I don’t know a writer alive who doesn’t hate transitional scenes. Stephen King calls them the real monsters of the universe, George R. R. Martin avoids them at all costs and even Diana Gabaldon herself has called them treacherous. I’d rather walk through a pit of snakes to write one myself – and everybody that knows me knows what a statement that is…I HATE snakes! Transitional scenes are the plot points that move us to the dramatic beats of a story. In a good writers’ hands, transitional scenes can be as good as any other part of the story. In a bad writer’s hands, they are well…bad.
Last night’s Outlander was a transitional point in the story – and a fairly good one at that. For Jamie and Claire, it transitioned them out of the peaceful, intimate cocoon of their reunion night and slung them back into the real world. If the episode A. Malcolm echoed the Wedding episode, then Crème de Menthe contained shadows of Both Sides Now, complete with a near rape for Claire.
Just like in Both Sides Now, Jamie and Claire emerge from the world of shared kisses protected by the blanket of the night into the harsh reality of responsibilities and the reminder that Claire is now in a violent world where she is considered guilty just because she’s a woman. Claire’s different this time though, she’s still rattled after the near-rape, but she’s a surgeon now, trained to take her trauma and focus in toward something useful – even if that useful is to help the man that tried to rape and kill her. Jamie is different too, his mercy tampered by years of heartbreak, war, prison, and indenture. Although he concedes to Claire’s healing instinct, his disregard for the man’s life rattles their new-found reunion. When the man is lost – Claire yearns for the modern technology that would have saved his life and doubts her return, both for Jamie and herself. On a side note, I am loving this incarnation of Mr. Willoughly and his obvious respect for the woman that has the regard to call him by his real name.
I’ve seen some describe Claire as bitchy and snippy this episode, but if you recall in Both Sides Now she was much the same way – a side effect of internalizing the trauma. Jamie is different too, still holding onto to secrets and the fear that Claire will decide not to stay which makes him over-protective and cautious. His words about her return were heartfelt and romantic but cut short when Claire fell under the sway of a calling almost as strong as her love for Jamie – her need to heal.
We meet Margaret Campbell, although her brother is more a charlatan than a minister in this adaption. That’s okay, it’s Margaret that’s the important one here and her words as she touches Claire’s hands…tree frogs…blood moon and Abandon we…. which I wonder is just Margaret’s mispronunciation of Abandawe. Is she a true seer….we will just have to wait and see.
Back at the brothel, Claire’s need to leave the whorehouse insinuates to Jamie that she cannot cope with the life he leads now, while Jamie’s reluctance to leave speaks to Claire of the change she sees and fears in him. When Claire watches him lie to Ian’s face – and who didn’t love the older Ian and his reunion with Claire – it’s too much, leading to harsh words and the precipice of a fight that’s not only overdue, but much needed. Her comments to Jamie about parenthood weren’t meant to hurt, but came from her core and the constant worry and regret at leaving Brianna behind. While last week we saw Jamie’s joy at learning of his daughter, the week we see his anger at not being a part of her life. While he admitted to never loving another, he needs the same from Claire – and gets it, but the conversation is cut short due to someone yelling fire – literally.
The print shop is ablaze and while Jamie may be older, he’s still fairly spry and rescues Ian without incident – save the fact that now due to Sir Percival’s machinations Jamie is a wanted man, not for smuggling but for the worse crimes of sedition and treason forcing him to leave Edinburgh. Just like Red Jamie, the Dunbonnet, Mack Dubh, and Alex Mackenzie, this incarnation of Jamie Fraser has come to an end. Illuminated by the flames we see Jamie mourn Alexander Malcolm as the print shop dies a fiery death. There’s something else echoed in Jamie’s expression though, worry due to Claire insisting they take young Ian home to Lallybroch. Thanks to Fergus we learn why – Jamie has another wife!
In a brighter spot in the episode, I am completely in love with older Fergus and Young Ian. I rewound and watched – laughing every time – the scene of Fergus schooling young Ian in the ways of wooing a woman – and he should know after losing his virginity in a ménage à trois. Tell her she’s beautiful and buy her a drink …and repeat. Flattery and getting her drunk might not get Ian true love, but it does get him the deflowering romp he seeks. On a more serious note, the loyalty and love both young men have for Jamie tell us that while he might not have gotten to raise his own child, Jamie did raise others and he did it well.
Now I want to discuss something that if you haven’t read the books you might not want to read….I’m going to talk about the preview.
In very short clips we see the distance between Jenny and Claire – two women that used to count each other as a sister. Who can blame Jenny – she saw the devastation Jamie suffered at Claire’s loss. We also see Jamie confess his secret to Claire – a departure from the book and one which I like. Caitronia Balfe said in the fight scenes that follow Sam threw her across the floor. The Reckoning (excuse the pun) of the reveal of Jamie’s other wife will cause a doozie of a fight, and everyone knows after a doozie of a fight with these two, we always get a doozie of a make-up.
That last scene on the cliff isn’t, I don’t think, due to the other wife. I suspect its simply the bequeathing to Claire a scene that belongs to Jamie in the book. While Jamie thinks God was punishing him for wanting Claire in the pages of Voyager – I suspect Claire will think she and Jamie don’t belong together because of all the bad that has befallen him since her return. Dinna fash though…. although I’m not a seer like Margaret Campbell, to echo Jamie’s words to his brother in law, it will all be well!