Friday, December 1, 2017

“Turtle Soup, anyone?” A recap of Season 3 episode 11 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown 

In possibly the greatest tease to book fans since a sign bearing the name A Malcolm, the episode opens with a turtle swimming peacefully through the water. This swiftly changes to an image of Claire, asleep on her raft in the middle of the ocean, A wave sweeps her under the water and she is shocked awake, swimming desperately towards the shore. 

The waves finally dump her onto a beach where her pack of clothes is also miraculously waiting for her. She shakes out her sodden clothes and shoes, and spreads them to dry on the sand, before sitting down to take stock of her situation. Claire’s voiceover announces that while she is relieved to have found land, she has no idea where she is. She has floated too long and far for it to be Grand Turk and she has absolutely no idea how she can find Jamie. But not being one to sit around and wait, she starts to walk.

The sun is unforgiving. As she walks, Claire remembers the rule of threes. She has survived the first rule - humans can only survive 3 minutes without air and she was not under water for that long. The third rule - humans can survive 3 weeks without food is not of immediate concern. But the second rule is what is worrying her - humans can only survive 3 days without water and there is no water to be seen.  

She finds some that has collected in a large leaf, but it is barely a mouthful. Trying not to panic, she goes in search of more. As the sun continues to beat down, she uses her now dry skirt as a shelter, draping it over some branches to take refuge from the heat. She removes as many clothes as she can, trying to protect herself from the temperatures. 

Once again, the voiceover takes up the story. Claire has moved inland looking for a road, as this will bring with it civilisation and some form of town. Perhaps, Claire reasons, there may be a port on the other side of the island, where she could buy passage for Jamaica. 

She has also found a rock that will be useful for starting a fire and she collects sticks in her skirt, which she finally manages to set alight at sunset, with the help of the stuffing of her bum roll. Encouraged by this success, she adds more sticks and branches as the flames grow. Exhausted, she sits by the fire and finally goes to sleep.

But in the morning, she wakes to discover that she is lying on an ant hill. Desperately, she beats the fire ants off her legs, but she is covered in bites. Ripping part of her petticoat into strips, she ties some makeshift bandages and continues walking. But Claire is obviously weakening now. 

She is moving more slowly and holding onto the larger plants for support. The sun is continuing to beat down and still there is no water. The camera shifts in and out of focus, indicating her consciousness is also starting to waver. She comes across some coconuts, but cruelly, they are rotten and black, with the only fresh ones way above her head and out of reach.

Another night falls and Claire takes shelter under a tree, but there is no fire this time. No ants either when she awakes, but instead, she finds her body being used as a road by a large snake. 

Her eyes wide and not daring to breathe, she remains still until it is has passed over her. The adrenaline spurs her into action once again. Her ant bites are red raw now and she scratches at them painfully. She stumbles past an animal skeleton and we understand that she is at the end of her endurance. This is the 3rd day and by the rule of threes, her life is now in danger. Finally, she stumbles into a clearing and sees a priest, arms outstretched giving a sermon to what appears to be a flock of goats. Not sure if she is actually seeing another human being or hallucinating, Claire cannot go another step and loses consciousness, collapsing onto the ground.

She awakes to find herself lying on a bed. There is a cup of water nearby and she reaches out to take it, only to discover that she has been tied down. Another woman enters the room, telling her that she has been tied to the bed for her own good, as it was the only way to stop Claire from scratching at her legs, which are now covered in a thick paste of some sort.  Claire gasps for water. 

It is the first word she has actually spoken aloud in the first 16 minutes of the episode, yet viewers have been in no doubt as to the despair she has been feeling. It is a clever parallel to the opening episode of the season, where a delirious Jamie lay on the battlefield. In each case, much was conveyed purely with looks and ragged breathing and this latest display of non-verbal emotion is a testament to Caitriona Balfe’s acting skill. 

The woman pours water into Claire’s mouth and she drinks hungrily, choking and gasping, as she asks to be untied. But the woman does not do so, saying that Claire needs to rest. She takes Claire’s clothes away to wash, with a confused glance at the 20th century zipper of Claire’s corset.

Some time later, Claire wakes again, to find an English man sitting by her bedside. He explains that his dog, Ludo, had found her and that Ludo had been most concerned for her wellbeing. Introducing himself as Father Fogden, the man welcomes her to Hacienda de la Fuente and unties her. He helps Claire sit up and gives her more water, encouraging her not to drink too fast. Claire tells him that she knows this, as she is a doctor. 

He is confused by the idea of a female doctor, but soon compares her to St Brigid, the healer of the sick. Father Fogden then heralds Claire as some sort of miracle worker, telling her that her arrival coincided with the successful birth of a new baby goat and asking how she came to be there. Claire asks, “Where exactly is here?” and is told that she is on the island of Saint- Domaigne. Claire says that she needs to reach Jamie and Father Fogden begins suggesting possibilities, one of which involves getting to a village a day’s walk away, followed by a boat journey taking another 2 days. Claire thinks this might be just enough time, if she leaves the following morning, but Father Fogden tells her this is not possible. “Coco says it is far too dangerous,” he tells her.

He picks up a coconut from a shelf nearby, informing Claire that Coco has also reminded him of the likelihood of an attack by escaped slaves, known as maroons. Father Fogden asks if she had encountered any maroons or pirates on her way, interrupting Claire’s answer to admonish the coconut for staring. Father Fogden agrees that Claire is indeed a pretty lady, although not as pretty as his Ermenegilda. He calls out for the woman Claire had seen earlier and addresses her as Mamacita. He asks if there are any clothes that Claire could wear, suggesting a dress of Ermenegilda’s. But Mamacita declares the dress “too small for that cow” and tells Fogden to give  her one of his old robes instead. Mamacita tells Claire that she stinks and that it is time for her to wash. Claire is led to a wooden tub outside, and despite the strangeness of her surroundings and the troubles she has had to get here, she clearly relishes the chance to have a proper bath. She allows herself a small relieved smile, as she tips a jug of water over her head and sinks down into the water, ignoring the animal skull above her. 

Later, washed and dressed in one of Fogden’s robes, Claire joins Father Fogden and Mamacita for a meal of plantains, manioc and red beans. It is good and as they eat, Claire asks how Father Fogden has come to the island of Saint-Domingue. He tells her that he had gone to Cuba 15 years ago to do the work of God when he met and fell in love with a woman called Ermenegilda. 

Claire comments that it must have been complicated for him, given the fact that he was a priest. Fogden agrees and adds that the couple had run away from Ermenegilda’s husband. As it happened, England had invaded Cuba on the same day, meaning that the couple could not be found amongst the ensuing chaos. They had made their way by ship to the current island, but sadly theirs was not destined to be a happy ending. Ermenegilda had fallen ill and died. Claire expresses her sorrow, which is gratefully accepted by Fogden. He then offers Claire some yupe, adding that it can make one feel quite euphoric. Claire declines, but takes the opportunity, once Fogden has inhaled some of the smoke to ask again about the village he had spoken of earlier. She wants to reach it. But Fogden says that it is far too dangerous for her to travel alone and that he and Coco will accompany her. Claire is touched, but her gratitude soon dissipates when he adds that they can leave next week or perhaps in a fortnight, citing that she is not yet well enough to undertake the journey. Frustrated, Claire utters a “For Christ’s sake”. As a doctor she is more than capable of assessing her health. But her comments have upset the Father, who admonishes her for her language. 

Meanwhile Mamacita is growing impatient. She wants Claire out of the house, stating “That whore must go.” As Fogden and Mamacita begin a heated argument in Spanish, during which Mamacita accuses the Father of attempting to replace her daughter Ermenegilda, Claire leaves the room. Her voiceover tells us that she is desperate to reach the village of St Louis de Nord and she begins to make her own plans, beginning by pocketing a small mirror. 

Father Fogden finds her, commenting that she must have been drawn to this particular room by the dress which is hanging in prime position. 

It had once belonged to Ermenegilda. He is entranced by it and it is obviously that he is missing his love. Fogden apologises for the argument that Claire witnessed, commenting that Ermenegilda had been Mamacita’s only child and that the pain of losing a daughter never leaves. This is something that Claire can identify with and we see her thinking of both Faith and Brianna, as she tells Fogden that she understands. He continues to defend his mother-in-law, explaining that she fears that he will forget her daughter, which of course, he will never do. He touches the sleeve of the gown, saying that when you love someone as much as he had loved Ermenegilda it never leaves you. Claire understands completely, confirming Fogden’s suspicion that she too has loved someone for whom she would risk everything. Claire tells him that she needs to get to Jamaica and that if she doesn’t she may lose her husband forever. “Then you must be reunited,” Fogden says, taking her hand and we see the relief on Claire’s face. She asks if they could leave for St Louis du Nord the following morning, an idea that Fogden calls a wonderful notion. But just as Claire has begun to think that they are about to search for Jamie, her hopes are dashed again when Fogden adds that he will consult Coco to see if the time is right. 

This scene, as well as establishing an understanding between Father Fogden and Claire, also shows what can happen to someone who has lost the person closest to them forever. Fogden has made a life for himself, but he is not complete. He lives with the memories and mementos of his dead wife, dulling the pain with drugs such as yupe, and talking to a coconut for companionship. We wonder: if Claire does not succeed in finding Jamie, would her despair lead her to a similar fate?

The next morning, when Claire awakes, she notices two things. Firstly, the ant bites on her legs are much better and secondly, Mamacita has brought her clothes back, freshly washed and folded. It is a fairly definite message: Ermenegilda’s mother does not want Claire there any longer. She catches a glimpse of the coconut on a shelf above her and comes up with her own plan. 

Soon afterwards, Fogden discovers Claire deep in conversation with Coco. In an acting performance reminiscent of an English pantomime, Claire proclaims loudly that she is feeling much better, that she will be very careful and that Father Fogden will look after her. 

When she finally “notices” the Father, she tells him that Coco has told her that it is a good day to travel. But just as it looks like he might be convinced. a cry from Mamacita takes her outside. Mamacita is carrying the bloodied skull of a young goat, Arabella and tells the Father that a Chinese soldier had killed her and roasted her on a spit. Reverently, Fogden puts the skull onto a box, before pouring a handful of beetles over it, so that they can clean off the flesh. He tells Claire that the beetles are voracious creatures from a sacred cave known as Abandawe and Claire is immediately reminded of the warning that Margaret Campbell had given her back in Edinburgh.

Abandawe is a place of great power, Fogden continues, saying that it is hallowed to the natives of Jamaica and that people can disappear there. This is not what Claire wants to hear, but the next comment is: Fogden laments again that his poor Arabella has become nothing more than a feast for a Chinaman. Claire reacts at once: a Chinaman? The coincidence must surely be too great. Mamacita had seen the Chinaman on the beach and Claire asks about the ship the sailor had been on. What else had Mamacita seen? “Many sailors and broken sails on the beach,” she is told. Claire wants to be told how to reach the ship, but Fogden is lost in his grief for the goat. It is Mamacita who tells her the way, pointing and gesturing in her attempt to explain that Claire needs to go to the right, then straight ahead. As the music builds, Claire runs back through the jungle towards the beach.

Now it is Jamie’s turn to sit on the sand looking out to sea. The Artemis has been wrecked,  and men have been lost, Captain Raines, Master Warren and the cook, Murphy, amongst them. As Jamie and Fergus discuss the dangers of the sea, Fergus comments that even experienced sailors should be wary of uncharted shoals. Jamie adds that the gale hadn’t helped matters and they were lucky that the hull is still in tact, with only the foremast snapped. 

Fergus admits that he does not mourn the men, having wished Raines and Warren dead himself at various times throughout the journey. Meanwhile Lesley and Hayes are complaining about the heat. Jamie tells them not to worry: the foremast will soon be fixed and they will be on their way to Jamaica, but comments that if they had worked as hard as they talked they would already have been underway.

Jamie makes a deal with Baxley, the next sailor in charge after Raines. It is interesting that all animosity towards Jamie has now gone and he has once again assumed his natural role as leader. Baxley says that while he will be in charge of the helm, he is leaving the men and the captain’s quarters in Jamie’s hands, both of which he is happy to accept. 

The repairs continue and all the while Claire is running as fast as she can towards the beach. She gashes her arm badly, but keeps going. Everyone is now back on board the ship, with the plan to sail in the evening, when it is cooler. Finally, Claire reaches the beach. 

She screams out to Jamie, then remembers the mirror she had pocketed earlier. She holds it into the sun - and it works. Jamie looks towards the flickering light and asks Baxley for the spy glass. At last he sees her. The Jamie and Claire theme music soars as Jamie sprints back along the beach and into Claire’s arms. The relief on both of their faces is beautiful, Jamie muttering “Thank Christ” before kissing her passionately. “I feared I had lost you again,” he tells her, before noticing her arm. Kudos once again to Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe here - it’s a special and thoroughly believable scene. 

Hayes and Lesley are commenting on Claire’s ability to just show up in the most unlikely of places, as Willoughby sews up the gash in her arm. Jamie is commenting on the generosity of Father Fogden, but adds that he still can’t believe she jumped from the ship. 

Claire replies that she had to tell him about the warrants for his arrest and Jamie rues the fact that the man in the cask of creme-de-menthe had been found. Willoughby adds that they should have cut the body up so there would have been nothing to find. Claire tells Jamie that Captain Leonard is a young and ambitious man who won’t stop looking for him, but Jamie replies that he won’t stop looking for Young Ian. He is not particularly worried; he has been a wanted man for quite some time. 

Willoughby finishes his stitching and Claire compliments him on the job. Jamie tells Claire that he has given his blessing to Fergus and Marsali, telling Claire that Fergus loves Marsali, just as he loves her. 

She smiles at him and they finish the bandaging of her arm. They need to wait for the foremast tar to harden, Jamie says, and it would be nice to find a bit of joy after all the death and destruction. He has a wedding in mind, but to do that, they need a priest. As it happens, Claire says, she knows someone who could help with that.

In a brief but assuming scene, Willoughby is apologising to Father Fogden, for the pain and suffering he has caused. He did not know of Arabella’s importance, he says. Where he comes from, goats are not revered as they should be. He asks Fogden to forgive his ignorance and humbly presents a chicken in a wooden cage, his head bowed. Fogden is moved by his speech. “There was a time when I was a stranger in a strange land,” he says, “much like you are now.” He forgives Willoughby and offers him some yupe, which Willoughby accepts. 

It is getting dark. Marsali is getting dressed for her wedding, fumbling with her stays. Claire offers to help, asking the younger woman if she is nervous. Marsali denies that she is, but nevertheless allows Claire to help. Claire says that she was nervous on her wedding day, as there was much she didn’t know. 

Marsali comments that there is one thing she herself doesn’t know - how to avoid pregnancy. Claire is surprised: most young women want children, she says. Marsali clarifies, saying that she does want them one day, but for now, she just wants to enjoy it. Fergus has told her that he knows what to do and that Marsali will like it fine but she is not sure if that is true. Showing the first vulnerability we have seen so far, she admits to Claire that after Jamie had married her mother, she had watched Laoghaire shrink away from his touch. By contrast, Marsali had noticed Claire and Jamie on the ship and it had looked like they enjoyed being together. “Yes,” says Claire, “we do.”
 “I want to be happy with Fergus,” Marsali says, “like you are with Daddy, without having to worry about a bairn. You being a wise woman, I thought you’d be worth asking.” Claire smiles.  She promises that when they get back to the ship, she will explain how it’s done. “So there is a way,” says Marsali and Claire nods. Marsali smiles. “Maybe you’re not the devil after all,” she says. The relationship between the two women has begun and the whole scene was beautifully acted by Caitriona Balfe and Lauren Lyle. In the absence of Brianna, Claire is able to show a bit of maternal affection towards the younger woman and it is heartwarming to see. 

The wedding begins, with Father Fogden officiating. The ceremony gets off to a confusing start however, with Fogden assuming that the sailor Manzetti, not Fergus, is the groom. Once corrected, he is surprised.  “Him, are you sure? He’s missing a hand! Will the bride mind?” Marsali indignantly replies that she will not and Fogden decides that perhaps it is less of an impediment than if Fergus happened to be missing a far more intimate part of his anatomy - and promptly asks if he is anatomically in tact! 

Again, Marsali tells him impatiently that if he’d hurry up, she could find out! Fergus apologises, but adds that the fact that Marsali speaks her mind is one of the things he loves about her. Jamie and Claire look at each other knowingly - it is a similarity they share with the happy couple. Next, Fogden becomes distracted by the beauty of Marsali’s name, to the bride’s ever growing annoyance. But finally, they get down to the formalities. As Fogden struggles momentarily to recite the whole of the ceremony, Marsali cuts him short with a hasty “I will.” Fogden turns to Fergus and asks for his full name, stating that he cannot marry the couple properly without it. This is a problem, as Fergus has never known his surname: he is simply Fergus. But as the couple look at each other, worried, Jamie steps in. “Fraser,” he says. “Fergus Claudel Fraser.”

Book readers knew this moment was coming, but the look of love and respect between the two men is still breathtaking. A ring is hastily presented and Fergus and Marsali are married. Father Fogden makes the sign of the cross above them, saying “May God bless your union”, before walking over to Jamie and Claire and repeating the blessing to them. It is another moment of understanding that is also bittersweet. Father Fogden has lost the love of his life, but rejoices in Claire and Jamie being reunited.

A pause here to acknowledge the wonderful work of Nick Fletcher, in the role of Father Fogden. He depicted the eccentricities of the character perfectly, leaving viewers in no doubt that although he was an eccentric man, Father Fogden was also dealing with his own dueling emotions of loss and loyalty, whilst continuing to practise his profession. 

Back on the Artemis, Claire is carefully ladling soup into a bowl - probably to the unheard chorus of “At last!” from all the book readers! Jamie enters the cabin with her case of penicillin, asking why she hadn’t taken it with her on the Porpoise. There wasn’t enough to treat all the men, she explains, and it wouldn’t have been effective in treating typhoid fever anyway. Claire comments on the soup, saying that it is delicious. Jamie says that Willoughby would be pleased, as he had made it for her especially. He kisses her, but is concerned - she is burning up with fever. Claire replies that she knows and it is why she needs the penicillin. She opens the case with her teeth - she is drunk, but doesn’t realise it. 

She tries to prepare a dose one handed, as Jamie watches with increasing amusement. Eventually, Claire agrees to his help, giving him detailed instructions. The time has come for Jamie’s revenge, should he wish to take it. Claire pulls up her shift, ready to receive the shot in her behind, just as Jamie had done after being shot at Lallybroch. But Jamie can’t do it and Claire is forced to inject herself, with Jamie pushing the plunger down to administer the dose. 

Once done, Claire’s attention is drawn to more erotic matters, but Jamie tells her she should keep her strength up. She returns to the soup, asking what it is. Jamie replies that it is turtle. Manzetti had caught one the previous evening and Willoughby had put it in the pot. Claire remarks that she has not had turtle before, but that it is meant to be an aphrodisiac. She pulls Jamie towards her again. He teases her about her behaviour when she is supposed to be a respectable married woman. Claire begins to crawl across the table towards him telling him to bolt the door. He displays mock indignation at the thought that he would take advantage of a woman who not only wounded and fevered, but drunk. Claire argues that she is not drunk, as it is not possible to get drunk on turtle soup. Jamie replies that it is entirely possibly if Willoughby made it, as it has an entire bottle of sherry in it. Claire tries one last time: Jamie had told her once that you are not drunk if you are standing. She is more swaying than standing, a fact that Jamie points out, but he is more than willing to oblige the amorous feelings of his “burning she devil”. She bolts the door herself and the lovemaking begins in earnest.

But suddenly there is a knock at the door. It is Willoughby, asking if Claire has enjoyed the soup. 

He declares it to have been a fine hawksbill turtle and wants to know if Claire would like more, as he has made a fresh pot. Jamie and Claire have not halted proceedings, with Claire biting Jamie’s hand to stop her moans being overheard. Jamie calls out a strangled “Good night, Willoughby” and with a knowing smile, Willoughby moves away from the door.  

This was a wonderful episode, cleverly incorporating all the essential plot from the book, but occasionally altering the way in which the details appeared. Throughout the hour, viewers watched the characters portray the full gamut of emotions: from despair, grief and frustration to nerves, relief, respect, love and finally, gratification! As the Artemis heads for Jamaica, the setup to the season finale is beginning.

This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, a writer and teacher-librarian who lives in Australia. She loves the fact that she both laughed and cried in this episode and even though she knew what would happen, her heart was pounding at all the appropriate moments! 

No comments:

Post a Comment