Episode 705: "Singapore" (SPOILERS!)

Rachel and Denny Hunter in Outlander Episode 705 -->

Here are my reactions to Episode 705 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Singapore".


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









The opening credit sequence for this episode includes a couple of bits that weren't there before: Bree in her hard hat, looking over the landscape, and Roger and Bree embracing, at night, outside by the trailer at Lallybroch. Interesting.

The "title card" features a pair of goats climbing a cliff. This is a clear reference to Jamie's comment to General Fermoy later in the episode. I thought that was a clever bit of imagery.

As the episode opens, Bree hears Jem and Mandy playing in the graveyard at Lallybroch. Most of the dialogue here comes from the book:

“You--er--don’t know which grave might be Grandda’s, do you?” she asked Jem hesitantly.

She was almost afraid to hear the answer.

“No.” He looked surprised, and glanced where she was looking, toward the assemblage of stones. Obviously he hadn’t connected their presence with his grandfather. “He just said he’d like to be buried here, and if I came here, I should leave him a stane. So I did.”


Just beyond the shadow of the broch, she could see the traces of something not quite a trail through a mass of gorse, heather, and broken rock. And poking out of the mass at the crest of the hill, a big, lumpy boulder, on whose shoulder sat a tiny pyramid of pebbles, barely visible.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 21, "The Minister's Cat". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

The idea that Jamie might be buried there disturbs Bree, and she goes immediately to look through the letters in Jemmy's box, seeking some connection with her parents. The next letter is dated June 18, 1777.

Just a side note: I had to smile at the sight of Bree wearing a Fair Isle sweater, similar to the one shown here. That was a very popular style in the early 1980s, when I was in high school, and I used to wear them all the time, because they were warm and comfortable.

I like the way Roger comforts Bree here. "We've waited long enough," he says, and they open the next letter. They are startled to discover that Claire is writing from Fort Ticonderoga, in upstate New York, when Jamie and Claire had supposedly been on their way to Scotland.

We get a good look at Fort Ticonderoga as Claire explains, in voiceover, that Jamie is in command of a small group of militiamen called "Fraser's Irregulars", in charge of building fortifications, and Claire is helping to tend the sick and injured, "under the command of Lieutenant Stactoe, who thinks he is a surgeon, but isn't, and thinks that I am not, because I am a woman."

Roger wants to look up the history of Fort Ticonderoga in the Revolutionary War, but Bree stops him, saying, "Maybe it's better if we don't know."

In the next scene, Jamie and the other officers are meeting with Brigadier General Fermoy, the French officer in charge of the fort. Jamie steps forward and announces that they are vulnerable to attack from the nearby Sugar Loaf Hill (called Mount Defiance in ECHO). Fermoy is skeptical, saying that the terrain is too steep for the soldiers. Goats, maybe....

"Where a goat can go, a man can go, sir," Jamie says. "And where a man can go, he can drag a gun." According to Wikipedia, this is a quote attributed to Major General William Phillips.

Unfortunately, General Fermoy stubbornly refuses to accept Jamie's assurance that the British will attack from the high ground atop that hill, and abruptly dismisses Jamie from the meeting.

The next scene features William, Denzell, and Rachel on the road. William can't understand the Quakers' aversion to killing, even under circumstances that seem to call for it, like self-defense or defense of one's loved ones.

"We shall have to agree to disagree on this matter," Denny says at last. That made me laugh out loud, because in my role as moderator of Diana Gabaldon's section of TheLitForum.com, I often encourage people to do just that, when their arguments start going around in circles.

Just then they encounter a man named Antioch Johnson, chopping branches along the road. He informs them that they've taken a wrong turn, but it's a long way back to the place where they got off track, so Johnson offers to put them up for the night at his cabin, which is nearby. This whole sequence is taken almost word-for-word from the book, and I thought it was really well done. I was, however, extremely relieved that they didn't attempt to portray Mrs. Johnson with a split tongue, as in the book, which I have always thought was thoroughly repulsive!

As they sit down to supper, it becomes clear that Rachel, Denny, and William find the food disgusting. The Hunters don't touch a bite, but William does. As he remarks to Rachel, "And if they are kind enough to offer us breakfast in the morning, our answer will be a resounding, NO!" I liked the fact that he made Rachel laugh.

Back at Lallybroch, it's Bree's first day at work as plant inspector. Roger notices she's not wearing knickers (underpants). Her explanation comes straight from the book:

“[Why] don’t ye wear knickers to work?” he asked, suddenly remembering.

To his startlement, the flush roared back like a brushfire.

“I got out of the habit in the eighteenth century,” she snapped, plainly taking the huff. “I only wear knickers for ceremonial purposes anymore."

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 28, "Hilltops". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

They are interrupted in the middle of a kiss by wee Mandy, who giggles at the sight of them. That little girl really is very cute! <g>

I loved the whole sequence at the dam. The hydroelectric plant is massive, and I like the attention to detail on the whole set. In particular, my eye was caught by that Land Rover with "Loch Errochty" written on the side. I wonder if we'll see that vehicle again later in the season? If so, it's worth taking a good look now.

Loch Errochty Dam is a real place, and the views of the scenery here are spectacular!

The boss introduces Bree to the maintenance crew, all wearing hard hats similar to hers. Rob Cameron, played by Chris Fulton, is better-looking than I imagined from the books.

As they approach the tunnel entrance, Rob Cameron asks to borrow Bree's keys, and the other member of the crew lends her a flashlight. She steps into the dark tunnel, and immediately hears the door slam and lock behind her. What happens next comes straight from the book:

In all honesty, the doors closing behind her had not been her first intimation that something was up, she thought grimly. She’d been a mother much too long to miss the looks of secretive delight or preternatural innocence that marked the face of a male up to mischief, and such looks had been all over the faces of her maintenance and repair team, if she’d spared the attention to look at them.


What did they expect her to do? she wondered. Scream? Cry? Beat on the doors and beg to be let out?

She walked quietly back to the door and pressed her ear to the crack, in time to hear the roar of the truck’s engine starting up and the spurt of gravel from its wheels as it turned up the service road.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "Tunnel Tigers". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

This whole sequence is taken more or less from the book, and I loved all of it! Alone in the dark tunnel, to her credit, Bree doesn't panic. She calmly and logically assesses her situation. Finding that the flashlight she's been given doesn't work, she lights a match, using that tiny light to locate the panel that operates the tunnel's lights so she can get her bearings.

The tunnel set is really amazing, very detailed and much bigger than I thought it would be. The only detail omitted from the TV version is the little train, but I suppose they decided they didn't need it. It's effective enough to have Bree walking through the tunnel. She comes to a fork in the tunnel, and strains to remember which way to turn, finally choosing the path to her right. After a few minutes, she starts to hear a loud buzzing sound, like the sound made by the standing stones. It gets more intense as she gets closer. and finally she decides just to run through it, arriving safely on the other side. But what was it, exactly?

She couldn’t be mistaken. She’d passed through time twice, and knew the feeling. But this hadn’t been nearly so shocking. Her skin still prickled and her nerves jumped and her inner ears rang as though she’d thrust her head into a hive of hornets--but she felt solid. She felt as though a red-hot wire had sliced her in two, but she hadn’t had the horrible sense of being disassembled, turned physically inside out.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "Tunnel Tigers". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

So it's not a time portal, but something very similar. I have been intrigued by this ever since I first read ECHO, back in 2009.

Bree turns and runs away from the...whatever it is... toward the exit a few yards away. The door is unlocked, and she steps outside, looking out at the beautiful view of Loch Errochty below, and takes a few moments to recover.

Meanwhile, back at Fort Ticonderoga, Young Ian is meeting with General St. Clair's aide-de-camp, who orders him to go to Shadow Lake (the Mohawk village where Roger was held captive, and where Ian lived with Works With Her Hands), to deliver a letter to an influential Mohawk called Thayandenegea, aka Joseph Brant, who is staying there.

A look of almost panic flashes across Ian's face -- he really doesn't want to go! -- and he tries to refuse the order, but the officer insists.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Murray, war does not allow for 'personal reasons'. The general requires that you leave today. That's an order."

Before leaving, Ian goes to speak to Claire. This scene comes from ECHO chapter 35, "Ticonderoga". Ian wants to know if there's some medical reason why he could not give Works With Her Hands a live baby. Is it his fault?

"Emily has a child now, with Kaheroton. His spirit was strong enough. Mine wasna? I could never take another wife, if I kent I'd never give her bairns."

Naturally Ian is thinking of the events portrayed in Episode 604, "Hour of the Wolf", including the loss of his first baby, a girl.

"Emily didna want to talk about her, about Iseaba├Čl--that’s what I would ha’ named her, Iseaba├Čl--” he explained, “but I asked and wouldna stop until she told me what the baby looked like.

“She was perfect,” he said softly, looking down at the bridge, where a chain of lanterns glowed, reflected in the water. “Perfect.”

So had Faith been. Perfect.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 27, "Tunnel Tigers". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

This must have been a painful conversation for Claire, but she's careful to keep her voice neutral as she says, "Many women lose children, either through stillbirth, or miscarriages, or any number of reasons."

I liked the way Ian smiled with relief, even as there was still sadness in his eyes, remembering his wee daughter Iseabail.

Meanwhile, back at the Johnsons' cabin, William wakes in the middle of the night with food poisoning caused by the horrible dinner the day before.

He woke suddenly, panting and sweating, aware that the pain in his guts was real. It bit with a sharp cramp, and he pulled up his legs and rolled onto his side an instant before the ax struck the floorboards where his head had just been.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 35, "Ticonderoga". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

What happens next comes straight from ECHO chapter 41, except that William kills Johnson by running him through the belly with a fireplace poker, rather than using an ax or a knife. The scene is very dramatic and suspenseful, just as in the book. After Johnson falls dead, his wife comes through the door, Rachel trying unsuccessfully to restrain her. William doesn't hesitate, but punches the woman, knocking her down. (I had to wonder what Lord John would think of that!) William and the Hunters stare at one another in shock.

Afterward, Rachel comes outside to talk to William. Mrs. Johnson has confessed that this wasn't the first time they'd attacked unsuspecting travelers. Quite the contrary, in fact. But William isn't really paying attention. He's preoccupied with other thoughts.

“Rachel.” His own voice sounded odd to him, remote, as though someone else was speaking. “I’ve never killed anyone before. I don’t--I don’t quite know what to do about it.” He looked up at her, searching her face for understanding. “If it had been--I expected it to be in battle. That--I think I’d know how. How to feel, I mean. If it had been like that.”

She met his eyes, her face drawn in troubled thought. The light touched her, a pink softer than the sheen of pearls, and after a long time she touched his face, very gently.

“No,” she said. “Thee wouldn’t.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 41, "Shelter from the Storm". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

William is only nineteen here, Rachel roughly the same age. I think Rachel shows a wisdom beyond her years, because what she means (I think) is that no one would know how to feel, how to react, after killing someone for the first time. To her credit, she doesn't recoil from him in horror, despite her Quaker beliefs.

Back at Fort Ticonderoga, Jamie tells Claire that Brigadier General Simon Fraser of Balnain, his second cousin, is commanding the British troops. Jamie thinks the British will put cannon on Sugar Loaf Hill, the big hill opposite the fort.

"[General Fermoy] is convinced an attack will come by land, not from across the water."

Claire tells Jamie about the Battle of Singapore, in World War II. There are definitely similarities in the two situations. The question is, can Jamie do anything to prevent a disaster for the Americans?

Meanwhile, back on the road, William takes his leave of the Hunters. This scene comes almost verbatim from ECHO chapter 42, "Crossroad". I particularly like the conversation between Denny and Rachel after William leaves:

“Thee knows I would have no harm befall thee, either of body or soul. Say the word and I will find thee a place with Friends, where you may stay in safety. I am sure that the Lord has spoken to me, and I must follow my conscience. But there is no need for thee to follow it, too.”

She gave him a long, level look.

“And how does thee know that the Lord has not spoken to me, as well?”

His eyes twinkled behind his spectacles.

“I am happy for thee. What did He say?”

“He said, ‘Keep thy fat-headed brother from committing suicide, for I will require his blood at thy hand,’ ” she snapped, slapping his hand away from the bridle. “If we are going to join the army, Denny, let us go and find it.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 42, "Crossroad". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I just love the way Rachel speaks her mind!

In the next scene, Ian arrives at the Mohawk village of Shadow Lake, which looks about the same as it did in Season 5. He sees Works With Her Hands, and they greet each other warmly. She tells Ian that she has both a son and a newborn daughter, and that she is happy. But she can see that Ian is not.

Ian asks to meet her son. This is the only scene in the whole episode that I had major problems with. From the moment the child appears -- a boy of about five, with wavy hair the same color as Ian's -- it's VERY obvious that he is Ian's biological child.

This is one of those moments that I refer to as "hitting the audience over the head with a sledgehammer." I hate it when they do that, but it's especially hard in this particular case, because Diana Gabaldon left the boy's paternity deliberately ambiguous for a long time in the books. I have always loved the idea that to the Mohawk, he is "the child of Ian's spirit", regardless of what his DNA says. And now? Forget ambiguity! This child cannot possibly be the son of anyone but Ian.

Ian asks the boy his name. "Swiftest of Lizards," he says. In the book, that was a name Ian chose for him. (See below.)

"My grandmother [...] says I'm the child of your spirit, but I should not say so to my father."

That line works in the book, because we don't know who the boy will grow up to resemble. But here, in this situation? It makes no sense. If Emily's husband, Kaheroton, has any brains at all, he should have realized a long time ago that Swiftest of Lizards bears a strong resemblance to Ian. How could he fail to notice that?!? It doesn't matter if the boy mentions it out loud or not. Just like Frank looking at Brianna when she was a child, the mere existence of a boy who so clearly resembles Ian will be a constant reminder to Kaheroton that the child is not his.

Emily asks Ian, "Will you choose a name for him, from your people, for when he walks in that world?" And Ian says, "Ian James", a clear echo of Jamie baptizing William as "William James" in Episode 304, "Of Lost Things."

I understand why he did it -- it's Ian's way of claiming the boy -- but I don't care for that choice of name. Especially coming from Ian mac Ian mac Ian Murray (see BEES chapter 2, "A Blue Wine Day") -- the son of Ian, grandson of John -- it strikes me as boring and unimaginative. And deliberately rubbing Kaheroton's nose in the fact that this child not only resembles, but bears the name of his rival, seems like asking for trouble. Not to mention the fact that if we see this child in Season 8, which will cover the events of BEES, presumably he will become known as Ian James Murray. Or possibly "Young Ian"? Been there, done that!

Oh, well. I think a lot of people will love this bit. I just don't care for it. I much prefer the book version:

“I will bless all your children wi’ the blessings of Bride and of Michael.” [Ian] lifted his hand then, and reaching out, drew Digger to him. “But this one is mine to name.”

Her face went quite blank with astonishment, and she looked quickly from him to her son and back. She swallowed visibly, unsure--but it didn’t matter; he was sure.

“Your name is Swiftest of Lizards,” he said, in Mohawk. The Swiftest of Lizards thought for a minute, then nodded, pleased, and with a laugh of pure delight, darted away.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 40, "The Blessing of Bride and of Michael". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

In the next scene, we're back at Lallybroch. Jem has just come home from school, but rather than going toward the house, he heads for the dovecote nearby. Notice the KEEP OUT sign on the door, with (apparently) no lock. That's pretty lax security, if you really don't want anyone going in there!

Jem reluctantly admits that he got in trouble at school. This scene is based on ECHO chapter 26, "Stag at Bay", but it's a condensed version of the story. Jem is very quiet and subdued, rather than furious and humiliated. I was disappointed by that. I wanted to see more emotion in this scene, as there was in the book:

“And Miss Glendenning grabbed me by the ear and like to tore it off.” A flush was rising in Jemmy’s cheeks at the memory. “She shook me, Da!”

“By the ear?” Roger felt an answering flush in his own cheeks.

“Yes!” Tears of humiliation and anger were welling in Jem’s eyes, but he dashed them away with a sleeve and pounded his fist on his leg. “She said, ‘We--do--not--speak--like--THAT! We--speak--ENGLISH!’ ” His voice was some octaves higher than the redoubtable Miss Glendenning’s, but his mimicry made the ferocity of her attack more than evident.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 26, "Stag at Bay". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I guess we'll see if they pick up this storyline in a future episode, because it seems odd just to leave it hanging like that, with Roger's vague promise, "Dinna fash, we'll sort it out." In the book, Bree and Roger were both furious when they heard what happened.

Just before they go back to the house, Roger notices some trash on the ground -- an empty bottle, some food wrappers -- but Jem says it wasn't his. Has someone else been sneaking around the property?

In the next scene, we're in the infirmary at Fort Ticonderoga. Claire overhears an argument between Lt. Stactoe, the officer in charge of the infirmary, and Dr. Denzell Hunter, whom Claire has never met before. They are arguing over the treatment of a patient, a black man named Walter Woodcock, whose gangrenous foot needs to be amputated. This is based on ECHO chapter 44, "Friends". It's one of my favorite scenes in that part of the book because of the tension between Claire and Lt. Stactoe.

“You will ruin the temper of the metal, subjecting it to boiling water!”

“No,” I said, keeping my own temper—for the moment. “Hot water will do nothing but clean it. And I will not use a dirty blade on this man.”

“Oh, won’t you?” Something like satisfaction glimmered in his eyes, and he clutched the blade protectively to his bosom. “Well, then. I suppose you’ll have to leave the work to those who can do it, won’t you?”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 44, "Friends". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Claire really does not suffer fools at all, especially under stress! (Particularly not fools who claim to be medical experts.) They did a great job with this scene, IMHO.

Meanwhile, Jamie takes the aide-de-camp up to a place where he can see the large hill on the opposite side of the lake, the one that General Fermoy said was impossible for the soldiers to climb. Sure enough, some of Jamie's men are up on that hill, with a cannon. Jamie signals to the soldiers, and they fire the cannon toward the fort. The ball lands a few yards away from where Jamie and the aide are standing, but Jamie hastens to assure everyone that it's all right, they're not under attack.

General Fermoy is not amused. He orders Jamie to bring the men and the cannon back inside the fort, totally ignoring Jamie's warning that the fort is clearly within firing range of British artillery, should the Redcoats decide to put their own men up on that hill.

In the next scene, we see Ian and Rachel together for the first time since their initial encounter in last week's episode. They're mostly making small talk, but I love the way their eyes light up when they look at each other. There's no doubt now that both of them have feelings for one another, though they haven't spoken of it yet.

Meanwhile, back at Lallybroch, Bree is telling the kids about her experience in the tunnel on her first day at work. Notice that she makes a point of telling them how the tunnel split, and she took the path that led to the right. I hope Jem is taking good notes! <g>

Roger proposes a toast to Bree for getting through her first day, but it only seems to make Bree sad. She confides to Roger privately that she feels very angry, that the other men treated her like that because she's a woman.

Roger shows Bree a hidden drawer in the desk in the laird's study. (Pay attention to this, it will be important later!) He says, "I am so proud of you, and I'm sorry I didn't make that clearer from the start."

Suddenly Mandy lets out a scream from the other room. She says she saw the Nuckelavee outside the window. So there definitely seems to be an intruder lurking near the house.

Back at Fort Ticonderoga, a sentry sees British troops on the hill across the water! The commanding general calls a meeting of his officers. "No one could have foreseen this," he says, and Jamie, who (of course) not only saw it coming but tried his best to tell the officers in charge, simply stands there and keeps his mouth shut.

General St. Clair orders the evacuation of the fort, and Jamie suggests using all available boats to speed up the process. As we've seen, there are civilians (including women and children) in the fort, in addition to soldiers, and it will take time to organize an evacuation.

Meanwhile, back in 1980, Bree heads for the pub where Rob Cameron and the others have gathered after work. They are shocked to see her in this all-male environment, but she casually plunks down a stool next to Cameron and sits down. After a little banter among the men about the experience in the tunnel, Bree turns to Rob Cameron, very serious.

"If you ever do anything like that again, I will have the lot of you fired."

That seems to put an end to it, for now. But Cameron won't forget this.

Back at Fort Ticonderoga, the evacuation is proceeding as fast as possible. Many of the wounded are being evacuated, but not Walter, whose wound is not yet healed enough for him to be moved. Reluctantly, Claire must leave him behind.

Jamie and the others frantically load the boats, rowing away from the fort as fast as they can. I thought the evacuation was much too orderly, compared to the scene of chaos and desperation described in the book:

I had seen the garrison on parade, of course; I knew how many men there were. But to see three or four thousand people pushing and shoving, trying to accomplish unaccustomed tasks in a tearing hurry, was like watching a kicked-over anthill.


The lakeshore below the fort looked like the return of a particularly disastrous fishing fleet. There were boats. All kinds of boats, from canoes and rowboats to dories and crude rafts. Some were dragged up onto the shore, others were evidently floating away, unmanned—I caught sight during a brief lightning flash of a few heads bobbing in the water as men and boys swam after them to fetch them back. There were few lights on the shore, for fear of giving away the plan of retreat, but here and there a torch burned, showing arguments and fistfights, and beyond the reach of torchlight, the ground seemed to heave and ripple in the dark, like a swarming carcass.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 52, "Conflagration". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

In the final scene, which is not in the book, Bree goes alone to the graveyard and visits the little cairn of stones that Jem built. She begins talking to Jamie, just as Claire did long ago, visiting the Fraser clan stone at Culloden. And as she tells the story of her first day on the job, the episode ends.
I hope you enjoyed this recap. Look here for my recaps of all of the OUTLANDER episodes, and please come back next week for my recap of Episode 706.

Looking for a place to discuss All Things OUTLANDER? Check out TheLitForum.com, formerly the Compuserve Books and Writers Community. You have to sign up in order to read or post on the forum, but it's free. For more about the forum, look here.


CathyD said...

Just a quick note of correction. Jem does not run into the tower when arriving home after school. The tower is out behind the house. He goes into the dovecote (where Fergus, as a child, found the pistol. I liked that they used that building again. If Jem had run into the tower he would have ran into Buck's hiding place.

Karen Henry said...

Oops, you're right, thanks for pointing that out!


Anonymous said...

I thought the scenario of the British hauling canon up a steep slope reminded me of the Plains of Abraham scene in Custom of the Army, which if I recall correctly, also involved Simon Fraser.

Adrienne said...

I’m confused if baybe I don’t remember from the books, but if Ian was indeed able to give Emily a child, why was he put out of the tribe?

Anonymous said...

The Reverend's housekeeper explained "the gathering of power at the stones, implying lines of energy that met there and could then be directed to propel you through time. I thought it was described as one of those lines in the later books, but I might be mistaken since I read them all before the second season premiered

Storrme said...

Thanks again for a great recap. I love the book quotes as I can go back and re-read these pieces. I did notice when Jem comes home upset he says he was told he, Mandy and Bree were going to burn in hell for being catholic. But back in season 5 they said he was baptized by a Presbyterian. Another unfortunate example of the show not sticking to their own storyline.
Overall though I think they did a good job bringing some aspects to life, the scenes with Antioch were well done.

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