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.
*** SPOILER WARNING!! ***
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.This is so sad, I actually had tears in my eyes.
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.)
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,This is one of the most emotionally intense opening scenes the series has ever had. Very well done!
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.)
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.""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.
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.)
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?”Colin McFarlane does a good job in this scene. His eyes are very expressive.
“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.)
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.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.
“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 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.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.
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.)
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.
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