Tuesday, October 17, 2017

“Gang Thegither” - when original writing and TV adaptations combine! A recap of season 3 episode 5 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown

The thing about good writing is that it really makes you think. When it’s writing that adapts a story that you already knew, it makes you think about things from a whole new perspective. When it’s really good writing, it brings you to new understandings as a result. When it does all three, there’s a good chance that you’ve just watched an episode of Outlander that was written by Toni Graphia. “Freedom and Whisky” was an amazing episode from start to finish, not because of the fact that it contained the beginnings of the longed for reunion between Jamie and Claire, but rather because it brought the perspectives of Claire, Brianna and Roger together in a way that the book doesn’t. In doing so, it complemented the original beautifully. It was clever, clever stuff and an honour to watch! 

The episode begins with an operation in 1968. Back in Boston and back doing what she does best, Claire refuses to stop the surgery even when the patient’s blood pressure is lowering and Joe tells her she is out of time. Using a mixture of instinct and determination, Claire finds the necrosis that would otherwise have gone unnoticed and saves a life. 

It is a short scene, but one that establishes a couple of very important facts: Claire is a talented surgeon back at the top of her game and she will not back down from what she knows to be right, even if it involves danger and risk. As the scene ends, she and Joe share a brief look; hers of satisfaction, his of respect.

Meanwhile in a history lecture, Brianna is doodling on a notepad. While the lecturer speaks of the historical figure of Paul Revere, Brianna is drawing archways. Her attention is captured however, when the lecturer announces the famous poem about Revere’s ride to be a lie, speaking instead of the man who did complete the mission, a man who has been lost to history because, “Revere had a better publicist.” The other students chuckle, but Brianna is obviously affected by the words. After class, the professor speaks to her. A previously outstanding student, Brianna is now failing, not only in history but in other subjects too. If her results do not improve, her future at Harvard is in jeopardy. Declining the opportunity to talk to her teacher, who was both a colleague and friend of Frank’s, Brianna merely says that everything is fine. 

Brianna returns home to an empty house and spends a few minutes lost in nostalgia. In quick succession, she looks at an ornament on the Christmas tree from her first Christmas,  Frank’s armchair, his pipe, (which she smells) and photographs from when she was a baby. 

This is such a clever scene. Much has been written about the character of Bree, as well as the portrayal of her by Sophie Skelton, a lot of which has been negative. But with this simple scene, Sophie Skelton does a superb job of portraying the sadness that Bree is feeling, in a way that must surely give these critics food for thought. With the book shown through Claire’s perspective, readers don’t get the chance to focus on how hard the events have been on other characters too. In a short space of time, Brianna has lost the man she thought was her father, discovered an almost impossible to believe tale about her actual father, begun to reconnect with her mother and become attracted to a man who she has left behind when her mother announced it was time to give up the search and go home. Is it any wonder that she has behaved in what many have said is a “bratty” way? In the few moments of this scene, Brianna has no dialogue, but we are left in no doubt as to the depth of her emotions, her loneliness amplified by the soulful Frank theme playing in the background throughout. Bravo to actress, writer and director, for bringing in another dimension that complements the original story and shows the weight of events on Brianna. 

The next scene begins with a pensive Claire looking at a photograph of Brianna in her graduation robes. Given that he is now the person who has known Claire the longest in Boston, as well as being her closest confidante, Joe notices that his “Lady Jane” is miles away, and comments that she has the look that she had when she first returned from Scotland. Not one to give up, Joe asks Claire if she had met a man and finally gets her to talk in somewhat guarded terms about Jamie. 

When Claire mentions that she had hoped to reconnect but that fate had had other plans for her, Joe responds with his opinion of fate - a line that has fast become a fan favourite. (This is another example of where a writing adaptation complements the book, as it was not a sentiment expressed in Diana Gabaldon’s version!)  A nurse interrupts the conversation with the delivery of some files, but Joe is not about to let Claire off the hook, saying that their conversation is to be continued. 
A taxi pulls up outside the Randalls’ Boston house and with the lyrics of “Show me a man who’s got a good woman” playing in the background, a nervous Roger Wakefield gets out of a cab, telling a disinterested driver that it’s probably the most brilliant or most daft thing he has ever done. As he rings the doorbell, he can hear a spirited argument coming from the two good women inside. He sighs, realising that once again, he is about to be in the middle of a Brianna and Claire quarrel. 

An irritated Brianna opens the door, but her mood quickly brightens at his “Happy Christmas”. She leads Roger inside, to greet a surprised Claire, who tries initially to make light of the situation that he has interrupted. She tells him that Brianna has decided to withdraw from Harvard and move out, a decision that Brianna states is hers to make. With this the argument begins again, with Brianna expressing a little of the emotion that we had seen in her previous scene. She tells her mother that she couldn’t just come back to Boston and be who she was. Despite her trying to do just that, it hasn’t worked. A car horn beeps outside, and Brianna grabs a box of her belongings, telling an uncomfortable Roger that they will hang out the next day. 
Claire insists that Roger stay in the house and, over drinks, they begin chatting. Roger too is readjusting to a different family situation: with the Reverend dead, it is his first Christmas alone and so he has decided to swap the Inverness house of books, dust and old Christmas traditions for an American festive season, where hopefully he will be able to make some traditions of his own. Claire tells Roger of the Randall Christmases, where she and Frank would read Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” to Brianna, until either she grew out of it, or they did. With a brief humorous mention of the quarrel, Claire questions the reason that Roger has arrived unannounced. She knows that it can’t only be for an American Christmas, but adds that she is pleased that Brianna will have someone with her who understands what she has gone through in the past few months. Fortified by whisky, Roger tells Claire the real reason for his visit. 

Describing himself as a historian who pursues something like a dog with a bone, Roger takes an envelope from his case. He tells Claire that he has succeeded in tracing Jamie; showing her an article written by an Alexander Malcolm in 1765 that quotes lines from a Robert Burns poem that Claire had once shared with Jamie. Given that Robert Burns was only 6 years old in 1765, plus the fact that the writer has used Jamie’s middle names, an excited Roger is sure that the author is Jamie, therefore proving that he is still alive just one year earlier in the parallel time period. 

But Claire doesn’t react in the way that Roger expects. Pacing around the room, emotions rising, Claire says that she could have lived the rest of her life not knowing; that she had shut the door to the past 20 years before. The news that Jamie had survived Culloden had started her hoping, something that she tells Roger she can’t go through again. Roger persists: this isn’t just hope, he says. With this news, Claire can return to Jamie. His face falls though, when Claire reminds him that in doing so, she would be leaving Brianna in the midst of her own personal crisis. As a mother, she can’t abandon her daughter. Roger is crestfallen, immediately asking what he can do to help. 

He agrees to Claire’s request not to tell Brianna of his discovery and retires to bed, citing jet lag. Left alone, Claire spends a sleepless night, looking first at the article, then Ellen’s pearls, as the Jamie and Claire theme plays softly. 

When Claire enters Joe’s office, she discovers him looking at a skeleton. Joe’s friend, an anthropologist has sent the skeleton looking for a cause of death. Claire picks up the skull and describes it as a 150 year old murder victim. On examining other pieces of the body, Joe confirms that someone had indeed tried to cut the woman’s head clean off. He wonders how Claire knew it was a murder victim, to which she answers that the skeleton just “felt like it”. The mystery isn’t completely solved though: although found in a cave believed to be a slave burial place, Joe knows that the woman wasn’t black, by the length of the the tibia bone. 

A somewhat disquieted Claire says that “bones don’t lie.” Joe agrees, adding that they tell all and immediately segues into their previous discussion, asking Claire what she hadn’t told him about “her man in Scotland”. 

Without telling him the full story, Claire admits that Jamie was Brianna’s real father, a fact that she had told Brianna while they were in Scotland and that the revelation is the reason that Bree has been struggling so much. Joe replies that the news explains a lot. He tells Claire that no one had ever thought that Frank and Claire were a perfect couple and that he has watched her live a half life for 15 years. If she has a second chance at love, he tells Claire, she should take it, adding that Brianna will “come round”.

Roger is watching daytime tv when Brianna comes home, a drama called “Dark Shadows”, where the characters are discussing the feelings of a woman time traveller. 

(Interviews since the screening of the episode have revealed that not only was this a legitimate episode of an actual show, but that it also screened on the date that the episode is set: December 23rd 1968. It is a rather amazing coincidence!) After discussing the perils of Roger’s addiction to day time tv, the two begin an hesitant flirtation once again. Brianna tells him that she is glad he has come; Roger says that he wanted to experience an American Christmas, complete with lobster rolls and Boston Cream Pie. Saying that she can probably help him with that, Brianna invites him to a function that afternoon, where a fellowship is being named in honour of Frank. Brianna suggests they go early, so that she can show him the hallowed halls. Roger agrees and they settle in on the couch to watch the rest of the episode.

Later that afternoon, the two are indeed walking through the halls of Harvard, which look remarkably like the ones that Brianna had been sketching in her history lecture. While Brianna is interested in telling him about the cloisters and the fact that they are the only example of Gothic architecture in the building, Roger is more interested in how many people have walked through the halls over the years, what conversations they may have had and what secrets were etched in the arches’ nooks and crannies. 
It highlights the differences between their ways of thinking: as a historian, Roger focuses on the people; whereas despite visiting the place many times since Frank first brought her as a young girl, she has only ever been intrigued by how the arches were built and how each stone is held in place by the pressure of another. It is a formula, she says, based on measurements, calculation and precision and that as a result, there is a truth to the building. Roger comments that she doesn’t sound like the daughter of a historian. This is precisely the point, says Brianna. She isn’t the daughter of a historian, but of an 18th century highlander. Again, we are reminded of her struggle. Roger tells her a story of his own father, of whom he has few memories, other than stories that the Reverend told him. With emphasis that becomes important later, Roger tells her that knowing his father helped him to know himself and that everyone needs a history. But Brianna is not convinced. History is just a story, she counters, that changes according to who is telling it and compares her own story to that of Paul Revere or Bonnie Prince Charlie. History can’t be trusted, she says. It is an important conversation, not only in order to better explain why she has withdrawn from studying history at Harvard, but why she has been struggling in general. Everything she had thought to be true has been turned upside down. She would much rather put her trust in stone and measurements than in people. 

At the service for the bestowing of the Frank W Randall Fellowship in the field of European Studies, Claire finds herself face to face with none other than Professor Sandy Travers, the woman who had shown up at the house on the evening of Claire’s graduation and the woman that Frank had hoped to marry. After a couple of moments of uncomfortable small talk, Sandy confronts Claire. Claire should have let Frank go, she says. 

Despite Frank telling her that he was only staying with his wife for Brianna’s sake, Sandy had known that part of him was still in love with Claire, something that wouldn’t change no matter how much Claire broke his heart. Sandy lived with this knowledge, she says, because Frank was the love of her life and she had wanted him, even if it meant sharing him with another. This is a sad parallel to Frank’s situation, who had known he was sharing Claire with Jamie’s ghost. Sandy calls Claire selfish, making Frank and Brianna live a lie while she threw away 20 years, whereas Sandy would have given anything for one more day. 

As an uncharacteristically silent Claire watches Sandy walk away, Brianna has noticed the exchange and how unnerved her mother is. Afterwards, Brianna asks who the woman was, revealing to Claire that she had recognised her. When in a bookshop with Frank years ago, they had stopped to talk to Sandy and Brianna had noticed Frank look at Sandy the way he had once looked at Claire. Brianna reminds Claire of the promise they had made to each other at the stones; that there would be no more lies between them and so Claire tells her daughter the truth: Frank had loved Sandy for many years and had been planning on marrying her. Brianna then shares one of her fears: if she looked so much like Jamie, then Frank must have seen another man every time he looked at her and must have hated her as a result. Claire is quick to dispel that fear, telling Brianna that she had been the most important thing in Frank’s life and that raising her had been his greatest joy. The dam broken now, Brianna continues. Surely Claire must have resented her then, as she was the reason that Claire had lost Jamie? Again, Claire reassures her. The moment she had seen Brianna and nursed her, she had never felt another feeling like it. She loves Brianna for Brianna, she says, not for the man who fathered her. She does agree though, that she still thinks of Jamie and, adding that there is something else she needs to be honest about, pulls the copy of the article written by Alexander Malcolm, from her purse. Immediately, Brianna recognises the name, and tells Claire that this means she can go back. When Claire tells her that her life is in Boston with her daughter, Brianna counters that she is all grown up and can live on her own. While she loves her mother, she doesn’t need her in the way that she did when she was little. Although she knows this, it is something that Claire doesn’t want to discuss any further.

The scenes involving Sandy have caused much controversy since the episode aired. Some have said that they were unnecessary, given that in the books it was never confirmed that Frank had had an affair at all. Furthermore, others argue, Claire would not have remained silent in such an exchange. To have her say nothing was not true to Claire’s personality. However, these scenes also serve to remind us of the ripple effect that actions can have on others. Again, in the book everything is viewed from Claire’s eyes. We can’t see how others think and feel and here, we can. We can see that the sadness was not contained to just Claire, but that her decision to stay in a marriage where love, despite the best of intentions, had gone, had consequences for others too. While Sandy was a character invented for television, Frank was not. It reminds us again, of the sadness that he endured, tempered with the joy of raising Brianna. Finally, Claire’s actions of finally telling Brianna the truth totally threw her daughter’s life into turmoil, causing her to doubt not only her own family history, but whether Claire and Frank had ever truly loved her. Far from being unnecessary scenes, it can be argued that these are strong complements to the original, allowing us to think far more deeply. 

The next scene too, where Claire, Joe and the other medical staff are watching a broadcast of the Apollo 8 mission, has been criticised by some as unnecessary. Again though, it is important to consider the symbolism of the lines it contains. As they listen to Jim Lovell’s voice, Joe says, “How can you take a trip like that and come back to life as you know it?” 

The answer is, of course, that you can’t. You have seen things that you couldn’t have imagined and your life can’t be the same as it was. This is a direct parallel to Claire’s experience, as she suggests in her following voiceover. Travelling through the stones is as foreign to most people as travelling into space. You can come back to your life, but it can never be the same. Perhaps, she muses, it is enough to have gone once. To contemplate travelling a third time, with all its risks and associated losses, is becoming a decision that Claire is unable to make. The scene ends with the Jamie and Claire music reaching a crescendo as Claire stares up at the moon, whisky in hand. 

In fact, it is Brianna who must make the decision for her. Sitting on their couch, Claire tells Brianna that they may never see each other again and that she is not sure whether she can cope with never being able to see Brianna get married or have children of her own. 

Brianna agrees that it won’t be easy, but that she has realised while trying to figure out her own identity, that she is more Claire than either of her fathers. If she turns out to be half the woman Claire is, she says, then she will be fine. Claire has to go back, she says, to tell Jamie everything about his daughter, so that he will finally know her too. But then Claire shares her own insecurities - what if Jamie has forgotten her, or has ceased to love her? In a beautiful switch of mother/daughter bonding, it is Brianna who takes on the reassuring parent role now, saying to Claire that she has to trust that the feelings she has for Jamie, which are unlike anything else she has ever felt, must be the same for him. “You gave Jamie up for me,” Brianna tells her mother, “Now I have to give him back to you.” The two embrace, with Jamie’s place in the hug being represented by the theme music playing as mother and daughter cling tightly to one another. 

But Claire still requires an opinion that Brianna cannot give her. In their office, Claire puts Joe on the spot: is she attractive sexually? Joe is suspicious, asking if this is a trick, but Claire says that she needs an honest male opinion and he is the only male she can ask.

Joe realises that Claire is asking because of “her man” and Claire admits that she is thinking of giving it another go, but it has been 20 years. Has she changed that much since Joe first met her? With a chuckle, Joe replies that Claire had been a “skinny white broad with too much hair and a great ass”, adding that Jamie would be in heaven when he saw her. It is what Claire needs to hear, but she watches Joe with sadness as he gets his coat. She knows, as he does not, that this is their farewell. She thanks him and they wish each other a Merry Christmas. 

Back at the house, Brianna, Roger and Claire sit around the fire and exchange gifts. Claire has unwrapped a box of coins that Brianna and Roger found in an antique shop, while Roger hands her a book called “Scotland, the Nation.” Claire admits that she has also been thinking about what to take and that she has borrowed some penicillin and scalpels, as they will be needed more in 1766 Edinburgh than 1968 Boston. 

Brianna has another gift, handing Claire a topaz necklace. Not only is it to help her travel safely through the stones, it has added significance as Brianna’s own birthstone. Putting it around her neck, Claire confirms that she did indeed lose two gems in each of her previous trips - from her jewelled watch and Jamie’s ring. Brianna asks how Claire will carry everything she needs and the talk turns to the making of a garment. Brianna teases Claire as to her ability to do so, but Claire assures her that after years of making pageant costumes, she knows what she is doing. Roger is impressed. Claire can have her own utility belt, he jokes, like the caped crusader. As the Batman TV music begins under Brianna’s observation that Roger watches a lot of tv, the scene changes.

By the time the final chorus of “Batman” is done, so too is Claire’s outfit. Looking in the mirror, she then takes care of the grey in her hair.

When Brianna and Roger return, Claire is wrapping the scalpels into a leather pouch. They compliment her new look hair, assisted by “Miss Clairol” and she shows them “the batsuit”, complete with its hidden pockets that will allow her to take all her supplies. Borrowing Brianna’s blouse to complete the outfit, Brianna assures her that it will be perfect, marvelling at Claire’s ingenuity at making the outfit out of raincoats. 

This is another departure from the books, where Claire had gone shopping to buy an 18th century dress. Fans have criticised the making of the “bat suit” as well as the music used - wasn’t this a wasted scene? Yet again, this scene, although undoubtedly different to the novel, serves a number of purposes. First, to the general observer, Claire is a bit of a “superhero”. In the 20th century, she overcomes the prejudice against women and becomes a successful surgeon. In the 18th century she did the impossible, by travelling through solid rock, being impervious to many of the diseases of the time, having knowledge of the future and healing people with her combined skill of 20th century medicine and 18th century herbs. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it highlights Claire’s skills to adapt to a situation. She has made Brianna’s pageant costumes; she knows what type of outfit she will need; she is fiercely independent, so therefore she makes it herself. Thirdly, there was a humorous suggestion that it could have been a nod to Sam Heughan’s previous role as Batman in a touring production. While this one is unlikely, this scene can still stand on its own as important in terms of symbolism - and is certainly arguably more satisfying in terms of characterisation than a one-off moment in a dress shop. Again, it is an example of the tv writing complementing Diana Gabaldon’s original. 

Roger leaves to fetch a “last provision”, giving Claire and Brianna a moment alone. Claire tells her that Roger is a good one, Brianna replying that she knows.  The moment of truth has come. Claire gives Brianna her resignation letter to be given to Joe and the deeds to the house, which are now in Brianna’s name, along with all the bank accounts. Brianna hesitates. She can’t believe that Claire won’t let her come along to Scotland to say goodbye. But Claire recounts the two journeys she has already made: the first time she was terrified, the second, heartbroken. 
She wants this time to be peaceful. If Brianna was with her, she might never go. But Brianna is adamant that Claire is going.

She will miss her  mother so much, she says, but wants Claire to find Jamie and give him a kiss from her. Claire then gives Brianna her final gift: Ellen’s pearls from her wedding night, suggesting that Brianna can wear them on hers. The two tearfully embrace, as Roger returns with whisky as a final “nip for the road.” Claire thanks him for everything and he pours them each a dram. Brianna makes the toast: to freedom and whisky.

It is dark as Claire takes the halting steps down the path towards her waiting cab. Tearfully, she turns and blows a kiss to Roger and Brianna, who watch from the window. Brianna closes the curtains and cries in Roger’s arms, as the cab pulls away. She tells him to stay there for a moment and disappears into the kitchen. 

Then, showing the emotional strength that proves her to be her mother’s daughter above all else, Brianna dries her eyes, puts on a Christmas hat and takes a plate of prepared food from the sideboard. It is time to get on with her own life. 

Roger is waiting for her and laughs at the lobster roll and boston cream pie that Brianna is holding. Planning on starting Roger’s new American Christmas tradition, Brianna suggests that they can watch a Charlie Brown Christmas later on that day. But Roger has a final gift for Brianna. He watches intently as she unwraps a copy of A Christmas Carol. It is the perfect gift and the look on his face shows that he understands her completely. It is a look of love, and of recognition of the loss that she has experienced, both in the past few months and in the past few moments.

Her returning look is of equal tenderness and they share a kiss beyond the impulsive one of the previous episodes. Curling up together on the couch, Roger begins eating as Brianna starts to read and we are left in no doubt that they will both, indeed, be fine. 

This time, we do not see Claire’s journey through the stones. Instead, in a clever parallel to the first episode of season 2, when Frank’s 20th century outstretched hand turned into Jamie’s 18th century one; so too Claire’s 20th century step out of a cab turns into her 18th century step out of a carriage. She has arrived in Edinburgh. 

We watch as she emotionally gathers herself, reacquainting herself once again with the sights and sounds of an earlier Scotland. After a moment, she stops a young boy, asking for directions to Alexander Malcolm’s print shop. Immediately she is told what she needs to know: just down the way and to the left in Carfax Close. The moment is at hand and we see the mixture of disbelief and hope on her face as she begins to walk. 

These looks only intensify as Claire finds herself standing in front of the sign that bears the name “A Malcolm: Printer and Bookseller”. She runs her fingers briefly over the name and climbs the stairs, pausing at the top to touch her hair one last time before opening the door. The bell rings as she steps inside. She looks around for a moment, before starting at a familiar voice.

It is Jamie. Slowly, she advances towards him, her breath coming quickly. Jamie stands on the floor below, examining a page of type, calling to his assistant, Geordie, asking what had taken him so long. “It isn’t Geordie,” she says, haltingly. “It’s me. Claire.”

This is the only time we see Jamie in the episode and, like he always does, Sam Heughan conveys everything without the need for words. We watch his spine stiffen as he hears her voice, watch him turn slowly and then see his eyes widen as he looks up in complete disbelief to see her standing there. 

Their theme song swells as the two of them gaze at each other, before he faints dead away, leaving Claire to take a shocked breath and the episode comes to an end. The reunion will have to wait!

Adapting a well loved book for a television audience is often a thankless task. Every fan will have their own opinions about what should and shouldn’t be done and it is impossible to please everyone.

Even in an adaptation as faithful as Outlander’s has been so far, there have been many discussions on fan forums about the choices that have been made - and this episode was no exception. While the vast majority of the comments about Freedom and Whisky were positive, there were still plenty who questioned the validity of certain scenes. It is perhaps useful to remember the overall effect of the writing as a whole - does it complement the original, so that viewers can consider characters and events with new insight? This reviewer would argue that Toni Graphia has done this to perfection and deserves every accolade going!

This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, a teacher-librarian and writer who lives in Australia. Her heart was racing the entire time that Claire walked up those print shop stairs and she can’t wait to see the story continue. She also hopes that any criticism of Sophie Skelton stops now, as she thinks Miss Skelton did a phenomenal job portraying Brianna’s conflicted emotions in this episode! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Lot 18 releases another Outlander wine series!

Limited Edition Outlander Wine Collection Returns

New collectors edition bottles available today

Wine lovers and fans of the worldwide hit television series Outlander can now order the newest installment in The Outlander Wine Collection from Lot18 in partnership with Sony Pictures Television. The limited-edition collection features six hand-crafted blends, available individually or as a set. The uniquely designed labels honor the two main characters, Claire and Jamie, from the bestselling novels by Diana Gabaldon, adapted for the screen into the Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated series by showrunner Ronald D. Moore.

With limited quantities of each specially created bottle, these delicious wines are available exclusively at Lot18.com/Outlander while supplies last. The sale will go live at 12pm ET on October 9. Every order will come with a complete set of tasting notes for all six wines.

The individually selected wines were carefully crafted by the team at Lot18 to highlight the various facets and personalities of the beloved characters Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser and James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser as their adventures continue in the world of Outlander. The following are Lot18’s descriptions of each wine inspired by the characters’ most well-known monikers.

Sassenach – Languedoc-la-clape Rosé

As a visitor of a time and place that’s not her own, Claire is a true outsider until Jamie Fraser draws her into his world and bestows upon her the playful nickname Sassenach. This rosé is Provençal in style, but like Claire, it comes from an unexpected place — Languedoc-la-clape, where the limestone-rich soil lends the wine its flavors of strawberry, white peach and grapefruit, racy minerality, and clean finish. Sometimes a fresh new perspective is exactly what’s needed.

Mo Nighean Donn – California Pinot Noir

“My brown-haired lass” is what Jamie affectionately calls his charming new bride in Gaelic, and there’s no better wine to embody that side of Claire than this earthy, seductive Pinot Noir. Exhibiting flavors of black raspberry, forest floor and tea, this complex and balanced wine will make anyone fall in love with its alluring qualities immediately. Don’t bother attempting to resist its delightful and immensely appealing ways.

La Dame Blanche – Pays d’Oc Viognier

She is given the name La Dame Blanche by her husband as a clever ruse, but in truth Claire does possess some of the cunning powers of this mythological figure, using them to turn fortunes her way. This French Viognier is similarly persuasive in its nature, with a heady floral aroma that leads to peach and apricot flavors on the palate, all lifted by a vein of acidity. Upon first sip, you’ll find yourself hopelessly enchanted.

Red Jamie – Côtes du Rhône Rouge

Whether he’s fiercely defending the love of his life or charging off to war alongside his clansmen, the notorious Jacobite Red Jamie is a force to be reckoned with — as is this dynamic Côtes du Rhône named in his honor. With a vibrant acidity and tannic structure keeping the flavors of red plum and blueberry in check, this red blend of 70% Syrah, 15% Carignane and 15% Grenache will have you surrendering after just a taste.

Mac Dubh – Pays d’Oc Syrah

Even as a prisoner at Ardsmuir, Jamie retains a commanding presence, rallying the other prisoners and earning their respect as a leader. They give him the nickname Mac Dubh, or “son of the black” — and it’s this earthy, brooding French Syrah that embodies this dark version of Jamie. With plenty of concentration and blueberry flavor, this is an intense wine that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

A. Malcolm – Languedoc-la-clape Rouge

A fugitive after the Jacobite rising, Jamie Fraser must become Alex Malcolm and begin anew as a printer in Edinburgh … yet under this simple facade lies the same complex and passionate man who captured Claire’s heart. Equally unassuming, at first, is this red wine from a small appellation in southern France. It becomes clear after experiencing the pure, black-red fruit nuances, however, that this is a charming, formidable wine — one you won’t easily forget.

Filmed on location in Scotland and South Africa, the third season of Outlander is based on the third of eight books in the Outlander series, entitled Voyager. The storyline picks up right after Claire travels through the stones to return to her life in 1948. Now pregnant, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank. Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from one another, each haunted by the memory of their lost love. The budding possibility that Claire can return to Jamie in the past breathes new hope into Claire’s heart … as well as new doubt. Separated by continents and centuries, Claire and Jamie must find their way back to each other. As always, adversity, mystery and adventure await them on the path to reunion. And the question remains: When they find each other, will they be the same people who parted at the standing stones, all those years ago? Outlander season 3 is currently available in the United States exclusively on STARZ.

The Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated series is adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s international best-selling books by Ronald D. Moore (“Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation”).Diana Gabaldon’s eight-book series has sold more than 28 million copies orldwide and all eight books in the series have graced the New York Times best-sellers list. The Outlander series spans the genres of romance, science fiction, history, and adventure in one grandiose tale. Ronald D. Moore, Jim Kohlberg, Andy Harries, Maril Davis, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenney and Matthew B. Roberts serve as executive producers of Outlander season 3, which is produced by Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining & Supply Company and Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television.

About Sony Pictures Television

Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is one of the television industry’s leading content providers, producing and distributing programming worldwide in every genre and for every platform. In addition to managing one of the industry’s largest libraries of award-winning feature films, television shows and formats, SPT is home to a thriving global production business operating 21 wholly-owned or joint venture production companies in 12 countries around the world. Sony Pictures Television is a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company.

About Lot18

Founded in 2010, Lot18 provides the best possible prices on high-quality wines. The company employs a team of experts who work closely with quality-driven winemakers around the world. These experts live by a simple rule: If they wouldn’t spend their own money on a wine, they don’t make it available on Lot18. The wines selected are unique and represent the highest quality and value. In early 2013, Lot18 launched Tasting Room, a different sort of wine club offering an unprecedented level of customization and personalization. The customer starts by tasting a range of wines (from a light, crisp white to a full-bodied red) in mini-bottle format and then gives feedback online through an innovative, yet simple, guided comparative tasting. This process generates a wine profile that allows Tasting Room to capture the nuances of each customer’s palate. The company then uses this information to provide a specific selection of wines in full-size bottles to match. Tasting Room is now the fastest growing wine club in the United States and launched a very successful national TV campaign in March 2016.

Outlander Online

For more information about the series, go to the official Outlander Facebook Page and follow @Outlander_Starz on Twitter and Instagram. Join the conversation with #Outlander.

Lot18 Online

For more information about the Lot18, go to their official Facebook Page and follow @Lot18 on Twitter. Join the conversation with #OutlanderWine and #SassenachRoseAllDay.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

My NYC Voyager Experience!

Outlander Homepage originals by Nancy M Guillory

Even though you watch your favorite actors portray your favorite characters each week on television and love them, (and follow them in the media) deep down you know the odds of actually meeting, seem dismally slim. Especially for a show like Outlander that isn’t even filmed in the USA. Sounds pretty impossible right? WRONG!!!! Thanks to some super dedicated Outlander fans who just couldn’t stop at creating Outlander fan pages, blogs and groups, I recently got to meet and enjoy a brief chat with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, in of all places "New York City".

Dorianne and Nancy

I have to say, I owe Dorianne Panich a huge debt of gratitude for inviting me to be a part of Outlander Homepage three years ago, and I must also admit, I’ve been remiss in my writing for the page these past 12 months or more, as I’ve been focused on a personal writing project, but that never stopped her from including me. For that I am extremely grateful. Why so grateful you might ask? Because not only did she and six other amazing women pool their efforts, resources and talents, to create not just one but over the past year, a total of three incredible Outlander experiences featuring cast members, they welcomed me to this last venture at the last minute, with open arms. What’s kind of funny is how my wish became reality, in a very ordinary way….

So, I’m eating dinner with my significant other one evening, while catching up on our overloaded DVR, when suddenly, the room explodes with the sights and sounds of the premiere of Outlander’s third season.  We both stopped chewing to gawk at the TV, because we’d both been Droughtlandering for ages.

Me: “Man, I kind of wish now I could have gone to New York in June. Oh well. (Heavy sigh)”
Pete: “I’m sorry you didn’t get to go baby, maybe they’ll do another one sometime, and you can go to it.”
Me: “They’re producing one at the end of this month in New York City, this time with Sam and Caitriona.”  Thinking about missing it was rather depressing, and I viciously stabbed a morsel of steak with my fork, as I slugged back my wine. Might as well drown my sorrows in fillet mignon and a cheap red blend.
Pete: “Why don’t you go to this one coming up? I’ll pay for you to go, if you really want to."

No words can describe my reaction, just happy dancing, people, just happy dancing.

So, once I changed my pants and remembered my name, I immediately texted Dorianne to tell her I would be able to make NYC Voyage, and started checking flights. It was almost surreal purchasing my airfare, as it seemed like a dream to be going on such an adventure. Here I was, planning to travel alone to meet seven women I’d only talked to online, and on the phone. I wouldn’t know anyone there and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but thank you God, I made that trip. From the moment I stepped out of the cab, I was in the company of the nicest people I’ve ever met. 

Dorianne Panich and her husband Jaime are kind, good hearted folks. Liz Mercado is classy, sassy and super smart. Sandhya Dawar is elegant and charming, Carole Braun is a lovable little firecracker, always ready with a smile. Laura Michelle is a go getter with heart of gold. Lisa Michelle Woody, and her hilarious husband, David are warm, welcoming and great fun, and Bonnie Terbush is as dynamic, as is her giving spirit. I am also happy and grateful to have met, Susan Walker and Jill Shirley, both upbeat and savvy ladies who I instantly connected with. I felt like I’d known them forever.  What an awesome group of beautiful women!!! I thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent with each and every one of them.

Anticipation is a funny thing, it can stress you out, or it can make you giddy, nervous, an anxiety riddled hot mess, but thanks to team work, everything came together. Voyager NYC was ready to go.

Papillon bistro restaurant 
Papillion is a lovely restaurant, the decor and architecture is reminiscent of old New Orleans, the perfect venue for a cocktail party.  After a couple of hours of preparation, we all stepped back, took our assigned places, and suddenly Outlander fans were filling the rooms of Papillion, laughing, talking, greeting old friends and making new ones.

My assignment was to sell raffles upstairs for Sam’s, Cahonas Scotland and Cait’s, World Child Cancer funds, as well as keeping the raffle baskets on display and silent auction items organized.  I sold some raffle tickets, can I tell you, Outlander fans are extremely generous and the best part about selling raffles tickets was not only helping raise money for two very worthy causes, but meeting people from all around the world. With one thing in common, we all love Outlander.

Of course that was obvious, especially when Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe arrived. I’m pretty sure the crowd’s reaction would have registered a 9.0 had there been a Richter scale in the house! It’s a wonder the roof didn’t come off!

Nancy with Caitriona 
Taking a step back and mulling over the entire evening, I started thinking about what it must be like to meet and greet hundreds of adoring fans, smiling for a photo for what surely must feel like the zillionth time and how tiresome that must become in a short period of time. I’ve met a handful of celebs in my life, and I have yet to meet anyone more humble and gracious than Sam Heughan and the delightfully engaging Caitriona Balfe.

Sam exudes a rather boyish charm as he is warm, witty, and always willing to make an extra effort to enhance a fan’s experience.  If Mr. Heughan’s photo isn’t next to the word charming in the dictionary, it should be.

Nancy with Sam
Now, you might think that any woman as gorgeous as Caitriona Balfe might be a little intimidating. Not in the least! Upon meeting Cait, I felt like I wasn’t meeting a celebrity but simply another party goer who was enjoying the festive atmosphere and genuinely interested in everyone she greeted.

The lovely Irish lass exudes grace and class, yet comes across as down to earth and has excellent fashion sense, that red dress was gorgeous. Then again, the pair of them, both Sam and Cait, would look good wearing a feed sack. They are just pretty people inside and out. I had a wee bit more time to banter with Cait, who picked up on my southern accent and we talked about her time spent living in New Orleans while filming the movie "Now You See Me".

I offered to cook her a gumbo, if ever she found herself in Baton Rouge, thanked her for portraying Claire so beautifully, then returned to selling raffle tickets.

Our raffle room
The evening was filled with good, positive energy. Everyone seemed to enjoy the atmosphere; one of a kind raffle baskets and auction items, so much delicious food, unique Laphroaig cocktails, fabulous goody bags, and plenty fond memories with their favorite actors to take home as souvenirs.

Tara and Tamela, incert next to Sam
Then, to top off an already exuberant and exciting night, those gorgeous sisters from Texas, Tara and Tamela, proved their hearts are as big as the state they hail from, with their winning silent auction bid of $10,000 for the exquisite Hamilton and Young Jewelers, 18kt gold Outlander inspired ring.

Gordon and June Hamilton with Cait
Speaking of Hamilton and Young, it was such a pleasure to meet the proprietors, Gordon Young and June Hamilton from Edinburgh Scotland and wonderfully generous of them to donate such a treasure.

The outpouring of support for both Sam’s (Cahonas Scotland) and Cait’s (World Child Cancer) charities was truly impressive. No doubt it thrilled not only their famous patrons, but also Cahonas Scotland representative, Ritchie Marshall and World Child Cancer representative, Lisa Fernandes, along with the charity organizer, Bonnie Terbush. They were just overjoyed.

Ritchie Marshal and Lisa Fernandes

Yes, it was an exhausting, whirlwind weekend, even though all I did was show up. Outlander Homepage, Outlander Forever, Liz Mercado Associates, and Bonnie Terbush with My Peak Posse, deserve credit for making these fantastic fan experiences happen, with their dedication and drive. Of course meeting Sam Heughan and Cait Balfe was a real treat, but finally meeting everyone who is a part of making these once in a lifetime events possible, well, that was the icing on the cake. 

Bon Appètit

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

“Better to have loved and lost?” A recap of season 3 episode 4 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown

At this point, you’d be forgiven for wondering just what else Jamie Fraser has to lose. After all, in season 3 alone, he’s already lost a battle, his men, his identity, his family and his freedom; to say nothing of the loss of the love of his life, the two daughters that he never saw and almost the loss of his mind after the horrors of Wentworth in previous seasons. Yet in episode 4, he is set to lose even more. Other characters too, do not escape unscathed. Geneva is facing the loss of her virginity; her family, the loss of their daughter and sister; Lord John, the loss of a friend; young Willie, the loss of his beloved “Mac”; while back in the 20th century, Claire is facing the loss of hope; Brianna and Roger, the loss of each other. It really is a cavalcade of despair. Many fans have commented already on the toll the episode took on them and the many tears that they shed, and so much praise must be given to the writer, Toni Graphia, the director, Brendan Maher and the actors, led by Sam Heughan, who just grows better and better with each scene. 

The episode opens in 1968, with the search for Jamie well underway. Roger stands in front of a huge timeline, explaining the simultaneous passage of time in the two separate centuries and the need to prove that Jamie lived 20 years past Culloden. Whilst he and Brianna discuss these details, (interrupted briefly by Fiona who rather endearingly encourages Roger to eat more), Claire has been gazing intently through papers. She reminisces with Fiona over Mrs Graham, and the special friendship that Claire had enjoyed with Fiona’s grandmother. 

Fiona contributes to the conversation at hand by suggesting that if Jamie had also been the legendary Dunbonnet then he would have been a notorious and well known figure. The search resumes, with Claire finally discovering what they have been hoping for: a mention of Jamie in prison records. Roger quickly checks the Ardsmuir lists for 1753-1756, finding Jamie on each list until the prison closed. Although he doesn’t know what happened to the prisoners at that point, Brianna agrees with him when he suggests that this is cause for celebration and that it’s “never too early for a whisky.” As the two of them leave in search of it, Claire is left alone in the study, and we watch a range of emotions cross her expression in a matter of seconds.

Meanwhile, in 1756, a stately procession is taking place. With a sweeping shot of carriages and a country estate reminiscent of Downton Abbey, the scene changes to Helwater, where the Dunsanys are arriving home. (The Downton similarities don’t end there; with the two daughters behaving very much like the haughty Mary and friendlier Edith Crawley; Lady Dunsany is, like Cora, the seemingly amenable mother who is fiercely protective of her family, and the head of the house, Lord Dunsany, is much like Lord Grantham, to whom duty is important.) It is an interesting similarity and one that even the producers of the episode comment on in the “about the episode” featurette. Lord Dunsany instructs the butler (not Downton’s Carson, but yet another good imitation!) to have the new man - Jamie - brought to see him. 

Having followed Lord John’s advice, Jamie introduces himself to Lord Dunsany as Alexander Mackenzie. The conversation between the two men is important as it not only establishes Jamie’s position at the estate - he is a prisoner, but will be called a groom and paid as such, with his involvement in Culloden deliberately kept from Lady Dunsany due to her grief over the loss of her son in the same battle - but it also sets up a grudging respect for Jamie by Lord Dunsany. 

In addition to being impressed at the recommendations provided by Lord John, Jamie’s new employer admires men who fight for their cause. He also sympathises with Jamie over the loss of children, a cross which both men have had to bear. It is one of Jamie’s losses that he has openly shared, and while the move could be seen as a calculated one, it is more likely that it is indicative of Jamie starting to find a place for his grief and move on with his life. 

In the 20th century, Jamie’s ‘lost’ living daughter is simultaneously flirting with Roger and outshining him in car maintenance, by finding the loose distributor cap that had resulted in the car breaking down. When Roger jokes “What do I owe you?” Brianna replies with, “I’ll think of something.” It is a small scene, but an important set up for later events, as we can see the two becoming closer. 

Jamie is called outside by one of the other grooms, in order to draw straws. He soon discovers that the man with the shortest straw has the unfortunate task of accompanying Geneva Dunsany on her ride. Jamie is not chosen, but is not fast enough in bringing Lady Geneva’s palfry, earning him her irritated insult of being a “useless Scotchman”. As Geneva and the unlucky escort depart, Jamie and another groom share a joke, with Jamie suggesting that a boot in the hindquarters is what is needed. It is a comment overheard by Geneva’s sister, Isobel, but fortunately for Jamie, Isobel is a much friendlier soul, remarking over Jamie’s stammered apologies that she knows exactly what he meant, but that it would not likely do any good. The following conversation between the two is both poignant and symbolic. Isobel tells Jamie that she comes down to the stables to admire the horses, expressing regret that her father confines such splendid creatures. When Jamie remarks on the fine nature of Helwater’s stables, Lady Isobel replies with “A cage is still a cage.” This is magnificent writing, as Jamie is not unlike the horses that he now cares for: while he has swapped the horrors of battle and the chains of Ardsmuir for a paid position on the estate, he is still a prisoner and ultimately caged. Isobel’s meaningful glance suggests that she is aware of this too. She then confides to Jamie her affection for Lord John. Jamie tries to dissuade her without disclosing John’s secret, declaring Major Grey’s passion to be for the military, but Isobel replies that John’s dedication to King and country is one of the qualities that she most admires. 

The phone rings at the Wakefield Residence, with the caller asking for Claire. It is none other than Dr Joe Abernathy, from whom Claire is delighted to hear. 

After some small talk over Italian food, Joe asks two questions: when Claire will be returning and why she is not insisting on performing surgery on a patient that they both know well. Claire evades both questions: she will return “soon” and expresses her confidence in Joe’s ability to handle the operation, asking only that he let her know how it goes. Claire here is lost too: the search for Jamie is colouring everything, to the point where she is abandoning the profession that she loves. 

It is now 1757 at Helwater and the Dunsanys are congratulating themselves on the betrothal of Geneva to the much older Earl of Ellesmere, as it will bring good fortune to both families. Geneva’s beauty and character flaws are discussed in her presence without a second thought: she too, is living in a beautiful cage. Jamie is cleaning the hooves of Ellesmere’s horse and the older man comments on Jamie’s hair, saying that if a child of his were to have hair that colour, he would drown it. He smirks at his own supposed wit and is gone, after bidding an unimpressed Geneva goodbye. As the coach draws away, Geneva’s gaze falls on Jamie. The next straw drawing by the grooms proves to be unnecessary, as Geneva demands that Jamie accompany her on her ride. 

Once out on the estate, Geneva wastes no time in talking about her situation, asking Jamie what he thinks of her future husband. Jamie refuses to give an opinion, but when Geneva forces the issue, he says that the Earl appears fond of her. Commenting that the Earl’s only attractive quality is wealth, Geneva asks Jamie what he finds attractive. Jamie deflects the question, saying that he doesn’t think of such things. It is an answer that Geneva doesn’t believe, calling him a liar. When Jamie suggests they turn back before it is dark, she refuses and gallops ahead, reminding him that he has to do her bidding. 

A moment later there is a scream and when Jamie follows, he finds a seemingly unconscious Geneva lying on the ground. He picks her up, at which point she revives, giggling wickedly and saying that she knew he would do as he’d been told. Furious, Jamie dumps her into the mud. It is a risky move: he is still a prisoner and to deliberately drop the Lady Geneva could be cause for punishment should she wish to cause a fuss. But Geneva has other ideas. As Jamie rides back to the estate, she laughs, calling after him that she looks forward to their next ride.

Over a board in the gardens, John and Jamie are playing chess. John remarks that the Dunsanys are pleased with Jamie’s work and Jamie comments that even after all these months John is still returning to check on his welfare. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of John’s elder brother, Hal, accompanied by the Dunsany sisters. This is potential danger for Jamie, as Hal knows his true identity. Geneva asks the Colonel if he remembers Mackenzie. 

Hal does not correct her, stating only that it has been some years since they last met. Isobel comments on the fact that John had recommended Mackenzie for the groom’s position. A look passes between the two brothers at this revelation; closely followed by one between Geneva and Jamie, when Geneva remarks that it would be better if Jamie was as good with people as he is with horses. The rest of the conversation has a duel meaning. Isobel asks Hal how the family could be managing without Alex, assuming that Jamie was in Colonel Melton’s employ. Hal replies that if it were up to him, he wouldn’t have let Jamie go, but he is not his brother. This of course eludes to Culloden’s aftermath, and both Jamie and John look disquieted. Geneva notices this and suggests to Melton that they go and catch up over a game of cribbage. The implication is strong that she means to find out more. 

It doesn’t take long. In their next conversation, which takes place next to the manure pile, Geneva reminds Jamie that she could have reported him to her father for dropping her in the mud. Commenting on her upcoming marriage and the vileness of an agreement that marries her to a man old enough to be her grandfather, Geneva asks Jamie if he has ever been married. When he answers that he has, she announces a new plan: Jamie will be the one to take her maidenhead. Jamie refuses, but she plays her trump card: Colonel Melton had revealed, after a number of ports, Jamie’s true identity. 

Threatened with the revoking of his parole when Lady Dunsany finds out, Jamie still refuses, saying he will not return to prison. But then Geneva delivers the final blow, asking if Jamie will return to Lallybroch and musing as to whether soldiers would be posted there, looking for Red Jamie. At this point, Jamie is trapped. He will not risk danger to his family again and agrees to her demand that he will come to her room that night.

Jamie does as he has been ordered, entering Geneva’s room under cover of darkness, to find her sitting on the bed in a white lace nightdress, her hair unbound. She calls him Jamie, which he forbids, telling her that since she has brought him there by threats against his family, she is not to call him by the same name they do. He tells her she may call him Alex, as it is his name as well. She replies by ordering him to disrobe. After sneaking small looks as he begins to do so, Jamie gives her permission to watch him undress. It is at that point that we see her haughty demeanour begin to slip. She gasps at the sight of the scars on his back and when faced with a naked Jamie before her, expresses vulnerability and fear, whispering that she doesn’t know what to do. Jamie tells her that she can still change her mind, but she replies that she wants to do this for herself, wanting her first time to be with someone like Jamie. He seems to react to this: no doubt remembering his own first time with Claire. There are parallels with the wedding night throughout the scene: Claire too had demanded that Jamie take off his shirt, as she wanted to look at him. When Geneva asks Jamie to show her how it’s done and asking if it will hurt much, he answers that it will all right as long as he takes his time.

The following sex scene between the two characters has caused as much of a stir online as the same scene did in the novel. While the contentious moment in the book (where Geneva changes her mind at the last minute and Jamie does not stop) has been removed from the television version, fans are still divided as to the morals in this scene. Some fans have criticised the action for being too sexy, that Jamie looks too much like he is enjoying it; others argue that it is merely an act that Jamie has been forced to perform by blackmail, but even so, he takes care to ensure that she isn’t hurt in the process. The dialogue after, when he asks if he did in fact hurt her seems to support the latter argument, as well as being another parallel to the wedding night in season 1. 

When Geneva tells him that she loves him, Jamie is quick to deny this. He tells her that she only thinks that because of the feelings that have been aroused in her body; but that love is when you give your heart and soul to another and they give theirs in return. It is yet another reminder to Jamie of what he has lost. 

A few months have passed before the next scene, when a heavily pregnant Geneva, now Lady Ellesmere, returns to Helwater. Jamie and the other grooms have come to attend to the coach and Geneva, with her hand on her belly, looks backwards over her shoulder at Jamie, as she hurries inside with her sister. The glance is enough: an unsettled Jamie suspects that he is the true father of the baby Geneva carries. 

Back in the 20th century again, Fiona Graham presents Claire with a gift: the pearls that Jamie had given to her on their wedding night. Claire had given them to Mrs Graham years before, she tells the younger woman and Fiona replies that her grandmother had also spoken of their special friendship and that while the pearls had been left to her, she knew that Mrs Graham would want Claire to have them back. 

An emotional Claire is sincere in her thanks and Fiona leaves her to her thoughts. This is a complex scene to play: the pearls represented something Claire had lost and never thought to see again, much like the search for Jamie has awakened feelings of hope, when she had assumed for so many years that he was lost to her forever.  But if the search is successful, it will bring another loss, by leaving Brianna behind. Indeed, as Claire enters the study, she is unable to share Brianna’s excitement at the recently discovered ship manifests in Edinburgh. Brianna asks if she is all right, calling her Mama, something which she hasn’t done for years. It is a further jolt for Claire - the two are getting closer: could she allow Brianna to be lost to her? 

It is a question that Brianna has wondered as well. Sitting by the fire with Roger, she announces herself to be a terrible person. Ever since being told about Jamie, the wall between the two women has come down and now that they are getting closer to finding him, Brianna is afraid of her own loss, with Claire’s likely departure into the past, as well as being afraid for Claire and the dangers of making another trip through the stones. 

Roger comments that this only makes Brianna a daughter who loves her mother, but that he must be a terrible person as well, given that he doesn’t want to find Jamie either if it means that Brianna will go back to Boston. Impulsively, Brianna kisses him, a move that they both deem “unexpected.”

Jamie is in his quarters when a distraught Lady Isobel knocks on the door. He must get the horses and prepare the carriage, she tells him. Geneva is about to give birth and all is not well. The mercy dash to Ellesmere ensues, with the family arriving in time for the birth. Jamie questions one of the servants as to how both mother and child are faring, to be told that Geneva is still bleeding but that the boy is fine and healthy.  He allows himself a brief moment of carefully concealed joy. 

It is shortlived, however. Later, he comes across a sobbing Isobel, who tells him that Geneva is dead. She had been sitting up holding the baby and laughing, but the bleeding had returned and they had been unable to stop it. Jamie moves forward to comfort her, but is slapped across the face. Isobel knows that he is the baby’s father, as Geneva had told her. Any further conversation is halted though, by the arrival of another servant announcing trouble and both Jamie and Isobel run for the house.

The Earl of Ellesmere is in a rage. He declares Geneva to be a whore, and since she has given him a bastard, he refuses to grieve for her. He is holding a sharp letter opener in one hand and the baby in the other. Lord Dunsany is incensed too, refusing to let his lost daughter’s reputation be sullied in this way. He draws a pistol and aims it at the Earl. Jamie intervenes, telling Geneva’s father he needs to give him the weapon, for the baby’s sake. After a moment, Lord Dunsany does so and Jamie advances towards the Earl. 

Refusing the entreaties of Lady Dunsany and the threats of Lord Dunsany to give up the child, the Earl yells that he will kill the boy before he will allow that to happen. He moves the letter opener towards the baby’s throat and in one swift motion, Jamie shoots the Earl dead. Rushing over to the child which has landed on the floor along with the body of Ellesmere, Jamie picks up his son and is rewarded with a brief look, where the young boy’s eyes stare straight back at him. The depth of emotion that passes fleetingly over Jamie’s face is beautiful - Sam Heughan is a master of expressing so much without saying a word. 

Back at Helwater, Isobel is walking with the baby when she encounters Jamie on the estate. She tells him that they have named the child William, but that she calls him Willie. Of course, she cannot know that this was Jamie’s brother’s name and he doesn’t tell her, saying only that it is a fine name. Isobel apologises for her behaviour towards him, saying that she had been angry, looking for someone to blame. She admits that Geneva had been a difficult woman and that Jamie had been kind to her. She moves away as Lady Dunsany approaches, but it is enough time for Jamie to speak briefly to his son, telling the baby not to worry, because he is there. 

After telling Jamie that the official ruling by the coroner is that a grieving Earl had met his end by misadventure and that the family is grateful to him, Lady Dunsany admits that she knows Jamie to be one of Major Grey’s Jacobite prisoners and that she is certain that Lord Dusany could arrange for Jamie to be pardoned so that he could return to Scotland. Jamie’s initial joy at this possibility is quickly tempered by a look at his sleeping son. As quickly as his freedom is given back, he chooses to lose it again. He tells Lady Dunsany that he would prefer to stay in service for now, as times are hard for his family and that the money he has been able to send them has been welcomed. Of course, we know the real reason for Jamie’s wanting to stay: he cannot yet add Willie to the things he has lost. He cannot bear to lose a third child. Lady Dunsany agrees to his request, but tells Jamie that when he is ready to leave, he only has to ask. 

More years pass and in 1764, Jamie is leading young Willie around on a horse, watched by Lady Dunsany and a family friend. Lady Dunsany comments that Willie spends so much time in the company of their groom that he is beginning to look like him. 

Jamie overhears and later, when Willie is helping him to wipe down the carriage, he catches sight of himself in the glass. He realises the similarity of expression between the two of them and realises that it is time to do what he has been avoiding: he must leave Helwater.

In Edinburgh, the much hoped for revelations of the ship manifests is not to be: the documents are from the 1600s, not the 1700s. There are no more records to be found and they have reached a dead end. When sitting in the hotel bar later, where a Robert Burns poem is being recited by a female entertainer, Brianna notices that everyone is staring at them and asks why. Claire explains that it is because the two women are not supposed to be sitting at the bar with the men. Roger suggests that they could move to the lounge, but Claire is angry: it’s 1968 she says, and she and Brianna have as much right to sit there as any man. Roger realises the true cause of her anger and vows that this is just a setback: there must be records somewhere and they can search every port of call on the Western Coast until they find what they need. Brianna agrees, emphasising that they will find Jamie. But Claire looks towards the entertainer, who has just recited the line, “Freedom and whisky gang thegither”, remarking how she used to quote that very line to Jamie. Brianna tells her that she will again: they are not giving up. But Claire is. She tells them of Mrs Graham’s warning - that she couldn’t spend her life chasing a ghost. Raising her glass, she makes an emotional toast - “To all of those we have lost” - and after swallowing the whisky as the Jamie and Claire theme plays briefly in the background, announces that it is time to go home. 

The line is echoed in the next scene, as Jamie tells Willie, “It’s time for me to go home.” The little boy is confused, telling Jamie that Helwater is his home. When Jamie disagrees, Willie makes the same demand that his mother had made - that Jamie has to do what he says. Petulantly, he kicks over buckets when he is told ‘no’, ignoring Jamie’s demand that he stop. Jamie reacts angrily, smacking the boy’s behind. When Willie retorts that he hates him, Jamie says “And I’m not very fond of you either just now, ye wee bastard.” It is something that he immediately regrets and apologises for. Sad now, Willie asks if Jamie truly has to leave, throwing his arms around his father’s neck when Jamie nods. Jamie returns the hug with feeling, whispering words of Gaelic telling his son not to cry, because it will be all right. The camera focuses on Jamie’s face - which is another beautiful portrayal of grief and quiet desperation.

In the next scene, John Grey has come to make his own farewell. He tells Jamie that he is sorry to lose his chess partner, but that Jamie has come to the right decision. Willie has the same cock of the head and set to his shoulders, as well as the Fraser eyes, John says, adding that it wouldn’t be long before Willie noticed it himself. Jamie asks John to walk with him, so that he can ask a favour. He asks John to act as father to Willie, to look out for him and spend time with him. In return, Jamie offers what he knows John wants: his body. 

This is a huge offer for him to make, given the horrors of Wentworth. But again, Jamie is prepared to lose his sense of self to protect those he loves: first Claire, now Willie. John is astounded and refuses, saying that while he will probably want Jamie until the day he dies and tempted as he is, he could never accept, adding that he would feel his honour insulted if he hadn’t understood the depth of feeling that prompted the offer. John then shares news of his own: he is to be married to the Lady Isobel. When Jamie expresses disbelief, John tells him that there is much more to marriage than carnal love and that he is genuinely fond of Isobel. Besides, he says, this will allow him to truly care for Willie as a father. Jamie expresses his gratitude, holding out his hand and tearfully placing his other hand over the top of John’s when he takes it. This is the opposite response to when John had touched Jamie’s hand in Ardsmuir and also a departure from the book, (where Jamie had given John a gentle kiss) but the effect is moving, nonetheless. The two are parting as equals and most importantly, as lifelong friends. 

That night, Willie comes to Jamie’s quarters saying that he wanted to see him and asking if he can stay. Jamie agrees and Willie watches as Jamie begins this preparations for prayer, lighting a candle and putting out the image of St Anthony. When Willie remarks that his grandmother says that only stinking Papists light candles over heathen images, Jamie tells his son that he is a stinking Papist. He explains why he lights the candle, adding that St Anthony is not a heathen image, but the patron saint of lost things, so Jamie prays for the people he has lost. Willie asks who those people are and Jamie answers honestly: his own brother, Willie, his sister, his godfather, his wife. 

When Willie counters that Jamie doesn’t have a wife, he replies “Not anymore, but I remember her” and the Jamie and Claire theme begins again in the background. Jamie tells Willie that one day he will find a wife, or perhaps, his wife will find him. Again, Jamie is remembering Claire. 

Willie announces his wish to be a stinking Papist too, so Jamie baptises him William James, telling the boy that it is his special Papist name, one that he himself has. He also gives Willie a carved snake with his name on it, to remember Jamie by. It is a carbon copy of Sawny: the snake that his own brother Willie had given him. When Willie says that he has nothing for Jamie, his father tells him not to worry, as he will always remember him.

The final moments of the episode feature simultaneous losses and farewells in two centuries, as a cover of “Hard Rain” plays in the background. The lyrics are poignant and fit both storylines. As Claire slowly takes down the research timeline in the Wakefield study, Jamie is making a heartbreaking farewell to Willie, Isobel and John. Isobel embraces him, whispering that she and John will take good care of his son. Jamie is barely holding his emotions in check as he mounts his horse. 

Meanwhile, Brianna, suitcases in hand, is sadly looking around the house, pausing briefly in front of a display of Culloden portraits and St Andrew’s flag. As Jamie begins to ride away, Willie, with John in pursuit, runs after the horse, begging Jamie not to go. Alone, Roger sits in front of the fireplace, a wistful look on his face and the toy aeroplane of his childhood in his hands. The images changes to a real aeroplane taking off, as Brianna and Claire,each deep in thought, head back towards Boston.

But the final moments of the episode belong entirely to Sam Heughan. He conveys a man utterly bereft, fighting every instinct within him to turn around and return to his son (who is standing, fists clenched in the same way that his father does when worried about something). Willie is distraught, and as the lyrics “It’s hard” build to an emotional crescendo, the camera closes in on Jamie’s face. Just perhaps, this is the greatest loss of all.

A lot of ground is covered in this episode and each moment is beautifully portrayed. It is no mean feat to convey such depth of feeling in multiple characters across multiple centuries, but the Outlander team has done just that and done it brilliantly. The hard rain is indeed falling and we are desperate for some sunshine! 

This recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She remains in awe of Sam Heughan’s acting ability and knows she is echoing the thoughts of many when she says that she hopes some major awards are not too far away!