Episode 309: "The Doldrums" (SPOILERS!)

Here are my reactions to Episode 309 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "The Doldrums".  This was a very enjoyable episode, and I appreciated the quieter moments in it.


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









We've left Scotland behind, so I wasn't surprised to see that they've changed the opening credit sequence again. I was startled by the change in the music at first, but I think I like it. It's certainly appropriate, considering where we'll be spending the remainder of the season. <g>

The glimpses of future scenes are intriguing!  And I like the brighter colors from the Caribbean scenes.

In the opening shot, we finally get our first glimpse of the Artemis!  The ships used in this episode are amazing, very realistic and authentic-looking.

Nice to see Jared again!

"No God worth his salt would take your nephew away from you just because you wanted to be happy."  This line comes directly from the book (VOYAGER chapter 39, "Lost, and By the Wind Grieved"), and I'm glad they included it.

I like Hayes and Lesley, Jamie's Ardsmuir men. They remind me more than a bit of Angus and Rupert.

Sad to see Jamie leaning over the rail, taking a last long look at Scotland.

I like Claire's reaction to the idea of touching the horseshoe, and also to the way the crew ignores her. I'm reminded of Book Jamie telling her in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER chapter 6 ("Making Waves") that sailors think "women near ships are the height of ill luck". But even in the midst of this serious conversation, it struck me that Jamie and Claire are both more relaxed around each other, more openly affectionate, than they've been since the reunion.

Lauren Lyle is terrific as Marsali! She sounds exactly as I've always imagined, and she's not intimidated by Jamie in the slightest. This whole scene is taken almost word-for-word from the book, and I loved it!

When Fergus says, "You must not speak about Milady in such a way," notice Marsali rolling her eyes at him. <g>

I love Claire's reaction to Jamie's proposed sleeping arrangements: "We've been apart for twenty years, and you want me to room with her?!"

Jamie's muttered, "Now I am going to be sick" made me laugh.

The chest containing clothes from Lallybroch is a reasonable solution to the problem of Claire's wardrobe, i.e., she doesn't actually have any clothes other than the outfit that she wore to come through the stones. Notice the yellow gown in the chest, which looks very similar to the one in the recent Entertainment Weekly photo shoot.

"Why didn't you sell them, or--?"
"Sell them? Memories of you?  Never!"

I like that. Let that be a lesson to Claire, who gave her pearls away to Mrs. Graham for twenty years. Jamie, at least, had better sense than that.

Jamie's complaining about the seasickness seems exaggerated at this stage. He thinks he'll be dead by tomorrow? That fits the later scene with Mr. Willoughby, where he's suffering very much from the vomiting, but here, he doesn't look or sound that bad.

Good to see Claire acting as a doctor.  Her patient is Manzetti, the sailor who, in the book, killed a shark.

The scene between Fergus and Jamie is very good, and I continue to be impressed with César Domboy as Fergus.

"If you were forced to marry Milady, then I am forced to breathe. My heart, it is forced to beat. You yourself have told me you wanted her more than life from the moment you saw her. You didn't need time."

I love this!

How does Fergus know what Jamie's reason for not telling Claire about Laoghaire was?  He's right, Jamie did tell Claire it was because he was a coward -- but Fergus wasn't there, so how does he know that? Just intuition?

The dinner scene between Claire and Captain Raines is not in the book, but I liked it. Richard Dillane is terrific as Captain Raines, with a wonderful voice and tremendous on-screen presence.

"A woman's bare breasts calm an angry sea." I giggled at that.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." And again, Raines quotes from Hamlet (Act II, Scene 2). I'm wondering how such a well-read, intellectual, refined man became a ship's captain. It seems an odd choice of career for someone like him.

In the next scene, Jamie looks absolutely miserable, and the seasickness is obviously much worse. Poor Jamie! And poor Sam, too; it can't have been easy to film this!

In the book, Claire was the one who came up with the "tangled testicles" line, and it was much funnier. But it works pretty well here with Willoughby saying it.  I think the look Jamie gives Willoughby at the end of the scene is very eloquent. He didn't have to say a word.

Meanwhile, Claire and Marsali are trying to find a way to live with one another, not very successfully.

"So, ye drop out of the clear blue sky, stickin' your nose where it doesn't belong, ruining my family, and NOW you're minding your own business?"  Great line!

In the next scene, and for the remainder of this episode, Claire is wearing her hair differently. I think this less-severe hairstyle suits her. It reminds me of the way she wore her hair during the search for Jamie in Episode 114.

"'Fizzle out' is what I'm afraid of."  Huh? Whatever Jamie meant by this, the line makes no sense to me.

Mr. Willoughby writing Chinese characters with water on the deck is a clever idea. Less messy than the ink he used in the book, and I like the symbolism, that his words vanish (evaporate) within moments after he finishes writing them.  As he says, "Once I tell [a story], I have to let it go."

The sailors' bawdy song made me smile. The lyrics are similar to a song called "Brides of Death" that I found here. [Warning, the lyrics in this link are NSFW!]

I'm glad they included the acupuncture needles! Interesting that Jamie didn't want to hurt Claire's feelings by rejecting her medical treatment.

"I didna want ye to see it as more proof ye dinna belong here."

I love Claire's reply:  "Jamie. My return has been--confusing, and frustrating. But it's never been a question of whether I love you."

I like seeing them this way, comfortable and affectionate with one another, gently teasing ("You look like a pincushion"). This scene isn't in the book, but we're finally getting back to the Jamie and Claire that I know so well.

When Captain Raines says, "Too late for that. It must be done at the beginning of a voyage," notice the camera cutting briefly to Hayes. I didn't notice this at all on the first viewing, but you can clearly see the "Oh, sh!t!" expression on his face, as he realizes that he forgot to touch the horseshoe.

I like the scene with Claire and Jamie in the moonlight very much. I was very startled to hear Claire quoting from GOODNIGHT MOON, but in fact, according to Wikipedia, the book was published in 1947, so it's plausible that Claire would have had access to it when Bree was little.

"You miss her."

Awwww, that's sad! A very touching moment.

"Damn! Blazing Hades! Filth-eating son of a pig-fart!"

I laughed when I heard that, because that voice, and those words, could belong to only one man: the unforgettable Aloysius O'Shaughnessy Murphy, ship's cook aboard the Artemis. <g>  I'm glad they didn't forget about him!

This talk about finding a "Jonah" who's brought the ship ill luck made me think at once of Mr. Marsden, aka Smith, in AN ECHO IN THE BONE:
"Jonah Marsden!" Mr. Ormiston, on the verge of standing up, plumped back onto the chest, openmouthed. "Bless me if it isn't!"

"Who?" I asked, startled.

"Jonah--well, 'tisn't his real name, what was it ... oh, Bill, I think it was, but we took to calling him Jonah, owing to him being sunk so many times."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31, "A Guided Tour Through the Chambers of the Heart". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

And again, the camera lingers on Hayes, who is quiet, looking down, unable to meet the others' eyes.

"[The men] must believe that I am doing all I can on their behalf, or we shall have a mutiny."

Much as I like Captain Raines -- he's calm and steady when faced with a crisis, as you'd expect an experienced ship's captain to be -- Jamie is right.

"You will NOT be throwing any of my men overboard -- Captain," he says, with a note of steel in his voice that we haven't often heard from TV Jamie. And Raines just stares back at him, as if to say, "And how do you mean to stop me?"

Meanwhile, the men have decided that Hayes is the "Jonah"; seeing no alternative, Hayes decides to take matters into his own hands.

The sequence with Hayes atop the rigging is dramatic and suspenseful, and I liked it very much, even though the sound of the men calling, "Jump! Jump!" made me a little sick to my stomach.

Jamie, in full hero-mode, climbs the rigging, talking to Hayes the whole time.

Meanwhile, Mr. Willoughby is paying no attention to the drama unfolding high above his head. He's watching the sea, where a large bird has just appeared.

"If ye do jump, I would have to go in after ye, and if ye make me do that, ye ken my wife would kill the both of us."  Good line, but it's reminiscent of Leonardo DiCaprio's famous line from TITANIC: "If you jump, I jump."

The stunt work in this scene, especially the part with Hayes struggling to reach the ropes, is very impressive!

And no sooner does Hayes land safely on the deck, than the sailors turn their anger on Jamie. They might very well have pitched him overboard, had Yi Tien Cho not interfered.

I didn't find it believable that the crew, having worked itself up into a frenzy, would just stop what they were doing, instantly, at the sound of the bell ringing, and quiet down to listen to this Chinese "heathen". I really thought they would turn their anger on him instead.

Having said that, I thought Gary Young did an excellent job in this scene, telling Mr. Willoughby's tale (almost word for word from the book, though condensed somewhat), in a very dramatic fashion. I especially liked the way he grew more and more angry toward the end of his story.

And then he climbs up on the rail, and the pages of his story blow away on the wind. Wind?!  Yes, finally, they have wind, rain, and plenty of fresh water, and the crisis is over.

The scene with Jamie and Claire belowdecks, making love in desperate haste, is very close to the book, if not nearly as funny. Afterwards, I like the way Jamie talks about Claire's hair. I've always thought it was so sweet that the things Claire dislikes the most about her own body (in the books, her "generous" bottom and her wild, unruly hair; here, the gray streaks in her hair) are precisely the things Jamie seems to appreciate the most.

"If you were to say that in the 20th century, you would be the king of all men."

Groan!!  I really didn't like that. Talk about being jerked out of the story! "King of Men" is a phrase used in the OUTLANDER writers' room, first mentioned by Ron Moore soon after filming began on Season 1. I'm sure they thought it was funny for Claire to use that expression, but I didn't care for it.  Claire loves Jamie for himself (flaws and all!), not because he's the "King of Men"!

"No matter what troubles happen around us, Sassenach, this -- what it is between us -- never changes."  Awwwww, good line!

And here comes the Porpoise! I love the shot of the two ships facing each other. The Porpoise is clearly a bigger, more solidly-built vessel.

Charlie Hiett is very good as the young Captain Leonard, but oddly pale, as if he's spent all his time on this voyage below decks. (I suspect that was deliberate.) I like the smudges under his eyes, indicating that he hasn't slept much lately.

I like the fact that they kept this part mostly intact from the book. As Claire goes out into the corridor with Jamie, she folds her arms across her chest, indicating with her body language that she's not going to let him stop her from going.

"I've taken an oath now and then myself," Jamie says, fingering Claire's ring, "and none of them lightly." Good attention to detail there!

You can tell that the Porpoise is a naval ship, from the uniforms, to the way they "piped" Claire on board. Quite a contrast from the rougher, less disciplined routine aboard the Artemis!

Conditions below decks are just horrific, and they did a good job of illustrating that without being overly graphic about it. The sound of vomiting, rats scurrying, Claire holding a cloth over her nose and mouth from the stench, gave us a very good idea of what the conditions are like.

"You need to prepare yourself. It's going to get a lot worse before it gets better."  In view of what's about to happen, these words apply just as much to Claire as to the crew of the Porpoise.

Young Elias Pound looks very much as I imagined him.

I liked Claire's reaction when she realizes the Porpoise is moving away. And it really is the perfect way to end the episode!

I enjoyed this episode very much and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next week.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Please come back next week to see my reactions to Episode 309.

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


Unknown said...

I also enjoyed this episode, almost without comparing it to the book. In all the places I would have compared it, they did the book justice. My continuing confusion is with how Mr. Willoughby is played. I understand that they have to be careful with being "politically correct" here, but the TV character is nothing like the happy, acrobatic, almost-hyperactive character of the book. I think they could have toned him down without making him so serious.

Susanlynn said...

Thank you, Karen, for that detailed review.

I especially like the Goodnight MOon scene having read that book many times to my little girls. I also was glad to see that Jamie and Claire were able to get a quickie before they are separated.

Was that figurehead on the front of the ship that we saw in the beginning one of those female statues from the brothel in Paris?

Could have done without the retching of the typhoid victims.

Rebecca King Anderson said...

Karen, I retired as (secretary) admin assistant in a police agency, officers were sickened hearing bystanders say Jump! Jump! as they tried to talk someone off a freeway overpass. People really do that.

A.Lin said...

I'm glad for the changes as a mother of my half-Chinese boys. It could so easily have been racist and distracted from the story. Reading is one thing, but seeing it really does make me say representation matters. Just trying to figure out how they'll work out the last scene though since they've left out the Scotland murders

Unknown said...

You wrote,"I'm wondering how such a well-read, intellectual, refined man became a ship's captain. It seems an odd choice of career for someone like him." As the wife of a retired Navy Officer, I know that captains at sea are often well-read intellectual gentlemen. That is the type of person required for that job.

Anonymous said...

This episode was excellent, one of my favorites this season (next to A. Malcolm of course). I read the book and the small changes they made really worked. I love Mr. Willoughby and his story. I’m so glad they kept it in as well as the acupuncture. I was hoping they would include the Marsali and Claire conversation about birth control, which explains why Loaghraire wouldn’t let Jamie touch her. I know they can’t put it all in.

♥Susanlynn said...

Regarding the change in MR. Willoughby, I teach ESL, and it is estimated that it takes people about seven years to become fluent in a second language. Some people seem to have a natural ability to learn a language and others struggle. This ability is not always affected by their level of education or intelligence. I was okay with the changes made to this character, but I wondered where he picked up some of the words he used.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen I too liked the new opening credits and it tells fans where the season will be going from here , and like the shot of the ship , next the episode opens with Jamie and Claire preparing to sail on the Artemis and with Cousin Jared , great line in which Jamie is told that God would never take his nephew from him , next the ship is at sea and like seeing Jamie 's Ardsmuir men as part of the crew and like the scene in which Jamie watches Scotland disappear for the last time , next Fergus shows up with Marsali and tells Jamie they are wed , he is not happy and when he threatens to have them sent back onshore Marseli who is not afraid of Jamie blackmails hi , to that he tells he that she and Claire will be sharing a cabin , to which both women aren't happy about , like seeing Claire bring tea to Jamie to help him with his seasickness , and is touched by the fact that Jamie had saved her clothes from Paris , next Claire helps with the Crew and their injuries including one who has killed a shark .like the scene with Fergus and Jamie it's honest , Claire dines with Captain Raines and she dismisses the notion that women near a ship are bad luck and touching the horseshoe is good luck , Great to see Mr.Willowougby , help Jamie out when his seasickness gets worse and things are bumpy witb Claire and Marseali , and love she line she uses wit Claire ,Claire is happy to see Jamie feeling better and eating in the mess hall . and is impressed by Mr. Willowoughby writing his Chinese characters and the story of his life in his native language , as days go by she attends the sick and love the music scenes ,it reminded me of the one from "Titanic ' Claire finds out Jamie has been using acupuncture needles and asks him why and ans love his response and they are a lot more relaxed with each other here and then they realize the ship is not moving , and find out the ships sails has lost the winds so the are at a stand still , like how the captain remains calm in the face of a crisis . love the night scenes and the way Jamie and Claire watch the moon and she tells him about men walking on the moon , , the ship is still not moving and the crew feel its due to bad luck one of Jamie s Ardsmuir men feels he's brought bad luck to the ship by not touching the horse shoe so he tries to toss himself overboard and Jamie risks his life in rescuing him , them before a mutiny breaks out Mr. Willowoughby . gives a grand speech and uses his writing to provide winds for the ship and with the rain and wind back the Artemis can continue on its way , finally a great love scenes between Claire and Jamie and was romantic . the Artemis spots a Britsih Man at War ship that fires on them and Jamie tells Claire that they can press any citizen into service on sea and that if it should be himself that she should continue on to find Young Ian , but when the Captain comes aboard and tells them about the illness on board his own ship Claire despite what Jamie tells her agrees to go aboard ,and sees what the trouble is and its not pretty afterwards she tells the Captain its typhois and that she can help and agrees to stay aboard , but is horrified to discover that the ship is leaving the Artemis and Jamie behind ,and its a great cliffhanger to what happens next , great beginning to the rest of season 3 which is one of the best yet , I also see a lot of references to the movie "Titanic ' which is 20 yrs old this year saw it last night and is still wonderful after all these year , will be watching more next week. please post more soon. Happy Week . Sincerely

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading this episode summary. Currently I'm a little behind in my book reading. J&C have just set sail on Artemis as I listen to Voyager on Audible.

I have 2 thoughts on this episode:

I too found the "King of Men" line odd. It just seemed not to fit.

I am enjoying how they have developed Mr. Willoughby. I was very fearful they would cut him from the TV show altogether and so I'm happy to see this version. I thought - when he spotted the bird - that that was an indication that land was near. I really thought when he rang the bell he was going to say "Land Ho."

laine said...

Love your recaps and the genius name of your blog - outlandish indeed.

Adding up up all Claire's utterances in this episode, she's sounds incoherent. Jamie offers to take her back to the stones himself if she still feels she doesn't belong with him. All she answers is that the important thing now is to get Ian back, as though they're 2 cops working a case together. Coming hard on the heels of her bizarre speech on the clifftop just before Ian was snatched that maybe she shouldn't have come back, her Boston life was pretty good etc. it's hardly reassuring. Wasn't this the time to say "I love you...I think the stones may have given me a concussion and made me say stupid things"? Instead cold Claire, then cool Claire turns into warm Claire and then hot Claire - hot for Jaimie that is within the compressed space of half an hour. It's like the emotional bends from surfacing too fast. Pity Ms. Balfe for trying to deliver this hash in a convincing way.

At least the romantic partnership is re-cemented however clumsily complete with a quickie by the time Claire and Jamie are torn apart AGAIN by the plague ship. Since the writers knew this was coming, why did they spend the previous 2 episodes estranging them emotionally? Even when they were together they weren't together. Except for the A. Malcolm episode, this season has been Wentworth prison type torture for the audience. Season 2 also kept Jamie and Claire at arms length for much of it. When will we be free to enjoy their love story again which was launched to perfection in Season 1?

M. Harrelson said...

I loved this episode. I think they covered as much as possible from the book and did it well. I particularly enjoyed the acupuncture scenes, Mr. Willoughby writing a poem that disappears (much like Mr. Willoughby's "invisibility" to people in Scotland, particularly to women) and releasing his life story to the wind, scenes with Marsali, Claire and Jamie (of course), with the Captain (I'd like to see him or anyone else make Claire or Marsali bare their breasts for the safety of anyone) and on board the Porpoise. Also, i could tell Jamie was beginning to feel his seasickness as he and Claire left the rail and as they went through the doors to their cabins. Sam is a very convincing vomiter. Right now, Marsali's attitude toward and treatment of Claire is based on the vitriol with which Laoghaire filled her and Joanie's heads. But, I see a strength and sensibility in her Laoghaire will never have and that is much like Claire's. The scenes on board the Porpoise were appropriately horrid without actually showing us the actual nastiness. Sounds and acting were all that were needed to let us know how bad things were. My youngest son, who loves Outlander, wants the rest of the lyrics to the bawdy song the sailors on the Artemis were singing. I'm afraid to ask him why. You stated you didn't understand Jamie's "fizzle out" line. My take on it is, since he didn't know what a "fizzle" is, he turned it into something he did know. He was afraid Fergus would take his "fizzle" out and use it on Marsali. Fergus has,always been very perceptive and able to read people. I think that's how he knew Jamie had told Claire he was a coward. Or, since he lived with the Murrays, he heard Jamie say it to her like everyone in the house probably did. It broke my heart when Claire admitted to Jamie how much she misses Bree. You are right about the very things Claire dislikes about her body being the things Jamie loves. I am so impressed by Cesar Domboy and Lauren Lyle. As always, casting has been pretty much spot on.

I am so looking forward to what is to come in the last four episodes. As a book reader, I appreciate the immensity of the material in them and how difficult it must be to transfer it to the screen in the time alloted. It would be so nice if each season was 18 episodes or each episide was two hours long.

I'll stop now that I have jumped all over the place with my comments. Just one last thing. As someone who wanted to be a costume designer (but, for personal reasons, could not pursue that career), I would give my firstborn (well, maybe not him, but certainly my eye teeth) to follow Terry around for a day.

Jennifer said...

I thought this was a good episode also. The moon light scene was needed to bring them back to a loving relationship. I loved the funny little comments between J&C. It shows they're getting comfortable again with each other.

Anonymous said...

Loved this episode. The funny comments vetween J&C shows they're more comfortable with each other again

Anonymous said...


Having read the book, I remember feeling your frustration when the Porpoise took her. I just wanted them to be together too. But these are DG’s patterns, she makes the reader want them to be together, she has the reader rooting for them and then she separates them so when they do get back together, you feel sane again. I don’t know about anyone else, but when Jamie and Claire connect, those moments are what makes the books/show so great. You root for this couple, you want them to be together and happy and if that permanently happens, well that would be the end of it, wouldn’t it?

Mary Tormey said...

hi Karen seeing the episode a second time gave me a look at thinks that I didn't catch the first time , I understood the sailors and the way they felt about superstitions and that captains and sailors have been for centuries and its something Jamie understands better than Claire does and so also being a doctor most don't accept superstitions or anything supernatural , also I didn't care much for Claire questioning the Captains authority and should have shown him a bit more respect no matter her feelings , will try to watch more and with Thanksgiving and The Holidays around the corner it will be tough . will be watching more next weekend. please post more soon. Happy Week. sincerely

ninyabruja said...

My take on "fizzle out" is that Jamie's afraid that Fergus will get bored with Marsali after he gets her pregnant and leave her.

Mary Tormey said...

Hi Karen I have been able to watch all of season 3 so far , but with the Holidays coming up and Thanksgiving being next week it will be tough , so will try to watch as much as possible during the Holidays , please post more soon. Happy week. Sincerely .

Debbi said...

Hi Karen,

Enjoyed this episode - particularly the Good Night Moon scene. Did anyone notice...it appeared Jamie was praying with the sign of the cross as Claire approached him. Very touching scene.

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