“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!

“I’m the Laird. That’s me”….Jamie and Brian …Outlander Episode 12

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Sometimes when I watch Outlander on Starz, I get an epiphiany.  I’ve read the books… a lot…, but sometimes this visual version helps me understand something from the story better.  There are advantages to seeing emotions on an actual face.

Starz showed us a small scene with Jamie’s father Brian.  That particular scene in the hallway of Ft. William was all that I pictured when reading Outlander and more.  It was right after Brian had just had a session with Black Jack.

Let me repeat that.

BRIAN HAD JUST HAD A SESSION WITH BLACK JACK!

What that means to the story, I am only now truly coming to appreciate.  The panic I heard in Brian’s  voice, the earnest need to have a “moment” with his son written all over his face and the assurance that “whatever happens” he would be there for Jamie,  took on new meaning for me.  What must have happened in that session?! We can only imagine what Black Jack said, but most assuredly, what DID happen was Jamie’s father recognizing what sort of man held his son’s life in his hands.

I get the feeling that Brian knew there was no “way out” for his son.  The Captain was going to give Jamie 100 lashes upon 100 lashes and there was nothing he could do to stop it.  At the very least, Brian had to believe that Randall meant harm that would effect Jamie for the rest of his life; torture, imprisonment.  I believe Brian’s real fear was that his son would die a horrible death right in front of his eyes.  So, he left his “Braw Lad” the only things of value he could give him; his faith in God and his love.  How many times must Jamie have thought of that kiss over last four years…heart-breaking.

In the books, Brian’s character and back story are revealed when Jamie tells Claire the stories of his own childhood. Here is what I know of Brian Fraser:

  • He is a fair man
  • He is a loyal man
  • He is a wise man
  • He is a man of faith
  • He values education
  • He respects women
  • He is a leader
  • He is a family man
  • He has a wry sense of humor
  • He Is a man of honor
  • He is a man of integrity

And…he wants to be a better man than his own father and…he is.  Jamie was lucky to have such a father as a role model, but it’s a lot to live up to.

Like many of us who lose someone close to us without the benefit of closure, Jamie has regrets and feels guilt.  His father died while watching the whipping and at some level Jamie believes it is his fault.  We all know someone who feels this type of guilt and regret. It is one of the common themes in the human condition.  Jamie’s response to these events is understandable and maybe even predictable.  Guilt and regret are feelings that aren’t always rational or accurate, but they still plague us.  We cannot help what we feel when we lose a loved one.

Feelings just are.

Due to circumstances beyond his control, Jamie has been unable to return home.  He has had a loooong time to think and feel.   In a very real way, his ability to deal with his grief has been delayed.  Jamie has been unable to finish his  business with his sister and deal with what the death of his father means to his position at Lallybroch.  Left unaddressed and unexpressed feelings can warp our views and maybe even change how we react or in Jamie’s case overreact, to what we think we see and hear.  I think Jenny’s comment, “No word in four years” speaks volumes.  Jamie is struggling with his feelings to the point that he couldn’t even bring himself to write home. Guilt.

I’ve seen some social media posts that have suggested that Jamie becomes an instant “arsehole” when he goes through the gates of Lallybroch and that it was just too big of a change in his personality for them to believe.  I’ve even seen folks write that the change was so extreme that Claire didn’t “recognize” the man she married.  I don’t think this is the case at all! I think Claire knew exactly what was happening to Jamie.  She just didn’t know exactly what to do about it!  The subtle and significant looks on Claire and Ian’s faces during the uncomfortable exchanges between the siblings told the viewer that EVERYONE knew!  My God,  the tension was so thick you could have cut it!

It really wasn’t hard to understand.  Jamie feels guilty about Jenny and that makes him misinterpret situations and act defensively.  Jenny is angry and secretly blames her brother for her father’s death. Her brother brought home a Sassenach to be lady of Lallybroch. A Sassenach who has never run an estate or home…like she has…for four years.  She’s coming out sideways too!

Jamie doesn’t want to let his father down.  He wants to be the Laird his father was.  He has a new wife and tenants he wants to impress.  So, maybe….he tries too hard at playing the “Laird”. Understandable. In my opinion, Jamie becomes the more loveable for his misguided attempts to be the man his father would be proud of. The fact that his sister called him on his shite was so true to sibling form that it made me laugh out loud!  He isn’t perfect. He is stubborn and at times brash, but he is willing to admit when he is wrong and move on. I loved Ian’s advice and Claire’s “dealing” with her “I’m the Laird” husband. She dumped his ass on the floor to get his attention! Wonderful.

I think Brian would have been proud of his children as he looked down at them embracing in the graveyard dealing with their grief and their love for one another.

“Frasers, their hearts are as big and soft as their heads are thick and strong” Ian Murray, Jamies’s best friend and Jenny’s husband.