Oh snap is this thing on again? Where did the time go? Time to crack one open and get in to it.
Okay, so we open with a quick catch-up on what happened in the first half of the season. Really, this should be Season 2 as they ended the last one on a cliffhanger, but for some reason they’re trying to match the books so whatever. My prediction is that the show will diverge from the books in bigger and bigger ways as the story plows ever onward. Maybe Ron Moore will stick in a time travelling Starbuck or something to explain the split? Who knows.
Anyways, the episode starts with the now house format Outlander voice over. Only this time, it’s Jamie speaking! Whaaat! Are you excited for this? I sure am not. It sounds like he’s just hanging out at his place down by the river talking to a pinecone. I mean, not to be mean to Jamie or anything, but Claire’s navel-gazey narrations have been a sort of spine to the series and to switch over for this episode just feels a bit off to me. I guess there are reasons for it (that we’ll get into below) but it really undercuts the idea that this is just another season episode and not the premier of Season 2.
Yes, I’m not going to let this go. The habit of splitting seasons is the Worst Thing to come out of our Golden Age of television and I want it to stop.
So because we’re following Jamie’s side of the story, we get to follow him to some camp somewhere where a deserter takes money to say, yeah, Jamie didn’t kill that guy, but the killer is actually Captain Randall, so I guess you guys are still screwed and also poorer. I admit I don’t remember why they thought this plan would work. Were they just humoring that tongueless dude? Making him feel like he contributed? Because it’s not til after the deserter gets his cash that they’re like “Wait, why would English authorities believe a deserter from the English army? And why would he ever testify to them?”
Good thing Wee Willie runs up and admits that he failed at his One Job, keeping an eye on Claire, and that she was totally kidnapped by teleporting redcoats. (Of course, it later turns out that this wasn’t Wee Willie’s One Job – I’m going to keep a closer eye on him from now on to see if I can construct a Willie Narrative. Maybe he’s a Time Cop deep undercover?)
At the very least, seeing things from Jamie’s point of view finally clears up the mystery of how he got up to Black Jack’s window. Until now, I had been picturing the very tense scene between Randall and Claire punctuated by the huffing and puffing of Jamie as he slowly climbs the fort walls, bumping and banging into things. Instead, he and his crew raiding Fort William to reclaim a woman who until like the week before (when she drank magic water) they thought was a spy and who, at the very least, has been a huge drag on their resources and fun.
It’s not really explained in this episode why the whole crew gets involved. I can understand Jamie, he’s sort of moonstruck in love and not very bright, but the rest of them? Dougal may hate the English but the hell kind of good idea is it to attack an English garrison? What benefit do they get out of it? Wouldn’t it serve his purposes more for them to do horrible things to Claire so he could spin it as “the English bastards kidnap our wives and make them suffer! Gimme some candy!money!” If he was Evil Dougal that we saw glimpses of last season, he should have been all “Yeah, we got your back, Jamie! You charge in with your unloaded pistol!” and then slow fade the group and leave Jamie hanging. This would have 1) given him a sad tale to tell to stir up revolution 2) removed possible clan heir Jamie from the mix and 3) not risked any of the clan’s fighting men.
Given that Jamie lept through a window with an unloaded gun, it’s clear that there’s not a whole lot of thinking going on on either side of the script. I guess Jamie is trying to outfox Randall, but how does he know that Randall will take his gun from him and not just have one of his own? Is Jamie aware of his own ineptness? “Well, I know if I load this thing, the bullet will likely end up in my shoulder, so might as well keep it unloaded.” Luckily Jamie and Claire are main characters so they escape from Randall, who gets knocked out AGAIN and not murdered AGAIN so he can show up AGAIN and cause more pain. AGAIN I wonder why, but luckily Jamie tells the Voice Over Pinecone that he couldn’t bring himself to kill an unarmed man. Clearly, I don’t agree with this (seriously, listen to our first podcast – I am history’s greatest monster) but I guess I can respect the courage of his convictions.
Although it would have been better for Claire, the time traveler who was just yoinked away from almost reuniting with her first (second?) husband Frank Randall, to have stopped Jamie as she wouldn’t want to erase Frank from the timeline by killing his ancestor. Of course, given that Claire is deep in shock at this point and was a pretty bad time traveler to begin with, the chances of this happening are nil.
There are some random, unexplained explosions while Claire and Jamie escape. They then jump into the sea and drown, weighed down by heavy wool clothes.
Hah ha, just kidding. They actually die from hypothermia.
Wait, no. They emerge from the freezing water, presumably okay and with all extremities intact. Their clothes magically dry and they are able to have the first of many fights in this episode. Jamie is angry that Claire wandered off JUST LIKE HE SAID NOT TO. Claire is just plain angry. She could have pointed out that Wee Willy would have been zero help against the redcoats, but instead we get Feisty You Can’t Tell Me What To Do Claire shown through the lens of no sleep, no food, and a seriously traumatic experience.
Look, Jamie, from one husband to another, there’s being right (you are 100% right) and there is being right at the right time (it is 100% the wrong time to press your rightness). You can be right all you want (and I know you feel the urge to present your rightness with the heat of a thousand suns), but there’s a time and a place for Told You Sos. This ain’t it.
Anyways, they fight and Claire slaps Jamie so he pulls out the big guns (man tears) and gets a sort of apology out of her. Dude. Bro. You save the tears for when you are wrong. Claire still does not seem to understand how tenuous her place in this world is. Were I her, I totally would have made a break for the stones. I also would be eating a big slice of humble pie and thanking the crazy and sometimes psychotic Scots for saving my bony ass. That we see no guilt from Claire this episode is pretty unsatisfying.
Still, the two make up and I guess everything is okay now?
Oh wait, no. There are still all the dudes who risked their life for Claire. She mumbles an apology but they ignore her. They suffered for her and feel that she has to suffer too, so…
They press for Jamie to deploy Old Timey Marital Counseling, aka a belt.
Things get weird here, I’m not going to lie. Jamie takes a belt and is like, “Well, honey, I know you just had a bad experience with our barbarous past ways, so uh, at least you’re ready for this.”
And then he beats her while jaunty music plays.
So I knew this was coming because I’ve read many an online take down of these books (need grist for the mill) where this is a big focus. I can, in context, understand why it happened, but I don’t think it needed to happen.
Remember the first episode when Frank and Claire jump on the bed to make the innkeeper think they’re boinking? JUST DO THAT. Jamie thinks Claire needs an actual lesson in compliance so maybe that wouldn’t fly, but later it comes out that he saw his Dad do that to his Mom, so that’s what he thinks marriage discipline is, so if he opened with that, maybe they could have worked something out. Fake it. Make Claire understand that she has used her only Get Out Of Flogging Free card in addition to her only Suicidal Rescue card.
Instead, a guy who was flayed within an inch of dying seems really intent on smacking leather on someone else.
Ungh. Skip ahead, skip ahead. They go back to Castle Leoch and we get a brief shot of Mrs. Padmore and the rest of the Kastle Krew who are probably happy to be working but unhappy to have to fly out to bumbleloch Scotland for a 10 second scene. Crazy Legs shows up and it looks like he’s leveled up as he’s also got some Mad Crazy Eye action going on.
Laoghaire, who Jen insists on calling “Leghair” but I have learned is actually called “Larry,” corners Jamie in a corridor and has some valid questions about what the hell is up with them. They went from making out in corners and taking beatings to weird awkwardness (although that last one is really on Larry as she can gawp like no other). Jamie, for a guy who was very firm with his actual wife about How Things Are, is really vague and wishy washy with Larry and the scene just sort of peters out.
Sort of like their romance.
Speaking of romance, we get some Game of Thrones shit up in Crazy Leg’s chambers. Dude has a raven up in there so you know this is going to be serious.
Okay, first thing, turns out Wee Willy’s REAL One Job was to be a spy for Colum. So Crazy Legs knows all about Dougal’s Money Gathering Backstravaganza and is rightly pissed at his brother, Jamie, and Sad Ben Franklin. I would be pissed too. I would also be pissed that they were so bad at being secret revolutionaries that they straight up raided an English fort. He chews out the crew for being morons and kicks (well, nudges firmly with his twisted foot) them out, except for Jamie.
Now here’s the confusing part. Crazy Legs is pissed that Jamie got married without his okay because Jamie was supposed to succeed him? Wha? Didn’t he have his brother have sex with his wife in order to make sure that his “kid” would take the throne or whatever? Wasn’t there a big To Do at the Oathening about whether or not Jamie would pledge his loyalty? Guy married an outsider! His chances of taking over are nil. You should be happy, Crazy Legs, so chill.
C’mon, show. We just had a way too long beating scene – do we really need this politicking? Jamie goes back to try to confide in Claire but unsurprisingly his helpmate isn’t feeling very helpful. He’s all like “We must unite the Seven Kingdoms!” and she’s all “Ungh. Just TiVo it, nerd” and goes to bed.
Next morning, Wee Willy learns his new One Job: to take a beating.
And just as the Brothers Mackenzie fight between themselves, so doest thou Clans Mackenzie and Fraiser struggleth. No seriously, Jamie and his Bearded Angel get into a scuffle with Angus and Rupert for reasons. Everyone is just mad at everyone else and for some reason, more beatings are not helping.
THE MORE YOU KNOW.
Anyways, everyone gets tired of arguing in the fake digital snow and Jamie heads off to be Peacemaker Jones. First he’s all CCC’MMmooonnnnn to Colum and somehow convinces him to give Dougal’s Crown Royal pouch full of his lucky d20s back to him. Colum still doesn’t like Sad Ben Franklin, which is fine as my opinions of that dude have turned 180 degrees.
Ned sucks out loud. Lousy pipe addict!
So then we end up in the present (?) again with Jamie at his place down by the river, skipping stones, and narrating to his pinecone friends. Larry then appears with a big ole cloak wrapped around her. I immediately call her as being naked under the cloak, but I am wrong. She is instead wearing her Medieval Emma Frost cosplay outfit. Jamie, who of course is more a Jean Grey than a Emma, is non-plussed, but he also doesn’t exactly send Larry away. “Oh, shucks, if things were different….” he shrugs, winking broadly. No way that could end with Larry in a bathroom somewhere muttering “What the hell did I do? Killed them all of course…”
LOOK AT ME WITH MY HBO REFERENCES! I HAVE OTHER PREMIUM CABLE CHANNELS!
And Larry, girl, if you want get it on with a dude, please please please don’t remind him how you used to come here when you were kids. You want him to think of you a woman, right? So stop playing the “I was your tween stalker” card!
Jamie heads back to the castle where he is still allowed entry for some reason. Wasn’t he kept in a barn? Are we just forgetting that? I could have sworn there was a price on his head so he slept in a barn under an assumed name. Do they figure that Black Jack will be on his way when he resumes consciousness so why bother to make Jamie hide anymore?
I guess its because Claire probably won’t sleep in a stable and definitely won’t have weird sword-involved sex in a stable. Still, she started the episode with a ripped bodice and by god she’ll end the episode with no bodice.
I’m starting to suspect that shirts are only for people with voiceovers. Lose your voiceover, lose your shirt.
Anyways, the two resolve their differences by squirming over swords and other swords. When they are done, Claire discovers somebody has been guerrilla advertising for their creepy Etsy shop by placing a poppet made of sticks, bird nests and string under their bed.
I immediately race to the Starz Outlander webstore but find no listing for Creepy Poppets. Well, no creepy poppets besides the Pocket Jamies. *shudder*
WAY TO LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE, STARZ.