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!


Let’s get ready to rumble!!!!!!!!!

by Crystal Fann

Sometimes as a writer – at least for me – it’s easier to write about episodes that people are up in arms about, debating the scenes vs the book and trying to find the soul that is Outlander in a mish-mash of anything but.  Then we get a show like First Wife, one that is utterly perfect television and we are left with nothing more to do than bask in the glory of sight and sound.

As viewers – and readers – we knew what was coming thanks to that little comment from Fergus last week.   Claire rides up on horseback, trepidation in her very bones as she talks about a place of love and home that seems very different to her now.  Foreshadowing much?

Then we see Jenny…Jenny from the Broch as she is monikered by some fans and at no time does she deserve it more than last night.  Quite frankly as an older sister myself, I can relate to Jenny.  Remember this is a woman who watched her brother survive years as little more than animal due to the anguish of losing a woman – a woman who has just popped back up.  She’s shocked, she’s angry and she’s worried…because if Claire abandoned Jamie once, she could do it again.  Jenny’s reaction to Claire is more than just concern for her brother – there’s something else niggling at her – Jamie wasn’t the only one who loved and grieved the loss of the Sassenach.

Jenny’s emotions toward Claire are side-stepped to deal with her wayward son Ian who once again proves he listens to his balls more than his brains before speaking.

“Auntie Claire killed him, she killed him good!”

This little gem of a comment brings forth both Jenny & Ian’s contempt at Jamie’s way of life and I was glad he reminded them rather quickly that it was his life of crime that kept Lallybroch afloat.  That does little to assuage the parent’s anger and the elder Ian challenges Jamie to prove his words.  Jamie says he loves young Ian like a son – it’s time to prove it and do the fatherly thing which is often not a fun thing to do as Ian hands over his belt.

This was my only regret in First Wife.  In the book, Jamie does give young Ian a thrashing and in turn, gives the belt to the boy to administer the same to Jamie himself.  In the book, the scene is both funny and poignant, but I respect the decision of the writers to show that Jamie’s promise to Claire in The Reckoning has stayed with him all this time.  Jamie does dole out punishment and quite frankly, I like Ian would have rather had the thrashing than an afternoon of making “dung patties”.  YUCK!

If Jamie and elder Ian’s scenes show us the unconditional affection and forgiveness inherent in a long-term friendship, Jamie’s scenes with Jenny show us that with fierce love can come fierce anger.  And Jenny is angry.  Jamie’s tale of Claire’s departure twenty years past seems believable on the surface but not to a woman who rode beside Claire on the search for her brother years before.

The Claire I kent would never have stopped looking for you!”  Jenny insists.  She’s right and she knows it – and Jamie knows it too.

Jenny’s forced politeness is as sad as it is hurtful as Claire recalls the past in faces of the future.  Young Jamie who is now as braw as his namesake and a mention of baby Margaret, whom Claire helped bring into this world are reminders of a sisterhood that may never be again.

When night falls on Lallybroch we find Jamie and Claire in the bedchamber they shared as husband and wife years before.   They are tentative and affectionate with each other but the worry that Jenny will never forgive haunts as good as any ghost.  Claire wants to tell her the truth just as they did Murtaugh, but Jamie knows it will do more harm than good.

Then it’s zero hour – and while Jamie positions himself to deliver a truth he fears will cost him his newfound happiness, it is all in vain.  The talk of always searching for each other comparing their bond with the mating of geese ends with the soft, surprised utterance of one word…


Laoghaire doesn’t disappoint, bitchy and hateful as always.  It was really never about Jamie for Laoghaire, but more a competition with Claire that Laoghaire feels she has won now and she doesn’t want to give up the trophy.  But it isn’t the wife that destroys Claire, it’s the faces of the children – especially the one with bright red hair.    The emotions of shock, horror, and heartbreak that play out on Claire’s face are heartwrenching, but not as much as the moments between Jamie and the little girl that he has come to love.  He explains Claire’s presence and promises to care for her always, but Jamie knows deep down this is goodbye to yet another child, this time done willingly for love of Claire.

Claire, however, isn’t having any of that.  Gathering her clothes all she can think of is escape, but Jamie has other ideas.  He tries to explain, but the only thing Claire can see is a little girl with red hair and the knowledge that her little girl with red hair will never know her father as this one has.   Jamie reminds Claire that there are other red-headed men in Scotland and I give kudos to the writing team for the fake-out that had many a non-book reader in a panic.

Claire reminds Jamie that Laoghaire tried to have her killed, Jamie reminds Claire that she told him to be kind to the lass – leading to my second favorite line from the episode.

“I told you to thank her not marry her!”

We now realize that it’s not that Jamie’s married, it’s not even that he’s married to Laoghaire – it’s that he lied.  Jamie does not shirk from this accusation, instead, he revels in the chance to express how lying is the least that he would do to hold on to Claire – and he utters the one thing that brings Claire out of her daze and into the fight.

“You left me.”

You see this fight wasn’t about Laoghaire at all.  This fight was about the pain and grief of separation.  It was about the longing and heartbreak and loneliness that plagued those twenty years apart.  It was about the jealousy, the desire, and the downright fury at lives lived with others that should have been shared together.  It’s about passion – passion of spirit, passion of feeling and yes, passion of body that blazed all over that room until doused by a splash of cold water and words by Jenny.

Claire retreats – doesn’t she always in some way or form – only to learn that the one person whose trust she desires most is the one that betrayed her.  Jenny sent for Laoghaire – she’s his wife, Jenny tells Claire.   “I am his wife!” Claire retorts despite her anger and through Claire’s words, Jenny finally realizes that perhaps her brother wasn’t the only one who lived with half a heart for twenty years.

Jenny, while moved, isn’t ready to give in just yet, even though Ian is disgusted by her actions “If there’s a pot of shite onto boil, you stir like it’s God’s work” – my favorite line of the night.

The next morning Claire is still intent on escape reminding Jamie of his words on their wedding night, vows he has broken – there’s room for secrets, but not for lies.  Jamie has a reminder of his own – that no matter what – Claire is his only love.  Not such a great statement for Laoghaire to overhear, especially since she’s got a gun.  I loved this scene – not because I thought Jamie needed to be shot – but because at that moment, reacting on heart rather than thought Claire staked her claim to Jamie and sent Laoghaire running.

We all know what happens next and despite the rather gory depiction of Claire digging birdshot out of Jamie’s swiss cheese of an arm, the scene is special due to the bonding between young Ian and his Auntie Claire.   “You’re the only one that calls me that,” Clare says in gratitude.  Ian just smiles because as young as he is, he’s wise enough to know that with Claire lies his Uncle Jamie’s heart.

Patched up and recovering Jamie’s knows Claire’s presence at his side isn’t simply because she’s a doctor.  She’s angry still – but she wants to know why Laoghaire.  Don’t we all?  Through words and flashback, we learn the truth.  It wasn’t about Laoghaire at all, but her daughters that stole Jamie’s heart.   Joanie and Marsali filled the void in Jamie’s heart and assuaged his longing for fatherhood.   Did he sometimes see Faith and Brianna when he looked at them?  I wonder.

For the girls, Jamie withstood their mother as long as he could, finally deciding he could not live with a woman who feared his touch.  Claire, who more than anyone else could understand Jamie’s feelings of living as a ghost, gently laid her hand on his – not as a doctor, but as a wife and woman who would never feel fear at the touch of those hands.  Jamie’s fever wasn’t the heat of shame as he thought, and just as germs are no match for penicillin – anger is no match against love.

Jenny knows what her actions caused – and this time when Claire appeals Jenny thaws despite the unanswered questions that still remain.  The women are still estranged, but this time in Jenny’s tearful gaze, we see hope of the renewal of sisterhood.

I squealed aloud at the appearance of Ned Gowan, his presence interjecting some much-needed lightness into the episode.   Yes, Claire, Richmond is very nice this time of year but Jamie’s love for the girls won out – as did Laoghaire’s greed.

Twenty pounds and ten pounds a year until Marsali and Joanie are married.  It’s a king’s ransom back in those days – luckily Jamie knows where he can find a king’s fortune.  Jamie’s injured though and won’t be able to retrieve it – but young Ian is a very good swimmer.   Jenny relents not only to the young man’s freedom but also to the idea that perhaps her brother does know something about being a parent after all.

The scene on the cliff between Jamie and Claire is the one that I’ve seen the most comments about.   Is Claire still angry?  Does she have regrets about coming back?  Has she not forgiven Jamie?  No, what’s wrong with Claire is that she’s afraid.  There’s a scene in the book just after young Ian is kidnapped when Jamie wonders if God is punishing him because he wants Claire above all else.   This scene to me is Claire’s version of that worry.

Their lives weren’t so bad before…hers in Boston, his in Edinburgh.  Claire has dreamed of him for twenty years, but her dreams never factored in the harsh realities of the eighteenth century and the truth of the life Jamie had without her.   It’s been so hard.  Do they belong together?  Is it worth it?

For Jamie, there is no question.  “Will you take the man I am for the sake of the man I once was?” For Claire, there is no other answer than yes – although she doesn’t get to verbalize it thanks to a bunch of pirates.  Yet when the camera pulls away, as the pirates pull away with young Ian and the treasure, Claire is by Jamie’s side – where she belongs and where she will stay.

To Read – or not to Read……………………… Crystal Fann

I’m a reader.  I have been ever since my mother put a copy of Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat in my hands when I was five years old.   I devour books like some people devour chocolate and any time there is a movie or TV show I watch that is based on a book, I always read the source material.   I’m not just talking about Outlander here – I’m the woman who had the man in her life drive 50 miles at midnight to an all-night bookstore after seeing Practical Magic so that I could buy the remarkable book by Alice Hoffman – one that I’ve read every Halloween since.

But is reading the source material of a show or movie really all that great? Is it better or worse to be a non-reader and at the mercy of this everchanging show?   It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately as I see the debates between the readers of Diana Gabaldon’s novels and those that are only TV watchers.

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As a reader, I have expectations – and often that’s not a good thing.  I don’t think I saw a single non-reader upset that Jamie didn’t break down in tears upon seeing the pictures of his daughter – I did, however, see a lot of readers riled up about that one.  Poor ole Sam Heughan got his butt chewed good by fans for changing that iconic scene, I bet he couldn’t sit well for a week!

Yet, being a reader gives me more insight into character motivation as I watch the story unfold on my screen.  While some think a character might be bitchy and snippy – I know from reading the passage of that particular scene that she or he is simply acting out of fear.   The only problem being a reader is that I’m rarely surprised.  I don’t get to avoid spoilers, I know basically what’s going to happen from show to show – or at least I think I do.  Now, this doesn’t mean the show never surprises me, finding Murtaugh alive at Ardsmuir was a wonderful surprise (he dies a rather horrid death at Culloden in the books).  Plus, as a reader, I can pretty well guess if I might see again characters like Murtaugh and Lord John as the story moves along while non-readers are left to wonder if they will ever see those faces again.

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Non-Readers don’t have expectations, they just watch from week to week, enjoying the story as it plays out on the screen.  While they aren’t plagued with the disappointment of seeing a scene or line not dramatized as imagined, they are susceptible to those red-herrings and twists.  A case in point – the text I received from my friend Tina (a non-reader) in the first few minutes of episode 306 when Jamie was having his stock tied by a very attractive French woman…

WTH?? He’s married?

Come on now non-readers, raise your hand if you thought this too – I know Tina wasn’t the only one.  I even know a few readers who sweated a bit in those opening moments, despite recognizing the character as Madam Jeanne.  I was a good pal in this instance and told Tina to calm down and wait, but it did give me a chuckle.  Then last week at the end of episode 307, I get another text from Tina after the exchange between Jamie and Fergus while the Print Shop burned…

WTH?? He IS married to someone else!!!!

Non-readers were surprised at this turn of events and the speculation as to who Jamie’s other wife could be runs rampant.   As a reader, I know who he married in those long, lonely years without Claire – and just let me say – it’s not who a lot of the non-readers think it is!

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Non-readers are wholly unspoiled and thus – I think – get more excitement from the show.  As a reader, I watch to see beloved passages played out by the two extraordinary actors who so perfectly embody the characters of Jamie and Claire.  Speaking of characters, non-readers have no presumption as to a character’s appearance and manner.  Readers, on the other hand, have a character created in their imagination and must reconcile that creation with the actor chosen to occupy that space on the screen.  For myself, I think the casting has been perfect – but I know others for whom it has not.

Aside from the story, both readers and non-readers alike get to partake in the beauty of the show that is Outlander.  The artistry of those like Production Designer Jon Gary Steele and Costume Maven Terry Dresbach create a world of historically accurate lushness in which we all get to wallow.   Did you know that John Gary Steele had not one, but two era accurate print presses hand built to preserve the historical authenticity of the Print Shop?  Terry Dresbach had her team make and re-make Claire’s sewn period dress so that it would look hand-made with mismatched sleeves, crooked seams and the like. I don’t think there has been a single costume or set that I haven’t loved, and the landscape of Scotland takes my breath away on a regular basis.

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The work and care that is lovingly poured into the show from cast and crew never ceases to amaze me.  The writers, who must walk the fine line between readers and non-readers do so with tentative steps, capture the soul of the source material even if they have to rework a line or structure a scene differently.  Despite my disappointment from time to time, I will never have anything but gratitude for these extraordinary artisans.

Just like which came first, the chicken or the egg – the debate between reader and non-reader will rage on.  Readers revel in the anticipation of what’s to come while non-readers resist being spoiled and prodded with hints of the upcoming action.  I’ve seen debates that would have turned into all-out brawls had it not been on social media.  You’d think the Spartans and Greeks were conducting all-out warfare within the realm of Facebook over some of these topics.


So, which is it better to be – a reader or a non-reader?  I don’t know and honestly, I don’t think it matters.  In this great big Outlander world, there’s room for us all.