For more goodies on this episode, check out Jamie’s Top 30 Looks from Outlander Episode #108: BOTH SIDES NOW
The Outlander mid-season finale, Ep108: BOTH SIDES NOW, brings Claire’s past-future and future-past together in a parallel story with a beautiful crossing point between the two worlds. As usual, SPOILERS are rife in this recapped review.
This episode is directed by Anna Foerster who did a wonderful job here and on Ep107: THE WEDDING. Ron D. Moore penned the dual timeline story, most likely assigning himself the task because he envisioned the cliffhanger for this episode– and the finale – long ago.
Last week, the story was woven together with flashbacks. This week the story cuts back and forth between the two time periods, synchronizing Claire and Frank’s lives – showing “both sides” of the tale.
Claire and Jamie’s storyline is tweaked from the book a bit, and I am eager to see how the ends tie together in the second half of the season. I’ll get to the specifics later.
Frank’s scenes are wholly created for the show and a very welcome addition – even if not appreciated by all. It’s the first time we see him on his own, experiencing his pain and frustration at the loss of Claire. Up until now, Frank has been viewed only through Claire’s memories. Even the scene of his searching for her in Episode 102: CASTLE LEOCH is her projection of what he must be going through without her.
The story begins in 1945. Frank (Tobias Menzies) sits in a police station, waiting for news of his wife. The constable in charge (Gerry McLaughlin) is not happy to see him and apologizes for their disappointing lack of progress. After all, they haven’t thought to search for his wife in other space-time continuums yet.
“Disappointing. That’s an interesting word. It suggests expectations that were unmet. My expectations of your department were low to begin with and I can assure you, that you have met those expectations at every turn.”
Snap! Do not piss off Professor Frank Randall. Excuse me. Did I say Frank? I meant, Black Jack Randall disguised as Frank. Anyway, the constable is lucky it isn’t BJR, or he’d have found himself without a throat at the end of the scene.
We pan to a picture of Claire’s poster hanging beside an artist’s composite sketch of Jamie. I am shocked by the accuracy considering how dark it was when Frank and Jamie fleetingly passed one another seven weeks ago.
Constable Boyle sets his tea cup down and decides it’s time Frank face the fact his wife has run off with the Highlander last seen watching her from the street.
Frank’s response is to slam his fist on the constable’s desk and declare:
“My wife is not with another man!”
Cut to Claire with another man. The constable may be insensitive and incompetent, but he’s correct.
It is 1743, and Claire is on her third happy honeymoon in Scotland. And I really need to go there because Claire’s having all the fun.
Jamie and Claire (Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe) or Mr. & Mrs. Perfectly-Happy-Because-They’re-Having-So-Much-Sex sit on a hill overlooking a beautiful landscape of Scotland. And I really, really need to go there.
They’re having a romantic lunch away from the others. Jamie – apparently shyer with his clothes on than off – asks Claire if their feelings for one another are normal:
“Is it usual,” he asks ” . . . what it is between us when I touch you . . . when you lie with me . . . is it always so between a man and a woman?”
Claire has been contemplating this same question herself, wondering where Jamie’s been her whole life and why can’t men in the 20th Century be more like him? I have the same question for the 21st Century and eagerly await an answer from anyone able to offer one.
“No, this isn’t usual,” she slowly admits. “It’s different.”
They have a bit of hand sex . . .
. . . giving their other body parts a much needed rest and stare into each other’s eyes. Before things can go any further, an arrow rudely interrupts them and lands in the ground a few feet from where they are about to have more sex.
Jamie protectively pulls Claire down to the ground before investigating the arrow on his own. Alas, it’s only our good friend Hugh Munro (Simon Meacock) making a dramatic entrance – trying to outdo Black Jack Randall’s snappy entrance from THE GARRISON COMMANDER. Of course, no one can outdo that one – except maybe Jamie.
Hugh Munro, in a fabulous Christian Dior floppy hat circa 1970, speaks only in grunts and sign language having lost his tongue to the Turks several years ago, as Jamie explains to Claire. As if that wasn’t bad enough, boiling oil was poured over his legs in a persuasive effort to convert him to the Musliman Religion. As compensation for his pain and suffering, Hugh is in possession of several gaberlunzie tokens – licenses to beg.
After bestowing a gift of a DRAGONFLY IN AMBER! to Claire as a wedding gift . . .
. . . Hugh makes known the reason for seeking Jamie out and interrupting their sexfest. Horrocks, a redcoat deserter, has come forward as a potential witness to the murder of which Jamie is falsely accused. It’s not certain he can be trusted, but he’s Jamie’s first real chance at clearing his name. He wants to take Claire home and make her his:
Jamie is a young man in love, trying to set his life on the path he’s always wanted with a beautiful wife. Unfortunately, she already has a husband. We cut back to Frank and Reverend Wakefield, theorizing what could have happened to Claire. The good Reverend thinks Claire has been living in a cave the past seven weeks, confused and disoriented, living off of fish and frogs.
Frank looks like Black Jack Randall again and wants to belt the Reverend for offering such a hair-brained and useless theory. And I am loving this side of Frank. He’s so dark.
But that’s not the most exciting part of this scene. We finally meet a new and very important character to the series of novels – Wee Roger Mac (Rory Burns), all 2 foot 6 of him. He enters with Mrs. Graham (Tracey Wilkinson) carrying a plate of biscuits . . .
. . . but fails to put a smile on Frank’s morose face.
Mrs. Graham thinks a spot of tea will do the trick. Frank looks as if he wants to take off everyone’s head, including the kid’s.
“I think I need something a little stronger, “
he says to the cup in her hands and strides from the room. Mrs. Graham heaves a sigh at the Reverend, seeming to blame him for something. Hm?
We follow Frank to a bar where he slugs down a glass of whiskey – the only thing available in Scottish pubs.
An attractive blond (Olivia Morgan) walks in and sits down beside him, addressing him by name.
“You can call me Sally,” she says with a sly smile, “but that’s not my real name.”
She pulls out a tattered copy of Jamie’s poster and tells Frank she kens where the man is. She offers to take Frank to him.
“Meet me on Drummond Lane, just past the coffee shop at half past 12. Come alone. And bring the reward.”
No one with a brain does NOT think this is NOT a set up. I guess the blond and her thuggy friends think Frank is so desperate to find his wife, he’ll show up with £1000 in small, unmarked bills. They don’t know they’re dealing with Black Jack’s reincarnation.
Frank downs the rest of his whiskey and asks for another which segues us back to 1743. Angus (Stephen Walters) pours a round of drinks for the Highlanders sitting around a campfire, listening to Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) tell the story of a waterhorse.
Jamie and Claire sit by themselves . . .
. . . still having hand sex . . .
. . . and making googly eyes at each other in the dark. I thought the kilt had at least 101 uses? They should pull that bad boy over their laps and get busy with those hands elsewhere. To heck with the Highlanders. Dougal’s in the background with his kilt over his lap. What do you think he’s doing?
No time for that though. The horses are restless and everyone around the campfire goes on edge. Raiders are nearby. Rupert continues with his story while each of the men take a weapon in hand and spread out. Ever protective Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) – love him – takes his place closest to Jamie and Claire. His godson has just lost his virginity. Murtagh will be damned before Jamie’s sexcapades are cut short.
Jamie puts a large dagger in Claire’s hand – a real one, not the euphemism for, well you know – and kisses her. Aww.
No time for that. He tells her to head for the fallen tree when he gives her the signal. The signal is a loud, “GO!”
All hell breaks loose, as they say. I gloss over this part because you don’t really want me to describe blow-by-blow who hits who. Plus it’s really dark, and I’m not sure if it’s Jamie, Murtagh, Angus, Rupert, Dougal (Graham McTavish), Willie (Finn Den Hertog) or Ned (Bill Paterson) turning me on while I watch this fight. Just kidding. I’d know Jamie in the dark any time, and Dougal’s head shines in the moonlight.
Fight over. They lose a horse and three bags of grain off their wagon to the Grant raiding party. Claire comes out of hiding. Everyone is safe and unharmed. She and Jamie hug. End scene.
Now, I have to stop here to – not complain but – point out in the novel, several injuries are incurred. Nurse Claire puts her cap on and goes to work. When she and Jamie finally retire for the evening, they enjoy one of my favorite intimate moments in the novel.
Diana Gabaldon is a master at writing sex scenes. No two are alike. To add to the picture of Claire and Jamie’s relationship, I include the “waterweed” excerpt below. If you’re a fan of the novel, I’m sure you won’t mind reading it again. If you’ve never read the novel, maybe this will entice you to pick up a copy of Outlander. [Note: I added this before Ms. Gabaldon posted the exact same excerpt but decided to keep it in for those who missed it.] Propriety compels me to add a WARNING of graphic sexual content.
“The moon was sinking, and I was shivering., half with reaction and half with cold. It was a wonderful feeling to have Jamie lie down and firmly gather me in, next to his large, warm body.
“Will they come back, do you think?” I asked, but he shook his head.
“Nay, it was Malcolm Grant and his two boys – it was the oldest I stuck in the leg. They’ll be home in their own beds by now,” he replied. He stroked my hair and said, in softer tones, “Ye did a braw bit o’ work tonight, lass. I was proud of ye.”
I rolled over and put my arms about his neck.
“Not as proud as I was. You were wonderful, Jamie. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
He snorted deprecatingly, but I thought he was pleased, nonetheless.
“Only a raid, Sassenach. I’ve been doin’ that since I was fourteen. It’s only in fun, ye see; it’s different when you’re up against someone who really means to kill ye.”
“Fun,” I said, a little faintly. “Yes, quite.”
His arms tightened around me, and one of the stroking hands dipped lower, beginning to inch my skirt up. Clearly the thrill of the fight was being transmuted into a different kind of excitement.
“Jamie! Not here!” I said, squirming away and pushing my skirt down again.
“Are ye tired, Sassenach?” he asked with concern. “Dinna worry, I won’t take long.” Now both hands were at it, rucking the heavy fabric up in front.
“No!” I replied, all too mindful of the twenty men lying a few feet away. “I’m not tired, it’s just –” I gasped as his groping hand found its way between my legs.
“Lord,” he said softly. “It’s slippery as waterweed.”
“Jamie! There are twenty men sleeping right next to us!” I shouted in a whisper.
“They wilna be sleeping long, if you keep talking.” He rolled on top of me, pinning me to the rock. His knee wedged between my thighs and began to work gently back and forth. Despite myself, my legs were beginning to loosen. Twenty-seven years of propriety were no match for several hundred thousand years of instinct. While my mind might object to being taken on a bare rock next to several sleeping soldiers, my body plainly considered itself the spoils of war and was eager to complete the formalities of surrender. He kissed me, long and deep, his tongue sweet and restless in my mouth.
“Jamie,” I panted. He pushed his kilt out of the way and pressed my hand against him.
“Bloody Christ,” I said, impressed despite myself. My sense of propriety slipped another notch.
“Fighting gives ye a terrible cockstand, after. Ye want me, do ye no?” he said, pulling back a little to look at me. It seemed pointless to deny it, what with all the evidence to hand. He was hard as a brass rod against my bared thigh.
“Er . . . yes . . . but . . .”
He took a firm grip on my shoulders with both hands.
“Be quiet, Sassenach,” he said with authority. “It isna going to take verra long.”
It didn’t. I began to climax with the first powerful thrust, in long, racking spasms. I dug my fingers hard into his back and held on, biting the fabric of his shirt to muffle any sounds. In less than a dozen strokes, I felt his testicles contract, tight against his body, and the warm flood of his own release. He lowered himself slowly to the side and lay trembling.
The blood was still beating heavily in my ears, echoing the fading pulse between my legs. Jamie’s hand lay on my breast, limp and heavy. Turning my head, I could see the dim figure of the sentry, leaning against a rock on the far side of the fire. He had his back tactfully turned. I was mildly shocked to realize that I was not even embarrassed. I wondered rather dimly whether I would be in the morning, and then wondered no more.
As much as I enjoy the sexual content of that scene, what I really want to emphasize is how close Jamie and Claire are after only a few days. Their connection is physical, emotional and mental. This scene would have been a nice addition, but I understand its exclusion. Regardless, I like to think it’s what happened after the fade to black.
While Claire and Jamie theoretically get hot and heavy in 1743, we join Frank arriving at his meeting with Sally and her friends. Immediately, he is attacked – struck by one of the men.
But Frank has come prepared and takes a small club-like weapon from his pocket . . .
. . . when they demand he turn over the reward money. What follows is a brutal retaliation which continues even when the men are down on the ground. Let’s face it – they kind of deserve it, trying to take advantage of a sad and desperate man who’s lost his wife.
Frank releases his impotent Black Jack rage spawned by his futility to find Claire. It’s a fascinating exploration into Frank’s reaction to the situation in which he finds himself – as engrossing as Captain Randall’s turn in THE GARRISON COMMANDER. Both men find themselves dwelling in darkness, but Frank pulls himself out of it before doing harm to Sally.
“It’s very simple in this modern age to dismiss the idea of good and evil, but there is evil. And it finds purchase in good men by giving sin the sweet taste of ecstasy.”
Reverend Wakefield’s voiceover floats over the gasping Sally as Frank backs away from her, taking charge of his emotions.
The next morning, we find he has confessed his sins to the Reverend and receives his guidance.
“The Nazi’s drank from that poisoned cup thinking all the while they were slaking their thirst with the sweetest wine.”
Wakefield believes Frank has taken only a sip from the cup and can save himself by leaving Inverness to begin his life again without Claire. She is gone and has started a new life somewhere without Frank. Citing Sherlock Holmes, Wakefield tells him,
“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains however improbable, must be the truth.”
The Reverend talks the talk but does not walk the walk as we learn later. It’s time to go back to the Highlander camp. Rupert, Jamie and Claire search for the dagger she lost during the Grant attack.
“It’s too long and heavy for me,”
Claire says when they find it. Rupert claims his imaginary lassies say that to him all the time. Yeah, Claire isn’t talking about yours, Rup.
Everyone chirps in on the conversation. Ned suggests Claire learn a little Highlander self-defense. Jamie agrees as being a Fraser means leading a dangerous life. Dougal advices Claire be given a sgian-dubh – a small, single-edged knife handily worn on the leg.
As Angus is apparently the deadliest with a knife – yeah, right – he is assigned the duty of teaching Claire how to attack and kill.
Murtagh from the sidelines has one of the best lines of the show:
“I still say the only good weapon for a woman is poison.”
“Perhaps,” replies Dougal, “but it has certain deficiencies in combat.”
Claire’s lesson is very technical and precise. Angus shows her how to stab with a strong upward thrust. Moments later, Jamie is showing Claire his strong upward thrust.
Yes, we finally get le sex. Jamie and Claire have left the camp to
“. . . find some more of her wee herbs.”
So many ways to play with that sentence, but I’d rather move onto one of Jamie’s more iconic lines:
“Does it ever stop . . . the wanting you?”
he gasps as he undresses her.
Honestly, I always imagined this line being delivered in a more tender voice, but I’m flexible. Jamie and Claire are hungry for each other. Hand sex isn’t cutting it any more. They didn’t get their honeymoon at the inn – as in the novel – and have had to restrain themselves around the other men. Yes, I know this scene has always taken place on the road, but I think they have even more pent up sexual energy without those first few days of alone time in the honeymoon suite. Who am I kidding? A few days with Jamie just ain’t gonna cut it.
Finally alone in the glen, Jamie takes possession of his new wife, claiming:
“Now I know why the church calls it a sacrament,”
“Why?” Claire asks to which Jamie replies:
“Because I feel like God Himself when I’m inside you!”
Giggle. Snort. Aww. They’re having such a good time they don’t notice the two soldiers in bright red coats who sneak up behind them. Fun time’s over.
Let’s recap. Claire has two half-wits bust in on her first night with Jamie hoping to catch them doing it – 10-minutes later and they might have seen something. Then she gets hit on by Dougal ten-minutes after doing it with Jamie. Now, she gets caught by two quarter-wits while doing it with Jamie – they needed another 10-minutes. This honeymoon really sucks.
On a serious note, rape is a common theme in the Outlander novels because it was common practice in the 18th Century. Anyone who claims the novels glorify rape simply call attention to their own ignorance. And that’s all I have to say.
What happens next is a defining moment in Claire and Jamie’s relationship. Jamie stated on the day of their marriage that Claire had his name, clan, family and the protection of his body. Now when she needs him most, he stands helpless with a gun to his head while another man prepares to rape her. Claire is forced to save herself; and thus, save both their lives.
In the novels, many times Jamie is described as going berserk with a violent yet controlled fury. We are supposed to see him close to that here, barely holding onto his rage. Claire knows if she doesn’t take action quickly, Jamie will attack no matter the consequences of his actions. It’s a bit subtle in the show, but it’s there.
The bulk of the scene is played from Claire’s perspective – surreal, happening all at once but in slow motion. She has very little time to think and even less time to act. The moment she does, Jamie is quick to slice the throat of the man holding him at bay. Then he whisks Claire away from the glen.
Back in 1945, we come upon Mrs. Graham and Reverend Wakefield in a heated argument. Because the house is old and they are yelling rather loudly, Frank cannot help but hear them talking about him. This is a creative addition to the story I rather like which leads to a beautiful crossover scene later.
Mrs. Graham takes Frank into the kitchen and tells him she believes Claire has passed through the stones of Craigh na Dun to another time.
Frank listens with a sober expression, asks a few questions then rises from the table and announces he’s leaving for Oxford.
Mrs. Graham is shocked Frank doesn’t believe her even though her explanation is the only one that makes sense. The Reverend stands in the background, reconsidering Sherlock Holmes’ logic.
“I simply do not share your beliefs,”
Frank says. Translation: You are nuts.
DO NOT READ the indented paragraphs below if you do not want to know about Roger’s future.
Wee Roger Mac with his adorable eyes and pinchable cheeks comes up behind Frank and stares at the angry man. And I am feeling sorry for the little tyke – always in a suit and tie. Does the kid not have any play clothes? He reminds me of young Arthur from Somewhere in Time whose father wouldn’t let him play with his ball in the lobby. Hey, that’s a time travel story, too!
Anyway, now I’m sad thinking about all the $hit that happens to Roger when he gets older. Ugh. Stay little, kid. Better yet, don’t go through the stones! Going after Brianna and knocking her up is what gets you both stuck there for a spell.
It’s time to check on the honeymooners. The honeymoon has not improved. Jamie and Claire cling to one another with Jamie berating himself and apologizing to Claire for putting her in danger. Claire goes into shock and has a more severe reaction to the attack than in the novel although it’s much more violent on page.
In the Outlander novel, Claire and Jamie react to the attack in a more carnal manner. In her words, they come together in a:
“. . . savage, urgent silence, thrusting fiercely and finishing within moments, driven by a compulsion. I didn’t understand, but knew we must obey, or be lost to each other forever. It was not an act of love, but one of necessity, as though we knew that left alone, neither of us could stand. Our only strength lay in fusion, drowning the memories of death and near-rape in the flooding of the senses.”
That union serves to release the tension brought on by the attack. When Dougal comes upon them, Claire falls into a fit of hysterical laughter.
In the show the logistics are changed such that Jamie leaves Claire’s side. She stays alone at the top of a hill while he returns to the bodies with Dougal and the others. It’s determined the dead men are deserters from the English army, like Horrocks. This leads to the decision they must all go with Jamie to the meeting.
The MacKenzies hit the road. Claire is now angry about the incident though she claims not to know why. Hm . . . I can think of several reasons. But they’ll argue about that later. For now, the caravan stops in a lovely wooded area. Jamie wants Claire to wait with Willie because he doesn’t want her put into danger again.
Claire reminds him she saved both their butts in the glen, proving she can take care of herself. Jamie is feeling a bit emasculated right now and grinds out:
“You needn’t prove it again.”
No hand sex tonight for Jamie.
We come to the moment in the story where I don’t care for the choice in divergence from the novel. Perhaps all will be rectified in the second half of the season, but an important exchange is omitted in this scene – in my opinion because there’s no other in this review – and replaced with lines which, frankly, make no sense to me.
In the novel, Claire insists on accompanying Jamie to the meeting with Horrocks. They get into a real argument over the issue. I’ll let another excerpt speak for itself:
“Did ye no promise to obey me?” he asked, shaking me gently.
“Yes, but –” But only because I had to, I was going to say, but he was already urging my horse’s head around toward the thicket.
“It’s verra dangerous, and I’ll not have ye there, Claire. I shall be busy, and if it comes to it, I can’t fight and protect you at the same time.” Seeing my mutinous look, he dropped his hand to the saddlebag and began rummaging.
“What are you looking for?”
“Rope. If ye wilna do as I say, I shall tie ye to a tree until I come back.”
“Aye, I would!” Plainly he meant it. I gave in with bad grace, and reluctantly reined in my horse. Jamie leaned to kiss me glancingly on the cheek, already turning to go.
“Take care, Sassenach. You’ve your dirk? Good. I shall come back as soon as I can. Oh, one more thing.”
“What’s that?” I said sullenly.
“If you leave that copse before I come for ye, I’ll tan your bare arse wi’ my sword belt. Ye wouldna enjoy walking all the way to Bargrennan. Remember,” he said, pinching my cheek gently, “I dinna make idle threats.” He didn’t, either. I rode slowly toward the grove, looking back to watch him racing away, bent low over the saddle, one with the horse, the ends of his plaid flying behind.
Forgetting the rendition above for a moment, in the show Claire doesn’t seem to care or mind staying behind. She makes no mention of following Jamie or leaving, so why does he ask her to:
“. . . promise me you’ll stay put. Promise me, Claire. Swear you’ll be here when I get back?”
It feels like part of the scene is missing or maybe some dialogue cut out. With a few lines, we establish they are angry at each other, but where’s the threat? Why does Jamie think she’ll leave?
Going back to the novel, there’s a disconnect for me between it and the show. Very different characters are speaking. Last week, I was disappointed to find Jamie’s “honesty speech” omitted and hoped to hear some form of it in this episode. Now, the forceful husband is gone, replaced with a man who asks his wife to make him a promise rather than threatening her – which is what any self-respecting man in the 18th Century would do.
Assuming the spanking scene is still in the show, I make another assumption that a new plan to get us there is in place – obviously, not yet revealed. What new surprises do the producers have in store? We can only wait to find out.
While Claire waits in the copse for Jamie to return, she chides herself for enjoying sex with him so much she forgot about her plan to return to the stones. Understandable. It’s Jamie.
At the same time in 1945, Frank is leaving Scotland. Something compels him to stop at the turn to Craigh na Dun. Mrs. Graham’s crazy theory? Maybe Sherlock Holmes is right. He turns his car around.
Claire finds herself alone when Willie excuses himself to “take care of business.” He’s a terrible body guard, by the way. Fuming over the incident in the glen, Claire takes a walk through the trees and comes to a very important realization – the 18th Century is not fun any more.
Lo and behold, she spots Craigh na Dun up ahead.
Claire does not have to think twice. She runs toward the hill and her future with Frank. Back in her own time, Frank also approaches the stones. But he has a car so gets there first.
The professor in him doesn’t want to believe his wife traveled back in time, but the man who loves her wants to believe she didn’t leave him for someone else. Well, that’s kinda sorta true.
Claire is still running up the hill. I hope a stunt woman did most of the running because I’m getting tired just watching her ascent.
Frank stands in the middle of the stones. He has no idea what to do. Tap his heels together? Cry on the stones? Maybe tears of love will magically open the space-time portal. Aw. Poor Frank. I’m feeling really sorry for this guy. His_wife_is_right_there. If he can just reach out and grab her.
Claire is still running . . . getting closer. Now, I’m thinking of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You know the one . . .
Frank finally figures out what to do and calls out her name in a most agonizing voice:
He calls it several times, louder and louder. This is the part I love, the camera cranes up from him over the stone to reveal Claire coming up the hill on the other side. They are in perfect sync, just in the wrong time zones. She stops when she magically, mystically hears her name being called and screams back:
“Cla-a-a-a-a-air!” Frank cries again.
“Fra-a-a-a-nk! Wait for me!”
They can hear each other, and now I’m reminded of LadyHawke when Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pheiffer reach out their hands and almost touch before she turns into a hawk with the rising of the sun. So close.
Claire reaches the stone and just touches it . . . or does she?
. . . but the damn thing doesn’t suck her through. Must be the wrong day. Instead she is dragged off by a couple of English soldiers.
Don’t know where they came from or why they grabbed her. Did Black Jack put out an APB on her with a picture? Or do redcoats just go around grabbing women yelling out the name Frank? Maybe one of them is named Frank?
Oh, well. I tried, Frank decides. It’s time to move on. He climbs down the hill hoping no one heard him screaming out his wife’s name in the general direction of the standing stone.
At the same time, Claire is manhandled toward a waiting wagon. Her crappy body guard is still no where to be found. I highly anticipated Willie being skewered by a redcoat in a heroic effort to save Claire. But no, he’s still “taking care of business” in the woods. I suppose Jamie might beat the you-know-what out of him later. I would. He had one job and failed. He’s making me wish Angus had been left behind.
The shot of Claire and Frank each leaving Craigh na Dun is Ron Moore’s stroke of genius. Not only is it a fantastic story element, adding drama, suspense and heartache, but the way it was shot and composited is brilliant as well. Notice the colorization transition taking us from 18th Century Scotland to 1945 in a single move.
Now trussed up in the back of the wagon, Claire heads to Fort William to face Black Jack.
We still don’t know why she’s been taken into custody. I didn’t notice Corporal Hawkins among the men. And if he was there, shame on him because he knows what Captain Randall will do to her. Maybe he’s taken up kicking women in his spare time and has grown to like it. He’s hoping to get in a few licks.
Claire thinks she has an advantage over Randall. He doesn’t know she’s coming and hasn’t prepared an advanced questionnaire for her. Silly, silly Claire. He told her four days ago:
“I dwell in darkness, madam, and darkness is where I belong.”
Does she really think a man like that needs a head’s up? Plus, he’s on his home turf this time.
Out of the wagon and into the frying pan, Claire sits in Randall’s office, looking like Hannibal Lecter’s next meal. And I’m wondering if a sauté pan rather than a frying pan is going to be whipped out with that bottle of Chianti.
“Felicitations and congratulations on your recent marriage,”
Captain Randall greets her, pouring two glasses as if they’re on a third date. The scene stealer is back in the show, and I’m ready to be dazzled. He actually looks giddy here if not ready to taste her.
Claire decides to play it cool and show no fear, but still shoots her mouth off too much. There’s no sense in goading Black Jack, but she can’t seem to help herself. Not a good idea to bring up flogging to a man who gets off on it. His smile slips when she accuses him of being amused by the activity.
“Amusing myself? What an odd thing to say. As you know from our previous meeting, I consider flogging a very serious matter indeed.”
Way to go, Claire.
Black Jack dragging a chair across the room is not necessarily supposed to be comical, but I find it hilarious – akin to his dusting himself off in Lord Dancing Monkey’s doorway. Positioning himself at Claire’s shoulder, Black Jack tells her in a very ominous tone:
“Madam, you need to understand your position. In this hour, our third encounter, I fully intend by any means necessary to discover both your true nature and the secrets that you hold.”
Claire smiles and immediately pulls out her ace – the Duke of Sandringham. The gambit manages to discombobulate Black Jack . . .
. . . and she presses what she considers to be her advantage. Wrapping a veiled threat around his neck as she reties his band into a tidy knot, she tells him the Duke would not be happy with an interruption in her fake mission.
Confidence overtakes her, and she scoops up her adorable cape, ready to flounce from the room. But she forgets Black Jack is the master of lies and deceit.
When he brings up the Duke’s wife, she quickly acknowledges a connection, falling for the oldest trick in the spy handbook.
The Duke has no wife but Randall has a rope.
Claire dashes to the door only to find Corporal Going-to-be-sent-to-hell Hawkins standing guard. The lily-livered corporal forces her back into the room and into the waiting arms of Black Jack who gives his lackey a “Frank Randall” wink as he ties Claire’s hands behind her back.
Randall orders the corporal from the room and tells him not to open the door no matter what he hears.
Alone again, Claire is now scared and does a bit of useless screaming for help. Where’s Lt. Foster when we need him? Black Jack has a very large knife which he uses to cut open her dress. Claire tells him he’s going to regret hurting her, but her empty warning doesn’t deter him. It more goads him into throwing her across his desk by her hair. I’m thinking her screams got him in the right mood.
Sprawled against his desk, Black Jack lifts Claire’s skirt and finds her cute sgian-dubh stuck in the back of her even cuter boots.
Now he has a new toy. Oh, joy! Before he can test its sharpness on the part of a body no woman wants a knife touching – well one of them anyway – Da da da dum . . .
The window shutters fly open to reveal a very pissed off and dirty-looking Jamie perched with a pistol pointing at Black Jack.
“I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife.”
he says very politely.
Black Jack cannot be happier to see his favorite whipping boy again. Jamie does not return the sentiment. The end.
Several creative liberties were taken with the story in this episode, and I must say I very much enjoyed them for the most part. I usually try to stay away from twitter until I’ve written my review, but I did see a bit of squawking about Frank’s screen time versus Jamie’s. In Ep105: RENT, I was among those complaining about Jamie versus Angus’ screen time, but in this case I cannot protest. If anyone deserves to have his story told, expanded and included, it’s Frank Randall. The surface of his character in the novel is barely scratched. Of course, the producers are going to jump on his development. He is essential to Claire’s motivation. I didn’t care about him in the novel, but I do care about him in the show. Certainly, I want Claire to stay with Jamie, but I want her to be torn and she is.
Most of the focus in my reviews this season has been on character development, specifically Jamie and Claire’s. I tend to spend more time discussing Jamie’s character than I do Claire’s. The reason for this is obvious. Her character is very well defined and developed in the show. From the first episode to the mid-season finale, she is the star, and we’ve seen several different sides to her.
The development of Jamie’s character is on a slower arc. It could be I’m biased by my knowledge of the books and expect more from him than I should. I believe I’ve watched each episode with an open mind but continue to feel something lacking. I want him to be stronger. Is it just me, I continue to ask myself? Am I expecting too much too soon? Am I imagining him as mature-Jamie?
Unfortunately, I can’t unlearn I what I know or contain what I feel. I see hints of the Jamie I think he will eventually become full-time. Jamie is an authoritative man, demanding and possessive. Those don’t necessarily sound like positive qualities, but Jamie is not perfect.
In this final episode of 2014, we are gifted with two wonderful Tobias Menzies’ performances. He takes Frank to the dark side and manages to bring a bit of lightness to Black Jack – a clever reversal of roles. We see a bit of both men in each – mirrors of one another. Of course, Black Jack cannot stand in the sun for long and quickly returns to the darkness where he belongs.
Reactions to the finale are mixed, but my position remains the same. I am very happy with the adaptation of the story so far, less so with Jamie’s character BUT I continue to have faith.
Ron Moore‘s solo podcast for Episode 108: BOTH SIDES NOW is available for free on iTunes or you can listen to it here. He also treats us with another inside look at the making of this episode and discusses the exploration of Frank’s character beyond the novel:
Outlander Episode #109: THE RECKONING premieres on Starz on Saturday, 4 April 2015 in the U.S.