Sunday, March 15, 2020

Episode 505: "Perpetual Adoration" (SPOILERS!)



Here are my reactions to Episode 505 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Perpetual Adoration". I thought this was another very good episode.

*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***

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


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The episode opens with Claire in 1968, in a Catholic church, presumably St. Finbar's, the parish church in Boston Claire attended with Frank and Brianna. I didn't care for the opening voiceover, but the important point, "How many times have my prayers been answered?" leads directly into the next scene, with Claire in her surgery on Fraser's Ridge, examining a specimen in the microscope.

I love the mixture of emotions on Claire's face, as though she's afraid at first to believe that she has finally, at long last, found the penicillium spores she's been trying so hard to grow for weeks. But there they are.

Marsali comes in, and her joy at this discovery is really infectious. "Paintbrushes!" she says, referring to the shape of the spores under the microscope. I'm glad Claire had someone to share this moment with! In the book, we didn't get that, because she did so much of her experimenting alone.

The opening title card shows Claire in 1968, in the doctors' lounge of the hospital, looking through an assortment of magazines and books, until she finds THE IMPETUOUS PIRATE. I laughed when I saw that, as it's an inside joke only book-readers will fully appreciate. (More about that later.)

I loved the opening montage, with Claire's voiceover reciting (verbatim) the Prologue from A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES.
Time is a lot of the things people say that God is.

There’s the always preexisting, and having no end. There’s the notion of being all powerful--because nothing can stand against time, can it? Not mountains, not armies.

And time is, of course, all-healing. Give anything enough time, and everything is taken care of: all pain encompassed, all hardship erased, all loss subsumed.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Remember, man, that thou art dust; and unto dust thou shalt return.

And if Time is anything akin to God, I suppose that Memory must be the Devil.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, "Prologue". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
As the voiceover ends, we're with Claire in 1968, where she's meeting Bree for lunch. I liked Bree's concern for her. ("Are you OK? You sounded kind of weird on the phone.")  Frank is dead, and the two of them have to look out for one another.

"I just lost a patient," Claire says, and it's only later that we realize who she must have been referring to.

Claire talking about a patient who died from a reaction to penicillin despite having been tested for it ahead of time is frightening, given what we've all been going through lately with the coronavirus. Even if the probability of an inaccurate test reading is very low, it does exist, and sometimes patients die as a result.

In the next scene, Roger and Bree are in bed, having just had sex. I like the easy banter between them, the way Bree teases him, calling him "captain".

"You know how to get through to people," Bree tells Roger. And that's true, though we haven't seen that aspect of his personality much in the show, up to this point.

"I gave my oath to your father, to be in his militia, and those words mean something to him...and to me." Good line.

In the next scene, Jamie and Fergus and the rest of the militia arrive in Hillsborough. All the townspeople stare at them suspiciously, thinking they might be Regulators bent on mayhem and violence, but the tension eases as Jamie identifies himself as a militia colonel.

At a nearby ordinary, or tavern, the first thing we see is a WANTED poster with Murtagh's picture on it, very much like the poster of "Red Jamie" that we saw during the Rising in Season 2. The Redcoats are evidently taking turns throwing knives at Murtagh's face.

Lieutenant Knox is there, and seems relieved to see Jamie with his militia. He's had no luck in locating Murtagh ("A shadow in the dark, that one"), but he does have some news from Governor Tryon.

"The governor intends to pardon the leaders of the Regulator movement."

I was really surprised at that. It seems completely out of character for Tryon, considering how determined he was earlier in the season to see them brought to justice.

"As you know, I did something...excessive in the jail."

I didn't like this at all. This is clumsy writing, an example of the "As you know, Bob" technique, telling the viewers (or readers) something that the characters themselves are already aware of. It's only been a few weeks at most since Jamie witnessed Knox murdering the Regulator in Episode 502. Not likely that either Jamie or the TV viewers would forget that!

Knox tells Jamie that he has sent for the prisoner rolls of Ardsmuir Prison in Scotland. He's discovered that Murtagh was imprisoned there, but he evidently has no idea that Jamie was there as well.

Knox encourages Jamie to throw a knife at Murtagh's picture, which he does. but the blade lands just to one side of his godfather's head.

Claire's voiceover, as we transition from this scene to the hospital in Boston in 1968, is not in the book, but I liked the spiderweb imagery. It reminded me of the notion of the "butterfly effect", how small actions can reverberate across time and end up having much larger effects.

In the next scene, we're introduced to Graham Menzies (played by Stephen McCole), a Scottish patient of Claire's. Another terrific bit of casting, in my opinion. McCole has a friendly face, a twinkle in his eye, and a lovely Scottish accent, making him a very appealing character, just as he was in the book. The story of Graham Menzies is told in VOYAGER chapter 56, "Turtle Soup". They've changed some of the details for the show, but I was glad to see that his personality came through intact.

"I consider myself American these days," Claire says. This is one of those differences between TV Claire and Book Claire that they have emphasized a little too much in the show, if you ask me.

"Would you believe," Graham says, "I've lived here for more than 20 years, and still no one understands a damn word I'm saying?"

Actually, I think his accent is easy to understand. It's Roger's accent that I often have trouble with.

Claire says she's going to perform surgery to remove his gall bladder. This was major abdominal surgery in those days, unlike today, and Claire prescribes a course of antibiotics, saying that she'll run some tests first. That's very ominous, especially given Claire's earlier conversation with Bree, and from this point, it's clear that Graham Menzies is doomed.

As Claire walks away, she hears Jamie's voice in her head, as clear as though he's standing right there with her: "'Tis but one more scar. Nothing worth brooding over." (This comes from the aftermath of the duel in Episode 110, "By the Pricking of My Thumbs.")  The sound of Jamie's voice gave me chills. I really wasn't expecting that. Very well done!

I liked the way the next scene begins with Claire checking Kezzie for symptoms of an allergic reaction to penicillin, making it obvious that she's trying to follow the same protocol she would have used in 1968.

"Everything you do as a doctor involves risk," Claire tells Marsali. "Even after you've done all you can, there could still be unforeseen complications, sometimes even fatal."

I liked that, as applied to Jo and Kezzie's surgeries, but it's really obvious on re-watching that Claire is thinking about what happened to Graham Menzies.

Where did Claire get a syringe? In THE FIERY CROSS, the lack of a proper syringe to inject the penicillin was what prompted Bree to invent the snake-fang syringe that saved Jamie's life. Does that mean we won't get to see that, later in Season 5?

Notice how interested Lizzie is in the proceedings. <g>

The tonsillectomy is very well done, and reasonably close to the book (THE FIERY CROSS chapter 36, "Worlds Unseen"), except for the fact that Jamie is not present. The cauterization looked realistic to me, as a layperson, complete with a little puff of smoke.

In the next scene, Roger is trying to distract a squalling Jemmy by showing him various shiny objects, to no effect at all (accompanied by a completely unnecessary voiceover from Claire, which seems very oddly placed here) when he accidentally knocks over a container on the shelf. And for the second time this season (!), Roger discovers something important that Bree has been hiding from him, when it falls to the floor by accident. This device is already getting old, and I hope they don't do it again.

What Roger has found is the gemstone Stephen Bonnet gave to Bree in Episode 412, "Providence". I was surprised to see that Roger recognizes it, and it leads into a riveting flashback scene between Roger and Stephen Bonnet, on board the Gloriana, that is not in the book.

"Women will do anything for trinkets, coins, jewels...." I don't know about anybody else, but the sight of Stephen Bonnet dispensing advice about women turns my stomach.

"Did ye not play the ace of hearts in the last hand?" Roger asks. Very risky, considering Stephen Bonnet's temperament, to confront him directly like that, and I was glad Roger backed down at once. My thought was, yes, of course he cheats at cards, but it's not worth getting yourself killed for pointing it out!

Later that evening, Bree returns to the cabin to find Roger in a somber mood. He shows her the gemstone. "It's Bonnet's, isn't it?"

Bree rolls her eyes skyward -- not in annoyance, I think, so much as a "Lord, give me strength" sort of expression. She tells Roger about the time she went to see Stephen Bonnet in jail and how Bonnet gave her the gemstone, "for [the baby's] maintenance."

This scene is taken from THE FIERY CROSS chapter 6, "For Auld Lang Syne", and I think Richard and Sophie did an excellent job with it!

Roger is incredulous that she would have kept a gift from Stephen Bonnet, but Bree says it's for Jemmy, his "ticket home" in case he's able to travel through the stones.

I really wish they'd stop emphasizing this idea, that Bree and Roger want to go back to the 20th century, in every single episode. It's getting very annoying and tiresome!

Roger wants to know the real reason Bonnet gave her a gemstone, and finally Bree admits the truth. "Because I told him Jemmy was his."
“I told him the baby was his; he was going to die, maybe it would be some comfort to him, to think that there’d be … something left.”

Roger felt jealousy grip his heart, so abrupt in its attack that for a moment, he thought the pain was physical. Something left, he thought. Something of him. And what of me? If I die tomorrow--and I might, girl! Life’s chancy here for me as well as you--what will be left of me, tell me that?

He oughtn’t ask, he knew that. He’d vowed never to voice the thought that Jemmy was not his, ever. If there was a true marriage between them, then Jem was the child of it, no matter the circumstances of his birth. And yet he felt the words spill out, burning like acid.

“So you were sure the child was his?”

She stopped dead and turned to look at him, eyes wide with shock. “No. No, of course not! If I knew that, I would have told you!”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "For Auld Lang Syne". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And then Bree adds, "Roger, I'm so sorry! I am so sorry!" I was glad to hear this, actually. In the book, she never actually apologizes to him for it, because their conversation was interrupted by strangers approaching.

"They were just words. Words you were never, ever meant to hear."
"Words have consequences."

I like that. But then the scene gets even more emotionally intense.

"Roger, how could I ever know for sure that Jemmy is his?"
"You told him so. You've never said as much to me!"
"I didn't think I needed to."

And that should have been the end of it, except that Roger looks into her eyes and asks very seriously, "What do you truly believe?" (Is Jemmy Roger's, or Bonnet's?) And Bree can't answer him.

Roger gives her back the gemstone, takes his rifle, and leaves without another word.

Wow! This is a rare instance where I think they actually improved on the original scene, giving it more emotional power than it had in the book. I loved it!

In the next scene, we're back in 1968, and Claire has just arrived at the church for her weekly Perpetual Adoration session. (That's a beautiful church, and I'm wondering where they filmed it.)

The scene between Claire and the priest felt a little contrived to me. "The devotion between man and wife, there's nothing like it" is a sentiment guaranteed to make Claire even more depressed, as she remembers both Frank (dead less than two years at this point) and, of course, Jamie.

"It reminded me of someone....someone I lost."
"No one's lost who's not forgotten."

Nice words, but they sound so generic, like something you'd see on a Hallmark card. And of course, mere words can't even begin to reach the depths of her grief and longing for Jamie.

I liked the next scene, with Claire and Roger. It's good to see the two of them bonding, growing closer.

"Intuition comes with listening, and time." Good line.

Interesting to see Claire opening up a bit, to Roger, about her marriage to Frank.

"But to make it work, you had to lie to Brianna for most of her life, about her real father. Do you ever regret that?"
"No. No, what was important was that Bree felt safe and loved by both her parents."

Watching Claire in this scene, I can't help but be struck by how much happier, even younger, she looks now, than in the scenes set in 1968. The contrast is really noticeable when we see 1968 Claire and 1771 Claire back to back like this. I think Cait did an excellent job in portraying the differences.

"Brianna was devastated and angry when I told her that Frank wasn't her real father. You witnessed that."

More "As you know, Bob" writing. <sigh> Of course Roger wouldn't be likely ever to forget that! Still, I thought Claire gave him pretty good advice in this scene.

Roger returns to the cabin, bringing Bree a large amount of the chanterelle mushrooms she'd been searching for the day before. A peace offering of sorts.

"I'm sorry, Brianna. I'm sorry for everything."

If I was glad that Bree apologized earlier in the episode, I'm even more so to hear this from Roger. I loved the quiet, matter-of-fact way he said it. And I think that word "everything" encompasses an awful lot, including the huge fight on their handfasting night, and Brianna's rape, and leaving her to go aboard the Gloriana without a word. Now that they've both apologized to each other, maybe their relationship will be a little easier going forward.

Bree tells Roger that Stephen Bonnet is still alive. I loved Roger's reaction, jumping to his feet as though he wants nothing more than to go and kill the man with his bare hands, right that instant.

Watching Roger, kneeling at Bree's feet and promising her very seriously that the minute they know for sure that Jemmy can travel, they'll head for the nearest stones, I had a queasy feeling in my stomach, knowing all too well what's coming later this season. If he's so determined to find a way to go back, now, how is anyone going to convince him to stay, after that happens?

The next scene goes back to Jamie and Lt. Knox, in the ordinary with Murtagh's WANTED poster on the wall. Jamie has just been informed that Murtagh won't be pardoned along with the other leaders of the Regulation. And recalling that we saw Murtagh actually ordering the tarring and feathering (!) in Episode 502, I have to say I don't blame the Governor for that decision.

Knox tells Jamie his militia is to stand down and go home. So, just as in the book, they went through all that -- the Beardsleys' cabin, the events in Brownsville, traipsing all over the colony of North Carolina with all those men -- only to end up going home with nothing to show for it.

Jamie politely declines to assist further in the hunt for Murtagh, and Knox doesn't argue.

Abruptly we're back in 1968, with Graham Menzies in his hospital bed, shortly before his surgery. He says he wants to be out of the hospital in time for his next Perpetual Adoration shift at St. Finbar's.

Claire says Graham reminds her of someone she used to know in Scotland, years ago.

"He must have been a fool."
Claire laughs a little. "Well, if he was, then I was equally so."

Interesting. Claire claims later that she never spoke of Jamie to anyone, until she told Bree and Roger the truth.

Claire tells Graham she's going to start him on penicillin, in preparation for surgery the next day.

Meanwhile, in Lt. Knox's quarters, Jamie comes to deliver the muster roll with the names of all the militia members. (Presumably including Roger, as well as those men who deserted in Brownsville.)

Knox invites Jamie to play a game of chess, and their conversation is a little reminiscent of Jamie and Lord John playing chess at Ardsmuir.

Back in 1968, at the hospital, Claire is shocked to learn that her patient, Graham Menzies, has died of anaphylactic shock.

"Why wasn't I notified?"
"I...I don't know, I'm new here," says the very young nurse.
"Well, that's no excuse! I should have been called!" Claire shouts at her, dropping her clipboard and storming away.

I'm not sure what to think of this reaction from Claire. We've never seen her react by yelling at subordinates when a patient dies, so it seems somewhat out of character. But then again, I remember Claire in VOYAGER (in the book), slamming her fist down on the ship's railing of the Porpoise over and over again in impotent rage over losing so many patients.

I liked the next scene, with Claire and Joe Abernathy, where Claire is reading THE IMPETUOUS PIRATE. It's inspired by the scene from VOYAGER:
“Let me guess,” [Joe] said. “Valdez just teased aside the membrane of her innocence?”

“Yes,” I said, breaking out into helpless giggling again. “How did you know?”

“Well, you weren’t too far into it,” he said, taking the book from my hand. His short, blunt fingers flicked the pages expertly. “It had to be that one, or maybe the one on page 73, where he laves her pink mounds with his hungry tongue.”

“He what?”

“See for yourself.” He thrust the book back into my hands, pointing to a spot halfway down the page. Sure enough,

“…lifting aside the coverlet, he bent his coal-black head and laved her pink mounds with his hungry tongue. Tessa moaned and…” I gave an unhinged shriek.

“You’ve actually read this?” I demanded, tearing my eyes away from Tessa and Valdez.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, the grin widening. He had a gold tooth, far back on the right side. “Two or three times. It’s not the best one, but it isn’t bad.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 18, "Roots". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Joe is sympathetic -- he's no doubt lost his share of patients -- but he can see there's something bothering her, beyond just Graham Menzies' death. Claire looks miserable, but she won't confide in him. Not yet.

Meanwhile, back in Lt. Knox's quarters, Jamie and Lt. Knox are playing chess. Knox seems to be trying much too hard to be Jamie's friend. The two men barely know one another, and Jamie hasn't given any indication that he wants to be more than an occasional chess partner.

"Men like Fitzgibbons never change." Oh, really?  Look at Murtagh in the final scene of Episode 501 and the opening scene of Episode 502. He's changed, all right, but not for the better.

An aide brings Knox the list of the Ardsmuir prisoners, sent from Scotland. Jamie tells him that his name is on that list, but Knox doesn't believe it at first. There are a lot of James Frasers in Scotland, after all.

"Aye. But only one from Broch Tuarach."

Knox scans the documents and discovers that Murtagh's surname is actually Fraser.

"What kind of deceitful devil wears the guise of honor and talks of justice and mercy?" Good question, especially on re-watching, after we've seen what Jamie does next.

"I'm no traitor," Jamie says. Well, actually, pardoned traitor would be more accurate. <g>

"But I will not stand by and watch my kin hunted like a dog for protecting those that can't protect themselves." I like this line very much.

Knox draws his knife and threatens Jamie with it. "I believed you were a good man," he says, gesturing with the blade of the knife, which I thought was a little odd.

And as Knox heads for the door, apparently to summon his men to arrest Jamie, Jamie suddenly lunges for him and gets an arm around his throat.

I thought at first he meant just to knock him unconscious, and I watched in open-mouthed horror as Jamie literally choked Knox to death with his bare hands (!) and then proceeded to lock the door and meticulously cover up all traces of the crime, laying Knox in his bed, throwing the list of Ardsmuir men into the fire, and creating enough smoke from the hearth that it would appear Knox died of smoke inhalation.

I couldn't stop saying, "WHAT?!  WHAT??!?" the first time I watched this.  Even if Jamie was acting in defense of Murtagh, it's very hard to see this as anything other than cold-blooded murder. I was really shocked.

Jamie escapes out the window and climbs down from the roof, and just then we hear a "meow!" from somewhere nearby.

It's Adso! But much as I'm glad to see the wee gray cheetie (another piece of the OUTLANDER story falling into its rightful place), it's not enough to make me forget about what just happened.

The scene where Jamie gives the kitten to Claire is sweet, and I liked the fact that they kept some of the dialogue from the book (THE FIERY CROSS chapter 18, "No Place Like Home"). But I can't get the image of Jamie strangling Lt. Knox out of my head.

The final scene between Claire and Bree is not in the book, but it answers the question of why Claire and Bree were in the UK at the beginning of Season 2.

"I've requested a leave of absence."
"You're taking time off?" Bree is incredulous. Her mother, surgeon at a busy Boston hospital, is taking an extended leave?

Back on the Ridge, Claire is still thinking about Graham Menzies.

"Do you know what I finally realized, after all these years? Just how much I owe him. His death had a profound effect on me, so much so that I took a leave of absence from work and went to London with Brianna. And that was where we learned of Reverend Wakefield's passing. Had we not attended that funeral, we would never have crossed paths with Roger, or found you."

It is really remarkable, isn't it? The details are a little different in the books, but the "butterfly effect" triggered by Graham Menzies' death is the same, and I like that very much.

"Welcome home, soldier," Claire says, addressing him as she did a few times in Season 1. I haven't thought about that in a long time.

I thought the voiceover at the end was unnecessary and added nothing to the episode. In my opinion they should have ended on that final shot of Jamie and Claire. But it's a minor point.

Overall, I thought this was a very good episode, and I continue to be very pleased with the way Season 5 is progressing.
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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 506.

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.

6 comments:

Susan said...

Karen,
I am really enjoying season 5 too. Each episode makes me more excited for the next one. I think I must of held my breath, anticipating the outcome in Knox's room. In that moment Jaime must have felt like Knox's actions were not much different than those of any other of the Redcoats he has encountered in his life, not to mention what would happen to his family and everyone else on the Ridge. Puts me in mind of The Search when Claire and Jenny have the soldier in the woods. Although Murtagh came along, they would of had to do what must be done, just as Jaime did so this episode.
I so enjoy your recaps, especially the passages from the booksyou add that correlate to a particular scene. Well Done!

Jules said...

Hiya, enjoyed your take. I also liked the Roger and Bree scenes.
The church was in Paisley...Thomas Coats Memorial Baptist Church

Anonymous said...

Being extremely agnostic, I was so-so on this episode until my second viewing. At first, a lot of the religious content was lost on me. Seeing it as a whole entity, I was better able to understand where it was going and the reasons for some of the flashback scenes. I very much enjoy your reviews.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Outlander fans , I liked it too I was surprised at Jamie killing Knock too but I think Jamie had no choice and if he had let the man go he would have Jamie arrested and Fraser's Ridge woud have been burned to the ground and his family in danger so Jamie had no choice but to take matters into his own hands , the flashbacks were fun and ok and I think in the end Roger and Bree will be staying on at Fraser's Ridge , and seeing Adso was sweet , season 5 gets better and better will be watching more this week and weekend . please post more soon. Happy Week. Loving Outlander , sincerely .

Unknown said...

I thought Lt. Knox was a kind of substitute for the Donald MacDonald character in the novel. It became obvious that Jamie was going to have to kill Knox and do it without drawing blood so that his murder could be concealed. Jamie is after all a "bloody Scot" as Claire calls him. Knox would never have kept the secret and the Frasers and their tenants would lose everything. I liked the "flashback" sections. It does help the viewer remember the time travel aspect. Of course, in the novel Claire's patient asks for a merciful death from incurable cancer, which would've compared with Jamie's killing of Beardsley last week. The plot line seems much more coherent this season. I was also reminded of Claire and Jamie's time at the French abbey after escaping from Wentworth Prison. I recall that one of the monks introduced Claire to the practice of "perpetual adoration" while Claire was trying to get through to Jamie. All in all a well-done episode.

Auntie Judy said...

I just discovered this blog and I love it! Going to have to get the DVDs and watch it all again, with the blogs. As someone who has read the books multiple times, I especially appreciate your references to the text. Btw, am also getting annoyed at so many inferences that Roger wants to go back.