Episode 303: "All Debts Paid" (SPOILERS!)
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
The opening shot, with the sleeping dog and the birthday cake, paints a picture of domestic bliss. Very ironic, considering what will happen later in this episode!
The first scene, with Frank making breakfast, starts out tranquilly enough. I didn't realize they had Eggos in 1956, but Wikipedia confirms it. I do have to wonder where Frank managed to get black pudding in Boston in 1956, though.
"I've decided [Bree] needs more Englishness in her life." -- foreshadowing of his threat to take Bree to England, much later.
The reference to Dickens is presumably a nod to book-fans who will remember Claire telling Jamie in DRUMS about how she and Frank used to read "A Christmas Carol" to Bree as a child.
I like the way Claire's face changes as she realizes that Frank has been seeing movies with his mistress (!)
"We agreed we were free to--" Um, what?!? Free to date and have relationships with other people? They're still MARRIED, for heaven's sake, and I can't imagine that sort of "open relationship" was common or accepted in 1956.
"I'm being discreet, Claire." And she's just fine with that? Really?
I was disappointed that Bree didn't acknowledge her father at the breakfast table at all. Not even a "Hi, Daddy."
The first scene with Lord John arriving at Ardsmuir is pretty close to the book, and already I'm impressed with David Berry as Lord John Grey. The actor playing Harry Quarry is much older than I expected (according to Diana Gabaldon's recently published story, "A Fugitive Green", Harry was born in 1723, which would make him 32 years old here), but it's a minor point, considering that Harry only appears in this one scene.
Jamie's left hand appears to be wrapped in a brace or bandage of some sort. I wonder why? It's 12 years after Wentworth, surely he doesn't still need a brace? Or is this meant more for Sam's benefit, to remind him to keep those two fingers stiff?
So Murtagh is alive after all. I really wish Ron Moore had not blurted out the news that Murtagh was still alive in that interview before the episode aired! I hope he'll do a better job of keeping Major Spoilers under wraps in the future. I'm sure the writers intended that to be a huge surprise for the TV viewers, but since I already knew Murtagh was alive, I was not even faintly surprised to see him in Ardsmuir.
I would be interested in hearing reactions from people who DIDN'T know Murtagh had survived before they watched this episode.
So Murtagh sticks the scrap of tartan between the stones of the cell wall, and that's the last we see of it in this episode. I guess they just didn't have time to develop that into a whole subplot, as in the book.
I like the bantering between Jamie and Murtagh.
"I learned the trick from [long pause] a lass who knew a fair amount about healing." This is sad, but his phrasing seems unnecessarily circumspect. Murtagh, after all, knows perfectly well who Claire is. Are they trying to show that Jamie can't even bear to say her name?
I'm delighted to see that Sam and David Berry have good chemistry together! Great job by the casting people, once again.
Young Bree in 1958 is cute, and I like the way Frank interacted with her in this scene. But I didn't find it at all believable that Frank would skip Claire's celebratory dinner in favor of a rendezvous with his mistress.
Notice Frank's confusion over the time of the dinner reservation. He thinks they're going to the restaurant at six, so presumably that's why he arranged for his girlfriend to show up then. (Still cutting it awfully close, if you ask me!)
Joe Abernathy is a handsome man, especially when he smiles, but we don't get to see much of him here.
I liked the way the smile freezes on Claire's face at sight of the strange woman on the doorstep. And what on earth is 10-year-old Bree supposed to make of this? The situation is unbelievably awkward, and there's no way the guests at the party can possibly have failed to notice. How embarrassing! And as presented here, it's all Frank's fault.
"Your 'work', I presume?" Claire says in an undertone to Frank, very sarcastically. Good line!
Meanwhile, back at Ardsmuir.... I'm glad they included Duncan Kerr. The scene between Jamie and Lord John is very close to the book, but I liked the addition of Jamie's request for blankets and medical help for the prisoners. It makes it a little clearer that he doesn't accede to John's request merely for his own personal comfort (to get the irons removed) but also to obtain help for the other prisoners, Murtagh in particular.
"My kinsman, Murtagh FitzGibbons." I don't understand why they refer to Murtagh that way throughout this episode. FitzGibbons is Murtagh's middle name. His surname is Fraser (as Jamie told Claire on their wedding night), but you'd never know it from this episode.
Back in 1958.... Claire is understandably furious. Frank appears drunk.
"It was your idea to lead separate lives."
"Yes, but you agreed to be discreet!"
This makes no sense to me, particularly when they still have a young child at home. How could they possibly think that would work?
So the fact that Frank's "blonde harlot" is a Ph.D student is supposed to make her more acceptable, somehow? Seems to me that Claire is entirely justified in both her anger and her jealousy. The Frank we see here bears little to no resemblance to the Frank in the breakfast scene at the beginning of the episode, and I feel no sympathy for him at all.
I did like this exchange:
"Have you f*cked her in our bedroom? Have you?"
"I think our bedroom is far too crowded already."
In all the talk of divorce in this scene, neither of them mention the fact that they are Roman Catholics.
So Millie and Jerry, the neighbor couple, are divorced now? That seems awfully contrived, designed only so that Frank can note that divorce would mean he'd lose custody of Bree, and I didn't like it.
Back at Ardsmuir, the scene with Jamie and Duncan Kerr is well done, very much as I imagined from the book, and I liked the way they mixed up the languages.
At the mention of "the White Witch", notice the Jamie and Claire theme playing softly in the background.
"I can force you to talk."
"There is nothing you can do that hasna already been done to me."
I like that very much.
Meanwhile, back in the 20th century, it's Brianna's birthday, and this brief scene seems mostly intended to re-introduce Sophie Skelton as the teenage Bree.
The scene between Jamie and Murtagh is very good.
"Try not to think of [Claire and her unborn child]. It'll only bring ye pain and suffering."
Awwww, that's sad! The thought that it will be another eleven years before they are finally reunited is nearly unbearable.
The next scene with Jamie and Lord John follows the book pretty closely, and I appreciated that. But I loved the addition of Jamie's reaction to the wine sauce (the first time he's smiled in the entire episode) and John's reaction, in turn, realizing that Jamie is an educated and cultured man.
The scene right after that, with Jamie telling the men about the food ("Slow down, Mac Dubh! I want to savor every morsel.") is also very good. It reminded me of Kenny Lindsay's description, many years later:
"And the food! Sweet Jesus, such food as he’d tell about.” Kenny’s eyes grew round and dreamy, remembering descriptions heard on an empty stomach. His tongue came out and absently licked the buttermilk from his upper lip.I liked the way the other men helped to arrange Jamie's escape. Very entertaining!
(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 95, "The Summer Dim". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"God knows there's room enough to hide a sloop behind some of those islands." That made me shiver a bit, thinking of Young Ian. Foreshadowing!
I liked Jamie's sneaking up on Lord John very much. That whole scene is really well done. The flashbacks to Episode 209 ("Je Suis Prest") are very effective. Sam and David Berry are just wonderful together!
I didn't like Jamie essentially offering to let Lord John kill him -- what about the men at Ardsmuir who depend on him? -- but fortunately John doesn't take him up on it.
I love the look on Jamie's face when he says, "I said she was GONE." Very much as I have always imagined that bit from the book!
"All I found was an empty box, save for one jewel." Of course the book-readers know that's not true, but Jamie has no obligation to be 100% honest with the man who's holding him prisoner.
I like the sapphire, which is much larger than I imagined.
Jumping forward to 1966, at Bree's high school graduation... Notice Frank's murmured, "That's my girl", watching with pride as Bree accepts her diploma.
I think Murtagh is awfully lucky to have survived that 18th century doctor's treatment, even if it took three months for him to recover.
I'm glad to see the scene with John and Jamie playing chess and talking as friends.
"Some people you grieve over forever." Awwww!
They did a great job including so much of the original dialogue in this scene. I love the way Jamie smiles when John asks if his wife was a healer. It made me think of the way Claire smiled in Episode 201 when she was telling Mrs. Graham about Jamie.
The pivotal scene where John lays his hand over Jamie's loses much of its impact here, unfortunately, because the viewers who have not read the books have no idea that John is sexually attracted to Jamie. Without that subtext, there's nothing particularly alarming about John laying his hand on Jamie's. So what we get from Jamie's reaction is that he REALLY doesn't like to be touched, and the sexual overtones of this scene are pretty subtle, easy to miss if you're not looking for them. I think that's a shame, but I also think it would have been difficult to show John's sexual attraction to Jamie on screen more explicitly.
"Take your hand off me, or I will kill you" -- Jamie's voice is so soft that some people might not perceive this as a threat, but John certainly takes it as such! I love the look on his face afterward.
Meanwhile, back in 1966.... Claire's outfit looks too formal for relaxing after a long and stressful day at the hospital, IMHO, but that's a minor quibble.
And finally, the Big Fight we've been anticipating for so long. Frank starts out the conversation by saying he wants to take Bree to England, but the force of his argument (and of Claire's objections) is very much lessened, compared to the book, by the fact that TV Bree is eighteen and already out of high school. He never actually gives a reason for wanting to take Bree away, other than "I want a divorce", and with Bree old enough that custody is not an issue, what right does he have to take Bree anywhere?
"We'll get married as soon as I'm free." Frank has evidently forgotten that he's a Roman Catholic.
"You've just been waiting for the clock to run out!" Good line.
Cait is really good in this scene, very much as I've always imagined from the book.
"Would you have forgotten him, with time?"
"That amount of time doesn't exist."
And those are the last words they ever spoke to one another.
Back at Ardsmuir, the scene where Jamie is separated from Murtagh and the rest of his men is shocking in its abruptness. I was disappointed that Murtagh didn't say anything in farewell, but I suppose we'll see him again in Season 4.
The idea that Lord John made Jamie walk all the way from Ardsmuir, in the north of Scotland, to the Lake District of England (I don't have a good sense of UK geography, but that must be several hundred miles, at least!) is absurd and cruel.
I like the farewell scene between Jamie and Lord John very much.
Claire's reaction to seeing Frank's dead body is very good. And I'm glad that they chose to alter her lines from the book slightly. Instead of "I did love you. Once. I did." (as if she's trying to convince him as well as herself), she says, "I did love you, very much. You were my first love." That seems genuine and heartfelt to me. At that moment, Claire sets aside all the emotional baggage of their years together and lets herself grieve for him.
Finally, I wanted to make one more comment on the Frank/Claire storyline. This is not the Definitive Answer to the Endless Frank Debate. (Only Diana Gabaldon can provide that, if and when she decides to do so.) It's only the TV writers' interpretation of what they think might have happened. There's plenty of circumstantial evidence in the books to support both sides of the argument, and Diana has never stated definitely whether Frank did or did not have affairs. So the scenario presented in this episode is only one possibility. It's equally possible that Claire was mistaken in thinking that Frank was having affairs. We just don't know.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 304.
Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far.