Tuesday, September 19, 2017

“And somehow, life goes on” A recap of season 3 episode 2 by your Aussie Blogging Lass


Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown



Yield, submit, succumb, crumble, sacrifice. All these are synonyms for the word “surrender” and all are on display in this aptly titled second episode of season 3. Each of the main characters must make a personal surrender at some point during the hour and as always, it is powerful stuff.

The episode opens with a wanted flyer being nailed to a door. This is the third time that viewers have seen a picture of Jamie as a wanted man: in episode 8 of season 1, he was the mysterious highlander in the 1940s, suspected of abducting Claire Randall; in season 2, Claire noticed his poster whilst in the company of the English soldiers prior to meeting Hugh Monroe. Now it is a wild version of Jamie with long hair and a beard, but this figure is known only as the “Dunbonnet.” It is a brief but effective reminder that Jamie has been hunted for many years, with the British in both centuries eager for his capture.

It is 1752 in Scotland now and Rabbie McNab, Jamie Murray and Fergus are stealing towards the Dovecote looking for a hidden pistol. This scene serves to show the false bravado of the now teenage Fergus. With the occasional Scottish “Aye” creeping into his French accent, he boasts to the other boys of his time before Culloden, regaling them with the story of how he once killed another man with a knife. Far from the traumatised, white-faced youngster we saw in season 2, this Fergus declares that he wishes he hadn’t been sent home, so that he could have fought at Culloden as well. While teenage boys are known for their exaggerated bragging in each other’s company, this scene is important foreshadowing of what is to come later in the episode, when Fergus’ over confidence leads to his ultimate sacrifice. 



The sound of redcoats in the courtyard results in the hasty re-hiding of the pistol and the boys rush back towards the house, just in time to see Ian Murray being dragged down the stone steps by an unnecessarily aggressive Corporal MacGregor. The officer in charge, one Captain Samuel Lewis, interrogates Ian and a heavily pregnant Jenny about the location of the “Dunbonnet”, hinting that he knows the notorious figure to be none other than Jamie and reminding them both of the severe penalties that come with knowingly concealing a fugitive. 


Despite their assurances that no sign of Jamie or any other Jacobite is to be found at Lallybroch and after refusing the offer of a substantial reward for information leading to the capture of “Red Jamie”, the officers leave with Ian in custody, but not before Fergus insults Corporal MacGregor for being a redcoat and betraying Scotland. 

As the redcoats and Ian leave, Jamie appears. But this is not a Jamie we have seen before. With long hair and beard hiding much of his face, this Jamie does not speak. Having hunted and killed a deer with his bow and arrow, Jamie brings the animal to Lallybroch for the family. As he enters the courtyard, the deer slung over his shoulder, his gaze falls on the woman facing away from him. In his mind it is Claire and he stares at her as she turns around. In reality, it is Jenny who speaks to him, shocked at his sudden appearance. Jamie’s gaze drops - Claire has gone. Defeated, he nods imperceptibly as Jenny gives him the news that the redcoats have again taken Ian away.

The conversation continues in the next scene while Jamie carves up the now skinned deer. Fergus tries to stir Jamie up with a plan to free Ian, while Jenny tries to joke that people will soon be singing ballads about the Dunbonnet. Neither approach works: Jamie is still mute and remote.


Jenny comments that she hasn’t been lying to the redcoats at all: so changed is his personality that Jamie Fraser hasn’t been at Lallybroch for a long time. Still Jamie will not look at her but merely hacks at the deer’s corpse as the scene ends, lost in his tortured thoughts. 

Back in Boston, Claire is also lost in her thoughts, but hers are more erotic. She pleasures herself in bed next to a sleeping Frank, who she imagines to be Jamie smiling back at her. 



The next morning, Claire reads the paper, as baby Brianna defies Dr Spock’s developmental milestones by turning over by herself at least a month early. Clad only in a towel after the boiler cuts out mid shower, Frank hears this news and we see a brief family scene, with Frank kissing Brianna and Claire laying a hand on Frank’s bare chest. It is the first gesture towards intimacy between the two that we have seen and we witness both Claire’s disquieted look and Frank’s hopeful one.

Jamie is gutting fish in his cave when the secret whistled signal announces the arrival of Fergus. Brandishing the pistol from the Dovecote, Fergus tells Jamie he wants to learn to shoot, so that he can be ready for the next rebellion. Jamie speaks at last: saying that there will be no rebellion and no fighting. This angers Fergus, who pushes Jamie and accuses him of being a coward. But Jamie will not rise to the bait. He hands the pistol back to Fergus, reminding the teenager that weapons are outlawed, and telling him to put it back and not touch it again. After a long look of disgust, Fergus leaves the cave. The scene further emphasises how removed Jamie is from the loved ones who remain in his life. He has surrendered to the loss of Claire and is merely going through the motions of living.

In the next scene, Jamie encounters Mary McNab taking clothes from the line. He walks slowly and uncertainly, refusing to meet her eye. His arrival is unexpected, she says, and Jamie mumbles that he has come to look at the ledgers, as Jenny had requested. Speaking is almost painful for him and we can clearly see the effect that his solitude has had on him. Once confident with man, woman or child alike, this Jamie is a shell of the man he once was.  A groan from inside the house indicates what is happening before Mary announces it - the baby has decided to come early. Jamie heads inside to wait, while Fergus, Rabbie and young Jamie work in the yard. As Jenny’s screams are heard by the boys, a raven appears on the roof. Superstition states that ravens are messengers of death, Rabbie says, predicting that the baby will die as a result. Immediately the boys head to the Dovecote, where Fergus loads the pistol the way he had seen Murtagh do with the Highland soldiers. Running back to the courtyard, Fergus takes aim and fires. For one who didn’t know how to shoot, his aim is good and the bird falls. Jamie stalks from the house and takes the pistol from him, admonishing Fergus for disobeying his orders. As Fergus stares him down defiantly, Mary McNab appears to announce the arrival of a healthy baby boy, gentling taking the pistol from Jamie’s hand. As Jamie returns to the house, it is Mary’s turn to admonish Rabbie, asking her son, in a far sharper tone than she uses with anyone else, what he was thinking and telling him not to cause any more trouble. None are aware that the shot has been heard by the nearby redcoats.

Inside Jenny’s room, Jamie is holding his baby nephew. Jenny announces that the baby is to be called Ian, named for the man who sired him and comments that Jamie has always looked good with a bairn in his arms. (The last time we saw this was in season 1 and it is confusing that there is no sign of the little girl who Claire helped Jenny to deliver. 


Maggie should now be around 8 years old, but she has not been mentioned and her non-appearance is never explained. In the book, Jenny and Ian have 5 living children and have also lost one by the time young Ian is born. While most of the Murray clan were born after Culloden and it is conceivable that they are not needed for the series, the absence of Maggie still seems strange.) Jenny tries to engage Jamie in conversation about love and marriage, suggesting that Mary McNab would be a good woman and “young enough for bairns”. She wants to see her brother happy, she says, and that his own lack of children is a tragedy. But Jamie is having none of this. Using her formal name of Janet, he shuts down any such talk, saying that he will never marry again. He takes young Ian from the room, suggesting that it is time the baby met his brother. But as he walks down the corridor, he hears the redcoats entering the house, demanding that the weapon be found. 

The fear in this scene is palpable. Downstairs, the boys are rendered mute at the sight of the redcoats charging up the stairs. Jamie hides desperately in an adjoining room, willing young Ian to be quiet. Meantime Jenny, with amazing composure given the fact that she has just given birth and knowing that her brother and son are hiding nearby, confronts the redcoats searching her room. Denying that there is any weapon in the house, she tries to convince Captain Lewis that his officers are mistaken. The redcoat notices the bloodied sheets on the floor and asks if Jenny has recently given birth. 


With appropriate emotion, in reality from fear rather than grief, Jenny lies and tells the men that her child was born dead and that the midwife has taken the body away to prepare it for burial. Next door, Jamie holds the very-much-alive baby in one hand, and his dirk in the other, as the shadow of Corporal MacGregor can be seen on the wall. Captain Lewis sends MacGregor in search of the midwife to verify Jenny’s claim, and just as she calls out desperately to stop them, Mary MacNab walks into the room, holding the pistol. She hands it to the officers, saying that it belonged to her late husband and that she had kept it to give her comfort. Quickly following Jenny’s lead that the baby is dead, Mary also claims to be the one who fired the shot, taking the blame for shooting the raven because of the highland superstition. MacGregor grabs her roughly, asking Captain Lewis if she is to be taken into custody. But the Captain refuses. They have the weapon, he says, and the officers leave, but not without a warning that if there are any further violations, there will be no mercy shown. Everyone begins to breathe a sigh of relief, but as Jamie moves, a creaking floorboard gives way. MacGregor hears it and is about to investigate, but is called away by Captain Lewis. The danger is over for now. Jamie returns the baby to Jenny, who tells him that the officers won’t rest until he is swinging from a rope. She asks him to go to the cemetery to dig a mock grave for the baby, in case they come back to look. Once again, Jamie doesn’t speak, but the look of pain on his face gives away his emotions.

Claire is watching Frank sleep. A decision made, she edges towards him and strokes his face. When he wakes, he asks what her the matter is. Her answer, “I miss my husband” is deliberately ambiguous, but Frank chooses to ignore this and they begin to make love. Claire has always been a sexual woman and she finally surrenders to this need. But her eyes are closed throughout their lovemaking and we are left in little doubt as to who she is imagining beneath her. 

Back at Lallybroch, Fergus is in the yard tending the goats when the redcoats return with Ian. Corporal MacGregor is at his obnoxious best, threatening that they will find “Red Jamie” and then return for Ian and his whole family. Ian doesn’t rise to the bait, but MacGregor sneers at Fergus as he leaves. It is enough to send Fergus off towards Jamie’s cave, and the redcoats watch him leaving from their hiding place in nearby bushes. But Fergus is aware that he is being followed and leads MacGregor and his companion in circles, until at last he confronts them, telling them that they are harrassing his family and to leave them alone. Hunting rabbits nearby, Jamie hears the confrontation getting more heated. Fergus is swearing at the soldiers now and making insulting gestures. Jamie mutters warnings under his breath, begging Fergus not to antagonise them, but it is to no avail. Fergus is enjoying himself, until a third redcoat arrives on horseback and, thrown off balance, he falls to the ground. 


As a horrified Jamie watches, the men hold Fergus down and Corporal MacGregor cuts off his hand, ignoring the pleas of his companions that Fergus is “just a lad”,  then insisting that they leave the boy, not caring if he dies or not. 


Within seconds of the soldiers’ departure, Jamie is by Fergus’ side. Taking off his belt, he uses it as a tourniquet, reassuring Fergus that he watched “Milady” do the same thing many times. It is the first time we see the decisive Jamie return, caring for Fergus as he scoops the boy up into the arms and heads for Lallybroch. 

It is night time and Jamie paces the floor downstairs. Jenny soon joins him, telling Jamie that his quick action saved Fergus’ life. But Jamie is distraught. He should have stopped the soldiers, he says. Jenny reminds him that had he done so, they would all be dead, but the weight of what has happened is the final straw for Jamie. He surrenders at last to the grief that he has been keeping out for so long and collapses, sobbing to the floor. Jenny holds his head and strokes his hair, and finally Jamie allows himself to be comforted. It is beautiful work by both Sam Heughan and Laura Donnelly. The bond between the two is as strong as ever and we see the strength that the Fraser siblings draw from each other. 

Shortly afterwards, Jamie comes to see Fergus, who apologises to him, saying that he had tried to lead the soldiers away from the cave. But Jamie responds that it is he who is sorry, telling Fergus that he has now been reminded that he has something to fight for. Despite the pain, Fergus sits up at this, a ghost of a smile on his face. “There you are, Milord,” he says. Jamie is coming back to them at last and the two share a look of understanding. Fergus reminds Jamie of the bargain they had made in Paris and what would happen should he lose a hand whilst in Jamie’s service. But Jamie hasn’t forgotten. He had promised to support Fergus for the rest of his life, and, handing Fergus a glass of whisky vows that Fergus can trust him to keep the bargain. “I have always trusted you, Milord,” Fergus responds, adding that he is lucky, having become a man of leisure in one stroke. The two smile at each other, their relationship mended. 

In Boston, Frank and Claire are hosting a dinner party for Millie and Jerry Nelson. Lighthearted small talk about desserts give way to innuendo and once the guests have gone, Claire takes the innuendo a step further. With a nod to the opening episode of season 1, where “Mrs Randall had forgotten her underwear”, Claire removes hers provocatively. It has the desired effect and the two begin to make love on the floor in front of the fire. But this time, Frank wants more. Claire’s eyes are tightly shut once again and he demands that she look at him. When Claire doesn’t, he stops, demanding to know why she won’t open her eyes. Claire tries to placate him, saying that it doesn’t mean anything and that she is enjoying it, but Frank is not convinced. Annoyed now, Claire sits up, bringing things to an immediate halt and saying that if Frank wasn’t in the mood he should have said. 



But Frank is determined to bring the problem out into the open. “Claire, when I’m with you, I’m with you,” he says. “But you’re with him.” Claire cannot disagree. Both have surrendered to the truth: the ghost of Jamie is ever present.

By another fire, in another century, Ian and Jamie are having a heart-to-heart. Ian talks of his missing leg and how it still pains him, sometimes waking him in the middle of the night. He remarks that Fergus will no doubt feel the same, feeling a pain in a part of him that is lost. But then Ian gets to the truth of what he wants to say. “That’s just a hand,” he says. “Claire was your heart.” The two share a long look, Ian raising his glass of whisky to his brother-in-law. It is a lovely moment of understanding between them. Wandering the halls shortly afterwards, Jamie notices a deep gash in the family crest that hangs on the wall. He asks Mary McNab, who is passing by with a blanket for Fergus, who is responsible. Mary tells him that the soldiers did it when they were searching the house. At last Jamie voices what they have all known for some time: the redcoats are not going to stop until they have found the Dunbonnet. It is time for another surrender.

In the next scene, an incredulous Jenny is resisting Jamie’s plan. He wishes her to turn him in, so that she will get the reward money. The soldiers will leave the family alone then, believing them loyal to the crown. “To hell with the Crown,” Jenny retorts. But Jamie will not be deterred. He tells Jenny that she is to contact Captain Lewis, and tell him that she has heard from her brother. When Jamie arrives for a visit, the soldiers will be there to arrest him. Jenny tries to dissuade him, saying that he will be hanged. But the determined Jamie of old will not let them risk their lives for him any longer. Ian tries for a moment of comfort, saying that British are no longer executing Jacobites and that Jamie will probably only be imprisoned. But Jenny is not convinced, remarking to Jamie that he must surely have seen the inside of enough prisons in his lifetime. Jamie’s reply is heartfelt and poignant. “Little difference to the prison I live in now,” he says. We are left in no doubt that Ian was right - Claire was indeed Jamie’s heart and without her, life has lost its joy. 

With Jenny unable to persuade Jamie to change his mind, plans for his capture begin. Mary McNab arrives at the cave, bringing Jamie a final feast from Jenny. She asks Jamie if he minds the company and he replies that it will be welcome. She enters the cave and here begins one of the most beautiful scenes in the episode.  


As Mary removes six years of beard and hair growth, Jamie praises her act of turning over the pistol to the redcoats, telling her that she was brave to do so. “It was the only thing I could do,” she replies. Next, he thanks her for the barbering and after telling her that he will leave the cave the next day, goes to wash up by the river. 

When he returns, he finds Mary dressed only in her shift. Immediately suspicious, he asks whose idea it was, Mary’s or Jenny’s. Mary asks if it matters. Jamie answers that no, it doesn’t matter, as nothing is going to happen. If Mary won’t leave the cave, he says, then he will. But Mary stops him, with a hand on his back. She tells Jamie that no one had told her to do what she is doing now. She knows what it was like between Jamie and Claire and she doesn’t want him to think that he is betraying that. She reaches gently for his hand and Jamie begins to turn, warily, towards her. Mary wants to share something different, she says, possibly something less, but something they both need. Jamie looks at her now, as Mary speaks of them both needing something to keep them whole, as they each move forward in their lives. She touches his cheek and this time, Jamie doesn’t pull away. Instead, he moves towards her, but he is uncertain. He hasn’t done this in a very long time, he tells her. “Neither have I,” she replies, letting her shift fall from her shoulders. They kiss briefly, his eyes closed. Mary tells Jamie that he can look at her if he wishes. With tears welling up, Jamie says that she is a bonny lass, but it is something that he always does. Finally, he allows the tears to fall and he surrenders to his own needs. It is a truly beautiful scene, full of tenderness, vulnerability, sorrow and release. There aren’t really enough accolades for Sam Heughan and Emma Campbell-Jones here. The whole scene is pure perfection. 

Claire’s voiceover is back! As Claire pushes a slightly older (and gorgeous!) Brianna in the pram, we hear her thoughts. Although she has thrown herself into her role as a mother, she needs something more. Once, she says, she had loved a man, borne a child, healed the sick and been part of something greater than herself. It is a lifestyle that she wants again and the small knife from the kitchen morphs into a surgical scalpel. As a new scene begins, Claire Randall, medical student, introduces herself to Dr Simms, the first year anatomy professor. But her enthusiasm is soon halted by Dr Simms’ condescending tone. He has been told there is both a woman and a negro in the year’s intake, sarcastically musing as to how modern the university has become. Soon other students begin to enter the lecture theatre, looking suspiciously at Claire. She moves to take her seat, but her first attempt is blocked by a young man who childishly refuses to let her pass. 


Undeterred she moves to another row, ignoring the whispers and hostile glances from the others. At last another man enters, who momentarily takes the focus off Claire. Soon enough, the aforementioned “negro” sits next to Claire, introducing himself as Joe Abernathy. The two shake hands and smile. An alliance is formed, one which book readers will be looking forward to immensely. With a final deliberate insult to Claire, Dr Simms invites the “gentlemen” to begin the lesson. 

Preparing for bed, Claire and Frank briefly discuss Brianna’s lost bunny rabbit before bidding each other good night with a friendly smile. Claire turns out her bedside lamp and we watch Frank watch her, his smile fading. The camera pans back and we see two single beds. Frank too has surrendered to the inevitable. The “new beginning” that they had hopefully spoken of at Brianna’s birth has ended. There is to be no great rekindling of the romance between them and they will now be parents, not lovers. 




But the final surrender of the episode is twofold, occurring back at Lallybroch. Jenny is scattering seed to the chickens when Jamie suddenly “appears” in the courtyard, announcing that he has come home. He walks towards her, smiling, arms outstretched, playing the part of the prodigal son to the letter. Jenny is not smiling, the tears falling as the soldiers appear to arrest him for high treason. Jamie keeps up the pretence, playacting at being outraged that his sister would betray him. Jenny’s voice breaks as she plays her part, telling Jamie that it is his own fault and that he has brought it on himself. Captain Lewis presents her with the reward money, congratulating her on her service to the crown. Responding to Jamie’s cries of “blood money”, Jenny calls after him, “You gave me no choice, brother. And I’ll never forgive you.” It is true, of course. 


Jamie has surrendered to the English, to save his family from persecution, while Jenny has surrendered to Jamie’s wishes, although it has broken her heart to do so. They share one last look, before the soldiers wrestle Jamie into the back of the wagon and Jenny runs inside. The forgotten “dunbonnet” lies in the mud in the courtyard, as a now manacled Jamie begins the journey to his next prison. He looks outside, as bagpipe music seems to play in the distance.

The music is not from the eighteenth century, but the twentieth. Claire is walking over a bridge, when she sees a lone piper. He is playing, aptly, Scotland the Brave. Overcome, she pauses. The longing is clear on her face, as she reaches into her purse and makes a donation, before continuing her own journey.

This episode covered so much ground and was beautifully written, acted and directed. We are left under no illusion as to the personal surrenders that each of the main characters have made and it remains to be seen what will happen to them as a result.




This recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She hesitates to say that she has seen the name “McGregor” on her own family tree, but hopes that the spelling of Mc rather than Mac renders those ancestors Irish, rather than Scottish, as she wants no connection to the horrible Corporal MacGregor whatsoever!!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Josh Horowitz brings Jamie to the future for couples therapy!


Hilarious 



“Life's Rich Tapestry - survival, loss, hope, despair.” A recap of season 3 episode 1 by your Aussie Blogging Lass


Outlander Homepage Originals By Susie Brown




We really shouldn’t complain. After all, as season 3 begins, Jamie and Claire are about to endure 20 years of separation, whereas Droughtlander has lasted a mere 427 (or perhaps 428, depending on your location in the world) days by comparison. Yet fans felt every single one of those days since Jamie sent Claire back through the stones and thus expectations were high when the familiar theme music heralded the official beginning of a new season.  Would the first episode live up to them? 

As the rich vocals and stirring vocals of the opening credits die away, a tattered St Andrew’s Cross flutters in the breeze. Viewers had been promised the Battle of Culloden and the episode begins with its brutal aftermath. There is no gentle ‘easing in period’ to the first episode of season 3. Bodies are piled high, the decimated Highland army lie dead or dying on the unforgiving soil. English soldiers move amongst them, collecting up swords and slaughtering any man who still breathes. Suddenly the camera pans in on two familiar bodies - one Highlander and one English soldier. Jamie Fraser’s eyes flutter open and he takes a ragged breath.


The camera takes on a blurred dreamlike quality that matches Jamie’s unfocused gaze, as he slips in and out of consciousness. The narrative alternates rapidly between the reality of a seriously wounded Jamie, who watches as a kinsman is slaughtered by a nearby redcoat and his fragmented, delirious recollections of parts of the battle. In brief glimpses, viewers see the overconfident Bonnie Prince before the battle begins, as well as the desperate charge of the Jacobites towards their enemy. 

Night falls and snow drops gently onto Jamie’s face. He licks a fragment of a snowflake and swallows painfully, as the redcoats continue their examination of the bodies. Jamie’s visions continue. This time, he is reliving the moments immediately after Claire’s departure, his grief raw as he touches the cold stone and picks up her shawl. Then he returns to the battlefield to find chaos all around him. Charles Stuart is panicked and indecisive, his generals at odds with each other as to the best course of action. As he did so often in season 2, Jamie tries to advise the Bonnie Prince, who once again ignores him. Jamie’s disgust is obvious as he turns away, while the camera closes in on a fearful Charles’ face. 

With or without an official call to charge, the battle begins and is brutal in its intensity. Jamie is locked in a struggle with a redcoat, finally succeeding in defeating the British soldier as his godfather appears miraculously at his side. It is perhaps the one brief lighthearted moment of the exchange. Murtagh grins at Jamie, who immediately asks whether Murtagh has been off ‘enjoying a wee whisky’. 


Murtagh answers by knifing another redcoat coming towards them, and telling Jamie that the Lallybroch men have gotten safely away. Helping each other to their feet, the two men leap back into the fray, as the Highlanders charge towards the British. It is certain slaughter, yet Jamie charges forward, as the men around him are felled by either bullets or bayonets. Then the action slows, the lighting changes and somehow Jamie seems to stand apart from the other men as the familiar face of Jack Randall comes into view. Jamie almost smiles. The longed for confrontation with his ultimate foe is finally here. The two men make eye contact before lunging towards each other.

This is a brief and horrific moment of reckoning. Jack’s sword slices Jamie’s leg; Jamie’s dirk finds Jack’s belly. As the haunting music underscores their battle, both wounded men swing their weapons past the point of exhaustion. Both are grievously wounded, until in a final macabre dance, Jack staggers towards Jamie.


He collapses on his shoulder and both men fall. It perhaps the last irony that in his death, it is the weight of Randall’s body that keeps Jamie alive, acting as a human tourniquet for the wound he has inflicted. From season 1, every touch by Jack has caused pain to Jamie’s body and soul. This final touch inflicts an additional pain, as it denies Jamie the death that he had expected. In Wentworth Prison, Jamie had said that Randall owed him a death. It appears he still does. 

In the eerie silence of the night, Jamie still lies on the field. He sees a rabbit, hopping amongst the bodies. But then his gaze focuses on an approaching figure. It is Claire, clad in white, an angel of mercy amongst the dead. She reaches Jamie and caresses his cheek. “Are you alive?” she asks. It would be a perfect moment of death and one that Jamie clearly wants. But the figure of Claire morphs into that of Rupert Mackenzie, who has found his kinsman on the battlefield. Declaring that he will not leave Jamie to be slaughtered in the mud, he asks if Jamie can stand. Randall’s body is pushed away and the blood flow begins once more. As Rupert and another highlander drag Jamie away, it looks for all the world as if his death is imminent. Indeed, he asks Rupert to leave him be. But Rupert is in charge now, and viewers are relieved to see one whole and seemingly uninjured man from the Mackenzie clan, still capable of making a joke about whisky and Jamie’s inability to drink him under the table. Jamie’s fingers drop Claire’s dragonfly talisman, which is left on the battlefield as the surviving men attempt to find shelter and escape. At this point, the timeline shifts and we are in Boston in 1948. 

Claire and Frank are walking around their new home. With echoes of the very first episode of season 1, they are uncertain and nervous around each other, attempting light hearted conversation as they discuss the location of Frank’s study and Claire’s position as “lady of the house.” The mention of Claire “rustling up” dishes in their new kitchen indicates already the role she is expected to play - that of domestic housewife. It is not a role that Claire is either used to or comfortable with, and this is a theme visited many times throughout the rest of the Boston part of the episode’s storyline. 

We soon see Claire do battle unsuccessfully with the stove, until the fireplace in the living room gives her an idea. With an affectionate look at the hearth, she hits on a solution and we next see her arriving home in the car with a load of firewood. A new neighbour, Millie Nelson, immediately displays good old fashioned Boston hospitality and helps Claire inside with the wood, marvelling at Claire’s ability to cook over the open flame. A word of warning is inserted into proceedings, as Millie embarks on a discussion of men and their expectations of their wives. She remarks that Claire is lucky to have such a progressive, open minded husband. When Millie says, “You’re lucky. You won’t find another man like Frank again”, we see Claire close her eyes briefly in pain. We know, although Millie does not, it is not Frank she is thinking of, but Jamie. 

Back in the 18th century, Rupert is giving Jamie a drink. The survivors of the battle are huddled together in a cottage somewhere, most gravely wounded. Rupert and another man, Gordon Killick, discuss the possibility of making a run for it, an option that is quickly dismissed. Jamie listens as the two men outline the hopelessness of their situation and realises that the Lallybroch men may not be safe after all. The healthy English soldiers would have no trouble hunting down the bedraggled escapees from the battlefield. He stares into the distance. There is nothing he can do.

Perspective shifts again and an obviously pregnant Claire is staring into the mirror. She is preparing to “look pretty to meet the boss”, a task that she is obviously not relishing. The following scene shows exactly why. Frank’s new boss is a misogynist of the highest order, taking exception to Claire’s opinions on American politics and admonishing Frank for allowing his wife to read the Globe. His opinion on women at university or at work are scathing, dismissing both female physicians in general and Claire’s combat nursing during the war in particular, with a condescending remark about how relieved Claire must have been to return to more important and fitting domestic concerns. Somehow, Claire manages to control her temper, biting her tongue as she grips Frank’s hand and declares her happiness at her impending maternal bliss. The look on her face shows her true feelings, but of course, this is not noticed by the patriarchal group around her. It is increasingly obvious that Claire is not fitting into her new life at all. 

As Jamie grows progressively weaker, he asks about Murtagh, who hasn’t been seen since his brief appearance by Jamie’s side. Rupert asks the other men, but no one knows of Murtagh’s fate, having lost sight of him during the fighting. The comment is made that they hope that Murtagh is already dead, when suddenly the doors open and two English officers enter the cottage. The leader introduces himself as Lord Melton and Rupert responds with his own introduction as Rupert Mackenzie of Leoch. It is odd to see someone other than Jamie in charge. While leadership suits Rupert (and it is a transformation that Grant O’Rourke portrays beautifully) it also highlights the desperate nature of Jamie’s condition. Without preamble, Melton informs Rupert that the men who engaged in the recent treasonous rebellion are to be executed and asks if anyone wishes to declare their innocence. With a smirk befitting the hopelessness of their cause, Rupert speaks for the group, declaring them to be “traitors all”, and asking if they will be hanged. 




Melton replies that they will be shot like soldiers, the implication being that this is somehow the most noble death that the men could expect. Resigned, Rupert nods and thanks Melton, whilst the younger members of the party look at each other in horror. Melton gives the men an hour, offering them writing materials to compose a letter. It is a formal show of English honour and highlights that Melton is a man of duty, a fact that is soon to become very important. 

Time shifts again and back in Boston, Claire is making breakfast. She has mastered the stove now and is going through the motions of a domestic morning, when she is distracted by the bird outside the window. The music underscores her thoughts as we see first her fixation with the small creature, and then her desolation as it flies away, free, while she herself is trapped. She and Frank make a pretence of the happy family meal, beginning by commenting on the abomination of tea bags and the abundance of post war bacon. But the mood is shortlived. Claire announces her intention to apply for citizenship, due to her inability to identify with being English and her wish for their child to have a real home. The mention of their child is an important emotional moment for Frank, but it quickly dissipates when Claire flinches as he tries to touch her pregnant belly. The tension escalates quickly.


Franks lists the importance of their British heritage, but the mention of the Stuarts hits a nerve with Claire. She repeats that citizenship is something she wants to do, but Frank dismisses the idea as unnecessary, given that his employment gives them both indefinite residency. Claire says that it isn’t what the situation is about. Frank acknowledges this, attempting once more to touch her. Again, Claire pulls away and the anger mounts. Frank accuses Claire of using the pregnancy to keep him at a distance.  Frank asks Claire when she will come back from the past; she accuses him of having made her leave behind anything that ever mattered to her. Each inflicts their pain on the other, the accusations becoming more and more bitter, culminating in Claire throwing an ashtray at Frank. After a long stare, Frank puts on his jacket and delivers a final ultimatum. He did not force Claire to come to Boston, he says, nor will he force her to stay. There is a moment just before he leaves the house that parallels a similar breaking point in Jamie and Claire’s relationship in Paris, with each character standing at opposite ends of the same room. Emotionally exhausted, Frank leaves, leaving a distraught Claire to break down in sobs. Kudos must go to Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies here, for portraying the desolate nature of Claire and Frank’s already crumbling relationship so beautifully. 

It is kudos that is swiftly followed by more praise for Grant O’Rourke in his final scenes as Rupert Thomas Alexander Mackenzie. After entreating Melton for mercy for the youngest boys in the company and failing, Rupert tries to give them strength and comfort as they march outside to their deaths. This is followed by a determined farewell to the only other healthy man in the group, Gordon Killock, who after taking leave of an increasingly weakened Jamie, volunteers to be the next man to meet his own death. 

Left alone, Rupert and Jamie share a beautifully touching final scene. It is a masterclass in acting by Sam Heughan and Grant O’Rourke and one that leaves viewers (well, this one, at least!) an emotional wreck. Rupert reminisces about Angus, his voice breaking slightly as he expresses joy over seeing his friend again. Jamie, his speech markedly slurred, adds that it will good to see the two of them together. Gripping Jamie’s hand, Rupert says that while he can’t forgive Jamie for Dougal’s death, he won’t go to his grave hating Jamie for it either. Instead, he says, he will trust in God’s mercy when they are both judged. Bidding Jamie farewell, the two look sadly at each other one last time, before Rupert becomes the next volunteer. With one final quip to his English executioners, “I mean to set a quick pace, so try to keep up”, he walks outside. The single gunshot that follows takes its toll on Jamie. Lip trembling, eyes full of tears, he murmurs a Gaelic farewell to his friend.

It is 3:30am in Boston and Frank is trying to sleep on the couch. Kept awake by the noises of the house, he goes to his desk and begins a letter to Reverend Wakefield, asking for assistance in gathering research on one James Fraser. His letter is interrupted though, by Claire’s appearance. Her waters have broken and it is time to go to the hospital. 

Meanwhile, the last of the Jacobites, those unable to walk on their own, are to be executed. Melton gives orders for the men to be propped up before they are shot, as no man, traitor or not, is going to be executed lying down on his watch. It is another example of Melton’s sense of honour. Jamie volunteers to be the next man shot, but the announcement of his full name brings Melton to a halt. 


Book readers already know why, but the reason is then made apparent for tv viewers: Melton is the elder brother of John William Grey, the young boy who had attempted to kill Jamie before the battle and whose life Jamie had spared, albeit with a broken arm into the bargain. This action had incurred a debt of honour upon the Grey family, meaning that Melton cannot in all conscience execute Jamie. Melton’s dedication to his honour is outlined one final time as he rejects, with a withering glance,  his deputy’s suggestion that they shoot Jamie under an alias. 

All the while, Jamie is desperate to be shot. He doesn’t wish to be reprieved, he wishes to die. But Melton will not comply. Instead, Jamie is to be taken, under cover of darkness, away from the cottage. Melton muses that Jamie will likely not survive the journey, but that the death will not be on his, or his family’s head. As a result, Jamie endures a jolting journey in the back of a wagon, groaning in pain.

Claire too, is groaning in labour. The doctor, who has taken his time, finally appears, condescendingly ignoring Claire as he asks Frank about his wife’s contractions. But Claire answers, overriding Frank’s answer as to whether this is her first pregnancy. A shocked Frank mutters “of course” when Claire reveals that she had had a miscarriage about a year before. (This would seem to be a continuity error, as Faith was stillborn in 1744 and the battle of Culloden was in 1746. Claire was in the earlier stages of this pregnancy on her return from the stones and has now reached full term. Even given the vagaries of time travel, this seems to indicate more than a year, but it is a minor point.) In the book, this childbirth is revealed as being difficult and possibly life threatening to Claire had she remained in the 18th century. Here, the only indication of this is the doctor’s mention of higher risk factors for mother and child following a miscarriage. Their previous estrangement paused by the impending birth, Frank declares his love for Claire as she is taken away. Claire is soon at the mercy of another misogynist in the form of the doctor, who dismisses her wishes for the birth with an injection of anaesthetic against her will. 

As Claire loses consciousness with a murmured “You bastard”, a barely conscious Jamie is being roused by Jenny and Ian. Jenny tells her brother that he has come home and Jamie breathes the word, “Lallybroch” with a smile. He looks delirious, but seems pleased to be dying at home, with loved ones. 




Claire awakens, in a direct parallel to her waking at L’Hopital des Anges after the stillbirth of Faith. Running her hand over her belly, she starts to call, “Where’s my baby?” becoming increasingly agitated and asking the nurse if her baby has died. But Frank enters, holding a little girl in his arms, and together they marvel at her beauty. Overcome by the emotion of having a healthy child, Claire turns to Frank for the first time, accepting his kiss and apologising for being so horrid to him. 



Frank is immediately forgiving, telling her to forget all of what has happened and that what they have now is all that truly matters.  Tearfully, they make a pact: Frank promising that everything will be all right and Claire agreeing that this can be a new beginning for all of them. After all the death and horror of the episode, it is a relieving happy moment. (Shortlived, of course!) As the nurse bustles back in, she compliments the couple on their beautiful little angel (another parallel to season 2), before asking, “Where'd she get the red hair?” The spell is broken, the smiles disappear and the episode ends, with the viewers left in no doubt that far from a new beginning, more tension is ahead.

This was a spectacular start to a new season that already promises much heartache and emotion. Kudos must go to all the main players in the episode. Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies give beautiful portrayals of Claire and Frank, trying to negotiate their marriage after all that has happened and already starting to sink under the weight of both societal and personal expectations. Sam Heughan, who spent most of the episode gasping, delirious and weak, left us in no doubt as to the utter desolation Jamie is feeling. And as for Grant O’Rourke, his time as Rupert came to an end with heart wrenching perfection. 

The stage is set. It’s going to be one hell of a voyage, that’s for sure. 


This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. Her tweet immediately following the episode was: “Brutal, confronting, heartbreaking, desolate, hopeful, emotionally charged brilliance. So much kudos to everyone involved. I need a whisky!” She stands by her reaction! 


Saturday, September 9, 2017

From Culloden to Catalyst - a follow up interview with Ryan Ralph Gerrard by your Aussie Blogging Lass



Outlander Homepage Originals By Susie Brown



Whilst in the grip of season 2’s ‘Droughtlander’, Outlander Homepage spoke to actor Ryan Ralph Gerrard, a supporting artist during season 1 who was portraying a new character in season 3. At the time, he was sworn to secrecy and apart from a couple of promo photos, fans had been left guessing about his role. Ryan promised that he would chat with us again when he was allowed to reveal more - and he is a man of his word! Without any further ado, here is Ryan Ralph Gerrard unmasked! 



“So. Who is my character?” Ryan teased, as our interview began.  “Ok. I play the role of Giles McMartin; a sixteen year old Scottish Highlander who finds himself thrust into the Battle of Culloden. Although my character’s appearance in the novel was quick, the way it’s told on screen I appear throughout the majority of the episode.”





Since his identity had finally been revealed and knowing that the filming of the battle was a monumental task, we asked Ryan to tell us a bit about a typical day on set. 

“If I was shooting in Cumbernauld, I would wake up around 4am, be picked up by one of the hilariously funny drivers that the production put on for us and be taken to location,” Ryan said. “Luckily, I got to film in Crieff too - so once I was settled at the hotel, it was a matter of waking up and being escorted to set, which was only a short drive away. Then I’d pitch up in my trailer, have some breakfast - normally a potato scone and a cup of strong coffee brought to me by the wonderful Jess Bergeault - and wait to be dressed. Once I had the full kit on, I’d be whisked into hair and make-up so that I could transform into Giles.  This took around 45 minutes to an hour, plus extra time for any battle wounds that I had.  After all of the commotion to get there and get ready, it was very much just ‘down time’  from then on until I was needed.”

So what did Ryan do in this ‘down time’?

“I had a lovely cast to chat with in the green room,” Ryan replied. “Sam Heughan and Grant O’Rourke were hilarious as always: true gentlemen with perfect comedic timing. Sam Hoare and Oliver Tilley - who played the redcoats in my scenes - would often keep me thoroughly entertained with their football chat. I nodded and pretended I was interested, but it wasn’t long before they sussed me out and apologised for their heavy masculine chat! They were great lads who made my experience one to remember! After filming was finished, we would go back to our trailers, get all of our kit off and return to the 21st century, almost oblivious to what we had just been doing. We headed back to the hotel, had dinner and chilled out. The long days drained everyone, but in true Scottish style, there was always time for a drink or two!” 

When we commented that despite the long days, filming the Battle of Culloden must have been a memorable experience, Ryan agreed emphatically.

“The experience was truly magical,” he said. “It really was like being sent back in time. The art department are phenomenal at creating historically accurate costumes and set pieces. It was actually rather surreal. I had never worked on anything historical before, so being transported from the 21st Century to 1746 was incredibly eye-opening, yet strangely, it also had a sense of realism about it.”

And what did he take away from the whole experience? 

“Working with Sam Heughan and Grant O’Rourke was honestly a real honour,” Ryan said. “Although I was there to do a job, I couldn’t help but observe and absorb the technicalities of their work. As an actor, you are constantly learning and reinventing yourself, so being able to have first hand experience alongside two wonderful leading actors was a blessing. I can safely say that I walked away a more confident person and a stronger performer, purely by being in their presence and watching their work.”

Every actor that we have interviewed for Outlander Homepage has commented on the welcoming vibe of the whole production and Ryan was no exception. 

“What’s beautiful about Outlander is the family-like atmosphere,” he agreed. “Everyone from cast to crew bonded very quickly and it was clear from the beginning that everyone was there to make a piece of art. Being able to spend time with everyone back at the hotel was also really special and added to my experience. Usually, you would want to finish work, go to the pub and not talk about it! But it was clear that everyone loved the project so much - even three seasons in - that chatting about the job was a pleasure.

 To me, no role is a ‘small role’ and you must treat every opportunity you are given with the same amount of respect and conviction as larger parts. This is why I felt a great sense of responsibility whilst filming my scenes. Culloden was a real event that killed almost 2,000 Jacobites. My job, as simple as it sounds, was to give a voice to the children who found themselves in battle that day and play out the trauma caused by their fear of death. I knew this had to be done with a great sense of respect and so I had a meeting with the director, Brendan Maher, about how it should be played. For me, having the chance to work with someone as profound as Maher was one thing, but being able to speak creatively on a level with him about something that was actually very sad, was somewhat bittersweet.”

It was obvious throughout our interview that Ryan Ralph Gerrard is an actor determined to make his mark. At such a young age (he actually turns 21 the day before season 3 premieres) we wondered where he first learned his craft. We discovered that sadly, Ryan’s dramatic education was not as positive an experience as his subsequent acting projects have been.

“I went to a local youth theatre for a few years where my love for film acting actually began,” Ryan explained. “While I was there, I was given the opportunity to be involved with two educational DVDs for the NHS. It was that experience that essentially led to my love for acting on screen. Unfortunately, I seem to have been a bit unlucky when it comes to education and extra curricular activities. It is my belief that after graduating, an actor should be able to discuss their training with a great sense of pride and achievement. I wish I could do that, but I didn’t learn what they advertised they would teach me. What I did learn was to become proactive and independent, and I think that is the key to every good actor. Of course, I understand that my experience is personal, but I also know that my education has played very little part in my current success. Despite this, I believe that anything is achievable if you put your mind to it. So if there’s anyone else out there that wants to be an actor, you can do it. You don’t have to rely on further education to take you there. Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under it - that’s my advice!”

It sounds like good advice to follow, as Ryan has certainly been very busy since leaving the Scottish battlefield.

“One of the other projects I’ve been working on since Outlander, is a feature film called CATALYST,” Ryan said, “which has made considerable progress since we last spoke. In June, I set off to London to begin shooting the film with an incredible production team from around the UK. During the shoot, I got to stay at Castle Goring - home to Lady Colin Campbell herself. She really is the hilariously honest woman that everybody came to know and love from ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ and she told me that if I ever win an Oscar, she had better be in my acceptance speech! The film is now halfway complete and both cast and crew are on a short-term break to fulfil other projects and recuperate.It was one of the most emotionally draining experiences of my career so far. I unleashed some dark emotions I didn’t know I had within me, so hopefully it translates and people can empathise with my character.”





















Ryan’s busy life is set to continue for the foreseeable future, with other projects and plans in full swing.

“Between now and the middle of 2018, I have CATALYST to finish off as well as another feature called ‘The Second Life Club’,” Ryan said. “After that, who knows? I like to live in the moment and organically find new challenges. A good role in a BBC Drama would appeal to me but until then, I plan to expand my ability even more. For me, every day is a school day.”

So will he return to Outlander? Ryan’s final response was a testament to his determined attitude.

“Who knows, maybe Diana will bring me back somehow,” he mused, “a distant relative of Giles, perhaps? After all, anything is possible in Outlander!”




We’d like to thank Ryan for agreeing to this follow up interview and wish him every success in his creative endeavours.


This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She remembers the character of Giles from “Voyager” and is looking forward to seeing Ryan bring him to life. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Is there a Doctor in the House? An interview with Wil Johnson by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage Originals By Susie Brown


After her emotional return through the stones before the battle of Culloden, Claire Fraser spent years trying to find a way to live without the love of her life. As she trained to become a doctor, she finally found an ally in Joe Abernathy. Two “fish out of water” - she as the only female intern and he as the only black intern - Joe and Claire became close friends and it was to Joe that Claire turned for advice and support. The appearance of Dr Abernathy is one that is hotly anticipated by fans awaiting the premiere of season 3 and luckily for us, actor Wil Johnson, the man who will bring him to life, agreed to talk to us here at Outlander Homepage.




We began by asking Wil how he became an actor and were surprised to find that it happened entirely by chance!

At school I was never into acting at all, to be honest,” Wil explained, “but I had to do it as a compulsory subject. One day, a school play was being mounted and the lead actor dropped out, so my drama teacher asked me if I would be prepared to step into the lead role. At first I refused, but then I found out that the leading lady was a girl I quite fancied and wanted to ask out. So immediately I volunteered my services - with an ulterior motive, of course!”

So did it work?

No!” laughed Wil. “I didn't get the girl BUT I got something far more important. I found my vocation.  At 16 years old, I knew I wanted to become an actor.”

Bit parts on television soon led to longer appearances and named characters, as well as featured roles in films and on stage. With such a range of experiences, we wondered if Wil had a favourite medium or a preferred role. 

“Theatre, television and film all offer their own unique challenges and I relish each and every one of them,” Wil replied, “so I don't have a preference  - apart for the preference of 'the next challenge'. I don't have a standout role in my repertoire either, because each role I commit to I give 100% and then some. As a result, I am satisfied with the end result of all of the roles I have inhabited over the years.”






















And what about his latest role? We asked Wil to tell us how he came to join the Outlander family.

The process for auditioning for Outlander was really quite simple,” he said. “My agent put me up for the role, I got a call for the audition, went in, read two scenes which the Casting Director recorded and then 4 weeks later I got a call from my agent saying I’d been booked for the role of Joe Abernathy! Yaaaay!!!! Happy days!”

Happy days indeed! With the role of Joe being pivotal for the part of the story that deals with Claire’s time back in the 20th century, we wondered how Wil approached the creation of his character.

“Depending on the role I'm about to play, I’ve always had a slightly different approach,” Wil explained. “With Joe being my first American role on TV, it was crucial for me to get the American dialect spot on. So I spent a lot of time going around speaking with an American accent in everyday life - on the phone to people, buying things from the shop and so on. I wanted to get comfortable with it so that I wasn’t focusing in on the accent while on set and could just concentrate on getting my acting for the scenes right. I was wary about reading the books because I didn’t know how much was going to be included. Instead, I read breakdowns of the books and the character, so that I could get an overall feel for Joe. Then I went straight from the scripts that were given to me.”

Given that Wil is now very familiar with the man he is to portray, we asked him to describe Dr Abernathy in five words.

“Five words to describe Joe?” Wil asked. “Hmmmmm. I’d say thoughtful, kind, intuitive, charming and loyal.”

And does he see similarities in his own personality?

“Yes there are similarities,” Wil agreed, “which is rare when you're playing a character that is not only from a different time in history, but also from another continent!” 

When we asked what life was like on the Outlander set, Wil’s response was emphatic.

“Being on the set of Outlander was AWESOME!!" he said. “The scale of everything was mega and the attention to detail was out of this world. I loved every minute.”

Of course, there is another very important string to Wil’s performing bow, that of professional DJ. We wondered how DJing fit into the overall creative picture. 

“DJing has been in my life since I was 12yrs old,” Wil said. “I started a sound system with my brother when we were at school, playing at local parties and it developed from there. I've actually been a DJ longer than I've been an actor. Music is a huge part of my life and always will be. Being able to entertain people through music is the ultimate buzz for me. As for combining my acting and my DJing, it’s quite easy. The acting comes first and when I have free time, I DJ.”




With such a busy life, we wondered how much free time Wil is actually able to enjoy! 

“Oh, my down time is very simple,” he replied. “Quality time with my wife and children, cooking, watching movies, going to the cinema or the theatre - and not forgetting a cold winter’s night in front of the log fire with a glass of Prosecco and a bar of chocolate!”

Finally, as fans gear up for season 3 and Claire’s ultimate return through the stones, we asked Wil where he would travel to, if he could.

“Where would I go? Good question! I think I would go back to see my ancestors pre slavery, waaaay back to Africa.”




We’d like to thank Wil for giving up his time to chat to us and look forward to seeing him bring Dr Joe Abernathy to life!


Excerpt Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

“Skinny white broad with too much hair, but a great ass,” he said at last. “Nice tits, too,” he added, with a cordial nod. “That what you want to know?” “Yes,” I said, relaxing my rigid posture. “That’s exactly what I wanted to know. It isn’t the sort of question you can ask just anybody.” He pursed his lips in a silent whistle, then threw back his head and roared with delight. “Lady Jane! You’ve got you a man!”


Excerpt season 3, Starz adaptation

"Do you still love him?"


Why we love Dr Joe!



This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She recently saw Wil portray Claudius in ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’ and can’t wait to see him become Dr J!