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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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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(more…)

Outlander recap: Season 2 Episode 6 – Best Laid Schemes…

Outlander recap: Season 2 Episode 6 – Best Laid Schemes…

Outlander recap: Season 2 Episode 5 – Untimely Resurrection

Outlander recap: Season 2 Episode 5 – Untimely Resurrection

Outlander Photo Recap 109, “The Reckoning”

Not unlike Jamie and Claire, I’m not much on foreplay, so let’s get right into it.

You know it’s gonna be a great episode when the ratings system features every letter in the alphabet short of the vowels.

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Aaaand segue-way into the preview material and a new voice over. Jamie is skipping stones on water while pondering the importance of life choices.

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When he was young, he just trotted along onward with no discernible path like a fine ginger pony, but looking back on his life, he sees that “each step is a choice” and that those choices-right/wrong, life/death, love/hate-become your life. “The day I realized that, I became a man.” And whatta man.

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We see the firelight reflected in his eyes, and realize that he is not at the lake, but staring into the fire while Horrocks and his hipster beard meet with himself, Murtagh and the Mackenzies. Turns out Dougal is a bit reticent in handing over money to a man he perceives as being untrustworthy, but Jamie convinces him. When the money finally exchanges hands, Horrocks says that the guard was shot by none other than “Captain Johnathan Randall himself”. Ned doesn’t believe that the Captain would stoop to shooting his own sergeant, but Horrocks wryly comments that they know Randall, and so they probably know the answer to that.

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Jamie, upset, tells him that he can’t use Randall’s name to clear his own, but Horrocks answers that he bargained for a name, which is what he got. Dougal rushes the Englishman in anger as he mounts his horse to go, but It is at that moment that Willie comes galloping in leading Claire’s horse, and Jamie realizes she is not with him.

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When Willie relays the news that she was taken by the English and was “thrashing and yelling”, Jamie and the men gallop off after her.

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Intro song, and you might think I am making this up, but that stag knows something. WHO HAVE YOU BEEN TALKING TO, STAG?

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This leads us into a title sequence that shows Jamie’s kilt assembly process.

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He’s like a plaid Transformer, a ginger Rubik’s cube.

Fort William, night. Jamie and Murtagh are applying their fine interrogation skills to one of the English guards, convincing him to reveal Claire’s whereabouts by means of acute testicular coercion. I’m pretty sure this is how Navy SEALS do it.

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Murtagh puts an end to what I am sure would have been a really interesting lecture by applying what shall heretofore be known as the “Murtagh Special”: a knife hilt anesthetic, applied firmly and swiftly to the back of the heid. Jamie whistles for Angus and Rupert, then creeps up on the rooftop guard and uses his rifle like a shinty stick, knocking him out and earning two points according to this judge. Looking around the portion of the roof that is unguarded, he discovers a handy rope secured to a beam, and uses it to lower himself towards Randall’s window, hurrying when he hears Claire scream.

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It is dark and eerily quiet as Jamie rappels down the tower wall, and the lack of visual distractions has the intended effect. Even though I know full well what is coming, by the time Jamie crouches in the window and says the line we all know by heart, I am tense. Randall, however, is positively enchanted.

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He alternately flirts, chitchats and snaps at Jamie in a manic whirlwind: coyly asking to see his back, and giddily telling Claire that they will have an audience. When Claire shouts at Jamie to “just shoot the bastard”, BJR seems to snap out of it a bit, threatening to cut Claire’s throat and demanding Jamie put his gun down on the table. When Jamie hesitates, he swears to him that he will cut her throat, and Jamie believes him. Although his words are threatening, his eyes are bright, and I realize I am avoiding eye contact with an image on film like I think it can steal my soul.

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Claire tells Jamie to leave, and Randall takes Jamie’s gun in one hand and continues casually asks him who the man is in his marriage. Claire swears that she will cut his balls off, and he calls her a “foul-mouthed scold”, matter-of-factly commenting that he has “no idea why any man would pledge himself to a woman, especially a mendacious slut like this one”. JELLY MUCH?

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Like any other character who is into men on this show, Jack is into Jamie. I can’t say I blame him, although it doesn’t make me feel warm inside. If anything, it juts makes him creepier, which I didn’t think was possible. Let me just suggest that, whatever you were planning for Halloween, you immediately drop it and replace it with Black Jack Randall. Be a giant stack of cards that add up to 21 with a tricorn, and laugh at sad stories. Wear thigh-high boots and fishnets as Sexy BJR and shout angrily at random intervals. You will win Halloween every year because THERE IS NO ONE CREEPIER. To say his affection for Jamie is inappropriately expressed is akin to saying the Hindenburg was a snafu.

Jack asks Claire if they she would like her husband to join them, and ends up done in by the dual enemy of any villain: hubris and the seductive pull of a monologue. He taunts Jamie, asking if he would rather watch, and puts his knife down, then takes a shot. The pistol is empty.

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Jamie takes advantage of the surprise to knock his head into the table and hightail it out of there with his wife, leaving Randall unconscious. Jamie thinks back on why he left Randall alive, but it would have never occurred to him “ta kill a helpless man, even one such as Randall.” They run into redcoats on their first few attempts, but thank goodness it takes like a solid half-hour to load those guns or they wouldn’t have made it. As it is, they have to jump off the roof into the murky water below, which is totally not a metaphor.

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The ride back is relatively quiet, and when they stop at a creek to water the horses, Jamie steers Claire away to tenderly ask her if she is all right. At her grateful assurance that Randall did not hurt her, he steps back and sternly if a little insecurely says that he is waiting for her to say something approaching an apology, and just like that, they are off.

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Like any argument with a new spouse, this is pretty much the intersection of two worlds colliding. Claire and Jamie see the marriage from radically different perspectives and, what is less common, radically different time periods.  Claire is outraged that Jamie should assign her fault when she had no ill intent (although one does not absolve the other), and Jamie is rigid in his view that their current predicament is Claire’s responsibility to shoulder (BJR had a bit to do with it). Of course it is coming from a place of fear, but it expresses as anger. Jamie tells Claire that none of this would have happened had she listened to  her husband’s order, and because she does what she wants, he found her flat on her back “with the worst scum of the earth between your legs, about to take you before my very eyes.” Claire reminds him that she begged to go with him, but that he didn’t listen to her “because women are only fit to take orders.”

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Jamie grabs her arm and growls that if only she had done that, they “would not be on the run with a hundred redcoats” on their tail. Claire, for some godforsaken reason that makes about as much sense as the rest of it, decides that it’s a good time to slap her angry husband and it escalates quickly and quite viciously from there.

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The highlights: Jamie thinks Claire got herself abducted on purpose to get revenge for almost being raped before (huh?), and Claire shouts that she doesn’t like that she is married to him and she is nothing but a c*ck-garage (c*ckrage?). They are basically throwing verbal tomatoes at each other.

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Claire follows Jamie around when he tries to turn away, and it finally ends when she calls Jamie a “f*cking bastard” and he retaliates by calling her “a foul-mouthed b*tch” and saying that she won’t speak to him like that.

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I hate it when mom and dad fight.

After he shouts at her, there is an instant and discernible change on Jamie’s face, and you can see that he is surprised at the extent to which he has lost his temper. Surprise turns into dismay, and it is a testament to the acting in this scene that this transition is verbose without a single word being uttered. As his temper cools, Jamie seems to shrink and become frail, falling back against the rock and sliding down so his eye line and the bulk of his mass is below Claire.

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In a subconscious complement to her husband, Claire’s face softens and becomes concerned, her natural healing instincts kicking in.

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Jamie admits brokenly that he faced Randall “with an empty pistol and [his] own bare hands” and starts to shake when he recalls her screams. By the time he utters “Yer tearin’ my guts out, Claire,” she is ready for this to be over, and so am I. She apologizes twice before he looks up. “Jamie, forgive me.”

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Jamie accepts, returning her apology and telling her that he didn’t mean what he said out of anger. Voice-over Jamie admits that it didn’t matter, he would have forgiven her anything she did or was going to do. There was no choice, because he had fallen in love. By the end of this scene I felt like I ate too much Lithuanian food: top-heavy, a bit queasy, and definitely ready for a nap.

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Don’t let that scare you off Lithuanian food though, it’s delicious.

When they arrive at an inn for the night, Claire and Jamie are seated apart from the others, and though quite tender to each other, notice that the men are not replying to Claire’s attempts at conversation and  pretending they can’t hear her speak, which I suppose is the most adult way a room of grown-ass men can handle this situation. Claire excuses herself to go upstairs, and Jamie catches Murtagh’s eye. With a shorthand that is terrifying in its brevity, the older man communicates in one sentence what the problem is “She doesna understand what she nearly cost us,” he tells his nephew. “Aye, and she needs to,” Jamie replies. MAYBE HE MEANT YOU NEEDED A PIE CHART, JAMIE.

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Upstairs, a tired Claire invites Jamie to go to bed, but he tells her they have a matter yet to settle between them.  Claire is tired, affectionate, and Jamie starts out kindly, explaining the things that would have happened to a man if he had put them in danger as Claire had. She apologizes again, and Jamie ruefully tells her that if it had only been him, he could have have let it pass, but it was not,  and it is his duty as husband to see she is “punished.“

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There is a nuanced buildup here that is so realistic and convincing.Claire’s expressions progress from bewilderment, to confusion, to disbelief, to alarm, panic and finally, anger. This is a thinking, logical woman of science, and this is some Lord of the Flies justice. I can totally get why she rejects the hypothesis that physical harm will somehow improve her memory.

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Jamie is educated and open-minded as well, but not two centuries’ worth, and this is not an area where he sees a need to bend, much less for an individual that he is treating the way you would a child, not an equal. He tries reason, coercion, and finally, resorts to brute strength to get his way, holding her on his lap and smacking her on the rear with a folded belt as she fights him back with scratches and kicks.

Thinking about this critically, this is the visualization of every virtue these two possess drawn out to its darker, more negative expression. Jamie is a leader, and pretty good at getting his way. He has no reason to think his wife will not submit and obey like any woman of her time, plus he feels that he is within his rights as a husband. Claire is quick and logical, a healer and problem-solver which is a bit of an anomaly even in her time. She has no reason to think that hurting someone on purpose is justified by any means, or that she needs to be made an example of by a person who has pledged to care for her. Neither stance makes sense to the other, and so, worlds collide.

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I think it would be less accurate to call this a spanking than an all-out domestic, even if Claire was always destined to lose. Jamie doesn’t expect her to fight back to the extent that she does, and Claire is clearly not taking this as anything but deadly serious. Although by the end he seems to get a sort of thrill from subjugating her, it won’t be one he enjoys for long, and he has no idea that the lesson he takes away will last longer and be more deeply impressed than hers.

The next morning the pair come down for breakfast, and the men are in a forgiving mood, joking with and about Claire. Ned even offers that she should sit with him, but she coldly says she will stand… away from Jamie, who stares balefully at her while she eats her oatmeal like a dummy that doesn’t realize that his headstrong wife can hold a grudge with surgical precision.

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“Justice done, problem solved,” Naive Jamie later tells us via voice-over. He thought the matter settled, but that he also had “precious little experience as a husband” and did not realize that their arrival at Leoch would influence decisions he made on their behalf for a long time to come.

Upon their entrance into Leoch Claire and Jamie are greeted by the gathered inhabitants, who are waiting to congratulate them on their marriage.

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The Laird and Lady also make an appearance, but while Letitia is gracious and cues her husband seamlessly, Colum can barely bite out a polite congratulations, and is obviously not pleased, walking out directly after a series of awkward pauses and stares so pointed that there couldn’t have been a single person in that hall who was fooled into thinking he was happy about this outcome.

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In the next scene, we see Jamie rushing down a hallway when, with almost an audible record scratch, Laoghaire steps out to intercept him with a plaintive “Why?”

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She wants to know what happened, explaining to Jamie that after their little kissing interlude, she thought there was something of a promise between them and that she had waited for him to come back and been surprised by his marriage.

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Jamie, whether it is because he is knocked off-game by his argument with Claire or because he is hurrying to attend a summons from Colum, handles this in the absolute worst manner possible. He tells her it was not something he planned, but Dougal’s arrangement, and that an explanation will have to wait. She agrees that he “canna keep the Mackenzie waiting”, but when she nervously asks if they will speak again, he says “Aye,” with a small smile and then touches her shoulder and says gently, “You have my word.”

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UGH JAMIE. She actually doesn’t have your word. You’re married. Someone needs to spank you so you remember it. Now I don’t blame the child for thinking that a man of marriageable age who takes a beating on her behalf and then kisses her stupid perhaps has feelings for her. Hell, when I was sixteen I was convinced I was going to marry George Micheal. What I am saying here is that Jamie, diplomat and strategist, really pooped all over this opportunity to be concise and direct, and I don’t blame her for being or feeling led on.

In Colum‘s study, Jamie joins Dougal and Ned, who are discussing the rents. Colum greets him jovially at first, but then asks which of the three “weasels” want to explain Fort William to him, and whether or not the consequences of that will fall on his clan. Jamie assures him that Randall will make sure they fall only on him. Colum then asks Ned about the rent money, and when he explains that there is still “some of the livestock yet to sell off,” the Laird asks about “the money for the bonnie Stuart prince across the water,” and picks up the purse to show them that he has it.

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Colum points out that at least Jamie looks guilty, but he disagrees, saying he owes no allegiance to James or Charie and his conscience is clear. Dougal does exonerate him when he explains that they only used Jamie’s back to “illustrate British justice.”

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Although taken by surprise, Dougal tries reason to bring Colum over to his side, explaining that the people who gave them gold knew it was being raised to restore “the rightful King” and that the cause “is more important than any clan-or man.” Colum doesn’t take this well.

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He angrily replies that THIS clan remains under the charge of THIS man” and since it is still his pleasure to determine what causes are supported, he determines that “Clan Mackenzie’s welfare comes before any King or country.”

When met with the unremitting wall of his brother’s disagreement, Dougal boils over into anger, listing the things he has done for his brother and what he expects in return, a list that gets JUST A BIT SH*TTIER the longer it goes on.

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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’ve protected your person… for the love of Christ, I’ve even assured your bloodline! Now…I think that such fealty is worth a mere bag of gold. Don’t you?”

Jamie’s eyes widen at this last revelation, and even Ned flinches. Colum, although shorter and seemingly weaker than his brother hardens and vibrates with anger, his voice deadly quiet when he orders Dougal to “Leave my sight.”

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Ned follows to try to calm Dougal, and Colum tells him that it is either that, or he “will do it for him.” Jamie, showing his usual ability to read the room, quickly excuses himself with assurances that his uncle probably wishes to chastise him at a later time. “Stay,” Colum bites out, and Jamie does, looking like a school boy.

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In a truly surprising development, Colum lists all the things he did for Jamie, and then takes him to task for marrying a Sassenach, knowing full well that this meant no Mackenzie would back him as his replacement. It is a throwback to The Gathering, and it crystallizes the Laird’s position on his brother’s succession in one moment. Dougal is a good, strong arm, but a hot head, and Colum likely had hopes that his nephew would succeed him.

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It completes the portrait of Colum as the man who first promised Claire her freedom and then reneged. Even when it comes to his brother and his wife, Colum does what is best for the Clan. The parallels to Claire and Jamie’s disagreement are strong: the brothers are in a partnership that is supposed to pull towards a common, united good, but differences in perspective threaten that unity. Added to this dynamic is the fact that both are acknowledged leaders, and men. Jamie answers his uncle with a platitude, saying that he “meant no such betrayal”.

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Colum, done with everyone who doesn’t mean to betray him but does, turns his attention to his pet bird and tells Jamie to get out.

That night, Jamie tells Claire about what transpired in the meeting, and she states that she knew Hamish was Dougal’s from the moment she saw them playing in the courtyard. Jamie says he had heard the gossip and everyone in the room knew it, but it was the first time he heard Dougal proclaim it, and he thought “Colum was going to run him through right there.”

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As they speak, Claire is readying herself for and eventually climbs into their lovely decorated bed, and Jamie’s speech becomes increasingly more disjointed and his eyes wider as they focus on his wife in her thin shift, and the parts of her he can make out through it.

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He takes off his coat with his eyes glued to her breasts, and Claire, not missing a beat asks “What do you think you’re doing?” “Well, I thought I would…” Jamie says, looking at her in bed.

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“Think again,” she snaps, pulling the covers high and turning her back to him. Jamie leaves the room, cursing in Gaelic. HAHA you poor horny optimistic bastard. I think they wrote a song about you once.

When Jamie goes to join the men for a stag hunt, Rupert and Angus are ganging up on Willie, who it turns out was Colum’s informant. He pleads his case, saying that he did as the Laird asked of him, but it is clear that the men assembled are not so loyal to Clan Mackenzie as they are to its War Chief. Jamie pushes Willie behind him and tries to diffuse the situation by gamely pointing out that there is only one Laird, but Rupert points out that this is Mackenzie business, and maybe the Frasers should butt out.

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Dougal arrives and takes in the situation at a single glance. He casually points out that they are hunting for stag, and mildly asks, “Who’s with me?’ with a loaded look around at those assembled. Jamie and Willie avert their eyes and Murtagh, in a moment of sublime wordless communication, takes his sweet time spitting on the ground in what can best be compared to a George Carlin insult, if Carlin had only spoken in phlegm.

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Not even Dougal can help but be amused, and the situation is temporarily diffused, although still simmering.

In a moment of privacy watering a rock, Murtagh tells Jamie that they should leave that very night, since Rupert was right and this is not their fight. Jamie points out that Horrocks was his only chance of exonerating himself, and that living as a fugitive would be hard on Claire. Murtagh suggests leaving her behind and coming back for her when they are able, but it is clear from Jamie’s expression that he doesn’t endorse that and he’s through taking marriage advice from unmarried Murtagh.

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In any case, it’s not urgent, Murtagh says, since the Prince isn’t likely to sail any time soon-information which Jamie repeats with a canny look on his face.

The following day Jamie employs his natural skill for diplomacy (one of his defining traits in the books) on his uncle. He tells a resistant Colum that he must forgive his brother, and that while keeping the money may soothe his anger in the short-term, it will not promote long term-peace. Colum brings up his warring clansmen, and the fact that he would be inciting treason.

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Jamie, in turn, makes strategic use of Murtagh’s earlier comment: Bonnie Prince Charlie’s situation is nowhere near resolved, and his army just a faraway dream. If Colum appears to give his brother a token in the form of the money, he can keep the peace at home, and have time to scope out what is in the best interests of the Clan. Let Dougal play the rebel while he looks at both sides.

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Jamie says that Dougal may be War Chief, but he knows that only Colum can call for war. It is an obvious ploy, but a compelling argument, and Colum asks him to go get his brother and Ned and bring them to him.

Dougal and Ned are brought back in, and stand facing Colum, who is staring at his pet bird, tied to his perch. Dougal finally loses patience and snaps, asking if there is a purpose to the meeting or if they are just meant to stand there all day, and you can see his brother rein in his temper before he turns around.

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Colum walks up to his brother  and says ruefully that one day he will talk his head off, “and right onto a pike.” He pulls his dirk out, and Dougal flinches, unsure.

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Colum reminds him of the oath Dougal swore to him and asks what “a man’s oath is worth these days…perhaps a bag of gold?“ Dougal, offended, says that his oath to his brother was his oath to Scotland, and he has not broken either, nor will he. “We’ll see,” Colum answers, turning to his desk. He tosses Dougal the gold, and asks Ned to write a letter to the Duke of Sandringham, inviting him to a banquet in his honor. Dougal makes an off-color remark about how he should also tell the men to guard their backsides, and Ned snaps at him to guard his tongue, complimenting Colum on the wisdom of obtaining “the true measure of the Jacobite cause from an Englishman’s perspective.”

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But Colum, outmaneuvered and out of patience, tells Ned it will take more than a compliment to get back in his good graces. “Get out of my sight, all three of you,” Colum says to the room at large, and they do.

This situation resolved, Jamie ponders the issue of his still-divided marriage, and while he is thinking on it by the river, Laoghaire comes by. She reminds Jamie that he promised they would talk.

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It starts out innocently enough, with her revealing that she has been in love with him since she was seven. He points out that he is wed now, but she chalks it up to a gallant act of kindness, “marrying the Sassenach to spare her from the British”. Jamie says that it was “true that the marriage was arranged by Dougal but….” then seems to take an inordinately long time to come up with the end of that sentence. Did you have a stroke, Jamie? Did your tongue fall out?

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Laoghaire uses the opening to tell him he does not look happy. “You look like you’re carrying the world on yer back,” she says, reaching for his hand and holding it. Jamie doesn’t only allow it, but strokes her fingers. I thought it was maybe the rage making my vision blurry, but no, I rewound! She tells him that the beating he took for her and later, the kisses in the alcove told her that he felt the same way she did. Jamie’s reaction? Silence.

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So Laoghaire confidently plays her trump card. She tells him that while Claire was married before, she has not lain with anyone, and drops her cloak in the old-undergarments-under-the-overgarment-trick, placing his hand on her breast, naked under her bodice. Jamie could have…

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…but no, in the age-old tradition of men who absolutely don’t want to f*ck someone, he squeezes her breast in a slow waltz beat while she leans in and tells him that she wishes him to be her first and only, whispering the last against his mouth. They sway precariously against each other for a few seconds until he pants out a “No“ and pushes her gently away with the hand he keeps on her breast for the first half of what he says next. “I made a vow, and I’ll no’ break it, not even for a lass as bonny as you. I’m sorry.”

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I am sure I could consider that Jamie, newly awakened to sex and then denied it for an unspecified period could be forgiven for copping a feel, but I resist that train of thought. It feels out-of-character to me that a man who was outraged by Claire offering to share her room with him in “Rent” should not have stricter boundaries, and to say Jamie handles this poorly is a gross understatement, and not just because of Claire. Laoghaire is SIXTEEN, gently raised, in stupid, all-consuming first love and he uses her for selfish reasons. Saving me the need to swan dive into my TV set and kick Jamie in his very blue balls, the scene finally ends when Laoghaire, humiliated and rejected, runs off.

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That night, Jamie comes into his room to find Claire brushing her hair. He tells her that speaking to Colum about Dougal has caused him to realize that there are times when you bend tradition. He says that in his father’s time and before that, if a wife disobeyed, a husband punished them… but maybe for them “it has to go a different way.” He takes out his sword, and kneeling before Claire, swears an oath of fealty.

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When he is done, she stares at him wordlessly, and I am once again struck by how Jamie’s P.O.V. paints forthright, brassy Claire as a creature of mystery. He, and by extension we, cannot guess at her intent. Jamie asks if it is not enough, and if she wants to live separate.

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She should want that, Claire says sternly, and Jamie gets ready to pull away… when her hand lands over his heart, and she whispers, “but I don’t.” Jamie places his hand over hers, and tells her that her ring was made from part of the key to Lallybroch, his family home. He wanted her to tell her when they visited it, so she would know it was part hers, too, although now they may never see it. Claire, guilty, is about to say something when Jamie interrupts. “The thought doesna pain me so much as it once might have.” He strokes her face and comes as close as he can to an admission of love without saying the words. “You are my home now.”  Finally, a reconciliation.

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Jamie then proves consent can be sexy as f*ck, telling Claire that he “wants her so bad he can scarcely breathe” and asking if she will have him. At her affirmative, they proceed to have the kind of sex that neighbors complain about and gleeful recappers rewind several times, then unexplicably blush at because they feel they are intruding .

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Right at the beginning, Claire assumes the dominant position in more ways than one, pulling Jamie’s dagger out of its sheath by his head and holding the tip right to his carotid. While still actively body-^%$#@ing him, she mind$#@s him as well, going full Moriarty and telling him that if he ever lays a hand on her again, she “will cut [his] heart out and have it for breakfast.”

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At his wild-eyed nod of acknowledgement, she tosses the dagger and then proceeds to get flipped like a pancake, Jamie grabbing her breast and growling to her that she is his. It is energetic, athletic, and not a little confrontational, this sex. It’s also pretty hard to get a screen cap without naughty bits, so here’s what I came up with. It’s pretty explicit.

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When it is over, Jamie asks Claire what she meant by “fucking” and “sadist” and she explains both with a grin. He laughs and says that while she does not flatter him, he can’t fault her reasoning. They are very sweet to each other, Jamie tapping her nose and she teasing him.

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When Jamie appears ready for another go, however, Claire confesses that she is “ravenous” and he reluctantly agrees to go to the kitchen for something to eat, pulling his kilt out from under the bed. As he does so, Claire notices something under there and pulls it out. It is a rough sort of poppet, and when she asks Jamie what it is, he tells her it is “an ill-wish.” Claire asks who would have put it under the bed, and Jamie comes to the same conclusion as we do, biting out what I am sure is the first of many an annoyed “Laoghaire”‘s.

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Thanks for reading until the end! if this is your first time finding me, feel free to read my other Outlander recaps, archived here, and see you back for 110, “By the Pricking of My Thumbs”! For updates and other nonsense, follow me here or on Twitter at @conniebv

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Ex-Post Facto, Y’all. Outlander Recap 101, “Sassenach”

Here it is, set complete, promise kept. My sincere thanks to everyone complicit in this labor of love. See you all after April 4th!

 

We start with a view of stormy skies over dappled hills and a female voice over saying “People disappear all of the time…” As she talks about housewives and kids who are found (usually) and how most disappearances have explanations.

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And so we meet Claire, who contemplates that she never had reason to buy a vase, mostly because she has never been anywhere long enough to build the kind of stable decorative support system a young vase needs. I expect her to start talking about other ornamental pottery she never got to own, but no, just the vase. At least the voice over gives us a time. “It was a Tuesday, six months after the end of the war.” So 1946.

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Flashback to France, where Claire was a nurse in an army hospital. We see her clamping a vein like a boss, being bled on and kicking ass when a doctor takes over, and she wanders outside to find that the war is over and Champagne is being passed out like cookies, or VD.

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Back in present day, Claire muses that “the end of the bloodiest and most terrible war in human history” grows fainter, but damn if she doesn’t remember every detail “of the day [she] saw the life [she] wanted sitting in a window.” She wonders what would have happened had she made a home for the vase. “Would I have been happy? Who can say?” You guys, this is trippy because the voice over is Claire From The Future. She is all-knowing. Like Yoda. “I know now,” Cloda/Yaire says, “even after the pain, death and heartbreak that followed, I would still make the same choice.”

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand intro! Stream-of-consciousness thoughts:

Dancing nuns! Bambi’s dad! A whip, a pipe and some truly fantastic jawlines & silhouettes prance around the countryside riding horsey horses and metal horses and shooting things and stabbing things while running and walking. There is also some portion of anatomy that I will just say is the back of someone’s knee because I’m a recapper, Jim, not an anatomist!

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It ends with a couple on horseback riding like hell, and a stone circle. I played this back about 3x in a row but only pretended to be the dancing nuns twice. The third time I was the stag. Good times. Good credits. Gorgeous song.

Because I read the books, for me seeing the stones was like seeing The Beatles.

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Big-band music plays as we close in on Claire and her husband Frank Randall driving through the Scottish countryside on their second honeymoon. Turns out the war kept them apart for five years, and this is a way to reconnect.

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The town square is adorable and so are they, with their coats and hats and their inquiries about blood on doorways of superstitious Scots… PRECIOUS. They go register Mrs. Baird’s Inn, and the namesake tells them that the blood they see on the doors is from a black rooster, meant to honor St. Otteran on his feast day (Oct 27). This causes Frank to riff on Christianity squatting on pagan holidays, basically outing himself as a history nerd, and Claire confirms it when she says he’s due to start a professorship at Oxford in two weeks. As Frank nerds hard with Mrs. Baird, I remember who he reminds me of:

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Mrs. Baird comments that they picked a good time to visit, near Samhain,  and warns them to look out for carousing ghosts who ‘get a pass’ that day. They smile politely while obviously not believing a word she says, and head upstairs.

They walk into their room, and the voice over tells us that although Claire and Frank were once inseparable, they only spent 10 days together in the last five years, and things had not gone back to normal. You can tell by the way they act around each other, Claire determinedly cheerful and Frank a bit nervous.

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Frank sits down on the bed and comments on the very loud mattress, dryly noting that “Mrs. Baird will be kept appraised of any renewed attempts to start a family.” I take this as a sign of impending shenanigans, but he goes back to reading his notebook. Claire, obviously the fun one, calls him out as a “lazybones” who will never manage to grow that family tree unless he actually um, fertilizes the soil.

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She starts to jump on the bed and convinces him to join her, and they both laugh and bounce so hard that Mrs. Baird below glances up at her chandelier. They stop to catch their breath and Claire says that one of the things she would try and be unable to recall at night was the sound of her husband’s laughter. Frank, touched by this, reveals that he used to sketch the lines of the palm of her right hand, even once into a report. He kisses her palm very tenderly, and she kisses him.

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He tries to interrupt her to say something, but she shushes him and pulls him down with her to kneel on the bed as she takes his jacket off. Downstairs, Mrs. Baird watches the chandelier shake gently, and smiles.

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Some time later, they are driving through the countryside. Frank points out Cocknammon Rock, where English soldiers would lie in ambush for Scottish brigands and rebels in the 17th and 18th centuries. Claire smiles indulgently, and remembers being raised by her Uncle Lamb, an archaeologist. She traipsed all over the world as a child, digging latrines and smoking cigars like all little girls dream about doing. This is no wilting flower.

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They arrive at some ruins, and Claire tells us that Frank had developed an interest in his personal genealogy while she was cataloging plants for their medicinal purposes. Frank announces that they are at “Castle Leoch, the ancestral home of the Laird of the Mackenzie clan until midway through the 19th Century.” They go inside to take a look in what he thinks was the kitchen, crumbling and overgrown with vines. Claire tells us that delving into his past allowed Frank to forget his recent work during the war: running covert operations and overseeing spies.

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He had sent dozens of men on secret missions, most of whom never returned. He didn’t talk about it often, but she knows it preyed on him. Frank tells Claire with a smile that there is no proof that his ancestor was ever there, but it was “within his operational sphere” so he may have walked those same halls.

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They walk down a dark hallway and push their way past a stuck door into a basement room littered with bottles. Claire jokes that it was where the castle trolls lived, and Frank dryly answers that trolls are solitary and don’t live in pairs, because Frank cannot let an opportunity to nerd hard pass him by. This scene then takes a hard left at Albuquerque. Claire sits on a table and coyly crosses her legs. “All this, and no one to share it with?”

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Frank, seeing the glint in her eye, says she’ll get dirty. “You can give me a bath,” she entices, hiking her skirt up. What follows makes me wish I could high-five every single woman reading this recap, and I don’t even have to tell y’all why. I think it’s enough to note that Frank remarks on Claire’s lack of underthings, and when he tries to kiss her, she pushes him downward. He doesn’t even take the camera off his shoulder, people. That’s love.

All Hallow’s Eve, about a week later, the Randalls visit the Rev. Wakefield, who is helping them look into Johnathan Wolverton Randall, Frank’s direct ancestor and a Captain in the Dragoons back in the 1740s.

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He was stationed in the area, harassing the locals for about 4 years. Claire remarks on the continuing ill will towards the English, saying that she heard someone in the pub refer to them as “Sassenachs”. Rev. Wakefield clarifies that it just means they are English or at worst, “outlanders.” The reverend’s housekeeper, Mrs. Graham, shows up with tea for the men, and asks Claire if she would like to take hers in the kitchen, which hell yes she does.

Claire remarks on the quality of the tea, and Mrs. Graham reveals that she reads tea leaves, offering to read hers.

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Claire laughingly asks if she will meet “a tall dark stranger and take a trip across the sea“? Mrs. Graham smiles, but then frowns at the cup. “Could be…or could not”. It turns out her tea leaves contradict each other. A leaf indicating a journey is crossed by one indicating staying put, and though she meets strangers, one of them is her husband. Mrs. Graham asks to see Claire’s hand, and tells her the pattern on it is one she has not seen before. Some things she can tell: Claire is strong-minded, with a will “not easily crossed,” and her husband “is not likely to stray” from her bed.

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Claire’ lifeline is “interrupted, in bits and pieces,” and while her marriage line indicates two marriages, it is not broken, but forked. Just as Claire starts to look worried, Frank and the reverend interrupt. They are discussing the possibility that Black Jack had a powerful protector in his time, and suspect the Duke of Sandringham, a suspected Jacobite who died under suspicious circumstances. Claire takes this opportunity to leave, and warns Frank to come home before the storm breaks.

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It is during her walk home that she sees the vase, and is bothered by “a certain sense of prophecy” in Mrs. Graham’s words. The war taught her to cherish the present, the voice over tells us, because tomorrow may never come, but she did not know that tomorrow would come to matter less than yesterday.

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That night, Claire brushes her hair by a window and takes the Lord’s (and Roosevelt’s) name in vain. Frank, walking home in the rain, is stopped cold by the sight of a man silhouetted in the dark, looking up at his wife through her window. He is in traditional Scots garb, and seen only from the back.

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When Frank approaches him saying “Excuse me, can I help you with something?”, the figure turns to the left and vanishes.

Arriving upstairs in the hotel room, Frank rushes to the window to look outside. Claire, lighting candles since the lights went out, tries to get his attention. She tells him he looks like he’s seen a ghost, and he says that he can’t say he hasn’t. A little later he tells Claire that the man was close enough that he should have brushed past him, but he didn’t feel anything, and he vanished instantly.

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He then carefully asks Claire if she had any Scots in her care as a nurse. She remembers one of many in particular, a piper who didn’t like needles. She smiles at the memory, but at the sudden closed look on Frank’s face, Claire wants to know what exactly he is asking.

It turns out Frank thought the man was someone Claire met during the war who “wanted to reconnect,” telling her it would not be unusual that she would have sought comfort. Claire is upset that he thinks she would have cheated on him, but she never actually says she didn’t.

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Still, Frank tells her that even if she had it would not matter to him. He loves her, an nothing would stop him loving her. He asks for her forgiveness, she gives it, and they make repentant geek love with their watches on. Claire’s voice over wants to make sure we know that the Randalls never lost their sex-mojo, it being the one way they could find their way back to one another.

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Later in bed, Frank tells Claire that he wants to set an alarm to “see the witches”. It turns out there is a circle of standing stones called Craigh Na Dun outside town where druids gather before daybreak, and he wants to see their Samhain celebration.

Early the next morning, they hide and watch the ceremony. Figures in white come out with paper lanterns and begin a stately dance. Among them is Mrs. Graham, the reverend’s housekeeper.

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Claire thinks that they should have been ridiculous, but instead there is a voice in her head that tells her she is witnessing something “ancient and powerful,” and that she shouldn’t be there. The dance ends with the rising sun, and the participants disperse slowly.

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Frank and Claire walk to the stones afterwards to look around, but sneak off when they see one of the girls coming back. Later that day, Claire wonders about the purple flowers she saw at the base of one of the stones, and Frank recommends she go back and have a look, since he will be at the Reverend’s house all day doing research. They kiss goodbye.

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Claire arrives at the stones in her car, and walks up the hill. There is no one there when she picks her flowers, after which a strong wind begins to blow. She stands and walks to one of the stones as if compelled, placing both hands upon it, and the screen goes black.

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Via voice over (man, there is a lot of it) Claire tells the story of falling asleep in a car once that fell off a bridge, and how that is the closest she can come to describing how she felt -“but even that fell woefully short.”

 

She wakes up on the ground next to the stones (which now have trees growing among them) and runs to find her car, except her car isn’t there…and neither is the road.

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She keeps wandering around the much denser woods when suddenly, the sound of gunfire startles her and she sees men in the distance. “When confronted with the impossible, the rational mind will grasp for the logical,” says V.O. Claire. She wonders if she has stumbled onto the set of a costume drama (hint: she has), but does not think it makes sense that they are firing live ammunition. An officer shoots at her and she runs away, losing her belt in the process, and right to a creek, where we see a familiar face filling a canteen.

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Claire thinks it’s Frank as well, and upon seeing his expression, realizes that it is SO NOT. When she asks him who he is, he introduces himself as “Johnathan Randall, Esquire, Captain of his majesty’s 8th Dragoons, at your service.” When Claire, spooked, runs like a pony, he gives chase and backs her up against a wall with a sword at her throat, asking who she is.

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Claire tells him that her husband, Frank Beauchamp, will be looking for her, but he doesn’t believe her. Claire, exasperated, snaps at him to get off her, calls him a bastard and spits in his face, to which he responds that she has the speech of a lady, but the manners of a whore. “I choose the whore,” he says, turning her around and ripping at her underthings. Suddenly, a highlander falls from the sky like a hairy dirty angel and knocks him out, gesturing to Claire to come with him.

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She doesn’t understand him but goes along, all the while asking who he is and where they are. The highlander, trying to hide from the redcoats, takes the expedient route to quiet her, knocking her out.

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Claire wakes up on his horse, which is arriving at a small cottage. She was wishing it was a dream, but dreams don’t come with smell-o-vision. What they DO come with, however, is a lot of men in kilts. She is shoved inside while the men quite obviously discuss her, but there is no way of knowing because it is not translated for us.

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A large man by the fire stands up and walks over, the living personification of a bald eagle, speaking gently to her in English, asking her to come closer to the fire to have a look at her, and for her name. Claire decides to use the surname Beauchamp, in case they intended to ransom her so as to keep her trail from leading to Frank. It’s sweet that she wants to protect him, but if the Captain is any indication, only bastards claim the Randall surname.

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The highlander, Murtagh, tells who he found her with (”a certain Captain of Dragoons”) and that there seemed to be a question of whether or not she was a “whuuuure.” The man asks for Claire’s position on the debate and she testily snaps out “I. Am. Not.” Murtagh agrees, saying he would stake his life on it, and uses his name: Dougal. One of the other men jokes about testing her, and Dougal silences him, saying he does not hold with rape.

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He is clearly the leader, as the men fall into line immediately. He adds that they will sort it later, and walks back to the fireplace, saying they have to “do something about Jamie first.”

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Claire contemplates escape, but has no idea where she is and feels that doing so in the evening “would be a fool’s errand.” She watches the men discuss what to do with Jamie, who has what seems to be a dislocated shoulder and cannot get back on a horse. One of the men wants to “force the joint back” and although Claire knows it would have been wiser to stay silent, she cannot help but rush forward, shouting “Don’t you dare!” when the man gives Jamie a drink to ease the pain, and then takes the arm up to begin.

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She tells them to step aside, or they will break his arm. She speaks to Dougal, saying that the arm must be in the correct position before it is slipped back into the joint. He steps aside and lets her examine the injured man, Jamie, who is noticeably less hairy and younger than the other men. YES PLEASE.

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She gently bends his arm and then with a brief heads-up, pops it back in. He is astounded, saying that it no longer hurts. She warns him it will, for about a week, and looks up, asking the nearest man to “fetch her a long piece of cloth, or a belt” for a sling. He mocks her, but Dougal snaps at him to giver her his belt. The injured man, Jamie, wryly comments that she must have done this before. She tells him she is a nurse, and his eyes immediately go to her bosom. “Not a wet nurse!” she snaps, and OMG you two, just kiss. He meekly submits as she gives him his instructions for care, at the end of which a much grumpier Dougal makes sure he can ride, and tells the group they are leaving.

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When they step outside, Claire worries that she cannot see Inverness, but Jamie tells her she is looking straight at it. She notices the lack of electric lighting and finally accepts that she is no longer in the 20th century. Dougal comes out and tells her that she is ride with them and if she wanders, he will slit her throat. I guess when she was helpless he was a gentleman, but now that he knows she’s a thinker he gets to treat her like dirt. Man, time travel is looking less romantic all the time.

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Dougal hoists Claire up into the saddle in front of Jamie, who struggles to cover them both with his plaid to keep them warm and dry through the night, as they will be riding through the next two nights. Even though Claire at first rejects him, she is nothing if not practical.

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Lots of gorgeous scenery shots. What an advertisement for the country.

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The party is going down a wide path in daylight when Claire looks up, recognizing the rock formation that Frank showed her at the beginning of the episode. She mentions to Jamie that she knows the place, and that the English use it for ambushes. Jamie looks around, noticing that it is a good place for one, and rushes ahead to tell Dougal. Dougal is immediately suspicious of Claire’s information and where she got it from (”the village”), but apparently trusts it enough to give it merit.

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As he gestures for them to turn around, however, redcoats burst out at them and Jamie quickly yanks his arm out of the sling and dumps Claire off his horse, telling her to hide herself as the men rush into battle.

 

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Claire briefly lays low and observes the fight, but then takes off running through the woods in an effort to escape. I have no idea why. You would have to pry me from that man’s thighs with a crowbar. Unfortunately for her but fortunately for us, Jamie intercepts her, asking sarcastically if she lost her way.

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Claire must feel that misdirection is the better part of valor, because she immediately notices that he is hurt, and points it out to him.

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He assures her that it is not his blood (”Not much of it, anyway”) and that they must return as Dougal and the others are waiting for them upstream.

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Claire picks this point to dig in her heels and say she isn’t going with him, but he points his sword at her and tells her she is.

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She asks him if he will cut her throat if she doesn’t, but he doesn’t rise to the bait. Instead, he uses her earlier concern over his wound to tell her that if she will not come, he will pick her up and throw her over his shoulder.

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“D’ye want me to do that?“, he asks, and Claire tearfully spits out a no. “Well then,” says Jamie, “Suppose that means yer comin’ with me.” IF ONLY.

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Further up the road, the highlanders toast Claire and Jamie offers her a drink as Dougal glares at her. At first she refuses, but later accepts when he tells her it won’t fill her belly but at least she’ll forget she is hungry. That’s some homeless logic, right there.

 

That night, they are riding single file when Jamie tumbles over off his horse like a big ol’ handsome oak.

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Claire alerts the others and climbs down to examine him. She pulls on his neckline and discovers a bullet wound, promptly berating him for not saying anything while asking the men for disinfectant to avoid germs. What follows is a round of blank stares and repetition of terms which are obviously unknown in this century:

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Finally Claire hits upon  timeless terminology everyone understands: alcohol. She pours it into the wound, waking Jamie up and causing him to assure everyone that he is all right. What follows is a glorious dressing-down of a grown man by an alpha-female in high dudgeon, and it’s worth recording.

You’re not all right. Couldn’t you tell how badly you were bleeding? You’re lucky you’re not dead, falling and fighting and throwing yourself off horses! All, right, I need a sterile bandage and some clean cloth. [More blank stares.] Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ! [rips her shift and holds her hand out for the alcohol]

As she bandages Jamie, wrestling with the bit of shift, she lets out a “Come ON, you GODDAMNED BLOODY BASTARD,” which manages to shock even Dougal, who comments that he has never heard a woman use that sort of language in his life.

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One of the highlanders comments that her husband ought to tan her hide, and another chimes in that St. Paul says ‘Let a woman be silent-’ but he doesn’t finish, because Claire interrupts him, addressing him first, and then Jamie.

You can mind your own bloody business and so can Saint Paul. [To Jamie] And if you move so much as a single muscle while I am tying this bandage, I’ll bloody throttle you!

And the entire time, Jamie stares at her like she just invented ice cream.

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At the end of this, Dougal quietly tells her that they have five to seven hours yet to ride, and they will stay only as long as it takes to stem his bleeding and dress his wound. Claire complains that Jamie needs rest, but Dougal ignores her. It is Jamie himself that explains to her that Randall commands the local militia and will have sent out search parties, so it is not safe to stay put for long. Jamie says he knows him, and would not leave her or any other man to risk becoming his prisoner.

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He tells her if he is not well enough to ride that they should leave him behind with a loaded pistol. Claire tells him that he should have mentioned being shot. “It didna hurt much at the time,” he says with a grin, and Claire asks if it hurts now. At his affirmative, she smiles and says “Good.”

She offers him a hand up, telling him that it is all she can do for him and the rest is up to her. He says, “Thank ye, Sassenach, truly,” and it is auditory chocolate cake to hear that word said out loud.

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She tells him, “Get back on your horse, soldier,” and I am glad she has a super-good looking ally in these crazy, smelly times.

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The next day the party rides towards what is unmistakably Castle Leoch, and hallucinates herself, remembering being there two days ago.

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“Or is that in the future?”, she wonders, asking herself how she could remember something that technically hasn’t happened yet.

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As they enter the grounds, Claire lists the things that have happened to her so far: “assaulted, threatened, kidnapped and nearly raped,” and knows that her journey has only begun.

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Want to keep reading? Here’s a master post of all my Outlander stuff.

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The Outlander Holiday Gift Guide

If you, like I, have trouble shopping for people that technically don’t exist or their real-world doppelgängers, give me a cyber-five, and never say I don’t think of you.

FOR THE LADIES

1) Mrs. Fitz. If you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life trippin’ the light fitztastic, you’re in luck. I was born an elderly Scots woman.

Mark her territory to anyone intent on making mischief in her kitchen with this personalized cutting board. Put a big knife next to it so they know you mean business.

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Personalized Cutting Board, $32 at ShadyOakBoardCo on Etsy

In the same vein, Mrs. Fitz is an alpha femme who loves nothing more than being on top of her housekeeping game and showing up that Fiona, so gift her with something that will enable her to out-fancy every other household for miles with her epicurean dominance.

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French Spice Stack, $25 at Dean & DeLuca

2) Laoghaire. We all have one of these in our group, and rather than crap on a poor girl because of her cluelessness, let’s all Cher Horowitz the $#@! outta this situation.

First, because OBVS. Girl, you gotta love yourself. Dudes come later, when you’re all “FYEAHME”.

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The Feminine Mystique, $18.27 on Amazon.com

Once she’s read that, really, just listen to this. If you don’t feel your feminine power rise up and shake its booty on “Flawless”, I can’t help you. Now go conquer, girl. Be better.

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Beyoncé CD + Blu-Ray, $18.29 at Target

3) Geillis. GillyD is a whole ‘nother breed. Among the most unpredictable frenemy in your cadre, but fabulous as hell and pragmatic in a way few of us can ever be. Expect to pay out the nose, because this is a lady that enjoys the finer things.

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Izolda Silver Plated Crocheted Feathers Cuff, $157 at Ksemi on Etsy

And because this lady has a mouth and isn’t afraid to use it, you never know when a little, um, assistance may be needed. Best to be prepared.

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TaskOne iPhone Case, $89.95 at The Task Lab

4) Claire. Our heroine is tough as nails, scientifically-minded and has that milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard. What do you get the woman who has everything? The obvious answer is liquor, but she may appreciate one of these, as well.

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The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, $29.99 on Amazon.com

And why not. When you are already married and need to marry again, you need a drink. How do you eliminate the chance of dicey water, the dilution of your whisky and keep your drink soothingly cool?

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Sipping Stones, $11.95 on Amazon.com

FOR THE DUDES

1) Black Jack. I don’t even know what you’re still doing here. If you know this one or one of them, RUN.

But if you refuse to run, get the tormented demon in your life the only gifts that count, your compliant submission, your plentiful tears, and these beautiful leather tools of punishment, because you’re bad-and you need to be punished in an efficient, portable manner.

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Black leather paddle, $30 at 6WHIPS on Etsy

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Black and red leather mini-flogger, $ at 6WHIPS on Etsy

2) Frank. For those of us in love with the beta male, Frank’s our guy. He’s smart, kind, the kind of man that forgives needing to get some side-boo in times of war and, if the evidence holds up, a great lay. I love me a studious man who both looks and acts the part (Professor in the streets, gigolo in the sheets). If this happens to be you, boys, rejoice. Those of us that are homebodies are big fans.

Lecture boring? Won’t matter if your man’s in tweed. If a blazer is too much, ease into it with a vest.

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Bar III Carnaby Tweed Vest, $69.99 at Macy’s

This man owns many leather-bound books and his apartment smells of rich mahogany. Keep the Indiana Jones fantasy going with a briefcase that is both classic and tactile. Rawr.

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Amerileather Legal Executive Briefcase, $89.99 at Overstock.com

3) Dougal. If the object of your generosity is a bearded Veep with a wry sense of humor and zealous ideals, you’re in luck. Hit them with a 1-2 punch of gifts that both celebrates their occasional zaniness and their hunger for power. Then accept my hearty congrats. If this is you, SAME.

Get him a shirt that asserts his superior hirsuteness AND bedroom prowess. I don’t think I need to sell this any more than that. Also good for any Murtaghs.

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Furry and Delicious tee, $20 at Burlyshirts.com

Yummy bears who wrestle with ideas of right vs. might, loyalty to country vs. family, attraction to a woman not your own and other moral conundrums may appreciate the go-to book for all who would be leaders.

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The Once and Future King, $8.99 at Amazon.com

4) Jamie. Finally, our Prince in Plaid, the redheaded Beatle. If you have one of these, I have no idea what you are doing wasting time with me. If you are one of these, same. Jamie is a perfect, borderline unrealistic specimen. Not only is he Michealangelo’s David come to life, but he has a gooey center and he loves fiercely. I am going to stop typing now before I cry. Why I wasn’t born a fictional brown-haired English nurse, I’ll never know.

For the most part, this man will have simple needs, and one of them will be food. Keep up that physique with some quality protein delivered from the Midwest to your door, and from your door to his tummy.

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Filet Fling Steak Club, $84 at OmahaSteaks.com

One of the most endearing characteristics of Jamie’s character is the fact that he was a virgin before Claire. Experience has its place, but there is nothing like an authority of the subject to imbue you with um, ideas.

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The Joy of Sex, $14.44 at Amazon.com

So there you go, Outlanders! Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy shopping for all your friends and family, made up by Diana Gabaldon or otherwise. If you like, you can follow me here  or @conniebv on Twitter.

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