Episode 706: Where the Waters Meet (SPOILERS!)

William and Ian in Outlander Episode 706

Here are my reactions to Episode 706 of the OUTLANDER TV series, titled "Where the Waters Meet".


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









The title card of this episode shows two men in a small rowboat, rowing across a lake, presumably part of the evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga that was begun in the previous episode.

As the episode opens, Lt. William Ransom, Ninth Earl of Ellesmere, has arrived at Fort Ticonderoga not long after the British captured the fort from the Americans. He meets with Brigadier General Simon Fraser (a real historical figure, played by Angus MacFadyen), in command of the British troops (and Jamie Fraser's kinsman). General Fraser is much fatter than I pictured, but I liked him.

"We plan to cut off their northern army. Isolate New England from the rest of the colonies." General Fraser is right, William is very perceptive.

In the next scene, the boats fleeing Fort Ticonderoga finally arrive on the opposite shore. The evacuees, mostly women and children, are exhausted, and not up to a long journey on foot, but they have no choice. British troops are already pursuing them.

Rachel tries to console a terrified Mrs. Raven, who becomes even more frightened at the sight of Ian, whom she takes for a hostile Mohawk warrior. "I won't let him take me alive! He'll skin me while I yet draw breath!"

Actually, she's right to be afraid. The British army really did employ Indian scouts, and the threat of being scalped is real. But the fact that this scene takes place in daylight rather than at night, as in the book, makes it feel less scary. Certainly we don't get the visceral sense of terror that Claire experienced in ECHO:

“Dinna be afraid, a nighean,” Jamie whispered, and I saw his throat work as he swallowed. “I’ll not let them take ye. Not alive.” He touched the pistol at his belt.

I stared at him, then at the pistol. I hadn’t thought it possible to be more afraid.

I felt suddenly as though my spinal cord had snapped; my limbs wouldn’t move, and my bowels very literally turned to water.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 56, "While Still Alive". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Just the thought that Jamie was willing to kill Claire himself (!), rather than to let her be taken and maybe scalped, makes that one of the most bone-chilling moments in the whole book, in my opinion, and I wish they had included it.

The exhausted refugees make their way through the woods. Ian reports that there are no Mohawk scouts nearby, only Redcoats pretending to be Indians. Jamie makes a really stupid move at this point, if you ask me, deciding to leave Claire to take the refugees deeper into the woods while he and Ian try to draw the Redcoats away. In other words, he deliberately chooses to leave Claire and the other civilians defenseless and unprotected, something Book Jamie would never do. I didn't like that at all!

Just after Jamie leaves, Claire discovers that Mrs. Raven is missing, and goes off to look for her.

Meanwhile, in Scotland in 1980, Roger has come to Jem's school, to talk to the headmaster, Lionel Menzies, about the incident Jem described in Episode 705, "Singapore", where his teacher grabbed him by the ear and shook him as punishment for speaking Gàidhlig. This scene is actually a combination of two different scenes from the book.

The discussion of the use of Gàidhlig in the schools, and Jem copying his grandda's way of cursing, was well done, but I was disappointed to see that they toned down Roger's outrage over what happened, leaving out any mention of Jem's teacher suffering any consequences if it happens again.

“I object very much to my son’s teacher not only disciplining him for speaking Gaelic but actually assaulting him for doing so.”

“I share your concern, Mr. MacKenzie,” Menzies said, looking up and meeting his eyes in a way that made it seem as though he truly did. “I’ve had a wee word with Miss Glendenning, and I think it won’t happen again.”

Roger held his gaze for moment, wanting to say all sorts of things but realizing that Menzies was not responsible for most of them.

“If it does,” he said evenly, “I won’t come back with a shotgun--but I will come back with the sheriff. And a newspaper photographer, to document Miss Glendenning being taken off in handcuffs.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 29, "Conversation With a Headmaster". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

By combining this scene with the later one in ECHO chapter 34, "Psalms, 30", in which Menzies asks Roger to do a class in Gaelic for the kids at his school, they move the plot forward, but at the cost of leaving the situation with Jem's treatment at school unresolved, and I didn't care for that. To me, it made Roger look weak. He had a legitimate grievance, and the headmaster thoroughly distracted him with the talk about giving a class in Gaelic.

On the other hand, teaching the class will give Roger something to focus on, and that's a good thing.

In the next scene, we're in the woods somewhere on the road from Ticonderoga, and night is falling. Jamie hears a noise, spots a Redcoat soldier, and quickly kills the man with his dirk. I was startled by this, because it happened so quickly, but then I thought, this is war.

Meanwhile, Claire finds Mrs. Raven, sitting on the ground, rocking back and forth. "I'll never be safe," she says, then suddenly pulls out a pistol and shoots herself in the head. This is a change from the book, where she slit her own throat with a penknife (ECHO chapter 56), but it was certainly dramatic! As Claire crouches over the dead woman's body, she's seized from behind by Redcoat soldiers and dragged away.

Denzell Hunter finds Jamie and Ian and tells them that Claire is missing. Jamie appears to be armed only with a pistol, not a musket or rifle, and I thought that was strange. I also thought it was odd that Rollo is nowhere to be seen. Wouldn't he be able to pick up Claire's scent pretty easily? Still, they manage to deduce that Claire has been taken north, back to Fort Ticonderoga.

The idea that Claire was taken all the way back to the fort, which is some distance away, seems awfully contrived to me. In the book, Claire and the other refugees are simply herded into a nearby wheat field and held there by the British officers. I suppose the rationale was that they went to all that trouble to create an elaborate set for Fort Ticonderoga in last week's episode, so they re-used it rather than building a different set. It no doubt saved them a lot of money to do that, but it took me out of the story somewhat.

I loved the exchange between Claire and the guard, which is based on a bit from ECHO chapter 56:

"Sir, may I have some water?" The guard ignores her.
She steps closer and raises her voice. "Sir, we need water!" No response.
"May I at least go to the well and fetch some for the sick and injured?"
"Madam, my orders are that none of the prisoners are to leave this area."
"Then may I suggest that you or one of your men go get it! Or are your orders to let your prisoners die of thirst?"

This is a rare example of a situation where I like the dialogue here better than the book version. You can practically feel Claire's blood pressure rising.

Claire discovers Walter Woodcock, the black man whose leg was amputated in last week's episode, sitting on the ground nearby. I was glad to see this, actually, because this is where Claire met Walter in the book. Examining him now, Claire diagnoses him with a possible pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lungs. I liked the way Walter could tell just by looking at her that Claire was worried. Her "glass face" isn't always evident in the show.

In the next scene, which is not in the book, William reports to Captain Richardson, who is not at all pleased that William failed to complete the mission to deliver messages to three men in the Great Dismal Swamp. William tells him that he discovered these men are in fact rebels, not Loyalists.

I like Ben Lambert as Richardson. He may not have a bland, forgettable face, but I think he's doing a good job in this role so far.

Richardson tells William that the men he was sent into the Great Dismal to find are actually spies for the British. "And because of your misfortunes, that information [you were to deliver] did not reach them." William, mortified, tries to apologize, but Richardson waves it aside. "War is long," he says. "No doubt an opportunity for redemption will present itself." He dismisses William with a smile, advising him to "reacquaint yourself with your uniform."

So William screwed up, but nothing bad happened as a result. Still, Richardson definitely bears watching!

Back in the prisoners' encampment, conditions are deteriorating. They have hardly any food or water. Walter Woodcock's condition is growing much worse. I was startled, when he coughed, to see that he coughed into his elbow. It struck me as a very modern gesture, because (as far as I know) it's only in the 21st century that the practice of coughing or sneezing into your elbow became widespread. Walter is an 18th-century person who has never heard of germs. Why would he do that? Just to make it obvious that he was coughing up blood, by the bloodstains on his sleeve?

Claire goes to find the nearest British officer, who happens to be William. She insists that he must provide better care for the prisoners. William just stares at her in shock. This is the reverse of the way it's described in the book, where it's Claire who is dumbstruck by the sight of William:

The English officer was coming back toward the cabin, passing within a few feet of me. I glanced up, and my hands froze.

He was tall, slender but broad-shouldered, and I would have known that long stride, that unself-conscious grace, and that arrogant tilt of the head anywhere. He paused, frowning, and turned his head to survey the littered field. His nose was straight as a knife blade, just that tiny bit too long. I closed my eyes for an instant, dizzy, sure I was hallucinating--but opened them again at once, knowing that I wasn’t.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 56, "While Still Alive". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

William introduces himself and makes it clear that he remembers Claire. The rest of this scene is almost word for word from the book. I like the way that Claire stares at him throughout their conversation, as though unable to tear her gaze away.

The next scene, featuring Roger and Bree at Lallybroch, is based on ECHO chapter 34, "Psalms, 30". They are trying to understand what happened to Bree in the tunnel in last week's episode. What was the shimmering curtain-like "thing" in the tunnel? Not a time-portal, but perhaps something similar?

"Maybe the stone circles somehow interact with ley lines at certain locations to create a kind of...portal?" Bree suggests. That's pretty close to the explanation in the book:

What we suspect--your mother and I--and I must emphasize that we may easily be wrong in this supposition--is that ley lines do exist, that they are (or correlate with) lines of geomagnetic force, and that where they cross or converge you get a spot where this magnetic force is ... different, for lack of a better word. We think these convergences--or some of them--may be the places where it is possible for people who are sensitive to such forces (like pigeons, I suppose) to go from one time to another.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Ley Lines". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Suddenly Bree remembers that Roger is supposed to be doing his Gaelic class at the school, and Roger rushes to get ready. Bree hurriedly stuffs all the papers on the desk into Roger's bag -- including the little notebook, nicknamed the "Hitchhiker's Guide", after the Douglas Adams series, in which he's been writing down what they know about time-travel! That really can't be good At All.

Meanwhile, back in 1777, Jamie and Ian have made their way back to Fort Ticonderoga. Ian volunteers to go into the fort and try to rescue Claire. Jamie borrows Ian's bow and arrows to create a diversion.

In the prisoners' encampment, Claire is busy issuing orders to the other women. "We need to collect sticks to light fires for boiling water", she says. That struck me as odd, that she would think it necessary to tell these 18th-century women how to build a fire (!) It seemed really condescending to me. But just then the British soldiers return, with the long-awaited supplies.

"He said you'd be the curly-wig giving orders like a sergeant-major." Haha! I have always loved that line, from ECHO chapter 56, and I was delighted to see it here.

Meanwhile, back in the 20th century, Roger is giving his Gaelic lesson at Jem's school. He greets the audience with "Feasgar math!", which means "Good afternoon." Most of this scene comes straight from ECHO chapter 46, "Ley Lines", though it's condensed quite a bit.

He’d brought one volume of the [Carmina] Gadelica with him, and while he passed the ancient hymnal round the room, along with a booklet of waulking songs he’d put together, he read them one of the charms of the new moon, the Cud Chewing Charm, the Indigestion Spell, the Poem of the Beetle, and some bits from “The Speech of Birds.”

Columba went out
An early mild morning;
He saw a white swan,
“Guile, guile,”
Down on the strand,
“Guile, guile.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Ley Lines". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Back in the 18th century, Claire checks on her patient, Walter Woodcock. He's in very bad shape, too weak now to sit up. She helps him to drink a horrible-sounding concoction, claiming it will help to thin his blood.

"Whatever I drink, it won't likely change what's going to happen," Walter says. I agree. It seems clear that he's too far gone at that point for herbal remedies to do any good.

I liked the way Claire tried to get him to think of happier times, dancing with his wife. It reminded me of the way she spoke to Geordie, the man fatally wounded in the tynchal in OUTLANDER Episode 104, "The Gathering".

Meanwhile, after Roger's Gaelic class ends, Mr. Menzies invites him to do more of these classes on a regular basis. (Notice, as they're talking, Rob Cameron in the background, absorbed in a book.)

"I have been feeling a bit adrift lately." Yes, indeed, Roger, we noticed!

And then Rob Cameron comes up to Roger with a big smile on his face. (He reminds me of the quote from Hamlet Act I, Scene V, "That one may smile and smile and be a villain.") He hands back the copy of the "Hitchhiker's Guide."

“This was in with the Gaelic bits ye were handing round. It looked as though it was in there by mistake, though, so I took it out. Writing a novel, are ye?”

He handed out the black notebook, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide,” and Roger’s throat clenched as though he’d been garroted. He took the notebook, nodding speechlessly.

“Maybe ye’ll let me read it when it’s done,” Cameron said casually, putting his truck in gear. “I’m a great one for the science fiction.”

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46, "Ley Lines". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Yikes!! This is Not Good At All!

And before Roger can think of a way to put an end to this conversation, he finds himself inviting Rob Cameron to dinner (!) Uh-oh! Bree is really not going to like this.

The next scene switches back to Fort Ticonderoga. Walter Woodcock has died. This is a change from the books, where we never find out whether he survived or not. Meanwhile, Ian has arrived in the fort to rescue Claire. He tries unsuccessfully to avoid being spotted by William, but it's all right, William only wants to thank Ian for saving his life, and for the money.

Unfortunately, William is (as General Fraser said earlier) a very perceptive young man. He has realized that Ian and Claire are related, and therefore Ian must be there to help Claire escape. William offers to let Ian go, but without Claire.

"I'm not going anywhere, without her," Ian insists.
"The lady stays. She is a prisoner of His Majesty the King."

And just when it appears they have reached an impasse, fiery arrows begin flying through the air, courtesy of Jamie Fraser, who is firing from outside the fort.

Indian cries tore the air, coming from the far side of the road. Further frantic screams came from the captives, and I bit my own tongue in order not to scream, too. A tongue of fire shot up into the lavender sky from the top of the officers’ tent. As I gaped, two more flaming comets shot across the sky. It looked like the descent of the Holy Ghost, but before I could mention this interesting observation, Ian had seized my arm and jerked me nearly off my feet.

I managed to snatch up the canteen as we passed, on a dead run for the forest. Ian grabbed it from me, almost draggging me in his haste. Gunfire and screams were breaking out behind us, and the skin all down my back contracted in fear.

“This way.” I followed him without heed for anything underfoot, stumbling and twisting my ankles in the dusk as we threw ourselves headlong into the brush, expecting every moment to be shot in the back.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 61, "No Better Companion Than the Rifle". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

In the woods just outside the fort, Claire is reunited with Jamie. Jamie kisses her, and tastes brandy on her lips. He asks where she got it, and she tells him, "Your son. He gave it to me."

Jamie, Claire, and Ian eventually rejoin the Continental Army. Ian goes at once to find Rachel, and is reunited with Rollo. It's not clear when Rachel started looking after Ian's dog, but she gets along well with him, and that's a good sign. The dialogue in this scene between Ian and Rachel is not in the book, and I thought it was not very memorable. They do seem very happy to see one another, though, and that's the important thing.

In the next scene, Jamie encounters Col. Daniel Morgan, a real historical figure, who is impressed with Jamie's skill with a rifle. Morgan doesn't look anything like what I pictured, but he's a colorful character and I have a feeling we will see him again.

Later that night, in their tent, Jamie tells Claire that Morgan invited him to join his riflemen, and he said yes. General Gates is going to Saratoga, so the implication is that the Continental Army will proceed there next. Claire calls Saratoga "a turning point for the American cause." Her reaction to Jamie joining Morgan's men is taken from the book:

For my part, I was extremely pleased. By their nature, riflemen fought from a distance--and often a distance much greater than a musket’s range. They were also valuable, and commanders were not likely to risk them in close combat. No soldier was safe, but some occupations had a much higher rate of mortality--and while I accepted the fact that Jamie was a born gambler, I liked him to have the best odds possible.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 61, "No Better Companion Than the Rifle". Copyright © 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Most of this scene comes from ECHO chapter 57, "The Deserter Game". I loved it, but I have to wonder: in a scene that comes so close to the original text, why did they change "A woman is ... infinite possibility" to "A woman is ... possibility"? I was startled by that. What's wrong with the word "infinite"??

Still, I don't really mind. The whole scene is terrific, and a rare opportunity for us to see Jamie and Claire alone, just the two of them, having a private conversation. Given the conditions under which they're living these days, in army camps and so on, such moments are rare, and I cherish them.

Jamie asks Claire to tell him about William. I really like her description, which is not in the book:

"He's thoughtful, and observant. And he's stubborn. Clearly a man of honor. When he looked at me, I saw the same kindness in his eyes. But there's also a fire there, the fierceness of a Highlander under all those courtly manners."

This strikes me as a deliberate parallel to the scene in VOYAGER where Claire asks Jamie to tell her about young William.

“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.

“And yours,” I said.

(From VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 59, "In Which Much is Revealed". Copyright © 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

The juxtaposition of the two quotes is a vivid illustration of how much William has matured since Jamie last knew him. And he's still -- still -- Jamie's, even if he never knows it.

The final scene takes place at Lallybroch. Roger is alone in the kitchen when he sees a man peering through the window from outside. Could this be the Nuckelavee that the children have been talking about? Roger chases the man down, and it turns out to be none other than William Buccleigh ("Buck") MacKenzie, his many times great-grandfather, last seen in Season 5 at the Battle of Alamance, where Roger was hanged.

Roger punches Buck with all his strength, and 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 707.

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.


Linda in Nevada said...

In this episode, Claire doesn't call riflemen "sharpshooters", she calls them "snipers".

Anonymous said...

I've come to rely on your recaps, so thank you. I remember book William as being very arrogant and quite unlikable and ungrateful to Ian for saving his life. I recall a scene where he sees Rachel with her hair down, no cap, and has a crush on her. That's what makes her attraction to Ian so special - as a prim Quaker she's not interested in the rugged British officer but is attracted to the wild Mohawk. She sees Ian for who he really is. I think Roger is a bit of a wimp this season. Why would he invite Rob Cameron to dinner knowing what he did to Bree? but, of course, we need another villain now that Jack Randall is gone.

Anonymous said...

Love your recaps. Wish you would leave more of your own thoughts like you used to. I liked to see if you agreed with things I was thinking.

Karen Henry said...

I have been really happy with this season overall, so I haven't added that much commentary of my own. But I'll keep that in mind - thanks for the suggestion!


Sherry Campbell said...

I agree with 'Anonymous' about you adding your own thoughts. I do not always agree with your take on things, but enjoy the different perspectives. In the early seasons, your comments helped me to be a more discerning viewer. I now watch and think, "I know Karen will have something to say about that!" :)

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