“The ties that bind”…Claire and Jenny…Outlander in Episode 12

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There is a lot of talk on the web about Outlander episode 12. I’ve addressed the issue of Jamie and his “Laird-ness”, but didn’t really discuss the other hot button issue and that is the portrayal of  Jenny and Claire’s relationship. There seems to be two bones of contention in the Outlander fan world: “Why is Jenny such a bi**ch ?” and “Why on Earth would Claire feel like she might belong at Lallybroch?” From what I can gather, there is concern about how Jenny welcomes (or doesn’t) welcome Claire into the fold.  I think I saw the answer to these questions in the episode. Let’s start with Claire’s first look at Lallybroch.

Thank God for good acting because the subtle performances in this episode were stellar and oh so revealing of what the characters were thinking without the benefit of a voice-over.  At first sight, both Jamie and Claire are awed at the vision of Lallybroch on the horizon (I was too!).  For the first time in years, Jamie sees his estate and you could read the “there’s no place like home” look on his face.  It was a mixture of longing and pride. Claire, who had just made the monumental choice to stay with Jamie and all that means, is seeing what she believes is her new home.  In fact, she is looking at the first real home she has known since childhood.  It must have seemed like a fairy tale castle to her. “It’s just as you described it.”  she breathes with wonder.

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Quickly, however, we see and feel the mood change.  As wonderful as it is to be home, the place currently holds some painful unfinished business for Jamie.  He puts on his “battle face” as he grabs the horse’s reins and his courage and heads down hill to face his fears.

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Claire gives a moment’s look of concern for the change she senses in Jamie, but then gets lost in her own fears.  For the merest of seconds, the camera lets us see her mixed emotions race across her face.  Claire has her own issues to face at Lallybroch.

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They arrive and the first person Claire meets is wee Jamie. Claire’s response is to get down on the child’s level and introduce herself.  I couldn’t help but think what this small gesture reveals about Claire’s character.  She doesn’t look around at the estate she has just inherited instead she gravitates toward what is important to her…the people she inherited.  Claire is a healer and there are people here who need her…Jamies’s people.  She may have to deal with what it means to be “Herself”, but the potential to fulfill her life’s purpose is here.  She has a flock and family to care for.

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And then…Jenny…

Claire being who she is tries to intervene and help make peace between brother and sister.  What she gets for her efforts is her first real taste of what happens when you get between two Frasers when their dander is up.  She got “bit for her efforts”!  I laughed out loud at the “Trollop” comment.

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It wasn’t really meant to hurt Claire (ok, maybe a little), but more to hurt Jamie.  In my opinion, Jenny still grabbed her brother by the balls.  Siblings know what buttons to push and right where to “grab” to get our attention.

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If you watch Claire’s face in the background you can see her concern and then resignation.  When she introduces herself to Ian as the “Trollop”  you can see Jenny stiffen.

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Claire wasn’t crushed…she was amused!  I bet that surprised Jenny, who I think was a little ashamed of her behavior, but it was too late, it was already out there.  Jenny’s stubborn pride is being fueled by anger and guilt.  She might know she’s being unreasonable, but she just can’t seem to stop herself.  God, how true to life! Haven’t we all said things we really didn’t mean or acted a bit passive-aggressive a least once in our lives when we feel hurt?

I think Claire likes Jenny.  If you watch there is constantly either a look of concern, respect , (even though Jenny is being a “pain in the arse stubborn mule”) , or a small smirk of amusement on Claire’s face.  She even sticks up for her sister in law which just irks Jenny. She tries to needle Claire with thinly veiled insults, but Claire will have none of it.

“Well, I guess you have a lot to learn about running a place like this.”

“Yes, but I’m a quick study”

They are testing each other! It might not be the exact words from the book, but the character development is there.

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Need further proof of the mutual respect that is slowly building in this episode?  Rabbie Mc Nabb.  Resentment seems to have taken a backseat to their mutual concern for this young boy. They get each other.

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I believe in the next episode, we are going to see this relationship blossom.  Will Jenny continue to be a pain in the arse stubborn mule? Probably.  But, Claire will tolerate it when she can for several reasons, but the main reason, the tie that truly binds these two women together is their mutual love of one James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser.

When Claire is standing in the window looking at the “North facing tower”, chuckling about Frasers, the viewer and Jamie recognize something has changed. Claire tells him she is starting to believe she could belong at Lallybroch.  Besides the reasons I’ve stated about having a place and a purpose, I think one of the reasons she feels she belongs here is BECAUSE of Jenny.

What other woman has Claire met that so reflects her own values?  What other woman has she met that is strong despite her surroundings? (I guess you could say Gellis, but her values didn’t really match Claire’s)  What other woman has she met that she could see as an equal? Jenny is smart, quick-witted, caring, loyal, and respected. And…she loves Jamie as much or maybe more than Claire.

Yeah….I think we will see the respect…friendship …and… love grow between Claire and Jenny in Episode 13!

Note: Did you notice Claire finally got her vase?  Gave me the feels!

Jenny…the heart and soul of Lallybroch

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When Laura Donnelly joined Twitter, the fans of course welcomed her with open arms and gratitude for her part in bringing another of our favorite characters to life.  We’ve had a small sample of her portrayal of Jenny in Outlander on Starz and we are anxious for more!

Jenny.

A ten gallon woman in a pint size package.

Jenny’s personality has always seemed to be bigger than life. Jamie might be the laird of Lallybroch, but Jenny is its heart and soul. I’ll admit there were times I was angry at Jenny (her part in the whole “leghaire” fiasco comes to mind), but mostly I was in awe of her capacity to love. One of the most revealing scenes about Jenny I’ve ever read was when Jamie describes her taking over the kitchen the day her mother died.  He describes Jenny delaying her own grief because she was needed by her family. Her mother was gone and Jenny knew someone needed to care for her father, Jamie and Lallybroch, so she did. I can just see her in a too big apron standing on a chair ordering her world to continue on. Even as a young girl her strength of purpose and character made her a force to be reckoned with. It seems to me that one of the best things that could happen to a person would be to be loved by Jenny Fraser Murray. The woman loves hard and long and with passion.

I just reread the Lallybroch homecoming scene and found myself laughing out loud at the domestic squabble between brother and sister. I’m going to love seeing Jamie and Jenny nose to nose over that day in October!  What a great scene! Who didn’t absolutely crack up when Jenny grabbed her brother by the balls…literally!  Only a sibling could dare to embarrass a person that much!  Most people with siblings have learned through experience, that brothers and sisters seem to know right where to “grab” to get your attention!

To me, the relationship between the Fraser siblings rang pretty true to form.  They are in each other’s face fighting at the top of their lungs one minute and holding each other close the next. During the great “speak a word” parlor debate, Jamie asks Jenny if she knew Randall would not harm her when she went into the house with him. Her response was gut-wrenching and heart-warming,

“and if your life is a suitable exchange for my honor, tell me why my honor is not a suitable exchange for your life?’ …”Or are you telling me that I may not love you as much as you love me? Because if ye are, Jamie Fraser, I’ll tell ye right now, it’s not true!”

I have always pictured her on her toes in her brother’s face looking him dead in the eye as she said this.  Her brother’s reply becomes lost in her logic of love. She then proceeds to call him a ” thick-headed, slack-witted, lack-brained gomerel” in front of his wife. As a good sister should! What follows  is one of most moving moments in any of Diana’s books.  Jenny makes her brother take off his shirt so she can look at his scarred back.  As she gently lays her hands on the horrifying proof of her brother’s suffering , the siblings have this conversation:

“It looks as though it hurt.”

“It did.”

“Did you cry?’

His fists clenched involuntarily at his sides, “Yes!’

Jenny walked back around to face him, pointed chin lifted and slanted eyes wide and bright. “So did I, ” she said softly. “Every day since they took ye away.”

The resulting moment between the two is so poignant that Claire feels like she is intruding and steps from the room as the two embrace.  Despite the anger or disappointment Jenny often directs toward him, even Claire admits that Jenny is the one person who may love Jamie more than she does.

I’ve also always believed that no one knew Jamie better than Jenny  because of my own experience as a sibling. Once again, their relationship seems true to form. My brothers and sisters and I share a special bond. It is one forged by the shared happy and sad experiences of our childhood. No one else can truly know what it meant for us to laugh together over silly family card games nor how it felt to cry over the death of our mother. In a very real way, my brothers and sisters are the only people who can truly understand where I’m coming from and why I make the choices I do. The same can be said of the brother and sister duo of Jamie and Jenny Fraser.

Some of the most meaningful conversations of Jamie’s life were spent in conference with his sister.  I think of that day he returns to Lallybroch, the conversation with Wee Ian in his arms and the time he and Jenny spent in the priest hole. She knows his heart as he does hers. He loves Claire, but I’m not sure anyone understands Jamie better than his sister. Their shared experiences of joy and loss bind them together just as my experiences bind me to my siblings.

One of the great things about Ms.Gabaldon’s Outlander series is the depth with which the characters are written. She continually builds upon the foundations of previous books and deepens our understanding of the characters’ relationships. From Outlander to MOBY, the reader can follow the development of Jamie and Jenny’s relationship. Once again, she lets us see a truth about real life in her pages.

I’m looking forward to the Laird’s return to Lalleybroch and to meeting his sister on Saturday night.  I’m sure Laura will make a wonderful Jenny and that we will love seeing the siblings together working out their issues just like all siblings do.  If this picture of Jamie reacting to his sister interrupting him is any indication then it’s gonna be great!

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The look on his face! I think I’ve seen that look before! On MY brother!

P.S.  Episode 12 wasn’t exactly like the book, but I’ve grown to kinda enjoy seeing how they meld and move things around! The relationship I saw on screen was just what I had pictured in my head and the scenes between Jenny and Claire even better!  Laura’s performance embodied the Jenny we have all grown to love and appreciate!  And… Who the heck were the people holding a gun to Jamie?