Outlander: Blood of My Blood

So Lord John drops in out of the blue, with William in tow. Good thing the Frasers aren't living in the middle of nowhere. Um...

Like many Outlander episodes, "Blood of My Blood" consists of two parts: Jamie off in the woods with his son William, while Claire nursed Lord John through a life-threatening case of the measles. I definitely enjoyed the latter plot a lot more.

Why do I love Lord John so much? So many reasons. He's such a good guy, so honorable and kind without ever being wishy-washy. He expresses his love for Jamie so unselfishly by raising Jamie's son, and he's clearly a good dad to boot. I am totally, and I mean totally, invested in Jamie and Claire as a couple; for me, their relationship is this series. But if Jamie had been attracted to John, the two of them could have had such a fascinating love affair. Maybe that is why I find their friendship with all its undercurrents so much fun to watch.

As soon as Claire and Lord John were alone together, it took about five minutes for them to start talking about the tough stuff. They have so much in common, even more than their love for Jamie. They're both unconventional people. They have both spent many years raising a child of Jamie's without him. They were both married to someone who loved them but whose love they didn't return. Claire and John envy each other's position in Jamie's life – John for the obvious, Claire for all the years she missed with Jamie – and they were brutally honest with each other about it. Although I'm sure John would never have told Claire so much if a fever hadn't loosened his tongue. Claire, being Claire, simply responded in kind.

Why did John visit in the first place? To let Jamie see William, or so that John could see Jamie? It sounded very much like both, with maybe an emphasis on the latter. John told Claire that he felt nothing when Isobel died, and that he was upset that he felt nothing. Maybe John really is reconciled to the truth that he'll never have Jamie, but as Claire told him in the end, John very much deserves to find love, too.



Meanwhile out in the woods, it was so nice that Jamie got to spend quality time with his sullen son, camping, hunting and fishing in a veritable orgy of masculinity. But I didn't like Willie at all... right up until he threw himself between Jamie and the Cherokee and took the blame for spearing the fish, showing that he possesses several of Jamie's defining traits: courage, honesty, self-sacrifice.

It was a different child actor (Oliver Finnegan) playing William this time, and it was clear that he has acting skills, especially considering that every scene had so much emotion riding beneath the surface. But the acting choices they made here didn't quite work for me. The pouting sneer was probably in keeping with the boy's character as a spoiled and titled only child, and he did get across well the fact that he was grief stricken over Isobel's death and desperately worried about John. But while Sam Heughan did a great job showing us what Jamie was feeling – and hiding – it felt like there was a lot more father/son chemistry with John than with Jamie. Although, come to think of it, maybe that was as it should be.

It would make sense if there was fallout from this visit later, if William remembered what Jamie said to the Cherokee about being William's father. It was certainly a traumatic incident William would be unlikely to forget. And I liked that William remembered "MacKenzie" and how it had felt to lose him. In a deliberate callback to the season three episode "Of Lost Things," William asked Jamie why he didn't look back when leaving Helwater. This time, William was the one riding away – but William deliberately looked back at Jamie and smiled. That was sweet.

Murtagh got some fun stuff to do. Once upon a time, Murtagh was also a prisoner at Ardsmuir, and understandably, he still sees Lord John not only as the hated warden, but also as an ally of the also hated Governor Tryon. After exchanging pointed barbs with John at the dinner table about taxes and Regulators and the Governor's expensive new palace, Murtagh tried to get Jamie to pump John for information that the Regulators could use. In the process, Murtagh learned the truth about William. That felt right. As Murtagh said, he's already in the possession of the rest of Jamie's secrets.

Thankfully, we also got some Jamie and Claire goodness. Strongly supportive of Jamie and his angst about William in the opening scenes, Claire did her level best to keep John alive and even formed an awkward bond of sorts with him. Needless to say, not everyone would have acted in such a positive way to this uncomfortable situation.

In the coda, Jamie gave Claire a sensual bath and a beautiful new wedding ring, and followed up with a physical demonstration of the ring's inscription: da mi basia mille. It probably wasn't intentional, but it felt as if Jamie were rewarding Claire for going above and beyond during an extremely difficult week.

Bits:

— The title card vignette was someone taking a red snake out of a privy. That was a nod to a funny scene in the book that didn't make it into the episode.

— Lord John brought along his chess set and later, gave it to Jamie. Very sweet. I also enjoyed John's reaction to Jamie's raw whiskey, and I'm honestly not going for a double entendre there.

— Isobel left John her estate in Lynchburg, Virginia, which is a good reason for John and William to be visiting the Colonies. I did like Isobel in "Of Lost Things." It's too bad we won't be seeing her again.

— It bothers me that we haven't seen Jamie talk with Claire about what happened with Geneva. Maybe we're meant to think that that conversation happened off camera, but that's definitely one I wish we'd seen.

— Another child actor, Clark Butler, played William at age six. I think he was a little bit more lovable. Although honestly, neither actor looked much like Sam Heughan. That could be because Sam has an unusual face, though; casting would be a challenge.

— One thing I always liked about the books was how Claire kept trying to get people in the eighteenth century to eat fruits and vegetables. When John was leaving, she told him to eat carrots, squash and liver.

— Ian wasn't in this episode.

— During the hunt, Jamie was wearing the raggedy black coat he wore in Edinburgh back in season three. We've seen Claire's red dress before, too; didn't she acquire it at River Run?

Quotes:

Jamie: "You ken the Governor, then?"
John: "Yes, we met some years ago in London. We're both members of the Society for the Appreciation of the English Beefsteak."
And now I feel a bit less ridiculous for attending Star Trek conventions.

John: "Do you feel yourself content?"
Jamie: "I have all that a man could want. Home, honorable work, my wife by my side. Good friends. And the knowledge that my son is safe and well cared for. I want no more."
But Jamie still doesn't have either of his living children. It always bothers me.

John: "She might as well have been my sister."
Claire: "Was she satisfied with that? To be your sister?"
John: "You cannot be at all a comfortable woman to live with."

John: "You are neither circumspect nor circuitous. I don't believe I've ever met anyone so devastatingly straightforward, male or female."
Claire: "Well, it's not by choice. I was born that way."
John: (quietly) "So was I."

Jamie: "Highlanders can catch fish with bare hands and a tickle."
I remember the fish tickling scene from the first book, not the fourth one. But that's okay. It fit.

John: "I could have had him."
Claire: "What?"
John: "In exchange for my commitment to serve as William's father, Jamie offered himself to me. Of course, I refused. I would never take him on those terms."
I swear I could see Claire thinking about Jack Randall at that moment.

John: "Do you know what it's like to love someone and never be able to give them happiness? Not through any fault of yours or theirs, but simply because you were not born the right person for them?"
As hard as it is to be gay now, what must it have been like a couple of hundred years ago?

I enjoyed this one. Three out of four tickled fish,

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

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