Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books

As we observe Memorial Day today in the US, here are some quotes from Diana Gabaldon's books honoring those who fell in battle.

If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

1) The first is from DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, after the battle of Prestonpans:
I found them at length some distance up the hill behind the church. Jamie was sitting on a rock, the form of Alexander Kincaid cradled in his arms, curly head resting on his shoulder, the long, hairy legs trailing limp to one side. Both were still as the rock on which they sat. Still as death, though only one was dead.

I touched the white, slack hand, to be sure, and rested my hand on the thick brown hair, feeling still so incongruously alive. A man should not die a virgin, but this one did.

"He's gone, Jamie," I whispered.

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 36, "Prestonpans". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

2) The next quote is also from DRAGONFLY, from the scene in the beginning where Roger and Brianna visit the battlefield at Culloden:
"Heather," Roger said. "It's more common in the summer, when the heather is blooming--then you'll see heaps like that in front of every clan stone. Purple, and here and there a branch of the white heather--the white is for luck, and for kingship; it was Charlie's emblem, that and the white rose."

"Who leaves them?" Brianna squatted on her heels next to the path, touching the twigs with a gentle finger.

"Visitors." Roger squatted next to her. He traced the faded letters on the stone--FRASER. "People descended from the families of the men who were killed here. Or just those who like to remember them."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "Culloden". Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

3) Here is a bit from the battle of Moores Creek Bridge, in ABOSAA, a reminder that men do terrible things in battle. I can't even imagine what Jamie felt like, killing a man he once considered his friend.
Major Donald MacDonald floundered, rising halfway in the water. His wig was gone and his head showed bare and wounded, blood running from his scalp down over his face. His teeth were bared, clenched in agony or ferocity, ther was no telling which. Another shot struck him and he fell with a splash--but rose again, slow, slow, and then pitched forward into water too deep to stand, but rose yet again, splashing frantically, spraying blood from his shattered mouth in the effort to breathe.

Let it be you, then, lad, said the dispassionate voice. He raised his rifle and shot MacDonald cleanly through the throat. He fell backward and sank at once.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 113, "The Ghosts of Culloden". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) And this is from Lord John's visit in "Haunted Soldier" with the parents of a lieutenant killed at the battle of Crefeld.  Regardless of the circumstances, there's no easy way to deliver news like that:
"I saw your son for the first time only moments before his death," he said, as gently as he could. "There was no time for talk. But I can assure you, sir, that he died instantly--and he died bravely, as a soldier of the king. You--and your wife, of course--may be justly proud of him."

(From LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS by Diana Gabaldon, Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Part I, "Inquisition". Copyright© 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5) The next quote comes from WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD.  Just before the Battle of Monmouth, Claire is thinking about the soldiers who died on D-Day.
I spared a thought for the graves of Normandy and wondered whether those rows upon rows of faceless dead were meant to impose a sort of postmortem tidiness on the costs of war--or whether it was meant rather to underline them, a solemn accounting carried out in endless rows of naughts and crosses.

(From WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 74, "The Sort of Thing That Will Make a Man Sweat and Tremble". Copyright ©2014 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Lord John, remembering his friend and first lover, Hector, who died at Culloden:
“He made me go and look at the body--Hal did, my brother,” Grey blurted. He looked down at his hand, where the deep blue of Hector’s sapphire burned against his skin, a smaller version of the one Fraser had reluctantly given him.

“He said that I must; that unless I saw him dead, I should never really believe it. That unless I knew Hector--my friend--was really gone, I would grieve forever. If I saw, and knew, I would grieve, but then I should heal--and forget.” He looked up, with a painful attempt at a smile. “Hal is generally right, but not always.”

Perhaps he had healed, but he would never forget. Certainly he would not forget his last sight of Hector, lying wax-faced and still in the early morning light, long dark lashes resting delicately on his cheeks as they did when he slept. And the gaping wound that had half-severed his head from his body, leaving the windpipe and large vessels of the neck exposed in butchery.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 11, "The Torremolinos Gambit". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) This quote comes from AN ECHO IN THE BONE, from William's first taste of combat. This is one of our first glimpses of William's character, and I like the fact that he goes out of his way to treat this dead enemy soldier with dignity.
To his left, though, he caught sight of the American who had tried to shoot him, still lying in the wet grass. With a wary glance at the house, he crawled to the man, who was lying on his face, unmoving. He wanted to see the man’s face, for what reason he couldn’t have said. He rose on his knees and took the man by both shoulders, pulling him over.

The man was clearly dead, shot through the head. Mouth and eyes sagged half open and his body felt strange, heavy and flopping. [....] Gently laying the man back in the grass, he rose and went to fetch his sword. His knees felt peculiar.

Halfway to the spot where his sword lay, he stopped, turned round, and came back. Kneeling down, cold-fingered and hollow-bellied, he closed the man’s dead eyes against the rain.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 6, "Long Island". Copyright ©2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

8) And finally, here's a quote from THE FIERY CROSS that seems especially appropriate for Memorial Day:
"Many of us died in battle," he said, his voice scarcely audible above the rustle of the fire. "Many died of burning. Many of us starved. Many died at sea, many died of wounds and illness." He paused. "Many died of sorrow."

His eyes looked beyond the firelit circle for a moment, and I thought perhaps he was searching for the face of Abel MacLennan. He lifted his cup then, and held it high in salute for a moment.

"Slàinte!" murmured a dozen voices, rising like the wind. "Slàinte!" he echoed them--then tipped the cup, so that a little of the brandy fell into the flames, where it hissed and burned blue for an instant's time.

He lowered the cup, and paused for a moment, head bent. He lifted his head then, and raised the cup toward Archie Hayes, who stood across the fire from him, round face unreadable, fire sparking from his silver gorget and his father’s brooch.

"While we mourn the loss of those who died, we must also pay tribute to you who fought and suffered with equal valor--and survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 15, "The Flames of Declaration". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Episode 512: "Never My Love" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 512 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Never My Love".


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









The episode opens without the usual "Previously" voiceover. The recap of last week's episode consists of a montage of moments, punctuated by drumbeats, ratcheting up the tension without a single spoken word. I thought that was very effective.

On a related note, I think this was the first episode we've ever had without the usual opening credit sequence. (Leaving the credits for the end instead.) I thought that was an interesting decision. It made the whole first part of the episode seem more immersive somehow, more suspenseful, as though to tell the audience, "No, you're not getting a break from this just because we have to show the opening credits!"

As the episode begins, we see a 1960's record player, playing the song "Never My Love" by The Association. We're in a house we've never seen before, with 1960's architecture and furnishings.

Claire is sitting on a couch with her back to the camera, staring at the wall. Suddenly we see a closeup of an orange. This is a reference to the orange King Louis gave Claire in Episode 207, "Faith," and it's just the first of many, many subtle "Easter egg" references to previous scenes and events from earlier in the series. The blue vase on the table is another one, going all the way back to Episode 101, "Sassenach". There are lots of these throughout the episode, and I'm not going to try to note all of them! It's an interesting and creative approach, and I thought it worked really well.

Finally we get a look at Claire. She's sitting with an oddly blank expression on her face, and she looks almost catatonic, not like her normal self at all. Notice the painting on the wall, which appears to be depicting the Big House on Fraser's Ridge.

Suddenly we get a flash of the real Claire, lying on the ground with her nose bloodied and evidently broken, a gag in her mouth, looking terrified and absolutely alone. And gradually it becomes clear, this is Claire's way of willing herself to be "elsewhere".
I lay rigid, eyes shut, recalling various nasty experiences of my past and wishing I were in fact in attendance at one of those events, instead of here.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Claire sees Jamie, looking very much as he did when she first met him. I liked that. It makes sense to me that Claire, in desperate need, would conjure up an image of Jamie as he was when she fell in love with him.

Suddenly Claire hears Arvin Hodgepile's voice: "I say we kill her. Leave her for the beasts." (Book-readers will remember Hodgepile as the leader of the gang who abducted Claire.) This is a flashback to an earlier part of the ordeal after she was abducted.

Lionel Brown sneers at her. "Well, aren't you the clever one? Dr. Rawlings. You never thought anyone'd find out about your little newspaper column, did you?"

Claire tries to protest that she was "only trying to help", but Lionel Brown isn't listening. He says he's going to take her to Brownsville, so the women there will "see you for the charlatan you are".

Frankly, this seems like a flimsy reason for abducting Claire. But then, Lionel Brown isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, here or in the book. Still, he's extremely dangerous, and Claire would do well to bear that in mind.

Back in the 1960's "dream-house", the doorbell rings. The family is starting to gather. We see Germain being dangled upside down, Young Ian dressed in a military uniform. Ian greets Jamie with a hug. "Happy Thanksgiving, Uncle."

Another memory intrudes: Claire running from her captors, only to be caught and thrown to the ground before she gets very far. As punishment, Hodgepile cuts her breast with his knife, just as in the book. In the confrontation that follows, I loved Claire's reactions.
Without the slightest notion as to what moved me to do it, I dropped the rock, ran the fingers of my right hand across the cut, and in one swift motion, reached out and drew them down the thin man’s cheek. I repeated the nasty laugh.

“Curse, is it?” I said. “How’s this? Touch me again, and you’ll die within twenty-four hours.”

The streaks of blood showed dark on the white of his face. He was close enough that I could smell the sourness of his breath, and see the fury gather on his face. What on earth do you think you are doing, Beauchamp? I thought, utterly surprised at myself.
(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
We haven't seen her this furious in a long time, and I thought Cait was absolutely channeling Claire through this whole scene.

Now we get our first good look at Donner, the man with long curly hair we saw briefly during the attack on the house in last week's episode.

"Do you have clear night skies where you come from?" he asks, in an unmistakably American accent.

But Claire has more urgent things to worry about than this man's peculiar speech. As night falls, she hears the other men laughing, saying, "Her legs aren't tied."

And just when the terror threatens to overwhelm her, the music starts up again. Jamie wraps a blanket around her from behind, saying, "You're shakin' so hard it's making my teeth rattle," just as he did on the night he first met her, in Episode 101, "Sassenach."  I loved that! It makes total sense to me that she would reach instinctively to him for comfort, as she's always done.

In the next scene, Claire is riding in a wagon. One of her captors, a man named Tebbe, gives her a chunk of bread.

The scene at the creek is taken straight from the book.
“The water is my friend,” I said, trying for an air of mystery suitable to a conjure woman. I was not a good liar, but I was lying for my life. “When we go into the river, let go your hold. A water horse will rise up to carry me away.”

His eyes couldn’t get any wider. Evidently, he’d heard of kelpies, or something like them. Even this far from the cataract, the roar of the water had voices in it--if one chose to listen.

“I am not going away with a water horse,” he said with conviction. “I know about them. They take you down, drown you, and eat you.”

“It won’t eat me,” I assured him. “You needn’t go near it. Just stand clear, once we’re in the water. Keep well away.”

And if he did, I’d be under the water and swimming for my life before he could say Jack Robinson.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Unfortunately, Hodgepile grabs her arm before she can put this plan into action, and Claire's mind retreats back to the relative safety of the dream.

In the "dream-house", with "Never My Love" still playing in the background, the family reunion is in full swing. Jocasta and Murtagh are there, and Marsali and Fergus (all of them dressed in 1960's clothing and hairstyles).

Back at the stream, Claire is shouting at the top of her lungs, as Tebbe and Hodgepile drag her in opposite directions, and she comes closer to the creek with every step. "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" she yells, and we see that Donner heard that loud and clear.

Lionel Brown settles the dispute by stuffing a rag into Claire's mouth and tying another cloth tightly around her head, gagging her.

Irritated with the way Claire is glaring at him behind the gag, Lionel Brown ties her to a tree some distance away from the others.

At the "dream-house", the conversation over dinner turns to baby names for Marsali and Fergus's latest child. James, Ian, or maybe Ringo, if it's a boy?  Or perhaps Jocasta, if it's a girl?  Jamie ignores the talk. He is completely focused on Claire, and I got the distinct sense of her holding on to that image of his face (exactly as he looked when she first fell in love with him) as a lifeline.

Suddenly we're back in Claire's present time, and she's lying on the ground with her nose smashed, struggling to breathe. The bunny rabbit is another of those "Easter egg" references, going back to the early episodes of Season 3. You may recall that Jamie saw a rabbit when he woke on the field at Culloden in Episode 301.
My nose was puffed from cheekbone to cheekbone, and swelling fast. I clenched my teeth on the gag and blew outward through my nose, trying to clear it, if only for a moment. Blood tinged with bile sprayed warm across my chin and splattered on my chest—and I sucked air fast, getting a bit.

Blow, inhale. Blow, inhale. Blow … but my nasal passages were almost swollen shut by now, and I nearly sobbed in panic and frustration, as no air came.

Christ, don’t cry! You’re dead if you cry, for God’s sake don’t cry!

Blow … blow … I snorted with the last reserve of stale air in my lungs, and got a hair of clearance, enough to fill them once more.

I held my breath, trying to stay conscious long enough to discover a way to breathe—there had to be a way to breathe.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Curses". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I thought they did an excellent job of portraying this! It's riveting and terrifying, just as it was the first time I read it in the book. Cait managed to convey the terror and desperation of that moment extremely well.

Fortunately, Donner shows up just in the nick of time, and removes the gag so Claire can breathe again.

"Does the name Ringo Starr mean anything to you?" Even though I knew this was coming, I still felt an excited little shiver up my spine at these words. Another time-traveler!

"I need gemstones."
"I have gemstones." She's lying, of course, but under these circumstances, naturally she'll tell him whatever he wants to hear.

"You ought to act more afraid." And with that, he replaces the gag and walks away.

The next scene is very hard to watch. Lionel Brown brings his nephew Cuddy over and basically goads him into raping Claire. The whole time the boy is assaulting her, Claire is back in the "dream-house", trying desperately to be elsewhere.

In the book, it's clear that the teenage boy didn't actually penetrate her, but I'm glad they didn't bother with that distinction here. It was certainly sexual assault, by anyone's definition.

And then Lionel Brown climbs on top of her, and this time it's very clearly rape. <shudder>

In the "dream-house", the table is set for a festive Thanksgiving dinner. Claire notices water beginning to drip from the ceiling. The roof is leaking.

Jamie's toast at the dinner table is taken almost verbatim from the last chapter of OUTLANDER:
“I meant it, Claire,” he said quietly. “My life is yours. And it’s yours to decide what we shall do, where we go next. To France, to Italy, even back to Scotland. My heart has been yours since first I saw ye, and you’ve held my soul and body between your two hands here, and kept them safe. We shall go as ye say.”

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "From the Womb of the Earth". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
As I was trying to recall why the words seemed so familiar, I caught sight of Lionel Brown sitting at the dinner table. Wow, I really wasn't expecting that!

Back in the present day, Claire lies still after Brown is finished with her. He calls, "Who's next for a go with the hedge-whore?" That made me want to throw up.

Two more men approach Claire out of the darkness, and suddenly we're back in the "dream-house", with babies and little kids and hugs and smiles all round. "Dinna fash," says Jamie, looking down at Claire from an odd angle. "I'm sure Roger and Bree will be here soon." But a few moments later, the doorbell rings.

Claire answers the door to find a pair of policemen (strongly resembling Hodgepile and Brown), telling her that Roger, Bree, and Jemmy have been killed in a car accident.

The next scene finally switches away from Claire's point of view, to pick up the MacKenzies' storyline where we left off in Episode 511, "Journeycake". We see them recovering from their trip through the stones, and suddenly Jemmy runs toward something he recognizes....

....which turns out to be Ian. So the stones evidently spat them out, and they never left the 18th century.

"I was thinking about home."
"So was I."

I'm really disappointed with the way this turned out! I saw it coming a mile away, and in fact was quite upset last week when it occurred to me that this was a distinct possibility. Putting the viewers through all those emotional goodbye scenes that we saw in Episode 511, only to say, in effect, "Never mind! Just kidding, we didn't mean it, we're back!" makes me feel manipulated, as though the whole long sequence of emotional farewells was not only pointless, but that I must have been an idiot to fall for it.

Spending all that screen time and that long emotional buildup to give the characters and the viewers time to adjust to the idea of the MacKenzies' departure, only to reveal it was all for nothing, seems to me like a cheap trick, and I don't like that At All. I suspect the whole thing was planned on purpose to set up the dramatic sequence we see later in this episode, where Roger and Ian arrive just in time to join in the rescue. And while the characters may be OK with that -- they can pick up where they left off and dive right into Season 6 -- I am left feeling that my emotions have been toyed with for no other purpose than to create a cliffhanger that will drive up ratings for the season finale.

I keep reminding myself it's only a TV show, but this really bothers me. Diana Gabaldon says this plot twist was NOT something she came up with, but the way they resolved the situation in this episode is inevitably going to make me view the events of Episode 511 in a more negative light. I think that's unfortunate.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm glad they came back! But I think they never should have left in the first place.

Moving on....

Bree, Roger, Jemmy, and Ian arrive back at the Ridge a few days later, in time to see the fiery cross blazing on the mountaintop, where Jamie lit it at the end of Episode 511. They hurry back, to find Jamie gathering his men, preparing to leave in pursuit of Claire's abductors.

I love that Jamie is wearing his kilt! <g>

The exchange between Roger and Jamie comes straight from the book, and I thought it was really well done:
“Ye called me,” he said at last, still looking up into the blazing dark. “At the Gathering, at the fire.”

“Seas vi mo lâmh, Roger an t’oranaiche, mac Jeremiah mac Choinneich,” Jamie said quietly. “Aye, I did. Stand by my side, Roger the singer, son of Jeremiah.”

“Seas vi mo lâmh, a mhic mo thaighe,” Roger said. “Stand by my side—son of my house. Did ye mean that?”

“Ye know that I did.”

“Then I mean it, too.” He reached out and rested his hand on Jamie’s shoulder, and I saw the knuckles whiten as he squeezed.

“I will stand by you. We will stay.”

Beside me, Brianna let out the breath she had been holding, in a sigh like the twilight wind.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 110, "Man of Blood". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Ian puts on his war paint, preparing for battle, and the men ride out.

In the next scene, we're back in the "dream-house", just Claire and Jamie, and it feels oddly peaceful, with just the two of them there. Gradually Claire comes awake, to the sound of gunfire and a blaze of firelight.

Jamie to the rescue, finally!! In the book, this is what I always think of as the "cavalry-coming-over-the-hill" moment, and usually it's the first chance I have to take a deep breath in quite some time.

In the ensuing melee, watch Roger. He's just killed a man in battle. I'm not sure which man it was, but it doesn't really matter. It's a huge moment for him personally. As Diana put it in the Prologue to THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, "It marks you, killing. No matter why it's done."

In the "dream-house", when Jamie said, "Dinna be afraid. There's the two of us now," I actually started to cry, from relief.

Jamie's reaction to the sight of Claire was very well done. He stares at first, as if not believing what he's seeing, but then he cuts her bonds and says quietly, "You are alive, you are whole, mo nighean donn," in echo of what he said to Roger after the hanging.

I'm very glad they included the bit with the knife and Jamie's, "It is myself who kills for her." I've always loved that in the book.

"Kill them all." I liked the way Sam said that, but the execution scene was still shocking! Notice Ian walking up to them with a tomahawk in one hand and an Iroquois war club in the other.

When Jamie bent to pick Claire up, I thought at once of this line:
He’d led her through the morning light in that clearing, a blood-soaked Adam, a battered Eve, looking upon the knowledge of good and evil. And then he had wrapped her in his plaid, picked her up, and walked away to his horse.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The next morning, by the stream, Claire looks almost like a completely different person, wrapped in Jamie's plaid with her hair hanging down over her face. She seems to force herself to take an interest in the others, asking about Marsali, telling Jamie about Donner. But all the time, she speaks in a monotone, and she won't even look at Jamie. (Contrast that with her excitement in Season 4 when she discovered the fillings in Otter-Tooth's skull.)

"Did he harm you?" Jamie asks, referring to Donner.
"He didn't help me."

Interesting. But again, there's no emotion in her voice. Does she resent the fact that Donner didn't help? Is she angry? She seems to be completely numb.

Jamie tells her that the MacKenzies have come home. He reaches out very gently to touch her shoulder, and she doesn't flinch away at his touch.

Home at last! Bree comes out to meet them, and my heart broke for her, seeing the look on her face.

"I thought I'd never see you again," Claire says. Again, I blame whoever had the idea to send them away in the first place! The thought that Bree's absence added to Claire's distress during the ordeal, and it was all so unnecessary, makes me mad.

Here comes Marsali, looking MUCH more pregnant than when last seen. From the point of view of the people on the Ridge, only a few days have passed, probably less than a week, from the abduction to Claire's return home. How did Marsali grow a baby bump that size in such a short time? (Particularly if she's carrying Henri-Christian, who presumably wouldn't weigh as much as an average fetus.) That doesn't make sense to me.

The next scene, where Bree helps Claire take a bath, is quiet but poignant. Claire appears to be scraping dirt or bloodstains from her fingernails. Bree is silent, but I can imagine her thinking that it would have been nice for someone to tend to her this way, after she was raped by Stephen Bonnet.

"You have my hand, Mama. And my ear, if you need it." This line is a deliberate echo of what Lizzie told Bree after her rape in Season 4.

The scene between Jamie and Claire was well done, but in my opinion they can't compete with the book version, which is one of my all-time favorite chapters in the whole series.

"I'm glad the others are dead," Claire says. "I'm sorry that I am." What?!?  I'm not sure how to interpret that line. Does she mean she feels dead inside?
“I have lived through a fucking world war,” I said, my voice low and venomous. “I have lost a child. I have lost two husbands. I have starved with an army, been beaten and wounded, been patronized, betrayed, imprisoned, and attacked. And I have fucking survived!” My voice was rising, but I was helpless to stop it. “And now should I be shattered because some wretched, pathetic excuses for men stuck their nasty little appendages between my legs and wiggled them?!” I stood up, seized the edge of the washstand and heaved it over, sending everything flying with a crash—basin, ewer, and lighted candlestick, which promptly went out.

“Well, I won’t,” I said quite calmly.

“Nasty little appendages?” he said, looking rather stunned.

“Not yours,” I said. “I didn’t mean yours. I’m rather fond of yours.” Then I sat down and burst into tears.

His arms came round me, slowly and gently. I didn’t startle or jerk away, and he pressed my head against him, smoothing my damp, tangled hair, his fingers catching in the mass of it.

“Christ, ye are a brave wee thing,” he murmured.

“Not,” I said, eyes closed. “I’m not.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Perfectly Fine". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Cait did a wonderful job with the show's version of this speech. This episode has shown some of her best work since Episode 207, "Faith", in my opinion. Jamie's reaction was much more subdued than I expected. No shouting, no smashing of furniture, no overt indication of the depth of his own rage, or guilt. I wish they'd taken a little time to let us see the impact of all this on Jamie, as well.

I liked the scene between Roger and Bree, especially the last part, which comes straight from the book. I'm glad they took the time to acknowledge the toll the rescue took on Roger.

The next scene takes place in Claire's surgery, where Claire and Marsali are tending to the injured Lionel Brown, tied down on the surgery table. I thought the substitution of Marsali for Mrs. Bug in this scene worked very well. Marsali obviously has a personal stake in this -- she was attacked, after all -- and it's plausible that she would be in the surgery, tending to Brown.

Claire starts to pick up a scalpel, and suddenly we see her in the "dream-house", examining the orange we saw near the beginning of the episode. I'm not quite sure what they intended to convey with this. A reminder of the encounter with King Louis? That doesn't seem to fit here.

"I will do you no harm," Claire says, and walks out of the room. She makes it almost to the top of the stairs, then collapses, sobbing.

I was glad to see her finally let out some of what she's been feeling, though I'm sure this barely scratched the surface.

Marsali has her own plans for Lionel Brown, as it turns out.

"If I'm not well-treated," he taunts her, "my brother will come with his men, and he will slaughter you, and burn the houses over your heads while you sleep."

Marsali is unmoved. She fills a syringe with an extract of poisonous water hemlock root, and injects Lionel Brown in the neck, killing him almost instantly.

"[Claire] took an oath to do no harm. I have taken no such oath. You hurt me. You hurt my family. You hurt my ma. I'll watch you burn in hell before I let you harm another soul in this house."

Go Marsali!

Jamie finds her a little while later. He doesn't reproach her for killing Brown. In fact he's gentle with her. When she worries that she may be going to hell, he says, "Nothing to fear, lass."

The next scene shows Jamie riding into Brownsville alone, bringing the body of Lionel Brown home to his family. Most of the dialogue in this scene comes from ABOSAA chapter 34, "The Exhibits in the Case."

Richard Brown takes the news more calmly than I expected. "Lionel, he reaped what he sowed. And you did what you must." And then he adds, in an ominous tone, "As will I, when the time comes."

Jamie's voiceover on the ride home is taken from the Prologue to THE FIERY CROSS. I loved hearing it spoken out loud.
I have lived through war, and lost much. I know what’s worth the fight, and what is not. Honor and courage are matters of the bone, and what a man will kill for, he will sometimes die for, too.

And that, O kinsman, is why a woman has broad hips; that bony basin will harbor a man and his child alike. A man’s life springs from his woman’s bones, and in her blood is his honor christened.

For the sake of love alone, would I walk through fire again.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, "Prologue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I didn't really care for the final scene between Roger and Bree. Much as I love Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken", I think the writer was trying too hard to make the point.

"We wanted the stones to take us home, and they did." OK, we get the idea! Is it really necessary to spell it out again?

The next scene, with Jamie and Claire, is very good. Claire looks battered, bruised, but happy to be alive, enjoying the pleasures of "an ordinary day" and Jamie's company. She's not yet fully recovered, but getting there.

Thunder rumbles ominously in the distance. There will be troubles yet to come, the Revolution, for one thing. But there's time enough to worry about that later.

I'm so glad they included the classic final line of THE FIERY CROSS, though they surely knew the book-fans were counting on hearing it:
“When the day shall come, that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’--ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 111, "And Yet Go Out To Meet It". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And I let out an involuntary "Awwwwww!!" at the words, as I always do.

The final scene shows Jamie and Claire in bed, naked, obviously having just had sex.

"Ye are a brave wee thing," Jamie says.
"Am I?"
"Aye. How do you feel?"
"Safe," she says, and relaxes, safe in his arms.

I really enjoyed the a capella version of the OUTLANDER theme music that accompanied the credits at the end of the episode.

This was a terrific season finale, a great way to wrap up Season 5!
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out, 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.

Mother's Day quotes from the OUTLANDER books

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! Here are a few of my favorite quotes about motherhood from Diana Gabaldon's books. Hope you enjoy them!


If you haven't read all of the OUTLANDER books, you will encounter spoilers below! Read at your own risk.

1) Marsali, in an advanced state of pregnancy, and five-year-old Germain:
She leaned back a little and pushed a hand firmly into the side of her mound. Then she seized Germain's hand and put it on the spot. Even from where I stood, I could see the surge of flesh as the baby kicked vigorously in response to being poked.

Germain jerked his hand away, startled, then put it back, looking fascinated, and pushed.

"Hello!" he said loudly, putting his face close to his mother's belly. "Comment ça va in there, Monsieur L'Oeuf?"

"He's fine," his mother assured him. "Or she. But babies dinna talk right at first. Ye ken that much. Félicité doesna say anything but 'Mama' yet."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "The Malting Floor". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) I like the realistic depictions of breastfeeding in these books, even though I've never had kids of my own. Here's Claire with Brianna, age three months:
Brianna burrowed into the front of my red chenille dressing gown making small voracious grunting noises.

"You can't be hungry again," I said to the top of her head. "I fed you not two hours ago." My breasts were beginning to leak in response to her rooting, though, and I was already sitting down and loosening the front of my gown.

"Mrs. Hinchcliffe said that a baby shouldn't be fed every time it cries," Frank observed. "They get spoilt if they aren't kept to a schedule."

It wasn't the first time I had heard Mrs. Hinchcliffe's opinions on child-rearing.

"Then she'll be spoilt, won't she?" I said coldly, not looking at him. The small pink mouth clamped down fiercely, and Brianna began to suck with mindless appetite. I was aware that Mrs. Hinchcliffe also thought breast-feeding both vulgar and insanitary. I, who had seen any number of eighteenth-century babies nursing contentedly at their mothers' breasts, didn't.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 3, "Frank and Full Disclosure". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
3) Jamie lost his mother at a very young age, but he hasn't forgotten her:
I had heard what he said to the plover he released. Though I had only a few words of Gaelic, I had heard the old salutation often enough to be familiar with it. “God go with ye, Mother," he had said.

A young mother, dead in childbirth. And a child left behind. I touched his arm and he looked down at me.

“How old were you?” I asked.

He gave me a half-smile. “Eight,” he answered. “Weaned, at least."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 17, "We Meet a Beggar". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) Bree's reaction on the night before Claire goes back through the stones, when she thinks she'll never see her mother again:
"It's like--there are all these things I don't even know!" she said, pacing with quick, angry steps. "Do you think I remember what I looked like, learning to walk, or what the first word I said was? No, but Mama does! And that's so stupid, because what difference does it make, it doesn't make any difference at all, but it's important, it matters because she thought it was, and ... oh, Roger, if she's gone, there won't be a soul left in the world who cares what I'm like, or thinks I'm special not because of anything, but just because I'm me! She's the only person in the world who really, really cares I was born, and if she's gone..." She stood still on the hearthrug, hands clenched at her sides, and mouth twisted with the effort to control herself, tears wet on her cheeks. Then her shoulders slumped and the tension went out of her tall figure.

"And that's just really dumb and selfish," she said, in a quietly reasonable tone. "And you don't understand, and you think I'm awful."

"No," Roger said quietly. "I think maybe not." He stood and came behind her, putting his arms around her waist, urging her to lean back against him. She resisted at first, stiff in his arms, but then yielded to the need for physical comfort and relaxed, his chin propped on her shoulder, head tilted to touch her own.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 22, "All Hallows' Eve". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Mother Hildegarde is very perceptive:
"I have noticed,” she said slowly, “that time does not really exist for mothers, with regard to their children. It does not matter greatly how old the child is--in the blink of an eye, the mother can see the child again as it was when it was born, when it learned to walk, as it was at any age--at any time, even when the child is fully grown and a parent itself.”

“Especially when they’re asleep,” I said, looking down again at the little white stone. “You can always see the baby then.”

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "I Shall Go Down to the Sea". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Jenny, on being the mother of a two-year-old:
“Ah,” Jenny sighed contentedly, bending to inspect her appearance in the gold-framed mirror. She wet a finger and smoothed her brows, then finished doing up the buttons at her throat. “Nice to finish dressing wi’out someone clinging to your skirts or wrapped round your knees. Some days I can scarce go to the privy alone, or speak a single sentence wi’out being interrupted.”

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "The Last Reason". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7) Claire, in her farewell letter to Bree:
You are my baby, and always will be. You won’t know what that means until you have a child of your own, but I tell you now, anyway--you’ll always be as much a part of me as when you shared my body and I felt you move inside. Always.

I can look at you, asleep, and think of all the nights I tucked you in, coming in the dark to listen to your breathing, lay my hand on you and feel your chest rise and fall, knowing that no matter what happens, everything is right with the world because you are alive.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "The Man in the Moon". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rightsreserved.)
8) Roger's mother saved his life in the moments before she died in the Bethnal Green tube station collapse in March, 1943.
"She let go my hand,” he said. The words came more easily now; the tightness in his throat and chest was gone. “She let go my hand ... and then she picked me up. That small woman--she picked me up, and threw me over the wall. Down into the crowd of people on the platform below. I was knocked mostly out by the fall, I think--but I remember the roar as the roof went. No one on the stair survived."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 98, "Clever Lad". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
9) This is one of my favorite quotes about motherhood from the whole series:
“Did I ever think to thank ye, Sassenach?" he said, his voice a little husky.

“For what?" I said, puzzled. He took my hand, and drew me gently toward him. He smelled of ale and damp wool, and very faintly of the brandied sweetness of fruitcake.

“For my bairns," he said softly. "For the children that ye bore me."

"Oh," I said. I leaned slowly forward, and rested my forehead against the solid warmth of his chest. I cupped my hands at the small of his back beneath his coat, and sighed. "It was ... my pleasure."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13, “Beans and Barbecue". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I hope you enjoyed these quotes. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Season 5 marathon on STARZ on Sunday

For those of you in the US: STARZ will be showing a marathon of all 12 episodes of OUTLANDER Season 5 on Sunday, May 10, starting at 8:45 am ET, and culminating with the season finale at 8 pm.

Please pass the word to anyone you know who may be interested!

Monday, May 4, 2020

David Berry is leaving OUTLANDER after Season 5

David Berry, who plays Lord John Grey on the OUTLANDER TV series, announced today on Instagram that his appearance in Episode 511, "Journeycake", will be his last on the show.

I'm sorry to see him go. Although he doesn't resemble the book version of Lord John at all, David Berry is an excellent actor, and he played Lord John with a quiet dignity and compassion that is very appealing to watch.

For more information, look here and here.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Episode 511: "Journeycake" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 511 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Journeycake". For those of you who don't know, this episode was written by Diana Gabaldon, author of the OUTLANDER series.


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









The episode opens with Jamie, Claire, Roger, and Bree on their way home from Woolam's Creek. Claire has bought a large quantity of peanuts, to make peanut butter.

They come across the remains of a burned cabin, with smoke still in the air. This scene is based on A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES chapter 25, "Ashes to Ashes". There are dead bodies in the cabin, but they appear to have died before the fire broke out, and one of the victims has the shaft of an arrow protruding from his chest. Indians, perhaps?

Roger finds a badly burned young girl lying on the ground near the cabin. He and Jamie exchange horrified looks, and Jamie shakes his head slightly. There's nothing they can do to help her.
“No,” Roger said softly. “I’ll do it.” She was his; he could no more surrender her to another than he could have torn off an arm. He reached for the handkerchief, and Jamie put it into his hand, soot-stained, still damp.

He’d never thought of such a thing, and couldn’t think now. He didn’t need to; without hesitation, he cradled her close and put the handkerchief over her nose and mouth, then clamped his hand tight over the cloth, feeling the small bump of her nose caught snug between his thumb and index finger. Wind stirred in the leaves above, and a rain of gold fell on them, whispering on his skin, brushing cool past his face. She would be cold, he thought, and wished to cover her, but had no hand to spare.

His other arm was round her, hand resting on her chest; he could feel the tiny heart beneath his fingers. It jumped, beat rapidly, skipped, beat twice more … and stopped. It quivered for a moment; he could feel it trying to find enough strength to beat one last time, and suffered the momentary illusion that it would not only do so, but would force its way through the fragile wall of her chest and into his hand in its urge to live. But the moment passed, as did the illusion, and a great stillness came.

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 25, "Ashes to Ashes." Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
This is so sad, I actually had tears in my eyes.

Jamie's prayer also comes straight from the books, and I thought it was very appropriate:
Thou goest home this night to thy home of winter,
To thy home of autumn, of spring, and of summer;
Thou goest home this night to thy perpetual home,
To thine eternal bed, to thine eternal slumber.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 110, "Man of Blood." Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
This is one of the most emotionally intense opening scenes the series has ever had. Very well done!

The opening title card shows Claire, on her arrival in Edinburgh just before her reunion with Jamie at the printshop. She unwraps a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the bit of plastic wrap is carried away by the wind. This is a scene from VOYAGER chapter 24 ("A. Malcolm, Printer") that we didn't see in the show, until now. I've always wondered what the 18th-century person who found that piece of plastic wrap would have thought of it.

As the episode opens, Young Ian is playing with Jemmy in the yard, while Claire and Bree shell peanuts on the porch of the Big House.

Ian offers Jemmy a large opal, dangling from a leather strap. It's the same one that Claire found with the skull on the night she saw Otter-Tooth's ghost. At first the little boy reaches for the brightly colored gemstone, but as soon as he touches it, he complains that it feels hot. That gets Bree and Claire's attention in a hurry.

Bree takes the stone. It feels warm to her, but not to Ian. She hands it back to Jemmy, and a moment later, the opal breaks into pieces in his hands. ("It's broken!" Jemmy exclaims. I liked the realistic way the young kids talk in this episode.)

This is based on a scene from THE FIERY CROSS chapter 109, "The Voice of Time". I liked the way they adapted it here, making the point clear without going into a long discussion about genetics and time-travel genes. Jemmy can sense the heat and hear the vibrations from the stone, as can Bree and Roger and Claire, but Young Ian and Jamie cannot. So he must have inherited the ability to go through the stones.

Before any of the adults can begin to react to this revelation, they're interrupted by the arrival of a large number of men on horseback, led by Richard Brown and his brother Lionel. Richard Brown informs Jamie that he is forming a Committee of Safety, since the government can no longer protect its citizens.

Notice the man with long curly hair near the front of the group. If you've read ABOSAA, you'll recognize him as Donner. He's not mentioned by name in this episode, except in the credits at the end, but his appearance is unmistakable.

Lionel Brown has an injured leg, and Claire takes him into the surgery to tend to it.

"And you think a father's got no right to seek justice for his daughter who's been dishonored?" Awkward question, given Jamie's reaction on hearing that Brianna had been raped.

Outside, Brown's men are taking a look around. The man wearing a British army uniform coat is introduced as Corporal Hodgepile, and book readers will know he definitely bears watching!

Jamie tells Richard Brown he needs time to consider Brown's offer to join the Committee of Safety.

"You might recall, Colonel, when you came to me for men for your militia, I did not pause to consider."
"Not for long," Jamie says wryly. Well, only for about the length of one episode, anyway.

"We can protect ourselves!" Young Ian tells Brown, rather belligerently.

The Browns and their men ride away, but that's clearly not the end of the matter.

I liked the next scene, with Claire, Jamie, and Young Ian, very much!

"As I told ye once, I learned not to ask questions, but I have some for ye now."

I think Ian looks and acts much older in this scene, though perhaps it's only that he's taking the situation so seriously. He holds out a small book, which turns out to be Otter-Tooth's journal. If you look closely when Claire is holding it, you can see the name "Robert Springer" inscribed on the first page.
“The stone is gone. Only a smear of soot in my pocket. Raymond was right, then. It was a small unpolished sapphire. I must remember to put down everything, for the sake of others who may come after me."

A small, cold shudder of premonition flowed up my back and over me, making my scalp tingle as the hair on my head began to stand. Others who may come after me. Not meaning to, I reached out and touched the book; an irresistible impulse. I needed to touch him somehow, make some contact with the vanished writer of these words.

Jamie glanced curiously at me. With some effort, I took my hand away, curling my fingers into a fist. He hesitated for a moment, but then looked back at the book, as though the neat black writing compelled his gaze as it did my own.

I knew now what had struck me about that writing. It had not been written with a quill. Quill-writing, even the best, was uneven in color, dark where the quill was freshly dipped, fading slowly through a line of writing. Every word of this was the same--written in a thin, hard line of black ink that slightly dented the fibers of the page. Quills never did that.

“Ball point,” I said. “He wrote it with a ball-point pen. My God.”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 109, "The Voice of Time." Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"Who, or what, are you?" Ian asks. He doesn't seem frightened, just curious. Claire and Jamie exchange glances -- there's no choice, they have to tell him the truth -- and Claire sits down, preparing to explain.

My instant reaction at this point was, "Well, it's a LONG story! How much time have you got, Ian?"

"I knew you were a fairy, Auntie."
"I'm not a fairy!"

This is a change from the book, where Young Ian says, "I knew ye weren't a fairy, Auntie Claire!"

"Did Murtagh ken?" Ian asks.
"Aye. Aye, he did." (You may recall the scene in Episode 206, "Best-Laid Schemes...", where Jamie told Murtagh the truth.) "Now, so do you."

And Jamie closes the door, presumably so he and Claire can tell Ian the whole story.

In the next scene, Jamie and Claire go to see Jocasta's former butler, Ulysses, who is hiding in a crude hut somewhere in the woods. Jamie brings him an enormous book -- PAMELA, by Samuel Richardson. I had to smile at the sheer size of it, easily on a par with some of the OUTLANDER hardcovers. <g>

I have to wonder a few things, seeing Ulysses here. First of all, why would he hide out on Fraser's Ridge? How did he get there? Does Jocasta know he's there? Also, if he's been living in a crude cabin in the woods for some time, why are his cuffs so immaculate? Has someone been doing his laundry and ironing those cuffs for him?

Ulysses has no regrets about killing Forbes -- he acted to save Jocasta's life, after all -- but it puts him in a difficult position, to say the least. To Jamie and Claire's surprise, Ulysses says, "I am not -- exactly -- a slave." This is consistent with what we know from the books:
"Why did she not free you?” he asked. “After Hector Cameron died?”

“She did” was the surprising answer. The butler touched the breast of his coat. “She wrote the papers of manumission nearly twenty years ago--she said she could not bear to think that I came to her bed only because I must. But a request for manumission must be approved by the Assembly, you know. And if I had been openly freed, I could not have stayed to serve her as I did.” That was true enough; a freed slave was compelled to leave the colony within ten days or risk being enslaved again, by anyone who chose to take him; the vision of large gangs of free Negroes roaming the countryside was one that made the Council and Assembly shit themselves with fear.

The butler looked down for a moment, eyes hooded against the light.

“I could choose Jo--or freedom. I chose her.”

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 110, "The Smell of Light." Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Colin McFarlane does a good job in this scene. His eyes are very expressive.

In the next scene, Bree and Roger are in their cabin, preparing for bed. I was fascinated to see the warming pan, which is one of those small historical details that Diana Gabaldon often uses in the books to add to the realism of scenes like this.

"Maybe Jem is extra sensitive because both of his parents are time-travelers?" Bree says. Maybe so. Certainly that's something that many fans, myself included, have speculated about over the years.

But in order to go through the stones safely, they'll need gemstones. "We don't need the opal," Roger says. "I have the rubies and the gem that Bonnet gave you." This is a change from ABOSAA, where the search for extra gemstones for the MacKenzies' trip home took considerable time and effort.

So Roger and Bree are determined to go back with Jemmy to the 20th century. They've made their decision, and all that remains is to come up with a plausible cover story, and say goodbye to everyone on the Ridge.

"I was thinking," Roger says, "we tell people I've got a job that doesn't require shooting or stabbing. You know, north somewhere. Boston? New York?"
"Boston would be best. People know I grew up there."

That's plausible, I suppose. And it's still only late 1772, so Boston isn't yet so dangerous that it would seem risky or foolish to settle there.

I liked the scene between Young Ian, Bree, and Claire. Ian is trying to understand what the time-travelers might be able to change.  Maybe they can't affect large-scale events, like the Jacobite Rising, but they might be able to affect smaller things.

"I want to travel through the stones," he says, and my heart broke for him, seeing the look of disappointment on his face when Claire tells him it's impossible. He's clearly still bothered by something to do with his Mohawk wife, but he won't tell Claire or Bree anything.

Meanwhile, Lord John Grey has come to visit. He tells Jamie that he plans to return to England, to visit the estate at Helwater and settle matters there now that Lord Dunsany has died.

"Helwater? It's been a while since I heard that name." Yes, indeed!

"Having never expected to be here in the first place, I'm finding it surprisingly difficult to leave." The words are Lord John's, but the sentiment could easily be Brianna's.

John gives Jamie a present, a miniature of young William, age fourteen. "The older he gets, the more he looks like his father." I laughed a little nervously when I heard that.

Later, in their bedroom, Claire tells Jamie she's asked Bree to draw some portraits of herself, Roger, and Jemmy. "Something to remember them by."

"I remembered you for twenty years, mo graidh. No pictures at all."  Awwwww!!  "But it does help," he says, kissing her hand.

I'm thinking of the photos of Bree that Claire brought to Jamie in Edinburgh, and the other miniature of young Willie. Precious images, lost at the bottom of the sea, so long ago.

Claire puts on a little perfume, but Jamie falls asleep without noticing.

The next scene is taken straight from the book (FIERY CROSS chapter 107, "Zugunruhe"), and I think they did a wonderful job with it!
The cool breeze lifted my hair, drew it tickling across my back like the lightest of lover’s touches. Jamie’s hands were firm on the curve of my hips; I was in no danger of falling, and yet I felt the dizzy drop behind me, the clear and endless night, with its star-strewn empty sky into which I might fall and go on falling, a tiny speck, blazing hotter and hotter with the friction of my passage, bursting finally into the incandescence of a shooting … star.

“Ssh,” Jamie murmured, far off. He was standing now, his hands on my waist, and the moaning noise might have been the wind, or me. His fingers brushed my lips. They might have been matches, striking flames against my skin. Heat danced over me, belly and breast, neck and face, burning in front, cool behind, like St. Lawrence on his gridiron.

I wrapped my legs around him, one heel settled in the cleft of his buttocks, the solid strength of his hips between my legs my only anchor.

“Let go,” he said in my ear. “I’ll hold you.” I did let go, and leaned back on the air, safe in his hands.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 107, "Zugunruhe." Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The windowsill is without a doubt one of the most unusual places Jamie and Claire have ever had sex. <g> I think they captured the essence of this scene, and I was really glad to see it included.

The next scene is one of my favorites from THE FIERY CROSS. Jamie finds Claire in her surgery, peering into her microscope, examining what turns out to be Jamie's sperm.
“Come look,” I said, stepping back from the microscope. Mildly puzzled, he bent and peered through the eyepiece, screwing up his other eye in concentration.

He squinted for a moment, then gave an exclamation of pleased surprise.

“I see them! Wee things with tails, swimming all about!” He straightened up, smiling at me with a look of delight, then bent at once to look again.

I felt a warm glow of pride in my new toy.

“Isn’t it marvelous?”

“Aye, marvelous,” he said, absorbed. “Look at them. Such busy wee strivers as they are, all pushing and writhing against one another--and such a mass of them!” He watched for a few moments more, exclaiming under his breath, then straightened up, shaking his head in amazement. “I’ve never seen such a thing, Sassenach. Ye’d told me about the germs, aye, but I never in life imagined them so! I thought they might have wee teeth, and they don’t--but I never kent they would have such handsome, lashing wee tails, or swim about in such numbers.”

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Worlds Unseen." Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
This scene always makes me laugh, and both Claire and Jamie's reactions here are just perfect. I love the humor in this episode. It's a hallmark of Diana Gabaldon's writing, but we don't see nearly enough of it in the TV series.

The next scene, where Jamie tells Bree all about William, came as a surprise to me on the first viewing, but I thought it was very well done. I was very much still in denial about the whole idea of Bree and Roger and Jemmy leaving, and I couldn't understand why Jamie would tell her such a closely guarded secret. (In ABOSAA, it's not Jamie who tells her, but Lord John, and the circumstances are quite different.) I suppose Jamie figures he'll never get another chance, and since she's leaving anyway, what harm can it do to tell her?

Bree's reaction to the news that she has a brother is much more subdued than I expected. She only stares at him at first, as if unable to believe what she's hearing.

"And who is his mother? If you don't mind telling me."
"Aye, I do, but I'll tell you anyway."  Good line.

"Maybe you could look for him. In books, I mean. He'd be an earl. Might be easy to find." That's an interesting point. I wonder if she or Roger will try that?

"After your mother left me wi' you in her belly, I never thought I'd see you. But I kent ye were there." Awwwww! I love that.

"And even if I may never see any of you again, you have made my life whole." This line is a keeper for sure. I love it!

In the next scene, Bree and Roger break the news to Fergus and Marsali. Marsali says she has "another bairn coming". That will be Henri-Christian, I hope.

Claire watches from the doorway as Bree and Marsali hug one last time. And then she walks away, into the house. It's a small thing, but I thought it was in character for Claire, who tends to flee from highly emotional situations. And the prospect of being separated from Bree -- again!! -- has to be absolutely heartbreaking for her.

Bree starts to go after Claire, but Lizzie spots her first. It takes Bree a while to make Lizzie understand that she can't come with the MacKenzies when they leave. In fairness, it's not easy to explain, when she can't tell her the real reason.

"You're the one that saved me. I'm meant to be with you, always."

I think this reaction is believable, if a little melodramatic. Everyone else is managing to say farewell without breaking down in tears! But unlike in the book, Lizzie doesn't yet have the Beardsley twins for comfort or distraction.

In the next scene, Lionel Brown comes to tell Jamie the Committee of Safety will be gathering in a week's time. Jamie declines to join them.

Lionel's wife, Rose, has injured her arm. Claire examines her in the surgery and determines that she has a broken wrist. Claire obviously suspects that Lionel did it, but she can't question the woman with Lionel hovering nearby, so she sends him away to fetch some whisky.

Rose admits that her husband drinks, and she has been deliberately avoiding getting pregnant by following the advice of "Dr. Rawlings" (Claire's pseudonym).

Lionel returns and looks over the items in Claire's surgery while he waits for Claire to finish the splinting. Suddenly he sees the medical chest, with "Dr. D. Rawlings" stamped clearly on the top. Uh-oh! That's going to be trouble for sure, especially in light of what Rose has just revealed.

In the next scene, Roger asks Young Ian to come with them to the stone circle, to take the wagon and horses home after they go through. Ian readily agrees to this. But then Roger tries to turn over his land grant of 5,000 acres to Ian as well, and he refuses.

"Then look after it for me. I hope you find happiness."

So they've parted on good terms. I like the way Roger and Ian's relationship has evolved.

Now it's time for Brianna to say goodbye to Lord John. She reveals that she knows about William -- not as any kind of a threat to expose the truth, but just a statement of fact, and Lord John isn't bothered by the news.

Lord John tells Bree that he will be traveling to England with Ulysses as his new manservant. "When he sets foot on a British ship, he'll be a free man."

Interesting. So they are essentially getting rid of Ulysses as a continuing character, by sending him off to England. What will Jocasta think of this arrangement, I wonder? I did like the fact that this plan was Jamie's idea.

Later, Bree and Roger watch from the window as Jamie sits with wee Jem on his horse. This is just heartbreaking, to think that it might be their last chance to spend time together. And I'm also thinking of all those wonderful moments between Jamie and Jem in ABOSAA that we might never see on TV. Very sad.

In the next scene, Bree and Claire encounter one another unexpectedly in the hallway, and just like magnets snapping together, they come together in a wordless embrace, hugging tight. I liked that.

At dinner, Claire announces a special treat: "The future's answer to journeycake: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

Jamie looks at his sandwich as though he's never seen anything so odd, and cuts it up with a knife and fork. That made me smile.  Apparently peanut butter is an acquired taste, though, and Jamie's not really impressed. Still, it got a laugh from everyone around the table, and at a time like this, those happy memories need to be savored.

They drink a final toast -- "Slainte mhath!" -- and then there's nothing more to be said.

I thought the farewells were done well, for the most part, but I really would have liked to see a scene between Jamie and Roger, some sort of acknowledgement between them of how far their relationship has come, or even just a "Take good care of my daughter, and my grandson."

The scenery they pass through on the way to the stone circle is lovely. I especially liked the waterfall, because there are waterfalls like that in the North Carolina mountains.

As they make their way on foot toward the stone circle, you can hear Jemmy asking, "Are we going for a walk?" That made me smile, despite the seriousness of the situation.

The noise coming from the standing stones gets louder as they approach. Even Jem seems irritated by it.

Back in Roger and Bree's cabin on the Ridge, Claire is looking through drawings of Jemmy when Jamie comes in.

"It's only been two weeks," Claire says. "Feels like they've been gone for an eternity." That's so sad!
"If Roger was right, they should be reaching the stone circle about now."

When Jamie said, "We're not alone, Sassenach," and took her in his arms, I started to cry. Not because of anything going on in this scene, but because hearing the words ripped the scab partially off of my own grief over the loss of my mother, who died five months ago at the age of 82. That feeling -- knowing you are not alone, taking comfort in the support of friends and loved ones -- was so important to me in the early weeks after my mom died, and I imagine it's a lifeline for both Claire and Jamie, in this situation.

Meanwhile, back at the stone circle, Roger and Bree tie themselves together with rope, to prevent their being separated when they go through the stones.

"Each strand of this rope is delicate and fragile, but braided together, it's strong, and it will hold us." I like that very much.

Roger takes the gemstones from his pocket and holds them out. Bree and Jemmy each take one. The noise from the stones grows louder. They touch the stone, and vanish.

Just like that, Ian is alone, and there's no sign of the others. He puts his own hands on the stone, but Claire was right; nothing happens.

On the other side....

The MacKenzies emerge unhurt from the passage. But when are they, exactly?  Jem starts forward, smiling and eager, as though he's just seen something wonderful. Both Bree and Roger stare in shock at something off-screen. "What the devil?" Roger says.

So, are they in fact in another time? Did they make it back to the 20th century? Or did the stones spit them out somehow, and they're still in 1772? We don't know, but the speculation will definitely keep us busy for the week until the season finale!

Back at the Big House, Jamie, Fergus, and a couple of the other men are digging a new privy, when they hear an explosion in the distance. It's coming from the direction of the whisky still.

Jamie and the other men run toward the still, leaving Claire and Marsali to tend a patient in the surgery with a dislocated shoulder. I can't help comparing this man's reaction to having his shoulder put back in place with Jamie's reaction, way back in the very first episode of Season 1, when Claire did the same for him. He makes a lot more noise than Jamie did, that's for sure!

Suddenly there's a commotion in the other room, and the sound of breaking glass. Intruders burst into the house! Marsali, thinking very fast, shoos Germain under the bed, saying, "Stay there no matter what happens!"

The intruders grab Claire, who is screaming at the top of her lungs, "Let go of me!" The man with the injured shoulder tries to stop them, and Hodgepile (recognizable in his red uniform coat) stabs him in the chest with a knife. In the struggle, Marsali is knocked out, and Germain (approximately five years old) watches from under the bed as the men throw a bag over Claire's head and drag her, kicking and screaming, out of the house.

This whole sequence is riveting and suspenseful, even if you know from reading the books what's going to happen.

Jamie and Fergus and the others return to find Germain waiting for them. "Maman won't wake up, Papa," he says in a small voice. Is she dead, or just unconscious?  Even if she only got knocked out, she's pregnant and this can't be good.

"The bad men took Grandmama," Germain whispers.

They search the house, discover Marsali is still breathing. Jamie calls for Claire. No answer. He grabs a torch, for night is falling, and runs up the mountain, to the place where the fiery cross stands waiting. He sets it alight with the torch, summoning his men to battle.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my recap of Episode 512 (the season finale), and look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out, 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, May 1, 2020

Happy Birthday, Jamie Fraser!

Wishing a very happy birthday to our favorite red-heided Scot, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, who turns 299 years old today, believe it or not! He was born on May 1, 1721.

If you're on Twitter, please tag your tweets today (Friday, May 1) with #HappyBdayJAMMF, in celebration of Jamie's birthday.

In honor of Jamie's birthday, I'm reposting the "ABCs of Jamie Fraser" list that I originally posted here in 2011. I hope you enjoy them!

ABCs of Jamie Fraser

I borrowed this idea from a writer's exercise that was posted on the Compuserve Books and Writers Community (now a few years ago. The idea is to list one word pertaining to the character for each letter of the alphabet, along with a brief explanation. Here's my alphabet for Jamie Fraser.

All quotes from the OUTLANDER books are copyright © Diana Gabaldon, of course.

* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * * 

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

A - Ardsmuir. As difficult as those three years in prison were for Jamie, caring for the other men gave him something to live for.

B - Boats. Sheer torture, for someone who suffers from seasickness as acute as Jamie's. "I hate boats," Jamie said through clenched teeth. "I loathe boats. I view boats with the most profound abhorrence." (DRUMS, Chapter 6, "I Encounter a Hernia")

C - Claire
, of course. And his children -- all of them, whether they're born of his blood or not.

D - Duty.
Jamie takes his duty seriously, even when it means doing things he doesn't want to do, like raising a militia company to fight against the Regulators in FIERY CROSS.

E - Eloquence.
Jamie's way with words takes my breath away sometimes. "And when my body shall cease, my soul will still be yours. Claire--I swear by my hope of heaven, I will not be parted from you." (DRUMS, Chapter 16, "The First Law of Thermodynamics")

F - Finger.
Jamie's much-abused fourth finger on his right hand, which caused him so much pain and trouble for years, and now lies buried at Lallybroch, with Ian. "I'll keep it safe 'til ye catch me up." (ECHO, Chapter 81, "Purgatory II")

G - God.
Jamie's Catholic faith is very important to him, even if he's rarely in a position to go to Mass or have a priest hear his confession. And sometimes God answers his prayers. ("Lord, that she may be safe. She and the child.")

H - Humor.
I love Jamie's sense of humor, especially when he teases Claire. "I'll gie ye the rest when I'm ninety-six, aye?" (FIERY CROSS, Chapter 40, "Duncan's Secret")

I - Intelligence.
Jamie is a very smart man, and a logical thinker. And he learns very fast!

J - Jenny.
Say what you will about her, but Jamie loves his sister as deeply as he does Claire.

K - Killing.
Jamie kills when he must, in self-defense or in defense of his family or loved ones. But it bothers him. "I am a violent man, and I ken it well," he said quietly. He spread his hands out on his knees; big hands, which could wield sword and dagger with ease, or choke the life from a man. (DRUMS, Chapter 13, "An Examination of Conscience")

L - Lallybroch.
I don't think you can fully understand Jamie's character without appreciating how much Lallybroch influenced him. It's sad to think that he might never go back there.

M - Memories.
Will Jamie ever recall more of Culloden, and what happened with Jack Randall?

N - Nephew.
Jamie bonded with Young Ian when he was only minutes old, and they've been through quite a lot together.

O - Outdoors.
Jamie has lived a good part of his life outdoors, as a farmer, hunter, outlaw, and soldier -- not to mention living in a cave for seven years!

P - Prestonpans.
The location of Jamie's fateful encounter with the sixteen-year-old Lord John Grey.

Q - QED.
Three letters that symbolize Jamie's short-lived career as a printer in Edinburgh.

R - Red-heided.
All teasing about "the nameless and abominable colour of his hair" aside, this is one of the things I liked best about Jamie from the beginning, because I'm also a left-handed redhead. :-)

S - Stubbornness.
"Jamie was a sweet laddie, but a stubborn wee fiend, forbye." Jenny's voice by her ear startled her. "Beat him or coax him, it made no difference; if he'd made up his mind, it stayed made up." (DRUMS, Chapter 34, "Lallybroch")

T - Tone-deaf.
One of Jamie's more endearing traits, in my opinion, and proof that he's not perfect.

U - Uxorious.
Roger refers to Jamie as "deeply uxorious" in ABOSAA. It's an archaic word that according to Diana Gabaldon means "a man who was clearly and obviously in love with his wife."

V - Vows.
The blood vow at Jamie and Claire's wedding, for one. Jamie's promise never to beat her again, for another. "I don't make idle threats, Sassenach," he said, raising one brow, "and I don't take frivolous vows." (OUTLANDER, Chapter 22, "Reckonings")

W - Will-power.
Jamie has an amazing strength of will. Whether it's submitting to rape and torture at the hands of Jack Randall without fighting back, or not reacting to the presence of a pair of naked Indian girls in his bed in ABOSAA, his self-control is impressive.

X - eXample.
Jamie doesn't lead by sitting back and giving orders. He leads by example, as when he takes the punishment for Angus MacKenzie's possession of a scrap of tartan at Ardsmuir. No wonder his men will follow him anywhere.

Y - Youthful.
It's hard to remember just how young Jamie was in OUTLANDER, barely 22. Even in his mid-50's, he still looks remarkably good for his age. As Claire remarks, "Do you know, you haven't got a single gray hair below the neck?" (ECHO, chapter 8, "Spring Thaw")

Z - Zippers
, and other oddities of 20th-century life that Claire has had to explain to Jamie over the years.

Happy Birthday, Jamie, and Happy Beltane to all of you!  Many thanks to Diana Gabaldon for creating such an amazing character, and to Sam Heughan for bringing him to life on TV.

Here are the other posts in my "Character ABC's" series:

ABC's of Claire Fraser
ABC's of Roger
ABC's of Brianna
ABC's of Lord John Grey
ABC's of Young Ian