Episode 307: "Crème de Menthe" (SPOILERS!)
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
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?”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.
(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "A. Malcolm, Printer". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
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."
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.