In Outlander Episode 114: THE SEARCH, a brave turn is taken, in that two of the most powerful characters are absent throughout the entire show. Jamie Fraser is missing – obviously – and Captain Randall is lurking just off screen.
Taking Jamie’s place is his sister, Jenny – a woman we are just getting to know and starting to love. Murtagh returns in full force, showing not only his comedic side, but also his most vulnerable. However, every episode requires a villain. In this case we have two: Seoirse Warden – the gypsy king with a heart of slightly tarnished gold, and Dougal MacKenzie – the war chief back to claim his unwilling prize.
Given the many Jamie point-of-view scenes added this half of the season, one might ask: Why is Jamie missing from this episode? I’m sure that question has been answered already by important people like Ron D. Moore. In my humble opinion, I think adding scenes of Jamie in the clutches of the English, making his escape, on the run in the Scottish countryside, hiding out in villages, chasing after Claire and Murtagh, and finally being recaptured – how’s that for a recap in a nutshell? – much, if not all, of the suspense would have been diminished.
This episode takes me back to SASSENACH and RENT – back to Claire’s single perspective on the road. We’re supposed to bite our nails, pull out our hair, sit on the edge of our seat, and worry with our heroine – and we do, all while learning a little more about Jamie through Murtagh and Dougal.
Matt Roberts is back with, what I consider to be, one of the most challenging scripts of the season. Luckily for us, it’s placed in the right hands – in those of a long-time and knowledgable fan of all Diana Gabaldon‘s novels. Matt’s appreciation and understanding of the material shows in this episode.
Metin Hüseyin, who is currently busy directing Episode 201, helms THE SEARCH. He draws the lighter edge of Murtagh out for our entertainment, lets loose the dark side of scheming Dougal, and coaxes Jenny’s loving ruthlessness to the forefront. He also marshals us between several different locales – from the intimacy of Lallybroch, across Scotland’s countryside and seaside shores, through village after village, and finally into the gloom of Dougal’s den.
And so, we join Outlander Episode 114: THE SEARCH with Lallybroch in commotion. Servants hustle about while Jenny (Laura Donnelly) carries bundled baby Maggie in her arms.
Ian (Steven Cree) is laid up on the red velvet couch in the main room, his arm in a sling and minus a leg. Keeping with the math theme from last week, Ian might want to consider keeping a spare peg leg on hand for such circumstances.
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) comes down the stairs with satchel in hand. She is going after Jamie, she tells Ian, who insists on hopping along. No time for sensitivity at a time like this.
“You’re missing your leg,”
Claire points out. Really meaning, “Nice job keeping my husband safe.”
Jenny is a little nicer, putting Ian in his place:
“You’re not going anywhere with a wounded arm.”
Ian insists Claire take a few armed tenants along, but she refuses, claiming the English will take Lallybroch away if anyone from the estate gets involved with whatever she has planned.
Disgruntled, Ian reduces his help to drawing a map of where The Watch was ambushed. Not sure why . . . as I point out to PocketJamie, why not just give Claire explicit directions to Lochaber Bridge?
You might be asking in all the excitement: Where the hell is Murtagh? Well, keep your panties on. He’s coming.
Claire takes Ian’s map and mounts up, surprised when Jenny emerges from the house, fully armed with two pistols stuck in her belt – one in the front and one in the back.
Jenny Oakley is packed and determined to save her “stupid fool” of a brother – never mind she just gave birth three days ago.
Jenny and Claire hit the road, following The Watch’s trail until they spot a number of scavengers, circling the sky in the distance.
They find the remains of the slain Watch men, Lunkhead Lennox – may he rest in peace – among them. Jenny says a quick prayer over each of the corpses, then returns to her search for Jamie. She picks up the tracks of a heavily laden – I think that’s redundant – cart.
“Hopefully, because there’s a large red-headed Scot weighing it down,”
Claire says, relieved not to have found Jamie’s body among the dead.
They continue their pursuit, following the tracks of the cart through the woods and over hills, until Jenny makes a much-needed pit stop.
Over a cup of milk, Claire reveals her plan to approach Lord Thomas on Jamie’s behalf – use her feminine wiles on Randall’s superior to bargain for Jamie’s freedom. SPOILER Is she planning to go as far as she does with the King of France? ‘Cause that’s what it would take.
More riding, chasing, and hunting for clues . . . Jenny miraculously spots a pile of horse poo on the trail ahead of them. She dismounts and races to it to determine whether it’s Scottish horse poo or English horse poo. English, she decides. They’re getting close.
Armed and in no mood to take any sh*t, Jenny and Claire creep up on the English, encamped near a stream.
No sentries around to guard their position. A bit over-confident, if you ask me. No Jamie either.
MacQuarrie sits in a wagon, alone, seemingly talking to himself.
They watch as an English courier breaks camp and decide to follow him.
Jenny follows directly into his path, dropping like a sack of potatoes in front of the courier’s horse in the hopes he’ll stop in time before crushing the bones of her body into tiny pieces. He does.
“You all right, madam? I almost trampled you.”
he states the obvious, getting down from his horse to fall for the oldest gag in the Highlands – and everywhere else.
Claire comes up behind the man, holding a dry-loaded and cocked pistol to his head.
Jenny sits up and does the same.
“Horse poo,” the man’s face says. Or maybe it’s “Hoors, ooh!” Not sure which.
Tied to a log, the helpless courier is at Jenny Murray’s mercy – of which she has none. She hits him with the butt of his own musket, asking him where Jamie is. He plays dumb. Jenny breaks out the branding iron. She’s done fooling around.
“I beseech you. Just tell us what you know and this will all end,”
Claire says after Jenny brands her mark on the bottom of the screaming man’s foot. He obviously has no training on how to endure torture and begs them to stop because he’s “just a courier.”
Boom. That’s all Claire needs to hear. She rushes to the courier’s satchel and pulls out the dispatch concerning Jamie. It seems the crafty Highlander escaped, and the patrol who let him get away in the first place needs help finding him. The dispatch is meant for Wentworth Prison, but Jenny has no intention of it ever reaching the warden. She tears it up, then informs Claire they have to ‘kill the messenger.’ You saw that coming, didn’t you?
But Claire was barely able to stomach the torture and can’t abide taking part in murder. Distracted by Claire’s judgmental lecture, neither hear Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) enter the grove. The sound of gurgling draws their eyes to Murtagh’s knife slicing the courier’s throat. Well, that’s settled.
They set up camp for the night, and the next morning, Jenny prepares to return to Lallybroch, leaving Claire in Murtagh’s capable company.
As a parting gift, Jenny gives Claire a spare dagger of Ian’s. (Okay, so he has a spare dagger, but not a spare leg?) Claire is to keep it in her garter. Pay attention, kids. I have a feeling that dagger’s going to come in handy at some point.
Not knowing whether she’ll ever see Jenny again, Claire dispenses advice for the future:
At first, Jenny thinks it’s a weird English traditional farewell, but Claire warns her that a war is coming. (This is the 18th century. When isn’t war on the brink?) They’ll be famine and slaughter, Claire continues.
Understanding eventually dawns because Jamie told Jenny that his wife knew things and asked his sister to do whatever Claire advised. Jenny promises to send away to Edinburgh for the spuds and bids her sister farewell:
“God go with ye, Claire.”
“I can leaving knowing you’re gonna do whatever it takes to bring my brother back.”
Now on their own, Claire and Murtagh head for the nearest village. Murtagh has a sound plan. Put Claire to work as a healer and attract attention to themselves in the hopes Jamie will seek them out.
Claire tends to minor injuries during the day and tells fortunes in pubs at night, basically promising all the women of each village that “a very tall, strapping, red-haired man” will enter their lives.
“Seen anyone like that?” she asks one such woman.
“If I’d seen him, lassie, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you,”
the woman married to a short, fat, lazy Highlander says. And I wouldn’t be writing this blog.
On stage, Murtagh does his part by doing the sword dance – sort of. He’s dancing and there are swords, but . . . he doesn’t seem to know the steps very well. Bless his heart. He’s booed off the stage.
They have no better luck in the next village. Murtagh does his thing again with Claire watching from the shadows, munching on an apple. When he finishes his street performance, to more heckling than applause, she suggests he “jazz” things up with a song.
he asks to the strange, foreign word. Oops. There goes the Prime Directive.
Claire gives Murtagh a demonstration, singing the lyrics to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy – not knowing she’s just auditioned for their next big act.
Decked out in men’s clothing – an adorable, though foul-smelling, embroidered long coat and contrasting vest – she is thrust on stage. Claire begins haltingly at first, then rouses the crowd with a popular Scottish ballad sung to the jazzy Bugle Boy tune.
Claires says in introduction to the song. I expected a different title, but it is Scotland . . .
“Here’s to all you lads and lasses that go out this way. Be sure you tap her coggie when you take her out to play. Lads and lasses, toy and kiss. The lads dare think what they do is amiss. Because there’s Kent and Keen and there’s Aberdeen, and there’s none as muckle as the Strath of Boogie Woogie.
For every lad’ll wander just to have his lass. And when they see her pintle rise, they’ll raise a glass. And rowe about their wanton een, they dance a reel as the troopers go over the lea. Because there’s Kent and Keen and there’s Aberdeen, and there’s none as muckle as the Strath of Boogie Woogie.
A-root. A-toot. A-rooty-a-toot.”
Claire wins the crowd over with her lovely voice and the catchy tune. There goes the Prime Directive again.
They travel from town to village, even putting up posters for the singing Sassenach. While Claire takes to the stage, Murtagh takes to working the crowds, asking villagers if they’ve seen a tall, red-headed Highlander. They could really use a PocketJamie to help with the search. Too bad they didn’t think to take one along.
Their enquiries come to naught, day after day and night after night, but they do manage to capture the attention of a band of gypsies who are impressed with Claire’s song and the revenue it provides.
Coming upon a makeshift village of tents and wagons, they find out how impressed the gypsies are.
Claire and Murtagh join the crowd of revelers who are enjoying the performance of a real sword dancer. Sorry, Murtagh. Then Seoirse Ward (Martin Brody) introduces “The Sassenach” – not Claire.
There’s a new Sassenach in town (Siobhan Miller). She’s got the beat, a voice and a raunchier stage presence which the crowd seems to prefer. It is Scotland . . .
After the performance, Murtagh and Claire pay a visit to the man behind the curtain, accusing him of filching their song.
“Public domain,” Seoirse Ward claims. Murtagh is ready to jump right to the threatening portion of the confrontation, but Claire quickly intervenes.
Claire explains, in the name of love, she’s using the song to find her husband and doesn’t want him confused by two Sassenachs in the area. Unfortunately, Seoirse only speaks gold.
To Murtagh’s extreme displeasure, Claire hands over the entire Lallybroch quarter rent, given to her by Jenny to pay for bribes, food, lodging and such.
Seoirse promises to stop singing the song, but only one person in the tent is gullible enough to believe him.
Undeterred Claire and disgruntled Murtagh continue singing and dancing, hoping to hear word from Jamie, until finally they reach the far western coast of Scotland.
“If ye look hard enough . . .”
Murtagh says to Claire as she stares out over the ocean,
“. . . you might just see the Americas. It’s the only place you haven’t sung that damn song yet.”
Completely out of money and running out of hope, Claire and Murtagh make camp in a convenient cave along the shore. It’s difficult to say how much time has passed – weeks, most certainly. The stress of not knowing where Jamie is, worrying over his safety, wondering if he’s gotten their “message” takes its toll. As in the thieve’s hole, the claws come out. Claire needs to stay away from cold, damp – and especially rocky – spaces.
Murtagh’s self-controlled demeanor drops, and he blames Claire for their not finding Jamie.
“You’re stubborn, and you will not listen to anyone but your own self,”
he says, sure the dubious deal she made with the more popular gypsy act has caused Jamie to seek out the wrong Sassenach. Everything was hunky dory fine until she did that. Huh? What?
Claire fires back:
“Nothing about this search has been fine. Perhaps it has for you because you see Sam on a regular basis, er, you’ve never lost someone that you’ve loved.”
Murtagh’s eyebrows drop down almost to his chin. That’s the Fraser expression for “WTF?”
“You ken it all now, do you, lass?”
Standing in the mouth of the cave, unable to look Claire in the eye, Murtagh tells his tale of a broken heart and a love lost.
“I lost someone at a MacKenzie gathering many years ago. My face had less weather on it then, and she was a sonsy lass.”
“But she had another suitor. So, I thought to prove myself worthy of her, be the kind of man she’d desire, during the Tynchal Hunt – I alone killed a wounded boar, using just a dagger.”
“The MacKenzie was so impressed by the deed, he gave me the tusks. I made them into bracelets, and gave them to the lass as a wedding gift.”
Realization dawning, Claire pulls the boar’s tusk bracelets from her satchel.
“It was you,”
she says, holding them out to Murtagh.
“You think you’re the only one that loves Jamie? He’s a son to me.”
From the beginning, we’ve witnessed the special bond between Jamie and Murtagh, but it’s touching to hear the words from someone who hasn’t exhibited such a strong emotion since losing his heart to Ellen.
Claire breaks down, knowing Murtagh understands and that she’s not alone in her anguish.
The next morning, Claire abandons the bard garb, and they decide to go . . .
. . . back to the beginning.
They give up on the singing and dancing routines and stick to talking to people, trying to find out Jamie’s whereabouts.
Claire tells a few more fortunes, wishing she could read her own, when Seoirse Ward returns.
He has a message for Claire.
“You’re to go to Glen Rowan Cross with all due haste,”
he says, after first attempting to extort more money from her.
At last. A sign of life.
Murtagh and Claire ride with “all due haste” toward their rendezvous with Jamie, passing a hill which looks an awful lot like Craigh na Dun.
Claire calls out Jamie’s name as she and Murtagh run up the handicap ramp to Glen Rowan Cross, but who they find is the last person they want to see – other than Randall.
Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) makes a very Hitchcockian turn toward the camera:
“Sorry to disappoint you, lass.”
(Eerie. It’s almost as if he’s talking to me.)
It seems Dougal heard about the dancing Fraser and the singing Sassenach, knowing nothing could make Murtagh dance other than Jamie’s life being at risk. Dougal sent the message to the gypsies.
“You can stop your searching,” he announces. “I’ve news of Jamie.”
“He’s alive. He was taken at Achnasheen, drawn by your song. Met six redcoats face-to-face around a turn in a path. One recognized him.”
Dougal mixes in a little manipulation with his sympathy, when he tells Claire and Murtagh that Jamie was re-captured by the redcoats when drawn out of hiding near Achnasheen, seeking out the singing Sassenach.
“He’s in Wentworth Prison. Stood trial three days ago, condemned to hang.”
Claire is too devastated to speak, almost unable to breathe.
Murtagh steps forward, wanting to know when Jamie is to hang. Not long, Dougal tells him.
“We have to hurry,”
Claire finally says, turning to leave.
Dougal reaches a hand out to stop her.
Wrong move. Murtagh won’t have anyone, especially Dougal, touching his Laird’s lady.
Let’s get to the nitty gritty part of the conversation. Once Dougal has Claire alone, he basically tells her: “Your husband is a dead man and the only person who can protect you is me.” Bedside, of course. I tell ya. Men.
Claire’s eyes are wide open to the real Dougal MacKenzie. He wants it all – Lallybroch, rebellion, and her – not necessarily in that order.
He doesn’t deny it, but that doesn’t change the fact she has no one else to turn to for help. Guessing Colum’s not willing to assist, considering he didn’t lift a finger during the trial. Ian still has no leg. MacQuarrie is in shackles himself – or is he? The suspense is killing me.
However, Claire remembers Dougal never goes anywhere without his entourage of merry (often grumpy) MacKenzie men. She strikes a conditional bargain. IF Dougal allows the use of MacKenzie men to rescue Jamie; ELSE IF, she fails to save her husband, THEN she will marry Dougal. END.
Of course, we all know she really intends to hightail it back to Craigh na Dun if her plan fails. After all, who wants to hang out in the 18th century without Jamie?
Unfortunately, none of the MacKenzie men have a keen interest in dying at Wentworth Prison themselves, despite Claire’s speech on blood and honor.
All except for Willie (Finn Den Hertog), who is the only one to step forward.
“Jamie’s always looked after me, protected me – on the road, at Leoch – and I ken if it was me about to meet the hangman’s noose, he’d come for me . . . try to set me free. Whatever you call for, Mistress Claire, my life is yours to command.”
The five of them mount, for whatever may come, with Claire leading Murtagh, Willie, Angus and Rupert on the approach to Wentworth Prison. Together they form . . .
The Reluctant Heroes,
The Dauntless Kid,
The Old Warrior,
and the Real Sassenach.
The search for a man becomes the rescue of a soul . . .
Episode 114: THE SEARCH is the last breather before the big bad. If you haven’t read the novel, I suggest you not read the indented paragraphs below as they contain major SPOILERS.
There’s been much build up to the next episode, all of which I’ve avoided – at least, as much as possible. I’ve read the novel. I sort of know what’s going to happen. I say ‘sort of’ because we all know Ron is going to do his best to twist the story and surprise us somehow.
No matter how many times I read the parts about Jamie’s torture and rape, my stomach turns to knots. But given my investment in the show, I am curious to see how Caitriona, Sam and Tobias hearten the tragic scenes. Of course, the tragedy doesn’t end in Wentworth. Jamie’s rescue treatment is almost as brutal, but necessary to save his life.
But let’s not allow expectations to take attention away from the last three episodes. From LALLLYBROCH and THE WATCH to THE SEARCH, the story has arced toward the climax of the season. LALLYBROCH has a massive amount of material packed into one hour, while THE WATCH is the most perfectly balanced of the mini-trilogy. THE SEARCH feels slightly stretched in the middle, spending a lot of time following Claire and Murtagh on the road, but also has several memorable and treasured scenes from the novel.
Duncan Lacroix gives Murtagh Fraser’s beloved character a gentle gruffness perfect in nuance. Jamie’s surrogate father deserves to have his story told, but even after this episode, there is still quite a bit we don’t know about this man full of regrets. Let’s hope we learn much more about him in Season 2.
Graham McTavish‘s Dougal MacKenzie returns as a tainted hero of sorts. He’s ambitious, but he’s not evil. Of course, the murderous intentions Jamie suspects of his uncle have been removed from the show. I don’t know if this is deliberate to ‘soften’ Dougal’s character, or omitted for other purposes, but Graham continues to portray the perfect ambiguous villain.
Tenacious sweetheart Jenny Fraser has ben perfectly epitomized by Laura Donnelly. This is the last episode in which we’ll see any of the characters from Lallybroch, until Season 2. It’s the one part of the series I wish could have been extended with additional episodes, but I’m extremely grateful we have at least sixteen in total.
Caitriona Balfe and Claire’s true strength just start to peak in this episode. Caitriona’s Claire has endured much adversity in two different centuries, but that’s all been preparation for what she’s about to face. I predict they are both going to blow us away.
I realize this might not be a favorite episode for many because of the lack of action and excitement (and missing Jamie), but I hope everyone appreciates the subtle performances by the entire cast. I would compare this episode to a stage play, where the focus is on the drama and comedy rather than the sets.
At the same time, we are gifted with some of the most beautiful backdrops yet. My favorite scenes between Claire and Murtagh are those along the coast, during the day and at night.
I’m fairly certain only a handful of people are reading this because of the Wentworth hype (and because I’m so late!), but please don’t let this episode go unnoticed. The next time you watch THE SEARCH, remember . . . Outlander is an epic adventure full of drama, suspense, and history. You do not want to hasten over any part of it.
Executive Producer Ron Moore is joined by screenwriter Matt Roberts during the podcast for Episode 114: THE SEARCH. It should be available for free on iTunes, or you can listen to it here. Ron also talks about Claire and Jenny’s relationship on the road, and discusses Murtagh’s noteworthy performance in this Inside Look.
Outlander Episode 115: WENTWORTH PRISON premieres on Starz on Saturday, 16 May 2015 in the U.S.
For more goodies on this episode – yes, there is a: Jamie’s Top 30 Looks from Outlander Episode 114: THE SEARCH
And if you missed my previous recapped review, you can read it here: A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode 113: THE WATCH