Outlander Character Appreciation Post: “Black Jack” Randall

I know what you’re likely thinking. We don’t usually celebrate demons come to earth no matter their flawless ability to rock thigh-high boots, but Captain Jonathan Wolverton Randall’s birthday was yesterday, and I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves to be Prince of Darkness  for a Day on their special day.

Or the day after, if I’m busy that day.

With the Season 3 premiere less than a week away, let’s briefly dwell on one of the more disturbing villains to ever cross our screens, and why we find him so compelling.

  1. Evil : Good :: Villain : Hero. I can’t really underscore this one enough. The worse your villain, the greater your hero. We have some characters on the show that occasionally act in a morally questionable way (I’m looking at you, Mackenzies), but Jack’s C.V. would make Ghengis Khan clutch his pearls. A great villain helps define the greatness of the hero, and shapes his story and the heart of the conflict. In the Instagram snap that is Outlander, Jack is the Lo-Fi filter with the contrast turned up to 99.

2. Order vs. Chaos. Whenever something awful happens, like two additional months being added to a   hiatus, we like to rationalize as to cause. Very rarely are we comfortable with chaos. Jack is a military man, a product of order, and yet he actively seeks chaos. Jamie is the product of a volatile life, but becomes a reasoned man of the Enlightenment. The ballad of Jack and Jamie is the product of one key interaction that echoes over the course of their time together, building and intensifying to its inevitable end, a yin/yang that reaffirms both sides as it consumes and changes both its participants.

3. England vs. Scotland. This one is pretty obvious, but a lot of the atrocities committed in the name of King and country are echoed in Jack’s attempts to subdue and possess Jamie. “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious,” in the words of Oscar Wilde. By framing their struggle (and its eventual conclusion) as part of the rise of the Jacobite rebellion, Jack becomes the embodiment of English aggression and tyranny, his disregard for Jamie’s humanity a symbol for the colonialist exploitation of the Scottish people.

4. Wild Card, B*tches. Just when you thought Jack was almost unnecessarily evil, we get a tiny birdhouse in the dark mine of his soul. Jack has a very real ability to love, his honest affection for human puppy and Randall white sheep brother Alex brings a confusing humanity to what might have otherwise been a very black & white portrayal. Even his reaction upon Alex’s death speaks to his inability to deal with the depth of his emotions, and the pity and horror he engenders in Claire and us as an audience just wraps another layer around a character that is already a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

5. Tobias MOTHERCOUNTRY MENZIES. Someday if I live long enough and reality TV continues to evolve on its same path, there will be a show that combines great acting and even greater acts of derring-do, like having to act your way out of a flour sack suspended over a river filled with man-eating piranha. When that day comes, there is only one man for the job, and his name rhymes with OhHellas Yeszies. Menzies brought an almost reptilian horror to this character while grounding him in the sort of cavalier matter-of-factness of a bureaucrat, the combination of which took “Black” Jack Randall from a sinister shadow into a three-dimensional villain for the ages.

Honorable mention: The Black Jack Wig, the best wig on Outlander.

Rock on in the ninth circle, BJR. Please salt the earth on your way out.

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Outlander Promo Recap: Parallel Lives

Hey all, thanks for the well-wishes, and here’s payback in the form of an unnecessarily long promo recap.

The title of this promo is more than a righteous Magic:The Gathering card. It’s also the nickname for Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, a series of biographies of famous men that highlighted their similar virtues and failings, and a fascinating study of morality and choices. It’s an apt lens through which to view this season of Outlander, in which Claire and Jamie struggle to make the most of their choice to separate, consequently exposing the best and worst of themselves (and those closest to them). It’s a reminder that our heroes are no more human than any of us: sometimes disturbingly fallible, others heartrendingly persistent. Plus I hear there’s a lot of sex.

Let’s dig in.

The promo opens on Claire and Bree, presumably on a plane back to Boston after their visit to Scotland. Caitriona Balfe narrates, letting us know that when we last saw the character it was 1968, right after her character discovers Jamie didn’t die at Culloden. Both Randall ladies seem immersed in thought.

Information like that has a way of jump-starting one’s fantasy life, and Claire gazes out of her plane window while Bree reassures her that they “will find him.” Don’t pat yourself on the back, kid. Everyone finds Jamie eventually. He’s pretty noteworthy.

Cut to Bree and Claire researching at what looks like a library with Roger. This promo needs more Roger. If this keeps up I am just going to start Photoshopping his face onto vases and stuff. Here he is, color-coordinating not only with the rich wood paneling but also Bree’s vest. I assume he’s the head researcher because he’s the only one who can read fluent Scottish noises.

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Welcome to TV Kills Time.

I am still cleaning up around here, but I wanted to post my thoughts about this new venture.

This site is the culmination of a massive amount of time spent being bathed in the light of an LCD screen and talking to myself.I have always loved television. I feel that these shows are our modern fables, and they reveal not only the interests of the people who create them, but the values and culture of the people who watch.

Especially since Outlander premiered, folks encouraged me to start a formal blog that was more user-friendly than my Killing Time Tumblr. I was thrilled when the fine folks at Scotland Now hired me to write for them, but churning out a recap per week (in addition to being a mom and working a full-time gig) was a punishing schedule, and it forced me to make a shorter recap that was a bit more censored at times. I remain proud of the work I did there, but when Season 3 talks came around, we amicably parted ways. I wish everyone there the very best.

On that note, I finally decided “what the hell.” I don’t think I could shut myself up if I tried, so I’m taking a leap of faith and hoping folks follow along. This will be the new home for my Outlander recaps and other pieces on that show as well as an archive of my older Tumblr posts. I also hope to post about other shows I love and yes, maybe even recap a scene or episode if fancy takes me.

So thanks for visiting me. I appreciate every one of you, and I hope to see you around often.

Connie

I would’ve dated every character on Outlander.

First, let me say that this is what happens when the hiatus runs long and I’m on medical leave and I end up watching what amounts to 48 straight hours of Comic Con videos and photos and thinking, “Damn. These are some ridiculously attractive people.” A recap of the promo is a bit much for my short bursts of energy as things stand, but this rolled right out, ha ha.

Let me say first that obviously the series is more than the love scenes, and of course the actors on the show are talented, incredibly generous with charities and time spent connecting with the fandom. Absolutely true that the sum of the narrative is about more than physical bodies and the collective gravity-defying sex appeal of the cast. Now that we have established that, I’m just going to talk about the sexy, so if that isn’t your cup of tea, jump ship.

For purposes of this rumination, I am going to stick with the principal S1-S3 characters. The adult ones, or the ones that will be adults by the end of S3. Also, when I refer to “boy-me,” that’s because I am cis hetero. Insert your own gender/orientation as it applies. Or don’t, and taste the rainbow. Live a little.

Fergus Fraser- I have yet to see adult Fergus onscreen, but if the social media reaction is any gauge at all, he’s going to be propelled straight into heaven by giant, gusting sighs. Fergus combines the earnest face of a renaissance angel with the easygoing rough-and-tumble-ness of your favorite boy band member, and 14-year old me would be HERE FOR IT. Tween/early teen me had a short list for the ideal boyfriend: be arguably prettier than me, have an accent and be super into insecure, cantankerous young women. Fergus and I would have been blissfully happy right until I met him in person at my local mall and fainted dead away, ending our brief, blissful love.

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Thoughts on the timing of the J+C reunion scene

So… The reunion scene isn’t until 306. That’s under six episodes… One to cover Culloden and its aftermath, maybe 1-2 more when he’s in jail, two more for Geneva and William and then boom we meet him again as a printer?
Leaving aside the fact that Outlander is the story of Claire’s life (and yes, by extension her great love but all of the characters connect via her, she is the linchpin)…
That’s actually not a lot of time for all the story that they need to get through on Jamie’s end alone.
It’s a great romance, but there is other story there to be told. It’s all relevant, and as the saga goes on and the cast of characters expands, the emphasis will shift from Claire/Jamie, fairly often.

Outlander S3 Teaser Trailer Mini-Recap: Wake Me Up When September Ends

Have you been too happy lately? Face hurt from smiling? Did you find that the Droughtlander was finally long enough that you remembered your kids, started reading books other than Voyager and finally quit re-watching Outlander S2? Are you feeling like maybe your kids aren’t as fascinating as wondering about the print shop scene?

Starz has the cure. A new teaser trailer for Season 3 dropped a week ago, and with it, an opportunity for me to procrastinate indulge in shenanigans.

Let’s get to it.

We begin by briefly revisiting Jamie and Claire’s angst-ridden goodbye from the S2 finale, just in case you didn’t remember how sh*tty that was. This also serves as foreshadowing so you know in advance that it doesn’t take a great production an hour to make you into a sobbing pile of used tissues and turn your previous playful humor dark as the Batcave. We’re getting it done in under 30 seconds.

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The next image flashes by, but is a gut-punch all the same: the aftermath of the battle of Culloden. A literal and figurative dark night of the soul, and a reminder of just how awful we can be to each other in the name of a principle.

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At its center, Jamie. Sad, blue, and probably suffering hypothermia and raging blood poisoning.

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Jamie’s voice-over, which runs the entire length of the clip, is this pared-down and restructured novel quote from e213:

“I have lied, killed, and broken trust. But when I stand before God, I’ll have one thing to say to weigh against all the rest. Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.”

This is followed by two brief glimpses. One of Lallybroch in what looks like summer…

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…and one of a serious, pale Jamie, dressed in breeches, riding a horse through the woods. He looks ghostlike in the mist, his features sharp and drawn.

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And last in this series, the Selznick-technicolor-like shot of Jamie in the thick of battle at Culloden field, his attention caught by something we can’t yet see. Despite his obvious exhaustion and what is going on around him, he is as brilliantly rendered as a medieval saint, beautiful and stoic as any martyr.

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Hopping forward to the 1960s, Claire is sitting in perhaps a doctor’s lounge with what looks like a poinsettia pin on, seemingly staring at something on maybe a television along with her fellow staff.

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Depending on the month and year (Claire’s hair doesn’t show the grey streak but is already in the 1968 pompadour), it could be this, this or heck, maybe the grey is just hard to see and it’s maybe even this.

Then some more flashes of Claire’s life sans Jamie. The happy parts, like Bree graduating high school…

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…and the sad parts, like forgetting that she no longer has an all-access pass to the Ginger Roller Coaster at FraserWorld.

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Back to post-Culloden Jamie, who is also Very Sad and is wandering around  the countryside, petting Scotland like it’s a giant cat and looking like Highland Kurt Cobain.

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Then, a brief flash of the [OMG BOOK SPOILER] Fraser kids, 16-year old Bree with Frank and Claire at the world’s saddest teen birthday…

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…and what I am assuming is little William Ransom, launching himself at Mac the stable groom (aka JAMMF).

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UGH THE HEARTBREAK. If there is anything Heughan excels at, it’s letting his face crumple from neutral to devastated, and I look forward to feeling my own face fall in helpless sympathy.

As we draw to the end, a frightened Claire runs down a hospital hallway in her scrubs…

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…and a determined Jamie, shooting a man point-blank.

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Finally, as the final two lines of Jamie’s voiceover play (”I’ll find you. I promise.”), a bedraggled, wild-eyed Jamie stumbles through some ruins while looking for the Frenchman’s gold and a white witch, shouting Claire’s name.

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We hear ya, Red. We hear ya.

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That EW clip tho.

I just about died. Tobias is so cute. Shout out to @fuckyeahrichardrankin for your boy, looking all crochety and bearded and whatnot.

I mean, look at this nugget.

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And then he’s gonna act like he’s ashamed. It’s OK. I know you were reading Descartes and shit when they taught TP roll replacement. I understand, boo.

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His face when he thinks about maybe dissing Pigeon but then doesn’t.

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All in all, a nice Friday surprise.

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5 Outlander Characters That Hate A September Premiere More Than You Do

Because this popped into my head and I won’t be doing any more pieces for Scotland Now/The Daily Record till September, when, for all we know, we might all be in the depths of a nuclear winter and I might not have access to Tumblr. Or fingers.

Slight book spoilers, but nothing beyond what’s already in the press. Read on at your own peril.

1. Frank Randall. This poor bastard is likely the only character that wishes the premiere was two weeks after never. He finally convinced Claire to give it a go for old times’ sake, moved across the ocean, is fathering a child that isn’t his, all in the hope that he can recapture the past.  The inevitable breakdown of his hope and rise of his IDGAF-ness will be both tragic and riveting. I both dread it and also CAN’T WAIT.

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2. Bree Randall. Not only does she have to listen to Claire constantly justify herself by describing how SCORCHING the sex was with her bio-dad, the revelation that Jamie is alive (past alive, currently dead, it’s very timey-wimey), means that Bree will now also have to shoulder the burden of making herself a 20th-century orphan x3 vs. leaving human baby chinchilla and potential bae (Roger) behind before they even hit first base. Either way, someone’s getting c*ckblocked.

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3. Roger Wakefield. There are a lot of dangerous things that happen in the Outlander-verse, but none is as guaranteed to be risky as falling in love with a Fraser. Much like Moses parting the Red Sea, loving a Fraser requires brass balls, excellent hair, and divine intervention. From the moment Roger spied Bree across a room, he hitched his wagon to Satan’s ponies, and it’s only a matter of time before he joins mom-in-law Claire on the dark side. Ain’t nothing like a Randall woman to make a Mackenzie boy lose his gotdamb mind.

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4. Claire Fraser-cum-Randall. Claire is not here for a lot of things, and now those things include the Bonnie Prince Charlie, traditional gender roles and the 20th century. We get the sense at the end of S2 that the Randall marriage was unhappy–and we’ll get to see that progression happen–but we’ll also see the pain and loneliness that Claire hides from everyone else, and her despair at never seeing Jamie again. Now that she knows he is alive, she’s pointed herself right at him like a bouffant-y, sexually frustrated arrow, but the man she is going back to won’t be the one she left behind.

5. James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. Jamie finished up S2 by giving up his wife and child after agreeing to betray his King, killing his uncle and heading off to die in war. You wouldn’t think things could get worse for our Scottish Aslan, but you would be SO WRONG. War. Prison. NO KILTS. Not only does he get to live in constant ignorance of what happened to his family, but that bod is like a Ferrari that only gets driven to oil changes and that is a crying shame. Basically, underneath Jamie’s lagoon of sadness lives a subterranean village of suck, and he has barely set foot on what will be an island cave filled wall-to-wall with WTF.

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Merry Samsmas

Merry Samsmas

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Poldark’s female leads are sick of discussing one thing

Poldark’s female leads are sick of discussing one thing