Season 3 is over; we now have months to wait for more. There have been some beautiful, sublime moments in this season, and there’s no doubt that it’s been both heart-rending and completely joyous. It’s also been very uneven, with a few absolutely terrific episodes, and some that ultimately clunked. We come now to the season finale, Eye of the Storm, and while it didn’t sink, it definitely had moments where we were in danger of going under water.
This episode had some great moments, but it also had some real problems. So let’s talk about both.
Moment #1 – Lt. Leonard Has a Lot to Learn
In just a few short episodes, Lord John Grey has become one of my favorite Outlander characters. David Berry brings him to life beautifully! His dressing-down of the ambitious young Lt. – oops, sorry, Captain – Leonard was perfect. His expressive eyebrows rivaled the BrowMaster himself, Murtagh. I sure wouldn’t have wanted to be on the other end of that lesson in proper procedure. And while I think the scene went on a little long, given how much had to be crammed in this episode, I wouldn’t have wanted a second taken out of it!
And Jamie, smart man, remains silent throughout the whole thing – even refraining from smirking at the Captain’s predicament, which had to be really hard to do. I’m sure there was no sympathy there for the man who conscripted Claire, then refused to show his gratitude by looking the other way.
And the final look Lord John has in Jamie’s direction – heartbreaking! Who knows if, or when, they’ll see each other again, and he knows that even if they do, it will never be the encounter he hopes for.
Moment #2 – No, Really, You’re Crazy
Twenty years and the Jamaican sun hasn’t done good things for Geillis. With no evidence other than that Claire has resurfaced in her life at this specific moment, Geillis accuses Claire of attempting to keep her from her goal of finding a new King for Scotland, “as God intended.” It’s been terrific to see Lotte Verbeek again for these two episodes – she’s been stunningly seductive and amazingly crazy. And even without her witch doctor’s tea, she’s made Claire tell her some things that should have cause Claire to clap her hand over her mouth to keep the words from falling out.
One problem with a 13-hour adaptation of a much bigger book is that so much good stuff has to be cut out, changed, moved around to fit. So how do you get the basics of what will likely be an important storyline much further down the road into just a few minutes? I’m just as happy to lose some of bits from the book in this section, and changing the Brahan Seer prophecy to directly threaten Brianna worked well (even if 200-year-old baby sounds goofy). But one thing that I definitely missed was Geillis’ discussion with Claire from the books about the gemstones and how they are vital in traveling through the stones. This bit is important in future books, and while it came up briefly in the notebook Claire, Brianna and Roger found in the 1960s, neither Claire nor Geillis bring it up in this discussion. The only clue Claire can give as to how she survived three passages was about having “something to do with who’s on the other side, drawing you to them.”
Claire spills the tidbit that Geillis had met Brianna before in 1968, and pulls out the photos as proof that she hasn’t been in the 1700s for years. Sure, she’s doing it to save her life, and doesn’t realize in the moment that she’s provided a dangerous piece of info. However – with the death of Geillis in this episode (and in the book, at this same point), the question is how will this come back farther down the line? Or will it? In the books, at least as far as we’ve been given to date, when the prophecy comes back in later books, Geillis isn’t mentioned (even though the book’s Archie Campbell knows of it, and knows Jamie’s family history). The treasure hadn’t been used in this way, either – could this be the end of it, as far as the show is concerned? Geillis doesn’t seem to have confidants, and it looked like she was planning to jump into the future by herself to further her plans. Let’s hope we get several more seasons to see how it plays out.
Moment #3 – At the Maroon’s Fire
This is definitely a scene that could have benefitted from more time. As much as I liked the show’s version of Margaret and Archie, the images in the book’s version were MUCH more interesting and vivid. Of course, the entire storyline is different. Where, for instance, is Temeraire, who belonged to Claire for about 20 minutes in the last episode? Having him greet her and vouch for her would have been more effective than having Yi Tien Cho, who himself is a newcomer to this group of escaped slaves, say “They are with us.” Why should these people, recently departed (often violently, according to history) from their white slave masters, trust him or Margaret? He does say briefly that they had heard of Margaret’s “gifts,” and “invited” her to join them – this was convenient, but doesn’t really have a sound of realism to it. But having a fellow maroon accept their presence, as he and Ishmael did in the books – with or without the preceding scene of the crocodile – would have made more sense and would have tied up that plotline.
And talk about your fast engagements – Yi Tien Cho and Margaret, having met the day before, are going to go off to Martinique and live their lives together? “She was the first woman to truly see me and the man that I am. And I see her. We wish to be together.”
Before they leave, though, Margaret startles both Jamie and Claire with bits of visions. She recalls to each of them a moment we viewers have seen – to Jamie, the rabbit he saw on Culloden Moor; and to Claire, the memory of the little bird singing at her windowsill, which she had told Jamie that she would imagine as him speaking to her. While both of these images in their original versions were compelling, I really didn’t like them recalled here. What was the point? Did it convince Jamie and Claire that she was for real? Jamie pulls away like he had been burned.
But then Margaret channels Brianna – “I knew it was you, my father! I’ve been dreaming about you. I love you!” She kisses Claire on the cheek. “You too, momma!” And then the voice speaks in fear – “Oh no, a monster! Don’t let it take me! Help me!” Believing that Geillis means to jump to the future and kill their “200 year old baby,” this definitely freezes the blood and brings Jamie and Claire back to their dual mission, to rescue Young Ian and to keep Geillis from jumping in time. While I thought this scene in the book was fascinating, I wasn’t quite as taken with the scene in the show. It was too short, it had little context, and if Claire and Jamie kill Geillis, presumably there will be no “monster” to threaten Brianna, so what did she see? And when? She wouldn’t have yet been threatened, so where did that come from? Is there a threat that Jamie and Claire don’t know about, not neutralized by killing Geillis a few minutes later?
Moment #4 – And Into the Cave
With Geillis planning a repeat of what she did to her 1968 husband by torching Young Ian, and the frightening lure of the pool portal, Claire and Jamie have a lot to be afraid of when they run into that cave. Claire rushes to confront crazy Geillis, after she’s made a magical design on the floor which includes gemstones and the missing photo. “A life for a life,” Geillis tells Claire – not Claire’s life, but Brianna’s. “For the greater good!” she says more than once. And what is Jamie doing? Unfortunately, this scene epitomizes one of my biggest issues with this adaptation – while Claire is being a badass, Jamie is in the back of the cave, being strangled and tossed around, ineffective at helping or protecting. Why is Jamie continually put in the background, and Claire being pushed to the foreground?
It makes no sense. My husband and I went to see Thor: Ragnarok last night (stay with me), and in more than one scene, Thor is batted around like a fly, and thrown around (often by The Hulk, who is only slightly larger than Hercules). But that was comedy, and we knew that Thor, a Marvel superhero, would eventually stand up and make the bad guy suffer. Jamie, however, is OUR superhero – and never gets this chance, not just in this instance. Yes, he does the gallant thing and tells Hercules he is freed and should leave, on the death of his mistress. And he is the comforter, once he gets his family outside the cave, telling Claire and Ian that he “must hold you both now.” Throughout the series, there has been a real lessening of Jamie’s character. Even in this episode, as they run toward the maroons, and then toward the cave, Claire is in front, and Jamie follows. Can we please, PLEASE, see our strong, capable man, not overshadowed – equal, yes, but not beneath?
I did like the moment when Claire realized that the skull she saw in Joe Abernathy’s office was Geillis – and that she was the one who had killed her. That kind of circular time logic is fascinating, and it would have stopped anyone – her shock at what she had just been through, the lingering effects of the pull of the portal, and her memory of that moment with Joe all reflected in her face at once, and was very effective.
Moment #5 – The Storm
Safely (for the moment) on the ship, sailing back to Scotland to return Ian and resume their lives, we have a lovely, loving scene between Jamie and Claire on the ship, finally free of the huge worry and anxiety that has plagued most of their reunion. Finally, they can restart their relationship. The sweetness of this scene was beautiful – and would have been the perfect time to resolve the little naggy thing that’s hovered over the past few episodes – Claire’s declaration at the cliff that she may have made a mistake by coming back to Jamie. This seems to have been conveniently forgotten.
When they’re about to sail off to the Indies to find Ian, Jamie tells Claire that if she thinks she doesn’t belong with him, he’ll take her to the stones himself. And on the Artemis, he’s afraid to let her know that her seasickness tea isn’t helping, for fear she’ll think there’s no reason for her to be there. So it’s on Jamie’s mind – and ours. Why not just resolve it with one line – “I love you, I’m staying.” There is a line after they wash up on the beach, after Claire gasps and wakes. She says “I told you I’d never leave you.” Yes, but you said that before all the Scotland traumas, Claire. And then you said you had possibly made a mistake. Jamie needs to know for sure. WE need to know for sure.
The storm scenes on the ship were tremendous. I loved that they did the scene without music for much of it, letting the sounds of the roiling ocean, the creak of the wheel, and the shouts of the men speak for themselves. We didn’t need any music to artificially amp up our concern and worry. And I applaud our director, Matt Roberts, for this decision. But hell, what was Claire doing up on deck? “I’m still the ship’s surgeon,” she tells Young Ian after insisting that he stay below. What good does she think she can do? Of course, she had to be up on deck, though, in order to be washed overboard.
And what a scene that was! I loved hearing about how it was filmed in the “Inside the World” feature after the episode (online – if you watched at 8 pm, you’ll have to go to the end of the episode at starz.com). I wasn’t quite sure about using the same scene of the drowning, as a dream, to open the episode, but watching it for a second time, and then watching the “Inside” feature, it made more sense to me as an artistic choice. What did you think of that?
I was dead. Everything around me was a blinding white. And there was a soft rushing sound, like the wings of angels. I felt peaceful, and bodiless. Free of terror, free of rage, filled with a quiet happiness.
And what about that miraculous recovery? After that spectacular shot of eye of the hurricane, there’s still HALF OF THE HURRICANE to go! Claire can’t have been not breathing that entire time. How did they survive the other half of the hurricane? Some of this just didn’t make sense – I get suspension of disbelief; I understand time constraints, and how much storm did we really need to see. Nitpicky, I know, but I’m just sayin’.
I’m very glad we didn’t end the season on a cliffhanger. We didn’t need Jamie in the window for 9 months, or Jem in a tunnel (sorry, book reference). The long drone shot was lovely – all of this new technology gives us beautiful, clean cinematography! Yes, we have to wait many months before we get new episodes, but at least we’re not going to worry about them all that time – we can imagine them finding their way, rebuilding their lives together, until we meet again.
If you watched early, and haven’t seen it, here’s the 20 second Season 4 teaser that played after the episode aired:
Thank you again to Outlander-Online.com for allowing us to use their screencaps!
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