Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!



Happy New Year, everyone!

As we prepare to ring in 2019, it's time for another annual tradition here on Outlandish Observations: an old-fashioned Hogmanay celebration, as they might have celebrated it on Fraser's Ridge 250 years ago.
A firstfoot was to bring gifts to the house: an egg, a faggot of wood, a bit of salt--and a bit of whisky, thus insuring that the household would not lack for the necessities during the coming year.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Hogmanay". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I can't participate in a first-footing myself, even if I lived in Scotland (redheads being considered extremely bad luck on such an occasion), but I'd like to share these small tokens with you anyway.






Many of you will remember the Hogmanay celebration in OUTLANDER Episode 308 ("First Wife"), a very festive occasion celebrated with plenty of food, music, and dancing.

Here's an article about Hogmanay Traditions in Scotland. From what I can tell, the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh are an even bigger deal than New Year's Eve in New York's Times Square.

Happy New Year, and best wishes to all of you in 2019!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Episode 409: "The Birds and the Bees" (SPOILERS!)



Here are my reactions to Episode 409 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The Birds and the Bees". I loved this episode! I think it's easily the best one of Season 4 so far, and one of my favorites in the whole series.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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The opening shot, showing a bee in a flower, is very appropriate, considering the title of this episode.

This episode picks up where Episode 408 ("Wilmington") left off, with Bree returning to the room she shares with Lizzie at the tavern, after having been brutally raped by Stephen Bonnet. Lizzie is clearly worried and frightened for her mistress, but Bree shies away from her touch when Lizzie tries to help with her laces. As Bree undresses with her back to Lizzie, the bloodstains on her petticoat are very obvious, and she has fresh bruises on her back and sides.

I got the impression that Bree desperately wants to be alone, but Lizzie won't let her withdraw into herself entirely. She lays a hand on the pillow next to Bree, saying, "Ye have my hand here, and my ear if ye need it." I liked that. It's the act of a friend, not just a bond-servant, and it's definitely in character for Lizzie.

The next morning, Roger enters the tavern, looking for Bree. Instead, he finds Stephen Bonnet, with whom he sailed on the Gloriana. Bonnet informs Roger that he's going to have to sail with them to Philadelphia (!)

"I'd sooner see you lose a lass than a limb," Bonnet says, smiling. This line isn't in the book, but I liked it.

Roger's grim expression makes it clear that he knows he has no choice. As he's half-shoved out the door of the tavern by one of Bonnet's men, he barely has time to ask the barkeep to let Brianna know he was there.

So he's gone, without a note or a word of explanation, or even a promise that he will come back to find her as soon as he can.

Back in her room, Bree wakes to find that it's well past noon, and Lizzie has taken the trouble to wash her soiled underclothes.

"I don't want you to exert yourself," she tell Lizzie. "You've been ill." Book-readers will recall that Lizzie suffers from malaria.

Bree insists that they must leave today. She's unwilling to stay in the tavern a moment longer than necessary, and I can't blame her one bit, under the circumstances. As she walks through the main room, you can see from her body language that she's still very tense, wary of being touched.

She goes to the docks in search of Roger, only to find that the Gloriana has sailed away. I like the shot of Bree staring out at the water, clearly wondering if Roger has left her forever. She looks at her bracelet: "I love you...a little...a lot...passionately...not at all." And where does Roger fit on that continuum? Given the way their last encounter ended, she has reason to worry.

Suddenly Lizzie rushes up to her, very excited, and tells her about an outrageous story she's just heard about an incident that occurred the night before: "At the theater, the play was brought to a halt when the wife of a Scotsman acted as a surgeon and cut a man open to heal him." Clearly, she's referring to the incident in Episode 408 ("Wilmington"), and just as clearly, it can't be anyone but Claire -- and Jamie is nearby.

The scene where Bree and Jamie meet for the first time is just WONDERFUL!! Very much as I've always imagined it from the book. Just watching it makes me cry. Jamie's reactions are perfect, just perfect! And I am thrilled that they kept the dialogue intact from the book, considering that this is a passage that readers know so well. When they embraced for the first time, I distinctly heard these words in my head:
He held out his arms to her. She stepped into them and found that she had been wrong; he was as big as she’d imagined--and his arms were as strong about her as she had ever dared to hope.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "Journey's End". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And a moment later, here's Claire. I laughed out loud when I realized we were seeing another scene taken directly from the book, with Jamie and Bree sitting on the bench side-by-side.

As Claire hugs Brianna, watch Claire's eyes, huge with shock and darting back and forth, very much the way she reacted when Jamie fainted in the printshop at the end of Episode 305, "Freedom & Whisky". Cait's face is so expressive, going from shock to incredulous joy to puzzlement -- what is Bree doing here?!? -- and back to joy, as she sees the look on Jamie's face.

For me, it's impossible to watch those two scenes back to back and not end up smiling, blinking back tears of happiness. Kudos to Sam, Cait, and Sophie! They absolutely could not have done this any better, as far as I'm concerned.

The next scene is much more sobering, as Bree shows Claire and Jamie the newspaper clipping announcing their deaths by fire.

"Smudged date," Jamie says, frowning at it in disapproval. "Unforgivable mistake by the printer." That made me laugh. Jamie's a former printer himself, after all, and a perfectionist.

"There's still much to do, but we have settlers, and some crops."

I didn't care for this line, which seems inserted here rather clumsily just to make the point to the viewers that a) there is a community developing on Fraser's Ridge, even if we haven't seen much of it yet, and b) Jamie and Claire's homestead is producing enough food, even if we've seen little evidence of crops being grown, tended, or harvested as yet, aside from whatever Claire grows in her garden. My reaction was, of course they have crops! What do you think they've been eating in the several years since they settled on the Ridge? But I'll cut Jamie a little slack here. He's still in shock from Bree's arrival, after all.

I liked the scene where Young Ian meets Brianna.

"When it comes to you, Auntie Claire, I've learned it's better not to ask too many questions." Good line!

On board the Sally Ann, headed up the Cape Fear River, Lizzie can't keep her eyes off Young Ian. "So handsome," she murmurs, and Ian thinks she's talking about Rollo. <g>

Meanwhile, Claire and Bree are having a mother-daughter talk in the cabin of the boat.

"You're in love with him."
"Yes."

I'm glad to hear her say it out loud, even though I knew it already.

I was struck by the way Bree's voice is rather dull and lifeless when she's telling Claire what happened. I think that's realistic. She's been through a severe trauma, and Roger's leaving (possibly forever) has left her understandably depressed, to say the least.

Bree glances at Claire's hand, and notices the new silver ring, which must have reminded her of the circumstances that led up to the rape, but she says nothing.

That view of the Cape Fear River, as Ian says, "Something terrible happened," looks very authentic to me, very much like this. (As a side note, some of you may recall hearing about the major flooding on the Cape Fear River near Wilmington caused by Hurricane Florence in September.)

It's a good idea to have Ian tell the story of their encounter with Stephen Bonnet. When he says, "Stole her wedding ring, too," you can see the realization dawning in Bree's eyes. For a moment I thought she was going to be sick right then and there. I liked the way she flinched away when Ian tried to touch her. Sophie does an excellent job with Bree's body language throughout this whole episode!

After Ian leaves, Bree takes Claire's ring from her pocket, examines it carefully for a moment, then puts it back. I imagine that she's trying to put the memories of that night away, too, but without success.

The next scene shows Claire and Jamie riding on horseback through the woods, obviously approaching Fraser's Ridge, with Ian, Bree, and Lizzie in the wagon accompanying them. My question is, they've clearly been on a boat for some time, coming up the river. Where did the wagon and the horses come from? Is there a convenient livery stable at the point where the river ends and the mountains begin, where they just happened to leave their horses and a wagon to carry supplies home? (Sorry. This episode is so wonderful that I hate to nitpick anything at all, but that particular point niggles at me.)

"We could make sure we're never in the cabin the Sunday before January 21st."
"Every year for a decade?"
"We'll make a holiday out of it."

This made me laugh a little at the absurdity of it. This is, of course, different from the situation in the books, when they believe they know the exact date of the fire: January 21, 1776.

As they arrive on the Ridge, Young Ian stops the wagon so the newcomers can admire the magnificent view. "This is incredible," Bree says, and it is.

I liked the bit where Bree talks about Daniel Boone, especially the way Jamie smiles when he realizes she's talking about the future in the same way Claire does. "He's used to it," Claire says, making me laugh.

Home at last, and Murtagh comes out of the cabin to greet them.

"Ye ken by now, I'm no an easy man to kill." Good line, and very ironic, considering that in the books, he died at Culloden.

"You've a spy among your men," Jamie says.
"Had," replies Murtagh. So he's eliminated the threat. Did he kill the man? Jamie doesn't pursue it.

I liked Murtagh's reaction to meeting Bree. It's understated, especially compared to the way he reacted on hearing that Claire had come back. "What took ye so long, lass?" is all he says.

The next scene, with the five of them getting to know one another, is a good addition. Jamie's hair looks decent for a change. <g>

So Fergus and Marsali and little Germain might move to the Ridge in the spring? Good. That means we have a pretty good chance of seeing them again by the end of Season 4.

I like this bit:

Jamie: "Awww, your ma, chidin' you from across the seas."
Murtagh: "Aye, and if ye have any sense, ye'll pay heed, or no doubt she'll cross the sea and tell ye herself."

I was surprised and delighted to hear them telling the story of fourteen-year-old Jamie's encounter with his cousin Tibby, which we heard about in OUTLANDER:
"Well, the morning after Tib’s mother caught us, I woke up just at dawn. I’d been dreaming about her--Tib, I mean, not her mother--and I wasna surprised to feel a hand on my c*ck. What was surprising was that it wasn’t mine.”

“Surely it wasn’t Tibby’s?”

“Well, no, it wasna. It was her father’s.”

“Dougal?! Whatever--?”

“Well, I opened my eyes wide and he smiled down at me, verra pleasant. And then he sat on the bed and we had a nice little chat, uncle and nephew, foster-father to foster-son. He said how much he was enjoying my being there, him not having a son of his own, and all that. And how his family was all so fond of me, and all. And how he would hate to think that there might be any advantage taken of such fine, innocent feelings as his daughters might have toward me, but how of course he was so pleased that he could trust me as he would his own son.”

“And all the time he was talking and me lying there, he had his one hand on his dirk, and the other resting on my fine young balls. So I said yes, Uncle, and no, Uncle, and when he left, I rolled myself up in the quilt and dreamed about pigs. And I didna kiss a girl again until I was sixteen, and went to Leoch.”

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Kisses and Drawers". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
It's natural that Murtagh would know a lot of these old family stories, and I really enjoyed hearing him and Jamie tell this one.

Claire tells Bree about her encounter with George Washington in Episode 408, "Wilmington", but Bree barely reacts. "That's amazing," she says, but she's too exhausted to muster any real excitement or interest in the news. I found that disappointing. Bree was a history major at one time, and born and raised in America, so you'd think she would be curious enough to ask for details, but she doesn't. That's a wasted opportunity, if you ask me -- but I think her lack of enthusiasm is very likely a symptom of depression.

"You've suffered enough pain in your life," Murtagh tells Jamie. "I'm glad for ye, lad."

So am I, definitely!!

In the next scene, Bree and Claire are alone in the cabin when Bree tells her, "Daddy knew. That you came back." She explains about seeing the obituary in the Wilmington Gazette among Frank's papers. Claire looks stunned, as though she doesn't know quite how to respond to this.

"It's quite a lot to take in, being here," Claire says. "It was for me. It's quite overwhelming." That's true, but Bree has a lot more to deal with right now than adjusting to life in the 18th century. The stress and worry is making her clumsy, and Claire easily guesses that Roger is weighing heavily on her mind.

"He's gone," Bree says. "There's nothing I can do about that now."

In the next scene, the Gloriana has finally come to the end of her voyage and Stephen Bonnet is distributing pay to his men, including Roger. Suddenly Roger sees a collection of small gemstones among the money on the table, and he asks if he can have a couple of gemstones as his pay, rather than coins. I like this. It's a reasonable explanation for how Roger managed to acquire gemstones from Stephen Bonnet (something that is not explained in detail in the book), and it makes sense to me.

Meanwhile, back on the Ridge, it's laundry day. Claire looks altogether too happy, considering how backbreaking laundry was in those days, but she's clearly delighted just to have Bree there.

I enjoyed the little montage of daily life on Fraser's Ridge. It looks peaceful and idyllic, too good to be true, until you take a closer look at Bree's face and you see how preoccupied and unhappy she looks.

I love the brief glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance while Bree is (listlessly) churning butter. Just gorgeous!

The scene with Jamie and Bree doing target practice is very entertaining, and I loved Jamie's reaction to Bree's shooting ability. She really is very good, considering she's presumably never fired an 18th-century musket or rifle before.

Now we get our first good look at Jamie's whisky-making operation.

"It's a far cry from the still-cellar at Leoch. It does make whisky, though."
"Of a sort."

This bit comes straight from the book. (DRUMS chapter 43, "Whisky in the Jar")

I didn't really like the way they made such a fuss over "Bree" being a Scots word. Why would Jamie claim that "it doesn't translate", when it becomes clear in the next scene that the word has a very specific meaning? Just because he doesn't want to hurt Bree's feelings? That doesn't make sense to me.

So Claire suggested the idea of Jamie and Bree going hunting together? I like that.

Before dawn the next morning, Jamie comes in to wake Brianna, and finds her smiling in her sleep. Awwww! This is such a bittersweet moment. Wonderful that Jamie finally gets to see that, but heartbreaking at the same time that he didn't get to know her as a child. I love the way his eyes light up when he looks at her, as though he still can't believe she's really here.

Just wondering: have we seen Bree wearing trousers since she came through the stones? I can't recall. It certainly makes sense that she wouldn't go hunting wearing an 18th-century gown and stays; I'm just wondering where she got them. (But it's a minor point.)

A bald eagle! I'm a little surprised that Bree didn't tell Jamie the significance of bald eagles as America's national symbol.

The bee-hunting scene is wonderful, very close to the way I've always pictured it from the book. Most of the dialogue in this scene comes almost verbatim from DRUMS chapter 42, "Moonlight".

And I have to admit that watching Jamie teach Bree how to "herd" bees is highly entertaining to me personally. <g> As some of you may know, Diana Gabaldon gave me the title of "Chief Bumblebee-Herder" a few years ago, a reference to my role as Section Leader (aka moderator) of the Diana Gabaldon section of TheLitForum.com, which is the online forum where Diana hangs out.

This is my favorite bee-related scene in the whole series, and I'm delighted to see it brought to life on TV.

"I feel disloyal to [Frank] even being here with you." Wow, that's harsh. Thinking it is one thing, but why say it to his face?

"I'm grateful to him. He raised you for your mother's sake, a child of another man. A man he had no cause to love." This quote is based on Jamie's very similar thoughts in DRUMS chapter 44, "Three-Cornered Conversation". It feels right to me that he would say it directly to Bree, though.

"I had to give ye to him. Though I canna say I'm sorry you came back to me." Good line.

I laughed when Jamie said, "Aye, ye are [a bree, or disturbance], as was your mother before ye." I love the wry look on his face, as he thinks about his time-traveling women. "But you're one I welcome." Awwww, sweet!

"You can call me Da, if ye like."
"Da. Is that Gaelic?"
"No. It's only....simple."

And again I have tears in my eyes, watching this. These unforgettable lines are, of course, from Jamie and Bree's first meeting (DRUMS chapter 41, "Journey's End"), and I'm so glad they found an appropriate place to fit them into this episode.

In the next scene, Bree and Jamie have returned, and they sit down to enjoy some of the honey from the new hive.

Late that night, Claire wakes to find Jamie unable to sleep.

"I dinna want her to return to her own time, Sassenach."
"I wish she could stay here, too."

This scene is another one that's based on the book (DRUMS chapter 42, "Moonlight"), but I'm glad that they re-worded it somewhat. It's always bothered me that Jamie, in the book, was saying, "She must go back," from the day Bree arrived on the Ridge, almost before he'd had a chance to get to know her.

"I remember Jenny bending over each of her newborn bairns, watching them for hours. I could watch Brianna like that and never tire of it." Awwww!

"She is a gift, from me to you. And you to me." Good line.

The next day, we find Bree outside, sitting by a nest full of baby birds. (First a bald eagle, then baby birds. This episode is really living up to its title of "The Birds and the Bees", even before we learn that Bree is pregnant!) Lizzie is concerned because Bree is having nightmares, crying in her sleep. She announces that she's going to go with Young Ian to the mill -- conveniently leaving Bree to spend some "quality time" alone with Claire.

Most of the dialogue in this scene between Bree and Claire comes straight from the book. (DRUMS chapter 45, "Fifty-Fifty".)

"I didn't think I needed to pack condoms, Mama." Haha! Great line, and Sophie's delivery is just perfect. This particular line isn't in the book, but it certainly sounds like something Bree would say.

"It might not be Roger's baby." I like the fact that they changed this line from "it isn't" (in the book) to "it might not be", because of course there is no way for her to be certain. I also liked Claire's reaction -- shocked, but then visibly pulling herself together, saying calmly, "All right."

"And then...I didn't fight him. I didn't fight him hard enough! Why the hell didn't I fight him?" And they hug each other tightly as Brianna finally breaks down and lets out the tears she's been holding back for weeks.

I like this, very much! I hope we get to see the scene where Jamie shows her exactly why she couldn't have fought Bonnet and won. But whatever happens, at least Claire will be there for her.

Later that night, in the cabin, Claire tells Jamie that Bree was raped. Immediately Jamie is on his feet, looking around as though he wants badly to hit something, or to go out that very minute and kill her attacker.

"But there's something else," Claire says. "She's pregnant."

I wish we'd been able to see Jamie's reaction to that, but the scene shifts instead to Roger, who has arrived on horseback in the vicinity of Fraser's Ridge. He stops to consult a compass (at least that's what I think he's holding), just as Young Ian and Lizzie emerge from the woods -- and Lizzie recognizes him as the man she saw in the tavern in Wilmington.

Meanwhile, Claire, sorting through a pile of laundry in the lean-to shelter where Bree has been sleeping, discovers her missing wedding ring, the one Bonnet stole from her on the river.

The next scene, with Jamie, Lizzie, and Ian, is taken almost verbatim from the book. (DRUMS chapter 44, "Three-Cornered Conversation".) Lizzie is extremely convincing in this scene. I was a little doubtful at first about whether Caitlin O'Ryan was the right choice to play Lizzie, but I'm not worried about it anymore. Based on what I've seen of her in this episode, she'll do just fine.

In the next scene, Claire confronts Brianna with the ring, and learns that Stephen Bonnet was the one who raped her.

"Why did you not tell me this?"
"Ian told me about what happened on the river. And I knew that you would feel awful for what happened to me because of the ring, and Jamie would blame himself because he helped Bonnet escape. If he knows, he'll try to find Bonnet, and I can't let him do that."

From Bree's point of view, that makes a certain amount of sense. She's trying to keep Jamie from getting hurt, or killed. But of course we know Jamie won't see it that way at all.

Bree makes Claire promise not to tell Jamie any of this.

And suddenly we're back to Roger. He encounters Jamie, berserk with fury, in the woods, and barely manages to ask if Fraser's Ridge is nearby, before Jamie is pounding at him, beating the crap out of him without even bothering to ask his name.

Just when I was starting to fear Jamie might actually kill him, Young Ian and Rollo arrive. Jamie tells Ian to "get rid of him". They load Roger, unconscious, belly-down on a horse.

"What d'ye want me to do with him?" Ian asks.
"I dinna ken. Just get him out of my sight."

And with that Major Cliffhanger, the episode ends. Wow! What a terrific episode! This one's definitely a keeper, no question about it.
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I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far, and please come back next week to see my recap of Episode 410.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out TheLitForum.com, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 Year in Review



2018 has been an unforgettable year for OUTLANDER fans all over the world! Here are some of the highlights of the past year:



January 6 - STARZ announces that Colin McFarlane has been cast as Ulysses.



February 9 - The Season 3 Soundtrack is released.



March 6 - It's the 30th anniversary (believe it or not!) of the day Diana Gabaldon began writing, "for practice", the novel that would become OUTLANDER. Here's Diana's story of How It All Began.



March 25 - I post the latest installment in my series of "ABC's of OUTLANDER". This one explores the character of Lord John Grey.



April 10 - The Season 3 Blu-Ray and DVD are released in the US.



May 9 - STARZ announces that OUTLANDER has been renewed for Seasons 5 and 6!

From the official press release:
Starz will continue to partner with Sony Pictures Television on this multi-book, 24-episode pick-up for “Outlander.” Seasons five and six will each play out over 12 episodes respectively and will be based on material from the fifth book in the Outlander series, entitled The Fiery Cross, as well as the sixth book in the series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.



June 5 - Diana Gabaldon's latest story, "Past Prologue", co-written with Steve Berry, is released in paperback, in an anthology called MATCHUP, edited by Lee Child. This story features both Steve Berry's character Cotton Malone, and....Jamie Fraser! For more information about this story, look here.

June 27 - Roma Sars of the OUTLANDER Home Page fan site publishes an interview with me, as part of a series on "the fans who make it", taking a closer look at people who devote a lot of time and effort to OUTLANDER fandom. Thanks, Roma!

July 5 - It's the last day of filming for OUTLANDER Season 4! It took about nine months to film the 13 episodes of Season 4, and the final post-production work was not completed until November 20.



July 15 - Just days after being nominated for an Emmy Award, OUTLANDER's costume designer, Terry Dresbach, announces that she will be leaving the show after Season 4. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication, Terry! You will definitely be missed.



August 4 - STARZ announces that Season 4 will premiere on Sunday, November 4, 2018.



August 7 - Diana Gabaldon's story collection, SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL, is published in trade paperback format (that's the large size paperback) in the US and Canada. For more information about this book, see my SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL FAQ page.



August 28 - Outlandish Observations turns 10 years old! Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement. I really appreciate it!



August 28-29 - In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Outlandish Observations, I published my first-ever interview with Diana Gabaldon! I tried hard to think of questions that were different from the sorts of things interviewers usually ask her, and she really rose to the occasion. Many thanks to Diana for taking the time to answer in such detail! This was quite a thrill for me, and definitely one of my favorite moments of 2018.



August 31 - STARZ releases the official "key art" that will be used to advertise OUTLANDER Season 4. I like it very much.



September 14 - Diana Gabaldon throws out the first pitch at the Yankees-Blue Jays game at Yankee Stadium. She did a great job, as you can see in this video. Congratulations, Diana!



September 25 - My Outlandish Observations Facebook page now has more than 11,000 followers! Thank you all!



October 4 - OUTLANDER appears on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Many fans, including me, were disappointed by the photos of Sam and Cait in the EW photo shoot.



October 16 - The STARZ TV tie-in paperback edition of DRUMS OF AUTUMN is released in the US.



October 20 - OUTLANDER fans worldwide celebrate the 100th birthday (believe it or not!) of our favorite time-traveling Sassenach, Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser! She was born on October 20, 1918.



October 23 - The 25th Anniversary hardcover edition of VOYAGER is published!

From the publisher's description on Amazon:
A beautifully designed collector's edition of the third book in Diana Gabaldon's blockbuster Outlander series featuring a brand new introduction and bonus material to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its original publication.
Look here for more information.



October 23 - OUTLANDER takes the #2 spot in the Great American Read contest on PBS! Congratulations, Diana!



November 4 - OUTLANDER Season 4 premieres at long last, and the "Great Thread Explosion of 2018-19" begins on TheLitForum.com, where I manage the discussions (aka "herding the bumblebees") in Diana Gabaldon's section of the forum. It's definitely been a challenge to keep up with the flood of posts this season, but we're having some good discussions. You're welcome to come and join us! You have to sign up to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

Check out my Season 4 episode recaps!



December 6 - Caitriona Balfe is nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the category of "Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama"!
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This has been an amazing, unforgettable year for OUTLANDER fans! I'm delighted to see all the new people who've found their way here in recent months. Thanks to ALL of you who take the time to visit Outlandish Observations, and I wish you all the best in 2019!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books

Here are some Christmas-themed quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books. This has become an annual tradition here on Outlandish Observations, and I hope you enjoy them. Merry Christmas to all of you who are celebrating this week!

* * * SPOILER WARNING * * *

If you haven't read all of Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER books, you may find SPOILERS below! Read at your own risk.



1) It's hard to imagine, from our 21st-century perspective, anyone losing track of the date this close to Christmas. But Roger had a lot of other things on his mind....
"What's the occasion? For our homecoming?"

She lifted her head from his chest and gave him what he privately classified as A Look.

"For Christmas," she said.

"What?" He groped blankly, trying to count the days, but the events of the last three weeks had completely erased his mental calendar. "When?"

"Tomorrow, idiot," she said with exaggerated patience.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 33, "Home for Christmas". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The photo above shows 18th-century style Christmas decorations at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.



2) Here's a quote from one of my favorite scenes in DRUMS OF AUTUMN, when Claire comes to find Jamie in the snow:
"What if I tell you a story, instead?"

Highlanders loved stories, and Jamie was no exception.

"Oh, aye," he said, sounding much happier. "What sort of story is it?"

"A Christmas story," I said, settling myself along the curve of his body. "About a miser named Ebenezer Scrooge."

"An Englishman, I daresay?"

"Yes," I said. "Be quiet and listen."

I could see my own breath as I talked, white in the dim, cold air. The snow was falling heavily outside our shelter; when I paused in the story, I could hear the whisper of flakes against the hemlock branches, and the far-off whine of wind in the trees.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Night on a Snowy Mountain". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The illustration above, showing Scrooge with Marley's ghost, comes from the 1843 edition of Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL.



3) I think it's interesting--and rather sad--that Lord John should seek out Nessie, rather than the company of his own family, on Christmas Eve. You may recall that he brought her a box of sugar plums, like the ones pictured above.
“Aye, well, it is Christmas Eve,” she said, answering his unasked question. “Any man wi’ a home to go to’s in it.” She yawned, pulled off her nightcap, and fluffed her fingers through the wild mass of curly dark hair.

“Yet you seem to have some custom,” he observed. Distant singing came from two floors below, and the parlor had seemed well populated when he passed.

“Och, aye. The desperate ones. I leave them to Maybelle to deal with; dinna like to see them, poor creatures. Pitiful. They dinna really want a woman, the ones who come on Christmas Eve--only a fire to sit by, and folk to sit with.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "Joyeux Noel". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) The next quote is a reminder that Christmas was viewed differently back then than we think of it today. But of course many of today's Christmas traditions date from the 19th century or later:
Catholic as many of them were--and nominally Christian as they all were--Highland Scots regarded Christmas primarily as a religious observance, rather than a major festive occasion. Lacking priest or minister, the day was spent much like a Sunday, though with a particularly lavish meal to mark the occasion, and the exchange of small gifts.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34, "Charms". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)



5) Speaking of Christmas traditions, here's one, from THE SCOTTISH PRISONER:
They’d brought down the Yule log to the house that afternoon, all the household taking part, the women bundled to the eyebrows, the men ruddy, flushed with the labor, staggering, singing, dragging the monstrous log with ropes, its rough skin packed with snow, a great furrow left where it passed, the snow plowed high on either side.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 43, "Succession". Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


6) And what would the holidays be without sweets? <g> Check out Outlander Kitchen's recipe for molasses toffee, as described in this scene from THE FIERY CROSS:
With a certain amount of forethought, Mrs. Bug, Brianna, Marsali, Lizzie, and I had made up an enormous quantity of molasses toffee, which we had distributed as a Christmas treat to all the children within earshot. Whatever it might do to their teeth, it had the beneficial effect of gluing their mouths shut for long periods, and in consequence, the adults had enjoyed a peaceful Christmas.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 34, "Charms". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) Quakers don't have any special Christmas celebrations, but there's no denying that Denny and Rachel Hunter found Christmas, 1777, a particularly memorable occasion, thanks to Dottie!
"Well, that is odd,” Rachel said, turning to look first at her brother, and then at the small clock that graced their rooms. “Who goes a-visiting at nine o’clock on Christmas night? It cannot be a Friend, surely?” For Friends did not keep Christmas and would find the feast no bar to travel, but the Hunters had no connections--not yet--with the Friends of any Philadelphia meeting.

A thump of footsteps on the staircase prevented Denzell’s reply, and an instant later the door of the room burst open. The fur-clad woman stood on the threshold, white as her furs.

“Denny?” she said in a strangled voice.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 86, "Valley Forge". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)


8) I love this quote, even though things didn't turn out the way Roger had expected. (The photo above, by krbnah on Flickr, shows Inverness at Christmas, 2009.)
She'd wanted to go to the Christmas Eve services. After that...

After that, he would ask her, make it formal. She would say yes, he knew. And then...

Why, then, they would come home, to a house dark and private. With themselves alone, on a night of sacrament and secret, with love newly come into the world. And he would lift her in his arms and carry her upstairs, on a night when virginity's sacrifice was no loss of purity, but rather the birth of everlasting joy.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "Home for the Holidays". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Wishing all of you the best in this holiday season!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Episode 408: "Wilmington" (SPOILERS!)



Here are my reactions to Episode 408 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Wilmington".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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The opening scene, with well-dressed people filing into a theater, makes sense only after you watch the episode.

As the episode begins, Roger has arrived in Wilmington in 1769, and he's searching for Brianna, without success. He goes to the office of the Wilmington Gazette, publisher of the infamous death notice announcing Jamie and Claire's deaths in a fire.

Suddenly Fergus emerges from the printshop. Roger shows him the drawing of Brianna, but he doesn't recognize her. I thought that was a nice touch, to have Fergus and Roger meet, even if they don't have any reason to know each other at this point.

The sign over the printshop lists the printer's name as John Gillette. In the books, his first name is Jonathan. (But it's a minor point.)

I liked the next scene, with Fergus and Marsali, baby Germain, and Jamie and Claire, who have come for a visit.

Jamie says young Ian didn't come with them because "he's gone to Brunswick to fetch casks for our whisky."  So there's no one left at home on the Ridge. Who's taking care of the farm animals while they're away?

Jamie pronounces "Germain" with a French accent. That's certainly appropriate (it's a French name, after all, and of course the baby's father is French), but it takes a little getting used to for those of us who are accustomed to Davina Porter, in the audiobooks, pronouncing his name "Ger-mayne".

Edmund Fanning, like Governor Tryon, was a real historical figure. According to this site:
The North Carolina Regulators believed Fanning epitomized political corruption.  They accused Fanning of embezzlement and abuse of tax collection, although a 1724 act detailed that courts charge fees for their services.  Regulators demanded documentation concerning the construction of Tryon Palace in New Bern and opposed Crown actions they believed to be unnecessary for their welfare.
Marsali really does look genuinely delighted to be a mother. "I look at him, and I ken I'd have a knife through my gut before seein' him hurt or in sorrow." Good line.

Claire, of course, is thinking of Brianna. "That's the hardest thing about being a parent. [....] Though you know you would die trying, you can't protect them from everyone and everything." Given what happens to Bree by the end of this episode, this line feels like Major Foreshadowing.

In the next scene, Roger is in a tavern, looking exhausted. He reaches for his mug of ale and accidentally spills some of it on the picture of Brianna. (That was pretty careless of him!) As he gets up and starts to leave, he hears Brianna's voice, asking the barman, "Do you know where I might be able to buy passage to Cross Creek?"

Roger steps forward, calls her name, and a moment later they're in each other's arms, as if drawn together by a magnet.

"You weren't supposed to come here! That wasn't the plan."
"What, and ye call tearin' off into bloody nowhere a plan?" Good line.

Roger looks around, seeing a stranger staring at them having this Deeply Personal Conversation in public in the middle of a tavern, and he urges Brianna to come outside. Lizzie watches them go, obviously concerned, but doesn't say a word.

I like this whole scene VERY much! Some of the dialogue is new, but it's clearly based on the scene in the book (DRUMS chapter 40, "Virgin Sacrifice").

"Did you just say ye love me?" And even in the midst of her fury, Bree can't help smiling at that.

Roger takes her to what appears to be an abandoned storage shed or outbuilding, and just when it appears they're going to make love then and there, Bree stops him.

"Are you sure?"
"Do ye not know how badly I want you?" (More kissing.)
"But....we're not engaged. That seemed to be very important to you. At the festival, you said--"
"I said I would have all of you or none at all."
"Have you changed your mind?"
"No."
"Well, then...." [pause, looking intently up into his eyes]  "You have all of me."

I liked that.

Roger's explanation of what handfasting is comes almost word-for-word from the book. But I think it's interesting that Bree interrupts his explanation by saying, "Let's do it", rather than, "I don't want anything temporary", as she did in the book. I love the look of pure joy on Roger's face as he realizes she's said yes.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Wilmington, Governor Tryon greets Jamie and Claire as they arrive at the theater. (For what it's worth, I don't find it plausible that a small colonial town like Wilmington would have a theater -- this isn't Philadelphia or Boston, after all.)

I didn't like the way Claire walked a couple of steps behind Jamie, so that even when Gov. Tryon was addressing both of them, he mainly looked at Jamie.

Jamie has FINALLY managed to comb his hair, after months and months of that straggly unkempt look. He looked handsome and well-groomed in this episode, much to my relief!

Tryon introduces Jamie and Claire to Edmund Fanning. Fanning appears to be in pain, and he explains that he injured himself in an encounter with Regulators the previous year.

"I've a strange protrusion. The least movement now sends me into paroxysms of pain." Naturally, this piques Claire's medical curiosity, but to her credit, she doesn't insist on examining him then and there.

So Tryon takes Jamie off to discuss men's business, leaving Claire to "the society of the wives."  I like the ladies' gowns in this scene very much.

Claire notices a tall, striking man at the far end of the room, and Mrs. Tryon informs her, "That's Colonel Washington."

Claire stares at her in shock, her eyes bugging out. "I'm sorry, who?"

Much as I enjoyed Claire's reaction, I really, REALLY did not like George Washington appearing in this episode! Not at all. This plot twist is so contrived that it threw me completely out of the story.

For one thing, it's much too early, and IMHO it completely ruins the effect of the later scenes in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD where Jamie and Claire meet Washington in the middle of the American Revolution.

For another, Wilmington is a small port town on the coast of North Carolina, some distance from Virginia. What on earth is George Washington doing here? It seems unlikely in the extreme that he and his wife came all that way just to attend a play, and I didn't find it believable.

Now Tryon is claiming that George Washington surveyed the land that includes Fraser's Ridge. Another improbable and contrived coincidence, if you ask me. Washington worked as a surveyor in Virginia, not in North Carolina, so why would he have been in the mountains of western NC at all?

I rolled my eyes at Claire's line about "chopping down cherry trees". Honestly, is that the most original thing they could think to have her say when she met George Washington in the flesh?

As they make their way to the theater for the play, Claire tells Jamie exactly who George Washington is and why he's important.

"Oh, if only Brianna were here. She'd have a hundred questions to ask him." Indeed!

I loved the next scene, with Roger and Brianna's handfasting. Very well done, with excellent performances by both Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton.

"I think we're supposed to kneel." That isn't in the book, but I liked the shot of them kneeling there facing one another, with the fire in the background. The vows they spoke come almost verbatim from the book:
"I, Roger Jeremiah, do take thee, Brianna Ellen, to be my lawful wedded wife. With my goods I thee endow, with my body I thee worship...." Her hand twitched in his, and his balls tightened. Whoever had worded this vow had understood, all right.

"...in sickness and in health, in richness and in poverty, so long as we both shall live."

If I make a vow like that, I'll keep it--no matter what it costs me. Was she thinking of that now?

She brought their linked hands down together, and spoke with great deliberation.

"I, Brianna Ellen, take thee, Roger Jeremiah...." Her voice was scarcely louder than the beating of his own heart, but he heard every word. A breeze came through the tree, rattling the leaves, lifting her hair.

"...as long as we both shall live."

The phrase meant a good bit more to each of them now, he thought, than it would have even a few months before. The passage through the stones was enough to impress anyone with the fragility of life.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "Virgin Sacrifice". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
What a beautiful scene! I can't help going, "Awwwww!!" at the end when they kiss, every time I watch it. Perfect, just perfect!

Meanwhile, back at the tavern, Lizzie is growing worried that Brianna is still out with "that man of wanton morals". I don't like that choice of words. It makes Lizzie sound stern and disapproving, like a Victorian, rather than fearful for her friend's safety.

Back at the theater, Tryon and Jamie settle into their seats, with Claire and the other wives seated in the row in front of them. Segregated, again. I didn't like that.

Tryon says this theater was "made possible through taxes". Just like his palace in New Bern, for that matter. It's an extravagance, of course -- taxing the poor to finance luxuries like this that benefit only the upper classes -- and I am beginning to see the Regulators' point.

Governor Tryon tells Jamie that his men plan to arrest a group of Regulators on the road to Wilmington that night--including their leader, Murtagh.

And now we come to a part of the episode that I thought was just BORING.  The play is not at all interesting, and neither is watching a bunch of men waiting by the roadside on a dark night.

Fortunately, Roger and Bree have more entertaining things on their minds! <g> I like the "Roger and Bree" theme music that plays throughout this scene, as Roger undresses her, caressing her gently, kneeling down to kiss her belly, etc. The whole scene is really well done, tender and very sensual.

"You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen," Roger says, unconsciously echoing Jamie's line from VOYAGER, when he sees Claire naked for the first time after their reunion.

"If I take you now, it's for always."
"Yes. Yes, please."

This exchange comes straight from the book. (DRUMS, chapter 40, "Virgin Sacrifice")

The sex scene is tastefully done, as these things go, with dialogue taken mostly from the book, including Roger's line, "Feel my heart. Tell me if it stops."

Abruptly the scene switches back to the play. Boring! Even Jamie is looking around, fidgeting. This scene went on much too long, IMHO. Watching an audience watch a play is just not compelling TV. I started looking at the clock, something I rarely do when I watch OUTLANDER.

Back to Murtagh, waiting with his men by the roadside at night. Again, nothing is happening. Boring! The music indicates there's supposed to be dramatic tension here, but I'm not feeling it at all.

"Patience, lads," Murtagh says. Even his men must be getting bored and restless.

The only ones who are not bored, apparently, are Roger and Bree, lying together in a happy afterglow. <g> The dialogue here is taken almost word-for-word from the book.

"I don't think I've ever been so happy." Better enjoy it while you can, Bree, because it's not going to last much longer!

Back to the play, again. Never mind what's happening on stage. The action is occurring in the audience, where Fanning is clutching his abdomen, clearly in pain. Suddenly he collapses, crying out in agony, and Jamie leaps to his feet, shouting, "This man needs a surgeon!"

Claire goes instantly into full emergency-room-surgeon mode, barking orders at the people around her.

"I'll buy you as much time as I can," Claire says to Jamie.  OK, at this point she's lost me.  Faced with a patient suffering from a serious medical emergency, her duty is to give that patient her full attention, to treat him to the best of her ability, not to use the occasion as a pretext to "buy time" to allow Jamie to warn Murtagh about the plot to arrest the Regulators. What happened to her Hippocratic oath?

I really didn't like this one bit. And I liked the surgery scene even less. So Fanning is suffering from an inguinal hernia (the same condition that affected John Quincy Myers in DRUMS OF AUTUMN, where she operated on him on Jocasta's dining table), and #SuperClaire proposes to operate right then and there, without her medical kit, or proper surgical tools, or any painkiller stronger than alcohol. (She gave the slave in Episode 402 laudanum, but there's none to be found for this man?)

What I saw in this scene is Claire turning into the super-amazing all-powerful Surgeon From the Future, just like she did last season in Episode 307 ("Creme de Menthe"). Logic and common sense gets thrown out the window, just because Claire flatly declares that Fanning will die if she doesn't operate immediately.

Meanwhile, Jamie wanders outside, and immediately runs into George Washington and his wife, who are leaving in their carriage. "What a lugubrious performance," Washington's wife says, and I have to agree.  Washington offers Jamie a ride, and he can't very well turn it down.

That wad of cloth they stuffed in Fanning's mouth to muffle his screams looks more like a gag than something that might actually help him control the pain. Don't any of these soldiers present have a leather strip, like the one MacRannoch gave Jamie to bite down on during the surgery on his hand after Wentworth?

Also, is Claire operating without any instruments at all besides a small knife and her bare hands? It sure looks that way to me. #SuperClaire apparently can fix a hernia with her magic surgeon's fingers alone. <rolling eyes> And there's remarkably little blood for an abdominal wound.

"I must admit that was all rather exciting," Tryon says. Well, yes, it was, if only by contrast to the very boring parts that came before it.

Just as Claire begins to sew up the incision (without a peep from the patient -- maybe he's passed out from the pain?), the doctor arrives.

"You've butchered him, madam! All he needed was some tobacco smoke up the rear." Good line, reflecting the attitude of some physicians at the time that a "clyster", or enema, could cure a variety of ailments.

"No need," Tryon says. "The lady has it in hand." And he nods to Claire, indicating a grudging respect for her surgical skills, at least.

Meanwhile, out on the road, Murtagh and his men intercept the Redcoats. "Let's take our money back," says Murtagh, sounding like a bandit, not a man with a justified grievance.

But it turns out that Jamie sent Fergus ahead to warn Murtagh not to attack the Redcoats. Murtagh appears startled by Fergus's appearance; did Jamie forget to tell him that Fergus was alive and well and living in Wilmington? They called off the ambush, so all that waiting (and waiting, and waiting) turned out to be completely pointless, a waste of screen time. <sigh>

In the next scene, we're back to Roger and Bree, lying in bed, talking about the printer who printed the death notice.

"How did you know?" Bree says, and I imagined one of those anvils from an old Road Runner cartoon hovering a foot or so over Roger's oblivious head, ready to drop any second.

The argument that follows is a terrific scene, well-written and well-acted. I loved it! Absolutely riveting.

"You're acting like a child." Wow, that's pretty harsh!

I love this bit:

"Look me in the eye and tell me. Because if that's what you really want, I will go."
"No one's stopping you."

In this scene, maybe for the first time in their relationship, I don't see Richard and Sophie. I see Roger and Bree, coming to life on the screen. They're really amazing to watch.

Alone in the room, Bree finishes dressing, and the "Roger and Bree" theme playing in the background has taken on a decidedly melancholy tone, to match her mood.

In the tavern, Stephen Bonnet is playing cards with some of his men when Brianna walks by. Unlike in the book (DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 41, "Jouurney's End"), it's Bonnet, not Brianna, who draws attention to the ring. But as soon as Bree gets a good look at it, she has no doubt that it belongs to Claire.

"I never haggle in public," Bonnet says, heading for the back room of the tavern, and Brianna follows him, because she has no choice if she wants to find out what happened to her mother.

Bonnet's violent attack on her is chilling, and very difficult to watch, even though the TV version mercifully leaves most of the details to our imagination. I thought it was very effective to have the rape occur behind closed doors, with the men listening, laughing, amid Bree's screams. Just horrible!

As Bree sits up, I liked the way the camera focused on her so that all the details of her surroundings blurred together, reflecting her mental state.

"I pay for my pleasures," Bonnet says as he gives her the ring. It was just a business transaction to him, nothing more.

As Bree stooped to pick up her boots, I thought that she might be sick -- or I might. This whole sequence was chilling, terrifying, very intense, and VERY faithful to the book! What a terrific way to end the episode.
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I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far, and please come back next week to see my recap of Episode 409.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out TheLitForum.com, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Episode 407: "Down the Rabbit Hole" (SPOILERS!)



Here are my reactions to Episode 407 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Down the Rabbit Hole".

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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I laughed when I saw the opening shot, with Brianna making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's not only a reference to a later scene in this episode, but very obviously a reference to the sandwich that Book Claire takes with her on her return to the past in VOYAGER.

As the episode begins, Brianna has just arrived in the past and is attempting to orient herself using what appears to be a map of 18th-century Scotland. I love the scenery in these shots, showing the Highlands in winter. A cold and desolate place, but beautiful.

Bree catches a glimpse of a farmhouse far in the distance, then, distracted, loses her footing and tumbles down the hill, spraining her ankle and spilling the contents of her bag. (Why didn't she bring a bag or satchel that could be fastened shut? That makes no sense to me, especially considering how much it rains in Scotland.)

Good idea to soak her injured ankle in the cold water of the stream, in lieu of ice, but it's not going to help much. With no way to call for help and no choice but to keep going, she hobbles down the path.

Meanwhile, back in 1971, Roger and Fiona are driving through a very similar wintry Highland landscape, on their way to Craigh na Dun. As Roger gets out of the car, we can see immediately that he's shaved off his beard. I like the clean-shaven look very much! He looks much younger without it.

Fiona asks if he has everything, and Roger runs down the list: "Money, maps, compass, knife, gemstone." The last item is important, because in the TV show (unlike in the books) a gemstone appears to be required for time-travel.

As Roger approaches the tallest stone, he appears to visibly take a deep breath, then closes his eyes (in prayer?) and touches the stone.

Meanwhile, back in the 18th century, Bree is making camp for the night, using 20th-century matches to light a fire. I laughed a little when I saw this, thinking, "This is Brianna, of course she'd think to bring matches!" For the book-readers, this is an inside joke, reminding us of the matches she invented in A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES.

And then she unwraps the peanut butter and jelly sandwich she brought with her from 1971.

Judging by the changing light, she walks all the next day, limping on her injured ankle. (Why didn't she cut a sturdy branch from one of those trees to use as a walking stick?) Near sundown she collapses from exhaustion, leaning against a tree....

....and dreams of being a little girl, waking after a long car ride to find herself in her daddy's arms. "It's all right," he says. "We're home now." Awww! Such a sweet moment, and very much in character for Frank.

Bree wakes to find herself in bed in a room she's never seen before, with a strange woman peering curiously at her. Only we recognize the woman instantly: it's Laoghaire.

Laoghaire is amazingly hospitable, kind, even friendly toward this total stranger, showing a side of her character we never saw in the OUTLANDER books. Still, I'm reminded of this incident that Jenny describes in a letter to Jamie in THE FIERY CROSS:
I left them in the evening, and had made some way towards home when my mule chanced to step into a mole’s hole and fell. Both mule and I rose up somewhat lamed from this accident, and it was clear that I could not ride the creature nor yet make shift to travel far by foot myself.

I found myself on the road Auldearn just over the hill from Balriggan. I should not normally seek the society of Laoghaire MacKenzie--for she has resumed that name, I having made plain in the district my dislike of her use of “Fraser,” she having no proper claim to that style--but it was the only place where I might obtain food and shelter, for night was coming on, with the threat of rain.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 99, "Brother". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"I'm trying to reach Ayr Harbour," Bree says.

"You're far away from any harbor I know of, lass. Were ye truly of a mind to walk by yourself?"

I had the same question. Did she really intend simply to walk (or hitch a ride) all the way from Craigh na Dun to wherever the nearest major seaport was -- in winter, without adequate food, clothing, or shelter -- without ever stopping at Lallybroch? If "Ayr Harbour" is a reference to Ayr, a town south of Glasgow, that's several hundred miles south of where Craigh na Dun is supposed to be.

Notice that Bree doesn't react at the sound of Laoghaire's name. I wonder why not? As we find out later in the episode, Bree knows all too well exactly who Laoghaire is.

I like the next scene, with Bree lying in bed, listening to Laoghaire and Ian arguing downstairs about the money Jamie owes her, while simultaneously remembering her parents' huge argument on the night of Claire's graduation from medical school, as we saw in Episode 303, "All Debts Paid". I think it's very realistic that Brianna would have vivid memories of that incident from her childhood.

Bree comes downstairs, wrapped in her blanket, and Ian, hearing her speak, says, "Oh! An outlander?" That made me laugh. But Laoghaire shoos her back upstairs before she can be introduced to Ian. This seems very contrived, designed only to delay the moment when Bree figures everything out, and I didn't like it.

I like the look of Balriggan from the outside. It's considerably smaller than Lallybroch, a comfortable-looking home for Marsali and Joan to grow up in.

The next morning, Bree finds Laoghaire and Joan working in the garden. They speak briefly about Ian's visit the night before, and Laoghaire refers to him only as "kin of my former husband", without giving his name.

The scene between Brianna and Joan is sweet.

"He was good and kind to me always, but he broke Ma's heart. He didna love her as she loved him."
"I could say the same about the man who raised me. My mother didn't love him the same way in return."

Flashback to a scene between Frank (very drunk) and a teenage Brianna. On Frank's desk, Bree finds what appears to be a photocopy of the same death notice Roger found in 1971, but of course the names on it mean nothing to her.

"Who died?"
"Um....it's complicated." Yeah, no kidding!

Bree's speech beginning, "So, Professor Randall...." made me laugh, because I believe that's Sophie Skelton speaking in her normal British accent. <g>

"What is it?" she asks, in her normal voice, and Frank looks away, up at the ceiling, anywhere but directly at her. Finally he sits down opposite her, takes her hand, and says, "Bree, I'm sorry....I can't."

And then he all but orders her out of his office, telling her to go home.

I liked this whole scene very much. It's not in the books, but it's plausible.

Meanwhile, back at Balriggan in the 18th century, Bree is preparing for bed when Laoghaire comes in. They have a friendly chat about husbands, and Laoghaire tells her how her "last husband" took a beating for her. (Again, Bree doesn't appear to recognize the story. Did Claire never tell her about that?)

Laoghaire's description of the sweet little domestic scene, she and Jamie and the two girls gathered around the fire, telling stories from the Bible, reminds me of a scene Jamie recalled in ECHO:
"Perhaps I did have something to do wi’ the books, aye?” Jamie said, after a bit. “I mean, I read to the wee maids in the evenings now and again. They’d sit on the settle with me, one on each side, wi’ their heads against me, and it was—” He broke off with a glance at me and coughed, evidently worried that I might be offended at the idea that he’d ever enjoyed a moment in Laoghaire’s house. I smiled and took his arm.

“I’m sure they loved it. But I really doubt that you read anything to Joan that made her want to become a nun.”

“Aye, well,” he said dubiously. “I did read to them out of the Lives of the Saints. Oh, and Fox’s Book of the Martyrs, too, even though there’s a good deal of it to do wi’ Protestants, and Laoghaire said Protestants couldna be martyrs because they were wicked heretics, and I said bein’ a heretic didna preclude being a martyr, and—” He grinned suddenly. “I think that might ha’ been the closest thing we had to a decent conversation.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 79, "The Cave". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
But I thought the "bedtime story" scene here went on much too long. They made the point -- Laoghaire is a reasonably sympathetic figure, and Bree is bonding with young Joan -- and the story was starting to drag. So I was relieved when the scene switched abruptly to Roger's point of view.

Roger's first meeting with Stephen Bonnet, captain of the Gloriana, doesn't go well. Bonnet insists he's taking no one else on board. When Roger follows him outside and asks if he might join the crew, Bonnet takes one look at his soft historian's hands and says scornfully, "Your hands are better suited for writing letters than sailing."

Ed Speleers is more or less channeling Stephen Bonnet throughout this episode, IMHO, which is amazing to watch.

"What's your name?"
"Roger MacKenzie."

And with that, Roger takes on the name he'll be known by for the rest of the series. I felt a satisfying little "click" as one more piece of the overall story fits into its rightful place. <g>

Meanwhile, back at Balriggan, Bree is in a much happier mood, even singing a bit of the classic "Summer of Love" song, "San Francisco", saying it was Claire's favorite. Still, I'm getting impatient, wondering when, or if, she's ever going to move on.

"And who might your mother be?"
[....]
"Claire Fraser."

I love the look of total shock on Laoghaire's face when she hears this, but she shows more self-control than I thought she was capable of, managing to continue speaking civilly to Brianna.

"He must be a good man, this Frank Randall, to have raised a daughter such as ye."

I like the parallel there between Frank raising Brianna and Laoghaire raising Marsali and Joan. It's not stated openly, but the subtext is there. Laoghaire was a good mother to her daughters in spite of everything, just as Frank was a good father to Bree, in spite of everything.

The scene shifts briefly to another flashback, with Frank asleep on the sofa in his study. Bree comes in with a tray of tea things, and immediately it's clear that this scene is taking place the morning after the previous scene where Frank showed her the death notice.

Frank definitely seems hung over in this scene. Not surprising considering how much he was drinking the night before!

"Have you ever thought about studying abroad?" Uh-oh.

Before we can digest the implications of this statement, we're back at Balriggan, where Laoghaire has definitely changed her attitude toward Bree.

"I dinna like to repeat such things myself--" Yeah, right. "--but there are some folk who say there was no room in his heart for a bairn--" LIAR!! "--and he sent your mother away upon findin' she was with child." (Well, OK, the last part is true enough.)

"I only hope he doesna turn ye away for a second time." Wow, that's awfully harsh! Imagine Bree carrying that thought in her head for weeks, until she finally meets Jamie for herself.

So it's pretty subtle, but we can see Laoghaire's true nature beginning to assert itself, breaking through the veneer of good manners, moments before she explodes:

"Did they send ye here, is that what's happened? Did they send ye here to laugh at me, or did ye bewitch me yourself? You're a witch just like your ma."

Bree goes upstairs to pack her things, only to find Laoghaire following her. "Your mother should have burned at the stake in Cranesmuir!"

And suddenly, belatedly, the truth hits Bree like a ton of bricks, as she realizes just who Laoghaire is. I loved the way Sophie played this whole scene.

When Bree said, "And the truth is that Jamie Fraser has never loved you," I was sure Laoghaire would slap her. Instead, she storms out, locking the door behind her. Bree looks frantically for an escape route, but there is no way out.

Abruptly the scene shifts to Boston, circa 1966, immediately following Claire and Frank's huge argument. Bree is walking with friends at night when Frank pulls up alongside her in his car.

"Hop in," he says, and she does (without a word to her friends!) "Your mother and I are getting a divorce," Frank announces.

And they proceed to have an Extremely Serious, Deep Personal Conversation in the car, of all places. I thought that was weird, and very inappropriate. Surely there are lots of places in Boston he could have taken Bree to tell her. A restaurant, a coffee shop, his office at Harvard -- anywhere they could sit and look each other in the eyes. Instead he delivers this shocking, life-altering news to his daughter in the cramped confines of a car's front seat. That makes no sense to me at all.

"And you just decided all of this tonight?"
"Yes."

Bree is speechless with shock, barely able to form any words.

"We had a plan. We were supposed to go to Harvard together, Daddy! I'm studying history, we were gonna share your office, and--"

Sorry, but I think that's ridiculous. A college freshman sharing an office with her professor father? I can understand wanting to study history as a way to be closer to Frank, but this "plan" seems like they were taking things too far, possibly to an unhealthy degree.

"I know, I know, and a thousand years ago, your mother and I had a plan as well." Good line.

"But, you know, sometimes life takes unexpected turns. And when it does, you know what we do? We soldier on." Book Frank certainly did that all his life. I'm not so sure that was what TV Frank was doing.

I like the fact that the last thing Frank said to her was, "I love you," considering that this was the last time she saw him alive.

The little scene at the graveyard is heartbreaking, but mostly because Bree is feeling a tremendous amount of (undeserved) guilt over Frank's death, and it doesn't seem as though there is anyone she can share it with. Aside from her mother (who is presumably going through her own grieving process), there's no one who can hold her and tell her it wasn't her fault, and I think that's very sad.

In the next scene, Roger is at sea aboard the Gloriana. The song the little girl is singing comes straight from the book:
In marked contrast to the general air of pallid malaise, one of his acquaintances was skipping in rings around him, singing in a monotonous chant that grated on his ears.

“Seven herrings are a salmon’s fill,
Seven salmon are a seal’s fill,
Seven seals are a whale’s fill,
And seven whales the fill of a Cirein Croin!”


Bubbling with the freedom of release from the hold, the little girl hopped around like a demented chickadee, making Roger smile in spite of his tiredness.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 38, "For Those in Peril On the Sea". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And now we get our first glimpse of Morag MacKenzie and her baby Jemmy. I was very surprised that Stephen Bonnet was the one who finally got the baby to stop crying, by putting a bit of whisky on his gums -- exactly as we saw Jamie do in THE FIERY CROSS. As he puts a finger in the child's mouth, you can clearly see that he's wearing Claire's wedding ring, which he stole from her in Episode 401, "America the Beautiful".

"A wise man leaves those things beyond his power to the gods--and prays that Danu will be with him." This quote is also from the book (DRUMS chapter 39, "A Gambling Man")

Late that night, Roger is awakened by the sound of a woman's screams. The little girl who was singing in the earlier scene has been found to have smallpox, and Bonnet orders Roger to throw her overboard.

Just like that, the dramatic tension in this episode surges upward, and my stomach clenches involuntarily, watching this. It's actually worse, I think, in this version than it was in the book, for several reasons:

1) It's not some anonymous passenger or a tiny infant being thrown overboard, but a cute little girl we'd seen happily singing a few minutes before. A character we've gotten to know, if only very briefly.
2) The idea that Roger might actually be forced to kill the child himself is shocking, and nearly unbearable to contemplate.
3) Roger mentioned sharks in the water earlier. If that's true, the child will be lucky to die by drowning before she's torn apart -- not by a theoretical Cirein Croin (sea monster), but by all-too-real sharks.
4) Bonnet shoved the little girl overboard with no expression on his face, as though she wasn't even a human being to him. If you still have doubts about what kind of a man Stephen Bonnet is, that should put them to rest.

Horrible. And absolutely riveting to watch.

I was wondering where William Buccleigh MacKenzie was all this time, and then I noticed a blond-haired man lying face-down on a bunk as Roger comes through the hold, asking, "Have you seen a young mother, a bonny lass?" I could be wrong, but it's possible that could be Buck.

"I'll swear on my own woman's life," Roger tells Morag -- another quote that comes directly from the book.

Meanwhile, back at Balriggan, Bree is trying without success to force the window open so she can escape from the locked room. And suddenly, here comes Joan to the rescue, unlocking the door.

That was REALLY predictable, if you ask me. There are only two other people in the house: one is a sworn enemy, the other is a friend, if a young one. So either Joan lets her out, or Laoghaire leaves her locked up forever, until she starves to death. Well, obviously we need Bree to survive this experience, so it shouldn't be any surprise at all that it's Joan who comes to save her.

And the next thing you know, Bree and Joan arrive at Lallybroch.

I liked Ian's reaction to meeting Brianna. He's quiet, low-key, matter-of-fact about it, but you can tell he's happy to see her.

I like that desk that Ian gets the purse of money out of. Just gorgeous! I can't recall if we've seen it before.

"You're family." Such a simple statement, but it means a lot, both to him and to Brianna.

I rolled my eyes a bit at the sight of the trunk full of clothes. This is the second time they've used this "clothes that belonged to Claire" device as a way to expand a character's wardrobe (the first time was in Episode 309, "The Doldrums") , and I think it's kind of silly, but I choose to suspend disbelief.

Meanwhile, on the Gloriana, Roger has just brought a bit of food to Morag in the hold, when Stephen Bonnet appears behind them without warning.

The story Bonnet tells about nearly becoming the sacrifice for the foundation of a building comes straight from the book (DRUMS chapter 39, "A Gambling Man").

I like the expression on Bonnet's face as he says, "Heads you live, tails you die," as if it's of no concern to him one way or the other.

Meanwhile, strolling around the market with Ian, Bree is more than a little conspicuous in that coat with the fur collar. Possibly that's what draws Joseph Wemyss' attention to her?

This scene is very close to the book (DRUMS chapter 35, "Bon Voyage"), but it was hard to focus on what Joseph was saying because the actress playing Lizzie (Caitlyn O'Ryan) looks absolutely nothing at all like the description in the book. She's far too old, for one thing. She looks to be in her twenties, at least as old as Brianna if not a few years older. And she's so much taller than Sophie Skelton that she makes Sophie look like a teenager by contrast.

I'm reserving judgment on Caitlyn O'Ryan for the time being, until we see more. The casting people have done a fabulous job overall, and it's too soon to say whether this actress can play a convincing Lizzie, when we've seen her utter a total of three words. So I'll wait and see.

As Bree and Lizzie prepare to board the ship that will take them to America, Bree suddenly sees the ghost of Frank Randall, smiling at her and nodding reassuringly, as if to say, "Don't worry. It's going to be all right. You'll be fine." I thought that was a nice touch, and a fitting way to end the episode.

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I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far, and please come back next week to see my recap of Episode 408.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out TheLitForum.com, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

OUTLANDER 12 Days of Christmas



Because it's that time of year again....

OUTLANDER: 12 Days of Christmas

This is a brand-new, updated version of one of the very talented Julia LeBlanc's first OUTLANDER videos, originally posted in 2015. I think it's hilarious. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

TheLitForum.com is one year old!



TheLitForum.com is celebrating its first anniversary today! For those of you who don't know, this is the new home of the former Compuserve Books and Writers Community, which was shut down in December 2017. This online forum, in its various incarnations, has been Diana Gabaldon's main online hangout for more than thirty years. I've been hanging out there on a daily basis since 2007, managing the discussions (aka "herding the bumblebees") in Diana's section of the forum.

TheLitForum.com is a community of readers, writers, book-lovers, and fans of All Things OUTLANDER. We have a thriving and very active online community there (more than 77,000 posts since the new site launched a year ago, which I think is pretty impressive), and you're welcome to come and join the discussions! Diana Gabaldon is there most days, participating in discussions and answering questions -- sometimes in great detail -- just as she always has.

Please come and check out the forum at https://thelitforum.com.  You'll need to register in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.  Keep in mind that the username you choose when you sign up will be the name that appears beside your posts on the forum.  

When you visit the forum, please be sure to check out the other sections, too! TheLitForum.com is much more than just a place to talk about All Things OUTLANDER. If you're a writer or an aspiring writer, check out our Research & Craft section, The Critique Café, and Writing Exercises. If you want to talk about what you've been reading, or your favorite movies, feel free to post in Literary Reading, Genre Reading, or Stage & Screen. Take a look around and jump into any discussion that interests you, or start a new one.

If you have questions after you've signed up, please post on the forum (rather than leaving a comment here), and we'll do our best to try to help. Hope to see some of you there soon!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Episode 406: "Blood of My Blood" (SPOILERS!)



Here are my reactions to Episode 406 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Blood of My Blood". This is a wonderful episode, a real treat for book-readers, and I enjoyed it very much!

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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The opening shot, featuring Jamie removing a snake from the privy, made me laugh. Book-readers will recognize it instantly as a reference to the hilarious "Willie-in-the-privy" scene from DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 25, "Enter a Serpent".

Jamie is sawing wood in the yard near the cabin when Lord John Grey arrives unexpectedly. (For the second time in as many episodes, Jamie's hair is -- briefly -- back to a style similar to the way he wore it in Season 1.)

Meanwhile, Claire and Murtagh are fetching water from the stream when they hear a boy shouting for help nearby. It turns out to be William, the Ninth Earl of Ellesmere, with his legs covered with leeches. I was interested to see that the production team found a way to make the leeches reasonably lifelike and realistic in this episode, after they'd tried and failed to do that in one of the early episodes of Season 1.

The young actor who plays William, Oliver Finnegan, looks and sounds very much like an older version of Clark Butler, who played the six-year-old Willie in Episode 304, "Of Lost Things". Another excellent choice from the OUTLANDER casting team!

"He insists that we call him William now." That's not in the book, but it's totally believable to me.

David Berry is excellent as always as Lord John, and he did a wonderful job in this episode!

I love the look of shock on Claire's face when she sees Lord John for the first time, but she recovers pretty quickly.

It took me a minute to recall why Lord John knows Murtagh, but then I remembered that in the show, Murtagh was at Ardsmuir, as we saw in Episode 303 ("All Debts Paid").

William's manners are impeccable, as you'd expect from a young earl.

The dinner conversation is somewhat awkward, but I smiled when Lord John mentioned the Beefsteak, which readers of the Lord John books and stories will recognize at once as his favorite gentlemen's club in London.

So Young Ian is out hunting with the Cherokee. That's a convenient explanation for his absence in this episode, but I don't mind. With Ian gone, the focus stays firmly on Jamie and Claire's relationship with Lord John and William.

I liked John's description of Young Ian as "the young man for whom you crossed an ocean."

Murtagh definitely does not care for the idea that Governor Tryon is building himself a palace in New Bern. (Tryon Palace is a real place, by the way, and worth visiting if you happen to be in the area.) And just like that, the conversation turns to politics, and the Regulator movement.

John's description of the Regulators is succinct: "By all accounts, they're unreasonable and dangerous. A menace to the backcountry, and given to causing disruption by means of riot." Notice Murtagh glaring at him, but managing to keep his mouth shut.

"There is the backcountry, John, and there is the wilderness." This line comes straight from the book. (DRUMS OF AUTUMN chapter 25, "Enter a Serpent")

The tension between Lord John and Murtagh just crackles in this scene. Very well-acted by both Duncan Lacroix and David Berry!

So William is too spoiled, or too fastidious, to use a privy outside? It's a wonder he made it through a weeks-long ocean crossing, or the journey on horseback to Fraser's Ridge, which must have included a few days' sleeping out in the open. Still, it's an excuse for Jamie to spend a few minutes alone with the boy.

"Mac. Is your name not MacKenzie?" So William does indeed remember "Mac", unlike in the book. I think this is realistic. It's only been about four years since they last saw one another.

"Do you remember me?" I like the way Jamie smiles, responding with vast understatement, "Fondly."

When Jamie asks if he still has the little wooden snake, William says stiffly, "I'm too old for toys, sir." That's true, but it must have disappointed Jamie to hear it.

The little scene between Lord John and Claire has the air of an interrogation, with Claire, for once, in the role of the investigator asking uncomfortable questions. It reminded me of all the times in Season 1 when Claire herself was accused of being a spy.

I liked the next scene, with Jamie and Claire, very much, but it was so pitch-dark that I couldn't figure out where they were. Outside somewhere?

"When he said my name, my heart raced. I wanted to swing him through the air, as I did when he was a wee lad." Awww, that's sad.

"When the lad was near three, Lord Dunsany brought him to the stables for his first ride." I was surprised and delighted to see they included this bit from THE SCOTTISH PRISONER. It's one of my favorite scenes from that book:
Entranced, [Willie] toddled forward and hugged Philemon’s head in an access of pure love. The horse’s long-lashed eyes widened in surprise and he blew out air through his nose, ruffling the child’s clothes, but did no more than bob his head a bit, lifting Willie a few inches into the air, then setting him gently down as he resumed his eating.

William laughed, a giggle of pure delight, and Jamie and Lord Dunsany looked at each other and smiled, then glanced aside, each embarrassed.

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 5, "Why Am Not I at Peace?". Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Actually, all of the Jamie-and-Willie scenes in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER are terrific, and I highly recommend the book if you haven't read it yet.

"As soon as our guests leave, I'll be expecting your full attention," Claire says. If you've seen the episode, this is clearly meant as foreshadowing of the final scene.

It's understandable that Murtagh is not happy about the fact that Jamie and Lord John are friends, but the business with the Regulators is only the pretext for this conversation. The real point of it becomes apparent with this exchange:

"Willie has lost two mothers. John Grey is all he has left."
"And how does that make the lad your responsibility?"
Jamie turns away without answering, and Murtagh says, "He's yours, isn't he?"

Interesting. In the books, this conversation would never take place, because the people who know William's true paternity (Jamie, Claire, and Lord John) would never under any circumstances speak of it to anyone else. But the writers of this episode need to convey the information to the TV viewers who haven't read the books (and to anyone who hasn't seen Season 3), so Murtagh is the logical person to do that.

"Don't worry about me keeping your secrets. I've kept them, each and every one."

That's true. Jamie and Claire trusted Murtagh to keep the secret of Claire's time-traveling (in Season 2 when they were in Paris), so presumably he'll keep his mouth shut on this subject as well.

The next scene, with Lord John and Jamie playing chess and drinking Jamie's homemade whisky, is based on a scene from the beginning of DRUMS chapter 26, "Plague and Pestilence". I like the pottery mugs they're drinking from very much.

It's been a long time since we've seen Jamie relaxed enough to burst out laughing, but he does that here, and it's good to see it.

The bit where John asks, "Do you feel yourself content?" and Jamie's response, comes straight from the book, with the words only slightly rearranged. It's such a pleasure to see them actually using the original dialogue!

The next morning, as Lord John and William prepare to leave, John really doesn't look at all well, and Claire has no trouble diagnosing the measles.

"I'll take the lad for a tour," Jamie says with forced cheerfulness. "Show him Fraser's Ridge." The fact that John barely reacts is a good indication of just how ill he is.

The scene with William refusing to mount his horse, and Jamie's reaction, are (once again) taken straight from the book, from DRUMS chapter 27, "Trout Fishing in America".

Jamie, telling William about the Cherokee: "They can be fierce, when provoked." Yes, indeed, as we saw with the flaming arrows in Episode 405, "Savages".

That view of the Ridge is as spectacular as always. Note how it's changing, subtly, with the seasons. It looks to me like November, with a thick layer of dead leaves underfoot and the brilliant autumn color mostly gone from the mountains.

Meanwhile, back at the cabin, Claire and Lord John finally have time for a private conversation. Most of the dialogue in this scene is taken verbatim from DRUMS chapter 28, "Heated Conversation".

"You cannot be at all a comfortable woman to live with." I laughed at that. So true!

"You shouldn't presume to know what I think." (Ha! Says the woman with a glass face. <g>)
"You're envious of the time Jamie and I shared together and with William." (See? It's not difficult at all to guess what she's thinking.)

As Claire tells Lord John about Brianna, I thought (not for the first time, by any means) that I am really, really looking forward to seeing Bree and Lord John interacting! Eventually.

"We were robbed of the opportunity to raise her together, because of Culloden." Good way to put it.

"If [William] did learn he's been lied to his entire life, he'd be devastated--" Yes, indeed, as we saw in great detail in WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD. "--so I can't for the life of me understand your motivation for coming here."

Good question. <g> I like the way Claire stays calm and under tight control through this whole conversation. It certainly can't have been easy for her.

"I don't believe I've ever met anyone so devastatingly straightforward, male or female."  This whole exchange, again, comes straight from the book. I love it!

Meanwhile, Jamie and William are fishing, or trying to. William's not having much luck. And then, much to my surprise, Jamie demonstrates how to "tickle" a fish, in much the same way that he once showed Claire, soon after they were married:
One finger bent slowly, so slowly it was hard to see the movement. I could tell it moved only by its changing position, relative to the other fingers. Another finger, slowly bent. And after a long, long moment, another.

I scarcely dared breathe, and my heart beat against the cold rock with a rhythm faster than the breathing of the fish. Sluggishly the fingers bent back, lying open, one by one, and the slow hypnotic wave began again, one finger, one finger, one finger more, the movement a smooth ripple like the edge of a fish’s fin.

[....]

An inch more would bring the flapping gill-covers right over the treacherous beckoning fingers. I found that I was gripping the rock with both hands, pressing my cheek hard against the granite, as though I could make myself still more inconspicuous.

There was a sudden explosion of motion. Everything happened so fast I couldn’t see what actually did take place. There was a heavy splatter of water that sluiced across the rock an inch from my face, and a flurry of plaid as Jamie rolled across the rock above me, and a heavy splat as the fish’s body sailed through the air and struck the leaf-strewn bank.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "One Fine Day". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Next, William tries his hand at stag-hunting. You can see from the snow on the ground that they've moved higher up into the mountains. Despite his youth, William is a surprisingly good shot with a rifle.

The gralloch scene was good, but it would have been even better if they'd included the Gaelic prayer Jamie always recites when he does that.

Later, eating their kill, Jamie makes an offhand comment about something his da used to say, and immediately he can see he's upset the boy. This, too, is pretty close to the scene in the book. I loved the bit where Jamie covers William gently with a blanket. Such a bittersweet moment, when you realize that he never got to tuck either of his children into bed when they were small, not even once.

Meanwhile, back in the cabin, Lord John is in a great deal of pain from headache and fever.

"When I heard that Isobel had died, I felt nothing." This speech is also from the book, from chapter 28.

"It's hard...watching you with him." I was a little startled by that admission, because Lord John is always so guarded about his feelings (especially his feelings for Jamie) and his private life. (On the other hand, I have said many times that the man is a "blurter". <g>)

The revelation about Jamie offering Lord John his body at Helwater occurs much earlier, in the books: VOYAGER chapter 59 ("In Which Much is Revealed"), to be exact. But I think it's good that John mentions it here. As long as they're being honest and open with one another to this extent, she needs to know about it. It's part of John and Jamie's shared history, after all. But Claire clearly doesn't want to hear it. "You should stop talking," she says. "You need your rest."

Meanwhile, somewhere in the woods, Jamie wakes from an apparent doze (he's sitting by the fire, not lying down) to find that William has vanished. The boy didn't go far, fortunately. Jamie manages to track him pretty easily through the woods (love the scenery, btw!) and discovers that William has found a fish impaled on a stick.

"Look what I found!" the boy says proudly. And moments later, a group of armed Cherokee burst out of the woods.

Jamie's command of the Cherokee language has definitely improved, but I was relieved to see that there was someone in that group who could translate for Jamie, and for us.

"No! The boy is my son! His blood is my blood."

I was more than a little startled that he'd blurt it out like that, but then again, it's clearly a matter of life and death. And under these circumstances, it's similar to Young Ian, in ECHO, referring to William as "Cousin".  It's the literal truth, but spoken in circumstances where the person hearing it won't be inclined to take it literally.

Watching this, I never for one moment thought Jamie's life was actually in danger, but I did like Jamie's hastily muttered prayer, "May the Lord protect her, her and the children" -- just the way he prayed throughout THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.

William saves the day by shouting, "He's not my father!" and admitting that he was the one who stole the fish, and the Cherokee let him go with nothing more than a small cut on his thumb, to satisfy their desire for the drawing of blood. And as soon as the Indians have gone, William sags against Jamie in relief, and Jamie puts a fatherly arm around him.

Back at the cabin, Lord John is clearly on the mend, and feeling embarrassed at how much he revealed in his previous discussions with Claire.

"Do you know what it's like to love someone, and never be able to give them happiness? Not through any fault of yours, or theirs, but simply because you were not born the right person for them?"

I love this quote (which comes from VOYAGER chapter 59, "In Which Much is Revealed") and I was glad to see it here.

"When you said you have nothing of Jamie, you're wrong," Claire says. "You have William." Good line.

On the way back to the cabin, William is now mounted on the same horse with Jamie, and they seem much more comfortable with one another.

William asks about the day Jamie left Helwater, when he rode away without ever looking back. That scene, at the end of Episode 304 ("Of Lost Things"), is just heartwrenching, and I never get tired of watching it. It's interesting to see William's memory of it here.

"You're a good father," Jamie tells Lord John. That's high praise, under the circumstances.

I liked the idea of John giving Jamie the chess set as a farewell gift.

As William rides away with Lord John, his back straight, not looking back, the scene consciously mimics their parting at Helwater -- only this time William looks back.

Later that night, Jamie is helping Claire with her bath. (I don't quite understand why the inside of the tub is covered with a cloth, but that's a minor point.)

"I am your husband, though ye'd never ken it," Jamie says, looking at her bare finger where his ring once was.
"I don't need a ring to know how much you love me."
"No. But it helps."

And then Jamie hands her a brand-new silver ring, done in a Highland interlace pattern (just like the book), with "Da mi basia mille" inscribed inside (just like the book), and I sighed with happiness. I'm SO glad that the writers, or the production team, came to their collective senses at long last and FINALLY gave Claire the ring she should have had in the first place!

"Da mi basia mille" -- give me a thousand kisses. And as the episode ends, Jamie kisses her repeatedly, counting, "One...two...three...."  What a sweet way to end a terrific episode!
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I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far, and please come back next week to see my recap of Episode 407.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out TheLitForum.com, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free.