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.


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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!
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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.


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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!
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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!