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.
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.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.
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.)
"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.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.
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.)
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!
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.