*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
Interesting opening shot with the horses' hooves. And what a breathtaking view of the scenery to open the episode! I like Claire's coat, too -- very striking.
I had never heard the John Donne poem before, but it's appropriate.
ABSENCE, hear thou my protestationBill Patterson seems perfectly cast as Ned Gowan. He's totally convincing, and I liked him immediately. I didn't expect the asthma, but I laughed at the (inadvertent, I'm sure!) connection to Hal's problems in MOHB. I was half-expecting Claire to prescribe joint-fir boiled in coffee. <g>
Against thy strength,
Distance and length:
Do what thou canst for alteration,
For hearts of truest mettle
Absence doth join and Time doth settle.
I really enjoyed the "Maid Gaed to the Mill" song, which I included in my Friday Fun Facts in April 2013. There's a video of the song here if you're interested.
You can really feel Claire's loneliness and isolation. But I love Jamie's comment, "Maybe Angus hates ye. He hates everyone." And the way Jamie smiles at her makes me melt! <g>
I love the details of the rent-collecting, the crofts, the livestock, the tenants (both the way they look and how they are dressed), etc. Seeing how the ordinary people lived really makes the 18th century come alive before my eyes, in a way that the scenes in the castle did not, and I think it's fascinating.
The wool-waulking scene is terrific! I like the fact that all the women's faces, especially the older ones, look like they've had hard lives with plenty of hard work, in contrast to Claire with her perfect skin.
Angus really surprised me in the scene where he drags Claire out of the wool-waulking, since we've only seen him as comic relief up to this point. He's becoming a more realistic, fully-fleshed-out character, and I think that's good. "She's slippery as an eel" -- good line! I also liked the way Claire reacted in this scene, untying the goat, etc. I think it's very much in character, even though it's not in the book.
Watching this episode the first time, I didn't realize the young man (later identifiied as Jeremy Foster) was an Englishman until I saw the red coat. But it definitely explains the clansmen's hostility toward him!
When Dougal ripped Jamie's shirt the first time, I actually yelled at the TV, "Hey, cut that out!!" I felt awful for Jamie, and you can tell Claire does, too.
"I'm not bloody doing it. The lad can wear rags from now on." Cold as ice, and Jamie's reaction is just as I always imagined from the book.
I love watching Dougal in this episode, btw. He's just mesmerizing, more so even than Jamie. <g>
I liked the "black pudding" scene - good to see Claire with her hair loose once in a while, and this exchange between Ned and Claire is great:
"It's a pity they don't allow women to practice law."
"It'll be a few centuries before that happens."
Again, the scenery is just magnificent!
"Would I have to reconcile myself to live the rest of my life among strangers, two hundred years in the past?" As much as I feel for what she's going through, part of me is saying, "Oh, it's not that bad, you'll see!" LOL.
Notice that the instant "The Watch" is mentioned, Jamie takes off, without a word to anyone.
Claire: "I don't sit with thieves."
Angus: "I will not be judged by an English whore!"
I like how Jamie comes to her defense here, towering over Angus, and making him back down without ever raising his voice or laying a finger on Angus. Just the implied threat is enough.
"Todger" is a new word to me. <g>
I liked the exchange between Claire and Jamie here:
"Angus can kiss my English arse!"
"You're not to judge things ye don't understand." (But she does, constantly; she can't help it.)
I like the stone building in the next village very much. And the bit with Torcall was very good, showing that Dougal does have some humanity after all.
"Christ, I'd die in my blood...." - it's good that we're back to the book, if only briefly.
I like the flashback scene with Frank and the Reverend. Claire's recitation of the historical facts made me laugh -- she has a good memory! Interesting use of the series theme music here, a vivid reminder of the original lyrics of that song, which are all about the aftermath of Culloden.
I was really disappointed that the first part of the scene with Jamie and Dougal is so hard to hear! I wanted very much to see that, but I could barely make out what they were saying. How are viewers who don't know the book supposed to understand what's going on there if they can't hear what the characters are saying?
It got much easier to hear toward the end (the close-up shots are very good) but I really didn't like the fact that they changed the bit about kicking trees from the way it's done in the book. In the book, Claire's saying, "You need to hit something", and more important, Jamie actually taking her advice and finding it sound <g>, is a small step in the evolution of their relationship. It's missing here, and I think that's a shame.
Also, the way they've changed the timing of this scene from the book means that Claire's line, "He'll do that again" makes no sense in context. Of course they both know Dougal will do it again! He's done it a few times already by the time we see them here.
On the bright side, I just love the look that passes between Jamie and Claire when he says, "As ye ken well."
More gorgeous scenery. The tourist industry in Scotland is going to get a huge boost from this episode, I think. <g>
The scene with the executed men was chilling. I wonder if that's historically accurate?
I liked Dougal's speech in the next scene, angry and defiant, even if I don't understand a word he's saying. <g>
And all of a sudden, we're back to the book! <g> The scene with Jamie and Claire in the room at the inn is exactly as I've always pictured it, except that I can't figure out why Claire is still fully dressed, rather than in her shift. Wasn't she asleep when she heard the door creaking? (This is a minor point.)
Sam absolutely NAILED Jamie's trademark "one side of his mouth quirked up in a half-smile" expression. <g> I love it!
I liked the scene with Ned and Claire. "Fighting hearts don't stand a chance against cannons" - good line.
Interesting that it's Angus who starts the fight. In the earlier scene with Jamie and Claire by the campfire, he's the one calling Claire a whore, and now he ends up defending her honor against the very same insult. Very clever bit of writing there, and it works in the context of the TV series, where the focus is mainly on Claire's situation, but I think something important has been lost by the way it's portrayed here.
In the book, the big fight scene in the tavern is started when Jamie finally has had enough and fights back against the insults of the villagers -- and his victory in that fight both earns the respect of the others AND puts an immediate stop to Dougal's using him that way. In the TV-series version of the scene, Jamie isn't even present during the fight (having excused himself early on to go tend the horses). So we don't see Jamie standing up for himself or putting an end to Dougal's public humiliation of him.
On the one hand, I can understand this: Jamie has been through so much (physically) already in the series that showing him being beat up for the third time in 5 episodes might be just too much for TV viewers to take.
On the other hand, since we never get to see Jamie standing up for himself, fighting back, the impression you get is that Jamie will put up with this treatment from Dougal forever. That makes him look weaker and less confident than the Jamie we know from the book, and I didn't care for it.
I did like the fact that after the fight, Claire seems more relaxed, and even teases Rupert a bit. That bit was hilarious! <g>
The views of Culloden were very sobering. I like the way they used the flashback to have Frank give the viewers the historical background.
The Clan MacKenzie stone made me smile. Yes, it's in the books (Roger mentions it in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER), but when I visited Culloden in 2012, I made a point of asking our tour guide if there was a MacKenzie stone somewhere, and he said no. So just keep in mind that the one we see here in this scene is fictional.
That got me thinking: if there is a MacKenzie clan stone at Culloden, who is buried under it? Dougal? As far as we know, there were no other MacKenzie fatalities at Culloden, right? (Just speculation, but it's interesting to think about.)
Interesting that the rest of the clansmen are willing to trust Claire a bit more now, give her more freedom of movement, but Dougal obviously still doesn't trust her at all. Maybe less now than he ever has.
I didn't expect the arrival of the English soldiers at all. Hope Jamie managed to hide before they spotted him!
"Tell me, Madam, are you here by your own choice?" Wow, talk about a cliffhanger! <g>
Overall, I thought this episode was quite enjoyable, and whoever called it a "love letter to Scotland" is absolutely right.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. You can see my comments on the previous episodes here:
Episode 101: "Sassenach"
Episode 102: "Castle Leoch"
Episode 103: "The Way Out"
Episode 104: "The Gathering"
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"
Please come back next week for my recap of Episode 106!