Episode 306: "A. Malcolm" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 306 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "A. Malcolm".


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









First, a brief general comment: I thought this was an excellent episode, and I was delighted to see how much of the original dialogue they managed to include! This episode strikes me as a love letter to Diana Gabaldon's words; Matt Roberts, who wrote the script, is a huge book fan, and it definitely shows.

The opening scene, with Madame Jeanne adjusting Jamie's stock and helping him with his cloak, is clearly a bit of misdirection for the benefit of non-book-readers. I imagine a lot of viewers will be wondering, who is this woman? His wife? His mistress?

As Jamie walks down the street, I thought, "This is the first day of the rest of your life" (echoing Claire's thoughts from VOYAGER chapter 24, immediately after she arrives in the past). For Jamie, of course, it starts out as just another ordinary day.

Notice the fiddle music playing here. This is the same folk song ("Comin' Thro' the Rye") that we heard in Episode 112 at Lallybroch.

I smiled when Jamie paused to rub away a smudge of dirt from the printshop sign.

The printshop set is really quite elaborate, complete with drying pages hanging from the rafters. Very impressive work by production designer Jon Gary Steele!

The two unnamed men remind me a little of Angus and Rupert. I was a little taken aback to hear them call him Mac Dubh, as the Ardsmuir men did, rather than Jamie Roy, but that's a minor point. I liked this bit:

"We didna plan to."
"Aye, ye did plan to. That's why I told you not to do it."

The bantering between Geordie and the others went on a little too long, but I liked Geordie.

It's fun to see Jamie demonstrating how to work the printing press. Apparently Sam Heughan actually took lessons in how to do this.

Jamie wearing spectacles took me by surprise, and at first I didn't like it, but as long as he's only wearing them occasionally for reading, I can live with it, as a way to show his aging.

I love the way they showed Jamie's POV here! Shock, disbelief, wondering if he's imagining things. And then he turns around, and she smiles at him, and....
His eyes rolled up and he slumped to the floor in a shower of papers and oddments that had been sitting on the press--he fell rather gracefully for such a large man, I thought abstractedly.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 24, "A. Malcolm, Printer". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Perfect, just perfect!

The title cards, printed on Jamie's printing press, were a nice touch.

The scene where Jamie wakes to discover that Claire is real is excellent, very close to the book, just condensed slightly, and I loved it!

Even when Jamie is taking his breeks off, he can't stop staring at Claire.

I love the way Jamie says, "I want...I would very much like to kiss you." Very much as I've always imagined from the book.

I like Jamie's hesitation before he asks, "Our child?" (Note the "our", which is a change from the book, but a good one, IMHO.)

Jamie's startlement when he sees the photos ("What the devil?") is not in the book, but I thought it was believable.

"For years I had the eyes of a hawk, but my sight isna what it once was." Well, I don't like this, but I'll get used to it.

"Time doesna matter, Sassenach. Ye will always be beautiful to me." Awwwww! What a terrific line! I can easily imagine Jamie saying this to Claire many years later, in their old age.

I was surprised that Jamie didn't show more of a reaction to the sight of the photos, but then I remembered that Jamie often wears an expressionless mask to hide strong emotion. I think that's what Sam was trying to convey here.

So they kept in the line where Jamie says Brianna is "an awful name for a wee lassie", but they left out the line where he takes that back, telling Claire the correct Scots pronunciation, and assuring her that it's a beautiful name? I don't like that.

"She has your red hair."
"Like her sister. Faith."

I gasped in surprise when I heard that. Not that I'd forgotten Faith, exactly, but I didn't recall that she also had red hair.

The collection of photos is pretty much as I imagined from the book. Jamie's reaction to the photo of Bree in a bikini is toned down a little from the book, but still believable.

I definitely was NOT expecting the revelation about Willie to happen in this episode, let alone so soon after their reunion! It's going to have ramifications for later episodes, obviously, and I wonder if this means we won't get to see that very dramatic scene between Claire and Lord John on Jamaica. But I'm inclined not to worry about that too much in advance.

I have already seen some comments about how Jamie telling Claire about Willie somehow detracts from his joy over seeing the photos of Brianna. I disagree with that. True, we didn't see the bit where "he buried his face in my shoulder and went quietly and thoroughly to pieces" -- but I don't think it means Jamie loves Bree any less, just because he decides to tell Claire right away about Willie. I think he was trying to give her honesty, as he promised on their wedding night.

I guess we have to assume that Lord John, or maybe Isobel, gave Jamie the miniature of Willie before he left Helwater? I can't imagine how else he would have acquired it. (This is one of the pitfalls of moving a scene from its original place in the text.)

Claire takes the news about Willie pretty calmly under the circumstances!

I really appreciated that they included Jamie's description of Willie, verbatim from the book:
"What is he like?” I asked softly. “Your son?”

He smiled slightly, without opening his eyes.

“He’s spoilt and stubborn,” he said softly. “Ill-mannered. Loud. Wi’ a wicked temper.”

He swallowed. “And braw and bonny and canty and strong,” he said, so softly I could barely hear him.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 59, "In Which Much Is Revealed". Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
The brief conversation about Frank was OK, but I kept thinking that it should have taken place MUCH later (perhaps on the Artemis), after they'd had a chance to reconnect. I think Frank is the very last person in the world Jamie would be thinking about at this point, when he's barely recovered from the shock of seeing Claire again.

"It was hard for him. But he loved Brianna, so we made it work."
"So...you were happy wi' him."
"I was happy raising Brianna with him. He was a very good father to her."

That's a fair assessment. (Now can we please stop talking about Frank?!?)

I really liked César Domboy as the adult Fergus. The scene where he meets Claire is very good. I miss his hook, but I understand why they went with a wooden hand instead (much easier for the actor to manage, and for the costume people to camouflage). Fergus's personality comes through vividly in this scene. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him later in the season!

I like this exchange between Fergus and Jamie:

"What about--?"
"Aye, I havena had time to think it through. With Claire back, I'm not sure it's even a concern."

Not surprising that Jamie doesn't want to think about that! On the other hand, he mentioned Ned Gowan, so he's at least starting to form the beginnings of a plan.

I think it's reasonable that Claire would tell people she's been in the Colonies, rather than in France as in the book.

"I thought it might be wise to leave out the whole 200 years in the future part." LOL!

Mr. Willoughby is somewhat older than I expected, and he speaks MUCH better English than he did in the book.

Presumably the gentleman Jamie meets in the basement of the World's End is Sir Percival, although he's not mentioned by name.

So Madame Jeanne refers to Jamie as Monsieur Malcolm, not Fraser as in the book? Interesting.

I like the whole scene where Jamie asks Claire why she came back. Very close to the book!

The undressing scene is very well done. Notice all the parallels: Jamie unbuttoning Claire's bodice, Claire unbuttoning his waistcoat. Claire removing the stock about his neck, Jamie removing her neck-cloth. I liked the way they worked the zipper in there. <g>

"Christ. Claire. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen." I'm glad they included this line!

"Do you want me now?" "God, yes!" And they fall down together on the bed, Jamie bends to kiss her again, and CRACK! they bump noses, just as in the book. I laughed out loud at that, taken by surprise.

The sex scene was tasteful and well done. I was a little surprised to hear Claire say, "Do it now, and don't be gentle," something she only thought, but did not say aloud, in the book.

The dialogue in the scene afterward, where they're just lying in bed talking, is taken almost verbatim from the book, and I really appreciated that. We didn't get nearly enough of this sort of intimacy between them (I don't mean sex, but the two of them lying in bed just talking, teasing each other, etc.) in Season 2, and I really missed it.

"The press was a weapon, into my hands again." I listened to this several times to make sure that was what he said, and I think it's a little awkwardly phrased. I can understand that they didn't have time to tell the story of how Jamie became a printer, but I think this line could have been smoothed out more.

I'm so glad they allowed the extra 15 minutes in this episode, to give them time to show Jamie and Claire reconnecting emotionally, which is, after all, far more important than the sex scenes, in terms of their character development. So much of the dialogue in this part is taken verbatim, or nearly so, from the book, and I love it! It gives me a real thrill to see these scenes that I love so much coming to life on TV.

(Random observation: I don't think we have ever seen Claire so happy at any point in all three seasons. Her smile is infectious!)

Great to see John Bell as Young Ian, at last! He claims to be sixteen, but of course he can't be more than fourteen. (Keeping in mind that we saw his birth in 1752 in Episode 302.) He doesn't look much like my mental image of Young Ian, but I'll get used to that soon enough, I'm sure.

The "whores' brunch" is an entertaining scene, very close to the book, although there's no mention of a murdering Fiend roaming the streets of Edinburgh. I don't quite understand why Claire came down to breakfast wearing only her shift, with a blanket wrapped around her, except maybe that she's not yet used to thinking like an 18th-century person.

The intruder in the bedroom took me totally by surprise, but I think it's an effective cliffhanger. It reminded me of the cliffhanger ending of Episode 112 ("Lallybroch"), where MacQuarrie holds Jamie at gunpoint.

I really enjoyed this episode! Sam and Cait both gave excellent performances, and Matt Roberts did a wonderful job with the script.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 307.

Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes so far.


jayne m. said...

Lovely job, Karen. I enjoyed your review and your pov. I needed to see an articulate breakdown by a fan I respect.

Unknown said...

Great review Karen. I wholeheartedly agree with every sentiment :)

Carolyn said...

I did love how Cesar Domboy seemed to take the mannerisms from Roman's portrayal of Fergus as a young boy. Well done, that! I too was disappointed he told about Willie so soon, but Lord John can still give him a newer picture at the party and bring about the same reaction, although for time's sake in the show, that storyline in not necessary. I'm glad they didn't make Mr. Willoughby the fool he is in the book...the one thing I really hope they keep is him training Ping An, that was fascinating to me! Love your recaps...thanks for not rehashing the episodes and just giving your honest opinions.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen this was the episode that all us fans were waiting for and it was worth the wait, I liked how the episode begins with Jamie going to his print shop and seeing what the printshop looks like in full ,and looks a lot better on Tv. plus seeing him being very commanding and giving his Scottish man instructions about the pamplets , like Geordie , very proper and likable , was fascinated by how the printing press works , and then his reaction on seeing Claire then fainting before the credits rolled , waking him up and Jamie spilling ink on himself was right from the book , had a lump in my throat when Claire and Jamie first embrace , and loved Jamie telling her how scared and lonely he was when he needed her and she would never touch him , love seeing Geordie 's reaction to seeing Jamie without pants , then seeing him watching Claire was wonderful when she entered the upstairs part of the print shop a, wonderful when Claire shows Jamie Bree's photos and was hoping this would be added, love seeing Jamie in Glasses , made him older but not silly , loved his reaction to Brianna 's baby photo and his reaction to her name , then seeing that they aren't the same and are at first awkward with ach other at first , was glad that Jamie told Claire about Willie in the beginning it made his a bit more honest in the beginning , and liked Claire's reaction at seeing his likeness , she seemed to take it all well . liked seeing 18th Century Edinburgh , was great seeing an Older Fergus and was glad to see him with a false hand instead of a hook. liked the conversation between Jamie and Fregus , and liked the introduction of Mr. Willowby , he seems a lot more intelligent and talks better here than in the book , the streets around the Brothel are somewhat like the Brothels in Paris , like the Reaction to Madame Jeanne's hearing Jamie introduce Claire as his wife and is shocked at it . the scenes in which Jamie asks how she had found him and why she had come back were right from the book and were very honest and real . love the way they were looking at each other as they ate dinner and undressed each other , it was real love and emotion in each other's eyes . loved the sex scenes it was better this time around because it was coming from real love and emotions and it made them connect more as a couple , loved the playfully scenes and CLaire asking Jamie asking him about making a living , very erotic and loved seeing Jamie eating Grapes naked . the second love making was erotic and sensual , loved the adding of Highland music in the scene. Claire telling Jamie she would never leave him was right from the book and him being afraid of losing her was beautiful was glad it was added, love the was Claire looks at him while dressing she more happier on this wedding night than the first time and is the bride she was meant to be , like Young Ian and Claire explaining herself to him , very well done , very friendly scene in the Brothel and them giving her advice , Cliffhanger with Claire being attacked in her room and she killing the intruder with a knife , , great episode with plenty of wonderful scenes and it was done with a labor of love for fans and was a well done crafted episode , will be watching it more this week and next weekend.

Cara said...

In general, very good. Lots of dialogue straight from the book, which was awesome. The one line I really wish they had kept is, "Sassenach, will ye take me ~ and risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew?" I think that's a perfect illustration of exactly what was happening in this reunion. Also wasn't happy with the revelation of Willie so soon. Jamie was fearful of her leaving again, which is why he didn't tell her everything directly. And even though they promised each other honesty on their wedding night, they agreed that there was room for secrets, and that there were things they might not be ready to tell each other. We'll have to see how it all plays out.

Unknown said...

I love to read your blog after viewing the show. I've read all the books, and at first didn't like Jamie revealing his son - but then realized that it's much more like his character to disclose it then, as it always puzzled me why he kept that secret in the book. We know why he didn't disclose the other secret! I was also surprised by the appearance of Ian - but if you think about it - he looks more like the son of the actor playing Ian Sr. As for Mr. Willoughby - he was such a caricature in the book - that given today's politically correct climate, I reasoned that is why they probably made him different. Great episode! Enjoy your blog so much!

♥Susanlynn said...

Thank you, Karen. Your comments are always insightful. I must say I love this episode, but the first time I watched, I was a bit disappointed with the scenes in the printshop. Claire looked so radiant and joyful, but Jamie did not react with the emotion I expected from someone who has pined for the love of his life for 20 years. If I was reunited with my one true love after 20 years, I know that I would grab him and have trouble letting go. Jamie revealing Willie was a big surprise. However, I loved the episode as soon as Jamie and Claire reached the brothel ..so beautiful. It seemed in the beginning that Sam was trying very hard to be "old." It is funny that Sam is only Six years younger than Jamie, and he certainly does not look old. Well, Sam did not spend years in a cave and prison, but still. To me, it seemed as though Jamie and Claire both looked younger and more beautiful as they reconnected in that room. Outlander does the most wonderful lovemaking scenes. I can't wait for the rest of the story to unfold.

♥Susanlynn said...

Even though I did not care for the Batman sewing frenzy scene in the last episode, I loved Cait in the outfit. The color suited her , and she looked very attractive in the outfit. Also, it is very utilitarian..a cloak, blouse, vest , and skirt..a full coordinating wardrobe of layering pieces, the perfect ensemble for a trip to the past to join your lost love.

♥Susanlynn said...

Two more thoughts are on my mind . First, I thought it was intriguing when Claire said something about assuring herself that Jamie was really with her , and Jamie smiling and saying , "Perhaps , I am a ghost." Was that a call out to the first episode of season one when PHANTOM Jamie was gazing at Claire through her window at the inn?

Also, I wonder why the writers decided that even though Claire and FRank continued to have sex throughout their marriage in the book, the characters stopped having sex after a few years in the tv show. Was the idea to mimic Jamie's mostly celibate 20 years? He had sex only twice in most of their time apart..once with Mary in the cave and once with Geneva at Helwater.

Unknown said...

Karen, your comments were very nicely done. I too had a problem with bringing Willie in so soon as Jamie knows about Bree. I feel it lessened his few minutes of knowine about his daughter and the tender and teary scene. I also did not think they gave Claire the reaction and questions a woman of her courage would have displayed. It is like it was a side note in the evening. "Oh thanks Claire you gave me a daughter - but here I have a son." Claire - "did you love her?" "No" - ok well what's next... Over all I was very pleased with 306.. Let's see where Mr. Malcolm,and his other aliases take our hero and heroine.

Anonymous said...

A few of my observations: Mr. Willouby isn’t dressed in traditional Chinese clothing like in the book. The goiter on Geordie’s neck is huge. I didn’t notice how big it was until the 5th or 6th time I watched the episode.

I really enjoyed the entire episode. I too was disappointed that Willie was mentioned so soon. I was looking forward to the scene when Jamie tells Claire about him in their room in Jamaica. I love that part in the book, both tired from the evening events, he tells her about Willie, she tells him he isn’t alone anymore and they recite their vows “blood of my blood....”. I hope they keep that scene.

Our DVR was set to record and air the new episode on Sunday evening at 8pm. Sunday morning I looked at all the episodes on Demand thinking about rewatching an episode (any episode). I noticed that S3E6 was listed and could be viewed. I don’t know why. Was it an error? Did I misunderstand the air date? Either way, I watched immediately and told my husband the only explanation was the Outlander Gods bestowed a gift upon me.

Susanlynn said...

I just read the scene in Voyager in which Jamie tells Claire about Willie in their room after the ball in Jamaica. He tells her that Geneva wanted his body , but he never mentions that she blackmailed him by threatening to harm his family and he did it to protect them. Did Jamie ever reveal that threat that Geneva made in any of the books in the series? I don't think so.That seems strange to me. Was he trying to protect Geneva since she was dead. If I were Claire, I would have appreciated knowing..that Jamie had been coerced into sleeping with so young a girl.

kkilgrow said...

Thank you for sharing your highly regarded view point. I agree, Matthew Robert's gave us a great reunion.

They put so much detail in to the Print Shop. It would be great entertainment to be able to see bit by bit all the wonderful items that were in the shop. The symbolism in the sign was sadly missed by the viewers. It would have been nice if it had been displayed more prominently. The person who designed the sign should be given recognition for it truly is a work of art. So much went into that scene and it all goes up in smoke. How very sad.

My only disappointment with this episode was Jamie bringing up Willie right after viewing the photos of his daughter. IMHO By combining these two subjects, they lost the thrill of Jamie seeing Bree for the first time.

I too enjoyed seeing Claire and Jamie finally have their intimate conversations as they do in the books. I hope, their warm connection (which was lacking in Season 2) will continue this season.

As always, I look forward to your keen observations on the next episode.

Anonymous said...

The part where Jamie asked about Frank, I felt Jamie actually wanted to know if Claire had been loved and looked after in the last 20 years away from him. Shows how caring Jamie is, and so romantic!

Jennifer said...

I loved this episode also. I agree Jamie wanted to be sure Claire was taken care of since he couldn't do it. Willie was brought up early, but there is a reason and it'll come up later why. Even though Claire is back, Jamie still had obligations he has to tend to.

Susanlynn said...

I watched again, and the only part that I do not understand is after Jamie takes Claire to the back of the print shop . The emotion shown in the scene right after Claire appears seems so poignant and real. However, Jamie seems very matter of fact in the following scene . He seems to have recovered too abruptly from the shock of seeing his one true love whom he thought never to see again.

Bear's musical score was perfect for every scene.

EMM said...

I could not help wonering if the intensely detailed print shop was a set, or if the scene was filmed in a museum such as the one in York UK and many historic old towns which recreate the homes and business premises of the past using many genuine perid artifacts.

EMM said...

I couldn't help wondering if the excellent reproduction of an 18th century print shop was a set construction or if it was filmed in a historic museum such as the one in York, UK, or the Black Creek Pioneer Village in north Toronto Canada which display shops and businesses as they were in the pioneer days. Whichever it was, the attention to period detail in thisshow is incredible.

EMM said...

I did some research and found the answer to my own question about the print shop. The exterior was filmed in Bakeshop Close, a narrow street running off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. The interior was a set previously used as M. Raymond's apothecary shop in Paris.

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