by Crystal Fann
As a book reader, there are six scenes that occur in the books that are iconic …nay ESSENTIAL to the character of Jamie Fraser in my opinion; the Wedding, the separation on the eve of Culloden, the Print Shop, Jamie meeting Brianna- and to be spoiler sensitive- one that will occur later this season with Jamie, Claire, Brianna and the introduction of a new character ; and one that occurs in the 8th book that has Jamie writing a note with some very odd paper and ink. There are others that are important, but these six are to me essential for the character.
After seasons 1 & 2, I thought the show-runners got the importance of these scenes, then came the Print Shop. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the Print Shop save for one small moment-that of Jamie hearing that he daughter he sacrificed for was safe and well. In the book, he breaks down sobbing on Claire’s shoulder. As played in the show, it pretty much came across to me like “well thanks for the photos Claire, but guess what? I’ve got a son!” I wasn’t the only one peeved. When the backlash hit, Sam defending his portrayal by saying the he thought Jamie would feel more for Willie because he “knew” Willie didn’t help matters much. Ever since then I’ve had this nagging worry that the scenes I dream of seeing brought to life wouldn’t live up to the prose that created them.
Last week, with Roger & Brianna’s hand-fasting, another iconic scene, I relaxed a little bit…a very little bit. And if I’m being honest, I think I held my breath for the first twelve minutes of this week’s show, my stomach churning with worry that they would somehow mess with that precious father/daughter moment and how upset I would be if they did.
It was perfect.
Every breath of Jamie laying eyes on Brianna came straight from the pages. The portrayal of father and daughter meeting each other was exquisitely played. The rest of the show wasn’t too bad either.
I saw shades of her father in the way Brianna handled her rape, turning inside herself just as Jamie did after the assault by Blackjack.
Completely different from the book, I liked the Roger/Bonnet scene which explains Roger’s absence. The way Roger’s eyes narrow as he watches Bonnet indicates his intense dislike and I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened in the scene if Roger had an inkling what Bonnet had been up to the night before. Brianna’s heart breaks thinking that she has lost him forever due to her stubbornness, but Lizzie’s news sets her on another path.
Lizzie is growing on me too. Even though she’s as tall as Jamie for the most part, this young actress owns Lizzie’s naivete and her fierce devotion to Brianna. Her immediate crush on Ian had me chuckling. Sure, she makes a mistake that will later be part of breaking her mistresses’ heart, but she does it from a place of love and loyalty.
Then we get the moment, right down to Jamie pissing (although against a building instead of a tree in the book, but hey I’ll let them have this one).
I joked last night about seeing the snot cry that I’ve been so adamant should be Jamie’s response but in all honestly, I didn’t. It wasn’t about the snot anyway, not really. It was about doing justice to that moment when Jamie sees the love between him and Claire made whole. It was about Jamie seeing the child he thought he would only ever see in his imagination standing before him and recognizing himself in her in a way that made denial impossible.
And it wasn’t just Jamie meeting his daughter that wrung a few tears from my eyes. Claire’s face- a study of shock and disbelief that morphed with trembling fingers touching her daughter’s face into the most profound joy.
Ian was fabulous as always, especially with his quip that lets us know right quick that things about his “auntie Claire” haven’t gone unnoticed. Too bad he wasn’t that observant to Lizzie fawning all over him but I guess its excusable because Rollo is a very handsome dog.
There were differences in the book; Brianna telling her mother about the hand-fasting (sorry Diana, but I never found it believable she kept this tidbit to herself) and her belief that Roger is lost to her forever, Ian and her conversation about Bonnet, meeting Murtaugh and the “call me Da” moment were all show creations, but you know what? When you keep the soul of the story, all the little details seem to fall into place, somehow seeming better than in the original incarnation.
I think my favorite moments – Jamie seeing Brianna smile in her sleep just like him and his gushing to Claire that “she called me Da”, weren’t in the books at all but feeding of that singular perfect moment only wove the story tighter.
Jamie can’t look at his daughter without the grin tickling his lips, he’s besotted. Murtaugh’s right, he’s had a lot of pain and no one deserves to have his daughter more than Jamie Fraser. Brianna’s learning what a true loving couple looks like by watching her parents. Sure, she feels disloyal to Frank, but to realize she came from and is part of such deep love is slowly wooing her. The scenes on the Ridge punctuated with Bear McCready’s “Ridge theme” were a feast for the eyes, right down to the “still”.
Even the not so endearing moments flowed from that perfect core. Brianna telling Claire that Frank knew she came back is a show creation, but a good one (seriously, you could see Claire thinking, “that son of a bitch!” it was all over her face).
Like any good mother, Claire can tell something is wrong with Bree (wasn’t the stuff about her name adorable) but thinks it’s all Roger related. Brianna is wrong though, and we see Roger thinking only of her in taking a stone in payment for his time aboard the Gloriana.
I honestly liked the Jamie/Roger confrontation in the show much better than the book. Jamie Fraser is nothing if not a fair man and his beating of Roger in the book always seemed a little cold-blooded to me. Just like Claire’s emotions at finding out her daughter has been raped run much truer to me in video than in prose not to mention I guess mothers find things doing their kids laundry just like they do today.
THIS is what a good adaption looks like. The soul of the story is kept true with iconic moments like heartbeats along the way. Sometimes the blood flows like you would expect it to, but sometimes, it takes a vein you didn’t notice, but as long as the heartbeat stays strong and true it all flows together…