Sunday, April 19, 2015

Episode 111: "The Devil's Mark" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 111 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “The Devil's Mark”. I loved this episode!! In my opinion this is the best one yet. Riveting, suspenseful (even if you’ve read the book), and emotionally intense. The acting, writing, and direction were superb, and I’m so glad they were able to stay as close to the book as they did.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.

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Opening credits – notice Bill Paterson’s name there. I love his portrayal of Ned Gowan! Beautiful opening shot of the flock of starlings.

The thieves’ hole is much bigger than I expected (it turns out to be a small cavern rather than a simple hole in the ground), but it’s still a cold, dank, depressing, and scary place to be confined! The sight of the rat scuttling across the floor made me shiver a bit.

I love Claire’s anger in this first scene. Her “Are you saying this is MY fault?” is a parallel to the scene with J&C by the roadside in Episode 109.

“It’s a boy, ye ken.” Well, yes, if you’ve read the books, you know the child she’s carrying will grow up to be William Buccleigh MacKenzie <g>, but why is Geillis so sure it’s a boy? (It's not as though they have ultrasound in the 18th century, I mean.) This is just a minor quibble. I liked the way Claire jerked her hand away when Geillis tried to put her hand on her belly to feel the baby.

The guard’s “And I’m King Arthur” made me laugh. Listening to the thunder, I’m glad they have a bit of shelter from the rain, at least.

Claire’s first sight of the pyre: “Is that what I think it is?” “Well, it’s not a Maypole, Claire.” - Good line!

Very glad to see Ned Gowan! But his statement, “I see that we have dispensed with British law, which pleases me greatly, but I am certain [the court] will not wish to dispense with our proud Scottish legal tradition.” – Why British and not English? The distinction between British and English seems to be lost on the scriptwriters, not just here but in other episodes as well. That bugs me, but it’s a minor point.

I like the fact that one of the judges is tall and and the other one short and fat, just as “Mutt and Jeff” are described in the book.

Jeanie’s testimony is of course not in the book, but I thought it was well done. I liked the way Ned Gowan destroyed her credibility in just a couple of sentences: “the grumblings of a malcontented maidservant”.

Mrs. Donaldson’s testimony was very sad, just as in the book. I liked the way they interspersed bits of footage from EP110 showing Claire with the dead baby. I loved Ned Gowan’s reaction. He’s not intimidated by the crowd at all; he focuses entirely on the young woman, and manages to turn the situation around by pointing out that she failed to stop Claire’s “interfering with the work of the faeries”. But he’s gentle with her, and compassionate, and I liked that very much.

Alastair Duffie’s story about Geillis reminds me of this bit in the book:
While the testimony of many of the witnesses was simply absurd, and other witnesses had plainly been paid for their services, some had a clear ring of truth to their words.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 25, "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I think this man could easily have been paid to make up that story.

I liked the scene with Claire and Geillis. At one point Geillis says, “I managed to divert near on 1000 pounds” – in the book, she says ten thousand, but maybe that didn’t sound realistic? When Claire says, “You actually love the bastard”, Geillis looks away. “Your words, not mine.” I was glad to see that here, because I think Episode 110 left viewers with the mistaken impression that she was in love with Dougal.

Claire’s memory of the starlings is very sweet. (And now I want to learn more about starling murmurations! <g>) I loved the way Claire pointedly refused to take the guard’s hand as she came up the ladder.

Laoghaire – uh-oh! Great scene, very well done. The bit about the potion Claire gave her in Episode 104 was a terrific addition. I liked the examiner’s comment, “Cease your ramblings, Mrs. Fraser! You’re an embarrassment to yourself.”

Father Bain is just riveting! “You have made a prodigious mistake” – I definitely did not see that coming! I never thought I would feel any sympathy for this man, but when he fell to his knees, saying, “I am no longer worthy to serve the good and holy people of this parish”, I definitely felt sorry for him. And I loved the bit where he turned and gave Claire a half-smile.

[NOTE: I've already seen some people commenting that they didn't think Father Bain was at all sincere, that they took his expression as he glanced back at Claire as a smirk.  I prefer my interpretation, because it gives Father Bain's character more depth and complexity, making him less of a one-dimensional villain than he appeared in "The Way Out", or in the book, for that matter.  But you're certainly free to disagree!]

The scene with Ned, Geillis, and Claire was also a good addition. It increases the dramatic tension considerably. And I just love the scene between Claire and Geillis! “Looks like I’m going to a fucking barbecue!” – great line, and possibly Claire’s first indication that Geillis is also a time-traveler.

I’m not really sure what Ned hoped to accomplish by firing a pistol in the middle of the courtroom. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome, and he might well have been arrested himself! But it made for a good distraction so that Claire and Geillis could have their brief whispered conversation.

“The question you had before” – when Claire said she didn’t know if it was even possible to go back – “I think it is possible. 1968.” That sent a shiver up my spine even though I knew it was coming.  I liked the way they moved this revelation here, so that Geillis can pass on the information to Claire herself, rather than via Dougal, as it's done in the book.

Jamie’s cavalry-coming-over-the-hill-just-in-time entrance is Just Perfect!! Very much the way I've always imagined it.  Sam's delivery of Jamie's lines is absolutely spot on here.

Glad to see they explained the smallpox vaccination scar, for the benefit of the many viewers who’ve never seen one before.

In the middle of the frenzy that follows Geillis’s confession, as they’re carrying her out, you can hear the examiner shouting, “Cover her up! Cover her up! She’s with child!”

The scene with J&C in the woods is just wonderful!! I love the way they fit the “honesty” exchange in here, and the rest of the scene is very much as I have always imagined it from the book, including Jamie’s expressionless mask, as he tries to digest what she’s telling him.

I love the way he sits down beside her and touches her knee, very gently. And when he took her into his arms, I had tears in my eyes. “Aye, I believe ye, Sassenach. But it would ha’ been a good deal easier, if ye’d only been a witch.” – perfect!! Just perfect.

The scenery as they ride away is really beautiful.

I was startled to see the next scene from Jamie’s POV, as he watches Claire sleeping. There's such tenderness in the way he looks at her! The sex scene is very tastefully done, understated, but sensual, just as it’s described in the book.

In the scene the next morning, I like the way Jamie’s expression shifts in an instant from love and tenderness (when he looks at Claire) to a sort of grim determination, as he thinks about what they’re about to do at the stones.

Notice that Jamie reaches out and briefly touches the tallest stone, and nothing happens. It's subtle, but I'm glad they included it.

I shouted, “NO!!” when Claire was about to go through, just as I always do on re-reading or re-listening. And when Jamie said, “I just…wasna ready,” I thought, “You’re never going to be ready for that, Jamie. NEVER. Not even when it happens for real.”

The farewell is so difficult, even though I know perfectly well what’s coming. I’m so glad they used the exact words from the book here!

I liked the closeup of the rings very much. The ring Jamie gave her, when viewed close-up, looks almost as though it could be silver. It’s nicer-looking than I expected, in fact. I’m glad they didn’t use a voice-over for this part. Seeing Claire touch her rings, first Frank’s and then Jamie’s, and look up at the stone, makes her thoughts abundantly clear.

There’s a LOT of smoke coming from that campfire!

“On your feet, soldier.” – Good line, echoing what she said to him at the end of Episode 101.

And at the end, Jamie and Claire are in each other’s arms (where they belong!!), and it doesn’t matter what the future may hold, as long as they face it together.

What a fantastic episode this was!! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think they did a fabulous job adapting it for TV!

What about the rest of you? I'd like to hear what you thought of it.

Here are my previous OUTLANDER episode recaps. Please come back next week for more!

Episode 101: "Sassenach"
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"

19 comments:

elizlk said...

I agree, excellent episode. The tweaks were all good, and it was nice to have surprises as a book reader, but know that things are all on track as well. My favorite line from the show: "looks like I'm going to a f***king barbecue."

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree. To my mind, the best episode to date. Everything was well done and well thought out. The love Jaime feels for Claire is so evident. Sam and Cait's representation is spot on. Such excellent actors. I am privileged to be part of this experience.

WolfeTales said...

Couple of things. Terry was just doing a Q & A....the rat(s)? in the thieves hole was/were real and apparently Cait liked them. Ron said he liked filming her return from Jamie's POV. I asked if had filmed it both ways to compare and he said yes - the difference between the two was subtle but he thought it played a bit better the way they did it :) Just a couple bits of tid for you

Bev Sykes said...

This has edged out The Wedding as my favorite episode. I agree with almost all of what you said, but I, too, thought Fr Baine's humbleness was staged and that the smile was a smirk.

I loved the look on Jamie's face as he tries to process what Claire is telling him (and thank GOODNESS it's finally out in the open). His "would have been easier if you'd been a witch" line was probably my favorite--I love the expression on his face.

The BBQ line was my 2nd favorite and I, too, thought it should have told Claire a thing or two about Geillis.

I watched this episode on demand first thing Saturday morning and loved it so much I had to see it again at the regular broadcast time. Excellent, excellent episode.

And I am loving Ned's character, which is stronger to me than he ever seemed in the book.

This show just gets better and better, thanks to the faithfulness to the book and tweaks which only help clarify and condense, but don't ruin the story.

Anonymous said...

I wish there had been an explanation (maybe while riding off to Lally Broch) for hoe Jamie found out Claire needed rescuing. It is clear in the book, but not in episode. Otherwise, Respect!

mountaingirl1961 said...

First, love the blog and your observations. Love the books, love the Starz version.

Loved this episode, too, although there are a couple of things I wish they'd done differently. I wish there were a line in her explanations about Frank's not being born yet... Jamie's a moral enough character that the bigamy aspect of what's happened would be problematic for him, in addition to the tearing pain of losing Claire. And, too, I wish that the series of lines around his actually placing her hand on the stone wouldn't have been dropped... her walking up to the stone without more wrench about walking away from Jamie didn't jive for me. And - I'm surprised they didn't have him cross himself at some point. He's done it at all other points onscreen when faced with the supernatural, it would have been in character.

And, of course, the use of British as opposed to English. Minor quibble, but still.

All in all an absolutely marvelous adaptation of one of my favorite parts of the book. Beautifully done.

ingeborg oppenheimer said...

karen, first of all, thanks much for your detailed review. i plan to print it out and have it in front of me during my next viewing of the episode. it's a virtual road map of what to look for during the viewing. secondly, i agree with much of what you said, having had similar reactions to yours. i don't know about father bain - he seemed genuine to me; i'll have to watch more carefully next time. for me it was such a mental somersault for the man to have made that switch! anyway, onward to more outlander experiences!

Jo said...

First of all I want the thank Karen for 'Outlandish Observations'. Such a wonderful site!

My favorite line from Episode 111 was "looks like I'm going to a fucking barbeque". This further reinforces to Claire that Geillis is from the future. Excellent!

Then there was Ned. An adventurous soul with a gun. Loved it!

Lotte, Cait, Sam & Bill portrayed their characters spot on with body language & emotions to fit all theirs scenes. Bravo!

I agree with Bev, "This show just gets better and better, thanks to the faithfulness to the book and tweaks which only help clarify and condense, but don't ruin the story."

Belinda said...

I too enjoy reading your comments after viewing the episode. I have to admit, i thought that Father Bain's smile was actually a smirk. He didnt appear kind to me! :)

Karen Charbonneau said...

Really enjoyed your recap. This is the first episode that actually made me cry (and I'm on anti-depressants, so that's not easy). I was really pulled into the story this time instead of admiring the superb acting. But I thought Father Baine wasn't sincere. I thought he meant he did the boy a disservice by allowing him to live with the devil in him, as though he didn't believe he'd actually been poisoned. Will have to watch Ron Moore's podcast to see what he says.

Barbw said...

Loved this episode. I think father Bain piece was brilliant...I was falling for his "support" of Claire...yet he knew all along that someone would conclude what they did about her being a witch. I wasn't really expecting the whole thing.

I think they have left Laoghaire with absolutely no redeeming qualities. In the book, she was immature, here she seemed so much worse. Hard to imagine how Jamie could marry her in future. The writing team will need to get creative.

I agree that there should have been some explanation as to how Jamie got word that he was needed.

pbnj said...

Absolutely loved this episode and the fact that it used so much of the original dialogue. The addition of "fucking bar-b-que" gave me a good laugh in an episode that had me crying thru the remainder of the show! Jamie's (Sam's) facial expressions were spot-on and could use their own cameo! Wish there had been a few more close-ups of his face and speech when he came to rescue Claire. The last 10 minutes had me crying even after the 6th viewing! My only complaint is with Claire's not so pretty ring--just can't reconcile it not being silver and instead made from a key... But this was by far the best episode !!

Jean Mcfie said...

Karen, I read your blog all the time. Loved this episode but I have a problem with "barbecue". Geillis left Inverness (as we learn in a later book)in 1968. I was staying with relatives living in Inverness at that time I'm sure "barbecuing" was unknown.Nobody cooked outside, its too cold and rains a LOT. I doubt if Geillis house had a TV, they were so new, there were no restaurants or take-out selling barbecue. Fish and Chips and Indian food was more favored.

Leeann said...

Wish they had Jamie say how he was praying for the strength to let her go. But enjoyed the rest. re Father Bain, he 'won' either way, he either got to leave town, or stay and have Claire declared a witch. He was smirking, not smiling.

Osuzyquilts said...

I thought the Father Bain thing was perfect! Yeah, that's the whole point, he was not sincere but putting it on to get back at Claire. Hence, the smirk, yeah, nit a smile, a smirk, "see there what I just did to you, lassie, don't fuck with me, girlie."

Linda Bouley said...

The very last moments of EP111 signifies for me the point when Jamie and Claire are truly married in every sense of the word. It solidifies the "you are my home now" scene in The Reckoning where Jamie says 'I am your master & you are mine' & Claire nods 'yes' and where he also says 'seems I cannot posses your soul unless I lose my own'. Then, his selflessly bringing her to the stones and she coming back to him because she "had to" (missed that line) brings them to a state of oneness. there interaction at the campfire on her return seals everything...like another ring. I especially was so touched by Jamie emotional response - that tear slipping down his cheek. I've wondered whether that was in the script or just occurred organically as they played out the scene.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I thought it was such a great episode - Lotte was awesome!! And my husband's input regarding the return to the stones was interesting. He has not read the books. The first comment he made that I loved was when they crest the hill and Claire sees that Jamie brought her back to Craigh na Dun: "What a good guy!" :) But what I really found fascinating was after she returns to Jamie, his observation was "Now. Did she come back to him because that was her choice? Or did the stones not work? Because it seems out of character for her to not go back." Now, we have a rule. If he's going to watch with me, I can not say things like, "that was different in the book". :-P So, I didn't break that rule, trusting the show to explain her decision in more detail. I did, however, break the rule, when he kind of grumbled about how fortunate it was that Jamie, who was supposed to be far away, showed up just in time. Another point I trust will be explained in "Lallybroch" episode. I wonder how many other non-readers thought the same thing.

Always a pleasure to read your blog, Karen! - Christine McCann
Twitter: @CB_McC

Anonymous said...

Thank you for providing these synopsis of each episode. I don't get them here in NZ and have to wait for the DVD releases. I have part 1 so far. My daughter is downloading the current part 2 for me so I will get them eventually :) but in the meantime and apart from the books, these are brilliant. Cant wait to get the whole thing and just watch one after the other :) this is such an awesome series, they have done so well sticking so closely to the books which is just fabulous and your blog is just brilliant. Thank you again :)
Lesley

C Woodard said...

I finally finished the 1st book after this episode and realized in the book, Dougal mentioned to Claire in the tunnels that Geillis had written 1967. Now the reference on the show is always to 1968. Did anyone else notice this?