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Meeting Herself

by Cynthia Gentit

Meeting Herself.  If you are a true Outlander fan that two-word sentence needs no further explanation.  This is the story of how one fan girl checked “meet Diana” off her bucket list.

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For the sake of those not familiar with Outlander or you’re not familiar with the title “Herself,” I’ll elaborate.  “Herself” is the name Outlander fans have given Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series (presently 8 “Big Books” and several shorter novellas.)  “Herself” is a twist on “Himself,” one of the many names given to Diana’s lead character, Jamie Fraser.   Diana introduced us to “the man in the kilt” and his time traveling wife, Claire Randall, in her first novel – Outlander (1991.)  Claire fell through the stones and into his arms – where her heart (and ours) has securely rested ever since.

Being of recent Scottish Highland descent myself, Outlander is my history, present, and past.  When Jamie described Ned Gowan as “beaming red” it was like a getting a hug from my grandmother, every time I watch it or just thinking of it now gives me the warm fuzzies.  So when the opportunity to meet Herself, the woman from whose brain all these wonderful tales have sprung arose, aye lassie, ye can bet your dirk not even a herd of Hieland coos could have stopped me from trying.

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Diana 3In December it was announced that Diana would be the keynote speaker at the Savannah Book Fair, Feb. 15th.  Within my favorite circle of Outlander fans, the Outlander Sassenach Sisterhood plans were made.  Excitement was high.  Calendars were marked.

Over the next few weeks more information was shared, this was one of two speaking engagements Diana would do in 2018….she was in Savannah to do research for book 9….the theater only holds 1100 people…. and then, (gasp) book club members would be able to pre-buy tickets – only 200 – 300 would be available to the general public – aka, us…it was every woman for herself….

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January 9th the ticket page was bookmarked and January 10th, at 9:59am, I clicked on that page and wonder of wonders – I got through!  Two tickets, one for me, one for hubby (he’s also read the books and watches the show.)  Few were able to get tickets, so disappointed for them but in fact, it was random luck, all tickets available were sold in 3 minutes flat and after that, the site crashed.  Outlander fans are serious about their adoration folks.

Fast forward to the 15th, all tickets are general which means no assigned seats and arriving well before the 6pm engagement time.  The lucky members of our group were in line by 4 and already there was a lot of activity going on.  Lines were set up outside the theater – one for book fair ticket holders, one for the general admission folks and one short one right in front for the sponsors.

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We were able to find out a few crucial things – first, doors would open to us at 5:15.  To the left, we could buy books for Herself to sign and to the right, seating.  Now the trick to this is that every book purchased comes with an incremental number and that number is the order in which you get the book signed – so the conundrum is, the earlier you buy your book, the earlier you get it signed but if you buy your book first then you miss out on the opportunity for a good seat and vice versa.  But the Sassenach Sisters are canty lassies, we decided to divide and conquer.  Four of us would buy all the books wanted and four of us would grab the best seats we could.  And we did.

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We were able to get seats in the very back row of the main floor.  Now that may not sound very good but only the last 3 rows of the main floor and the balcony were available for us “generals” so we actually did quite well and we were in the first third of the book signing – yay us.

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About 40 minutes later the auditorium was full and the big moment arrived.  We were welcomed by a gentleman from the Book Fair.  He said he would have worn a kilt in Diana’s honor but he was “not as tall as Jamie Fraser and kilts on a short man look like a Catholic school girl in a bad uniform.”  After that, another gentleman came out and introduced Herself.  It was rather a long introduction but being that many in the audience knew nothing about her or Outlander I could understand it.  My husband was grumbling because he pronounced Murtagh as Mur-taw instead of Murta which made me laugh because 2 years ago he wouldn’t have known the difference. ;D

Finally, Herself, live and present on the stage, yup, we were sharing the same airspace and the atmosphere was heady.  After a warm round of applause she began by explaining how she came to choose her subject – Jamie Fraser – and the era – 1740’s based on an old Dr. Who rerun.  She said in English class the only worthwhile thing she learned was that a good story should always have conflict (she also said that tidbit wasn’t worth the 18 hours she spent in English class – lol.)  It was to introduce conflict that she decided to add an English woman into the story and, originally, she was not to be from a different era but as Diana was visualizing her, “she simply wouldn’t stop speaking in modern vernacular no matter how I tried to beat her into shape.”  And that was how the time travel aspect came to be. 😀  Fellow Sassenach Sister Michelle Miller was intrigued by her writing process.   “Diane says that the process is very much like what she was used to in her scientific research – that in science, you make a hypothesis and then experiment to prove or disprove it. In writing, the book is the experiment. Pretty cool…”  It is indeed, pretty cool.

diana 8  I won’t go into great detail about the speech because it will probably be put online shortly.  She spoke for about an hour and, based on what she said, went a bit over time so the question and answer period were very short.  Half of them weren’t worth repeating but the two I remember as being “good” questions were: “Name one thing that’s in Bree’s bag,” which is a reference to book 9 if you haven’t gotten that far and the answer was “a book.”  Not terribly explicit but if you read Diana’s daily lines you’ll know exactly which book it is. ;D  The second was “Do you have research assistants?”  I found her answer to be typical Diana.  She said if she sent her husband to the store for hotdogs and beans for dinner that’s what she’d get but if SHE went to the store for hotdogs and beans she’d see some nice chicken breasts and say “oh, curried chicken would be nice,” and then it would be “well, what spices do I need, how about a side dish and by the way I should pick up a nice bottle of white wine.”  Her analogy being if she had a research assistant all she would get was hotdogs and beans and usually, chicken curry is a lot better so no, she doesn’t use research assistants.

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She finished to loud and appreciative applause and, once the room had cleared, the book signing began.  A table was set up for Herself in front of the stage and aides sprang up with signs 1-25, 26 – 50, etc. and we were asked to line up according to our book numbers.   I have to say the event was extremely well run from start to finish.  For example, while we were standing in line an aide came along with post its and marked every book with the name of who it was to be inscribed to so it was very easy and efficient for Diana.

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Now standing in line twice in one evening may not sound like fun but when you are standing in line with Outlander fans it is!  The lady in front of me was a lucky lady with a great story – she met Sam Heughan in her local grocery store!  Hearing about her experience firsthand was so.much.fun!  Like everyone else she said he was extraordinarily kind, he realized from across the produce section that he was dealing with a fan, gave her a smile and walked right over – swoon.  Here’s her tip, always carry a Sharpie! 😀  Her biggest regret was that she had nothing to write with and couldn’t get his autograph.  Now she always has a marker in her purse and multiples in her car because – you never know!, ;D  And of course, everything she was shopping for went right out of her mind (small wonder) and she came home minus half the ingredients she set out to buy – I guess she had hot dogs & beans instead of curried chicken that night!  What a great story.

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The two ladies behind me had been to an Outlander convention and had met Grant O’Rourke (Rupert) and Scott Kyle (Ross) and they were delighted to blether on aboot it, complete with pictures.  I was so engrossed in their tales that the time just flew by!  In fact before I knew it, it was my turn and I was feeling fair puckled.  I had been asked to give her a small gift from our Sisterhood and much like the lady in the grocery store I was trying to run through what I wanted to say to her lest I be a total Numptie!   The gift was one of our group t-shirts, a few small items, and a diet Coke.  (She drinks them while she’s writing and we definitely want to encourage her to continue on book 9!!)  Then it was my turn, I gave my phone to the assigned picture taker and plunged in.

 

I don’t diana 12remember what I said but I think I managed not to embarrass myself.  Diana gave me a big smile when I told her there was a diet Coke in the bag – lol.  Not only was I able to get my picture with her but we were able to get a quick group picture as well.  Many thanks to the event runners and Herself for their patient indulgence!

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And then, it was over, we all had our signed books, photos, grins from ear to ear and plenty of “ahhhhh” sighs as we thought back on our moment with Herself.  In fact, I’m still grinning.  I hope you enjoyed the journey and if ever you have the opportunity to meet Herself, I can only say gie it laldy and go!

 

 

 

 

 

What noises did you make….

by Crystal Fann

What noise am I going to make now?

I thought we had missed it…like Diana herself, my favorite love scene in eight books doesn’t have much skin at all; just a well thought out and very detailed description of what Jamie plans to do to Claire when he has the time, space and lack of company.  Although in a much different place than in the book, it played out as perfectly as I had imagined.

It’s the last show of the season…and now Drought lander begins, thankfully not as long as the last one and I’m sure the coming months will be filled with photos and tidbits to whet our appetites.  As a season ender, it doesn’t get much more perfect than last night’s episode and to pay homage to one of my favorite all times scenes, I thought I’d talk about this episodes in terms of the noises Jamie – and the rest of the Outlander gang – caused me to make during this episode.

Awww!  We’ve all said it.  It’s the sound we reserve for the sweet stuff like puppies and kitten videos.  The only puppy I saw in last night’s episode was the one Claire shooed away, but even so, the show definitely had its share of the sweet stuff.  Fergus and Marsali were the recipients of the first “Awww” of the night.  Coming hand in hand back to Jamie & Claire’s room they are worried about their friends until Fergus finds the note.   It’s not the interaction between these two newlyweds that had me going “Awww” but the moment Marsali reminded Fergus that she was his wife and that she was coming with him.  It was couple sweet to be sure, but more than that it showed who Marsali was looking too when trying to be a good wife – and it certainly isn’t her mother!

Let’s talk about “Eek!”.   It most often manifests in that split second between something surprising and the moment when you can actually breathe again.  While I didn’t expect Jason Voorhees to jump out from behind one of the shabby slave corners, I knew Claire skulking about whisper-shouting “Ian” wasn’t a good idea!  Just like Lassie, the little dog led Claire to the well but far too late to save Henry at this point.   I guess Ian is the only one of the boys to make it out alive.  When Hercules grabs Claire from behind, my “Eek” was audible.

Lotte Verbeek deserves an award for her portrayal of Geillis in this episode.   Not that she hasn’t always done a good job, but in this episode, Lotte plays Geillis as though her insane desire for a Scottish King lies itching just under her fair skin, threatening to erupt at any moment.  Claire and Geillis cat and mouse game made my skin prickly, especially when Claire, in the desire to help young Ian, seals her daughter’s death warrant.   It’s not that Claire doesn’t realize how danger Geillis is dangerous, it’s that she just doesn’t realize HOW crazy.  Not EVERBODY wants a Scottish king Geillis – trouble is, Geillis doesn’t know this!  With a right-hand man like Hercules to do her dirty work, Claire has no choice but to remind Geillis that she has met the 200-year-old child before (way to long-term plan writers!) and Geillis sees the hands of fates dropping the answer to the prophecy in her lap.  On another note, do you think Geillis ever sits around clapping her hands and saying “Hercules, Hercules, Hercules!”?  My apologies for the Nutty Professor reference.

Bwaah!  This is the sound of just desserts!  It’s one part righteous indignation and one part pure evil laugh and it’s all inclusive of the joy we feel in seeing somebody get what’s coming to them, especially rather bad somebodies.

Yes, I know that in reality, Captain Leonard is a mere child – I guess that’s why he acts like one.  He carts a bound Jamie back to the ship like a kid that knows he’s bought the best present to a birthday party that can’t wait to get the accolades for it.  This is his ticket to greatness – and Leonard knows it and knows it well enough to put duty before what he knows to be right.

As much as I detested Leonard in this week’s episode, I LOVED John Grey.   His miss-speaking Leonard’s rank, as well as his thoughts on Navy promotion, tells all too well what he thinks about the power hungry little twit that arrested his friend.   We call that a “verbal bitch-slap” here in the south, and Lord John earned his Southern card last night in spades!  Hearing later that Lord John has used his considerable power to get all warrants dropped against Jamie is just another feather in his cap as far as I’m concerned.

Jamie had a little “Bwaah” of his own tonight and his side-eye of Leonard while Lord John was chewing the young man a new one was priceless!

Back to the “Awwws”, while I’ve never been one of those Lord John and Jamie shippers, my heart broke a little watching Lord John Gray looking after Jamie one last time.  It’s not like he can Skype him next week, as far as Lord John knows this might be the last time he ever looks on the face of the one true love of his life.  Is it better to have loved and lost or never to have loved at all?   I think that’s one question Lord John can answer for us, and I have a feeling most won’t like his answer.

Another favorite “Bwaah” moment of mine was Claire, fresh from seeing young Ian carried off into the night picking up a candlestick and taking a swing at whom she assumes has come to cart her off into the night.  Thankfully Jamie’s fast and has practice dodging things, because Claire, and us too for that matter, don’t mind a bit for Jamie carrying her off anywhere, even if she is a bad-ass on her own accord!

I’ve seen enough movies to know anytime I hear frantic voodoo inspired drums, there’s a chicken out there whose number is up.  The frenzied gyrations of worshippers in the spirit showing off their crocodile hats are scary enough, but Claire sees past the frightening jig to find the commonality with dancers she has seen before on the hills of Craig Na Dun.   This was more of a “WTF” moment to be honest, but thankfully soundless as there were other people in the room.

There are some things the books get right and then there are some things the show gets right and in the character of Yi Tien Cho, the show wins hands down.   I loved the show’s characterization of a man who in the books often seems more character than man.  His quiet dignity, his devotion to Jamie and his respect for Claire deserve nothing less than a happy ending – and I’m glad he finds it with a woman who sees his soul.   In Yi Tien Cho’s hands, Margaret is no longer miserable and terrified by what she can see, but serene with her gifts, because she is with a man who can see her soul as well and will help her use those gifts the way she has always wanted – to help others.

This “Awww” moment almost made it to the “Eek” zone.   I was as wigged out as Jamie at Margaret’s seeing him gazing at the only sight of life in the death field of Culloden.  Claire is more touched than frightened by the reminder of how she held on to Jamie 200 years away with the chirping of a bird.  It’s when Margaret touches both their hands in unison that the “Awww” moment really comes into play.   Claire immediately recognizes Brianna’s voice and Jamie, hearing it for the first time, with the words that a daughter he believes will never see can dream and love about him from afar got me right in the feels.  You don’t get much more “Awww” than that people!

Archie Campbell had karma gunning at him in spades.   No only had he mistreated his sister and used her gifts for evil instead of the good they were intended, his “likes of you and chinaman” comments to Yi Tien Cho made me see red.  I for one was glad there was some Kung foo fighting and Yi Tien Cho come out on top.  Was I the only one hoping those dancing island folk dabbled in a little cannibalism where Archie was concerned?  At least maybe that way, a few chickens would be spared.  “Bwaah” indeed!

What starts as an “Awww” moment quickly morphs into an “Eek” as Brianna/ Margaret spies a monster coming for her.  Apt description for Geillis I thought.  My true “Eek” however came in that moment  when Archie Campbell arrives on the scene and Claire sickeningly realizes she has unwittingly offered her daughter up for the slaughter, photograph included.  As any parent can tell you, realizing your child is in danger is the most “Eek” feeling in the world.

I’ve noticed several times this season that Jamie mentions Faith, wringing an “Awww” out of me every time he does so.   I think Jamie does it not because he loves Faith more than Brianna, but because she was more real to him.  Even though Faith resided in Claire’s womb during their acquaintance Jamie talked to her and felt her move.  He knew her!  He mentions Faith again tonight, but as a promise that Brianna won’t suffer her fate, even if it means losing Claire forever, with a kiss that could be their last.  I did a little bit more than “Awww” on this one; I might actually have shed a tear or two.

Seeing Ian bound and gagged and at the mercy of Geillis can’t have made them feel much better.  So enraptured in the Scottish cause, Geillis can only refer to Jamie as the descendant to one that was seen as a Scottish hero, Simon, Lord Lovett, the old fox.

When Jamie and Hercules start to fight, I caught Claire’s glances and she faced off with Geillis and could have sworn she threw a telepathic “keep him busy” Jamie’s way. (A little “The Mummy” reference for you there).   After a brief bout of insane justification from Geillis spelling out exactly what she has in mind for Brianna, Claire pushes her away from the portal.  Thinking Jamie’s killing of Hercules will do as a sacrifice Geillis makes one final mad attempt, only to finally be put out of her misery by a mother not willing to sacrifice her child for anything.  Jamie picks up the picture of the daughter they saved while Claire looks over the cost to save her.  I wonder what Claire felt like standing there, remembering holding Geillis skull in her hand – the hand of God as Geillis claimed or just an “Eek” twist of fate?  Jamie was there this time though…and his arms were strong enough to comfort both Ian and Claire.   So even “Eeks” and “Bwaahs” can turn into “Awww” – good to know.

We now come to the “Swoon” segment of our program.  If you don’t know what I mean by “Swoon”  go watch the scene that inspired this blog – you’ll figure it out.

It started off very “Awww” worthy, Claire commening on Lord John’s friendship and noticing a few more gray hairs on Jamie cause – let’s face it – it’s not easy to remember these two are supposed to be in their late forites!  Claire likes the stubble, get in line honey, although how it feels on the skin is only something she can attest too.  Amid smooching and cooing and moaning and a long awaited round-arese fondle, Claire and Jamie talk about their future, returning young Ian to Scotland, going home and other more urgent pursuits – yes he did lick her neck!   Claire might deny that she makes noises through scenes like this…I’ll amdit it freely, I make all kinds of them and I’m just watching.  After sweaty pursuits, Jamie’s hears the thunder and hopes for a cool breeze…be careful what you wish for.

I did wonder why Jamie wasn’t green and barfing, poor ole Hayes even had a bucket as he waiting out the storm in the cargo hold.   If only Claire would ever listen when Jamie tells her to stay put.   Her calling as a surgeon is strong and she ventures on deck to help the wounded, only to be swept overboard by the wilds of the deep.

Jamie might have thought he was dead at the beginning of the season, but Claire’s the one who now thinks she’s about to meet her maker.  Hearing the “Faith” music from season two, I like to think the angel of their lost daughter kept Claire alive long enough for Jamie to find her, his kiss bestowing life-giving oxygen as well as his will for her to live.  Jamie threatens to kill her if she dies on him,  and I was never more grateful to be a book reader than at the moment when we see that the calm seas and dinky life raft were not safe, but in the eye of the hurricane.

Personally I like to think the little blonde girl poking Jamie in the butt with a stick is acting as all of us in that situation.  Jamie doesn’t like to be poked, but the thing he likes less than that is the one stark, hateful, eternity lasting moment when he thinks Claire is gone from him forever.  Thankfully Claire doesn’t go back on her work and she reminds Jamie she promised never to leave him again.  But Fergus, Marsali, Ian, Hayes, Duncan and the others didn’t’ make such a promise and Jamie and Claire’s newfound relief is tinged with grief.

The little girl is back with her parents and while her mother might be a bit saddened at not getting to poke Jamie’s fine butt with a stick, the Olivers do bring the news that maybe the Fraser’s grief is immature.  The boat will never sail again, but the others are fine and they’re in Georgia ya’ll!   America? Claire asks with the question in her eyes.  It is, after all, where their daughter lives 200 years in the future.  With a nod of acquiesce Jamie concedes and the two of them embrace each other and their new life, with only one tear rolling down Jamie’s cheek in mourning for Scotland.   The credits roll and once again Bear McCreary proves his genius as drums and fife begins to play.  A perfect ending to a season that has been a voyage and now the Frasers are home.

She’s a Superfreak…she’s super freaky!

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!

Confessions of an Obsassenach

by Michelle Miller

My obsession with Outlander came really late.   My sister and I have always been voracious readers, and right before season 1 was to air, she mentioned that I just had to watch this show.  She explained that it was based on a series of books. Since we both tend to like the same authors and types of stories, I heartily agreed.

Then the first episode aired…

Claire and Frank as a happy couple, trying to start a family while on holiday. Claire wishing to have the stability in her life to have a place to place that vase. Frank’s zeal for history, particularly his own ancestors, which is only matched by his love and lust for Claire.  All the makings of a great romance story.  Then Craigh Na Dun…

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Wait. What ???

All of a sudden Claire is not in the 20th century anymore. There are soldiers shooting at people – even herself. As she is trying to make sense of it all, so are we as the viewers.  What in the world is going on? She sees someone who looks exactly like her husband by a riverbank, but quickly realizes that this man could never be Frank.  As she comes to that realization, she gets hit on the head and dragged off by a Scottish Highlander.  This is getting juicy!  She has no idea where she is or what is happening, but she does know how to tend to the sick and injured.  She is put to use in that capacity almost immediately to tend to young Jamie MacTavish. And here we go…

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Sam Heughan appears on the screen. From that moment on, I was completely and utterly and absolutely hooked.  It’s not just the rugged good looks and knee porn and the Scottish accent.  Jamie is immediately recognizable as an honorable man – someone who you would want on your side in a fight, but also someone who would protect you and keep his word once given.  I got that out of just the short time he was on screen in this episode. Sam’s acting skill is on display.

When the episode was over, I was still glued to the screen.  Is that it?  Do I have to wait another week for another episode?  OMG How will I survive?

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With each week that went by, the episodes just kept getting better.  Claire finds out that she has somehow been transported back to 1743.  Claire yearning to return home to Frank and the life they were building. Frank searching for her and annoying the heck out of the local police. Claire having to use her medical skills to make herself useful so that she can have a wee bit of freedom. Claire is drawn to Jamie in spite of the fact that she is already married and in love with her husband in the future. The first appearance of Laoghaire.  Colum, Dougal and the other Highlanders and their skepticism of Claire’s story.  They are sure she must be an English spy. The first time Jamie says “Sassenach”. (*SIGH) Black Jack and his connection to Jamie and Jack’s utter evil.  And then The Wedding. Oh, my….There has been so much said about the wedding, that I won’t say anything lengthy here  – just that it is simply one of the best hours of episodic television ever filmed.  Finally, episode 8 rolled around and ended with a cliffhanger and a looming Droughtlander until the second part of the season.

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What was I to do ???

At this point, I remember that the series is based on books.  I’m thinking they must be recent books – I have no knowledge of how many books when they were published, that the story is still being written.  I just know that I have some time, so I might as well buy the first book and read it.

So I went down to the local Target and bought Outlander. I started to read. Whoa… this book is amazing. This author is amazing.  I’ve never read something written so beautifully. I devour the book like a ravenous wolf – not unlike the one Claire kills – getting past what has been on the show and on to the end. Wentworth Prison.  Jamie’s torture. Claire’s search. The rescue. Father Anselm. The recovery.  By the time the second part of the season was ready to premiere, I had finished Outlander and was ready for more. I watched with trepidation as the story unfolded on film.  To Ransom A Man’s Soul is one of the most gut-wrenching hours of television ever produced. The flashbacks to the torture and rape are so hard to watch because I am so invested in these characters and their sacrifices to be together.

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As soon as I got midway through the first book, I knew that I was obsessed.  I had to get ALL the books immediately. I went to the local Barnes & Noble as Target only had the first book and bought them all (or what I thought was all) in small paperback form. The next months were spent reading and savoring the story.  I just couldn’t get enough.  At the end of the 7th book, I found out about MOBY.  It was only available in the big trade paperback and hardcover. I don’t like hardcover books, so I splurged to get the trade paperback. Wow…it just keeps getting better.

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By the time the second season came around, I had finished all the Big Books and had read some of the novellas.  I am spoiled.  I can’t go back to any of my former favorite authors without thinking of Diana Gabaldon and how good this writing is.

I have since read all the Big Books twice (Voyager three times) and can’t imagine my life without this wonderful story. I devour any tidbit about the series, follow all the stars on Twitter – which I did not even use prior to a year ago – and fangirl out with my fellow Sassenach Sisters over every detail.

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I know I’m obsessed, but I’m proud to be an Obsassenach.

Snakes….why did it have to be snakes?

by Crystal Fann

Can we just go ahead and give Catriona Balfe all the awards?  Golden Globes, Bafta, Emmy,  Screen Actors Guild and even though she’s really not eligible – let’s give her a Tony and an Oscar too.  I mean any woman who would let a real snake craw over her for the sake of authenticity, “Shivers”.

Seriously though – I’ve seen a lot of talk about “survivor Claire” and I have to be honest, I thought that segment went a bit too long.  I know they’re visualizing the lengths Claire would go to protect Jamie.   I know they’re trying to show us the skills she honed traveling the world with Uncle Lam.  I know they’re trying to harken back to the first show of the series where Claire was in a strange land all alone trying to survive (anybody notice that her undergarments favored that dress she wore in episode one?).   But 15 minutes of Claire traipsing around with blisters, ant bites, slithering snakes,  sunburn and burning bum rolls, still looking a damn sight better than I do when I just mow grass, I might add – well it was a bit much.

Thankfully though Claire makes it to quasi civilization before passing out.  When she awakens tied up – and then is near drowned by Mamacita when she asks for water – we get the feeling that maybe she’d be better off in the jungle with the snakes.  Then we meet the sweet, charming Father Fodgen and think that all is well.  He’s intelligent and seems eager to help Claire on her journey to Jamaica.  He is a kindred spirit that has suffered a lost love just as Claire had for 20 years.   Then he talks to the coconut.  Coco, just as the erstwhile Wilson from Castaway, gives silent counsel, but one Claire recognizes she needs.  With the looming threat that Mamacita will do more than tie her up next time, Claire seizes the opportunity and her soliloquy to the wise and silent Coco does the trick, at least as far as Father Fodgen is concerned.

Yet Claire’s travels hit another snag with the death of beloved Arabella.  The skinned goat head with the addition of beetles was a bit yucky but it was the needed segue way for Father Fodgen to mention “Abandawe”.  Claire remembers her prior warning from Margaret Campbell and you can just feel the goosebumps skittering down her spine.  With the mention of the hateful Chinaman that put Arabella in a pot – Claire gets goosebumps for another reason altogether.  Since obviously, Ye Tien Cho is the only Chinaman that’s on a ship in the area, it’s a clue that Jamie might be near.  With Mamcita’s direction Claire takes off on another jaunt that proves while she might have some Bear Grylls in her blood, she’s got some Haile Gebrselassie in there as well.

We then get a look at what Claire’s sprinting towards – it seems she’s not the only one who fell prey to the whims of the ocean. The Artemis has been damaged in a squall and while Captain Raines is dead, Captain Fraser is on the job consoling a spiritually conflicted Fergus as well as overseeing the repair of the ship.  Jamie’s so good at the construction part that he’s got his people ready to sail before Claire finally limps to the beach, bleeding and exhausted – but too late.  Thankfully she swiped a small mirror from Father Fodgen and is able to signal her husband leading to a beach reunion and as I watched Jamie run toward her arms outstretched I had only one thought – why on earth did they land the boat so far up the beach from Claire?

 

The reunion is “From Here to Eternity” worthy.  Jamie can’t believe Claire jumped off a ship but warning him about the warrant was reason enough for Claire.  Jamie reminds his wife that he was a wanted man when they first met…and Claire’s comment that she didn’t like it then either reminds us of what came of it.  Hopefully, the outcome won’t be so vicious this time.  Comments from the Rupert and Angus stand-in’s that Claire does seem to drop in out of the sky from time to time provide a little levity as Ye Tien Cho does the stitching.

Jamie’s so happy to have Claire back in his arms…he wants to share the love.  After recognizing last week that Fergus’s love for Marsali is in the same vein as his for Claire Jamie plans a wedding.  I giggled the whole time Ye Tien Cho played the penitent, chicken offering, contrite soul – at least he got some ganja for his efforts.  Claire’s bonding scenes with Marsali were sweet and Marsali realizes that Claire and Jamie and not her mother and Jamie are the couple to emulate – I think I’m going to like that girl.

Some people’s favorite part of the episode comes at the end, but we’ll get to that in a bit.  My favorite part was the impromptu wedding on the beach.  Fergus and Marsali – I just loved them – standing before Father Fodgen with a cock – but lacking a name.  Marsali is impatient…wanting the Father to hurry so she can, in fact, answer the question about Fergus’s cock.  Fergus is sweet and loves Marsali for her spirit and speaking her mind.  Like father like son in terms of wives and in one of the most precious moments in the whole book and TV series – Jamie makes that bond official.  Fergus Claudel Fraser.  The pride of a father recognizing his son – the pride of a son receiving the recognition he has earned through loyalty and love.  The look on Claire’s face as she laid her head on Jamie’s shoulder.  Was she remembering the time they sent Fergus to safety on the cusp of Culloden?  We love you like a son – our own son and the giving of a name made it official.  Just as in the book it brought tears to my eyes.  It was perfect.

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Then we come to the part that they teased with the title card of a turtle swimming through blue ocean waters – Turtle Soup.  Book readers knew what to expect and the show didn’t disappoint.  Drunk, feverish and horny Claire is adorable – and we can see that fact written all over Jamie’s face.  They are at ease with each other, loving and teasing, the Jamie and Claire we know and love.  The man who can cause carnage with a sword can’t bring himself to stab Claire in the arse with a needle – she reminds him what it feels like and he can’t cause her that pain.

What he can do however is give us a bit a foreshadowing with a quick stream of penicillin ejaculating from the needle which gives Claire all sorts of ideas.  A stitched-up arm doesn’t damper Claire’s lust and while Jamie does give a cursory refusal –  well Claire does have a very strong grip.  Soon they’re sweating and moaning and biting and bruising (according to Catriona Balfe) and nearly interrupted by Ye Tien Cho, who seems as besotted with Claire as the rest of us.  His smile as he walks away speaks for us all – Jamie and Claire are back together…and hopefully will stay that way!

 

Better late…..

by Crystal Fann

My apologies for the lateness of the blog today but life, in the form of traffic, over 300 emails and a nasty little man in drooping pants that wanted to argue with me in the hallway of my freezing office that the heat was indeed working, got in the way.  Yet it got me to thinking about lateness, and how last night’s Outlander episode was a study in that very concept.

For Claire, lateness comes in the midst of a ship full of puking, pooping, and dying men.  Too late to stop the disease from spreading and too late to do anything for the hundreds that have died.  Too late to offer anything but comfort and maybe a sip or two of goats milk and biscuit to those she knows have no hope for anything save the cannonball taking them to the deep blue depths.  Despite being too late in realizing the intent of the British Captain, despite recognizing too late that another separation from Jamie loomed – Claire goes into commando mode because other than her love for Jamie there is one other thing that defines Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser – she is a healer.  Her talk of compartmentalizing with young Elias isn’t just about the dead, it’s about putting aside her fear of never seeing Jamie again to do what must be done.

Speaking of Jamie – raise your hand if you expected him to dive into the ocean and swim after the Porpoise.  The Captain of the Artemis raised his hand.  His decision to throw Jamie into the brig wasn’t to be cruel, it was to keep Jamie from getting himself and possibly the crew killed in an ill-advised pursuit after a British man-o-war.  The Captain told Jamie too late of the message from the Porpoise to make accommodation for Claire until they reached Jamaica.  Jamie was already in panic mode by then – his worst fear of losing Claire again has come true, although by no fault of their own.

Back on the Porpoise, Claire is dealing with the hand she’s been given.  Lt. Leonard might be the acting Captain of the ship, but it’s Claire who’s giving the orders – much to the chagrin of the ship’s cook who doesn’t want to give up his galley hand regardless of the fact that he’s the instigator of the disease.  Angered at taking orders from a woman, this nasty little man tries to gain the upper hand with the age-old tactic of intimation.   What he doesn’t realize however is that Claire is a woman who has survived more than this man has seen in his life and she backs him down with the best verbal bitch-slap of the night.  What the cook doesn’t realize is that Claire is not only is fighting to save the dying sailors – but now realizes she must save Jamie as well.   When Claire finally meets Mr. Thompkins, it’s too late to prevent the inevitable tale of treason and murder.   The moment her hands clench the saw as she contemplates murder to save the man she loves we see her desperation.  When she has the tattle-tale locked in the cell next to the ship’s version of Typhoid Mary, we see her cooler head prevail, aside from a slight deviousness to avenge the injury against Jamie.

Meanwhile, our erstwhile hero is experiencing a little desperation of his own.  Locked in a cell without the help of Mr. Willoughby’s needles, and taking solace from the photographs of another love lost to him, Jamie turns his nose up at the food Fergus offers,  wanting something else from the once young pick-pocket.  I’ve seen a lot of comments angry at the blackmail Jamie used on Fergus to try and coerce his help; many say its out of character.  I say it was a perfect way to show Jamie’s fear and desperation.  Fergus reminds him that Claire cannot catch the Typhoid – but it’s not that fact that worries Jamie – it’s the 300 men to 1 woman ratio on the Porpoise.  Jamie knows all too well the cruelty of the time.

Fergus loves Claire too –and he loves Marsali – seriously were they not the cutest?  Most of all, however  – Fergus loves Jamie and he loves him enough to go against his Jamie’s wishes to escape, even if it costs him the woman he loves. Jamie accuses Fergus of not knowing love – but Fergus proves to us all he knows the meaning of that emotion all too well.   He proves it to Jamie too and finally gains the blessing he desires – to marry Marsali in Jamaica.

Speaking of love – let’s talk about the two characters that stole the show for me last night.  Young Elias Pound and  Annekje, who I’ve seen called the “magical goat lady”.   Elias stole our hearts just as he did Claire’s.  His respect and devotion to the healer he sees in actions touches us all just as it does Claire and she is lost to her motherly instinct for a young man who has called the sea home ever since the tender age of 7.

Claire was too late to realize Elias’s tiredness was more than a simple need for sleep.   Too late to do anything but hold his hand.  When with his last breath Elias calls for his mother – I don’t think he was calling for a woman long-since gone from his life but for one who had become surrogate to him even for a short while.  When Claire answers that call – it wasn’t pretense, but from a place deep in her heart.   I don’t know about you – but I ugly cried when Claire placed the final stitch in Elias’s shroud, unable to compartmentalize this loss, but still courageous enough to give the young lad a final honor.

With Elias gone and the plague snuffed out – our heroine turns her attention to another mission – that of saving her husband.  With the help of Anneke, who with the simple act of giving cheese recognizes a sister in distress,  Claire attempts to escape while the goats stop for grass.  Running into young Leonard thwarts that escape, and it also shows Claire there is no talking the young Captain out of his quest for prominence with the capture of the known trader Jamie Fraser.

Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!  Too late to now make an escape closer to shore, Annekje has another plan – you jump!   After a moment’s hesitation, love wins out and Claire strips to her skivvies and takes what is nothing more than a leap of faith.  Faith that she will not drown, faith that she won’t be eaten by sharks, faith that the current will take her to shore and most of all faith that the 200 years she has traveled won’t be in vain and she will find Jamie again – before it’s too late.

Let’s hear it for the boys!

by:  Crystal Fann

This week I’m talking mostly about the men of Outlander – since, save the presence of Claire and Marsali, it is those bastions of masculinity that dominated the screen in this week’s episode.

First off, while never on the screen, the first man I must mention has a presence as large as any of the actors.  Bear McCreary’s masterful blending of Celtic and Calypso music had our hearts beating in tune with the feverish tempo so that we, like Jamie and Claire look eagerly toward the horizon for the adventure to come.  Matt Roberts opening sequence promises action, peril, intrigue and the gentle touch of romance.  These two men give us the first glimpse of each week’s show snagging our attention with a blaze of sight and sound.  Bravo boys!

Now on to the show….

Jared Fraser is back and seriously…what is it with the Fraser genes that everyone ages so well?  Jared must be 70 if he’s a day and yet he looks as dashing as when we left him in Paris 20 years ago.  It is through Jared that we gain some hope – well if you can call it that – about the perils to come.  Young Ian is healthy and strong so he can fetch up to 30 pounds being sold as a slave in Jamaica.  That gives our erstwhile couple some hope for the boy – but no hope for themselves as they ponder telling Jenny and Ian what has happened.  Perhaps the Caribbean isn’t far enough to travel to escape that looming wrath, yet I couldn’t help the tear in my eye as I saw Jamie watch the shores of his homeland fade away, perhaps forever.

The Artemis sets sail to a parade of sailors touching a horseshoe and greeting Jamie with a wary eye.  Redheads are ill luck on a ship ye ken – so are bananas on a French frigate – who knew?  As we see Fergus approach, any mother worth her salt knows something is afoot with his sheepish expression of half elation, half dread.  Seems like the goods and things Fergus brought from Lallybroch contain one Marsali McKimmie.  The two are hand-fast and while Fergus seems to have bedded every other young lass in Scotland, Marsali remains pure.  This is a point of contention for Jamie who’s trying to escape certain death at the hands of an ex-wife.  Unfortunately, Marsali has a little bit too much of her mother in her and bullies Jamie into staying on ship – much to Claire’s chagrin.  “We’ve been apart for twenty years and you want me to share a cabin with her?”  I feel ya, Claire!

Marsali is none too keen on the idea either – thanks to her mother, no doubt, she feels Claire is an English whore and makes no bones about it.  Thankfully the rules are that the whore gets the biggest bed and Claire owns the moniker proudly as she slides into the berth.  I did love Marsali’s stand against Jamie’s decision on her nuptials, showing that even in the 18th century, there are pouty, petulant teens.  As a book reader, I have an idea of what’s to come with this young woman and I’m excited to see it!

Captain Raines is the quintessential stalwart commander of the vessel.  A mix of sea-weathered discipline and superstitious belief his suggestion that Claire should be bare-breasted accompanied with Shakespearean quotes make him a conundrum – just as he should be.  His conversation with Claire isn’t condescending as most men treat women in that time.   I get the impression he has a grudging respect for our heroine – although he would probably rather die than admit it.

Now we come to my favorite part of the show…barfing Jamie.   While I can certainly commiserate with his seasickness – the passages of Jamie suffering the same affliction on the page and screen reduced me to giggles.  Perhaps it was thanks to the attention of Mr. Willoughby who deftly explained the perils of long-term retching to one’s testicles, complete with a scissoring motion for effect   We get the feeling that there’s something afoot between the two men – but what?

It doesn’t take us long to find out what Jamie and Mr. Willoughby have been hiding – thanks to an untimely visit by Claire.  Mr. Willoughby looks hangdog, Claire looks tickled and Jamie – well Jamie looks like a porcupine. A moment played for laughs on the surface has a poignant undertone.  Fearing the unstable ground on which they still stand, Jamie has suffered the machinations of two cups of ginger tea a day for three weeks so that he won’t hurt Claire’s feelings and give her, what he feels, is yet another reason not to stay.  Claire maneuvers herself through the pincushion of his face to give him a kiss and declare her love – she’s here to stay.

And stay they do mainly because the wind has ceased to blow. Then the bilge water contaminates the drinking water and the ale.  More bangs and bumps and bruises convince the crew that they have a Jonah on board who didn’t touch the horseshoe cursing them all and to the whales, he must go. One of Jamie’s two Ardsmuir men (raise your hand if you saw the ghosts of Rupert and Angus in those Ardsmuir buddies) can’t remember whether he touched it or not and appoints himself as the ships sacrificial lamb.  Jamie gets to play Tarzan and appears to save the day but the real hero of this skelloch is Yi Tien Cho.

In a proud voice, Yi Tien Cho recites the story of his life and tribulations – lapsing into a poetic yet rather X-rated poem of the glories of womanhood that has the sailors blushing, Marsali confused and Claire and Jamie scheming for some alone time.  When the parchment of his life sails away in the wind, the sailors bow to the power of Willoughby.  While Jamie knows Willoughby’s, magic is simply the observation of pelicans in flight (shout out to Ping Ang here!) Claire knows the cost of this narration to Yi Tien Cho and expresses her gratitude for the sacrifice.

We have an introduction to Capt. Leonard and a rather disgusting foray into what awaits Claire in the next episode.  When Claire puts her scarf over her mouth, it was so well played that I thought for a second my TV had smellivison.  Clare is under an oath to help and the young seaman sees some hope in a woebegone situation.  Capt. Leonard isn’t a bad guy, he’s just in far over his head and so desperate for help that he’s willing to kidnap the wife of the King of Men.

And speaking of Jamie…swoon, sigh, and all other words that indicate melting into a puddle of romantic goo.  This is the Jamie Fraser I’ve been missing, strong, loyal, passionate and an absolute teddy bear with those he loves.

His scenes with Fergus show us the father figure he has become to the young man who uses “Milord” in lieu of “Father”.  Jamie’s words on honestly as we get the list of the lasses that Fergus has bedded speak to the lessons Jamie himself has learned.  With Willoughby, we see the trust and bond of a long-term friendship.  With the Rupert and Angus clones, we see a leader, both wise, protective and generous.

It is will Claire, however, that we see the Jamie we love best.   A trunk of clothing so precious in memory Jamie could not bear parting from it.  “Memories of you….never”  The gentle words as they talk about a moon both scientific and mystical.  The tightening of arms – strong and comforting – to assuage the longing for a daughter out of reach.   The desire that spins from a simple bump in a passageway into a passionate romp among the sails.  The uttered phrases that speak of a love that can withstand the ages –  Jamie doesn’t try to be romantic – he’s simply honest, but truthful words spoken from the heart are the most romantic of all.

This is the kind of episode Outlander excels at – the perfect mix of drama, comedy but most of all the intimate moments and connection of a couple whose loyalty and love can withstand the tests of time and man.  With four episodes to go in Season 3, you can bet this is one I’m going to savor again and again.

Let’s hear it for the boys!