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.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Caitriona Balfe is nominated for a Golden Globe!



Congratulations to Caitriona Balfe on being nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the category of "Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama"!

Look here for more details, including the complete list of nominees. The winners will be announced on January 6, 2019.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Episode 405: "Savages" (SPOILERS!)



Here are my reactions to Episode 405 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Savages". I thought this was an excellent episode, one of the best so far this season.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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The opening shot shows a shopkeeper wrapping up the little doll to sell to a customer, presumably Herr Mueller.

I liked the first scene, with Claire and Adawehi, very much. It feels natural that they're beginning to learn one another's language, and that Adawehi is teaching Claire a bit about the native plants. I particularly liked this exchange:

"I have a daughter....but she lives far, far away."
"She is here," Adawehi says.
"Yes," Claire says, and puts a hand over her heart.

And now we get our first good look at the finished cabin. I like the look of it very much! From the outside, it's very much like the image I've had in my mind for years.  And speaking of first glimpses, here's the infamous White Sow <g>, about to make a meal out of Jamie's hat.

I like the details of the interior of the cabin, though I don't think they would have had those fancy diamond-paned glass windows.

As Claire goes about packing for her visit to the Muellers, notice that Jamie takes one of the silver candlesticks and puts it in his bag, careful to be sure she didn't see him do it.

Jamie's dream about Brianna's birthmark comes straight from the book, and I'm very glad they included it here.
"I dreamt of Brianna, now and again."

"Really?" That was a little startling; I too had dreamt of Brianna in our icy shelter--something I seldom did.

"I did wonder..." Jamie hesitated for a moment. "Has she a birthmark, Sassenach? And if so, did ye tell me of it?"

"She does," I said slowly, thinking. "I don't think I ever told you about it, though; it isn't visible most of the time, so it's been years since I noticed it, myself. It's a--"

His hand tightening on my shoulder stopped me.

"It's a wee brown mark, shaped like a diamond," he said. "Just behind her left ear. Isn't it?"

"Yes, it is." It was warm and cozy in bed, but a small coolness on the back of my neck made me shiver suddenly. "Did you see that in your dream?"

"I kissed her there," he said softly.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "Night on a Snowy Mountain". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Meanwhile, back in 1971, Roger has come to Inverness in search of Brianna. He tracks her to Mrs. Baird's B&B (where Frank and Claire stayed in Episode 101, "Sassenach"), which is apparently now being run by her daughter. The younger Ms. Baird gives Roger a letter from Bree, saying, "She asked me to wait a year before sending it to ye."

So Bree goes off without a word, and all she leaves behind is this one letter, clearly intending Roger to find it only if she doesn't come back? That seems much harsher than it was in the book, more emotionally devastating for Roger.

Back in the 18th century, we get our first look at the (fictional) town of Woolam's Creek, which is apparently the nearest town of any size to Fraser's Ridge. (On the show, at least. Keep in mind that the TV show is doing weird things with the geography of North Carolina. I am trying to take Diana Gabaldon's advice and ignore the geographical references, for my own peace of mind.)

Jamie and Young Ian have come to the town to try to recruit settlers. Jamie gives Ian a stack of flyers describing the offer of land on Fraser's Ridge, and goes off to find the silversmith, a man named MacNeil.

The silversmith's wife seems to be openly flirting with Jamie, though he doesn't react.

Back on Fraser's Ridge, Claire is at the Muellers' cabin, having just delivered Petronella's baby. The Mueller's cabin is smaller and not as fancy as Jamie and Claire's.

"We say she looks like her papa, may he rest in peace." This is a change from the book, and it's a sobering thought, a young mother with a small baby, left without a husband to provide for her.

Meanwhile, in Woolam's Creek, Jamie is trying to recruit men to settle on the Ridge, offering 100 acres of land apiece, but not having any luck.

(Side note: I really, really wish they'd do something about Jamie's wig! That scraggly, unkempt fringe is really unattractive, IMHO.)

"My father's name was Brian." How does Jamie know this man's name is also Brian? (Minor point.)

The story that the man tells, of government soldiers seizing property when the taxes weren't paid, sounds very similar to what happened to Abel MacLennan in FIERY CROSS:
"[The sheriff] came with a paper, and said he mun’ put us oot, and the taxes not paid.”

Faced with necessity, Abel had left his wife in their cabin, and gone posthaste to Salem. But by the time he returned, six shillings in hand, his property had been seized and sold--to [the sheriff's] father-in-law--and his cabin was inhabited by strangers, his wife gone.

“I kent she’d no go far,” he explained. “She’d not leave the bairns.”

And that in fact was where he found her, wrapped in a threadbare quilt and shivering under the big spruce tree on the hill that sheltered the graves of the four MacLennan children, all dead in their first year of life.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 2, "Loaves and Fishes". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Back at the Muellers' cabin, Petronella announces that they've named the baby Klara. Claire seems flattered and a little taken aback by the news. Herr Mueller gives Petronella the little doll that we saw in the beginning of this episode as a gift for the baby.

Suddenly Rollo starts barking, alerting them to the arrival of "savages", a group of Cherokee seeking water from the nearby creek. Herr Mueller is furious, and grabs a musket, saying, "They have no reason to set foot on MY land!"

And just like that, the situation escalates into a potentially deadly confrontation, with both sides pointing weapons at one another, and Claire standing between them, trying to defuse the situation before someone gets hurt or killed.

"Water belongs to no one," the Cherokee leader says.
"You're right," Claire replies, "but he doesn't see it that way."

And the Cherokee leader backs down, for the sake of Claire's friendship with Adawehi, the old Cherokee woman. As he turns to leave, he crouches down and makes strange signs over the water. This bit is taken from an incident in the book that Claire heard about, but did not see in person:
A small band of Indians had stopped at the Mueller farm asking for food and drink. Mueller, with whose opinions of Indians I was thoroughly well acquainted, had driven them off with considerable abuse. The Indians, offended, had made--said Mueller--mysterious signs toward his house as they left.

(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Heated Conversation". Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Claire arrives home at last and collapses on her bed in exhaustion and relief.

The next day, she settles back into the routine of farm chores: feeding the livestock ("You've no idea you're just a Christmas pork chop, do you?" she tells the White Sow), cooking, and so on. After dark, puttering around the cabin by candlelight, you can see her looking up at the shelf above the hearth where the candlesticks are kept, noticing the missing one, but she doesn't comment on it.

The day after that, more shots of livestock-feeding (which does sort of beg the question, who was feeding them when Jamie and Ian were away and Claire was at the Muellers' cabin?), including a pair of goats.  Claire spends the day quietly, doing chores, tasting a bit of Jamie's homemade whisky (at least that's what I think was in the bottle), and generally staying out of trouble.

Meanwhile in Woolam's Creek, Jamie's still not having any luck attracting tenants. When Ian asks what will happen if they can't find settlers for the land, Jamie doesn't seem concerned. "The tax collectors will come to me, will they no? 'Tis my land, after all." I liked the note of pride in Jamie's voice as he says that.

Just then Ian discovers the horse has a broken bit.

"We'll need to get it mended before we can travel." This seems like an incredibly obvious thing to say, intended only to explain the situation to the 21st-century audience, and I didn't care for it. It's sort of the equivalent of someone today saying, "Uh-oh, the car has a flat tire. We'll need to get it repaired before we can travel." Yeah, no kidding!

As soon as Murtagh spoke, I felt a little shiver of recognition, just at the sound of his voice.

I was one of those book-readers who didn't like the fact that Murtagh survived Culloden in the first place, but I will grudgingly admit that it's good to see him here. And it's fitting that Young Ian is the one who first encounters him, because Murtagh and Ian have never laid eyes on one another before.

Murtagh looks older than when we last saw him (understandable, as this would be about a dozen years later). He's a contemporary of Jamie's parents, so I would estimate his age as somewhere in his mid-seventies. He looks to be in far better health than when we last saw him at Ardsmuir, though.

Twenty-one shillings?!  That sounds like a small fortune by the standards of the colonies. It's awfully convenient that Young Ian just happens to be carrying a small purse with plenty of coins in it.

Jamie, meanwhile, goes back to the silversmith's shop, where he's met by MacNeil's wife again. I'm not really sure what the purpose of this pair of scenes is, except as a way to show us that Jamie is happily married and therefore not tempted by any beautiful women he happens to encounter in town.

I love the look on Jamie's face as Young Ian confesses that he gave the blacksmith all that money.

I liked the reunion scene very much. It's very well done, from the first moment when Jamie storms into the blacksmith's shop, full of righteous indignation. Murtagh just stands there at first, frozen with shock at the sound of Jamie's voice. And then Murtagh turns around. At first Jamie's face is an expressionless mask (to hide strong emotion, just as in the books?) but then he smiles, and they embrace.

"Who you calling an old coot, eh?" Murtagh says to Ian, and the expression on his face made me laugh.

Back on the Ridge, Claire is doing her chores (again!) when she hears Pastor Gottfried pounding on the cabin door. He announces that Petronella, her baby, and the boy, Tommy, are all dead of the measles.

"[Herr Mueller] blames you for their deaths." That's a change from the book, where Mueller's rage was focused solely on the Indians. But it makes sense here, because of the way Claire behaved in the earlier scene: "Herr Mueller believes you let the Indians curse their water." Uh-oh!

In the next scene, we see Claire loading a rifle. She doesn't look like #SuperClaire to me there, just a pioneer woman doing whatever she has to do to defend her home, in the absence of her husband.

Meanwhile, in a tavern in Woolam's Creek, Murtagh fills them in on what he's been doing in the past twelve years. So he was indentured to a blacksmith, and when the man died, his wife sold the business to Murtagh.

It seems awfully convenient that Murtagh should turn out to have the skills of a silversmith as well. "I can manage a bit," he says. But I liked his reaction when he realized the candlestick had belonged to Jamie's mother, Ellen, whom he had loved as a young man.

The bit of byplay between Ian and Murtagh over the bag of coins made me giggle. And I loved Murtagh's reaction when Jamie said, "Claire...she came back to me."

Jamie tells Murtagh that Brianna is living in Boston in the year 1971. Well, technically, if time runs in parallel between the two centuries, with a difference of 202 years, that's not quite accurate, as it's still 1768 where Jamie is, but I'm not going to quibble over a year, more or less. From their point of view, just the concept of the year 1971 is mindboggling enough! <g>

"Come to Fraser's Ridge. We'll work together, as we always did."

Murtagh hesitates -- he seems tempted -- but declines the offer.

The scene shifts briefly back to Fraser's Ridge. Claire is alone in the cabin at night, armed with her rifle, with only Rollo for company. Both she and the dog seem a little jumpy, with Rollo barking at a noise that turns out to be only the wind.

Murtagh's whole demeanor in the meeting with the other men reminds me strongly of Dougal in Episode 105, "Rent", when he was making speeches in taverns to rouse the villagers and crofters in support of the Stuarts.

"The time is coming when we will march!"

I'm surprised to see this -- aside from his brief stint as a "drill sergeant" in Episode 209 ("Je Suis Prest"), Murtagh never struck me as a leader of men in the way Jamie is, let alone the sort who stood up in front of a crowd and made impassioned speeches -- but then again, we don't know the details of what he's been through in the last few years. He's changed a great deal, just as Jamie and Claire changed in their years apart.

So Murtagh is a Regulator. And of course, those of us who've read the books know exactly what's coming, in less than three years: the Battle of Alamance.

"I canna in good conscience involve myself in this," Jamie says, and that's the end of it, as far as he's concerned. But it seems clear that this conflict between them isn't going to end any time soon. I think that's a good thing. Conflict makes for good storytelling, and it should be interesting to see where this leads, not just in Season 4, but beyond.

(Just as an aside: To me, this whole subplot is much more plausible, and more historically accurate, if you substitute "Hillsborough" -- a real place, and a major source of Regulator activity -- for the fictional "Woolam's Creek", which was invented for the show.)

Back on the Ridge, Gerhard Mueller is pounding on the cabin door. Claire points her rifle at the door, only to see Mueller walk right in. Why on earth didn't she bolt the door like a sensible person?!?

I like the way Claire's voice shakes as she says, "Thank you for your concern, but I'm well."

Mueller hands her a package, wrapped in the same cloth that he used to wrap the doll, only it contains the fresh scalp of the Cherokee woman, Adawehi.

Even though I knew this was coming, I shuddered at the sight of it. I liked Claire's reaction very much. I also liked the contrast between his out-of-control shouting and Claire's calm, steady voice as she says firmly, "Goodbye, Herr Mueller." And the way Claire cries at the end. Cait did an excellent job in this scene!

The next scene shows Claire, grieving, making a little bundle of Adawehi's things and packing them up in a box, then carefully placing the box on the fire. It's a touching gesture, but I didn't like the fact that she wasted a useful wooden box like that.

The scene with the Cherokee shooting flaming arrows at the Muellers' cabin took me totally by surprise. It's a vivid and very dramatic scene, riveting to watch, but I'm just thankful that a stray arrow didn't ignite a forest fire by accident!

Herr Mueller's wife stumbles out of the cabin in her nightdress, and is immediately hit by one of the flaming arrows. She falls, Mueller runs toward her, and he is cut down in turn. I understand why they did this, as it makes for a very dramatic end to this story arc. Still, I can't help observing that Gerhard Mueller did not actually die in the books.

The next morning, Claire is lying in bed when Rollo starts barking in alarm. But it's only Jamie, home at last. To his credit, he notices at once how stressed and upset she is, and takes her into his arms. "Just hold me," she says. (Awwwww!!)

Later, Claire is out collecting firewood when she hears someone whistling a very familiar tune -- "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy". It's Murtagh, of course, come to stay on Fraser's Ridge. I loved the choice of music there, because that particular tune is, of course, a reminder of their time looking for Jamie together in Episode 114, "The Search".

Suddenly we shift forward in time 200 years, and the sun is rising over Craigh na Dun. Roger is reading Brianna's letter.

"I found out something terrible is going to happen to my mother and Jamie. If I didn't try to go and help them, I would never have forgiven myself."

And if Roger doesn't go after her, he'll never forgive himself.

I like the 18th-century costume Bree is wearing, and I liked the way the camera swung around to show the empty space in front of the stone where she'd been a moment before.

Excellent episode! I can't wait for next week!
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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 406.

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 1, 2018

November poll results



Here are the results of the November poll, which asked the question, "How long have you been reading Diana Gabaldon's books?"
  • 2.20% - Less than 6 months
  • 3.76% - 6 months to 1 year
  • 7.24% - 1-2 years
  • 20.51% - 2-5 years
  • 11.50% - 5-10 years
  • 9.94% - 10-15 years
  • 8.94% - 15-20 years
  • 13.63% - 20-25 years
  • 7.10% - 25+ years
  • 13.06% - Since OUTLANDER was first published.
  • 0.14% - I read excerpts of her work on Compuserve before OUTLANDER was published.
  • 0.92% - I haven't read any of Diana Gabaldon's books, but I've watched the OUTLANDER TV series.
  • 1.06% - Other
There were 1409 responses to this month's poll. Thanks very much to everyone who participated!

Please take a moment to vote in the December poll, which asks, "Have you ever been to Scotland?"