Episode 301: "The Battle Joined" (SPOILERS)
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
I like what they've done with the opening credit sequence. Subtle changes, but overall it's reassuringly familiar. I liked the way the hand tuning the radio knob in Seasons 1 and 2 has turned into young Brianna's hand on the control knob of a 1950's-era television set. The sight of the scrap of tartan made me shiver a bit. I'm intrigued by the scene where Claire evidently performs a trepanation (drilling a hole into a patient's skull), because the only reference in the books to that procedure is at the end of DRUMS OF AUTUMN. Maybe they'll have an injured sailor in need of treatment on the Artemis or Porpoise, later in the season?
Very sobering start to the episode, seeing so many dead Highlanders on the field at Culloden. The sight of the British soldiers bayonetting the wounded men as they lay helpless on the ground made me think of Dougal in Episode 210, doing the same thing after the battle of Prestonpans. It made me think that Jamie was very lucky not to suffer the same fate!
Charles Stuart mentions the canteen that he received from his father. This is the same "picnic set" mentioned in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, as Roger explains to Brianna:
"Well, that was how generals led, back then--from the rear. Especially Charlie; he ran off so fast at the end of the battle that he left behind his sterling silver picnic set.”You can see it on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Look here for more information.
“A picnic set? He brought a picnic to the battle?”
(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "Culloden". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I liked the way Jamie remembered flashes of the battle, just bits and pieces, throughout this episode. That was portrayed very effectively. I thought they did a good job in conveying how cold, wet, and miserable the weather was that day.
Jamie at Craigh na Dun in the moments after Claire went back -- that's so sad!
The Highland charge, and the bloody slaughter that followed, was very well done. These scenes are very reminiscent of the 360-degree film of the battle at the Culloden Visitors' Centre (well worth a visit if you get the chance!)
I liked the way Murtagh shows up out of nowhere, saving Jamie from the Redcoat he's fighting, and surprising Jamie enough to make him smile. But it occurs to me that Murtagh telling him the Lallybroch men are safe might have given Jamie even more reason to "throw his life away" (as Claire put it in FIERY CROSS). All the loose ends are now tied up, all his responsibilities are taken care of, and now he can simply hurl himself across that field, to his death.
Watching Jamie fight his way through the line of enemy musket fire, Highlanders falling all around him, my thought was that it's a miracle he lived through that.
And then, finally, here's BJR, and the answer to a long-standing mystery: BJR bayonetted Jamie in the leg, and Jamie managed to stab him in the belly, then they have a brief struggle, and Jamie ends up on the ground with BJR lying dead on top of him, his weight keeping Jamie from bleeding to death from the wound in his leg. (Where is Murtagh while all of this is going on? We don't know.)
Jamie dreaming of Claire -- that's so sad!
Very fitting that it should be Rupert who finds Jamie on the field and carries him to safety. Notice the chunk of amber with a dragonfly in it lying on the ground as Jamie is being dragged off the field. We know from Episode 213 that Claire will see it in a museum display case in 1968.
I like the scene with Frank and Claire in the new house. They're both trying very hard to make this work, and it's clear that Frank still loves her.
Clever idea, to have Claire deal with her frustration over the temperamental stove by deciding to cook over a fire in the hearth instead. And we really needed a little humor in this episode!
I like Millie, the neighbor lady. She seems a very appealing character, and it will be good for Claire to have someone to talk to, otherwise she'll be all alone in that big house with the baby while Frank is off at the university, and we won't have any idea what she's thinking. I see Millie as a nicer, friendlier version of Mrs. Hinchcliffe from VOYAGER.
In the next scene, Dean Jackson reminds me a little of Young Jamie in DRUMS:
"It’s verra unseemly for a woman to be givin’ her opinions sae free, and her with menfolk to look after her,” he said stiffly.The scene in Leanach cottage is excellent, very much as I imagined from the book. Sam Hoare, who plays Lord Melton (aka Lord John's brother Hal), is very good.
“You don’t think women ought to have opinions?” Brianna asked sweetly.
“No, I don’t!"
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Bon Voyage". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The very explosive breakfast scene between Frank and Claire is really well done, a good addition. Frank's aversion to teabags comes straight from the book:
Frank made a face; an Englishman to the bone, he would rather lap water out of the toilet than drink tea made from teabags."Hastings and Magna Charta, Drake, Marlborough, the Tudors, Stuarts, Plantagenets...." I laughed in recognition when I heard that, with the very strong echo of John Dickinson's speech in the movie "1776". Apparently it's Ron Moore's homage to that wonderful musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. If you've never seen "1776", look here. Highly recommended!
(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Frank and Full Disclosure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Watching Frank try to touch Claire, while she shies away, I was reminded of the way Jamie acted in some of the Paris scenes in Season 2 -- avoiding her touch, hardly even talking to her, let alone having sex with her. "Talk to me!" Frank says, just as Claire said to Jamie in Episode 204 ("La Dame Blanche"). The parallels are very striking.
Cait is just marvelous in this scene. "You asked me to leave behind everything that truly mattered to me!'' I loved it when she threw the ashtray at Frank. <g>
The whole scene in Leanach cottage is very close to the way I imagined it from the book. Riveting and emotionally intense. I liked Jamie and Rupert's last conversation, and Rupert's last words: "I mean to set a quick pace, so try to keep up." Very sad to see him go!
In the next scene with Frank lying on the couch, unable to sleep, you can't help noticing all the little sounds a 20th-century house makes: a dripping faucet, the hum of the refrigerator. I thought that was an interesting contrast with what must be going through his mind; thoughts of the 18th century, and whether there might possibly be any truth to Claire's story. So he gets up to write to the Rev. Wakefield, and Claire comes in to tell him she's in labor.
Back in the cottage at Culloden, I liked this exchange:
Wallace: "Are they to be shot lying down?"
Hal (looks at him, horrified): "Prop them up, certanly! Good Lord. No man in the King's custody shall be shot lying down on my watch. Not even traitors."
The rest of the scene is straight from the book, which I was glad to see.
Meanwhile, in the delivery room, I liked this bit between Frank and Claire:
"I'm glad I missed you with that ashtray."
"Your aim was spot on. It was my cat-like reflexes that saved me."
I disliked the doctor on sight, with his "do exactly as I tell you" manner and the way he spoke only to Frank, as though Claire wasn't even there. But I liked the bit where Claire reveals she had a miscarriage, much to Frank's surprise. To his credit, the news doesn't faze Frank at all; his attention is focused entirely on helping Claire get through this. I liked his "Claire. I love you," as she is wheeled away.
The delivery room scene, where Claire is sedated against her will, is disturbing. It hurts to see Claire so powerless. This isn't the way it happened in the books, but I think it works pretty well here.
Meanwhile, Jamie wakes in the wagon at Lallybroch, thinking he is dead. Jenny and Ian's reactions are just perfect. I can totally imagine Jenny stubbornly refusing to let her brother die.
When Claire wakes in the hospital room, her "Where's my baby?" hit me like a gut-punch, with the VERY strong echoes of Episode 207 ("Faith").
I loved the way Frank and Claire look at the baby, and each other. "She's perfect, Claire. Just like her mother," Frank says, and you start to see how this child might begin to heal their relationship at last. "This is all that truly matters now. It's going to be all right, I promise."
And then the nurse comes in and bursts their bubble of happiness with six words: "Where'd she get the red hair?" Talk about awkward questions!
I really enjoyed this episode, and I can't wait for the next one! Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 302 ("Surrender").
Look here for my recaps of the Season 1 and Season 2 episodes.