Was it worth it…

by Crystal Fann

I had a really hard time with the blog this week and it took me some time to finally understood why.  I was in mourning.   Not that “Man of Worth” wasn’t a good show, it was, but there were things missing, not just from the book but from the show in general that are lost forever.   But before we get into talking about what was missing – let’s talk about what was there, specifically our “men of worth”.

 

Ian…

As a book reader, I knew what was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier when Ian clued his Uncle Jamie in on the decision that he would be the one to stay behind so Roger could go free.  In the book, Ian has found love with a Mohawk maiden named Emily.  Not so in the show and it made his sacrifice all the more heartbreaking.  Ian is a romantic at heart and his decision was made to save the heartbreak of separation for Jamie and Claire who he has come to love like parents and for Brianna and Roger, a cousin he has come to cherish and a man whose trials were in no small part to Ian machinations. The moment of goodbye between Ian and Jamie brought tears to my eyes, but that was the ONLY good part about the scene.  After spending countless minutes on the made-up Mohawk dissenters, Ian’s decision to change his life forever was done in less time than a Tom Brady Superbowl huddle.  In fact, that’s what it reminded me of when Ian laid out the plan amidst a huddle of Mohawk and break, so quarterback Ian laid out his plan to the rest of the players, namely Jamie, Claire, and Roger. Still, the moment of goodbye was emotional and one of the best parts of the episode.  I also loved that the showed Ian’s travel through the gauntlet, earning himself a place with the Mohawk.  The boy made it through not with strength or brawn, but by well by just being Ian and it was perfect.  We’ll miss you young Ian, hurry back soon!

 

Roger…

I’m going to be honest with you …. even in the book, I never bought that Roger had to “think about” returning to Bree.  Personally, in my opinion, if a man loved a woman enough to chase her to the past, he’d love her enough to stay there with her without having to think about it.  The writers tried valiantly to explain it to the audience with the Priest scenes from last week and the way that made Bonnet overtly distasteful to Roger, but it still fell flat and I’m at least glad they had both Claire and Jamie confront his wishy-washiness with anger.   “This is our daughter,” Claire says echoing Jamie’s harsh words that Brianna doesn’t need a coward.  Jamie and Claire have known heartbreak and even though Jamie knows his daughter will hate him forever, he’d rather risk that than have Roger break her heart.

Roger comes meandering to River Run and shows himself a man of worth and after a “Little House on the Prairie” run (the cheesiest moment ever on Outlander) to each other that had about as much chemistry as Little House’s Mr. and Mrs. Oleson, the separated lovers reunite, and Roger asks to see his son.

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My problem with declaring Roger a man of worth in this episode was the lack of emotion when he finally got what he went through hell for…Brianna in his arms again.  I don’t know what happened…. maybe Sophie ate Rik’s snacks and he was mad at her, but their reunion had me missing the Brianna and Lord John scenes from last week that just oozed with chemistry.   Like her parents, Brianna is supposed to have a love not bound by the hands of time-but when Roger exhibits more emotion throwing a barrel on whiskey on a burning priest than finally reuniting with Brianna, well it’s not a good thing.

 

Murtaugh…

Yes, I’m adding Murtaugh into the list of “men of worth” because, at the very least from the look on Jocasta’s face, she absolutely thought the silver fox qualifies.   I’ve heard a lot of feedback from this hook-up and while some hated it, I for one absolutely loved it (and have been predicting it would happen since way before the season even began).  Please allow me to add just a small note of wisdom to the many comments that took the tone of “yuck, they’re old” and “they’re too old to be doing that”.  Yes, people over fifty have sex and believe it or not, it’s rather good sex, mainly because you’re finally old enough to know what works and what doesn’t.  So, in the sage advice of an old idiom…don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!   I can’t wait to see what happens next for this pair and I hope the perennial bachelor as found love at last.

 

Finally…. Jamie.

The man who has shown us time and time again that he is a man of worth.  There was a lot to love about Jamie in this episode.  His determination to keep his word to his daughter conjuring a decision that would take him from the side of the one he loves the most.

“He’s alive, Lass,” words were spoken hastily so that Brianna would know that her father had kept his word, even though he came back empty-handed.

The problem is…there was so much missing that affected Jamie’s story.  Yes, I’m one of the ones heartbroken…and more than a little pissed…at the fact that we didn’t get the birth scene from the book.   That scene is far more than bringing a child into the world, it’s about forgiveness and the forming of an unbreakable bond between father and daughter.  Like a death, that moment is gone and can never return.   A friend suggested a Bobby Ewing type scenario to fix the situation that I liked.   At the beginning of season 5, Jamie takes out his sword and runs Murtaugh through following the governor’s order, and Brianna walks in with Roger only to have the latter state “I’m outta here!”.  Brianna can then wake up screaming, only to realize that the last bit of episode 413 was only a nightmare and Brianna goes into labor just as her parents arrive home. (Note:  Outlander writers please feel free to use this scenario free of charge).

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If only the show would have had Jamie and Brianna hug or Jamie touch his new grandson, perhaps it wouldn’t’ have been quite as upsetting.  But at seasons end there is still a distance between father and daughter that will take who knows how long to heal.   In the books, after the reunion in season four, Jamie and his daughter never have a cross word again…something I feel won’t be the case on the show.

And another thing….  can I just say how utterly stupid that cliffhanger was?   Anybody in their right mind knows Jamie isn’t going to arrest or hurt Murtaugh!  Ridiculous!   If that wanted us on the edge of our seats, they should have had the British arrest Murtaugh, leaving us wondering to the man’s fate.

Part of the reason I waited so long to do the blog was that I wanted to see the feedback and to my surprise, most people, while maybe not agreeing on specifics, agreed that the finale was lacking as was the whole of season four.  It’s sad, but while Drums of Autumn ranks as my favorite Outlander book, the season ranks as my least favorite show-wise.  There were fabulous moments to be sure, and if you’ll notice those near perfect moments came straight from the pages of the book and not some “what if” scenario tossed out the head writer.

I’ve never understood the mindset of TV writers adapting a book or TV or movie.  “We have to write for the TV viewers as well as the book readers.”  Um no you don’t.  You write and adapt for the book readers who know the material and find joy in favorite scenes come to life – we don’t need no surprises.  TV readers don’t know the difference in something from the book or something created for their benefit alone.

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Toni Graphia is starting to worry me and with the plethora of #firetonigraphia and #whatifwefiretonigraphia on social media, I don’t think I’m the only one. Not only was season four the less well adapted and written under her charge, but Ms. Graphia had her hand in another show that I loved, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and was rumored to be dismissed due to the actors not liking their character direction.   I couldn’t help but think of this with Sam  and Caits recent comments on wanting more character control.  Now don’t get me wrong, Toni has had a hand in some of my favorite Outlander episodes, but I wish she’d realize that her “what-if’s” aren’t needed.    Her comments on how she sees the family relationships still strained going into season five don’t bode well for the harmony of Fraser’s Ridge.

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I do have hope though, Outlander is a show that listens to its fans.  The beautiful moment of Jamie meeting his daughter didn’t have a breath that strayed from the book, in no small part due to fans outcry of disappointment over the portrayal of Jamie learning he had a daughter in last year’s print shop episode.  Hopefully, with season five still not in production, the producers and writers will take heed again and finally realize that it’s not the setting or the action that bring us back again and again to Outlander, it’s the relationships between the characters, something that should never be rewritten.

 

**Special note:  Thanks to Outlander Online for the fabulous screenshots used in the blog!

The Amalgamation of Ian

by Cynthia Gentit

“Costumes tell a story,” lead Outlander costume designer Terry Dresbach has said it over and over, costumes tell a story – or at least they should.  We’ve already discussed Roger’s costume story in a previous blog and now it’s Ian’s turn and let me tell you, Ian’s season 4 costume story is a mighty complex one – Cultural Amalgamation.

Ian’s story is not the typical European meets American Indian tale.  That’s usually Acculturation – one culture eliminating the culture of another but Amalgamation is the blending that comes when two cultures contact and connect with one another.

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Think of it as a cultural fender bender, it’s contact that doesn’t permanently damage either car – but there’s going to be some paint transfer….on both sides.

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So let’s take a good look at wee Ian, shall we?  If you do you’ll see several differences between where we began in episode 401 and where we will end in ep. 413 (which as of this writing hasn’t aired yet.)

What you’re seeing, visually, is Cultural Amalgamation, paint transfer if you will and it’s been going on all season – and not just with Ian.

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Our introduction to the “story” is in ep 402 we meet John Quincy Meyers, frontier man, and we get our first taste of amalgamation, “paint transfer” from Cherokee culture to European.  Here we see him wearing a neck knife in a sheath decorated in dyed porcupine quills, possibly also beaded and obviously American Indian.   We also see the necklace above the sheath made of animal teeth, bone and probably hand bored beads made out of shell.   It makes for quite the funky lanyard.

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After meeting the Cherokee in episode 405, Ian is awol from several episodes, supposedly out hunting and visiting with the local Cherokee.  It’s not until ep. 409 that Ian returns to the screen and we see this emerging amalgamation.   So, let’s break it down, shall we?

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Ian now has a neck knife, it’s a plain leather sheath, holding a short knife with a wooden handle.  (This is not a new sheath for Ian’s pre-existing knife, this is a second, shorter knife worn Cherokee fashion.)  It’s also Cherokee → European Amalgamation.

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Here’s a little background on neck knives.  Shortly after the Europeans arrived in the early 1600s they realized that there was money to be made trading cheap goods for valuable furs.  One of the standard trade items were metal knives of assorted sizes.  Most of these were sold with a cheap wood handle (like Ian’s.)   The Cherokee and other tribes quickly adopted neck sheaths to keep these short all-purpose knives handy.  These became objects of art as well as function as the tribes decorated them with quill art or beading personalized to the owner, tribe or clan.  You can so some of the patterns and symbols in the examples above.

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Here’s a close up of the quillwork from another Cherokee costume piece.  This is an American Indian art form, the patterns are made from dyed porcupine quills. All the intricate quillwork you see on the show was handmade by the Outlander embroidery team – now that’s dedication!

The sheath Ian wears is an example of Cherokee → European transfer but the knife itself is amalgamation in a different direction, European → Cherokee.  In fact many of the items we see the Cherokee wearing are also examples of this cultural amalgamation.  Look again at the two Cherokee costumes above, the red fabric in both also came from the English, this is “stroud cloth,” a cheap trade fabric that was exchanged for Cherokee goods.

Another example of European → Cherokee Amalgamation is this blue rifle that showed up in ep. 406, Blood of My Blood.

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They are blue to indicate that they are trade goods.  The First Nations actors were impressed that this detail was included in the show.

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And let’s not forget this scene, as Claire and Adawehi share their respective cultural information about medicines and healing, it’s more paint transfer of the best kind – helpful, healing knowledge that will benefit both cultures.  It’s also two-way amalgamation.   I don’t know about you but I loved this scene.

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Back with Ian, we see these decorative rings on almost every costume.  When they first appeared I wondered what they were.  Did they signify a brave act?  A person killed? A life saved?  And then they showed up on Ian – what were these things?  The short answer is that they are “trade rings,” another type of cheap British trinket used for decoration (although I still prefer to think they mean something more sinister :D)  But the long answer is that they’re an example of circular amalgamation – the Cherokee took English goods and adapted them into their costume/culture, but when Ian adds them to his costume he sees it as adopting Cherokee custom and culture so the British goods becomes Cherokee decoration which is adopted by the British man, so cool.   It’s a complex concept contained in a simple thing and the Outlander costume department captured that flawlessly.

These little rings were valuable to the Cherokee because before the arrival of the Europeans copper was the only metal available in their territory.  The novelty of silver made them a desired item.  And all of that leads us to….Ian’s silver armband.

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Again we see European → Cherokee → European cultural transfer.  The Cherokee take the silver and adapt it as jewelry, adding symbols of their tribe or clan to make it their own and Ian takes the finished product as a symbol of the Cherokee culture he was adopting.

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Here’s another shot of that armband as well as the two bags Ian uses.  One appears to be woven fabric with quill decoration and one is leather, possibly with beading.  Cherokee → European amalgamation.  It also seems to me that Ian is rocking a tan in these later episodes, a visible reminder of his new outdoor lifestyle?

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Lastly, we see that Ian has also changed his footwear – boots exchanged for buckskin leggings, decorated knee ties/garters, and leather moccasins.

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We know by pictures from episode 413 that the transformation is not yet complete.  Ian will continue his amalgamation until it is complete (and with a very significant change still to come.)

The visual story these costumes tell is a rich one, and one that I feel Terry D and her crew need to be recognized for.  Any designer can create a costume but it takes a very special one to tell a story while doing so.  Kudos to her and her team.

 

CYNTHIA GENTIT – Cynthia is a guest Sassenach Sisterhood blogger whose love of Outlander began with the show and quickly spread to all things Outlander.  When she’s not an Obsassenach she’s tracing her own Highland roots, enjoying the beauty of north Georgia and finding/selling unique antique and vintage items.  Find her on FB @AToBVintage, on Etsy under A Thing of Beauty Vintage or at www.CherishTheOld.com

 

The romance is dead….but love remains.

by Crystal Fann

I loved last night’s show.  Barring a bit of shuffling it was line for line from the book.  Yet along with all the good comments,  I’ve seen a lot of comments online griping about the fact that Jamie and Claire haven’t been front and center on the show for the last several episodes.   I hate to tell ya’ll this, but you probably need to get used to it…the romance is over.

Sobbing Woman in Tiara Drinking Wine — Stock Photo

Now let me codify that statement by saying that while the romance is over…the love isn’t.   Instead that love has grown from just two people to encompass many more in their warm embrace.  We were lucky, we had three wonderful years of romance.  We saw the romance of Jamie and Claire Fraser from their first meeting to the heartbreaking goodbye and the joyous, reunion with those awkward tentative steps as the people they used to be found their way through to the people they have become.  We’ve seen the romance, and while the story is still rotating around the core that is Jamie and Claire Fraser’s love, its not about romance anymore, its about a marriage-a life shared together and all the souls that are brought into the heart of the family that Jamie and Claire’s love created.

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Just like the books, the show moves on from the central love affair and expands to show us the lives of that family.     We see a daughter trying to honor  two men as father and this week we see Bree’s struggle in honoring her father’s – her REAL father’s- words in how to move past her rape.   We see Lord John acting out of honor and devotion to Jamie and yet in those fragile beginnings blooms a true admiration, respect and friendship with the child of a man he is doomed to love from afar.  You’re right Brianna – it’s impossible not to like him.

Roger is another matter.  Here is a man that was the epitome of the 20th century.  Roger was that new breed of man that prized brain over brawn and yet for love of a woman, he put himself in a world where strength is the only asset worthwhile.   Brianna was out of place, but had a family to guide her, Roger was alone in this wilderness, never more so than when he thought Brianna lost to him forever.

Marching through the wilderness, Roger had been pretty stoic.  However, in this episode, faced with a man who would rather die than concede his convictions and did, wrapped in flames and the arms of the one he loved, Roger had to wonder-was it worth it.  Those of us who have read the books know what’s to come and its understandable based on what Roger has had to endure for doing the right thing.  Rik Rankin gave a tour-de-force performance and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he doesn’t get a nomination for this year.

Yet even though Roger hasn’t been completely welcomed into the family fold, he is cut from the same cloth and does the right thing, knowing he would pay dearly for it.  I found myself wondering if that woman walked into the flames because her heart was breaking or because it was the only way to save the man who had shown her beloved mercy.   It’s not an idiot hut Roger…it’s a hero’s hut.

Jamie and Claire would understand Roger’s actions, after all doing the right thing is what they have impressed in those they love-even when doing the right thing is at your own peril.  Fergus and Marsali know the right thing is to overlook personal danger to themselves to save Murtaugh, something I could easily see Jamie and Claire doing.  Marsali wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her husband and I can’t help but remember her words at wanting to have a marriage like Jamie & Claire.  With them as guidance, I think she got her wish.  Sweet Fergus, the lost hand isn’t needed for a leader as he steps up to save a man who is like a grandfather to him.

One person that has come into Jamie and Claire’s circle that hasn’t been touched by their goodness is Stephen Bonnet.  It took Brianna, acting on faith that Jamie’s suggestion would give her peace and finding the courage to face her attacker that finally sobered the pirate.  Her courage touched him as did her generously in trying to give him peace in death.   Unfortunately, nobody realized how long Stephen Bonnet’s legs were.  Now his destiny is intertwined with the Frasers’ – all of them.

It started with a wonderful romance that made us fall in love with the characters as they fell in love with each other.  But now the romance is over and the marriage has begun, with all the ups and downs and intrusions of other souls drawn to that love just as we were.   Sure, some of the family members don’t get along, like Murtaugh and Lord John squabbling like two cousins, but that’s simply because Murtaugh hasn’t realized that while Lord John may be loyal to the British crown…he’s even more loyal to Jamie Fraser.

Jamie and Claire created a family and through the show and the books, we become part of that family as well.  Just like with any family, you don’t always get to spend time with the people you want, but through those you do get to spend time with, you partake in the love and family they created.  Even though Jamie and Claire might not grace the screen from time to time, their presence is heavy in the faces of the family that we do see.

One more episode and I see more worry than excitement.   I’ve pretty much figured how the episode will go but instead of laying that out, let me point something out that might ease the fretting.   Two minutes and ninety-seven seconds.  That’s how long Jamie and Brianna’s reunion played out onscreen.  The single most important scene in season four and it took only two minutes and ninety-seven seconds to play out on our screens.  Kind of eases the worry a bit over them having enough time to get everything in during that final episode don’t it?

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And for those of you that still fret…well SPOILERS AHEAD, but here’s how I think the episode will play out.

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The episode will most likely start out with a shot of Jamie and Ian scoping out the Mohawk camp.  Then they will return to Claire and we’ll get that scene from the promo where Jamie indicates his intention of going back later that night.  Jamie promises to return to Claire but as we’ve seen from the promo, he and Ian get into a bit of a stramash and probably get thrown into the hut with Roger.

Claire of course who NEVER stays put like she’s supposed to goes to the Mohawk village to check on her missing men and it’s the very thing that saves all their lives.  You see Claire is wearing the Opal she found that once belonged to Otter Tooth, and if you haven’t read the books, let’s just suffice it to say that the Mohawk were a little scared of the dude.

That first scene that plays out in the promo of them sitting on a blanket hearing the tale of Otter Tooth will come then, followed by a scene where the Mohawk demand a replacement for the warrior that was killed during Ian and Jamie’s midnight assault.  Ian of course falls on his sword, and we see Jamie look over his shoulder at his beloved nephew as the Mohawk take Jamie, Claire & Roger (if you look closely you can see all three in the canoes) back to civilization, or at least close to it.

Just like in the book, after the events of this week’s episode, Roger will not be so inclined to just throw caution to the wind and take Brianna and what probably is another man’s son.   So, Jamie and Claire will leave him at the stones and high-tail it back to River Run and their daughter.

I look for a heartfelt conversation between Jamie and John over the latter’s care of Jamie’s children, while Claire is giving Brianna the news.  Brianna upset, wants to go home, giving us the promo scene of Claire promising to take her daughter away.  Plus let’s face it, Claire acts like everyone at River Run is a leper.

Brianna will take that moment to go into labor and we’ll get the second most important scene of season four and the moment foretold in Jamie’s prophetic scene.   And just as everyone is standing around gooing and gushing over the baby, a raggedly looking man wanders toward the house.   Ya’ll did notice Brianna wasn’t pregnant in her mad dash across the lawn, didn’t you?

Roger will step up and claim the baby as his own, blood or no, because he has decided that love is worth it, (the first man of worth from the title) and I expect he final scene to be on Fraser’s Ridge with Jamie, Claire and all their family about.  Jamie will realize that he’s done what he’s always wanted and built a home for his family (the second man of worth from the title) and we will be left wondering what awaits this family next season.

Oh and one more thing….who all thinks that Murtaugh will grab Jocasta and kiss her after she throws the drink in his face….raise your hand!

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Crystal Fann – While possessing a writer’s soul, Crystal is a mild-mannered paralegal by day and a wordsmith by night.  Her novel “Tweet Romance” is available at amazon.com

“The miserable have no other medicine, only hope.”

by Cynthia Gentit

[I don’t normally do recaps (this is sounding like a dos equis commercial) but Crystal Fann our favorite ginger blogger is dealing with some plumbing issues (in her house, that is) and asked me to fill in today.  So here we go…]

“The miserable have no other medicine, only hope.”  So said William Shakespeare and so says episode 411, “If Not For Hope” as we see the relative misery of each of our characters altered by hope throughout the episode.

The Hot Open:  A play on words here.  FYI, anytime a show begins by opening directly into the story before the title sequence or opening credits it is known as a “cold open.”  Some shows do this regularly, some never do but when Outlander does it, it always means the same thing – we are in the point of view of someone other than Claire.  It has been a consistent device used ever since The Reckoning way back in season 1.  But in this case, we have a shower head, steam, and a carefully adjusted camera angle on a naked Roger (note the hand placement…) so yeah, you can call it what you like, but I call that a hot open.

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We rapidly transition back to Rogers past present and find our erstwhile hero has just had a wash in the stream – evidently even his captors couldn’t stand the smell – and gotten (finally) a new set of clothes.  This scene left me with a lot of questions; does the gift of clothes have significance? – is it like giving Dobby a sock?, was Roger going to go through the stones or was he prevented from doing so?  Will we get those answers later or were they left on the editing floor?  Regardless it’s once again #poorRoger.

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Lizzy apologizes & asks forgiveness:  As well she should.  “I made such a mess of things” and Bree responds “You made an honest mistake, you thought you were protecting me” but then goes on to say that she can’t do the same for her father.  Pity.  I really liked seeing the artist side of Bree here but I do wish we had seen this more consistently in past episodes so they didn’t have to hit us over the head with it REPEATEDLY this episode.  It got a bit wearing.  With the exception of last week, we haven’t seen or heard of any of Brees drawing ability since early season 3.  I think including the scene with Ellen’s portrait back in episode 407 would have established this character trait earlier as it is going to be important in Bree’s past future.

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The hunting party:  There is still much tension between Jamie and Claire, note the physical distance between them.  Claire is upset with Jamie for what he did to Roger and he is upset with Claire for not telling him the truth.  Ian is ever cheerful and eager to right his part of this wrong.  I thought the dialog here between J & C was very well written and acted by all.

This episode was written by Shaina Fewell (Blood of My Blood) & Bronwyn Garrity (Savages) and I think both of them have a good grasp of who the characters are.  I especially loved Jamie’s call back to what he and Claire have been through, “we’ve lived with the fear of the unknown before, not knowing if the other is alive or dead, but each passing day Bree must suffer through the very same thing.”  This seems to touch Claire and she begins to soften.

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Ian speaks to his auntie:  Ever been stuck with a couple that are obviously on the outs?  I have, so I totally identified with Ian in this scene because uncomfortable doesn’t begin to cover it.  Claire says she isn’t angry although she seems that way to me (so does Jamie to be fair) and is reminded that both she & Jamie are suffering – not to mention Ian is suffering because he has to live with them.

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Fergus & Marsali:  I have to say, anytime Lauren Lyle is on screen I am a happy camper, much happier than Marsali at present because, as Ben Franklin said after three days fish and houseguests both stink.  As far as she is concerned Murtagh has outlived his shelf life.  We see Fergus’ misery as he can’t find work and Marsali’s concern for him is touching.

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A dinner party is arranged:  I love Natalie Simpson as Phaedre, her tiny delayed smile to Bree telling her she is beautiful just squeezed my heart.  So believable from a slave who would never expect to hear such a thing.  And squeeee, Lord John is coming!  Have to say that I didn’t like Bree’s insensitivity on insisting Phaedre pose for her when Phaedre was so obviously uncomfortable with it.  That seemed selfish and indulgent to me.

Bree & Auntie Jo have a chat:  Here we find out Bree has inherited her artistic ability from Jamie’s mother, Ellen and get the back story of Jamie’s parents.  A nice moment since we haven’t heard of Ellen and her painting since Lallybroch in season 1 but again we’re being hit over the head with “Bree the artist” and I miss the portrait scene.

Marsali & Murtagh have a chat:   Marsali is about as subtle as a bull in a china shop, waking a sleeping Murtagh to request he ask Fergus to help him.  Again a solid little vignette.  This one, by the way, was actually a conversation between Jenny & Jamie about Ian Sr. back in Outlander, it was clever to resurrect it here.  Fergus’ later response to Murtagh was precious.  Love these two together.

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Meanwhile back at River Run:  The dinner party is in full swing and Bree feels like a prize pig in a room full of hungry wolves.  Bree makes a Cinderella-like entrance and I liked the focus on her silver bracelet as she descends the stairs, a subtle reminder that Roger is also in the room.  Billy Boyd makes me smile every time he is in a scene but I’m still expecting Pippen’s voice to come out when he opens his mouth so it was, unexpectedly, a bit disorienting for me to hear his natural Scottish brogue instead.  Here too, I wish we had been introduced to this character earlier because meeting him at this point smacks of a plot device.  If we had seen him at the River Run dinner in 402 or even in the Wilmington episode it would have made his appearance here less abrupt and convenient.  But watching the gents in the room compete for Brianna’s attention in this scene, while a bit over the top, made me chuckle at how true to life it was.

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Speaking of entrances:  This made me laugh out loud because Lord John knows how to make one.  He enters the room without a speck of travel dust or a hair out of place and EVERYONE stops to take notice.  In my mind, I saw him in a cape and the superman stance and I heard the “here he comes to save the day” Mighty Mouse theme song in my head.  All the “dude, we’re screwed” looks on all the gentlemen’s faces were priceless, nobody in the room trumps a Lord!  I’m giving a shout out to Lee Boardman (who plays Lieutenant Wolff) on this one, his facial expressions were spot on.

The dinner party:  Did y’all catch that the story Lord John was telling as the scene opened was about Margaret Campbell and her fortune telling abilities?  Another call back I liked.  And speaking of facial expressions, did you notice the looks exchanged between Lord John and Judge Alderdyce during the party?  I must confess to missing them completely the first time through but on a re-watch, yes, there are several and they’re definitely establishing a story.

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Bree turns psychologist:  For me, this was one of the weak points of the episode.  Strictly plot device to establish that the Judge has a scandalous secret, not even his mother knows.  The best/cheesiest line of the scene was Forbes “must I close my eyes when you are before me” and Bree’s curt “yes.”  Again, loved the great facial response by Lee Boardman but overall the scene bored me – all that from a squirrel?

brianna

Bree & LJ have a chat: Lord John, ever the faithful watchdog of all things precious to Jamie has come to care for yet another of his children and Bree fakes a season 1, Claire worthy swoon to escape from the clutches of lawyer Forbes.  It’s Lord John again to the rescue, and Lizzy, who should never appear in public without a gag, appears just in time to let it slip that Bree is pregnant.  Can you say awkward? I’m starting to love Lizzie, she could be the new Rupert.  Then we have a long exposition filled rehash of past events and again I am bored but David Berry can even do boring well and we learn he has a letter for Bree from Jamie.  This is a slight change from the books but I liked it.  Not for the last time this episode I scream silently at Bree “read the bloody letter!!!”

on the sofa

Bree calls out Auntie Jo:  Bree doesn’t want a husband and Auntie Jo explains the practical side of being an unwed mother in the 1700s   The dinner party and this exchange just make me wonder, why is Auntie Jo so sure Roger is not coming back?  Does Jocasta not believe Bree’s handfasting story?  She seems very quick to marry off her already married niece.  And what would happen if Bree did marry and Roger returned?  Then what?  Another Jamie/Leery situation?  I know this is from the book but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me there either so I struggled with the logic of it all.

bonnet

Bad boy Bonnet reappears:  I think Ed Speleers is the greatest gift season 4 has given us.  The only thing better than Bonnet is Bonnet & Murtagh in the same scene.  When Murtagh cracked him in the head with his pistol, hubby and I cheered.

jamie's letter

Bree, read the bloody letter!  But no, instead you’re going to go downstairs and make me see something I wish I could unsee.

My least favorite moment in the episode:  Am I surprised Outlander went there?  No, I’m not, disappointed, but not surprised.  It’s scenes such as this that get people talking and controversy generates PR, so no, I’m not surprised on that level.  Am I surprised that they depicted Lord John having a quickie in what looks to be the linen pantry with the door open for any passerby to see?  Yup.  Lord John has always been more cautious than that.  I’ve seen people saying the opposite but having read all the LJ books, I’m not buying it.  And even without that, the show has established that being caught en flagrante delicto in this time period was punishable by death.  Bree wasn’t the only overnight guest at River Run that night, anyone could have stumbled across them – and Lord John is smarter than that.  Enough said.

Murtagh meets the only soldier in the history of Outlander who actually studies the broadsheets.  And said soldier saying “unhand him” about Fergus – snort.

Bree tells Lizzy to “be discreet” and for once in her life, she is:  The blackmail scene that follows is pretty much straight from the book.  But I have to say, for me, it was a disappointment.   This is a very nuanced scene in the books and I just wasn’t getting what I expected from it.   A bit more of the tone we saw when he dressed down Captain Leonard would have helped.  Plus, I’m just not buying that Bree actually feels compelled to marry Forbes.

bree and john

Fortunately, she doesn’t have to because again, Lord trumps lawyer and Bree is declared a MacKenzie.

Rollo proves his worth:  The discovery of the dead body made me laugh – probably not the reaction they were going for.  Ian identifies a body that has been gnawed on by countless carnivores because it’s missing two fingers?  Well, it’s also missing a leg, so just how accurate is this two-fingered ID?  Fortunately, canny Ian just happens to remember a waistcoat he saw all of once two months ago –really?  How convenient.

bree on porch

Bree & LJ have a lovely chat:  A lot of chatting in this episode – and it looks like she’s finally going to read that letter??

it's not roger

The hunting party buries the plot device, er, I mean the body:  We are again reminded that Bree is on Jamie’s mind, “one thing is for certain, he was somebody’s child.”  Sob, Sam Heughan you can even make me teary over a plot device.  Judging by the look on her face it worked on Claire as well because we get one of the loveliest moments of the episode –

Claire & Jamie do some splainin’:  Another well-written scene and I have to say I’ve forgiven them (a bit) about some of the choices in last week’s episode.  Sam and Cait both were wonderful in this scene.

jamie and claire

Back to the Mohawk:  Time has passed, we know this because Roger has his Ewok beard back, and we finally arrive at the village.  Roger runs the gauntlet and gamely rises to his feet only to be cold-cocked and we end the episode on, yet again, poor, poor Roger.

A good transitional episode.  Next week Bree finally reads that letter – you’re killing me with all this messing about Bree – and we begin the downhill race to the end of the season.  If it’s anything like past seasons the next two episodes are going to be a blur.  So buckle up buttercup, it’s going to get be a bumpy ride.

 

CYNTHIA GENTIT – Cynthia is a guest Sassenach Sisterhood blogger whose love of Outlander began with the show and quickly spread to all things Outlander.  When she’s not an Obsassenach she’s tracing her own Highland roots, enjoying the beauty of north Georgia and finding/selling unique antique and vintage items.  Find her on FB @AToBVintage, on Etsy under A Thing of Beauty Vintage or at www.CherishTheOld.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deep Heart’s core rhymes with I am Woman, hear me Roar!

by Crystal Fann

I bet I started this blog over a hundred times today, each time looking at my words and wondering if I was being too harsh…to easy…or somewhere in between that didn’t aptly express my feelings on the episode.  So, I think I’ll just start with a wish sent out to the universe…

Please oh please can TPTB at Outlander hire a writer that can write a strong woman without turning her into a bitch?

I didn’t like this episode.   I thought I would, it started out good enough with the sweet moments between Jamie and his daughter but interspersed with those were scenes that put the show in a hand-basket on its way to hell.

The Good Parts

Jamie is a physical man and sadly enough the thing he alone shares with his daughter is that they both have been a victim of rape.   His words were harsh, but an echo of what he knew floated through his daughter’s mind.  His hold was firm, yet not harsh and in a few moments, Jamie convinces Brianna what years of therapy don’t convince some.   It’s not your fault.

The moment morphs into a heart to heart between father and daughter where Jamie shows Brianna that the only thing that can undue the damage done by Blackjack and Bonnet isn’t hatred or revenge, but love and time.

Then we have the moment at the fence when Jamie and Brianna watch Claire dig peacefully in her garden (a character trait from the book I’m glad they kept.)  Brianna mentions Frank again, but only as a realization that while she thought her mother whole back in Boston, only here in that wilderness is that true.

The subsequent scenes of life on the Ridge show that Brianna has found her place among these people and is reluctant to leave, baby forsooth.

 

The Bad Parts

First off…Claire babies Brianna far too much for my liking, and it seems she also loses all good sense when talking to her daughter.   Brianna is the one that just happens to mention the fact that her baby might be that of the man she loves.  Really Claire?  Aren’t you supposed to be the great healer and the fact that the withdrawal method isn’t foolproof (isn’t really all that good at all honestly) slipped your mind?   Also slipped were the dangers in giving her daughter a surgical abortion in the 18th century, pain being the least of those worries.

I DETESTED the scene where Brianna and Claire listed what they missed about the future.  To a casual viewer it gave the impression that these women were forced to live in the past and not that it was a choice made for love.  (I happen to know a casual viewer and that is EXACTLY what he thought).  I think it was the writer’s very pitiful attempt to show us that no matter what she was missing, Bree would rather be in the past with her parents.  Did I mention it was a pitiful attempt?

Even though it’s in the “parts I don’t like” section, Brianna’s nightmare sequence was really well done, even if it was the impetus for Lizzie blabbing and the basket careening further toward hell.  Speaking of Lizzie….how come the ONLY person in this whole kerfuffle that should have been smacked wasn’t?

Brianna comes into the happy cabin pitching a fit and throwing around slaps.  I don’t blame Murtaugh for leaving, Brianna probably would have smacked him too.

Oh sure, Jamie beat the crap out of Roger and Ian sold him to the Indians, but Brianna better bet glad it wasn’t my dad that got hold of him.  My dad would have gutted Roger like a fish, weighted him down and put him in the cat-fish pond behind his house.  (I’m not sure one of my college boyfriends didn’t end up down there).

Yes, it was a calamity of errors, but to hold Jamie and Ian ultimately responsible is just plain wrong.  Jamie and Ian acted on only what they knew to be true at the time.  Had Claire and Brianna not kept the secret of Bonnet’s involvement none of this would have happened.  Both women came across as highly hypocritical and Claire’s scolding tone when she asked Jamie about Roger didn’t work at all.  I really didn’t like Claire at all in this episode.  She laid that ring down on the table with accusatory flair, but it was her secret at the heart of this mess.  I don’t expect much from Brianna in this situation, she’s young and was raised by Frank who apparently taught her she could do no wrong.  Claire however is completely out of character with her actions and reactions.   The Fraser women are responsible for this kebbie-lebbie, not the Fraser men.

Now I know some will argue that most of the episode and dialogue was taken from the book and it was, but it was acted in such a way that gave it an entirely different meaning.   Claire not taking up for Jamie when Brianna said he was untrustworthy where Roger was concerned is UNFORGIVABLE and completely out of character.

One of the main faults in this week’s episode was that it put too much emphasis on the Bree/Claire relationship and not enough on the Jamie/Bree relationship and therefore gave the show the appearance of “it’s Claire and her daughter against the savage world”,

And Jamie’s behavior, almost begging toward Brianna and Claire was just too much.  The man thought he was avenging and protecting his daughter, he should beg NO ONE for forgiveness for that.   I just can’t help but wonder, would Claire and Bree be acting so self-righteous if it had actually been Bonnet who showed up last week?

 

Other Things I liked:

Roger.  Despite not being able to keep from wondering just how bad he smelled, (kudos to the make-up department), I liked the Roger stuff.   He wasn’t one of these men who wore his bravado on his sleeve with loud words and actions, but kept it in the tying of knots and the determination to get back to his wife.   The heartache he felt standing in front of the stone that could save his life but separate him from the woman he loved was palpable and beautifully acted, even if it was the silliest cliffhanger Outlander has ever tried to sell.   Not to mention…. what is it with Outlander that every chase/wilderness hike has to take for freakin-ever?

Murtaugh and Jocasta flirting.   While it’s been said by many in the know that Murtaugh won’t take the place of Duncan Innes…that doesn’t preclude him having his own “true love” with Jocasta Cameron.   I saw a few sparks during their reminiscing…Murtaugh teasing that his hands were so memorable and Jocasta’s quip that he couldn’t keep them off her sister was so adorable.  I can’t wait to see how much this couple will smolder.

Ian.   My God I love every single thing John Bell does.  From his sheepish crush on his new cousin to the way he offers himself as a substitute suitor was precious.   Even his reaction to Jamie calling him a “wee idiot” was adorable.   This is an actor that has really inhabited the character’s skin, playing him true to form.

The Native Americans.  Beautifully appointed and with the horses meandering through the North Carolina (I know it’s Scotland but still.) countryside, the visuals during these scenes took my breath away.

Last week’s show was as close to perfect as it gets.   This week while technically close to the book was far off the beam acting wise.  Can I amend my original wish and say that if it’s impossible for Outlander to get a writer who writes strong women well…. can they at least get some consistency in storytelling?

 

It wasn’t about the snot anyway…..

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…

Perfectly.

You’re not in Kansas anymore…this is Wilmington.

You’re not in Kansas anymore…this is Wilmington.   by Crystal Fann

Outlander had its 50th episode tonight and amid all the twists and turns of new lives in America lay whispers of the past, things that brought to mind what made us fall in love with Outlander in the first place.

First off, can we all just agree what an adorable chub of a baby is that Germaine?   Marsali is beaming with love for her new bairn reminding Claire of a time she felt that incredible rush of a new parent’s love and unknowingly breaking her heart with the belief she will never set eyes on that child again.  Ha!   little does she know!   Heck, Fergus got a look at Brianna just before he got home, well at least a likeness of her.

Back to Marsali I know those of you who read the books couldn’t help but think of a future time when the knife will rip Marsali’s heart to shreds, but for now everything is right in her small world, and fingers crossed it will stay that way for a while at least.

Jamie Fraser better watch his back…I’m starting to do some serious swooning over Roger Mackenzie.   Brianna is Jamie and Claire made over, stubborn, quick-tempered and passionate.   The two of them together is like steel rubbing against flint and it doesn’t disappoint.

Now I just have to ask a question here…what is it with fictional couples on TV that never get caught fooling around where they’re not supposed to be?   Every time I’ve tried something like that, I always seem to get caught with my pants down…. literally.   Brianna had the forethought to tell Roger to close the door, I’d have at least piled a barrel or two in front of it especially if I was about to get naked.

I’m glad Brianna came to her senses and said yes because a man that follows you two hundred years back in time is absolutely worth having.   Based on their last conversation, I thought Brianna came across as a tad impulsive, but I guess facing the idea of never seeing Roger again made her face her true feelings for him.

Their hand-fasting was sweet and wonderful-everything spun in Diana Gabaldon’s words come to life.   Was it a word for word copy of the book scene?  Well of course not, but the sweetness and the soul were captured perfectly.   Roger and Brianna’s coming together was reminiscent in spirit to that of her parents wedding night.  A new future built on the memories of the past, a perfect tribute for a 50th episode.

You knew the fight was coming.   Rik Rankin should get an Emmy for Roger’s “oh she*t” expression alone.   Raise your hand if you yelled at the TV for Roger to lie…mine’s up there pretty high.  Honestly, I don’t think the when Roger found the obituary was as upsetting as him confiding in Fiona as far as Brianna was concerned.   Of course, Roger had to open his mouth about Brianna doing what he says now that she’s his wife.   Don’t let the clothes fool you…20th century woman here dude.   Like most fights, it spiraled due to anger, pride and guilt.  I don’t think for one hot second Roger has left Brianna to fend for herself, but I do think he’s smart enough to let her cool off a bit.

Speaking of the book…the Jamie and Claire part was a show invention with bits and pieces taken from other scenes and one small part from book 8, but you know what, I loved it.   Watching Claire fan-girl over George Washington was priceless, especially when she in her awe blurted out a piece of folklore that in her time would have been taught as truth.   Chopping down cherry trees is a figure of speech… I’m giggling as I type.

Canny Jamie was back!  Trying to figure a way to warn Murtaugh of an ambush, I laughed out loud when he elbowed, then jabbed Fanning in the hernia.   Jamie needed a distraction and he trusted in Claire’s skill to both heal and distract.    I would have loved to see a better cast John Quincy Meyers butt in the air on Jocasta’s dining table, but this fit and it was a way of writing Jamie & Claire into an episode where they wouldn’t have been otherwise. And they did give me that other doctor’s comment about tobacco smoke up the rear as a reminder of that most favored book scene.

Personally, I was glad for an end to that god-awful play, and tickled by George and Martha Washington’s disdain for it.  Brits of that time loved to show off their pompousness but the commander of the upcoming revolution don’t have time for that kind of foolishness.   The future father of our country seemed taken with Jamie-who can blame him really-and I couldn’t help but feel that perhaps the writers are setting up a friendship between those two.  I’ve always felt that the show would veer from the books in making the revolution more of a threat for the Fraser’s and with George’s insertion so early in the show it does make me go hmmm.  I have a feeling Jamie is going to have to make up for throwing George under the bus sometime in the future.

Framed in drama, the underlying amusement has been missing from Outlander for a while and I for one was more than happy to see it back.   The only thing I found lacking was a scene of Murtaugh and Fergus drinking ale in a pub while they caught up, although Murtaugh chuckling at the thought of Jamie at the theater almost made up for it.

Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room, or rather the pirate.   I’m just going to say it, I like the way the rape was handled.   Seeing the violence that Brianna endured is going to lend weight to some things that come later.   Poor Lizzie will of course mistakenly think Roger was responsible for Brianna’s attack, but while she’s at fault for that assumption, you completely understand why.

To be honest, I’ve not been all that impressed at times with Sophie, but the girl brought it that that scene, both before and after.   Ed Speelers, channeling a demonic Jack Sparrow, claiming himself to be an “honest man for a pirate” when he handed Brianna her mother’s ring was terrifying.

I’ve seen several comments about the “spectators” of the rape and how they did nothing, even if they looked appalled.  It wasn’t that those folks were immoral, women were considered basically nothing more than property of their husbands and a woman like Brianna alone and unprotected was fair game for someone like Bonnet unfortunately.  Coming off a stint teaching Constitutional Law, I can sadly tell you that it wasn’t until the 1910 case of Thompson v. Thompson that the law of the land considered violence against women.  What happened to Brianna wasn’t out of the ordinary for that time period at all.  I can just imagine as she lay there screaming with Bonnet on top of her that she wondered why no one was coming to her aid.  Talk about realizing that you’re not in Kansas anymore so to speak.

I can’t watch that scene without thinking what it will do to Jamie and Roger when the find out what Bonnet did to Brianna.  The guilt both men will feel breaks my heart to think about, but makes me itchy with anticipation to watch.