Thursday, April 30, 2015

#HappyBDayJamie!!

I'm DELIGHTED to announce that STARZ is using the hashtag #HappyBDayJamie that I came up with in 2011 for their contest in honor of Jamie Fraser's birthday on Friday, May 1st!!



A representative from STARZ contacted me privately a few days ago, saying she'd seen my blog post about Sam and Jamie's birthdays and wanted to coordinate our efforts. Naturally I said I would be thrilled if they used #HappyBDayJamie!!

If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets on Friday with #HappyBDayJamie!  I think the birthday-card contest sounds like a fun idea, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.

Many thanks to Carol and Tracey from My Outlander Purgatory.  The original idea for the #HappyBDayJamie Twitter campaign came from a discussion on the Monday-night OUTLANDER chat on MOP in 2011, and we've been doing it every year since then.  This year's celebration is going to be (by far) the biggest one yet!!

Happy Birthday, Sam Heughan!



Please join me in wishing Sam Heughan a very happy 35th birthday today!!  Sam is an extremely talented actor who is doing an AMAZING job bringing Jamie Fraser to life on TV, and this is a great opportunity for OUTLANDER fans worldwide to show our appreciation for all his hard work.



If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets with #Dram4Sam today, especially from 7pm - 9pm in your local time zone today, April 30.  We're going to try to send this hashtag around the world, as we did for Diana Gabaldon's birthday in January.



The #Dram4Sam campaign was started by fans last year. Please join us in raising a toast to Sam Heughan in celebration of his birthday. If you wish, you can make a donation to Youth Theatre Arts Scotland (YTAS), one of Sam's favorite charities, in honor of the occasion. But that's totally up to you.

The birthday festivities will continue on Friday, May 1, with Jamie Fraser's birthday!  See this post for more details.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Episode 112: "Lallybroch" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 112 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “Lallybroch”. I really enjoyed this episode!  Well-written, well-acted, and I think it really captures the spirit of this part of the book.  I was delighted that they included so many of my favorite lines.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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

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Opening credits: Some of you will recognize the scene with the dogs in front of the hearth at Lallybroch from the “OUTLANDER Yule Log” that STARZ posted last Christmas.

I just LOVE the scenery in the opening shot, and as Jamie and Claire approach Lallybroch. Just gorgeous!

Claire telling Jamie about airplanes – I like that very much.

“When I’m 40, you’ll be…245.” “I think your calculations are a little off.” That made me laugh. In fairness to Jamie, though, it’s really not easy to talk about a time-traveler’s age!

I really liked the way they used flashbacks throughout this episode to show Jamie's memories as well as Jenny's. As they approach Lallybroch, Claire looks a little apprehensive, Jamie grim but determined.

I was surprised that the first person they encountered upon their arrival was young Jamie. He’s very cute! And I liked the way he turned his head automatically to look at Jenny when she called, “Jamie?” <g>

The first scene between Jenny and Jamie is very much as I’ve always imagined it. Laura Donnelly is wonderful as Jenny! I loved Jamie’s reaction to Jenny calling Claire a “trollop”. And I was really glad to see they kept the reference to the ball-grabbing in here. They didn't need to actually show Jenny doing it in order to make the point. <g>

Steven Cree is very good as Ian! He has a nice smile, and the wooden leg looks very realistic.

Jenny’s flashback was just mesmerizing! When BJR put his finger in her mouth, I kept muttering, “That is SO disgusting!” I had a very strong feeling of revulsion, watching that, and I was impressed that she had the self-control to keep from biting him. Tobias Menzies was terrific in this scene, as was Laura Donnelly. (And I didn't mind the brief glimpse of BJR rubbing himself. I'm not sure they could have got the point across as effectively without it.)

I didn’t expect her to hit him with the candlestick, but glad to see she fought back. Jenny laughing at him was just as I imagined from the book.

I liked the way Ian reaches out to take Jenny’s hand as J&C leave the room.

“I’m not the meek and obedient type.” (Understatement of the century! <g>)

I liked the way Jamie talked about Letitia. Claire's line was the perfect comeback: “Careful, my laird. I have a much better throwing arm than the fair Letitia.”

“I never thought you’d be so trusting of the English.” Good line from Jenny, and a not-so-subtle dig at Claire.

Mrs. Fitz sending the chest from Leoch was a good idea, but I miss Murtagh. And I was startled to see Claire has changed clothes in the next scene. She was half-naked when they arrived. Where did she get the stays she’s wearing? (Borrowed from Jenny, presumably?)

I like the way Jamie talks about his memories of his father in the laird’s bedroom. And Claire’s reaction to the sword was very good. “I was raised by an archaeologist” – this is something we tend to forget. I can very easily picture Jamie as a young boy, sneaking into his father’s room to play with that sword.

I liked this exchange: “It is yours now, Jamie." And he gently corrects her: "Ours.”

I loved the flashback at Fort William. This is very much the way I’ve always pictured it from the book. The encounter between Jamie and Brian was really well done.

“Remember to pray, and I’ll stand by ye, no matter what happens.” I'm glad we got to see Brian say those words to Jamie. Brian’s last words to him (“You’re a braw lad, son!”) are not in the book, but I thought that was a good addition.

The scene with BJR and Jamie was excellent. “He likes to play with his toys.” – great line!

“And if not, well..." I don’t know about the rest of you, but I heard BJR’s next line in my head: “You’ll wish you’d never been born.” But Tobias’s restraint here is very effective. The words are not necessary. He gets the point across very clearly, with no more than a brief touch of his finger on Jamie’s raw back. (Owwwwwww!)

I liked the way Claire went to him, wordless (what could she possibly say?) and he took her into his arms as he told the last part of the story.

“But I could still feel my father’s kiss on my cheek, and I thought what he would think of me. Not the buggery -- he’d not give that a thought or care -- but for giving in. For letting that man break me. So I couldn’t do it.” I love this! It’s similar to what he says in the book, but that last part is clearly meant as foreshadowing, and it’s very effective.

I liked the way they showed Brian collapsing during the flogging. The way Jamie tells the story -- matter-of-fact, but overlaid with that sense of guilt -- is very much how I’ve always imagined him saying it.

In the next scene, with Jenny and Claire facing each other over the dinner table, trying to make awkward conversation, the undercurrent of tension between them is almost palpable. I missed the description from the book of their thoughts here, but I think their body language was clear enough to let viewers who haven't read the book get the sense of what they were thinking.

“Our tenants are like family. Not a man, woman, or child would think about betraying Jamie to the Redcoats. At any price.” -- good line.

I liked seeing the tenants arriving for Quarter Day. They all seem genuinely happy to see Jamie back. And Claire finally gets that vase of her very own, that she talked about way back in the beginning of Episode 101. <g>

Jamie collecting rents -- he’s very clearly trying to do what he thinks his father would have done, but he’s young and inexperienced, and he makes mistakes.

The scene with young Rabbie MacNab is very good. I’m glad they included it. Interesting that Claire doesn’t quite have the knack of the “ch” sound in “Lady Broch Tuarach”. That’s realistic, but I figure she’ll get the hang of it in Season 2, with more practice. <g> I liked the fact that she used the expression "OK", which is definitely not something you'd hear in the 18th century, but is very natural for Claire.

The sight of Rabbie’s back made me wince, even though I knew it was coming.

I liked the “drunk Jamie” scene. <g> This is a side of him that the TV viewers have not seen before. The way he dealt with MacNab is just the way a stubborn, cocky, inexperienced 22-year-old who’s trying to be laird for the first time would behave. It was a mistake, of course, and he’s going to pay dearly for it (understatement!!), but the fact that he was drunk at the time puts a new twist on the situation.

Hung-over Jamie is fun to watch, too. I liked the scene with Jamie and Jenny and Claire very much. “D’ye think life just started when the two of you walked through that door?” – great line!

I love the way Jenny’s voice drips with sarcasm when she says, “Begging your pardon, Laird Broch Tuarach.”

The water-wheel scene is just terrific! All of it. And Jamie’s sense of humor has returned.

“You’ll freeze to death!”
“Most likely. At least you’ll be able to serve decent bannocks at my wake.”

Most of this scene is just as I imagined from the book. Too bad they couldn’t include Grannie MacNab, but I think giving that part to Jenny makes sense. I actually liked the substitution of the shirt for Jamie’s father's old red drawers, because I never really believed Brian would have worn smallclothes like that. And of course, Jamie losing his shirt lets us see him naked in the millpond. <g>

Speaking of which...Jamie appears far more heavily muscled in this scene than when we see him on his wedding night. I didn’t care for the "bodybuilder" look at all. But the scene was fun to watch, regardless. And when he turns his back, you can see Jenny staring at the scars, as she sees them for the first time.

I liked the scene with Claire and Ian. It’s rare in this show to see a quiet moment like this, with two people just talking, getting to know one another. I was glad to see they included so much of the dialogue from the book, and I loved Ian’s advice on dealing with stubborn Frasers!

The scene with Claire and Jamie in the bedroom is not in the book, but I thought it was a good addition. Claire is intelligent and perceptive, and she’s probably the only one who could make Jamie see how his behavior looks to everyone else. “You’re trying to be someone you’re not, and in the process you’re wrecking the family you have left. And if you’re not careful, you’re going to lose them, too.”

More gorgeous scenery! I can’t look at the graveyard without remembering the scenes in ECHO and MOHB that take place here.

The scene between Jamie and Jenny is really wonderful. Well-written and very well-acted! And I was just DELIGHTED to see they included my all-time favorite Jenny lines from the whole series: “And if your life is a suitable exchange for my honor, tell me why my honor is not a suitable exchange for your life. Or are ye tellin’ me I may not love you as much as ye love me? Because if ye are, Jamie Fraser, I’ll tell ye right now, it’s not true!”

The tombstone reads:

Brian Dubh.
Brian Robert David Fraser
Born in Inverness-shire Scotland 1691 and Died in the 49th Year of His Age at Fort William 1740.

And then a bit in Gaidhlig (as close as I can make out):

Gus am bris an la agus an teach na sgailean (?)

Good to see a glimpse of the broch! And I like Claire’s line, “I’m beginning to feel like I actually belong here.” The rest of this scene is just wonderful!! Not exactly the way it's done in the book, but the changes made sense, and I'm so glad we got to see them finally (FINALLY!) admit their love for one another. <g>

I think it's pretty clever of the scriptwriter to lull us into a false sense of security with that wonderful scene, only to pull a plot twist out of nowhere like that. I really did NOT see the ending coming at all! Yikes!!

I really enjoyed this episode. Kudos to the whole cast and crew!

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"
Episode 111: "The Devil's Mark"

Friday, April 24, 2015

Get ready for a double birthday celebration!



As many of you know, Sam Heughan and Jamie Fraser both have birthdays coming up next week! Sam will turn 35 on Thursday, April 30, and James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser will turn 294 (believe it or not!) on Friday, May 1.

I thought it would be fun to have a double birthday celebration on Twitter this year. Here's how it will work:

Thursday, April 30 (Sam Heughan's Birthday): Please tag your tweets with #Dram4Sam from 7pm - 9pm in your local time zone on Thursday.



The #Dram4Sam campaign was started by fans last year. Please join us in raising a toast to Sam Heughan on his birthday on Thursday! If you wish, you can make a donation to Youth Theatre Arts Scotland (YTAS), one of Sam's favorite charities, in honor of the occasion. But that's totally up to you.



Friday, May 1 (Jamie Fraser's Birthday): Please tag your tweets with #HappyBDayJamie from 7pm - 9pm in your local time zone on Friday.

We've used the hashtag #HappyBDayJamie‬ to celebrate Jamie's birthday on Twitter for the past five years. It's always a lot of fun. Things are Very Different now, of course, and I hope we'll get a lot more people to participate!  (STARZ was kind enough to send me the image above. Feel free to share it!)

We'll get the fans Down Under to start things off on both days, and then send these hashtags around the world!

If you're not on Twitter, there will still be lots of ways to celebrate! Many OUTLANDER fan-sites and Facebook groups will be taking part in the festivities. <g>

Hope you'll join us on Thursday and Friday for this double birthday celebration! Please spread the word to anyone else you know who may be interested. Thanks!

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"

Thursday, April 16, 2015

REPOST: Culloden anniversary



Today is the 269th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746.



I like this video very much. (The song is "The Ghosts of Culloden", performed by Isla Grant.)

Diana Gabaldon noted in her blog post about her 2008 visit to Culloden that she saw the place where Jamie woke after the battle, thinking he was dead.  When I asked her on Compuserve if she recalled where that was, exactly, she said,
Jamie made it almost to the second government line.  He woke in a little swale or dip (you recall he was lying in water), about forty feet off the path that leads from the Visitors Centre--maybe a couple of hundred yards beyond the VC itself.
The photo below shows the area where the government lines were, marked with a red flag.



I was lucky enough to be able to visit Culloden in 2012.  It's an amazing place, and the Visitors Centre is very well done.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD paperback coming June 2!



Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (Book 8 in the OUTLANDER series) will be out in trade-paperback format -- that's the large size paperback -- on June 2, 2015.  You can pre-order here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

For those of you who haven't yet read it, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD (aka MOHB or MOBY) is a terrific read, one of my favorites in the entire series, and highly recommended!  For more information about this book, see my Book 8 FAQ here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Interview with Gary Lewis and Graham McTavish



Here's an interesting interview on Vulture.com with Gary Lewis (Colum) and Graham McTavish (Dougal).

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

Among other things, Gary and Graham talk about the events of Episode 110, "By the Pricking of My Thumbs".  So if you haven't yet seen that episode, there will be spoilers in this article.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Episode 110: "By the Pricking of My Thumbs" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 110 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “By the Pricking of My Thumbs”.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! *** 

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

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First, a quick comment about the opening credits. At “billow and breeze”, notice Simon Callow’s credit as the Duke of Sandringham.  I liked the dueling pistols in the opening bit. Fascinating to see what’s involved in loading one – like a miniature version of a musket. <g>

The opening sex scene starts out straight from the book, complete with the “butterfly wings” of Jamie's tongue. <g>  My first thought on watching this was that Jamie learns VERY fast! My second thought, when Murtagh started pounding on the door and calling, “Wake up!”, was that this is very similar to the scene in FIERY CROSS chapter 89 (“The Moons of Jupiter”), where Jamie comes knocking on Bree and Roger’s cabin door to find Roger half-dressed and Bree still lying in bed.

"Jamie, if I tell you something, will you promise not to ask me how I know?”
“I told ye, I’d never ask ye for anything ye didna wish to tell me.”
It's good to see this here.

Jamie talking about returning to Lallybroch – this is simplified somewhat from the book. Here, the only thing stopping Jamie from going home seems to be the price on his head, not his guilt over what he thinks happened to Jenny. But I really liked Jamie’s line, “We’d be happy there. I know we would.” Also the way his whole face lights up when he talks about it.

Nice to see Ned Gowan acting lawyerly. <g> I love the twinkle in his eye just before Murtagh says, “If ye have something on your mind, Ned Gowan, then speak it.”

The scene between Laoghaire and Claire is one of my favorites in the whole episode. Very well done!

"Jamie Fraser was and is mine. And you did both of us a wrong past bearing when ye stole him away.”  - good line, and I’m sure she still believes that 20 years later!

The dialogue in this scene is really good. I especially liked this: “He must have to get himself swine drunk of a night before he can stand to plow your field” – SLAP!  (Well, she deserved it, for being so nasty, but my impression was that Claire apologized because she’s trying to be the adult in this conversation.)

Geillis performing her “summoning” in the woods beneath a full moon is suitably mysterious and eerie. And I liked very much how they showed the similarity between what Geillis is doing and the dancers on Craigh na Dun from Episode 101.  (Including the music, which is one of my favorite bits from that episode.)

The revelation of Geillis’s pregnancy is, of course, not at all the way it happens in the book, and I thought Geillis’s reaction was out of character. In the book, she didn’t seem happy at all about the pregnancy, more resigned to it, saying "accidents happen", or words to that effect.

“My darlin’ Dougal” – I didn’t like this. In the books, Geillis doesn’t believe in love. Is this an act for Claire's benefit, or are we expected to believe she’s actually in love with Dougal, and not just interested in him for his money and power?

I liked the way they used the flashback with Frank and the Reverend to explain why Sandringham's association with Dougal is important.

The whole scene with the changeling was VERY well done, and I was relieved to see they went back to the book. I liked the mist in the air around the trees. Claire’s reaction to finding the baby was very good.  (I kept thinking of her cradling Malva’s baby in ABOSAA.) Jamie crossed himself left-handed again, just as in Episode 105, but aside from that, Jamie in this scene is very much the way I always imagined from the book. He’s gentle with Claire, seeing how upset she is about the baby.

I liked Jamie’s reaction to Claire signing her name “Claire Elizabeth Fraser”.   And it made me think: Frank found records of citizens complaining about BJR’s activities. Was this document part of that historical record?  Just speculation, of course, but interesting to think about. <g>

Simon Callow is wonderful as the Duke of Sandringham!  And I like the set decoration here – the furniture, the paintings on the walls, everything gives it a very authentic 18th c. feel.

HOWEVER....I have a problem with this scene. As well-acted and beautifully shot as it is, it simply doesn’t make sense to me, in terms of the story.

“Ah! So Lord Broch Tuarach has sent you along to soften me up. To play on my well-known sympathies for the weaker sex.”
“I can assure you, Your Grace, that Jamie has no idea I’m here, and nor would he approve if he did.”

OK, so how did she manage to get there from Leoch? Someone would have had to take her in a carriage, or ride along with her on horseback for protection and to show her the way. I don’t believe she could just sneak off by herself without Murtagh or Auld Alec or someone else knowing.  And considering what happened the last time Claire wandered off without Jamie's knowledge, it seems very unlikely that she would do so again only a few days later.  The logistical issues here make this whole scene seem both contrived (set up only to get the Duke and Claire to meet) and unnecessary.

But I do love Simon Callow’s performance, and the dialogue in this scene is terrific!  “Libelous falsities”, etc.

Claire’s confronting Sandringham about the Jacobite gold from Dougal strikes me as awfully risky (Jamie’s line in ABOSAA, “Ye were always bolder than was safe” comes to mind”), especially in view of what we know about her encounter with him in DRAGONFLY.  If she needs him to be a friend rather than an enemy, deliberately provoking him like this seems a very odd way to go about it.

I didn’t care for the scene where Dougal goes berserk with rage and grief.  Yes, it’s dramatic, and visually interesting to watch (I liked their use of the targes, in particular), but what was the point of it, exactly?  Just to show that Dougal had feelings for his dead wife?  (And why on earth would he feel that her death from a sudden fever was his fault? Surely such things were common enough in the 18th century!)  Or was it only designed to show off Dougal’s sword-fighting skills?  It felt way over the top and unnecessary to me, and not just because this is a scene that’s not in the book.

Whatever Claire gave Dougal, it’s a VERY fast-acting sedative!  Laudanum, maybe?

I liked Colum’s line at the end of the scene:  “Watch over him. I’ll deal with the sodden fool when he regains sobriety."  And this line (from Rupert?): "If ye drop him, I’ll have your balls.”

Geillis is terrific in the next scene with Claire. She seems almost gleeful at the news of Maura’s death.  And I love her reaction when Claire says, “Your husband might have something to say about that.” The look in her eyes, combined with that little sound she makes, is just priceless. <g>

“What the hell are the MacDonalds doing visiting the Duke of Sandringham?”  I had the exact same question.

“I must admit that shielding [Randall] from the consequences of his misdeeds sometimes feels like a full-time occupation.” – great line

This whole plotline about the duel seems very contrived. “The MacDonalds and the MacKenzies are sworn enemies, but this is not a clan matter.” That makes no sense -- it seems to me that ANY interaction between two clans who are "sworn enemies" becomes a clan matter by definition -- and Murtagh is absolutely right that Jamie should have stayed out of it, that there will be other chances. I saw this as Jamie’s stubbornness (“It’s a risk I have to take”) overcoming his good judgment, and I didn’t like it.

The banquet scene was very good. I liked the way Colum presented the Duke with the dirk to carve the bird.  Arthur’s death scene was done very well, especially Geillie’s reaction (“anything but a grieving widow”) and Claire’s diagnostic skills.

But I totally could have done without the duel. Dramatic but pointless, is the way it seemed to me.  At times it looked like something out of a completely unrelated 18th-century costume drama, not OUTLANDER as we know it. And I really don’t understand why Jamie took part in the bantering with the young men afterward. He’s only half a MacKenzie, and we have no reason to think he had any dealings with MacDonalds in the past. So why does he react so strongly to their insults?  Just an excess of testosterone, or is there something more to it?

It seems to me that Jamie’s “Is it true the MacDonalds learn of love by rutting with their mother?” actually provoked the fight. Of course, when the young MacDonald rushed at Jamie with his sword drawn, calling him a “buggering sodomite”, Jamie had no choice but to fight back, but I still think the whole fight was totally unnecessary and (for the third time in this episode) contrived purely for dramatic effect.  It’s only luck that Jamie wasn’t seriously injured! 

I liked Claire giving Jamie the silent treatment afterward. “You’re not normally a close-mouthed woman, Claire. I expected noisier displeasure.” – good line.  (And finally we see where the bit from the opening credits with Claire stitching a wound comes from. <g>)

The scene with Colum, Dougal and Jamie is very good.  Colum is absolutely riveting, totally in command, and Gary Lewis does a wonderful job in this scene, as does Graham McTavish. I was surprised to see Dougal go all soft-hearted over Geillis (I think that’s the first time we’ve seen a genuine smile from him in the whole series, in fact), just because she’s carrying his child.  But I liked Colum’s reaction, pointing out the parallel between this child and Hamish and making it clear he’s not actually going to let Dougal marry Geillis. In fact, I love Colum’s dialogue throughout this whole scene.

I was certainly not expecting Colum to order Jamie away from Leoch along with Dougal, but it’s an effective way to make sure Jamie is out of the way when Claire is arrested for witchcraft. 

The farewell scene between J&C was well done. I liked Dougal’s line, “I said kiss her, dinna swallow her”.  <g>

“Come back to me, James Fraser” is an echo of the flashback scene with Claire and Frank at the train station in an earlier episode.

Nice to see the young lad from “The Way Out” again, this time bringing Claire the note from Laoghaire.  “Claire, Come quick. Geillis” was all it said, and she took one look and galloped off, completely disregarding Jamie’s warning. That's pretty reckless of Claire -- somewhat more so than in the book, where it's made clear that the message stated Geillis was ill.

I liked the scene between Claire and Geillis, except for the bit at the very end where they put Claire in the 18th century version of a paddywagon. That seemed far too modern, and totally unnecessary in a small village like Cranesmuir. Why not just make the prisoners walk?

The self-satisfied smirk on Laoghaire’s face was just priceless! Great way to end the episode.

On the whole, I think this episode had a lot of enjoyable moments, but in my opinion it strayed much too far from the book at times. The acting and the dialogue were first-rate, though, which probably means I'll enjoy it more on subsequent viewings. And they did manage to set things up very effectively for the witch-trial next week.  (The previews for that episode look FANTASTIC!)

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"

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Diana Gabaldon's comments on Episode 109

Diana Gabaldon made some very interesting comments today on Compuserve about a controversial scene in Episode 109 ("The Reckoning") of the OUTLANDER TV series.  (No, this has nothing to do with the infamous "spanking" scene!)

*** SPOILER WARNING!! *** 

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

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I've seen comments from a lot of fans who really disliked the scene with Jamie and Laoghaire by the river. While I personally didn't have a problem with it (because Jamie resisted the temptation and didn't actually kiss Laoghaire), to my surprise it's become one of the most controversial parts of that episode.

Diana Gabaldon posted a detailed explanation on Compuserve here, and I would really urge you to take the time to read what she has to say.  My reaction on reading her comments was that I really hope we get to see the longer version of this scene on the Blu-ray of the second half of Season 1, eventually!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Ron Moore's Episode 109 podcast now available!

http://assets.starz.com/stzcom/outlander/podcast109.m4a

As many of you know, Ronald D. Moore, executive producer of the OUTLANDER TV series, has recorded a series of podcasts containing behind-the-scenes information about the making of each episode.

The podcast for Episode 109: "The Reckoning" is now available, and I enjoyed it very much!  It was really interesting to hear Ron Moore and Matt B. Roberts, the writer on Episode 109, talk about the filming of this episode.

In case you missed them, here are the links to the earlier podcasts:

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"

You can also download them from the STARZ website here, or from iTunes.

There will be a podcast for each of the upcoming episodes, so check back each week for more!

Happy Tartan Day!

In celebration of Tartan Day, I'm reposting this collection of pictures related to men in kilts.  Hope you enjoy them!

MEN IN KILTS PLAYING THE BAGPIPES















The very tall young man on the right in the photo below is Simon Fraser, clan chief of the Frasers of Lovat.



And last but definitely NOT least....



Happy Tartan Day, everyone!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Episode 109: "The Reckoning" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 109 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The Reckoning".

I really enjoyed this episode, and I'm delighted that they kept so much of the Good Stuff from the book.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! *** 

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

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I liked Jamie's voiceover that begins this episode.  "Strange, the things you remember" is, of course, a deliberate echo of Claire's thoughts in EP101.  If you look closely you can see Laoghaire hovering in the background of this shot.

The scene with Horrocks -- because this is not described in detail in the book, I had no preconceived notions of the man. My impression was that he seemed rather cold, businesslike, but not hostile.  And he did tell them what they wanted to know, even if it wasn't what Jamie wanted to hear.  I liked the music as the clansmen rode away.

The dressing scene was fun -- a good counterpart to the scene in EP102.

The whole sequence of the clansmen getting into Fort William was very well done and suspenseful.  Seeing the sentries on guard and all the soldiers in the area really makes you feel how dangerous this was, not just for Jamie but for all the clansmen.  In the book, you don't get much of a sense of why Claire's actions put the rest of the men in danger.  Here, it's much clearer.

"Pray that ye do, or your next words will be in a lassie's voice." - good line

On the first viewing, I didn't understand why Jamie's pistol was empty, because he didn't actually shoot anyone.  Then I re-watched and caught Jamie's explanation: "Ned said not to kill anyone, so I had all the pistols unloaded."  From a practical standpoint, that makes sense, but it also means that (unlike in the book) Jamie didn't have to kill anyone in the course of rescuing Claire -- and that, in turn, explains why "I would have killed a dozen men to get to you, Claire" wasn't included.

The whole scene with Jamie coming to the rescue was done very well.  BJR's lines in this scene are mostly new, but effective.  "Who's the man in this marriage, Fraser?"  "You are a foul-mouthed scold", etc.

Interesting that Jamie thinks about whether he should have killed BJR.

I wasn't expecting the alarm bells. I thought that was a realistic bit that increases the dramatic tension considerably.

So Murtagh and the others provided the distraction that let J&C get away, in the process doing great damage to Fort William. It's easy to see why this was a huge risk for the clansmen!

"You are sure there's water down there, aren't you?" "Aye, I think so."  Good exchange, and the first glimmer of humor in this episode.

More gorgeous scenery at dawn the next day.  Jamie asking Murtagh to water the horse is a very obvious ploy to give him and Claire some time alone.

The whole scene that follows with Jamie and Claire is absolutely PERFECT!!  It's just as I have always imagined it (including J&C nose-to-nose, yelling into each other's faces), and I'm so glad they kept the whole thing basically intact.

"You'll not speak to me that way!"  I love the look on Jamie's face right after he says this. Also, the way he collapses to the ground, "You're tearin' my guts out, Claire."  Very well done!  The part where they forgive each other is also really well done, and IMHO it's somehow more emotional than in the book.

I loved Jamie's voiceover here: "But the truth is, I'd forgiven everything she'd done, and everything she could do, long before that day. That was no choice. That was falling in love."  You may recall that in the book, Claire doesn't learn until much later that Jamie fell in love with her from the moment he saw her. I really like the fact that we're seeing Jamie's POV here.

I liked the way everyone ignored Claire in the tavern. She's trying, but they just act like she's not there.

The "spanking" scene is Just Terrific!!  I loved the fact that they kept so much of the dialogue from the book.  (With one minor exception -- why do they keep saying "British" instead of "English", not just here but throughout this whole episode?  I found that a bit distracting.)  I liked the way they choreographed this scene.  Instead of the way it is in the book, with Claire sitting basically still, holding onto the bedpost throughout their conversation, the two of them move around constantly, and I thought that was an effective way to illustrate Claire's emotional turmoil as well as Jamie's determination.

I laughed at the men's reactions downstairs.

In the midst of the spanking, I liked this exchange:
"This will go faster if you just yield, woman!"
"Ow!!  I'm going to make you suffer!"
"You already have."

More wonderful scenery on the way back to Leoch.

Colum is definitely Not Happy to hear of Jamie's marriage. But I liked his referring to Claire as "Lady Broch Tuarach" -- this is the first time we've heard the formal name for Lallybroch in the TV series.

In the brief scene with Laoghaire, it was pretty clear to me that Jamie was just trying to be polite, nothing more than that.

The scene with Colum, Dougal, Ned, and Jamie was very good.

"Any repercussions will land solely on me. Captain Randall will make sure of that."  My instant reaction to that was, Yikes, foreshadowing!!

Colum is a very forceful personality, and he's absolutely in command in this scene, as the laird should be.  He should not be underestimated!  I liked how they introduced the conflict between him and Dougal. Up to this point, the viewers who haven't read the book have no way of knowing that Colum is not a supporter of the Jacobites.

I loved the confrontation between Colum and Dougal here, but I was very surprised when Dougal blurted out, "I've even assured your bloodline!"  As Jamie pointed out later, it wasn't exactly a secret among the castle inhabitants, but it's not something they spoke about openly, either.

I didn't realize Colum would see Jamie marrying Claire as such a betrayal, but it does make sense, especially in view of what we learned in EP104 about the clan succession.  Who else has Colum got, as an alternative to Dougal as a successor, now that Jamie can't fill that role?

Meanwhile, Claire still hasn't forgiven Jamie sufficiently to let him back into her bed.

This scene in the snow with the clansmen is (obviously) not in the book, but I thought it was an effective way to show that Willie's actions, like Claire's, had consequences.  I liked Rupert's line, "Besides, this is MacKenzie business.  You Frasers should mind to your own."

So Murtagh, who a few episodes ago was telling Claire that Leoch is the only safe place for Jamie in Scotland, is now urging Jamie to leave?  Interesting.

Jamie's solution to the rift between Colum and Dougal makes sense in the short term, and I thought the scene between the brothers was riveting, really well done.

Jamie and Laoghaire by the loch -- This scene seems to have bothered a lot of viewers, but I didn't have a problem with it.  When L started taking off her clothes, I thought, "She's acting like a slut!" I knew Jamie wouldn't do more than touch her, though.  He may have been tempted, but the man has an amazing amount of will-power for a 22-year-old.   I thought his "I'm sorry" was simple politeness, nothing more.  "The lad has nice feelings", and all that.  He's too well-mannered to say bluntly to her face, "Give it up, Laoghaire, go away, I'm not interested," but there's no good way to say it to her gently.  I think she would have run off with her feelings hurt no matter what he said to her at that point.

The scene with Jamie and Claire is very good.  "I saw a rigid man bend" -- Jamie learns from experience, and from watching other people.  "But maybe for you and me, it has to go a different way" -- good line.

I'm glad they kept most of the oath-taking from the book, but I miss the line where Jamie says, "I don't take frivolous vows".

Claire's hesitation was unexpected, but I understood it after she said, "I feel like that's what I should want [long pause] but I don't."

So I guessed right about the reason for the ring being made from a key, but I still don't like this.  On the other hand, I love Jamie's line, "You are my home now."

The "master me" sex scene loses something in translation to the screen, IMHO.  I think that was inevitable.  So much of Claire's response to it in the book (see OUTLANDER chapter 23) is internal -- her thoughts, sensations, the boundary between pleasure and pain, the point where "in body or soul, somewhere he struck a spark" and they truly became one -- that I think it would be impossible to portray that on TV.  I missed Jamie's line, "I canna be gentle about it", but I'm glad they included the line, "Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own", which is really the important point here. <g>

I didn't care for the way Claire pulled the dirk on him in the middle of the sex scene.  That seems like a very odd time to be making a threat like that if you want him to be paying attention!  But it's a relatively minor point.

I liked the fact that Jamie told Claire Laoghaire put the ill-wish in their bed. In the book, he claims he doesn't know who did it, but I have always felt he was lying about that, not wanting to frighten her.  It seems much more straightforward to tell her, as he does here, especially since L is now an open threat to her.

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I loved this episode, and it was definitely worth the wait!  Kudos to the entire cast and crew!


I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my reactions to the previous episodes:

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 110: "By the Pricking of My Thumbs"

Please come back next week for my recap of Episode 110.

Friday, April 3, 2015

One more day!!



Only one more day!!  I'm looking forward to this with GREAT anticipation!  I will post my Episode 109 reactions sometime on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March poll results

Here are the results of the March poll, which asked the question, "What are you doing to pass the time until the OUTLANDER TV series resumes?"
  • 28.02% - Reading (or re-reading) Diana Gabaldon's books.
  • 8.88% - Watching the first 8 episodes again.
  • 7.05% - Devouring any information I can find (trailers, photos, interviews, etc.) about the TV series.
  • 4.21% - Listening to the OUTLANDER audiobooks.
  • 3.11% - Reading books by other authors.
  • 3.02% - Trying to get other people to read the books or watch the TV series.
  • 2.84% - Following various OUTLANDER fan-sites, including Outlandish Observations.
  • 1.56% - Pursuing other hobbies or interests not related to OUTLANDER.
  • 1.28% - Focusing on family, work, or other commitments.
  • 0.82% - Hanging out on Diana Gabaldon's Facebook page or Compuserve.
  • 36.54% - All of the above.
  • 2.66% - Other
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • watching the 1st 8 again, re-reading the books, listening to Ron's podcast
  • watching supernatural
  • coming to visit Scotland this summer
  • Almost all of the above.
  • I don't watch the series
  • Re-reading Diana's books &watching 1st epis again
  • crying softly to myself and overeating ;)
  • wishing for a montage of J and C 'hand forplay'
  • Folling various fan sites and reading books by other authors.
  • Reading about Scottish history
  • watching the first8 and reading the books
  • ordered DVD set; can finally see 1-8!
  • waiting for my local library to send me the DVD. Today I am on hold at number 14
  • Watching Episode 7 daily and rereading books
  • I'm in the UK so haven't seen the first part yet.
  • havnt seen outlander tv but reading other books
  • All of the above except listening to audiobooks
  • Writing my Outlander blog melissasobservations.com :)
  • #1, #2, #4, #6, #8 from above list
  • In th UK so waiting for it to start...
  • Just waiting for the DVDs - I'm in the UK
  • Not interested in seeing the series, books are enough for me.
  • Selections 5 and 6
  • Don't have STARZ, so not watching the series or waiting for it.
  • I'm doing pretty much all of these!
  • Most of the above.
  • most of the above
  • Knitting things suggested by the Outlander Pattern Central group on Facebook!
  • Haven't seen the TV series. Will wait for DVD
There were 1092 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the April poll, which is all about getting other people to read the OUTLANDER books or watch the TV series.  Thanks!