Before we get started, I’d like to acknowledge James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser’s 295th birthday today. As I have always favored mature Jamie, these excerpts from Diana Gabaldon‘s The Fiery Cross seem the most appropriate compilation of words to borrow for the occasion – an endearing and touching peek at Claire and Jamie on his big 5-0.
Jamie and Claire have many tender moments throughout the novel series, all of which Diana manages to make unique in her masterful way. This scene is particularly poignant because of the mention of Jamie’s father, Brian. For those who don’t want a glimpse into the future, skip ahead. But to Jamie – Happy Birthday, lad!
I glanced sideways, careful not to move in case he was still asleep. He wasn’t. He was lying quite still, though, utterly relaxed, save for his right hand. He had this raised, and appeared to be examining it closely, turning it to and fro and slowly curling and uncurlng his fingers – as well as he could. The fourth finger had a fused joint, and was permanently stiff; the middle finger was slightly twisted, a deep white scar spiraling round the middle joint.
His hand was callused and battered by work, and the tiny stigma of a nail wound still showed, pale-pink, in the middle of his palm. The skin of his hand was deeply bronzed and weathered, freckled with sun-blots and scattered with bleached gold hairs. I thought it remarkably beautiful.
“Happy Birthday,” I said, softly. “Taking stock?”
He let the hand fall on his chest, and turned his head to look at me, smiling.
“Aye, something of the sort. Though I suppose I’ve a few hours left. I was born at half-six; I willna have lived a full half-century until suppertime.”
I laughed and rolled onto my side, kicking the blanket off. The air was still delightfully cool, but it wouldn’t last long.
“Do you expect to disintegrate much further before supper?” I asked, teasing.
“Oh, I dinna suppose anything is likely to fall off by then,” he said, consideringly. “As to the workings . . . aye, well . . .” he arched his back, stretching, and sank back with a gratified groan as my hand settled on him.
“It all seems to be in perfect working order,” I assured him. I gave a brief, experimental tug, making him yelp slightly. “Not loose at all.”
“Good,” he said, folding his hand firmly over mine to prevent further unauthorized experiments. “How did ye ken what I was doing? Taking stock, as ye say?”
I let him keep hold of the hand, but shifted to set my chin in the center of his chest, where a small depression seemed made for the purpose.
“I always do that, when I have a birthday – though I generally do it the night before. More looking back, I think, reflecting a bit on the year that’s just gone. But I do check things over; I think perhaps everyone does. Just to see if you’re the same person as the day before.”
“I’m reasonably certain that I am,” he assured me. “Ye dinna see any marked changes, do ye?”
I lifted my chin from its resting place and looked him over carefully. It was in fact rather hard to look at him objectively; I was both so used to his features and so fond of them that I tended to notice tiny, dear things about him – the freckle on his earlobe, the lower incisor pushing eagerly forward, just slightly out of line with its fellows – and to respond to the slightest change of his expression – but not really to look at him as an integrated whole.
He bore my examination tranquilly, eyelids half-lowered against the growing light. His hair had come loose while he slept and feathered over this shoulders, its ruddy waves framing a face strongly marked by both humor and passion – but which possessed a paradoxical and most remarkable capacity for stillness.
“No,” I said at last, and set my chin down again with a contented sigh. “It’s still you.”
Later . . .
“Do ye ever think–” he began, and then broke off.
“Think what?” I bent and kissed his chest, arching my back to encourage him to rub it, which he did.
“Well . . . I’m no so sure I can explain, but it’s struck me that now I have lived longer than my father did – which is not something I expected to happen,” he added, with faint wryness. “It’s only . . . well, it seems odd, is all. I only wondered, did ye ever think of that, yourself – having lost your mother young, I mean?”
“Yes.” My face was buried in his chest, my voice muffled in the folds of this shirt. “I used to – when I was younger. Like going on a journey without a map.”
His hand on my back paused for a moment.
“Aye, that’s it.” He sounded a little surprised. “I kent more or less what it would be like to be a man of thirty, or of forty – but now what?” His chest moved briefly, with a small noise that might have been a mixture of amusement and puzzlement.”
“You invent yourself,” I said softly, to the shadows inside the hair that fallen over my face. “You look at other women – or men; you try on their lives for size. To take what you can use, and you look inside yourself for what you can’t find elsewhere. And always . . . always . . . you wonder if you’re doing it right.”
His hand was warm and heavy on my back. He felt the tears that ran unexpectedly from the corners of my eyes to dampen his shirt, and his other hand came up to touch my head and smooth my hair.
“Aye, that’s it,” he said again, very softly.
The camp was beginning to stir outside, with clangings and thumps, and the hoarse sound of sleep-rough voices. Overhead, the grasshopper began to chirp, the sound like someone scratching a nail on a copper pot.
“This is a morning my father never saw,” Jamie said, still so softly that I heard it as much through the walls of his chest, as with my ears. “The world and each day in it is a gift, mo chridhe – no matter what tomorrow may be.”
I sighed deeply and turned my head, to rest my cheek against his chest. He reached over gently and wiped my nose with a fold of his shirt.
“And as for taking stock,” he added practically, “I’ve all my teeth, none of my parts are missing, and my cock still stands up by itself in the morning. It could be worse.”
– The Fiery Cross, Chapter 58: Happy Birthday to You
And now, on to the show. Episode #204: LA DAME BLANCHE is a birthday gift to us from Sam Heughan and James Fraser. Jamie’s expressions and Sam’s performance are so outstanding, I couldn’t limit myself only to 30 Looks this episode. (I’m sure you won’t mind that I mixed in a few of Stanley Weber‘s Comte St. Germain.)
In Episode #204, Jamie comes back to life – lifts the Black Jack cloud of despair weighing him down. He’s ready to take on the world, knock heads – chop off one or two, host an entire dinner party by himself, and most importantly – take his wife!
Jamie is a new man and his fabulous faces reflect how much he’s changed since leaving Scotland and the darkness called Black Jack Randall behind. Welcome to the Top 36 Looks of LA DAME BLANCHE. We haven’t seen Jamie look this good since Ep. 107: THE WEDDING.
#36: Jamie’s Lambert? Face – Dalhousie Quentin Lambert Beauchamp MacKenzie Fraser . . . doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it?
#35: Germain’s Put A Fork In Me Face – Literally. Of course, if I were the Comtesse, I wouldn’t appreciate how often (and how long) my husband stared at Claire.
#34: Jamie’s Ready To Rumble Face – Jamie’s been civilized for far too long. He’s ready to call out the Jets and rumble.
#33: Jamie’s Wants To Sleep Alone Face – That’s pretty much the saddest thing Jamie could ever say to me. Oh, yeah. And to Claire, too.
#32: Jamie’s Oops! Was Hoping Claire Wouldn’t Notice Face – If Jamie were wearing a kilt in Paris, maybe I could understand the bite marks. Exactly how strong is this bimbo such that she was able to get his pants off?
#31: Jamie’s In A Dark Place Face – Just like a man to want the sex and not the talk. Jamie’s gotta sing for his sex here.
#30: Jamie’s Nothing Happened Face – Hate to tell you, Jamie, but getting bitten high on the inner thighs is a pretty, big, damn something.
#29: Jamie’s Soixante-Neuf Face – Jamie’s sexual education is progressing quite well without Claire, but how does he know soixante-neuf and not f*ck? Hmmm….
#28: Jamie’s Gently Reared Woman Face – How can Jamie call Claire a “gently reared woman” after six months of marriage? Is soixante-neuf the only thing they haven’t done?
#27: Jamie’s In The Dark Face – Are you really complaining you can’t see Jamie’s face? (By the way, that looks like a digital shadow to me, so don’t blame the cinematographer Stephen McNutt for lighting or Production Designer Jon Gary Steele for furniture placement. Yep. Blame good ol’ visual effects.)
#26: Jamie’s Full Time Job Face – Between trying to stop a rebellion, keeping everyone from killing Claire and trying to keep Murtagh from killing everyone, Jamie has a full-time job. Is Jared’s wine business out-of-business yet?
#25: Jamie’s Lust-Filled Face –
Kids Men say the darnedest damnedest things.
#24: Jamie’s Brunette Whore Face – Eh. I’ve been called worse.
#23: Jamie’s New Suit Face – . . . £20.
#22: Jamie’s Hosting A Fancy Dinner Party Face – . . . £200.
#21: Jamie’s Post Dinner Lawsuits Face – . . . £2000.
#20: Jamie’s Watching the Prince Slobber All Over Louise In Front Of Her Husband Face – . . . Priceless.
There are a lot of things money can buy. For everything else, there’s James Fraser.
#19: Germain’s Proper Way To Eat Soup Face – Just wondering what else this man does properly . . .
#18: Jamie’s Cheeky Home Invasion Face – Enough with the face caressing. Is the Prince in love with Louise or Jamie?
#17: Jamie’s Yes! No! Faces – Asked by your wife if you were driven mad with passion by some whore? Yes, it’s a trick question. You’re screwed.
#16: Jamie’s Never Gonna Let Me Forget Face – He thinks this is bad. Wait until Laoghaire . . .
#15: Jamie’s Loose Lips Face – Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. They’re talking politics and religion with Sandringham digging a hole deeper and deeper. I’m just watching Jamie’s puckered lips.
#14: Jamie’s Synchronized Thinking Face – I seriously doubt Jamie’s thinking what I’m thinking.
#13: Jamie’s Holy Sh*t! He Looks Just Like His Brother Face – Welcome to the club, Jamie.
#12: Jamie’s Da To Be Face – Hot Holyrood Dad here.
#11: Jamie’s Unfathomable Pulchritude Face – The Duke is actually good for something – like telling tasteless jokes, offending every Catholic at the table, skipping dessert to avoid a fight and broadening our vocabulary.
#10: Germain’s Suck On This Face – I’ve never actually wanted to be a grape . . . until now.
#9: Jamie’s Blade Of Grass Face – From groveling to vulnerable. Jamie gets out of the brunette whore biting him on the thighs and driving him mad with lust predicament with this beautiful speech.
#8: Jamie’s Good Reason Face – I just had a flashback from this . . .
. . . to this. Any reason is a good reason for a close up on Jamie.
#7: Jamie’s Fantasy World Face – Don’t need to see Jamie’s eyes to know what he’s thinking. The dining room table is seeing some action tonight. Screw the dinner guests.
#6: Jamie’s Vision Of Elegance Face – The Duke is 20 for 2 tonight, but when he’s right . . . Damn. He’s right. (Great lighting by Stephen McNutt.)
#5: Jamie’s Lean To Face – Aw. And Jamie makes this tender moment even more tender.
#4: Jamie’s Different Girl, Entirely Face – I’m changing my name to Entirely.
#3: Jamie’s Thinking Cap Face – Jamie’s brain is thinking clearly now that his head is clear. Ba-dum-bum.
#2: Jamie’s Le Sex Face – Nothing like make up sex. And this time, the knife is in the other room.
#1: Jamie’s Bad People Face – If this is what it takes to be bad, sign me up.
Outlander Episode #205: UNTIMELY RESURRECTIONS premieres on Starz on Saturday, 7 May 2016 in the U.S.
My recapped review of this episode is also available: A True Fan’s Review of Outlander Episode #204: LA DAME BLANCHE