It’s been awhile since I’ve felt inspired to write about my favorite books and show. However, after re reading Drums of Autumn, I found my self itching to pound on my keyboard about a particular scene we are all looking forward to seeing, the meeting of Jamie Fraser and the daughter he never thought to know, Brianna. At this point, I shouldn’t be surprised by the coincidences that happen when I sit down to write about Outlander because guess what they were just filming?
Executive Producer Maril Davis’ tweet has confirmed my belief that I must be clairvoyant and, …made me excited to see how the show will handle this particular moment!
One of the things I love about the TV version of Diana Gabaldon’s story is the gaps they sometimes fill in, like what would life have been like for Jamie apart from Claire and Claire apart from Jamie, what would the battle of Culloden have been like, and to wander the courts of Versailles. So, I’m hoping we will get to “see” how Brianna decides to go through the stones. Enough time has passed between Claire leaving and Brianna living without her for reflection and maybe regret. Her mother is dead by all that we understand about the laws of nature and physics and yet, she isn’t. She isn’t really an orphan because she can time travel, she can see her mother again, and…meet the father she never knew.
Brianna makes the choice to go through the stones and back in time because she has discovered information about her parent’s future and feels the need to warn them. As altruistic as I believe Bree’s motives are, I think at least in part, she takes the risk because she misses her mother and wants to meet her father. Who wouldn’t? Her mother is dead in Bree’s world of the 1960’s and yet, …not. Time travel makes a lot of things at least possible including meeting your “dead” parents. The temptation must have been strong, the chance to be reunited with her mother must have been upper most in her mind, she was living on her own, alone and most certainly longing for her mother. She sneaks off because she is afraid that Roger MacKenzie would stop her or come with her and she needs him to stay in the future. She believes that, in part, a safe trip through the stones depends on having someone in the future or past that “draws” you to them. As is true of most things in the world of Outlander, Brianna’s plans go awry, Roger follows her, and she experiences a multitude of hardships on the road to reaching her parents. Her journey’s setbacks and adventures only serve to build the suspense that will culminate in her meeting her father. We find ourselves holding our breath when it looks like her bond servant Lizzie’s illness may stop Brianna from getting to Cross Creek and cause her to miss meeting her father.
While thinking about this scene, I was reminded of the old saying that nothing is as bad or as good as you think it will be. The eagerness and trepidation that Brianna experiences in her search for her parents is heartbreaking and her feelings for Jamie Fraser are complicated to say the least. He is her father because her mother told her so, but she has had no experience of him. She is told he loves her, in fact, she has been told that her father sacrificed the one thing that meant the most to him to keep her safe. He sent her mother back through the stones for his unborn child’s sake, her. All she really knows of her father is contained in the stories her mother has told her and I couldn’t help, but believe that Jamie Fraser must have seemed like the stuff of fairy tales to Brianna. He couldn’t have been less real to her than the tales of King Arthur and yet, she knows he is real.
You all know that I longed for the moment in the print shop when Jamie falls apart in Claire’s arms, the moment when he realizes that Brianna is safe and all his sacrifice was not in vain. It wasn’t quite what I got, but what I did get was wonderful in its own way. This scene, I’m sure, will come with its own set of fan expectations and I’m sure the writer’s and actors know this. However, I find myself more ambivalent about this scene than the print shop. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what they will do or if the way Diana wrote the scene would play well on the screen. She played with my expectations and it took me awhile to appreciate how the author told this part of the story.
When I first read the “reunion” (is that what it was?), I’ll admit it felt a bit anti-climatic and left me feeling somewhat disappointed. I’m not sure what I believed it should have been, but I think I was expecting a lot more overt emotion. I have certainly had time to reflect and re read that scene and now find Diana’s choice to write this with some subtly a bit of genius. Brianna had most certainly built this moment up in her head. In fact, she shares that she had gone over the moment she would meet Jamie in her mind again and again, what would she say, what would he say? Her expectations of the moment and her father had to have reached “bigger than life” proportions. So, how does Diana subvert the expected and turn our notions of what should happen on their head? Well,…she has Brianna rush out of a tavern, hard pounding in expectation of finally seeing her father, and …finds him peeing on a tree. Brianna’s first glimpse of her father made him seem human pretty quickly, just a man after all.
…There was no doubt in her mind, from the first glimpse. She was at once surprised and not surprised at all; he was not quite what she had imagined—he seemed smaller, only man-sized…” Diana Gabaldon, Drums of Autumn
The scene that follows, I have now come to realize, is just what Brianna needed. Jamie of course doesn’t recognize her. Why would he, she is the last person he would expect to see. Because he doesn’t know who she is and because Brianna can’t quite find her voice or the words to tell him, he interacts with her without that knowledge and as a result reveals his character to her. She learns more about who this man is in the few minutes he doesn’t know who SHE is than she could have ever learned in all the “stories” she was told.
HUMOR, KINDNESS, TRUSTWORTHINESS, LOYALTY, STRENGTH, TENDERNESS, A MAN WORTHY OF LOVING
He sees her staring at him and asks her why she is there in a voice that is sharp, but not unkind. She manages to blurt out the single word ,”You”. Jamie looks her up and down in her male “costume”, raises an eyebrow, and with a half-smile says ,”Sorry, lass I’m a marrit man”, and tries to walk past her. She stops him and he once again tries to courteously disengage, but something makes him take a closer look at her. She is able to observe him observing her general grubbiness and realizes he thinks she is destitute. His tone changes and he reaches for his purse to give her some money to eat, kindness shining in eyes so like her own.
Brianna manages to ask him if he is Jamie Fraser, he is now wary and looks toward the tavern. Thinking she may have been sent to him, he quietly asks if she has a message for him. Brianna is struck by the absurdity of it all, a message? She almost laughs and finally tells him her name. She watches his face and realizes he knows it, and feels joy at the knowledge. He is obviously experiencing shock and it takes him a moment to catch up. Poor guy, people are always showing up unexpectantly into his life. He, of course, says exactly the wrong thing and comments on her size, lol! At her indignation, his face cracks, and he quickly reassures her with an expression of “half-painful eagerness” on his face. He asks if it is truly her and then explains with a gentle touch to her hair and face that his surprise is that he never thought of her as grown.
I saw the pictures, but still— I had ye in my mind somehow as a wee bairn always—as my babe, I never expected…” His voice trailed off as he stared at her, the eyes like her own, deep blue and thick-lashed, wide in fascination” Diana Gabaldon Drums of Autumn
As always, Jamie thinks of Claire and his face breaks out in a wide grin at the joy he knows Brianna’s coming will bring his beloved wife. Brianna realizes her mother has found her father and it is all suddenly too much. He hugs her, cries with her and worriedly comforts her.
“Dinna weep , a leannan, dinna be troubled, ” he murmured. “it’s alright, m’annaschad; It’s all right.”
She gives her nose one last wipe and asks him the meaning of the Gaelic words A leannan and M’ annsachd. He tells her they mean darling and blessing. The tender words of endearment cause them both to be shy. Brianna starts to speak and realizes she doesn’t know what to call him. It is all so complicated. Father seems to formal, and she can’t call him daddy, Frank was her daddy and to call him this would seem a betrayal, and she certainly couldn’t call him Jamie! True to form, Jamie sees her discomfort and interprets it correctly, and tries to help alleviate her distress.
“You can…call me Da, ” he said. His voice was husky; he stopped and cleared his throat. “If—if ye want to, I mean, ” he added diffidently.
“Da, ” she said, and felt the smile bloom easily this time, unmarred by tears. “Da. Is that Gaelic?”
He smiled back, the corners of his mouth trembling slightly.
“No. It’s only…simple”
And, as Diana writes, it suddenly was. Brianna steps into her Da’s arms and what they experience there is all they both dared hope. He is as “big” as she imagined and Jamie is holding his lost child. And, I can’t wait to see how Ron and company, Sam Heughan, and Sophie Skelton will realize all the emotion, realization, and…hope in this scene.