Episode 308: "First Wife" (SPOILERS!)
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
There are SPOILERS below! If you don't want to know yet, stop reading now.
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.)
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.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.
(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 5, "The MacKenzie". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The scene between Jenny and Ian is not in the book, but I liked it, particularly this exchange:
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!
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.