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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lots of gorgeous scenery shots. What an advertisement for the country.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The next day the party rides towards what is unmistakably Castle Leoch, and hallucinates herself, remembering being there two days ago.
“Or is that in the future?”, she wonders, asking herself how she could remember something that technically hasn’t happened yet.
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.
Want to keep reading? Here’s a master post of all my Outlander stuff.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Black leather paddle, $30 at 6WHIPS on Etsy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So here we are at the mid-season finale. I laughed, I cried, I considered perming my hair and I knit like a flipping banshee. Much like the lauded high-quality bootie we have been exposed to thanks to this show, I hate to see it go, but I LOVED watching it leave. Posted in 2 parts because.
We begin as always with the lovely Skye Boat Song, and I play my usual mental game where I try to recognize each clip and where it comes from. Some are harder than others. Like, why is Claire running here? Towards or away from something? Let’s look.
RUN, GIRL. Damn it, I miss this show already.
First scene, we are in Scotland, 1946. Specifically in the Inverness Police Station, where cops spike their drinks to deal with those pesky victim’s loved ones who won’t leave them alone and get over it already.
That’s right. Frank has become such a fixture at the station that he’s someone used his coat for graffiti. It happens. At least the unnamed vandals who defaced his suit understand what makes him tick. Can’t say the same for the detective, who is very obviously patronizing. Frank listens to him apologize and say that he “wishes he could do more” for him and calmly says it’s his job, perhaps he could do that? The detective replies that he understands he is “disappointed” and I actually stood up and cheered “Disappointing? That’s an interesting word. It suggests expectations that were unmet. My expectations of your department were low to begin with and I can assure you that you have met those expectations at every turn.” DAYYYYUM SON. /highfive
This is enough for the detective to finally lose his patience and let him have it. He reminds Frank that they spent the past six weeks “searching over 100 square miles of rugged terrain, conducted 175 interviews, invested over 1000 man hours…” but Frank don’t care. He wants to know what he “has to show for these efforts.”
As he speaks, the camera pans over to bulletin board and the missing persons rewards being offered for both Claire, and the Highlander Frank saw watching her on the night of their arrival, who looks pretty familiar…
Frank emphasizes that his wife has disappeared. “Do you have any idea–at all–what might have happened to her?” The detective says that they didn’t find a body, so they assume that she is still alive. There was “no blood in the car, no sign of a struggle”, so they assume she “probably wasna taken against her will.” Franks’s face hardens. He has heard this before, and deadpans that is is the detective’s “favorite theory.”
The officer’s calm begins to crack and he raises his voice, telling Frank that he admitted that he caught a man staring at his wife through the window the night before she disappeared. Frank says that he has said since the beginning that “the Highlander is certainly involved in some way,” and then the detective finally loses his patience.
He shouts that “OF COURSE he is involved, you fool! He is her lover and the two of them left, together.” Frank doesn’t take well to this.
He slams his fist on the table and shouts, his body shaking and more emotion than we have seen from him in the entire series to date. “My wife is NOT with another man.” It is telling that when he looks around the station and notices everyone is watching him, he almost immediately reverts to calm, as if he himself cannot handle the emotion and the illusion of control is important. He gets his hat and prepares to go.
Back to 1743, where Claire and Jamie are having a snack and gazing at each other like teenagers.
Jamie acts all cute which means he is mostly just breathing and shyly asks Claire if he can ask her a question and she replies “of course.” He says he does not want to embarrass her and imply that she “has a vast knowledge of men,” but that she knows more than he does in such matters. After some prodding from Claire, he reaches over, holds her hand and asks “It is usual? What it is between us when I touch you? When you lie with me? Is it always so between a man and a woman?”
At first Claire demurs and says that “It is often something like this,” but at Jamie’s somewhat dejected look she seems to reevaluate her approach and alters her response. “No. This is unusual. It’s different.”
That seems to please Jamie and there is a very sweet beat as they lock eyes, and then a wee interruption.
Jamie’s eyes widen and he throws himself over Claire to shield her, then tells her “don’t move” as he crawls over to examine the arrow. When he gets a good look at it, this is how you know they are in no real danger.
It really is good and refreshing to see honest open smiles on either of their faces. They are so often swimming upstream a river of sh*t that the moments of joy really hit home for me. Not only is it not danger, it is a friend! Hugh Munro, what looks like the Highland equivalent of a homeless person crossed with that one stuffed rabbit you loved all the fur off of when you were a child.
Hugh is mute, and so communicates mostly by grunts and signs, which Jamie interprets for Claire. I don’t speak Munro, so I just made crap up.
Hugh found them because he saw Dougal watering the horses and came up to where he figured Jamie would be. When he signals towards Claire, Jamie introduces her as his wife, “married just these two days past” and Hugh pulls out a wineskin, insisting that they drink to Claire, after which he has some news for Jamie. Jamie agrees and they all sit. As they pass the wineskin around, Hugh reaches into his bag and pulls something out. Jamie interprets that it is for Claire, “a wedding gift.” It is a dragonfly, trapped in amber.
As Claire admires her gift, Jamie reaches over and taps one of the medallions sewn onto on Hugh’s vest, joking that he has “gone official.” he explains to Claire that they are gaberlunzie pendants, which are official licenses to beg within the borders of a single parish. Claire notes that he has “at least a dozen” by her count, and that is when Jamie says that Hugh is special, as was “captured by the Turks at Sea, and spent many years as a slave in Algiers”, where he lost his tongue. Claire asks if they cut it out and Jamie says that that and hot oil on his legs is how they got “Christians to convert to the Musulman religion.” When Munro appears lost in memory, Jamie prods him for his news.
Turns out he has encountered a man named Horrocks, a redcoat deserter, who is willing to meet Jamie and provide testimony that Jamie did not kill the Seargant at Fort William. Munro cannot vouch for Horrocks’ trustworthiness, but Jamie wants to go meet with him, as having the price lifted from his head would mean he could take his new wife home to Lallybroch. He is terribly excited and hopeful and he hugs Claire, who has to go be a total downer because God forbid you should just hug your hot young Ginger husband who is totally into you and JUST ENJOY IT.
A sincerely awesome shot of her hands blurs into Frank’s left hand with is ring finger on it, and we are back to 1946 to the owner of said hand, in the Reverend Wakefield’s house telling him that the police are not interested in his theories on what may have happened to Claire. The Reverend thinks she may have fallen in a river and been carried up to 20 miles into the forest. Even though Frank is being polite, you can tell that the Detective hit a nerve and that the Reverend, however well-intentioned, is starting to annoy him.
Rev. Wakefield is getting on his last nerve by telling Frank about how Claire could be living in a cave (IT HAPPENS) and subsisting on “fish and frogs” when he (and all of us) are distracted. Mrs. Graham comes in with a snack and she is followed by his tiny, adorable nephew, Roger. Pause FOR THE CHEEKS. They demand it.
There is a sweet bit when Roger asks for two cookies and the Rev. Wakefield tickle-chases him asking if he is going to “eat all my biscuits” and I am thinking about how it must say to share somewhere in the Bible and Frank is staring at them like “Great, now I have to be reminded that I am a childless sad sack, too.” Roger goes upstairs to bed, and Frank glares at the board with all the clippings related to Claire’s disappearance.
Mrs. Graham offers him tea because he is English and I’m pretty sure that is how they mediate all disputes, but Frank says he needs “something a bit stronger” and, refusing the Reverend’s company, asks that they not wait up for him.
At what I assume to be the nearest pub, he looks like a PSA for how you handle this situation.
I honestly identify with Frank probably for the first time ever during this scene. There is a fragility to Tobias Menzies’ sadness laid over a core of anger that feels very real, a man at absolute emotional bottom. So of course, here comes a blonde Eve to tempt him with a metaphorical apple.
She sits next to Frank and greets him with a smile and a “Good evening…Mr. Randall” which gets his attention. She says he can call her Sally, although that is not her real name. He gives her a once-over and asks, “What can I do for you, Sally?” She says it’s what she can do for him, and you can tell he’s intrigued.
Sadly, no sexcapades (and really, who could blame him). Rather she takes out one of the leaflets advertising a reward for information regarding Jamie and tells Frank that “I ken where he is”. “Where?” Frank says immediately, and she replies, “Close. I can take you to him.”That’s all Frank needs to hear to jump up and get ready to go, but Sally places a hand on his arm and says “Not now. There are too many eyes and ears in here.” She asks Frank to meet her “at half past midnight” on Drummond lane, past the cobbler’s shop, to bring the reward, and to come alone. She gets up to leave, but poor hopeful Frank has one more question, and he grabs her hand to stop her from leaving and ask if Claire is “with him”. Sally says she doesn’t know, she’ll arrange the meeting and the rest is up to him.
When she leaves, he drinks the rest of his drink and asks the bartender for another. You get the sense that he’s not going home until after the meeting, and that he may be drinking up to that point. Wise choice.
In 1743, the Mackenzies have camped for the night, Rupert is telling the legend of the water-horse, and Jamie and Claire are gazing at each other, vigorously handfornicating and waiting for everyone to fall asleep so they can hit it.
Jamie tells Claire that “it will be Yuletide” by the time they return to Leoch, and she asks if they hang stockings by the chimney. “To dry them off, you mean?” says adorably clueless Jamie and Claire laughs because she is a heterosexual human female and adorable Jamie demands it. It is a lovely, sweet calm moment.
But is is Outlander, so those don’t last.
Claire notices the change in the vibe and asks what is wrong, and Jamie says the horses are restless and that someone is out there, and not to move. Those horses are better than an alarm. The storytelling goes on and everyone appears to continue what they are doing, but there is an alertness that underlies each action that tells you every man in that camp is preparing for sh*t to go down.
Jamie gives Claire his knife under cover of a kiss, and tells her that at his say-so, she is to go behind a hollow log and hide.
He strokes her hair, waiting for word from Dougal and, at his nod, yells “GO!” and all hell breaks loose.
I wanted to try to cap some of the fight, but it is one giant blur, so let me refer you instead to this excellent gifset by outlander-online, and you can just imagine me yelling over it like you do when there’s a fight in the hallway in high school: “FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHHHHT!”
And then it’s over, and it turns out it was a raid by the Grants. Even though they are some grain and one horse poorer for it, everyone is okay and giddy with exhilaration. Jamie calls Claire and she comes, saying she is all right. Ned is downright chipper, asking if anyone saw him hit a perfect shot. The comment breaks any remaining tension and everyone laughs. A crisis averted.
Back in Claire’s time, Frank finally shows up to meet Sally for their appointment, and the moment I see the contrast I worry for the outcome of this. Costuming alone will tell you who holds the power in this situation, and the fact that you can’t really see Frank’s face is visual foreshadowing.
Sally complains that he is late, to which he counters “I am on time” and she explains that she just thought he would be early. You think a lot of things, Sally. She leads him to a secluded area behind a shop, and it becomes obvious that this isn’t what Frank thought it was.
The man who punches him yells “give us the reward” and this is when I check my TV to make sure I am not watching another channel because Frank goes full Batman, but like DARK KNIGHT BATMAN.
Side note: when I was watching this for the recap, my husband wandered in and yelled “Yeah, blackjack that guy!” I got all excited thinking that he watched the show and somehow knew a plot point, but NO. Turns out that what Frank takes out of his pocket for this epic beat down is called a blackjack, and is get this: LEAD WRAPPED IN LEATHER. Kudos to the geniuses behind this production, who managed to tie this all together so neatly.
But first, said epic beat down:
I make fun because it’s what I do, but it is honestly chilling to watch this gentle, hurt man lose whatever control he was hanging on to and echo his ancestor in such a manner. Not only does he viciously kick one of his assailants over and over again once he is down and then start up beating him with the blackjack, but when Sally runs over and shouts “Stop! Ye’re gonna kill ‘im!”, this happened, and my heart just dropped.
That’s right. HE MOTHERF*CKING CHOKES HER as he growls “There is no highlander, is there?” Oh I don’t know, Frank, you’re a goddamn professor. FIGURE IT OUT. A lot of things can be said for violence in this story, both past and upcoming, but I’ve always personally felt it flowed with the time and the story, and this struck a discordant note for me. I did not feel it was justified, or really even congruent. I could have fathomed him grabbing her and tossing her to the ground, wrenching her arm, but this just felt out of bounds. Any sympathy I felt for Frank flew right out of my mouth in a string of curse words. In an episode riddled with violence, it was the one moment I felt truly uncomfortable. Although, if that was the writers’ purpose, bravo folks. You got me.
Sally finally chokes out a no, and Frank lets go of her, flipping back to Bruce Banner before our very eyes. He backs up slowly, we hear the Reverend Wakefield’s voiceover begin as the scene shifts back to the vicarage, and it’s an important one.
“It’s fashionable in this modern age to dismiss the idea of good and evil. But there is evil…and it finds purchase in good men by giving sin the sweet taste of ecstasy. The Nazis drank from that poisoned cup thinking all the while they were slaking their thirst with the sweetest wine.”
Franks wants to know if the reverend thinks he drank from that same cup, to which Wakefield responds that “Evil has but one cup,” and taking the metaphor right to its limit says that while many “drink long and deep” his was “but a sip” and that he should make it his last. “Turn away from the darkness that beckons you and turn back to the light,” he counsels gravely. For my purposes, he could have been a bit more direct.
Frank takes this as indirect advice to leave Inverness, and Reverend Wakefield does not disagree. He tells him to “go back to Oxford, start your life over.” “What of Claire?,” Frank asks. “Let her go, just as she has let you go,” Wakefield says very gently. Still, the impact on Frank is visible.
Mrs. Graham overhears them and leaves the room without saying anything when Frank asks the reverend if he believes Claire left with the Highlander “of her own volition.” Wakefield asks him if he has ever read Sherlock Holmes, and tells him that “once you eliminate the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Frank shuts his eyes and sways and for one terrible moment, I think the is going to vomit. Reverend Wakefield’s point has hit home.
Thank God for comic relief, as we are now back with Jamie and Claire as they hunt through the hills for Jamie’s knife, which Claire dropped the previous night during the raid. Rupert finds it and tries to give it back to Jamie, but he indicates that Claire should have it. “It’s too big and heavy for me,” she complains, and then Rupert answers “Lassies say that to me all the time” so now, to paraphrase Diana, we know how old that joke is.
Ned tells Jamie that if he’s going to give Claire a knife, someone should teach her how to use it to “defend herself from assailants.” Angus is called up as the best man for the job and Claire objects politely, but Jamie cuts her off, saying that “every man and woman needs to learn to defend themselves, Sassenach- especially those married to a Fraser.” He punctuates this with a smooch, and she relents, saying “I think I’m more aware of that every day.”
Dougal, who is overseeing the proceedings while sharpening his own knife, says that “the lass needs a sgian-dubh,” which Jamie says is a “hidden dagger.” Ned explains that most highlanders hide them in their socks, but he has “a more private place” for his.
Claire grimaces, but takes the dagger, and the lesson commences.
Angus explains to her that it is best for her to stab underhanded, as overhead is only good when you are “coming down with considerable force on someone from above,” and Claire nods. Murtagh, watching with Dougal and Jamie, says that “I still say the only good weapon for a woman is poison.” “Perhaps,” Dougal replies, “…it has certain deficiencies in combat.”
Angus helpfully lifts his shirt to show Claire where to stab a man if he is facing her, and when she pantomimes it, he tells her to go off to the side, not in the breastbone lest she lose her knife. He then volunteers an obviously reluctant Willie as victim for a back-stabbing. It’s all informative, but I am riveted by two people I swear I haven’t seen before. Am I alone here? Have I been high?
Seriously, it’s like Dougal and Rupert’s stunt doubles or something. Ghosts? Anything’s possible. In any case, Angus tells Claire that it is hard to stab between the ribs from the back, so her best bet is to go beneath the last rib and stab straight upward into the kidney, and they “will drop like a stone.” Claire pantomimes stabbing Willie and playfully pushing him, and the reactions from the men are priceless. Claire is proud as she laughs and tells Angus “See? Got it.”
In 1946, Frank is sadpacking his sad suitcase when Claire’s suitcase telepathically links to him, because he turns suddenly to look at it.
He must be ripe for seduction, because he picks it up and sets it on the bed, bracing himself to open it.
After a beat, he opens it and stands looking inside. It looks pretty standard, with her books and gloves placed neatly above her clothes, but he tugs something out by the edge and stands looking at it, swallowing convulsively. When the camera finally gets hold of it we see what it is, and while I know it’s meant to tug at my heartstrings, the reaction I experienced was somewhat um, uncommon.
At least he has a visual aid to get him through this lonely time. We can understand that, can’t we, Outlanders?
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