Well, last night was a fabulous beginning and to honor that we are starting a new beginning of our own….the Sassenach Sisterhood blog!! Anyone can participate as long as the blog is about the world of Outlander. If you’d like to participate, just DM me.…but for now, here is the inaugural installment:
The Battle joined….and won!
“He was dead. However, his nose throbbed painfully, which he thought odd in the circumstances.”
The opening line of the novel Voyager, one of the greatest first lines of a novel, so it was rather fitting I thought, that the first episode of Voyager is one of the best season opening episodes ever!
Jamie, bordering between life and death, his fractured memories giving us glimpses of the hell he has just lived through. Each breath he takes is a struggle through grief and pain. The roar of a cannon, the clang of sword and the column of Highlanders falling under British shot, a visual memorial to the tragedy of Culloden. The seconds after Claire was lost to him forever, a final savoring of her scent before surrendering to his fate. Bonnie Prince Charlie being his usual ineffectual self as Jamie steels himself for battle. The shattered soul behind the blue eyes and the touch of his tongue to a drop of snow to taste its moisture – small movements that spoke volumes. Sam Heughan uttered about 10 lines in last night’s episode, but it was one of his most amazing performances.
We see Murtaugh who falls beside him, their last moments together short and bittersweet, but true to the core of the characters, soldiers to the end. Murtaugh’s final words told Jamie his mission was accomplished – Claire was safe, the men of Lallybroch were safe and with a nod at the man who had been more father than friend, Jamie surged back to battle seeking the relief of death.
Time freezes at the sight of BlackJack, who like Claire holds a piece of Jamie’s soul. Where Claire is his light and hope, Blackjack is Jamie’s shadow – always existing but kept pushed back to the place where darkness dwells in good men. Their last moments together were a dance, macabre to be sure, but an almost sensual dance toward death. Jamie thinking his thigh wound will be fatal, BlackJack knowing his stomach wound to be the same, yet they stay on their feet, dead men fighting, never relenting to end the battle that has always raged between them.
It is a beautiful irony that the man who always craved Jamie’s demise was the one who ultimately saves him. In death, BlackJack was the hero he could never be in life, his body hid our Laird and kept him from freezing and bleeding to his end.
Rupert who had always existed in the humorous background showing in the last hours of his life that he would have been as good if not a better a war chief than his beloved Dougal. His appeal for the two that were more children than men and his strength of character to show forgiveness, reveal the character beneath the cockiness. “I mean to set a quick pace, so try to keep up,” – a smart-ass to the end, Slàn leat, a Ràibeirt, farewell Rupert we’ll miss you!
We met Hal, Lord Melton (another perfect casting) and watch the moment when he realizes he must make the impossible choice between honor and duty. Jamie however, just wants to be shot. I don’t know about you, but I always found the exchange between Jamie and Hal in the book rather funny.
“Either shoot me or go away”
“John promised to kill me, but I dinna mind if you do it for him”
“I don’t want to go home, I want to be shot”
Even with the visual savagery I still managed a chuckle. Hal gives us a glimpse of the code of honor to which the Gray men are bound and Jamie doesn’t get his way. We get fevered glimpses of the journey home, Red Jamie the traitor spirited away in secret with the haze of burning dead settling about the wagon like a fog.
“Am I dead,” Jamie asks after a look at his bloodied hand.
“You’re home at Lallybroch,” Jenny tells him, teetering between worry and joy.
We see Jamie’s lips move, the whispered name of his home seeming to buoy him and we get a final distant shot of Jamie finding the strength of embrace his sister, to embrace the hope of life after he so longed for death.
Despite all the blood and agony of the past, the moments that moved me most in this episode came from Claire. She gave the expected smiles and actions – cook, clean, raise the kids, look pretty when you meet the boss – but her eyes are haunted from always trying to look to the past. Her moments of comfort – cooking over an open fire in the fireplace and watching a small brown bird at play – only serve to increase her melancholy. Her desire to become an American citizen and distance herself from anything British, even the tea– the entity that stole Jamie from her – is met with scorn from a husband who’s given his life to the Union Jack. (Thanks, Theresa!)
Yet, we still see a spark of the Claire we know when she is faced with the misogyny of the 40’s male. Her argument with the doctor over being drugged during childbirth is lost, but against Frank’s colleague Claire triumphs with the spark that will send our heroine off to medical school.
And speaking of childbirth, who else felt a stab in the heart harkening back to “Faith” when Claire frantically asks “where is my baby”. Terror quickly turns to joy as Frank appears cradling the daughter he will claim as his own. The birth of a baby gives hope that all can be well between them – a new beginning – but a tuft of red hair foreshadows that the past will reign.
Ronald Moore wrote this episode and as usual his genius both adapts and honors the source material. Bear McCreary’s soundtrack was haunting and highlighted the desolation and pain of both characters. Terry Dresbach was perfection – Claire’s clothes were beautiful, but looked alien on her reminding us all that although Claire is in her own time, she doesn’t belong there. The sets were breathtaking – a credit to Jon Gary Steele – and watched in HD I felt as though I could reach out and grab a clump of grass just as Jamie did, although I probably wouldn’t suffocate anyone with it.
It was a long Droughlander and I remember once early on, Maril Davis said the wait would be worth it.
She was right.