Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween quotes from the OUTLANDER books



Here are some Halloween-themed quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books and stories. Hope you enjoy them!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, there are SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.

1) Roger's thoughts, on the eve of Claire's departure through the stones to find Jamie:
Hallowe'en had always seemed to him a restless night, alive with waking spirits. Tonight was even more so, with the knowledge of what would happen in the morning. The jack o'lantern on the desk grinned in anticipation, filling the room with the homely scent of baking pies.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) This is one of my favorites from AN ECHO IN THE BONE:
Now there was nothing out there but the black of a moonless Highland night. The sort of night when Christians stayed indoors and put holy water on the doorposts, because the things that walked the moors and the high places were not always holy.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 72, "The Feast of All Saints". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Claire and Roger on Halloween night, 1968. If you're not familiar with the story Roger is referring to, look here.
"No, I never could sleep on All Hallows'. Not after all the stories my father told me; I always thought I could hear ghosts talking outside my window."

She smiled, coming into the firelight. "And what did they say?"

"'See'st thou this great gray head, with jaws which have no meat?' " Roger quoted. "You know the story? The little tailor who spent the night in a haunted church, and met the hungry ghost?"

"I do. I think if I'd heard that outside my window, I'd have spent the rest of the night hiding under the bedclothes."

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) I couldn't resist including a bit of Duncan's ghost story here:
"He said it was a figure like a man, but with no body," Duncan said quietly. "All white, like as it might have been made of the mist. But wi' great holes where its eyes should be, and empty black, fit to draw the soul from his body with dread."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "A Hanging in Eden". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Even wee Jemmy is affected by stories of "things that go bump in the night".
"Scared? Of what?" A little more gently, she pulled the shirt off over his head.

"The ghost."

"What ghost?" she asked warily, not sure yet how to handle this. She was aware that all of the slaves at River Run believed implicitly in ghosts, simply as a fact of life. So did virtually all of the Scottish settlers in Cross Creek, Campbelton, and the Ridge. And the Germans from Salem and Bethania. So, for that matter, did her own father. She could not simply inform Jem that there was no such thing as a ghost--particularly as she was not entirely convinced of that herself.

"Maighistear arsaidh's ghost," he said, looking up at her for the first time, his dark blue eyes troubled. "Josh says he's been walkin'."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 99, "Old Master". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Roger's father, Jerry MacKenzie, on a long-ago Halloween night:
“Damn,” said the fair one, softly. “There’s a light.”

There was; a single light, bobbing evenly over the ground, as it would if someone carried it. But look as he might, Jerry could see no one behind it, and a violent shiver ran over him.

Uisge,” said the other man under his breath. Jerry knew that word well enough--spirit, it meant. And usually an ill-disposed one. A haunt.

“Aye, maybe.” The dark man’s voice was calm. “And maybe not. It’s Samhain, after all."

(From "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows", by Diana Gabaldon, in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL. Copyright© 2010 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) I don't care how many times I've read this, it still sends a chill up my spine, every time.
"You asked me, Captain, if I were a witch," I said, my voice low and steady. "I'll answer you now. Witch I am. Witch, and I curse you. You will marry, Captain, and your wife will bear a child, but you shall not live to see your firstborn. I curse you with knowledge, Jack Randall--I give you the hour of your death."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Wentworth Prison". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
8) Lord John's encounter with a zombie:
Bloody hell, where was the man? If it was a man. For even as his mind reasserted its claim to reason, his more visceral faculties were recalling Rodrigo's parting statement: Zombie are dead people, sah. And whatever was here in the dark with him seemed to have been dead for several days, judging from its smell.

He could hear the rustling of something moving quietly toward him. Was it breathing? He couldn't tell, for the rasp of his own breath, harsh in his throat, and the blood-thick hammering of his heart in his ears.

(From "A Plague of Zombies" by Diana Gabaldon, in SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL. Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
9) And finally, on a lighter note, here's Mandy, age three:
Mandy bounced a little on her booster seat, leaning to peer out the window. She was wearing the Halloween mask Bree had helped her make, this being a mouse princess: a mouse face drawn with crayons on a paper plate, with holes pierced for eyes and at either side for pink yarn ties, pink pipe cleaners glued on for whiskers, and a precarious small crown made with cardboard, more glue, and most of a bottle of gold glitter.

Scots celebrated Samhain with hollowed-out turnips with candles in them, but Brianna had wanted a slightly more festive tradition for her half-American children. The whole seat sparkled as though the car had been sprinkled with pixie dust.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Warmer, Colder". Copyright© 2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Happy Halloween / Samhain / All Hallows' Eve to all of you! If you happen to go near any stone circles in the next several days, be sure to carry a wee gemstone with you! You just never know what might happen. <g>

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Episode 307: "Crème de Menthe" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 307 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Crème de Menthe".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

This was definitely my least favorite episode of Season 3 so far, though I did enjoy some parts of it. They had a lot of complicated plot to get through in an hour, and I think they managed that pretty well. In stark contrast to last week's episode, there was very little dialogue taken directly from the book. I don't think the writer understands Jamie and Claire's relationship very well at all, and that was a huge problem in this episode. It seemed to me as though the writer modeled their interactions after some of the Paris scenes in Season 2, where Jamie and Claire were far apart emotionally and not communicating well at all. But that really doesn't fit here, just a day or two after the reunion, and the episode really suffered for it, IMHO.

Here are my detailed reactions:
------------------
I was really confused by the opening shot. I couldn't figure out what that contraption was or what the men were doing. Several people on Facebook pointed out to me that it's apparently part of the "fire engine" that we see toward the end of the episode.

We begin where Episode 306 left off, with the intruder in Claire's room. I was glad to see she had the presence of mind to grab a dagger.

So Claire stabs the man, he loses his balance and falls backward, hitting his head very hard on the stone floor. I find myself wishing he had in fact died right then and there. In retrospect, it would have made things so much simpler, and more believable!

Jamie comes in, takes in the scene, and asks what happened. But he doesn't even ask Claire if she's all right? Even if it's obvious that she's in shock, I think he should have been more concerned for her.

Claire's attitude toward the injured intruder ("I can't let him suffer. I have to do something.") reminds me somewhat of her reaction in ABOSAA when faced with the injured Lionel Brown. No matter what the man did to her, she sees him as a patient whom she's obligated to try to help.

So the dead man is definitely an exciseman. That's a change from the book, but I think it makes the situation (and the danger to Jamie) easier to understand.

Claire asks Madame Jeanne to send one of the girls for medical supplies: a trephine (a device for boring a hole in the skull), and surgical instruments. Sorry, but I have a really hard time imagining that conversation! A prostitute rushes up to the local barber-surgeon, begs him to let her borrow his valuable medical instruments, and he just gives her whatever she asks for, because the Sassenach staying in Mr. Malcolm's room at the brothel said she needed it? Without even coming himself to assist, or at least to see what the situation was? That makes no sense at all.

"All they'll see is that you were alone, with a man who's not your husband, in a brothel." Good point.

I giggled at the sight of Claire zipping up her stays. That zipper definitely makes getting dressed a lot easier! <g>

So Young Ian is the first to mention a connection between the casks and the printshop, but Jamie just dismisses it.

I didn't like Claire's pushiness at the apothecary, all but shoving Archie Campbell out of the way in her haste. IMHO she didn't come off as a doctor with an emergency, but as a rude, impatient woman who thinks her time is much more valuable than everyone else's.

I liked the scene where Young Ian and Fergus negotiate the sale of the casks. I am really impressed with John Bell as Young Ian. I wasn't sure about him in episode 306, but he totally won me over this week. He's a very appealing character and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him.

Here's Fergus, adding to the myth of SuperClaire:

"Well, what was she like?"
"Spirited, and incredibly brave. Milady was fearless in the battles prior to Culloden. She would heal men who'd been cut in half by swords, blown to pieces by cannon fire, without flinching."

And she can perform brain surgery under primitive conditions, too, using 18th-century instruments she's never actually handled before. (Surely they didn't cover trepanation in med school in the 1950's!) Really, is there nothing SuperClaire can't do? <rolling eyes> This is getting more ridiculous by the minute.

Meanwhile, Sir Percival has arrived to search for the contraband casks. I like the actor who plays him.

And after all that, the exciseman dies anyway. It's really just as well. I thought that whole subplot was extremely contrived.

Random thought: why was Mr. Willoughby there, anyway? Just to be Claire's nursing assistant? Through this whole episode, he shows very little emotion or expression on his face, let alone the humor of his book counterpart. He's more of a cardboard cutout than a real person, IMHO, and we've been given very little reason to like him so far.

"Sassenach. You came thousands of miles, and 200 years, to find me. I'm grateful that you are here, no matter the cost. I would give up everything I have for us to be together again." Awwww! What a terrific line. I love it.

And at the end of this very tender, romantic moment, instead of reaching for Jamie, to put her arms around him or kiss him, Claire turns away, saying, "I have another patient to see." Huh?!? They've been reunited less than two days at this point. She should be returning his affection in kind, not turning away from him without even acknowledging what he's just said.

So she's gone from SuperClaire to a cold-hearted bitch, in just a few moments. Maybe Laoghaire was right about her after all, when she said in Episode 110 ("By the Pricking of My Thumbs") that Jamie was "trapped in a loveless marriage, forced to share his bed with a cold English bitch." This Claire isn't a sympathetic character at all, IMHO, nor particularly likeable.

"You will return, afterward?" Jamie asks. How can he possibly be in any doubt of that, less than two days after their reunion? But with this version of Claire, he's right to ask. "Of course," she says, but she doesn't sound enthusiastic about it. It's as though the miracle of their reunion, the joy of rediscovering each other, of finding that their love for one another is as powerful as ever, has drained away, leaving them both melancholy and depressed. What a letdown, after the near-perfect reunion scenes in Episode 306!

We desperately needed some lighter moments, some comic relief at this point, and the scene between Fergus and Young Ian fills that role wonderfully! I loved it, especially Fergus explaining "the rules of seduction", and Ian's reaction to seeing the young barmaid.

I liked the scene with Claire and the Campbells. This is changed from the book, of course, but I thought it worked very well. Margaret is fun to watch, by turns catatonic and raving mad, and the way she said, "Abandawe! Abandawe!" made a chill go up my spine. (Hmmm, maybe she is a seer, after all?)

"Do you have any writing implements?" Claire asks. She goes to the desk and comes back with paper and something to write with, but no ink. Did she write her instructions in pencil, then? (I couldn't quite make out what she was holding.) Or did the production people neglect to provide her with ink? That jolted me momentarily out of the story.

"...when we have a wealthy client to administer to." Who is Archie Campbell referring to there? Someone on the ship, perhaps, or someone waiting for them in the West Indies? I didn't understand this part at all. Unlike in the book, it's not clear why the Campbells are going to travel all the way to the West Indies. It's an awfully long, dangerous voyage, not something you'd do just for a change of scenery.

Meanwhile back at the printshop.... Just like his Uncle Jamie, Young Ian assumes at first that "ye must do it from the back, like horses." <g>

"No more than a wee bit o' chaos. Nothing we haven't seen before." Good line.

So Jamie thinks it's acceptable to live indefinitely at the brothel, with his wife?!? Clearly he hasn't thought this through at all.

When Claire starts talking about working as a healer, notice how Jamie crosses his arms in front of him, his body language clearly indicating that he doesn't want to hear a word of this. My thought watching this was, haven't they already had this argument, back in Paris in Season 2, when Claire first proposed working at L'Hôpital des Anges? Why can't Jamie see that she needs to be useful now, just as she did then?

It's good to see Ian the Elder again, although I really don't like the way they've aged him prematurely, making him look at least fifteen years older than he really is. (He's 46 here, only a year older than Jamie.) I liked his reaction to seeing Claire again.

So Jamie lies to his best friend Ian, telling him he hasn't seen Young Ian. This is similar to what he says in the book:
"I’ve not seen Young Ian since I sent him home wi’ Fergus six months ago,” he said. He was beginning to look as worried as Ian. “You’re sure he said he was coming to me?”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "A. Malcolm, Printer". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Interesting that Ian mentioned press-gangs. That was a real danger for young men in that time and place, as we saw in AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

I liked this exchange between Jamie and Ian about the "other news" that Claire hasn't heard yet:

"I'm watin' for the proper time. She's only just arrived."
"Ye might be waitin' forever, then."

Indeed!

I liked the scene where Ian confronts the intruder in the printshop. The fire is dramatic and suspenseful, very well done.

Meanwhile, back at Madame Jeanne's, parts of the conversation between Jamie and Claire made my jaw drop in incredulity.

"Jenny and Ian dinna ken what's best for the lad. I'm the only one teachin' him the ways of the world."

Oh, really?? That's awfully arrogant, coming from Jamie.

And when Claire objects to Jamie lying to Ian and Jenny, Jamie dismisses it, saying, "We lied our way through Paris, did we not?", as if the two situations were equivalent.

"I didna realize lies had shades." Huh?!? So they're expecting us to believe that Jamie has reached the age of forty-five and still believes all lies are equally bad, equally immoral? Ridiculous.

"You're not the boy's father, Jamie!"
"No. I'm Brianna's father. But I didna get to raise her, did I?"

That was calculated to hit Claire where it hurts. I expected her to retort with something like, "You're the one who told me to go, before Culloden. I wanted to stay with you, to die with you!" But of course she didn't.

I really, really wish Jamie would put Frank out of his mind. Enough already! He's won, Claire is his now, forever, so why does he keep asking about what her life with Frank was like?

The scene where Jamie rescues Young Ian from the fire is very suspenseful and well done. I thought Ian the Elder should have been there, too, though, as he was in the book.

Too bad Jamie didn't manage to rescue Bonnie, his printing press. But at least he did grab the miniature of Willie.

I didn't like the way Claire said, "You have to bring Young Ian home, to his parents." Not that it's a bad suggestion, but why couldn't Jamie be the one to think of it, as in the book? It's yet another example of Claire telling people what they should do, when they're capable of reasoning things out for themselves.

"Aye," says Mr. Willoughby. That sounded very odd, coming from the Chinese man. But I suppose if he learned English in Scotland, sometimes he's going to sound a little bit Scottish.

I loved the way Jamie addressed Fergus as "mon fils" (my son). Awwww!

"Milady does not yet know about your other wife?" I gasped when I heard this. Talk about ruining (most of) the Big Reveal at Lallybroch for the non-book-readers! I definitely didn't like that. The most explosive scene in the whole book, and they're draining away half the suspense before it even happens?

I liked the last shot of Jamie watching as the printshop burns, and along with it, the remnants of his old life in Edinburgh.
--------------------------------------
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 308.

Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

DRAGONFLY IN AMBER imagery



Congratulations to Diana Gabaldon on today's publication of the 25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. (For those of you who don't know, this is a special hardcover edition, complete with a Reader's Guide.)

You can order the 25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you'd like an autographed copy, you can order from the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Arizona. This is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore, and they ship all over the world.

In honor of the occasion, I'm reposting this collection of quotes from DRAGONFLY, which I first posted in 2011, long before any of us knew there would be a TV series. Hope you enjoy them!

* * * SPOILER WARNING! ***

If you haven't yet read Diana Gabaldon's DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Book 2 of the OUTLANDER series, there are SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.



I was intrigued by a comment on Compuserve a few years ago about the fact that there are many references in that book to things that are "stuck" or "frozen" somehow, unchanging, unmoving.  I thought it might be interesting to compile a list.

Please note, all quotes used below are copyright © 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.



1) The dragonfly in amber that Hugh Munro gave Claire as a wedding present.  (And the chunk of amber that Jamie gave to Claire as a gift for their first anniversary.)
"Amber,” he said, with satisfaction, as I turned the irregular lump over with a forefinger. It seemed warm to the touch, and I closed my hand over it, almost unconsciously.

“It needs polishing, of course,” he explained. “But I thought it would make ye a bonny necklace.” He flushed slightly, watching me. “It’s…it’s a gift for our first year of marriage. When I saw it, I was minded of the bit of amber Hugh Munro gave ye, when we wed.”

“I still have that,” I said softly, caressing the odd little lump of petrified tree sap. Hugh’s chunk of amber, one side sheared off and polished into a small window, had a dragonfly embedded in the matrix, suspended in eternal flight. I kept it in my medicine box, the most powerful of my charms.

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 33, "Thy Brother's Keeper")


2) The skeletons that Jamie and Claire discover in a cave in France, with their arms locked about one another.
He turned again then to the two skeletons, entwined at our feet. He crouched over them, tracing the line of the bones with a gentle finger, careful not to touch the ivory surface.

“See how they lie,” he said. “They didna fall here, and no one laid out their bodies. They lay down themselves.” His hand glided above the long armbones of the larger skeleton, a dark shadow fluttering like a large moth as it crossed the jackstraw pile of ribs.

“He had his arms around her,” he said. “He cupped his thighs behind her own, and held her tight to him, and his head is resting on her shoulder."

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 29, "To Grasp the Nettle")
I was stunned to discover that there really was such a Neolithic couple, discovered in a cave in Italy in 2007 -- a full fifteen years after DRAGONFLY was published!  I think the picture above is just amazing.

Fraser clan stone at Culloden

3) The clan stones at Culloden, erected in 1881 and weathered by many years' exposure to the elements, but otherwise unchanging.
“Look,” Brianna said, almost in a whisper. She pointed at one of the stones. A small heap of greenish-gray twigs lay there; a few early spring flowers mingled, wilted, with the twigs.

“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."

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 4, "Culloden")
I was so glad that I got to see Culloden for myself, on my visit to Scotland in 2012.  It's a very moving experience.



4) The objects -- including Roger's genealogical chart -- pinned to the giant cork-board in the Rev. Wakefield's study. (I always imagine the cork-lined wall as looking something like this, only much larger and more crammed with papers.)
The wall exemplified the Reverend Wakefield’s mind. Completely covering one side of the study, it was an expanse of corkboard measuring nearly twenty feet by twelve. Virtually none of the original cork was visible under the layers upon layers of papers, notes, photographs, mimeographed sheets, bills, receipts, bird feathers, torn-off corners of envelopes containing interesting postage stamps, address labels, key rings, postcards, rubber bands, and other impedimenta, all tacked up or attached by bits of string.

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, chapter 2, "The Plot Thickens")



5) The miniature portraits of Claire and Jamie.  Claire's dream (nightmare?) of being trapped inside the portrait always makes a shiver go up my spine:
"A Lady," he said softly, cradling the last of the portraits in his palm, shielding it for the moment. "With brown hair curling luxuriantly to her shoulders, and a necklace of pearls. Undated. The artist unknown."

It was a mirror, not a miniature.  My cheeks were flushed, and my lips trembled as Frank's finger gently traced the edge of my jaw, the graceful line of my neck.  The tears welled in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks as I heard his voice, still lecturing, as he laid down the miniature, and I stared upward at the timbered ceiling.

"Undated. Unknown. But once...once, she was real."

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 10, "A Lady, With Brown Hair Curling Luxuriantly")
I like to imagine that this miniature portrait was what Frank was holding.

6) Claire's description of the way a child's personality is fixed at a very early age.
But from the very start, there is that small streak of steel within each child.  That thing that says "I am," and forms the core of personality.

In the second year, the bone hardens and the child stands upright, skull wide and solid, a helmet protecting the softness within. And "I am" grows, too. Looking at them, you can almost see it, sturdy as heartwood, glowing through the translucent flesh.

The bones of the face emerge at six, and the soul within is fixed at seven.  The process of encapsulation goes on, to reach its peak in the glossy shell of adolescence, when all softness then is hidden under the nacreous layers of the multiple new personalities that teenagers try on to guard themselves.

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 4, "Culloden")
7) Claire waiting for Jamie when he's taken away for questioning following the incident at the dinner party after Mary's rape:
But for the hours of the night, I was helpless; powerless to move as a dragonfly in amber.

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 19, "An Oath is Sworn")
8) The stillborn baby, Faith, who will always remain exactly as she was when Claire saw her.
"She was perfect," I said softly, as though to myself.  "So small.  I could cup her head in the palm of my hand.  Her ears stuck out just a little--I could see the light shine through them."

The light had shone through her skin as well, glowing in the roundness of cheek and buttock with the light that pearls have; still and cool, with the strange touch of the water world still on them.

"Mother Hildegarde wrapped her in a length of white satin," I said, looking down at my fists, clenched in my lap.  "Her eyes were closed.  She hadn't any lashes yet, but her eyes were slanted.  I said they were like yours, but they said all babies' eyes are like that."

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 28, "The Coming of the Light")
9) And finally, heartbreakingly...the twenty-year separation that left Claire and Jamie "frozen" in each other's memories, not dead, but trapped in time, unchanging through all their years apart.
He was slow, and careful; so was I.  Each touch, each moment must be savored, remembered--treasured as a talisman against a future empty of him.

(DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me")

Monday, October 23, 2017

Jamie and Claire Thousand Years video

If you've watched Episode 306 ("A. Malcolm"), check out this video posted by maitikaHan on YouTube.



I thought it was wonderful, and the perfect accompaniment to the reunion episode. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Episode 306: "A. Malcolm" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 306 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "A. Malcolm".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

First, a brief general comment: I thought this was an excellent episode, and I was delighted to see how much of the original dialogue they managed to include! This episode strikes me as a love letter to Diana Gabaldon's words; Matt Roberts, who wrote the script, is a huge book fan, and it definitely shows.

The opening scene, with Madame Jeanne adjusting Jamie's stock and helping him with his cloak, is clearly a bit of misdirection for the benefit of non-book-readers. I imagine a lot of viewers will be wondering, who is this woman? His wife? His mistress?

As Jamie walks down the street, I thought, "This is the first day of the rest of your life" (echoing Claire's thoughts from VOYAGER chapter 24, immediately after she arrives in the past). For Jamie, of course, it starts out as just another ordinary day.

Notice the fiddle music playing here. This is the same folk song ("Comin' Thro' the Rye") that we heard in Episode 112 at Lallybroch.

I smiled when Jamie paused to rub away a smudge of dirt from the printshop sign.

The printshop set is really quite elaborate, complete with drying pages hanging from the rafters. Very impressive work by production designer Jon Gary Steele!

The two unnamed men remind me a little of Angus and Rupert. I was a little taken aback to hear them call him Mac Dubh, as the Ardsmuir men did, rather than Jamie Roy, but that's a minor point. I liked this bit:

"We didna plan to."
"Aye, ye did plan to. That's why I told you not to do it."

The bantering between Geordie and the others went on a little too long, but I liked Geordie.

It's fun to see Jamie demonstrating how to work the printing press. Apparently Sam Heughan actually took lessons in how to do this.

Jamie wearing spectacles took me by surprise, and at first I didn't like it, but as long as he's only wearing them occasionally for reading, I can live with it, as a way to show his aging.

I love the way they showed Jamie's POV here! Shock, disbelief, wondering if he's imagining things. And then he turns around, and she smiles at him, and....
His eyes rolled up and he slumped to the floor in a shower of papers and oddments that had been sitting on the press--he fell rather gracefully for such a large man, I thought abstractedly.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "A. Malcolm, Printer". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Perfect, just perfect!

The title cards, printed on Jamie's printing press, were a nice touch.

The scene where Jamie wakes to discover that Claire is real is excellent, very close to the book, just condensed slightly, and I loved it!

Even when Jamie is taking his breeks off, he can't stop staring at Claire.

I love the way Jamie says, "I want...I would very much like to kiss you." Very much as I've always imagined from the book.

I like Jamie's hesitation before he asks, "Our child?" (Note the "our", which is a change from the book, but a good one, IMHO.)

Jamie's startlement when he sees the photos ("What the devil?") is not in the book, but I thought it was believable.

"For years I had the eyes of a hawk, but my sight isna what it once was." Well, I don't like this, but I'll get used to it.

"Time doesna matter, Sassenach. Ye will always be beautiful to me." Awwwww! What a terrific line! I can easily imagine Jamie saying this to Claire many years later, in their old age.

I was surprised that Jamie didn't show more of a reaction to the sight of the photos, but then I remembered that Jamie often wears an expressionless mask to hide strong emotion. I think that's what Sam was trying to convey here.

So they kept in the line where Jamie says Brianna is "an awful name for a wee lassie", but they left out the line where he takes that back, telling Claire the correct Scots pronunciation, and assuring her that it's a beautiful name? I don't like that.

"She has your red hair."
"Like her sister. Faith."

I gasped in surprise when I heard that. Not that I'd forgotten Faith, exactly, but I didn't recall that she also had red hair.

The collection of photos is pretty much as I imagined from the book. Jamie's reaction to the photo of Bree in a bikini is toned down a little from the book, but still believable.

I definitely was NOT expecting the revelation about Willie to happen in this episode, let alone so soon after their reunion! It's going to have ramifications for later episodes, obviously, and I wonder if this means we won't get to see that very dramatic scene between Claire and Lord John on Jamaica. But I'm inclined not to worry about that too much in advance.

I have already seen some comments about how Jamie telling Claire about Willie somehow detracts from his joy over seeing the photos of Brianna. I disagree with that. True, we didn't see the bit where "he buried his face in my shoulder and went quietly and thoroughly to pieces" -- but I don't think it means Jamie loves Bree any less, just because he decides to tell Claire right away about Willie. I think he was trying to give her honesty, as he promised on their wedding night.

I guess we have to assume that Lord John, or maybe Isobel, gave Jamie the miniature of Willie before he left Helwater? I can't imagine how else he would have acquired it. (This is one of the pitfalls of moving a scene from its original place in the text.)

Claire takes the news about Willie pretty calmly under the circumstances!

I really appreciated that they included Jamie's description of Willie, verbatim from the book:
"What is he like?” I asked softly. “Your son?”

He smiled slightly, without opening his eyes.

“He’s spoilt and stubborn,” he said softly. “Ill-mannered. Loud. Wi’ a wicked temper.”

He swallowed. “And braw and bonny and canty and strong,” he said, so softly I could barely hear him.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 59, "In Which Much Is Revealed". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The brief conversation about Frank was OK, but I kept thinking that it should have taken place MUCH later (perhaps on the Artemis), after they'd had a chance to reconnect. I think Frank is the very last person in the world Jamie would be thinking about at this point, when he's barely recovered from the shock of seeing Claire again.

"It was hard for him. But he loved Brianna, so we made it work."
"So...you were happy wi' him."
"I was happy raising Brianna with him. He was a very good father to her."

That's a fair assessment. (Now can we please stop talking about Frank?!?)

I really liked César Domboy as the adult Fergus. The scene where he meets Claire is very good. I miss his hook, but I understand why they went with a wooden hand instead (much easier for the actor to manage, and for the costume people to camouflage). Fergus's personality comes through vividly in this scene. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him later in the season!

I like this exchange between Fergus and Jamie:

"What about--?"
"Aye, I havena had time to think it through. With Claire back, I'm not sure it's even a concern."

Not surprising that Jamie doesn't want to think about that! On the other hand, he mentioned Ned Gowan, so he's at least starting to form the beginnings of a plan.

I think it's reasonable that Claire would tell people she's been in the Colonies, rather than in France as in the book.

"I thought it might be wise to leave out the whole 200 years in the future part." LOL!

Mr. Willoughby is somewhat older than I expected, and he speaks MUCH better English than he did in the book.

Presumably the gentleman Jamie meets in the basement of the World's End is Sir Percival, although he's not mentioned by name.

So Madame Jeanne refers to Jamie as Monsieur Malcolm, not Fraser as in the book? Interesting.

I like the whole scene where Jamie asks Claire why she came back. Very close to the book!

The undressing scene is very well done. Notice all the parallels: Jamie unbuttoning Claire's bodice, Claire unbuttoning his waistcoat. Claire removing the stock about his neck, Jamie removing her neck-cloth. I liked the way they worked the zipper in there. <g>

"Christ. Claire. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen." I'm glad they included this line!

"Do you want me now?" "God, yes!" And they fall down together on the bed, Jamie bends to kiss her again, and CRACK! they bump noses, just as in the book. I laughed out loud at that, taken by surprise.

The sex scene was tasteful and well done. I was a little surprised to hear Claire say, "Do it now, and don't be gentle," something she only thought, but did not say aloud, in the book.

The dialogue in the scene afterward, where they're just lying in bed talking, is taken almost verbatim from the book, and I really appreciated that. We didn't get nearly enough of this sort of intimacy between them (I don't mean sex, but the two of them lying in bed just talking, teasing each other, etc.) in Season 2, and I really missed it.

"The press was a weapon, into my hands again." I listened to this several times to make sure that was what he said, and I think it's a little awkwardly phrased. I can understand that they didn't have time to tell the story of how Jamie became a printer, but I think this line could have been smoothed out more.

I'm so glad they allowed the extra 15 minutes in this episode, to give them time to show Jamie and Claire reconnecting emotionally, which is, after all, far more important than the sex scenes, in terms of their character development. So much of the dialogue in this part is taken verbatim, or nearly so, from the book, and I love it! It gives me a real thrill to see these scenes that I love so much coming to life on TV.

(Random observation: I don't think we have ever seen Claire so happy at any point in all three seasons. Her smile is infectious!)

Great to see John Bell as Young Ian, at last! He claims to be sixteen, but of course he can't be more than fourteen. (Keeping in mind that we saw his birth in 1752 in Episode 302.) He doesn't look much like my mental image of Young Ian, but I'll get used to that soon enough, I'm sure.

The "whores' brunch" is an entertaining scene, very close to the book, although there's no mention of a murdering Fiend roaming the streets of Edinburgh. I don't quite understand why Claire came down to breakfast wearing only her shift, with a blanket wrapped around her, except maybe that she's not yet used to thinking like an 18th-century person.

The intruder in the bedroom took me totally by surprise, but I think it's an effective cliffhanger. It reminded me of the cliffhanger ending of Episode 112 ("Lallybroch"), where MacQuarrie holds Jamie at gunpoint.

I really enjoyed this episode! Sam and Cait both gave excellent performances, and Matt Roberts did a wonderful job with the script.
--------------------------------------
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 307.

Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, Claire!



Please join me in wishing a happy 99th birthday to our favorite time-traveling Sassenach, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser!
"Happy Birthday, Sassenach,” he said.

It took me completely by surprise and I just stared stupidly at him for a moment. “What?” I managed at last.

“I said ‘Happy Birthday.’ It’s the twentieth of October today."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 25, "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
If you're on Twitter, please use the hashtag #HappyBdaySassenach.

Here's a birthday message to the fans from Caitriona Balfe.

In celebration of Claire's birthday, I'm reposting my "ABC's of Claire Fraser", which I first posted here in October, 2011. I got the idea from a writing exercise posted a few years ago on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community, which is the online forum where Diana Gabaldon hangs out. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. 

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright (c) Diana Gabaldon, of course.

*** SPOILER WARNING!!  

If you have not read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will find SPOILERS below. Read at your own risk!

A - Adaptability.  This is one of Claire's greatest strengths, in my opinion.  Many of us would have a great deal of difficulty adjusting to life in the 18th century.  Claire adapts relatively quickly, and we rarely see her thinking about missing the conveniences of the 20th century.

B - Bravery. "Ye were always bolder than was safe; now ye're fierce as a wee badger." (A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, Chapter 20, "Dangerous Gifts")  Whether it's killing a wolf with her bare hands in OUTLANDER, or surviving the ordeal of being abducted and raped in ABOSAA, Claire never, ever gives up, and I find much to admire in that.

C - Cat.  Adso, to be precise. <g>  Claire loves that wee cheetie, and the scene in ECHO where Claire says goodbye to Adso was just heartbreaking.

D - Diagnosis.  Joe Abernathy called her the "best diagnostician I ever saw".

E - Eyes.  One of Claire's most striking features.  "They're the color of verra fine whisky, wi' the sun shining through them from behind.  I thought this morning they looked like sherry, but I was wrong.  Not sherry. Not brandy.  It's whisky.  That's what it is." (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 6, "Making Waves")

F - Face.  Claire's "glass face" -- her inability to hide what she's thinking or feeling from other people -- often gets her into trouble.

G - Garden. "Daddy always used to say it, when he'd come home and find Mama puttering in her garden--he said she'd live out there if she could.  He used to joke that she--that she'd leave us someday, and go find a place where she could live by herself, with nothing but her plants." (DRUMS OF AUTUMN, Chapter 43, "Whisky in the Jar")

H - Hair.  Claire's wild, unruly hair could almost be considered a character in its own right.  It reflects her personality extremely well, and it's one of the things Jamie likes best about her.

I - Intelligence.  Claire has a quick mind, and doesn't suffer fools gladly.  (She's much like Diana Gabaldon in that respect, actually.)

J - James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. <vbg>

K - Knitting.
  One of the very few things that Claire does not do well with her hands.

L - Lallybroch.
  Claire felt she'd found a home there, for the first time in her life.

M - Mother.
  Not just to Bree, but also to Faith, her stillborn first child.  "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."  (VOYAGER, Chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon")

N - Nurse. 
Also surgeon, midwife, physician, herbalist, conjure-woman -- Claire is a healer, first and foremost.

O - Outlander
, or, as the Scots say, Sassenach.  "He liked the strangeness of her, the Englishness.  She was his Claire, his Sassenach." (FIERY CROSS, Chapter 18, "No Place Like Home")

P - Practicality.
  Claire is perfectly willing to cast aside society's conventions of what is considered proper attire for a woman, in favor of something more practical.  "I am improvising a brassiere," I said with dignity.  "I don't mean to ride sidesaddle through the mountains wearing a dress, and if I'm not wearing stays, I don't mean my breasts to be joggling all the way, either.  Most uncomfortable, joggling."  (DRUMS OF AUTUMN, Chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience")

Q - Quentin Lambert Beauchamp.
Claire's beloved Uncle Lamb, who raised her from the age of five.

R - Ruthlessness. 
I think this is one of the qualities that makes Claire a good surgeon:  "[The] detachment of mind in which I could balance on that knife-edge between ruthlessness and compassion, at once engaged in utmost intimacy with the body under my hands and capable of destroying what I touched in the name of healing." (AN ECHO IN THE BONE, Chapter 62, "One Just Man")

S - Stubbornness. 
Claire is at least a match for Jamie in this respect, and gives as good as she gets.

T - Time-travel.
  The catalyst for this whole amazing adventure. <g>

U - Unladylike language.
  Claire's use of expressions like "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ" and "bloody f*cking hell" frequently scandalizes the 18th-century people around her, but to me, this is an integral part of her character.

V - Vitamins. 
"Well-nourished, is what I am," I retorted.  "Half the people on your estate are suffering from mild scurvy, and from what I've seen on the road, it's even worse elsewhere.  It's vitamin C that prevents scurvy, and apples are full of it."  (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, Chapter 36, "Prestonpans") 

W - White
.  Claire's Indian name is White Raven, and she's been called many similar things over the years, including the White Witch and La Dame Blanche ("White Lady").  I'm intrigued by Nayawenne's prediction that Claire will come into her full power when her hair turns white, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see about that. <g>

X - eXperiments. 
From home-grown penicillin to gallberry ointment for the treatment of malaria, Claire is always experimenting with new ways to help her patients.

Y - Youthful.
  Claire looks much younger than other women her age in the 18th century, owing to the influence of genes, hygiene, and good nutrition.

Z - Zero.
  The number of times Book Claire has traveled though the stones using gemstones for protection.

As you can see just from these brief examples, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser is a remarkably complex, multifaceted character.  Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an unforgettable character, and also to Caitriona Balfe, who is doing an AMAZING job bringing Claire to life on TV!

Happy Birthday, Claire!

Here are the other posts in my ABC's series. Hope you enjoy them!

ABC's of Jamie Fraser
ABC's of Brianna
ABC's of Roger
ABC's of the OUTLANDER TV Series

Saturday, October 14, 2017

25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER coming Oct. 24!



A special hardcover 25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY IN AMBER will be published on Tuesday, October 24, 2017!

From the product description on Amazon:
A beautifully designed collector’s edition of the second book in Diana Gabaldon’s blockbuster Outlander saga (now a Starz original series), featuring a new introduction by the author and a readers group guide.
Diana Gabaldon says this book will have the same type of faux-leather binding as the OUTLANDER 20th Anniversary Edition that was published in 2011. I hope it will also come with a ribbon bookmark!

You can pre-order the 25th Anniversary Edition of DRAGONFLY from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you'd like an autographed copy, you can order from the Poisoned Pen bookstore in Arizona. This is Diana Gabaldon's local independent bookstore, and they ship all over the world.

Please help spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

OUTLANDER Season 4 Casting: Stephen Bonnet and Jocasta Cameron!



STARZ announced two new cast members today who will play major roles in OUTLANDER Season 4 (and hopefully in future seasons as well!)

Ed Speleers will play Stephen Bonnet, and Maria Doyle Kennedy will play Jamie's aunt, Jocasta Cameron.

After all the unknown (to me) actors they've cast so far, I'm pleasantly surprised that I've seen both Ed Speleers and Maria Doyle Kennedy in other roles.  I liked them both very much.

I was thoroughly addicted to DOWNTON ABBEY throughout its run, and the idea of that sweet-faced, innocent-looking young man who played Jimmy on DOWNTON turning into "our Stephen" is a little hard to imagine. But what a great opportunity for him to play Something Completely Different!

As for Maria Doyle Kennedy, she made a good impression on me from THE TUDORS, though I haven't seen her in anything else. [Update 10/12/2017: That's not true. In fact, as several people have pointed out to me, she played the late, unlamented Vera Bates on DOWNTON.]

Having played Catherine of Aragon, Kennedy will have no trouble carrying herself like a Great Lady <g>, though I'm sure Jocasta's blindness will be an interesting challenge for her as an actress.  According to IMDB, she just turned 53, so she's a dozen years or so younger than Jocasta was in DRUMS OF AUTUMN, but that doesn't bother me. I'm sure the makeup people will do a great job in aging her up appropriately.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

OUTLANDER composer Bear McCreary talks about the music of Season 3

Here's a really interesting blog post by OUTLANDER composer Bear McCreary, about the music of Season 3.
I don’t believe I’ve tackled a season of television as richly rewarding as Outlander’s Season Three. Separated by centuries in Season Two’s heart-wrenching finale, Jamie and Claire spend the first five episodes isolated in their own timelines, a narrative journey that spans two decades. This season allowed me to further develop familiar themes, and introduce new melodies, instrumentation, and nuance to the score.
Please note, if you haven't watched all of the Season 3 episodes so far (through episode 305), there are spoilers in Bear's post!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Season 4 filming begins!

In all the excitement over Season 3, let's not forget that the OUTLANDER cast and crew are already hard at work on Season 4!

Today (October 9) is the first day of filming on OUTLANDER's 4th season. Please join me in wishing them all the best of luck!


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Episode 305: "Freedom & Whisky" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 305 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Freedom & Whisky".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

The opening shot, with the "Brianna's 1st Christmas" ornament, strikes me as poignant and sad. Both as a reminder of all those moments in Bree's childhood that Jamie never got to see, and as a reminder of the earlier, happier years of Claire's marriage to Frank, when they were able to set aside their differences out of their shared love for Brianna.

It's great to see Claire working as a surgeon.

The professor quoting from "Paul Revere's Ride" made me laugh out loud, thinking of the scene in ABOSAA chapter 77 ("The Eighteenth of April") where Bree recites the poem to Roger.

When the professor says "One if by land", notice Bree sketching archways in her notebook. An early hint that she's more interested in engineering than history?

Actually, the point the professor is making is one that Diana Gabaldon has also stressed in the books: that what we think of as history is what people wrote down, and it's subject to error and misinterpretation just like anything else. Think of Frank's genealogical chart showing his ancestor as Black Jack Randall rather than Alex Randall, for example.

I think it's realistic that Bree is struggling academically, considering how her life has completely been turned upside down in the last few months.

The next scene is very sad, though there's no dialogue at all.  I like the Frank theme playing softly in the background. Bree misses her daddy, which is totally understandable, especially around the holidays. (This would be her second Christmas since his death.)

The photographs -- can you say foreshadowing?? <g>

I liked this exchange between Joe and Claire:

"What the hell happened?"
"We...went our separate ways, and I had hoped that we would be able to find each other again, but--fate had other ideas."
"F*ck fate!"

In retrospect, considering how this episode ends, I think it's interesting that Roger's arrival at the Randalls' house is also completely unexpected. Though I can't imagine Book Roger making a transatlantic trip like that without even calling first to let Bree know he was coming!

Roger's awkward arrival in the middle of a heated argument reminds me of Claire's first visit to Lallybroch, in Episode 112 ("Lallybroch").

I don't blame Bree at all for needing a break. "She puts up a good facade," as Roger says, but she's been through a major shock, to put it mildly, and she'll need some time to come to terms with it.

I loved Claire's mention of reading "A Christmas Carol" to Bree.
I knew the story very well; it had been part of our Christmas ritual, Frank’s and Brianna’s and mine. From the time Bree was five or six, we had read A Christmas Carol every year, starting a week or two before Christmas, Frank and I taking it in turns to read to her each night before bed.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Night on a Snowy Mountain". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And finally, we're back to the book! Roger's explanation of how he found the article by "Alexander Malcolm" is the first bit of this episode taken directly from VOYAGER, and I was glad to see it.  I love the difference in the way they reacted to the news: Roger with barely suppressed excitement, Claire with what looks like fear (in the sense of "I'm not ready for this!"), then anger.

"I could have lived the rest of my life not knowing."  I thought at once of Frank, finding evidence of Jamie in the past but keeping that knowledge from Claire, presumably so she wouldn't be tormented, knowing he was alive but unable to leave Bree to go to him.

I think Claire's conflict in this episode, over whether to leave Bree, is stronger than it was in the book, because Bree is so clearly struggling on a number of levels -- academically, emotionally. I find the idea that "she needs me" somewhat more convincing here than in the book, where Bree seemed to take everything in stride (more or less), once she got over the initial shock.

Claire with the pearls -- I'm so glad she got them back in Episode 303! I love the Jamie and Claire theme playing in the background.

The scene with Joe and Claire and the skeleton is terrific, very much as I imagined from the book.

"There were artifacts found with her," Joe says. Like an ax, maybe? <g>

"You still love him?"
"I never stopped."

Perfect answer!

"I've watched you live a half-life for fifteen years. If you have a second chance at love, you should take it."  Joe is very perceptive. Claire was very lucky to have him as a friend.

Meanwhile back at the Randalls' house, Roger is watching "Dark Shadows", and the show's dialogue is eerily appropriate:

"She was desperate to be reunited with him, no matter what sacrifices she had to make."
"Even her life?"
"Yes, Barnabas, even her life. She wanted to be with him that much!"

Claire's not yet at that point, but she's getting closer!

In the scene with Bree and Roger in the Cloisters at Harvard (well, OK, they filmed this in Glasgow, but I'll suspend disbelief), once again we see that Bree has been fascinated with engineering since she was a young girl.  Maybe Claire was right:
"I never was sure whether she really wanted to read history, or whether she did it mostly to please Frank. She loved him so much--and he was so proud of her."

[....]

"And then when Frank died...I rather think she went ahead with history because she thought he would have wanted it."

"That's loyal."

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Night on a Snowy Mountain". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I'm glad they included Roger's line, "Everybody needs a history."

I really could have done without the scene with Claire and Sandy. I don't think it added much to the episode.  On the other hand, I do have to give Sandy credit for this line, which I totally agree with:

"A part of [Frank] was still in love with you, and always would be, no matter how much you broke his heart."

In the next scene, with Claire and Bree, I really liked Claire's response when Bree wonders if Frank hated her because of her resemblance to Jamie:

"Oh, no! You were the one thing that was really important to Frank. Raising you--that was his life's work, his greatest joy."

"I love you for you, Brianna, not for the man who fathered you." Good line, and Bree needed to hear that.

I love the way Claire and Bree's relationship is starting to heal at last.  "I love you, but I don't need you. Not the way I did when I was little." This was Roger's line in the book (VOYAGER chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve"), but I think it works well here to have Bree say it.

The Apollo 8 Christmas message is, of course, a real historical event, that took place on December 24, 1968.  I liked Claire's voiceover very much:

"I had been, in many ways, further than the moon, on an even more impossible journey. And the answer was yes, you can come back to your life, but it's never the same. But maybe it was enough, to have gone once. How many people can say they had that?"

Notice the music of the dancers at Craigh na Dun, as Claire looks out at the moon. She's starting to think seriously about doing it.

"To not be there, to see you get married [...] or to watch you become a mother, hold my first grandchild...."  And of course, all the book-readers are saying, "But you will! You will, Claire, don't worry."

Bree says, "I'm more you than I am either of my fathers."  Well, wait until she meets Jamie, and maybe she'll change her mind about that, because all the evidence in the books points very strongly in the opposite direction! <g> Still, it's a kind thought.

"You owe it to him to go back. I want you to go, and tell him everything."  I like that.

I think it's understandable that Claire would have a little self-doubt ("What if he doesn't love me anymore?"), but I thought Bree's response was just right.  She doesn't roll her eyes and say, "Oh, Motherrrrr", like a teenager. She responds with empathy and compassion, a little bit of logic <g>, and a good deal of maturity for her age.

"You gave Jamie up for me. Now I have to give him back to you." Awwww!! In this whole scene, I felt Sophie was basically channelling Book Bree. Very well done!

In the scene with Joe and Claire, when she closed the office door, I was sure she was going to tell him about the time-traveling, and I was surprised when she didn't. I did like the scene, though. It added a little welcome humor, after the very intense scene with Bree.

The gift-giving scene was sweet. "I 'borrowed' some scalpels and penicillin from the hospital," Claire says. Topaz is my birthstone too. <g>  And the gemstone is a very thoughtful gift!

The brown hassock (or ottoman) by the Christmas tree is very similar to the one we had in our family room when I was a child, at about this same time (late 60's-early '70s). I smiled when I saw it.

The scene with Claire sewing her "batsuit" made me laugh, remembering the many hours I spent watching Batman reruns after school with my sister, when we were kids.  It's not what Book Claire would have done, but I can accept that TV Claire had sufficient sewing skills to manage it.  And I love the idea of all the secret compartments sewn inside it.

Claire dying her hair is understandable, but I kept thinking that Jamie would have told her not to bother.

"He's a good one," Claire says approvingly of Roger. Awwww!

"The first time I went through, I was terrified. The second time, heartbroken. This time, I want it to be peaceful. If I had to say goodbye to you there, I might never go."  I like this very much.

I have tears in my eyes, watching them say goodbye. Claire giving the pearls to Bree is a lovely moment, very emotional.

As Claire's cab drives away, I'm so grateful that Bree has Roger, to help her through this. His gift of "A Christmas Carol" is thoughtful and very appropriate.

I just love the way they used the bit about puddles from the Prologue to VOYAGER here! I think it's a very creative and effective way to show the transition between time periods. And just as with the transition in Episode 201, I feel a rush of excitement just knowing that Claire is back in the 18th century, with Jamie somewhere nearby!

When Claire reaches out to touch the printshop sign, you can almost see her thinking, "It's real! He's really here!" Cait does a great job of showing Claire's excitement, nervousness, hope, and a little fear all mingled together, as she climbs the steps and finally musters the courage to walk through the door.

The printshop scene was just PERFECT!!  Really. I'm so delighted with the way it turned out! The fact that the printshop entrance is above the shop itself (which I wasn't expecting at all) makes it a little more dramatic and visually interesting when Jamie faints, because Claire can't just run to him immediately.  And I just love the look on her face at the very end!

Wonderful episode, very well done! Kudos especially to Cait and Sophie for their excellent performances!
--------------------------------------
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please note, there will NOT be a new episode of OUTLANDER next week, but I hope you'll come back in two weeks to see my reactions to Episode 306, which airs on STARZ on Sunday, October 22. (My understanding is that Episode 306 will be about 75 minutes long.)

Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A brief break between Episodes 305 and 306



For those of you who haven't heard, the OUTLANDER TV series will be taking a short break between Episodes 305 and 306. Episode 305 ("Freedom & Whisky") will be shown on STARZ in the US on October 8th, but there will NOT be a new episode on October 15th. Episode 306 ("A. Malcolm") will be shown on October 22nd.

Why the brief hiatus? I think the point is to give them an extra week to build up hype and anticipation for Jamie and Claire's reunion. <g> Along with lots of media attention, of course! They're probably also hoping to draw in casual viewers who may have stopped watching somewhere along the way, but might tune in for this.

Instead of a new episode, STARZ will be doing a mini-marathon of Episodes 301 - 305 starting at 5pm ET/PT on the 15th.

Please help spread the word to any OUTLANDER fans you may know. Thanks!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Episode 304: "Of Lost Things" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 304 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Of Lost Things".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

The opening shot, with Jamie carving the little wooden snake, is even more poignant once you've seen the episode.

I love the amount of detail on that corkboard! I'd love to get a closer look at it.

Nice to see Fiona again. I like that she's not used for comic relief as much here as in the books. And I laughed at the way Bree and Roger exchanged looks after Fiona said, "You're much too thin."

The scene with the servants lined up outside the house is reminiscent of DOWNTON ABBEY, but it also reminded me of the way the servants lined up to greet Claire when she returned to Jared's house in Paris in Episode 207 ("Faith"), after the miscarriage.

Interesting that Lord Dunsany doesn't hold Jamie's Jacobite past against him. "You were defeated. Our quarrels are bygone."

"The pain of losing a child never leaves you. I've lost two children myself, my lord." Awwwww, that's sad!

The fact that Jamie receives a small stipend for his work at Helwater is a change from the book, but I can see why they did it: to give Jamie a plausible reason for staying at Helwater after Geneva's death.

Meanwhile back in 1968... When Roger said, "I don't have a girlfriend," Bree's grin said plainly, "You're looking at her!" <g>  Bree fixing the car reminded me of the time she fixed the TV at Joe Abernathy's house during the moon-landing party in DRUMS OF AUTUMN. It's a subtle way to introduce the fact that she has engineering skills.

"What do I owe ye?"
"I'll think of something."

That made me smile. I like the way their relationship is developing.

The bit about the grooms drawing straws comes straight from the book:
Pretty, spoilt, and autocratic, the Lady Geneva was accustomed to get what she wanted  when she wanted it, and damn the convenience of anyone standing in her way. She was a good horsewoman--Jamie would give her that--but so sharp-tongued and whim-ridden that the grooms were given to drawing straws to determine who would have the misfortune of accompanying her on her daily ride.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 14, "Geneva". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Geneva refers to her riding horse as a "palfrey".  According to Wikipedia,
A palfrey is a type of horse that was highly valued as a riding horse in the Middle Ages. It was a lighter-weight horse, usually a smooth gaited one that could amble, suitable for riding over long distances. Palfreys were not a specific breed as horse breeds are understood today.
I liked the scene between Jamie and Isobel. "A cage is still a cage" - good line!  She's right, of course, even if the bars are invisible.

Back in 1968, it was great to hear from Joe Abernathy again. He's aged visibly since the last episode, of course, but he's still a very likeable character, and it was good to see Claire relax as soon as she heard his voice. In case you're wondering, Murphy's sign is a test for gallbladder disease.

So Lord Ellesmere finds Geneva's disposition "appealing"?  Well, maybe.  Or perhaps it's actually the size of her dowry that he finds appealing?

"My God, if a child of mine had hair that color, I'd drown him before he drew his second breath!"

Grrrrr!! When I heard that, I said, "Hey, cut that out!" (Speaking as a redhead myself, of course. <g>)  That comment presumably reflects attitudes that were common among the British aristocracy at the time, but it is, of course, calculated to make all the Jamie-fans in the audience indignant on his behalf.

It's impossible to miss the way Geneva stares at Jamie afterward, obviously Getting Ideas.

The next scene, with Jamie and Geneva riding through the woods, is really well done. Geneva is terrific in this scene.

"What do you find attractive?" Ouch. I wanted Jamie to say, "None of your business, my lady," but of course he's more tactful than that.

When Jamie came upon Lady Geneva sprawled in the road, I thought of the scene in Episode 114 ("The Search") where Jenny pretends to swoon so that she and Claire can capture the Redcoat courier.

"I knew you'd do as I told you," she says, with that insufferable, self-satisfied expression, and THUD! down she goes, in the mud.  I laughed out loud at that. This bit isn't in the book, but I thought it was a very entertaining addition.

Wonderful to see David Berry again as Lord John.  I liked the chess game, and their easy manner of talking with one another.

I was surprised when Hal showed up. He's clearly taken aback when he recognizes Jamie, but to his credit, he recovers quickly, playing along with the deception and giving no hint that he knows Jamie's true identity.  Lady Geneva obviously sees that something odd is going on, though, and takes Hal away to speak in private.

(Just an aside: in these Helwater scenes, I'm watching the female servants in the background, wondering which one might be Keren-happuch, the character in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER that Diana Gabaldon named after me. <g>)

The scene between Jamie and Geneva is very good. I really liked Jamie's reaction to Geneva ordering him to her bed.  Geneva's use of blackmail here is not quite as dire as in the book -- she certainly doesn't threaten to have him flogged! -- but she is still talking about harm coming to his family at Lallybroch if he doesn't do what she wants.

Jamie's rendezvous with Geneva doesn't carry the overtones of enormous risk and danger to Jamie that we see in the book. I was a little disappointed by that. He just walks into her bedroom in the middle of the night as though it's the most casual thing in the world.

"Having brought me to your bed by means of threats against my family, I'll not have ye call me by the name they give me."  This is a direct quote from the book, and I was glad to see it here.

"You may disrobe."  Wow. I wasn't expecting her to order him to do that, but it does seem in character for Geneva. (He's only a servant, after all.)

It's impossible to watch Jamie in this scene without thinking of the wedding night, and Claire's first sight of his naked body. Just heartbreaking to remember that now.

"The first time can often be...vexing." Of course Jamie can't help but be thinking of it, too. <sigh>

I wasn't surprised that they left out Geneva's "No! It's too big! Take it out!"  There's just no way they could have explained that to a modern TV audience, and anyway the important part is the fact that they had sex, not that Geneva briefly had second thoughts.  Very wise of them to sidestep the whole controversy!

Their post-coital conversation about love is taken almost word for word from the book -- except for this bit: "Love is...when you give your heart and soul to another, and they give theirs in return." Awwwww, that's so sad!

The next time we see Geneva, she's very obviously pregnant.

Meanwhile, back in 1968.... The scene with Fiona and Claire is well done, but I have a very hard time believing that Claire would have given the pearls away to Mrs. Graham as a gift.  Aside from her wedding ring, and Brianna <g>, the pearls are her only tangible link to Jamie. Why would she have willingly parted with them for twenty years?  I'm glad she got them back, though.

So Bree isn't accustomed to calling Claire "Mama"? Interesting.

I liked the scene with Bree and Roger. Bree is more introspective in this episode, showing more vulnerability, and I liked seeing that.

"Part of me doesn't want to find him either, because, well, once you do, you'll go back to Boston."  And Bree pulls him impulsively into a kiss. I loved that! <g> Rik and Sophie have good chemistry together, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Bree and Roger's relationship develops. The writers are laying a good foundation here, I think.

Ellesmere's estate is enormous, even by comparison to the Dunsanys' mansion.

I liked Jamie's reaction to the news that the baby is "a fine, healthy boy." He stops dead, as though he can't quite believe it.

The scene where Jamie finds Isobel weeping in the hallway is really well done. I think having Isobel tell Jamie the news, rather than a servant as in the book, works really well here. We can see how devastated Isobel is by her sister's death. I was taken by surprise when Isobel slapped him, but I can't blame her for being furious with him, under the circumstances.

I really liked the confrontation between Ellesmere and Dunsany. It's a lot of fun to see this very dramatic scene from the book brought to life on TV.  I like the way Jamie tries to defuse the situation, managing to get the pistol away from Lord Dunsany.

Having Ellesmere threaten the baby's life by holding a knife to his throat, rather than threatening to drop him out the window, makes sense to me. The threat is just as deadly this way, and if they're using a real baby in this scene, there's no risk of injury to him if something should go wrong in the filming. So I think it was a good decision.

I just loved the way the baby opened his eyes and looked at Jamie. So glad he got to hold him, even if only for a short time!

The next scene, with Isobel, Jamie, and baby William, is very well done.  I'm really glad they included Jamie talking to the baby ("You're a braw laddie"), just as he did in the book. I had tears in my eyes, watching this.

When Lady Dunsany offers Jamie his freedom, the presence of baby William in the pram beside them makes the choice blindingly clear, just as it is in the book:
Scotland. To go away from this damp, spongy atmosphere, set foot on that forbidden road and walk it with a free, long stride, up into the crags and along the deer trails, to feel the air clearing and sharpening with the scent of gorse and heather. To go home!

To be a stranger no longer. To go away from hostility and loneliness, come down into Lallybroch, and see his sister’s face light with joy at the sight of him, feel her arms around his waist, Ian’s hug about his shoulders and the pummeling, grasping clutch of the children’s hands, tugging at his clothes.

To go away, and never to see or hear of his own child again.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 15, "By Misadventure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
But somehow it's even more heartbreaking for Jamie to have to make that decision while looking down at his newborn son.

I love the scenes with Willie, age six, played by Clark Butler. The casting people did a terrific job finding him.

Clever idea to use the excuse of wiping down the carriage windows to let Jamie take a really good look at Willie's features, compare them to his own (reflected in the glass), and see the resemblance for himself.

Back in 1968, I'm not sure I see the point of that futile visit to the National Archives. Just to show Claire's frustration at how difficult and time-consuming it's proving to find Jamie in the past?

The scene at the bar seems pretty contrived, designed by the writers specifically, IMHO, to put the idea of Burns' "Freedom and whisky gang thegither" in Roger's head, so he'll search later with that thought in mind.

Claire's complaint about the sexist attitudes of men in 1968 doesn't fit well here. Claire is seriously contemplating going back to the 18th century for good, assuming they find Jamie.  If she's that irritated by the sexist behavior of mid-20th-century men, has she forgotten what it was like to be surrounded by 18th-century men (Angus, for example) who thought even less of women, or to live in a society in which women had few legal rights?

Interesting that Claire seems to be having second thoughts about "chasing a ghost".

The scene with Willie and Jamie is terrific! "You have to do what I tell you," Willie says, echoing Geneva earlier in the episode.

"I suspect no's a word ye've not heard much of, but you'll hear it in the world and you'd best get used to it."  That made me think immediately of the wonderful scene in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER where Jamie teaches two-year-old Willie how to say "No." <g>  (One of my favorite scenes in that book!)

Willie's reaction to the word "bastard", and Jamie's response, hugging him at long last, is very much as I've always imagined from the book. I like the way Jamie murmurs to him in Gaelic.

"We all have our secrets," Lord John says to Jamie.  Good line -- and John has more secrets than most.

I like the scene with John and Jamie in the woods very much. David Berry's facial expressions in this scene are absolutely spot on, especially his utter astonishment at Jamie's offer.

They don't state specifically that Lord John has resigned his army commission, but I think it's obvious from the fact that John is not in uniform on this visit.

I'm glad they included John's line, "I made trial of my capacity in London."  Some day I hope we'll see that scene in a published book!

"I'm grateful to ye," Jamie says, and they shake hands as gentlemen, as friends, as equals.  And then Jamie puts his free hand over their clasped hands, in echo of that disastrous incident at Ardsmuir that nearly shattered their friendship permanently. I loved that, as a sign that all is forgiven between them.

Jamie and Willie's farewell scene is just wonderful!  I think the inclusion of the little statue of St. Anthony, "the patron saint of lost things", is really fitting -- and now we see where the title of this episode comes from.

I was really glad to see they kept so much of this scene almost word-for-word from the book. <g>  But the gift of the wooden snake is really an inspired idea, and I love it!  It's a gift with deep meaning for both Jamie and Willie, and it will be easier than a rosary for Willie to hide from the adults around him.

As the scene ended, I was a bit startled to hear the Bob Dylan song. At first I thought, this is an odd choice for a show that takes place mostly in the 18th century.  But the lyrics ("Oh where have you been, my blue-eyed son") are very appropriate (heartbreakingly so), and I love the montage that follows.

I had tears in my eyes when Jamie said goodbye to Willie, John, and Isobel. "It's hard" seems like a vast understatement, but the music is somehow comforting.

When Brianna looked around one last time just before leaving the manse, I thought she must be thinking of how much her life has changed since she walked through its doors for the first time at the beginning of Episode 213 ("Dragonfly in Amber"). She's changed a lot in a short time already, and this is only the beginning.

Willie running toward "Mac" as he rides away, not looking back -- that's just gut-wrenching. Devastating. I can imagine Willie's cries echoing in Jamie's memory for a long, long time afterward.

Roger playing with the toy plane segues neatly into Claire and Bree, on the plane going home to Boston.

And at the very end, we're left with the image of Jamie riding away, leaving Helwater and Willie behind forever.  I can't imagine what Jamie must be going through, emotionally, not knowing if he'll ever see his son again. And once again I think what an appropriate surname "Ransom" is for William:  the "ransom" Jamie paid -- the price for regaining his freedom -- is to give up forever any chance of a relationship with his son. Just heartbreaking.

They did a fantastic job with this episode. Kudos to the entire cast and crew!
--------------------------------------
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 305.

Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far.

September poll results

Here are the results of the September poll, which asked the question, "Have you attended any of Diana Gabaldon's public appearances?"
  • 30.10% - Yes, I've been to one or more of her book-signings or other public appearances.
  • 28.60% - Not yet, but I would like to see her in person some day.
  • 25.00% - No, I live too far away.
  • 3.20% - Yes, many times!
  • 3.00% - No, I'm not interested in attending a book-signing.
  • 2.60% - What public appearances? When and where?
  • 1.80% - I'm planning to attend one of her appearances later this year.
  • 1.50% - No, the crowds at these events are getting too big.
  • 1.50% - I would like to, but I'm too busy with family, work, or other commitments.
  • 2.70% - Other
There were 1000 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

I didn't vote in the poll myself, but I have seen Diana in person four times, most recently a few weeks ago in Winston-Salem, NC.

Please take a moment to vote in the October poll, which asks the question, "How long have you been reading Diana Gabaldon's books?" Thanks!