And so another season finale is upon us. I must admit, I’m a little relieved because it’s been so much harder this season with the show dropping at midnight Saturday/Sunday instead of Friday/Saturday. I’m looking forward to sleeping again, haha. I also CANNOT wait to have a day when I can marathon through this incredible season all in one go (I think it’s a pretty solid rival for me in terms of Season 1 as a whole for favorite season; now if it was just up against 1A it would be a much tighter race).
I was a little nervous going into this finale because of the changes that have been made to various plot-lines through this half of the season as well as some of my least favorite scenes from the source material but overall I am THRILLED with how they adapted this episode and so many of the little touches it has.
His Excellency, Lord John Grey
This is probably my favorite scene in the whole damn episode. I certainly suspected that Lord John would save the day in terms of getting Jamie out of custody but the execution of this bit of plotting was beyond my wildest expectations. First, having Fergus and Marsali find Claire’s dress and note and having Marsali 1) call him Fergus Fraser and then 2) insist she’s not being left behind were adorable and kickass. Then having Fergus’ solution be to find and enlist Lord John’s help was subtle genius. Looks like Fergus was able to pay attention to a little more than just Marsali while they were at the Governor’s ball last episode—but then who could have missed the eyes Lord John was shooting Jamie’s way?
Watching Lord John pick Lieutenant Captain (as I will forever think of him from now on) apart was a complete delight. The sarcasm, the cat and mouse of it all, the sheer joy he got from getting to wield his power. It’s clear from last episode that Lord John was not looking forward to the posting so he’s certainly taking pleasure in it where and when he can. When Lieutenant Captain left I half expected Lord John to turn to Jamie and say, “Well, that was fun. Thank you.” I cannot wait for more of Lord John in Season 4, especially getting to see him visit the Ridge with Willie and then to see him interact with Brianna.
Yi Tien Cho and Margaret Campbell
The adaptation of Yi Tien Cho has probably been my favorite adaptive alteration of the entire season with the subtle changes to the Campbells’ storyline also ranking pretty high. Bringing them together the way they did in the last two episodes feels so much more satisfying than anything to do with these characters in the book. In the book, Yi Tien Cho struggles so much with his identity and the frustrations of how and why he left China, with the indignities of being an outsider. We’ve seen some elements of that in the show, most notably within his life story in 3×09 but also at the Governor’s ball and I’m sure there was some resentment at being kind of scapegoated over the Arabella situation (haha, that was totally unintentional!). It makes sense that with Margaret’s “gifts” that she of all people would see him properly and he, being from a different place as well, can see her beyond what her brother and society push her to be. The show still brought in some major plot elements related to these characters—like Yi Tien Cho killing Margaret’s brother—but by changing the motivation and circumstances they’ve added greater weight and reduced the strong underpinnings of coincidence that start to pile up at the end of the novel. (That said, I could have done with less of the chicken’s blood, crocodile, etc. going on in these scenes; I totally appreciate how much they dialed it down from the book but it still felt sensationalized and like it distracted from rather than added to the scene).
The scene with Brianna “talking” through Margaret is one I always have a tough time with in the book, though a lot of that is because of the more sensational trappings. As I mentioned before, it’s dialed down here in the show, which helps, but not as much as the joining together of the rabbit and the bird (though, the bird would have been a bit more powerful if there had been other allusions to it in 3×02 and 3×03 the way there were with rabbits).
Geillis, the Prophecy and Abandawe
The Fraser Prophecy in the books is a bit… complicated. It’s only vaguely touched upon in Voyager and it’s very unclear what Geillis would do if/when she got back to the 20th century and found Brianna—it’s certainly not implied that she would kill Brianna. So there really is little driving Claire and Jamie to stop Geillis from traveling back aside from the fact that she’s planning to kill Young Ian as a sacrifice to help her get where she wants to go. The way the show has handled Geillis’ storyline from Voyager is another wonderful bit of adaptation. It brings Geillis and the Campbells together in a much more cohesive way and the altered prophecy raises the stakes while simultaneously clarifying everything. I can’t get over just how much better the lines of conflict have been drawn for the show compared to the book; as much as I love the high seas shenanigans in the book, they are undeniably convoluted and confusing. I also loved the way that they were able to bring back Brianna’s encounter with Geillis from last season’s finale.
The odd yet compelling nature of Claire’s friendship with Geillis reaches its inevitable and devastating conclusion (I always find it incredibly fitting that Jamie is the one who killed Dougal and Claire is the one who kills Geillis; it speaks so much to what all involved are willing to die/kill for). This is the second time we’ve seen Claire kill since she returned to the 18th century and this time it was no accident. It was also no stranger and the shock she goes into is so palpable—though realizing she’d held Geillis’ skull in her hands 200 years in the future not knowing she was the one to deliver the fatal blow… if anyone ever needed a reason to go into shock, that’s certainly it.
This was a scene I had pretty much accepted we wouldn’t be getting because of where it falls in the book and where that fell in relation to turtle soup in the show. It seemed like we’d only be getting one of the two and of the two, I think turtle soup is a little more iconic. BUT moving it here worked PERFECTLY! In terms of the episode, this scene is the eye of the storm. Everything before it is action that ties up the loose plot ends for the season and everything that comes after it is intense action that eventually sets up for the show’s new setting. But in those captain’s quarters for that brief scene there is peace and playfulness. There are no looming threats and there’s no clock ticking in terms of they have to be somewhere or find someone before X can go wrong. I’m thrilled that there was room enough in the season and in the episode to include yet another iconic tryst with so much dialogue straight from the page.
Could this whole sequence have been any more beautiful and poignant? It’s such a visual and emotional feast. I don’t know how I feel about them opening with it the way they did but the use of Faith’s theme only adds to the tear-jerking beauty. There are bits that are a little over the top—okay, so I’m pretty much just talking about the huge pull-back to see that they’re in the eye of the storm (one step too far for me personally)—but I’m both fully aware that they’re playing my emotions like those piano keys and I’m only too happy to let them. There are so many brief images, small moments that catch the eye in these sequences—the way he lets go of his dirk as soon as he’s cut through the ropes that have Claire and the way the dirk just flutters on its way to the sea floor; the way he puts Claire’s arm over the wreckage and then tilts her head so she’ll be able to breath…
There is one thing I’m wondering in the wake of this ending: have the photographs actually been lost? Jamie is wearing his coat before he goes in after Claire and then it’s gone when they’re under water… but would he have had the photos in his coat pocket when he knew he was going to be out on deck in the storm? Wouldn’t he have packed them safely away before heading out so they wouldn’t be damaged? And in the show, the ship isn’t completely lost. It runs aground. So presumably, many/most of their possessions that were on the ship when they went overboard would have survived… Okay, now I want a scene at the beginning of next season where they’re combing through the wrecked ship and Jamie and Claire find the photos in their plastic baggie floating in the water in one of the ship’s compartments, that they’re not just lost at sea but we get to see their reactions to the visibly ruined photos (I feel like them seeing Brianna’s face distorted and everything will add to their reactions when she shows up in person).
One of the reasons I love Voyager so much is the ending. After being forced to use an alias of one sort or another through most of the book, Jamie finally gets to introduce himself as Jamie Fraser with his wife Claire and no threat of arrest or other burden. It’s such a powerful moment, especially thematically. I can’t help but feel that a little of that impact was lost because of how the Jamie Fraser/Alexander Malcolm stuff in Edinburgh and aboard the various ships was handled but the performance the lines was still perfect.
Final Random and Not-So-Random Thoughts:
— For a moment there when the camera pulled back to show the beach, just before it started to zoom into the interior, I thought it might pull back and travel along the beach far enough for us to see the Artemis run aground with Fergus, Marsali, and young Ian milling about and helping salvage cargo or the injured crewmen.
— Thank heaven they didn’t do the “zombies”
— Young Ian may be traumatized beyond belief but he has his priorities straight. Just look at the deft way he grabs each and every one of those gems while Jamie is watching Claire and pulling her back from the passage.
— My need for Yi Tien Cho and Margaret to visit the Ridge in Season 4 is only getting bigger.
— I kind of wonder what it would have been like for Jamie, Claire, and company to actually sail all the way back to Scotland. What would Jenny and Ian have made of their adventure and return? What would Laoghaire do when she found out about Fergus and Marsali (and where would the two of them settle)?
— I love how the mast that fell was the one we saw them fixing in 3×11. It’s one of those continuity things that makes the whole season more cohesive.
Thanks to Lenny9987 for her review (https://lenny9987.tumblr.com/post/168427811299/outlander-3×13-eye-of-the-storm).