There are more than a few special moments in the world-wide sensational novel Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. We’ve already witnessed a few in the new series – our first vision of Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and our first glimpse of Jamie McTavish (Sam Heughan) by the fireplace with his shoulder out of joint. Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) made the hairs on the back of our necks stand up in Episode #101: SASSENACH, but he made us all shiver – not in a good way – during Episode #102: CASTLE LEOCH.
Speaking of Castle Leoch, how ’bout that fireplace scene last week? It was a pivotal moment in the book and the show, watching Claire and Jamie stare into each other’s eyes with the same thoughts.
“Look at this half-naked, strapping, young Highlander who’s not my husband but is accessible at the moment . . .”
“Look at this half-naked, stirring, older woman who could teach me a thing or two about pre-marital relations . . .” or something like that.
Now, here we are in Episode #103 – 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 episodes away from THE WEDDING where they both are encouraged and required to act on their wanton thoughts. If you ask me, the season is flying by too fast AND each episode feels more like 20 minutes rather than 60. How can we be almost a quarter of the way through S1 already?
Ron D. Moore’s podcast for Episode #103 is available through Starz and iTunes. Again, he is accompanied by his wife, Costume Designer, Terry Dresbach. Composer Bear McCreary also posted his notes for Episode #103 on his site.
Available for your viewing pleasure is another Look Inside Outlander with Mr. Moore.
From here on out, my review is chock full of SPOILERS, so continue as heeded.
THE WAY OUT starts us back in 1939 on a train platform. Claire Randall is a mere 21-years-old, heading off to the front, like so many other citizen soldiers – in her case, a medico. Frank Randall’s duty keeps him stationed away from the fighting, working for the British Secret Service. It’s a touching good-bye scene, not included in the novel, between two young people in love – untouched by war, death and separation.
I like this episode starting on a tender moment between Claire and Frank. It reminds us of what she’s lost before we launch into the scene of Claire being washed and dressed by Mrs. Fitz (Annette Badland) who’s a little too hands-on in my opinion. Yes, you like her skin, but easy does it, lady. You know how they say, there’s a certain age you stop bathing and showering with your kid? Well, we’re wa-a-a-y past that here.
If you’ve watched the episode, you know what happens next. If you haven’t, I won’t be the one to spoil it for you. You’ve seen in the trailer, Claire telling Mrs. Fitz she’s from the future. Mrs. Fitz bitch-slaps her and screams, “Witch!”
Is it a dream, or is it real? Does Claire have to cut Mrs. Fitz down and hide her body in Leoch tower? Does Castle Leoch have a tower? How long before everyone notices Mrs. Fitz is missing? Probably as soon as the bannocks run out. The way Angus (Stephen Walters) and Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) shovel them down – not long.
Let’s just say, Mrs. Fitz survives the encounter and move on.
We follow Claire down into her spic-and-span surgery which indicates several days passage of time from when we last saw her there with Colum. She’s wearing a lovely new gown by Ms. Dresbach. Very springy, it is. I love the richness of her other gowns, but this was a nice, light deviation from her “normal” duds. Ms. Dresbach added several new posts to her blog this week, sharing sketches of Claire’s gowns and discussing our favorite Highlanders’ wardrobes.
More time passes through a collage of Claire putting her medical skills to good use, because it’s her calling and because she’s hoping to get into the good graces of Dougal (Graham McTavish) and Colum MacKenzie (Gary Lewis). Her bodyguards, Angus and Rupert, seem more like a couple of Hobbits, drinking on the job. Don’t know if they have the same constitution as Hobbits, but they are Scots.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate Caitriona Balfe’s performance tonight. In a quick summary: She works diligently in the surgery under watchful eyes, visits Geillis in Cranesmuir, goes head-to-head with Father Bain (Tim McInnerny), spends a little quality time with Jamie and Geillis – not at the same time, and even mends her relationship with Colum. Dougal, not so much.
There are over 70 emotions – according to wikipedia – a human can experience. I think Claire goes through just about all of them in this episode except for boredom, shyness, and apathy because she has no time for the first two with Jamie and Mrs. Fitz around and no capacity for the third. Oh, and schadenfreude which is taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. Well . . . she might take a little joy in a later scene between Jamie and Laoghaire. You know the one where she makes a lousy wing-woman?
The map of her emotions takes her from affection for her husband to anger at Father Bain. Angst, anguish and anxiety are her constant companions, being held under suspicion in Castle Leoch against her will. She often seems to be annoyed with someone – Angus . . . Rupert . . . Father Bain . . . Dougal. Arousal? Yeah, there’s a bit of that. I think her sense of awe stems from the fact anyone survived the 18th Century under such horrid medical conditions. Claire is always confident if nothing else, and she feels a sense of contentment and satisfaction healing the people of their ails.
With the church throwing their weight around, it’s easy to push back with a little contempt. Of course, our plucky Claire has plenty of courage. Unfortunately, she also suffers from bouts of despair, grief, and sadness because of her situation – but she doesn’t really have time to feel sorry for herself. Curiosity is abundant in the opening scene of the surgery as Claire explores the vials and bottles left behind by her predecessor. Desire? There we go again. Yes, she feels a sort of desire for Jamie, but it’s trapped under her loyalty to Frank. There’s at least one moment of disgust when she finds her hand full of wood lice – worse than leeches, actually.
Distrust is more directed at her, but she doesn’t exactly feel warm and fuzzy toward her hosts. Claire experiences dread and pity for the young boy whose ear is nailed to the pillory. Ecstasy and euphoria are two great emotions to have. But we’re not there yet, ladies. She does come close with a beautiful smile when she imagines returning to Frank on Craigh na Dun. Her embarrassment, guilt, jealousy and remorse all figure around Jamie – her closest friend in this century. Who else can make her feel the harshest of the emotions? Fear of discovery and the frustration of having no one to talk to are also part of Claire’s burden. But her life in this strange land isn’t all bad. She takes pride in her work and both sexual & non-sexual pleasure in Jamie’s company. Excitement, happiness and hope are the last emotions she expresses in THE WAY OUT.
I think you get the picture. I suppose I could have called this post Claire’s Top 30 Emotions of Episode #103. The point is, Ms. Balfe expresses a kaleidoscope of genuine feelings, solidifying her role in our hearts as Claire Randall.
This episode spends most of the time concentrating on Claire’s medical skills. I quite enjoyed delving into that facet of her character. It is, after all, what makes her stand out and secures her position as an indispensable asset to the castle. The scene with Colum, where he literally places himself in her hands, proves Claire capable of making all the MacKenzie men vulnerable under her touch.
Gary Lewis puts on a fascinating display of demanding Laird, making his tailor plead for mercy, to dropping his pants and baring his not-bad ass for Claire’s ministrations. No apologies are made for the position in which he’s put her, but they seem to come to a silent understanding.
While Claire is willing to forgive Colum, she is definitely not ready to make friends with Dougal. He approaches her in the hall while waiting for the evening’s entertainment to begin. His manner and voice are pleasant and complimentary but his words are biting. “It seems that the feral cat we picked up on the road is trying to pull in her claws.” He doesn’t have much practice hitting on women, does he?
Claire makes an excuse. “Oh, look. I see an empty seat wa-a-a-y over there on the other side of the hall.” She takes her seat and is soon joined by Laoghaire MacKenzie (Nell Hudson).
Finally, we come to a very recognizable scene from the book. I hate to tell you, Readers. It’s the first disappointment of the series – for me. Of course, I’m always open to disagreement and discussion, so feel free to drop me a comment.
Enter Jamie. It’s ladies night, and they’re all lookin’ at the handsome Highlander. Claire decides to play matchmaker. That’s all fine. What I don’t like is Jamie’s dismissive and insensitive attitude toward Leery. In the book, he’s polite and a little dumb about her crush, but he’s not rude the way he is in this scene. Yes, I said rude. Jamie is too nice of a guy to act as he does. Why does he blow Leery off in answer to her question, “. . . do ye not remember me, from then?”
“Ah,” he said, vaguely. “No, I dinna think so. Still,” he said with a smile, pulling his attention suddenly back to her, “I wouldna be likely to. A young burke of sixteen’s too taken up wi’ his own grand self to pay much heed to what he thinks are naught but a rabble of snot-nosed bairns.”
Above, he delivers the second part of the line to Claire, such that it’s more like he’s making fun of Laoghaire rather than himself – like in the book. Yeah, this is what I’d look like, too, being called a snot-nosed bairn.
The entire delivery/direction to me comes off as mean-spirited which is out of character for Jamie. I actually did not like him during this scene which shocks the hell out of me. I didn’t think it was possible, especially with Laoghaire around.
Claire didn’t help. She starts out as Leery’s wing-woman, then quickly changes her mind and decides Jamie is hers. You see it in her eyes right about here . . .
She nudges Jamie in the side when he makes his joke which excludes Laoghaire from the conversation even more. We’re not supposed to dislike Claire’s competition yet, but now I feel sorry for her. Maybe that’s why the filmmakers chose this direction – to build sympathy. Well, it worked. Don’t worry. I don’t stay mad at Jamie for long, ’cause ye can’t.
Jamie hands Claire’s empty glass to Laoghaire, and escorts Claire to the surgery to attend his shoulder wound. That darn thing still needs attending. Poor Jamie is chaffing, but she thinks he’s talking about the bandage.
Jamie and Claire are gluttons for punishment. He keeps getting her alone, and she keeps touching him. They stare. They hold their breath. They back away and do it all over again the next day. Kiss already!
Let’s see . . . Claire gets her mind off Jamie by hanging out with Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek) with the comical Angus in tow everywhere she goes. For some reason, he seems to be out of shape and has trouble keeping up. Is there something I’m missing? It’s funny, yes, but doesn’t fit the idea of a Highland-type warrior. Not a warrior, I guess. Sidekick? Great. Now I’ve got the Pat Benatar song in my head – “I Am A Warrior.” It’s a good song for Angus to do some aerobics and get that skinny butt into shape.
Claire and Geillis spend some time together. Geillis has made quite a home for herself and fits right into the community. We meet her husband, Arthur Duncan (John Sessions), for the first time and understand why she’s secretly poisoning him. I would, too. Of course, I don’t think I would have married him in the first place – cause be damned. Imagine what a different tale this would be if Dougal had been single. He and Geillis are perfect for each other in every way.
Is Claire starting to suspect yet Geillis is not who she seems? Why does she keep plying me with alcohol and asking questions, Claire must wonder. Oh, I cannot wait for the thieves’ hole!
Ah, Jamie is back. Where’s he been since giving Claire that sizzling look down in the surgery? Probably taking a long, cold shower – the poor lad. Being a virgin and horny is no’ fun.
This is the episode where no one gets to kiss who they desperately want to kiss. Mr. Duncan wants a kiss from his wife, but thankfully his audience is not subjected to that. No offense to Mr. Sessions. I’m sure he’s a very nice gentleman, and did his job very well. Jamie wants to kiss Claire but settles for Laoghaire and doesn’t look too displeased with his consolation. I think even Dougal wants to steal a kiss from Claire. He just doesn’t know what to say to her. Someone needs to kiss Father Bain. What the hell? Let’s throw one at Mrs. Fitz, too, for standing up to the clergyman.
Claire makes sourpuss faces at all the people simply trying to have a good time. She doesn’t want to watch others having the fun she can’t have.
Claire is all about saving in this episode. After she convinces Jamie to help the young lad nailed to the pillory, she asks him to take her to the Black Kirk – a place full of supposed demons who possessed Mrs. Fitz’s nephew, Thomas, AND a nice spot for a date, by the way.
They share a few more torturous stares – me tortured, not them. Then Claire has her Columbo moment. “Eureka! I know what’s poisoning Thomas!” She saves the boy and makes an enemy of Father Bain. Oh, well. Would have happened sooner or later.
“Come with me now, priest, or your wound shall fester and go putrid.”
Jeopardy answer: What should you not say to a superstitious priest in the 18th Century?
Claire has a very busy but productive week, saving lives and souls. Maybe next week, she’ll save Angus and Rupert from the bottle. But for tonight, she ends up sitting next to Jamie – who else? – with no Laoghaire in sight, listening to the tale of her salvation and dreaming of reuniting with Frank.
For a closer look at Jamie’s side of the story, check out Jamie’s Top 30 Looks for Outlander Episode #103: THE WAY OUT.
Episode #104: THE GATHERING airs next Saturday, 30 August at 9:00 pm EST. Our very own Diana Gabaldon makes her cameo appearance. If you miss it, you’re out of the fan club. :oP