Episode 101: "Sassenach" (SPOILERS!)
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
What a lovely view of the Highlands to open the show! Hearing the Prologue in Caitriona's voice was simultaneously reassuring (they're staying close to the book) and different (hearing Claire speak the words). I liked it very much.
The opening scene was bloody but effective. "Six months after the end of the war" orients us very precisely in time, without having to put up a big "1945" in the middle of the screen at the beginning.
I love the opening credits and theme song <g>, and I am not going to get tired of watching/hearing them! I liked the focus on the forget-me-nots at Craigh na Dun when we see Diana's name in the credits. (For those of you who don't know, Diana has said that the forget-me-nots are significant, but we won't find out why until the very end of the last book. Look here for more information.)
The bit with Claire and Frank reminiscing was well done. Claire couldn't remember his laugh, but Frank remembered the lines in her palm well enough to doodle them on official documents? <g> You get much more of a sense here, compared to the book, of how much Frank loves Claire.
I liked the bedsprings bit, especially the look on Mrs. Baird's face when they went at it the second time for real. <g> She can definitely tell the difference!
Young Claire with Uncle Lamb caught me by surprise, especially the bit with the cigarette. She definitely had an unconventional upbringing, that's for sure! <g>
The guidebook Frank had at Leoch isn't quite accurate. Leoch was the home of the MacKenzie clan until the "mid-19th century"? No, we know from the later books that Leoch was destroyed in the aftermath of Culloden. (Sorry, don't mean to nitpick, but I couldn't resist....)
"Most never came back" - that made me think of Jerry MacKenzie, of course.
About the sex scene: I miss Frank's line about Claire being "the most devastatingly practical woman I've ever met", but I see what Diana means about how they rearranged bits and moved scenes around occasionally for dramatic effect. And my reaction to Frank making love to Claire was a) it's clear it's by no means the first time they've done it this way, and b) Frank pays a lot more attention to Claire and her needs here than in the book.
I liked the scene with Mrs. Graham, which seemed pretty much exactly as it is in the book.
I was a little bit disappointed in the ghost scene, because the muted tones of Jamie's plaid make him very hard to see in the dark unless you're looking closely. I had to rewind it and watch 3 or 4 times before I figured out where he was. That's not really a complaint; I think Frank just has keener eyesight than I do. <g>
The scene with Frank and Claire after the ghost is toned down somewhat from what's in the book, but the effect is to make Frank seem gentler, not so jealous.
Seeing the lights of Inverness from Craigh na Dun was a nice touch.
The dancers were very mystical, beautiful and eerie at the same time, and I liked the music in this part very much.
I love the last lingering look that Claire gives Frank.
I had the fleeting impression that the trees at Craigh na Dun were different, before and after. I'd like to compare the before and after shots, to see if it's really changed, but it would certainly make sense if the trees are different after 200 years.
I loved the sound the stones were making right before Claire went through. That seemed just right. The passage through the stones was not nearly as horrible or scary as I expected, though.
The bagpipes in the chase through the woods were terrific!
Tobias Menzies was excellent as BJR - scary and well-mannered at the same time. Looking forward to seeing more of him!
Dougal looks great -- very commanding presence, and I like the beard. Graham McTavish is a wonderful actor.
The dislocated shoulder looked very realistic. And painful!
Jamie's voice is soft-spoken, just as described in the books. And Diana is right, it's just astonishing how fast Sam Heughan BECOMES Jamie, right in front of our eyes. <g>
Claire's "NOT a wet-nurse", when she catches Jamie looking at her chest, made me laugh, thinking of the same bit in THE EXILE. And I think the costume people made the right choice with the white dress. It really does look like an 18th century shift.
"You're shakin' so hard it's makin' MY teeth rattle" -- good line, and evidence that Jamie has a sense of humor.
I like Cocknammon Rock -- very distinctive. Interesting to hear the discussion in Gaelic between Jamie and Dougal. You can get the sense of most of it in context, from body language and tone of voice, even if you don't understand the Gaelic words.
I loved the scene where J finds C in the woods. I didn't expect the bit with the sword, but it fits, and the rest of the scene is just as I always imagined. <g>
I liked the clansman riding the black horse with the white face -- Rupert? I have a hard time telling some of the men apart.
I liked the look Dougal gave Jamie and Claire after the bit with the flask, as if to say, why are you being friendly with this very suspicious Sassenach?
"Gerrrrrrms" made me laugh, thinking of various bits in the later books. <g>
The scene with Claire tending Jamie at the roadside was Just Perfect. And I liked Jamie's line beginning "If ye couldna fix me up well enough to ride...."
"Thank you, Sassenach. Truly." God, I love that!! Thank you to the scriptwriter for not making us wait such a looooong time to hear Jamie call her Sassenach. <g>
Fascinating to see Castle Leoch before and after. As for "remembering things that haven't happened yet" (paraphrasing) -- my thought was, be careful, Claire, don't think about that too much or you'll get a time-travel headache!
As the episode ended, I was left feeling very happy and contented. Can't WAIT to see the next one!
I thought they did an amazingly good job in staying as close as possible to the spirit of the book. What an incredible feeling, watching the story literally come to life before my eyes!
The cinematography was terrific, as was the music. And I thought the whole cast was wonderful.
In particular, I think Caitriona absolutely NAILED Claire! <g> Everything from passion to intelligence to frustration to fury to bewilderment at her sudden change in circumstances shows clearly on her face, and she "inhabits" Claire every bit as much as Sam does Jamie. The casting people were incredibly lucky to find her. <g> She's a lovely and very talented actress, and she's going to be wonderful as Claire.
BRAVO to everyone involved with the production!!
Here are my recaps of the other episodes:
Episode 102: "Castle Leoch"
Episode 103: "The Way Out"
Episode 104: "The Gathering"
Episode 105: "Rent"
Episode 106: "The Garrison Commander"
Episode 107: "The Wedding"
Episode 108: "Both Sides Now"
Episode 109: "The Reckoning"
Episode 110: "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"