I was sitting at my desk absorbed in a project. I was in the zone, everything around me had faded away, and yet, apparently, something was niggling at my subconscious because suddenly I became aware that my radio was much too loud. No, the volume hadn’t suddenly increased, it was just a case that what had been bothering me all along came forcefully to the forefront of my mind, knocked on the door and said “hey, you need to fix that.”
I loved “The Battle Joined,” I did, but I had the same experience after I watched the hospital scene, something was niggling at me, something about Claire’s reaction to Brianna’s birth and her reaction to Frank, something wasn’t quite “right.” At the time I couldn’t have told you what it was. It took a few days of subconscious and conscious mulling before I “heard the music.” And here’s the thing – except for the nurse’s comment summoning Jamie’s shade as a source of conflict – Jamie wasn’t in the room.
Every mother knows when you first hold your new baby it’s a magical moment, you’re looking for and exclaiming over those things you recognize in your newborn. “He has my father’s eyes,” or “she has your chin,” and we never got that from Claire. We never got that moment of acknowledgment or recognition that Jamie was there, both in spirit and in the flesh of his daughter and I for one, missed it. Cait is such a talented actress that even with Frank in the room, she could have done it – a stroke of that red hair and a look of profound bitter-sweetness, a single tear and we would have again heard Jamie’s words “this child, this one, is all that will be left of me, ever” and with that, he would have been there in that room.
Apparently I am not the only one because this very thing was discussed on the Outlander Purgatory podcast review for S3E1. Based on their comments and my own thoughts I’ve scripted the same scene the way I would like to have seen it portrayed. Just a few minor changes but it makes a big impact.
Private Boston hospital room – Claire is coming out of anesthesia and a nurse is also in the room, her back is to Claire, she is busy with some activity behind her.
CLAIRE: My baby… (Fear starts to set in.)
NURSE: (turning towards her) – Ah, Mrs. Randall, you’re awake.
CLAIRE: My baby… Where’s my baby? WHERE’S MY BABY? (A note of hysteria starts to creep into her voice.) IS IT DEAD?
NURSE: No, no Mrs. Randall, she’s right here. (And turns pick up Brianna, revealing a metal hospital baby bassinet behind her.)
CLAIRE: (looking relieved) She? It’s a….
NURSE: Yes, Mrs. Randall, it’s a girl (placing Brianna in Claire’s arms), a healthy baby girl.
CLAIRE: (Stares into her daughters face, breathless) I can’t believe she’s
real… (Softly) She’s real.
NURSE (Smiles, a bit puzzled by that comment) I’ll go and let your husband know that you’re awake. (But Claire doesn’t respond, she has eyes only for her baby.)
CLAIRE: (Softly) Oh Jamie, Jamie, you have a daughter. (Claire is stroking Brianna’s hair, a look of tenderness and sorrow on her face, tears are flowing,) Jamie, she’s beautiful, she has your hair….
At this moment Frank enters, a look of concern on his face-
FRANK: (walking to her bedside) Claire, Claire, are you alright? I was so worried Claire. (Claire looks up and turns to face him and he gets his first sight of Brianna’s face and stares, entranced) Is it a boy or a girl?
CLAIRE: (The sorrow is hidden, a look of sweetness is on her face,) It’s a girl Frank, a healthy baby girl.
FRANK: (Still not looking away from Brianna’s face) Oh Claire, she’s perfect, just perfect, may I hold her?
CLAIRE gives Bree to Frank who gently strokes her hands and face.
FRANK: (Breathless, looks at Claire, completely smitten with this new child) We have a daughter, I can’t believe it, she’s beautiful….. Just like her mother.
Claire is moved by his reaction and ready acceptance of another man’s child, she smiles up at him through her tears, Frank smiles back at her.
CLAIRE: Frank, I’ve been so…horrid… (looks away, embarrassed)
FRANK: (Sitting down on the edge of the bed with Bree in his arms) No—no—no.(reaches out for Claire’s hand) Forget all that. This is all that matters. (Looks at Brianna) This is the only thing in all the world that truly matters now.
Frank kisses her gently on the forehead. She puts a hand to his cheek and there’s a heartfelt happy moment in this new family.
FRANK: It’s going to be all right.
CLAIRE: Maybe this… can really be a new beginning…for all of us.
FRANK: Yes Claire, let’s make it so.
The three of them hold their embrace for a blissful moment. The nurse re-enters the room and looks over at then with a smile.
NURSE: What a beautiful little angel. (beat) So where’d she get the red hair?
And just like that, reality descends once more.
What you see in this version is that Claire has a more natural response to her baby and most importantly it brings Jamie’s presence into the space. By doing this, Claire’s motivation to reconcile with Frank is not driven by Brianna’s birth but rather by Frank’s unhesitating acceptance of Jamie’s daughter as his own. She doesn’t suddenly warm to Frank, she warms to the fact that Frank loves Jamie’s child. In changing Claire’s motivation it echo’s Jamie’s line in S2E13, “You must go to a safe place, to a man that can take care of you both, back to Frank.”
Most importantly it restates the message that, where Claire (and we) are concerned, it’s not about Frank, it’s always about Jamie.