Outlander: Both Sides Now

“I was back to the place where it’d all begun. So much had happened; so much had changed. Last I was here, I was Claire Randall, then Claire Beauchamp, then Claire Fraser. The question was, who did I want to be?”

And so, we have come full circle. I know; I couldn’t help myself.

Ever since she came through the stones, Claire has been trying to get back to them. She wants to go home, back to the place where she can live her life without fear of being flogged or being raped. She wants to go back to the man she loves.

Claire Randall had such a simple life. Married to a quiet man who loved her, she could covet blue vases and study the healing properties of plants for fun, not for survival. She and Frank were happy together. Struggling to rebuild their relationship, each was committed to it and to each other.

For the first time, we leave Claire’s point of view and spend some time with Frank. It is a departure from both the past episodes and the book; it works. Here is a man on the edge, desperate to find his wife who has simply vanished. So desperate, he allows himself to be drawn into a situation where he is attacked.

All hail Tobias Menzies. The scene where Frank beats his attacker nearly to death was tough to watch. Even worse, as his eyes grew cold and as he continued to beat the man long after he needed to, we watched gentle Frank become Black Jack. It is no coincidence that the weapon he used is called just that. The difference between the two men, however, is that Frank instantly regrets what’s he done. The look on his face when he realizes he is choking a woman is one of horror at himself.

Now that we’ve seen who Frank can be and what he is capable of, it raises an interesting question. How well, finally, does Claire know her husband? Has she ever seen this side of him? As she remains away from him, is she forgetting the bad and only remembering the good?

Frank is so desperate, he goes back to the stones one more time. The sequence in which both Claire and Frank were walking towards the stones was the best of the series so far. Technically, it was a masterpiece. The cuts between the two, the use of color to differentiate the two times, the music were all used to illustrate not only the magic of the stones but it was a perfect way to show us where Claire’s heart is.

It is not in the Highlands. Without a moment’s thought about the man to whom she was just making love, Claire runs towards the stones trying to get back to her old life and to Frank. As a viewer who has completely invested in her relationship with Jamie, it was unsettling to see her want to return so badly. It was an outstanding way to show us exactly where her head and her heart are at this point.

Claire Beauchamp is a survivor. For the past six weeks, she has been living under constant threat. She has been attacked numerous times, threatened with rape by enemies foreign and domestic. She has had to adjust to new clothes, new mores, new people. She has been camping for weeks with a group of men who are colorful at best. No wonder she wants to go home. She must be exhausted.

The biggest choice she has made in order to survive is to become Claire Fraser. Claire is drawing closer to Jamie, both physically and emotionally. It is now very clear that Jamie is in love with her; he all but tells her so when he starts talking about taking her home. Claire smiles at Jamie, but she is not as keen as he to be the Lady of Lallybroch. As she hugs Jamie, she looks at both her wedding rings with a deep sadness in her eyes.

Later, after her attack in which she has to kill to survive, she tells us that she knows that Jamie is worried and that he will want to talk. She, however, is not ready for everything to pour out. She is still holding back, still trying to stop herself from falling completely for this man.

The end of the episode is fantastic. Claire is bluffing Black Jack and very nearly gets away with it. He is too clever and traps her in her lie. For the second time in a day, Claire is in real danger of being raped. Until, we see an outraged Jamie in the window. Fade to black.

Another outstanding episode in what is proving to be an outstanding series. Four out of four rainy hilltop picnics.

Bits and Pieces:

— I want to avoid spoilers for those who have not read the book. To discuss differences between the book and the show, foreshadowing, or anything else that might spoil the story, head over to my review of the novel.

— Starz announced this week that the second part of season one will not air until Saturday, April 4, 2015. Six months they’re making us wait. At least we already know that we’re getting some kind of second season.

— I loved the opening shot of the old map lying on top of the the modern map. The ringing telephone, the first sound we hear after the theme song, was startling.

— The wedding present that Hugh gives Claire is a dragonfly in amber.

— Little Roger listening to Mrs. Graham tell her story gave me goosebumps.

— Over the radio, we hear that General Patton has died. He died on December 21, 1945.


Frank: “My wife is not with another man!”

Jamie: “Is it 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?”
Claire: “It’s often something like this. No, this isn’t usual. It’s different.”

Reverend Wakefield: “It is 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.”

Claire: “It’s too long and heavy for me.”
Murtagh: “Lassies say that to me all the time.”

Jamie: “I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife.”
Randall: “Good God.”


Mercifully, Moore is on his own again. He talks about the choices he made as the writer of this episode and puts them into context of the larger story. There are some spoilers, but nothing too major. The best of the eight.

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.

1 comment:

milostanfield said...

Six months!? Arrgh! Too long a wait but so it goes.

Great episode with just a couple of nit picks. Claire suddenly seen as having been captured by the redcoats was just a bit jarring, especially following the wonderful "Claire and Frank at the stones at different times" scene that you described so well. I understand they probably had to cut stuff to get the time down but it took me out of that wonderful moment a little. No biggie. Just one clunk note in an otherwise wonderful performance.

Jamie suddenly showing up at the window in the nick of time was also abrupt but I can forgive that as I am sure that it will all be explained in Episode 9.

Was it just me or did the wanted poster sketch of the voyeur Frank saw outside the hotel look a lot like Jamie? Whoa!

This show was the pleasant surprise in an otherwise lackluster TV summer. Can't wait for its return. Tempted to buy the book, spoilers be damned.

Thanks for your recaps. See you in April!