Outlander: Eye of the Storm

"So you're claiming you traveled through the stones three times and survived it? I've read better stories in Mills and Boon."

This season was a lot of fun, but it was also pretty darned weird. It didn't have a clear beginning, middle and end like the first two seasons. It was more like two distinct stories... although come to think of it, season two had two distinct parts, France and Scotland... okay. I'm going to acknowledge the general duality of Outlander as a whole and move on to discuss the (of course) two distinct parts of this episode.

Lord John freed Jamie and then tore Captain Leonard a new one. (I hate that expression, but it fits.) What? No warrant? No affidavit, either? followed by anti-Navy slurs, and Jamie just sat there trying for expressionless, and let Lord John fight for him. I am really loving David Berry as Lord John, an important character in the Outlander-verse. He could so easily be a one-note character, a gay man in love with our straight male lead, but he's so much more than that. Lord John is able to express his love for Jamie through their friendship, and Jamie allows it because he cares for John in return. Their scenes together ooze subtext without ever suggesting that Jamie would allow it to go further.

Isn't it a bit sad that Claire and Geillis couldn't have a meaningful friendship, too? They have so much in common, and Geillis deliberately saved Claire's life back in Cranesmuir. If only Geillis weren't a murderous psycho obsessed with the advent of a Scottish king, huh? Even with everything that has happened, Claire kept trying to get through to Geillis, to reason with her. Unfortunately, all that happened was that Claire said too much and Geillis found out who the two-hundred-year-old baby had to be.



Loved that the voodoo ceremony in the jungle wasn't evil at all; it was almost like a neighborhood block party with torches, wild dancing and chicken sacrifice. I particularly loved Claire's flashback from the slaves with torches to the callers at the stones of Craigh na Dun, which was also totally not-evil or violent but rather delightfully mystical.

Or... it would have been completely nonviolent if Archibald Campbell hadn't stopped by with some exposition so that Jamie and Claire would know that Geillis was after Bree. And yes, Yi Tien Cho killing Archie was a bit much, although he was defending Margaret and I don't intend to shed any tears for a moneygrubber who exploited and beat his helpless sister. After Margaret did a genuine reading for our leads – her best in the series so far, although that isn't saying a lot – Jamie and Claire asked for directions to Abandawe and exited, stage left.

Finally, there we were at Cave Abandawe, where Geillis was about to sacrifice Ian by burning him to death, like she did her first husband back in 1968. While Jamie wrestled Hercules to a draw, Claire took out Geillis with an axe. Flashback to that scene in "Freedom & Whisky" when Claire and Joe Abernathy were examining the bones of a murdered woman from a cave in the Caribbean. It was Geillis, of course. And there is something genuinely creepy about the fact that Claire picked up the skull of the woman she herself would eventually kill.

Let me pause before part two and talk about some time travel stuff. Back at Rose Hill, Claire told Geillis that she thought time travel had to do with someone on the other side drawing you to them. For Claire, the second time in 1746 would have been Frank, and the third time in 1766, Jamie. But what took Claire to 1743 in the first place? Why that particular moment when Jamie was so close to the stones at Craigh na Dun? It couldn't be coincidence that the love of her life was waiting for her on the other side. Was it because Jamie's ghost was watching Claire outside the bed and breakfast in 1945? Did he call her to him after his own death? (Nooooooo!)

Geillis told Claire that as time travelers, the two of them were "chosen" and had a responsibility to change history. I'm not so sure of that, since Claire was unable to change what happened during the Rising and we as yet have never seen anything that implied that the timeline could be changed. But while watching this series, I often think about what would have happened if Claire had never traveled back in time. Would Jamie have died in 1743, right then? He had a dislocated arm that would probably have been broken as well if someone else had treated him; he couldn't ride a horse. Would Dougal have left Jamie behind to die at the hands of the dragoons led by Jack Randall?

It does feel like fate has drawn all of these characters together, that it's intended. And that includes yet another mystical circle, the eye of the storm, with Jamie underwater during the momentary eye-of-the-storm calm rescuing Claire from drowning. And then they washed ashore in Georgia, the new world. Like it was meant to be.



I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that adorable "Don't shave off the stubble, sweetie" scene between Jamaica and Georgia where Jamie seduced Claire with words. A lot of very sexy words. It was like an emotional anchor in between the dual plot craziness, a reminder of what this story is about, which is the two of them and their transcending-space-and-time love for each other.

And that's what I want to see in season four. Adventure, danger, I get it, but no more horribly lengthy separations, please? Twenty years was simply too much. (I'm still angry about it. Can you tell?)

Bits:

— When Jamie was arrested, Fergus went directly to Lord John, which was a smart thing for him to do. And Marsali refused to be left behind at the inn while he did it. Good for her.

— Geillis again asked Claire, "Why are you here?"

— Ian has courage. He kept confronting Geillis, calling her names, even when she had him helpless.

— Yi Tien Cho and Margaret Campbell are going to retire to Martinique together. How nice. I won't miss them, though.

— The episode began with Claire drowned in the calm ocean, saying, "I was dead." Not that I believed she would die. The producers in the behind-the-scenes featurette confirmed that they did this because Voyager, Gabaldon's third book, began with "He was dead," with Jamie lying on the battlefield at Culloden.

— If you haven't read the books, yes, season three was pretty much the third book. The producers did not make it crazier; in fact, they toned it down a bit and made it less crazy. Really.

— And yes, I liked the first half better than the second. But I still enjoyed the season. Mostly because of the reunion in the middle.

Quotes:

Jamie: "Seems I'm indebted to you yet again for saving my life."
Lord John: "Seems we've been indebted to each other so many times I lost count."
Jamie: "Until next time, then."
The subtext, it burns.

Margaret: (to Jamie) "I see you in an orchard of death sown with blood. I see the rabbit."
Jamie: "Christ."
Margaret: (to Claire) "I see a bird on a windowsill. He sings to you when you are sorrowful, but you hear him (gestures at Jamie. Continuing as Brianna) I knew it was you! My father, I've been dreaming about you. I love you. You too, Mama! Oh no, the monster. Don't let it take me!"

Geillis (to Ian): "Don't worry. You'll be sacrificed for a great cause."
Yeah, like that would actually be comforting for someone you're about to burn to death.

Ian: "I knew you'd come, Uncle Jamie. But ye left it a bit late, aye?"
Laugh out loud.

Claire: "I do not make squeaking noises."
Jamie: "Oh, aye, you do."

Not a perfect finale, but I'd still give it three out of four anachronistic photographs,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Programming note: This is the last unreviewed episode of Outlander, and our coverage is now complete, but... even though the fourth season has already been reviewed by another writer, I'm obsessed and might have to review it, too. If I do, it will be before the fifth season arrives in February 2020. And if I do, the other reviews will still be available. We do have duplicate reviews on the site here and there.

Mark Greig said...

29 episodes in under two months. I don't know how you managed it, Billie. Well done anyway.

Billie Doux said...

Totally fueled by obsession, Mark. :) I still have some Flash stuff to do, but I'm more than ready for a writing break before Supernatural returns.

Katerina said...

About three weeks ago, looking for a new show to binge after Daredevil and Punisher that would have a completely different feel, I decided to finally watch the first episode of Outlander to see what all the fuss was about. Two weeks later, I was caught up with all four seasons. :)

Regarding this season three finale, I just have to say how much I love Lord John. He's definitely one of my favorite characters, and I loved the scene where he dressed down Captain Leonard while Jamie looked on admiringly. The actor is definitely making the most of the character. Let's have that spinoff from the books!

The season as a whole was all over the place, and I just can't understand why the author decided to keep Claire and Jamie apart for so long. I also have a problem with all the sexual violence, so I don't think I'll be reading the books any time soon. I initially was hooked by Claire and Jamie's story, but I've come to really like other characters, too, such as Lord John, while, I have to say, Claire's character has really annoyed me from time to time. (Going out on deck in the middle of a hurricane? Really?)

All in all, I've really enjoyed the show. I don't think I'm a superfan, but I am looking forward to season five. (And Billie, I would love to see your take of the season four episodes.)

Billie Doux said...

Katerina, what you said: Two weeks later, I was caught up with all four seasons. Me too, back in July.

About the twenty year thing, Gabaldon has said why she did it -- that she didn't want this story to be about child rearing. She used more words, but that's about the size of it.

Katerina said...

"... she didn't want this story to be about child rearing."

Well, okay, except for the fact that she's the author and could have come up with any number of other interesting scenarios, e.g., Claire finds out 10 years later somehow Jamie is alive but in jeopardy and is determined to save him; she tells Frank she'll definitely be back once Jamie is safe because she wouldn't abandon Brianna; Frank agrees to let her go and help if she'll divorce him; Claire leaves a letter for Brianna "just in case" in Frank's care; she leaves, helps Jamie and can't get back for [reason]; Frank gets to be happy with his girlfriend raising Brianna; 10 years later, he still dies, and Brianna finds Claire's letter and goes off to investigate/find her, meeting Roger in the process ... I could go on. My point is, it didn't have to be one thing or the other.

Billie Doux said...

Katerina, very good point. I definitely don't agree with some of Diana Gabaldon's choices. But I also believe the twenty-year gap adds this poignancy, this heaviness and heft, to the story that it wouldn't otherwise have had. I wonder if the die hard book fans would love the series so passionately if she hadn't kept them apart for so long.