by Crystal Fann
Why is it every time I see Gellis Duncan the Rick James song Superfreak plays in my head. I’m not just talking about when she emerges from a bloodbath writhing about like the Goddess Diana bloodied from the hunt – even way back when Claire first came across the fellow time-traveler in the gardens of Leoch – the sight of Gellis makes my skin itch.
The word “Bakra” simply means “white person, especially one from Britain”. Not a very threatening word at it’s core, but when said by the pirates she commands or the prisoners she keeps, the word holds a sense of foreboding. Gellis as a simple fiscal’s wife casting spells and killing husbands was bad enough. Wealthy, steeped in the world of voodoo, and still working for a cause now twenty years dead, Gellis has become terrifyingly evil.
Locked in the dungeon with the survivors of Gellis’ virgin captives (its seems that Claire isn’t the only one that’s discovered the merits of bedding virgins) young Ian is introduced to the terror by way of lost boys. By the time he sees the Bakra emerging from her literal blood bath- he figures he’s on his way to finding out what happened to the missing lot – the hard way. Young Ian’s lucky though, he knows the whereabouts of the missing sapphire and the mention of his Uncle Jamie gives Gellis pause – at least where killing young Ian is concerned.
Speaking of Jamie, he and Claire finally make it to Jamaica. Straight off the ship they meet one of Jared’s men who assists them on their quest and issues an invite to the night’s Governor’s ball. But as nice as Mr. McIver is, he also introduces Jamie and Claire to one of the seedier aspects of the island paradise – the slave trade, an introduction which sadly needed to find young Ian.
I have to give the writers and director kudos in handling the detestable concept of slavery – a necessary evil in portraying the times. They showed the horror of captivity in the abashed faces of children huddled together behind bars and the steam of a brand being pressed to skin. Claire’s face perfectly expresses the disdain we all feel for the heritage we all share on some level and her attack on the slave-traders with a parasol is a blow we all wish we could issue. Having Claire end up a slave owner is an ironic twist of fate, but the gentleness and dignity with which Jamie and Claire treat Temeraire gain them not only his help but his respect as well. Jamie defers to Claire’s wisdom in these matters simply because she knows that it will take another 100 years for all men to be treated equal- at least on paper.
Then it’s off to the ball we go. Now, let me take a minute here and talk about one of the more important aspects of any ball – the clothes. You’re not mistaken if you think you recognized the clothing the Fraser party wears as some that have seen days in Paris. Terry Dresbach as well as being a phenomenal artist and designer is a historian as well. In the 1700’s there wasn’t a Neiman Marcus to run to every time you needed a party dress, you used what you had, reconfiguring it for the occasion. It’s a theme we’ve seen in the costume design since season one – back then clothes lasted a lifetime, perhaps two. It’s a historical accuracy I’m glad to see honored. Wearing old clothes doesn’t seem to bother Jamie and Claire though – and even though they aren’t as obvious as new lovers Fergus and Marsali, their eye sex while standing in line to meet the governor was as hot as anything skin to skin.
There’s a few other old things at the ball other than clothing. The Campbells, Gellis who shows up slinking about like a cat stalking its prey…and lo and behold – Lord John. Speaking of eye sex…. Lord John literally eats Jamie up with his eyes – Jamie’s stare is that of a hopeful father, starved for word of his son. Claire, however, gets the prize – her “WTF” expressions as she watches the interplay between the two men is in equal parts worrisome and hilarious.
In the book, Lord John suffers a bit of jealousy in meeting the woman who has what he most covets. Finding out Claire knows about Willie’s history is both shocking and saddening for it tells Lord John that Claire does own all of Jamie’s heart and soul. Rather than acting petty though, TV Lord John loves Jamie enough to want his happiness – even if it isn’t with him and is gracious and friendly to the wife. Claire, although she doesn’t mention it, knows what loving Jamie looks like. I wonder what she’ll do now that she has the knowledge that the Governor of Jamaica loves her husband as she does. Hmmmmm….
The ball is in full swing when Claire sees a ghost of her own. Gellis is indeed alive and well and as rancorous as ever. Her escape after giving birth to a child as warm as his father’s balls (I’ll admit it – I loved that line) and watching her own execution is something we would expect of the witch. Throughout the conversation, we know Gellis is playing Claire like a fiddle – and well. Through the “truth-tea,” Gellis knows Jamie has the sapphire she needs and for a split second she thinks it’s Claire’s bauble before realizing it’s Lord John who wears that token of affection. He tries to play off his love of the stone, but seriously, raise your hand if you think Lord John sleeps with it as well as wear it all the time.
After nearly snatching Lord John’s pants off to get her hands on the blue rock, we finally figure out what Gellis is after – a prophecy of the Braham Seer regarding the rule of Scotland. With the three stones in hand, Margaret delivers and what a prophecy it is. A baby, 200 years old at birth must be cut down before a Scot will wear the crown. We all know who the prophecy speaks of – Gellis hasn’t’ figured it out yet, but don’t worry she will. I have to say as well, that I like the handling of the prophecy in the TV show far better than I do the one in the books. It makes more sense for what comes next. We see Margaret Campbell shaken after delivering the divination she knows will yield death, but don’t worry I have a feeling that Ye Tien Cho will take care of Margaret. I personally am shipping the hell out of that pairing…MarCho or YeMar…which do you think?
Jamie and Claire don’t’ have time to puzzle long about the odd-acting Gellis, save Jamie’s “I told you so” to Claire about her wickedness. Captain Leonard arrives, and our couple are forced to make a hasty retreat, but not before Temeraire clues them in on the fact that Gellis is a deceptive as always. The Frasers set off to Rose Hall, stopping just long enough to set Temeraire free to join other free slaves in the hills of Jamaica. Jamie and Claire shouldn’t have paused to discuss their plan of action because it gave that bastardly Captain Leonard just enough time to swoop in and capture his prisoner. Jamie has just enough time to hand off the portraits of the children to Claire for safekeeping (really, it’s so Gellis can get her hands on them) before being taken away – yelling to Claire to continue and find young Ian.
Now, this brings me to a part that I really want to discuss. I’ve seen a lot of comments from unhappy souls that think Jamie has been reduced to a supporting character in the feminist written “Claire show”. Some feel that Jamie’s capture is just a plot device so that Claire can play the superhero, find young Ian alone, smote, Gellis, rescue Jamie and save the day. I got two words for all of you that are worried about this…. clothes change.
If you watched next week’s preview you should have noticed that Claire is meeting with Gillis, not in her ball gown, but in her Kate Hepburn look. Somewhere Claire has found time to go back to their lodgings and change before running off to rescue young Ian while Jamie rots in jail.
The thing about writing fiction – a TV show specifically is that you have set-up and pay-off. Having Jamie arrested at the end of the show is a simple cliff-hanger that will make people tune in again and the set-up for his release has already played out. What was the set-up for all this? It was Claire recognizing Lord John’s love for her husband, a love she will use to have Jamie set free so that they can go rescue young Ian together.
It Jamie just a supporting player? Absolutely not! Sure, Jamie yields to Claire’s wisdom at times, not because she wears the pants in the family, but because he’s wise enough to recognize that by the virtue of coming from the future, Claire does know more than he does at times. Does it make him weak? Far from it! Jamie Fraser is as out of his time as Claire is hers. He’s a 17th-century male who looks at his wife with respect and admiration, letting her have a voice in a time when women were little more the decorative property – and that makes Jamie more of a hero to me than anything he could ever do with a sword!