Outlander: Uncharted

Lesley: "Mac Dubh's wife turns up in the most unlikely of places, does she no?"
Hayes: "Aye. She just drops in out of nowhere."

This episode was nuts. Pun intended.

Before I plunge into this morass of coconuts, snakes, goat heads and turtle soup, I'm going to step back a moment and talk about Outlander as a whole. I've noticed that reviews and articles written about the show often struggle with the same issue – and that's the need to put Outlander into a pigeon hole. Any pigeon hole will do. It's a time travel drama with history thrown in. It's a love story with explicit sex, making it an onscreen romance novel (and therefore reviewers can treat it with disdain). It's an adventure story with tragedy and comedy. Plus some aspects of the supernatural are real, making it even more confusing.

The truth is that Outlander isn't like anything else. It's very much its own thing and I'm fine with that. At the same time, I will readily admit this episode is about as Outlandish as it gets.

While I enjoy watching Caitriona Balfe do pretty much anything, the opening scenes dragged for me, even the CGI ants and the great big snake. The raft, the sand and the hot, thirsty trek through the jungle actually made the plague ship Porpoise look pretty darned comfortable.

But at least fallen priest Father Fogden was very entertaining. Claire managed to cope quite well with him, even when it was clear that he was eyeing her as his prospective illicit bride number two, and when she realized that he was conversing with a coconut. I loved the way Claire stared speculatively at "Coco" as if she wasn't quite sure of the protocol. What would Tom Hanks do? Politely ignore that it was happening? Talk to "Coco" herself, which is what she ended up doing? Was Father Fogden just stoned on all the dope he smokes, or could he be dangerous? What about his rude, hostile mother-in-law, "Mamacita," who didn't want Claire hanging around in the worst possible way?

While Claire was dealing with a stoned priest somewhat enamored with her, the Artemis lost its foremast, several extraneous guest stars died, and Jamie is captaining the ship now. We didn't see that happen; all we got was some awkward exposition on the beach. Again, weird. And I have to assume that it wasn't the same beach Claire washed up on three days ago, or a quick dash through the jungle wouldn't have gotten her there in time.

If they were trying for realism, Claire might have died of thirst before Father Fogden found her. Or Jamie would have gone to Kingston looking for her and gotten captured by Captain Leonard. And I'm going to mention again that there are seven thousand islands in the Caribbean and even with both ships heading in the same direction, the coincidence level is off the charts – maybe that's why the episode title is "Uncharted." At any rate, I can only assume that fate is still screwing with them, but this time the dice came up with "unexpected reunion."

So after a heartfelt reunion with Claire on the beach, Jamie decided to let his stepson and stepdaughter get married already. And what a sweet and comical wedding it was. While Father Fogden's confusion about who the groom was and whether or not he had the necessary body parts for marriage made me giggle like a loon, the best wedding-related scenes were between Claire and Marsali before the wedding, and during, between Fergus and Jamie.



Honestly, I was so prepared to despise Marsali when she joined the cast. Initially, she was very much Laoghaire Junior, treating Claire with open rudeness and hostility. But as Claire, aware that Marsali was a long way from her mother, made herself available for any pre-wedding questions, Marsali impressed me again by confiding that she wanted her marriage to be like Claire's with Jamie, and by asking Claire outright about birth control. Good for Marsali. I officially like her now.

I also hadn't thought about the fact that Fergus never had a surname. Of course he didn't have a surname; he was born in a Parisian brothel and doesn't even know who his parents are. So of course, when Fergus needed a surname to marry Marsali, Jamie gave him his. A perfect little moment during a spectacularly unconventional wedding that Fergus and Marsali Fraser will undoubtedly remember forever.

The producers could have chosen to end the episode with the wedding, or possibly even given us a little bit of Fergus and Marsali's wedding night. Instead, and thank you, they gave us Jamie and Claire in the captain's cabin, finally alone together after twenty years of separation, on top of several months of even more separation at sea.

Feverish from the wound on her arm and drunk on sherry-spiked turtle soup, Claire tried to get Jamie to inject her with penicillin. After all the times she's sewn up his wounds and dug bullets out of him, it was so endearing that Jamie couldn't bring himself to do it; she had to do it to herself. Then there was more adorable banter, Claire practically attacked Jamie, and there was some energetic reunion sex. And then Mr. Willoughby knocked on the door at the worst possible time, asking if they wanted more soup. They did not want more soup.

While the first half of the episode was frustrating, the second half was funny, romantic and delightfully sexy. As I often say about Outlander, I'm okay with that.

Bits:

— The title card bit was a swimming turtle. Turtle soup.

— It's a good thing Mr. Willoughby was there to sew up Claire's arm. If Jamie couldn't even inject Claire with penicillin, he would have had an even worse time stitching her up.

— The bugs Father Fogden poured on Arabella's denuded skull were from a cave called Abandawe, where people tend to disappear. Back in Edinburgh, Margaret Campbell the psychic told Claire to beware of Abandawe. So I'm sure we're going to wind up there.

— Mr. Willoughby apologized beautifully, with a gift of a live chicken, to Father Fogden for eating Arabella. "Where I come from, goats are not revered, as they are here and as they should be."

— Wonderful performance by Nick Fletcher as Father Fogden. I also loved Caitriona Balfe as Claire adorably drunk. The only other time I remember seeing Claire drunk was the night before she married Jamie back in season one. I seem to remember Murtagh saying she looked like a melted candle.

— Please tell me why everyone insists on calling Claire a whore? Is it because she's a doctor in a time period when women are not doctors?

— Although they filmed in South Africa, the action was supposed to take place on the island of Saint Domingue, which is now part of Haiti.

— A couple of wardrobe notes: I'm glad Claire burned that bustle-like thing that made her hips bigger. That's a fashion statement I will never understand. Claire actually used her batsuit skirt as shelter. And Mamacita noticed the zipper in Claire's corset; maybe Claire should replace it with laces.

Quotes:

Lesley: "Mac Dubh's wife turns up in the most unlikely of places, does she no?"
Hayes: "Aye. She just drops in out of nowhere."
This was so Whedonesque, acknowledging up front what an unbelievable coincidence it was.

Jamie: "Dinna fash, Sassenach. I was a wanted man when first we met."
Claire: "Yes, well, I didn't like it much then, either."



Marsali: (to Claire) "Maybe you're not the devil after all."

Father Fogden: "Him? Are you sure? He's missing a hand. Will the bride mind?"
Marsali: "I will not."
Father Fogden: "I don't suppose it's an impediment. Not as though he's lost his cock. He hasn't, has he?"
Marsali: "If you'd hurry up and get on with it, I could find out."

Two for the shipwreck stuff, four for the wedding and the turtle soup scene. Three out of four coconuts,

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

2 comments:

Sjusjun said...

Honestly I can watch a whole episode just filled with Claire and Jaimei eh...reunioning. Oh and I want to say I love reading these reviews and reliving every episode!

Billie Doux said...

Sjusjun, thanks so much! :)