For more goodies on this episode, check out Jamie’s Top 30 Looks from Outlander Episode #108: BOTH SIDES NOW
The Outlander mid-season finale, Ep108: BOTH SIDES NOW, brings Claire’s past-future and future-past together in a parallel story with a beautiful crossing point between the two worlds. As usual, SPOILERS are rife in this recapped review.
This episode is directed by Anna Foerster who did a wonderful job here and on Ep107: THE WEDDING. Ron D. Moore penned the dual timeline story, most likely assigning himself the task because he envisioned the cliffhanger for this episode– and the finale – long ago.
Last week, the story was woven together with flashbacks. This week the story cuts back and forth between the two time periods, synchronizing Claire and Frank’s lives – showing “both sides” of the tale.
Claire and Jamie’s storyline is tweaked from the book a bit, and I am eager to see how the ends tie together in the second half of the season. I’ll get to the specifics later.
Frank’s scenes are wholly created for the show and a very welcome addition – even if not appreciated by all. It’s the first time we see him on his own, experiencing his pain and frustration at the loss of Claire. Up until now, Frank has been viewed only through Claire’s memories. Even the scene of his searching for her in Episode 102: CASTLE LEOCH is her projection of what he must be going through without her.
The story begins in 1945. Frank (Tobias Menzies) sits in a police station, waiting for news of his wife. The constable in charge (Gerry McLaughlin) is not happy to see him and apologizes for their disappointing lack of progress. After all, they haven’t thought to search for his wife in other space-time continuums yet.
“Disappointing. That’s an interesting word. It suggests expectations that were unmet. My expectations of your department were low to begin with and I can assure you, that you have met those expectations at every turn.”
Snap! Do not piss off Professor Frank Randall. Excuse me. Did I say Frank? I meant, Black Jack Randall disguised as Frank. Anyway, the constable is lucky it isn’t BJR, or he’d have found himself without a throat at the end of the scene.
We pan to a picture of Claire’s poster hanging beside an artist’s composite sketch of Jamie. I am shocked by the accuracy considering how dark it was when Frank and Jamie fleetingly passed one another seven weeks ago.
Constable Boyle sets his tea cup down and decides it’s time Frank face the fact his wife has run off with the Highlander last seen watching her from the street.
Frank’s response is to slam his fist on the constable’s desk and declare:
“My wife is not with another man!”
Cut to Claire with another man. The constable may be insensitive and incompetent, but he’s correct.
It is 1743, and Claire is on her third happy honeymoon in Scotland. And I really need to go there because Claire’s having all the fun.
Jamie and Claire (Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe) or Mr. & Mrs. Perfectly-Happy-Because-They’re-Having-So-Much-Sex sit on a hill overlooking a beautiful landscape of Scotland. And I really, really need to go there.
They’re having a romantic lunch away from the others. Jamie – apparently shyer with his clothes on than off – asks Claire if their feelings for one another are normal:
“Is it usual,” he asks ” . . . what it is between us when I touch you . . . when you lie with me . . . is it always so between a man and a woman?”
Claire has been contemplating this same question herself, wondering where Jamie’s been her whole life and why can’t men in the 20th Century be more like him? I have the same question for the 21st Century and eagerly await an answer from anyone able to offer one.
“No, this isn’t usual,” she slowly admits. “It’s different.”
They have a bit of hand sex . . .
. . . giving their other body parts a much needed rest and stare into each other’s eyes. Before things can go any further, an arrow rudely interrupts them and lands in the ground a few feet from where they are about to have more sex.
Jamie protectively pulls Claire down to the ground before investigating the arrow on his own. Alas, it’s only our good friend Hugh Munro (Simon Meacock) making a dramatic entrance – trying to outdo Black Jack Randall’s snappy entrance from THE GARRISON COMMANDER. Of course, no one can outdo that one – except maybe Jamie.
Hugh Munro, in a fabulous Christian Dior floppy hat circa 1970, speaks only in grunts and sign language having lost his tongue to the Turks several years ago, as Jamie explains to Claire. As if that wasn’t bad enough, boiling oil was poured over his legs in a persuasive effort to convert him to the Musliman Religion. As compensation for his pain and suffering, Hugh is in possession of several gaberlunzie tokens – licenses to beg.
After bestowing a gift of a DRAGONFLY IN AMBER! to Claire as a wedding gift . . .
. . . Hugh makes known the reason for seeking Jamie out and interrupting their sexfest. Horrocks, a redcoat deserter, has come forward as a potential witness to the murder of which Jamie is falsely accused. It’s not certain he can be trusted, but he’s Jamie’s first real chance at clearing his name. He wants to take Claire home and make her his:
Jamie is a young man in love, trying to set his life on the path he’s always wanted with a beautiful wife. Unfortunately, she already has a husband. We cut back to Frank and Reverend Wakefield, theorizing what could have happened to Claire. The good Reverend thinks Claire has been living in a cave the past seven weeks, confused and disoriented, living off of fish and frogs.
Frank looks like Black Jack Randall again and wants to belt the Reverend for offering such a hair-brained and useless theory. And I am loving this side of Frank. He’s so dark.
But that’s not the most exciting part of this scene. We finally meet a new and very important character to the series of novels – Wee Roger Mac (Rory Burns), all 2 foot 6 of him. He enters with Mrs. Graham (Tracey Wilkinson) carrying a plate of biscuits . . .
. . . but fails to put a smile on Frank’s morose face.
Mrs. Graham thinks a spot of tea will do the trick. Frank looks as if he wants to take off everyone’s head, including the kid’s.
“I think I need something a little stronger, “
he says to the cup in her hands and strides from the room. Mrs. Graham heaves a sigh at the Reverend, seeming to blame him for something. Hm?
We follow Frank to a bar where he slugs down a glass of whiskey – the only thing available in Scottish pubs.
An attractive blond (Olivia Morgan) walks in and sits down beside him, addressing him by name.
“You can call me Sally,” she says with a sly smile, “but that’s not my real name.”
She pulls out a tattered copy of Jamie’s poster and tells Frank she kens where the man is. She offers to take Frank to him.
“Meet me on Drummond Lane, just past the coffee shop at half past 12. Come alone. And bring the reward.”
No one with a brain does NOT think this is NOT a set up. I guess the blond and her thuggy friends think Frank is so desperate to find his wife, he’ll show up with £1000 in small, unmarked bills. They don’t know they’re dealing with Black Jack’s reincarnation.
Frank downs the rest of his whiskey and asks for another which segues us back to 1743. Angus (Stephen Walters) pours a round of drinks for the Highlanders sitting around a campfire, listening to Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) tell the story of a waterhorse.
Jamie and Claire sit by themselves . . .
. . . still having hand sex . . .
. . . and making googly eyes at each other in the dark. I thought the kilt had at least 101 uses? They should pull that bad boy over their laps and get busy with those hands elsewhere. To heck with the Highlanders. Dougal’s in the background with his kilt over his lap. What do you think he’s doing?
No time for that though. The horses are restless and everyone around the campfire goes on edge. Raiders are nearby. Rupert continues with his story while each of the men take a weapon in hand and spread out. Ever protective Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) – love him – takes his place closest to Jamie and Claire. His godson has just lost his virginity. Murtagh will be damned before Jamie’s sexcapades are cut short.
Jamie puts a large dagger in Claire’s hand – a real one, not the euphemism for, well you know – and kisses her. Aww.
No time for that. He tells her to head for the fallen tree when he gives her the signal. The signal is a loud, “GO!”
All hell breaks loose, as they say. I gloss over this part because you don’t really want me to describe blow-by-blow who hits who. Plus it’s really dark, and I’m not sure if it’s Jamie, Murtagh, Angus, Rupert, Dougal (Graham McTavish), Willie (Finn Den Hertog) or Ned (Bill Paterson) turning me on while I watch this fight. Just kidding. I’d know Jamie in the dark any time, and Dougal’s head shines in the moonlight.
Fight over. They lose a horse and three bags of grain off their wagon to the Grant raiding party. Claire comes out of hiding. Everyone is safe and unharmed. She and Jamie hug. End scene.
Now, I have to stop here to – not complain but – point out in the novel, several injuries are incurred. Nurse Claire puts her cap on and goes to work. When she and Jamie finally retire for the evening, they enjoy one of my favorite intimate moments in the novel.
Diana Gabaldon is a master at writing sex scenes. No two are alike. To add to the picture of Claire and Jamie’s relationship, I include the “waterweed” excerpt below. If you’re a fan of the novel, I’m sure you won’t mind reading it again. If you’ve never read the novel, maybe this will entice you to pick up a copy of Outlander. [Note: I added this before Ms. Gabaldon posted the exact same excerpt but decided to keep it in for those who missed it.] Propriety compels me to add a WARNING of graphic sexual content.
“The moon was sinking, and I was shivering., half with reaction and half with cold. It was a wonderful feeling to have Jamie lie down and firmly gather me in, next to his large, warm body.
“Will they come back, do you think?” I asked, but he shook his head.
“Nay, it was Malcolm Grant and his two boys – it was the oldest I stuck in the leg. They’ll be home in their own beds by now,” he replied. He stroked my hair and said, in softer tones, “Ye did a braw bit o’ work tonight, lass. I was proud of ye.”
I rolled over and put my arms about his neck.
“Not as proud as I was. You were wonderful, Jamie. I’ve never seen anything like that.”
He snorted deprecatingly, but I thought he was pleased, nonetheless.
“Only a raid, Sassenach. I’ve been doin’ that since I was fourteen. It’s only in fun, ye see; it’s different when you’re up against someone who really means to kill ye.”
“Fun,” I said, a little faintly. “Yes, quite.”
His arms tightened around me, and one of the stroking hands dipped lower, beginning to inch my skirt up. Clearly the thrill of the fight was being transmuted into a different kind of excitement.
“Jamie! Not here!” I said, squirming away and pushing my skirt down again.
“Are ye tired, Sassenach?” he asked with concern. “Dinna worry, I won’t take long.” Now both hands were at it, rucking the heavy fabric up in front.
“No!” I replied, all too mindful of the twenty men lying a few feet away. “I’m not tired, it’s just –” I gasped as his groping hand found its way between my legs.
“Lord,” he said softly. “It’s slippery as waterweed.”
“Jamie! There are twenty men sleeping right next to us!” I shouted in a whisper.
“They wilna be sleeping long, if you keep talking.” He rolled on top of me, pinning me to the rock. His knee wedged between my thighs and began to work gently back and forth. Despite myself, my legs were beginning to loosen. Twenty-seven years of propriety were no match for several hundred thousand years of instinct. While my mind might object to being taken on a bare rock next to several sleeping soldiers, my body plainly considered itself the spoils of war and was eager to complete the formalities of surrender. He kissed me, long and deep, his tongue sweet and restless in my mouth.
“Jamie,” I panted. He pushed his kilt out of the way and pressed my hand against him.
“Bloody Christ,” I said, impressed despite myself. My sense of propriety slipped another notch.
“Fighting gives ye a terrible cockstand, after. Ye want me, do ye no?” he said, pulling back a little to look at me. It seemed pointless to deny it, what with all the evidence to hand. He was hard as a brass rod against my bared thigh.
“Er . . . yes . . . but . . .”
He took a firm grip on my shoulders with both hands.
“Be quiet, Sassenach,” he said with authority. “It isna going to take verra long.”
It didn’t. I began to climax with the first powerful thrust, in long, racking spasms. I dug my fingers hard into his back and held on, biting the fabric of his shirt to muffle any sounds. In less than a dozen strokes, I felt his testicles contract, tight against his body, and the warm flood of his own release. He lowered himself slowly to the side and lay trembling.
The blood was still beating heavily in my ears, echoing the fading pulse between my legs. Jamie’s hand lay on my breast, limp and heavy. Turning my head, I could see the dim figure of the sentry, leaning against a rock on the far side of the fire. He had his back tactfully turned. I was mildly shocked to realize that I was not even embarrassed. I wondered rather dimly whether I would be in the morning, and then wondered no more.
As much as I enjoy the sexual content of that scene, what I really want to emphasize is how close Jamie and Claire are after only a few days. Their connection is physical, emotional and mental. This scene would have been a nice addition, but I understand its exclusion. Regardless, I like to think it’s what happened after the fade to black.
While Claire and Jamie theoretically get hot and heavy in 1743, we join Frank arriving at his meeting with Sally and her friends. Immediately, he is attacked – struck by one of the men.
But Frank has come prepared and takes a small club-like weapon from his pocket . . .
. . . when they demand he turn over the reward money. What follows is a brutal retaliation which continues even when the men are down on the ground. Let’s face it – they kind of deserve it, trying to take advantage of a sad and desperate man who’s lost his wife.
Frank releases his impotent Black Jack rage spawned by his futility to find Claire. It’s a fascinating exploration into Frank’s reaction to the situation in which he finds himself – as engrossing as Captain Randall’s turn in THE GARRISON COMMANDER. Both men find themselves dwelling in darkness, but Frank pulls himself out of it before doing harm to Sally.
“It’s very simple in this modern age to dismiss the idea of good and evil, but there is evil. And it finds purchase in good men by giving sin the sweet taste of ecstasy.”
Reverend Wakefield’s voiceover floats over the gasping Sally as Frank backs away from her, taking charge of his emotions.
The next morning, we find he has confessed his sins to the Reverend and receives his guidance.
“The Nazi’s drank from that poisoned cup thinking all the while they were slaking their thirst with the sweetest wine.”
Wakefield believes Frank has taken only a sip from the cup and can save himself by leaving Inverness to begin his life again without Claire. She is gone and has started a new life somewhere without Frank. Citing Sherlock Holmes, Wakefield tells him,
“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains however improbable, must be the truth.”
The Reverend talks the talk but does not walk the walk as we learn later. It’s time to go back to the Highlander camp. Rupert, Jamie and Claire search for the dagger she lost during the Grant attack.
“It’s too long and heavy for me,”
Claire says when they find it. Rupert claims his imaginary lassies say that to him all the time. Yeah, Claire isn’t talking about yours, Rup.
Everyone chirps in on the conversation. Ned suggests Claire learn a little Highlander self-defense. Jamie agrees as being a Fraser means leading a dangerous life. Dougal advices Claire be given a sgian-dubh – a small, single-edged knife handily worn on the leg.
As Angus is apparently the deadliest with a knife – yeah, right – he is assigned the duty of teaching Claire how to attack and kill.
Murtagh from the sidelines has one of the best lines of the show:
“I still say the only good weapon for a woman is poison.”
“Perhaps,” replies Dougal, “but it has certain deficiencies in combat.”
Claire’s lesson is very technical and precise. Angus shows her how to stab with a strong upward thrust. Moments later, Jamie is showing Claire his strong upward thrust.
Yes, we finally get le sex. Jamie and Claire have left the camp to
“. . . find some more of her wee herbs.”
So many ways to play with that sentence, but I’d rather move onto one of Jamie’s more iconic lines:
“Does it ever stop . . . the wanting you?”
he gasps as he undresses her.
Honestly, I always imagined this line being delivered in a more tender voice, but I’m flexible. Jamie and Claire are hungry for each other. Hand sex isn’t cutting it any more. They didn’t get their honeymoon at the inn – as in the novel – and have had to restrain themselves around the other men. Yes, I know this scene has always taken place on the road, but I think they have even more pent up sexual energy without those first few days of alone time in the honeymoon suite. Who am I kidding? A few days with Jamie just ain’t gonna cut it.
Finally alone in the glen, Jamie takes possession of his new wife, claiming:
“Now I know why the church calls it a sacrament,”
“Why?” Claire asks to which Jamie replies:
“Because I feel like God Himself when I’m inside you!”
Giggle. Snort. Aww. They’re having such a good time they don’t notice the two soldiers in bright red coats who sneak up behind them. Fun time’s over.
Let’s recap. Claire has two half-wits bust in on her first night with Jamie hoping to catch them doing it – 10-minutes later and they might have seen something. Then she gets hit on by Dougal ten-minutes after doing it with Jamie. Now, she gets caught by two quarter-wits while doing it with Jamie – they needed another 10-minutes. This honeymoon really sucks.
On a serious note, rape is a common theme in the Outlander novels because it was common practice in the 18th Century. Anyone who claims the novels glorify rape simply call attention to their own ignorance. And that’s all I have to say.
What happens next is a defining moment in Claire and Jamie’s relationship. Jamie stated on the day of their marriage that Claire had his name, clan, family and the protection of his body. Now when she needs him most, he stands helpless with a gun to his head while another man prepares to rape her. Claire is forced to save herself; and thus, save both their lives.
In the novels, many times Jamie is described as going berserk with a violent yet controlled fury. We are supposed to see him close to that here, barely holding onto his rage. Claire knows if she doesn’t take action quickly, Jamie will attack no matter the consequences of his actions. It’s a bit subtle in the show, but it’s there.
The bulk of the scene is played from Claire’s perspective – surreal, happening all at once but in slow motion. She has very little time to think and even less time to act. The moment she does, Jamie is quick to slice the throat of the man holding him at bay. Then he whisks Claire away from the glen.
Back in 1945, we come upon Mrs. Graham and Reverend Wakefield in a heated argument. Because the house is old and they are yelling rather loudly, Frank cannot help but hear them talking about him. This is a creative addition to the story I rather like which leads to a beautiful crossover scene later.
Mrs. Graham takes Frank into the kitchen and tells him she believes Claire has passed through the stones of Craigh na Dun to another time.
Frank listens with a sober expression, asks a few questions then rises from the table and announces he’s leaving for Oxford.
Mrs. Graham is shocked Frank doesn’t believe her even though her explanation is the only one that makes sense. The Reverend stands in the background, reconsidering Sherlock Holmes’ logic.
“I simply do not share your beliefs,”
Frank says. Translation: You are nuts.
DO NOT READ the indented paragraphs below if you do not want to know about Roger’s future.
Wee Roger Mac with his adorable eyes and pinchable cheeks comes up behind Frank and stares at the angry man. And I am feeling sorry for the little tyke – always in a suit and tie. Does the kid not have any play clothes? He reminds me of young Arthur from Somewhere in Time whose father wouldn’t let him play with his ball in the lobby. Hey, that’s a time travel story, too!
Anyway, now I’m sad thinking about all the $hit that happens to Roger when he gets older. Ugh. Stay little, kid. Better yet, don’t go through the stones! Going after Brianna and knocking her up is what gets you both stuck there for a spell.
It’s time to check on the honeymooners. The honeymoon has not improved. Jamie and Claire cling to one another with Jamie berating himself and apologizing to Claire for putting her in danger. Claire goes into shock and has a more severe reaction to the attack than in the novel although it’s much more violent on page.
In the Outlander novel, Claire and Jamie react to the attack in a more carnal manner. In her words, they come together in a:
“. . . savage, urgent silence, thrusting fiercely and finishing within moments, driven by a compulsion. I didn’t understand, but knew we must obey, or be lost to each other forever. It was not an act of love, but one of necessity, as though we knew that left alone, neither of us could stand. Our only strength lay in fusion, drowning the memories of death and near-rape in the flooding of the senses.”
That union serves to release the tension brought on by the attack. When Dougal comes upon them, Claire falls into a fit of hysterical laughter.
In the show the logistics are changed such that Jamie leaves Claire’s side. She stays alone at the top of a hill while he returns to the bodies with Dougal and the others. It’s determined the dead men are deserters from the English army, like Horrocks. This leads to the decision they must all go with Jamie to the meeting.
The MacKenzies hit the road. Claire is now angry about the incident though she claims not to know why. Hm . . . I can think of several reasons. But they’ll argue about that later. For now, the caravan stops in a lovely wooded area. Jamie wants Claire to wait with Willie because he doesn’t want her put into danger again.
Claire reminds him she saved both their butts in the glen, proving she can take care of herself. Jamie is feeling a bit emasculated right now and grinds out:
“You needn’t prove it again.”
No hand sex tonight for Jamie.
We come to the moment in the story where I don’t care for the choice in divergence from the novel. Perhaps all will be rectified in the second half of the season, but an important exchange is omitted in this scene – in my opinion because there’s no other in this review – and replaced with lines which, frankly, make no sense to me.
In the novel, Claire insists on accompanying Jamie to the meeting with Horrocks. They get into a real argument over the issue. I’ll let another excerpt speak for itself:
“Did ye no promise to obey me?” he asked, shaking me gently.
“Yes, but –” But only because I had to, I was going to say, but he was already urging my horse’s head around toward the thicket.
“It’s verra dangerous, and I’ll not have ye there, Claire. I shall be busy, and if it comes to it, I can’t fight and protect you at the same time.” Seeing my mutinous look, he dropped his hand to the saddlebag and began rummaging.
“What are you looking for?”
“Rope. If ye wilna do as I say, I shall tie ye to a tree until I come back.”
“Aye, I would!” Plainly he meant it. I gave in with bad grace, and reluctantly reined in my horse. Jamie leaned to kiss me glancingly on the cheek, already turning to go.
“Take care, Sassenach. You’ve your dirk? Good. I shall come back as soon as I can. Oh, one more thing.”
“What’s that?” I said sullenly.
“If you leave that copse before I come for ye, I’ll tan your bare arse wi’ my sword belt. Ye wouldna enjoy walking all the way to Bargrennan. Remember,” he said, pinching my cheek gently, “I dinna make idle threats.” He didn’t, either. I rode slowly toward the grove, looking back to watch him racing away, bent low over the saddle, one with the horse, the ends of his plaid flying behind.
Forgetting the rendition above for a moment, in the show Claire doesn’t seem to care or mind staying behind. She makes no mention of following Jamie or leaving, so why does he ask her to:
“. . . promise me you’ll stay put. Promise me, Claire. Swear you’ll be here when I get back?”
It feels like part of the scene is missing or maybe some dialogue cut out. With a few lines, we establish they are angry at each other, but where’s the threat? Why does Jamie think she’ll leave?
Going back to the novel, there’s a disconnect for me between it and the show. Very different characters are speaking. Last week, I was disappointed to find Jamie’s “honesty speech” omitted and hoped to hear some form of it in this episode. Now, the forceful husband is gone, replaced with a man who asks his wife to make him a promise rather than threatening her – which is what any self-respecting man in the 18th Century would do.
Assuming the spanking scene is still in the show, I make another assumption that a new plan to get us there is in place – obviously, not yet revealed. What new surprises do the producers have in store? We can only wait to find out.
While Claire waits in the copse for Jamie to return, she chides herself for enjoying sex with him so much she forgot about her plan to return to the stones. Understandable. It’s Jamie.
At the same time in 1945, Frank is leaving Scotland. Something compels him to stop at the turn to Craigh na Dun. Mrs. Graham’s crazy theory? Maybe Sherlock Holmes is right. He turns his car around.
Claire finds herself alone when Willie excuses himself to “take care of business.” He’s a terrible body guard, by the way. Fuming over the incident in the glen, Claire takes a walk through the trees and comes to a very important realization – the 18th Century is not fun any more.
Lo and behold, she spots Craigh na Dun up ahead.
Claire does not have to think twice. She runs toward the hill and her future with Frank. Back in her own time, Frank also approaches the stones. But he has a car so gets there first.
The professor in him doesn’t want to believe his wife traveled back in time, but the man who loves her wants to believe she didn’t leave him for someone else. Well, that’s kinda sorta true.
Claire is still running up the hill. I hope a stunt woman did most of the running because I’m getting tired just watching her ascent.
Frank stands in the middle of the stones. He has no idea what to do. Tap his heels together? Cry on the stones? Maybe tears of love will magically open the space-time portal. Aw. Poor Frank. I’m feeling really sorry for this guy. His_wife_is_right_there. If he can just reach out and grab her.
Claire is still running . . . getting closer. Now, I’m thinking of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You know the one . . .
Frank finally figures out what to do and calls out her name in a most agonizing voice:
He calls it several times, louder and louder. This is the part I love, the camera cranes up from him over the stone to reveal Claire coming up the hill on the other side. They are in perfect sync, just in the wrong time zones. She stops when she magically, mystically hears her name being called and screams back:
“Cla-a-a-a-a-air!” Frank cries again.
“Fra-a-a-a-nk! Wait for me!”
They can hear each other, and now I’m reminded of LadyHawke when Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pheiffer reach out their hands and almost touch before she turns into a hawk with the rising of the sun. So close.
Claire reaches the stone and just touches it . . . or does she?
. . . but the damn thing doesn’t suck her through. Must be the wrong day. Instead she is dragged off by a couple of English soldiers.
Don’t know where they came from or why they grabbed her. Did Black Jack put out an APB on her with a picture? Or do redcoats just go around grabbing women yelling out the name Frank? Maybe one of them is named Frank?
Oh, well. I tried, Frank decides. It’s time to move on. He climbs down the hill hoping no one heard him screaming out his wife’s name in the general direction of the standing stone.
At the same time, Claire is manhandled toward a waiting wagon. Her crappy body guard is still no where to be found. I highly anticipated Willie being skewered by a redcoat in a heroic effort to save Claire. But no, he’s still “taking care of business” in the woods. I suppose Jamie might beat the you-know-what out of him later. I would. He had one job and failed. He’s making me wish Angus had been left behind.
The shot of Claire and Frank each leaving Craigh na Dun is Ron Moore’s stroke of genius. Not only is it a fantastic story element, adding drama, suspense and heartache, but the way it was shot and composited is brilliant as well. Notice the colorization transition taking us from 18th Century Scotland to 1945 in a single move.
Now trussed up in the back of the wagon, Claire heads to Fort William to face Black Jack.
We still don’t know why she’s been taken into custody. I didn’t notice Corporal Hawkins among the men. And if he was there, shame on him because he knows what Captain Randall will do to her. Maybe he’s taken up kicking women in his spare time and has grown to like it. He’s hoping to get in a few licks.
Claire thinks she has an advantage over Randall. He doesn’t know she’s coming and hasn’t prepared an advanced questionnaire for her. Silly, silly Claire. He told her four days ago:
“I dwell in darkness, madam, and darkness is where I belong.”
Does she really think a man like that needs a head’s up? Plus, he’s on his home turf this time.
Out of the wagon and into the frying pan, Claire sits in Randall’s office, looking like Hannibal Lecter’s next meal. And I’m wondering if a sauté pan rather than a frying pan is going to be whipped out with that bottle of Chianti.
“Felicitations and congratulations on your recent marriage,”
Captain Randall greets her, pouring two glasses as if they’re on a third date. The scene stealer is back in the show, and I’m ready to be dazzled. He actually looks giddy here if not ready to taste her.
Claire decides to play it cool and show no fear, but still shoots her mouth off too much. There’s no sense in goading Black Jack, but she can’t seem to help herself. Not a good idea to bring up flogging to a man who gets off on it. His smile slips when she accuses him of being amused by the activity.
“Amusing myself? What an odd thing to say. As you know from our previous meeting, I consider flogging a very serious matter indeed.”
Way to go, Claire.
Black Jack dragging a chair across the room is not necessarily supposed to be comical, but I find it hilarious – akin to his dusting himself off in Lord Dancing Monkey’s doorway. Positioning himself at Claire’s shoulder, Black Jack tells her in a very ominous tone:
“Madam, you need to understand your position. In this hour, our third encounter, I fully intend by any means necessary to discover both your true nature and the secrets that you hold.”
Claire smiles and immediately pulls out her ace – the Duke of Sandringham. The gambit manages to discombobulate Black Jack . . .
. . . and she presses what she considers to be her advantage. Wrapping a veiled threat around his neck as she reties his band into a tidy knot, she tells him the Duke would not be happy with an interruption in her fake mission.
Confidence overtakes her, and she scoops up her adorable cape, ready to flounce from the room. But she forgets Black Jack is the master of lies and deceit.
When he brings up the Duke’s wife, she quickly acknowledges a connection, falling for the oldest trick in the spy handbook.
The Duke has no wife but Randall has a rope.
Claire dashes to the door only to find Corporal Going-to-be-sent-to-hell Hawkins standing guard. The lily-livered corporal forces her back into the room and into the waiting arms of Black Jack who gives his lackey a “Frank Randall” wink as he ties Claire’s hands behind her back.
Randall orders the corporal from the room and tells him not to open the door no matter what he hears.
Alone again, Claire is now scared and does a bit of useless screaming for help. Where’s Lt. Foster when we need him? Black Jack has a very large knife which he uses to cut open her dress. Claire tells him he’s going to regret hurting her, but her empty warning doesn’t deter him. It more goads him into throwing her across his desk by her hair. I’m thinking her screams got him in the right mood.
Sprawled against his desk, Black Jack lifts Claire’s skirt and finds her cute sgian-dubh stuck in the back of her even cuter boots.
Now he has a new toy. Oh, joy! Before he can test its sharpness on the part of a body no woman wants a knife touching – well one of them anyway – Da da da dum . . .
The window shutters fly open to reveal a very pissed off and dirty-looking Jamie perched with a pistol pointing at Black Jack.
“I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife.”
he says very politely.
Black Jack cannot be happier to see his favorite whipping boy again. Jamie does not return the sentiment. The end.
Several creative liberties were taken with the story in this episode, and I must say I very much enjoyed them for the most part. I usually try to stay away from twitter until I’ve written my review, but I did see a bit of squawking about Frank’s screen time versus Jamie’s. In Ep105: RENT, I was among those complaining about Jamie versus Angus’ screen time, but in this case I cannot protest. If anyone deserves to have his story told, expanded and included, it’s Frank Randall. The surface of his character in the novel is barely scratched. Of course, the producers are going to jump on his development. He is essential to Claire’s motivation. I didn’t care about him in the novel, but I do care about him in the show. Certainly, I want Claire to stay with Jamie, but I want her to be torn and she is.
Most of the focus in my reviews this season has been on character development, specifically Jamie and Claire’s. I tend to spend more time discussing Jamie’s character than I do Claire’s. The reason for this is obvious. Her character is very well defined and developed in the show. From the first episode to the mid-season finale, she is the star, and we’ve seen several different sides to her.
The development of Jamie’s character is on a slower arc. It could be I’m biased by my knowledge of the books and expect more from him than I should. I believe I’ve watched each episode with an open mind but continue to feel something lacking. I want him to be stronger. Is it just me, I continue to ask myself? Am I expecting too much too soon? Am I imagining him as mature-Jamie?
Unfortunately, I can’t unlearn I what I know or contain what I feel. I see hints of the Jamie I think he will eventually become full-time. Jamie is an authoritative man, demanding and possessive. Those don’t necessarily sound like positive qualities, but Jamie is not perfect.
In this final episode of 2014, we are gifted with two wonderful Tobias Menzies’ performances. He takes Frank to the dark side and manages to bring a bit of lightness to Black Jack – a clever reversal of roles. We see a bit of both men in each – mirrors of one another. Of course, Black Jack cannot stand in the sun for long and quickly returns to the darkness where he belongs.
Reactions to the finale are mixed, but my position remains the same. I am very happy with the adaptation of the story so far, less so with Jamie’s character BUT I continue to have faith.
Ron Moore‘s solo podcast for Episode 108: BOTH SIDES NOW is available for free on iTunes or you can listen to it here. He also treats us with another inside look at the making of this episode and discusses the exploration of Frank’s character beyond the novel:
Outlander Episode #109: THE RECKONING premieres on Starz on Saturday, 4 April 2015 in the U.S.
114 thoughts on “A True Fan’s Review of #Outlander Episode 108: BOTH SIDES NOW”
i agree that Jamie has been diluted in the series. He was so much “bigger” in the books. More in charge.
I really wanted to see more loving moments with J&C. Claire likes Jamie more in the books and does it allow him to twist in the wind with questions did ” did you like it?” Come on Claire. Plus it seems like she lets him feel foolish like the stockings hung by the fire comment. She treats him like an annoying child at times. Not in the book.
I love Tobias. He is truly handsome and it makes me uncomfortable liking Frank because he then turns into BJR and my mind and heart collide. I like having a backstory for Frank and Claire but I am over it. No more Frank flashbacks. We get it Ron D.
The things they have left out bug me. 1. The wedding ring 2. The promise of honesty 3. The superior position of Claire in the marriage has left out Jamie’s manliness. ( Sam fortunately exudes manliness, sexiness, adorablness, sorry got carried away)
I think Cait said in an panel interview for the premier something that really makes sense. She said , paraphrasing, we will always have the books and that story we love. The series is just a bonus. That is pretty smart and true. The story I first read in 1992 is the story I love. I, like millions of us, re read these books .I won’t miss one single episode of the series.
I don’t like the rape and torture if Jamie. And frankly if Diana says how much she likes it one more time
I will scream. In the words of Frank Randall, I simply do not share her beliefs. I hate the destruction of his heart. He is such a kind man and to have his heart and soul destroyed was not necessary for the story. When I re read the books I selectively do not read those horrible parts. I know what happened in the story and do not enjoy the dialog or the depictions of Jamie’s spirit being torn from him. I can’t imagine some one enjoying that part of the books.
Thanks for all of your articles I live every minute of the time I spend laughing and wiping tears from my eyes do I can continue to read your witty and right on observations.
I very VERY much enjoy reading your OUTLANDER posts (reviews and all) I love your sense of humour !
I’ve tried to stay out of any media regarding the Outlander tv show, because I know how fans (true or not ^^) can sometimes rant so much it makes you feel awkwardly bad. Anyway, I’m glad I finally brought myself to read your blog because it’s pretty damn good and it feels like you write down my mind.
Before starting to watch the show, I re-re-re-re…read Outlander and I’m glad I did, because, like most of you, I had forgotten the Jamie twenty-something-virgin Fraser. I would have found him rather out of character if I hadn’t !
I enjoyed most of the differences between the books and the show but I really hope they put the ‘honesty speech’ somewhere in the 2nd part of the season, it’s such an important part of the Jamie-Claire dynamic. Since we haven’t seen much of the ‘real’ JAMMF, I also wonder how they’re gonna pull off the spanking scene.
I can’t wait to see more of our beloved mature Jamie.
For the time being, I’ll be sure to read every single post you made. Truly love your writing style. Very unique. “And yer a witty one.”
Thank you, Mathilde. I understand what you mean about the media. I tend to stick to Outlander fan blogs rather than the larger “fangirl” type websites and mainstream commercial sites. I also do not spend much time on Facebook because of the snarkiness often found there.
I very much enjoy the conversations on my site. So far, everyone’s been pleasant and interesting. So glad you decided to give my blog a chance!
I’m late to the party, I’ve been reading your blog since I started reading/watching Outlander, around three weeks ago. I just watched “Both Sides Now” for the first time. And I’m reading the book for the first time as well, I went through Wentworth last night and it’s still raw, so when this episode ended I found myself crying for at least 10 minutes. So many parallels.
I share your concern about Jamie’s character development, and the frustration about Sam not being able to show his full potential, because he has it, he clearly can pull off Jamie but hasn’t (yet, hopefully) been given the chance. And I’m concerned because I think the spanking scene might suffer from it. We, as readers, already know Jamie by that time and I still had a hard time going through it. At one point the only thing that made me stop in my tracks and pay closer attention was the firm belief that he would never do it out of cruelty and that the reasons behind it were completely justified, at least in his mind. So if I had a hard time going through it, even though I was completely willing to be convinced as to why the punishment was needed in the first place and I already knew Jamie, not only his sweet side but also the strength and authoritarianism that is underlying building the core of his character. I just don’t know how the show-only viewers are going to react to it when so far they’ve mostly been showed only the sweet side of Jamie. Besides the fact that he didn’t order Claire to stay put and he didn’t promise a punishment if she disobeyed. Under other circumstances I would be very glad that he is not ordering her but asking her to promise but in this case I feel it takes away some of the reasoning behind the punishment. I also think they must have another plan to introduce us to the spanking and I’m actually eager to see how it plays out.
I feel like there’s something missing from the portrayal of Jamie in the show, thankfully not because of Sam, but I believe they will make Jamie the star of the second half of the season because without fully developing his character, the last part of the season won’t make sense, especially if they are planning to expand on Wentworth via flashbacks. I’m very glad and hopeful because they say the voice-overs are mostly going to be Jamie’s.
Welcome to the party, Lillie! I’m so glad you discovered the books, the show, and my blog. :o)
Yes, Diana has assured the fans we will NOT be disappointed with Jamie’s character development in the second half of the season. I am one of those who did not mind meeting a “beefed up” Frank character and will be sad to see him go – but at least we still have Black Jack (my dark secret, dirty favorite!)
Knowing how important the spanking scene is, I have faith in the producer’s to deliver a believable set up and am also eager to see how it plays out.
I look forward to hearing your views on future novels as I assume you plan to keep reading – how can you not!?! FYI, Voyager (book #3) remains my personal favorite though I’ve not yet read MOBY as I’m trying to finish my re-read of the series before starting it.
Thanks for your insightful comments. I look forward to hearing from you again. Cheers!
I’ve noted it before, but the fact that Willie was left with Claire and obviously failed in his duty is a brilliant idea by the screenwriters to mitigate Claire’s punishment. As Jamie said in the book, if one of the men had done what she did, he would be flogged for it. She’s not a victim of wife-beating, but a member of a group being punished for putting them all in extreme danger.
Willie will be punished too, which will make the point better than any exposition could.
Jamie explains his action patiently in the book (and notes that he himself was beaten growing up), and we also see (in DIA) men being beaten for failure of duty, and (in Voyager) Young Ian and Jamie himself suffering similar punishment, and yet some book readers I know STILL can’t get over Claire being punished.
Indeed, that’s one of the many aspects which makes the Outlander series so compelling. Putting a modern woman in the past to experience life in a way “we” understand it. Many readers seem to have a problem projecting themselves. lol
“Putting a modern woman in the past to experience life in a way ‘we’ understand it. Many readers seem to have a problem projecting themselves. lol”
I think that’s EXACTLY their problem.
I just discovered your recaps and I’m enjoying them.
By the way, the weapon that Frank uses on the thieves is called a “black jack”.
Thank you, Genevieve. I hope you’re also enjoying Top 30!
Yes, I know now it’s a black jack but decided to leave my review as-is. I like the mystery.
To put your mind at ease, Sam’s audition was the “tanning Claire’s hide” scene, and it’s what convinced both Ron Moore and Diana Gabaldon that he was Jamie, so I’m sure it’ll be in season two.
Oh, I know it’s in there. But I prefer posing my concerns as questions.
Thank you much!
“…so I’m sure it’ll be in season two”
I think you mean the second eight of season one, not season two, don’t you?
I read OUTLANDER for the first time just before the show premiered (I know, I know But now I’m already up to DRUMS OF AUTUMN, so I’m catching up/on, ‘mmmkay?) and I really *got* the point of the Jamie/Claire relationship as a driver of the story. I completely agree re: loving the expansion of Frank Randall (I’m a book editor, and used to be a film story editor for scripts, so from that perspective, it works brilliantly in terms of increasing Claire’s conflict to better develop Frank.) Having said that, I have loved every single episode of OUTLANDER so far until this one. I haven’t minded the slower dev. of Jamie as a presence so far, but I do agree that he was oddly yanked out of ep 108 (and yeah, the “honesty” bit, which is SO SO key to their overall relationship, um, through the years, shall we say? shouldn’t have been cut unless Ron Moore is jsut saving it for a later moment. Which could be really interesting.) However . . .
I particularly did not like the way they changed the scene where Jamie leaves Claire in the glen. Leaving her–purposely–with Willie, and without the promise of punishment if she leaves (which not only indicates that perhaps Jamie himself still thinks she may be a spy, but the others clearly do, but also indicates that he’s all too aware that she married him out of force, not her own choice!) really diminishes some major, major conflict! And the idea that Craig na Dun is in walking distance . . . just no. There’s no struggle, internal or otherwise for Claire, at that point! I really missed seeing that. One of the things that really made that first book for me were those moments in which she truly felt torn between the love she’d had for Frank and her growing emotion for Jamie, and while I literally sobbed at the beginning and end of ep 107–because they made us feel her confusion!–I just didn’t get it here at all in that one scene where it should have been paramount. Given the excellence of the rest of the first seven episodes, though, I’m sure the sext eight will be great. At least, I hope they will!
Hello, Susan. It’s nice to hear from a professional story editor that my concerns are not unjustified. When I watch an episode, I don’t always care for every choice made, but I usually limit myself to one or two to point out. The others are merely a matter of opinion. I am sure the adaptation I would have created would also make some people unhappy. We all have our own take.
The other scene I decided not to pick on was the love scene in the glen. It felt very awkward to me, especially the line, “Then you’ll get what you deserve.” My mind simply shut off, actually relieved to have them interrupted. I believe this scene is supposed to take place of both “carnal” love scenes after the attack by the deserters and the Grants, but it doesn’t work. It did for those two sex scenes because of their context. This scene really, really needed to be tender, not comical.
Having said that, I loved the Frank and Black Jack parts of this episode much more than the Jamie/Claire scenes. I would make this episode my second least favorite, RENT still being my least.
Diana has said she doesn’t compare the novel to the show. I may try to do that for the second half of the season, but I like adding excerpts and discussing the novel in my review to enrich the story for those who’ve never read the novel.
Thanks for your comments! I hope to hear from you again.
Agree with these points, very much so.
I’m sure you will–a friend turned me on to your blog and I love it! Some of your screen shots of Jamie are hilarious, and I love the recaps. (I’ve been lurking for most of the season, but the finale was a little irksome, to say the least.) I did read a fantastic commentary somewhere by Diana G. on her take of the finale vs. the book and why it is called “adaptation” (I happen to agree with her wholeheartedly, but even so, there’s the long tail to consider . . . )
Anyway, looking forward to what you come up with for the next eight episodes!
I’m very glad you found me. I so enjoy interacting with other fans on my blog – much more personal that twitter and without the character restrictions.
I just got back from Scotland and wrote a shortish piece on my adventures. Because my laptop power cord decided to stay home, I was unable to blog during the trip which was my intention. I hope you have time to read it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your comment regarding rape in the 18th century. The rampant internet whining about it is driving me insane.
With Frank now out of the picture (for this season anyway), I believe we’re going to see a lot more of Jamie and his character development (hand in hand with Claire’s growing love for him). They’re taking their time in this series, and if I may use a sports analogy, it’s only halftime. It’s been great so far, but IMHO the best is yet to come.
Another excellent recap and review. For the sake of my sanity, I’ve come to appreciating and accepting the book(s) and TV series as the different media they are. I finally realized constantly comparing them was lessening my enjoyment of both. Most of what I loved about the book has made it into the film and I’m hoping so it will stay. Some things have been omitted 😦 and there have been some very nice additions. 🙂 The TV production has been stellar: casting, direction, music, locations, sets, costumes and props. it’s all first-class.
Yes, agreed. I might concentrate less on the books for the second half of the season though I have not had trouble enjoying the show. We’ll see. I’d like to find a way to include “omitted” scenes as background or additional information to add richness to the story.
Mostly, I bring up the book as it pertains to character development rather than adaptation. Being a writer, I am very open-minded about the adaptation process. We all see and interpret things with a different eye. I am enjoying Ron’s take and love the additions he’s made.
There is no right or wrong, as they say. But – there’s always a “but”, aye? – Jamie and Claire are iconic characters in the novel from beginning to end. In the show, Claire is. Jamie is not. Not a judgment, a complaint, or a criticism. This is called an opinion for anyone else reading my comment. I am welcome to state my opinion on my blog and I invite others to do so. I enjoy reading the discussions going back and forth. So far, they’ve all been friendly and informative.
After all, it’s a show not a political debate.
Thanks for your support, Jo Ann!
“Thanks for your support, Jo Ann!”
Always! I absolutely adore your blog; you’re a wonderful writer. BTW, did you happen to see what Maureen Ryan said about Outlander at Huffington Post? The whole article is wonderful, but she talks particularly about Outlander toward the end. I’ve been reading her reviews for years and she’s another wonderful writer. If you didn’t see it, here’s the link.
Thanks. I’ll take a look during the hiatus. I haven’t been reading the mainline reviews or articles since the show started. I stick to fan blogs.
Oh, I think you’ll want to read this one. She talks at length about how Outlander is revolutionizing the way sex is portrayed on TV. But no rush; the article will still be there when you’re ready. I’m up to my eyeballs in blogs and web sites, too, so I know what you mean..
Excellent review Candida, you always make me smile. Just call me a Pollyanna if you will. I love it all! I think both the series and the books are fantastic. I am new to both. I started reading the 1st book only after the TV series began. Perhaps that explains my reaction. It seems many fans, of the book series, have a passionate loyalty to the written word. That is all good as well. I can only speak from my perspective. I think Diana Gabaldon gave us a wonderful gift. There is nothing quite like reading a book, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~Charles W. Eliot. With that in mind, I also love film. The Outlander TV series has been a phenomenal success. I love that Ron Moore has kept true to the storyline for the most part, Imagine how it could have been butchered. No I take that back, cringe at the thought, What matters most, to me, we have this glorious printed book that will never be changed in any way. You turn the pages and the story comes life in our imaginations just as Diana had written the words. Now, because of the written word, we have this beautiful film with wonderful characters and an incredible cast. I don’t know about you , but I am so grateful for both experiences. 🙂
Here. Here. I love them both. True, there are elements of the book I wish they would keep in the show, but I understand this is an adaptation and things must change. In turn, the show has added wonderful depth to other areas of the book not explored.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the both the book series and the show. They are both a treasure!
And thanks for your support!
Very well said. I was just thinking of some hideous book-to-film adaptations today (Clan of the Cave Bear, anyone?) and once again thanked God Outlander is being adapted with such love and respect.
I know we all want the “honesty with secrets” conversation, but I think it has to come before they leave Leoch. By the time they reach Lallybroch Claire has already confided her secret to Jamie.
For me, it’s about placement of the conversation. I very much like how Jamie approaches their first night together in the book. It’s sweet and shows us a side of him not yet revealed in the story because he’s about to open himself up completely with this woman.
Where or if they add it now will add a different tone to its delivery. Perhaps will never hear it, and it will just be a special moment in the novel. I’m okay with that.
Candida, I agree with you whole-heartedly on this. When Jamie begins this important conversation, just as when he says he understand Claire is thinking of Frank on Jamie and Claire’s wedding night, it shows him to be a man of well-developed emotional intelligence: he has empathy for what others (here, Claire) are likely feeling, and he acts on that empathy in an insightful way.
Repeatedly the show developers have left out important elements of Jamie’s character portrayal from the novel, which in my opinion, renders the show Jamie character as a deviation from the books, in the most salient, core aspect of his personality. In the novel, Claire unconsciously falls in love with that truth of Jamie _before_ their wedding night – which makes her rapid emotional capitulation into their marriage much more understandable to readers. Jamie’s bringing up the topics of truth/secrets (perceiving her feelings of discomfort and probably guilt), and of her first marriage (perceiving her feelings of grief, and suspecting feelings of disloyalty to her first husband), reveal – at least in the book – what makes Jamie the man she _must_ be with. He pays insightful attention to her feelings, he shows an extraordinary capability to understand her, and to act on that understanding. (Even the scene when he leaves her alone and tells her what he will do if she isn’t there when he comes back shows that he understands she is emotionally driven somehow to flee, and he wants to put a strongly-stated Obstacle in the path of that feeling, for her own safety.)
It also shows the reader why he will be a Great Leader: because he does understand how people think and feel, he uses that insight to set people at ease or motivate them (if his clan), or to work things to his and his clan’s advantage (if his foes). Throughout all 8 novels, Jamie’s extraordinary EQ (emotional intelligence) sets him apart from other men far more than his physical prowess, and makes his integrity and courage more compelling as they are informed by his heart, not just some set of moral strictures or code. And throughout all 8 novels, the times Jamie does things which he later grieves over, he usually has suffered an ‘amygdala highjacking’ which swamps his EQ, and causes him to act without that wisdom (for example, think how Roger fares at his hands, and how Jamie feels about that when he learns his mistake). Diana Gabaldon is never heavy-handed in how she has Jamie show this aspect of his personality – there are no scenes where Jamie, Claire, or anyone around them says “wow, what an emotionally intelligent human being.” (The closest she comes is when Claire notes the lad had nice feelings.) Instead, it is left to the reader to develop our own understanding of what sets Jamie apart, based on what he says and does – if we pay attention, he usually says and does things which reflect a well-developed sense of how the people around him are feeling.
The fact that the show developers have elected to drop the lion’s share of small, subtle, yet vitally-important scenes from the first novel which show us this core element of his personality means they either don’t get it, or don’t care about it. Based on comments they have made in interviews and podcasts, it appears they simply don’t get it. And to my mind, that means they have – inadvertently, surely – failed to stay true to this character, as they stated they wanted to do.
Can they pick this up later, from scenes where Diana Gabaldon made it more glaringly obvious?
I live in hope that they do…
As much as I hate to say this, we may just have to accept there are two Jamies – novel Jamie and show Jamie. I think they are both great characters, and Sam does what he can to instill novel Jamie in the scripts he’s given. Bless his heart. I’m very glad so much time and care was given to explore and expand on Frank’s character even though a majority of the fans feel different. I hope, hope, hope the same is payed to Jamie in the second half.
Thanks so much for your insightful comments, Laura.
I wrote my reply to Laura before reading yours, Candida. Though I hope your assessment is wrong, you may be right that, if we want all there is to Jamie, we might have to go back to the book. I heard early on that the writers were working from dialogue pulled from the book, so they probably never had the time to let sink in what was really important about Jamie’s character (like we have rereading the book for years). If they don’t add this aspect back into the second half, what we’re getting is the Cliff Notes or Reader’s Digest version. At least we readers know what we’re missing and where to go to get it. It’s the new TV viewers who’ll miss out the most, if they don’t become Outlander readers. Still hoping the writers “got it” in Episodes 9-16.
Well, it would certainly make no sense not to spend the time on Jamie with Frank out of the picture. From DG’s comments in response to everyone’s concerns, it seems we will be getting a more well-rounded Jamie. Can’t wait to to hear his voiceovers and see what they do with him. No matter what, I love the show and “Sam’s” portrayal of Jamie. He’s done a great job with what he’s been given. As an actor, I sometimes wonder if he ever cringes at the direction.
Laura, this is the most completely thought-out statement of the Jamie character development “problem” I’ve read. I love that you called it his “emotional intelligence,” and I think that ‘s what we love the most about Jamie’s character. It ‘s not surprising that, with only 16 hours (and the extra time spent developing Frank’s story up to now, for which I can completely see the necessity with Claire’s choice to run, and more time given, too, to BJR) that some of the things (favorite scenes and lines) have been omitted. But that’s not my real objection. Like you, I am missing the heart of Jamie’s character we see even early in the book (not what we’ve come to know and love through all 8 books), and, what’s as frustrating, that we know Sam could communicate perfectly, if given the chance. Let’s just hope that a lot of what we’re missing does show up in Episodes 9-16.
So far we have only seen Jamie “out of his element” and he’s shown his sweet self even so. I look forward to seeing him on his “”home turf”. I think the “honesty” speech so many fans mention will fit well within the confines of Lollybroch. Seems to me there will be more leisure for displaying his “Frazer” side without a plethora of Mackenzies looking on.
I need some help here. For the life of me, I can’t remember where we either see or hear about Horrocks again in any of the other books. Please enlighten me.
Thank you so much, Kathryn, for posting this question. I must admit, I was mistakenly thinking of another character in the series. I have retracted the statement. So sorry for the confusion.
Thanks so much for clearing this up for me, and don’t feel bad.
There’s so much packed in all these books that who can keep it all straight!
I try to do my own fact-checking after I write my first draft. This character slipped through the cracks. It happens when you start writing at 7:00 pm on Saturday night and don’t stop until Sunday night after both posts are finally complete! I’m looking forward the break. Having slept on a Saturday night in 8 weeks. lol
Candida, thank you for another terrific piece! Insightful, full and fun all at the same time – such talent you have.
I look forward very much to your upcoming full-8-episodes review!
I have come to separate Outlander the book from Outlander the series and am much happier having eliminated expectations or supposed or actual omissions or shifts. Enough anticipation of the spanking! Wait for it and be surprised or shocked, but stop complaining about it not being prepared for as you thought it would be! Embrace the differences and expand the experience.
That being said I understand disappointment with how Jamie is being used. Much as I adore Sam and his huge talent, and I think he absolutely is Jamie, perhaps some of the issue is that physically he in not and in no way can be 18/19 or 22. He is gloriously physically beyond that stage! Jamie is in many ways very mature for his young age, and Sam, through the details of his acting choices, shows that and, when appropriate is also very much the boy ( I am thinking of his performance particularly in “The Wedding”. Throughout the show his voice is mature but his speech patterns are all Jamie’s and his choices in vocal inflections can be surprising and marvelous. Consider especially the “afterglow” moments, and his joy with his new wife, his playfulness, on the morning after).
I think that now the comparative maturity of Claire and Frank and their marriage has been established, we will move forward with Jamie as he continues to grow into his marriage and his responsibilities. The darkness of the rest of “Outlander” and the personal development of the Claire/Jamie relationship there and through “Dragonfly in Amber” will be magnificently worth the wait. At this point I cannot get the spectre of Culloden out of my mind for long when watching the show.
As an aside, I adore Rupert!
Margaret, I’m so glad you are enjoying the show – as am I. But, I do not consider asking question to be akin to complaining. I will support this show to its final episode. Making comparisons to the novel is my own way of sharing the story. I hope to get non-readers to pick up a copy of the book to experience the entire adventure.
Understand. But I do think some of the differences between the book and the series can be due to the difference between reading and filling in the details yourself and working in a visual medium covering long periods of time. Much of the commentary other than yours has been complaining. For me, experiencing the book and the series has doubled the enjoyment. Just my reaction. Love to read your blog!
Thank you, Margaret. Being in the film industry myself,I do try to keep the two medium separate in my mind. I watch the story in the show as if I do not know what’s going to happen – because frankly, I don’t. We never know how Ron is going to interpret or change the story, and I love the surprises he’s given us.
My issues have only ever been with Jamie’s character development. I try very hard to separate what I know, what I’m expecting and what I’m getting. True, it’s not always what I want but this is not my story – only my blog.
SPOILERS CONTAINED: I agree 100% with your review and comments about the lack of development of Jamie’s character. He has not shown himself to be the strong, authoritative, and demanding man yet, and I think we need him to be. I agree about not being sure how they will work in the spanking scene since he didn’t threaten Claire with it when he made her promise to stay put vs. swear to obey as she did in the book. I know it’s going to be there, but I don’t like the fact that there are now unforeseen consequences for Claire (at least in the book she was warned even if she didn’t believe Jamie’d actually so it!). His spanking her after not having grown their relationship as close as they did in the book, also makes me wonder how she could forgive him and develop such a closeness with him after. Still, I do trust RDM to make it work out somehow. I can see the purpose of not having developed Jamie’s character and their bond so quickly b/c it gave Claire the resolve to try to return to Frank and her own time. I loved how they worked in more Frank in the storyline. I’m hoping the 2nd half of the season will include the “secrets and honesty” discussion and more sexytimes for J&C. Anyway, love your reviews (and your humor) and will miss them for 6 months!
Thanks so much, Beth. I’ll be here over the hiatus, not taking a break from posting Outlander goodies. I’m leaving for Scotland soon and will be “reporting” from directly from there. I hope you check back in!
An excellent review from start to finish: funny, meticulous, and carefully analyzed. I had a similar reaction to the changes made in the show, especially the slow pace of Jamie’s character arc. I also wonder how Jamie’s lack of a threat will play out in the beating scene when the series returns from hiatus. I look forward to your review of all eight episodes!
Thanks for the post. I am still annoyed with most of the changes from the book, specifically not allowing the audience to know Jamie as one who has read the book would up to this point. And as far as Frank goes: the book is about right for me. But, I get it, we do need to see him since we can’t be in Claire’s mind all the time on TV. But that Craig Na Dun back and forth, that was the pits!
I have resigned myself to Outlander being a good and enjoyable TV show, separate from Outlander the great book and hopefully stop complaining ;-D
“But that Craig Na Dun back and forth, that was the pits!”
I agree. I thought it was corny beyond belief. And then when Claire could HEAR Frank calling her name, I wanted to kick the TV. It was just too, too much.
Apparently we’ve played right into Ron Moore’s plans. In his after show recap he said he wanted the fans to say “What the hell is going on?” It worked – I’m still annoyed 😉
Oh, where is his after show recap, at the Starz web site or somewhere else?
I’m not sure about a recap, but he did say something to that effect in the Look Inside the episode.
Oh, OK. I saw that. I hope he’ll elaborate more on the changes when he does his podcast.
I’m a pretty big believer that they have been holding back on the Jamie stuff till the second half of the season. I assumed we wouldn’t see a lot of Jamie till after the wedding early on, he’s really not in the book much till after anyway. Yes I missed the “waterweed” *grin* scene, but in my opinion it wasn’t as important as what was there. I think my biggest complaint, and it’s fairly minor, is I feel Claire in the series is not as tough as Claire in the books. I’d like to hear her wisecracking mouth a bit more. I thought the attempt rape scene was excellent the looks on Cait and Sams faces were pretty priceless. Interesting point I had 3 outlander newbies watching with me, they all thought she HAD been raped, and seemed to blame Jamie for allowing it. Anyway over all I loved it, I think we will see more Jamie come April, I’m pretty trusting of Ron and the team. Great review loved the book excerpts.
I agree, I have faith that we will see more of Jamie’s character development in the next episodes. However, the first book is told exclusively from Claire’s perspective, which may get a bit boring for non book lovers, so any adaptation is going to develop other characters to provide balance and tension. I still think they have shown Jamie in a good light so far whilst still making it believable that Claire would try to leg it at the first opportunity. She still needs to be torn at this stage and I couldn’t believe she would risk death or worse at the stones to leave book Jamie for book Frank.
I agree about the comment about whether Claire was raped or not by the deserter not being clear at all in the show. Initially I was irked by this, but then I saw a video chat/review of the episode after that really hit me: the lady said something to the effect of: it didn’t really matter whether or not Claire was penetrated. She was sexually assaulted just the same and it was just as traumatizing. Just food for thought.
Yeah? NOT the same thing. Both are sexual assaults but are absolutely NOT the same. That’s like being kind of pregnant.
“….they all thought she HAD been raped, and seemed to blame Jamie for allowing it.”
That’s what my husband thought, too, and I’m not sure he believed me even after I said she was NOT actually raped in the book.
thank you for the thorough review, Candida. was looking forward to reading it.
I’m quite disappointed they left out a few important elements from the book. Like the intimacy after the fight (why do you think they did that? because in the show their relationship has evolved less than in the book?); and I really wonder what they’re gonna do now that Jamie has not promised to spank her if she does leave; makes no sense to me, just as him demanding her to promise to stay put (maybe he’s simply remembering that she has tried to flee before and now more than ever wants her to stay?).
I had been expecting to see more of their relationship development, so that was a bit of a letdown as well. Must say though that the hand sex was veeery sensuous, they pulled it off really great! I think it’s totally underestimated in the (mostly) quick sex-oriented 21st century society 🙂
I also think they skipped kinda quick over her self-defense training, would have enjoyed seeing her practice on a dummy 🙂
(on a sidenote, in episode 5 i had hoped to see Jamie demonstrate the use of his sword as he did in the book, it would’ve been beautiful, the scene was very well described).
I guess readers of the book didn’ t find the ending to be too much of a cliffhanger…it would’ve been wayyy worse if it had ended with Claire reaching her hands to the stone! Had me actually wondering if they’d deviate that much from the book.
The time/space continuum was just masterful, very intense, a great addition.
I’m wondering though howcome suddenly the law doesn’t protect Claire as a Scot from Jackopath’s claws anymore? Seems to take some credibility out of their law-reasoning in episode 7.
Hello, Maria. Yes, it was disappointing to lose some of Jamie & Claire’s relationship development – again.
I think the reason they left out the “waterweed” scene was because of time. A lot happens in between the fight & their retiring. I suppose they could have montaged Claire patching folks up. Personally, I think they left out because Claire & Jamie’s relationship in the show doesn’t support that kind of intimacy. They made Jamie the kind of “take what he wants” man he needs to be; therefore, the waterweed scene would not have worked in this episode as written.
Jamie has been a minor character the first half of this scene. Here’s hoping he becomes a main in the second half. They have A LOT of catching up to do.
yes, they do have a lot to catch up to. I prefer to believe they will do it well and that the 6-month wait will be worth it (although calling it a mid-season break seems like a bad joke).
Yay you, going to Scotland. I’ve been totally in love with this country for years, having discovered Outlander only adds more to it 🙂 will you go on a thorough Outlander tour there? I bet you’ll be in love with the place too, Outlander or no Outlander.
btw, i searched but didn’t find – is there any other way we can be touch besides comments here? For the time when we’ll discuss the following books 🙂 (Voyager is going quite smoothly)
You can always contact me via twitter. I am also on Facebook though my privacy settings are set to maximum!
According to Diana’s comments on compuserve, we will be seeing dual perspectives telling the story for the second half of the season – Jamie & Claire, with Jamie voiceovers. So, yay!
hm, I try to limit my social media accounts so that I don’t get lost in them 🙂 so I’m not on Twitter; my FB privacy settings are the same as yours I believe. well, I guess we’ll stick to the comments for now then.
And très bon voyage to Scotland to you.
Thank you, Maria!
I only joined twitter in March, but I’ve had a FB account for several years; however, I’m not very active on it. I visit FB once or twice a week.
Given twitter’s character limitations, this really is the best place to converse. It’s no less private or public.
I’m counting down the days . . .
where are you going to in Scotland and for how long? (or maybe you don’t want to give away this information here) I’m picturing the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and some other places, while reading the Voyager (and did it also during DIA), gives a nice perspective 🙂
My traveling companion, Mandy, has an entire Outlander-related itinerary laid out. I trust her completely. Among several of the places we’ll visit will be Culloden and the site where Jamie & Claire “meet” each other outside the church before the ceremony. I’ll be there for 10 days and plan to post my adventures on my blog. This is my third trip to Scotland but my first Outlander-dedicated visit. Needless to say, I’m very excited.
How fantastic that you and Mandy are making this trip to Scotland together. I follow her blog, too, and I hope both of you blog about the trip. You guys are going to have a blast. I’m so envious. *sigh*
great! Enjoy fully.
Haha when I’ll go to Scotland for the 3rd time then I’ll also visit some Outlander places (although maybe not on a thorough tour). Culloden really is something, they managed to convey the feeling of the place quite well on the show, but it’s stronger in real of course.
Looking forward to reading about your trip 🙂
I am glad you brought up Jamie’s sword use. I believe I read in one interview that Sam Heughan has excellent sword skills. Frustrating that we have not seen them yet. Not so happy about the development of Jamie in the series.
yeah i really liked that scene in the book, probably they left it out because of time. I choose to believe we’ll have other opportunities to admire him in this kind of action, there’s a sequence in the opening credits where he raises both hands with his sword, looks really great 🙂
I think we’ll see lots more Jamie in action next year. And yes, I cannot wait to see his sword fighting skills in the daylight!
“I believe I read in one interview that Sam Heughan has excellent sword skills.”
I hadn’t heard that, but I’m not surprised since Sam is so talented. He said he had to learn to use a sword with either hand and if you’ve read the books, you’ll know why. However, Tobias Menzies definitely is a champion swordsmen. It’s even mentioned on his IMDb.com page. I hope we get to see both him and Jamie indulging in some serious swordplay.
Of course we will! On the Bois de Bologne next season – their big dual!
Of course! How could I forget that, D’OH! I’ll start on a reread of Dragonfly as soon as the Outlander second eight are over. During this hiatus I’m reading the latest Ken Follett book to cleanse the palate between courses, so to speak.
Ken Follet is good. May I also recommend Sharon Kay Penman’s Here Be Dragons Wales Trilogy and anything by Margaret George, especially The Memoirs of Cleopatra & The Autobiography of Henry VIII. Also a fun read is Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy.
Then there’s Connie Willis and good old Raymond Chandler.
Don’t miss Connie Willis’s Oxford time travel series. Very different, but very interesting.
Yes, I love her time travel series. So funny. Have you also read Bellweather? Hilarious.
Not yet, and thanks for the recommendation. My favorite so far has been _To Say Nothing of the Dog_, which even has Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane parallels.
Love that one, too, of course. Bellweather is a short contemporary tale, quite fun.
OK, I’ll add it to my amazon wish list…which is growing by leaps and bounds tonight with all the recommendations I’m getting. 🙂
in reply to all the book recommandations, I chime in with another time travel series (there seem to be so many out there!) – Sarah Woodsbury’s the After Cilmeri series; takes place in Wales. a very different style than Outlander (not at all as “crude”), enjoyable read and having been to Wales myself it’s cool to learn more about this country in such a leisurely way. If I ever have time I’ll check out Connie Willis’s series too as I’m so into time travel 🙂
Thanks for the rec. I love time travel and Wales so will check it out myself. Not sure what you mean by “crude”? Do you mean sexually explicit?
i mean describing stuff quite explicitly and bluntly, violence etc. Maybe I should’ve checked the word in a dictionary first lol, as it’s not my native tongue. I like the way sexuality (not rape) is depicted in the Outlander series (it doesn’t get “cheap” or focus on the “the peg goes into the hole” blablabla aspect), so “crude” was my reference to rape and other kinds of violence. I personally am not especially shocked or anything, but before I started reading I’d also read some negative reviews by people shocked and put off. But I decided to forge my own opinion & don’t regret it, obviously.
I understand. No worries!
Yes, he is. I’ve read all of his books. I’ll check out the Here Be Dragons/Welsh Princes trilogy and the books by Margaret George. I read George’s book Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles, but nothing else by her. I’ve read the Deborah Harkness trilogy except the third book. I have it, but haven’t read it yet. Maybe I shouldn’t admit to this, but I love vampire books…GOOD vampire books, that is. I also like trilogies and other looong book series. I have a wonderful trilogy rec for you: Paullina Simons’ The Bronze Horseman, Tatiana and Alexander, and The Summer Garden. Her writing reminds me a lot of Diana’s.
I have that trilogy in my amazon shopping cart. I’ve been holding off buying new books because I’m so far behind in my reading. I also have the 3rd book in the All Souls Trilogy but haven’t read it yet. I wanted to reread the first two books but got sidelined by rereading Outlander so I could read MOBY. Ugh. Still haven’t finished either re-read.
I have a real retention problem. I never had this problem in high school or college or with anything else where I would be tested or needed to retain what I’d read. I’ve been taking adult courses in lots of subjects most of my adult life, some of them very technical, and never had this problem, but I find retention is a real problem when I read fiction. I’ve read all the Outlander books several times (except MOBY once) and I just can’t ever seem to remember what happens in which book, i.e. the Jack/Jamie duel you mentioned.
I re-read Outlander a week before the TV series started even though I’d re-red it last year for the fourth or fifth time. Constant re-reads seem to be the only way to solve the problem.
omg should they actually come to shoot here in Paris I’m gonna have to find a way to visit the set as I live here!
I’m sure some shooting will happen there, but I believe the bulk of the shooting will remain in Scotland, especially the stage/set shoots.
If you catch of their location shooting, we’ll have to find a way to share it – on my blog perhaps? You could do a guest post!
oh yes, definitely! Would love that. I like to write. Just will need to figure out how to get there, as they don’t have the free roam law here in France as they do in Scotland, and as I’m not a reporter, so access can be pretty difficult. Any ideas 😉 ?
Well, you could always try to be an extra. Then you’d have the inside scoop!
“Any ideas 😉 ?”
You should apply to be an extra for the filming.
i didn’t know that was possible. Is this done via the Starz website? I never go there as here in France we can’t see the videos they post anyway.
People often tweet advertisements. Also, sites like Outlander TV News usually post when Starz is looking for extras, so keep your eyes open come 2015.
I think it might have been in one of the early Outlander newsletters about Sam that said that he is a licensed fencing instructor. Just shows me more and more that he was born to play Jamie. I have been missing seeing Jamie’s swashbuckling moves, too, and can’t wait…well, I guess I have to… to see more.
” …said that he is a licensed fencing instructor. Just shows me more and more that he was born to play Jamie.”
Wow! I’m sure he’s VERY good then. It’s going to be marvelous to see Jamie and Black Jack going at it. I’m definitely looking forward to that. I’ll bet Sam and Tobias are, too. 🙂
Okay, I’ve tried to look this up on the web and I can’t read any mention of it anywhere. But I have to ask, because it’s frustrating me. But the ‘waterweed’ sex scene is NOT in my publication of the Outlander book. Now I’m in Australia, my version is from Arrow Publishing. I have read this scene which occurs after the raid, on an online PDF version of Outlander. When I was reading my physical copy, I didn’t notice it. Thinking I had skipped pages, I went back looking for it. But it’s simply NOT THERE. In the book it fades to black when Jamie and Claire are lying down, and the next paragraph begins with something like “The next morning the clansmen were…” etc etc.
Can anyone please explain the rationale behind this?. Are there abridged versions of the book? I looked at several bookstores here in the city, and the version are ALL the same, even the new re-released tie-in covers. Is the waterweed passage only in the hardbacks or something?
Hello, Camden. The answer is the UK Publishers deemed the scene too sexually graphic in nature and removed it from Cross Stitch. I suspect you are a victim of that decision in Australia as well. I’m very glad I included it in my recap/review.
Yep, same in New Zealand. I’ve been wondering what the hell people were on about with the waterweed references: I’d definitely remember THAT if I’d read it! My hard copy doesn’t have it, but weirdly the Kindle edition I recently got doesn’t have it either.
Then I’m definitely glad I included it in my review though Diana posted it on twitter and Facebook yesterday, too.
In Belgium we have the full version ! It’s incredible that parts can be removed from a book by Publishers :O
Very thorough review, you hit most of my buttons and views on the series. I’m still searching for the JAMMF that I saw in the book, I cant find him so far and am entirely bored with Frank, I usually mute his dialogue, I just dont care. I was concerned with the lack of Jamie development but recently read where he said he liked the second half better than the first, that usually means, for an actor, he is featured more prominently. I hope that is true. I always felt this was Claire and Jamie’s life long long story and certainly dont want to watch a washed out version of that. But……I have faith in Ron Moore, so far.
Exactly. They’ve showed us the real JAMMF a few times, so we know they KNOW who he is. I think now that Frank is fully developed, they’ll spend more time on Claire AND Jamie.
Great review. Too bad we got 34 minutes of Frank instead of a couple of those key scenes you quoted that illustrate who Jamie is and how his relationship with Claire is developing. I felt like the heart and soul of the Outlander story was missing from this episode.
I am missing JAMMF and really hope they get back on track with him in the second half.
Thank you for this. I read the book but only up to Castle Leoch thus I have no idea what will happen. The scene at the standing stones made my heart hurt. For awhile there, I really thought Claire would be able to go back to Frank.
But I love Jamie and maybe I was spoiled by the previous episode because I wanted to see more of him with Claire. When I first discovered the show..I thought he was the leading man and fully expected to see him in as many scenes as Claire. But that has not happened.
After episode 7, I was so excited to watch because I needed to see him and Claire together so much. And here, though the mid-season finale is fantastic in itself, Jamie has been relegated to a supporting role again.
I’m just sad…thanks for letting me vent. Love your blog, it’s the place I go to when I want to read about Outlander.
Well, we have plenty of time for you to catch up on your reading before the show begins again. You can probably squeeze in the other 7 books as well.
Thanks for reading! Make the hours I put into the review worth it when I hear back from readers. I really appreciate folks taking the time to drop me a “hello.”
My fingers are crossed on both hands, Jamie’s character will come to fruition in the second half of the season.
I love this review. I can’t wait to see how the second half plays out.
Great recap and review. I too, am missing the character development of Jamie. And I *like* the character development of Frank (and BJR), but I feel like it’s at the expense of building Jamie (and Jamie and Claire’s relationship). You already pointed out the missing “honesty” speech from the wedding night; Jamie’s core character really isn’t coming through here. The show isn’t giving Claire a compelling enough reason to stay right now, and it’s not giving us a real reason for Claire to love HIM. The wedding episode showed us the lengths he was willing to go to to provide something special for her, but they’ve sort of pulled back on who *THAT* Jamie is. When you pointed out that we were seeing the real Jamie in the “je suis prest” scene – that’s the Jamie I want to see.
Yes, it’s unfortunate we were introduced to JAMMF in that episode only to have him taken away. Makes no sense.
Agreed. What annoys me so much is that they found such a capable actor in Sam. He can do it but they won’t let him! I know there was so much worry about finding the right actor. If they were going to do this to his character, they could have hired anybody without worrying.
Magistral, you state exactly what I have been thinking. One of the things that makes Jamie so compelling is that he is more than just a good-looking, sexy, nice guy. I get the need to build up the case for why she wants to go back to Frank but they aren’t doing enough to show why she would want to stay. It has to be for more than sex (as good as that is.)
Agreed – !!