Both Sides Now – Outlander S1 Ep8 Review

Posted: October 1, 2014 in Entertainment, Irish / Celtic, Television
Tags: ,

As usual, there be spoilers aplenty in this review if you haven’t read the book or watched the show.

!!!OUTLANDER SPOILERS!!!

This episode was strange in a few ways that I will get in to as I run through what happened.  It starts with Frank in the police station and we see that he’s still looking for Claire but no one else seems to be.  I feel bad for him but this is much more than we got in the book. So far, I think the show has done enough to let us know that Claire loves him and wants to get back to him but I’m not sure this scene isn’t overkill especially in light of the fact that he later decides to give up and leaves Inverness (and Claire’s suitcase behind).  More on that later.

So we feel sorry for Frank and the fact that everyone else thinks she ran out on him.  We see a poster on the wall of not only Claire but of Jamie.  This confused me because in the book AND on the show Frank never got a good enough look at Jamie to give that kind of detail.  Then again Frank is MI6 trained and who knows what he was able to pull up from his memory.  And then from the dark and gloomy 1940’s we go back to Claire and Jamie in verdant and beautiful Scotland of the 1740’s.  This episode more so than any other highlights the differences between the time periods using coloring.  Dark and drab present versus the vibrant and colorful past.  That’s because the past is the present to Claire– the more time she spends with Jamie the more the 1940’s becomes like the past to her.  I don’t mind this visual cue to her changing emotional state.  It works for me.  There were other things that didn’t work for me though and I’ll get to them as I go thru the story.

Jamie's modern wanted poster, note the handwriting that says "Jacobite brooch, possibly 18th Century"

Detail from Jamie’s modern wanted poster, note the handwriting that says “Jacobite brooch, possibly 18th Century”

Okay, so Jamie and Claire are being all lovey dovey and he wants to know is it typical what they experience when they’re making love and she says it can be like that but no, it’s not usual at all.  What they have is special.  I had a problem with this scene.  It needed to be more emotional and so far it is just coming across as physical.  In the books it’s more emotional and it was a scene that I highly anticipated.  And it didn’t translate here the way it needs to–Claire still seems shallow.  As I mentioned in my first review of The Wedding–while it is too soon for her to be forgetting Frank, there should be an undeniable emotional connection developing between her and Jamie.  And this scene where he asks her “is this special” and she says “yes” was crucial to establishing that.  But it didn’t work IMHO.

Then they had the interlude with Hugh Monroe, the mute beggar, showing up to advise Jamie of an English deserter named Horrocks who was an eyewitness to the murder that Jamie is accused of and did not commit.  I liked the guy who played Hugh and how he came across on screen.  The piece of amber that he gave to Claire was much larger than I expected and seemed to have a lot of other stuff in it too.  In my imagination the dragonfly was bigger and the amber smaller and it was clean.  However, the one he gives her looks much more natural and is probably more like what one would find in reality anyway.

A wedding gift from Hugh Monroe, a dragonfly in amber

A wedding gift from Hugh Monroe, a dragonfly in amber

Wee Roger. I can't wait to see him all grown up!

Wee Roger. I can’t wait to see him all grown up!

They switch again to Frank and I don’ t know why they have this scene EXCEPT to introduce Roger Wakefield, who will be VERY important next season.  The rest of the scene was unnecessary and I wish they’d stuck with just Jamie and Claire, exploring their growing emotional connection or used this time later to delve more into the relationship with Jamie and Dougal.  However, since they didn’t introduce Roger when Claire was still in the 1940’s they have to do so now before we get too far into the story.  Anyway, my only other complaint here might be that Roger’s eyes are supposed to be a really bright green.  But since Geillis’ eyes (on the show) aren’t that green then I guess they don’t need to find a Roger with eyes that green either (remember book readers Geillis is his great-grandmother to 7th power or something like that).  On an aside, I’ve noted that they’ve put out casting calls for Brianna and Roger and I’ve got my fingers crossed that they strike gold again. They did an outstanding job with this first cast (Caitriona and Sam I’m looking at you) so the odds are good they’ll find just the right people.  Okay before I start sounding like a #poutlander, I’ll move on.  (And yes, I totally stole that hashtag from Outmander, my favorite male take on the series–you have to read his reviews, they’re great).

Frank's mannerisms with the blond in the bar were disturbingly like Black Jack and I suspect Menzies is doing this blurring of the characters on purpose and to good effect

Frank’s mannerisms with the blond in the bar were disturbingly like Black Jack and I suspect Menzies is doing this blurring of the characters on purpose and to good effect

Next we’re back to Frank in a bar getting set up by some blond and I can’t believe he falls for it.  His MI6 instincts should have been screaming at him but I’m sure that was dulled by the amount of booze in his system and the fact that he’s absolutely desperate to find Claire.  But when he got another drink after agreeing to meet with the suspicious lady, I was like, “Well, that’s a brilliant idea, ya eedjit!”

Then we jump back to Claire and Jamie making googly eyes at one another next to the fire while Rupert tells stories about a Waterhorse (one of my favorite myths from the books BTW).  This scene is very similar to the books where they’re ambushed by a rival clan (the Grants) and they have to fight them off while Claire hides in terror completely unable to defend herself.  What is different is that Claire hid beside an old log instead of in some rocks (understandable, they have to work with the scenery at hand).  Less understandable is them not showing Dougal and Jamie fighting back to back and how Dougal gets wounded.  That scene shows how well Dougal and Jamie know one another and we learn from it later that it was Dougal that taught Jamie to fight with a sword.  So later down the road when things turn out as they do (trying not to be too spoileriffic here) it’s all the more tragic.  Again, instead of seeing Frank be a total doofus and walk into an ambush, which is the very next scene, we could have seen how close Jamie and Dougal really are and just why that relationship is so gosh darn complicated.  Then again, maybe I’m nitpicking.

Then back again to Frank where he is ambushed and two guys attempt to rob him while the blond looks on.  Now I totally expected Frank to prevail and he did.  What I didn’t expect was him to get all chokey on the woman.  My BF said, “see I told you Frank is not a nice guy–he’s bad just like his ancestor”.  I didn’t have an answer for that really. I wanted to tell him that Frank will redeem himself later through Brianna but I didn’t want to spoil what’s coming up in the story in Season 2–he’s not a book reader.  Anyway, again, I don’t think we needed this scene UNLESS the producer has some need of it as groundwork for Frank having to be brutal again.  But I don’t know of a single instance in the books where that is necessary so this need for Frank to be so tough would have to be something made up from whole cloth.

Is that a black jack in your pocket Frank or are you just happy to see me?  Actually quite the funny pun by the writers, innit?

Is that a black jack in your pocket Frank or are you just happy to see me? Actually quite the funny pun by the writers, innit?

Back again to 1740’s (are you getting dizzy yet) where the fellas all agree that Claire needs to know more than how to drop a knife in terror—like how to stab a guy in the kidneys.  So they show her how to use it and where to stick them withe pointy end (you didn’t think I’d go without at least one Game of Thrones reference did you?).  Then back to 1940’s where Frank is told by Mrs. Graham of the stories of how people travel through time through the stones. Did you note that little Roger overheard that convo about the stones. I do wonder if he’ll remember it when he gets older…hmmmmm. Anyway, Frank packs up his stuff and leaves the Reverend’s house.  He also leaves her suitcase behind and I’m not sure if it was because he thinks she might return and need it or if he is trying to leave the memories behind. Again, I have to point this out because I have some kind of book OCD thingy but if I recall correctly Frank doesn’t leave Inverness and continues to wait for Claire.  So I’m not sure why the producers are having him leave.  What is important to note here is that he is giving up on her sort of like she has been giving up on him.  Which leads us to the final scenes and how this all ties together.

Evil finds punctures in good men says the good Reverend, so he advises Frank to go back to Oxford and start his life over

Evil finds punctures in good men says the good Reverend, so he advises Frank to go back to Oxford and start his life over

Murtagh, "I still say the only good weapon for a woman is poison."  Dougal, "Perhaps but it has certain deficiencies in combat."

Murtagh, “I still say the only good weapon for a woman is poison.” Dougal, “Perhaps but it has certain deficiencies in combat.”

The story shifts back to Claire and Jamie and they’re getting it on in the grass and it’s clear that Frank is not anywhere on her mind at all (see what I mean about shallow–she’s so taken up with fucking Jamie that she’s forgotten the whole point of her being on this trip in the first place–to get back to that darn fairy hill).  She’s all about the boom boom with Mr. James right at that moment.  Until they get attacked by a couple of British deserters who try to rape her and make Jamie watch.  Claire puts her new knife skills to good use and kills her attacker which allows Jamie to kill his.  Afterward she is so in shock and so deeply disturbed that it snaps her out of the postcoital fog of the last few days.

Shock begins to set in after Claire and Jamie kill their attackers

Shock begins to set in after Claire and Jamie kill their attackers

On a re-watch I realized that Claire says she’s angry but she doesn’t know why. But in her dialog with Jamie before he leaves to go meet Horrocks, it seems she’s pretty mad at him for not protecting her earlier–for her having to kill the guy herself. This is how it is in the books too and I always thought it was a bit unfair of her. I mean, she was rutting away in the woods too and just as responsible for their getting attacked by the deserters. In any case, she goes on to say she’s angry she’d stopped trying to get back to Craig Na Dun and she explains her anger away as guilt for having betrayed Frank and almost forgetting about him. This makes more sense to me…she’s falling in love with Jamie, almost against her will, she just can’t help it but she feels bad about it, as any woman with a conscience should.

As a result Jamie and the fellas leave her with the youngest and least capable guy, Willy (I think his name was) to go meet with Horrocks–the guy that is supposedly going to exonerate Jamie.  Again, this is different than in the books.  In the books she was left alone in the forest–her promise to Jamie trusted as being enough so that she would not go anywhere and endanger herself (or endanger them for that matter).  Also she was scared of being left alone in the books.  What IS similar as in the books is that she sees Craig Na Dun and realizes this will be her last, best chance to get there so she high tails it off leaving Willy with his pants around his ankles (literally–he was taking a dump).

Simultaneously in the future (yes, I know it sounds dumb that’s what’s happening) Frank is driving past Craig Na Dun and he just can’t stop himself…he goes up to the stones.  And conveniently enough she arrives just as he arrives.  The “door” through time is open or at least thin enough for him to hear her shouting his name.  There was a nice little Easter Egg in the show…and I give TOTAL credit to Outmander for catching this one when I did not…they announce on Frank’s car radio that General George S. Patton had died. Now we can google that Patton died on Dec. 21, 1945 and if you know your calendar that is the Winter Solstice.  Anyway, the veil is thin and he hears her voice but just as you think she’s made it (she couldn’t ya know, or there would be no series) she gets dragged away by some Redcoats.  Frank gives up dejectedly. I’m not sure if Frank understood that she might have actually gone back in time…he did hear her voice, right? So at the end I’m not sure if Frank continued on to Oxford or if he returned to Inverness to wait for her return. Meanwhile, Claire is carted off to Ft. William where she encounters Black Jack Randall.

Ft. William in the show is Blackness Castle for real.  Verra intimidating, no?

Ft. William in the show is Blackness Castle for real. Verra intimidating, no?

Black Jack almost does a spit take upon hearing her utter the Duke of Sandringham's name.

Black Jack almost does a spit take upon hearing her utter the Duke of Sandringham’s name.

I don’t know how many times I can say this and why Claire just doesn’t get it, I don’t know, but she cannot outwit Black Jack.  He is far wilier than her.  She just needs to accept this and move on.  She throws her only weapon, the knowledge of his patron, the Duke of Sandringham and he is surprised but recovers nicely by asking her if she was also working for the Duchess–who doesn’t exist.  Claire falls right into the trap and says she knows the Duchess and, of course, the jig is up.  So he enjoys himself by tying her up and trying to rape her at knife point when who busts in the window but Mr. Jamie “I look so damn good in a kilt with the saft Scottish rain in my hair” Frazer, who says “I’ll thank you to get your hands off my wife”.  And how does Jack react?  He laughs.  Yep, he did that, he actually did that.  And that’s how it ends.

Jamie, always the frigging hero busts in to save the day and to keep his promise to Claire

Jamie, always the frigging hero busts in to save the day and to keep his promise to Claire

In regards the juxtaposition scene of Frank and Claire at Craig Na Dun, I’m not sure I liked it. Other reviewers definitely didn’t. But that was on purpose. Ronald D. Moore admitted in the “inside the episode” tidbit that this sequence of Claire and Frank almost meeting again at Craig Na Dun was on purpose in order to tweak us readers into wondering, “what the hell is he doing to the story?!” In which case, he can consider our collective noses tweaked well and good.

Now we wait for another 6+ months until April 2015 when the final 8 episodes of Season 1 will air.  I don’t know what I’ll do in the meantime to get my Outlander fix.  Cry in my Atholl?  Yeah, I couldn’t resist.  All joking aside, I probably WILL cry into some kind of alcoholic beverage (repeatedly) whilst re-reading the books.  And I’ll be reading Outmander’s blog as he has lots of fun stuff lined up for the hiatus.  Until next time….

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