Sunday, November 19, 2017

Episode 310: "Heaven and Earth" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 310 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Heaven and Earth". I enjoyed this episode very much, and I was delighted that they stayed so close to the book.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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I liked the fact that the episode opens with Jamie's POV aboard the Artemis. We didn't see any of this in the book.

Fergus making a potpourri for Marsali -- that's a kind thought.

"When the captain of a seventy-four asks you for a surgeon, you give him a surgeon."

Good line, and I can Raines's point. The Artemis has no chance against a 74-gun British man-o'-war.

Jamie, also, is vastly outnumbered and has no chance against the heavily armed men of Raines' crew. Still, I didn't like the idea that he was overpowered without putting up much of a struggle -- even if they were holding him at gunpoint.

The title card for this episode shows the barrel of crème de menthe from Episode 307 being broken open, the green liquor gushing out onto the floor.

Meanwhile, we get our first look at Claire in the crew's quarters of the Porpoise, issuing orders to skeptical crew members. She exudes confidence and competence in this scene. Not SuperClaire, just an experienced doctor who knows what she's doing.

And here's young Elias Pound, the midshipman, who is even younger here than in the book. I was surprised to hear the sailors calling Elias "sir", but I suppose that means he outranks them, even as a (very) junior officer.

The bit with Elias dipping his hands in the bucket of grog was an effective way to explain how horribly contagious typhoid is.

"How many casks will you require?"
"How many men would you like me to save?"

Good line!

"You are a very impressive young man," Claire says to Elias, and I totally agree! Wonderful casting! Albie Marber, who plays Elias, is just perfect in this role.

And then, as Claire's attention is diverted by more sick men arriving, Elias reaches out and gently closes his dead friend's eyes. Very sad!

The next scene, with Claire and Captain Leonard, does a good job of showing how young and frightened Leonard is.

I liked the reaction of the cook Cosworth, to the news that his galley hand was the source of the disease. Cosworth isn't an appealing character, but I thought the way he reacted was believable.

Meanwhile, back on the Artemis, Jamie's not doing well at all, suffering badly from seasickness.

"I'm well acquainted with the inside of a cell, Fergus," he says. Fort William, Wentworth, the Bastille, Ardsmuir....

Jamie's plan to take over the ship seems like a very long shot, but he's desperate, and half out of his mind with seasickness and worry over Claire. ("I lost her once, Fergus. Canna lose her again.")

"And then what?"
"I dinna ken--yet! We'll get to that matter when we catch them."

This is uncharacteristically slow-witted of Jamie. He's a chess player, and good at military strategy, accustomed to thinking several moves ahead of his opponent. I can only assume his mind is too fuddled with seasickness to think coherently.

"Ye dinna ken what love is," Jamie says. That's really unfair, and not like Jamie at all to say such a hurtful thing to this young man whom he regards as a son.

"You don't mean that, milord. How can you say that?"
"Because if ye did, you would move heaven and earth, you would risk arrest and death. Even Hell."

All right, I'll buy that.

"Until ye risk all, ye canna speak of love."

This, on the other hand, is ridiculous. It seems an impossibly high standard to meet, for anyone who isn't Jamie or Claire. (Or Roger, for that matter, as we'll see when we get to Season 4.) And you can see Fergus thinking that he'll never be able to live up to that standard.

I didn't like Jamie offering his blessing for Fergus to marry Marsali in exchange for helping him to escape. So Fergus, whom Jamie has known and loved for more than twenty years, must now prove himself worthy of marrying Jamie's stepdaughter? The fact that Fergus is an intelligent, loyal young man of good character doesn't matter, and only his ability to accomplish an impossible task will satisfy Jamie? This whole thing makes no sense to me.

Meanwhile, back on the Porpoise, we see a very somber scene, as the dead sailors are stitched into their shrouds. Poor Elias is very brave, to perform that final service for his friend.

The prayer Captain Leonard reads comes from the Anglican burial service:
"In the midst of life we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O LORD, who for our sins art justly displeased?

Yet, O LORD GOD most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Thou knowest, LORD, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer; but spare us, LORD most holy, O GOD most mighty, O holy and merciful SAVIOUR; thou most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee."
I liked the next scene, with Claire and Elias, very much. The rabbit's foot is yet another of those "bunny" references scattered throughout Season 3 as a sort of inside joke by the production team, but I see no humor in this situation. What I see is a very brave fourteen-year-old, mature beyond his years, giving his treasured talisman of "luck and health" to Claire, because he thinks she needs it more than he does. And given what happens later in the episode, I find that just heartbreaking to watch.

"Half the men on this f*cking ship are dying of typhoid, and this bloody fool has almost drank himself to death on the alcohol I need to stop the goddamn fever from spreading!"

Go Claire!! I loved that.

Having Corporal Johansen be one of the sailors sick with alcohol poisoning, as well as the husband of Annekje the goat-lady, is a clever way to consolidate things from the book, giving the viewers important information without slowing down the action.

Annekje Johansen, played by Chanelle de Jager, is wonderful, very much as I've always pictured her from the book. She has a nice smile and I like the way she talks:

"I keep do?"
"Yes, please, keep do."

Clever of Claire to recognize the Portuguese flag! I wouldn't have given it a second glance.

So just as in the book, Captain Leonard knows that Jamie Fraser and Alexander Malcolm are one and the same.

Cosworth's entrance took me by surprise, but I knew instantly that he meant trouble. As he forced her toward the desk (horribly reminiscent of BJR in Episode 108, "Both Sides Now"), I thought, "Oh, no, here we go AGAIN!" Haven't we seen enough rape or attempted-rape scenes already?

Fortunately, Claire is not intimidated. She gives Cosworth her best "La Dame Blanche" stare and says, "Now get out of my way, or I will scream." And much to my surprise, that puts an end to it.

I like that shot of the Porpoise. It may be five times bigger than the Artemis, but it's still a small ship in the middle of a vast, vast ocean.

The scene with Fergus and Marsali is very good! This is the first time we've seen them alone together for an extended period, and it's a great opportunity to get a good look at these two characters who will become increasingly important as the series goes on.

"It's a risk, mon coeur." My heart. I like that.

I'm impressed with the matter-of-fact way Marsali deals with Fergus's stump and his prosthetic hand. Without saying a word, she illustrates something that I've always found very moving about Diana Gabaldon's portrayal of characters with disabilities, throughout the entire series, from Colum MacKenzie to Ian the Elder and many more: they are PEOPLE, first and foremost. Fergus's missing hand is a part of who he is, but certainly not the most important part, and clearly Marsali sees that.

I really wondered if Fergus would take her right then and there -- Marsali certainly was eager to do it! -- but Fergus evidently has learned something about the powers of self-control from watching Jamie all those years <g>, and he says, "We must wait until we're married."

"Once you give your word, you'll never break it," Marsali says. OK, now I really, REALLY want to see them get married, because their wedding vows will mean even more with that thought in mind.

The scene with Claire and Elias is impossible to watch without thinking of what will happen later in the episode. "There is the incubation period to consider," Claire says -- but she's not thinking about the boy at all, except to note in a vague sort of way that he looks tired.

In the next scene, Fergus overhears the men talking about Jamie, and about him and Marsali. I was surprised that Fergus had enough self-control to keep from barging in there when they started talking about what they would do to Marsali if they got her alone.

And now, here's Tompkins! The blind eye is rather unnerving, IMHO.

So he claims to have recognized Claire as "Mrs. Malcolm", but that doesn't make sense to me. When would he have seen her? The printshop fire occurred no more than 48 hours after Claire arrived in Edinburgh, and we have no reason to believe the one-eyed sailor had contact with Claire, only with Young Ian.

Claire threatens him with a very large and wicked-looking butcher knife or something similar. In the book, it was a surgical saw, the type used to amputate a limb. Either way, the effect on Tompkins is the same.

"After the month I've had, I'll be more than happy to see the inside of a casket." Good line.

He seems eager to pour out the whole story to Claire. The part about finding the exciseman's body in the cask of crème de menthe happened much differently in the book, but it's dramatic and effective here, so I didn't mind.

"My husband did not kill that man." I was half-expecting her to add, "I did."

And then Claire has Tompkins locked up in the hold, claiming he's the second source of the disease. Problem solved, at least for the time being.

Back in the goat compartment with Mrs. Johansen, I notice for the first time that there are not just goats, but chickens as well.

Why does Annekje's gift of goat cheese make Claire think of Jamie? That seemed like a bit of a non-sequitur to me.

Meanwhile, back on the Artemis.... Jamie is shocked and disappointed when Fergus returns without the keys.

"You asked me if I would move Heaven and Earth for the woman I love, and I will, even if it means I cannot marry her." Pretty words, but overly melodramatic, IMHO.

On the Porpoise, things are improving. "Over the worst of it now," Cosworth says to Claire, and she looks at the rabbit's foot that Elias gave her, no doubt thinking it brought her luck. And then she goes up on deck, where the sailors are singing, one man is playing a fiddle, and the mood is one of quiet relief that the crisis seems to have passed. Claire smiles with relief -- and then she catches sight of Elias, collapsed in a hammock, obviously very close to death.

Hearing Elias calling for his mother, and Claire saying, "Yes, Elias, it's Mother. It's time for you to come home now," made a shiver go up my spine. This is based on the very terse description in the book:
Elias Pound died of the typhoid four days later. It was a virulent infection; he came to the sickbay heavy-eyed with fever and wincing at the light; six hours later he was delirious and unable to rise. The next dawn he pressed his cropped round head against my bosom, called me “Mother,” and died in my arms.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 48, "Moment of Grace". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
But seeing it on screen is so much more emotionally intense! Just heartwrenching, watching Claire tuck that rabbit's foot inside his shroud, and then seeing his body sink toward the bottom of the ocean, weighted down by a cannonball in the traditional manner. I liked the music in this part very much.

I don't think I'm ever going to be able to read or listen to this part of VOYAGER again without seeing that in my mind. Farewell, Elias. You were indeed a very impressive young man.

And then, finally, the Porpoise reaches land! It must have been a challenge to film that scene with the goats without them scattering in all directions.

When Claire makes her escape, only to be brought up short by the sight of Captain Leonard and his men, I thought irresistibly of the scene in Episode 101 ("Sassenach") where she tried to run from Dougal and his men, and Jamie caught her before she got very far.

"It would be breaking the law if I did not [inform the authorities about Jamie]. More important, it would be breaking a solemn oath." So Captain Leonard, too, is a man of honor.

Jamie looking at Brianna's pictures made me go "Awwwww!!" But why didn't he hurry up and put them away when he heard someone coming? Can you imagine Jamie trying to explain -- to literally anyone else on board who saw them -- what those pictures were or where he'd gotten them? Let alone to Captain Raines, who already has good reason to be suspicious of him.

So Marsali is so confident that Jamie's word can be trusted absolutely, that she manages to convince Captain Raines of it? I find that hard to believe.

"What Fergus did, he did for you."
"If ye believe that, ye dinna deserve to be let out of here."

I see what Marsali is saying, I think, but I don't like it. What's wrong with saying that Fergus was trying to protect her? Surely Jamie, of all people, would understand that.

So Jamie insists they be married by a priest when they get to Jamaica. This should be fun! And he calls him "mon fils" (my son), which just makes my heart melt.

Back on the Porpoise, Annekje is helping Claire plan her escape. She keeps talking about "Co-burn", which presumably is Cockburn, on the Turks and Caicos Islands.

At the last moment, looking down at the water, Claire says, "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" I laughed at that. We haven't heard her say that in a long time. And then she jumps. What a perfect moment to end the episode on!

I thought this was a very good episode, and I really don't think they could have done any better with Claire's storyline. Kudos to Luke Schelhaas, a new member of the OUTLANDER writing team, who wrote the script. He did a great job!
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I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 311.

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

10,000 followers on Facebook!



I'm celebrating a blogging milestone today: My Outlandish Observations Facebook page now has more than 10,000 followers!!

THANK YOU ALL!! I really appreciate your support!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Compuserve forums shutting down Dec. 15!

Very sad news today: the Compuserve forums are shutting down effective December 15!



Unfortunately, yes, this includes the Books and Writers Community, which is the online forum where Diana Gabaldon has been hanging out since 1985.  I joined the forum in March, 2007, and I've been Section Leader (moderator) of the Diana Gabaldon folder on Compuserve since September, 2008.

Diana refers to what I do on Compuserve as "herding the bumblebees". I love that image -- herding bumblebees is harder than herding cats! -- but as I often say, the trick to bumblebee-herding is to do it without getting stung. <g>

As I write this, it's only been a couple of hours since I heard the news about the forum shutting down, and I'm still in a state of shock. We had no warning at all. The Books and Writers Community (especially Diana's section of the forum) has been a major part of my life for the last ten years, and I'm deeply saddened that it's going to come to an end now.

[Update 11/14/2017: The latest word from one of the admins in charge of our forum (not Diana) is that we will relocate elsewhere. She's not giving up, and therefore, neither am I. I have no details as yet, but if and when an announcement is made, I'll post it here.]

Rather than dwelling on this devastating news, I thought I'd focus instead on the positive things that have come from my time on Compuserve. Finding the forum really did change my life, in many ways! Here's a list of "10 Things I've Learned From Bumblebee-Herding" that I wrote several years ago. I think it's appropriate to repost it today.



I have learned a tremendous amount in the last nine years about how to manage a large and constantly shifting group of forum members.  Here are ten of my favorite tips, techniques, and strategies for bumblebee-herding. I think most of these could be applied to managing any online community, Facebook group, etc.

10 Things I've Learned from Bumblebee-Herding

1) Keeping discussions organized and on-topic is an art, not a science, and it takes time and practice to learn how to do it effectively.

2) You can't please everybody. Inevitably, some people will disagree with your decisions. Don't take it personally.

3) Trust your own judgment.

4) Encourage people to ask questions. Even if the topic has been discussed many times before, there will always be newcomers who haven't seen the previous posts.

5) Make an effort to acknowledge new people and make them feel welcome. This is especially important in a group where many of the members have known each other for a long time.

6) Nobody's perfect. Even bumblebee-herders make mistakes from time to time. <g> It's OK to admit it if you screw up.

7) Lead by example. Be polite and show that you have a sense of humor, and most people will reciprocate.

8) Discussions tend to run in cycles. If you hit a rough patch, try to remember "this too shall pass".

9) Even in the midst of the busiest "thread explosions", take a break once in a while.  "Me time" is important! (I always make a conscious effort to do this while the TV series is in progress, and it definitely helps!)

10) Don't be afraid to yell for help if you need it.

I will miss the forum tremendously! It's really a unique place, a wonderful community full of readers, writers, and book-lovers. And the fact that Diana Gabaldon is there, participating in discussions and answering questions on a daily basis, makes it even more special for OUTLANDER fans. I'm biased, of course, but I think it's the best place for in-depth discussion of Diana's books that you'll find anywhere online.

We will survive, of course.  But it's the end of an era, and that makes me very sad.

If you want to reminisce, share your reactions to the announcement, or talk about where we go from here, feel free to come and post in the thread on Compuserve here.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Episode 309: "The Doldrums" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 309 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The Doldrums".  This was a very enjoyable episode, and I appreciated the quieter moments in it.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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We've left Scotland behind, so I wasn't surprised to see that they've changed the opening credit sequence again.  I was startled by the change in the music at first, but I think I like it. It's certainly appropriate, considering where we'll be spending the remainder of the season. <g>

The glimpses of future scenes are intriguing!  And I like the brighter colors from the Caribbean scenes.

In the opening shot, we finally get our first glimpse of the Artemis!  The ships used in this episode are amazing, very realistic and authentic-looking.

Nice to see Jared again!

"No God worth his salt would take your nephew away from you just because you wanted to be happy."  This line comes directly from the book (VOYAGER chapter 39, "Lost, and By the Wind Grieved"), and I'm glad they included it.

I like Hayes and Lesley, Jamie's Ardsmuir men. They remind me more than a bit of Angus and Rupert.

Sad to see Jamie leaning over the rail, taking a last long look at Scotland.

I like Claire's reaction to the idea of touching the horseshoe, and also to the way the crew ignores her. I'm reminded of Book Jamie telling her in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER chapter 6 ("Making Waves") that sailors think "women near ships are the height of ill luck". But even in the midst of this serious conversation, it struck me that Jamie and Claire are both more relaxed around each other, more openly affectionate, than they've been since the reunion.

Lauren Lyle is terrific as Marsali! She sounds exactly as I've always imagined, and she's not intimidated by Jamie in the slightest. This whole scene is taken almost word-for-word from the book, and I loved it!

When Fergus says, "You must not speak about Milady in such a way," notice Marsali rolling her eyes at him. <g>

I love Claire's reaction to Jamie's proposed sleeping arrangements: "We've been apart for twenty years, and you want me to room with her?!"

Jamie's muttered, "Now I am going to be sick" made me laugh.

The chest containing clothes from Lallybroch is a reasonable solution to the problem of Claire's wardrobe, i.e., she doesn't actually have any clothes other than the outfit that she wore to come through the stones. Notice the yellow gown in the chest, which looks very similar to the one in the recent Entertainment Weekly photo shoot.

"Why didn't you sell them, or--?"
"Sell them? Memories of you?  Never!"

I like that. Let that be a lesson to Claire, who gave her pearls away to Mrs. Graham for twenty years. Jamie, at least, had better sense than that.

Jamie's complaining about the seasickness seems exaggerated at this stage. He thinks he'll be dead by tomorrow? That fits the later scene with Mr. Willoughby, where he's suffering very much from the vomiting, but here, he doesn't look or sound that bad.

Good to see Claire acting as a doctor.  Her patient is Manzetti, the sailor who, in the book, killed a shark.

The scene between Fergus and Jamie is very good, and I continue to be impressed with César Domboy as Fergus.

"If you were forced to marry Milady, then I am forced to breathe. My heart, it is forced to beat. You yourself have told me you wanted her more than life from the moment you saw her. You didn't need time."

I love this!


How does Fergus know what Jamie's reason for not telling Claire about Laoghaire was?  He's right, Jamie did tell Claire it was because he was a coward -- but Fergus wasn't there, so how does he know that? Just intuition?

The dinner scene between Claire and Captain Raines is not in the book, but I liked it. Richard Dillane is terrific as Captain Raines, with a wonderful voice and tremendous on-screen presence.

"A woman's bare breasts calm an angry sea." I giggled at that.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." And again, Raines quotes from Hamlet (Act II, Scene 2). I'm wondering how such a well-read, intellectual, refined man became a ship's captain. It seems an odd choice of career for someone like him.

In the next scene, Jamie looks absolutely miserable, and the seasickness is obviously much worse. Poor Jamie! And poor Sam, too; it can't have been easy to film this!

In the book, Claire was the one who came up with the "tangled testicles" line, and it was much funnier. But it works pretty well here with Willoughby saying it.  I think the look Jamie gives Willoughby at the end of the scene is very eloquent. He didn't have to say a word.

Meanwhile, Claire and Marsali are trying to find a way to live with one another, not very successfully.

"So, ye drop out of the clear blue sky, stickin' your nose where it doesn't belong, ruining my family, and NOW you're minding your own business?"  Great line!

In the next scene, and for the remainder of this episode, Claire is wearing her hair differently. I think this less-severe hairstyle suits her. It reminds me of the way she wore her hair during the search for Jamie in Episode 114.

"'Fizzle out' is what I'm afraid of."  Huh? Whatever Jamie meant by this, the line makes no sense to me.

Mr. Willoughby writing Chinese characters with water on the deck is a clever idea. Less messy than the ink he used in the book, and I like the symbolism, that his words vanish (evaporate) within moments after he finishes writing them.  As he says, "Once I tell [a story], I have to let it go."

The sailors' bawdy song made me smile. The lyrics are similar to a song called "Brides of Death" that I found here. [Warning, the lyrics in this link are NSFW!]

I'm glad they included the acupuncture needles! Interesting that Jamie didn't want to hurt Claire's feelings by rejecting her medical treatment.

"I didna want ye to see it as more proof ye dinna belong here."

I love Claire's reply:  "Jamie. My return has been--confusing, and frustrating. But it's never been a question of whether I love you."

I like seeing them this way, comfortable and affectionate with one another, gently teasing ("You look like a pincushion"). This scene isn't in the book, but we're finally getting back to the Jamie and Claire that I know so well.

When Captain Raines says, "Too late for that. It must be done at the beginning of a voyage," notice the camera cutting briefly to Hayes. I didn't notice this at all on the first viewing, but you can clearly see the "Oh, sh!t!" expression on his face, as he realizes that he forgot to touch the horseshoe.

I like the scene with Claire and Jamie in the moonlight very much. I was very startled to hear Claire quoting from GOODNIGHT MOON, but in fact, according to Wikipedia, the book was published in 1947, so it's plausible that Claire would have had access to it when Bree was little.

"You miss her."
"Terribly."

Awwww, that's sad! A very touching moment.

"Damn! Blazing Hades! Filth-eating son of a pig-fart!"

I laughed when I heard that, because that voice, and those words, could belong to only one man: the unforgettable Aloysius O'Shaughnessy Murphy, ship's cook aboard the Artemis. <g>  I'm glad they didn't forget about him!

This talk about finding a "Jonah" who's brought the ship ill luck made me think at once of Mr. Marsden, aka Smith, in AN ECHO IN THE BONE:

"Jonah Marsden!" Mr. Ormiston, on the verge of standing up, plumped back onto the chest, openmouthed. "Bless me if it isn't!"

"Who?" I asked, startled.          

"Jonah--well, 'tisn't his real name, what was it ... oh, Bill, I think it was, but we took to calling him Jonah, owing to him being sunk so many times."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31, "A Guided Tour Through the Chambers of the Heart". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And again, the camera lingers on Hayes, who is quiet, looking down, unable to meet the others' eyes.

"[The men] must believe that I am doing all I can on their behalf, or we shall have a mutiny."

Much as I like Captain Raines -- he's calm and steady when faced with a crisis, as you'd expect an experienced ship's captain to be -- Jamie is right.

"You will NOT be throwing any of my men overboard -- Captain," he says, with a note of steel in his voice that we haven't often heard from TV Jamie. And Raines just stares back at him, as if to say, "And how do you mean to stop me?"

Meanwhile, the men have decided that Hayes is the "Jonah"; seeing no alternative, Hayes decides to take matters into his own hands.

The sequence with Hayes atop the rigging is dramatic and suspenseful, and I liked it very much, even though the sound of the men calling, "Jump! Jump!" made me a little sick to my stomach.

Jamie, in full hero-mode, climbs the rigging, talking to Hayes the whole time.

Meanwhile, Mr. Willoughby is paying no attention to the drama unfolding high above his head. He's watching the sea, where a large bird has just appeared.

"If ye do jump, I would have to go in after ye, and if ye make me do that, ye ken my wife would kill the both of us."  Good line, but it's reminiscent of Leonardo DiCaprio's famous line from TITANIC: "If you jump, I jump."

The stunt work in this scene, especially the part with Hayes struggling to reach the ropes, is very impressive!

And no sooner does Hayes land safely on the deck, than the sailors turn their anger on Jamie. They might very well have pitched him overboard, had Yi Tien Cho not interfered.

I didn't find it believable that the crew, having worked itself up into a frenzy, would just stop what they were doing, instantly, at the sound of the bell ringing, and quiet down to listen to this Chinese "heathen". I really thought they would turn their anger on him instead.

Having said that, I thought Gary Young did an excellent job in this scene, telling Mr. Willoughby's tale (almost word for word from the book, though condensed somewhat), in a very dramatic fashion. I especially liked the way he grew more and more angry toward the end of his story.

And then he climbs up on the rail, and the pages of his story blow away on the wind. Wind?!  Yes, finally, they have wind, rain, and plenty of fresh water, and the crisis is over.

The scene with Jamie and Claire belowdecks, making love in desperate haste, is very close to the book, if not nearly as funny. Afterwards, I like the way Jamie talks about Claire's hair. I've always thought it was so sweet that the things Claire dislikes the most about her own body (in the books, her "generous" bottom and her wild, unruly hair; here, the gray streaks in her hair) are precisely the things Jamie seems to appreciate the most.

"If you were to say that in the 20th century, you would be the king of all men."

Groan!!  I really didn't like that. Talk about being jerked out of the story! "King of Men" is a phrase used in the OUTLANDER writers' room, first mentioned by Ron Moore soon after filming began on Season 1. I'm sure they thought it was funny for Claire to use that expression, but I didn't care for it.  Claire loves Jamie for himself (flaws and all!), not because he's the "King of Men"!

"No matter what troubles happen around us, Sassenach, this -- what it is between us -- never changes."  Awwwww, good line!

And here comes the Porpoise! I love the shot of the two ships facing each other. The Porpoise is clearly a bigger, more solidly-built vessel.

Charlie Hiett is very good as the young Captain Leonard, but oddly pale, as if he's spent all his time on this voyage below decks. (I suspect that was deliberate.) I like the smudges under his eyes, indicating that he hasn't slept much lately.

I like the fact that they kept this part mostly intact from the book. As Claire goes out into the corridor with Jamie, she folds her arms across her chest, indicating with her body language that she's not going to let him stop her from going.

"I've taken an oath now and then myself," Jamie says, fingering Claire's ring, "and none of them lightly." Good attention to detail there!

You can tell that the Porpoise is a naval ship, from the uniforms, to the way they "piped" Claire on board. Quite a contrast from the rougher, less disciplined routine aboard the Artemis!

Conditions below decks are just horrific, and they did a good job of illustrating that without being overly graphic about it. The sound of vomiting, rats scurrying, Claire holding a cloth over her nose and mouth from the stench, gave us a very good idea of what the conditions are like.

"You need to prepare yourself. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better."  In view of what's about to happen, these words apply just as much to Claire as to the crew of the Porpoise.

Young Elias Pound looks very much as I imagined him.

I liked Claire's reaction when she realizes the Porpoise is moving away. And it really is the perfect way to end the episode!

I enjoyed this episode very much and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next week.
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I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 309.

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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

OUTLANDER on the cover of Entertainment Weekly!



Jamie and Claire are on the cover of the November 17 issue of Entertainment Weekly!

Check out this EW photo shoot with Sam and Cait.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Season 3 Preview: The Journey Continues (SPOILERS!)

Here's a preview of what's coming in the rest of OUTLANDER Season 3!

SPOILER WARNING!!  If you haven't read VOYAGER (book 3 of the OUTLANDER series), there are spoilers here.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Episode 308: "First Wife" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 308 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "First Wife". I thoroughly enjoyed this episode! The Jamie and Claire we know are back, much to my relief, and I was delighted to see how much material they used from the book. This episode was written by Joy Blake, a new member of the writing team, and I think she did a terrific job!

*** 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 young Joanie and that lavish spread of food, is clearly from the Hogmanay celebration that we see later in the episode.

Claire's reunion with Jenny is tense and awkward, as it should be. Jamie is uncharacteristically silent.

The next scene is very good. Ian and Jenny are understandably furious. Young Ian is proud of himself for "earning a wage" (I love the way his whole face lights up when he talks about negotiating for the casks), but his parents are not impressed.

Jamie: "There was a wee fire at the printshop."
Ian: "Wee?! Ye wouldna be standing here if it was 'wee'." Good line

Hearing Jenny refer to her sister-in-law as a "stray" was a little shocking, but I can totally understand it. I like the way this episode took the time to explore how the situation looks from Jenny's point of view.

I liked the way they got around the punishment scene. Ian holds out the strap to Jamie, just as he did in the book, but Jamie says, "Maybe there's another way he can make it up to ye," and the next thing we see is Young Ian spreading manure with his bare hands. <g> "Shoveling goat-sh!t for his mother's garden" was the phrase used in the book, and I was amused to see it here.

I liked seeing the little kids. Angus is the snot-nosed little boy, also known as Wally, whom we met in VOYAGER chapter 38 ("I Meet a Lawyer"). Those of you who have read WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD may remember the story Jenny tells Claire near the end of the book about what happened to her daughter Maggie. Angus was her firstborn. Keep that in mind when you see him here.

It's good to see Young Jamie, too, although he appears not to remember Claire at all. (Well, he was no more than four when they last saw each other.)

I liked the conversation between Jenny and Jamie.

"Ye're an authority on raisin' bairns, now?"
"No, but I am an authority on being a sixteen-year-old lad that lives on a farm."

Jamie's line, "Ye ought to give him a taste of freedom, while he still thinks it's yours to give," is based on a quote from the book. I'll have more to say about this quote toward the end of this post.

I loved Jamie's response when Jenny asked why he didn't share his grief with her: "I barely wanted to breathe, let alone speak of it."

The story Jamie tells Jenny about what happened to Claire is vaguely plausible, but Jenny doesn't buy it. "The Claire I kent would never have stopped looking for you."

I liked Jamie's response when Claire suggests telling Jenny the truth: "We might as well convince her you're a mermaid." He's right, Jenny wouldn't believe it even if they told her the truth.

"Jenny casts a very warm light on those that she trusts, and a very cold shadow on those that she doesn't." Good line

The flashback scene with Jamie swimming to the silkies' island is very good. It looks like a very cold, desolate place. I love that they remembered Ellen's tower, even if it's not referred to that way in the show.

Jamie calling for Claire is heartbreakingly sad. It reminds me of Frank, at the stones in Episode 108 ("Both Sides Now"), calling her name in just that way.

"If he hadna been dead already, I would have gone back and killed Kerr myself, for givin' me hope."  This line isn't in the book, but I can totally believe it.

I like the idea that the MacKenzie crest marked the spot where the treasure-box was hidden. The box is more solidly built than I imagined.

"I was their leader," Jamie says, referring to the Ardsmuir men. That's true, but I wish they'd included the line from VOYAGER chapter 33 ("Buried Treasure"): "They were mine, and the having of them kept me alive."  That's critical to understanding what the Ardsmuir men meant to him.

The bit about the greylags comes straight from the book. And finally, they kiss! <happy sigh>

And just when Jamie is starting to get up the nerve to tell Claire the truth, the door flies open and we hear a girl's voice saying "Daddy!"  And all hell breaks loose. <vbg>

The actual "Daddy" moment is toned down quite a bit from the book, of course, but I'm not complaining, because the rest of this scene was done very, very well! Nell Hudson is terrific here as Laoghaire. She's just riveting to watch.

"Slip home behind my back and put your pr!ck in that whore!" This line isn't in the book, and I'm not sure it really fits here anyway, when L didn't actually interrupt them making love.

The look of total shock and bewilderment on Claire's face when L says, "He's MY husband now!" is just priceless.

I liked the scene with Jamie and wee Joanie very much. It's clear that he genuinely loves her (and vice versa!), and it's wonderful to see him relating to her as a father, in a way that he could not with his own children when they were growing up.

Despite the red hair, wee Joanie looks strikingly like Laoghaire. Kudos to the casting people, again!

Meanwhile, Claire is reeling from the shock, struggling to pull herself together enough to get dressed. The dialogue in this scene is mostly taken from the book, which I was very glad to see!

The Lamest Excuse Award goes to Jamie for his response here:

Claire: "She tried to have me killed!"
Jamie: "Well, you're the one who told me to be kind to the lass!"
Claire [staring at him incredulously]: "I told you to thank her, not marry her!"

And with that, they dispose of the whole utterly-ridiculous plotline from Episode 208 ("The Fox's Lair"), and we're back to the book.

The huge argument that follows is one of my all-time favorite Jamie/Claire scenes from the whole series, and I really couldn't be happier with the way they portrayed it here.  PERFECTION!!  It's almost exactly the way I've always imagined it from the book. Kudos to Sam and Cait, and to the director, for doing a terrific job with that scene!

"Even though you'd left me." I don't care how many times I've read or listened to that line, I always react the same way: a sharp indrawn breath, sort of a gasp of shock and indignation -- how dare he?!?  So I was just delighted with Claire's reaction here. The anger melts away briefly, and what we see on her face is pure heartbreak. "You forced me to go back!" she says, fighting back tears.

"Do I know how that feels? Yes, you bastard, I know!" Claire nearly screams the words at him.

It's just mesmerizing, watching this scene come to life before my eyes.
He threw me bodily onto the bed where we had lain laughing an hour before, and pinned me there at once with the weight of his body.
                            
He was most mightily roused.            

So was I.

Mine, he said, without uttering a word. Mine!

I fought him with boundless fury and no little skill, and Yours, my body echoed back. Yours, and may you be damned for it!

[...]

We were doing our level best to kill each other, fueled by the rage of years apart--mine for his sending me away, his for my going, mine for Laoghaire, his for Frank.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34, "Daddy". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I've always loved this bit, and I think they captured it perfectly, including the unspoken parts. 

In the middle of their furious struggle, Jamie whispers, "I love you, and only you."  That was a nice addition, and I think the TV-only viewers needed to hear it, as a sort of counterweight to the violence in this scene.

Jenny's entrance, and the scene with Claire and Janet afterward, are very close to the book.

"I thought he was dead."
"In a way, he was. Took him an age to start livin' again, and now you're back no more than a week, and you've killed a man, his printshop's razed to the ground, and he's on the run from the law."

I like that.

"What, did ye think we were all just frozen in time, waitin' for you to return?"

Good line, and far more perceptive than she realizes. Maybe Jenny Murray has a bit of the Sight after all. <g>

I was a little surprised to hear Claire telling Jenny about Frank, but it makes sense in this context. I'm reminded of this bit from OUTLANDER:
The basic principle, insofar as I remembered it, was to stick to the truth as much as humanly possible, altering only those details that must be kept secret. Less chance, the instructor explained, of slipping up in the minor aspects of one’s cover story.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 5, "The MacKenzie". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Jenny needs to hear a plausible reason why she stayed away for so many years, and this is as close to the truth as Claire can manage, without actually mentioning the time-traveling.

The scene between Jenny and Ian is not in the book, but I liked it, particularly this exchange:

"All ye ask for is Jamie's happiness after all the sorrows he's seen. And here he is, but ye canna let him have it."
"Does this look like happiness to you?"

The next scene, with Jamie and Claire outside, is not in the book. It was weird, but appropriate, to hear Claire quoting back Jamie's words about honesty word-for-word as he said it to her 20 years ago. I liked the fact that Jamie apologized to her.

"I've only known one love in my life, and that was with you." Awwwww!  I find myself willing Claire to believe it.

And here comes Laoghaire, armed with a pistol: "I've come to protect what's mine."  It seems clear from the beginning that she meant harm to Claire, not to Jamie. I think the pistol went off by accident, otherwise why would she fire it in mid-sentence like that?

I'm not quite sure why they changed it to bird-shot (what kind of an 18th-century pistol fires bird-shot, anyway?), unless it was to make the surgery scene longer and more complicated than it was in the book.

I always like watching Claire as a surgeon, but the idea that Jamie wouldn't even twitch when she poured alcohol into the open wound is ridiculous. (Oh, well.)

I like the way Young Ian and Claire bonded in this scene. With Jamie temporarily out of commission, he's the only one in the whole household looking out for her welfare.

"Uncle Jamie's lucky you're here," he says. Very perceptive for his age. <g>

Watching Claire in the post-operative scene with Jamie, I was struck by how cold and humorless she is.

"Whisky's a liquid, too, no?" Jamie says, trying for a feeble joke.
"No," she replies, without the faintest trace of a smile.

In the book, Claire's anger over Laoghaire is pushed aside temporarily by her concern for Jamie, but we can still see flashes of humor, warmth, tenderness, and compassion in the way she treats him.  Here, she's ice-cold, with no trace of tenderness ("I haven't stopped being angry"), and I didn't like that.

Jamie tells the story of how he and Laoghaire got together very matter-of-factly.

"I suppose I was lonely." This line comes from the book.

I liked the flashback scene of the Hogmanay celebration very much. The festive atmosphere, with candles everywhere, dancing, and fiddle music, is infectious, and I'm not surprised that Jamie managed finally to relax and enjoy himself.

Wee Joanie is really irresistible. <g> Very cute, with a bubbly personality that makes me smile just seeing her.  This is our first good look at Marsali, and I'm struck by how much she resembles Laoghaire at that age.

"The music wrapped around me and I was laughing."  I can't recall if it's been mentioned in the show that Jamie can't hear music. Maybe not. I don't think Claire found that out until FIERY CROSS. (Minor point.)

Wonderful to see Jamie actually enjoying himself for once!

"I found something to fill the hole I had in me."  I like this.  It's believable, and makes it very clear that Jamie wed Laoghaire not just for the sake of Joan and Marsali, but also for HIMSELF -- so that he could be a father, as he never could be to his own children.

It makes sense, and it's consistent with his character. I've always been happy for him that he was able to be a stepfather to Marsali and Joan.

So Jamie left Laoghaire because he "couldn't bear the thought of someone being afraid of my touch." Not because he couldn't stand being around Laoghaire.  Interesting.

And finally Claire reaches out and touches his hand, and belatedly realizes that he's running a fever. This doesn't make as much sense as in the book, because of the way they've rearranged the order of events, but I can live with it.

I liked the scene with Jenny and Claire. Most of the dialogue here comes straight from the book.

"I loved you, too, Jenny. Still do. I'm only asking for a second chance." I like that.

And here's Ned Gowan!  He's aged considerably, of course, but he sounds just the same. It's wonderful to see him again.

The bit about the pistol, and Laoghaire possibly being charged with a crime for shooting Jamie, is interesting, but I'm glad Jamie decided not to pursue it, for the sake of Marsali and Joan.

"I do hear Richmond is nice this time of year."  That's a little snarky, but pretty mild compared to some of the things Claire has thought and said about Laoghaire over the years.

The amount of the alimony payment (20 pounds a year, plus 10 pounds for the girls until they're wed) seems very low compared to the book, but I suppose they thought the lower amount was more historically accurate or something. It doesn't matter. The point is that this is more money than Jamie has, so they have no choice but to seek out the treasure on the silkies' isle.

I liked that they included an explanation of what Jamie was going to do with the ancient coins.

Jenny says, reluctantly, "I suppose it's best we let him have his freedom while he still thinks it's ours to give." This is almost a direct quote from the book (VOYAGER chapter 38, "I Meet a Lawyer"), but in the show, Jenny's comment has a different feel to it. Remember that Jamie said something very similar to Jenny near the beginning of this episode. Here, by using the same words, Jenny is acknowledging that Jamie was right, without having to admit it out loud.

"But you'll take better care of him this time, aye?" Ian asks.
"We will, aye," Jamie says. "You can trust us."

At which point, well aware of what's coming next, I glanced at the time remaining in this episode and thought, well, yes, but only for about the next five minutes! <g>

On the cliff near the silkies' island, Claire is having second thoughts, wondering if she made the right decision by coming back.

"For 20 years I was haunted by the memory of you. [....] But ever since I've arrived back it's been so much harder than I could ever have imagined."
"When has it ever been easy?"

And then, finally, we get that wonderful line: "Will you risk the man I am, for the sake of the one ye once knew?"  But we don't have time to see Claire's reaction!  That was disappointing. I really wish they'd taken the time to have Claire say, "Yes," and for the two of them to embrace at least briefly, before Claire spotted the ship approaching.

The final scene was very suspenseful, and I liked the music very much. Watching the ship sail away was just heart-stopping, even though I knew it was going to happen. And I like the way the camera pulls away from Jamie and Claire at the very end, emphasizing the vastness of the ocean separating them from Young Ian. Terrific way to end the episode!

I really enjoyed this episode, and I can't wait to see what happens next week!
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I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 309.

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October poll results

Here are the results of the October poll, which asked the question, "How long have you been reading Diana Gabaldon's books?"
  • 21.11% - 2-5 years
  • 17.50% - Since OUTLANDER was first published.
  • 15.02% - 20+ years
  • 9.91% - 5-10 years
  • 9.75% - 15-20 years
  • 9.18% - 10-15 years
  • 7.86% - 1-2 years
  • 3.52% - 6 months to 1 year
  • 3.22% - Less than 6 months
  • 1.75% - I haven't read any of Diana Gabaldon's books, but I've watched the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 0.25% - I read excerpts of her work on Compuserve before OUTLANDER was published.
  • 0.93% - Other
There were 3,662 responses to this month's poll, which is very impressive! Thanks very much to everyone who participated.

I didn't vote in the poll myself, but it's been almost 11 years for me. I discovered OUTLANDER in November 2006. You can read the story here if you're interested.

Please take a moment to vote in the November poll, which asks the question, "Would you go through the stones, if you could?" Thanks!