Sunday, May 31, 2015

Help celebrate #WorldOutlanderDay on June 1st!



Monday, June 1, 2015, is #WorldOutlanderDay! Please join Diana Gabaldon's fans all over the world in celebrating the 24th anniversary of OUTLANDER's publication in 1991.

If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets on Monday with #WorldOutlanderDay. Thanks!

Episode 116: "To Ransom a Man's Soul" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 116 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “To Ransom a Man's Soul”. (This is the season finale.)

The acting was SUPERB throughout this episode! Sam and Tobias's scenes together were raw, powerful, emotionally intense -- and courageous on both their parts. Caitriona was wonderful, too. I liked what they did with the script. Yes, there are plenty of changes, just as Diana Gabaldon warned us, but they managed to capture the essence of this part of the book, and I think it works very well indeed!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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

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I liked the opening shot of the seal (used in the branding scene), the rosary, and the bottle of oil of lavender very much. It's especially meaningful after you've seen the episode!

That first glimpse of Jamie is just heartbreaking. The expression in his eyes -- he looks as though he wants very badly to be dead. And then the camera angle widens and we see Randall lying naked beside him. I shuddered all over when I saw that.

I really did NOT want to see BJR fully naked (not out of prudishness, but because of my feelings about his character), but I don't think it was gratuitous nudity, just raw honesty. And it takes guts for an actor to do that.

As Jamie watches BJR leaving, he says, "You owe me a debt." And then, "Please." It's clear he means that he wants BJR to kill him.

I loved the cattle stampede! It was better than I've always imagined, in fact.

Claire wearing men's clothing took me by surprise. I can understand wanting to disguise herself so that she looks like a man at a distance to any Redcoats who might be pursuing them, but I was still taken aback a bit.

The way Jamie sees Claire's face blending with BJR's (in the scene in the wagon, and throughout this episode) is very effective.

"What did Randall do to you?" "Too much, and not enough." Great line!

The scene where BJR pulls the nail out of Jamie's hand was hard to watch. And it appeared to me that Jamie fell on the injured hand (owwwww!) But the way BJR cradled him so gently, like a child, murmuring, "It's all right, the worst is over now, you'll see", made my skin crawl with revulsion.

"Dear God. You are a magnificent creature." My instant reaction was, yes, and you RUINED him, you bastard!! (Jamie may eventually find the strength within himself to forgive Randall. I don't think I ever will.)

"It's like kissing a corpse. You can do better than that." And then he taps him on the nose like a small boy. Those tiny gestures add so much to Tobias's performance. He's just mesmerizing to watch!

The first rape scene was so hard to watch, but Jamie's reactions throughout are just perfect -- heartbreaking! I was not expecting him to spit in BJR's face, but I liked that, because it proves his spirit still exists.

"Scream. Scream!" And he does, finally. That was horrible. Very intense and difficult to watch, but I didn't look away. (Watching this, I had a sudden memory of the infamous scene in the stable in LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE: "I could make you scream." So this is what Jamie was remembering. I don't think I'll ever be able to read that bit in BOTB again without thinking of this scene from the TV show.)

I liked the next scene with Jamie and Claire. Although it's different from the book, I think the use of laudanum works well here. It gives us a chance to concentrate on what Claire is doing (not just the surgery itself, but her voice-over, which is taken straight from the book) without being distracted by Jamie's agony during the surgery. And I liked the way they showed Jamie hearing fragments of BJR's voice in memory as he's slipping into unconsciousness.

Claire throwing up immediately after the surgery -- is that stress, or morning sickness?

I'm glad they included the scene in the chapel with Claire and Father Anselm, even though it doesn't address the question of Claire's adultery/bigamy. Diana Gabaldon fought hard to have this scene included, but she didn't get everything she wanted, as she explained on Compuserve here.

"Through my selfishness, I've brought great suffering to both my husbands." Good line.

"Eight months ago" -- Claire went through the stones on Samhain, in the TV series, so that means it's around July 1744 now.

I liked the montage as Claire tells her story to Father Anselm. It reminds me a bit of Jamie telling stories about his family on their wedding night. Father Anselm is much older than I expected, but I liked him.

Back in the sickroom, Jamie has a fever. It's the wrong time of year for snow, so Claire asks for "the coldest water you can find."

"Ye canna save a man that doesna want saving." Good line, but chilling!

The scene between Murtagh and Jamie in Gaidhlig is fascinating to watch, even if I don't understand a word of what they're saying. (See the translation here.) Murtagh is very good here.

Another flashback: "Have you reached your limit yet?" BJR is very calm, almost clinical, as though he's conducting a scientific experiment.

I liked the way Jamie reaches for Claire and her face melts into BJR's. "She's gone," Jamie whispers. "There's no more Claire." Heartbreaking!

BJR's mind games ("Are you mine?") are just sickening, revolting, but undeniably effective.  Still, even under torture, Jamie can't stop loving Claire. ("You [seeing Claire in his mind]...there's only you.") I found that reassuring.

Lovely shot of BJR's face in firelight, as he blows on the fire in the brazier.

The branding scene is much more intense than I imagined from the book. "Show me you're mine." Jamie nods as though mesmerized, but then he manages to turn the red-hot signet away at the last moment, so that the brand falls on his side, not over his heart. I was very glad to see that!

I liked this line, in reference to Jamie's cousin Jared: "The man's a merchant. He couldn't fight sleep."

The scene with Willie and Jamie was well done. Willie is very earnest, trying to do the right thing, but Jamie clearly wants to die.

I liked the scene with Murtagh and Claire very much.

"I'll not watch Jamie waste away, die like an animal in the woods with his foot caught in a trap!" Great line. And Claire faints -- is that a sign of early pregnancy, or only a combination of extreme stress and tight stays?

I liked the scene where Claire makes the oil of lavender. She is a wise-woman, after all. <g>

The confrontation between Claire and Jamie is a terrific scene, very intense! Yes, there are differences from the book, but I think the way it's done here works very well. Caitriona is just wonderful throughout this whole sequence.

"These are Claire's hands. Think of Claire." I'm shuddering all over, again. And watching BJR masturbating, preparing to rape Jamie yet again, makes me feel sick. The way he uses his hair to evoke Claire's presence is just horrible....but at the same time, it's an interesting twist on the way it's done in the book, where Claire evokes BJR's "ghost" (his voice, his scent, his touch) in order to get Jamie to fight back. And it is very much consistent with Jamie's description in the book of how BJR would not stop talking about Claire, but kept her image always before him.

"Say my name" -- and this time Jamie's body responds, and BJR, seeing it, deliberately makes it worse by saying, "How could she ever forgive you?"

I absolutely loved Claire's reaction: "You belong to no one else but me. And I belong to you. And nothing will ever change that!" Wonderful quote, one of my favorites in the whole series.

"We were meant to be together....It's all been for you and me." I love this, too. (Yes, I'm a hopeless romantic where J&C's relationship is concerned....)

"How can you have me like this?" "I'll have you any way I can. Always!" Another terrific pair of lines! And when Jamie finally reached out and put his good arm around her, I had tears in my eyes.

Murtagh is very good with a blade! I was so glad to see that sickening brand tossed in the fire.

"Keepin' you and Jamie out of harm's way proves to be a full-time occupation." Good line from Rupert. I also liked the gallant way he kissed Claire's hand in farewell. Angus's antics in this scene made me smile. I'm going to miss these two! They're always entertaining to watch.

Claire is puking again. This time it really does seem like morning sickness.

"I believe we can do anything we want, just as long as we're together." Another great line, and finally Jamie gives her a half-smile.

Jamie's reaction to the news of Claire's pregnancy is very good. And they sail off into the proverbial sunset together. <g> I loved the music at the end, with a vocal arrangement of the series theme song that I've never heard before.

This episode was riveting and very emotionally intense, but it left me feeling hopeful at the end. I'm so glad they didn't end with a cliffhanger! It's going to be a long, long wait for Season 2 (no, we still have no idea when the next season will air on STARZ -- keep in mind they've only been filming about three weeks) but I'm happy with the way this season ended.

I hope you enjoyed this recap. What about the rest of you? I'd like to know what you thought about this episode. Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

Here are my previous OUTLANDER episode recaps:

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"
Episode 112: "Lallybroch"
Episode 113: "The Watch"
Episode 114: "The Search"
Episode 115: "Wentworth Prison"

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Diana Gabaldon's comments about Episode 116

Diana Gabaldon posted THIS on Facebook today, trying to prepare us all for what's coming in the OUTLANDER season finale, Episode 116, "To Ransom a Man's Soul", which will air on STARZ on May 30th.

Among other things, she says:
And now, a brief P.S. to the hardcore book fans…

Put. The. Book. Down. Really, I mean it. If you watch this part with the book in your hand, expecting this, that, and the other thing…you _will_ be disappointed, I guarantee it.
I would really strongly encourage you to read the whole thing! Please pass the link along to anyone else you know who may be interested.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books

As we observe Memorial Day today in the US, here are some quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books honoring those who fell in battle.

1) The first is from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, after the battle of Prestonpans:
I found them at length some distance up the hill behind the church. Jamie was sitting on a rock, the form of Alexander Kincaid cradled in his arms, curly head resting on his shoulder, the long, hairy legs trailing limp to one side. Both were still as the rock on which they sat. Still as death, though only one was dead.

I touched the white, slack hand, to be sure, and rested my hand on the thick brown hair, feeling still so incongruously alive. A man should not die a virgin, but this one did.

"He's gone, Jamie," I whispered.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "Prestonpans". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


2) The next quote is also from DRAGONFLY, from the scene in the beginning where Roger and Brianna visit the battlefield at Culloden:
"Heather," Roger said. "It's more common in the summer, when the heather is blooming--then you'll see heaps like that in front of every clan stone. Purple, and here and there a branch of the white heather--the white is for luck, and for kingship; it was Charlie's emblem, that and the white rose."

"Who leaves them?" Brianna squatted on her heels next to the path, touching the twigs with a gentle finger.

"Visitors." Roger squatted next to her. He traced the faded letters on the stone--FRASER. "People descended from the families of the men who were killed here. Or just those who like to remember them."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "Culloden". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


3) Here is a bit from the battle of Moores Creek Bridge, in ABOSAA, a reminder that men do terrible things in battle. I can't even imagine what Jamie felt like, killing a man he once considered his friend.
Major Donald MacDonald floundered, rising halfway in the water. His wig was gone and his head showed bare and wounded, blood running from his scalp down over his face. His teeth were bared, clenched in agony or ferocity, ther was no telling which. Another shot struck him and he fell with a splash--but rose again, slow, slow, and then pitched forward into water too deep to stand, but rose yet again, splashing frantically, spraying blood from his shattered mouth in the effort to breathe.

Let it be you, then, lad, said the dispassionate voice. He raised his rifle and shot MacDonald cleanly through the throat. He fell backward and sank at once.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 113, "The Ghosts of Culloden". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) And this is from Lord John's visit in "Haunted Soldier" with the parents of a lieutenant killed at the battle of Crefeld.  Regardless of the circumstances, there's no easy way to deliver news like that:
"I saw your son for the first time only moments before his death," he said, as gently as he could. "There was no time for talk. But I can assure you, sir, that he died instantly--and he died bravely, as a soldier of the king. You--and your wife, of course--may be justly proud of him."

(From LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS by Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Part I, "Inquisition". Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)



5) The next quote comes from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  Just before the Battle of Monmouth, Claire is thinking about the soldiers who died on D-Day.
I spared a thought for the graves of Normandy and wondered whether those rows upon rows of faceless dead were meant to impose a sort of postmortem tidiness on the costs of war--or whether it was meant rather to underline them, a solemn accounting carried out in endless rows of naughts and crosses.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 74, "The Sort of Thing That Will Make a Man Sweat and Tremble". Copyright ©2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)



6) And finally, here's a quote from THE FIERY CROSS that reminds us that Memorial Day is not just about honoring the fallen, but also honoring all those who have served in our armed forces:
"Many of us died in battle," he said, his voice scarcely audible above the rustle of the fire. "Many died of burning. Many of us starved. Many died at sea, many died of wounds and illness." He paused. "Many died of sorrow."

His eyes looked beyond the firelit circle for a moment, and I thought perhaps he was searching for the face of Abel MacLennan. He lifted his cup then, and held it high in salute for a moment.

"Slàinte!" murmured a dozen voices, rising like the wind. "Slàinte!" he echoed them--then tipped the cup, so that a little of the brandy fell into the flames, where it hissed and burned blue for an instant's time.

He lowered the cup, and paused for a moment, head bent. He lifted his head then, and raised the cup toward Archie Hayes, who stood across the fire from him, round face unreadable, fire sparking from his silver gorget and his father’s brooch.

"While we mourn the loss of those who died, we must also pay tribute to you who fought and suffered with equal valor--and survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 15, "The Flames of Declaration". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Wishing all of you in the US a happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

OUTLANDER marathon this weekend on STARZ!

There will not be a new episode of OUTLANDER this weekend, due to the Memorial Day holiday in the US.  Instead, STARZ will be running an OUTLANDER marathon Saturday and Sunday, showing all 15 episodes over two days.

Episodes 101 through 108 will be shown TODAY (Saturday, May 22), starting at 2 pm ET.

Episodes 109 through 115 will be shown on Sunday, May 23, starting at 2:45 pm ET.

I'm not sure about other time zones. Check your local listings.



Here's a handy checklist from STARZ to make sure you're prepared! (Click on the picture for a bigger view.) And a brief video to get you in the mood:



The season finale, Episode 116, "To Ransom a Man's Soul", will be shown on STARZ at 9pm on Saturday, May 30.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A beautiful and haunting video about Episode 115

Here's a very moving, and hauntingly beautiful, fan-made video about the events of OUTLANDER Episode 115, "Wentworth Prison".  It's both a reaction to this episode, and a tribute to Jamie and Claire's love, and I thought it was terrific!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

This video contains Major Spoilers for Episode 115. Don't watch unless you've seen the episode (or read the book).

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Episode 115: "Wentworth Prison" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 115 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “Wentworth Prison”. I thought the acting and the writing in this episode were superb! Sam and Tobias, especially, were just riveting throughout, and Caitriona was excellent as well. I had tears in my eyes more than once.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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

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The display of chains and what looks like medieval instruments of torture in the opening scene is chilling, especially by contrast to the lighthearted puppet show from the opening of last week's episode.

Wentworth Prison looks both forbidding and impregnable. As well it should!

I thought the scene with the prisoners being hanged was very well done. I especially liked Jamie's line, "What grieves me is to think my wife will never forgive me for foolishly gettin' myself hung," and MacQuarrie's defiant last words.

Yanking on the hanged man's legs to hasten death reminds me of Lord John doing just that for Bates in BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE. <g>

This hanging scene isn't in OUTLANDER, but (interestingly enough) it does appear, at least to me, to be based on a couple of bits from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. Whether that was intentional or not, I'm not sure, but here are two examples:

1) MacQuarrie's line, "Nothing like being hung to make your tossel (?) stand up solid as an oak", and the discussion that follows, immediately made me think of Jamie's memory of BJR's words, taunting him:
“You’ll go to your death with your arse burning from my pleasure, and when you lose your bowels, it will be my spunk running down your legs and dripping on the ground below the gallows."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 8, "Unlaid Ghosts and Crocodiles". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) You may recall that Jamie tells Claire about watching executions at Wentworth:
"They marched us down to the courtyard; those of us in the condemned cell. And made us stand in rows on the stones, to watch an execution. They hanged six men that day, men I knew. I watched each man mount the steps--twelve steps, there were--and stand, hands bound behind his back, looking down at the yard as they put the rope around his neck. And I wondered then, how I would manage come my turn to mount those steps. Would I weep and pray, like John Sutter, or could I stand straight like Willie MacLeod, and smile at a friend in the yard below?”

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter  23, "The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men..." Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I liked the slow-motion bit where BJR looks at Jamie, as if realizing, "I've got him now."

I didn't care for the bit where Jamie was trying to free himself from the irons by brute force. Surely he can see that it's futile, and wouldn't it be better to conserve his strength?

Frazer Hines is excellent as Sir Fletcher Gordon. For those of you who don't know, Frazer Hines is the actor who played a young Scotsman named Jamie in that long-ago DOCTOR WHO episode that inspired Diana Gabaldon to set her "practice novel" in 18th century Scotland. <g> (See Diana's blog post from 2010 for more information about Frazer Hines and the DOCTOR WHO connection.) I thought it was a great idea to give him a role in the TV series.

This scene between Claire and Sir Fletcher is very much as I imagined from the book. Caitriona does a wonderful job here. The instant Sir Fletcher leaves the room, Claire comes close to breaking down, and it's clear that she's keeping control of herself only with great effort.

"The prisoner's personal effects" -- notice the little wooden snake on top.

Claire's reaction when she gets outside is taken straight from the book.

The bantering between Rupert and Angus is enjoyable, as always, but Murtagh was right to put a stop to it. This isn't the time for joking around!

I liked the way they kept alternating between Claire's point of view and Jamie's throughout this episode. Very efffective! Now we're back to Jamie.  BJR looks more than cheerful in this scene, smiling at Jamie as though he can barely contain his delight.

That petition of complaint is a very long document! I was not at all surprised to see BJR burn it to ashes.

I liked the scene with Murtagh and Claire searching the office.

"May I call you Jamie?"  Randall's tone is absolutely polite, but I can't help hearing Jamie's words from DRAGONFLY in my head:
"I am called Lord Broch Tuarach for formality’s sake,” the soft Scottish voice above me said. “And beyond the requirements of formality, you will never speak to me again--until you beg for your life at the point of my sword. Then, you may use my name, for it will be the last word you ever speak.”

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter  21, "Untimely Resurrection". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"If ye're expectin' me to beg for my life, ye'll be sorely disappointed." Good line, but like many parts of this episode, it's full of foreshadowing.

"Do I haunt your dreams?" My thought when I heard this was, Maybe not yet, but you will, you BASTARD!!

The next bit is one of my favorite parts of the whole episode.

"When you lie upon your wife, and her hands trace the scars upon your back--" This is a BRILLIANT bit of camera work, amazingly well done and very creative! It's easy to get distracted by that and miss BJR's next words. "--do you ever think of me, and soften?" More foreshadowing, and a reminder, for those of us who have read the books, that the psychological effects of this ordeal are going to linger for a long, long time.

"You could have a Roman death. Fall on your sword like Brutus." Hearing Tobias Menzies say this line actually made me laugh out loud, because it's clearly meant as a reference to his playing the part of Brutus in HBO's ROME a few years ago.  (He was excellent in that role, and I would definitely recommend the series, if you haven't seen it already.)

"But first you must give me your surrender." I loved the way Jamie looks at him, young and cocky and full of self-confidence, with no idea what's coming next. This is almost our last glimpse of his pre-Wentworth self, and I savored it, knowing that everything is about to change now.

Meanwhile, Murtagh clouts the guard over the head (his specialty, at least in the TV series <g>). I liked the part where Claire goes sneaking through the corridors in search of Jamie, though I kept muttering, "Too late! Too late too late TOO LATE!!"

"I won't surrender. To you or any man." Good line, but BJR is going to take that as a challenge.

I didn't expect the fight with Marley to happen then, but the way it's choreographed is clearly based on the description in the book. Interesting that BJR has to stop Marley from choking Jamie. ("Idiot! You could have killed him!")

When Randall picked up the mallet, I couldn't breathe at first. This was so incredibly hard to watch! I cried out, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!" with each blow.

I liked the way the camera shows Jamie's vision going in and out of focus.  But it's what happens next that I totally did not expect.

Randall puts Jamie's good hand on his crotch. "Can you feel that?" (I shuddered with revulsion as he moved Jamie's hand up and down.)  "I could take you right now." But then he shakes his head. "I will not give in to coarse passion." And then, FINALLY, he's gone.

I liked the fact that Claire stumbled by accident across the door leading to the outside.  And then she has the presence of mind to drop the key outside on the grass before she goes back in.

Notice the rat scuttling across the dungeon floor.

The scene where Claire finds Jamie is very much like the book, and I'm glad they kept so much of it intact. Ditto for the part with BJR and Claire. The dialogue is almost word-for-word from the book, but the subtle little touches, like BJR running a finger across her lips, or taking her hair down, add to the horror of the situation, especially when you recall how much he looks like Frank.

The bit with the two soldiers is not in the book, but it helps to explain how Randall is able to get away with torturing Jamie without being found out by Sir Fletcher or anyone else.

The final confrontation between Claire, Jamie, and Randall is absolutely riveting, and VERY well done!

"Are you watching?"
"STOP!!!"
"Make me a better offer."

At this point I started saying, "Oh God, oh God," over and over again. This is SO hard to watch!  BJR forcing Jamie's mangled hand to lie flat on the tabletop, then saying calmly, as Jamie cries out, "I haven't even begun."

The nailing was much worse than I'd pictured, bloodier and even more difficult to watch than the crushing of Jamie's hand had been. I flinched and squeezed my eyes shut involuntarily with each blow.

Jamie and Claire's farewell is just heartbreaking, and yes, I had tears in my eyes through this part. It's VERY well done.  I just wish they had been able to include more of the actual dialogue from the book here.  I especially missed Jamie's line, "Claire, I'm to hang in the morning.  What happens between now and then doesna matter to anyone."  And Claire's reaction.  (This is a minor quibble, really, and I'm not trying to nitpick. The scene as it appears on TV is emotionally wrenching and very effective, but I still prefer the book version, which always makes me cry.)

The scene with Claire and BJR in the corridor is really well done, very much as I always pictured it.

Wow, that was a long drop down from the trap door! Lucky Claire didn't sprain an ankle or something. Claire stumbling across MacQuarrie's corpse was unexpected, but I liked it.

Back to Jamie. To me, the look on Jamie's face when BJR cuts his shirt off says, "I will endure this because I must, as the price for Claire's life."  We know from the book that he was trying very hard not to think at all.

"Shall we begin?" That made me shudder, knowing that Jamie's ordeal is far from over.

I'm glad they included the wolves howling in the distance, even if we didn't actually see Claire fighting off a wolf with her bare hands.

I like MacRannoch, and this scene is very close to the book.  The pearls are prettier at close range than they appeared in Episode 107, but they're still not anything like what I imagined from the description in the book.  Still, I'm glad they kept this part.

The sight of the cows made me smile, in spite of everything.

I definitely wasn't expecting the episode to end where it did!  There's an awful lot of the book left to cover in just one more episode, but I can't wait to see the finale!

Finally, in case you're wondering why BJR smashes Jamie's left hand instead of his right, Maril Davis (@TallShipProds) explained on Twitter:


I hope you enjoyed this recap. What about the rest of you? I'd like to know what you thought about this episode. Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

*** IMPORTANT NOTE: ***

There will be no new episode next week. The season finale, Episode 116, will be shown on STARZ on Saturday, May 30, 2015.

Here are my previous OUTLANDER episode recaps. Please come back on May 31st to see the last one!

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"
Episode 112: "Lallybroch"
Episode 113: "The Watch"
Episode 114: "The Search"

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Outlander Kitchen Cookbook coming in 2016!

Big news today from Theresa of Outlander Kitchen!  She has reached a deal with Ballantine Books to publish an Outlander Kitchen Cookbook!! It will be out in summer 2016.
The Outlander Kitchen Cookbook, with Introduction by Diana Gabaldon, will be full of your favourite dishes from OutlanderKitchen.com as well as approx 50 NEW recipes never before published. Traditional “receipts,” modern interpretations and creative, character-inspired dishes will combine to make Outlander Kitchen an everyday essential for today’s modern kitchens and progressive palates.
See the full text of Theresa's announcement on Facebook for more details.

Congratulations, Theresa!!  This is fantastic news, and well-deserved!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wentworth is coming!



If you're dreading the upcoming broadcast of OUTLANDER Episode 115, "Wentworth Prison", you are definitely not alone! As emotionally intense, brutal, and horrific as it was to read about in the book, what will it be like to watch the events of that horrible night unfold in front of our eyes?

I would strongly encourage you all to take the time before you see Episode 115 to read this excellent blog post by atom1cflea.

I will be watching in the privacy of my living room on Saturday night, with a box of tissues nearby.

It will be very, very hard. But I'm holding on to the thought that if Jamie can survive it, we will, too.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Episode 114: "The Search" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 114 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “The Search”.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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

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I really enjoyed this episode! It's very faithful to the book (thank you, Matt B. Roberts!) and I thought Caitriona Balfe, Laura Donnelly, and Duncan Lacroix in particular were just terrific!

I was startled (but fascinated) by the puppet show in the beginning. I really wasn't expecting that, but I like it.

Ian's reaction -- intense frustration at his helplessness, but wanting to do whatever he could to help -- was very good. This is a bit that we didn't see in the book, but I can easily believe it happened just this way.

I liked the way Jenny's wearing two pistols, one in front and one behind.

The music as Jenny and Claire track Jamie is wonderful!

The corbies pecking at the corpses made me think of the opening scene of VOYAGER, of course.

The scene where Jenny expresses her milk was very well done, and just like I imagined from the book.

"True, but he's not daft enough to pick a fight with ten armed soldiers!"  Claire's raised eyebrow at this line made me smile.

I loved the scene with Jenny and Claire and the redcoat! This is one of my favorite parts of the whole episode. Jenny is more vicious than I expected, in a shocking way that reminds me of Jamie interrogating the young Lord John at Prestonpans.

In the book, they left the soldier alive and tied to a tree. But I agree that it makes more sense for them to kill him, so he can't tell anyone they're looking for Jamie. (Minor quibble: why did Jenny tear up the dispatch rather than throwing it into the fire? That didn't make sense to me.)

I laughed out loud when Murtagh turned up out of nowhere! <g>  Although this is not the way it happens in the book, I think the way it's done here is very effective.

"Love forces a person to choose." Great line, both as foreshadowing of Jamie's sacrificing himself for Claire at Wentworth, and as a reminder of Claire's decision at Craigh na Dun to choose Jamie over Frank.

Claire has surprisingly good camping skills, more so than in the books.  I liked the bit about Jenny "bedeviling their suppers" -- what an unforgettable image!

"You two are natural outlaws" -- good line from Murtagh.

Jenny and Claire's farewell is almost exactly word-for-word from the book, and it's just as I always imagined! They left out the reference to the priest-hole, but I think that would have required too much explanation for a modern audience, especially viewers in the US who don't know much about British history. The "plant potatoes" message was far more important, anyway.

The scenery throughout this whole episode is gorgeous!!

Murtagh's sword dancing made me laugh.  Meanwhile, Claire is very obviously copying what Mrs. Graham told her in Episode 101 ("Sassenach") about palm-reading.

I liked the scene between Murtagh and Claire after his performance. The two of them are wonderful together!  I particularly liked this bit:

"Words canna travel by air."
"Not yet, anyway."

During the puppet show, listen carefully and you'll hear exactly the same tune that Gwyllyn the bard played on the harp near the end of Episode 102 ("Castle Leoch"). Which makes sense, because the puppets are apparently re-enacting the same story.

Murtagh's reaction to "jazz" made me laugh. And I laughed much harder at Claire's singing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy". That was great!

Claire's "Oh, fuck!" when she goes on stage the first time took me by surprise, but she did a good job with the song. The lyrics are based on a real (and very bawdy) song called "The Reels o' Bogie".

Notice the poster tacked up beside the venue during Claire's second performance, which says "By Particular Demand, THE SASSENACH", with a drawing of Claire in costume. Where on earth did they find a printer, in that remote part of the Scottish Highlands, to have broadsheets made up? (I guess I'm going to have to suspend disbelief on this point.)

My one criticism of this episode is that the song-and-dance routine went on too long.  It got very repetitive after a while. But to be honest, that bothers me in the book, too.  I have always been very uncomfortable, on re-reading/re-listening, with the fact that Claire seems actually to be enjoying herself doing her gypsy-fortuneteller/song-and-dance routine, while Jamie's life is at stake and every minute counts.  That drives me nuts in the book, and so I wasn't surprised that I felt the same way watching it on TV.

"A song is a song is a song. No one can claim the words." I wasn't expecting the "copyright infringement" angle, but it was entertaining. Sort of an inside joke for modern viewers, perhaps?

"I outrank you, do I not?" That took me by surprise.  Claire is certainly not intimidated by Murtagh at all.

"If ye look hard enough [across the water], ye might just see the Americas. It's the only place you haven't sung that damn song yet."  Good line.

The scene with Murtagh and Claire by the campfire is terrific! One of my favorites in the whole episode.

"Nothing about this search has been fine!" I like how Claire's voice breaks when she says this.

Murtagh's story about the bracelets is done really well, even better than I expected from the book, in fact. Duncan Lacroix is just marvelous in this scene.

"Ye think ye're the only one who loves Jamie? He's a son to me." Terrific line!  I love it.  And this is what causes Claire finally to break down, throwing her arms around Murtagh and sobbing, "I'm sorry. I can't bear it!"

Murtagh's revelation about the bracelets occurs in a different place in the book, but I think it works extremely well here, and gives Murtagh's character much more depth. Good to give Claire a chance to release some of her feelings, too, to make sure the viewers see how desperately worried and afraid she is for Jamie.

In the morning, it's clear that things have changed. Claire is back in her regular clothes. And I liked the way she gives Murtagh a half-smile when he says, "We'll manage something."

I liked the underground network of tunnels at Glen Rowan Cross. Very good location for Dougal's hidden stash of supplies for the Jacobites.  The whole sequence with Claire and Dougal is done very well!

"He's in Wentworth Prison." Suddenly I'm shuddering all over and I can't breathe. Oh, God, it's really going to happen!

"We won't talk about Geillis today. This is about you." Good to keep the focus where it belongs.

I like Claire's reaction as she figures out what Dougal is up to. "Don't you DARE speak of him as if he were already dead!!" Terrific line!

I think when Claire says "I will marry you" [if Jamie dies], she's just saying whatever she has to say, to get him to agree to help her save Jamie. I don't think for a second that she really meant it.

I love the fact that it's Willie, the youngest clansman, who is the first to volunteer. Rupert's reaction is great: "If this goes wrong, I'm killin' you first, for gettin' us involved!"

In the very last scene, as they approach Wentworth Prison, I thought the director did a great job of increasing the dramatic tension, by showing Claire and the others reacting to the sight of the prison, but not letting the viewer see what they're seeing until the very end. So we feel what they feel. And like so many of you, I am DREADING what's coming next!!

What about the rest of you? I'd like to know what you thought about this episode. Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

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"
Episode 112: "Lallybroch"
Episode 113: "The Watch"

Happy Mother's Day!



Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!  Here are a few of my favorite quotes about motherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books.  Hope you enjoy them!

1) Marsali, in an advanced state of pregnancy, and five-year-old Germain:
She leaned back a little and pushed a hand firmly into the side of her mound. Then she seized Germain's hand and put it on the spot. Even from where I stood, I could see the surge of flesh as the baby kicked vigorously in response to being poked.

Germain jerked his hand away, startled, then put it back, looking fascinated, and pushed.

"Hello!" he said loudly, putting his face close to his mother's belly. "Comment ça va in there, Monsieur L'Oeuf?"

"He's fine," his mother assured him. "Or she. But babies dinna talk right at first. Ye ken that much. Félicité doesna say anything but 'Mama' yet."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "The Malting Floor". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) I like the realistic depictions of breastfeeding in these books, even though I've never had kids of my own.  Here's Claire with Brianna, age three months:
Brianna burrowed into the front of my red chenille dressing gown making small voracious grunting noises.

"You can't be hungry again," I said to the top of her head. "I fed you not two hours ago." My breasts were beginning to leak in response to her rooting, though, and I was already sitting down and loosening the front of my gown.

"Mrs. Hinchcliffe said that a baby shouldn't be fed every time it cries," Frank observed. "They get spoilt if they aren't kept to a schedule."

It wasn't the first time I had heard Mrs. Hinchcliffe's opinions on child-rearing.

"Then she'll be spoilt, won't she?" I said coldly, not looking at him. The small pink mouth clamped down fiercely, and Brianna began to suck with mindless appetite. I was aware that Mrs. Hinchcliffe also thought breast-feeding both vulgar and insanitary. I, who had seen any number of eighteenth-century babies nursing contentedly at their mothers' breasts, didn't.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Frank and Full Disclosure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Jamie lost his mother at a very young age, but he hasn't forgotten her:
I had heard what he said to the plover he released. Though I had only a few words of Gaelic, I had heard the old salutation often enough to be familiar with it. “God go with ye, Mother," he had said.

A young mother, dead in childbirth. And a child left behind. I touched his arm and he looked down at me.

“How old were you?” I asked.

He gave me a half-smile. “Eight,” he answered. “Weaned, at least."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.) 
4) Bree's reaction on the night before Claire goes back through the stones, when she thinks she'll never see her mother again:
"It's like--there are all these things I don't even know!" she said, pacing with quick, angry steps.  "Do you think I remember what I looked like, learning to walk, or what the first word I said was? No, but Mama does! And that's so stupid, because what difference does it make, it doesn't make any difference at all, but it's important, it matters because she thought it was, and...oh, Roger, if she's gone, there won't be a soul left in the world who cares what I'm like, or thinks I'm special not because of anything, but just because I'm me! She's the only person in the world who really, really cares I was born, and if she's gone..."  She stood still on the hearthrug, hands clenched at her sides, and mouth twisted with the effort to control herself, tears wet on her cheeks.  Then her shoulders slumped and the tension went out of her tall figure.

"And that's just really dumb and selfish," she said, in a quietly reasonable tone. "And you don't understand, and you think I'm awful."

"No," Roger said quietly. "I think maybe not."  He stood and came behind her, putting his arms around her waist, urging her to lean back against him.  She resisted at first, stiff in his arms, but then yielded to the need for physical comfort and relaxed, his chin propped on her shoulder, head tilted to touch her own.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Roger's mother saved his life in the moments before she died in the Bethnal Green tube station collapse in March, 1943.
"She let go my hand,” he said. The words came more easily now; the tightness in his throat and chest was gone. “She let go my hand...and then she picked me up. That small woman--she picked me up, and threw me over the wall. Down into the crowd of people on the platform below. I was knocked mostly out by the fall, I think--but I remember the roar as the roof went. No one on the stair survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 98, "Clever Lad". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) This is my favorite quote about motherhood from the whole series:
“Did I ever think to thank ye, Sassenach?" he said, his voice a little husky.

“For what?" I said, puzzled. He took my hand, and drew me gently toward him. He smelled of ale and damp wool, and very faintly of the brandied sweetness of fruitcake.

“For my bairns," he said softly. "For the children that ye bore me."

"Oh," I said. I leaned slowly forward, and rested my forehead against the solid warmth of his chest. I cupped my hands at the small of his back beneath his coat, and sighed. "It was...my pleasure."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, “Beans and Barbecue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) And finally, my personal OUTLANDER Mother-of-the-Year Award goes to Brianna MacKenzie! Everyone knows that mama bears are exceedingly dangerous when separated from their offspring. Bree spent most of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD in full mama-bear mode, and I really admire the way she kept her cool even under extreme stress, as in this confrontation with Rob Cameron:
“Where’s my son?”

“He’s okay.”

She stood up suddenly, and he jerked a little in reflex. His face flushed and he hardened his expression.

“He’d bloody well better be okay,” she snapped. “I said, where is he?”

“Oh, no, hen,” he said, rocking back on his heels, affecting nonchalance. “That’s no how we’re playing it. Not tonight.”

God, why didn’t Roger keep a hammer or a chisel or something useful in his desk drawer? Did he expect her to staple this jerk? She braced herself, both hands flat on the desk, to keep from leaping over it and going for his throat.

“I’m not playing,” she said through her teeth. “And neither are you. Where’s Jemmy?

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 26, "A Step into the Dark". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I hope you enjoyed these quotes. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Great deal on Season 1 Vol. 1 DVD/Blu-ray!



If you haven't yet bought a copy of the Season 1 Volume 1 DVD or Blu-ray, Amazon is having a sale TODAY ONLY (May 9th), cutting the prices to $29.99 for the Blu-ray and $15.00 for the DVD. Offer ends 11:59 pm Pacific time.

Here are the links in case you're interested:

DVD
Blu-Ray

Look here for a detailed description of the additional features available with each edition.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Season 2 filming begins!



It's official: Filming on OUTLANDER Season 2 has begun!


Here's what we know so far about Season 2:
  • Season 2 will be based on Diana Gabaldon's DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. (If you haven't read it yet, now would be a good time!)
  • There will be 13 episodes, compared to 16 for Season 1.
  • As in Season 1, the production will be divided into "blocks".  Most of the blocks in Season 2 will cover two episodes, but there will be one block of three episodes.
  • As far as I know, Diana Gabaldon has not written any of the scripts for Season 2.
Things we still don't know:
  • We have not heard anything about casting as yet. As soon as I hear anything, I will post here!
  • The premiere date for Season 2 has not been announced yet, but it will probably not happen until sometime in 2016.
  • Yes, that means we're going to have a very long #Droughtlander!  Fans of Diana Gabaldon's books are used to waiting a long time between books.  We will all just have to try to be patient.
  • How are they going to handle the 20th-century "framing story" with Roger and Brianna? The producers have admitted that the structure of this book poses some logistical challenges. We have not heard anything yet about how they plan to deal with the 20th-century parts of the book, and it's possible that Season 2 may not begin the same way the book does.
That's all for right now. Please check back later for further updates. In the meantime:



That's "wait and see" in Gaelic. (One of Diana Gabaldon's favorite phrases.)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Episode 113: "The Watch" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 113 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled “The Watch”.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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

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First of all, I have to say that I enjoyed this episode MUCH more on the second viewing! There's a lot to absorb here, and quite a few differences from the book, but I think overall it works very well.

Opening scene:  I liked the visual play on words (it’s a watch <g>), and this is clearly meant to be the same one that MacQuarrie shows Jamie later in the show when they're riding in the rain.

I liked Jamie’s opening line.  “I hope you kept your powder dry. Misfire, and I’ll ram that pistol down your gullet.”  He’s very calm, considering he’s being held at gunpoint.

Jenny’s a quick thinker:  “That’s no scoundrel, ye fool, it’s my cousin.”  Clearly MacQuarrie is not from around there, or he would have recognized Jamie at once!  But I can’t help thinking that it must really gall Jamie to have to pretend to be “Jamie MacTavish” in his own home.

“But we’ve come to know Claire. She’s a decent woman. We don’t mind her Englishness so much.” – good line from Jenny!

I really like the look on Jamie’s face when he says, “They’re criminals, out to line their own pockets!”

The idea that Ian and Jenny have been paying the Watch for protection in Jamie’s absence is believable (what choice did they have?), but it still took me by surprise.

I like the details of the kitchen. Very authentic-looking.

“Tread lightly and don’t provoke them” – not easy, for a man in Jamie’s position!

I found the dinner-table conversation about soldiering in France a little hard to follow, lacking knowledge of the historical background.  But I liked the “Jamais être pris vivant!”  MacQuarrie comes across as a likeable, decent man.

“Here’s to a long life, and a merry one. A quick death, and an easy one. A pretty girl, and an honest one. A stiff whisky, and another one.”  I like this toast from MacQuarrie very much.  And I also liked the way he shoved the other man’s boots off the table.

I liked the look Jamie exchanges with Ian after the Watch men leave the dining room, as if to say, “See? I managed not to provoke them, didn’t I?”

Good to see Jamie tending the horse.  And I liked seeing young Rabbie again.  Just as Jamie says, “No wonder he turned up lame,” you can see the Watch man starting the fire in the hay wagon, blowing on the embers to get it going.

The bucket brigade was fun to watch.  And I liked the fight afterward.

“I’ve done enough fightin’ in my life. I’m settled now.”  When Jamie says this, I thought immediately of FIERY CROSS, and how he really didn’t want to go and fight the Regulators.

Glad to see they remembered the dogs, Bran and Luke! <g>

I was not surprised to see Horrocks show up, mostly because of the previews for this episode.

I like the laird’s study. Very nicely decorated. (And if you've read WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, take a good look at that desk! <g>)

Claire’s line, “Whatever happens, we’ll handle it. No matter the cost" is just wonderful!  That could be the motto for the entire series, and I don't mean just the TV show!

The laundry scene is very good.  (Finally, we’re back to the book!)  Wee Jamie is awfully cute. 

“I’ve stitched more wounds than clothes, but I’ll give it a whirl.” – good line

Are those Ellen’s yellow roses by the steps?  I think so, but I'm not sure.

“Jamie was only eight when we lost Willie to the smallpox.” No, actually, Jamie was six when Willie died.  He was eight when his mother died.

But I'll forgive this bit of date-confusion, because I'm SO glad they included the bit about “guarding his chief’s weaker side”!!

My biggest problem with the whole childbirth subplot is Claire’s total lack of experience as a midwife!  How the hell does she know what a breech baby feels like, let alone how to deliver one safely?  She was trained as a combat nurse, not a midwife! Yes, it’s dramatic and makes for good television, but it requires a MAJOR suspension of disbelief, especially for those of us who've read the book. :-(  Claire is entirely too confident throughout this whole scene, as though she’s done this dozens of times before.  I didn’t find it believable at all.

I liked the reference to Grannie MacNab’s fertility advice. <g>

About Jenny’s refusal to let Ian know what’s going on (“Tell him the bairn’s comin’, but nothing else.”), I can see why they did this. In the book, Jamie and Ian spend the whole time that Jenny’s in labor sitting downstairs, getting drunk.  But that wouldn’t be very entertaining to show on TV. This way Jamie and Ian’s storyline with the Watch can continue through the rest of the episode.

Again, I like the laird’s study very much.  The diamond-paned window, the bookshelves – it looks like a very cozy and comfortable place.

Horrocks is fun to watch, though he’s a pretty despicable character.

“Tell me what it’s like, being pregnant.”  I’m really glad they included this part!  Some of you may recall that this (or rather, the version of it that eventually ended up in the book) is the first scene that Diana Gabaldon ever shared on Compuserve, several years before OUTLANDER was published.

I liked the addition of “You get down on your knees and promise God anything he asks, if he’ll just keep them safe.”  Also the view of Jenny’s belly through her shift.

The discussion about Jenny taking a dram of whisky while she’s in labor will likely cause some controversy among younger viewers, but Claire didn’t have a problem with it, and neither do I, given the time when this story takes place.

I liked the scene with Ian and Jamie.  Ian’s explanation of why he likes MacQuarrie makes sense to me, especially the part where he calls MacQuarrie “a man who doesna look on me with pity.”  Obviously Ian has had to make some hard choices during Jamie’s absence, but he’s doing what he thinks best to protect the estate and the tenants, and I liked that very much.

The scene with Jamie and Claire is excellent, really well done!  Cait does an amazing job here. You really feel Claire’s anguish.  Though I want to tell her not to worry!

“I never counted on loving you” – great line!

“I can bear pain myself, but I couldna bear yours. It would take more strength than I have.” – this is very well done!

But as that wonderful scene ends, we suddenly realize that Jenny is still upstairs, all alone as far as we know, still in labor, and we’ve momentarily forgotten all about her!  I didn’t like that.

The scene with Jamie and Horrocks is very good.  A few thoughts: 1) If you give in to a blackmailer, he’ll just keep wanting more and more, and surely Jamie is smart enough to see that!  2) Much as I liked seeing Ian run the man through with the sword, I can’t figure out how someone with a wooden leg could sneak up on him from behind like that, over rough terrain, without making a sound.  3) The suddenness of the man's death reminded me very much of young Ian killing Allan Christie, thirty years later.

I like the way Ian’s hand shook when he tried to sheath the sword.

“Remember, we used to argue which was the bigger sin, fornication or killing?” – this reminds me very much of the conversations between Jamie and Ian in Diana Gabaldon's novella, "Virgins", although I just checked the story and they didn't talk about that specifically.

“Well, if you’re goin' to hell, I might as well go, too. God knows, ye’ll never manage alone.” This, on the other hand, is a direct quote from "Virgins", and a terrific line! <g>

(For more information about "Virgins", see my FAQ page here.  It's a very entertaining story, and I would definitely recommend it to any OUTLANDER fans.)
 
I’m so glad they included the little wooden snake!  This is changed somewhat from the book, where Jamie has kept it in his sporran all along, but I think the way they did it here (“Give it to Jamie for me.” “You’ll give it to him yourself.”) works better on TV.  More dramatic.

Macquarrie giving Jamie money to buy more hay surprised me. Maybe he is a decent man after all?  And I like his dialogue in the next scene, as he figures out what happened to Horrocks.

I loved the way Jamie stepped in and took the blame for killing Horrocks, much as he’ll take the blame for the scrap of tartan at Ardsmuir many years later.  The way he says “I ran him through,” very calmly, and then takes a bite of his bannock, is just chilling!  I was taken aback by MacQuarrie’s reaction, though.

Things are happening very fast.  Just when I’ve decided that MacQuarrie might be a good guy after all (on the principle that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”), he coerces Jamie at gunpoint to accompany the Watch.

I don’t think it’s realistic that Jenny would have let Jamie or Ian see her in labor.  On the other hand, it’s totally in character for her to insist she doesn’t need them, that it’s all right for them to go.  I liked her “Haste ye back” line very much.

The farewell scene between Jamie and Claire is very good!  “You heard your sister. Haste ye back, or else.” “Or else what?”  My thought was, Oh, God, no!  You really don’t want to know!  There’s such a strong sense of foreboding here, but also the promise that Claire will find him and bring him back.  We’re going to need that thought, in order to get through what’s coming next.

That long, lingering kiss, and the look Claire gives him, is very reminiscent of the last time she saw Frank, back in Episode 101 just before she went through the stones.

MacQuarrie is an interesting, and surprisingly complex, character, with a taste for adventure similar to Ned Gowan’s, and his own personal "code of honor", so to speak.  “Money taken is twice as sweet as money earned”, but he would never betray Jamie to the Redcoats because he’s seen the inside of the Tolbooth, and “I wouldna wish it on a dog”.  I thought that was a good explanation of his motives, as well as a very sobering bit of foreshadowing of what Wentworth will be like.

I liked the next scene with Jenny and Claire. Laura Donnelly does a terrific job, and I don't just mean the screaming!

Re the ambush: it’s hard to believe that Jamie would let himself be trapped like that, without a means of escape.  He's spent four years on the run as a wanted man, after all.  But it is undeniably effective, from a dramatic point of view, and I liked the use of slow motion during the ambush.  (And the thunder, which only heightened the tension.)

“Your bonnie little lass just landed on her feet.” – good line

Margaret Ellen was named for Jenny’s grandmother?  Well, maybe in the TV series, but not in the books. <g> The OC lists Jenny's maternal grandmother as Anne Grant and her paternal grandmother as Davina Porter.

I was delighted to see that they included the boar’s tusk bracelets!!  They’re perfect, just as I imagined them.  My friend Betsy saw a pair like this in a shop window in Edinburgh when we visited Scotland on the Celtic Journeys OUTLANDER Tour in 2012. (For more about my trip to Scotland, look here.)

So let me see if I have this straight:  Horrocks betrayed the Watch to the Redcoats “to buy his freedom”.  (Meaning they agreed not to hang him for desertion, I suppose?)  MacQuarrie was wounded in the attack, Jamie wouldn’t leave him behind, and the only remaining man from the Watch brought Ian home.  Was this the same man who set the hay on fire?  (I’m not sure.  I had a hard time telling the men of the Watch apart.) If so, he’s redeemed himself here.

When the man said, “The Redcoats have him,” my first thought was, “I’m scared!”  I think it’s much, much harder for book-readers to see this part, knowing what’s going to happen next. <shudder>

What about the rest of you? I'd like to know what you thought about this episode. Please leave a comment here or on my Outlandish Observations Facebook page.

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"
Episode 112: "Lallybroch"

Friday, May 1, 2015

ABC's of Jamie Fraser



Wishing a very happy birthday to our favorite red-heided Scot, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, who turns 294 years old today! He was born on May 1, 1721.

In honor of Jamie's birthday, I'm reposting the "ABCs of Jamie Fraser" list that I originally posted here in 2011. I hope you enjoy them!

ABCs of Jamie Fraser

I borrowed this idea from a writer's exercise that was posted on Compuserve. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. Here's my alphabet for Jamie Fraser.

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright © Diana Gabaldon, of course.

A - Ardsmuir. As difficult as those three years in prison were for Jamie, caring for the other men gave him something to live for.

B - Boats. Sheer torture, for someone who suffers from seasickness as acute as Jamie's. "I hate boats," Jamie said through clenched teeth. "I loathe boats. I view boats with the most profound abhorrence." (DRUMS, Chapter 6, "I Encounter a Hernia")

C - Claire
, of course. And his children -- all of them, whether they're born of his blood or not.

D - Duty.
Jamie takes his duty seriously, even when it means doing things he doesn't want to do, like raising a militia company to fight against the Regulators in FIERY CROSS.

E - Eloquence.
Jamie's way with words takes my breath away sometimes. "And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire--I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you." (DRUMS, Chapter 16, "The First Law of Thermodynamics")

F - Finger.
Jamie's much-abused fourth finger on his right hand, which caused him so much pain and trouble for years, and now lies buried at Lallybroch, with Ian. "I'll keep it safe 'til ye catch me up." (ECHO, Chapter 81, "Purgatory II")

G - God.
Jamie's Catholic faith is very important to him, even if he's rarely in a position to go to Mass or have a priest hear his confession. And sometimes God answers his prayers. ("Lord, that she may be safe. She and the child.")

H - Humor.
I love Jamie's sense of humor, especially when he teases Claire. "I'll gie ye the rest when I'm ninety-six, aye?" (FIERY CROSS, Chapter 40, "Duncan's Secret")

I - Intelligence.
Jamie is a very smart man, and a logical thinker. And he learns very fast!

J - Jenny.
Say what you will about her, but Jamie loves his sister as deeply as he does Claire.

K - Killing.
Jamie kills when he must, in self-defense or in defense of his family or loved ones. But it bothers him. "I am a violent man, and I ken it well," he said quietly. He spread his hands out on his knees; big hands, which could wield sword and dagger with ease, or choke the life from a man. (DRUMS, Chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience")

L - Lallybroch.
I don't think you can fully understand Jamie's character without appreciating how much Lallybroch influenced him. It's sad to think that he might never go back there.

M - Memories.
Will Jamie ever recall more of Culloden, and what happened with Jack Randall?

N - Nephew.
Jamie bonded with Young Ian when he was only minutes old, and they've been through quite a lot together.

O - Outdoors.
Where some of Jamie and Claire's most memorable "mmmmphmm" moments have taken place. :-)

P - Prestonpans.
The location of Jamie's fateful encounter with the sixteen-year-old Lord John Grey.

Q - QED.
Three letters that symbolize Jamie's short-lived career as a printer in Edinburgh.

R - Red-heided.
All teasing about "the nameless and abominable colour of his hair" aside, this is one of the things I liked best about Jamie from the beginning, because I'm also a left-handed redhead. :-)

S - Stubbornness.
"Jamie was a sweet laddie, but a stubborn wee fiend, forbye." Jenny's voice by her ear startled her. "Beat him or coax him, it made no difference; if he'd made up his mind, it stayed made up." (DRUMS, Chapter 34, "Lallybroch")

T - Tone-deaf.
One of Jamie's more endearing traits, in my opinion, and proof that he's not perfect.

U - Uxorious.
Roger refers to Jamie as "deeply uxorious" in ABOSAA. It's an archaic word that according to Diana Gabaldon means "a man who was clearly and obviously in love with his wife."

V - Vows.
The blood vow at Jamie and Claire's wedding, for one. Jamie's promise never to beat her again, for another. "I don't make idle threats, Sassenach," he said, raising one brow, "and I don't take frivolous vows." (OUTLANDER, Chapter 22, "Reckonings")

W - Will-power.
Jamie has an amazing strength of will. Whether it's submitting to rape and torture at the hands of Jack Randall without fighting back, or not reacting to the presence of a pair of naked Indian girls in his bed in ABOSAA, his self-control is impressive.

X - eXample.
Jamie doesn't lead by sitting back and giving orders. He leads by example, as when he takes the punishment for Angus MacKenzie's possession of a scrap of tartan at Ardsmuir. No wonder his men will follow him anywhere.

Y - Youthful.
It's hard to remember just how young Jamie was in OUTLANDER, barely 22. Even in his mid-50's, he still looks remarkably good for his age. As Claire remarks, "Do you know, you haven't got a single gray hair below the neck?" (ECHO, chapter 8, "Spring Thaw")

Z - Zippers
, and other oddities of 20th-century life that Claire has had to explain to Jamie over the years.



If you're on Twitter, please remember to tag your tweets today (Friday, May 1) with #HappyBDayJamie, in celebration of Jamie's birthday.  STARZ is running a birthday-card contest, and I think it will be fun to see what everyone comes up with.

Happy Birthday, Jamie, and Happy Beltane to all of you!

April poll results

Here are the results of the April poll, which asked the question, "Have you tried to get other people to read the OUTLANDER books, or watch the TV series?"
  • 26.58% - All of the above.
  • 22.13% - I got one or more of my close friends or family members addicted.
  • 20.95% - Many times!
  • 7.04% - Of course! I enjoy being an OUTLANDER ambassador.
  • 5.94% - I've tried, but so far without success.
  • 5.55% - I've been spreading the word about the TV series and trying to get people to watch.
  • 4.77% - I've given copies of OUTLANDER to my friends or coworkers.
  • 2.03% - I've recommended OUTLANDER to strangers in the bookstore or library.
  • 2.03% - No, I haven't tried.
  • 0.78% - I've recommended the books on Facebook, Goodreads, or other online sites.
  • 0.39% - I got my book club to read OUTLANDER.
  • 1.80% - Other
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • Buying book or DVD as gifts.
  • Bookseller since birth of Outlander have sold & addicted thousands!
  • successful on four of these :p
  • I have left the (big!) books at various holiday locations , when I finished them
  • I have been invited to be an 'Outlander,' guest speaker at someone else's bookclub!
  • I have tried to borrow others copies but they would not part with them
  • I got my husband to read it. What fun we have when we discuss the series.
  • Greaaaatest book series
  • all except for book club; don't belong to one
  • Most of the above!
  • My daughter got me involved right after Outlander initially came out...
  • Books only
  • I do my best.
  • Recommended the first four books, not the TV series
  • books yes, but would not subject them to the tv series
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE IT
  • All but book club
  • Most of the above! I think I've "hooked" at least 2 dozen folks!!!
  • I finally convinced my husband to listen to the audiobooks,and we are on book 6!
  • Only people I gotten to read are my kids 1st sitter & her neighbor
  • A few pf the above. Not quite all.
  • I have spread my obsession in person, but not on social media.
  • at least 3 or 4 of the 1st 8 suggestions.
There were 1279 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the May poll, which is all about your favorite villains in the OUTLANDER series. (What do I mean by "favorite"?  That's up to you.  It could be a character you love to hate.  It doesn't mean you have to like them or their actions!)  Thanks!