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September 2016

The forgotten cave-dwellers of Scotland’s far North

Cave dwelling has stone age connotations for most people today , but in Scotland living in caves only ceased 100 years ago when it was outlawed in 1915. Alison Campsie looks back at the mysterious people who lived in Wick’s Tinker’s Cave at the end of the the 19th Century.

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The people of Tinker’s Cave in Wick, who were visited by Dr Arthur Mitchell, an expert in mental illness, in 1886.

ALISON CAMPSIE Email 14:28Tuesday 13 October 2015 16

Cave dwelling has stone age connotations for most people today , but in Scotland living in caves only ceased 100 years ago when it was outlawed in 1915. Alison Campsie looks back at the mysterious people who lived in Wick’s Tinker’s Cave at the end of the the 19th Century.

They were found resting in a cave, 24 men women and children, some naked and scarred, and all making the most of the dying embers of the fire.
These were the cave dwellers of Wick, documented by Dr Arthur Mitchell, a physician who studied mental illness and who led several commissions into “lunacy” in 19th Century Scotland.

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In August 1886, Dr Mitchell’s studies took him and a colleague to the “great cave” at the south side of Wick Bay at a time when caves were not uncommonly inhabited across the north and west of Scotland.

The two reached the cave in falling light, around nine o’clock at night, and found the cave in a cliff with its mouth close to the sea, with high tides encroaching on the rugged habitation.

Dr Mitchell, in his account of the visit, said: “They received us civilly, perhaps with more than mere civility, after a judicious distribution of pence and tobacco. To our great relief, the dogs, which were numerous and vicious, seemed to understand that we were welcome.”

The spot at Wick became known locally as Tinker’s Cave, due to the folk living there being involved in the tin trade.

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Broken noses and scars were a common disfigurement, and a revelation at the same time of the brutality of their lives Dr Arthur Mitchell, 1886. Dr Mitchell found the cave dwellers lying on “straw, grass and bracken” spread over the rocks and shingle, with each having “one or two dirty, ragged blankets.” Two of the beds were next to a peat fire, with more further back in the shelter of the cave.

His account added: “On the bed nearest the entrance lay a man and his wife, both absolutely naked, and two little children in the same state. “On the next bed lay another couple, an infant, and one or two elder children. Then came a bed with a bundle of children, whom I did not count. A youngish man and his wife, not quite naked, and some children, occupied the fourth bed, while the fifth from the mouth of the cave was in possession of the remaining couple and two of their children, one of whom was on the spot of its birth.

“Far back in the cave-upstairs in the garret, as they facetiously called it-were three or four biggish boys, who were undressed, but had not lain down. One of them, moving about with a flickering light in his hand, contributed greatly to the weirdness of the scene.”

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Sir Arthur Mitchell, the physician with an interest in mental illness who visited Tinker’s Cave near Wick in the 1800s Dr Mitchell was told of another birth and also of the recent death of a child from typhus.

The physician added: The Procurator-Fiscal saw this dead child lying naked on a large flat stone. Its father lay beside it in the delirium of typhus, when death paid this visit to an abode with no door to knock at.”

On his visit, and according to his account, men and women – “naked to their waists” – gathered to speak to Dr Mitchell and his colleague – and showed “no sense of shame.”

A boy brought a candle from the garret and a woman tended the fire, lit her pipe – and then “proceeded to suckle her child,” he wrote.

The following day, Dr Mitchell returned to find 18 “inmates” eating an early supper of porridge and treacle, which he noted as “well-cooked and clean.”

Three fires warmed the cave, each surrounded by women and “ragged” children. Stones were used as tables and chairs at the cave, which Dr Mitchell found was occupied during both summer and winter, depsite there being no cover at the cave mouth, to protect from the “fierce” winds.

In his account, Dr Mitchell wrote: “I believe I am correct in saying that there is no parallel illustration of modern cave life in Scotland.”

He added: “The Tinkers of the Wick caves are a mixed breed. There is no Gipsy blood in them. Some of them claim a West Island origin. Others say they are true Caithness men, and others again look for their ancestors among the Southern Scotch. They were not strongly built, nor had they a look of vigorous bodily health. Their heads and faces were usually bad in form.

“Broken noses and scars were a common disfigurement, and a revelation at the same time of the brutality of their lives. One girl might have been painted for a rustic beauty of the Norse type, and there was a boy among them with an excellent head.”

Despite his welcome reception to the cave, Dr Mitchell was unflinching in his conclusions. He noted them as illiterate and with no religious belief, and added: “These cave-dwellers of Wick were the offscourings of society, such as might be found in any town slum. Virtue and chastity exist feebly among them, and honour and truth more feebly still.”

Cave dwelling in Scotland formally came to an end in 1915 under the Defence of the Realm Act, possibly to keep coastlines free from fires during World War 1. However, research has found that 55 people were still listed as living in caves in the 1917 government census.

Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/heritage/people-places/the-forgotten-cave-dwellers-of-scotland-s-far-north-1-3915730

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Episode 111 is another great one for Jamie and Claire.  It has some major expositions, climaxes, and resolutions in the early plot structure.   These are a few of our favorite scenes from the episode.

The Confession

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In each episode we see reasons why Jamie is the King of Men.  Even though Claire’s story defies logic, Jamie believes her because he trusts her.  He trusts her to tell him the truth.  What is so heartwarming about this scene is that Jamie feels guilty for having beaten her for running when he told her to “stay put” because he understands she was trying to reach the stones and go back to Frank.  I think it was during the end of this scene that Jamie decided to take her back to the stones.  He always thinks of Claire’s feelings and is willing to put her feelings before his own.

A friend in need is a friend in deed.

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Claire’s and Geillis’s lives are in jeopardy at the witch trial, but can we take just a moment to appreciate Ned Gowan?  He defied Colum’s wishes and tried to save both Claire and Geillis, but ultimately he realizes that Geillis is a lost cause.  Still, he’s willing to risk his life to save Claire.  Ned might be the last person one would think brave enough to take on a courtroom full of enemies, but here he is, brandishing a pistol to defend Claire.  He was willing to commit murder before dozens of witnesses, which is incongruent with what he had always told the highlanders.  He had encouraged them not to kill anyone when they went to rescue Claire from Black Jack, but now he appears ready to do whatever he can to protect Claire, regardless of the odds.  How cute is Ned Gowan here?

We hope Bill Patterson returns in Season 3, Voyager.  He has a few legal issues he needs to resolve for Jamie and Claire.  Like Mrs. Fitz, we believe Ned might be another Jamie/Claire shipper.

Ned, this is how it’s done.

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At least Jamie brandishes two weapons, and if anyone can defy the odds in this courtroom, it is Jamie Fraser.

This isn’t the first time Jamie has shown up at the last minute to rescue Claire, and it won’t be the last.  He sees his beloved being whipped across her back, and he is so angry he practically spits… literally.  After issuing a warning that the first man forward would be the first man down, wisely no one doubts that he means exactly that.  With a sword in one hand and a dirk in the other, Jamie holds off the crowd until Geillis distracts them with a confession and declaration of Claire’s innocence.  Although Claire is willing to go down with Geillis, kudos to Geillis for saving Claire.

It is better to give than to receive. ol-s1-11-jamie-claire-camp-fire2

Jamie plans to take Claire to the stones the next morning, so rather than taking pleasure from what he believes is their last sexual encounter, he only wants to give it.  He just wants to look at her while he pleasures her so he can keep the memory of her face in his mind.  Again, the King of Men.

To the stones.

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This is such a sad scene.  It breaks my heart the way Jamie watches Claire while she washes in the stream.  She is clueless about Jamie’s plan to take her to the stones and help her get back home to Frank.  Once at the stone circle, Claire is beckoned by the large stone and is pulled away at the last minute by Jamie.  He apologizes for the action, saying he just wasn’t ready yet.  He doesn’t beg her to stay, but instead encourages her to go back to a safe place, away from the danger and violence of his time.  He tells her he will remain at the camp below until dark and he is sure she has safely gone.

At the end of the scene, we see Jamie walk away and Claire in deep thought, staring at her hands where she wears the rings representing both marriages.  She approaches the stone and the screen goes black, leading viewers to believe that she has gone back… to Frank.

Take me to Lallybroch.

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The black screen transitions to night where Jamie is lying by the campfire, tears of sadness streaming down his cheeks.  This must have been a true shocker for non-readers, but suddenly we hear Claire’s voice say to Jamie, “On your feet, soldier.”  Jamie must have thought for a moment that he was dreaming when he rose to see Claire looking down at him.  “Take me home to Lallybroch” means Claire has chosen him over Frank, over her own time, and he realizes it.  His tears are no longer from sadness and loss, but tears of happiness, joy, and relief.

I’m embarrassed to share the number of times I’ve watched this episode, but I will say that I’ve never been able to watch the final two scenes with dry eyes.

 

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Title: Useful Occupations and Deceptions

Written by: Anne Kenney

Directed by: Metin Huseyin

These season 2 Recaps on Steroids incorporate an OLA writer’s 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!

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The podcast was hosted by Ronald D. Moore (RDM) with guest Anne Kenney who is both an executive producer of the show and the writer of this episode.  RDM noted that unlike their typical episode shooting of blocks of 2, this episode was shot as part of a super block of the first three episodes.

The title card for this episode was a game of chess which takes place both literally and figuratively in the episode (as reflected by the title itself).  RDM noted that they added more French language to the Skye Boat song and to the imagery in the opening sequence.

Before I get into the recap, I will note that it was interesting to me that both RDM and Anne Kenney seemed to find this episode difficult to write and edit.  Both commented that there is so much background information (exposition) in both what was going in historically and the fact that the book is told from Claire’s point of view.  In the book you don’t get to see as much of what Jamie has to do during the day, but here they had to show it.  I got the sense that they were frustrated with so much plot in this season.

The opening scene shows Jamie coming home very early in the morning only to have to change and do his “day job” at Jared’s winery.  This has become the rhythm of their new life with Jamie rarely home and Claire being a bit bored.  But she supports it as the scheme was essentially her idea and Jamie is the primary person to carry it out.  Anne pointed out that although she is bored, they did not want to make her come across as whiney.

Anne misses Jamie in his kilt but notes he wears the French finery very well.  They sometimes pull bits and pieces from other books and so they brought back Sawny, the wooden snake carved for Jamie by his late brother William when they were children.

The scene of Louise, Mary, and Claire playing cards allows for both comic relief at Mary’s innocence and the necessary exposition for Claire to make the mental connection that when Frank showed her his family tree it showed Jack Randall marrying Mary Hawkins.  She can barely concentrate after that.

Anne wanted to show a Claire/Frank scene there, and RDM felt it was necessary to feel like a real love triangle.  This is where I strongly disagree with how RDM views the show.  Once Claire makes the decision to stay with Jamie in season 1, she never once has the desire to return to Frank.  She just always wants to make sure that Frank is never harmed in any way as she notes more than once that he is “innocent in all of this.”  I think RDM feeling this way explains some writing and editing choices.  It’s probably a debate that will continue into Season 3.

Magnus (butler) and Suzette (Lady’s maid) are shown more prominently in this episode (in more ways than one!).  I loved both characters and actors.  Magnus is so very French when he says zee search for zee little snake continues after Claire returns home.  You can tell that he thinks it is quite silly but is loyal to his household as well as his lord and lady.

Murtagh hooking up with Suzette was not initially the plan.  Anne thought it might be interesting to have him feel an unrequited love for Mary Hawkins, and although they didn’t play it that way, there is a bit of a reference to it in later episodes.  Having Murtagh be with Suzette also gives Claire an excuse to visit Master Raymond again to get birth control for her maid.

The writers discussed how to have Murtagh react when Claire tells him that BJR is alive but that she has not yet told Jamie.  They all felt that it was appropriate for him to agree that Jamie should not be told for fear of getting into more trouble.  RDM liked the chemistry that develops between Murtagh and Claire in this episode.  Originally he had edited the script for that scene to be done on a beautiful balcony that had been built by Jon Gary Steele’s team, but the director chose to keep them inside.  It is hard to tell in a podcast, but RDM seemed annoyed by this.

The title card takes center stage as Jamie is playing his afternoon chess game with Msr Duvorney.  The setting for these games was shot in a beautiful library in Prague.  RDM scouted that location in Prague, but was that there for the actual shoot.  (As an aside, I am surprised at how little the show runner is actually on set.)

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Anne doesn’t play chess, so the way writers create scripts in this case is she will write “Tech” in the areas where she doesn’t know the chess moves.  It is short hand for additions to be put in by those with technical expertise on any particular subject.    At work we called them SME or subject matter experts. RDM noted that when writing Battlestar Gallactica scenes, he had many scripts with Tech written everywhere.

Another interesting set notation is that the market outside of Master Raymond’s apothecary is actually the courtyard of the apartment set, just repurposed for these scenes.

Anne commented on Claire’s beautiful yellow dress.  She asked RDM where the clothes go after shooting, and he said Sony has an archive of the best or most iconic pieces.  Some of the secondary or extras clothing will get repurposed for season 3.

Master Raymond helps Claire and her daytime boredom by mentioning that they need volunteers at the L’Hopital.  RDM noted that the hospital exterior was Prague, but the interior is Glasgow Cathedral.  It just goes to show you how everyone has to work together to not let the viewer realize that walking into the hospital and actually being in the hospital are shot months apart in different cities. Kudos to the actors and crew.

I loved Claire’s plum suit in this scene; it reminded me almost of an 18th century business woman’s suit.   Here she meets Mother Hildegard, played to perfection by 3-time Olivier Award winner Frances de LaTour.  (For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, she played Madame Maxim.)  RDM noted they saw many French actresses before Frances was cast.  Really?  You made this icon audition?    Apparently they auditioned many pups for Bouton, the diagnosis dog, too.  I wonder if Frances had to do chemistry tests with them!

While Claire is emptying bed pans and tasting urine for diabetes diagnosis, Jamie is back at the brothel.  He is caught between a rock and a hard place as Msr Duverney and Bonnie Prince Charlie discuss financing the war, and Jamie learns that the prince has been working some side deals to get money.  Charles makes Duverney an offer he can’t refuse, and Jamie keeps a (barely) composed face as his plan falls apart before his eyes.

RDM noted that they spent a lot of time discussing the political process of the day because it was “wildly confusing.”  As I mentioned earlier, in the book from Claire’s POV all of this plot is exposed as Jamie tells her the story of his day, so they were creating this from nearly scratch.

The script had many, many revisions in this part.  In fact, when they were working in the next block of episodes 204 and 205, they had to go back to make more revisions in 203 so that everything lined up properly.  Anne noted that they struggled with how to tell enough without making it boring.  RDM said that it was like giving a history lesson without giving a history lesson.

(Side comment: Anne and RDM really conveyed the frustration and difficultly of adapting the Paris part of the book. I think we will find that Season 3 will feel more like Season 1 with the major exception that Jamie and Claire spend a lot of time apart in the first third of the book.)

Jamie returns to the house to tell Claire what he learned only to find her not there.  They wrote this scene a few ways.

First Cut: Claire discovers an annoyed Jamie. Anne felt it made Jamie look too much like a jerk.

Second Cut: They made sure to show the emotional journey Jamie went through as he waited for Claire so the audience would share Jamie’s stress.

The book version is more 18th century man/20th century woman (i.e. cut 1), but they wanted to show more of Jamie’s side.  They also had to get  more exposition in there of Mother Hildegard being a musical prodigy and the Goddaughter of the Sun King.

Anne noted that this scene was important because they had to come apart only to come back together.  They had extensive conversations with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe as the two had concerns about how to move forward with the plot.  (An aside about Sam and the script, whenever the  word baby was written, he changed it to bairn.)

It is important to show that Jamie and Claire are a team but they need conflict and drama too.  There were a lot of writer’s room discussions about their “fight” as it gave Claire a sense of what a real 18th century wife would have to deal with.  Interestingly, RDM felt that Claire would have been unhappy as a 20th century wife after the war as she would have had to go back to a more traditional role.  (I think this is always one of the interesting things about Outlander in that the 18th century husband was often more progressive than the 20th century one.)

Jamie leaves angry after they have their disagreement, and Suzette clues Murtagh in on their problems in the bedroom.  Murtagh knows how these two usually are in that regard (he even comments about it when Claire finds him with Suzette) and he is concerned.

RDM made a comment here in that he didn’t want the show to be about when Jamie and Claire were going to have sex again.  But I kind of think they set it up that way by having two BlackJackus Interruptus scenes in the first two episodes.

Jamie returns to the brothel, tired and miserable in both his personal life and his political one.  There is a weird body painting scene of one of the prostitutes (which took up too much time, in my opinion) that was RDM’s idea.  The one good thing out of this scene is that Jamie notices what our friend young (soon to be) Fergus is up to as the boy deftly cleans tables and pockets.  Jamie is at first amused, and then a lightbulb goes off over his head about the value Fergus could bring to their cause.

The book scene of Jamie meeting Fergus is very different with Jamie followed to the dock by a bunch of men and Fergus helping him.  Anne felt it was too complicated.  I liked the revised scene better but it did mean we lost one of the more iconic lines about entering a brothel with a very big sausage.

The chase scene happened in Scotland.  I noticed Sam was slipping and sliding in this scene.  I think perhaps those very awesome boots were a little too slick on the bottom.

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Romann Berrux as Fergus is perfection in casting.  RDM said they wanted someone who was French but could speak English.  He commented on the child labor laws that they must follow.  I think you have it easier than the showrunner of Stranger Things, Ron.

The funniest part of the podcast was when they said they refer to Jamie’s sporran as his Mary Poppins bag as he keeps so much in there it seems to be bottomless.

Jamie and Fergus make a deal and Jamie finds that Fergus had lifted Sawny in his nightly pick pocketing.  They both return to the house where Claire wakes up to the noise and finds Fergus munching away in the dining room.  An amusing set commentary here is that the bedroom and the dining room were the same set, so these were obviously filmed at different times.

The distance between Jamie and Claire is literal and figurative as they walk down the hallway, separated by walls in their apartment and in their relationship.  This scene was well directed and acted; it made me really feel for both of them.  They need each other but have so many things pulling them apart.  Jamie explains his plan for using young Fergus (formerly Claudel, which “wasna very manly”).

Fergus begins stealing letters for Jamie and Murtagh who copy them and try to decode them while Fergus returns them.  RDM really wanted to show some actual pickpocketing but production felt they couldn’t pull it off.  Jamie and Murtagh find some letters that are actually music, and Murtagh remembers that Mother Hildegard knows both German and music.

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RDM noted that in the book this scene went on for a very long time (as some scenes do in this book series), and one scene was between Jamie and Claire talking about trust.  They were talking about the letters but were really talking about themselves. There was a hint of using it later, but that would be impossible given that it takes place in France.

 

Back at the hospital, Bouton is diagnosing an infection.  The actual pulling of the wood from the man’s leg was filmed later, and those aren’t even Cait’s hands in the scene.

The hospital scene is a turning point for Jamie and Claire.  Jamie makes the gesture to come to her this time. Claire backs him up when Mother Hildegard is a little suspicious of the motive for his request.  Both appreciate that in each other and once again they realize they are better together.

A little comic relief in the form of Claire knowing a little something about Mother Hildegard’s friend Johann Sebastian Bach.  Jamie looked quite proudly at Claire there, as he is reminded at how much more she knows.  That was not in the script, but a nice touch there by Sam Heughan.

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RDM noted that it is rare for Diana Gabaldon to give a nod to the time travel within the regular plot, and so when she does it is effective.

The music helps Jamie decode the message and discover that the other snake in this episode, the Duke of Sandringham, is involved.  Jamie is happy for the progress and grateful for his wife’s support so, as with Episode 202, we end with Claire wondering if/when to tell Jamie that Black Jack is still alive.  I felt that for the entire hour, we barely moved forward with the exception of finding out that Sandringham is playing both sides and of course, meeting Fergus.  The majority of the episode seemed there for exposition, which we will see play out in the next two episodes.  Stay tuned in two weeks for the Recap on Steroids of episode 204.

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If you can’t find the Season 2 DVD that you want, just click on the Powered by Amazon logo and it will take you to order.

 

 

Picture sources: Starz

 

 

 

 

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Could the power of the Blood Oath be what keeps Jamie and Claire united for eternity?

OL-S1.7-the-wedding-pt.-2-5 OL-S1.7-the-wedding-pt.-2-6 OL-S1.7-the-wedding-pt.-2-7 OL-S1.7-the-wedding-pt.-2-8 OL-S1.7-the-wedding-pt.-2-9 OL-S1.7-the-wedding-pt.-2-10 Gaelis Wedding vow

The visuals in Episode 107 are most pleasing (ahem..), but the the significance of the Gaelic Wedding Vow should not be diminished. If Claire had been aware of its significance, she may have refused to do it at the time because she saw the marriage as a temporary resolution of her problem and had every intention of getting back to the stones.

The magic in this story (especially the books) is sometimes subtle, but it is potent, and the Gaelic Wedding Vow that Claire and Jamie take is essentially a blood oath.  Blood is a powerful symbolism, and sometimes even has mystical powers.  The blood oath makes use of this to make a commitment that can’t be broken.

Blood spilling is a potent force in the working of magic, and in some mythologies certain types of blood are deemed more powerful than others.  Some consider the blood of royalty, the blood of a special line (Fraser, the Fraser Prophesy), the caster’s own blood (Jamie and Claire), and virgin’s blood (Jamie) to be most powerful.

In many ways their wedding ceremony represents the traditions of their time, but their blood vow may be described as something between a binding handfasting and an initiation.  It is a spiritual blending, a binding of their souls, not just to God but to one another, and not just for this lifetime but forevermore. Not until death-do-us-part but for all lifetimes to come.  Jamie knew what he was doing and knew it’s significance, but Claire did not.  Claire viewed the wedding as a temporary solution until she could return to her time, but Jamie took the ceremony and its accompanying oath very seriously. As he tells Murtagh, he intends to marry only once, and he wanted to do it right.  He insists that they wed in a church, before a priest, with a ring for Claire and a proper dress.  He wanted to make it special for her as well.  Claire’s heart may not have been in it initially, but, as we know, looking back she wouldn’t have changed a thing.

That, my friends, is a commitment, but it may have been cemented by the ritual of the blood oath.

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WARNING:  This article contains spoilers.

Fraser – shall I curse him for stealing my wife, or bless him for giving me my daughter? I think these things, and then I stop, appalled that I should be giving a moment’s credence to such a preposterous theory. And yet… I have the oddest sense of James Fraser, almost a memory, as though I must have seen him somewhere. Though likely it is just the product of jealousy and imagination – I know what the bastard looks like well enough; I see his face on my daughter, day by day!

That’s the queer side of it, though – a sense of obligation. Not just to Bree, though I do think she’s a right to know – later. I told you I had a sense of the bastard? Funny thing is, it’s stayed with me. I can almost feel him, sometimes, looking over my shoulder, standing across the room.

Hadn’t thought of this before – do you think I’ll meet him in the sweet by-and-by, if there is one? Funny to think of it. Should we meet as friends, I wonder, with the sins of the flesh behind us? Or end forever locked in some Celtic hell, with our hands wrapped round each other’s throat?

(Excerpt from Frank’s letter to Rev. Wakefield in Drums of Autumn, Ch. 71)

 

I had suspected long before, but this letter cemented for me the possibility that Frank Randall is a reincarnation of Jack Randall. Before proceeding, let me add that this theory focuses on the Western concept of reincarnation in the context of lessons learned by the soul/personality/ego. It is not the intent to debate or promote a religious significance to the concept of reincarnation. Instead, reincarnation is proposed as an interpretation or explanation of events within a within a work of fiction as they relate to fictional characters.

My initial research failed to produce any comments by Diana Gabaldon on this theory. However, in an interview she responded to a question on her thoughts of reincarnation:

Well, I’m a Roman Catholic, and we don’t officially believe in reincarnation. On the other hand, we do believe that ‘anything is possible,’ and I for one would certainly not be telling Him that this or that can’t ever happen.

Her response leaves the possibility open that she might at least suggest it in her fiction.  However, since first posting this theory on tumblr, I received an anonymous message claiming Diana Gabaldon had commented on her CompuServe account that there is no reincarnation in her Outlander Series. Regardless, I am invoking the “Dead Author“* approach to literary analysis and criticism and drawing my own conclusion.

The reincarnation theory initially occurred to me as a passing thought when Claire first encountered Jack Randall. What was the point, other than shock value, of having Jack be a spitting image of Frank? Obviously, reincarnation does not require that a current incarnation be a physical identical to a previous incarnation, but there are claims of such things. It could be explained by the two characters sharing some familial DNA traits even though Frank is not a direct descendent from Jack.

The similarities between Jack and Frank don’t end with the physical characteristics. They share similar careers and interests as well. Both serve in the British Army as officers involved in intelligence or at least covert operations, Jack with the Duke of Sandringham and Frank with MI6. Also, albeit for different reasons, both are obsessed with Jamie Fraser.

In keeping with the Western ideas of reincarnation, we can presume that the spirit of Jack Randall, an incarnation living in “darkness” and happy to be there, leaves that dark incarnation to one more compatible with “light” in the life of Frank Randall. While Frank still enjoys a military career in intelligence and covert operations, he, like Jack, is greatly affected by that life. Frank at least has a conscience, and his greatest work of light is that he is able to accept a child he knows is not his and raises her as his own. Though he withholds critical information from Claire and Bree about Jamie’s survival at Culloden and Bree’s true parentage, suspecting they would one day try to return to Jamie, he leaves a clue and teaches Bree the skills needed to survive in the seventeenth century. That is a karmic debt marked paid to Jamie Fraser. This is not to say that Frank is now a perfect person, as we know he has faults, we all do, but he has to some degree made amends to Jamie Fraser.

Some reincarnation theorists believe that unexplained physical ailments, conditions, or pains can be traced back to an illness or injury in a previous incarnation. Jamie and Jack’s duel resulted in Jack’s suffering a wound to his reproductive organs. Since Frank and Claire were unable to conceive a child but Jamie and Claire could, clearly it was Frank who was infertile. Could the cause of his infertility be the wound he suffered in the dual with Jamie?

At various points in the novels and some of the novellas, Jamie exhibits significant psychic skills. At one point when Jamie is injured and hallucinating, he can’t distinguish between visions of Jack and Frank. As one reader pointed out, Jack, Frank, and Jamie are “intertwined.” For years Jamie continues to have nightmares about Jack and at times senses Frank’s presence, as do Claire and Bree.

There are other clues that could be perceived as more than simple coincidence. Why would Frank be compelled to have his and Claire’s wedding in the Scottish Highlands? Why is Frank so obsessed with learning about his ancestor, Jack Randall? Why is Frank so familiar with the Fraser Prophesy? Is it a coincidence that Frank seeks out Dr. Quentin Beauchamp (Uncle Lamb) for information on French philosophy as it related to Egyptian religious practice? Is it a coincidence that Frank is the officer that recruited Jeremiah Mackenzie (Roger’s father) into a covert operation that ultimately led to his disappearance and a visit to Jeremiah’s wife where he first meets young Roger? So many events and characters are so extraordinarily intertwined that they beg consideration of a deeper connection.

Certainly there are arguments pro and con on this application of reincarnation, and this is only my interpretation. Admittedly, I have a tendency to think outside the box. However, in a book series fraught with metaphysical, mystical, and mythological events and characters (e.g., Druidry, faeries, changelings, magical stone circles, time travel, water horses, creatures of The Wild Hunt, witchery, clairaudience, astral travel, spontaneous disappearance), the notion that one character may be a reincarnation of an ancestor seems quite logical and even plausible.

Surely there are additional thought-provoking events not addressed here. What are your thoughts?

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*”Dead Author” http://outlanderamerica.com/2016/09/21/death-of-the-author-a-theory-by-roland-barthes/

 

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For further similarities and parallels between Frank and Black Jack Randall, please read Lenny’s post below.  http://lenny9987.tumblr.com/post/136675282965/parallel-lives-frank-and-black-jack-randall

Parallel Lives? Frank and Black Jack Randall (by Lenny)

One of the things that struck me about @deesdiaries Reincarnation Theory post (which I feel belongs with @gotham-ruaidh‘s Endless Loop Theory as far as theories are concerned) was all the parallels she was able to pull between Frank and Black Jack Randall beyond their strong physical resemblance – though Claire’s moments of confusion suggest there are mannerisms beyond simple appearance that add to that resemblance and that it’s those that are part of what trip her up when it comes to her interactions with Black Jack.

I had had ample opportunity to judge Randall’s true character, both from the stories I had heard and from personal experience. But there were those damnable flashes of Frank that kept showing through the gleaming, ruthless exterior.

Having several put forth in her post, additional parallels began to jump out. So first, a quick run-down of the parallels @deesdiaries put forth first but since some of them are spoilery, everything’s going below a cut.

Spoilers for Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, andWritten in My Own Heart’s Blood below.

-Both Frank and Black Jack are involved in British military intelligence (to differing degrees)

Black Jack’s intelligence involvement seems less linked to serving the military than to serving the Duke of Sandringham in whatever his aims may be while Frank’s are undoubtedly part of his war efforts. That said, they appear – in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood – to have lingered or carried over into his life post-war.

-Both men are unable to father children, Black Jack because of the injury Jamie inflicted during their duel and Frank is simply sterile (do we ever find the direct reason? did he have measles or some other disease as a child that can leave a person sterile?)

Arguably, the biggest difference here is that Black Jack never expresses a desire to father children while Frank does want a family with Claire. He begins with serious (and insensitive) reservations concerning adoption but when he learns he can’t father a child biologically and that Brianna is likely to be the only child he could act as father to, he begins manipulating the situation to ensure that he will remain her one and only father, concealing the truth of his discoveries about Jamie from Claire (and Brianna).

-Both men become – to different degrees and for very different reasons – obsessed with Jamie Fraser

Jamie Fraser means very different things to these two men but there is a degree to which their lives end up revolving around him. For Black Jack, Jamie’s defiance in their initial encounter sparks a deep desire to break the man, the possess his soul. Everything that happens at Fort William and the strength Jamie shows in resisting him only makes him want to break him more. At Wentworth when Claire shows up to break him out, Black Jack becomes aware of new “tools” at his disposal and he finally achieves what he set out to do – or so he thinks. After he learns that Jamie survived, his obsession returns but it lacks that violent edge. He broke Jamie but somehow he healed – and Black Jack doesn’t understand how that could be. Granted, the circumstances are very different in France and Edinburgh in Dragonfly in Amber but I for one don’t feel the same violent tendencies towards Jamie – though he does mentally play with Claire a bit. But I almost feel that it springs from a desire to understand how his accomplishment managed to be undone, to understand how anyone could come back from where he had put Jamie. Perhaps this is only so that he can find a way to break that once and for all but he doesn’t have the chance to experiment further (thank god).

For Frank, his obsession with Jamie is centered on how it has changed his own life – his relationship with Claire, the fact that he has Brianna in his life, and keeping things from changing again. Claire tells Frank and the hospital staff about her journey through the stones and Jamie until it becomes clear to her that they 1) don’t believe her and 2) her insistence on it was causing them to question her very sanity (which wouldn’t help her or anyone). Still, he knows that someone fathered Claire’s child and her insistence that she love him (Jamie) is obviously something that stuck with him – to the point where at some point, he began to consider and then believe the truth about her journey through the stones. Whether his interest was sparked after Brianna’s birth from a fear that whoever the man was might reappear and try to take her away or because of the ways that Claire’s time with him (Jamie) had changed the way she treated Frank doesn’t really matter. Claire’s relationship with Jamie changed how she viewed her love for Frank and her understanding of what a marriage could be – though we don’t get to see much of it first-hand in the narrative, it’s a pretty safe assumption that she didn’t treat him the same way she did before her journey through the stones. Watching Brianna grow, he had to wonder whether certain attributes/traits came from the mysterious father. Whenever he decided to start looking into Jamie Fraser, one thing leads to another and he learns that Jamie survived Culloden – a fact that, if Claire’s story is true (which he has to admit is a possibility, however much he doesn’t want it to be), then it means there’s a possibility that Claire (and maybe Brianna) could go back to him. Learning everything he can becomes as necessary as controlling that same information (keeping it from Claire and Brianna, deciding if, how, and when to tell them about any of it – the gravestone, the letter to Brianna, etc.).

In both of these obsessions, the men become not just obsessed with Jamie Fraser, but with controlling him in some way – physically and psychologically for Black Jack, narratively for Frank.

(wow, that got long and a little tangential towards the end; thanks for sticking with me so far)

Beyond these parallels @deesdiaries highlighted briefly in her post (and which I’ve expanded on more than was necessary), there are other parallels/similarities.

There’s the relationships both men have to their wives’ children. Frank raised Brianna as his own – a child he knew was fathered by another man. He actively wanted Brianna to believe he was her biological father and raised her as his own. Though Black Jack died at Culloden, he was talked into marrying his brother’s lover so that the child she bore would have the Randall name and he [Alex] could be sure the child was well cared for.

(Had he not died at Culloden, what kind of father do you all think BJR would have been to his nephew? He had affection for Alex but the nature of that affection is the subject of much speculation, given his relationships with other men named Alex – I don’t think DG used that name for the characters she did as an accident or a whim.)

From the beginning of the first book, both men are associated with “artificial” fragrances. Claire brushing her hair uses Frank’s favorite perfume L’Heure Bleu and he nearly uses it on himself. We all know that lavender is associated with Black Jack and it is one of the first things that Claire notices upon running into him when she first comes through the stones (it is also the first Claire notices the physical resemblance between Black Jack and Frank).

My captor, whoever he was, seemed much taller than I, but rather noticeably strong in the forearms. I smelled a faint flowery scent, as of lavender water, and something more spicy, mingled with the sharper reek of male perspiration. As the leaves whipped back into place in the path of our passage, though, I noticed something familiar about the hand and forearm clasped about my waist.

These don’t feel like such a strong parallel except for the way they both contrast with the descriptions of scent that surround Jamie and the other Scots. Blood, sweat, musk – natural odors accompany their descriptions. This might be considered related to Frank’s and Black Jack Randall’s preoccupation with appearances.

It’s slightly different in the television show where Black Jack is less concerned with physical appearance as some of his comrades in arms and he’s quite open with Claire about his dark nature. But in the book, Black Jack makes a bit more pretense with appearances both physically and when it comes to his actions with his prisoners/victims. He’s brutally honest when it comes to telling them what he’s about/what he wants to do to them, but there seems to be a greater effort made to conceal the truth from others, especially his colleagues. The circumstances of his association with the Duke of Sandringham are a little fuzzier in the books. The nature of Jamie and Claire’s appeal to the Duke differs from the show – the petition is not against Black Jack so much as for a pardon regardless. Black Jack’s association with the Duke seems to be rooted more in intelligence work and family friendship than the Duke protecting Black Jack from facing the consequences of his abuses (which doesn’t seem to benefit the Duke as much as Black Jack in the show’s adaptation). Without that more deliberate protection, Black Jack takes a few more precautions to maintain appearances himself.

Okay, that might not be particularly clear but when it comes to Frank and keeping up appearances, things get clearer. Beginning with Claire’s return, he refuses to leave her because of how it would look.

“I couldn’t leave you at the first – pregnant, alone. Only a cad would have done that.”

They move to Boston in part to start afresh with each other, but it also serves to cloud people’s understanding of Brianna’s parentage. Surrounding themselves with people who aren’t familiar with Claire’s disappearance and the timing wouldn’t think twice about who Brianna’s father was -they would simply assume it was Frank, creating the appearance of a happy family. That image extends to how he wants Claire to see him – the dutiful husband. Of course, we learn inVoyager about Frank’s affairs but one of Claire’s observations is that during those affairs, Frank was the epitome of discretion (she suspected but it was the women coming to her that put doubt from her mind).

“I thought I had been most discreet.”

“You may have been at that,” I said sardonically. “I counted six over the last ten years – if there were really a dozen or so, then you were quite the model of discretion.”

During that infamous fight, Frank accuses Claire of adultery with her friend Joe, not because it might be true so much but because it looks like it might be true (further evidence he doesn’t understand Claire as well as of his underlying prejudices). The accusation he threatens to make would also further his case for custody of Brianna – using appearances (in a manner similar to Black Jack) in order to gain his own ends.

I guess, for me, that selfishness is perhaps the biggest similarity/parallel between Black Jack and Frank. The nature of that selfishness is different – Black Jack enjoys hurting others and it’s what he intends to do while Frank hurts other inadvertently on the way to maintaining his own sense of comfort/personal identity. But they both approach situations from a self-centered place and it affects their ability to sympathize with and understand others.

Finally, Black Jack and Frank seem to haunt the characters/text long after they’re dead in the narrative. Though they don’t actively speak about Black Jack in those terms, Claire and Jamie do occasionally allude to Frank and his memory as such and I always think of them both as part of the “ghosts” Jamie refers to in A Breath of Snow and Ashes when he tells Claire:

“We’ve ghosts enough between us, Sassenach. If the evils of the past canna hinder us – neither then shall any fears of the future. We must just put things behind us and get on. Aye?”

Jamie actively contends with nightmares from Wentworth throughout his life. Those events also haunt his relationship with Lord John, affecting how he reacts to his friend’s sexuality and especially to his position at Ardsmuir in the wake of learning about that sexuality. Frank and the disappointments of her marriage to him similarly haunt Claire. She knows that neither of them were satisfied with their marriage and regrets that there was nothing more they could find to do to “fix” what they had or make each other happier than they did. Frank’s memory haunts Brianna especially as she struggles to come to terms with having two fathers and reconciling her feelings for both men (affection, loyalty, frustration, etc.). I’d argue Frank is the more haunting presence as we continue to learn more of what he knew and what he did through the series – the gravestone from the letter at the end of Drums of Autumn, the letter Brianna finds in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood regarding the Fraser Prophecy, etc.

I’m interested to see how the show continues to adapt these two characters as they’ve already gone a long way towards establishing and emphasizing the similarities they have (look at the Frank-fiction in Episode 8 and how easily Frank crossed over into violence). I know a lot of people aren’t looking forward to seeing more Frank, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more of his and Claire’s relationship during the 20 years she was separated from Jamie. As it is, we only get a few glimpses from Claire’s memories while we have a much more solid and first-hand feel for what that time was like for Jamie.

*I do think it is important to remember that while there are a lot of similarities and parallels between these two characters, they are not the same person/character. Frank wasn’t perfect by a long shot and could be a complete ass about some things but I don’t think anyone would argue that he is as bad as Black Jack with his well documented tendency towards sexual sadism and torture. Textually, they are strong foils for Jamie, Claire, and their relationship with one another but even in their similarities; their characters and the circumstances they help create/helped create continue to impact the Frasers and the series’ plots and relationships. But Black Jack and Frank have strong and significant differences to balance those similarities explored above (though that would be a post for another time).

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The post below is shared with permission from Lenny9987.tumblr.com.  They are her thoughts on the Fraser Prophesy in response to an anon message she received.

 

Hello Anon.

There’s not a lot about the Fraser Prophecy that is clear but what there is I’ll throw under the cut since it’s first mention isn’t until Voyager. For anyone interested, the previous post mentioned is the Frank Discussion (during the conversation in the notes; so many great thoughts shared by everyone).

The first reference is made following the reappearance of Geillis near the end of Voyager when there’s a lot going on with a slow, building reveal. It begins with Geillis “catching up” with Claire and showing a decided interest in anything to do with Brianna. She even finds Jamie’s photos of Bree at one point and later Jamie realizes that one is missing – all the inquiries give Claire a decidedly uneasy feeling.

But it’s actually during an encounter with the Reverend Campbell – whose side plot I’d almost completely forgotten – that the real significance of Geillis’ interest becomes clear.

“Yes, it is interesting that it should be the Frasers, isn’t it?”

“That… what should be the Frasers?” I said. Despite myself, I moved slowly toward the desk.

“The subject of the prophecy, of course[…] Do ye not know of it? But perhaps, your husband being an illegitimate descendant…”

“I don’t know of it, no.” […]

“This is the original language of the prophecy,” he said, shoving Exhibit A under my nose. “By the Brahan Seer[…] The language is poetic, as I pointed out to Mistress Abernathy [Geillis], but the meaning is clear enough.” He was gathering enthusiasm as he went along, notwithstanding his suspicions of me. “The prophecy states that a new ruler of Scotland will spring from Lovat’s lineage. This is to come to pass following the eclipse of ‘the kings of the white rose’ – a clear reference to the Papist Stuarts, of course.[…] There are somewhat more cryptic references included in the prophecy, of course; the time in which this ruler will appear, and whether it is to be a king or a queen – there is some difficulty in interpretation, owing to mishandling of the original…”

He went on, but I wasn’t listening. If I had had any doubts about where Geilie had gone, it was fast disappearing. Obsessed with the rulers of Scotland, she had spent the better part of ten years in working for the restoration of a Stuart Throne. That attempt had failed most definitively at Culloden, and she had then expressed nothing but contempt for all extant Stuarts. And little wonder, if she thought she knew what was coming next.

But where would she go? Back to Scotland, perhaps, to involve herself with Lovat’s heir? No, she was thinking of making the leap through time again; that much was clear from her conversation with me. She was preparing herself, gathering her resources – retrieving the treasure from the silkies’ isle – and completing her researches.

I stared at the paper in a kind of fascinated horror. The genealogy, of course, was only recorded to the present. Did Geilie know who Lovat’s descendants gout be, in the future?

In Voyager, the prophecy plays into Geillis’ motivation culminating in the climax in the cave and then it seems to fade from the stories – a convenient plot device that appears to have served its purpose.

Until it comes back again in An Echo in the Bone and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. DuringEcho, there are several people who seem to be looking for Fergus but the motivations behind it and how important his bearing the name of Fraser is are unclear – and largely still only partially resolved (I’ve only just started my first re-read through the books and haven’t gotten that far, but from what I do recall, there were times it seemed two separate people/groups might be looking for Fergus and for different reasons).

The reference in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood that comes from Frank is way more direct. Brianna finds a letter from Frank that was addressed to her and in it he admits to having believed more about Claire’s tale than he admitted and having searched for Jamie Fraser as well and in the course of the letter, the prophecy comes up.

I think you won’t have heard of the Brahan Seer.  […] Amongst his lesser-known prophecies, though, was one called the Fraser Prophecy. There isn’t a great deal known about this, and what there is is rambling and vague, as prophecies usually are, the Old Testament notwithstanding. The only relevant bit, I think, is this: “The last of Lovat’s line will rule Scotland.”[…]

The Frasers of Lovat have a fairly straightforward line of descent, until we come to Old Simon – well, they’re all called Simon – the one they call the Old Fox, who was executed for treason after the Jacobite Rebellion[…] his heir was Young Simon, known as the Young Fox. Young Simon survived the Rising[…] and while he married, he did so at a very advanced age and had no children. His younger brother, Archibald, inherited, but then died childless, as well. 

So Archibald was the “last of Lovat’s line”[…] but clearly he wasn’t the Scottish ruler foreseen.[…] Whoever made [the genealogy] has listed two illegitimate sons, as well as Young Simon and his brother. Alexander and Brian, born to different mothers. Alexander entered the priesthood and became the abbot of a monastery in France. No known children. But Brian – […] The current line of Fraser of Lovat is descended from a collateral branch; presumably the Fraser Prophecy isn’t referring to one of them – though there are plenty of heirs in that line.[…]

The essence of what I’m saying is this: if you can indeed go back in time (and possibly return), you are a person of very great interest to a number of people, for assorted reasons. Should anyone in the more shadowed realm of government be halfway convinced that you are what you may be, you would be watched. Possibly approached.[…] That’s a very remote contingency, but it is a real one; I must mention it. 

There are private parties who would also have a deep interest in you for this reason – and evidently there is someone who has spotted you and is watching. The chart showing your line of descent, with dates, indicates that much. It also suggests that this person’s or persons’ interest may be a concern with the Fraser Prophecy. What could be more intriguing to that sort of person than the prospect of someone who is “the last of Lovat’s line” and is also a time traveler? These sorts of people – I know them well – invariable believe in mystic powers of all sorts – nothing would draw them more powerfully than the conviction that you hold such power.

Such people are usually harmless. But they can be very dangerous indeed. 

If I find whoever drew this chart, I will question them and do my best to neutralize any possible threat to you. But as I say – I know the look of a conspiracy. Nutters of this sort thrive in company. I might miss one. 

It’s a rather long chunk and I haven’t posted all of it – including the bits where Frank addresses his having tracked Jamie down through his research – but those are the parts most relevant to the Fraser Prophecy as it stands and the reason it is relevant to the story at that point in the series. The prophecy indicates that someone – possibly descended from Jamie or Jenny – could come to rule Scotland and there are people who might be trying to find them to either ensure that happens, or prevent it. It’s been hovering at the edges of the series from time to time but the events surrounding Roger, Brianna, Jemmy, and Mandy at the end of An Echo in the Bone and throughout Written in My Own Heart’s Blood certainly look like the prophecy storyline could be coming more and more to the forefront of things (and we might be getting some more significant answers in Book 9).

It came up during the Frank Discussion, because Frank knew about the prophecy and the threat it posed to Brianna – and he sat on the information.

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“Death of the Author” (a theory proposed by Roland Barthes) means you can have it your way.

In literary academia, there is a popular theory proposing that once an author, artist, or any creator of any form of art or music, creates a work and it is read, the “death of the author” occurs simultaneously with the “birth of the reader.” Simplified it means that once a reader reads a story, the reader is free to apply his/her own interpretations and meanings even if they are incongruent with those of the author. So don’t worry if you don’t love Frank or Laoghaire, or if you have a theory about certain plots, events, or characters in the story line. As long as your thoughts or theories are based on logic and sound reasoning, your own interpretation of meaning is the one that matters.

Check the links below for a better understanding of the “Dead Author” theory.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2A9ahG1iHQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkQsRVrWM6c

 

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http://gotham-ruaidh.tumblr.com/post/122013475836/jamies-ghost

Jamie’s Ghost

Diana Gabaldon has said two interesting things about the iconic “Jamie’s ghost” scene right at the beginning of Book 1 (and 01×01 in the TV show):

1. Jamie is ~25 years old at that moment

2. The scene will be explained in the last scene of the last book

Jamie was about that age when he fought at Culloden. Readers know how that was one of the times he nearly died.

So I think that as he’s delirious after the battle, he somehow sees Claire – who he had sent back through the stones on the morning of Culloden – in her own time.

But he doesn’t remember any of this until the very final moments of his life – and we know how memories of Culloden are slowly coming back to him in Book 7 and Book 8.

But this memory brings him peace, because at the very moment he’s leaving earth – and, presumably, Claire – he’s remembering the moment right before she came to him.

Totally speculation on my part…but I think it could be plausible…

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http://gotham-ruaidh.tumblr.com/post/121964213066/wizard-ofoutlander

Wizard of…Outlander?

So I may be a bit late to the party on this one, but there are 2 *very interesting* parallels between Outlander and the Wizard of Oz (aside from the really obvious one in “The Gathering” (01×04)):

1. All the 1940s scenes are washed out, with muted colors. The moment Claire wakes up in 1743, we see lush greens and blues and real COLOR for the first time

2. Geillis wears red shoes. We see them close up twice – in “The Way Out” (01×03) and “The Devil’s Mark” (01×11)

So…no idea if this was intentional…but if it was: give credit where it’s due. Well played, Ron Moore.

 

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Among the theories postulated about time travel, a tumblr friend proposes a theory she terms “The Endless Loop.”  It is both fascinating and mind boggling.  http://gotham-ruaidh.tumblr.com/post/121471504266/the-endless-loop.  Below is her tumblr post.

The Endless Loop

Here’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for almost as long as I’ve been an Outlander fan.

Jamie and Claire have always and will always find each other. Literally.

Claire is born in 1918 and falls through time in 1945. She arrives in 1743, spends 3 years there, goes back to the 20th century, stays there until 1968, goes back to 1766. Presumably lives the rest of her days with Jamie until she dies (Diana Gabaldon has repeatedly said that she expects the series to end circa 1800, in Scotland, but then again she said that Book 5 would be called “King Farewell” and that there would only be one more book after that…but I digress…)

Anyway, the key point is that even if Jamie and Claire pass away circa 1800, Claire will be born again in 1918. She’ll fall through time again in 1945. She’ll meet Jamie again in 1743. Etc.

So they’re in an endless loop of finding each other, losing each other, and then finding each other again.

Here’s food for thought: If Jamie and Claire are in this loop – and have been in it countless times – what iteration are we reading about in the Books? Is this their 10th go-round? 100th?

But it doesn’t matter – because they always, always find each other.

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Thoughts?

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