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.
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?
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…
“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.
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.
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