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Recap on Steroids-Episode 202

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Title: Not in Scotland Anymore

Written by: Ira Steven Behr

Directed by: Metin Huseyin

Approximately, every two weeks, OLA will be publishing an episode-based Recap on Steroids (ROS) for Season 2.  These ROS will incorporate an OLA writers’ opinion on the episode woven in with information from both the official Starz podcasts hosted by Showrunner Ronald D. Moore along with comments from the official episode script including things changed or edited for television. OLA editorial comments in the ROS recognize and respect the experience of those associated with the show even though we may respectfully disagree at times with their thought process or assumptions.  We hope you enjoy these recaps as they take many hours to prepare and create!

Red Dress (source: Starz)

The podcast was hosted by Showrunner Ronald D. Moore (RDM) with guest Terry Dresbach, who is currently nominated for an Emmy for Outlander Season 2 costume design.

The title card for this episode showed the dressing of French noblewoman, Louise De Rohan.  Terry noted that this dress was the most complicated dress of the entire series.

Before I get into the recap, I will note that this episode was one of my least favorite of the season.  It was interesting to go through the podcast and script with that in mind as certain comments or notations helped me to understand why I didn’t like it as much as so many of the other episodes.  Then again, even a less than satisfying episode of Outlander is still better than most anything on TV.

The episode opens with Jamie and Claire making love.  Immediately you notice a few things; Jamie’s back has no scars, his hand is not mangled and he and Claire are happy.  However, all of that becomes an actual nightmare when Claire’s face morphs into Black Jack Randall’s and Jamie repeatedly stabs him with his dirk until they are both covered in thick, dark red blood.  Jamie wakes up in full sweat from the nightmare.

I really liked the notation in the script that said “in the 3AM of Jamie Fraser’s soul, Black Jack Randall lives on.”  It described the entire scene perfectly.

RDM noted that this was an unusual opening for two reasons.  First, they almost always open with exterior shots and in this case you went from Jamie’s head to their bedroom to the exterior shot.  In addition, writer Ira Steven Behr felt it was important to remind the audience that Jamie was still dealing with his Wentworth rape.  (It’s interesting to hear more about this opening as the writer took credit for it in the writer’s notes as did RDM but Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe said they felt it was important for Jamie and Claire not to resume their sex life as if nothing had happened.)

The second difference for this scene as a show opener is that the original opening for the script called for Claire to be massaging oil into Jamie’s hand to help heal it then ask if Jamie can make love to her finally.  The lovemaking turned violent nightmare happened after that.  I am glad they made the change as the original opening had weak dialogue and did not seem at all to be things Claire would say.

<As a side note, this makes me once again wish for one of the extras on the Season 2 DVD to be a camera in the writer’s room.  I’d love to see the creative process.>

RDM asked Terry Dresbach if the outfits would have been Jared’s to loan to Jamie and she said no, he would have had them made.  She also noted that Sam is 3 sizes bigger than the actor who played Jared.    She said Claire would have gone to a dressmaker as there was no such thing as clothes off the rack in those days.  She discussed her inspiration for dressing Claire as 1940’s Christian Dior (who used the 18th century as inspiration) and the fact that as a modern woman of the 1940’s, Claire would have dressed a bit like a fish out of water.  This is the first time in her 18th century life that she is in charge of her own clothes so she would have dressed in an acceptable yet different way.  The first outfit, is the famous CD Bar suit.  I recommend visiting the YouTube video of Terry giving a summary of the Season 2 costume strategy (note it also contains a great discussion of set design as well).

What I found most interesting is that Terry always has a strategy in both her overall approach and almost a running dialogue in her head as to why an outfit was chosen by the character.  It is clear to me that costume design is a whole lot more than fabrics and buttons.   Every 18th century costume you see from people walking the streets of Paris to the dozens at the party for King Louis were dressed by her team.  They have to get on set at 3 AM on days where there are a lot of extras to dress.

The exterior Paris shots in this episode were filmed in Prague months after the interior shots were done in Scotland so kudos to the cast for making it feel seamless.

Claire sets out to visit an apothecary to help Jamie sleep better and avoid nightmares.  Master Raymond’s apothecary shop was something that Terry and set designer Jon Gary Steele were most excited about.  It was typical for an apothecary of its day including the stuffed crocodile.  The script notes that the sign outside says Raymond, the Herb Seller.  Raymond’s coat is Terry’s favorite and is worth a closer look.  It is embroidered with alchemy and diseases/cures.  For example, look for the large yellow eye on the front that is meant to represent yellow fever.   Terry notes that it was also important that Master Raymond’s assistant (Delphine) was dressed as a middle class person and not a servant.  In the script, Raymond and Claire discuss Louise and both agree that she is outgoing and interesting, yet very shallow

.Raymond and Claire (Source: Starz)

Costume choices for Jamie and Murtagh were meant to be simple yet represent their status.  Terry notes Sam was dedicated to wearing the kilt during parts of Paris so when they did dress him in pants, he still had to maintain the heroic look.   There were many discussions about the bandage for his left hand.  Terry calls it the “sexiest bandage ever made” and the writers discussed its importance and Sam gave input on flexibility.  It was felt that it served multiple purposes; some practical and some emotional.  Terry said Jamie might be embarrassed at his mangled hand so the bandage hid it to avoid questions yet was flesh colored as well.  The writers felt it would also mean Sam would not have to remember to hold his fingers stiff if the bandage was on, yet if you look at scenes throughout Season 2, Sam always remembers.

The sword practice between Murtagh and Jamie shows that Murtagh will give Jamie no sympathy just as Jamie would expect.  It also slips in the little fact that dueling is outlawed in Paris, something we will sadly find out in greater detail later in the season.

The beautiful gray dress Claire wears back at the house when Jamie receives word from Jared that Prince Charles will receive him is one of my favorites and I believe we see it again in 207.  The sash/chain she wears was one often worn by women of the house and contained anything from a sewing kit to smelling salts.

Jamie informs Claire that they will meet the prince at a brothel and that gets an eyebrow raise from Claire as it would from most wives.  Many fans noted that Sam’s hair looked different throughout this scene and it was clear that some of it was filmed at the end of the season when they go back in and do “pick-ups” or retakes.

Jamie and Murtagh meet up at the brothel where Prince Charles holds court.  RDM and Terry discussed how brothels in 18th century Paris are not the bawdy whorehouses that you typically see portrayed in American westerns.  Women working in these brothels were often well bred and were expected to be able to have an intelligent conversation in addition to their other “talents”.    The scene with the women waving/selling dildos was originally discussed as just more bawdy stage act.  RDM loved that scene while Terry did not and I would agree with her.  I think that’s one of the times you can tell both the writer and editor were guys.

It is in this scene that we first meet Bonnie Prince Charlie (BPC).  Terry discussed his costume versus the others and since he is of English birth but brought up in Italy, so she felt he had a little Versace in him.  This meant he got the salmon colored coat, one that would not look good on a very tall redhead.   Andrew Gower (BPC) did a very good job in this role throughout season 2 and I would agree with RDM that he played it so that you could believe he was inspiring to men yet at the same time very annoying and not quite up to the task.  Terry said she loves Andrew and that he is really very good looking but managed to make you believe he was this big goof.   <As an aside, Andrew sings and you can find some short videos of him out there as well.>

Ira wrote the first “Mark me” as a way for BPC to note when he was saying something important.  Andrew picked up on that and would often insert his own Mark Me into his scripts.  This, of course, became the Outlander Season 2 drinking game on Saturday nights.

I loved the non-verbals in the first scene with Jamie, Murtagh and BPC.  It’s quite amazing to think that this man who was the cause of the wiping out of Scottish culture had actually never stepped foot in Scotland.  Murtagh’s expression was that he wasna buying what BPC was selling and Jamie had an oh crap look on his face.  The important part of this scene was that Jamie was honest with him about what was really going on in Scotland in order to try to dissuade him from the rebellion.  Jamie felt that he had to try the honorable way first, before he started working to betray the prince’s trust.  Just diving into the betrayal would have gone against JAMMF character.Jamie Murtagh BPC Brothel

(Source: Starz)

Meanwhile, Claire is having an interesting time of her own.  She is at the home of her new friend Louise de Rohan, a free-spirited yet simple minded French noblewoman.  Louise is going through the new fad of waxing.  RDM noted that they did not want her naked in this scene so Terry made a robe that covered her up yet gave glimpses of sexiness.  (I thought the actress, Claire Sermonne,  used the robe beautifully as a prop.)  Claire’s dress was again 1940’s inspired and somewhat like a masculine suit.  Women of that era took over many men’s jobs while they were fighting the Second World War and so a more masculine style of dress influenced fashion.)

Louise has a bikini wax and tells Claire it is a new way of turning men on.  Claire is desperate to help Jamie through his difficulties in bed and decides to give it a try.   Later that night in their bedroom, she shows him what she’s done.   Jamie almost gets there but not quite.  Sam and Cait play this very sensual  and the “you’re honeypot is bare” brings a smile as Jamie is both intrigued and aroused.   For a while, Claire thought her plan succeeded until BJR breaks through.

A discussion in the writer’s room changed this from the sensual time in the book to one that would be a problem.   They felt it was important to keep that intimacy separate for a little longer since intimacy is so important to Jamie and Claire, but Jamie is not ready.  Terry asked RDM how he deals with people (i.e. book readers) who are upset about changes like that.  He explained that in a book, the author can talk directly to you but that’s not possible in TV.  (I don’t think that quite answered the question!)   I think RDM can get a little defensive when fans push back but at the same time he must get that a lot and it is a big, unenviable challenge to adapt a very popular piece of literature.  For the most part, I liked some of the small changes made this year to the story itself.

Probably the most anticipated scene of episode 202 has to do with the red dress with the neckline down to there that Claire has made to attend King Louis’ party (thanks to Louise’s connections).   I loved the shade of red and especially the killer shoes Terry designed but I found it to be so wide as to look silly. She looked like she had a 2 x 4 in the back.  Terry noted that the red earrings (and all her earrings in fact) came from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Sam and Cait (and Duncan) played this scene very well with probably my favorite line being “Christ Sassenach, first your honeypot, now this” in sotto voice to show Jamie’s great sense of humor.   The brilliant shade of red stands out in the crowd as the Frasers make their entrance.  Jamie runs into his former love interest (Annalise) and once again the non verbals in the scene are the best.  Jamie looks like he wants to crawl under the table, Claire is playing both the slightly threatened wife and yet the confident wife teasing Jamie while Murtagh looks on in pure bemusement.  That part of the scene was great.  However, I hated Claire’s hair-styling here.  I thought it made her look old, which is crazy since Caitriona looks younger than her actual years.  The contrast was even starker as a clean-shaven Sam with his hair pulled back looks like the mid-20’s Jamie that he is as did the actress playing Annalise.  It left me with a love/hate feeling for that scene.

The party was filmed in Wilton Palace in England and the bridge outside of the palace has been used in a previous filming of Pride and Prejudice.  (Unfortunately, they did not note which version!)

Annalise’s connections get Jamie (and at Claire’s insistence, Murtagh) to meet the king.  Unfortunately, meet the King means attending his bathroom duties.  Executive Producer Anne Kenney loved this scene but I did not (and neither did Terry).  It was only 2.5 minutes but felt like 10.  Both RDM and Terry loved Lionel Lingeler as King Louis and I thought he did a great job throughout the season as well.  But this scene was quite unnecessary, IMO.

One of their favorite secondary characters was the Monsieur Duverney, the Minister of Finance.  RDM loved the actor (Marc Duret) and said he brought a lot of small interesting things to the part.  Terry notes the contrast between the rather plainly dressed men of Scotland to the French nobleman.  They gave him an extended part by attempting to seduce Claire on the bridge to be able to tie him back to later plots.  RDM felt it was better television to hear the splash after Jamie tosses him over the bridge than to see it.  Marc Duret came up with the idea of trying to dry his long wig by the fire and then putting on the silly thing when the King arrived.  A nice comedic choice, I agree.

The arrival of King Louis in all his splendor along with his mistress in her Janet Jackson-esque swan nipple rings was an important scene (he makes note of Claire) and unnecessary in that we had to see these nipple rings at least three times as Murtagh drools.  RDM loved the multiple side shots of this and Terry did not.   (Editorial comment: Maybe Ron should stop thinking like a guy and start thinking about what his mostly female audience would like.)  Terry cracked me up in her discussion of designing the swan nipple rings at her table while her kids asked her what she was doing and she casually answered “designing nipple rings”.

The initial script had one of the French women asking Murtagh what a Scotsman wears under his kilt and Murtagh obliges to show her.  This was cut but I wonder if it will make the DVD.  It was not in the final script so they may not have filmed it.

Claire has the shock of the night times two when she first runs into the smarmy Duke of Sandringham.  Murtagh is NOT happy but Jamie must remind him that to draw your sword when the king is present means death.  Sandringham takes great pleasure in introducing Claire to his secretary, the younger brother of Jack Randall.  Alex Randall not only looks like BJR but he proceeds to tell Claire that his brother is very much alive.   Claire does not know how Jamie will take this news as he has already been struggling mightily with the aftermath of Wentworth.   The fireworks over the palace resemble the fireworks in her head as she struggles to decide her next steps. In the meantime, Sandringham slithers away but not before giving her a “gotcha” smirk.

RDM notes that Simon Galloway has such fun playing Sandringham (and it shows).  Terry commented that although his dress was fancier than the Scots, it was still subdued compared to the French. They also discussed the resemblance of the actor playing Alex Randall to Tobias Menzies.  RDM said that there had been some discussion as to whether Tobias should play Alex but he felt that was too much.  It also did not make as much sense as they changed the story in the book from Claire actually thinking Alex was Jack to one of more straightforward introduction.  (Personally, casting Tobias would have been a small shark jump moment.)

The episode ends with the audience wondering if/how/when Claire should tell Jamie that Black Jack is alive and if this will put Jamie over the edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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