OUTLANDER IS BACK Y’ALL
Previously: A lot. So much.
The title shot is a tattered flag with St. Andrew’s Cross, falling into a cart of captured battle standards, pulled by the British, and the camera pans over a field full of dead Highlanders. The Battle of Culloden is over, and the British are going over the fields, killing the wounded and looting their bodies.
As this all happens, we find Jamie, who is under the dead body of Black Jack Randall.
He’s dying, breath whistling in his lungs, as he remembers the last gasps of the ’45 Rebellion- his last conversation with Prince Charles, the final charge into the guns, armed with swords.
It’s damned effective editing and storytelling.
Night falls, Jamie remembers leaving Craig Na Dun, smelling Claire’s shawl, then more of the battle.
We see Rupert fighting (Thing 2), and Murtagh, who tells Jamie that the Lallybroch men made it home. Jamie sees Randall, and for them, this battle is distilled down to they two. They fight, intimately, and Randall scores a hit on Jamie’s leg, but Jamie get him in the side with his dirk, and eventually, Randall falls on top of Jamie, and dies. Jamie doesn’t have the strength to push him off and get up.
Jamie has a vision of Claire walking across the battlefield to him, all in white. She touches his face, and asks if he’s alive. In reality, it’s Rupert, who gets Jamie to a house, even as Jamie begs to be left to die where he is. The chunk of amber with the dragonfly that Claire found in the museum in 1968 falls out of his sporran on to the field.
In Boston, in 1948, Claire and Frank have found a house – it’s big and Victorian. She’s trying. She’s trying really hard. (There’s a hilarious line reading where Frank puts on an American accent talking about “rustling up vittles.”)
Several months later, a very pregnant Claire is trying to light the stove to rustle up said vittles, and it’s not working. She eyes the giant wood burning fireplace, and goes out to get firewood.
(Also, like, I understand, but the part of Boston their type of house is in doesn’t look like that. They shot it in Glasgow, but dammit, I KNOW BOSTON.)
(Also also that house is expensive. And when they were first built, you needed at least one maid to keep things going.)
(I’m just saying.)
On the street, Claire meets one of her neighbors, who is impressed by Claire’s ingenuity and also by Frank’s obvious progressiveness: other husbands would lose their shit at not getting a conventional meal. Her new friend is like, well, most husbands just want their wives to do the usual cooking and cleaning and raising of the children, so Claire is lucky. “You won’t find another man like Frank again.” Claire’s like, yeah, no, you’re right.
Said other man is in a small house with a bunch of other men, some wounded, all broken. There’s no escape. There’s just waiting.
Claire and Frank go to a party with Frank’s colleagues, and while one of the officious assholes pontificates on Truman, Claire tries to enter the conversation talking about a thing she read in the Boston Globe on the topic. She is belittled and all but called a little lady, and Frank is told that he should keep an eye on Claire’s reading habits, and soon enough, she’ll be trying to get women into Harvard Law. Claire’s like, the med school admits women and has done for three years. Those women are mocked, and “past experience shows that few women succeed as physicians.” Frank tries to help, saying that Claire was a nurse, but….
Surely Claire is looking forward for more fitting and domestic concerns? Claire does not eat his face. But she wants to.
Morning at the house of doomed men. Jamie asks if anyone knows what happened to Murtagh, and no one does. The British come in, in the person of one Lord Melton, and he’s been ordered by the Duke of Cumberland to execute everyone found to be involved in the “late treason.” Is anyone innocent? No, no one tries to claim innocence. They’ll all be shot, like soldiers. They have an hour to prepare themselves, and Lord Melton will provide writing materials if anyone needs.
In Boston, Claire lights the stove under a pan of bacon and eggs, and Frank is happy that bacon is a thing again, after rationing (but hates American tea in the bags, which… legit). She is SO VERY pregnant. He muses about the American obsession with new things, but that’s why Claire likes America. She’s also been thinking about applying for US citizenship. She never really had strong ties to England, and she wants the baby to have a “Real home.” She won’t let Frank really touch her, though, not even on the belly. He’s like, since when are you not English? You’ll walk away from your heritage that easily? She says it’s something she wants to do, and he’s like, you don’t need to, my job provides us with residency. “That’s not what this is about.” He knows that: it’s about a wife who won’t let him touch her, and he accuses her of using the pregnancy to keep him at a distance.
She tries to walk away, but he wants to have the fight now- he wants to know when she’s going to come back from the past. She’s angry that he asked her to leave behind “everything that truly mattered to me.” She says she’s kept the bargain, and he says no, the bargain was they’d raise the baby together, and not being with her isn’t keeping that. She accuses him of just wanting a good fuck and says there are girls are Radcliffe who will be happy to oblige. He snaps that he’s not the one who’s been fucking other people and she whips an ashtray at his head.
That’s enough to make them both realize this has gone too far and it’s time for a walk. Frank reminds her that he didn’t force anything on her, and he’s not forcing her to stay. “Go, or stay, but please, do it because it’s what you really want to do.”
In the house, the executions are happening, and everyone is facing them as best they can. Rupert tries to argue for the lives of two teenage boys, and Lord Melton is apologetic, but Cumberland instructed that no exceptions are to be made on account of age. He does allow them to go together, though. Another man offers to write a letter for Jamie, but Jamie declines. The man asks about Claire, but Jamie says that she’s gone. Melton asks for volunteers to be next, and Rupert takes the place at Jamie’s side. He didn’t want to say goodbye while Jamie was asleep. He also says it’ll be good to see Angus again. And that he doesn’t forgive Jamie for Dougal, but he won’t hate him for it, either. Then Rupert takes his turn at the firing squad.
Frank is sleeping, rather, not sleeping (all the modern conveniences in the house are SO NOISY) on the couch, when he gets up and starts writing a letter to Reverend Wakefield, asking him to look into one James Fraser. Before he can finish it, though, Claire comes down. Her water broke, it’s time.
In Scotland, the walking men have all been executed, and Lord Melton has his men prepare to carry out the wounded. His clerk asks if they’re to be shot lying down, and Melton is like, the fuck you say. Prop them up! “Good lord. No man in the king’s custody shall be shot lying down on my watch. Not even traitors.”
Jamie volunteers to go first, and gives his name. Melton hears, and goes over to Jamie. He asks if he’s Red Jamie, and sends another man out. He whispers to Jamie if he remembers the name John Grey. Jamie does, but “either shoot me, or go away.” Grey was Melton’s younger brother, and Grey said he owes Jamie a debt. Jamie remembers it as Grey promised to kill him, but “I dinna mind of you do it for him.”
Melton is like, this is a fucked up mess. My family owes this man a debt of honor, Cumberland would love to have a well-known Jacobite to appease the crowds at Tower Hill, so what’s to do? Melton loads Jamie into a haycart, bribes the driver, and sends him away. He feels like it’s entirely possible that Jamie will die on the way there, but if he does, it’s not on his head. (Jamie would rather be shot, thank you. Given how hellish the journey is, I don’t blame him.)
Claire groans in labor, Frank supporting her (she tells him she was glad she missed him with the ashtray, he says her aim was great, it was just his reflexes) when the (male) doctor comes in, and asks Frank how far apart her contractions are. Frank’s like, what’s a contraction. He also tells Claire there’s no reason to panic. She’s not. He asks if this is the first child, and Claire tells him (and Frank) about the miscarriage with Faith. He sends Frank to the father’s waiting room, and Frank asks Claire to please try not to throw an ashtray at her doctor. She will not promise that. He leaves, then turns back and says “I love you.”
The delivery room is an operating room. They put Claire under for the birth, over her objections, even as she says that she’s capable of deciding how she wants her birth to go. She manages to call them bastards as she’s losing consciousness.
Jamie wakes up to find Jenny and Ian: he’s home. And in really bad shape.
Claire wakes up, much as she did once before, to discover herself alone and not pregnant anymore. “Where’s my baby? Is it dead?” She is not. Frank comes in with a tiny angry baby girl. “She’s perfect, Claire.” Claire calls the baby beautiful, and Frank kisses her, “Just like her mother.” Claire apologizes for being so horrid, and Frank’s like, it’s gonna be fine now. Everything is going to be fine. It’s a new beginning for all of us.
Then a nurse comes in and calls the baby a beautiful little angel. “Where did she get the red hair?”
RHG: Elyse, you have not read Voyager, correct?
I MISSED THIS SHOW HI SHOW WELCOME BACK.
In the book, all we know about Jamie’s Culloden experience is that he comes to with Randall’s body on top of him, so seeing the battle from his perspective was really great and one of the strengths of this adaptation.
One of the other strengths comes in the form of one Tobias Menzies, who play these two characters that are incredibly unsympathetic on the page. Black Jack is Black Jack, but Frank we see pretty much exclusively through Claire’s POV, and she’s in a really fucked up and complicated place when it comes to Frank. Tobias found all the points of Frank that are sympathetic, a man who is doing his best.
And who also knows that it’s purely due to Claire’s self-control that she didn’t murder his entire department at that party.
Elyse: I have not read Voyager, so this is all new to me.
The first thing that really struck me about this episode was how the fight between Jamie and Randall mimicked a lot of sexual and intimate moments. When Randall is dead, and on top of Jamie, it looks like two lovers sleeping post-coitally. I was more than a little weirded out by this, actually, because I feel like the show sexualizes Jamie and Randall’s relationship which is that between a rapist and his victim. They imply a lot that Randall and Jamie’s destinies are entwined or some shit, but rapist and his victim.
Claire saying “Jesus H Roosevelt Christ” while trying to light the burner on her stove was basically an accurate depiction of me trying to cook anything ever.
I thought it was interesting that Claire was in a lot of ways more empowered in the past than she was in the “modern” day. The show runners allude to the frustration a lot of women felt after WWII when they were pushed back into the domestic sphere, but Claire held a position of significance in Jamie’s world too (to be fair, partly because she was his wife).
Overall it’s a good opening to the season, but I won’t be happy till Claire and Jamie are reunited.
RHG: My bet is episode 4.
How about you? What’s your over-under on what episode they get reunited?
Also: where possible, mark your book spoilers, please!
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