How much more can we hate Black Jack Randall? Isn’t he the most despicable character ever? Yes, but we may have only scratched the surface of his evil. Shudder.
If this episode felt like we had turned the page into a new chapter of a book, it’s because we have. And because of that transition, this episode felt like we were reorienting ourselves. Jamie and Claire have arrived at his family home, Lallybroch. We are introduced not only to this home, but also to the family he hasn’t seen in years, as he has had a price on his head. And just like with most any family that has been separated for years, the reunion doesn’t go very smoothly…at first. We also learn a little about his role as laird and we see some of his tenants, including the McNab family who will soon become more important. This was an ‘orientation to Lallybroch’ episode.
JENNY!! Jamie’s sister is superbly played by Laura Donnelly. Jenny is just as feisty and irascible as she is in the book. Jenny and Jamie’s prickly relationship has been written beautifully for the series. I’m happy all the way around with Jenny and the occasionally difficult sibling relationship.
Ian. I’m not one to whine about a character not looking like they are supposed to as described in a book, but if I wanted to complain about Ian’s appearance I could. In the books he is tall and painfully thin. But forgetting that, I like the character he is, as it is being acted in this episode. Book Ian is a wise man, calm, kind, and strong. I could see hints of those characteristics in this episode, and hope to see more of them in the future. Ian is a favorite character of mine, and I suspect of many a reader, so it is important to get him right.
Lallybroch, the house. In the books, this house, and its land, is a character as much as a setting, so I was very anxious to see it—to see if it looked like I saw it in my mind’s eye. Before I say anything, I should say Diana Gabaldon has addressed this very topic, and she gives everything her blessing, so it is really not up to me to say otherwise. But I will. Lallybroch is a house that was supposed to be built in the 18th Century, but this house is obviously a few centuries older. To the casual viewer that probably doesn’t sound important, but I think it is, especially as the book series continues. I can’t say more than that without major spoilers, but let’s just say it should probably have been a more ‘modern’ house. It’s gorgeous though, and I love the look of it, especially Jamie’s and Claire’s room, and the tapestries downstairs. Sumptuous. Perhaps a little too sumptuous??
Now back to Randall for a moment. First, we had the horrifying scene of his attempted rape of Jenny. While all of it was awful, as it should have been, the part where he’s putting his finger that’s covered with Jamie’s blood into her mouth was truly stomach-turning. And very well played by both actors. The tension was palpable.
And then there’s Randall’s role in Brian Fraser’s death. Worse than the scars that Jamie carries on his back is the scar that will always haunt him—his father’s death. It’s hard to read about, but it was so much harder to watch.
It was time for some comic relief by the time Jamie went up to the mill to repair it. Jamie in the icy water, Claire and Jenny acting nonchalant while the British soldiers stop by, forcing Jamie to stay under water far too long. Played with a light hand, it was a fun scene, despite the feeling that there was some dark foreshadowing going on.
We’ve turned the page, and we have a wild ride ahead of us.