A True Fan’s Review of #Outlander Episode 109: THE RECKONING

The Outlander mid-season premiere, Ep109: THE RECKONING, can best be described in two words: Politically Intriguing. Did I disappoint you? How about Politically Spankelicious? Yes, we have spanking and we have politics – both sexual and civil – all in one episode. Only Outlander can deliver a potpourri of sadistic flirtation, unfair justice, fraternal conspiracy, virginal seduction,  and knife sex.

My recap is later than usual (Apologies!) but hopefully my readers – both faithful and new (Welcome!) – are not too satiated by all the other wonderful blogs out there. Hopefully, I can keep you entertained as this review has it all, including  SPOILERS.

The Reckoning is directed by Richard Clark who has also helmed a few episodes of another show popular among Outlander fans: The Crimson Field. Matt Roberts is the talent behind this particular script, expanding the characters beautifully beyond the book while giving the cast some very juicy dialogue to bandy.

If you’ve been living in the dunbonnet’s cave for the past six months, you might not have heard this episode is all about James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. I doubt there will be any complaints from viewers that there’s not enough Jamie in this episode.

As the show opens, we join Jamie by a stream . . . but before I take you there, I thought we could start with a little fashion show of Jamie putting on his kilt during the opening credits. I believe he does all his own stunts here.

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Back to Jamie by the stream . . . skipping stones across the water. It’s a peaceful scene and, as Executive Producer Ron D. Moore points out, it’s the counterpart to the opening of the entire series – Claire looking through a shop window in Inverness, reflecting back on her life with Jamie in the 18th century while thinking about the life she’s about to embark on with Frank in present-day 1945.

To say we waited for this particular episode with anticipation is a ridiculous understatement – not simply because it’s the mid-season premiere but because it’s told from Jamie’s perspective. We tag along with him as he navigates his way through some fairly volatile and sticky situations. He states from the beginning during his opening monologue:

“Strange the things you remember . . . the people . . . the places . . . the moments in time bonded to your heart forever while others fade in the mist.

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I’ve always known I’ve lived a life different from other men. And when I was a lad, I saw no path before me. I simply took a step and then another . . . ever forward . . . ever onward, rushing toward someplace I knew not where.

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And one day I turned around and looked back and saw that each step I’d taken was a choice . . . to go left . . . to go right . . . to go forward . . . or even not go at all.

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Every day, every man has a choice between right and wrong, between love and hate, sometimes between life and death. And the sum of those choices becomes your life. The day I realized that is the day I became a man.”

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This episode resonated with me immediately and made me realize I identify with Jamie more than I do with Claire. I’m currently at a pivotal point in my life – like Jamie – where the choices I make will have an impact in ways such that I can’t quite envision the ultimate outcome. I will make decisions in a timely manner and, hopefully, they’ll lead to a path with little or no regrets. But this post is not about me, it’s about Jamie – his decisions . . . his choices . . . his life.

We begin with the choice Jamie made – to leave Claire behind while he meets with Horrocks (Lochlainn O Mearáinn), a British Army deserter (and a cute one to boot). He holds vital information regarding the truth behind Jamie’s bogus murder charge.

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 So, who really shot and killed the sergeant during Jamie’s Fort William escape? You guessed it (or read it) – none other than Captain Randall. Was it friendly fire? With Randall, who knows? Perhaps the dead red coat was Corporal “Wimpy Pants” Hawkins predecessor and shaved the Captain too close.

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Either way, the look on Jamie’s face says it all – he’s screwed.

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Horrocks is paid for the useless information just as – right on cue – useless Willie (Finn Den Hertog) comes riding up to tell Jamie the choice he made to leave Claire behind with only himself – Willie – to watch her was a bad one. She’s been abducted by the English and carted off to Fort William, he says.

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Personally, I think Willie should have been on his knees, groveling, when he said it. Jamies looks like he’s wondering if he has time to $hit-kick this kid.

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Jamie gallops off to Fort William (Blackness Castle) and arrives under cover of darkness with the faithful Murtagh at his side . . . and Angus & Rupert – though I think they went along for the fun of it more than to save Claire. After making a few threatening inquiries – something about turning a lad into a lass – they discover Claire is being held in the Commander’s tower office. I could have told them that.

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Several choices have been made by Jamie at this point. Of course, he has no choice but to go after Claire. She’s his wife, and he promised to protect her with his body. However, the bigger and more dangerous choice he makes is to bust Claire out of an armed fort with an unloaded firearm. Yes, I’m jumping the gun a bit in this recap, but hopefully you’ve already watched the show (or read the book) – so you know. In this storyline, Ned is the brains behind the decision to raid the fort unarmed. Notice Ned is not among those doing the unarmed raiding.

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Jamie shimmies down the side of the fort, and I’m thinking how lucky for him to have found a nice, sturdy rope leading directly to the Commander’s office. If there’s a bucket at the end of it, I don’t wanna know what’s in it.

He lands stealthily in the perfect-sized window and sits for a moment (or six months, whatever), hearing his wife whimper at the hands of the unmistakable Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies).

I like this moment before the confrontation. Jamie is a warrior, not Robin Hood. He doesn’t go crashing through the window at the end of the rope. He pauses, listens, peeks through the shutters, cocks his unloaded weapon and enters with quiet menace in his voice.

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 “I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife,”

he says with that quiet menace I just mentioned.

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Claire breathes a sigh of extreme relief . . .

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. . .  and Outlander Jack turns into The Shining Jack. He-e-e-r-r-r-e’s, Jamie.

The gang’s all here. It’s time to get the party started. First order of business . . . flirting. Randall wants to see the masterpiece he created on Jamie’s back. Not the best way to break the ice. Jamie chooses to decline.

Oh, well. Randall is prepared to move straight onto the threatening portion of the evening. “I’ll slit Claire’s throat if you don’t put down your weapon. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.” How many episodes of Law & Order: SVU have showed us: This _never_works. But Jamie’s never seen an episode of SVU, much less a television, so he puts his weapon down.

Claire has finally learned there’s nothing of Frank in Randall. Just check out the look on her face. She yells at Jamie to save himself when he lays the pistol down.

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Delighted, Black Jack runs over the options for the evening’s entertainment. Where’s a Welsh bard when you need one? Does Claire want Jamie to watch her violation, or would Jamie like to join them? Black Jack asks deliciously maliciously. We all know what Black Jack wants. I’m surprised Claire is even on the menu.

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I must say at this point, what surprises me most is Randall picking up the pistol and firing. Did he really mean to kill Jamie that easily? It doesn’t seem his style. Perhaps he wanted only to maim and weaken Jamie, so he could have his way with him?

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One of my favorite moments in Outlander is the misfiring of that pistol. So many potential outcomes surround Jamie’s choice to surrender his weapon. What if Randall had not let go of Claire and called for guards? What if Randall had taken a different pistol from his desk? Ultimately, Jamie’s choice leads to Randall’s decision to fire – a bad one.

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Jamie pounces immediately and, with one strike of Randall’s melon against the table, the Captain is out cold. And he kind of falls like a girl, with his knees together. Just sayin’ . . .

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Jamie cuts Claire’s ties, wraps her cloak around her, and heads out the door with one last look at Randall lying on the ground, memoirizing:

“Sometimes I wonder why I chose not to take his life, but at that moment, I only thought to make certain he wasn’t about to raise the alarm. It never occurred to me to kill a helpless man, even one such as Randall.”

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Was Jamie’s choice the right one? I have to ask. Ignoring what we know about the future, it’s difficult to answer. We appreciate how merciless Randall can be, but is that enough? Is Jamie “too good” for his own good?

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We skip over the part of Jamie and Claire not drowning – being weighed down by so much wool, make their way out of the water, dodge the red coats, and rendezvous with Murtagh & co. Just a note, not feeling much confidence in the troops at Fort William if they can be infiltrated and subdued by only four Scots.

Cut to: The brave Highlanders abscond with Claire, miraculously dry, and stop to water the horses.

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Jamie takes Claire to a semi-private spot and asks if Randall hurt her. She is unharmed, she says, thanks to Jamie’s impeccable timing. Then he waits . . . for an apology, to Claire’s great chagrin.

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Everything that’s happened is Claire’s fault, Jamie claims. Claire can’t believe her ears – Jamie blaming her for being abducted while taking a walk. She neglects to mention she was running out in the open, yelling another man’s name.

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Several harsh words are exchanged, including Jamie bringing up the near rape by the British deserters. By the way, she should be more upset about that than him.

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What follows is a basic chin off in acting. Claire and Jamie pull every possible face from sardonic amazement to extreme anger and from heartrending anguish to tempered bliss. It’s an argument you need to watch for yourself – not read about here. They each say fairly nasty things to one another with even Claire smacking Jamie across the face.

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This is Jamie’s world and his perspective. Claire doesn’t quite fit in. She’s courageously obstinate, openly opinionated, and curiously ignorant – qualities he’s noticed but indulged because they’ve never endangered his life before today.

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From Claire’s perspective, her eyes are opened to what Jamie risked to save her. We can’t read her mind right now, but we know she feels trapped. She’s learned an important lesson. Unfortunately, she still has detention to serve.

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Claire and Jamie forgive each other for their words and actions. This scene becomes a poignant part of their relationship when Jamie learns the truth behind Claire’s abduction – assuming the writers keep that part in the story.

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“She asked forgiveness, and I gave it. But the truth is, I’d forgiven everything she’d done and everything she could do long before that day. For me, that was no choice. That was falling in love.”

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Reuniting with the rest of the MacKenzie clan, Jamie and Claire are greeted with disdainful tolerance, especially by Uncle Dougal who’s worried Randall got a piece of Claire before he did.

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Claire and Jamie sit by themselves, listening to Angus boast about his exploits during The Great Raid. Claire’s hard-won camaraderie with the MacKenzies over the past month has evaporated. Only a week ago, they fought for her honor. Now they won’t look at her.

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When Claire attempts to thank those responsible for rescuing her, she is further shunned. Jamie looks downcast, perhaps hoping the men would be more forgiving . . . but they aren’t the ones sleeping with her.

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Claire, distressed by the cold shoulders, retires to bed, leaving Jamie alone with Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix).

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“She does not understand what she nearly cost us,”

he says in a voice full of spit and sage . . .

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. . . to which Jamie agrees. It’s time to show her who wears the kilt in the family.

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Jamie finds Claire in bed, waiting for him. She’s ready to cuddle and needs her Jamie-bear to make the worst day of her life better.

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But Jamie has something else in mind. He has a choice to make – to spank or not to spank.

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He takes off his belt and instructs Claire to raise her shift. Forget that. I’m wondering – what’s keeping his kilt on?

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When Claire realizes Jamie’s intention, she promises to obey his every command (except for this one) – no matter how chauvinistic or unfair. She’s learned her lesson – girl scout’s honor.

Jamie’s been at the end of the strap more than a few times himself and knows how difficult it is to make a lesson stick – even without a red arse.

And it’s not that simple, he further points out, putting on his “reasoning” face (doubt we’ll be seeing that again any time soon). It’s not just his life she endangered, but the lives of all the men in the group. He needs to punish her for them. Uh huh.

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Jamie circles around the bed, Claire trying to reason with him. Any women reading this post ever try to reason with an 18th century man? Does it work?

He goes on to explain, Claire has led an easy life and doesn’t understand the consequences of a light action having serious repercussions. (Easy life? Ever hear of a little thing called World War II? Oh. Guess not.)

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When reasoning fails, Claire jumps off the bed and starts World War III, throwing things across the room at Jamie. It’s a good thing she doesn’t having anything more lethal than a cup. Well . . . good for him anyway.

Again, this is a scene you need to watch – not have described to you. As this is Jamie’s perspective, the mood is more comical than expected. Yes, he’s having fun and Claire ain’t wrong when she calls him a sadist.

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Poor Claire. She gets in a few good licks, but her self-defense training didn’t include how to avoid a spanking by your husband. Figures.

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All is well – for the men – the next morning. The MacKenzies are satisfied Jamie did his husbandly duty and disciplined the little wife.

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It’s Claire turn to give the cold shoulder. But they’re guys.

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They roll with it.

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The happy couple – well, a couple anyway – return to Castle Leoch: Beauty and the Brute.

And are greeted by a surprise wedding reception, thrown together by an overly exuberant Mrs. Fitz. I have to ask myself, why is she so happy knowing her granddaughter is in love with Jamie. I mean, everyone knows, except for Jamie. By the way, where’s the cake?

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Congratulations are offered all around. Laoghaire is noticeably absent from the celebration – crying over her scrapbook of Jamie memories, no doubt. Or maybe she’s wondering why the cow dung didn’t work.

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Enter Vito Corleone and his wife, Cruella de Vil. How many foxes  had to die to make that jacket?

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An uncomfortable silence ensues followed by Claire receiving good wishes from Colum (Gary Lewis) for a long and happy marriage. Jamie receives a warm embrace and congratulations for marrying the perfect woman . . .

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. . . not so much.

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Apparently, Uncle Colum is unhappy about something and throws Jamie a steely stare. Hm. What could it be? It’s not like anything happened during the rent collection.

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Jamie is later summoned to Colum’s chamber. Either that or there’s some kind of mental telepathy going on I missed during the previous scene.

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Out of the frying pan and into the fire . . . Jamie halts at the sound of a soft voice calling to him.

There’s Laoghaire, teary-eyed and accusatory.

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“Why did you do it? I waited for you Jamie. I was counting the days til your return. I had no notion about yourself,”

she snivels. She should really look into getting a day job. Counting the days isn’t going to hack it, even in the 18th century.

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This is where Jamie is supposed to say, “I fell in love with someone else.” But he cops out and says, “Dougal made me do it,” or something to that effect.

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Laoghaire is thoroughly confused. Jamie promises to give her a full explanation before dashing off to Colum’s chamber. I have to wonder what things Jamie said to this girl to make her wait for him. She seems to have an understanding different from his – not an uncommon circumstance between men and women, but I still want to know.

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Jamie enters Colum’s chamber to find Dougal and Ned Gowan (Bill Patersongiving a report on the rent collection.

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Colum sets the matter of  the rent aside and demands an explanation for the incident at Fort William. He wants to know if Clan MacKenzie has to pay the price for their raid, but Jamie steps forward and assumes all responsibility.

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Moving on, Colum brings up the small matter of the Jacobite collection and whips out the pouch full of gold. Dougal and Ned are noticeably shocked. Whose job was it to watch over the money?

Colum points out only one among the group was loyal enough to inform him. Nice going, Colum, stabbing your informant in the back.

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Chief of the MacKenzies has no desire to join the Jacobite cause and be branded as a traitor. I’m surprised he didn’t already know his brother was a Jacobite. I thought castles had thin walls.

The welfare of the MacKenzie clan comes before king and country, as far as Colum is concerned. These are not words Dougal wants to hear.

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“I’ve proved my loyalty to you time and again. I’ve collected your rents. I’ve fought your battles. I protected your person. For the love of Christ, I’ve even assured your blood line,”

he spews – words no one wants to hear.

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Ned is looks like he thought he was the father.

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Not the way to get on Colum’s best side, he orders Dougal from his sight. Ned scampers from the room with promises to calm Dougal’s distemper.

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Jamie also tries to leave but is ordered to stay in the principal’s office.

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Colum chastises Jamie for marrying a sassenach, arguing none of the clan will support him as successor. Jamie’s getting it from all sides. The only person who wanted him to marry Claire is sly Dougal.

Jamie is surprised by Colum’s accusation of betrayal, as am I. It seems there should be three legitimate contenders for chief – Jamie, Dougal and Hamish. Colum knows he’s living on borrowed time. Perhaps he doubts the clan’s support of Hamish as chief until the boy is older? I certainly don’t know enough about clan politics to answer this question, but I welcome reasonable explanations.

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Retiring to the marriage suit, Jamie’s mind is troubled with thoughts of the division in the MacKenzie loyalties.

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He has no desire to get involved, but Castle Leoch is his home – his and Claire’s. He’s stuck in the middle. If he can’t settle matters between his feuding uncles, he’ll be the one picking up the pieces of what’s left of the brothers– quite literally.

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Claire assures Jamie all will be well in the morning – because she’s an expert in such matters. Actually, she doesn’t really care and wouldn’t mind if Colum ran a sword through Dougal.

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Up until this point, Claire has not made eye contact with her husband. When Jamie starts to undress for bed . . .

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“What are you doing?’

she asks disbelievingly.

Jamie is ready to cuddle and needs his Claire-bear to make his horrible day better.

“I thought –”

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“Think again,”

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Snap! Looks like you’re sleeping on the sofa, lad – aka, the stables.

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The next morning, under a beautiful blue Scottish sky with magical snowflakes floating down from heaven . . .

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. . . civil war is brewing and Willie finally gets his arse kicked – but not for losing Claire, for telling Colum about the Jacobite collection. He’s apparently the only one who takes his oath seriously.

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Jamie, being the good guy he is, intervenes and becomes the target of Angus’ (Stephen Waltersforceful recruitment tactics. Choose a side, he tells Jamie.

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There’s no choice to make; Jamie has already decided. Colum is chief. Dougal is not. Plus, Dougal’s an ass.

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War chief Dougal arrives and asks with a pointed stare at Jamie and Murtagh,

“Who’s with me?”

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Here’s Murtagh’s answer. Is he the coolest character or what?

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Dougal’s growing force marches off – I know not where as he doesn’t have a castle

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 – leaving Murtagh and Jamie behind.

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Godfather and son retreat to their club house – the left side of Castle Leoch, which also happens to be a urinal, apparently. I think they need a new club house.

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Murtagh is ready to get the heck out of dodge – live off the land. The tension in the air is so thick, it’s melting the magical snowflakes.

However, Jamie’s not keen to have sex with his wife in the winter outdoors. It would take a put-out back to make him do that. Oh, yeah. It does.

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“For pity’s sake, Jamie. It’s either up tail and away. Or stay and pick a side. It isn’t like Colum is going to give Dougal back the gold. Not that I see that it matters much either way. The Bonnie Prince isn’t sailing from Italy any time soon,”

Murtagh says with more spit and sage.

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Jamie gets a great idea. That Murtagh. What would Jamie do without him?

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Back in Colum’s chamber, Jamie proposes peace between the brothers by way of giving Dougal back the gold. He advises Colum to let Dougal play the rebel – quietly – while biding his own time. Colum can decide which side to back if rebellion ever rises.

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“Dougal may be war chief, but he knows only you can cry for war.”

Murtagh couldn’t have said it better himself. Immediate war within the clan is averted when Colum gives the gold back to Dougal. All is not peaches and cream between them yet, but at least Dougal can move back into the castle.

With one crisis solved, Jamie sneaks away to his secret hiding place to  soliloquize some more:

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“I should have been happy that the MacKenzie clan wasn’t about to tear itself apart and that I’d repaired my relationship with Colum and Dougal, but I wasn’t. The rift with Claire was an open wound that would not heal. I needed to do something . . . make a decision . . . choose a course of action. But what?

This is the part where he shouldn’t turn around.

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But he turns around.

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Laoghaire is back, and she has Jamie all figured out. She senses the weight on his shoulders and the unhappiness in his heart. He’s stuck in his marriage with Claire, she believes, having wed the sassenach out of the kindness of his heart.

All right. Which one of Laoghaire’s girlfriends told her, “You have to tell Jamie how you feel if you want him?” That_never_works. If he’s not jumping your bones, it’s ’cause he’s not interested.

But Laoghaire doesn’t stop at the sweet smile.

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“She was married before, but I’ve lain with no one (that you know of),”

she says, pulling out the big guns.

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“I want you . . . to  be the first (to make me a slut),”

she continues, making Jamie forget his own name. Men.

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Alarm bells are going off, but Jamie doesn’t hear them for a few seconds while trying to avoid kissing Laoghaire. He takes a shorter pause before swinging open the shutters into Randall’s office than he does taking his hand off Laoghaire’s breast.

None of this bothers me as much it does other viewers. These are two people acting as naturally as two people would in a situation like this. Jamie wouldn’t shove her aside. He’s been intimate with Laoghaire in the past and has no wish to hurt her.

There’s no easy choice here. We all want him to tell Laoghaire, “I love Claire.” But why should he, really? It’s none of Laoghaire’s business. Perhaps he could say, “I don’t love you.” Either way, she gets hurt. There’s no way around her pain, but Jamie hasn’t figured that out yet.

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“I made a vow, and I’ll not break it,”

Jamie says instead, further confusing Laoghaire.

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She strides off, thoroughly humiliated. Stupid girlfriends.

Jamie leads a very complicated life, doesn’t he? One more reason for Randall to hunt him down. Check. Civil war between his uncles barely averted. Check. A damsel unsolicitedly offering her virginity. Check. A wife who won’t let him touch her. Check Check.

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“For the first time since I was a lad, I felt uncertain about my next step. All I knew is I had to find a way forward . . . one step at a time.”

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With Jamie’s hand still warm from touching Laoghaire’s breast, he returns to the chamber he’s supposed to be sharing with Claire. Personally, I think it’s a good sign she hasn’t locked the door on him.

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He glances at the bed he has yet to share with his wife as he makes his way across the room. By the way, their room is fantastic – a sign of Jamie’s status?

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Traditions and customs are important in the Highlands, Jamie explains to his sassenach wife, yet his uncle put peace before pride and all else in order to avoid war.

Claire’s chin works overtime, listening to Jamie go on about Colum’s sacrifice and the generations of husbands doing their husbandly duties.

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But Jamie decides, he and Claire need to do things a different way – mostly because she’ll never have sex with him again if he doesn’t do something drastic.

Crossing the room and falling to a knee, Jamie pulls out a dagger.

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“I swear on the cross of my Lord Jesus, and the Holy iron in which I hold, that I give you my fealty and pledge you my loyalty. If ever my hand is raised in rebellion against you again, then I ask that this Holy iron might pierce my heart.”

This is no simple choice Jamie is making. By swearing this oath to Claire, he’s committing himself to her for all time – whether she’ll have him or not. This oath deepens their relationship beyond the traditional wedding vows because they are words Jamie has chosen on his own. But they aren’t just words.

On the day of their wedding, Jamie offered his name, his clan and the protection of his body. He swore a similar oath to Colum. Now, he’s pledging his loyalty to his wife over clan and country – an offer he’s never made to anyone, man or woman.

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But Jamie is discouraged by Claire’s stoic response. Does she not believe him? Is it not enough what he’s offered? Is Laoghaire still around?

He offers to pack up his sporran and live separately.

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Fortunately, Claire does understand what the words mean to Jamie and recognizes the choice he’s made – possibly at great cost to himself. Plus, he’s really hot.

Claire’s quandary, of course, is she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing with Jamie. She feels herself forming an attachment – dare we say, falling in love? How often does she think about Frank, one wonders. Well, you might not, but I do.

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“You are my home now,”

Jamie says, making Claire forget all about ill-fated Frank. They make up with lots of heavy breathing and declarations of,

“I want you so much I can scarcely breath.”

Um . . . did I mention the heavy breathing?

 “Will you have me?”

Jamie asks, still breathing heavy.

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It’s Claire’s turn to make a choice. Does she choose wisely? You bet she does.

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With less ceremony than the opening credits, Jamie’s clothing comes off. Poor Claire has spent most of the episode either topless or wearing a shift. Not much work there.

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Claire immediately takes command, i.e. the top. She now has Jamie right where she wants him.

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In the middle of their carpet-burning sex scene, she pulls Jamie’s Holy iron out – not that one, the other one – and threatens to cut his heart out if he ever raises a hand to her again. Apparently, the oath swearing wasn’t enough.

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In any case, Jamie gives his word – again.

She does know it doesn’t count when a man is in the middle of an orgasm, doesn’t she? He’ll agree to anything.

Jamie and Claire do quite a bit of talking during this “I mean to make you call me master” sex scene. But the best part of the conversation happens during their more intimate moments. My favorite part is not the rough and tumble. It’s when they’re looking at each other – lover to lover, man to woman, husband to wife – without all the grinding faces.

I can’t say I am titillated by this sex scene, but I don’t think I’m supposed to be. Jamie and Claire are taking out their frustrations on each other – still battling for control. In the end, Jamie says the words Claire really wants to hear.

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“I am your master. And you are mine. It seems I cannot possess your soul without losing my own.”

They are finally equals.

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In the final moments of the episode, Jamie is finally at peace with his choices. Randall is a distant concern. Laoghaire is all but forgotten. His uncles are the last thing on his mind. And his wife is back in his arms. Only one thing . . .

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“What’s f#@*ing?”

he asks, curious about his wife’s verbiage. I would think that particular word would be part of Angus and Rupert’s regular vocabulary.

Claire explains with a laugh, f#@*ing is what they just did. Yeah, huh.

“What about sadist? You called me that as well.”

The answer leads to my second favorite moment in the episode when Jamie smiles and boops Claire on the nose. Priceless.

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When Claire claims to be ravenous – who wouldn’t be? – Jamie offers to fetch food from the kitchen. He yanks his kilt out from under the bed, but we aren’t awarded the pleasure of watching him put it on again, as Claire discovers a bundle of twigs near the foot.

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“What are earth is this?”

That’s what I’d like to know.

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An ill-wish, Jamie tells Claire, meant to impart pain or harm, even death.

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Even if you haven’t read the book, you know darn-tootin who left it. I want to know why she put it under Jamie’s bed? It’s been under there for some time, since before he cast her off earlier that afternoon. Did she really have time to dash to Geillis’ witchcraft shop, sneak into their chamber and place it under the bed? Is there such a thing as his and her ill-wishes?

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Jamie doesn’t openly declare in the novel (as I recall) that he suspects Laoghaire of leaving the ill-wish in their bed. I like his immediately throwing out her name at the end. I mean, who else could it be unless he’s met with a few other damsels near the water with offerings of their virginity?

There are several interesting adaptation choices made in this episode. I chose not to make comparisons during my recap, but I’ll bring them up here in my summary as points of interest.

The most compelling addition is Jamie’s monologues. In my mind, he is speaking to us from far in the future – reflecting back on his life. The same is true of Claire’s opening monologue in SASSENACH. It’s no secret I favor mature Jamie over young Jamie, thus it gives me no small thrill to imagine I’m hearing mature Jamie’s voice speak to us from the Ridge.

One of the most entertaining additions is the expansion of Jamie’s relationship with Laoghaire. We are treated with the scene near the stream where she offers herself to him. I call it a treat because I think it is very well done. Like Frank’s character, Laoghaire is fleshed out a bit more in the series than in the novel. While I still don’t like her, I do feel sympathy. I’m curious to see if my feelings change with the development of her character in the next few episodes. In the novel she’s treated as an innocent through Claire’s eyes, but we already know from previews and the ending of this episode, that may no longer be the case.

Murtagh’s scenes can best be described as gems. With very little screen time, his character is one of the strongest. He is at Castle Leoch because of Jamie and for no other reason. He seems not to care for the Brothers MacKenzie. I love his defiance in front of Dougal. It’s a pity there are no future scenes between Murtagh and Randall.

My favorite element of this episode is the expansion of Jamie’s role at Castle Leoch. When he first arrived, he was sent to work with Old Alec in the stables – presumably to be kept out of sight due to the bounty on his head. I expected him to resume his stable duties when they returned from the rent collection trip.

Instead, his role is elevated to one of respect. He’s no longer being hidden, despite the raid on Fort William to rescue Claire. More importantly, Colum seems to depend on his counsel. Jamie not only reaches an equality with Claire, but achieves it with both uncles.

As I stated in my Top 30, this episode perfectly sets the tone for the remainder of the season. I love the direction the architects of this show are taking Diana Gabaldon‘s novel and am ready for the darkness.

Ron Moore‘s podcast for Episode 109: THE RECKONING 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.

Composer Bear McCreary talks about the introduction of new music and the challenges he faced for Ep109 on his official website.

Last but not least, Mandy Tidwell gives us a little help with our Gàidhlig translations in her Episode 109 blog post.

Outlander Episode #110: BY THE PRICKING OF MY FINGER premieres on Starz on Saturday, 11 April 2015 in the U.S.

For more goodies on this episode, check out Jamie’s Top 30 Looks from Outlander Episode #109: THE RECKONING

34 thoughts on “A True Fan’s Review of #Outlander Episode 109: THE RECKONING

  1. I always enjoy your recaps, Candida. This was no exception. Funny and thoughtful, with plenty of pictures to illustrate the important points. I was so glad to have an episode from Jamie’s point of view. I felt book Jamie beginning to emerge.

  2. Another wonderful blog, Candida, but I thought I’d like to add a few of my own comments. Having seen 109 several times, I notice that just prior to being spanked, (1) Claire throws a bowl shaped object at Jamie and it does hit him in the head (temple) when he’s bent over trying to avoid it//(2) I believe in the later books, Claire tells Roger Jamie is able to put his kilt up whilst standing up – I’d love to see that!//(3) Colum did know about Dougal’s Jacobite leanings for awhile but don’t know if he knew about the secondary collections//(4) I think Dougal “set Jamie up to marry” only so that Jamie wouldn’t be eligible to become chief of the clan as we know Dougal has his eyes set on that//(5) Maybe they should/ve left that line in where Claire translates what F@!*ing means and Jamie says “Swiving? Then I was right, it is a damn filthy word”. I remember Rupert saying “Swiving” which is the word they used for it back then I guess in Rent when he was bragging at the inn(doesn’t sound so bad, does it?)//(6) Jamie was originally put in the stables to keep him out of the way during oath taking//(7) My memory keeps trying to tell me I read a passage in the later books where Jamie asks Laoghaire why she was to be punished (the one he took for her) and she admitted she had slept with/was seduced with another married man who didn’t have Jamie’s scruples so she wasn’t offering him her virginity and I suspect her father caught them at it which is why he brought her up for a beating- at least that’s the way I see it.

    1. Candida,

      Love your review and I really appreciate all of the work you put into your site. I just started following it around the middle of the first half of the season and this is the first time I’ve responded.

      Spoiler alert:

      I agree with you on Claire’s quandary. I’m not even sure she’s willing to admit to herself that she’s falling in love with Jamie until the theives hole with Geilie.

      Anyway, thanks, Candida.

      Jerri

      Also, Liz, actually, Laoghaire was just caught kissing a married man before the punishment Jamie took for her…she didn’t “sleep” with the guy until after Jamie’s marriage to Claire and, apparently, Jamie’s rejection of Laoghaire. So, while she was loose with her lips, she was still virginal when she tried to seduce Jamie…

      Unfortunately for her, Jamie never really cared enough for Laoghaire to even ask her why she was in trouble not even after he married her. He didn’t find this out until he, Claire and Ian were visiting Lallybroch after Ian’s return from the tribe and the death of Mrs Bug.

    2. Hi, Liz! Jamie tells Claire in Ep102 about the price on his head which is why Dougal thought it best to keep him out of sight. Jamie is sleeping in the stables the night of the gathering by choice.

      I don’t recall Laoghaire losing her virginity to anyone other than her husband. Hmm . . .

  3. I look forward to reading your reviews. They always put a smile on my face. By the way, Laoghaire is in the hall when Jamie and Claire walk in on the surprise party. If you check over at the fireplace, she is standing next to another lady, not looking too happy.
    I wasn’t happy about the spanking scene, but after listening to Ron Moore’s podcast and reading some other blogs about the difference between a beating and a thrashing, which is what Claire received, I am at peace with it. I’m reminded of the scene in episode five when Claire was telling Jamie “where I come from…” and Jamie tells her that she is not there, she’s here. In essence , she has to live by the rules of the society that she is existing in at that moment. That is a lesson that Claire has to learn if she is going to survive. Fortunately for Jamie, she forgives him, though at a cost for both of them.
    Thank you for your input on this episode. It’s so much easier to understand what you have viewed when you can hear what others are gleaning from these special moments. It’s going to be a bumpy ride during the next few weeks, but we’ll get through it together! Je suis prest!!!

            1. First half of season, I worked straight from 7pm Saturday until 11ish Sunday night to get both posts done. Took me much longer this time – obviously – because of Easter and other distractions. Should be more focused starting with ep110 onward!

  4. Agree, Horrocks is hot. If I were Colum, whose main focus is on the welfare of the clan, Jamie would be the best choice over hot-headed Dougal & much too young Hamish. Hated the LegHair scene by the river; but your take is starting to win me over. The changes are somewhat initially upsetting to a reader, but I am also enjoying the changes. Good luck on whatever choices your trying to decide. Good job on this recap.

  5. As always, well done Candida. So glad the drought is over and our beloved show is back along with your recaps!
    Matt B. Roberts did such an amazing job in adapting this section of the book. The fact that he is a long time fan of DG’s books is so evident. Expanding Ned Gowan’s character; giving us a look at the MacKenzie brothers’ sibling/political rivalry; even allowing us to see Jamie tempted by Loaghaire and (gasp) almost give in. I’ve been truly surprised by some of the fan reaction to that particular scene. Perhaps “the king of men” is really human after all? Personally, I like seeing Jamie falter a bit. It makes him so much more believable. In the 5 or so minutes we see him, BJR manages to leave no doubt how mentally deranged he is. Tobias is truly incredible.
    Jamie’s POV was interesting. Aside from the fact that I love Sam’s voice, it was good to be inside his head. He’s a complicated man, our Jamie. And for those who haven’t read the books, this was a mere glimpse.
    Lani Diane Rich from “The Scot and the Sassenach” blog interviewed Matt following the episode. He said (in essence) that telling the story from only Claire’s POV was limiting. It allows them to take things only so far. Part of the reason the characters of Rupert and Angus are so well developed on the show is because they had to show Clare interacting with them in order to get her thoughts and feelings out to the audience. Otherwise there would be way too much voiceover. Likewise, in order for the audience to truly understand Jamie and his motivations we need to see his POV. Claire stewing over Loaghaire as a threat is nowhere near as powerful as that scene by the burn. It’s a great interview and well worth a listen. (He also talks a little about the auditions process, especially for Claire, which led to the casting of two other main characters.)
    Richard Clark did a fantastic job directing. Through all the fighting, simmering and love making that perfect chemistry between Caitriona and Sam just shines. I think the “controversial” spanking scene was perfectly done. And by the end of the hour, at least for me, the cement is poured around the love Jamie and Claire have for each other. I’m not one to dwell on “love scenes” but that one was just – incredible. Right down to that tiny, high pitched gasp Claire gives near the end.
    Scotland itself continues to shines as once again they work with the actual weather conditions to enhance authenticity. I loved the camera work on the pre-stag hunt scene where they were roughing up Willie. I swear I could actually feel the frigid wind blowing.
    Oh, and one last thing. I don’t watch a lot of television. The quality has deteriorated too much for me to care any more. But I do watch a few shows (Outlander, Turn, Vikings). After every episode I thank the casting gods for giving us each and every actor in this show. Ron, Maril and their team NAILED it on every character. (I can’t wait to see Fr. Bain unleashed! And more Geillis.) There are so many Emmy worthy performances in this show. Here’s hoping whoever they choose to play Brianna and Roger will be just as perfect. (And that they let us in on who they are soon!)

  6. Wonderful review. I’m one of the ‘new ones’! Adding your site to my list to watch! The only comments I would have made others already covered so I’ll just say WELL DONE!

  7. Thanks so much for another outstanding recap. You have a deeply thoughtful and rational approach to what many view as controversial scenes. All peppered with your wonderful sense of humor.

  8. It very early and it is pouring rain in my little corner of the world. I opened my e-mail and I was so happy to see your review.Ahhhh Candida, with a hot cup of coffee and your wonderful review in hand, this was the perfect way to begin my day. Thanks for the laughs and smiles. Your recaps are full of great in site and so much fun to read. Your hard work does not go unnoticed as well. I really enjoy reading your perspective 🙂

  9. “Jamie (Sam Heughan) takes his belt off. What’s keeping his kilt on?”

    EXACTLY!

    “Ned is looks like he thought he was the father.”

    That made me burst out laughing and spray my monitor. You are too clever by half. 🙂

    1. The belt Jamie uses for the spanking is his outer belt, which holds his sporran and dirk sheath. The belt holding together the kilt is hidden under the folds of the kilt. This is the great kilt, of which only about 1/3 is the short skirt you see in front, and the remaining 2/3 hangs over the belt as a longer skirt, which can be used multiple ways…..Jamie’s hangs down the back like a long skirt but is folded up in the front to reveal the short skirt. There are some good YouTube videos of kilts being folded and belted….not so easy to do, and a slow process. The title card of this episode, with Jamie folding, lying on, belting, etc., is too quickly and incompletely shown to be instructive.

  10. Realy enjoy your reviews. They’re in depth (an have great pictures ;))I get to enjoy the whole episode all over again. Thanks.

  11. You.Are.Amazing. Appreciate your writing like hell.  When does your book come out. ;  ) Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone. From: Candida’s MusingsSent: Friday, April 10, 2015 5:35 AMTo: bebangeles@gmail.comReply To: Candida’s MusingsSubject: [New post] A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode #109: THE RECKONING

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    Candida_LN posted: “The Outlander mid-season premiere, Ep109: THE RECKONING, can best be described in two words: Politically Intriguing. Did I disappoint you? How about Politically Spankelicious? Yes, we have spanking and we have politics – both sexual and civil – all in one”

  12. Excellent review Candida! I love reading what you write, so funny and also insightful. Horrocks had those blue blue eyes, he was great; wish he could be in more of Outlander. Thanks again for your review!!

    1. According to his interview a few weeks ago, we will see Horrocks in another episode. I’m betting that he joins The Watch and is responsible for turning Jamie in to BJR. Just a thought.

  13. It;s possible you and I could both get our wishes if a flashback is done at Culloden. It seems I remember Jamie having a flash of memory about Murtagh charging towards BJR while he stood over Jamie. Not the happiest scene but a way to bring Murtagh’s character full circle.

    I’m so glad they added the scenes with Dougal , Column, Ned and Jamie. For those who haven’t read the books it fleshes out the historical background to the Jacobites and explains the Clan hierarchy.

    I really hated the scene where Claire pulled out the dagger and held it to Jamie’s throat at that moment. I wouldn’t have had a problem if she had to make a feminist statement; but I would have hoped she would have been more focused on him.

    I have been following you since the series started and really enjoy your creativity. See you next week..

  14. Found your blog and have subscribed. I just finished Outlander and have started the second book, so I am now in France in 1744. So glad I read the book before I watched the first four episodes on DVD. The book has been beautifully brought to life and your blog, so we’ll done, only adds to my enjoyment of the Outlander world. I am such a fan!
    Looking forward to more of your comments in the future…

    1. Thank you so much, Rima! I will continue blogging during the long hiatus, but am taking a short break.
      Dragonfly in Amber has several exciting scenes. I’m sure that comes as no surprise. Book 3: Voyager is my personal favorite. Please let me know how you are enjoying DIA!

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