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Outlander: A Practical Guide for Time-Travelers

Let's start with the cliffhanger elephant in the room.

Do I believe that one of our two lead characters, the inimitable Jamie Fraser, was killed at the First Battle of Saratoga? Maybe if this was Outlander's last season, but come on now. I'm sure he is injured, though. He's also married to the best doctor in, what? the eighteenth century world? Unless there's another time-traveling physician running around the area.

The thing that Jamie was trying so hard to avoid was facing his own son across a battlefield. And that's just what happened. It's even possible that Jamie was the sniper who killed the very nice Lieutenant Sandy Hammond, a good friend to William and kind to horses. Sandy Hammond, standing at attention and wearing bright red, aptly demonstrated by example why the Continental Army won this particular war.

William could have remained a messenger for Captain Richardson, but no – William was so eager to fight that he went over Richardson's head to his unknown cousin, General Simon Fraser, to make it happen. General Fraser later acknowledged that William had been transformed by battle, as everyone is. William is a veteran now.

I wonder why the British officers were portrayed as such jerks, drinking champagne and celebrating while so many of their soldiers had died? Maybe because it reminded us of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his picnic supplies, drinking bubbly on the battlefield. And like Jamie with the Bonnie Prince, William wasn't happy about it. Instead, he was out there showing what a leader truly is, refusing to accept half measures for burying the honorable dead, taking off his coat and digging graves.

The more I see of William, the more I like him. Charles Vandervaart is doing a fine job with the role.

Meanwhile in 1980, and I have to pause and state that I have really been enjoying the 1980 plotline, it felt like we had two possible villains emerging. Turns out there was only one. And it wasn't Buck MacKenzie.

Poor Buck! I actually felt sorry for him. Taken from his wife and kids by the stones at Craigh na Dun, tossed into a bizarre world with monstrous carriages, forced to hide in the old dovecote and scavenge potato chips, asking an enemy for help. And now he knows he's a great-great-great-great grandfather to boot, facing the possibility that he'll either die this very year or simply never go back to his own time.

Buck took it well, though, didn't he? Went to work with Bree, befriended Jem and Mandy, who liked him right away. Roger even forgave him for the misunderstanding that got him hanged at Alamance. He's just cousin Buck now.

And Buck was clearly right as rain about the despicable Rob Cameron, who has kidnapped Jem and taken him to the stones. Did they actually go through the stones? Where When did they go? And for pity's sake, why? Is Cameron another Bonnie Prince Charlie enthusiast like Geillis, whom I should remind everyone is Buck's mom?

Cameron seemed so nice at first, too. Acknowledging to Bree that he'd been a sexist pig about the tunnels, joking about the cafeteria, acting all "poor me" divorced guy whose French wife took his kid away from him, all to explain why he was being so aggressively social. But showing up without calling and inviting himself to dinner, not taking a hint when it was time to leave? Man. Should have known he was evil.

And Roger should have been more freaking careful. He actually left Cameron alone in his office with the box of letters. The one on top was the one Bree was reading at the beginning of the episode, from Claire at Saratoga dated 1777, talking about how much she missed Bree. Anyone could put two and two together. Especially someone who just read Roger's Hitchhiker's Guide to Time Travel.

Finally, I have to admit that Roger/Bree sex scenes usually make me cringe a little. Not this one. It was by far the sexiest, moodiest and most effective they've ever done, set to an absolutely terrific song – "In the Air Tonight," by Phil Collins. Made it feel like 1980, didn't it?

Book versus Series

Again, everything was very much from the books. That Jamie and Claire good-bye kiss in particular reminded me of how, in the books, Claire is very worried that every time she says goodbye to Jamie, it will be the last time.

Jamie was dressed in a fluffy white top this time, like Daniel Morgan. It must have been the Morgan sharpshooter uniform.


— The post-credit scene was a teacher putting a Tufty Club button on Jem's scarf. Roger told Bree about Tufty Fluffytail in season five's "Between Two Fires" when they were out hunting.

— The First Battle of Saratoga took place on September 19, 1777.

— After discussing bosoms, William revealed to Sandy that he had a thing for Rachel Hunter. Okay, it was only Sandy discussing bosoms. William wouldn't do such a vulgar thing.

— Claire apparently needs glasses. I liked the discussion of leading, gutters, and 12-point Caslon; I'm a librarian and have taken classes on the history of printing.

— Buck's birth and death were listed on Roger's family tree as 1744-1778, making Buck 34 years old.

— Bree gave Buck a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Buck's reaction was much like Jamie's in "Journeycake."

— Bree asked Buck what he was thinking when he went through the stones. He didn't answer her. Really, how did Buck end up in 1980? Was he thinking about Roger?

— Another toy airplane. If I remember correctly, the first time we saw Roger as a small boy in season one, he had a toy airplane.

— Roger: "The man in there is not the enemy I met at Alamance. He's... he's cousin Buck."

Another enjoyable, interesting episode. Since I've read the books several times, I usually know what's coming. If you haven't read them, what did you think of the surprises in this episode?

Three out of four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,

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


  1. I just hope that William will find a right girl for him just like his father Jaime found Claire….

  2. Sandy Hammond, standing at attention and wearing bright red, aptly demonstrated by example why the Continental Army won this particular war.

    I know this is horrible of me, but whenever I see anything with the British military uniforms from this era, I'm reminded of that Monty Python skit in which the French don't get the memo about modern camouflage, and so just go out into the battlefield in fancy, colorful coats with actual targets on their chests.

    The British officers are portrayed rather horribly (they probably couldn't imagine losing a war to the bloody colonials), but I think Simon Fraser is coming across as sympathetic, which is nice. I assume the university was named after him, although I cannot imagine why.

    I wound up liking Buck quite a bit, especially his quick diagnosis of a "hot eye," a term I intend to use in the future. I did forget that Geillis was Buck's mom. I also laughed out loud at Roger's "Why did I write that down?!" comment.

    Oddly, I only learned the term "gutters" in a printing context a couple of days ago, in a random Reddit thread. I try not to break the spines of my books, so a narrow gutter drives me batty.

    I was surprised by how quickly Roger got over his mad, but then again he's big on forgiveness, I guess, and Buck was easy to sympathize with. I was very surprised at just how villainous Rob Cameron turned out to be. I thought he was just a regular #MeToo villain, not a kidnapper.

    This is silly, but I was very surprised that they're still sleeping in the caravan. So they just haven't redone the bedrooms yet? (I do remember that scene where they told the contractor they were out of money, but that room had looked completed enough to be livable.)

    Ian gets the girl, right? (You don't need to answer that.) (Because he surely must get the girl.) (I will accept nothing else.)

  3. I had to double check, but back in the "Death be not proud" episode of this season, it was mentioned that a Hector Cameron was one of the men who split up the Jacobite gold. Is it possible that information was passed down in the Cameron family and that Rob is a descendant who knows the story of the gold and either knew or just found out about time traveling? Did he read the first letter that said Jemmie would know where the gold was buried?

    I have just caught up with seasons six and seven and enjoyed them much more than I expected! I'm just upset there are no more to binge at the moment. I'm assuming episode 8 will be shown as the midseason finale?

  4. The idea that Cameron could read a couple of letters and think great "I know what I'll do I'll steal a child and go through a stone to go back in time to find some gold" is completely insane, but I was very relieved that he did that, because the dread I'd felt in realisation that the movie night was a lie, that his wife and child sorry was a lie, I thought we were going down a Jem being molested route, it's 1980, parents trusted other parents with their children, sometimes without any questioning or background check.


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