Outlander rewatch: My wee notes of season one episodes 12 to 16

Outlander rewatch: My wee notes of season one episodes 12 to 16

Rewatching a brilliant show is such a charm, noticing all those things that didn’t get their due attention the first time around.

This is part two of my wee notes on those other little things that caught my attention the second time around – like the slow motion in The Watch – or things that just got my mind spinning – like everything in the last two episodes – during my season one rewatch.

12. The humorous Claire in Lallybroch

It’s not one of Jamie’s finest moments when he utters those harsh words about Jenny’s boy in front of little Jamie. Jenny in turn has no nice words for Claire. You get the feeling this is a habit of theirs as siblings, to use this tone towards each other. A good thing about it in this case is how we get to hear funny Claire again. I’ve read that book Claire is very humorous but as it mostly takes place in her head it’s hard to translate it to the screen. Here we get a glimpse of it again as Ian has the courtesy to ask who she might be…? ”The trollop! Otherwise known as Claire Fraser.” 

Outlander 1x12 the trollopFinally at Lallybroch both Jamie and Claire use the word ”love” instead of ”want” for the first time. Their feelings have deepened and they have reached a point when they think they can (Jamie) and want to (Claire) say it. Jamie not only states that he wanted her more than he ever wanted anything in his life, but also confesses that he loved her since that first night in Leoch. Claire reciprocates, of course. It was clear already in episode 10, when she told Laoghaire that Jamie was never hers to begin with, that Claire was all in, even if maybe it took until her return to Craig na Dun to actually admit it. 

13. The calculated decision in The Watch

The slow motion should have given it away already the first time watching. The way Jamie slowly moves away after saying goodbye to Claire to leave with MacQuarrie and the Watch, makes it so obvious the second time around that it will be long before Claire, and we, see Jamie again. 

The scene where Jamie admits to MacQuarrie and the Watch that he (although it was Ian) had killed Horrocks made me think of what Jamie told us in The Reckoning. He has lived a life different from other men, realising that each step he’s taken has been a choice and the sum of those choices became his life. Admitting the killing (Jamie would have done it himself if Ian didn’t) was a calculated decision. Jamie has realised that things don’t just happen, he makes things happen by the choices he makes and, unlike Ian, he likes to challenge in different ways and this is what makes him special.

Outlander 1x13 JamieOn the road with MacQuarrie we see also how Jamie seem a little bit tempted to go with MacQuarrie longterm when asked. If it wasn’t for Claire…  Jamie is not one to feel awkward when on the wrong side of the law. To be honest, he seems rather comfortable on that side.

Outlander might be a melodramatic fantasy, but it is also very realistic in its depiction of events. Jenniy’s birth scenes is done like no others. She stands, walks and crawls on her knees and t’s not just through her voice we get the pain, it’s all visible through her restless body.

14. When the coin is flipped in The Search

This episode will always be the one Jamie is not in. Although it is nice with all that Murtagh and Claire interaction, the focus on the search is a bit too long, I think. But I like how again it’s clear how Claire fits into this time as she talks about how her uncle taught her how to survive in nature.

Outlander 1x14 Claire to the rescueAlready the Watch the story turned darker and slower and with the search and Claire’s uncomfortable meeting with Dougal, finding out that Jamie is captured, the story take a new turn. Again Outlander might be a ”melodramatic chick-flick” but it sure knows how to flip the coin. It is Claire who does the searching and it’s her turn doing the saving, she is the one in charge of getting Jamie out of prison and then we haven’t mention what is gonna happen in that prison. 

15. How everything is ominous in Wentworth Prison

Everything in this episode is ominous. First the slow motion as Jamie is taken away and walking pass Randall. There is something horribly poetic in this, that Jack Randall actually saves his life, and that in the end Jamie has to be grateful for that, although at first he will regret he was.

Randall wants him all to himself and his words capture exactly what later will be the truth in season 2 in the marriage drama that follows: ”When you lie upon your wife and her hands trace the scars on your back, do you ever think of me? …and soften?”

Outlander 1x15 J & J in prisonEven Jamie’s humor becomes ominous. ”What grieves me is the thing that my wife will never forgive me for foolishly getting myself hanged”, was his sarcastic words in line for the noose. Later, in a desperately depressed state of mind, there is something else that he doesn’t think his wife will ever forgive him for.

When watching season 4 I couldn’t help but noting that the show really should be called Everybody Loves Jamie – Jack Randall, Duke of Sandringham, Laoghaire, John Grey and random women, so many wants a taste of him. This episode reminds me that he probably got his irresistible genes from his mother. Ellen MacKenzie had many suiters in her days – her husband Brian had competition in Murtagh and also we learn in MacCannon, who we met in this episode, both of them apparently giving her wedding gifts. Everybody loved Ellen, just like everybody loves Jamie.

16. The breakdown of a hero in To Ransom a Man’s Soul

Outlander knows how to tell their most heartbreaking stories, giving us some events immediately – Jamie’s empty stare and naked body – and saving the most horrible things to the end, using flashbacks and not letting the audience know until, in this case, Claire herself, is told what really happened.

There are many things to say about this episode and many things already said – this post from AV Club is really good – and I don’t have much to add. We can just confirm that Outlander did indeed not let Jamie magically heal when season 2 started. It took half a season and a heartbreaking marriage drama for him to do that. 

Outlander 1x16 J & C at the bedBut I must again give kudos to a show that dares not only to tell a story in which the male hero is raped and tortured, but also psychologically broken to a point where in the amidst of all the utter pain he finds pleasure. This adds to making the aftermaths so horrifically painful, with all the guilt, the death wish and the utter disgust, which all gets its time and space. This is the reason I don’t care about awards such as Emmy’s and Golden Globes. They favour some shows over and over and although it is impossible to award all great performances, for Heughan’s and Menzies to be overlooked that season is proof I was right to stop caring. One who got it was Gold Derby though, who saw Sam as a sure Emmy contender and made a great interview with him.

When watching season finale the first time I didn’t get what was so obvious the second time around. Claire’s puking – first outside the prison finding out that Jamie was still alive and the after fixing his hand – was of course easily mistaken for a reaction from extreme emotions, but later when she faints realising Jamie want tos kill himself, I can’t understand I didn’t get she was pregnant. That together with her very firm statement to Jamie – “You are mine. We are meant to be together. That is the only explanation I have for all of this.” – and his cautious steps to regain his humor and recovery – ”should I get you a bucket?” – is such a great ending to season 1.

Outlander rewatch: My wee notes on season one episodes 1 to 5
Outlander rewatch: My wee notes on season one episodes 6 to 11

More about Outlander: Outlander

Outlander is a Starz original.

Outlander rewatch: My wee notes on season one episodes 6 to 11

Outlander rewatch: My wee notes on season one episodes 6 to 11

Rewatching a brilliant show is such a charm, noticing all those things that didn’t get their due attention the first time around.

Watching Outlander the first time is overwhelming, then watching it a second time is such a charm as you get to take it in all over again and notice little things you missed or that got new relevance when you know the story. This is part two of my wee notes on those other little things suddenly gets a whole other meaning – like pillow-talk about sadists – or just what got my mind spinning – the different ways Jamie really is the king of men – during my season one rewatch.

6. That long scene in The Garrison Commander

My main reflection rewatching this episode is how Outlander doesn’t get trapped by the illusion that fast-paced action is needed to tell a very dramatic story. To build the characters are as important as the actual drama and delving deep into them just heightens the anticipation and the tension. The scene with Claire and Jack Randall at the garrison is more than 27 minutes long. Yes, it includes one short and one somewhat longer flashback, but still. What other show does that? This is slow but oh so dramatic storytelling, which is totally rewarding all the way through.

Outlander 1x06

”What kind of friend would I be if I left you to that mad bastard Randall?”

How the first flashback intertwines the past with the present – with Frank shaving with that same razor as Jack – totally makes me shiver. This flashback is a view of Claire’s mind while the next one accompanies Jack Randall’s detailed description of what he felt during the second flogging of the never bending Jamie. The buildup makes the nasty actions at the end of the scene, when Claire takes a few blows, hit us even harder as we have gotten further warning of what kind of man Jack Randall really is. Of course Jamie already knew this and at the end, on top of the adoring fact that he considers himself a friend – ”what kind of friend would I be if I left you to that mad bastard Randall?” – he brings her alcohol to soften the blow of that must marriage. How considerate is not that?

7. The “I love you” of sorts in The Wedding

The wedding is of course an episode you much rather rewatch than read about although there is a lot to say about is as well, but let’s just narrow it down to two things here. That first kiss is so hot – the way Jamie grabs her hair by the neck – before it becomes so very soft and gentle. He just couldn’t wait any longer. There is so much passion in this episode, so much about “wanting” each other, as they refer to their feelings many times during the season.

OUtlander 1x07 and so are you claire

”They are very precious to me. As are you, Claire.”

That is perhaps why I love the part about the pearls so much. Claire getting the pearls from Jamie, his mother’s pearls. A new set of pearls for a new life. ”They are very precious to me. As are you, Claire.” This phrase is a first ”I love you” of sorts. Jamie already knows he loves her, but he gets that it’s too early to say, but still he wants her to know that this is not only lust. He feels more. And for Claire, the lust turns into tenderness, or at least lust with tenderness, because they are not done quite yet.

8. All that “wanting” in Both Sides Now

Claire getting the dragonfly in amber from Hugh Munro of course has a whole new sentiment now as we know where it will end up and later show up. This whole scene, with Jamie and Claire keep touching and kissing each other, is lovely. Especially Jamie, his feelings are blatant, so obviously in love. ”Will it ever stop, me wanting you?” It’s always bout ”wanting”, the desire, also when they reunite in season 3. Yet, there is never any doubt that it’s desire based on growing love.

Outlander 1x08 Claire.pngAfter the lovemaking and the following assault, rape and killing, Claire is first in shock, but then becomes bitter. She has totally forgotten about her plan to get back to the stones. She has let herself fall in love with Jamie and forget all about Frank. These contradicting feelings she was full of at the wedding night make themselves known again.

9. The chills in The Reckoning

”Would you like your husband to join us?” – Randall’s question to Jamie as he comes to save Claire at Fort William gets a whole other meaning this time as you realise that this is of course exactly what Randall would have wanted. The Reckoning is such a hard episode to rewatch, knowing also that the heated argument between Claire and Jamie is not it, but just a start of the conflicts of views of the times that has to be sorted.

Outlander 1x09 ? Jamie

”Is it not enough, Claire? Do you not WANT me anymore? Do you wish to live separately?”

Watching the beating and the determination with which Jamie goes about it, even if he himself doesn’t think it’s necessary, is gruelling. I read one reviewer who disliked that this episode specifically was from Jami’e perspective, and not from Claire’s as she is the victim, but I think it was appropriate. She was of course the victim from the action itself, but it was for Jamie it was life altering, he was the one who learnt something and grew from it. ”Is it not enough, Claire? Do you not WANT me anymore? Do you wish to live separately?” Again, Jamie uses the word ”want”, it’s always about wanting, not loving, although the LOVE is obvious.

”I want you Claire. I want you so much I can scarcely breath. Will you have me?” And as horrific all of this was – and as satisfying the makeup sex was – seeing Claire smilingly explaining to Jamie what a sadist is, is sending chills down my spine knowing he will not long in the future find out first hand.

10. That funny duke in By the Pricking of My Thumbs

Just as the explanation of the word sadist, Claire finding the ”changeling” and cradling the dead baby for hours in her arms is now an eerie premonition of what is to come in season two. Fortunately other parts of this episode are much lighter. Duke of Sandringham entering the scene is a breath of funny air. Who would have thought? Not only did he have me smile at Jamie’s statement when wanting to use the duke to clear his name, ”I’m not about to offer up my hind quarters”, but he gave some of the best lines himself during the whole episode.

Outlander 1x10 The duke

”Do tell your wife it wasn’t my fault and now I’m afraid I must be on my way. A duel is one thing, a common brawl quite another.”

Jamie’s statement is immediately understandable as we learn about the duke’s divine, blatant admiration of Jamie: ”My servants are chosen for their beauty not their belligerence. You of course contain a sublime combination of the two.” Then his face during the brawl after the duel is to die for, pathetic and pragmatic: ”Do tell your wife it wasn’t my fault and now I’m afraid I must be on my way. A duel is one thing, a common brawl quite another.” Claire blames Jamie of course and one can only confirm they have now reached the phase of the relationship that includes cute arguing. ”You are not normally a closed-mouth woman, Claire. I expected noisier displeasure.”

Outlander 1x10 Claire confronting Laoghaire

”Jamie was never yours to begin with.”

I can’t help but liking how Claire is not at all tender and understanding towards Laoghaire, although she actually sought out to support her agenda in the beginning. Claire is not the perfectly cool English woman one might think. She is not always nice and considerate, she is jealous. When confronting Laoghaire in the kitchen she starts off condescending, then turning quite harsh and cold towards the young girl, because she is brimming with passion inside. ”Jamie was never yours to begin with.” Laoghaire will turn out to be right that she one day will have him, but the way Claire argues it will never happen, says much about her own feelings. Claire is all in at this point, definitely way past her resistance of falling in love. 

11. The king of men in The Devil’s Mark

Geillis is an interesting character, a cold-blooded murderer who despises the weak and the ugly, yet not without having a sympathetic sides. She is saving Claire by giving up herself. ”I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” Claire cites and this must be when Geillis knows for sure that Claire is a traveller, since the quote is from 1776. In return, Geillis’ ”looks like I’m going to a fucking barbecue” is when Claire should have picked up on the language and know as well. 

Outlander 1x11 first man forward

“First man forward is the first man down.”

”I swore an oath before the alter of God to protect this woman. If you’re telling me that you consider your authority to be greater than that of God Almighty than I must inform you, I’m not of that opinion myself.” It’s hard not to worship Jamie the saviour. He is the King of Men for sure. ”The first man forward will be the first one down.”

What happens afterwards is of course one of core scenes of the story and one of the most beautiful. I love how it is Jamie that is tending to Claire’s wounds for a change. Then he listens to her – ”I hear you”, he believes her – ”no, I believe you, Sassenach”, he shows utter regret – ”and I beat you for it” and in the end he is prepared to give her up – ”are you ready to go home?”. On top of all this the episode has my favourite sex scene, the one that is all about Jamie giving to Claire, a goodbye all for her.

Outlander 1x11 going home

“So, Sassenach! Are you ready to go home?”

All this is showing how Jamie is the King of Men also in another way. He could not have been sweeter as he finds out about Claire’s story. Jamie is both the strong, brave and forceful protector as well as the sensitive, sensible and supportive partner. These scenes makes The Devil’s Mark my favourite season 1 episode. 

Outlander rewatch: My wee notes on season one episodes 1 to 5
Outlander rewatch: My wee notes of season one episodes 12 to 16

Read more here: Outlander

Outlander is a Starz original.

Outlander’s exquisite and heartrending marriage drama within: The Paris affair

Outlander’s exquisite and heartrending marriage drama within: The Paris affair

Within the epic love story that is Outlander there is this exquisite marriage drama within – tragic, beautiful and awfully complex – as Claire and Jamie are trying to overcome trauma and survive the poisonous Paris.

”Fair’s fair” are Jamie’s first words to Claire when their real wedding night starts, after that first quick, awkward yet somewhat hot consummation of marriage that had to take place, is behind them. She asks him to take his remaining clothes off so she can look at him, circle around him and touch his body. ”Fair’s fair” he says when she is done, letting her know it’s his turn to gaze and feel her body before they give and take in that first real wedding-night bliss.

It tells the story about two persons going through crises without the marriage itself necessarily going through one, because through it all these are two persons who always try to find each other.

A (successful) marriage is about that, giving and taking, about trying to see things from the other person’s perspective, about looking into yourself and scrutinise your own actions. It’s about forgiveness and as Jaime so eloquently puts it in the end, it’s about carry your burdens together to make them bearable at all and how Jamie and Claire are trying their best, struggling through trauma and conspiracy in Paris, is so exquisitely and heartbreakingly told in the second season of Outlander.

The Wisdom of Diana Gabaldon and Ronald D. Moore

What greatly surprised me when I started watching Outlander was that it turned out to be a show about a married couple. I have always had a flare for marriage dramas, but I seldom get to enjoy any, because on TV married couples just don’t seem to be something writers know how to write about or even consider being possibly entertaining. How many crime, adventure, syfy or medical dramas features a married couple at the center?

Outlander 2x05 La Dame Blanche

Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan), the married couple, in the epic historical, adventure melodrama that is Outlander.

This side of the millennium Grey’s Anatomy comes to mind, although I’ll admit I stopped watching after season 5. There are other shows of course featuring married couples, yet few are exploring marriage as such. More recently The Americans inserted a brilliant marriage drama amidst the chilling spy business of the 1980’s cold war and surprisingly Santa Clarita Diet hid a genuinely thoughtful tale of marriage within its bloody zombie comedy. Another recent example is Joe Swanberg’s Easy that gave us interesting glimpses of one couple in his Chicago anthology.

The hypnotic marriage drama that is The Americans

So they do exist, the marriage dramas, and I’m sure there are more out there, but yet I was missing this bold, melodramatic, passionate marriage drama that is Outlander and I’m now overwhelmed how it dares to indulge in love and marriage whilst telling its historical tales sprinkled with fantasy and loads of adventure.

One might think the reason for my love for marriage dramas is because I’m a middle-aged married woman myself, but no, I got hooked on them already in my early teens when watching Dallas. Bobby and Pam captured my heart and got me on the trail of rooting for the married couple. Dallas is one of few series who told intriguing stories about married couples and did it well. Contrary to most melodramatic shows the Dallas writers didn’t seem to know what to do with their main couples when they weren’t married. This is unique I would say and why Bobby and Pam, J.R. and Sue Ellen and actually also Lucy and Mitch all remarried.

Dallas: The magnificent tale of two brothers — Happy 40!

Noticeably there has been much focus on divorce rather than marriage lately in TV, like the comedy Divorce. I guess it’s easier to find dramaturgic elements in such a premise, but done right – without building drama through contrived lies, mistakes or failures to communicate, but instead by complicated life events – the story of marriage can be fabulously fascinating to watch. This is something Outlander author Diana Gabaldon undeniably has understood and producer Ronald D. Moore was not the least afraid of.

The Marriage Drama Within

Jamie and Claire unexpectedly (for those like me who haven’t read the books) get married in episode seven of season one and from that on the pair of them is the center of the story in four seasons so far, during which Outlander captures the whole array of romance and marriage drama. I’s about a couple falling in lust, in love, overcoming trauma and loss, reconnecting and settling down. 

Outlander 2x05 at the Verseilles

Jamie and Claire being masters of self-restraint when running into Black Jack Randall at Versailles.

Within this epic love story that is Outlander there is also a smaller and so exquisite marriage drama confined to those seven episode taking place in Paris. Claire and Jamie flee there to escape his death sentence, the brutal rape as well as the physical and psychological torture that almost took his life. By now they have gotten to know each other and they have been through hell and survived. They are a strong, loving, closeknit couple who have this idea to change history while recuperating.

Four weeks of inhaling four seasons: My love letter to Outlander

These six and a half episodes are marriage drama perfection. It’s tragic, beautiful, sweet and complex as the two are trying to overcome trauma, are subjected to impossible choices and in the end suffer a tremendous loss. It tells the story about a man and woman going through crises without the marriage itself necessarily going through one, because it’s about two persons deeply in love, who always try to find the way back to each other.

Things are not black and white, also while waddling through crises life goes up and down. Outlander catches this with all the nuances and therefor feels very real. It also manages to be relevant both in the way Jamie is portrayed and in what it can mean to be a woman.

Chapter 1 – The Ghost in the Bed

The story is set off by the superb edit taking us form 20th century New York to the 18th century French harbor of Le Havre. Claire’s hesitant steps out of the airplane to Frank’s outreaching hand is juxtaposed – and accompanied with that melodramatic Outlander theme – with Claire eagerly taking Jamies hand as she smilingly steps off the boat. They look relaxed and happy with Jamie’s seasickness immediately being made fun of. Finally ashore he can’t take his eyes off his wife and he keeps kissing Claire between the jokes. The scene rings of promise that the trauma they fled is actually behind them. 

Outlander 2x01 crippled highlander

”You certainly have a high opinion of what a crippled highlander and a pregnant English woman can accomplish.”

But the next scene immediately gives another view. Jaime is in physical pain, his hand hurts and the camera lingers as he sits then lies down on the bed, still reeling from the nausea, looking taken and troubled. When Claire looks at him, he makes a joke of course, because that is what he does when things are awkward. Claire notices and considerately asks what is wrong? This couple knows how to communicate, that is not their problem. Jamie trusts her to tell her that he still feel Randall’s touch as if he was there, after which Claire assures him she will never go away. As usual he brings his humor whenever things are too dark: ”You are a hard one to get rid of, that’s for sure”. 

This scene has everything – from a general context to the context of the specific story. It stands out in the way it is not afraid to show the hero as weak, hurt, cautious, passive and someone who – wait for it – is avoiding sex. Claire is the one with the idea to change history by stopping the Scottish uprising and its final loss at Culloden Moor. Jamie is sceptic while she talks about infiltrating, money, weapons and plans. She wants this so much, maybe she see it as part of her purpose of coming here and at the same time a way for them to focus on something new and not get stuck in what was. Again, Jamie handles their different energy with humor: ”You certainly have a high opinion of what a crippled highlander and a pregnant english woman can accomplish”.

In the specific context the scene it embodies so much about Jamie, how he uses his humor, how he believes in honor, his devotion to Claire and his trust in her. ”It’s not a very honourable path you are laying out for us”. But in the end he would not not support her idea, he trusts her and he loves her. After promising he will write to his cousin for help, he cannot bring himself to kiss her and the scene ends somewhat like it started, with the ghost of Jack Randall in their bed. 

Chapter 2 – The Constant Reminders

It’s difficult to get over trauma and the problems it causes if you are constantly reminded of them. Jaime is having the most horrible nightmares featuring Claire and Jack Randall all in one bloody mess. While it’s clear that it will take time to heal, Jamie and Claire are getting on with their lives in Paris. Claire tries to aid Jamie with what she has, a positive outlook and herbs for sleep, but the reminders of the  just keeps popping up. 

Outlander 2x02 meeting annelise

A lady friend, Annelise, from Jamie’s time at war in France, shows up – I guess she was one of those Jamie practiced his kissing technique with.

First it’s the Bonnie Prince, Charles Stuart, who wants to meet Jamie at Madame Elise of all places, a brothel. Most women would probably not appreciate their husbands hanging at brothels even if it’s only for meetings, but Claire has a jealous streak, even if she has no reason. That in combination with “what’s not going in their boudoir” – as Claire’s maid rather frankly puts it to Murtagh – makes it extra sensitive. On site Jamie get to hear ”the wives” on the brothel stage presenting dildos and singing about being lonely and unhappy, which is undeniably foreshadowing what is to come.

Then Claire is trying, in her own way, to replace Jack Randall in Jamies head, first with that shaved honeypot, then with the very revealing red dress. Jamie is probably the one she wants to titillate even if it doesn’t hurt if it worked on any of the Frenchmen at court they need to get acquainted with. Jamie seems mostly bothered, like the prudish guy he sometimes is, but also because it reminds him of his failure to perform. 

It doesn’t stop there. A lady friend, Annelise, from Jamie’s time at war in France, shows up – I guess she was one of those Jamie practiced his kissing technique with – and cannot restrain from calling Jamie passionate and Claire a lucky woman. Jamie is a sensitive man. He knows when things upset Claire and is uncomfortable with the attention he gets and tries to make peace: ”It was just one little duel. An insignificant duel”. But once again, the two of them are reminded of the passionate sex they are not having. 

As if all the reminders were not enough, in the end the devil himself makes himself heard. The root of all evil, Jack Randall, is not dead after all Claire learns.

Chapter 3 – The Man of The House

Jamie in the third episode reminds me of Jamie returning to Lallybroch in season one. He wanted to show that he was the laird after all and became arrogant and pompous doing so. Part of it was trying to impress Claire for sure, but part was probably to take control of his life by taking control of Lallybroch after years on the run from the price on his head. In Paris, with Claire, he once again is trying to regain control of his life – not letting Jack Randall get a hold of it – by throwing himself into his new life, running the wine business and securing the success of their mission.

Outlander 2x03 feel good

”A purpose? I thought our purpose for living in this godforsaken city was to stop the rebellion?”

Jamie’s schedule is full not only by keeping up with Charles at the brothel and meeting the minister of finance at Versailles but also with the wine business. ”A tedious business” Jamie claims once as he leaves Claire at home, but he actually seems cheerful. Although he was not so interested in this not so honourable path, he is now embracing the action and the drama. Or so he makes us believe. When Claire asks him if he wants her to run the wine business in his place, he says no. It’s like he has to prove he is a real man, one that takes care of everything, so his wife can be at home taking it easy and just lend her ears whenever needed. He does no longer want to be the weak man that was raped, surrendered and had to be saved. 

In parallell with Jamie becoming the man of the house, Claire becomes the conventional wife instead of the ”unusual wife she used to be” as she tells her friend the pharmacist. She is unhappy, lonely and bored, alone in her bed with nothing better to do than rest and then drink tea with her shallow friends. Whenever Jamie is home she has to run after him through the house to even have a chance of talking to him and when she is not around when he comes home – because she found some purposeful work at the charity hospital – he is mad that she was not there for him to discuss the day’s events. Suddenly they are living separate lives and are just awkwardly civil to each other when their paths do cross.

It’s such a classic marriage conflict, but it’s beautifully told in how smaller conflicts are fought over and if not resolved at least addressed, only to later be replaced by darker and more complex ones. Claire and Jamie still talk to each other, although upset, and when Claire tells him she wants purposeful things to do he suddenly bursts: ”A purpose? I thought our purpose for living in this godforsaken city was to stop the rebellion?” continued by ”When do I get to feel good? When do I get to find meaning in my day?” He is disappointed that their cause seems to fail, but it’s also an admission of this as something he does to keep himself occupied and that he still is far from healed from his trauma. Suddenly he stops pretending to be happy about spending long nights with the Bonnie Prince. 

But after rain comes shine when Jamie somewhat sheepishly comes to the hospital to get musical help from mother Hildegaard at the hospital. Finally they are working together, nodding in agreement, solving a puzzle and Jamie is the man of reason and devotion again, who regrets his words and makes a peace offering – ”to my wife, who is always there when I need her” – and his first Sassenach in a long time. 

Chapter 4 – That Heartbreaking Confession

Paris is a poisonous place for our couple, literally, as someone is trying to hurt Claire. Jamie worries about her and the unborn bairn and it’s nice how the they are not hostile and unconnected all the time. The information about Jack Randall being alive actually put Jamie in a good mood. Now he can be the one who kills him. One thing that makes this marriage drama so captivating is how they show how life goes up and down, even in the bad phase they are in now. There are moments when they in good mood discuss their cause, seemingly happy and devoted to each other. Then there is a slip of the tongue – ”now I have something to look forward to.” 

Outlander 2x04 Struggling?!?

“Struggling!?! Do you know what I’v been struggling with? Trying to be patient with you and understanding. And all the while I’ve been dealing with carrying our child.”

Every time we might think that Jamie is on the mends he slips a new clue that he is really not. That healing process is so realistically captured. Having a child on the way is not magically gonna change that process. And Outlander does not forget to show how frustrating it is for the spouse, to helplessly watch your beloved suffer without being able to either help or share your own worries and concerns. “Struggling!?! Do you know what I’v been struggling with? Trying to be patient with you and understanding. And all the while I’ve been dealing with carrying our child.”

Claire has been all alone in this, and as she remarks, they have not even discussed names until someone asked. On the surface Jamie has been happy about it of course, wanting Claire to rest and take it easy, but he has not really been able to embrace it and actually look forward to it. Finally Claire, after Jamies failed attempt to explain his bite-in with a prostitute, demands answers and Jamie obliges, giving us a heartbreaking visualisation of what being raped and tortured really feels: ”That is where I have been ever since, Claire. Naked. Alone. Trying to hide under a blade of grass.”

On Claire’s determined initiative, they find their way back to each other in the boudoir and later on she even gets to show her sarcastic side. ”Seems like a bite” she tells the Bonnie Prince who has literally dropped by, ”an epidemic around here”. For now everything is good between them again, despite the poison of doing those bad things for good reasons. 

Chapter 5 – The Abyss Between Them

In the chaotic aftermath of their lavish dinner party, with Jamie back from prison, they finally start talking about the baby. Jamie is caressing her stomach before bringing the apostle spoons he has sent for. Claire shares her fear of becoming a mother, of being good enough and Jamie promises they will learn together. He is a modern man. Their love – and yes, they exchange rare ”I love you”s – in the midst of all trauma have grown into so much more than passion and desire by now. 

Outlander 2x05 must I bare everones weakness
”Must I bare everyone’s weakness. May I not have my own.”

During the scene it’s impossible not the get an ominous feeling, because even if you haven’t read the books, you know this pregnancy cannot possibly be the same as the one when Claire returns to the 20th century in the season opener. That can only mean this one does not end well. Yet, the scene is comforting as they take turn listening. Claire gets to talk about her fears and Jamie is the reassuring one. They are in the end always supportive of each other and you just know they will survive anything.

The worst is yet to come though. They may have gotten rid of Jack Randall from their marital bed, but now he turns up in flesh instead and Jamie cannot but politely challenge him to a duel. Suddenly Claire realises that Jack Randall needs to live yet another year for 20th century Frank to be born, but begging Jamie not to kill the mad bastard yet sets off another burst of anger and bitterness over the overwhelming demand to be strong for other people, when you hardly know how to stay strong for yourself: ”Must I bare everyone’s weakness. May I not have my own.”

Diana Gabaldon sure knows how to throw a conflict that seem unsolvable: ”You’d stop me taking vengeance of the man who had me play his whore? A man who lived in my nightmares, in our bed and almost drove me to take my life.” But Jamie is the honourable man, always, and just the mention from Claire about a possible debt of life makes him surrender. She gets his word, but his body no longer. ”Do not touch me!” is his final words as the deepest abyss opens between them.

Chapter 6 – A Man of Reason

In the beginning Outlander sets out to be a story about a woman travelling back in time, but it does not take long to realise it’s also very much about a man, a sensitive and sensible 18th century man that aided by a woman is formed to the modern man he can be. The Paris episodes has Jamie delve deeply into himself. He gets terribly upset about what Claire asks of him, but he doesn’t stay mad and when we meet them in this episode they are at peace again as Jamie massages Claire’s feet as she is half lying at the couch.

Outlander 2x06 promise me

“I didn’t give you Randall’s life in payment of a debt. I owe Frank nothing. You had a free choice between us and you chose me.”

Jamie is a grownup who doesn’t let his anger and bitterness linger. It’s not like he magically lets go, he is a man that feels strongly, but he doesn’t always let his heart decide, but also his head. He reasons, he tries to make sense of things and reaches into himself to understand his feelings. He can also put those feelings behind and think about his wife and child and what would be best for them. This makes him a rather unusual character and this of course one thing that make his and Claire’s relationship mature and deep while the drama gets intriguing and captivating. 

Jaime is a man of honor, but he is also rational. He has saved Claires life as often as she has saved his, so they are actually even, he reasons. Fair’s fair as he has stated before. ”I didn’t give you Randall’s life in payment of a debt. I owe Frank nothing. You had a free choice between us and you chose me.” Jamie is generous and wants only the best for the woman he loves, but he is not weak. He gave Claire Jack’s life, not because of a debt, but because Claire should have a place to go if they fail to stop the uprising and all the death at Culloden.

He is compliant in a way – he will forgive Claire anything she does – yet not in all. He damands things in return – fair’s fair. This time it is a promise from Claire, that she will go back through the stones if the time should come. He wants her to be with someone who loves her, because that is who he is. They are sweet and caring. All that wanting from season one has turned into deep loving.

“We always find a way back to each other”, Jamie reassures her when Claire worries about that last scheme Jamie is up to to stop Charles. And that of course applies as much for them in regards to their conflicts. Through the arguments and the sadness they always find a way back to each other, because they work on it. Always. That is why they are not afraid to fight, they know this. Also the lust is back now. And let it be clear, their sex scenes – much more sparse obviously in this season since sex scenes always aid the story – can be short, show no flesh and be in the midst of baby-talk, yet be hot as hell because of that heavy breathing and worked up noises they both can’t help but to make.

Chapter 7 – A Day of Faith

As a woman you are always alone with your pregnancy, your worries and – when things go horribly wrong – your grief. As much as the father wants to be a part of it he cannot fully, he is not carrying the child, feeling it, worrying about in the same way. In this case of course Jamie is literally not there. Claire’s baby is gone. Just as he was busy conspiring day and night earlier, now he is nowhere to be found. Unintentionally, seeking vengeance for the living child (Fergus, who more and more become part of the family) became more pressing than protecting the unborn.

Outlander 2x07 claire with baby

It’s not only that Claire lost their baby. It’s the fact that he was not around when it happened. He wasn’t there when she needed him. He wasn’t there in her grief. 

For Claire it feels like she lost a husband as well as a child. ”My sins are all I have left” she tells the priest ready to perform her list rites. She miraculously survives and again has to get her husband out of jail. Sleeping with the king to do it hardly registers with her at all: ”If it comes to sacrifice my virtue, mother, I’ll add it to the list of things I’ve already lost in Paris.”

At the dreaded return, we don’t see Jamie’s face at first, just his very heavy steps up the stairs. Claire’s face is cold. It’s not only that she lost their baby – perhaps caused by all the commotion of the duel – it’s also the fact that he wasn’t around when it happened. He wasn’t there when she needed him, he wasn’t there in her grief. She wants to blame him, but in the end she can’t, because just like Jamie she scrutinises her own actions and tries seeing things from his perspective, realising her request was too much to ask. 

So they are even. No matter how much she tried, Jamie was alone with his trauma, and now Claire is alone with hers, although he is back at her side. But no, a successful marriage is of course not about being even, but about giving and taking, about all the things Jamie and Claire are trying their best to do. It’s about forgiveness, having faith in each other and as Jaime so eloquently puts it in the end, it’s about carry your burdens together to make them bearable at all. 

Read more here: Outlander

Outlander is a Starz original.

 

 

 

 

Outlander: Those early, messy, mixed emotions in The Way Out

Outlander: Those early, messy, mixed emotions in The Way Out

The incredibly busy but emotionally messy The Way Out with Claire looking for ways out while Jamie’s looking for ways in is one of the episodes (on top of the obvious) that stands out to me after binging all four seasons.

Outlander immediately caught my interest with the first two episodes, but it was with the third one, The Way Out, that got me addicted. Looking back it is amazing how much action is packed into one episode without it feeling rushed or crowded – the sweet flirting and the ominous recital during the singing in the hall, the somewhat superfluous tendering of wounds that turns into breathtaking tension and then the adventurous saving of not one but two little boys.

While Claire goes from planning to leave to planning to escape, Jamie in turn goes from happily realising Claire isn’t leaving to blissfully ignoring the fact that she she still wants to do just that.

The scenes all get their due time as Jamie and Claire can’t seem to quite keep their emotions in check all the while she is exploring ways to get out and he ways to get in. Claire is so occupied with her thoughts of leaving that she just plainly ignores the attraction she feels and unabashedly tries to draw Jamie’s attention to Laoghaire. For Jamie, the realisation that the goodbye in last episode wasn’t in fact a goodbye seems to set him in a happy, hopeful mood.

Outlander 1x03 flirting Jamie places himself so promptly between Claire and Laoghaire during the evening entertainment at the hall just to show minimum attention to the latter as he chats up the former. He is clearly in awe of Claire and not afraid to kick off some light-hearted flirting with typical jokes about wine and drunkenness. It doesn’t take long for the excuses to keep coming – first the one about the bandage itching, the second one about the need to get her ”home” safely, while she can still stand – before it all becomes calm and intimate as they sit down in the surgery.

It is Jamie himself that has a wee problem standing up straight as he starts experiencing that feeling of how he can hardly breath when being near her.

Already in the second episode Jamie demonstrates how he immediately trusts her and feels comfortable in her presence. He tells her about his back as she tends to his wounds and give away he is an outlaw without hesitation. ”You asked” was one explanation then and ”you seem to have a knack for letting me know you feel sorry for it, without making me feel pitiful about it” is one now on why he didn’t mind sharing the flogging story.

Outlander 1x03 Jamie being undressedAnd Jamie was right, the wine has made Claire a little bit intoxicated, which makes Claire give in to her feelings for a brief moment. She does not want Jamie to leave and now it’s her turn to use his wound as an excuse. She might as well take a look at it and while she is untying his neckwear, it is Jamie himself that has a wee problem standing up straight as he starts experiencing that feeling of how he can hardly breath when being near her. Claire is not untouched either and Jamie is the one breaking that thick air between them and says he should leave, which he does, but not without turning around giving her one indicative, last look.

Outlander 1x03 Jamie turning aroundIt’s like the encounter overwhelms Jamie (as well as us) and makes him lose his mind a bit. It’s no doubt Laoghaire is the instigator in the making out session in the hallway. She pulls Jamie by his hand as he seems somewhat reluctant. Then she pulls his head towards hers to kiss him. When Jamie sees Claire, gazes at her, he answers Laoghaires kiss more eagerly. Instead of stopping it becomes provocative: ”Is this what you wanted?” he seems to ask Claire before we are teased about what else might go down between him and Laoghaire out of sight.

Outlander 1x03 Claire the teaserIf a reaction from Claire is what he wanted at the time, Jamie seems to regret his actions the moment he gets one at the dinner table. He looks sheepish when she teases him about the kiss, but that does not make her stop. And she can convince herself all she wants that she was only jealous of the intimacy itself, not Laogharie specifically, but if she wasn’t why teasing the poor lad about it.

Murtagh shows how clear-sighted he is, knowing already now that Claire is a perfect fit for his godson.

The scene is foreshadowing not only what happens with Laoghaire of course, but also of this one slight character flaw of Claire. She is perfectly cool in many ways on top of being tough, outspoken and fearless, but she does get jealous, of men and women that take or might not take an interest in Jamie. And yes, I love a woman with a flaw. After some initial confusion about what fillies they are talking about, Murtagh shows how clear-sighted he is, knowing already now that Claire is a perfect fit for his godson. “It’s not the wife he should have. He needs a woman not a lassie.”

Outlander 1x03 Murtagh at the tableJamie looks somewhat wary when he shows up to collect Claire at Geillis, but Claire, also regretting her actions, puts him out of it right away by wanting him to help with the boy nailed to a pole. They are beautifully in sync when she pretends to faint as he frees the boy and then helps picking her up from the ground. “You wouldn’t expect me to be less bold than a wee sassenach lassie, now would you?” The friendship is restored and then sweetly elaborated upon when Claire asks of him another favour, to take her to the kirk so she can understand what can have happened to the sick boy.

That disappointed look at his face when she says she will never get out of here, says everything about what he feels, yet her words doesn’t discourage him.

And again it’s hard to not think about what’s coming, the knack Jamie Fraser has for saving boys, like Fergus who they kind of adopt in Paris and young Ian, who makes Jamie to be his surrogate father when Edinburgh is just more fascinating than Lallybroch.

Outlander 1x03 in cahootsAfter having performed her miracles, saving the boy Tammas from poisoning, she meets Jamie at the stable who explains Colum will never want her to leave now. That disappointed look at his face when she says she will never get out of here, says everything about what he feels, yet her words doesn’t discourage him. It’s rather the opposite. He seems determined to make the most of the time with he has with her.

This second time in the hall he not only seeks her out, he actually grabs her hand,

While Claire in the episode goes from planning to leave to planning to escape when being a good healer won’t do the trick, Jamie in turn goes from happily realising Claire isn’t leaving after all to blissfully ignoring the fact that she she still most of all wants to do just that.

Outlander 1x03 grabbing the hand betterThis second time in the hall he not only seeks her out, as he did before, sitting down beside her, he actually grabs her hand, leading her through the hall, wanting to protect her from the stares, getting the best seats possible and reciting the English words of the sad, beautiful song. Claire happily follows him, giving in at least to the fact that she likes being with him, at the same time as that song make her determined to start planning her escape. Watching them struggle with but also embrace all those emotions running through their minds during this episode is a pure delight.

Outlander rewatch: My wee notes on season one episodes (part I)

For more on OutlanderOutlander

Outlander: The one that comes for Claire

Who is the highlander looking at Claire in the pilot? A Scottish soldier she had tended to in the war like Frank imagined or someone else?

After binging all four seasons of Outlander, a question that haunted me was who the highlander was that stared at Claire in the window, while in Inverness with Frank on her second honeymoon? Who came to pick her up and bring her back in time? Someone who’s been around told me that Diana Gabaldon herself had said that it was the ghost of Jamie that came to collect Claire.

Outlander 1x01 The Pilot Sassenach

Who is there to collect Claire?

Having rewatched the pilot again I can see how that fit in. Frank thought it was a Scottish soldier that she had tended to in the second world war that now had come to reconnect with her. And that would be true in a way, only it was another war, in another time.

Yet, in my imagination it isn’t so. In my imagination it is Murtagh, ghost or in the flesh, that comes for Claire. It is Murtagh who finds her in the woods and saves her from Randall. It is Murtagh who then brings her back to the cottage where she saves Jamie’s arm from being mauled. If Claire hadn’t fixed his arm — and later not warned them about about potential redcoat ambush — Jamie would perhaps not survived that battle. Murtagh made sure that would not happen.

Outlander 1x03 Murtagh at the table

“It’s not the wife Jamie should have. He needs a woman, not a lassie.”

Later, in episode three, when Claire is teasing Jamie for fooling around with Laoghaire, Murtagh tells her Laoghaire is not the wife Jamie should have. He needs a woman, not a lassie, he says. There is no doubt that Murtagh is hinting that Claire is the right wife for Jamie. It’s like he knows it’s supposed to happen.

Also Murtagh is the only one, except for the monk, that knows about the time travelling. Murtagh cares so much Jamie, he is his god father and Jamie really is like a son to him. So in my imagination it is Murtagh coming for Claire making sure that Jamie survives and that he and Claire get together.

Outlander 1x01 forget-me-nots

Forget-Me-Nots.

I do however imagine that Jamie has something do with the Forget-Me-Nots growing by the stones.

Outlander is a Starz original.

For more on OutlanderOutlander

Four weeks of inhaling four seasons: My love letter to Outlander

Four weeks of inhaling four seasons: My love letter to Outlander

Although I hoped Outlander to be a show I could fall hopelessly in love with, the emotional turmoil this passionate tale of love, family and the sacrifices it comes with stirred up was far more than I could have imagined.

Be careful what you wish for. Being absorbed by a tv show is in one way magical but it is also exhausting with all the emotions that comes with it. After being obsessed with Nashville a couple of years ago then by ER after my rewatch recently I felt at peace with watching magical but short and non-addictive 10-episode a season shows. Yet, something within me longed to find another delicious drama that would allow me to dive whole-heartedly into it.

I couldn’t help but laugh and thinking the show should be called Everybody Loves Jamie. Except Claire of course, Jack Randall, Laoghaire and John Grey were in love with him and the Duke of Sandringham.

I’ve never read anything about Outlander, but I’ve seen the title and the romance/fantasy description together with pictures of a past-time world, and have put it in the back of my mind as something to check out when cravings for something juicy surfaced. And so I did at the end of May this year. After watching the first episode, Sassenach, I immediately longed for more. The story of world war II combat nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) – who on a vacation trip to Scotland with her historian husband is hurled back to the 1743 Scottish highland – is gripping, brutal and of course utterly hot and romantic. Based on the novels of Diana Gabaldon, which again I’ve never read, the story is told and unfolds in its own unique way and no, it did not take long until I was back in that bewitching prison of obsession. I’m starting to inhale.

Season 1 and the ever imminent threat of rape

There is something very endearing with the young highlander falling head over heals in love with the somewhat older, experienced outlander literally blowing into his life. With a simple ”aye” from Jamie (Sam Heughan) he admits that things do hurt now when Claire is roughly adjusting the provisional bandages of the gun wound he forgot to mention, she at least throws off part of the frustration of having to ride with this band of highlanders that picked her up. Me, I fell hard and Jamie himself admitted later of course that it was then and there he knew they belonged together.

Outlander 1x01 Aye in Sassenach

And “Aye” is all that is needed for me to fall hard and for Claire at least to relax in Sassenach.

Although we get the mandatory scenes of titillating attraction deliciously setup, Outlander does not indulge in any drawn-out will-they-won’t-they scenario. Instead the hero and heroine get together rather quickly, in a totally unpredicted way though that makes the union all the more interesting. All that repressed passion that suddenly is not for daydreaming anymore but something that is required to act upon.

The revelation the day after, that this is his goodbye just added utter heartbreak to a scene already both incredibly sexy and sweet.

The sex scenes deserves a whole post of their own, and a lot is obviously already written, but let me just state how ravishing it is that a show about romance and passion not only indulges in those scenes, but makes them important and useful in the way they carefully tell the story. It’s not only how explicit they are, but how expressive, as we we get to behold it all – the foreplay, the act and the finish as well as the pillow talk afterwards. My favourite one is undeniably the one from episode eleven, The Devil’s Mark, after Claire has detailed all to Jamie and they are on their way home. By the fireplace Jamie is sneaking his hand up under her long skirt wanting nothing but giving and watching her. The revelation the day after, that this is his goodbye just added utter heartbreak to a scene already both incredibly sexy and sweet.  

OUtlander 1x11 sexy and sweet in The Devil's Mark

It’s all about her pleasure, not his, in The Devil’s Mark.

Amidst all the captivating highland drama season one convey the horrifying notion of how the threat of rape is always imminent. Although not generally sanctioned by the McKenzies, the clan bringing Claire with them, the risk is still always lurking when the drunken men are around. Then of course with the English red coats in general and Black Jack Randal in particular, the threat is more evident and Claire does not escape it when deserted red rocks find her and Jamie in the highland. But Outlander does not stop there of course.

Outlander rewatch: My wee notes on season one episodes 6 to 11

When Jamie first told Claire that he thought about agreeing to Randalls proposal to give him his body instead of being flogged a second time, I wondered if they really were gonna go there. First it seemed they wouldn’t, but a few episodes later it was clear they would flip the coin and not only go there and show it as explicit as any other scene, Outlander took the terror, the rape and the total surrender further than I could have imagined, making the final one of the most emotionally brutal episodes I ever watched. 

Outlander 1x16 Jamie in To Ransom a Man's Soul

The final surrender in To Ransom a Man’s Soul.

Neither had I imagined finding such an intriguing, passionate and heartbreaking story. I honestly hold season one of Outlander the most brilliant and beautiful season of any show. Of course it’s not only about Jamie and Claire, although I never gonna hear another ”babe” or any first syllable based nickname from boyfriends sounding very loving, cute or romantic again – sassenach is the only term of endearment that will do the trick now. No one could ever make anything sound so sweet, loving and admiring as Jamie does when he calls Claire, his precious outlander, just that. Outlander is also such an adventurous and dramatic escapism that make British history in general interesting and the story of clan life in particular.

Season 2 and the sacrifices you make

Watching Dallas as a young teenager, Bobby and Pam became my first obsession and the start of my fondness of marriage drama. It has never been a common dramatic focus in tv shows, never seen as interesting enough I assume. But done right of course it is and lately it has changed and marriage dramas have popped up in the most intricate forms, like spy drama The Americans and the zombie comedy Santa Clarita Diet. I did not expect  a marriage drama from Outlander, yet, that is what I surprisingly got.

The fear of loosing yet another child aided the noble idea of sending pregnant Claire away to be with Frank. Anything to protect her and the unborn child this time as he failed to do before.

The second season starts off, first shortly with the one with Claire and Frank then more urgently, the one with Claire and Jamie in Paris. Watching Jamie flee into the lying, cheating, manipulative world of  brothels and Bonnie Prince Charlie, with the attempt to avoid the Scottish uprising, desperately trying to forget the brutal sexual trauma he almost did not survive hurts to watch. So does Claire’s story of how she is totally alone – as women in one way alway are – while going through the motions of pregnancy, in her despair and with her grief. 

Outlander’s exquisite and heartrending marriage drama within: The Paris affair

Outlander 2x07 Claire in Faith

Alone in her grief in Faith.

The way Outlander tells the most painful stories with help of flashbacks accentuates the emotional turmoil. We don’t learn the full account of what happened between Jamie and Randall in until Jamie tells Claire the story. In the same way in Faith, we don’t get the last gripping details of Claire losing the baby until she tells the devastated Jamie, who by his own fault was imprisoned. Both feeling hopelessly at fault for what happened, Jamie suggest the only way to move forward is to bear the burden together as they go back to Scotland. The mid-season finale left scars.

The second half with all the preparations and the actual war against England shows how everything you want comes with sacrifices. War comes with it of course – to win something you will lose something, usually someone – so does love and life. The fear of losing yet another child aids the noble idea of sending pregnant Claire away to be with Frank. Anything to protect her and the unborn child this time as he failed to do before, thinking he is bound and proud to die on the battlefield.

Outlander 2x13 goodbye Claire dragonfly in amber

Saying goodbye in Dragonfly in Amber.

But Jamie gets to live, he survives Culloden Moor and against all odds the following hanging, but the price of most likely never seeing his child and wife again is already paid.

Season 3 and the families you build

Although both the start and end of season two give away the beginning of season three I didn’t quite realise that Outlander would go there, 20 years ahead, making Jamie and Claire middle-aged. It was a bold move, but of course it is the only thing that would make sense in making the fantasy real. When raiding through the episodes of their separate lives and reunion I realised I was not taking it in proper and I actually had to take a break. Not all shows can lightly be binged in a few days or weeks. There has to be time for processing and reflecting. After returning to a few days later to finish season three the whole season caught up with me and I felt gutted by the way it’s all about family. The family you build when you cannot have your own, like Frank do, or the one create when you cannot be with yours, like Jamie do. 

Again Outlander never doubts what it is about and gives Claire and Jamie no less than 30 uninterrupted minutes of intimate relationship drama that includes food, conversation and sex in rounds

The long sought-after reunion in A. Malcolm was given just the time and space it needed. Again Outlander never doubts what it is about and gives Claire and Jamie no less than 30 uninterrupted minutes of intimate relationship drama that includes food, conversation and sex in rounds adding on depth and details of getting to know each other and that desire again. But any form true love demands its sacrifices.

The decision to ship Claire back to the future to raise Brianna with Frank seemed urgent at the time, but now it comes back to bite Jamie. It makes him bitter and although he probably mostly blames himself, he repeated takes it out on Claire with phrases such as ”when you left me” and statements like ”but I didn’t get to raise her, did I?” At the same time Claire is blaming him for trying to have some kind of life after being on the run, in prison etc. Again, the only way to get over their sorrow bitterness is to carry also this burden together.

Outlander 3x08 whisky is a liquid no?

“Whisky is a liquid, no?” Jamie is mustering up some needed humor in First Wife.

It is easy to think that it’s all serious passion and drama, but Jamie has not lost his sense of humor and tries it on – “whisky is a liquid, no? – when once again having his wounds tended by Claire, before embarking on the tale of a lonely man wanting a chance of becoming a husband and a father.

Just as women live under the threat of being raped, men live under the threat of not getting to raise their children. The child goes with the mother, whether it is for safety or because of class, marriage status or other. Jaime does not get to raise any of his children, or see them even, but he takes care of others coming his way. Already in Paris the brothel orphan Fergus was added to the family, then Marsali and her sister back at Lallybroch and finally the adventurous young Ian. It hurts worse than a bayonet in the heart when Claire of all people reminds him of that he is not the boy’s father.

Outlander 3x13 season 3 finale

Jamie’s longing for a family makes season three such a heart-rendering season.

Jamie’s season three journey from the dead man living in a cave, through prison life and stable work, watching his kid grow from the sideline or not at all and finally trying get build a normal life is nothing but heart-rending and when the saving young Ian at the end was a fact it was impossible to stop those happy tears.

Season 4 and finding where you belong

Of course the show had to go to America, or The Colonies as it still was. I love how it kept teasing us about Brianna then just threw in the oh so anticipated return of Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) instead. In the next episode John Grey showed up with William in toe, which made for one very memorable scene – maybe because I did not expect it at all – the conversation between John and Claire on his near-death bed. It’s easy to think Claire is the perfectly cool, British woman, but she is not. She is jealous, we’ve seen it before, and John calls her out in it. I never thought of her seeing John as a rival, but of course, he is in love with Jamie and raising his child, at the same time as Jamie sees him as a dear friend. 

Outlander 4x05 Savages Murtagh

Finally, in Savages, we got to know what happened to Murtagh.

When we get to meet Laoghaire back in Scotland in the following episode and the obvious fact she isn’t over Jamie, I couldn’t help but laugh and thinking the show should be called Everybody Loves Jamie. Except Claire of course, Jack Randall, Laoghaire and John Grey were in love with him and the Duke of Sandringham was an additional bloke having expressed his fondness for the redheaded man. On top of that we saw the random woman at the silver smith flirting very overtly with him and judging by the way he brushed off Brianna in that funnily mundane and odd first meeting, this is something that happen regularly.

Murtagh is finally finding somewhere he belongs and so is actually young Ian in such a riveting story.

It doesn’t take long from when grown up Brianna arrives until the trials and tribulations of parenthood makes things go haywire. Suddenly Jamie and Claire are not the confidants they usually are and It’s incredibly sad, because the actions are so damaging. For the second time the different times and cultures clashes big time. Brianna has to decide where she belongs, but she is not the only one on the path of finding that answer.

Season four seems to be about finding where you belong. Mr. Willoughby or Yi Tien Cho, who had been lost since leaving China found his place with Margaret already at the end of season three, Murtagh is finally finding somewhere he belongs and so is actually young Ian in such a riveting story. Fergus is struggling to fit in with his severed arm, but with Marsali and Murtagh’s help he now also knows where he should be. That Jamie belongs with Claire, he knew from day one, but he is still on a journey of parenthood as well as on which side of the law he wants to be.

Outlander 1x01 The Pilot Sassenach

Who is there to collect Claire?

Claire realises already in season one where she belongs, although she had to reconfirm it when coming back. In season four it’s more about settling down together in this new place to call home and Claire somehow serves more as a catalyst to Jamie’s journey than so much doing one herself although of course she is faced with sacrifices and traumas of her own. So who was it, the highlander peeking at her window in the pilot? Who was there to collect her? Because that is what happened, isn’t it? He came to pick her up, to ensure she came back in time, because she had a place and a purpose there. Time to exhale, but seriously, I’m so ready for season five.

Outlander is a Starz original.

Appendix. So, I’ve been told that it’s Jamie’s ghost we see in the pilot coming for Claire, and yes, rewatching Both Sides Now, the drawing at the Inverness police station looks like Jamie for sure, except for the bonnet, which he seldom wears. Someone else does though and in my imagination it is someone else who we see:
Outlander: The one that comes for Claire

For more OutlanderOutlander

My Favourite Nashville: Three elevator rides and a kiss

In I’ve Been Down That Road Before (1×12), it’s all about the desire and fear to change, and the desire and fear to give in, for Juliette and Rayna respectively, in this episode that could just as well be called Three Rides and a Kiss.

Some episodes, in all their richness, can best be described by the the longest texts, but others are just better depicted in other ways. I’ve Been Down That Road Before, in season 1, is that kind of epic episode where pictures and quotes speak for themselves. But let’s get the less important stuff out of the way first.

Scarlett threw out Avery thinking he had been cheating with his new agent, Marilyn. She has no money and finally asks Gunnar to be her roommate. Avery who of course didn’t start sleeping with Marilyn until after Scarlett threw him out, is quite unhappy with that arrangement, breaks it off with her and is on a quest to make nice with Scarlett. But he is too cocky, trying to brag about his success and it all ends in a fight with Gunnar, which for sure does not make Scarlett and Gunnar less friendly with each other.

Teddy and Rayna has discussed their marriage and Teddy doesn’t know what to do anymore to make it better. Rayna has promised that she is not meeting with Deacon again and going on tour will give them both time to think. Teddy though kind of stops thinking when he runs into his old friend Peggy after he hears that Deacon is actually on the tour.

With that out of the way, let’s focus on those notorious days in Chicago.

Deacon makes a surprise entrance on the plain to Chicago and Juliette can’t but gloat about having Deacon in her band and notices that Rayna doesn’t look at her once on the flight to Chicago. Rayna knows exactly how to turn it around though to convince Juliette that she is neither pissed or jealous.

Rayna and Juliette
“I’m amazed you had nothing better to do on that plain ride than just to look over at me to see if I was looking at you”

It takes a lot of people to make a good show, Juliette then explains to Deacon when they arrive at the hotel.

Deacon and Juliette
“Really? Johnny Cash only needed three.”

Rayna next somewhat accidentally steps into the elevator Deacon is already on and the awkwardness just shuts the tiny room up.

Rayna and Deacon in the elevator
Teddy is not happy to hear that Deacon is on the tour, when he and Rayna are taking time apart to think about their marriage.

Teddy on the phone
“You know Rayna, I get it. You didn’t know anything about Deacon, you didn’t plan any of this. Life is a bitch sometimes and you are processing. Did we cover it all?”

Rayna is fabulous on stage in the evening performing one of her signature songs, Already Gone.

Rayna on the stage
Juliette follows up with her glitzy show, belting it out in I’m a Girl!

Juliette on the stage
But after Deacon’s eye-rolling looks at her, she takes his words to heart, suddenly thinking her show has too much glitter and stuff. Glenn is NOT supportive when she somewhat accusingly asks him if she ever will be able to change.

Juliette and Glenn back stage
“A left turn now could be an exit out to obscurity.”

Rayna can’t really get over that Deacon joined Juliette’s tour, uses an excuse to get him over to talk and pretends to casually ask him what he is doing. Deacon has a straight answer for her.

Rayna and Deacon after the show
“I play guitar for people who pay me money. That’s what I do.”

Juliette might be confident being that diva, the big star on stage, but when it comes to being personal, her insecurities pops up. To be yourself is scary, cause what if she isn’t liked? Juliette wants to be liked, but she’ll settle for adored. Only with Deacon does she dare to voice her fears.

Deaocn and Juliette in her suite
“What if I decide to walk away from being that girl and no one comes with me?”

Deacon has become a good friend to Juliette after that disastrous beginning of theirs, listening, giving her support and advise. He knows what Rayna would have done, stay true to herself, and no, he replies, he was not always there to help her evolve.

Deacon and Juliette in her suite
“There’s thinking about doing something, and there’s just doing it.”

Rayna just can’t get over that Deacon is there and keeps letting him hear it next time they end up in the elevator together. Also because it bugs her that he refuses to talk to her.

Rayna and Deacon in the elevator
“Never thought I’d see the day you’d be singing Boys and Buses with Juliette Barnes day in and day out, but you know, life never ceases to amaze.”

Well, Juliette took Deacon’s advise and starts her next show with a slow, emotional song and he follows her lead.

Juliette and Deacon on the stage
Glenn is not any happier and lets Deacon know that in all possible, rude ways, which Deacon continuously refutes until he’s kind of fed up.

Glenn telling Deacon to stay in his lane
“Tell me how you really feel, Glenn?”

Deacon decides it’s time to stop thinking himself and start doing. I guess we can thank Glenn for what happens in that third elevator ride, which Deacon rushes to get on.

Rayna and Deacon in the elevator kissing
“Rayna! I’m done talking”

Sometimes words are just not the only way to explain a feeling.

Rayna in the elevator
And sometimes the unexpected turns up outside the door.

Rayna and Teddy
Well, even if the words of First Aid Kit are streaming out in hotel room, the elevator, the corridor and penthouse,

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me

it was not the time for Rayna and Deacon to sing together again just yet.

The episode was written by Meredith Lavender and Marcie Ulin and directed by Stephen Cragg.

Funny note! Stephen Cragg has also directed one of my favourite ER episodes, Bloodline, from season 13.

Read my other Favourite Nashville posts here: My Favourite Nashville

If you like ER, my Abby and Luka post are here: ER’s Abby and Luka

The Affair season 1: A bad-scented soap wrapped in exquisite paper

Season 1 of The Affair is best when it deals with the marriages, which come off as far more interesting than the affair. While the actors, scene and direction is of high quality, the script is trivial and unoriginal. 

I have finally suffered through season 1 of The Affair, for Maura Tierney only, and nothing else. It really comes out as a bad scented soap wrapped in exquisite paper. The actors are good, Tierney is great and I love Mare Winningham, the setting is elegant, the direction impeccable, but the script is just simple, flat and trivial, there is nothing original or nuanced about it.

Helen the Affair.I loved the pilot. It was a vibrant view of family drama and everyday married life. What followed was five episodes of a relentlessly boring affair and seeing it from Noah’s (Dominic West) side and Alison’s (Ruth Wilson) side after one another, and their different recollections of things, didn’t make it more interesting. Episode seven and eight, I found more fascinating, because these were about the marriages, and the marriages are just far more interesting than the affair. The episodes gave us insights in why they were cheating, what emotions were really afloat in their lives and what fetters they were trying to escape. There was history and expectations that made the story richer.

Some of the characters feels like typical clichés, Winninghams matriarch is one, the arrogant restaurant owner, Oscar, another and also Alisons mother comes off as a stereotype. Tierney makes Helen intriguing though, but Joshua Jackson’s Cole could for sure have been deepened a bit.

Episode nine had a really touching Alison part and for once we really got to know her and see her. It revealed so clearly how the affair and everything she did was a way to process her grief. For the first time we also got to know what the crime investigated was really about, another thing that kind of bored me to sleep during those other five episodes.

Helen and Noah
The finale I found kind of plain and undistinguished, just dolled up enough to make us wonder about season 2. I’m still not convinced Noah and Alison actually love each other, they still mainly seem to search for something new, something different that will make them feel something new.

Yes, I will get through the next season as well, since Tierney got an Emmy for it and she’ll make it worth while, I’m sure.

For more of Maura Tierney, check my ER pageER’s Abby and Luka

How a show called Nashville changed my life!

The last week of October, on autumn school break, I brought my husband and two daughters, 9 and 13 years old, to Nashville.  We had the most fabulous vacation, quite unexpected, and I thought I’d tell you how we ended up there, and how a TV show can impact lives, my life! 

IMG_0965 I’ve always been a TV and movie buff, but I must admit, the number of hours spent in front of a TV or in a movie theater had seriously decreased the last couple of years. I lost a bit of interest in movies, and although TV was getting better and better (and more and more), since the TV and only laptop always seemed to be occupied by the kids, I found myself watching less and less.

So it was really by accident, in January 2013, I saw a TV panel discuss new shows coming the Swedes way. One in particular caught my interest, since it had Connie Britton in it, whom I loved from the fantastic Texas football drama Friday Night Lights. Hayden Panettiere, who was the most adorable, unbreakable cheerleader in Heroes, and Eric Close, the most handsome guy from Without a Trace, was also in it. That it was a drama, set in Nashville and told the story of the world of country music, seemed just like so much fun.

I set the recording to the digital box for the first episode, but then forgot about it (or maybe the TV was occupied) and forgot to record the next episode. Then after a couple of weeks I noticed that TV3 would air the first five episodes in a row on Saturday afternoon. After episode two I was hooked. After episode four I was obsessed. The show was great in many ways, one of those was the fantastic music performances, but the reason for the obsession was a couple called Rayna and Deacon. If you have seen it, you know what I mean.

Rayna and Deacon

The next episode couldn’t air soon enough and I started searching internet to find out more about the show. In US it had premiered in October 2012, and they were already on episode 12, and I was watching YouTube clips, reading reviews and spoilers, as well as joining the Facebook fandom! In May when spending a long weekend at our internetless summerhouse, I was so desperate rewatching scenes from the latest episode, I quickly volunteered to go grocery shopping, and was then sitting in the parking lot outside the store watching scenes on my phone over and over again. Yes.

After weeks of trying to calm down after a crazy season finale, when home alone, I decided to try this thing called twitter. I created my account, followed the Nashville creator, the actors and other things related and then spent weeks feeling ridiculous with zero followers. Then boom, three Nashville fan accounts followed me back, and I dared to start! Twitter fandom is fabulous, just start writing a few tweets, comments and answers and things will come to you. Six months later I had twitter friends from Israel, Netherlands, UK, Argentina and of course the US, with whom I was discussing and doing serious fangirling, sharing our love of Nashville, but sometimes also other topics.

Rayna and Juliette So why is this show so special. Of course it is not only Rayna and Deacon, although the chemistry between the actors, Connie Britton and Charles Esten, is unreal. (They are also super hot and they are in their late 40’s!!!) It is the fantastic music, written by local songwriters, and always fitting the stories of the different characters so well. The characters, ranging from young diva Juliette (played by Panettiere), the accidental artist, Scarlett, and wannabe songwriter Gunnar, to big country music stars like Rayna and Luke, might seem stereotyped at first, but no, they rise above that becoming all so full-fledged, complex and relatable – annoying, adorable and flawed – all at the same time. It is just a very well-written show taking place in a truly authentic music environment.

No wonder I got inspired to go to Nashville, to see where all the scenes were filmed, and to experience the music and atmosphere of Nashville. I had a somewhat hard time to convince my family to go, or as my 13yo daughter told me. ”I’m not even that into music!” Well, maybe they wouldn’t enjoy it, so I kind of gave up on the idea, but then I saw a tweet from the Ryman Auditorium (who everyone who has seen the show know is the Mother Church of Country music) that First Aid Kit, our favorite Swedish band, would play on October 29, which was the exact week of the school break! It was a sign! Tickets to that show, and tickets for the trip, was bought quicker than anyone could say – country music! (The First Aid Kit song ‘Emmylou’ is featured in ep 1×12. Yep, after the elevator scene!)

IMG_0999I was nervous for sure about bringing the family on an expensive vacation overseas, just because I happen to love a TV show, not knowing if they would enjoy it at all. But I needn’t have worried. Everyone loved it! We were walking along downtown Broadway, stopping at every boot shop and debating with our 9yo daughter if she should have boots with heals or not (she got one pair of each). We went to see an NHL hockey game (yes, this was a concession I made and the Predators lost unfortunately), visited Nashville Zoo (kids loved it, the clouded leopards were the favorites), breakfast at the famous Loveless Café (blueberry pancakes of course) and the Country Music Hall of Fame, where the kids got the task to find different instruments, the oldest, the weirdest etc. And yes, there was one weirder and more innovative than the other. Fantastic really! My appreciation for country musicians just exploded.

We did the the backstage tour at the Ryman Auditorium, took the ABC Nashville bus tour to understand where different scenes took place including a visit to the famous Bluebird Café, a day trip up in the mountains, visiting the fantastic Dutch Maid Bakery & Café and nearby Foster Falls, and of course a fair share of shopping. Music is everywhere and anytime in Nashville, at 11am a Saturday morning and late on weekdays. On top of some nice lunch and dinner music performances, we saw two fantastic shows, the First Aid Kit at the Ryman of course, and then finishing off the week at the legendary Grand Ole Opry, listening to among others, Vince Gill!

If you’re living in Sweden and have not watched Nashville I don’t blame you. It started out on Mondays 8pm on TV3 with very little advertising. Since nobody watched it, they thought better to move it to Saturday afternoons, not telling anyone of course, and then to Saturday mornings. You didn’t catch it then? No? Well finally, they put it on their streaming service and Nashville is now available on Viaplay, all 53 episodes. Season 3 is now on winter break, but will be back on US TV February 4. That hopefully means that Viaplay will have it available for streaming no more than one week later. So a little bit of time for y’all Swedish guys and gals to catch up on the first two and half seasons.

Not all TV critics have understood how good Nashville is yet, they see it as soap opera, and a soap opera cannot be that good, can it? Well, it can, and one critic who does get it is TVdags.se editor-in-chief, Kjell Häglund, who is one of not so many people in Sweden having discovered Nashville. He also happens to appreciate it, a lot! When naming the best TV drama of 2014 he put Nashville on top, above True Detective. Just like me and many fans, he sees just how very well made this music drama is by creator Callie Khouri and her team.

IMG_2140

So you obviously know by now that I am obsessed, but what other affects has this show had on the family. Well, husband walks around in cowboy boots, shirts and sometimes also in a nice Stetson. Emmylou Harris’ Red Dirt Girl is on repeat on Spotify and so is the Dixie Chicks. Kids are constantly belting out songs from the show. Me, I have these fabulous fellow fans that I chat with more or less every day. I’ve started listen to Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert and loads of other great country music. I’ve also started to write a little, something I always wanted, as a guest writing fan for the fabulous Nashville Forever blog, and I’m going back to Nashville soon, cause it is just such an inspiring place to be! And yes, I have a new favorite shirt!