Outlander: By The Pricking Of My Thumbs

“Come back to me, Jamie Fraser.”

Last week, the show’s return was a tad marred by the shifting of the story to Jamie’s point of view and that scene. This week, the show returns to what it made it great in the first place. Sighs of relief all around.

If there was any doubt as to whose point of view we were going to follow this week, it was quickly put to rest by the opening scene. There is a quite a bit of sex in this show, more than quite a bit. Usually, I am not a fan of sex scenes. They tend to be stylized, awkward, gratuitous, and predictable.

The sex scenes in this show are not. While they are incredibly graphic, they stay this side of tasteful. Best of all, however, they tend to move the story forward in good ways. In “The Wedding,” we watched these two strangers become lovers through the evolution of the sex they had. The scene this week showed us that Jamie and Claire have achieved a real level of intimacy, more even than the end of their wedding night.

This shift in their relationship was beautifully shown in two other scenes, in which both were fully clothed. The first was the scene in the woods with the dead baby. Jamie is so kind and gentle with Claire, able to provide comfort to her when she really needs it. It’s no coincidence that she asks him to take her “home.” Until now, that word has been reserved for Frank and his world.

The other scene was where they said goodbye. Through a series of looks and kisses, it is now crystal clear that Claire and Jamie are in love with each other. I rather expected one of them to express it, but the scene worked better without the words. Again, it is Claire’s words that betray much more than she means. When she tells Jamie to come back to her, she is also telling the audience that she will not be using his absence to go running to the stones. What a big shift in her attitude.

All this change occurs within a framework of several small plots. We meet the Duke of Sandringham. What an interesting character. On the one hand, he is smarmy, spoiled, and unctuous. Underneath all that foppery, however, is a man who knows how to play the game. I will be interested to see if he does, indeed, keep his word and help Jamie with a pardon.

Geillis is a fascinating woman and I loved spending so much time with her. Her dance in the woods was a direct echo to the opening episode, but she takes it a bit further. And, while she may not be a witch, she is a murderer. A shameless one at that. She wants Dougal and is not going to let a little thing like two spouses stand in her way. I felt for Dougal when he admitted to Colum that he loves Geillis. I get the feeling the man has not had a lot of love in his life.

The argument between Colum and Dougal was incredible to watch. Colum, a good foot shorter than his brother, gets literally in his face before banishing him from the castle. Dougal may be heartbroken and furious, but he respects his brother enough to go.

The one plot that isn’t working for me is how determined Laoghaire is to interfere in an attempt to win Jamie. The woman scorned theme is one that a show that is proving to be exceptional in its portrayal of women could have skipped. I was taken aback when Claire slapped the girl. While she probably deserved it for being such a cow, Claire is usually more restrained. Another sign, perhaps, of how much she cares of Jamie.

I was much happier with this episode than the last. Duels, sex, babies in trees, dances in the woods, and a murder or two. What else do you need from an hour of television?

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.

-- “By the pricking of my thumbs/Something wicked this way comes.” William Shakespeare, Macbeth. It is a line spoken by one of the three witches.

-- I loved the Duke’s panic when he begged Jamie to tell Claire that her husband’s injuries were not the Duke’s fault. Claire certainly made an impression in a hurry.

-- I loved Colum’s face as he realized the truth about Dougal and Geillis at the dinner. A mixture of surprise and fury, his eyes were amazingly expressive.


Ned: “Truth or lies have very little to do with the law.”

Claire: “Don’t tell me you believe in fairies and changelings and all that.”
Jamie: “It’s not about what I believe. These people, they’ve never been more than a day’s walk from the place they were born. They hear no more of the world than what Father Bain tells them in the kirk on a Sunday. For the parents of that child, it might comfort them a bit to think it’s the changeling that died, to think of their own child, healthy and well, living forever with the fairies.”
Claire: “Take me home.”

Sandringham: “Damn that Randall! I must admit that shielding him from the consequences of his misdeeds sometimes feels like a full-time occupation, and I loathe work.”


Moore is joined by Ira Steven Behr, the writer of the episode. Another good discussion around the writing, directing, and editing choices made.

There is a great section about working with Simon Callow. They talk about what it was like for this relatively new cast to work with such a seasoned professional and how effortless Callow makes it all look.

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.


milostanfield said...

So. Is it safe to come out yet? Yeah, I'm still getting over Episode 9 too. Binged the first eight right up until 9 began. Do NOT watch "The Wedding" and ep 9 in close proximity. Major buzzkill.

Thing is, sex is a great natural act but it's not much of a dramatic one. At least in a book you can get inside the character's heads while they're getting inside each other. But watching it? Nobody does that in real life. It's not even legal some places. Maybe I'm prudish, but I prefer the Hayes Code days of the 40's. They embrace, the camera looks through the curtained window to a moonlit sky, the orchestra swells, and then they're fixing breakfast. Why bother with all the rest? We know, ok? Given, your description of the "Wedding" scene shows it can rarely work and I won't repeat it here. Move the plot/characters along, not just the bedsprings. Ok, rant over.

I was fine with switching to Jamie's point of view (still detoxing ep 9 here) IF it's done now and then. He's an interesting, important character what with his mix of being a Highlander and having some formal education. He's also astute in matters of the heart and politics. Plus, getting into his POV helps us understand his time better. It also gives the writers freedom to do Jamie things without Claire being around to narrate. Otherwise she becomes omniscient.

Enough ep 09 detox. On to ep 10. Glad to see Claire back at the narrator mike too. I guess my one disappointment was Geillis. My own fault because of my own expectations rather than anything she or the writers did. The only downer for me with the whole "Rent" road trip was being away from Castle Leoch and Geiliss! Geiliss! Geiliss! She fascinates me like no other character. I like witches! And I was hoping to see a bit more sc-fi fantasy vein because of my suspicion that Geillis somehow knows how Claire really got there. But for now she's more of a Republican Operative than a Wiccan. I understand. Girl's gotta survive and get by in repressive times. She would be right at home in the Borgia household. Maybe the whole stones deal will resurface. I have the first book but won't read it until Season One is done, so I don't know yet what does happen with Geiliss or if the show has changed that anyway. But for now: Geiliss is an enchanter AND a scheming murderess. Adjust. Move on. Back to 1945 is still a long way off I guess.

Loved the exchanges between Colum and Dougal, and I like it that the political intrigues are getting more attention and weight. And of course all that will end up involving Claire somehow. BTW, how the heck do they do Colum's legs? Either the actor is really like that or that's the most subtle, well done CGI I've ever seen.

ChrisB said...

milos -- great comment! I'm with you, more often than not, on sex scenes. I think that events left to the imagination tend to be more erotic than those that are not. Having said that, this is Starz, so there is going to be sex -- and, a lot of it. For me, it isn't as awful as it could be.

Colum's legs are all CGI. One of the Starz specials showed how they do it, and it is truly magic. I love behind the scenes things like that.

If you read the book after the season ends, I will be very, very interested in your reaction. So far, the changes from the book have been relatively minor, but interesting choices.