Do you feel yourself content… a reflection on Outlander 4.6 “Blood of My Blood”

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outlander-s04e06-blood-of-my-blood-720p-mkv_003679467Sitting in front of a homey fire, laughing with his friend over bad whiskey and a good chess game, Jamie glances at the bed that holds the sleeping son he can never claim.  Lord John sees the direction of Jamie’s gaze and wonders at his thoughts. “Do you feel yourself content?”, he quietly asks.  Jamie responds that he is. He has a home, honorable work, his wife at his side, good friends and the knowledge that his child is well cared for…he wants nothing more and I ask what else is there? And yet, there is much yearning in this episode of Outlander.

John, Jamie, Claire, and even William are yearning for something missing from their lives, or regretting choices, and struggling with acceptance.

John Yearns

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John is such a great character and David Berry plays him to perfection. I’m completely onboard with fan efforts to get him a spinoff.  As he approaches Jamie in the clearing, you can see John steeling himself to act appropriately.  He makes sure his face reflects nothing but friendship before he calls out. I really truly thought Jamie was going in for a hug, delighted to see his friend, but Lord John stops him with the news of Willie’s presence and I had to wonder if this wasn’t an act of self-preservation.  A hug might have crumbled the walls John had erected around his heart and revealed more than he could afford.

It is hard for us book readers to sometimes disassociate ourselves from what we know.  So, when I think of the relationship between these two men I think of what I know about each from the books and I can’t help but believe that Lord John’s friendship became the most important of Jamie’s life.  On some level, it is not surprising that they would become friends. Had they met under different circumstances, they would have found they had a lot in common. John and Jamie are both learned men who share a love of books and philosophy. They are both soldiers who have had the responsibility of leadership. They get each other’s sense of humor. They are both fiercely loyal and protective of those they love.  And, I think as men of integrity they recognize the honor in the other.  John challenged Jamie’s beliefs about love and friendship and helped him heal and Jamie gave John a purpose of sorts and someone worthy to love.  I marvel at this bond and friendship. Jamie has very real reasons for associating homosexuality with the abuse he suffered at the hands of BJR and despite this association, Jamie chose John to be Willie’s surrogate father.  The fact that he sees beyond John’s orientation and that John can love Jamie unconditionally speaks volumes about the character of both men.  However, John still yearns for what he cannot have.

The quiet conversations between Claire and John were marvelous character revealing moments.  I think John started off treating Claire like any other woman of his experience.  At first, he treats her with what I can only describe as the polite tolerance one gives to someone they see as an intellectual inferior and misinterprets her motivations.  She quickly sets him straight.  She truly is unlike any woman he has had experience with in the 1700’s and truthfully, he should have known better. Jamie is no ordinary man and it serves to reason that he would not love an ordinary woman.

Lord John Grey’s character arc of being a gay man in the 1700’s is thought-provoking.  What would life be like for this man in a time when knowledge of your sexual orientation could get you killed and ruin the lives of everyone you care about?  Some would say not so different from now.  I had cause to wonder if Claire’s directness, in reality, wasn’t a bit of a relief for John.  He was a man who had to hide who he was and what he felt practically every moment of his life. I wondered how often, if ever, he could talk openly as himself not guarding every word. To find a trusted confidante in the object of your great love’s affection had to be the irony of all ironies for John.  He finds himself openly confessing regrets over his feelings for and life with Isobel, but in truth he “just wasn’t born the right person” for… Jamie. He yearns for the satisfaction he sees on Claire’s face, her surety that she loves and is loved in return by the one person she was born to love.  I took a ragged  breath when he reminded us with a single tear that he too was born “this way”.  John has the tragic misfortune of loving someone who cannot love him in return and thus joins the Outlander ranks of unrequited love beside Frank, Isobel, Murtagh, and Loghaire.

Claire Yearns

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As far as I know, Jamie has not shared John’s preferences with her, but Claire is astute enough to have figured it out.  John has certainly given her enough information in his facial expressions, manner, and the wearing of the sapphire.  Despite her being sure of Jamie’s love, I think Claire, at least momentarily, did see John as a real competition for Jamie’s affection. Always playing with expectations and gender roles, leave it to Diana Gabaldon to make Claire’s only real competition a gay man.  Claire knew how to deal with her feelings about Loghaire, but this is an entirely different kettle of fish. She can see what Jamie sees in Lord John and is a bit threatened by their connection over William.  Fiercely protective of Jamie, I think she sees John as a threat to his happiness.  His connection to Govenor Tyron puts him at odds with history and Murtagh and his regulators, but most of all she is angry that John has risked Jamie and William’s happiness over his perceived need to see Jamie.

Not one to mince words or not face an issue directly, Claire of course confronts John with her knowledge and fears.  She knows too well what can happen to a child who has been kept in the dark about their true parentage and what can happen when they find out they have been lied to. However, as much as she wants to stay angry at John’s selfishness, she cannot “keep thinking of him as she wishes”.  His openness and vulnerability touches her.  She does know what it feels like to live a well-intentioned life with another person and not be able to truly give them happiness.  She does know what it is like to yearn.  She had twenty years of it. For me, the most telling moment in their conversations came when John confessed that seeing them together pained him. Claire looked as if she had been slapped and asked him why he tortured himself, surely he knew before he came he could never have Jamie. The slap turned into a punch to the gut when John said he could have had him.  I found myself chasing the emotions across Cait Balfe’s face, shock, maybe jealousy and finally, the realization of what it would have cost Jamie to make such an offer and what it meant in relation to his love for his son.  She hurt for the pain Jamie felt and his sacrifice.  She cannot begrudge Jamie time to know his son despite the danger to them all, but she yearns for her daughter and regrets the fact that she will never get to know her father and he her.

Jamie Yearns

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Jamie didn’t expect to see William ever again. Sam Heughan’s take on what this moment would have been like was everything, The look on his face when he’s sees Willie, the unshed tears, the look he gives John when he gives William his name were visceral.  He is overwhelmed and unsure.  But, it all fades when his son speaks to him.  The joy on his face was remarkable. Jamie yearns for his children.

I know that some fans have expressed their difficulty in understanding why Jamie just didn’t tell people he was Willie’s father and take him home to Scotland. The unsatisfactory truth is that it was a different time.  His son is an Earl and as a result has all the advantages that come with his station. Do you take that away from him?  Do you label him a bastard? Do you cause the Dunsanys to be shamed over something you did?  Jamie believes it is his fault their daughter died, so can he now take away their grandson? No. Complicated and heart-wrenching. With the assurance that Lord John Grey will make an appropriate and caring step-father, Jamie made the sacrifice to leave his son.

It has always grieved me that this wonderful man has been denied fatherhood so many times. He is a man who loves children and family. He would have been a wonderful father to Faith, Brianna, and Willie. Probably the most convincing evidence that Jamie would be a wonderful father is the relationship he has with children that are not of his blood.  Fergus, Ian, Joan and Marsali to name a few. Through the early years, we see saw Jamie’s interactions with wee William. he stays when he could have left and  becomes a role model to his son despite the difference in their stations.  He cares for, spends time with and teaches William.  In a very real way, Jamie is a “father-figure” to little Willie.  In my opinion, Jamie was as a good of a father to William as he could possibly be.  And, I am grateful that we got to see him spend time on the ridge teaching his son “how to be in the world”, to fish and to hunt, and to enfold him in his arms and offer him comfort and express his pride in William’s courage.

Personally, I loved the changes that resulted in William recognizing “Mac” and his blurting out to the indians that he was the boy’s father.  Did anyone else get the feeling the indians believed Willie was the son of Bear Killer? I have since been wondering and speculating how these changes could affect the story moving forward. William will have to doubt his parentage and that sets up all kinds of wonderful conflicts and tensions and …yearnings, “I ran to you, but you did not look back.  Why did you not look back?” asks William.  “I wanted to.” his father replies.  I tearfully smiled at the significance of Willie’s glance back at “Mac”.

Do You Feel Yourself Content?

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In this episode, everyone comes face to face with the facts of their own lives.  Jamie cannot be a father to his own children. Claire chose to leave Brianna.  John is not free to love or be loved as he chooses. And yet, by the end of the episode there is a sense of peace and contentment and …hope.  Jamie sees that although Willie is blood of his blood, John is his father and the evidence was right there when Willie bravely took responsiblity for his actions to save another just as Papa John once did to save Claire. (It makes me excited to see how Jamie will handle another of his children that was raised by another man. A man he does not feel so generous towards). He is grateful. John is given the gift of acceptance from the most unlikely of sources and Claire… the facts she faces are much harder to reconcile. Unlike Jamie and John, she was not forced by circumstances beyond her control into the life she now finds herself.  She chose to leave her daughter and there is no doubt she regrets it. In my opinion, the writers chose wisely when they gave us that intimate moment between Jamie and Claire. The tenderness and gratitude and expression of their longing and love was needed. Their joy in being together was a balm to the doubts this episode raised for each of them. I love this tv show for its own story telling that allows me another lens through which to see life’s truths. None of our lives are perfect or without regret, but like Jamie and Claire we all can feel ourselves content through  acceptance, gratitude, and living in the moment. May we all have a home we love, honorable work, someone we love beside us, good friends and the knowledge that those we care about are cared for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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72 thoughts on “Do you feel yourself content… a reflection on Outlander 4.6 “Blood of My Blood”

  1. Ann Kelman

    I love how you pick up every nuance in the storyline. I thought the dialogue and it’s sentiments were beautiful. The “say it as it is” Claire we know and love and John opening his heart to her. Then the wonderful relationship of Jamie and his son. Sam played a blinder! I felt every emotion. I think you’ve summarised the episode beautifully. Thank you.

  2. Joan Tinnin

    Aww, Beth, you made me tear up all over again! I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the episode. That the bath scene was “creepy “. That LJG is creepy. That William is annoying. On the other side, much love for this episode. I love what your thoughts are on it. It is how I feel. I was rather shocked at John’s statement re Jamie’s offer to him. She forgave him as he was very ill. I was very glad that John asked forgiveness for it. I am satisfied. I love the episode.

  3. Anne

    Beautifully written thoughts about one aspect of this brilliant episode. The producers have told us that they film in blocks of 2 episodes. Well, 5 and 6 are my favorites so far! So much to love in this one.

  4. Beth,
    It was a jewel of an episode. Your thoughts are spot on. There is so much in this one and the adaptation was very satisfying. I too wonder at the ramifications on down the line. But I truly was glad that William remembered Mac. The look back over his shoulder was such a reward for Jamie. I do not understand why anyone thought the bath scene to be anything but perfection. Thanks for a lovely summation. The episodes get better and better.

  5. Txsassenach

    Beth, I have to disagree with you just a little bit. I don’t think either Jamie or Claire ‘regrets’ the choice each of them made to leave their children. I think that time has shown them that the price of the choice is higher than they may have expected, but even then, I doubt they believe the choice was wrong. Also, I found myself a little confused by LJG’s statement that was bothered by the satisfied look on Claire’s face. I would have thought it was the satisfied look on Jamie’s face that caused him consternation and explained his antipathy toward Claire. And it was John’s smugness, not Claire’s that provided the deepest cut from the sharpest tongue in this episode. And provided the best comeback. Yes, you SHOULD stop talking, my Lord.

    • I feel like you can regret something without it being totally wrong. I can make a choice and still regret that a choice had to be made. I love you feel you can disagree! I think the writers took a different tack with the whole look thing and the not born the right person than in the book

    • I think John is bothered by Claire looking satisfied because he wants to be in her happy position – the recipient of Jamie’s love and companionship. John is too honorable to wish anything else but happiness for Jamie, so it follows that he wouldn’t be as upset to find Jamie happy.

  6. Very nicely said.
    May we all have a home we love, honorable work, someone we love beside us , good friends and the knowledge that those we care about are cared for.
    I loved this entire episode. Thanks again for your take on things.

  7. SI Sharon

    Hi Beth, I think the last two episodes have been so good and your commentary has been spot on. As a reader, I was curious to see how the program would handle the many reunions beyween the characters (Jamie and his children and Roger and Bree in particular) and how the actore would portray them. I have not been disappointed. -And I don’t care about young William in the privy!

    But what I want to add is that we sometimes forget that Claire is not a woman who is contemporary to our times. Although she is very “modern” for the eighteenth century and for her own times, she returned through the stones in 1968. So in many ways her wariness around Lord John May be explained by the zeitgeist of the times she’s lived in. I think that what is even more profound is how she struggles with her feelings toward Lord John and finds a level of acceptance and respect.

    Many thanks again for your wonderful insiights. I love your blog and look forward to reading it.

  8. GGW

    Hey Beth, lots to love about this episode! I appreciate your take, as always! The exchanges between Lord John and Claire were so strong! David Berry was pitch-perfect and made LJG’s fever driven envy-longing-angst so much more real and relatable than it was for me in the book. I have to watch it again, but the scene where Claire turned and LJG waited a beat, then two before whispering that was how he was born too… so many feels! I look forward to what they do with LJG’s character moving forward. Regarding William, did anyone else think of a young, earnest teenager who jumped in to defend a woman from harm when Willie jumped in to save Jamie? He is John Grey’s son by nurture as much as he is Jamie’s by nature. I think in the book, Jamie left Helwater when Willie was younger (maybe I’m wrong), but if he was almost 6 when Mac left it makes sense to me that Willie would recall him. I think those recollections gave Jamie some solace along with the heartache. I loved the look back, too. I am also firmly in the camp of liking the final scene. So glad they found a way to work the thistle ring and Da Mi Basia Mille into the episode. Looking forward to next week!!! Now, only if they could do something about Jamie’s wig… truly, the only regrettable thing about the season thus far!

  9. Marlene Lemmer

    As always, Beth, I so appreciate your views. I loved this episode, I believe it is the best one this season. Such excellence in all the actors. Sam ability to say everything without opening his mouth was key to this episode. Love it! The appearance of Murtagh was icing on the cake. The ‘John and Claire” scenes are a lesson in how to handle awkward situations. This episode certainly explores in a good way the complexities of all the different ways people can love and respect each other. All in all, this episode brings to the forefront not only this wonderful story but also how do we tackle the same type of issues in our current time.

  10. Steph

    Beautifully written as always. Actually teared while reading it. One thought, while John thinks he could have “had” Jamie, Jamie would never be “his” the way that he is to Claire. I felt that Jamie’s offer was more transactional—the best way to express his thanks to John for such a favor. In my opinion, John was just fighting back when he told Claire of the offer. To show that she didn’t know everything about his relationship. In his fantasy world, John may have thought that being with Jamie would change things but it was a one time offer. Not the same at all. Keep up the great work!

    • Ive always had a problem with how the show has interpreted that scene. In the book, it always seemed to me to be disingenuous offer. Jamie had no intention of going through with it. In fact, he told Claire it was a testing and if John had taken him upon the offer would have killed him right there.

  11. Jayne

    You could see the light of recognition in Willies eyes when he first heard Jamie speak to the horses in Gaelic..that opened the memory door! I wish we would see more of David Berry this season, but maybe not.unless he makes an appearance at River Run! Well done all..waiting to see how they handle the wearing of two silver bands?? I think Bree will end up with the Lallybroch key one

  12. Debra

    I couldn’t wait to see what you wrote about this episode. I thought Blood of my Blood was showing us the true Jamie and Claire. LJG and William were superbly written and acted. Kudos to you and the whole Outlander crew and of course, Diana. Looking forward to next week’s episode and your synopsis.

  13. Lorraine M Grzena

    By the end of your blog I am in tears. Again your insight of Blood of my Blood has explained all the emotions of the episode. I thought EVERYONE did a tremendous job expressing their thoughts,, and with most of it wordless. It is a pleasure to see how all the cast has matured over the seasons, (as if that was possible).

    I am looking forward to next week. (It is hard typing through the tears)

  14. jehscribbler

    Thanks for commentary that, as usual, brings to the fore various things about the episode that I had noticed peripherally and expands upon their meaning.

  15. Hi Beth, once again a great summary. My first impression after watching this episode for the first time was “Well that was different”. They did however get all the salient parts in so this “bookie” was very happy. Honestly, without my book hat constantly blocking my vision I’m really enjoying this season.
    I too thought Jamie was going to hug LJG when he saw him – happy for John’s sake he didn’t.
    It was wonderful to see Jamie and Willie – the joy in Jamie’s eyes was heart stopping. Sam was amazing. I was so happy they had Willie recognize “Mac” the beloved groom who made him a stinking papist I always thought it a little strange Willie had no memories of Jamie. I was however very disappointed that Young Ian was not in this episode and they didn’t have the “Willie in the Privy” scene. It was at this meeting that Ian notices how much Willie looks like Jamie and suspects who Willie’s father is.
    I loved the conversations between Claire and LJG it was good to see them confronting their prejudices and misunderstandings about each other. It’s early days but now at least they no longer consider each other enemies in a constant struggle for Jamie’s affection. They now have the beginnings of a true friendship based on mutual respect. I’m glad Claire told John that she and Jamie had a daughter and how much she regretted they were unable to raise her together. I also liked the quieter less pushy Claire (I know hush my mouth).
    I loved the ending; there was a feeling of calmness and resignation from LJG. Poor Willie was just happy LJG survived but was happy to see “Mac” again. As for Jamie & Claire their love for each other shone and I believe they felt they had weathered yet another storm in their chaotic lives but most of all the knowledge their children were safe.

  16. Nancy C.

    I have little to say. This was a great episode. My favorite line “I was born this way”. (Oh, and that Jamie tickled a fish.) Thanks Beth for always getting it right and tickling the fish

  17. Barbara Spellman

    Beth, I so look forward to your excellent, intelligent critique of each episode. I agree with everything you said. Spot on! This was a great episode packed with emotion and Jamie, Claire and Jon showing the depth and quality of their character, all people I would feel honored to call friend.

  18. Loved it all. I had the feeling that LJ’ when seeing the satisfaction on Claire’s face expressed the fact that he could not give the same to his own wife. Book readers’ did you pay attention to the snake in the opening being extracted from the privvy where William was supposed to find it?

  19. Ana

    This is the best review of this ep I have seen. The insight, the deep understanding of all emotions of all characters are superb. So well written. Beautiful, every Outlander fan should read this. Retweeted in my timeline with praise ☺️👌🔝

  20. Sandy Smallidge

    Your thoughts once again capture the essence of my reaction to the most recent Outlander. Your statement that Claire was the only character “not forced by circumstances into the life she now finds herself “ caused me to reflect. In her conversation with LJG she reminds him that Cullodon forced her separation from Jamie, a circumstance definitely beyond her control. I believe her quest for contentment, her life with Jamie, was a force beyond her control. To accept herself, her worth, she valued her life and love with him for a life well lived, a circumstance beyond control for self fulfillment. Of course, as you said, regrets are not always bad decisions, but challenging and often conflicting. Thank you for you postings and challenging us to think a bit deeper.

  21. Lisa Nappi

    Beautiful summary, Beth — so insightful and compassionate. It was a wonderful episode with great acting from everyone! I agree with Ana that every Outlander fan should read your blog — you really get to the heart of it. Thank you.

  22. Are you sure you are a veterinarian and not a psychologist Beth?! I love your astute synopsis and character and relationship insights. Wouldn’t it be great if all of us could learn how to better relate to others from the TV and books creativity? Thanks Beth – your writing is superb!

  23. Jacquelyn Kerner

    Beth, another great spot-on analysis! This was my favorite episode to date. People do tend to judge folks of an earlier time (real or literary) by our modern standards, and it just doesn’t fly. Being a bastard (in the literal sense) was a big deal then–not only in and of itself, but the added factor of Jamie being a Scot and Jacobite as well as a groom would have devastated many lives, least of all Willie’s. Many of those prejudices still hold sway today to some extent, so at the time, Jamie’s sacrifice is huge. I’ve known many parents who confuse their wants with their children’s needs, and both Jamie and John stand out as good parents. I don’t think Willie’s remembering Jamie as “Mac” the groom should prove too problematic in and of itself, and it made the ending of the episode incredibly touching. Later, of course, when he’s a teen and the resemblance is even more striking, there’s no way to gloss over the fact when they meet, and, as Jamie and John feared, the bottom drops out of William’s life and leaves him spinning. In this episode in particular, they did a fantastic job of both telescoping and condensing the action and still were able to retain remarkable fidelity to the book, Diana’s words, and the important emotional points. You brought great insight, and, as usual, I enjoyed this essay immensely!

  24. Jacquelyn Kerner

    Beth, I had another thought– you mention that you think Claire is afraid John will hurt Jamie? This is touched on (much later in the books) by Brianna saying to Lord John her mother likes John in spite of herself because this is what Claire was worried about and that there is a reason (BJR of course) that Jamie ended the budding friendship at Ardsmuir, but she tells LJ that this is something her father will have to explain if he ever wishes to.

  25. Beth, this has turned out to be a great day… I finally have heat, hot water, and am able to cook after 3-days of feeling I was in the 1700s…AND I was able to stop long enough to read your fabulous review.
    You bring so many different aspects of the story to your readers which we don’t even recognize while we are in the moment of reading or seeing OUTLANDER.
    Thank you for opening all of these secret doors for us to open and close as we see fit!
    I enjoy you so much. Thank you!

  26. Beautiful. I will cry for days. You have a way with contrasting so eloquently. Thank you Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone. From: My Outlander Blog!Sent: Monday, December 10, 2018 12:53To: bebangeles@gmail.comReply To: My Outlander Blog!Subject: [New post] Do you feel yourself content… a reflection on Outlander 4.6 “Blood of My Blood”

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    bethwesson posted: ” 

    Sitting in front of a homey fire, laughing with his friend over bad whiskey and a good chess game, Jamie glances at the bed that holds the sleeping son he can never claim.  Lord John sees the direction of Jamie’s gaze and wonders at his thoughts. “

  27. Leah

    Enjoy reading your thoughts; TY!
    But must say, I donot see LJG as magnanimous; I find him petulant and selfish. Everything he did was
    after he knew/suspected connection b/w Jaime and Willie. Isobel was the primary caregiver; LJG
    was away 6-12 mos of every yr because of his job While I believe he loves William, its his
    ‘wanting to maintain a connection to Jaime’ that is at the core of this love.I get unrequited love
    but ‘true love’ is/should be unconditional/unselfish; LJG acts like he has some right to Jaime;
    that he is an equal to Claire in some way. Maybe I’ve read him wrong.
    But LJG is not a ‘must see’ for me. (and yes I’ve read the Scottish Prisoner)
    Sorry. Please tell me where i’ve miscontrued LJG’s actions.

    • You certainly have the right to your own interpretation. I don’t see it that way at all. If indeed Willie was all about access to Jamie he would have taken Jamie up on his offer. I’m not sure where you are going with the primary care-giver angle either. This was not uncommon then nor is some extent is it now. Being away for extend times does not disqualify a person from fatherhood. If it did there would be a lot of service men who fall into that category. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • Leah

        No, he wouldn’t have taken Jaime up on his offer because his goal was to indebt Jaime longterm.
        Willie HAD enough family/caregivers; LJG wasn’t necessary to his upbringing. LJG only cares for Willie
        as a connection to Jaime; which is selfish, small. Sadly Jaime saw LJG as a savior of sorts, after
        Ardmour(sp)so made request of LJG; who, like a child denied of something he’ll never have, jumped at
        opportunity.
        Sorry, I just find nothing rootable/must see about LJG.
        I do enjoy reading your thoughts though……

  28. Susan Mills

    When Claire said she was “born this way” I knew he was going to reply the same. And I was not disappointed. The tear surprised and touched me. I love LJG and even if he has selfish motivations he is so real. Aren’t we all selfish from time to time.
    I look forward to your comments every week. LOVE them and the show.
    It’s easy to separate the book fan form the TV fan for me, it’s been 5 years since I read DOA so there is a lot I don’t remember. 😀

  29. Claire

    I, too, have a satisfied look on my face after watching episode 6. For me, it was the best one since last season’s, ”Of Lost Things”. I usually have a problem with jarring plot changes, but the changes here, (snake and Willie in the privy, Indian dying in the corn crib, Ian’s absence, Jamie’s journey to the Indian village, Murtagh’s presence, Willie remembering ‘Mac’), all felt like parts of a really good adaptation. This was not a plot episode, but all about character development. To finally have one written and directed by people who actually know and understand who these people are, and give our great actors a great, meaty script to work with, was wonderful. There was very little to dislike here…maybe another hostile confrontation with the Indians, who were friendly in the book. My biggest problem was, how the heck did Willie get leeches on his legs from wading in the creek, when he was still wearing his shoes and socks?

  30. Ellen Keine

    Dear Beth, I had to let most of this season go to dvr and am only now catching up. This post of yours is beyond your usual thoughtfulness and insight. I’ve decided to read upcoming ones before I watch the episode so I can watch it with your insight.

    Thanks so much! Ellen

    >

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