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Episode 201 is the first episode of Season 2, and for non book-readers it was a WTH moment.  About the first 35 or 40 minutes are spent showing Claire’s not-so-happy reunion with Frank after she goes back through the stones.  The remainder of the episode up until the last half of the season finale is told in flashback.

“I made a promise, and I must keep it.”

The opening scene has Claire having just gone through the stones at Craig Na Dun.  She didn’t want to leave Jamie and return to her life with Frank, but she made Jamie a promise and was bound to keep it.  This isn’t a favorite scene, but it is a very important one, and gives us an idea of Claire’s emotional state and what we might expect from future scenes depicting the struggles in the Randall marriage.

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Again, this isn’t a favorite scene, but it does illustrate the differences between the attitudes of Jamie and Frank.  Initially Frank is upset to learn of Claire’s pregnancy, but since he is sterile he agrees to raise Jamie’s baby.  He does have conditions, though, and this is where we see the contrast between Jamie and Frank.  Frank as conditions attached to his reunion with Claire:  1) they will raise the child as their own, withholding the true paternity from the child; and 2) Claire must let Jamie go.

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Jamie never made that demand of Claire during their marriage.  He never told Claire she had to forget about Frank.  However, Claire agrees with Frank’s conditions.  She agrees to let Jamie go, not because Frank, in his selfishness demands it, but because she had promised Jamie she would.  She did it for Jamie, not Frank.

I’m not a huge Frank fan (no offense, Tobias), but I must give him his due.  He is at least willing to raise Jamie’s child as his own, and from all accounts in the book (Voyager, primarily), he was a good father, if not a stellar husband.

Back in time

To escape the rumors, gossip, and criticisms of of their situation, Frank and Claire move to Boston where he has accepted a professorship at Harvard.  The transition back in time to Jamie two hundred years earlier in France occurs when Claire steps off the plane in Boston.

It was very hard for Claire and us to watch Frank burn her clothes.  They were a symbol of his life with Jamie, and Frank would not have allowed her to keep them.

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Secrets, Lies, and Deceptions

For the remainder of the season until the finale, Jamie and Claire embark on a mission of secrets, lies, and deceptions in an effort to thwart the Jacobite rising and avoid the tragedy of Culloden.

Unfortunately, and much to Murtagh’s chagrin, Jamie and Claire must keep their secret from him as well.  That must have been especially hard for them because of their close relationship with him.  It must also have been difficult when it was necessary to deceive Jared, Jamie’s wine merchant cousin. However, the deception was necessary for the requisite introductions to the Jacobite leaders in France.

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“I’m sorry I doubted ye, brother.”

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“I wouldn’t change you to save the world.”

This is absolutely a favorite scene.  It doesn’t take Claire long to get them into trouble when they arrive at Le Havre, France.  Because she diagnosed smallpox on Comte St. Germain’s ship, the ship and its cargo are burned.  He is furious and vows revenge.

Instead of being angry with Claire, Jamie simply comments that life with her is never dull, but that he wouldn’t change her to save the world.

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Perhaps Jamie wouldn’t change a thing about Claire, but they have made a dangerous enemy, and surely there is plenty about Claire that the Comte will want to change.

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These last two episodes of Season 1 are difficult to watch.  It does not seem fitting to call all of them “favorite,” so some scenes, particularly those that highlight Sam Heughan’s incredible acting talents,” will be considered “memorable.”

“You owe me a debt.”

This is one of those “memorable” scenes.  Assuming his impending death and loss of Claire, Jamie begs BJR to fulfill his part of their bargain.  Jamie had agreed to give himself to BJR in exchange for Claire’s safety and he would receive a death by his method of choice.  Jamie has nothing left to live for, and when Black Jack is distracted by the invasion of highland coos, he begs him to fulfill their agreement.  Again, another example of Sam Heughan’s superb acting skills.

A “Highland Coos” Drive-By

This is truly a favorite scene, at least in the sense that we are glad BJR is incapacitated for a while and won’t pose a threat to Jamie in the immediate future.  We could not help cheering when Black Jack Randall was run over by a stampede of highland coos.

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Thanks to Murtagh’s brilliant idea of using wayward cattle in the rescue mission, he, Rupert and Angus were able to not only rescue Jamie, but put BJR out of commission for a while as well without having to risk their lives in battle with him and/or other British soldiers.  As we know, they incorrectly assume Black Jack is dead.  If only they had taken an extra few seconds to ensure it.

“You are a magnificent creature.”

This is a memorable scene because it is the one thing on which we can agree with Black Jack.  Jamie is indeed a magnificent creature.  Even Jack’s sadistic nature and the darkness in which he lives cannot blind him to this fact.  Perhaps that is what draws him to Jamie… a need to destroy that which is good and beautiful.

“No more Claire.”

Part of what makes this plot line so tragic is that Jamie believes he will never see his beloved Claire again.  She is lost to him, and Jack uses her and Jamie’s love of her against him.  Jamie hallucinates Claire’s face on Jack, and when her faces disappears he realizes she is gone.  We cry with Jamie, and it is a tribute, again, to the talent of Sam Heughan.

Out of the darkness and into the light

Many of the scenes in this episode are shown in flashback after Jamie is rescued and taken to the abbey.  He recounts some of his experiences to Claire, who is desperate to heal him in body, mind, and spirit.  Jamie is equally desperate to resist her healing.  Murtagh again shares his wisdom with the suggestion that in order for Jamie to be healed, someone will be required to enter into the darkness in which he exists right now and force him back into the light.

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That is exactly what Claire does.  After a a visit with Fr. Anselm and a little roughhousing to get his attention, she finally tells him that if he insists on dying, she will die with him, right there, right then.  Again, Claire is shown to be Jamie’s Achilles Heel.  This time Claire turns that weakness into a strength because he will not let her die with him.

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“Whatever your sins might be, have faith that they will be forgiven.”

Fr. Anselm find Claire alone in the sanctuary and offers to hear her confession.  Claire hasn’t shown a great appreciation for organized religion and its dogma, but she accepts the Father’s invitation to confession.  And, man, does she confess.

He is the only person outside of her immediate family with whom she has shared her amazing story.  She tells Fr. Anselm that the situation is her fault, and her confession empowers her with the spiritual strength she needs to bring Jamie out of his darkness and back into the light.  In a sense, she ransoms her own soul as well as Jamie’s.

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Claire is shocked to see that Fr. Anselm doesn’t judge her.  He declares her story as marvelous, extraordinary, and perhaps even a miracle.  He believes her and assures her that whatever her sins might be, she will be given.  Claire must recognize that the Father is a good, holy man, the antithesis to Fr. Bain.

“I was wrong.”

Jamie’s road to recovery will be a long one, but at least it has begun, and they set sail to France.  The good news is that Claire has a wonderful surprise for Jamie.  Their lives have been forever changed, and under the circumstances it it hard for Jamie to believe he could ever be himself again or feel happiness, aside for having Claire with him.

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Neither thought it could ever happen.  Jamie thought he would never feel happiness again.  Never say never.

 

 

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When we first began thinking about favorite scenes for this episode (and the next), we wondered how we could pick “favorite” scenes from an episode replete with tragedy and torture.  Upon careful consideration, however, we realized there are some things we enjoyed, apart from the brilliant performances by Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, and Tobias Menzies.  Regardless, we will not address the most brutal scenes.  It is simply too hurtful.

Let us first address the obvious.  Sam Heughan proved in this episode that he is worthy of any and all accolades and awards for his brilliant and heart-wrenching performance.  Much of his acting was done without dialogue.  Sam has mastered the art of communicating with his eyes and face to give us a wide range of emotions.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Black Jack Randall burns Jamie’s Petition of Complaint, yet he gets no reaction from Jamie.  That must have been a disappoint, since we know how BJR likes to evoke strong emotions from his victims.

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BJR’s attempts at intimidation fail.  He asks Jamie how he would prefer to die, and wants him to admit that he is terrified.  If he admits to being terrified, BJR promises to give him an honorable death of his own choosing.  (What a deal.)  Still, Jamie doesn’t beg or surrender.  He remains calm.

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No matter what form of intimidation BJR employes, Jamie remains cool.

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This is one of our favorite scenes because it illustrates the amazing acting talents of Sam Heughan. The tear rolling down his cheek breaks our hearts.  Finally, after BJR threatens Claire’s life, Jamie surrenders himself.  Claire is his Achilles Heel.  The only weapon BJR has against Jamie.

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Brave Hearts

Claire and Jamie sometimes make foolish decisions, but their bravery cannot be questioned.  Jamie isn’t the only man to find Claire’s courage and bravery attractive.

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Claire Fraser, “a most singular woman” (Dougal Mackenzie), “no coward,” and a “fit match for [her] husband” (Black Jack Randall).  Yes, she is a quite extraordinary and “rare” (Jamie Fraser) woman, and we love her well.

One of the most satisfying scenes of the episode is when Claire tells BJR she curses him.  She is no physical match for him.  The only weapon she has in her arsenal is knowledge, and she wields it expertly.  What a brilliant mind f**k.

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We love it when Claire plays the witch card.

 

 

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This was the first episode of the series that didn’t give us some great Jamie and Claire scenes.  In fact, we saw no Jamie and Claire the entire episode, and that was a tough pill to swallow.  However, some good things did happen.  Claire established and cemented some relationships independent of Jamie.

Claire and Jenny

Claire and Jenny got off to a rocky start in Episode 111, but when you deliver someone’s child and share a common purpose with that person, bonds will surely be made.  The bond seems tenuous, however, when tensions arise during their search for Jamie.  Jenny has a little inner warrior who doesn’t appreciate Claire’s seeming judgement and hesitation at killing the English soldier.  The issue seems resolved after Murtagh kills the soldier and Claire professes that she would have done it herself if Murtagh hadn’t shown up when he did.  Satisfied that Claire will do all she can to bring Jamie back to Lallybroch, Jenny leaves Claire and Murtagh to the task.

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Claire and Murtagh

Claire and Murtagh continue the search for Jamie and strengthen the bond they had through Jamie.  Together they build a mutual respect and friendship outside of their connection to Jamie.  This relationship isn’t without its challenges as well, and they don’t always agree on the best strategies to incorporate in their search.

One of our favorite scenes is when Murtagh encourages Claire to sing.  Her first on-stage attempt was funny.  Luckily the highlanders don’t know the word, but it may not have made a difference even if they had.

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Though some parts of the search dragged, we were given an opportunity to enjoy some of the beautiful Scottish Highlands scenery.

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One of the most satisfying scenes in the episode occurred when Claire and Murtagh are camped in a cave.  Their search has yet to yield success and tempers run short.  When Claire says Murtagh had never lost anyone he loved, Murtagh shares the story of his unrequited love for Jamie’s mother and how he gave her the carved bracelets.  They share an embrace and Murtagh confesses that he loves Jamie like a son.

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The next morning, with renewed strength and determination, they set off to continue their search.  Murtagh tries to assures Claire that they will find a way to make more money to continue their search for Jamie.

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Claire and Dougal

Claire and Murtagh receive word they are to meet Jamie, but once they arrive they are devastated to learn that it is Dougal who sent the message.  He gives them the news that Jamie has been captured, tried, and sentenced to be hanged.  Dougal is such a rascal, and Claire learns that Dougal had wanted Lallybroch and the Fraser lands all along, and he intends to get it by marrying Claire and “protecting” her.  Obviously she sees it as an indecent proposal but agrees to marry him only if Jamie is already dead or she can’t rescue him.

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Dougal refuses to order his men to help in the rescue mission but says he won’t stop them should they volunteer.  More determined than ever, Claire sets out to enlist the help of the highlanders.

Herself and the Highlanders

This is one of the best scenes in the episode.  Claire and Murtagh meet with a very reluctant group of Highlanders, except for Willie, who eventually shames the rest into agreeing to help rescue Jamie.  That they do ultimately agree to help indicates the level of respect they have for her.  Remember that this is eighteenth century Scotland, where a group of rowdy Highlanders are willing to follow the lead of not just a woman, but an English woman.  She has earned their respect as Lady Broch Tuarach, as Herself.

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We love Badass Claire.

 

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Episode 113 represents a turning point in Jamie and Claire’s lives.  For what seems like only a brief moment, they live in peace and happiness at Lallybroch until the Watch arrives.  When Jamie is coerced into riding with McQuarry and his men, it triggers a journey of which will impact him and Claire for a lifetime.

Never let them see you sweat.

One of the best things about this episode (aside from the wonderful Jamie and Claire moments) is the way Jamie stands up to the Watch.  He will not be intimidated by them, and it’s sexy as hell.  If there was ever a doubt about Sam Heughan’s ability to play a role like James Bond, then this episode should help settle the issue.  We see the beginnings of Jamie as leader and fearless protector of what and who are dear to him.

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“He needed killing.”

McQuarry was right.  After Harrocks set up The Watch, along with Jamie and Ian, to be ambushed by British soldiers and extorting money from Jamie, Harrocks had to die.

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“I ran him through.”

After their initial meeting, McQuarry understands that Jamie is no coward and begins to appreciate him as a fellow warrior.  Still, tensions run high when Jamie tells McQuarry that he killed Harrocks when he threatened his family.  Even though McQuarry agrees that Harrocks needed killing, he forces Jamie to join the Watch in a raid, which leads to their capture.  Ian wants to join them and Jamie’s initial reaction is a stern, “No, yer not.”  Ian wins the debate and joins Jamie and the Watch.

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“It would take more strength than I have.”

This is one of the iconic book scenes, and it is a real tear-jerker, not only for Jamie and Claire for but viewers as well.  Jamie is so sweet when Claire confesses that she may not be able to give him children.  Having lost his own mother in childbirth, the thought of losing Claire in that way truly scares him.  However, he can’t hide all of his disappointment at the news.

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“Haste ye back.”

This scene is another sad one.  Jamie won’t be hasting back to Claire, and soon his life (and hers) will be forever changed.  It is the last time Jamie and Claire will be together for some time.  Jamie leaves to fulfill his promise to McQuarry that he will go with the Watch on just one raid.  After their capture, Jamie ends up in the hands of Black Jack Randall.  To emphasize the importance of this goodbye, Jamie’s departure is filmed in slow motion.

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It will be a while before Jamie and Claire have some peace.

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“Lallybroch” is another great episode for Jamie and Claire.  Finally, after many trials and tribulations they return to Lallybroch.  Their arrival is met with some challenges in the form of Jamie’s sister, Jenny, and Jamie’s somewhat difficult initial adjustment to his responsibilities as Laird of Lallybroch.

 

Ahead and behind.

The gifs below represent another favorite scene in this episode.  There isn’t much happening, just Jamie and Claire on their final approach to Lallybroch, but the beautiful scenery (ahem) warranted it’s inclusion in our favorite scenes.

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We learn that Jamie has been intentionally misled by Dougal as to Jenny’s fate subsequent to their initial encounter with Black Jack Randall.  When Ian’s appearance confirms that Jenny’s son and her unborn child are fathered by him, Jamie tries to apologize to Jenny for his incorrect assessment of the immediate situation.

While we applaud Laura Donnelly’s performance as Jenny, the character does little to endear fans with her abrasive and sarcastic behavior towards Jamie and Claire.  She was rightfully angry at Jamie’s unjust accusations, but her attitude didn’t improve much until the saw Jamie’s scars.

Jenny is not an easy character to love, but we are glad that Jamie, Claire, and Jenny eventually resolve most of their issues and come to understand each other.  Ian Murray, played by the very talented Steven Cree, is an absolute joy.  Jenny is lucky to be married to such a patient and loving man.

“I have a much better throwing arm than the fair Latitia.”

Jamie isn’t the only one experiencing a learning curve.  Claire must navigate her way through her new role as well.  Unaware of the cultural expectations for a Laird’s wife, it doesn’t take her long to step on toes, Jamie’s in particular, and they confer in private to establish the boundaries for the appropriate behavior and demeanor for the Laird’s wife.  Once she understands what is expected of her, she reminds Jamie that she is not the meek and obedient type.  They reach an understanding, or should we say Jamie reaches the understanding that while Claire will not defy him publicly, those rules don’t apply behind closed doors.  We like this scene, and wouldn’t expect any less of Jamie and Claire.

Brian Fraser

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One of our favorite scenes of this episode occurs when Jamie and Claire are in the Laird’s bedroom for the first time.  Jamie talks about his father and about the last time he saw Brian Fraser alive.  It was heartbreaking to hear and see, but for the first time we get a glimpse of the handsome highlander, the first Lord Broch Tuaroch, in the form of a flashback.

I love you

The Laird’s quarters again gives us another great Jamie-Claire moment.  For the first time in what seems like an eternity we see the Lord and Lady happy, relaxed, and worry-free, at least for the night.

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Shortly after, in the same scene, we have another iconic Jamie/Claire scene.  He tells Claire that he has loved her since she wept in his arms that first day at Castle Leoch.  We aren’t too surprised about that, but Claire probably is, even though she doesn’t doubt his love now.  Then for the first time, Claire confesses her love to Jamie.  He shouldn’t be surprised to hear it.  After all, in the last episode she did choose to stay with him instead of going through the stones back to Frank.  Still, he is delighted with the confirmation, and so are we.

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If looks could kill…

We can’t help appreciating the looks on the faces of Jamie and Claire when, once again, Jenny reminds us why she isn’t yet one of our favorite characters.  Jamie tells Jenny and Ian that he and Claire plan to stay at Lallybroch.  Jenny is concerned that there is a price on Jamie’s head and what implications that might have for him and everyone at Lallybroch.  Jamie assures her that the Duke of Sandringham is having a pardon issued on his behalf.  Though no words are spoken, Jamie and Claire’s reaction is written all over their faces when Jenny replies in a snarky manner that she never thought Jamie would be so trusting of the English, referencing the Duke and Claire.  Her meaning isn’t lost on Jamie, Claire, and Ian.  Ian laughs in a combination of what might be seen as nervous tolerance or apology on Jenny’s behalf.  We assume Ian is accustomed to playing peacemaker when Jenny steps in it, which is likely often.  He must have the patience of Jobe.

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By the conclusion of the episode we find that all of the residents of Lallybroch are on their way to mending old relationships and bonds as well as forging new ones.

(Note:  We did not forget about the windy day and the cold water at the mill when Jamie intended to make repairs.  Please see our tumblr post for those gifs.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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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