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.

20 comments:

Railie Douglas said...

Thanks Karen! Still to watch here in Australia tonight. Being VERY familar with the book, I have no objection to spoilers. Very satisfactory by the sounds of it. Very much looking forward to it. 👋🎈

Anonymous said...

About Jamie not being tone-deaf in the show - the show has dropped the entire plot line of Dougal’s axe attack and Jamie’s head injury just before he came back to Scotland and met with Claire. Apparently he had an average musical ability (our Jamie, average?) but the TBI wiped his musical perception clean. Personally I can stand behind this decision, as Jamie has has enough injuries to deal with. Plus, a TBI is not just something one gets over, like a sprained ankle, and Jamie needs every brain cell he has.

EbonyRaptor said...

Much better episode this week. I'm happy again. :)

♥Susanlynn said...

Thank you, Karen, for another excellent, detailed review.

I liked this episode. Terrific acting by all. I liked the change from the book to L's young lassies approaching Jamie for a dance! The little girl reminded me of my red haired seven year old granddaughter. In the book, Jamie's description of L sashaying up to him and asking him to dance with her always irked me. Cheeky tart.

I did not like Claire still doubting coming back at the end! No, she didn't !WHat part of one true love does the show not get.

Anonymous said...

Far far superior to last weeks effort. This felt much more like Claire and Jamie again.

The problem I have always had with Jamie marrying Laoghaire is that he was always an honourable man and having made up his mind to marry her and be a father to her two children I don't believe he would EVER have left her and gone to Edinburgh no matter how bad it was between them. This episode and his lovely interaction with Joanie reinforced this belief for me.

Anonymous said...

I think reading the books ruined the show for me. I read Voyager a month ago and Drums of Autumn was just finished on Saturday. There is so much richness in the books that is difficult to bring to the screen. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the show, if it wasn’t for the show, I would never have read the books and plan on continuing. They just seem watered down.

Joan broke my heart, what a great little actress. Her sweetness stole the show. Part of me didn’t want him to leave her. But then I remembered Loargaire and changed my mind. I agree with the comment about Claire being too cold during their talk after he was shot. I wished they showed the scene of her fleeing and Ian chancing her down to go back. It wouldn’t have taken much airtime but I’m sure they had their reasons.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate this website because I don't have RL friends who share my enthusiasm for the books and show. I found the books by way of the show. Truth be told, I'm vey new to the community, only since about July of 2017 I believe.

I remember - in the book - Mr. Willoughby referring to Claire as "Honorable First Wife" and thinking "HellOOOO. No one refers to someone as first wife if they are the only wife. For all Claire's keen powers of observation, what happened here?

At the risk of revealing myself to be a stick in the mud, I like Claire and Jamie best when they are in domestic bliss at Lallybroch. Obviously, without conflict there is no story - I just wish they could have a longer periods of happiness before the inevitable s&*#storm.

I suppose it's great that there is such a committed community of book fans keeping the tv writers in check. I could not imagine one without the other. It helps my imagination greatly to picture the actors on the show as I listen to the books - which have been a constant companion - thanks to Audible.com for several months now.

KMC said...

Really liked this episode as well. The Frasers as we know and love them. Blabbermouth Young Ian, Jamie smiling and laughing, Claire and Jamie fighting and kissing and Claire tending the Jamie's wounds. Jenny digging in her heals, Ian (brave man that he is) calling Jenny on her stubbornness. And, wee Joan was just adorable. What more could we ask for. Thank you to Joy Blake and Anne Kenney.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen this episode more than made up for the last one , beginning with the Hogumany scene , when Jamie , Claire and Young Ian approach the house and see Jenny for the first time there is great tension between them all and the scenes with Young Ian great , Jenny and Older Ian have a perfect right to be furious at their son and Jamie both and loved seeing his father had Jamie the switch , but was glad to see Young Ian not whipped ,and made to work in the stables instead , good to see Young Jamie grow and even he knows nothing of Claire , loved Jenny telling Jamie how galling it was of him to tell her how to raise Young Ian when he hadn't yet told Claire about his marriage, liked seeing Jamie explain why he had to send Claire away , but Jenny doesn't really think the Claire she knew would really look for him . Great scene in which Jamie tells Claire about his escape to the Seals Isle and searching for her thinking her to be the white witch , and finding the MacKenzie Gold , The moment of truth comes when Joanie and Leohire appear and was just from the book and loved Claire's reation on hearing her call Jamie her husband and loved the way Jamie explains Claire to Young Joanie , can understand Claire's feelings of betrayal her she had always been honest with him and he wasn't about something so huge , love the fight scenes and it was so raw and real , wished they could have kissed a bit before Jenny tossed water on them a bit , more tension between Jenny and Claire Claire starts to leave and shows Jamie just how much he's hurt her then Lerry shows up, clearly meaning to shoot Claire , but shoots him instead love seeing Claire knock the gun out of the other woman's hand , then brings Jamie into the house to tend to his injury , Young Ian is impressed by the way she tends to his wounds , and stays by her side, Jamie heals but Claire is still frosty with him until he finally tells the whole story and like the flashback scenes , this part is very strong and very much like the book afterwards she 's more softer and liked her taking his hand , plus likes seeing Claire give Jamie the shot , right from the book , things are still tense between Jenny & Claire I felt when Claire reached out to her and told her how she still loved her and her brother and how she still wore his ring < Jenny should have given in a bit but she 's more stubbon than Jamie is , loved seeing Ned Gowen and how he was in the scene with Jamie and Claire , loved seeing how Jamie wanted to do the right things by the girls and agreed to the demands put on him . then loved telling Jenny he and Claire would both look after Young Ian in Paris , Back at the Seals' Isle , Claire is unsure she had made the right decision to come back to him loved seeing Jamie tell her they belong together and wished she had embraced him , before Young Ian's Kidnapping , very intense scenes and you can tell what's happening even from their distance , then pulling away from where Jamie and Claire were standing was a great way to end the episode , this is leading up to the adventures at sea, then another break into Thanksgiving then the next few will lead into the Holidays , so will watch as much as possible , you know how crazy the Holidays cam be , please post more soon. love being a fan of such a great show , sincerely .

Nicole foxworth said...

Seeing her cold and matter of fact while treating Jamie, reminded me of later when he is bit by the rattlesnake. He says that he knows he is going to be fine when she is matter of fact while treating him, its when she is nice that he is scared.

Elisa Pitoniak said...

Great recap as usual!

♥Susanlynn said...

Welcome back Sam's real hair. I dinna care for that wig.

I get a kick out of the writers who say "the character would not do that. " well, yes he\she did..it is right there in the book ! Why change the original creation? If a writer has a nifty idea for a situation or something new a character could do, you would think that he\she would want to save the idea for his\her novel instead of adjusting Diana's creations which are just right the way she has written them. Why mess with success?

Anonymous said...

Other Anonymous: I thought the exact same thing about being referred to as First Wife! How did she not pick up on that? I too just discovered the show, a month later than you though. It has completely taken over my life. Each day I either read or watch or both. My family thinks I’m crazy. The only person who can relate is my cousin. She has read all the books and is the one who encouraged me to read them.

Debbi said...

Many thanks Karen for the wonderful recap of episode 8. This episode was definitely a redemption from episode 7. I do have a better appreciation for the progression of Jamie and Claire's reunion after 20 years with, after the initial emotional/physical reaction, then moving to the reality of what the 20 year separation involved for both of them which then came into play in episode 8. Can't praise the actors enough...the emotions they portray are so raw and real...when they cry, I cry. It took my breath away to watch Jamie, in a last ditch effort to convince Claire as she is walking away, declares to Claire that she was the only person he ever loved in his life. Loved seeing Ned Gowen and, after Laoghaire shoots Jamie, how Jenny opens up to accepting Claire. I also agree with others who have commented about the cliff scene. I do wish she was given the chance to affirm her love for him consummated by an embrace. Can't wait for episode 9!

Anonymous said...

Just because something is in the book does not mean it's always in character. I think Jamie marrying Laoghaire and being a father to the girls is in character. Him abandoning them is not.

Just as what happens with Claire towards the end of book 8 has always horrified me and I view it as totally out of character for her.

For the sake of a WTF moment it's not worth sacrificing the honour of a beloved character imho.

♥Susanlynn said...

It was clever of the writers to have JOan join Marsali in breaking in on Jamie and Claire. As soon as CLaire saw that pretty little redhead calling Jamie Daddy, she would immediately believe that he was the father. In one of the later books, Joan is described as dark haired like her real father.TQhat little actress was irresistible. In the title card, Jenny is the person filling her plate with figs, do I assume that she told Joan to offer some to the big redhead hiding in the office. That Jenny.

Laoghaire only said a few sentences when she confronted Claire and Jamie, but she managed to use about five bad words I front of her young daughters. Yikes. Hell hath no fury, no? I was surprised that she did not throw the pitcher. Jamie was the one who broke it instead of punching the armoire .

laine said...

Why is cold angry Claire i.e. Frank's sniping critical Claire so much in evidence here? It's a miracle the supposed love of her life survived his trials of Job and she made it through the stones to find him. Any obstacles are pretty tame (smuggling, hostile sister-in-law...pffft) compared to breaking in to Fort Wentworth or healing her husband after torture. What a weak sister older but not wiser? Claire is compared to her younger self when it comes to fighting for Jamie. Wish she had the same passion for him as for her patients including one who just tried to kill her. Don't get between Dr. Claire, Medicine Woman and a patient. Committed to Jamie? Not so much, still doubting and vacillating despite seeing him at risk of death twice since she returned by fire and bullet.

Anonymous said...

Claire made huge sacrifices to come back to Jamie- a successful career, and not least, leaving Brianna. At this point, she has only been back a matter of days, if not hours, and certainly unaware of large parts of Jamie's life in the last 20 years, unsure of who he has become. I can certainly understand her being angry withJamie for not telling her he has remarried (even though he was on the verge of telling her, she can't read his mind) , and to someone who tried to have her burnt as a witch! What a betrayal. Add to this her reception at Lallybroch, a place Claire considered her real home. How hurt would Claire have been when cold, angry, snippy Jenny treats her like dirt, calls her a Stray, introduces her to wee Jamie as 'someone who used to live here' , not even a bit of common courtesy, and Jamie did not speak up for her!
Don't blame Claire for wondering whether she has made a big mistake in coming back.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and how could Jenny summon Loaghaire, hurting not only Claire but also Joannie and Marsali! She should not even be interfering in her brother's affairs!

Anonymous said...

Oh, the worst thing is Jenny deliberately summoning Loaghaire, hurting not only Claire and Jamie, but also Joanne and Marsali! She shouldn't interfere in her brother's affairs!