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Recap on Steroids Episode 303

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Title: All Debts Paid

Written by: Matthew B. Roberts

Directed by: Brendan Maher

This recap incorporates an OLA writer’s opinion on the episode woven in with information from both the official Starz podcasts  by the executive producers along with comments from the official episode script writer’s notes and will include things changed or edited for television.

The podcast was hosted by executive producers Toni Graphia (TG) and Matthew B. Roberts (MBR)

The title card for this episode is a black Newfoundland dog that is a bit of an Easter Egg for the Print Shop Episode.  It also has a birthday cake, to represent various age points in time for Brianna.   Matt noted that as executive producer, he has changed the original title for all but one of this season’s episodes.  Toni calls him the Title Whisperer.  This episode was originally called Ardsmuir.  This episode was filmed in the same block as episode 301.

The show opens with breakfast at the Randall’s in Boston.  Frank is cooking a “real English breakfast” for Brianna.  He shows his underlying disdain for all things American (like her love of Eggo waffles)  probably including Claire who years past has expressed an interest in citizenship.  MBR said they had to research what was available in that year and found that you could indeed “leggo my Eggo” in that year.

Things seem peaceful, normal in the house as Brianna shares a drawing with Claire and she chooses to use her free night off from Medical school to go to a movie with Frank.  Frank indicates that he’s already seen both of her choices and after several awkward pauses, and his reminding her that they agreed on separate lives, Claire realizes he’s taken another woman to the movies.  (Note: If Claire’s so busy in school and at the hospital and he’s offered to be Bree’s primary caregiver, where does he find time to get around town to more than one movie?)  Claire looks taken aback.  It’s like agreeing to something is one thing but having it tossed so casually in your face is quite another.  Except, hold on Claire.  It is going to be more than verbally tossed in your face.

Jumping back to Scotland in the 18th century and we walk into Ardsmuir Prison with the outgoing and incoming wardens.  MBR notes they discussed when to reveal who he was and when we would know if Jamie recognizes him for Lord John William Grey (LJG).  The warden points out that the men are pretty defeated in mind and body but that he should watch out for the leader, known as Red Jamie Fraser.  LJG immediately recognizes the name that has haunted him and acts like the petulant teenager he once was when Warden Quarry suggest he continue his routine of dinner with Red Jamie once a week.  Hats off to David Berry who did a great job playing LJG as an 18th century version of a Millennial.  You believed it most of the time.

While CraigMillar Castle in greater Edinburgh was used for the exteriors of Ardsmuir, Jon Gary Steele designed the interiors as sets.  Jamie walks into his cell shared with other Highlanders and you can immediately see the deference paid to Mac Dubh (son of the black one, or Black Brian Fraser).  He is laird once again but not of any lands worth owning.  We hear a familiar voice and it is an older, frailer Murtagh!!  MBR reveals that they had planned to #SaveMurtagh for a long time.   They wanted to not show him right away but first you hear him and then you see him.  (Thanks for trying to make it great, Matt but Ron Moore spoiled it a week before the episode.)

Murtagh inquires about the new warden while he hangs on to a scrap of tartan, the last remaining evidence of the clans after the Clearances where the British forbade weapons, tartans, kilts and bagpipes.  Murtagh is not sounding well and I get nervous that they have saved him from the book death at Culloden only to have him die with Jamie now.  Jamie gives him some medicine made from thistle and they speak of a “lass that knew a bit about healing.”  The sadness in Jamie’s eyes and his inability to speak her name after all these years is evident to us and to Murtagh, who still remembers her fondly.

MBR notes it was a challenge to pick what to show for Ardsmuir as Jamie was there for 3 years and much happened.  They want to keep Jamie and Claire connected in some way even though they are centuries apart. You can tell each time in their scenes that they are thinking of the other and that one is always present in some way.

Jamie is brought to LJG’s office by prisoner Mackay.  You can see here that he is their leader as Mackay looks to Jamie even when LJG gives him an order.  The line of “Lord knows what you did to be sent here” was originally said in the books by the outgoing warden but MBR felt it was more effective if Jamie said it.  Sam Heughan delivers these lines so effectively.  There is strength and weakness in his speech, he is Mac Dubh for his men but he is not JAMMF.   It is clear that his chains are not just around his ankles and wrists.

More time passes in Boston as it is the graduation from Harvard Medical for Claire and Joe Abernathy. They are having a reception  in the Randall home before a dinner celebration.  The writers show that no matter what was happening between the parents, Frank was a good father to Bree. source dragonfly sparkles  She seems to even prefer staying with him versus going out to dinner.  The doorbell rings and the level of discretion goes out the door in terms of Frank’s girl on the side at the door.  Candy…her I mean Sandy.

For me, this was a jerk move.  You can go out to dinner to celebrate Claire’s accomplishments on their own right without having date that comes to your door.  Part of me feels he wanted it to happen, he could have easily met her around the corner or taken a cab.  Claire maintains her poise and they leave for dinner early.  Dr. Joe knows exactly what’s going on.

Also, Claire was 18 or 19 when she married Frank who was already teaching.  Sandy was a graduate student.  There’s a name for guys like that.  It’s all about power.  When Claire returned from the 18th century, his power over her was lessened and kept together only by her need for Bree to grow up in a good home.  Jamie wanted her to go back to a man who loved her.  If only he knew…

A beautiful outdoor scene of a wagon carrying guards from Ardsmuir was filmed about 90  miles north of Glasgow.  An old man is walking along the road muttering something about gold.  They perk up as it is no secret that all of the British want to find the rumored French gold sent to Charles Stuart by his cousin, the King.  They bring back the old man who is not speaking English but some combination of English, French and Gaelic.

LJG brings Jamie to him as he’s learned this smart man speaks three languages.  (Sam Heughan never gets credit for acting in three languages.)  They negotiate-lose the chains.  Done.  The metal weight falls off leaving the friction scars of three years.  But Jamie is not done and negotiates blankets and medicine for his men.  When JGF legitimately cannot supply that, he makes a request to at least help Murtagh. LJG, continually surprised by Jamie, agrees.

Jamie begins to hear bits and pieces of the old man’s muttering and perks up when he talks about Ellen and the Silkie (another nickname for Brian Faser) and the white witch seeking a brave man.  He thinks Claire may be alive.  He tells Grey all that was said except the part about the white witch.

MBR said they had to film this scene 4 times due to all the languages.  Rules of sub-titles are that if Jamie or Claire understand, then subtitles are used.  If one of them does not, no sub-titles.

Jamie does share it with Murtagh and he brightens at the thought that maybe they can find out where Claire went and what happened to the baby.   Jamie tells him not to think about as it will cause him pain and misery (presumably thinking about his own burden) but agrees to let Murtagh pray for them.  MBR said there was so much to get through with the LJG story but they did not want to short change Murtagh scenes.

Jamie is dining again with LJG and negotiates some freedom in the moors for setting snares and gathering watercress.  He reveals again that he learned it from his wife, again not saying her name.  When he sits down for a meal of pheasant in a wine sauce, the grubby Highlander sets his napkin on his lap and recognizes the wine.  LGJ is once again intrigued.   Mac Dubh tells the story of the meal and instead of resentment, the men act like children hearing the story of Harry Potter and revel in each virtual morsel.

Dr. Claire is sitting fuming waiting for her less than discrete husband.  He comes in, slurring words a bit and MBR refers to the scene as almost a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe play.  The writers discussed why they wouldn’t just get a divorce but it was not that easy in that time period, especially with a child.  Claire does offer a divorce but Frank, continuing to want his cake and eat it too, says he is afraid he’d never see Bree again despite her assurances.  He mocks her new accomplishment by emphasizing DOCTOR Randall in a snide tone ( I would have turned those tables and said Fraser, Dr. Fraser).  MBR points out that Frank doesn’t really know her now but maybe he never did.   He and Tobias Menzies talked about making sure Frank had a tone of resentment in some of his words.   Tobias was good in this scene and Caitriona Balfe was terrific showing a range of emotions in a very short period of time.

Bree turns 16 and you can still see that passive-aggressiveness reigns in that household. 

Back in Scotland, the men are checking their snares for game (another negotiated item) Jamie hides in the hills, presumably to go looking for Claire.  MBR said Jamie doesn’t care about the gold, he is desperate to find out information about Claire.  LGJ is pretty pissed at getting foiled.  The fact that all the men helped Jamie with his plan once again shows their respect for Mac Dubh.

The British figure out that Jamie may have tried to swim out to the castle on Silkie Island.  MBR notes the castle was CGI’d into the shot although the ruin itself does exist elsewhere called DeNure (south of Glasgow).

A great callback in reverse when Jamie sneaks up on LJG relieving himself and we see that he’s known who the warden is all along.  LJG confesses that the events of their very first meeting have caused him shame and embarrassment for years.  Jamie reminds LJG that he had promised to kill Red Jamie if they ever met again and in a beautifully acted scene by both men, kneels before him to die.  This is as much about giving up as it is about honor as we find out later that Jamie found nothing of Claire and realizes she’s ‘Truly gone”, gives up his last remaining hope.  The Grey family continues to do the right thing and he does not kill Jamie.

It’s high school graduation for Bree and both parents look on proudly but as MBR notes, at this time parents are usually hugging each other in the “we did it” kind of way and there is great distance between the Randalls.

In Ardsmuir LJG sends the doctor for Murtah as promised and a new friendship takes form between Mac Dubh and LJG.  Three months later, Murtagh is well and the guys are playing what appears to be a regular game of chess.  They talk and Jamie reveals for the first time, with a smile, that his wife’s name was Claire.  They both reveal a bit more with LJG’s story implying that his love was lost too but that his love was a man.   LJG touches Jamie’s hand in an empathetic gesture but then forgets where he is and strokes his hand.  The immediate shift from smile to killer eyes is a credit to Sam and he threatens to kill him if he does not remove his hand.  He feels betrayed and angry (and maybe a little PTSD) and storms out.   LJG’s tears are both of shame and sadness that he just messed up a good thing.

Back in Boston, Frank (who never seems to age) drops a bomb on Claire that he wants a divorce, is moving to England and taking Bree and soon to be Mrs. Frank Randall II with him.  (Sandy was a PhD student, I wonder if he mocked her title of Doctor.)  Claire of course won’t let him take Bree and he takes the worst shot you can take at a mother and tells her she wasn’t there for Bree anyway.

Toni Graphia loves Frank a little too much, in my opinion and it showed in her comments.  She felt badly for Frank. He still in the end wanted to see if Claire loved him but Claire, on a great line, answers Frank’s question of if she could have ever gotten over Jamie with time, tells Frank there isn’t that kind of time. 

He is defeated.  Sympathy for Frank?  Not me, you wanted it all and couldn’t have it.  And you wanted barely anything for her.    As MBR notes, the scene was in  synch with the title, Claire freed him at that point.  His debt was paid.

Chaos at the prison as the Highlanders are hauled out and carted away.  All except Jamie, who is grabbed, shackled and tied to a rope put behind a LJG’s horse.  He is walked away as he and Murtagh retain eye contact, not knowing anything except the Highlander are being sent to the colonies as indentured servants so the prison can be used for a dragoon regiment.

LJG won’t tell Jamie where they are going as they travel for 3 days.   He finally tells him that he could not send him to the colonies so he has found work for him at Helwater.  Jamie does not understand why but LJG says he has now freed himself from the debt owed to Jamie.

Claire is called back to the hospital and after surgery, sees Dr. Joe walking toward her with a face nobody wants to see.  MBR notes that doctors have to give bad news and another doctor would recognize that face.  He tells her Frank has been in a car accident.  (I believe Dr. Joe is a pathologist but they may not have established that yet.)

Claire runs to the morgue and Frank is there.  She tells him what he may have always wanted to hear that she did love him (implied: Once) and Cait breaks your heart as she reminds him he was her first love while tears run down her face.  She, like Jamie, takes a deep breath after that to figure out what this means for her life now. 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the gif makers and screen cappers:  Sources for this blog are farfaraway site, neighan-donne, anoutlandishidea, italianoutlanders and Starz.  If we missed a credit, please message us on any OLA social media site.

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  1. Sherry Riley September 30, 2017 @ 9:33 pm

    In Episode 303, the name of the prisoner serving John Grey was Mackay, not McRay. My only question was why did John address him as “prisoner,” then as Mackay? It seems like calling Mackay, “prisoner” instead of his name, which John knew, was a blooper.
    I’m hoping to see Jamie’s trip to Seal Island sooner or later. It would have been better to show it in this episode, because it would have helped us understand why Jamie wanted John to kill him. Jamie had just spent three days there and we didn’t get to see any of it. It makes no sense to put it in the trailers and not show it. I’m thinking that Ron may be using it for a flashback later.
    It was sad to see see Frank die, but as this season has only 13 episodes, it was time for him to go. I’ve noticed that he always started each season…This season, he got three episodes. What a way to end a character’s life! RIP Frank, though I will not miss BJR!!!
    I would give this episode an A- and look forward to Episode 306…A. Malcolm.
    October 22nd can’t come soon enough! Slainte!

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