Episode 201: "Through a Glass, Darkly" (SPOILERS)
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
I thought this episode was very well done. Kudos especially to Caitriona and Tobias, who both gave outstanding performances!
"I wished I were dead." - Very powerful way to start off the episode and the new season! Immediately we're pulled into Claire's POV, and this scene does a good job of showing her utter devastation.
The bit about the ring took me by surprise at first, until I noticed the empty space where a gemstone had been. I agree with others who speculated that Jamie must have given her this ring when they parted. That would explain her frantic scrabbling through the grass in search of the missing gemstone.
I liked that scream very much. <g> Sort of a primal howl of grief and despair, absolutely gut-wrenching. We didn't see this scene in the book, but I have no trouble believing that Claire reacted just this way. It's one thing to hear the words, "I am asking you to tear out your heart and live without it." Quite another to actually do it!
When the car horn beeps, Claire is slow to react, as though she can't quite remember what that sound means. I liked that.
"Who won the battle of Culloden?!" And on hearing the answer, she collapses, weeping. I see this as another sign of how distraught she is. Surely anyone in the vicinity of Culloden Moor on the day before the battle, as she was, would have no doubt whatever about what the outcome of the battle was going to be. I see this as Claire's mind frantically grasping at the shred of hope that maybe, just maybe, they'd managed to change the outcome anyway, even at the cost of Jamie's life, and having that last bit of hope abruptly snatched away. All I could think at that moment was how she must feel (despite what Jamie tried to tell her in the book) that it's all her fault, for getting them involved in the Rising in the first place, and that guilt only adds to her devastation. Really powerful stuff.
I will put my reactions to the new Season 2 opening theme in a separate post.
Nice touch to have wee Roger featured in the beginning. The book on the floor is titled, "My Picture Book of Tall Ships" -- presumably a nod to Tall Ship Productions? <g>
Claire's "Will you turn that bloody thing off, please?" echoed my thoughts exactly. I found that milkman song annoying.
I liked the way Claire sees Frank's reflection in the window first. The many references to windows, mirrors, reflections, etc. in this episode are fascinating to think about, and I like the way they give additional depth to the title, "Through a Glass, Darkly".
Very effective use of the brief glimpse of BJR's face there, to show how Claire is momentarily shaken by the resemblance, but I'm glad they didn't make a big deal of it.
As Frank picks up the stays, notice the very subtle Jamie and Claire theme playing quietly in the background.
The newspaper headline reads, "KIDNAPPED BY THE FAIRIES". I liked this exchange very much:
Frank: "Devil take the press."
Rev. W: "That's not likely. Even the devil has some standards."
I really liked the scene with Claire and Mrs. Graham. It's a good idea, IMHO, to give Claire someone to talk to about Jamie in those first days, rather than keeping it all bottled up inside. And we know from Episode 108 ("Both Sides Now") that Mrs. Graham is already predisposed to believe her story. I liked the way Claire's whole face lights up when she talks about Jamie, and she even smiles -- until she's stopped dead in her tracks by that word "was", and you can see the grief hit her all over again. Just heartbreaking.
I liked this line from Mrs. Graham very much: "Treasure it. Keep it safe and secure, tucked away in some special place in your heart."
When I saw Frank in the hallway, hesitating outside Claire's door, my first thought was that he looked very young and vulnerable.
When Claire started telling the story, I was sure they were going to show a flashback of her from Episode 101, but I suppose they decided it wasn't necessary. (Anyone who wants to know what happened can go watch Season 1, after all. <g>) After she finishes, Frank rubs his forehead as though he has a headache, in exactly the same way that Black Jack Randall did in Episode 106 ("The Garrison Commander") re Claire's totally fictitious story. I thought the parallel was interesting.
I loved Frank's speech, especially the way he goes through a whole range of emotions, from rage to grief to trying hard to stay in control. And just when he's convinced himself it's going to be all right ("I can accept it"), she says, "I'm pregnant," and at once his facade of acceptance crumbles. For an instant, you can see the incredulous joy on his face, and then it hits him, and he's overcome with rage. Just a marvelous performance by Tobias, and fascinating to watch!
Frank smashing things in the shed -- again, just as with Claire's scream, I think it's good that Frank had a chance to let that rage out, in private, in a situation where he couldn't hurt anyone else.
So TV Frank has known since 1947 that he couldn't sire children? Interesting.
"I am not Joseph, she is not Mary, and I'm fairly certain that the father was not God Almighty! He was a man -- a man who fucked my wife." - great line from Frank! And then wee Roger shows up, with an uncanny sense of timing. LOL.
The little boy playing Roger is cute, but the scene didn't work for me. I really wish they had cast an older child, at least 7 or 8 years old, to play Roger in this scene. This kid is FAR too young to convincingly play an eight-year-old! (Keep in mind that we're in 1948 and Roger's father disappeared in October 1941, so Roger has to be at least 7 or 8 years old here.) I also didn't like the very formal and polite way the boy speaks. What child of that age has such exquisite manners? One of the wonderful things about Diana Gabaldon's books is the very realistic way the kids talk, but that's definitely not in evidence here. All I see in this scene is a very young child actor reciting lines he's memorized, and looking cute. He's not believable to me as Roger, unfortunately.
"A child without a father, and a man without a child, have been given this chance to find one another -- and yes, I would call that part of God's eternal plan." Another great line from Rev. Wakefield.
The scene between Claire and Frank was very good.
"Don't ever use the word flog in my presence again, is that understood?" - good line.
I liked Frank's two conditions very much. Their hug brought tears to my eyes.
When Claire started to take off the ring, I was yelling, "NOOOO!!! NO NO NO NO!" at the TV. Also thinking of this quote:
I twisted my gold ring off, hands trembling both with fear and rage. The silver one was harder; it stuck on my knuckle as though reluctant to part from me.Thank God Frank didn't insist that she take it off right then. "When you're ready" -- ha! She'll never be ready for that, not in a million years.
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 9, "Two-Thirds of a Ghost". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Frank burning Claire's 18th century clothes - awww, that's sad. But it means that the only remaining tangible evidence of Claire's time-traveling (aside from Brianna, of course <g>) is the pair of rings, the wedding ring and the burned-out one, that she came back with.
I liked the transition between centuries very much. As Claire takes that final step off the staircase, she smiles. She's looking at Frank, but I think she's smiling because she's remembering Jamie at that moment. And of course the bit with the outstretched hands is very reminiscent of the Season 1 key art. <g>
[UPDATE 4/16/2016 7:44 am] About that date of 1745 for Jamie and Claire's arrival in Le Havre: Maril Davis, executive producer of OUTLANDER, confirmed on Twitter yesterday that this was a mistake:
.@DawnSantarlasci it was a mistake. Should read "Le Havre 1744"— Maril Davis (@TallShipProds) April 15, 2016
.@karenh3a @Writer_DG no excuse but these things are added late in process. And date stamps not always easy to read. But no excuse— Maril Davis (@TallShipProds) April 15, 2016
Maril said the date would be corrected going forward.
As soon as Murtagh appears, the whole tone of the show changes, injecting some humor for the first time into an episode that had been awfully serious up to this point. I suppose with Rupert and Angus gone for now, Murtagh may have to take some of the role of comic relief?
Jamie is clearly in a lot of pain, but Claire doesn't fuss over him, likely knowing what his reaction would be.
"Sometimes I feel his touch" -- shudder! I do wish Jamie would sit up a little. I know they're trying to show he's still physically weak from his ordeal, but filming him flat on his back like that just looks awkward, and I didn't like it.
I think Claire did the right thing in trying to distract him, to give him something to focus his mind on other than the memories of Wentworth. In that context, I can understand her being somewhat more "pushy" about the idea of preventing the Rising than she is in the book.
"What the hell are we going to tell Murtagh?" -- good question!
The first thing I noticed in the scene with Murtagh is that he appears to have bathed and washed his hair. <g> He looks significantly less scruffy here than he ever did in Season 1.
"One day I will tell you the reason....at the proper time."
"And when will be the proper time?"
"You tell me, Sassenach. You're the one from the future."
I laughed a little at this the first time I heard it, but the dialogue seems a little forced. You can definitely tell that these lines aren't from the book.
The scene with Jared was very good. I liked Jared's skepticism, and I thought he was right to be cautious. I wasn't expecting Jamie to show his scars like that, but it made sense under the circumstances, and the contrast with Episode 105 ("Rent"), where Dougal forces Jamie to display his scars in public, is interesting.
And finally, 3/4 of the way into the episode, we get to a scene that comes straight from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. <g> I was very impressed with Stanley Weber as the Comte St. Germain. He has a very commanding presence, very menacing.
I liked the fact that they used subtitles for the French. My high school French is way too rusty to keep up with what they were saying, most of the time. <g>
The whole scene with Claire's discovery of the smallpox was very well done. I really missed this bit from the book, though:
"D'ye think what we've set ourselves to do is important, Sassenach?"I thought the burning of the Patagonia (the Comte's ship) was done very well. That final shot of the ship burning in the harbor at night could almost have been an oil painting.
My hand dropped from the door handle.
"Stopping the Stuarts from starting a rising in Scotland? Yes, of course I do. Why do you ask?"
He nodded, patient as an instructor with a slow pupil.
"Aye, well. If ye do, then you'll come here, sit yourself down, and drink wine wi' me until Jared comes back. And if ye don't..." He paused and blew out a long breath that stirred the ruddy wave of hair above his forehead.
"If ye don't, then you'll go down to a quay full of seamen and merchants who think women near ships are the height of ill luck, who are already spreading gossip that you've put a curse on St. Germain's ship, and you'll tell them what they must do. With luck, they'll be too afraid of ye to rape you before they cut your throat and toss you in the harbor, and me after you. If St. Germain himself doesna strangle you first. Did ye no see the look on his face?"
(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Making Waves". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"I wouldn't change you to save the world" - I like this line from Jamie, and seeing them ride away in the carriage was a satisfying way to end the episode.
All in all, a very good start to Season 2, and I can't wait to see more!
I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 202. Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.