I’m finding myself grateful this morning that I am not writing these reflections for anyone, but myself. I’m grateful I don’t find myself in the position of having an editor tell me to write about Sam Heughan’s top hottest looks or sexiest moments to sell a magazine. Instead, I find myself this morning ready to write about the story I was told last night, a bittersweet tale told in moments, metaphors, and performances that suspended my disbelief and touched my heart because …I want to and need to. “Of Things Lost” was an amazing installment in this epic story of two people who strive to make the best of their lives with what they have been given.
As I predicted, we are seeing our main characters, Jamie and Claire, move on. It has taken them a long while to reach this point. They are no longer spending their lives chasing ghosts. They are living in their own present. For Claire, it was the missing manifests that brought her back down to Earth. “This is what Mrs. Graham warned me about”, Claire tells Bree. Our Claire is a realist, pragmatic, and strong. She recognizes the futility of what they are attempting and I suspect the prospect of the pain of looking and not finding him would just be too much for her. When she tells Bree it is time to go home, I felt a lump in my throat because Jamie is no longer that home. Her home is now the life she has been given and created with patients who need her and a daughter who once again calls her mama.
For Jamie, I suspect his “missing manifests” moment came on the selkie island. He somehow came to understand that Claire is truly gone. When John doesn’t kill him, he leaves Jamie no choice, but to begin to live his life in the present and in the knowledge that he will never see her again. We see him begin to talk about his memories of her and for the first time, say her name out loud. He is putting her in his past and taking a hold of the future John Grey has offered him. Jamie is done chasing Claire’s ghost.
They are living lives with less than they wanted, but with more than they had. Their losses have become intricately woven into the fabric of who they are and how they experience life. Just like they are for all of us who have lost those we care for. We carry our memories with us and they color our new experiences. Our couple are never far from each other’s thoughts, but it is different now. I was moved by the sadness these two live with, the knowledge that they have lost a great and one time love.
A Cage is a Cage
Most of this episode dealt with Jamie’s life at Helwater where we see him slowly begin to come back to being himself or, at at least, the self he is now become. The Lady Isobel comes to see the beautiful horses and laments the fact that her father keeps them confined. Jamie assures her that he has seen many stables and these are the finest. She then reminds us that a gilded cage is still a cage. Jamie may be moving about unshackled in fresh air, but someone else still holds power over his life and freedom. It is a fine place, but he is still a prisoner.
The Lady Geneva is about to find herself in a gilded cage. She is to be married to a rich and titled man old enough to be her grandfather. She has had her life’s path dictated to her at the ripe old age of seventeen. These types of marriages amongst the nobility were the norm rather than the exception and I would suspect that Geneva wasn’t the first young lady to try to take back some say in her own life’s experience. I wouldn’t want my maidenhead given to an old goat like Elsemere either. Jamie just has the misfortune to be vulnerable to her attempt at blackmail. He has to believe if she is reckless enough to demand this of him, she is reckless enough to go through with her threats.
I loved how the show handled Geneva. This scene was problematic for many reasons and I felt the choice to leave Geneva sure of her decision served the story and characters well. There wasn’t really anything to be gained by sticking to the book in this instance. I felt that they truly got to the underlying emotions of this scene. I thought the choices Jamie makes with Geneva were totally in character with who Jamie is. He is at heart a kind and compassionate man. When Geneva tells him she is doing this for herself it changes everything for him. He understands. She is in her own way imprisoned. Her choices are not her own. He sets about this transaction with some pity for her and being who he is tries to make her first time as good an experience as he can. He is not in her room by choice and would not have chosen it, but it is inevitable and he has to make a choice to stay angry or choose compassion. He chooses to be compassionate despite her taking unfair advantage of him. He is the one with the merciful heart.
In a way, he takes back some of his own power in this situation by choosing to be kind. In the book, Jamie describes being aware of an extraordinary mixture of feelings when faced with Geneva in her bridal night rail. I felt that here. There was anger, tenderness, lust, fear and as always Claire was never far from his thoughts. When Geneva tells him she loves him, Jamie slowly shakes his head. The moment he explains the difference between sex and love to Geneva was a watershed moment. It was sad and, yet wonderful and called us back to his asking Claire if it was always so between a man and a woman, what he feels when he lies with her. No, was her answer, it is something like it, but no. What he had with Claire was different because it was love. Is it truly better to have loved someone with all your heart and soul and lost them than never to have loved at all? Despite all the pain, I think Jamie would say,… yes.
The Fly in the Ointment
The fly in the ointment of this episode for me wasn’t Geneva, it was John. My reaction to the scenes with John and Jamie were for the most part okay… there were some changes, slightly different, but okay. I found myself feeling puzzled by this easy camaraderie. I’m sure the “all these months comment” was meant to speak to the passage of time that has allowed Jamie to reflect on Lord John and his kindnesses. I needed to see Jamie and John in that awkward exchange where he blurts out a chess move in an effort to let John know he had been forgiven. I know, I know, the book is the book, the show is the show and I can understand their need to move this relationship ahead and I liked Hal being the catalyst for Geneva’s blackmail scheme, but… my acceptance and resignation that it was a good representation of Jamie and John’s relationship came to a screeching halt when Jamie offered his body to Lord John before Lord John told him of his impending marriage. NO. It would have never happened that way.
The whole offer was meant as a test of John’s sincerity and motives. In the book, Jamie meant to slit his throat had he accepted the offer. IF what they were going for was that Jamie was willing to make any sacrifice to keep his son safe, it fell very flat for me. More than flat. I just didn’t get this change or how it advanced the story arc. They already had set us up to believe that Jamie trusted Lord John with the conspiratorial looks between the two and Jamie’s comments about Lord John looking out for his welfare, and his belief that he would keep his secret. All they had to do to make this okay for me would have been to have Jamie offer after Lord John told him he was marrying.
The extra hand hold was a nice callback to that moment in Ardsmuir and the rest of their exchange was touching and very revealing of John’s character. I found myself grateful right beside Jamie for having a man like John as a friend and for him being in Willie’s life. So, instead of letting this fester, I’m just going to take a note from Lord John’s book and not be insulted because I know the depth of feeling from which the offer ( and scene) was made.
You are a braw lad
I would be remiss if I didn’t do more to acknowledge Sam Heughan’s performance. His ability to emote is nothing short of staggering. I have been so impressed and moved. He has completely inhabited this character. He makes me believe that he is truly feeling what Jamie feels. Sometimes he is subtle (when he sees Geneva’s pregnant belly and he gives a slight shift in his attentive stance beside the carriage) and sometimes not (when he looks at the baby in the carriage and suddenly changes his mind about leaving Helwater), but I love that he can take me inside Jamie’s heart and mind. I certainly hope those with the power to give him awards are paying attention because he deserves all the accolades he can be given.
One of my favorite pictures of my husband is him standing in front of the nursery room window at the hospital. He has both arms raised and braced on the window frame as he stares intently at our daughter in her bassinet. He was in awe. It is a wonder to recognize a miniature replication of your own features and expressions on a brand new small face, to know that this little person is part of you. When Jamie looked at his son, I knew what he was feeling. I saw the wonder on his face.
To his delight he finds out the child has been named William and they are calling him Willie, the same name as Jamie’s beloved older brother. The moment that followed was beautiful. He glances furtively into the buggy and then addresses his child. You are a “braw lad” Jamie tell his son. The last words his own father said to him. He then tells him not to fash that he is there. And, we know he will be. This wonderful man has been denied fatherhood too many times. He 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. Jamie made a decision that resulted in the enrichment of both of their lives. You can feel Jamie’s pride and delight in his son and then his fear… This season of what must have been some of the happiest days of Jamie’s life must come to an end because it has become dangerous for them to be seen together. As Lord John states, “some sires stamp their get”. Willie looks too much like Jamie and people are starting to notice and when Jamie calls Willie a little bastard, you get the feeling that he has heard it before. There has been talk. William’s resemblance to Jamie places them all in danger.
I know that it is difficult for us to understand why Jamie just doesn’t tell people he is Willie’s father. It’s 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. They have lost two children, does he now take away their grandson? No. The whole situation is complicated and heart-wrenching. With the assurance that Lord John Grey will make an appropriate and caring step-father, Jamie makes the sacrifice to leave his son.
The moment the show gave us of Jamie in the stable with his son was a gift, Willie wants to be like Mac, Jamie being able to baptize his son and give him his name, Jamie giving Willie a snake like the one his brother had given to him, and sharing how he prays for those he cares for and has lost. I’m sure he will soon be lighting a candle to St. Andrew for a little boy named Willie who he will remember… always.
Easter egg: Did anyone else recognize the entertainer in the pub’s as the “Sassenach” entertainer in the gypsy camp? Nice touch on the costume Terry!