Late last night, my husband and I got back from a couple of weeks in Florida. It was HOT. Of course, it’s July, not unexpected. But one of the results of being in daily 90 plus degree heat is that you slow down, you don’t feel like doing much, nothing seems worth making an effort. And that’s how I think this episode of Outlander felt – it had to get done, plotlines had to advance somehow, but… there just wasn’t a lot of effort. There was certainly little excitement. But it wasn’t bad, and coming in the middle of an otherwise excellent and exciting season, I can understand. (And, having seen next week’s episode, the malaise is short-lived, and we’ll all be happier.)
This episode, more than the previous ones, I think, is a victim of the pace of the season’s progression. It’s very much taken from the books, as this season has been, which is definitely a plus. However, the production’s fear that this could be the final season when they started writing necessitated a gallop through the last three books. Some of these storylines were much more detailed and would have made great TV – but when you have 5 minutes, as opposed to 15 or 20 throughout a season to show something, your characters either talk REALLY FAST or they talk in shorthand. And I’m afraid that’s what we’re getting, the shorthand version of a lot of this.
That being said, so much of this episode could have been left out with no detriment to the story. Very little of it moved the story along, or gave us new info, an increased heart rate, or a gasp or an oooh… None of it was badly done, just not really necessary. Mrs. Raven’s death – yes, the poor woman had been driven to insanity with her fear of Indians, following the death of her husband and child, but we were never invested in her story. It was obvious that this scene, and the following one with Jamie and Ian finding Claire afterwards, were shot at different times – the scene was much darker for the suicide than it was for Jamie and Ian, which could have led you to think that this happened the next morning.
William’s failure to deliver the letters he had been given didn’t earn him the lecture that could have been expected, just the revelation that the recipients were spies for the Crown. The only reason Claire strode up and down the camp was to get her in front of William, so she could sing his praises to Jamie. And while Jamie’s rescue had some little bit of excitement to it – flaming arrows will do that – Claire and Ian were basically let out of camp by William. (I can’t help but think, too, that it would have been more heroic to rescue ALL of the prisoners, not selfishly just get Claire out of there.)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide
The only part of this week’s episode that I truly had any interest in happened with Roger and Bree. They’re beginning to put their time travel guide together, which Roger is calling “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Time Travel,” after Douglas Adams’ BBC radio show, which Bree mentions, that started in 1978. These programs then became the book series, and a film was made several years ago. (The books are very funny – if you’re interested in listening to the original radio show, you can click here.) They’re trying to document what has happened to them, how it happened, and some “working hypotheses,” as Bree the engineer says, on why. This goes back to season 3, when Claire, Brianna and Roger find Geillis’s notebooks on the subject. But of course, hers included blood sacrifice, and thankfully, our time-traveling family has not found that necessary to the process.
But Roger is interrupted in his work by his commitment to come and teach a little bit of Gaelic to the locals, both adults and children. Click for the line singing that Roger does with his Gaelic class. I’m sorry, Instagram is the only place I could find this – read comments at your own discretion.
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) July 22, 2023
A little personal note – when Roger is singing the line song, it’s about Calum Cille, according to the English subtitles, and my Irish grandfather and his family were from Glencolmcille in County Donegal! It’s always fun to see something that calls back to your own life.
But Rob Cameron, the dam (damn!) worker who instigated Brianna’s tunnel hazing, attends – and shows interest in getting to know Roger and Brianna a little better, especially after finding Roger’s “guide” among the ancient hymnals that Roger passes out to his audience. Can you see something coming? He looks like a nice guy, he’s said a lot of nice things, but…. don’t judge a book by its cover. You can, however, worry about a book’s effects by its insides.
It was cute that Roger felt the need to macho things up a little bit, talking about his prowess in the kitchen. But I hope you felt a little apprehension when Rob basically invited himself over for dinner!
Tell Me About My Son
Claire and Jamie’s pillow talk was sweet. Many fans have lamented the lack of Jamie and Claire time in general, and J&C sexy time in particular – I don’t know that we’re ever going back to what we saw in early seasons, but the writers have done a beautiful job of showing the deepening of their relationship, the complete commitment (as if rescuing only your own wife and not the other prisoners wasn’t a part of that). Among the rest of the colonial army, Jamie and Claire have each other, and can pull their love around them like a cloak to shut everyone else out.
“Why is it that women don’t make wars?” Claire asks. “You’re not made for it, Sassenach,” he answers. “You don’t believe that women are just as capable as men of fighting for what they believe in?” she questions. “No, that’s not what I mean. You’ve proven to me that they are, many times. It’s just that, women take so much more wi’em when they go. When a man dies, it’s only him. One is much like another. A family needs a man, to feed them, protect them. Any decent man can do it. A woman takes life wi’her when she goes. A woman is possibility.”
Jamie’s philosophical frame of mind is deep this evening, as they lay on the brink of all-out war against a foe that Jamie knows well, and one that he has more reason to fear than most of the colonial army. “Canna say I’m very much as afraid of dyin’ as i used to be. I shouldna like it, of course. But there may be less regret about it. Children are grown, grandchildren are thriving. On the other hand, I may be less afraid for myself. I’m a bit more reluctant to kill young men who have not het lived their lives.” “Surely you’re not going to assess the ages of those shooting at you,” Claire asks. “I sincerely hope you don’t intend to let some whippersnapper kill you, just because he hasn’t lived a life as full as yours yet.” And Jamie, our violent man, replies, “Nah. I’ll kill them. I’ll just mind it more.” Does Jamie still say a prayer for the men he’s killed in battle, or for the damage he knows it does to his soul? He acknowledges that he has the ability to kill without hesitation, but that creates a true duality in his spirit – he’s also fully able to love, and not just Claire. He’s a practical man, doing what needs to be done.
He asks Claire to tell him about William, who she encountered earlier in the day. Her observations parallel Jamie’s in Season 3, when he first tells her that he has a son. Handsome, braw, thoughtful – a man of honor. Jamie has vowed to himself not to face his son on the battlefield – will he be able to keep that vow, given their current proximity?
Who Could It Be Now?
Jemmy and Mandy’s imagination, or so their parents think, comes to life as Roger sees someone skulking around outside as he cleans up the kitchen. He runs outside, and finds a man, dressed in very old clothing – spins him around and recognizes a former foe. “Christ!” Roger exclaims when he recognizes the man. What else to do but punch him? If you were confused, you probably have good reason. This is who Jemmy has been calling the Nucklavee – Buck MacKenzie, Roger’s ancestor, who got Roger hanged at the Battle of Alamance, for kissing his wife. What is he doing here, completely out of time, and at Lallybroch??? In Season 5, Buck was played by Graham McTavish, as Graham’s character Dougal was Buck’s father. But this season, Graham is already scheduled to play Dougal – if you don’t know the story, I won’t give anything away, so they recast. Diarmid Murtagh now plays Buck, and we’ve moved into the next phase of Season 7!! The coming storyline is one of my favorites from the later books – I’m excited to see how this all turns out!
Comment below with your reactions to this episode! What are you looking forward to? What did you like or dislike in this one?
And be sure to join me and Sam Kraupner on Monday night, on Instagram Live, for our weekly Outlander Gab! We’ll chat about the episode, events, the upcoming Men IN Kilts, and you can join us to tell us what you thought! Instagram.com/OutlandishlyTIBS – 9 pm eastern, 8 central! Want some fun on Facebook? Check out my Facebook group, Outlandishly Three If By Space!
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