After last week’s slower episode, things are picking up again! The Nucklavee revealed, Rob Cameron is a liar, oh my William, and… JAMIE!! And more!! It was a rockin’, rollin’ hour, jam-packed.
I liked starting the episode with Claire’s letter to Brianna, detailing what’s happening at Saratoga. It’s not 200 years for either of them, not ancient history, or shouting to far-off readers. It’s a heartfelt letter to a daughter who is somewhere else, not someWHEN else. And Brianna sees it, and feels it, as if it happened yesterday. Claire writes that she saw Brianna’s brother, William, at Fort Ticonderoga. “It lifted my heart to see him again, but the sight of him made me bleed for you.” That kind of heart-felt emotion ran through this entire episode, with everybody missing someone, everybody feeling a hole in their hearts and minds.
Were you paying attention in previous seasons and episodes? This is a test! There was so much in this one that required some recollection of past detail. From the little and fun – the Tufty Club badge that Jemmy gets in the opening scenes – to the vital – Roger’s family history going all the way to Buck and beyond. Let’s break it down!
Here’s a tweet from a couple of seasons back (episode 502) where Roger talks about the Tufty Club –
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) February 22, 2020
Diarmaid Murtagh is a great choice for this role. From his confusion and sorrow telling the story of how he came to be time-displaced, to his wonder and gentle amusement as he watches TV and lets little Mandy comb his beard, he is very expressive. In another callback, his reaction to the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Brianna gives him was priceless – “You give this to your bairns?”
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) July 29, 2023
It’s amazing that, from such a short encounter in the midst of a battle, he recognizes Roger in a time and place he had no right to expect him to be. But his experience going through the stones – “Star traveler? Is that what we’re called?” has this obviously intelligent man (he mentions he was a lawyer before sailing to America) making leaps of thought and accepting the fact that if he could do it, others could also, so why not find this man right here? But the question is – if Roger hadn’t found him (and punched him), how long would it have taken Buck to do more than hide out? Roger has forgiven him now, but it sounds like Brianna has a ways to go. Mandy and Jemmy, in the way of children, aren’t wary (especially as the Nucklavee couldn’t be in their house, so he mustn’t be a scary Nucklavee, just a person), and Mandy is very comfortable with him. Seeing Buck watching a sci-fi show on TV, with the children, was sweet – he’s a BIG man, looking even more so next to tiny Mandy.
The little plane makes another appearance – Roger as a young child played with a small toy plane, and Buck finds Jem’s newer version and asks about it.
What changed Roger’s mind about telling Buck about their connection? Roger initially finds the family tree, but comes back and says he didn’t. Then in the discussion about why Roger would have kissed Buck’s wife, he decides to tell him EXACTLY why – “We’re family.” And it was fascinating to see that register in Buck’s head – Roger tells him that his son is named Jeremiah, after his own father, who was named for Buck’s Jeremiah. Will he tell Buck his own story, that he obviously knows? There’s no doubt that Buck won’t know anything about Geillis, she had been presumed killed following his own birth after the witch trials, but it’s certain he’s at least heard of Dougal MacKenzie. And we know where he got his intelligence and cunning, as well as his explosive temper. Aha!! It all makes sense.
The conversation with Brianna at the dam was interesting. She’s trying to figure out how he got to present-day Inverness, what he’s doing there, and how to get him back. When she asks him “do you want to go back?” he pauses – DOES he? His experience going through the stones validates the trips that she and Roger, and Claire earlier, had – terrifying and traumatic. But after seeing what he’s seen here, it sure looks like he’s hesitating to say “YES, I want to go home!”
One more parallel to past episodes – Roger and Buck’s run up to Craigh Na Dun reminded me so much of when Claire, Roger and Brianna tried to find Gillian Edgars (Geillis), rightly concerned that she had harmed her husband because she believed a blood sacrifice had to be made to go through the stones. Again the Tufty badge makes an appearance – it identifies this scarf as definitely belonging to Jemmy. Roger and Brianna have discovered that Rob Cameron’s offer to take Jem to the movies with his nephew was a lie – has Cameron learned enough about time travel and possibly the gold to think he can grab Jemmy, take him back 200 years, and make the child help him find this treasure? It seems terribly far-fetched – would Jemmy have any idea where Fraser’s Ridge is, having left it at a very young age, with the way the area must have changed in all that time? But Roger, and now Buck, are sufficiently frightened out of their minds to believe anything, given the clues they’ve found.
The bravado of the young! William has no idea what awaits him in war. General Fraser tries to warn him, but admires the young soldier’s eagerness. Understanding better than William does that the situation is dire, he tells William and Sandy that “we must find a way to keep our spirits up.” Later, William confronts the General and begs him to find someone else to take Richardson’s message, saying, “I am not an errand boy!” General Fraser agrees to keep the unblooded officer with his troops, knowing that he won’t return from battle the same man he went out as.
And in the first volley, William confronts this – his good friend Sandy is killed in the initial minutes. Charles Vandervaart showed us so eloquently what William went through – shock, paralysis, no idea what’s going on around him – and it takes him more than a minute to come back to himself. In that minute, he begins to channel his father – we can see Jamie, at the beginning of the battle of Culloden, charging across the field, sword swinging.
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) July 29, 2023
Rifleman or not, Claire’s memory of where snipers were posted isn’t going to hold in this kind of battle. Daniel Morgan’s troops will lead the charge, “again?” she asks. The discussion of Claire’s “spectacles” was a nice tension-lightener – a tortoise shell frame pair for every day, and a gold-rimmed pair for Sundays (and remember Jamie’s glasses? We’re all getting older…). But she’s definitely worried, knowing that Saratoga was an important battle for the Colonials. “You’ll come back to me. You always do,” she says to her love. “And if you don’t, I’ll come looking for you.” If you could always keep him safe just by loving him, Claire, he’d live forever. “I ken you will, Sassenach.”
Many fans have decried the lack of intimate scenes between Jamie and Claire this season. I’m not one of them – both Sam and Caitriona have expressed their earlier discomfort with some of the scenes as filmed, and beyond that, when you’re on a battlefield, it’s not quite the time or place… but the passion is definitely alive and well. It’s beautiful to see their devotion to each other – that’s obviously still there, and that’s all I want.
A side note – drop a line below and tell me what you thought of the intimate scene between Roger and Brianna in this episode. I don’t know what it is, but I’m just not interested. When it started, I said to myself, “I don’t need to see this,” and fast forwarded through most of it. Is it that we already have a couple with off-the-chart chemistry, we’ve seen this before, we don’t need to see it done by someone else? I don’t feel like there’s anywhere near as much chemistry between Richard and Sophie, is that it? I don’t know. But I really don’t need any more of it. With the Phil Collins song playing in the background, it just felt really soft-porny to me, just not necessary, a time-filler in an episode and season that really needs MORE time to tell the story.
But once again, as at the end of the battle of Culloden, Jamie is lying in a muddy field, injured, and we don’t know if he’s dead or alive (ok, we have some idea for sure). We have to wait two weeks for Claire to go and find him! My heart stopped a bit seeing him lie there… of course, there are a few more books written about Jamie and Claire after this battle, so I can assume he’s not dead, but STILL!!!!
Remember – no new episode next week. Starz will run a marathon of Men In Kilts, Season 1, and on August 11, we’ll get the mid-season finale and the premiere of MIK season 2!
Join Sam Kraupner and me on Monday night to talk about this episode and maybe more, live on Instagram – 9 pm eastern/8 central, and chat with us! instagram.com/OutlandishlyThreeIfBySpace. Hope to see you there!
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