The very heart of love …a reflection on Outlander 4.11 “If Not For Hope”

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Outlander Season 3 2017

While I watched Jamie search for Roger, I couldn’t help but think of his life after Culloden. Instead of dying on the battle field, he was forced to live out his idea of hell, a life without Claire, without his unborn child, to be alive without his heart, without …hope. The stones had taken his future. He was an automaton in survival mode. His existence was pitiful and pitiable.

“Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of men.” Albert Camus

After watching him suffer for years as the Dunbonnet and despite the evidence to the contrary, we see that hope has not entirely left Jamie when he escapes prison and swims the cold sea to Silkie Island in hope against hope that Claire has returned to him. His fresh anguish seems to be the last straw.  He challenges Lord John in the hope that he will cut his throat and end his hopeless existence. When Lord John refuses it seems that Jamie comes to some sort of acceptance and moves on with his life, as it is. Over the years, we see him flirt with hope and watch it tear him apart again and again. Lord John’s friendship is taken from him in a moment of rare vulnerability, he loses the men of Ardsmuir, Murtagh, and …his son.  Every time he dares to look to the future, to hope, he gets a new hurt, a new regret, a new wound to his heart, …Loghaire and the girls.

But, just when it seems Jamie has been able to settle, to patch the holes in his heart with whatever mortar was handy, …his heart comes home.  When I think of what Claire’s return would have meant to Jamie, I’m the one who finds it a chore to breath. How tenuous must his joy have been and how great his fear of losing her.  It really is no wonder rational thought left him and he desperately chose to irrationally believe he would somehow escape the consequences of his marriage to Loghaire.  He had to hold on to hope.

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Jamie and Claire could not take back all those years apart and the lives they lived during that time, but they also could not let go of the hope that they would find a way back to each other. They have both lived without that hope and the thought of losing each other again is unbearable.  And so, they come to each other with all that they are battered and bruised by lives without hope, lives full of compromise and regret. Their silent looks and gentle touches express their gratitude in being together, but each look and touch also bears the weight of the knowledge of what they had lost.  The loss they both most keenly feel is Brianna.  I continue to appreciate that the show has allowed us to see Claire’s struggle with her decision to leave her daughter.  But, because of Jamie’s insistence, she was still able to be a mother to Brianna, to watch her grow up and to know that Brianna knows that she loves her.  Jamie’s sacrifice in regards to Brianna looms large.  He gave her up to hope.  He hoped she would survive and thrive without him.  We know she was always on his mind, always his babe, he wants to hear tales of her childhood, expresses his desire to reach across the centuries to make the world a better place for her, and …dreams of kissing her. What must he have felt when he saw her and knew her to be real?

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It cannot be too dissimilar to how he felt when Claire returned.  It can hardly seem real and his good fortune an undreamed of boon.  He was wrong. Despite what he told Lord John his having a home, honorable work, good friends and his wife by his side was not all that he needed.  He needs to be a father to Brianna.  It is a delicate dance these two are engaged in, each desiring a relationship, but not knowing quite how to get there.  And, just when there seemed to be hope…it all falls apart.

I do not want to minimize Brianna’s grief.  She has suffered a horrific trauma, is faced with a difficult choice in regards to her pregnancy, and has now lost the love her life.  She is understandably hurt and furious with Jamie.  But, it is not enough to say Jamie regrets his actions and is sorry for the pain he has caused, …he is gutted.  Brianna wishes him to hell, she had a father, a better man who would never have made the mistakes he made, who would have never doubted his daughter’s virtue.  He hopes if he brings home Roger she may someday forgive him, but what hurts the most is that he, “canna be a father to her”.  His self-loathing is almost palpable. His insecurity spreading to include his surety of Claire’s love.  Because of her distance, he had begun to think she too thought Frank was the better man.  When Claire admits she was upset, but not with him, he cannot believe her.  In his mind, there is no one else to blame.  She asks him to trust her, to have faith in her deep love for them both. He tearfully accepts her love and reassurance and offer of …hope.

If Not For Hope…

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“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

While Jamie, Claire and Ian search for Roger, Brianna is left to the care and mercy of Aunt Jocasta. Instead of respite and safety, she finds she has landed in a mine field.  Aunt Jocasta, ever the MacKenzie, is plotting to somehow turn this situation to her advantage. Brianna finds herself desperately trying to avoid stepping into one of her Aunt’s traps and finding herself married to one of the local gentry.  She continues to hope that her parents will find Roger and that he will still want her despite all that has happened.

If not for that hope, she could end up like…Jocasta.

Holding out hope for true love may be worth the risk of not finding it. Jocasta has everything and nothing. We do not know if Jocasta was ever in love, but we do know that she was a dutiful daughter who did what was expected of her and settled over and over again. When she shares stories of her sister Ellen with Brianna there is a strange look on her face that seems to contain both pride and derision. I couldn’t help but think of all the MacKenzie’s and how following their heart or following their duty had affected their lives and happiness. Jocasta has managed by charm and manipulation to have amassed a fortune and has no one to share it with or leave it too.  She couldn’t seduce Jamie, but fate has dealt her another hand, a pregnant niece.  Jocasta is no fool. She recognizes that this child is very much like her grandmother who by all accounts never settled for anyone or anything and Jocasta uses that knowledge to manipulate her niece.  Money and prestige are no more important to Brianna than they were to her Grandmother Ellen, but love….  Jocasta hits Brianna in her most vulnerable spot, her child.  Will Brianna choose her wants over the well-being of her child?  Will she condemn her child to being labeled a fatherless bastard? Will she not think of her security and future? Afterall, you cannot live on hope.

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Brianna’s attempt at blackmailing Lord John Grey was the desperate action of a desperate woman trying to find a more acceptable means of settling into a life without the hope of true love.  When John makes it clear that his marrying her is not an option, she tells a sympathetic Lord John, that she will do what she must for the sake of her child even if it means exchanging hope for a brokenheart. She then walks across the lawn to accept her fate and marriage to Gerald Forbes. In the end, it wasn’t her knowledge of Lord John’s sexual preference, but his loyalty and love of her parents that rescued her.  Lord John knows what settling will mean to her happiness because he has been there and he will not condemn her to it if he can help it.  His actions will at least buy her and her parents some time and allow Brianna some hope and hope …hope…is the very heart of love.

To live without Hope is to Cease to live.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

Some additional thoughts

  • The suitors and the dinner party were a wonderful addition to the story.  It was a fascinating look into arranged marriages and social pecking order and expectations and how truly trapped Brianna was. I appreciated the comic relief and Lt. Wolff’s glass face!
  • Lord John deserves his theme song and a spin-off. There are a lot of stellar actors on this show, but David Berry might be one of the best anywhere.
  • Marsali will never settle.  She will have a whole man or shoot him herself.  Which when I come to think on it is exactly what her mother did.
  • Murtagh hitting Bonnet felt so good. Fingers crossed he survives this development.
  • Had to add that a friend said it felt like a “meanwhile back at the ranch” episode, LOL They stuffed a lot in there for sure and it definitely affects the tone and pacing.
  • Poor Roger

 

 

 

 

 

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66 thoughts on “The very heart of love …a reflection on Outlander 4.11 “If Not For Hope”

  1. But Claire’s apology carried a caveat…now that Bree was here, Claire could not promise Jamie complete honesty anymore??? Not the kind of love that is the main arc of all of DG’s books. The series has turned a corner from which there may be no return…

      • jehscribbler

        Perhaps because it is a problem I have dealt with a few times as the mother of a daughter who sometimes isn’t sure she is comfortable having her dad know things she tells me, my interpretation was that when you have a child who is an adult and they ask you to keep a confidence for a reason you agree is a fair reason you may struggle with when/if to tell their father. You do have somewhat divided loyalties, trying to be fair to both your daughter’s desire for privacy and your husband’s need to know what is happening with her. Remember that Brianna didn’t want to cause Jamie pain because Ian had told her that Jamie blamed himself for Bonnet having escaped. Claire couldn’t know that Lizzie would wrongly assume Roger had raped Brianna and that Jamie would attack him. So she could reasonably assume that she could allow Brianna to choose the right time to tell Jamie herself about who the man was who had raped her.

      • ty beth and thank you jenscribbler! I took Claire’s comment as the OP did and have been arguing/agonizing over it. I get it now and now I can sleep ❤️😊

      • Karen Fein

        I did not find the sex scene between LJG and the Judge gratuitous. It is the way it is. I did wonder though why Bree watched as long as she did. Also, I thought that Claire wasn’t saying she couldn’t promise Jamie honesty now that Bree was with them. I heard it that she couldn’t promise that she may keep secrets. May be incorrect here so will have to rewatch again to make sure. Not that I need an excuse to rewatch. I always enjoy your insights, Beth.

  2. Beth, I had to lol at your wig reference. In this ep, during the quiet moments between Claire and Jamie, I kept catching myself staring at that thing on Caitriona’s head. It was awful. I have not been too bothered by them prior to that scene. I was also put off by the sex scene with Lord John and the judge. I think I gasped when I first saw it. I too thought that Bree peering around the door and finding the men in a passionate kiss/embrace would have been sufficient. I cannot imagine Lord John doing that in such a public place where anyone could and did stumble upon them. His character is so much more discreet. But, again…oh, well…I did enjoy the episode anyway. Well…all of it but that wig. – Dawn

      • Joanne Kenny

        agree – – hate all the wigs. . esp. on Jamie and Claire. A kiss would have have been enough to make Brianna realize Sir John’s sexual preference.

      • Agree. Diana has said that the things she puts in her books, including the sex scenes, are there to further the plot or the relationship (or reader’s understanding of the relationship) between characters, they are not gratuitous or for sex’ sake. Her depiction of Bree finding out about John wasn’t even a kiss, was it? It was just him leaving a slave’s quarters late at night. And yet we and Bree all knew what had happened. The writers seemed to have forgotten that sometimes less is more, or at the very least sufficient. Especially when you have so few precious minutes and episodes in which to fit so much material.

  3. Anne

    Thanks, Beth. Yes, of course I enjoyed the episode. There are so many different threads in the story right now. Particularly wondering what their plan is for Murtagh.

    Re: the pantry scene, I sat sadly shaking my head wishing that they hadn’t ” gone there ” So many better options and I agree totally out of character for LJG.

    I did enjoy David Berry, though!

    • Panda

      I was saddened by the choice to show that LJG scene in the pantry. I have always appreciated his discretion in his private preference.
      It was very dangerous to be in a place to be seen for the both of them. I liked the way it was written because it showed the class act that LJG is.

  4. Celia Toohey

    Thank you for your thoughts. Agree with you on the sex scene-totally gratuitous. I find myself wondering what the characters would look like with their OWN hair because of those wigs. Sam really sold his self-hatred in this ep. You could feel his agony at screwing up this whole thing with Roger. But, I really liked that Claire owned HER part of the misunderstanding.

    • yes, one of the reasons I had hoped they left in the abortion discussion scene with Jamie and Claire last week was because of the impasse over Brianna. She did but Bree over him in the books in a way much more damning than this secret keeping. But, i too was glad she was able to share her regrets too

  5. Good article! Thank you for expressing empathy for Jamie’s dilemma. I really feel for him! While the wigs may or may not be better than the actors’ own hair, they do not really distract me from the show. And, I kinda enjoyed watching Lord John’s sex scene, although I do agree a passionate kiss would have gotten across the point to Brianna that he is gay. I think seeing him having sex with another man gave her more leverage to use against him, though. I think Lord John lost himself to a moment of passion and can forgive him for being indiscreet. How difficult it must be for him to rein in his emotions all the time! And I’m especially happy that he chose a white man to be indiscreet with! Thanks again.

    • I agree CHERRIGNESS. LJG and the judge who lived with his mother were clearly engaged in a consensual act. That would not have been clear if Lord John were having sex with a slave. He may have been indiscreet but he’s always honorable.

  6. Mc

    I enjoyed reading your article and agree on some points. But…..it seems like too much emotion to attach to Bree and Roger’s relationship. First of all, what relationship? Yes I saw them handfast and I’ve read the books, but I’m not buying Breanna’s sudden love for Roger. She goes from “what are you doing here” in an angry tone to let’s get married bc I’m in love. When did that happen? I can definitely see your article in reference to J and C, but the show did a poor job of letting us see their relationship. In my opinion, of course.

    • I think I would agree that they seem to have let us see more of their love when they aren’t together then when they
      are. I can’t help but think how changed they will be when they do reunite and how that affect their relationship for the better

  7. Susan Kamlet

    Sex scene with LJG was a short hand way of showing what Brianna saw at the slave quarters.
    I love that your thoughts and my own are in sync!
    As a 71 year old, retired teacher and late in life French student, my favorite words seem to be j’espère. “I hope…” I believe that there is always hope. It seems that Diana does too, at least in her books, hope, as well as love.

      • Joanne Kenny

        apparently I missed something at the slave quarters? or have forgotten? could you please explain? thank you!

      • yes instead of Brianna seeing Lord Jon with the judge in the books she saw him coming out of the slave quarters and putt and two together. Many including myself are uncomfortable with idea that Lord John had a position of privilege and there would we no way to know the sex was consensual

  8. Jane B.

    Another great, insightful review Beth. Thanks for thinking beyond just one episode (not the best) and relating it to the themes that have run through the season.

  9. JANET A EWASKIEWICZ

    “Jocasta has everything and nothing. ” I loved this comment, Beth. I don’t know if they will have her tell the story of her lost husbands and babies in an upcoming season, but I hope they do. It sheds so much light on the emptiness of her current life and why she is so desperate to have a family member be her heir.

    I also took the “quickie” scene in the butler’s pantry to be a way to show what happened in the slave quarters much more quickly, and with no suggestion of coercion on Lord John’s part. They have to condense so much of this story, and presenting it like it is in the book would involve building a bunch of sets for just a minute or two of film–if that. When I watched the show the second time around, I noticed Lord John and the judge making eye contact to indicate mutual interest, which I DIDN’T see the first time around. David Berry and the judge (don’t remember that actor’s name) did a very nice job in that scene.

    Poor Roger. But poor Bree, poor Jamie, poor Claire, poor Fergus…Diana does love to torture her characters, doesn’t she? I was so satisfied with Murtagh’s knocking our Bonnet, but I couldn’t help thinking that Jamie KNEW the governor was aware of Murtagh’s involvement with the Regulators. Why in the world did he send him to Wilmington and put his godfather in such danger to catch Bonnet?! I trust that some other scenes in the latter part of Drums of Autumn will be tweaked a bit so that this isn’t Murtagh’s last hurrah. Hopefully he’ll continue on as an X factor in Season 5, too.

    So close to the end, but I think I can see where they’re heading. I loved this reflection on this episode, Beth. Thanks so much for posting!

  10. Gretchen Field

    I had been waiting patiently for your email…. having read so many comment in the groups, I knew you would bring more depth to the title, “If Not for Hope”….. I love that you went back so far to show how important “hope” has been all a long. The quotes were perfect. I’m in agreement that the writers choice to expose Lord John to Bree was poorly done and he would never have taken such a risk. I shook my head and thought… where is the judge’s mother, waiting outside??? I missed the comment from Lord John in the book about “granny lust”…. You were right on about the rest of the guests at dinner, especially Lt. Wolfe’s facial expressions and his pushing his way forward to Bree, then backing off when Lord John appears. I haven’t been as bothered as others about the wigs, but I told a friend that Claire desperately looked like she need some shampoo and conditioner when she approaches Jamie in bed. Loved Murtagh’s conk on Bonnet’s head… he thought he had the upper hand and this old man was nothing… sorry Bonnet, you don’t know Murtagh. Also, Murtagh’s quick save of Fergus. Hoping that they will be able to save him. With only two episodes left, we have to get Roger home too.

  11. Betty

    Thank you for another thoughtful article. You have made me feel a lot better about this episode. I’ve only watched it once so far but my first impression was that the dialogue was quite forced and didn’t flow naturally in quite a few scenes. I did like the little scene with Ian and Claire though.
    I am getting very frustrated with Brianna. I know she has gone through a lot but I wish she would stop being so self-centred and grow up. I hope we are eventually going to see her reconciliation with Jamie – wasn’t it sort of “off screen” in the book?
    I agree about the gratuitous sex scene. Quite unnecessary and disappointing considering non-gratuitous sex has always been one of Outlander’s hallmarks. Perhaps it was thinking about Jamie in the forest (and was it a wee red squirrel on his head?) that caused Lord John’s indiscretion.
    Still love it though.

  12. I agree with what wrote Jane B. , well though out Bethwesson. Just like this episode comes to fill some gaps of the previous, as it is the case of the conversation between Jamie and Clair, also sometimes we have to broaden our vision beyond the restricted time of an episode to better understand a character. But, for me, the episode was worth the scene(s) between LJG and Bree. The script gave them exceptionally difficult dialogue that oscillates between the dramactc, the almost comic, the confessional, the threaten, the despair, the tenderness, the relive and the understanding. Letting breathe all the wide range of feellings contained in the text bothe actors deliverad us brillant interpretations.

  13. I have to add that , after all , it is true – ” it is always good to have a Murtagh”
    Very funny your sillogism about Marsali and is mother.It was good to see Fergus and his family again.
    Since L.J.G. is going to be Bree`s “beard” i see some sarcasm in that. Always a gentleman and loyal frend.
    Aunt Jocasta is a true MacKenzie and congratulates Bree for being so. Strangely Roger Mac seems to be the one with the least MacKenzie`s characteristics, namely : a manipulative and deceptive charm . He is a understanding and some what naive Wakefield.

  14. Hi Beth. This wasn’t one of my favorite episodes. LOL don’t get me going about the wigs I was just thinking Jamie’s wig was better this week an in strolled Claire with that abomination on her head. What is wrong with the Costume Dept!!
    I agree with you regarding the LJG sex scene. Totally OTT as it was something LJG would NEVER have done. I did love the interaction between LJG and Bree. I think John managed to soften some of Bree’s anger towards Jamie. For a dreadful moment I thought LJG was going to tell Bree she had a brother 😀
    Jamie and Bree had such a new and tenuous relationship. Neither really knows the other or how they think and react. It was quite heartrending to see how hard the fracture in their relationship hit them.
    I took Claire’s statement that she may not be able to honor her promise to tell him everything as you did. If Bree told her something in confidence she would honor it.
    Loved Ballsy Marsali – you go girl. Murtagh tracking Bonnet has me a little nervous. Wonder how that will end up.
    What else is there to say but Poor Roger…….That opening scene with him in the shower had me thinking OMG Roger went back…NO. That was a very unsatisfactory way of showing the Indians recaptured him.

  15. tabby1249

    I have been through adaptations of several of my favorite books/book series over the years. Most have ranged from ‘just okay’ to painfully disappointing. One of the book series that I loved the most was so seriously trashed by the producer’s “artistic vision” that I swore I would never let myself get invested in a TV or movie adaptation ever again. So, it was with some trepidation that I started watching the adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s books.

    When I started watching the product output created by Ron Moore, Terry Dresbach, Matt Roberts, Maril Davis, et al, I was so pleased that I have heretofore, been reluctant to levy much in the way of criticism. IMO, they have done a laudable job of adapting this very content rich series of books. Unfortunately, like you, I think they fell woefully short of the mark with LJG’s tryst in the butler’s pantry. Another Outlander blogger/analyst has mentioned that perhaps this was a choice to change it from the scene in the books that had it taking place in the slave quarters with unlikely mutually consensual participation. I get that, but what they showed did a disservice to the character of LJG, cheapened the storytelling, and was a real misstep by the production team.

    I also felt this episode showed the strain of trying to keep multiple story lines going. It felt choppy and disconnected. Sophie Skelton’s command of her character seemed to take a step backward, but on the bright side Lauren Lyle’s Marsali was terrific. She is her mother’s daughter in a very good way.

    Bottom line: I’m still a solid fan and everyone makes a misstep from time to time. I just wish they hadn’t made this particular one. Thanks for giving me and others a place to air our thoughts.

  16. Jacquelyn Kerner

    Great blog as always! I was happy with the episode because it clarified or balanced small complaints I had about the previous one, leaving me with only Ian’s really rushed proposal as being awkward. Sometimes when they have to condense and telescope so much the characters, particularly Claire and Jamie do sometimes seem more bitchy and weaker, respectively, than their book counterparts, but I think the last couple of episodes when I think on it, really did a good job, and they seemed to tackle or as I said, “balanced” that out with several of the conversations they had in “Hope.” I really felt you “hit the nail on the head” as you discussed Jamie’s emotional state and reminded us there’s a bigger picture of the characters (particularly Jamie and Claire) than just any particular episode in the series. Seems easy to get myopic sometimes. I revised my view of him being “weak” and slight anger with Claire for not being more “even” in her upset/blame with these conversations that made it much clearer why they reacted the way they did.

    I admit to being very startled on first viewing of the LJG and Alderdyce tryst–my first thought was “LJ would NEVER be so indiscreet and risky!” but I knew they couldn’t possibly do it as it was in the book, of course. Never thought of any possible lack of choice in the matter of the slave quarters; I simply trusted to LJ’s character to know he’d never put anyone in that position. Interesting thought and whether he meant it that way or not, could certainly have been just that simply because your partner is a slave. I was a little shocked, at first, at the rather graphic tryst scene and to have Brianna viewing it (the 60’s were all about “free love,” but I’m not sure that came with total freedom from prejudice, especially for a “good Catholic girl,), but I don’t know. I then thought if I’m OK with graphic heterosexual sex, am I being a hypocrite to be slightly shocked here? Again, I’m not sure. I do think that David Berry is a fantastic LJG! Like Sam and Caitriona, he really “is” the character when he’s on screen. Also, Sophie has been a revelation, especially in these last two episodes. She’s been fantastic.

    I don’t mind the wigs–Claire’s hair did look awful, but how realistic is it to have gorgeous hair on a nightmare of a camping trip, or any for that matter? Jamie’s is OK although I did like his look better in Season 1 for sure; however, it would really limit how he looked in anything else. 😀 Still, if they’re going to use wigs, couldn’t Jamie have longer hair? At least a bit. Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode; thanks for a very good and thoughtful essay.

  17. Lizzie Bee Gee

    I honestly dont understand how bad hair can distract me, but it does! Normally it’s Jamie’s hair which I’ll watch to see if it moves at all. But this time I found myself just staring at Claire’s stringy strands. How can Costumes come up w the most gorgeous creative clothing while giving the leads such awful wigs?
    TY Beth for affirming several of my own thoughts that bubbled up. Only 2 more eps *fingers x’d*

  18. Rusty

    Wonderful post! You hit all the nails on the head. I thought I heard the echo of Jenny in Marsali’s request of Murtagh, “I’ll have a whole man or none at all.” I love her character. And faithful, competent Fergus is the father he always wanted. Murtagh, as always, is a treat. To think I worried about a 75 year old man going up against a pirate! He’ll be fine.

    I didnot like the sex scene with Lord John. I understand why the writers took his tryst out of the slave quarters. That unequal power over a black man bothered me in the book. However, John has been hiding a long time and he would have never taken such a risk with a total stranger. Let alone be rude enough to do it in the butler’s pantry. Poor Ulysses! The sex itself was gratuitous. A kiss or embrace would have sufficed. But I do love Lord John and I am glad they included some of the book’s dialogue. Funny, John told Bree the same thing as Jamie about a man accepting another’s child as his own. She wouldn’t listen to Jamie but did to John. Why is it kids will listen to their friends before their parents?
    Which brings us to Jamie. Can we get some love for our guy for sending Lord John in the first place? We knew he wrote Jocasta a letter, but we didn’t know he wrote John and Bree. While trying to think of packing all the things they would need to survive on the camping trip from Hell, Jamie took time to ask his friend to watch over his OTHER child. I would love to read that letter. That was a nice change from the books. Most of the scene between Claire and Jamie in the tent was straight out of the book. Thank goodness. I went back and re-read the Bree/Jamie fight. Claire did stand up for her husband instead of letting Bree call him names with impunity. That really bothered me last week. When the writers stick with Gabaldon’s words, Sam and Cait soar! We get back to the core and the heart of the story. I did have some trouble with the pacing, though. In the book, Claire snuggles against Jamie and asks him to warm her. In the show, Jamie is bereft & full of despair. They have a very short tearful conversation and Claire hops on and rides like a cowgirl. “Je suis prest,” indeed!
    The fact that Sam made it through the scene while looking at the hair hat Cait was wearing is a tribute to his acting ability. Losing focus on her wig (I know it’s supposed to look unkempt) during an emotional soul bearing scene cannot be what anyone had in mind. I think it’s the perfectly semi-circular hairline. This is akin to leaving the theater humming the scenery. They thinned Jamie’s bangs, showing a bit of forehead, which helped a lot. Don’t these people look at dailies? Except for the Murtagh storyline, which is good but adds to an already crowded plot, the old rule stands. Stick closely to Gabaldon and you’ll always hit the mark. Stray from her at your peril.

  19. SI Sharon

    Hi Beth, I loved your comments. I laughed about the wigs. But I thought that hair in that era probably looked just as bad-no hair washing and probably a lot of lice! What sometimes bothers me is when the characters look too clean-even the aristocratic ones-no regular bathing in those days. Diana does a great job describing these living conditions in the books. So, maybe the wigmakers tried to create ugly, messy for our beautiful stars. It’s also funny that Jocasta, Roger, Brianna, Ian, Murtagh, LJG, Marsali and Fergus don’t get the wig comments…. So for the wigs, poor J and C!

  20. Sue

    I always enjoy your reviews. With regard to Lord John, I completely agree – the sex scene was definitely unnecessary, as you say. I need to check the book to see exactley how his and Bree’s ‘engagement’ came about. His respect and love for her father have saved her. I feel like I need to watch the episode again now! lol Thank you for your wonderfully insightful reviews! And the historical quotes.

  21. Jude

    Excellent Beth, as always. Just a note to the wig haters….it’s NOT the costume dept that does them. I actually love Claire’s hair…. mine used to do exactly that when I was younger lol. This week’s distraction, for me, was Bree’s and LJG’s eyebrows….I challenge you to watch the terrace scene again and not see the eyebrows discussing Jamie…….xxx

  22. Sandra Simmonds

    I enjoyed the article, Beth. Loved the connection back to Jamie’s past. Season 3 fell flat for me because they did not capture exactly what you wrote about – Jamie’s return to hope and joy when Claire came back to him and he realised his child was alive and well. The season instead decided to contrive ‘tension’ between them that they did not meaningfully resolve in later episodes. Lost the magic of what this all meant for Jamie. Anyway, you have given your usual thoughtful review of the episode.

  23. Barbara Spellman

    As usual, Beth, I can’t wait to read your review of each episode. Your insight and beautiful expression of it always ads depth to my understanding of the books and series. I absolutely loved your theme of hope, and your references to past incidents in the series. So much hope was had by so many characters, some that we grew to love lost it forever, others, like Jamie and Claire, temporarily. The quotes you used to reinforce your theme were wonderful too. I also felt the sex scene gratuitous, but was happy to see the dialogue between Bree and LJG was so insightful that for me it balanced it out. I just love LJG, such a kind, honorable man. I loved it when Bree said, referring to LJG’s son “If he is anything like his father, her must be a perfect gentleman.” and LJG saying, “He is very much like his father.” I loved Claire’s and Jamie’s dialogue at the end too. Can any parent say they haven’t made mistakes in their children’s lives–having good intentions?

  24. Nancy C.

    Getting to the sex scene that has many questioning why and leaving the book version out of this.

    I wasn’t horrified or left wondering why this scene was played out as it was. I felt that LJ was emotionally surprised at meeting Brianna and oddly turned on at her parlor game. He has loved Jamie Fraser from the get-go. Meeting Brianna brought this desire front and center. That he knew he had a like-minded partner in the judge must have been a gift to him that night. Be damned as it might be. Two consenting adults in the middle of the night – all of the household asleep. Even straight-laced, honorable LJ has his moments of saying “F” it.

    Lol. I remember 40 years ago being caught in a compromising position with my husband. Mortifying. And 40 years ago was a testy time for women. For men. For equal rights. For those who wanted to love who they loved. I can’t imagine how some people lived their lives back then. Makes me sad.

    Poor Roger. Poor beaten up Roger. The book was hard on the guy but watching this is more than enough. Please rescue Roger.

    All this being said, welcome back Jamie and Claire. We’ve missed you.

  25. Nancy C.

    One last thought here tonight regarding LJ and the judge. This was a moment of agreed upon relations. I didn’t feel like it was some gratuitous sex scene they threw in for our amusement. While it may have made some of us uncomfortable, it was not what we watched when Jamie was being violated by BJR in Season One. Yet we sort of all accepted that. On screen. Yes, surely a kiss would do.

  26. Laine Andrews

    Bree’s being willing to marry first Lord John, a man she knew to be homosexual and then an unattractive little nonentity to give her child a name made her seem not very clever. She could have called her handfasting with Roger a real marriage, with the father tragically kidnapped or dead. Who was to contradict her? As a 20th century woman tempting Roger into sex before marriage why would she suddenly care so much for 18th century niceties? Handfasting WAS a marriage but she goes around telling people that hers is invalid because of the lack of witnesses. Make her maid a witness after the fact.

      • Laine Andrews

        Hi Beth,
        No, I haven’t written about this at greater length elsewhere but I could add that Bree is problematic for a lot of readers and viewers because she does frankly dumb things in the past, though she’s supposedly very bright. In the book she was an engineer and did ingenious things like find a way to “invent” matches and water pumps before their time just as her mother eventually “invents” penicillin and anaesthesia. Some engineers are seen as somewhere on the autism spectrum, Asperger’s syndrome in the case of women so they’re not that swift on reading and reacting to social subtleties. However, the show made Bree a historian like the father who raised her. Historians study human behavior.

        Frank also supposedly taught her survival skills like being a crack shot. For someone with that backstory, Bree went into the past grossly unprepared, not even a Swiss army knife in her pocket. (The lack of condoms that others have criticized is understandable as she did not plan on staying and having casual sex with anyone but returning to her own time and Roger since she had no idea he was following her). Claire had all kinds of useful things in the pockets of her batsuit. Why did Bree go with just the old-timey clothes on her back? I mean Claire would surely have appreciated a new supply of penicillin! And Ms. Gabaldon continued to make Bree act clueless, aggravated by the show writers. A grown supposedly independent brilliant woman shouldn’t need her Mommy and Daddy so much and a historian should be more curious and thrilled to be living in a past she’s studied and more prepared for the negatives.

        Would a “brilliant” woman have sacrificed her life to a loveless possibly sexless marriage to avoid having her child branded a bastard when it would have been far easier to claim to be married…and she had some right to do so with the handfasting. Or claim to be a recent widow.

        The “forgiveness” for the unrepentant rapist also clangs. Jamie’s advice in his letter really amounted to not killing one’s rapist in cold blood but letting someone else do it for you (also not really a coherent argument or Christian forgiveness). The puppeteers of the Bree character should have stayed with her desire for some kind of closure instead of going that step too far into forgiveness because nothing else about her was that kind of soul. She bizarrely seemed angrier and less forgiving toward her misled father Jamie than Bonnet. When she broke Jamie’s heart by telling him Frank would never have dreamed of saying to her what Jamie did, well Frank had the privilege of knowing her for over 20 years…shouldn’t that have factored into her rant?

        Bree was likely conceived as a prickly personality, her mother’s daughter but still likeable, like Claire. Instead the contradictions between Bree’s supposed smarts and her behavior turn off many readers/viewers as I’m sure you’ve seen in comment threads. She appears to be everyone’s LEAST favorite character. Unfortunately, I agree with many that Ms. Skelton’s acting skills are not in the same league as Balfe and Heughan so she cannot impress or entice us into forgetting the contradictions as the other actors occasionally elevate simply bad material.

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