OUTLANDER is back!! And that was a LONG wait, but oh, so worth it!
I think I’d like, first, to address the elephant in the room.
While I’ve been excited for months to see this particular episode, I’ve also been nervous about it. I knew that even if it were handled as sensitively as possible, the scene where Jamie ‘disciplines’ Claire for putting the group in mortal danger would upset many viewers. It certainly has upset many readers over the years, and I’ve had more than one discussion with other Outlander readers about that scene.
In my opinion the scene was handled very well. It is a difficult scene whether you’re reading it, or watching it. I’ve read this book multiple times and knew exactly what to expect but it didn’t make the apprehension any less. But what occurs is true to the historical times in which the story is set, and while our Twenty-First sensibilities and (rightfully held) beliefs make us want to yell at the TV or the book, it doesn’t change that this behavior is historically accurate. Claire put everyone in danger when she wandered off, thus allowing herself to be captured by the English soldiers. For Diana Gabaldon to have handled it any differently would have been an anachronism.
Having said that, and more on it will be addressed in a moment, the rescue was fun to watch. Black Jack was dripping with evil. He asked Jamie how his “handiwork is looking,” referring of course to the horrendous scarring on Jamie’s back. Jamie’s simple answer, “Fine,” was perfect, as he refused to play into his hands. As Randall is poised to rape Claire, he says to her, “We have an audience,” then asks Jamie if he’d like to join them. Jamie doesn’t respond to these taunts as he manipulates the situation so that he can get Claire out of there. While this scene is in itself a great plot point, it also shows more of the evil that is Jonathan Randall.
Once Jamie and his merry men have rescued Claire from the clutches of the evil man, we see the vicious argument between Jamie and Claire, the one that leads us to the later spanking. After each hurls at the other every nasty word possible, there is a moment of clarity and we can see the intense pain in their faces. Neither can believe the words that were thrown at one another. They both tearfully apologize and forgive one another. It is at this point that I think their growing love for one another is revealed.
Poor Claire. At the tavern everyone talks right over her, no one listens to her words of gratitude for her rescue. She will be invisible until Jamie metes out the expected punishment. "She doesn’t understand what she may have cost us,” Murtagh tells Jamie, who agrees and answers, “Aye and she needs to.”
Before Jamie does what he feels he must do he tells Claire, “Your actions put all the men in jeopardy.” No one more than Jamie, who is in much greater danger from Randall now that he knows where he is. Then, “If a man among us had put the rest of us in danger as you did they likely would have... been flogged, if not killed outright.” But as his wife, it is his duty to mete out the punishment. There’s that uncomfortable bit of historical accuracy.
An icy fall-out follows the punishment, with Jamie spending some nights on the floor. But after he brokers a peace between Colum and Dougal, following Colum’s anger about the men raising money for the Jacobites, Jamie takes their example back to his marriage. In a beautiful scene he tells Claire that just because something has always been done a certain way, eg. husband disciplining wife, it doesn’t mean it always must be that way. He gets down on his knees and pledges his fealty to her, and in a heart wrenching moment she reaches out to him, laying her hand on his heart, and forgives him. The looks on their faces right here!! Many viewers say it was lust, but the way they looked at one another wasn’t lust, it was love. It takes a strong love to be able to forgive what happened, and here we have the first signs of a profound love that carries through eight (and counting) books.
BUT, it is at this point in the book, and TV series, that in many ways Claire truly becomes one of them. Each time I read the book, it isn’t until the after all of this and their reuniting that I feel Claire really feels connected to Jamie and loyal to not only him but the people of the place and time. It’s definitely a turning point. A huge one.
Jamie and Claire will need that strong love to get them through all that still awaits them. This second half of the season promises to be quite a ride.
This week’s rant: That scene by the river with Laoghaire isn’t in the book, and I wasn’t pleased by its addition. To show Jamie as tempted by her at this stage of his marriage is wrong, because he wouldn’t have been tempted. The look of lust and wanting on his face isn’t in line with his character nor where his character is by this time in the story. He is in love with Claire and committed to her. I wish they hadn’t felt the need to add this new scene.