Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Help celebrate OUTLANDER's 25th anniversary!



Wednesday, June 1, 2016, is #WorldOutlanderDay! Please join Diana Gabaldon's fans all over the world in celebrating the 25th anniversary of OUTLANDER's publication in 1991.

Congratulations, Diana, and many thanks (again) for creating this amazing story!

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

Mass-market paperback of MOHB is now available in the US!



The mass-market paperback edition (that's the small-size paperback) of Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, Book 8 of the OUTLANDER series, is finally available in the US!

Congratulations, Diana!

You can order it here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

If you want an autographed copy, you can order from the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Arizona. They carry all of Diana Gabaldon's books, and they ship all over the world.

Note to those of you outside the US: the mass-market paperback edition of this book has been available in other countries for some time, but it's only now (as of May 31, 2016) becoming available in the US for the first time. I don't know why, except that international publishing rights are complicated!

Monday, May 30, 2016

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.

*** SPOILER WARNING! *** 
If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

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!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Episode 208: "The Fox's Lair" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 208 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The Fox's Lair".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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I'll start by talking about the new opening credit sequence.

That's a stunning view of the snow-capped Scottish mountains! I hadn't realized quite how much I'd missed the gorgeous Scottish scenery from Season 1, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it. Notice the car in the foreground. Could those tiny figures walking beside it be Roger and Bree? Intriguing.

I like the bit with the gentleman's hand placing models of the Jacobite forces on a map. And then in the very next shot, we see the actual Jacobite army, as if to remind us that these are real human beings who are in very real danger of dying in this conflict.

Interesting to see Claire driving toward the half-ruined Lallybroch in the next shot. (As for the house itself, I'm not worried. Put a new roof on it, fix it up inside, and it'll be fine, eventually. <g>)

Glad to see a quick glimpse of Claire stitching up a wounded man.

I like the added bits with the rearing horse and the potatoes, and the Jacobite soldiers raising their weapons. And I'll look forward to seeing the men in kilts running across the field, when we get to that point in the show. <g> (Though the thought occurs to me that those bare-chested men must be freezing, considering how cold it is in Scotland most of the time.)

Notice Murtagh in that last shot of the Jacobites, on the left-hand side of the screen, at "Over the sea to Skye."

I'm very much afraid that that brief shot of Jamie and Claire embracing might be from the farewell scenes. I hope I'm wrong, though.

Overall, I liked this new opening sequence, and I'm glad they went back to the original music.

Now, to the episode itself:

I like the opening shot of the fox. It has white hairs on its muzzle; does that mean it's an "Old Fox", like Lord Lovat? That would certainly be appropriate!

I love the quick glimpses of the Scottish scenery as we approach Lallybroch.

The potato harvest sequence is wonderful! Very much as I imagined from the book. I'm glad they included it.

The "mail call" scene that follows is also very well done. I liked Murtagh's line, "I canna believe I've become a farmer." And Jamie's shock at the letter from Charles Stuart was believable, if somewhat muted compared to the book.

I like the next scene, with Jamie and Claire on the hill overlooking Lallybroch, very much. We see a close-up of Jamie's maimed left hand, without a brace, for the first time since Wentworth. Several of the fingers do look a little crooked, though that might be my imagination.

"...and you will be hung as [a traitor], if they catch you." The word is "hanged". <sigh>

Interesting that Jamie, who had to be talked into the idea of trying to stop the Rising, is now attempting to convince Claire that they can still change the future.

"Because of you." This reminds me very strongly of this bit from one of my favorite chapters in THE FIERY CROSS:
"The future can be changed; I do it all the time.”

“Oh, aye?”

I rolled away a bit, to look at him.

“I do. Look at Mairi MacNeill. If I hadn’t been there last week, she would have died, and her twins with her. But I was there, and they didn’t."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 85, "Hearthfire". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
When Jamie is stating his reasons for going to fight, I'm glad he said, "For our family" first.

"They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
"Well, I dinna ken who 'they' are, but I'll wager 'they' have never travelled through time."

I like that.

The scene where Jamie announces that they're going to see Lord Lovat is very well done. Jenny and Jamie are a lot of fun to watch when they're arguing! <g>

"Father must be birling in his grave." That's a word I've never heard before, but according to this site, birling is a Scots expression meaning "to spin around, to revolve rapidly".

"He tried to have our mother kidnapped." This bit of backstory is not in the books, but I wouldn't put it past the Old Fox to attempt something like that.

"What would be foolish, Janet, would be to let pride stand in the way of doing whatever I can to save Lallybroch, Scotland, and everything we hold dear." - good line!

I liked the scene that follows, where Jamie admits that his father was a bastard. The dialogue here comes mostly from the book. By the way, in case you don't know, Jamie's paternal grandmother is listed in the OUTLANDISH COMPANION as Davina Porter, which is Diana Gabaldon's way of paying tribute to the very talented narrator of the OUTLANDER audiobooks. <g>

The scene with Jamie talking to the baby is just wonderful, and very much as I always imagined from the book. It's even more poignant now, with the loss of Faith still fresh in all our minds from Episode 207. So sad to think that Jamie will never get to hold any of his children as babies!

If you're wondering why Jamie refers to the baby as "Caitriona", Diana Gabaldon explained it on Compuserve as follows:
The baby's name is Katherine--which is Caitriona in Gaelic.
It's not a reference to Caitriona Balfe at all.

The scene where Jamie and Claire prepare to leave Lallybroch is not in the book, but I think it's terrific! I wonder if we'll see that rosary again in a future episode.

"Is that not what you told me, milady, that I will always have a home with you?"
"Yes, of course. But sometimes--"
"He's right. His place is no here, without us, nor in France on his own."

I love that! And I like the way Jamie refers to Murtagh as Fergus's "commanding officer".

I was totally not expecting Colum to be the one to greet Jamie and Claire on their arrival at Beaufort Castle! That came as a shock. Colum looks older than he did in Season 1, but he is still a formidable presence.

I liked the way Claire snatches her hand back from Colum's.

"It was my impression that you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time." If he's sincere (and I'm not sure he is), then he has definitely changed his attitude since the witch-trial. And he actually had Laoghaire beaten for her role in getting Claire arrested for witchcraft? That surprised me.

Clive Russell is fabulous as Lord Lovat, the "Old Fox". The casting people continue to do a phenomenal job!

"Enough breath wasted on a woman. Leave us." I thought that was awfully curt of Lord Lovat. What happened to the famed Highland hospitality? Notice the glance Claire gives Jamie, and his very slight nod in return, indicating that she shouldn't make an issue of it. I love the fact that Jamie and Claire are back to the point in their relationship where they can read each other's subtle non-verbal cues like that.

What the hell is Laoghaire doing there?!? I wasn't expecting that at all, and I don't like it one bit. :-(

"My grandmother sent me along to wash [Colum's] laundry and help wherever I'm needed." No, I don't like this, at all.

When Laoghaire dropped to her knees to apologize, my first thought was that Book Claire would have reacted with embarrassment and tried to make her stand up. But TV Claire just stands there, staring at her.

God brought them together? Um, no, I really don't think so! Put the blame where it belongs, with Anne Kenney or whoever on the writing team came up with the idea for this plotline.

"How often have I thought about what I would do whenever I saw you again? I have fantasized all manner of violent acts that I would subject you to."

I really, really don't like this! It's wildly out of character, IMHO. It makes Claire look like a vengeful person, bitter and vindictive, fixated on this one incident from her past. In the book, by contrast, Claire puts Laoghaire pretty much out of her mind as soon as she recovers from the trauma of the witch-trial, and gets on with her life.

I kept thinking, "Come on, Claire, you're better than this!" And I was reminded instantly of one other time we've seen a character in the OUTLANDER books thinking similar thoughts: Lord John at Ardsmuir, imagining what he might do to Jamie as punishment for humiliating him at Prestonpans:
It had been visions of revenge that kept him tossing in his bed as the window lightened and the rain pattered on the sill; thoughts of Fraser confined to a tiny cell of freezing stone, kept naked through the winter nights, fed on slops, stripped and flogged in the courtyard of the prison. All that arrogant power humbled, reduced to groveling misery, dependent solely on his word for a moment’s relief.

Yes, he thought all those things, imagined them in vivid detail, reveled in them. He heard Fraser beg for mercy, imagined himself disdaining, haughty. He thought these things, and the spiked object turned over in his guts, piercing him with self-disgust.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 8, "Honor's Prisoner". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The difference being that Lord John imagined those things only in the privacy of his own thoughts. Claire said them out loud to Laoghaire's face, which seems to me to be much worse. It's unnecessarily cruel and mean-spirited, and the fact that Claire says that she pities Laoghaire doesn't make up for that.

I liked Jamie's reaction: "You're more forgiving than I am, Sassenach. I wouldna give that brazen besom the time of day."

I thought it was interesting, during the dinner scene, to hear the men speak of "the French" in such scornful tones, considering that we've just spent half the season in Paris.

"Cullions" is a new word to me. But as for "men who would sell their own grandmothers for half that amount", my thought was that it takes one to know one! Lord Lovat seems perfectly capable of doing such a thing.

Young Simon really does seem like a "mealy-mouthed wee smout". (I love that line. <g>) He comes across as a wimp, unable to stand up to his father, wilting at the first sign of Lovat's displeasure. Where is that famed Fraser stubbornness? Unlike the Young Simon in the book, who was eager to go to war, the young man we see here does not seem to have any clear motivations at all, at least none that I could see, and that made it easy for his father to dominate him.

The scene between Jamie and Lord Lovat is just wonderful! Tense and very well-acted. It's such a pleasure to watch these two stubborn, strong-willed, intelligent men go at it. <g> And it occurs to me that Jamie's prior dealings with his uncles and with the Comte St. Germain were good practice for this particular confrontation. The contrast between Jamie and Young Simon really could not be greater, IMHO.

I liked Jamie's reaction when Lovat called his mother a whore.

"And he chose her memory, and that place--"
"Lallybroch."
"--over me."

He sounds incredulous at that rejection, and it's clear he's still bitter about it, even after all these years.

"Lallybroch, for your wife's honor."

Most of this part comes straight from the book, and I'm delighted that they were able to include so much of it. I loved the way the flames shot up when Jamie tossed the drink into the fire -- a very dramatic, and visually stunning, way to end the scene. Great job!

"You can't be seriously thinking about giving him what he wants!" My thoughts exactly. I'm amazed that Jamie would even consider it.

I really disliked this next part. The whole idea of using Laoghaire to boost Young Simon's confidence, with the goal that somehow this would enable him to stand up to his father, is both preposterous and contrived, IMHO.

"I'll not give up my maidenhead for you."

Well, no, she won't; according to what Laoghaire told Jamie in AN ECHO IN THE BONE (chapter 78, "Old Debts"), she lost her virginity to a man named John Robert MacLeod shortly after Jamie and Claire were married, but apparently the writers didn't know that. (See, there is a reason Diana Gabaldon calls me "Nitpicker-in-Chief". The TV series needs one, too, if you ask me. <g>)

Watching the scene with Jamie and Colum, I couldn't help thinking that Colum's argument sounded pretty convincing.

"My husband confided in me that his father sometimes exposed him to public scorn, to make him a better leader of men."

Book-readers will remember what Claire is referring to here, but I wonder what the TV viewers who have not read the books will make of this comment.

I have zero interest in Laoghaire's flirting with Young Simon, or vice versa. To me, it's just boring, and a waste of screen time.

I liked Claire's encounter with Maisri the seer, and I was happy to see that so much of this scene from the book made it into the show.

"It seems I canna get the men from Lovat without giving him my lands, so unless you're planning on declaring yourself a visitor from the future, describing what will happen if we dinna fight and win, I dinna see that I have much choice." Good line, though the implications of what he's saying are very disturbing.

The deed of sassine was a good idea, guaranteed to get the attention of most of the book fans, even if it has no particular significance yet to TV viewers who haven't read DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. It certainly grabbed my attention in a hurry!

So Jamie came within a heartbeat of signing away his family's land, his inheritance, and the future of all of the people at Lallybroch -- including Jenny and Ian and their family? I really, really don't like this! I don't believe for a moment that he would have done that. The Jamie we know from the books would have come up with another solution, some way out of the trap.

But he didn't, and so it falls to Claire to save the day (and Lallybroch) with her impersonation of a seer and her powers as La Dame Blanche.

When Lord Lovat rushed at Claire with his dirk, I thought immediately of Dougal and the scene in the attic of Culloden House. I hope they don't change the later scene on the grounds that it's too reminiscent of this one.

So in the end, Young Simon is the one who stops his father's attack on Claire, saying, "You and MacKenzie are fearful old men, and you're wrong. My cousin is right."

"Cousin" is not strictly accurate -- Young Simon is actually Jamie's "half-uncle" -- but it's close enough, especially when you consider that he is younger than Jamie.

I liked Colum's last line: "I think it's a blessing his mother didna live to see what a reckless fool she spawned." It seems to me that Colum should know a lot about reckless fools, given how close he is to his brother Dougal. <g>

And again we have yet another contrived scene with Laoghaire, obviously designed solely to set things up so that it's at least theoretically possible that Jamie might have a relationship with her many years later.

So Lord Lovat showed up at the troops' rendezvous point at the last minute, just in time to belittle his son in public yet again. How annoying! Let the young man have his moment, out of his father's shadow for once! Lovat's brief visit seemed to serve no purpose except to explain to Jamie and Claire that he would end up on the winning side of the war no matter what, and to make it clear that he still wanted Lallybroch.

And so, at the end, Jamie and Claire ride off to war together.

I enjoyed many parts of this episode, but it had some serious flaws. I had a strong negative reaction to the whole Laoghaire subplot, and I think on subsequent viewings I will be very tempted to fast-forward through all the Laoghaire scenes. I just don't think it was necessary to bring her back at all in Season 2, let alone to give her a major role in this episode.

I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 209.

Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection
Episode 206: Best Laid Plans...
Episode 207: Faith

Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

New Season 2 key art!

In honor of Jamie and Claire's return to Scotland for the second half of OUTLANDER Season 2, STARZ has released new key art!



Click on the image for a bigger view. (Source: THR)




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

STARZ original programming moves to Sundays starting July 17!



Big news today from STARZ CEO Chris Albrecht!

No, it's NOT the official announcement of OUTLANDER Season 3.  Sorry.  Keep reading anyway, because this announcement is definitely of interest to OUTLANDER fans!

According to this article in the Hollywood Reporter:
The former HBO chairman and CEO tells THR he's moving Starz's entire original programming slate from Saturday to Sunday nights, where fare like Outlander will go head-to-head with fellow premium cablers HBO and Showtime, among others.

[....]

"Sundays are a prestige night and we feel our shows are definitely going to be very competitive, not just in viewership but in the attention-getting business on Sundays," Albrecht says.
The new schedule will take effect starting on Sunday, July 17, 2016, after OUTLANDER Season 2 is over.

For me, this is good news.  Keeping up with the avalanche of posts in Diana Gabaldon's section of the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (where I'm Section Leader, aka moderator) during the week while the season is in progress, plus working full-time, is exhausting, to say the least! I find myself mentally and physically worn out by the end of each week, definitely in need of a break for some "me time" that is not related to OUTLANDER.

I have been coping with the current "thread explosion" by taking Saturdays mostly off from All Things OUTLANDER, and that seems to help. It gives me a chance to rest and recharge before the next week's episode airs. I think the move to Sundays for Season 3 (assuming we get a Season 3, which seems more likely with every passing day) will help with that, by making it possible for me to set aside all day Saturday for non-OUTLANDER-related things during the season, without having to worry about spoilers leaking out or threads exploding on the forum while I'm not paying attention. <g>

It's VERY premature even to be thinking about that, of course. We still have 6 episodes left in Season 2! <vbg> But just speaking personally, I like the idea of showing OUTLANDER on Sundays.

Note to those of you who live outside the US: as far as I know, this change affects STARZ programming in the US only.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Episode 207: "Faith" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 207 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Faith".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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I loved this episode, I think it's definitely the best one of the season, and it's among my favorites of the whole series so far. Kudos to Toni Graphia for a very moving script, and to Caitriona for an outstanding performance! It can't have been easy to play such emotionally intense scenes, but she carried it off flawlessly, and I really couldn't have asked for more. <g>  Dominique Pinon, Frances de la Tour, and Romann Berrux were also wonderful.

Among the books in the opening scene is SHORELANDS SUMMER DIARY, by C.F. Tunnicliffe, published in 1952. According to Wikipedia, Tunnicliffe was "an internationally renowned naturalistic painter of British birds and other wildlife". Here's one of his heron paintings.

The scene with Claire and young Brianna in Boston in 1954 was a very surprising way to start this episode. I certainly wasn't expecting that! The little girl is very cute, and she does indeed look like a younger version of Sophie Skelton, the actress who will play Brianna as an adult. <g> I thought at first this scene might be a dream, but it seems more likely that this really is Claire, in 1954, remembering or reliving all of the events that followed, drawing strength and comfort from the presence of her living daughter there by her side.

The surgery scene was very effective. I liked the dream-like feel to it. Claire is understandably agitated, but Mother Hildegarde is a steady and comforting presence, saying, "We will take care of you".

"Where is my baby?" Oh, God, this is heartbreaking. You can see the hope in Claire's eyes turn slowly to denial, and then all at once she bursts out, "I want my baby! Bring me my baby!" When the little statue of the Virgin Mary fell to the floor and shattered, I thought it was very appropriate, for Claire is also going through a shattering experience, to say the least.

I didn't realize that baptism of a stillborn baby was illegal. Mother Hildegarde is kind and loving, almost as though Claire is her own daughter.

"My sins are all I have left." Oh, God, that's sad!

I'm so glad they included the scene showing Master Raymond healing Claire! Dominique Pinon is wonderful in this scene. Most of the dialogue here comes straight from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER chapter 25, "Raymond the Heretic", and they managed to capture the essence of this scene, even if they didn't actually show the blue healing light in the way it's described in the book.

"the Bastille Saint-Antoine" - interesting to hear Mother Hildegarde refer to the Bastille by its formal name, which I had never heard before.

BJR as "the cat with nine lives" - oh, no more than three, surely! And he's already used up two of them.

"[Jamie] may as well have run his sword through me." Good line.

"God says we must revel in mercy, tread sins underfoot, and hurl iniquities into the sea."
"I'm not sure there's a sea deep enough."

I like that very much!

Claire's homecoming was so sad. I liked the way Claire bowed to Magnus the butler. As heartbroken and devastated as she is, it's entirely possible that she wouldn't have survived if not for Magnus's quick thinking, in doing as she asked and taking her to L'Hôpital des Anges. She owes him her life, and it's only right to acknowledge that.

I like the hair-brushing scene. Fergus is so gentle with her, and this makes up a little for the scene with Fergus and Claire that was cut from Episode 205.

As Fergus moves to put the hairbrush away, we see him looking at the bottles on her dressing table. On re-watching, this is heartbreaking, when you realize what he is remembering.

And speaking of heartbreaking... Oh, God, the spoons! I was a little surprised that she didn't just pitch the whole box into the fire, but I'm very glad she didn't.

I don't (thank God!) have any friends or family members who have experienced a stillbirth or the loss of a newborn infant, and I can't really imagine what it's like for them. But I couldn't help thinking, when I saw how Claire reacted to the sight of that box, what it must be like for a woman in our own time who loses a baby, to come home to a house with a nursery all ready for the coming child, and reminders of the baby everywhere. Just devastating.

The scene with Fergus and Claire was excellent, really well done. So Fergus wanted to bring the bottle of perfume to Claire as a gift -- that just makes his feelings of guilt even worse.

At the sight of BJR standing in the doorway, I yelled at the TV, "GO AWAY!!!"

"You're not what I ordered, but you'll do." Oh, God! I'm glad they didn't make the rape scene too explicit. The scene in my imagination is bad enough!

I loved the flashback of Jamie bursting into the room (in full hero-coming-to-the-rescue mode) and fighting with BJR.

What a wonderful performance by Romann Berrux as Fergus! I had tears in my eyes at the end of that scene.

In the next scene, with Claire and Mother Hildegarde, I like the way Claire is finally able to focus on something other than her own grief and pain. She seems to be holding herself under tight control in this scene.

"If it comes to sacrificing my virtue, Mother, I'll add it to the list of things I have already lost in Paris." Good line!

I like Claire's gown in the scene at Versailles. It's simpler and much less ornate than most of her other French-court costumes this season.

The King's bedchamber is gorgeous and opulent, as one might expect. I like the King's costume in this scene very much. Just as in the book, he's surprisingly charming and personable. Most of the dialogue in this scene comes straight from the book (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, chapter 27, "An Audience With His Majesty"), but I liked the added detail of his offering her hot chocolate and an orange (expensive and rare items in this time), which is not in the book.

The Star Chamber set is just breathtaking! Jon Gary Steele did a wonderful job with the set design in this episode. Again, most of this scene is just as I imagined from the book, but I liked Claire's muttered, "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" as she realizes exactly what King Louis expects her to do.

Stanley Weber is excellent in this scene as the Comte St. Germain. He seems taken aback, even a little frightened at first, by the sight of La Dame Blanche. (I had a strong urge to tell him that simply repeating, "I'm not lying! I am NOT lying!" is not a very convincing way to prove to a skeptical audience that you're telling the truth. <g>)

I like Claire's slight smile when the Comte says, "She's a witch." She knows the power of those words now, ever since she cursed Jack Randall in the dungeon of Wentworth, and she's not afraid to use it.

"But only the normal darkness that lives in the souls of all men," she says, turning to Monsieur Forez -- a man who would seem to have more than the usual amount of darkness in his own soul, given his enthusiasm for his job as the public executioner!

It's too bad we didn't get to see the snake in action <g>, but I can certainly understand why the production people would think it was too dangerous!

Bitter cascara, again? I wish they'd stayed with the dragon's blood, as in the book. But I did like the way Master Raymond managed to distract everyone with his coughing and retching long enough to slip the poison into the drink, and I also liked seeing the stone in Claire's necklace change color.

I liked the Comte's farewell speech very much, calling Master Raymond an "evil bastard" and Claire a "witch who sucks the c*ck of the devil." Say what you want about the Comte, he certainly has a way with words!

Claire quoting Dorothy's line from THE WIZARD OF OZ ("I'm going to miss you most of all"), even if only in the privacy of her own thoughts, made me giggle.

The sexual encounter between Claire and King Louis was portrayed more or less as I had imagined from the book -- brief and impersonal. A transaction, nothing more.

The sight of Jamie climbing those stairs slowly, reluctantly, is a sudden and very vivid reminder that Claire's grief over the loss of Faith has not diminished in the slightest, although she may have been distracted somewhat by the events at Versailles. Jamie is clearly as shattered by the baby's death, in his own way, as she is.

I like Claire's gown in this scene, with the white puffy sleeves. We caught a quick glimpse of it in one of the early episodes this season, but I don't recall seeing the whole outfit before.

Jamie with a beard made me think of Captain Alessandro in VOYAGER, of course. <g>

The ticking clock was a nice touch, referring back to the beginning of Episode 205 where Claire comments on it.

The whole sequence with Claire holding the baby is just heartbreaking! I cried all the way through it the first time. And when Claire starts singing to her -- Oh, God, this is so sad!

The scene with Louise is just wonderful, but at the same time it's almost unbearably sad, watching Claire break down sobbing like that. And Louise, who has seemed so frivolous in her previous appearances, turns out to be a good friend after all, showing up at a time when Claire was feeling very much alone in the world, and offering her what comfort she could.

This exchange between Claire and Jamie is not in the book, but I like it very much:

"It was me who asked the impossible of you. It was me who put Frank before our family."
[....]
"Frank is your family, too."

I don't think it's right for Claire to take all the burden of guilt upon herself for what happened. And I just love Jamie's response, when she says, "It's my fault":

"I asked your forgiveness once. You said there's nothing to forgive. The truth is, I already forgave you, long before today. For this, and for anything else you could ever do."

This is a very strong reminder of Jamie's voiceover in Episode 109 ("The Reckoning"), after their big argument by the roadside. Good to see Jamie say it to her directly here.

"I slept with the King" - Jamie seems awfully quick to brush that aside, but I'm glad he didn't make a big issue of it. They've spent so much time this season being angry and/or distant with each other. As much as I like the way this scene plays out in the book (nettles and all), I'm fine with the way they did it here. We needed to see them coming together in their shared grief and forgiveness, far more than we needed to see yet another conflict between them.

"How can we ever be the same?"
"No, we can't be. The weight of what has happened here is too much for any one of us to bear alone. The only way we can live with it is to carry it together."

What a terrific line! And of course, he's right. The most traumatic events in Diana Gabaldon's books always have permanent effects on the characters, and the loss of Faith is no exception.

The scene at the gravestone was very well done, a wonderful addition to this episode.

"If we must bury you here in France, let's leave a bit of Scotland wi' ye." So they left the spoon of St. Andrew (patron saint of Scotland) at Faith's grave. Very appropriate!

And at the end, they're holding hands. Carrying the memory of their baby, together. Seeing them kneeling there together made me think of this quote from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD:
His face changed then; he drew a huge breath and took me into his arms. I embraced him, hard, and together we let out a great sigh, settling with it, his head bending over mine, kissing my hair, my face turned into his shoulder, openmouthed at the neck of his open shirt, our knees slowly giving way in mutual relief, so that we knelt in the fresh-turned earth, clinging together, rooted like a tree, leaf-tossed and multi-limbed but sharing one single solid trunk.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Welcome Coolness in the Heat, Comfort in the Midst of Woe". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
They will need that sense of being one, in mind, body and soul, if they're going to survive what we know is coming.

What a wonderful ending to a terrific episode!

I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 208.

Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection
Episode 206: Best Laid Plans...

Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Interview with OUTLANDER's French tutor



Many of you know that the OUTLANDER TV series has an official Gaelic consultant, Àdhamh Ó Broin, who works with the actors to make sure their Gaelic sounds as authentic as possible.  But did you know that OUTLANDER also has a French tutor named Guillaume Lecomte, who performs a similar service with the French bits in Season 2?

Here's a fascinating two-part interview with Guillaume Lecomte that was posted recently on OUTLANDER France's blog. Thanks very much to Camilla from OUTLANDER France for making the English translation available!

Part 1 in French
Part 1 in English

Part 2 in French
Part 2 in English

(Please note, the English translation files are stored on Google Docs. If you have trouble viewing those files on a a smartphone or tablet, try it on a desktop computer.)

I enjoyed this interview very much, and I think you will, too!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Episode 206: "Best Laid Schemes..." (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 206 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Best Laid Schemes..."

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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Here are my reactions to Episode 206, "Best Laid Schemes..."

This episode was excellent, the best one so far this season, IMHO. I loved the emphasis on Jamie and Claire's relationship and their emotional connection to one another, something that has been lacking through much of this season. In this episode, they're back to the Jamie and Claire we know and love from the books, and I was very glad to see it!

The opening bit with the torches being lit reminded me that we've had very few scenes this season that take place outdoors at night.

I liked the opening scene with Jamie and Murtagh. Murtagh's reaction to the news that Jamie has called off the duel seems just right to me.

"Your mind changes like a woman in flux." This is a great line, if rather shocking to 21st-century ears. <g>

Claire, at L'Hôpital des Anges, has a much more visible baby bump than we saw in the last episode. Obviously some time has passed!

M. Forez is very good in this scene. His description of drawing and quartering is taken straight from the book. M. Forez seems quite proud of his skill, and I found his slight smile rather chilling.

Claire moves up those steps to Master Raymond's shop with surprising speed, considering her pregnancy!

"Plucking heretics from the city as one might remove weeds from the garden." - nice imagery there

Master Raymond: "I'm touched by your concern for my welfare."
Claire: "This is what friends do for one another."

Yes! And what a contrast to the coldly manipulative Claire we saw in Episode 205, who attempted to break up the relationship between Alex Randall and Mary Hawkins, despite the fact that Mary is her friend.

I certainly hope Master Raymond doesn't go too far away! Book-readers know that we'll need him pretty soon.

The next scene, with Jamie and Claire, comes straight from the book, and I thought it was really well done, one of the best Jamie-and-Claire scenes so far this season.

"So if anything should happen to me--"
"Don't talk like that!"
"I want there to be a place for you. Someone to care for you. For our bairn. I want it to be a man that loves you."

I love the stricken look on Claire's face when Jamie says, "Promise me that if the time should come, you will go back through the stones. Back to Frank." At that point I started saying, "No. No. NO!!" out loud. (I have the same reaction at this point in the book, too. Every single time.)

After Claire says, "I promise," I love the way Jamie puts his hand over hers, caressing both Claire and their unborn child, and then lays his head down over her belly as she puts her arms around him.

As much as I love the original scene in the book (in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER chapter 22, "The Royal Stud"), I think the way they did it here works extremely well. After all that's happened this season to drive Jamie and Claire apart, emotionally, we needed badly to see them together, to know that the bond between them is as strong as ever. Watching the end of this scene brings tears to my eyes, especially knowing what's coming later.

Interesting to see Claire putting her medical knowledge to use in the next scene. I like watching Fergus here:

"You know, the ladies at Maison Elise, they play charades without any clothes on for the clients."

No question about it, this kid has had an unusual upbringing! <g>

"We need to tell him."
"I was just thinking the exact same thing."

I saw this as yet another sign that the Jamie and Claire we know from the books are back, finally! They're working as a team, thinking similar thoughts, and I like the way they hold hands here, reinforcing their emotional connection.

I wish we could have heard some of what Jamie said to Murtagh in the courtyard, but I suppose it would have slowed things down too much. Still, I would like to know what Jamie said to him in Gaelic.

I wasn't expecting Murtagh to hit Jamie, but I liked his explanation for why he did it: "Ye should ha' trusted me with that knowledge from the beginning."

I liked the exchange between Jamie and Claire as they say goodbye in the courtyard:

"Be careful."
"I will."
"You always say that. Mean it this time!"

Considering what happened the last time Claire let him out of her sight for an extended period (when he went off with MacQuarrie and the others from the Watch), she's right to be concerned!

The scene with Claire and Murtagh was good (interesting to see him trying to come to terms with the knowledge that she comes from the future) but I wish it hadn't been so dimly lit. It's hard to make out Murtagh's face in the shadows.

Sending Fergus into the warehouse to plant the spiked wine seemed risky, and I'm glad they got out of there safely.

I liked the fact that they showed Jamie returning home to Claire, if only briefly.

The conversation between Charles Stuart, the Comte St. Germain, and Jamie, was very well done. The Comte is understandably furious. It seemed to me that Jamie is a man caught in a trap ("We require you to transport the wine at once", and the Comte insisting on accompanying him) and trying to put the best face on it that he can.

Murtagh's reaction to dressing up like a French courtier made me giggle.

"Every now and then, it is OK for you to lie to me, you know. Just to put my mind at ease."
"I'll remember that next time."

LOL!

"If I do happen to be caught, would you be so kind as to kill me? I refuse to be hanged in this rig-out." Another good line from Murtagh, and I liked the maid Suzette's reaction.

The scene with Jamie and Claire lying in bed, talking about the baby, is just wonderful! For those of you who don't know, Diana Gabaldon suggested this scene (see her comments on Compuserve here), and Sam and Caitriona were able to convince the production team to get it added to this episode.

"Bad things tend to happen when we're apart."
"And we find a way back to each other."

Yes, indeed, on both counts!

"It's your father. I canna wait to meet you." Awwwwww! This is a terrific scene, and far more poignant for those of us who've read the books than for the TV viewers. Thanks to Diana for suggesting it, and to Sam and Cait for using their influence to get it filmed.

The attack by the highwaymen took me by surprise, and I found it very difficult to follow the action in the dark. It took me three or more viewings of this scene to be able to tell that the leader of the highwaymen was Murtagh in disguise.

In the scene with Claire and the chattering French ladies, I was struck by how alone and out of place she felt, and it reminded me of the scene around the campfire in Episode 105 ("Rent"), where Claire is excluded from their Gaelic conversation and feeling very much alone.

Her comments about doing something for the less fortunate inhabitants of the city were entirely in character, IMHO, but the reaction of the ladies just emphasized how very different Claire is from the rest of them. I'm not surprised that she decided she just couldn't take it anymore, and fled to L'Hôpital, the one place where she could be of use.

The scene with Claire and Mother Hildegarde was excellent. I love the way even Claire's stubbornness is no match for Mother Hildegarde! <g>

So Les Disciples don't just roam the streets attacking women, they also ambush unsuspecting travelers? (At least according to Charles Stuart.)

I didn't like the Comte saying, "Eh, VOUS!" as though Jamie was a servant or someone completely beneath his notice. (I don't think Jamie liked it much, either.) But it was completely in character.

I was surprised that Charles Stuart actually started to cry at the thought of going to live in "godforsaken Poland", presumably with his mother's relatives.

I liked the scene with Jamie and Fergus. Romann Berrux continues to do an excellent job, totally convincing as Fergus.

"Then I shall come with you. To guard your right." Awwww!

When Jamie and Fergus arrive at the brothel, Jamie says, "Attends-moi ici." (Wait for me here.) If only Fergus had listened to him! But of course, Fergus grew up in this place; he has no reason to be afraid or to think he might be in danger.

I don't often comment on the directing in these episodes, but in this scene I thought it was really well done. The sight of that red coat made my insides clench with dread, knowing what's coming next. Ditto for the sound of the door closing, and Fergus looking up in surprise. We don't need to see BJR standing in the doorway to know that he's there, and it's all too obvious what's about to happen. This is a great example of how a little restraint goes a long way toward heightening suspense and dramatic tension.

Meanwhile, back at Jared's house, Claire notices that Jamie has left his hand brace on their bed. I think that's significant. Jamie didn't want or need any reminders of physical weakness, let alone of Wentworth, interfering with his total concentration on the coming confrontation with Randall. In the book, Jamie cuts his hair very short just before the duel so it won't get in his eyes. The motivations are similar, but I actually find I like the TV version better.

The note from Jamie is exactly as in the book: "I am sorry. I must. J."

The whole sequence leading up to the duel is very much as I always imagined from the book. Caitriona is really good here, showing both Claire's emotional distress and her increasing physical pain, fighting down her own discomfort in the urgent need to get to Jamie before it's too late.

I liked the voiceover, which is based on these lines from the book:
I stood stock-still, watching. I had come through the fading night to find this, to stop them. And having found them, now I could not intervene, for fear of causing a fatal interruption. All I could do was wait, to see which of my men would die.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "The Bois de Boulogne". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Both Sam and Tobias did a great job with the duel. That must have been a difficult scene to film! Even in the middle of a life-and-death struggle, BJR can't resist taunting Jamie: "How did she forgive you?"

And BJR gets what he deserves, at long last! ("It's a hell of a place to be wounded," as Jamie tells Claire in the book, later.)

The scene as Claire collapses and Jamie is surrounded by the soldiers is very well done. I liked Jamie's soundless scream at the very end. It's emotionally intense and absolutely riveting, the perfect place to end this episode.

I give this episode two enthusiastic thumbs up!! Kudos to Matt Roberts for another wonderful script. Can't wait for next week! <g>

I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 207.

Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche
Episode 205: Untimely Resurrection

Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

More OUTLANDER-related books coming soon!

OUTLANDER fans have three books to look forward to in the coming weeks!



The mass-market paperback edition (that's the small-size paperback) of Diana Gabaldon's WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, Book 8 of the OUTLANDER series, will be published on May 31, 2016.

Pre-order links:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble



OUTLANDER KITCHEN: The Official OUTLANDER Companion Cookbook, by Theresa Carle-Sanders, will be published on June 14, 2016.

Theresa is a Canadian fan who also happens to be a professional chef. I've known her online for a few years, and I'm thrilled that she's getting this cookbook published at long last!  It's been a dream of hers for a long time.

From the product description on Amazon:
Featuring more than one hundred recipes, Outlander Kitchen retells Claire and Jamie’s incredible story through the flavors of the Scottish Highlands, the French Revolution, and beyond. Following the high standards for prodigious research and boundless creativity set by Diana Gabaldon herself, Carle-Sanders draws on the events and characters of the novels to deliver delicious and inventive dishes that highlight local ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. Yet amateur chefs need not fear: These doable, delectable recipes have been updated for today’s modern kitchens.
If you haven't seen Theresa's OUTLANDER Kitchen website, it's definitely worth a look!

Pre-order links:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon



THE MAKING OF OUTLANDER: The Official Guide to Seasons 1 & 2, by Tara Bennett, will be published on October 18, 2016.

I have very little information about this book as yet, although we do know that Diana Gabaldon will be writing an introduction to it.  It's rather expensive for a hardcover of only 208 pages (currently listed on Amazon at $45.00 for the hardcover and $17.99 for the e-book), but presumably that's because there will be many full-color photos included.

I don't know anything about the author, Tara Bennett, but apparently she has done a number of these behind-the-scenes books for various TV series. I will post more information whan it becomes available.

Pre-order links:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Episode 205: "Untimely Resurrection" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 205 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Untimely Resurrection".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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I thought this episode was very well done, and very faithful to the book.

That's a beautiful horse in the opening shot -- and how appropriate that this episode premiered on the day of the Kentucky Derby! <g>

Claire's voiceover is loosely based on her thoughts at the beginning of DRAGONFLY chapter 19:
The clock on the mantelpiece had an annoyingly loud tick. It was the only sound in the house, other than the creakings of the boards, and the far-off thumps of servants working late in the kitchens below. I had had enough noise to last me some time, though, and wanted only silence to mend my frazzled nerves. I opened the clock’s case and removed the counterweight, and the tick ceased at once.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19, "An Oath is Sworn". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I like the scene where Jamie returns. It's very close to the book, including Jamie's words to Fergus.

I was surprised that Alex remained in prison after Jamie and the others were released. "His release will require a word from the lass herself." This isn't in the book, but I think it's plausible.

I like watching Jamie's face throughout the scene between him and Claire. Especially when he says, "No good can come from that pairing."

"You did WHAT?" LOL!

"And so calling your wife a witch was your best idea? After everything that happened at Cranesmuir?"

Well, she has a point, but still, I wish they'd included her reaction from the book:
"So you told them I was La Dame Blanche,” I said, trying hard to keep any hint of laughter out of my voice. "And if you tried any funny business with ladies of the evening, I’d shrivel your private parts.”

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 20, "La Dame Blanche". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I winced a little when Jamie said, "And all I wish for is for you to lay in my arms." Diana Gabaldon has commented rather wryly on the fact that no one involved with the TV series -- not the writers, not the other members of the production team, not the actors -- seems to be able to use the words "lay" and "lie" correctly. It should be "lie" in this case. Oh, well.

I liked the scene with Jamie and Murtagh. It's good to see Jamie at work managing Jared's wine business.

"Les Disciples" -- in the book, they're called "Les Disciples du Mal" - the disciples of evil. I think leaving out the last part of the gang's name makes them seem less sinister, though I suppose their actions speak for themselves.

I like Murtagh's exchange with Jamie beginning, "I've failed ye." This is very much in the spirit of the way it's done in the book, with two exceptions:

1) In the book, Murtagh kneels before Jamie as he says this. I suspect they changed it because of the other scene involving kneeling later in the episode.

2) In the book, Murtagh asks Jamie to take his life to atone for his failure to protect Claire and Mary. Again, given the very explosive scene involving a dirk later in this episode, I think it would have been overkill to have two such scenes in relatively close proximity, so I don't have a problem with the way it's done here.

Mary is just wonderful in the scene with Claire!

"How are you feeling?"
"Ashamed. Like I'm a different person now, and I'll never be the same."

Very good line!

I also liked this line from Claire: "You're far too pretty, not to mention sweet, to marry such a warty old man."

The bit with the red wax seal on Mary's letter reminded me, inevitably, of the symbol on the cover of WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD, and I was momentarily pulled out of the story, thinking of the octothorpe in the shape of a pair of interlocking Moebius strips. <g> I bet I'm not the only book-reader who had that reaction!

In the scene with Charles and Jamie, my first reaction was that it's wonderful to see Jamie wearing his kilt again! <vbg>

"Mark me" -- again! We really do need a "mark me" drinking game for Season 2. <g>

I like the way Jamie holds his injured hand while Charles is laying out his plans.

"When are we to expect this shipment?"
"Do not plague me with workmen's concerns!"

Good line from Charles Stuart, and a reminder that he is a prince, after all.

So Jamie and the Comte are to meet in Maison Elise. Do they have no taverns or pubs in Paris?? This is, after all, one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. I'm sure the production team did this on purpose to reduce costs, so they wouldn't have to build another set, but the idea that Every Single Time we see any of the men having a meeting in public, it's in a brothel, let alone that particular brothel, is starting to strain credulity quite a bit.

I like Claire's blue cloak in the scene with Alex. But I was very startled to see Claire trying so hard to break up Alex and Mary, after she's seen them so obviously in love. I don't like this. It seems awfully cold-hearted of Claire.

"She loves you very much, but in time, she will move on from this."

Oh, really, Claire? Like you'll "move on" from Jamie? We saw in Episode 201 how well that worked, didn't we? (This line definitely seems like foreshadowing to me.)

So Claire is entitled to happiness with her own true love, but she's decided that Alex and Mary are not, just because (in theory) Frank's existence is at stake?

"It broke my heart to break his." I was glad to hear this in the voiceover, because it shows she does feel guilty about it, but I still don't like her interfering in their relationship.

The scene with Jamie and the Comte was very good. The two of them are just mesmerizing to watch! My impression watching them is that their relationship is like a chess game between two experienced players, each trying to predict the other's next move -- but the stakes are very real.

"My memory is as long as yours." - good line from Jamie.

Jamie's gift of the apostle spoons was something I definitely didn't expect, but I liked that scene very much!

"Christening gift. For the bairn." Oh, God, that's a bittersweet thought, knowing what's coming later in the story!

"[Jenny] said she was so full of excitement, she could hardly keep the quill steady in her hand." Another good line.

I like Jamie and Claire's discussion about being a mother very much. Very appropriate for Mother's Day weekend in the US!

"What you don't ken, ye'll learn. We'll learn. Together."
"I do love you!"
"I love you, too, a nighean donn."

Awwwww!! That actually brought tears to my eyes. (I admit it, I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to Jamie and Claire's relationship, and I always have been. <vbg>)

I didn't care for Claire's outfit in the Versailles scenes. I understand that costume designer Terry Dresbach wanted her to stand out, to show that Claire's taste in fashion is influenced by the 20th century and therefore is somewhat different from the other ladies at the French court, but I think this particular outfit is just TOO different from what the other ladies are wearing (the fabric, the neckline, the gloves), and I don't personally find it very attractive. Oh, well. Tastes differ. <shrug>

Sandringham thinks Charles Stuart is "an utter arse"? My instant reaction was, "It takes one to know one!"

Claire and Annalise going through the archway: "Apres vous, Madame." I laughed a little at this, realizing that as wide as that archway is, there's no way that both of them would fit through it at the same time, with those enormous gowns.
<g>

The gardens of Versailles are just gorgeous! And I like Annalise's outfit very much.

"When I knew him, he was impulsive, headstrong."
"He still is."

Understatement!

At the first glimpse of BJR in full uniform coming toward them, I started yelling at the TV: "Go away. Go AWAY! GO AWAY!!"

Random thought: You may recall that BJR said in Episode 106 ("The Garrison Commander"), "I dwell in darkness, Madam, and darkness is where I belong." He's right. Seeing him outside in the daylight like this is deeply unsettling, to me at least.

All right, he's not going to go away. (Consoling myself with the vision of corbies-plucking-out-eyeballs from the beginning of VOYAGER....)

"Jamie? He's here?" And before Claire can say a word, attempt to make up some lie, he reads the truth on her face.

"...the sublime preposterousness of a universe that would guide us to a meeting at the French court."

I agree entirely with this! But I want so badly to wipe that expression of smug self-confidence off his face!

"F*ck the king!" I definitely saw this as foreshadowing, as I think most viewers who've read DRAGONFLY will.

I like the King's conversation with BJR and Claire before Jamie shows up. The King is charming, handsome, and a far more appealing character than he appeared when we first saw him in Episode 202.

I was really looking forward to Jamie and BJR coming face-to-face at last -- but definitely not like this!

"I hear you had an unfortunate encounter with some...sheep, was it?"
"Cattle, actually."

I really, really don't like this. :-( Jamie and BJR making polite conversation with each other?!? The dialogue between the two of them is clever, but it seems out of character for Jamie, IMHO. This is, after all, a man who brutally tortured and raped Jamie, who nearly destroyed him psychologically, and they're standing there making polite chitchat as though they've just encountered one another at a dinner party?

I think Jamie would be grim and mostly silent in that situation, plotting how exactly to take his vengeance, and IMHO he definitely would not initiate this kind of small talk. Talking about the weather, of all ridiculous things?

"On your knees."

I wasn't expecting that at all! Part of me enjoyed seeing BJR humiliated like that, and it's an effective illustration of the King's absolute power. (Lionel Lingelser is terrific as King Louis!) But I was a little taken aback by Jamie's reaction, laughing along with the others. Sure, seeing your worst enemy humiliated in public must be pretty satisfying, but Jamie is a Highlander and a "bloody man", and he's already stated very clearly his desire to kill BJR. So when Jamie went to call BJR out, I was actually relieved.

When BJR reached out to touch Jamie, I thought immediately of his words to Lord John in VOYAGER: "Take your hand off me, or I will kill you."

"He said he owed me a death" - referring to Jamie's plea in Wentworth, at the beginning of Episode 116 ("To Ransom a Man's Soul").

In the carriage on the way home, Claire is apprehensive, but notice the way Jamie is half-smiling, satisfied with his plan.

I liked the scene with Jamie and Murtagh, talking about preparations for the duel. This isn't in the book, but I can easily believe that they had such a conversation.

"Murtagh, will you please leave? This is between Jamie and me." Good idea, even if Claire came across as rather abrupt. This is definitely a conversation they need to have in private!

This very explosive final scene between Jamie and Claire is really well done! It's one of my favorite scenes in DRAGONFLY, and I think Sam and Cait both nailed it.
<g> Claire's anguish comes through very clearly, and Jamie's outburst ("Must I bear everyone's weakness? May I not have my own?") is very much as I'd always imagined from the book. As is the bit with the dirk, and Claire's "You owe me a life." Just perfect!

"You'd stop me taking vengeance on the man who made me play his whore?"

I heard, very clearly, the line from the book that follows this: "Who forced me to my knees and made me suck his c*ck, smeared with my own blood?" I'm sure they omitted this line on purpose, because we didn't actually see that happen on screen in Season 1, but to me it's a reminder that Jamie's ordeal at Wentworth in the book was even more horrific than the version we saw on TV. (This is not a complaint, just an observation.)

Notice how Jamie clutches his maimed left hand to his chest while he makes his decision. And then he picks up the sword and kisses it, just as he kissed the dirk at the oath-taking. As he walks away, saying, "Do not touch me", I got the distinct impression that his hand was throbbing in pain.

Wow, what a dramatic and emotionally intense end to this episode!

I was disappointed to see that it ended a few minutes early. After all that talk in the podcasts about how they often have to cut scenes for time, why was this episode five or six minutes shorter than most? I hope they explain the reason for that, eventually.

Overall, I thought this episode was really well done, and very much captured the spirit of this part of the book. Kudos to scriptwriter Richard Kahan! This was Richard's first OUTLANDER script, and he did a good job. I hope we see more from him in Season 3, assuming there is one.
<g>

I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 206.

Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions
Episode 204: La Dame Blanche

Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.

Mother's Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books



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!

*** SPOILER WARNING! *** 

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

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) Mother Hildegarde is very perceptive:
"I have noticed,” she said slowly, “that time does not really exist for mothers, with regard to their children. It does not matter greatly how old the child is--in the blink of an eye, the mother can see the child again as it was when it was born, when it learned to walk, as it was at any age--at any time, even when the child is fully grown and a parent itself.”

“Especially when they’re asleep,” I said, looking down again at the little white stone. “You can always see the baby then.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "I Shall Go Down to the Sea". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Claire, in her farewell letter to Bree:
You are my baby, and always will be. You won’t know what that means until you have a child of your own, but I tell you now, anyway--you’ll always be as much a part of me as when you shared my body and I felt you move inside. Always.

I can look at you, asleep, and think of all the nights I tucked you in, coming in the dark to listen to your breathing, lay my hand on you and feel your chest rise and fall, knowing that no matter what happens, everything is right with the world because you are alive.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) 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.)
8) 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.)
I hope you enjoyed these quotes. Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Episode 204: "La Dame Blanche" (SPOILERS)

Here are my reactions to Episode 204 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "La Dame Blanche".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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I thought this episode was very well done.

The opening sequence, showing a man removing a pin from a carriage wheel and replacing the cover, is clearly meant as foreshadowing of what happens to Claire and Mary Hawkins later in the episode.

I love that view of the entrance to the palace at Versailles. Gorgeous!

The discussion of baby names is cute, and I like the way both Jamie and Claire react to each other's suggestions. "Dalhousie" comes straight from the book.

My first thought on seeing St. Germain was that he's like a walking storm cloud, spreading gloom and doom (and danger!) wherever he goes.

"I'd give good money to watch you do it." - good line.

I like Jamie's waistcoat in this scene. That light blue color suits him very well, IMHO.

A lot of people seem surprised or taken aback by Jamie's reaction to the news that BJR is still alive:

"This is wonderful news!....You've given me something to hold on to. Something to look forward to! And that is a gift. Thank you, truly."

It seems like such an odd, joyful reaction. But in fact, book-readers have seen a very similar reaction from Jamie once before, in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, when he thinks he's about to confront "Butcher Billy", the Duke of Cumberland:
"His heart beat painfully, eager, for all at once the future had a shape to it. No more long days of mere survival. He had purpose, and the glow of it lit his soul."

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7, "When a Man is Tired of London, He is Tired of Life". Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Much as we'd all like Jamie's life to have purpose, it would be better if that purpose was something other than the pursuit of vengeance. But keep in mind that a) he is awfully young in this episode, no more than 23 years old, b) the physical and psychological wounds left by his ordeal at Wentworth are not yet fully healed, and c) he's a Highlander and a "bloody man".

I love Claire's outfit in the scene with Master Raymond. Gorgeous! Really glad we got a look inside Raymond's inner sanctum, complete with the animal skulls.

"I'm fascinated by things not of this time." Terrific line! I like the way Raymond smiles at her. Clearly he knows she's a time-traveler like himself.

"You have no need to worry. You will see [Frank] again." Yikes!! This is not good news, to put it mildly, and I like the way Claire reacts. Notice the Frank musical theme playing softly in the background.

I'm glad they included Louise's cuckoo clock. <g> Much of the dialogue in the scene between Claire and Louise comes straight from the book, except for this:

"But how will I raise a child with a man who's not the father?"
"All that matters is that the child is brought up with love."

Major foreshadowing here!

The scene between Jamie and Claire was just terrific! All of it. Very emotionally intense, and I loved what they did with the "fortress" lines. This is one of the best scenes in Season 2 so far, IMHO.

"Naked. Alone. Trying to hide under a blade of grass."

I wanted so badly for Claire to reach out to him right then, and was disappointed when she didn't.  But the sex scene that follows more than made up for that!  I thought it was really well done, one of the best ones in the series so far, IMHO. Tender and loving. I think it was just right for Claire to be the one to initiate it. ("Find us.")

"But I think perhaps you've built me a lean-to, at least." (Rubs her belly.) "And a roof to keep out the rain." Awww! What a terrific way to incorporate those lines. I love it. <g>

I like the way the rain coming down on the roof changes from metaphor to reality, so to speak, with Charles Stuart's unexpected arrival. That transition was very cleverly done, IMHO.

"Mark me!" We really need a "mark me" drinking game for this season! <g>

"The way I see it, we're doing a bad thing for a good reason." In other words, the ends justify the means. I don't like that. I understand the necessity of it, but I don't like it.

I like the scene with Fergus and Murtagh very much! Hilarious. Fergus is very perceptive, especially where women are concerned. I hope Murtagh's misogynistic views of women don't rub off on him too much!

The scene with Monsieur Forez is very much as I imagined from the book. Glad they included the hanged men's grease. I loved Mary's reaction to it.

"You, Madame, are a great deal better than nothing." Another line straight from the book, and high praise indeed, coming from Mother Hildegarde.

And now we see the broken (sabotaged) carriage wheel as shown in the very beginning of this episode.

I like Sandringham's wig in this episode much better than the one he was wearing when last seen.

Charles Stuart walks into the room with his nose in the air, exactly as described in various places in DRAGONFLY.

Notice how Mary's stammer entirely disappears when she talks about Alex. <g>

The attack was suitably sudden and violent, and I think it was a good decision to keep the focus mostly on Mary.

The costumes at the dinner party are fabulous! I like the way they intercut the scenes relating to the rape and its aftermath with the opulence of the party.

So Jamie wants to rush out and find the intruders, and it's Claire's idea to try to carry on as though nothing has happened. Jamie even offers to cancel the party, and Claire refuses. That's a change from the book, and I didn't care for it. It makes Claire look more decisive than Jamie is.

On the other hand, I liked very much the way Claire steels herself to meet the guests. ("OK. Let's go.")

Claire's gown is fabulous! And I love the embroidery on Jamie's waistcoat.

Alex is very good in the scene in the attic with Mary.

"Mark me" - again! LOL.

Sandringham is boorish and annoying at the dinner party. But I liked this line: "I must say that the combination of [Jamie and Claire's] respective beauties results in a child of unfathomable pulchritude."

Right after Jamie raises his glass to Claire, their eyes meet for a moment and she nods, very slightly, as the signal that he should spring the news about Louise's baby.

I like the Comte's line to the effect that "if Madame is worried about the cooking in her own home, perhaps we should all have a stone." Good point!

The melee in the hall is pretty much as I imagined from the book. But I love the bit they added at the end, where Fergus sits down at the dining table and helps himself. LOL!

So we have a cliffhanger ending, with lots of loose ends to be resolved in next week's episode. I can't wait!

I hope you've enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my comments on Episode 205.

Here are my recaps of the previous Season 2 episodes:

Episode 201: Through a Glass, Darkly
Episode 202: Not in Scotland Anymore
Episode 203: Useful Occupations and Deceptions

Look here for my recaps of all of the Season 1 episodes.

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?"
  • 24.57% - Many times!
  • 23.71% - All of the above.
  • 22.13% - I got one or more of my close friends or family members addicted.
  • 6.61% - Of course! I enjoy being an OUTLANDER ambassador.
  • 6.61% - I've tried, but so far without success.
  • 4.17% - I've given copies of OUTLANDER to my friends or coworkers.
  • 3.88% - I've been spreading the word about the TV series and trying to get people to watch.
  • 2.73% - I've recommended OUTLANDER to strangers in the bookstore or library.
  • 2.30% - No, I haven't tried.
  • 1.01% - I got my book club to read OUTLANDER.
  • 0.43% - I've recommended the books on Facebook, Goodreads, or other online sites.
  • 1.87% - Other
Here are the responses for "Other":
  • All but the book club
  • Most of the above
  • I got the Fug Girls to review it
  • I have been praising Outlander on the telenovela site that I frequent for awhile
  • Many Times, Given Copies to Relatives, Spreading the word, & Ambassador
  • The books, yes- TV series, no
  • most of the above
  • Several of the above
  • I started an Outlander book club at work because I wanted someone to talk Outlan
  • Not all of the above but close!!
  • I've really tried! But no takers--their loss.
  • I spread the word on Pinterest!
  • A few, but they must prove themselves worthy! :)
There were 696 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 how you discovered the OUTLANDER books.