Outlander S1E08 Photo Recap, “Both Sides Now,” Part 2

As I get ready to hibernate like a bear, only occasionally opening up my maw to curse and maul at stray campers, let me thank everyone once again for reading, reblogging, liking, tweeting and all other manner of cyberhugs. This fandom is populated by awesomeasauruses.

Trigger warning: If awful violent acts that rhyme with “grape” are upsetting to you, please note this may not be a good episode for you to read about. Proceed under your own judgement.

Back to Claire and Jamie, who are in a meadow looking for some Afternoon Delight. I can’t blame them, because I have it on good authority that when the time is right, it’s right.

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Claire asks Jamie between kisses if the Mackenzies “won’t come looking for us”, and Jamie says that he told them that they needed to find more of Claire’s “wee herbs.” That is what I will now say to the hubs when it’s time for him to submit and fulfill his duties.

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“Oh it’s my idea?” Claire laughs, and asks if he thinks they believed him. “Not a chance,” he replies, grinning, and sets upon her like he’s the hungry young man he is and she’s the world’s sexiest steak. In true proof that men are incapable of logical thought during nakey Twister, he asks her “Does it ever stop, the wanting you?” at the same time as he is hiking up her skirt in the middle of a $#@! field. It merits the same serious problem-solving techniques I applied to conundrums back when I was a wee Flea. Time to consult the Oracle.

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Outlook Not So Good, you guys. This sexymoon will, like Rose’s heart, go on and on. Jamie and Claire’s boat is rocking when Jamie says “Now I know why they call it a sacrament.” Claire, distracted, asks him why. “Because I feel like God himself when I’m inside you!” he exclaims, overjoyed, and she laughs and he grins at her and asks if that is “a foolish thing to say.” Claire can’t answer properly because she is too busy laughing at him.

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When she admits between giggles that she is laughing at him, he, smiling, tells her she’ll “get what [she] deserve[s]!” and gets down to business in earnest. I start to feel like I am intruding, sitting on my couch in my own living room. The sky and grass are bright, the sex is playful and passionate and they are beautifully open and immersed in each other, so of course it has to go to hell. Don’t sleep, y’all. No matter what your library may tell you, this is not a romance novel.

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There is the subtle click of a gun cocking and Jamie and Claire freeze. An English voice says “Get up, you rutting bastard” and Jamie is unceremoniously pulled off his wife, who shakes in obvious fear as she struggles to cover herself. We then see that their assailants are two grubby redcoats, and one mentions to the other that he shouldn’t have pulled Jamie off “before he finished” because it’s “bad for a man’s health.” It’s good to know he has his priorities straight. The other soldier answers that he’s not concerned with Jamie’s health and you can see that Jamie is vibrating with anger, but there is nothing he can do with a gun aimed at his head. The tension is making me twitchy.

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The soldier’s partner says to “go ahead and kill him, then” because he means to have “a piece of that.” “That” is Claire, laying on the ground with her bodice undone and disbelieving as the soldier unbuckles his belt and moves toward her. Jamie roars and lunges in her direction, but is stopped by the other soldier’s gun. The redcoats joke coarsely among themselves about “letting him watch” and “showing him how it’s done” and it’s obvious by his expression and Claire’s that they are both horrified and powerless. I am a sobbing mass of empathy.

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As the officer not holding the gun kneels and drags Claire toward him and Jamie shouts in the background, suddenly the sound seems to go mono and everything slows down as the camera focuses very tightly on Claire’s face. I pause mid-cat-chase (her fuzziness is soothing) to admire how freaking stunning Cait is. Probably not the time, but that’s never stopped me before.

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The soldier must think so as well, because as he lowers himself onto a seemingly docile Claire, his guard is down and he doesn’t expect what happens next at all.

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Jamie takes advantage of this to quickly draw his knife and slash the throat of the soldier who was holding him back.

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He then runs to Claire, pulling the dead redcoat off her, tossing her into his arms and running with her to higher ground, where he sits her upon a stump and curls around her protectively. The camera is still slightly shaky, there is no music, everything is both slow and fast, and I am in a right panic, because I’ve somehow managed to convince myself that the redcoats aren’t really dead and I am screaming Zombieland’s rule #2 at my screen.

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Back to Frank’s time and the vicarage, where Mrs. Graham is complaining loudly to the Reverend about how she has “held her tongue for weeks now” and that she “will be silent no longer”. Rev. Wakefield says that he won’t have her parading her “dribble-drabble as fact.” She says she will tell Frank and let him make up his own mind, but he says that the “poor man just made up his mind that his wife left him.” Because they are loud and the house is old, Frank comes upon them and very calmly gossip-shames them.

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Noticing the tension, he asks Mrs. Graham directly if there is something she would like to tell him. She says there is, and that even if it should cost her her position, he should know “the truth.” Wakefield tries to interject but before he can, she amends “the truth as I know it,” and tells Frank that there is another explanation for what happened to his wife.

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They sit at a table and while the Reverend paces in the background, Mrs. Graham tells Frank about stories “old as the stones themselves, passed down from generation to generation by bards and songs.” She says she heard the story from her grandmother, who heard it from hers. He seems calm enough as he listens and his face is pretty impassive. As a matter of fact, his suit matches the wall and he gives off a general air of IDGAF-ness. Frank is like a ghost of himself, going through the motions and being polite.

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Mrs. Graham tells him of people who traveled through the stones, and that the stones at Craig Na Dun represent a place where “the powers of nature come together” and that the stones gather the power and give it focus. She says that “certain people, on certain days, can pierce the veil of time.” She adds that Frank knows Claire went up the hill, but she did not come back down the same way, and believes she “traveled to some other time.”

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Frank asks where or when did she, and Mrs. Graham responds that she doesn’t know, every traveler has “their own journey,” but that the songs say the “travelers often return.” In short, she describes exactly what happened in the clearest way a Druid can and because it sounds impossible and Frank is dealing only in things he can touch now, he writes it off, albeit very politely. Tobias Menzies can communicate pain with a simple downturn of the mouth, and it is apparent here that speaking of Claire pains Frank, however well he may hide it.

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He is still resolved to leave that afternoon, and Mrs. Graham is at a loss. “Did you no’ hear me? THEY OFTEN RETURN.” “I did hear you,” Frank says kindly and quietly as the Reverend places a supportive hand on Mrs. Graham’s shoulder. “I simply do not share your beliefs. Forgive me.” Her disappointment is obvious, but she doesn’t say anything else to stop him.

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He turns to leave, pausing briefly to smile at this wee nugget, and the scene is done.

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Back to the tree stump, where Jamie is being eaten alive by guilt and Claire is going into shock. For those of you unfamiliar with shock, here is a visual aid I totally made up:

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Jamie, high on adrenaline and the blood of the oppressor, is apologizing to Claire. “I’m sorry, charaid,” he says, taking both her hands in his. “I’m okay. We’re okay” is her response. She sounds too calm for what just happened, and her gaze is fixed on her bloody hands, held inside Jamie’s. “MY FAULT,” he growls,“To bring you here without taking proper heed and to let you be….” Here his voice breaks, and he swallows, continuing with tears in his voice. “…To not stop him….” She only says “Okay.” It is obvious that Elvis has left the building.

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Suddenly Jamie pauses, noticing that Claire’s hands are cold and he tells her “You’re so cold, mo nighean donn. Yours hands are like ice.” As he is kissing her hands to try to warm them, he hears is name shouted from the meadow below. It’s Dougal and the rest of the group, and thank God for them.

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Jamie leaves Claire–staring at her bloody hands, bodice still undone, shaking and muttering to herself that she is going into shock but “it’s all right,”–to go take care of the redcoats, leaving Young Willie to guard her. In a voice over, Claire explains that her mind jumped from thought to thought “like a stone skipping over a pond” and lists the random thoughts she had during this time, which include her parents, the smell of her uncle’s pipe, Errol Flynn, men she’d seen die and finally, the feel of her dagger tip puncturing the kidney. Basically, none of these things:

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Jamie looks up at her from below, and Claire’s voice over continues, saying that she knew he was worried and wanted to talk to her about what had happened, but that if she “started to give rein to her feelings” then things would pour out of her that she wanted to “keep locked away forever.” Instead of screaming, she paces back and forth like an automaton with an open bodice while Willie tactfully averts his eyes.

Down in the meadow with the bodies, Dougal says the men are redcoat deserters like Munro said Horrocks was, and that if Jamie is to meet with him he cannot go alone, since “this is what becomes of a man who breaks his oath to king and country.”

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Murtagh concurs with Dougal, saying that they should all accompany him “with our swords in our hands,” or Jamie should not go at all.

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Jamie nods once, tersely, and growls out a low “Aye,” after which his gaze travels up to Claire, pacing in the mist like a ghost. They are not the same two people who snuck away only moments earlier for a giddy moment alone, and the disconnect is palpable. Props to the director for this last shot of Claire, symbolically haunting the moors à la Wuthering Heights. Beautiful, and chilling.

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Back at the vicarage, Frank gets ready to make a clean break and be that dude that leaves a drawer full of underpants when he vacates a house.

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Damn it, Frank. Mrs. Graham is your housekeeper, not your maid.

Back in the 18th century, the Mackenzies are back on the trail, and Claire won’t meet Jamie’s eyes. Her voice over tells us that all she “could remember about that pivotal time in her life was that [she] was angry,” and she didn’t know why. Really? I can name a few reasons.

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Suddenly everyone stops, and Claire sulkily asks Jamie why. He doesn’t answer her directly, but tells he she will have to stay there with Willie. At her startled “What!” he explains that Dougal was right, and the meeting with Horrocks could be a trap. “I’ll no’ risk you again,” he says earnestly, “You’ll be safer here with Willie to look after you.” Claire’s reaction is cringe-worthy. She says in a bored tone that she doesn’t need an explanation, he can “go ahead and take Willie with him” because she “can look after myself. I think I’ve proven that earlier.”

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OUCH, girl. MEE-OW. Jamie blinks at the insult and turns away from her, muttering “Ye needn’t prove it again” under his breath and Claire looks down as she hears him, but does not otherwise react that he can see. Jamie addresses Willie in a loud voice, saying it is likely that there are redcoats about and if they come, it will be from the South. Willie promises to keep an eye out. Jamie once again speaks to Claire, saying, “You stay here. I’ll be back. I promise.” Claire tells him he “shouldn’t make promises [he] can’t keep.” but the subtext is obvious.

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“This one I will keep, Claire,” he insists, and asks her to promise him that she will stay put. Dougal calls him and he stalls, insisting. “Promise me, Claire. Swear you’ll be here when I get back.”

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Finally and with little grace, Claire gives in. “Fine, I promise.” “Good,” he responds, and gallops away without another word. As she watches them leave, Claire’s voice over tells us that “In that moment, the reason for [her] bitterness became clear” to her.

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She wasn’t mad at the redcoat deserters, or Jamie. She was mad at herself for forgetting her plan to get back to the stones at Craigh Na Dun, to her own time, and to Frank.

Speaking of Frank, he is headed out of Inverness on the road that passes right by…you guessed it, Craigh Na Dun.

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He has barely missed the exit when he suddenly stops, focusing on a couple on a motorcycle clasped tight to each other as they zoom past. As he stares forward, his gaze focuses on his hand, and his decision is made.

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I have no explanation as to why Frank’s ring sounds like an extra on Goodfellas. He looks behind him at the road, shifts the car into reverse,  backs up until he is by the exit to the stones, and makes the turn.

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Back in the past, Claire is pouting and leaning on a tree when Willie shouts out that if she needs him, he’ll be “takin’ care of some personal business.” I applaud his tact, and wish that Claire could respond in kind. “Go at least fifty yards away and downwind”, she says crabbily, and as he walks away, I am shouting at him.

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He walks one way, and Claire walks another, using the opportunity to think out loud at us via voice over as she gets ever-further from her guard. She says that she “tried to avoid thinking about the incident in the meadow”, but that her mind “kept returning to it again and again, like picking at a festering sore that’s left untouched.” As she wanders through the woods, all of a sudden she stops cold.

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“There it was,” says V.O. Claire. “Craigh Na Dun.” She hadn’t recognized the road they had taken on the way in, but now, she was “back, to the place where it had all begun. So much had happened, so much had changed.”  Last time she was here, she was Claire Randall, then Claire Beauchamp, then Claire Fraser. “The question was…who did I want to be?”

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Well that was a gut-check. Traumatized, alone and past her breaking point, Claire bolts for the safety of what she left behind. This begins a truly poetic series of parallel cuts between 18th-century Claire and 20th-century Frank as they both rush towards the stones, and their last memory of each other. The music swells and builds, imbuing what follows with a sense of the epic. No insult to Bear Mac, but when things get epic, at least in my mind, really only one song will ever do.

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Claire is hauling her long legs and probably an additional 20 lbs of wool and assorted armature as fast as she can, but it’s no match for an internal combustion engine and a lead foot. Frank arrives first, and takes a moment to take in his surroundings, in case he finds Claire under a rock, or maybe the stones will become sentient and  and tell him where they stashed his woman. Nothing sounds weird to me anymore.

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More cuts, back and forth. In the 18th century, Claire runs full tilt, and her urgency is palpable. Meanwhile, Frank pauses by the stone with the flowers at its base and finally, heart-stoppingly, allows to himself to cry.

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It starts out quiet and builds into big, gulping sobs in between which he brokenly calls his wife’s name, and ends with his best Brando.

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It’s exactly like that except he says Claire. For her part, Claire, who is still running towards the stones in the 18th century, pauses when she hears an echo of his voice sound out over the clearing, and likewise, shouts out his name in the timey-wimeyest, most high-stakes game of Marco Polo ever.

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“Frank!,” she shouts while running, “Wait for me, Frank!” In the 20th century, Frank quits his manly weeping as he too, hears his spouse’s voice calling his name echo across time. He turns around and quietly says her name, unsure it is her. Wonder who else he thinks it could be.

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In the 18th century, Claire finally arrives at the stones, and specifically, the one she touched when she traveled. You know it’s the right one, because the plaid wrap she wore is still there, wet and bedraggled at its base. She leans down to touch both hands to the stone and—

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Yep. The redcoats get her, because maybe tearing uphill while screaming at the top of her lungs was not the best way to keep a low profile, but whatever. Bygones. She screams “NO,” as they haul her away, and Frank, who can no longer hear her in the 20th century, seems to tell that big rational brain of his that he imagined the whole thing. He takes a moment to settle himself, and still teary-eyed, walks downhill to his car in a world that seems leached of color, while 200 years in the past, Claire stumbles down the same hill to an uncertain future, the red of their coats so vibrant, it almost hurts your eyes.

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I know there is a lot of dislike for this character and I promise this will be short, but this was heartbreaking, and I was perversely happy to feel this way because it means that this scene, this entire relationship, was done right and for that I am glad.  This was a couple who loved, who married in joy and hope, who was dedicated to making their marriage work and who were torn apart by circumstance. It is, no matter what you think of their personalities or Jamie’s, a muthaf#@! tragedy. *sigh* /drinks wine

Onward. In the back of the soldiers’ wagon, Claire tells us via voice over that she knew where they were taking her: “Fort William, the site of Jamie’s incarceration and flogging” and the purview of a man she knew “all too well,” who would have no notice of her coming. She however, had the “entire jolting journey in the back of the wagon” to plan what she would say, and she hoped it would be enough.

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Time for fun with Captain “Black” Jack Randall, and by that I mean, constant douche chills, to the point where I had to watch later portions barricaded behind a mountain of pillows like a fugitive. There is something that Tobias does with his mouth when he does BJR that I cannot. stand.

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First, Capt. Randall offers his “congratulations and felicitations” on her recent wedding, and tells her that he does not care whether or not she considers herself Scots or an Englishwoman, and apparently neither does Claire, he points out, as she is still wearing her old wedding ring. “Sentimental attachment,” she counters.“I doubt you have a sentimental bone in your body,” he says.

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BJR always enjoys a side of affability with his crazy, but Claire seems to be almost imitating him, and if anything, it ratchets up the tension to an unbearable level. Watching these two be nice to each other is like watching a bear juggle salmon.

“The more interesting question,” he continues, “is why would Dougal Mackenzie consider [her] of such value” that he would make her one of his own instead of allowing him to question her. “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she demurs, and they toast to the king. “I’m glad to see you still consider him your sovereign, he says, and she says that “All the Mackenzies are loyal English subjects.” Which makes him laugh, which CREEPS ME OUT.

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He says that that is “the single most amusing comment” he has heard “all week.” Claire comments that he must not have been amusing himself by flogging prisoners, then. He tells her that it is an unusual thing to say, because she should know from their last meeting that he “takes flogging very seriously.” For a moment, Claire’s facade drops and you can see the nerves and uncertainty, and as Capt. Randall walks around her in silence to noisily drag a chair next to her, she tries to school her expression.

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“Madam,” he tells her, “you need to understand your position.” On this, their third encounter, he intends to discover her “true nature” and her secrets “by any means necessary.” “Perhaps you should ask the Duke of Sandringham,” Claire retaliates, and BJR actually chokes on his wine, so you know someone’s gonna die. That $#@! will NOT stand. Claire however, feels smug in having scored a point on her no good, very bad day, and it shows on her face.

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Claire thinks about how this is a dangerous gambit, but that Randall’s reaction tells her that Frank and the Reverend’s speculation about who Randall’s patron was was spot-on. In essence, he could do as he wished because he was under the protection of a powerful man. “The cost of such protection,” thought Claire,“was always silence…and fidelity.” She makes a pointed comment about his cravat staining, and as he gets up to rinse it in a basin, there is a subtle shift in the power dynamic in the room, and this just puts me on edge.

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Randall asks how Claire knows the Duke, and she tells Randall that it should be obvious that they are “both in the employ of the same great and powerful man.” Randall says that this is “Impossible,” because he would know, but Claire counters that Sandringham does not tell him all his secrets. She is so smug and confident at this point that I just want her to shut up. This man is a grenade.

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Claire says he must be “a very special officer indeed” and Randall says that he will simply send a messenger to the Duke to ask after her. Claire gets up, and reaches over to help him tie his cravat. “Excellent idea,” she says. “I’m sure he would be most pleased at your skill and acumen and discovering my identity, OR….” she holds the ends of the cloth threateningly, “perhaps your destruction of the Duke’s carefully laid plans will not be rewarded. Perhaps he will be displeased, and take measures to terminate your special relationship, withdraw the protection to which you have become accustomed and thus leave you at the mercy of your superior officers and local authorities.” BJR stands docilely during this speech, and that is crazy alarming.

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She finishes, saying that “the wisest course of action” would be for him to allow her to continue with “her mission” and give no indication to the Duke how close he came to interfering with his “efforts on behalf of the King.” She crosses to get her cloak and leave the room, when Randall stops her by saying, “You mean his wife’s efforts.”

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That’s right, he tricks her into admitting that she communicated with the Duchess, who doesn’t exist, and just like that the balance of power shifts again, and it sends Claire into a panic, running to the door to escape and finding the same poor Corporal Hawkins there that kicked her last time. A low “Coorpooraal…” from Frank is enough to make the young man fearfully pushes her back inside with a whispered “Sorry, madam,” and Claire realizes how desperate her situation has actually become.

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Randall ties her hands behind her back, and tells the Corporal not to come back, no matter what he hears. He walks calmly back to his desk, takes off his jacket, and takes out a giant knife with a curved blade. The look of horror on Claire’s face erupts into a sudden scream for “Help, someone!!!” and Randall reacts by drinking some wine. That is how you know you are f&%$#ed.

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He comes at Claire with the knife and she backs against the door. Randall advances with his patented smirk, and lists the things he wants to question her about as he cuts through her laces. First, her real name, then Dougal, Collum, the Jacobite rebellion and finally, the Duke of Sandringham. At first you think that he is just going to intimidate her, but by the time he has ripped her chemise off and she is standing there exposed, you know it will be nothing so simple.

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He means to exert power over her in the tradition of @$$holes throughout time, with his penis. Claire whispers angrily that he will regret this. “I doubt it,” he answers, grabbing her by the hair and dragging her to a table and bending her over it. When he flips her skirt over her back, he notices the sgian-dubh in her boot, and laughs as he pulls it out. “My, my..the lady has claws,” he comments, showing the blade to Claire as he pets her hair. He wonders how sharp it is, and to make his point…

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I couldn’t show it, not even with words covering the bits. Suffice it to say this crazy f*ck was going to make it so she could never breastfeed, but suddenly the window bursts open and Randall transfers the blade to Claire’s neck instead. It’s Jamie, thank God, perched in the window with a gun like a verra angry handsome bird and pointing it right at Randall. In contrast with his expression, his voice is almost polite as he says, “I’ll thank ye to take yer hands off my wife.”

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Randall lets out a surprised “Good God,” over Claire’s quiet sobs and then, like the insane crackpot he is, begins to laugh. This sort of heroin nightmare is what gets him off, of course, so while everyone else is at a zenith of tension, I feel like I know exactly what this bastard is thinking.

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But I won’t know for sure till April.

For more Outlander fun during hiatus, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.

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