL! It feels like the story is being pulled in too many directions. Almost like…they aren’t confident in the story and…they are trying to …fix it.”
“No it isn’t wrong to still love them all…not even a little. My take is there are TOO many cooks in the Outlander kitchen.”
Are there? Has the amount of folks with say and opinions resulted in a Mulligan stew of an episode? Was this a compromise?
“Thanks. I’ve got to watch again. Try to figure out what is bothering me.”
I only got to watch the episode twice this week before writing. I have to say my second viewing left me feeling more enamored of the whole episode. Overall, it was great TV and left us wanting more. And, I will definitely talk about what I loved, but…let me talk about the stumbling block in this episode that I tripped over.
A MATURE MARRIAGE
The scene that has prevented me from loving this episode was the very first. I was very hopeful when I saw the show open with Jamie sitting at his desk with morning light streaming in on his face and his eyes shifting back and forth in thought as he nodded that he had come to some kind of conclusion. In fact, I was very excited because I thought I was going to get exactly what I hoped for in my last article looking ahead to this episode.
Episode 5 ended powerfully with a tearful Claire reaching out to Jamie only to be told not to touch him in a voice seething with rage. The fact that Jamie doesn’t storm out was powerful. In fact, it has left me hopeful that the writers are going to follow the books lead and let Jamie spend the night thinking. Sometimes relationships endure and heal because someone chooses to love despite being hurt. I want to see Jamie choose to love. This relationship needs more time and nurturing if the scenes that follow are to be believable. Trying not to worry. http://wp.me/p57847-n81
I was pleased to see the show let Jamie choose to love, but for me there was a missing scene. It was not clear that he had been up all night thinking and choosing. I needed to see him struggle with his choice perhaps a brief montage of passing hours. I needed more than “the lady says you need to eat”. I needed to see Claire not Murtagh. As lovely as the scene was between the two as he is rubbing her feet, it came too late. I needed to see her bring him that breakfast and him get down on his knees kiss her stomach and bury his anger in her arms. The power of that moment was lost in her leaving to go to the hospital. It felt callous rather than heroic. “Of course she did.” sighs Jamie.
After watching it a second time, I’m sure it was meant to show his acceptance of her and her need to help others, but I couldn’t help but think of my own marriage. I don’t know about you, but a fight that big and a husband that hurt and angry would have required my being more present. I can’t function when things are wrong between us. My life doesn’t work when there is discord in my marriage because even though I am an individual with my own interests, I am also a woman in a committed relationship. My relationship with my husband is more important than any job, or other person. I would have needed to at least make some effort to make a connection and reassert my love despite our differences. Jamie didn’t leave the room , but it felt like Claire did. They had a big fight and she left and went to work without at least checking to see if he was okay or at least let him know she was there when and if he was ready to talk. Everybody feels more important than Jamie. In my book, its time for a serious conversation about where this marriage is going.
I’m guessing because of the scene with Claire, Louise and the ladies, the writer’s felt uncomfortable with Claire continuing to work at the hospital while hugely pregnant and are trying to give us a rationale for her behavior. Women work up until the day they deliver all the time. This isn’t necessarily reckless behavior. Now, if she continued to work after the bleeding…then maybe we could say she was being reckless. This scene made me wonder if my friend was right. Is there somebody in that writer’s room that isn’t buying the story? Is there some serious disagreement about Claire? Are there too many cooks?
They really needn’t worry, this story with a less than perfect Claire has been gathering millions of fans for over 25 years. She is frustratingly flawed and principled and…as a result, often reckless, but we love her because she is kind, loyal, and there is NEVER any doubt that she loves Jamie and that she is committed to him. She doesn’t work if they aren’t together, “Nothing good happens when we are apart.” And, in my opinion that means emotional as well as physical distance.
Maybe the writers were trying to show us that Claire continues to deal with her feelings and worries by burying herself in her work. To be fair Jamie was very angry and maybe they felt she was just giving him space and time many people in committed relationship do the same, but it didn’t ring true to me. Maybe I feel this way because of the book and the next morning there. It felt almost as if the fight had never happened. I couldn’t help but feel that there was a scene on the cutting room floor that I needed to see and found myself making some kind of mental re-calibration based on that belief. I had to let go of that missing scene because it was seriously interfering with my ability to enjoy some of the great scenes I was given. In this instance, I felt that adaptation failed the characters and story.
THIS WHOLE EPISODE WAS WORTH WATCHING FOR THESE SCENES
Claire’s promise and I can’t wait to meet you
After I righted myself from my stumble, I was able to appreciate all that was done well in this episode. The intimacy that a lot of folks were missing was there tonight. Loved Jamie’s letting Claire know that he has saved her as well and that in his book, they were even and that because she chose him, he really didn’t owe Frank a thing. Loved in charge Jamie, glad he showed up and that Claire realizes he won’t be easily managed. And, the scene with the baby between them was a glimpse of the Jamie and Claire we all fell in love with. The acting was so wonderfully subtle. I am so grateful for these actors who can emote so well.
He promised me.
The show has taken great pains to show Jamie as an honorable man who keeps his word. For God’s sake, Wentworth. So, what could possibly make James Fraser break an oath? The episode hints at the cause with a red coat, a little boy, and a shut door. Whatever the reason, Claire’s need to save Frank has resulted in blood.
“How did she forgive you?” asks Randall.
Even in this moment, fighting for his life, his obsession continues and Claire’s power eludes him. Their power eludes him. They choose love. Despite all odds, all obstacles, all pain, they choose love. And, it is a beautiful wonder. A wondrous thing Jack Randall doesn’t and cannot understand. Despite his best efforts, Jamie is still everything Jack will never be and together with Claire more.
The show continues to challenge us beautifully by creating striking metaphorical images. like the irony of Black Jack and Claire both lying on the ground bleeding with wounds to their cores both deliberately and unintentionally inflicted by Jamie.
The Gods are laughing. Our couple is trying to change their fate. The show continues to foreshadow that fate rules. The British win at Culloden. The losses in this story continue to mount. What could possibly be worth all this pain? We have to wonder now…after this…will it just be too much? Will the sacrifice finally be too much and the pain too great?
I can still hear her screams . Screams from that accursed hill. I hear her anguish. His exacted promise that she return to Frank should they face an abyss at Culloden is more prophecy than precaution. We know this doesn’t end well and after tonight viewers must wonder how much can one couple can stand. As predicted their hubris has led to nemesis. The jealous Gods must punish such hubris however well intention-ed. Their best laid plans have paved the road to their own hell.
I was right to love them all and this story.