web analytics

Author's Posts

Share

Title: Freedom and Whisky

Written by: Toni Graphia

Directed by: Brendan Maher

 This recap includes information from both the official script and  Starz podcasts  by the executive producers and will include things changed or edited for television.

The podcast was hosted by Executive producers Toni Graphia (TG) and Maril Davis (MD).  The title card was 0f Claire painting a Christmas ornament for Brianna’s first Christmas.  This shows that the very busy medical student and then surgeon still had time for a mom’s personal touches.

Episode 304 was a Jamie-focused episode with arguably one of the most important times in his 20-year gap from Claire.  This episode serves the same purpose for Claire.  They had discussed making 304 and 305 one episode but it was far too long.

TG noted that she and Maril discussed this episode at length with a focus on the mother/daughter relationship.  They debated questions about what it would take for a mother to leave a daughter she loves and at what point in a child’s life does the mother have a right to her own life.  Is it selfish or do you have the right to pursue your own happiness?  All good questions that they explore in this episode.

We open with doctors performing surgery and when the lead surgeon speaks, it is clearly Claire’s voice.  The script notes say they originally wanted to make the patient be the Harry mentioned by Joe Abernathy when he called Claire in Scotland.  There was even a backstory created for him but this was dropped in favor of an unknown patient once the story timeline was shifted to late December.  This was already done when they were prepping sets and TG had to call fellow executive producer Matt Roberts to request (beg) them to shift the sets.  This added three days to the prep schedule.

Claire shows her usual combination of courage and recklessness in keeping the patient under sedation with a dropping blood pressure in order to make sure she completes the necrosis removal.  The show used their medical consultant (also named Claire!) to help with the authentic look of the surgery.  TG notes that Cait had to practice a lot but picked up the surgical technique very quickly.

The scene shifts to a Harvard history class where Professor David Brown is lecturing on Paul Revere.  TG commented that all the historical facts on the white board were researched by their assistant (a PhD candidate in history). The professor was named for a show producer!  TG’s inspiration was a story told to her by Matt Roberts about the truth behind Paul Revere’s ride.  It’s also a bit of foreshadowing in future books.

The professor has a private chat with Brianna about her failing grades in all her classes after a strong previous semester.  Bree is struggling with all that she has learned in the past two years between losing the man who raised her and finding out that not only is her real father another man but that time travel actually exists.  She was focused on the hunt for Jamie in Scotland but now, the enormity of this hits her and she is not into school at the moment.  Sketches of the University cloisters also hint at an interest in subject matters other than history.  She shrugs it off since she cannot tell the professor what is really bothering her.

Back at the hospital, we see that Joe and Claire share an office and are trusted friends.  Maril commented that the network was interested in whether there would be any indication of a romantic involvement between Joe and Claire but she pushed back. (Not only is this not in the book, I am glad Maril stood her ground since the Joe/Claire dynamic is excellent as it is.) This scene is one of three important scenes between Joe and Claire as she slowly reveals her love of another man.  In the book this is one big scene but Maril felt it was better to show this in line with Claire’s mental progression  and decision making process about whether she should go back through the stones.

A taxi pulls up outside the Boston apartment and it is Roger Wakefield wondering if he’s lost his mind.  In the book, Claire and Bree go back to Scotland but they decided not to do that for production reasons (including they lost their location in Scotland and then moved to South Africa).  This way, Roger gets to experience his first American Christmas and it is explained both by his discovery and the fact that he did not want to have this first Christmas without the Reverend all alone.

Roger is excited but realizes his timing is not good as he hears Claire and Bree shouting in the house.  While they are both happy to see him, it is clear they are fighting over her decision to both drop out and move out.  She leaves with a box (why not a suitcase?) and Claire invites him to stay.  Maril loves the Claire and Roger relationship and I wonder if seeing how good Roger is with Bree helped Claire to ultimately make her decision.

Fun Fact #1:  O Come All ye Faithful is rumored to be a coded Jacobite song for Bonnie Prince Charlie.  Mark Me, I’ll never listen to that the same way again.

The books mention Claire telling Jamie about reading A Christmas Carol so they decided to introduce that here.  I really didn’t get the implication that an American Christmas is lobster rolls and Boston Cream Pie until TG said that was her family Christmas.  Sorry, Toni.  I don’t know anybody who had that, it is usually turkey or ham and Apple pie.

TG also joked that if you notice a lot of whisky in this episode, it was deliberate.

Roger is excited to tell Claire that he thinks he found Jamie.  He shows her a printed piece from the 18th century quoting the Robert Burns poem they heard in the Scotland pub.  Claire had told Jamie that line of Freedom and whisky go together and since Burns was only six years old then, it had to be known by someone with knowledge of the future.  He points out that the piece was written and printed by an Alexander Malcolm.  He assumes this is Jamie and is very proud of his find.

Claire’s reaction stuns him.  She is not happy at all and fears that she had finally accepted Jamie was dead and does not want to risk her heartache again.  In the book she never gave up hope but the show writer’s wanted to make it more of an agonizing decision. She now feels she must close the door on that part of her life and protect Bree, who is obviously having a hard time.

She invites Roger to stay and later ponders what all of this means and if she really wants to even think about it any more.

The next day Claire and Joe are reviewing a set of bones sent by a friend looking for cause of death.  Claire holds the skull and immediately feels sadness.  She guesses right that this woman was from more than 100 years ago and that she was murdered.  Another Easter Egg for book readers.

Claire discusses her dilemma with Joe again and she confesses that her man from Scotland is Bree’s real father and Bree is struggling.  There was a longer conversation in the script about how Joe’s son Lenny changed his name and was also being difficult.  This was important for a later scene in Voyager so I wonder if they will leave that out as well. Joe tells Claire that everyone knew she and Frank had problems and that Bree will come around.  I love how Joe is always putting Claire first.

Bree returns to the house and finds Roger engrossed in an episode of Dark Shadows.  (My mother used to love this show.)  Fun Fact #2:  A very cool coincidence is that this episode of Dark Shadows actually aired on the exact date that it was supposed to be in the show (It’s Season 11, episode 651 if you’re interested) AND the plot is about a woman who goes back in time to the 18th century.   Bree invites Roger to a reception at Harvard in honor of Frank Randall.

Bree and Roger walk into Harvard under the famous cloisters (which don’t exist but the ones at University of Glasgow do).   They observe the structures differently, Roger from a historian’s perspective and Bree from an engineer’s perspective despite her history major and grooming up with a history professor.  This is another foreshadow of how Bree finds her true calling and not one she chose to please Frank.  They talk about being the daughter of a historian or a highlander.  Roger tells her a story about his own father which was actually pulled forward from Book 4.

The reception celebrates a fellowship in honor of Professor Randall.  In awkward moment 101, the Dean introduces Claire to Sandy.  Frank’s Sandy/Candy.  Sandy confronts Claire about how she loved him and Claire was selfish and wanted it all but threw away 20 years.  Roger and Bree are watching in the background, seeing that something isn’t quite right.

I had so many problems with this scene.  First, the Dean had to suspect that something was going on between Frank and Sandy for 20 years!  Second, TG thought it was interesting to show what it cost Frank to stay.  So, in the book Frank has many mistresses but somehow it is supposed to make it all better that he only cheated with one?  TG felt Frank was a hero for staying and raising Bree and that it was important to “call Claire on her shit”.  That sentence makes me very angry.  I’ll bet if Frank could have children, he would have been gone in a heartbeat.  And they left out racist Frank too.  Or the fact that Frank tended to date his students (Claire, Sandy and who knows how many more.  It’s all about power.)  TG and Ron D. Moore have slowly tried to change the Frank character to be a sympathetic one and not only am I not buying it, I’m kind of offended by it.  I got the sense that Maril wasn’t buying it either although she said that this scene actually showed a stronger Jamie and Claire bond.  Sorry, the more you have to explain it, the less water it holds for me.

A script aside is that Sandy’s real name was going to be Mandy but they had to change that for future book reasons.  TG does not read ahead in the books.

Claire and Bree walk through the fake Harvard cloisters (where did Roger go?).  Bree is dressed like the daughter of a Highlander (perhaps unconsciously).  Bree recognized Sandy and in keeping their promise of no more lies, Claire tells her exactly who Sandy was.  Bree feels divorced child guilt and wonders if one or both of her parents hated her because she looks like Jamie.  In the book, Claire tells her she hated her a bit until she held her but they softened that in the script.

Bree tells Claire she can go back but Claire resists.  Bree tells her she loves her but she doesn’t need her, even though she’s struggling right now.  She wants her to go back.

At the hospital, Claire, Joe and their colleagues are watching Astronaut Jim Lovell and Apollo 8 orbiting the moon.  (Fun fact #3, this is the same Jim Lovell who was portrayed in the Apollo 13 movie by Tom Hanks.)  Joe comments that it must be hard to make a trip like that and come back the same. He unknowingly gives Claire a parallel food for thought and she thinks about what she must do.

Later that evening she and Bree discuss the possibility of her going back to Jamie and never being able to see each other again.  Bree wants her to tell Jamie all about her, that he deserves to know.  Claire confesses her insecurities that Jamie will have forgotten her or fallen out of love with her but Bree reassures her.  Bree tells her that Claire gave up Jamie for Bree and now Bree is giving up Claire to give Jamie back to her.  (I kind of like the book version better where she says Jamie gave up Claire for Bree.)

Claire is now seriously considering returning but her insecurities (an unusual trait for Claire) are still there.  She confronts Joe and asks if she is sexually attractive.  He recognizes where this is coming from and ensures her that her man will be in heaven when he sees her.  That gives Claire the final boost she needs.  We all need a friend like Joe.

It’s Christmas morning in the Boston house.  It’s clear Claire has shared that she’s leaving for the stones as they have purchased 18th century UK money for her.  (This was more believable in the book when they actually were in the UK.)   Roger gives her a history of Scotland so she can anticipate any other challenges.  Bree notes that she wanted to give her a flashlight but was afraid of another witch trial.  (Her knowledge of this witch trial will be important in S4.)  In one final gesture, Bree gives her a necklace with a Topaz so that she can have the required gemstone to get through the stones.  (TG joked that the UK pronunciation of Topaz is actually ToPAZ which makes me think that’s how Cait pronounced it at first.)

Claire confides that he’s bringing some “borrowed” antibiotics and other surgical supplies with her.  The three discuss how she can do this and Claire notes that she has to make it with pockets.  Roger jokes it is like Batman’s utility belt.

The montage to follow shows Claire sewing her outfit.   I thought at first that the continued Batman reference was a tip to Sam Heughan who played Batman in a touring stage production but in the post-show interview, Ron Moore gave credit to his wife and costume designer Terry and said they took to calling it the bat suit because of the multi-purpose of the outfit.  I think they overdid the bat suit running joke in the show itself, especially the music.  It was funny when I heard the music start but to play it through the whole sewing montage was beneath the gravitas of the show, for me.

After super-seamstress Claire finishes, she takes stock of herself for wrinkles and more gray hair.  The next day Roger and Bree notice she dyed her hair overnight and Claire comments that it was thanks to Miss Clairol.

(Fun fact #4: Caitriona Balfe did an ad for Miss Clairol in her modeling years.)

 

 

 

Claire was clever with the use of raincoat material given the Scottish weather and she tucks the penicillin vials into one of the pockets. Roger steps out to get more whisky and Claire gives Bree a note for Joe Abernathy and the deed to the house.  She gives her the Scottish pearls that were her grandmother Ellen’s.  It seems to be the first time that Bree hears that was her grandmother’s name which seems odd but maybe that’s just the way Sophie Skelton played it.  Mother and daughter hug now since Claire does not want them to accompany her to the stones.  I loved how she explained the first time she was scared, the second time, heartbroken and that this time she wanted it to be peaceful.

That night, a taxi comes to take Claire on a risky journey back in time.  Bree and Roger wave at the window, with Bree wearing the pearls.  Bree nods in encouragement and then turns in tears as soon as Claire pulls away.  I don’t find Sophie’s acting skills to be on par with the rest of the cast when she’s delivering lines but she did a good job with the facial expressions and body language.  I believed her emotions.

Bree goes into the kitchen in tears and then steadies herself in a way that would make her parents proud.  She puts on a Santa hat and brings in a tray of lobster roll and Boston cream pie that had been on the counter.  She gives Roger his first American Christmas and probably ptomaine poisoning.  They kiss and while I’m not convinced that she feels yet the depth of puppy dog love he feels for her, it is a new leg of their personal journey together.  She tucks in with him on the couch and begins to read Dickens.

The taxi driver stops as voiceover Claire tells the story of how as a child she thought puddles were actually deep holes that could suck you in.  She looks down at a puddle as steps out of the taxi and the next thing we see are her boots in an 18th century puddle.  While this reminded me a bit of copying the episode 201 cross-century shift, it worked.  The writers decided that the stones scenes would be a “been there/done that” scene and also the location they use for Caigh Na Dun is difficult to get to.

I liked that Claire’s outfit was a bit more colorful than the rest of 18th century Edinburgh as she is still a woman out of time.  She stops and asks a young boy where she can find Mr. Malcom’s print shop  and he directs her to Carfax Close.  She walks with anticipation and uncertainty and comes upon the sign for the print shop.  Claire’s face here is everything-pure joy.  Ascending the stairs slowly, she stops at the top to check her reflection and with a big sigh, the infamous Cling of the bell is heard.

I’ll admit, I thought they would stop there or with the well known first line and was pleasantry surprised when they kept going. She notices a hat and lit candle at the desk indicating somebody is there.  Then, we hear the brogue calling out ” is that you, Geordie” and we realize it isn’t just somebody.  Cait did a great job with her heavy breathing as she recognizes the voice.  You can feel her heart beating out of her chest.

I was surprised that the Print Shop set was two levels but it really worked.  The voice keeps talking to Geordie as Claire walks over to the open balcony overlooking the press.  It’s Jamie and if it is possible to just act with your spine, Sam does it here.  When Claire says “It’s not Geordie”, he stiffens.  He knows that voice even after 20 years.  She continues “it’s me, Claire” With the eagerness of a hopeful child. He turns, almost afraid that it’s another hallucination that he hasn’t had in a while.  He looks up (which is why the two levels works so well) and the candles light up her face.  His body gives way before his mind does and he “falls gracefully to the floor for such a large man.”  She gives an oh crap look and we cut to credits.

It was a perfect way to end the two week build up to the Print Shop episode.  There were times I felt the episode was a bit jumpy but I’ve always felt Toni writes great scenes in isolation that sometimes suffer from a lack of seamless flow from one to another.  But kudos to the writers, Cait, Sam and set designer Jon Gary Steele for the last five minutes.  They were even better than I imagined them.

Congrats!  We’ve already made it halfway through the two week break before Print Shop (aka episode 306 A. Malcolm) airs on October 22nd.

Thanks to the time and talent of the following for the images and gifs. bookboyfriendharem, lulutan-79, anoutlandishidea, balfoddlyeager, jamieclaire, the nerd daily, Terry Dresbach and Starz.  If we’ve forgotten anyone, please contact us at any of our social media sites

Share
Read more

Share

Title: Of Lost Things

Written by: Toni Graphia

Directed by: Brendan Maher

This recap includes information from both the official script and  Starz podcasts  by the executive producers 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 original title was going to be Helwater but Matt felt that this title applies to so many people and things in this episode that it fit.

This episode was highly anticipated (or dreaded depending on which scenes we are talking about).  I thought there were excellent changes including one important one, a few plot holes and once again, outstanding performances.  There should be a special award for Bear McCreary’s score, David Berry’s eyebrows should win best supporting actor and if Sam Heughan doesn’t get nominated for a major award this year, there will be some serious crockery throwing in this house.

The title card is of a man’s hands carving something out of a piece of wood.  We see it is a snake that resembles Sawny, a sentimental gift to a young Jamie from his brother Willie.

We begin in 1968 right after episode 213 ended.  Claire, Bree and Roger have a war room set up to try to find out what happened to Jamie after he survived Culloden.  Claire locates him on a prison roll from Ardsmuir and they find that he was still alive for three years until the prison closed.  (I was thinking she might have found Murtagh’s name too but perhaps they were just focused on Jamie and didn’t bother scanning for more familiar names.)    TG notes that Roger names all real prisons in Scotland at that time and they tossed in Blackness as an Easter Egg for the fans since that is where they filmed for Fort William.  Bree and Roger go find whisky to celebrate while Claire wonders what Jamie did next.

The answer awaits us in the next scene.  We are at Helwater, home of Lord and Lady Dunsany and their daughters as they return from Italy,  in a scene with the servants lined up in such a way that TG calls Downton Abbey.  The script says that Lord Dunsany is in his 50’s and his wife in her late 40’s which I find hard to believe but they must have aged faster in those days.  (Think about how beautiful Claire looks at 50.)  Geneva and Isobel are 21 and 20, respectively.  I hate that the smart daughter is always the plain one with cheaper gowns.  TG said she was going for the Lady Mary/Lady Edith vibe from Downton.  Dear Toni, Not even close to the same show.  Unless you care to resurrect Matthew through the stones.

Dunsany speaks to Jamie (using an alias of Alexander MacKenzie) and advises him that while Dunsany is aware of his Jacobite past, his wife is not.  She is grieving the loss of their son, who died at PrestonPans and may not be so forgiving.  Dunsany respects his commitment to his cause, and so will keep  his secret but not let him free.  Jamie notes that many lost children on both sides and then breaks my heart for the first of many times this episode with this line.

It’s 1968 and we’re back to Roger and Bree in his broken down car.  She teases him about Fiona’s interest in him and he acts like he’s 15 instead of 30 by getting all embarrassed.   The EP’s in the podcast keep talking about how cute they are.  Is there a reason they are pushing this couple?  Book readers know what happens and non-book readers should be able to watch it happen.  They flirt a little and Bree shows off her mechanical skills in what is foreshadowing of things to come.   There is another bit of dialogue in the script that I am so very happy did not make it for a variety of reasons. 

Apparently this was Ronald D. Moore’s idea but then an assistant told TG that JAMMF was kind of a fan thing.   Thank goodness for that assistant.  First, because that’s a great line by Roger that was originally said when he found Claire asleep with a book in her hand still searching for Jamie.  And he speaks that line to (virtual) Jamie.  It was more poignant in the book version.  Second, Bree’s lines are just so stupid and corny that it would make people dislike her character even more and it breaks the fourth wall in a bad way. That Easter Egg would be rotten.  Somebody give that assistant a raise.

Back in Helwater, “Jimbo” is comfortable with his life around horses.  The grooms draw straws to see who gets stuck taking  the entitled, rude Geneva on her ride.   Jamie draws the long straw  and makes a comment about what that spoiled girl really needs.  Her sister Isobel overhears but doesn’t disagree.  They discuss the beautiful horses and stables but she notes that a cage is still a cage and one can’t help but think that it applies to Jamie as well.  A friendly bond begins to form here.

We bounce to 1968 and Roger takes a  phone call from the hospital in Boston for Claire.  It’s Dr. Joe who is really calling to see when she’s coming home.  TG noted they wanted to put the squeeze on Claire in terms of both of her obligations needing her.  Always glad to see Dr. Joe but this scene seemed unnecessary especially when an important scene is cut for time later.

In Helwater, we meet the Earl of Ellsmere, an older, pompous man who has been promised to Geneva, because that’s what happens when you give women  no rights or opportunity to earn a living.  She’s disgusted at the idea and glancing at the new handsome groom, a plot forms in her mind.  The next time they draw straws, she orders Jamie to take her instead.  She teases him, takes off without him and pretends to be thrown from her horse.  He finds her, tries to help her and when she laughs at him, he drops her in the mud.  ‘I laughed out loud.

MBR and TG argued about whether she should be pissed as in the books or a good spirit about it.  TG won out, but I think Matt was right.   They had to make several of the gorgeous riding dresses to do these takes which I guess took up all the costume budget as poor Isobel is stuck in the same dress throughout the episode.

MBR noted that the book called for her to fall off in the river but the water was cold and doing multiple takes makes it hard and is unhealthy for the actors.  So, I guess it was OK to put poor Sam Heughan in the ice cold stream by the mill pond in Season 1, eh?   Remember his comment when he slid into the water?  Cack!

Lord John is visiting!  His family are friendly with the Dunsanys.  He and Jamie play chess and you see Jamie relax for the first time in awhile.  They are met in the field by Lord Melton (LJG’s brother Hal from Culloden) and the sisters.  Melton is shocked to see his brother playing chess with the very much alive Red Jamie but holds his composure.  LJG can tell Hal is displeased..again.  Geneva, ever the conniving one, smells there is a greater truth somewhere and decides she is going to find out.

Geneva finds Jamie near the stables “shoveling shit”.  In the book, he’s in the field with his shirt off but not only was that difficult to film, MBR liked the idea that others were around them and they had to whisper.  She tells him a drunk Lord Melton told his story and she knows he is Red Jamie.  She tells him he must come to her bed before her wedding in three days or she will tell her mother about him which will see him back to prison.  She does not want her first time to be with the old dude.  And she reveals her knowledge of Lallybroch and the obvious threats to his family if he is found near there.  He’s pretty mad but reluctantly he agrees to avoid risk to his own life and those of his family.  TG notes she is basically a female villain.  MBR said she is diabolical but underneath, it’s all an act.

The sex scene with Jamie and Geneva was hard to film.  MBR said it is always hard to show Jamie or Claire with somebody else because in the book, you can imagine it the way you want but in the show, it is right in front of you.

Jamie enters the room and does not look happy.  TG said it is clear he is angry and feels manipulated.  But she felt in some ways, Geneva deserved a break. She does not know Claire existed.  It was a challenge to show her as a girl, who for once, is not in control.   Even though Jamie is angry at the situation, it is his humanity that lets him see her vulnerability.

MBR said for Jamie, it is not personal and it is not intimate.  It is a physical act that he has to get through.  There will be a primal instinct for a bit as he’s a man who has had a woman only once in almost a decade.   MBR indicated that they even spoke with the director and specifically said it should not be romantic.  They even adjusted the lighting and the music so that it was not romantic.  The music had a rather ominous tone and in a great blog I read recently (apologies I cannot find it to credit properly),  the blogger notes it is actually very similar to a theme played when Black Jack was describing his flogging of Jamie.  Verra interesting choice, Bear.

The act goes on for too long, though.  Not only do I not want to see Jamie having sex with someone else for five minutes (especially after they went completely the other way in Season 2) but if the man has not had sex in years, he isn’t going to last that long even if he is JAMMF. But he doesn’t touch her much and  just finishes and rolls off her with a stern look on his face.  (It’s important to remember that he was twice her age here.)  In the end, the inexperienced Geneva thinks she is in love but Jamie pours cold water on that thought and explains to her that it was not special.  Then Claire returns to the room (in his mind) and he tells her what special really his.  MBR said it was a great example of one handed clapping.  Geneva is clapping, Jamie is not and there’s no sound.

I also want to give a two handed clap (I hope that’s not a euphemism) to TG for re-writing the squirrely consent/lack of consent in the book to make it quite clear that there was definitely consent and in fact, there was the offer to back out.  That was one of the worst choices Diana Gabaldon ever made in these books, no matter how man times she tries to double-down that it wasn’t rape.  We teach young men and women that No means No.

Thankfully, we leave Geneva’s bedroom back to 1968.   Fiona is giving Ellen Fraser’s pearls to Claire even though Claire had given them to Mrs. Graham (her grandmother) when she first came back through the stones.  I found this an odd choice to include when in the book Claire had just kept them to give to Bree.  She kept Brian Fraser’s ring, she could have easily hidden them from Frank.  We never saw Frank destroy them so nobody would question where they were.  It just seemed like an added plot that was not needed.   Either way, it is foreshadowing of at least two scenes to come.

The three historical detectives keep looking and coming up with dead ends and Claire is getting discouraged.  Bree confesses that she is torn between seeing her mother happy by finding her father and knowing that will mean she could lose her forever.  Roger is torn for similar reasons as he knows  they will leave for Boston if they come up short and he could lose Bree.  She kisses him on impulse.  TG said they wanted Bree to take the lead since we already know how Roger feels about her but it was unclear how she feels in return.  Once again, Roger looks 15.  I’m not finding it so cute any more.

Geneva is married but on one of her returns to Helwater, she gets out of the carriage to show Jamie a little surprise.  She’s pregnant and it ain’t an Ellsmere.  The wheels turn in Jamie’s head and he’s pretty sure his super-sperm have given him yet another child with unfortunate timing.  A couple of  months later, a frantic Isobel comes to the stables to find him as Geneva is giving birth and it isn’t going well.  The researchers had to correct the script here as she tells him to hurry! but in those times, they didn’t hurry, they made haste.

They make such haste to Ellsmere’s estate to find that a boy is born (see light-bulb of happiness over Jamie’s head for a minute) but there is a problem.  She’s in trouble and the Earl is quite pissed since he has never slept with his wife and this isn’t no miracle baby.  (Why didn’t Geneva just sleep with him once to cover her bases?)  Isobel is in tears as Geneva has died and Jamie’s brain is full of emotions including guilt.  Isobel reveals she knew about their one night stand and blames him with a stinging slap.  (MBR said she really slapped him.)  A maid comes to retrieve them as the Earl is threatening to kill the boy.  Jamie takes Lord Dunsany’s gun and fires it, killing the Earl. He rescues the child who winks on cue (sign this kid up for S4, he hits his marks) and the look of brief happiness that flits across Jamie’s face must be quickly concealed.

Later, Jamie is riding in the woods when Isobel comes up to him with the baby in a carriage.  Carriages were not period appropriate but that’s what TG wanted to do.  She tells him the baby is William after her father, which pleases Jamie because William was also his brother.  She leaves him for a moment as her mother approaches from the distance.  This gives Jamie a chance to look at his son and assure him that he shouldn’t worry, his father was here.  But Lady Dunsany reveals she is aware of his past and can arrange a pardon in exchange for saving her grandson.  Jamie makes up a story that he needs to keep sending money home and he will stay for awhile.  (PS.  Stop looking at the baby when you say that, you’ll blow your cover-and  his.)

Five years later, we see Jamie helping a young boy who looks of Mediterranean descent (Um, I mean Willie) on a horse.  This kid looks nothing like Sam Heughan and resemblance is a key part of the plot here.  I guess I can overlook it as he really did a great job.  It’s hard to believe he’s 11 in real life.   Think about it, that’s how old Fergus was supposed to be at PrestonPans.  Lady Dunsany comments on this resemblance in a joking way but Jamie hears her.  Later, he’s cleaning a carriage with Willie and notices the resemblance in the reflection.  He knows he has no choice but to leave.

But first we’re back in 1968 with Claire, Bree and Roger in a bar listening to a recitation of Robert Burns’ poem with the line of Freedom and Whisky go together.    Claire comments she used to say that to Jamie.  Don’t step on that Foreshadow, Roger.

Willie learns “Mac”is leaving and is  not happy.  He acts up in anger and when Jamie calls him a little bastard, he hates that line.  One wonders if he’s heard whispers.  Jamie is stung, realizing the double meaning and apologies.  We know this is important to him because he was a bit ashamed that his own father was a bastard.

Willie spontaneously gives him a hug and the this cuts right to Jamie’s heart (and mine) as he knows he has the love of this child that he can never claim.

 

 

LJG is visiting Helwater again.  He has heard Jamie is leaving which makes him sad as well but he knows that it is for the best as he too has guessed about Willie’s parentage.  They walk and Jamie asks him if he will look after Willie and offers his own body in return.  This shows how serious his request is and LJG doesn’t even know what he’s been through (unless you’ve read the novella).  David Berry gives a great performance of disbelief, joy and gallantry.  He refuses him and tells Jamie he is to be married to Isobel and that together they will raise Willie.   This scene was so great on many levels.  The bromance chemistry is very real and it makes me happy for Jamie to have such a friend.  As MBR said, if you think about their evolution, this man was once his prison warden and now he is asking him to raise his son.  

They shake and Jamie  puts his left hand over their clasped hands, which has great significance to LJG after their awkward moment in Ardsmuir.  Matt said handshakes weren’t period correct either but it seemed too little to just bow as a thank you. 

Jamie returns to his room with candles lit and prepares to take out his hidden statue of Saint Anthony, the patron saint Of Lost Things.  (Saint Anthony works overtime for me but always comes through!)  Willie enters and inquires about the candles and Jamie tells him that he prays for his family and his wife, whom he thinks about, always.  In the script, Jamie is praying before Willie enters including the famous line which mysteriously has been left out all season about praying that Claire is safe, she and the child.  There was a scene of Claire praying for him too that was going to be a nice pairing and for some reason, they were both edited out.  That makes me shake my head in so many ways.  Leave that in and take out the useless phone call from Joe or cut the Geneva loses her virginity scene down by 25 seconds.   Will somebody please give the editors a copy of this book?  Although RDM has read it.  “nuff said.

Willie wants to be a “stinking Papist’ like Jamie and he is baptized by his father.  Jamie gives him a carving of Sawny with his own name carved in the back.  I loved this change from the rosary, as the writers correctly point out that there is no way a British prison would let a Jacobite keep anything of value, especially a symbol of Catholicism.

It’s time to go home. Claire and Bree back to Boston and Jamie back to Lallybroch.  Claire looks as sad a she did hopeful at the end of 213.  Back at the Wakefield residence, Roger tears up over what might have been with Bree.  Bob Dylan’s song My Blue Eyed Son plays in the background (a rare choice of contemporary music and TG’s choice ever since she read the book).  Jamie says goodbye to Isobel, who whispers they will take care of his son and LJG has tears in his eyes for his friend and for him.  Jamie gets on his horse but Willie yells for him not to leave and takes off toward the horse.  (Hats off to David Berry who had to really run fast to catch this kid.)  Jamie doesn’t look around and for the first time, looks every bit of his 40ish years.  He rides with a straight back, but the lump in his throat (and mine) is large and he has to catch his breath as he rides away from another child. He’s lost three children now.  And Sam Heughan breaks my heart again.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the following for their time and talent for the screencaps and gifs: emmakillian, jamieclaire, outlander-scenery, caitbalfes, Starz.   If we missed a credit, please notify us on any of our social media sites.

Share
Read more

Share

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.

Share
Read more

Share

Title: The Battle Joined

Written by: Ronald D. Moore

Directed by: Brendan Maher

OLA will be publishing an episode-based Recap on Steroids (ROS) during Season 3.  These ROS will 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 disagree at times with their process or assumptions.  We hope you enjoy these special recaps!

The podcast was hosted by Ronald D. Moore (RDM) with executive producers Toni Graphia (TG) and Matthew B. Roberts (MBR).

The title card for this episode is a torn Scottish flag to represent the defeat of the Scots.

The new opening sequence with the Skye Boat song but are bagpipes replaced by strings to reflect the fact that bagpipes are one of the many Highlander traditions forbidden after Culloden.  In the previously on Outlander segment which shows scenes from 213, it occurs to me that Claire says to Frank “I accept your conditions”.  That’s what you say in a hostage negotiation.

We know that this episode would cover the long-discussed battle of Culloden.  I was curious if they would try an epic Game of Thrones style battle (which is usually 20 minutes of wincing for me) or something new.

RDM discussed how he had written the entire battle scene but when they timed the episode, it would have been both too long and too expensive.  He considered it anyway knowing he would have to short change somewhere else in the season.  I’m grateful he did not because that’s not why people watch the show.

The scene opens at the end of the battle with piles of dead men (mostly Jacobites) lying in the field as the British search for weapons, wounded Redcoats and most importantly, living Scots who are then murdered without remorse.    RDM notes that this area is smaller than it looks (see picture) but they know how to film in small spaces and make them look big.   I would agree with this after Outlander America admins went to Scotland last month and visited the site for Lallybroch.  That courtyard area is not that big and yet it always looks larger on the show.

The camera pans over to the still body of Jamie Fraser with a redcoat lying on top of him.  In the script, they specifically mention that this is Black Jack Randall (BJR) and he is dead but the viewer is left to wonder for a bit.  Jamie regains consciousness and with it come blurred memories of the battle he just fought, both in his sacrifice to convince Claire to return to the stones to save their child and the one on the field where he went to die after she reluctantly agreed.  He takes one less intake of her essence from the plaid she left behind and returns to the generals discussing war strategy.  At this point, he wants nothing more than to get the inevitable over with and convinces the now shocked Bonnie Prince Charlie that they should charge.

One thing I thought was interesting in the charging scenes is how fast the men were running.  I wonder if they sped up the film just a bit or if that was real. I can’t imagine how tiring that filming sequence was nevermind the actual charge in 1746.   The battle is intense as most hand-to-hand combat is especially as the British gunned down the first line of charging Jacobites.  Jamie fights all who come close by at one point nearly attacking Murtagh.  They share a moment of witty banter (while Sensei Murtagh stabs a guy who dares interrupt) and Murtagh assures him the men from Lallybroch made it out safely.  This is good news to the (former) Laird.  He did his final duty to them despite the risk to his own life.

Jamie is still slipping in and out of consciousness and remembers a pivotal moment.  Across the field, he notices a redcoat knocked off a horse and realizes it is BJR.  They see each other at the same time, with BJR smirking and Jamie flaring his nostrils.  RDM noted that they got lucky as there was a strange pink hue to the sky that afternoon and made for an almost surreal filming light. They charge at each other and leap with swords flying.   I though this was a very cool scene and nicely done by both men.  They fight with each taking advantage.  (I found this to be a bit hard to believe.  BJR is probably a great traditional sword fighter but Jamie has to be much stronger. But he’s probably not eaten or slept enough leading up to this.)

At one point it appears that they are the only two people fighting on the battlefield but in reality it was probably that surreal thing where time seems to stand still.  RDM called it two men-out of time and place.

Knocked to the ground, BJR slashes Jamie’s left thigh with a deep wound and an injured Jamie is still strong enough to block a knife swing with his left hand while delivering a fatal stab to the stomach.  BJR collapses against the shoulder of a badly bleeding Jamie and they fall to the ground together in an embrace of death. 

As Jamie remembers this, the dead Redcoat rolls off of him and it is BJR.  I am not even sure if that registered.   The man who tried to kill him one last time may have saved him by applying pressure to the wound with his body.  Jamie is clutching the dragonfly in amber given to him by Claire at their parting.  RDM stated that he didn’t mean to make it look like a magical stone but they had to punch up the color in post-production to make sure people saw it.  They had to place it in the battlefield since Claire finds it in the Culloden museum in episode 213.

Jamie turns his head upon hearing a noise and sees a bunny rabbit in the field, written to be a human moment among the dead.  However, in a recent Twitter Q&A, the writers said we may see that bunny again.   Jamie looks up to see an ethereal Claire walking across the battlefield toward him.  He thinks she reaches down to touch him and ask him “are you dead?” but in reality it is Rupert. (It is emphasized by the writers several times that Jamie and Claire will never be in the same frame together until the reunion episode. )

Telling him he’ll not let him die in the mud despite Jamie saying leave me be, Rupert picks him up.  The amber stone falls to the ground.  RDM said he thought that was a bit clunky which I found surprising since it was clearly a metaphor to hanging on to the memory of Claire as he thought he was dying.

The camera holds steady on the dragonfly in Amber as it transitions into Claire’s face.  She is another, trapped in time.

It’s Boston in the 1940’s as Frank shows Claire their new home.  Some of the  Frank and Claire scenes were added later since the first read-through of the episode showed they were going to be very short.   The Boston set was a redress of the apartment in Paris.

Claire is having trouble lighting her stove and in frustration, enters the living room.  Looking at the fireplace gives her an idea and she goes out to get firewood.  (This was slightly unbelievable too.)  When she returns, she is met by her new neighbor Millie who helps her with the firewood.  Millie (and her husband, Jerry) were named for the two next door neighbors in the Dick Van Dyke Show.   Claire cooks up a great meal in 18th century style which impresses the nasally voiced Millie who must have relocated from Jersey.

Back at Culloden, several wounded Scots are hiding in a farmhouse.  Jamie is lying there with the pallor of someone who has had extensive blood loss.   Rupert and the other Scots assess their situation. Rupert and Gordon try to figure out if they should escape but too many are wounded.

A quick switch back to Claire at her bedroom mirror as Frank tells her they need to leave for dinner with his Dean. (Note: This was supposed to be the first Boston scene but the others were added after they discovered the short episode length in the table read.)

It’s Harvard (actually Glasgow U) and the Dean is a pompous windbag who loves imposing his views on the quiet professors who are too afraid to contradict.  A foreshadow of things to come as Claire mentions women getting into Harvard Medical.  Claire tries to interject into the conversation and is met with misogynistic comments from the Dean.   Claire Fraser would have retorted back.  Claire Randall just returns a frozen smile.

In the first script version, Frank was less on her side but after discussing with Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe, RDM re-wrote it to be more neutral to “root for them as a couple”.  No, Ron.  You’re the only one who continuously roots for them as a couple.

Jamie is still bleeding in the farmhouse and lies their weak and resigned.  He asks about Murtagh’s fate but nobody knows.  He and Rupert make amends as the British in the form of one Lord Melton enter to look for traitors. Rupert takes Jamie’s traditional position as leader and answers on behalf of the group that they are “traitors all”.  Melton informs them that they will not be hanged, but shot like soldiers.   The acting by all the players in this scene as the Scots are brought out one by one to die plays out in the background.

Claire is making breakfast and sees a bird outside of her window. The bird echos the bunny’s movements at Culloden and also represents Claire’s yearning to fly free.

The bird flies away, something perhaps Claire wishes she could do.  Frank enters the kitchen and Claire discusses her love of their new country so much so that she wants to become a citizen.  Frank is appalled and recites all that is good about England in a speech straight from the musical 1776 (apparently a favorite of RDM).  They argue about the distance between them and how Claire is still missing her past.  The words get personal and ugly and he leaves in anger after ducking an ashtray (a scene which apparently injured Tobias Menzies).  A distraught Claire, grieving over Jamie and feeling lost as to how to adapt to this new life, is left in tears.

More tears back in the farmhouse as two young boys are executed.  Gordon inquiries about Claire.  Jamie tells him she is gone and does not wish to discuss it further.  Melton begins to look for volunteers to be shot and Gordon agrees to go next.  Rupert and Jamie share a laugh over Angus before Rupert volunteers to be next and head held high with traditional Rupert irreverent humor, then Rupert Thomas Alexander MacKenzie marches out to his death.  RDM wanted to give Rupert a strong scene in tribute to his contributions over the first two seasons and knew he was going to save Rupert back in Season 2 for this reason.  It also gave them a chance to give Grant O’Rourke a nice exit. Grant did a really great job in this episode and I wish him well in his next endeavors.

Sam Heughan’s face of a thousand expressions reflects Jamie’s sadness and grief over the loss of his friend (and distant cousin) and he whispers Farewell Rupert in Gaelic.  RDM noted that Sam researched the correct phrasing to add it to this part of the script.  RDM commented that Sam did a great job in this episode as asking an actor to just lay there and act with essentially just his face is very difficult to do.   He was especially impressed with his eyes.  Me too, Ron, me too.

Frank is trying to sleep on the couch but the noises of modern life keep him awake.  He gets up and begins to draft a letter to Reverend Wakefield to search for information about one James Fraser.  (A callback to the letters Roger found in 213.)  But Claire enters the living room to tell him her water has broken.   This birth of Jamie’s child is in juxtaposition with Jamie’s turn to die.

Jamie informs Melton that he wishes to be next and as he is giving his full JAMMF name to the clerk, Melton stops in his tracks.  He recognizes this name and bends down to ask Jamie if he is Red Jamie.  Melton presses him on his memory of a 16 year-old boy named John William Grey.  Jamie remembers breaking the boys arm but it is Melton who remembers that Jamie spared the boy’s life and his family owes him a debt of honor.  Jamie just wants this to be over with (retaining his sense of humor in his darkest moment) but Melton takes this honor thing very seriously and finds himself in a pickle. I’m pretty sure his utterance of “God’s blood” is 18th century for #FML.

He decides to have Jamie put in a wagon after dark and leave his name off of the register.  (Callback to 213 where Roger Wakefield tells Claire and Bree that five Fraser officers were in the field that day but only four were killed.)  RDM noted that there actually was a Fraser that was hiding in a farmhouse after Culloden and that wasn’t listed on the dead roll.  Diana Gabaldon apparently found this in her research.

RDM considered a flashback to the scene with young Grey but decided that would pull the viewer out of the mood.

A wagon is seen driving through the Scottish countryside and ends up with Jamie at Lallybroch.  Jenny and Ian are happy to see him as he is ready to pass out.  The script calls for him to pass out as he says “love you, mo neaghan donn” but they cut that.  Grrrrrr.

RDM had also considered having it rain with Jamie holding out his hand to spilt the rain into two streams to represent the parting of Jamie and Claire but decided against it as the shot was too hard to get.

Back at the hospital, Claire is experiencing the archaic way of giving birth where the wife was just a vessel and the husbands all paced in the waiting room.   She is appalled that they will be putting her to sleep during delivery.  RDM considered having her go in and out of consciousness and thinking about key scenes in her life but decided against it.  Claire wakes up and immediately panics that her second child may also have died in a similar fashion to her first.  Frank walks in with the baby girl and the joy (and hormones) of giving birth cause them to consider this a new beginning of trying to work things out.  But that is short lived as the nurse compliments the baby and delivers the verbal wet blanket by pointing out her red hair.

    Lord, that she may be safe. 

STUFF

  • RDM noted they brightened the baby’s hair in post to make it look more red.
  • Props to Terry Dresbach for her period costumes.
  • Leaving Murtagh’s fate ambiguous was deliberate.
  • Dear Ron, It’s Fraser like razor not Frasier like the TV show.

Credits:  Pictures are from Starz.  Gifs sourced at jamieclaire, themusicsweetly,sam-heughan-daily, sassenach4life, jemscorner.  Thank you for your talents.

Please let us know if we inadvertently left off a credit.  You can reach us on any of our social media sites found on the right side of the website homepage.

Share
Read more

Share

Recap on Steroids Episode 206 Best Laid Schemes

Written by Matthew B. Roberts

Directed by Metin Huseyin

The podcast for this episode was narrated by showrunner Ronald D. Moore (RDM) and executive producer/episode writer Matt Roberts.

The title card for the episode was a series of torches which would not be familiar to people until seeing where they fit in the episode.

The deleted scenes from this episode are great. You can find them on the DVD and BluRay which can be purchased at our Shop Outlander Amazon shop.   You can also see them on the Outlander America YouTube Channel here.

 

As we noted in our recap for episode 205, originally episodes 205 and 206 were supposed to be together at some point but it became clear that it was too much for one hour.  Matt Roberts notes that their stories play longer than other television shows that he and RDM have worked on together.

The original script called for a dream sequence that turns into a nightmare for Jamie.  In it, Claire chooses Frank over Jamie but the face of Black Jack (similar to Frank’s, of course) haunts him.  When the camera in the actual episode catches up to him, he is still a bit shaken by that dream.  The dream sequence was actually never filmed, even though Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies were actually looking forward to filming it.  Matt said it also served as a way for Jamie to make peace with his promise to Claire to wait a year.

Murtagh walks in to tell Jamie that the duel with BJR will take place in two days but Jamie, strumming his fingers on the desk in his usual way, must tell Murtagh that the duel is off.  Murtagh leaves in disgust.

Claire is at the hospital assisting Monsieur Forez with cleaning a deceased patient.  Forez tells her he has been called to perform his “day job” as the Royal Executioner.  The King is not pleased with practice of the Dark Arts and so this prisoner will not just be hanged, he will be drawn and quartered while still alive.   He hints that this is what happens to both those involved in dark magic but also to traitors.  RDM commented that the scene creeps him out and he always wanted to cut it.  The scene was actually much longer in the original version.  I personally think it goes on too long even with the editing.  Forez hints to Claire that her friend Master Raymond is in danger.

Claire excuses herself and hurries off to Master Raymond’s to warn him.  There were two versions of this script; one had it already trashed by the King’s men and the other, as filmed, with the men not yet arriving.  Matt noted that it would have been crazy for Jon Gary Steele’s set design team to trash it and then have to put it together again.  There are so many small details in that shop.

Later that evening, Claire is being a good husband rubbing his pregnant wife’s feet.  RDM and  Matt note that this is something every husband should learn.  Jamie brings up the fact that he did not agree to wait a year to kill BJR because she had saved Jamie’s life twice.  He reminds her, quite correctly, that he’s saved her life just as much.  He also reminds her that he owes Frank nothing as Claire had a choice and she chose Jamie.  He told her that he delayed to keep Frank alive because of Charles Edward Stuart.

Claire is confused but Jamie explains that even though Charles is a bit crazy and not very bright, there is something about his passion that will make men follow him-even to their death at Culloden.   Jamie, with great sadness in his eyes, asks Claire to promise him that if they get to that point that she will go back through the stones to Frank so that their child will be safe.  Matt Roberts said that he personally would find that something difficult to ask and accept.  So would Frank, Matt.  So would Frank.

Matt felt the promise scene is one of the most important scenes of the season.

Matt and RDM got into a discussion about the fact that both Frank and Jamie are valid partners for Claire.   If Claire had never met Jamie, she would have been fine with Frank.  I disagree.  She was never her whole self with Frank.  I think this may be something that can only be understood by a woman.   Matt did comment that Claire and Jamie are soulmates and you can’t unring the Jamie bell.  (Not to be confused with violinist Jamie Bell.)  Yes, and Frank could never be her soulmate.

The next scene in the book was where Jamie accompanies Murtagh to Portugal to buy the wine before Comte could raise money for the prince.  Murtagh was supposed to fake smallpox but with Jamie’s chronic seasickness, he ends up looking like he has it.  RDM said it would have been a fun scene to shoot but sea battles are difficult to set up and film and it wasn’t worth it for one scene.  As we know, they will be relocating the set to South Africa to film the last third of Voyager on ships.

Instead, they wrote in the scene where Claire uses a mixture to fake smallpox on a reluctant Jamie.  Fergus is adorable in this scene as he is totally not paying attention to “mom” and she knows it.  Murtagh thinks it is charades and games and does not get why these continue to play them.   Fergus and Murtagh leave while Jamie wishes Claire had some Pepto from the 20th century.  They both realize that it is time to tell Murtagh the whole truth about Claire and what she knows about the devastation that awaits the Scots.

Out in the courtyard, a pissed off Murtagh is pacing and a still queasy Jamie begins to tell him the truth in Gaelic in case they are overheard.  The editing here is smart and does not recount things the audience already knows.  I always found it strange that after Jamie tells him the story in Gaelic for privacy, Murtagh responds about Claire being a witch in English.  But in true Murtagh form, he immediately believes Jamie but punishes him for his lack of trust with a good hook to the jaw.  (Or, as Matt says “ a Murtagh reaction”.) All is well with the two of them as Claire watches through the upstairs window.

RDM commented that Jamie and Claire are the ultimate power couple and when they team up, their strengths complement each other.

Claire sends Fergus and Jamie on their way to spike the wine with her fake smallpox concoction with another cute exchange with Fergus.  I really like how they made their relationship closer, quicker in this season.

Claire returns to the living room where Murtagh is still absorbing the news about Claire being from the future.  RDM suggested this scene and at first, Matt struggled with writing it.  He felt by having Murtagh write down all the years of Claire’s 20th century life, it would be real to him.  Murtagh asks Claire if she knows what will happen to them individually and she does not.  Murtagh correctly recognizes this knowledge as a burden for Claire.

We are treated with a nice montage of Jamie and Fergus riding to Le Havre.  These were all filmed as second unit footage, directed by Matt.  They arrive at the distillery in Le Havre which is actually a real distillery in Scotland known as Deanston Distillery.   Fergus spikes the wine and paints the mashed nettles inside their clothing.  A longer, deleted scene shows Fergus was nearly caught.

A tired Jamie returns as Claire awakens to ask him how it went.  Matt commented that he loves that the writers are given the freedom to write in humor as that is just as integral to who Jamie and Claire are as their intimacy.  Jamie jokes about their skills in creating havoc.  He collapses into bed while completing a few barrel roll kisses with Claire.

Back at the brothel, an angry Comte is discussing what to do next with the Bonnie Prince and he’s pissed at Jamie for being late.  (Hey le Dude-he was up all night creating pestilence on your ship.)  Charles decides to have Jamie drive another shipment himself but the Comte doesn’t trust Jamie and says he will join him.  This of course, throws yet another monkey wrench in to Jamie’s plans.

So, plan B (or is that C) is hatched with a fake heist to be initiated by a “French” Murtagh.  Jamie and Claire (who suddenly looks like she’s having triplets) watch as Suzette dresses him in hose and satin finery.  Claire is concerned that this plan is dangerous to which Jamie replies “Tis”.

Claire, hearkening back to the wedding pledge about secrets but no lies, tells him that it is OK to lie to her every once in awhile.  Matt liked this because he felt this was their married couple private joke.  Murtagh is not pleased and asks them not to let him hang in this outfit, which Suzette helpfully offers to get him out of.  IYKWIMAITYD

Once again hats off to Duncan Lacroix who was the perfect supporting actor in Season 3 but for some reason can’t even get Starz support for awards because his name doesn’t end with Menzies.

Later that evening, the ovary popping scene, I mean a lovely scene with Jamie and Claire in bed and bonding over their unborn baby.  Jamie feels his child kick for the first time and speaks to him/her about how he canna wait to meet them.  Sweetness turns to passion and an unsure new father-to-be worries that he might poke the kid in the head but Claire assures him this is not the case.  They begin to make love as we fade to black (the scorn of Season 2 sex…)

This incredibly lovely and hot at the same time scene was added late. Matt felt it was important as it is the first time they are a family.  RDM was opposed to it but now realizes it was important but not for the reason you might think.  He realized that they must reconnect after last week’s fight before breaking them up again coming up.  Yes, technically you are right Ron but once again you are thinking about plot rather than character.  Please try to think about it the other way around.

The men leave for their little fake heist while Claire visits Louise.  She can’t get into the conversation of simple and vain aristocratic women while she is so preoccupied but then chooses to try to plant the seed of sympathy for the poor into their minds.  After all, as RDM reminds us, these rich French women are doomed.  They, of course, don’t get it and she leaves to get away from their foolishness.

In the woods, the wagons led by Jamie and Comte drive straight into Le Murtagh the French highwayman.  (Note back to title card here as they have torches in the wagons.)   Murtagh points his gun at Le Comte who is all, I’m not backing down and so Jamie pretends to save him by jumping onto Le Murtagh.  Jamie gives Murtagh the subtle hint to play it up by knocking him out.

Claire left Louise’s for the hospital where she attends to patients while Fergus plays with Bouton, the amazing diagnosis dog.  She is obviously feeling tired and Mother Hildegarde tells her to lie down.  They both notice the blood on her leg and Mother H. lies to her and tells her it is normal.  Matt Roberts used to be an EMT and has delivered babies before so he knows that Claire, as a combat nurse, may not have recognized any symptoms of problems since soldiers don’t have babies.  Mother Hildegarde convinces Claire to stay the night and Fergus returns home to let Jamie know.

Le Comte and Jamie return to the brothel to break the bad news to the prince.  Comte does not trust Jamie over this but the smart plan to have Le Murtagh gun butt Jamie convinces Charles that he is just unlucky.  The Prince is upset and worries that he will have to return to his mother’s native Poland in disgrace.

Jamie returns home to grab some dinner from the buffet just as Fergus returns from the hospital to tell him that Milady will be staying the night.  They begin to share a meal and here you can see, as Matt tells us, that Fergus has a bad case of hero worship.   Suzette interrupts to tell them that the Prince is drunk and causing trouble at the brothel so Jamie must go to calm things down.  Fergus accompanies him to “guard his right” which are shades of Jamie’s soldiering time fighting with Ian.  Matt admits he likes to throw in nuggets like that.

At the brothel, Fergus wonders around and sees some perfume in a room that he plans to steal for Claire.  But, creepy central because you can see the redcoat hanging on a hook in the room.  (They originally had it on the bed but it looked like a blanket so they re-shot the scene.)  Fergus looks afraid as a shadow looms.  (Oh RDM, if only you had left it there…)

Claire returns in the morning to find Jamie gone but his brace remains.  (In the book, of course, he cuts his hair to keep it out of his eyes but TV Jamie has hair that is not quite as long as book Jamie.)  She is finally able to scare it out of Suzette that he has gone to duel with the Englishman.  Claire is beginning to experience a lot of discomfort but she tells Magnus to get her the carriage.  He insists that she cannot go alone and accompanies her.

The carriage storms out of the courtyard (and if you watch it, the back wheel actually fishtails in a rather dangerous way with Cait in it!)  Claire is upset and worried.  She touches her gold wedding ring wondering if Frank will die if Jamie kills BJR.   She goes back and forth with worry, anger and labor pains.

The duel was filmed in Glasgow’s version of NY’s Central Park and they had trouble keeping cameras away but they really didn’t want to have too much come out early as spoilers.  You can hear the clash of swords before you see them. Claire makes her way to the clearing, in obvious pain. She knows she can’t scream out to distract either man.

Sam and Tobias rehearsed for a few days and performed the duel scene a few times.  Matt commented that they really got a workout!    Claire watches in horror before a very big pain comes and blood drains from her body.  She begins to collapse just as Jamie stabs BJR in the groin and falls backwards.  The filming here is top notch as the French police ride in on horseback and chaos ensues.  Claire screams for Jamie and he forgets all else except the fact that she is lying there in her own blood.

Magnus helps her up to begin to take her home but she has presence of mind enough to tell him to take her to Mother Hildegarde or she knows she will die.  (Cut dialogue here is bystanders commenting that she’s going to die.)

The camera takes us from Claire, to a passed out (dead?) BJR to Jamie’s anguish at not being able to go to her as he is swarmed by guards.  Matt said they talked about who to end on and they end on Claire passing out in Magnus’ arms.

All is not good for the Fraser’s at this point.

 

Picture Sources: Starz, ScreenersTV and Heroes & Heartbreakers

Share
Read more

Share

Title: Untimely Resurrection

Written by: Richard Kahan

Directed by: Douglas Mackinnon

It’s  Episode 205 of  OLA’s  continuing series of Recaps on Steroids (ROS) for Season 2.  These ROS will incorporate an OLA writers’ opinion on the episode woven in with information from both the official Starz podcasts hosted by Showrunner Ronald D. Moore along with comments from the official episode script including things changed or edited for television. OLA editorial comments in the ROS recognize and respect the experience of those associated with the show even though we may respectfully disagree at times with their thought process or assumptions.  We hope you enjoy these recaps!


gif-apostle-spoons

The podcast for this episode was narrated by showrunner Ronald D. Moore (RDM) and costume designer Terry Dresbach.

The title card for the episode was inside the King’s stables with the white horses being brushed and a blanket with the King’s emblem laid over their backs.  This was Richard Kahan’s first script and he did a great job.  You can tell he is a fan of the books as he writes Jamie and Claire very well.

One thing that came into my mind while researching the episode, podcast and script for this episode is that it would be really cool to have one of the actors do the podcast with RDM.    This episode was definitely one of those that would have benefited from that.  I would imagine the logistics of this would be difficult.

The episode begins after the dinner party and the post-dinner fight with some having been hauled away to the Bastille.  RDM mentioned that this show actually ran shorter, but they made cuts as feedback from the studio and network was that it was running long.  (Editorial comment: This is why a bunch of middle-aged white guys should not make decisions about what women want out of a character-driven story of a strong, married couple!)

The previous episode was going to end with a scene with King James as he was going to be invited to the dinner party in an early version of the script.  So much changed for the end of 204 and the start of 205.

The camera pans from the clearing of the dinner table to the chaos of broken items and overturned furniture to a worried Claire.  A deleted scene had Claire stressing by the fire with Fergus joining her to brush her hair.  He explains the story of LaDame Blanche, and through Claire’s questioning, we also learn the story of Fergus.  I thought this was a lovely scene, and one where it showed Claire really coming to care for Fergus as her adopted son and not just Jamie’s.  This was one of three deleted scenes in this episode that I felt added both depth and insights into the characters.

Jamie returns to find Claire still up and Fergus fast asleep.  He picks up their sleeping son and meets Claire in their bedroom.  (Side note:  I like that the script had Jamie kiss Claire on the forehead but in the episode Jamie kisses her hand.  It was sweeter.)

Jamie tells Claire that Duverney vouched for them, but that the Duke of Sandringham fired Alex Randall, since he was still in prison.  They discuss how Claire got away from the attackers (hard to believe that half of 204 and the start of 205 is all the same day!) and she mentioned they called her LaDame Blanche.   Jamie confesses to having called her that at Maison Elise to be able turn away prostitutes without looking unmanly.  At first Claire is incredulous that he could risk her being seen as a witch again, but then realizes that this probably means the attackers frequent the brothel-and that narrows down the suspects.  Jamie makes a mental note to assign Murtagh to watch the Comte, just in case St. Germain still has revenge on his mind.

Jamie sits down, exhausted, on the bedroom couch next to Claire in the script, but I like the choice (by Sam? the director?) of him standing and snuggling Claire from behind while he seems to inhale her.  It reminded me of the snuggle from behind scene in Lallybroch from Season 1, where they express their love to each other for the first time.

The next morning, a kilted Jamie is in his office at the winery talking with Murtagh.  (RDM provided an interesting tidbit that the office was a redress of the set that was the Inn from Episode 201.)  Murtagh confesses that he feels guilty that he failed Jamie by allowing his wife to be attacked.  Jamie reassures him that he was outnumbered, but nonetheless Murtagh vows to lay vengeance at his feet.  Jamie charges him with this vow as he knows a proud Highlander would want it.

Richard Kahan noted something interesting in the script notes.  He said Sam added a subtle subtext to this scene by showing that Jamie, for a split second, also wonders if Murtagh could have done more.  Kahan noted that “Sam brought an awesome subtle flavor” to the scene.

Meanwhile, Claire sneaks in a visit to Mary to see how she is doing.  (Mary’s room is another redress of a set-Louise’s apartment.)  I liked Claire’s purple suit here, it felt very 18th century yet very modern, too.  Mary is writing a note explaining the details of the attack in order to free Alex.  She then confesses to Claire that she and Alex intend to be married.  Claire hides the fact that this terrifies her as it may prevent Frank’s ancestor (the offspring of Mary and Jack Randall) to be born.  She considers not delivering the letter to leave Alex in the Bastille but decides against it.  Richard Kahan was very complimentary of Caitriona Balfe in the notes, saying she is a writer’s dream.  I have read that sentiment from other writer’s as well.

Terry Dresbach explained that Mary was wearing a cute cap here but they get pressure not to put caps on leads.  This might explain why Jamie rarely wears the Highlander cap but Murtagh and Dougal often are seen with one.

Back at the winery, Murtagh has left on his quest and Bonnie Prince Charlie shows up.  He tells Jamie he is rid of the female haze and can focus on their quest. (It got me thinking that if he had been more focused on Louise and their baby, would he have given up or delayed the plan? )  He explains that there is a shipment of wine that is coming in, and he needs Jamie to help the Comte St. Germain to procure it so they can make some money for the cause.  Jamie is naturally not keen on this idea, but has to agree.  The look on his face is one step forward, two steps back in their plan to prevent Culloden.

Alex Randall is released from the Bastille and takes a walk with Claire.  Claire notices he is ill (who couldn’t, the constant coughing is like an anvil saying ALEX RANDALL IS SICK).  She makes a decision to talk Alex out of marrying Mary, given his lack of position and ill health.  Was I the only one thinking that if a man is coughing and obviously has something potentially contagious that the pregnant nurse walking with him should protect herself better?

Jamie meets up with Le Comte at the brothel.  jamie-and-comteIn a great writing/acting decision, the pride of both men intervene as Jamie will only speak English and Comte will only speak French. Jamie gets his point across that he will kill the man responsible for attacking Claire.   The mutual disdain at the table is palpable.

Jamie returns home to tell Claire about the Prince’s plan, and they realize that they must try to stop him.  Claire gets an idea about simulating smallpox, but tucks it in the back of her mind for later.  Jamie presents her with a wooden case containing 12 Apostle spoons that are a family heirloom.  He had Jenny send them so he could present them to Claire as a christening gift for their baby.  Producer Toni Graphia came up with this idea after research.

Claire opens up to Jamie about her fears of being a good mother.  Not only is this a natural way to feel, but Claire lost her own mother when she was five and so has no real maternal role model other than Jenny.  Jamie reassures her that they will learn together.  jamie-reassuring-claire-about-baby A longer version of this scene is part of the DVD deleted scenes.  It’s too bad it wasn’t kept in, especially if the show was running short as RDM noted.

Richard Kahan said that this part of the script went through many revisions.  There was even an intense sex scene at the end of one of them.  But as a new father himself, he felt the more emotional connection was the better way to go.  There must have been some editing on set, as the scene ending with Claire saying “I do love you” and Jamie’s reply of “I love you too, mo nighaen donn” were not in the published script.

Jamie and Claire meet the Duke of Sandringham at Versailles to assist him at a horse sale.  This was originally scripted as  dressage, but the production people thought it would take days to film correctly.  Jamie looks at horses with the Duke while poor Claire must take a ladies’ walk with Jamie’s former girlfriend, Annalise.  Claire’s dress here was an unusual print which I claire-analisedidn’t like when I first saw pictures, but it actually matches very well with the garden surroundings.  Terry commented that there was a lot of criticism when pictures were released during the “Droughtlander,” but that the dress was seen out of context.  I would agree.  She also commented that many said the long yellow gloves looked like dish washing gloves, and to my surprise, RDM said “that’s because people are idiots.”  No, Ron.  I am no idiot, and that was my first thought, too. I love yellow, but that was too much yellow, and since yellow dish washing gloves are kind of an iconic symbol of women 40 years ago, it’s not a stretch.

Annalise comments to Claire that she knew him as a boy, but Claire has made him into a man.  She then notices a man staring at Claire, and to Claire’s horror, it is Black Jack Randall standing in full uniform.  Annalise runs off to find Jamie before Claire can stop her.

RDM said that he and Tobias Menzies talked about how Jack should behave in this sequence.  RDM said that Jack had taken all he wanted from Jamie at Wentworth and so his demeanor should be a bit lighter.  Richard Kahan noted it made him even creepier.  Jack is  thrilled to see Claire and even more so with the fact that Jamie was there.  Claire, whose heart is probably pounding out of her chest at this point, cannot control her contempt; but the King is on a stroll with his entourage and protocol beckons.

Jamie arrives but cannot draw his sword in the presence of the King.  Louis picks up on the fact that black-jack-bowsClaire and Jamie don’t seem to like BJR and he mocks and humiliates him.  Jamie enjoys this very much. Jack notes that he is there to try to help his brother Alex get his position back.  We know that Jack and the Duke have had dealings together in the past.  Two peas in a rotten pod.

Claire pretends to be unwell to be excused by the King.  Once Jamie confirms that she’s OK, he turns back to speak to Jack.  RDM wanted the scene to be from Claire’s POV as she watches in horror wondering what they are saying.  I thought that was an effective choice on the part of RDM.  Jamie returns to her side with a look of utter joy on his face as BJR agrees to a duel, and Jamie can taste his blood at that moment.  On the carriage ride home, Jamie looks like a kid headed to Disney World while Claire’s mind races as to how she can stop this.  Jamie jumps out of the carriage at home to start planning the duel with Murtagh while Claire takes the carriage to the Bastille.

Murtagh and Jamie are discussing duel logistics when Claire walks in looking upset.  She tells them that she signed a petition saying BJR was part of the attack.  She knows he will have an alibi, but it buys a few days for her to talk Jamie out of it.  She even asks Murtagh to leave.

What follows is some of the best acting seen on television, in this or any other 2016 program.

As RDM notes, when Sam and Cait have to fight as Jamie and Claire, they dig deep.  He said that “these two actors can take you places.”  And “Jamie and Claire are the show, and these two characters are brought to life by these two actors.”  (I am biting my tongue about how this doesn’t reconcile well with all the Jamie and Claire cut scenes on the DVD…)

jamie-claire-dirk-205Claire begs Jamie to wait a year because if he kills BJR; otherwise Mary will not conceive the child that will become Frank’s ancestor.  As the script notes, Jamie looks at Claire as if she is insane.  He cannot believe she is asking this of him after knowing all he went through physically and emotionally and how it impacted the most intimate parts of their relationship.  He asks her to kill him instead.  She throws the dirk away and seconds later she pours salt in an open wound by saying “you owe me a life.”

Jamie is a man of honor and agrees to one year.  He kisses his sword in “goodbye for now” (great move by Sam Heughan here as this was not in the script).  She goes to hug him, but he says quietly and coldly…Dinna.TOUCH.me

The scene ends with them being far apart in the room and even farther apart emotionally.

Richard Kahan noted that in one of the versions of the script, Jamie walks from room to room  yelling with Claire running after him yelling back.  (Hey Richard, how did he know that is what goes on in my house during an argument!)  Kahan also said he loved writing the scene and that Sam and Caitriona “elevated it beyond measure.”

The deleted scenes from this episode are great. You can find them on the DVD and BluRay, which can be purchased at our Shop Outlander Amazon shop.   You can also see them on the Outlander America YouTube Channel.

 

All pictures sourced from Starz/Sony, OutlanderAmerica Pinterest.  Last gif sourced from varietyofwords via Tumblr

Share
Read more

Share

Title: LaDame Blanche

Written by: Toni Graphia

Directed by: Douglas Mackinnon

It’s  Episode 204 of  OLA’s  continuing series of Recaps on Steroids (ROS) for Season 2.  These ROS will incorporate an OLA writers’ opinion on the episode woven in with information from both the official Starz podcasts hosted by Showrunner Ronald D. Moore along with comments from the official episode script including things changed or edited for television. OLA editorial comments in the ROS recognize and respect the experience of those associated with the show even though we may respectfully disagree at times with their thought process or assumptions.  We hope you enjoy these recaps!

dinner-wife-intro

 

If you want to see some very funny deleted scenes from this episode and others, then pre-order the Season 2 DVD or Blu Ray from our Shop Outlander Amazon page here.  It is targeted to be in-homes on November 1st.

The podcast for this episode was narrated by showrunner Ronald D. Moore (RDM) and executive producer Toni Graphia who also write the script.

The title card for the episode was a broken wagon wheel and the episode was referred to in the writer’s room as the dinner party episode.

The opening credits include shots of Versailles.  RDM noted that this was mostly done with visual effects that incorporated actual historical shots of Versailles.

The opening scene is of Jamie playing chess with Duvernay but this time, Claire is there.  She is distracting Jamie with baby names, causing him to lose a game.  Initially, the baby naming discussion took place in a more intimate setting but the writers wanted to underscore how little they have spoken about the baby given the logistical challenge of their quest and the emotional wall created by Jamie dealing with the Wentworth aftermath.

The Comte interrupts them and spoils the game.

chess-comte

Claire leaves the table to get a drink.  A sequence cut from this scene includes her overhearing many French women talking about how bored they are and then a few say

I shouldn’t mind making that tall red-headed Scot growl and show his teeth. 

Yes, he can castle my queenside any time.

How do you say I know the feeling in French?

Claire normally would be used to other women admiring Jamie but this time it cuts to the quick as  they have not been intimate in months.  She takes a drink and realizes something isn’t right.  Jamie notices that she is in distress and runs to her side.   They choreographed this scene to make you suspect the Comte St. Germaine but we don’t know for sure if he was the mastermind at this point. The sequence where the royal physician wants to bleed her is cut for time.

Jamie and Claire return to the house.  The interesting this is this scene was shot before the Prague chess room scenes.  Toni commented that they often shot out of sequence in Season 2, even months apart and she noted how the crew and especially the actors, were brilliant in keeping the continuity of the scene and especially the emotion.  RDM said shooting that way is called cross-boarding.

Claire is forced to tell Jamie that Black Jack is alive.  There were many discussions in the writers’ room about how and when she should tell him.  The reveal comes to a head when Jamie wants to throw a dinner party to show Sandringham how weak Charles is so that he will see him as a bad investment.  With Sandringham will come Alex Randall and Claire knows she has no choice to tell Jamie.  They also played around with Jamie’s reaction and decided he would be overjoyed.  Sam Heughan  played this well as the script simply says “this is wonderful news” but he read it as “this is…wonderful news” with a dramatic pause and a look to the heavens as if saying Thank GOD.

Side note:  RDM noted they were well into story boarding for Season 3 at the point of this episode airing.  The episode aired on April 30th in the US so that must mean they had known about Season 3 as early as March, if not before.

Murtagh observes that Jamie seems in a good mood and Claire admits that she was forced to tell Jamie that BJR is alive.  She takes a playful poke by saying “I don’t know what you were so worried about.”  RDM said he fought to keep this scene in.   Unfortunately, it required that the next sequence had to be cut where Claire comes upo Jamie and Fergus discussing which of the women at the brothel likes to talk.  Jamie wanted to know which one he could talk with but not have to partake.  I think it was a mistake to cut this because it would have put an important upcoming scene with Jamie and Claire in better context.  Many non-book readers were disappointed in Jamie for the later scene but if they had seen this exchange, they would have realized his motivation.

I think this is another editing decision that was chosen because of favorite scenes by a writer or producer without thought as to how the audience would interpret or prefer.  While I admire how they tackled a long, complicated book in only 13 episodes, the editing decisions were often head scratchers.  This will become extremely apparent  in episode 207 but you’ll have to wait a bit for that recap!

Claire returns to Master Raymond’s shop.  Both RDM and Toni noted this is their favorite set with so many details that the viewer barely has time to notice.  Toni pointed out something that I hadn’t noticed in the episode.  When Claire is holding up a prehistoric skull, Raymond tells her he is fascinated by things not of this time.  And he is looking at Claire, not the skull.  He knows or at least suspects.  They really wanted to create a sense of mystery about Raymond.

Claire is worried about Frank.  She loved him once and given that she now has met Mary Hawkins, she wants to understand what that means for Frank.  RDM had the idea of throwing the bones on an animal hide, something Claire would remember given her travels with her archeologist uncle.   When Raymond says “you will see him again”, Claire is perplexed but the audience knows this to be true from episode 201.  She receives her magic stone necklace.  This piece is important to later episodes and so they let Terry Dresbach select the stone.

Claire then visits Louise who shows off her new cuckoo clock.  The original script had Louise sitting for a portrait with her monkey and the monkey would escape.  But the production manager said “The monkey stays in the cage!” so the changed the script.  Louise confides in Claire that she is pregnant by her lover.  In a large piece of foreshadowing, Claire tells her that it is possible to raise a child with love even if her husband is not the father.  One version of the script had Louise reveal that Charles is her lover but they decided to have Jamie and Claire figure that out later.

Jamie returns home that evening very much in the mood.  He straddles Claire on the bed and as he lifts his shirt (even Toni gave an impressed woo! during the podcast at Sam’s, um,  assets), Claire notices bite marks on his thighs. Toni wanted to make sure that the audience knows that Jamie would never be untrue to Claire but this was more complicated than that.    The script note says it all “in the long, clueless tradition of husbands throughout time”,  Jamie begins to explain to Claire that nothing happened but he was trying to reconnect with himself so that he could reconnect with her.  Using a whore from the brothel who liked to talk a lot (see cut scene with Fergus), meant he could test that while being true to her.   This leads to a very vulnerable discussion on both their parts; Claire about how she’s tried so hard but this should be a happy time for them and Jamie finally revealing just how deeply Wentworth has impacted his psyche.  This included the infamous blade of grass speech originally from Book 1 that Maril Davis had remembered (thank you, Maril!)  RDM praised Diana Gabaldon’s writing of the speech and as Toni pointed out, words are only as good as the actors who deliver them.

Jamie leaves to sleep by himself in the daybed.  They always wanted to use this for a sex scene and it ended up being right that it be the first time for Jamie and Claire since arriving in Paris.  The blue lighting emphasized that it was just Jamie and Claire finding each other again in the darkness.  RDM ‘s line of Come find me fit perfectly.   Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe both commented in a number of interviews that they fought for a pregnant sex scene and they did it beautifully.  There is a brief moment of shock in Jamie’s eyes where BJR  may have started to creep his way back in but Claire grabs his face and secures her to him.  They are as one in every sense of the word once again.

Jamie tells Claire later that she has helped him start the healing process back to himself.  She has built him a roof with a lean to.    The sounds of banging on the roof brings him face to face with Charles in the window.  Andrew Gower did all his own stunts here from letting them pour water on him to show it had been raining, to jumping through the window and letting Sam tackle him.  An interesting point is that in the book, this is actually the first time the reader meets Prince Charles.  The book is told from Claire’s point of view so it was always her hearing Jamie describe his meetings with Charles.

Charles is injured and through conversation, Jamie and Claire put 2 and 2 together to realize that he is Louise’s lover and the father of her child.  They later plan how they will use this information at dinner.  A pang of conscience over hurting Louise for the greater good is part of it but they close the plan with a kiss as the scene fades to the setting of an elaborate dinner table.  The Jamie and Claire theme plays in the background as we are left to presume that the blade of grass is about to be a 3 room cottage.

Toni and RDM noted how very complicated this dinner party scene was for the director.  They had 16 seats but because the women’s clothing is so wide, they had to limit females.  They have to get Claire out of the house by sending her to Le H’opital to assist Mother Hildegarde.  Toni noted that this scene was almost cut a number of times but she really wanted to work with Frances De LaTour.  (Another time when a writer’s favorite scene takes up time that might have been better served elsewhere?)  A cut scene from here is when Mother Hildegarde tells Claire that she should be a doctor and that she could arrange for her to do an apprenticeship.  Production note: this scene was filmed on day 1.

A fun knife throwing scene takes place outside between Murtagh and Fergus where it seems brothel born and raised Fergus knows more about women than Murtagh.  I always love these two as it reminds me of gruff old uncle scenes.  fergus-and-murtaghToni noted that this scene didn’t move the plot forward as it was pure character and those scenes often suffered in the cutting room during season 2 but she was glad it made it.  (Note, this was the most common criticism of season 2 but part of that is due to the structure of book 2, in my opinion.)

Claire, Murtagh, Mary and Fergus leave to head back home when Murtagh discovers the carriage wheel is broken.  They decide to walk back with Fergus being instructed to go ahead to tell Jamie that they will be delayed.  RDM noted this was complicated with regards to timing of how long they were there, how long would it take to sabotage the carriage, how long of a walk is it, when is dinner served, etc.

Back at the ranch, Jamie beings to greet guests with the first to arrive being the Duke of Sleezingham and his secretary, Alex Randall.  Jamie is aware they were coming but still, as Toni notes, a great shiver runs through him when he sees the resemblance.   The actor who played Alex showed up to the first table read wearing the same glasses as Tobias Menzies.  Too bad they couldn’t have taken a picture of that.

Louise arrives with her husband and comes face to face with Charles who wears his heart on his sleeve.  Awkward!  Murtagh, Mary and Claire walk through the alley when Murtagh is knocked unconscious and a group of thugs attack and rape Mary.  This scene was shot many times and Toni noted it is difficult for the crew to watch.  (Note: If it is difficult to watch film, perhaps extrapolate that might be just as hard or harder for your audience?)  All of the attackers were stuntmen and not actors so they dubbed their lines.  Claire is recognized as LaDame Blanche (the title of the episode that is never explained until 205) and they run off.

When they return home, Mary is taken upstairs and Jamie wants to cancel the dinner party but Claire notes the show must go on, there is too much at stake.  She sedates Mary and leaves Alex to watch her, warning him that she may wake up disoriented.  Uh oh, you know that ain’t gonna be good.

The seating arrangements are strategic.  dinner-partyCharles must sit across from Louise, Duke sits across from Charles and the Comte next to Claire who suspects he is behind the attacks.  We do too as he seems surprised to see her there.

Jamie and Claire’s plan takes shape exactly as they had hoped in that Charles is upset with Jamie’s “accidental” announcement that Louise and her husband are expecting child.  Sandringham takes shots at the pope and Comte makes it quite clear he knows what kind of necklace Claire is wearing. (This is actually extremely important in another few episodes.)

Unfortunately, Mary wakes up and mistakes Alex for another attacker and runs into the parlor.  He tries to tackle her to quiet her and the men from the dinner party mistake it for an attempted rape.  A brawl ensues.  RDM noted that they wanted to make it a lighthearted brawl because a serious one would be over in seconds with Murtagh and Jamie killing everyone.  So, they tried to make it like the 3 Musketeers.  I felt it went on for too long and seemed out of character for them.  The humor is saved when the camera pans over to Fergus in the now empty dining room, enjoying the “spoils of war”.

Don’t forget!  Pre-order the Season 2 DVD or Blu Ray from our Shop Outlander Amazon page here.

 

All pictures sourced from Starz

 

 

 

 

Share
Read more

Share

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!

ol-s2-3-jamie-meets-fergus4

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.)

chess

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.

ol-s2-3-jamie-meets-fergus5

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.

murtagh-jamie-decoding-letters

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.

mother-h-j-c-piano

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.

THE OUTLANDER SEASON 2 DVD AND BLU RAY SETS HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED WITH A NOVEMBER 1ST DATE.  PLEASE USE OUR AMAZON SHOP HERE TO PRE-ORDER.  YOUR COSTS DO NOT CHANGE.  THERE ARE MANY DELETED SCENES PROMISED! 

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

 

 

 

 

Share
Read more

Share

Title: Not in Scotland Anymore

Written by: Ira Steven Behr

Directed by: Metin Huseyin

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

Red Dress (source: Starz)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.Raymond and Claire (Source: Starz)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: Starz)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share
Read more

Share

Title: Through a Glass, Darkly

Written by: Ronald D. Moore

Directed by: Metin Huseyin

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

LeHavre 201Source: Starz

The podcast was hosted by Ronald D. Moore (RDM) and also included post- production members Michael Hall (an editor who worked with Ron on both Battlestar and Star Trek) and Alicia Bessette who focuses on sound and music.

The beginning of Season 2 was actually filmed in a super block of 3 episodes versus the more traditional block of 2 episodes used for Season 1.  Each episode must be approximately 59 minutes and 35 seconds of actual TV time.

Book fans noted right away that the show began not in 1960.  Instead, RDM chose to start it just after Jamie sends Claire through the stones in a heart-wrenching farewell that will ultimately be shown in episode 213.   RDM noted that originally they wrote the beginning of S2 as the end of S1 after the beautiful shot of Jamie and Claire on the ship to France.  Frank’s feet walking into the hospital would have been the start of 201.   They discussed this with the network who wanted the more beautiful ending.  Good call, Starz.

It actually was interesting to watch 201 over again after seeing the entire season.   It really connects where Claire was just moments before and her anger that Jamie’s wish of returning her to safety in the 1960’s worked.  The significance of the loss of the ruby from Brian Fraser’s ring will be made clearer as the “rules” of time travel are learned.  (My personal opinion is she needs the jewel to go back but that the pull of Jamie will always be enough to get her safely through the stones whenever she goes back in time.)

Michael Hall’s primary job in this episode is to cut and edit the multiple shots of scenes into one cohesive scene for television.  He noted that there was originally a lot more voiceover when Claire comes through the stones but he cut that to be more cinematic.  According to the script, Claire has a conversation with Jamie about wishing she was dead but she knows she made a promise to him.  She tells him that she could not have born the thought of seeing him die at Culloden.

The scene with the Scottish man confronting Claire on the road was filmed very late in the series.  I recall an interview with Caitriona Balfe where she was annoyed  about how it came together so she channeled that emotion into her anger with the man in trying to learn the fate of Jamie, Murtagh and clan Fraser at Culloden.  Her grief is just as palpable as if she had learned of it 200 years before.  I encourage all who watch all of Season 2 to rewatch this episode with that in mind.

The transition to the theme song (introduced for the first time partly in French) ends with a title card of Wee Roger holding his plane.  RDM noted that making the title cards significant became a “thing” in Season 1 and now great care goes into them.  Because of that they have become more challenging for production.  Matt Roberts handles the title cards and they must be 16.6 seconds.

Alicia Bessette selected the music that was playing in Claire’s hospital room as Frank approaches her for the first time.  She described how hard it is to find music that fits the era, was playing in Scotland at that time and that they can get cleared for TV.  In many cases they are lucky in that Sony’s Music division can be very helpful. The music reminds Claire of how noisy the 20th century was, just adding to her desire to be anywhere but there.   And while she prepared herself for the Frank/BJR resemblance, it still startles her.

Fun fact: The dog walking by as Claire looks out the window belongs to RDM and Terry Dresbach!

As an aside, even though some of the podcast tidbits were interesting, I found myself getting annoyed during the podcast that it was all production and not much story.   For instance, when Claire is eager to share her story with Mrs. Graham and she believes her, none of this was discussed in the podcast.  Yet, I thought it was an important part of the story in both Claire needing to tell someone and that someone would not only believe her but perhaps help her find out what happened to Jamie.  But seeing how much they loved talking about production  did help me understand the mental filter that RDM most likely uses to make certain creative choices.  I think he focuses more on a good television show rather than the good story.  It’s neither right or wrong but I think some times filter improves things and sometimes it hurts things.

The scenes with Claire and Frank led to a discussion in the podcast.  Alicia Bessette was Team Frank as was RDM.  I found this to be interesting as these are the people who edit the story.  (For the record, Team Jamie all the way here.)  RDM is amused that the fans get upset. My problem with that is not so much that he’s kind of ignoring what his “customers” like but that it can create a mood that may not be true to the story.   In the end, the creative process is subjective.

In the scene where he wrote Frank accepting Claire’s “affair” with Jamie, RDM associated that back with episode 101 where Frank tells Claire he could forgive her for having an affair during the war. I see it in a different way.  I think Frank forgave her because he himself had affairs (and SPOILER ALERT will continue to have them as they raise Brianna).  end spoilers

RDM stated in the podcast that Frank wants to be a noble guy with moral courage.  I saw it as avoiding the humiliation he felt when the police told him to accept that his wife took off with another man back when Claire first disappeared.  I accept various points of view on Frank; the original book version, RDM version, my version.   I wish the TV version was closer to a mix of all three.

Michael Hall was very impressed with the performances of Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe as they discuss where Claire has been for the last few years.  Tobias left for England as this scene was being cut and stopped into the editing room to see the scene.   Michael Hall notes that Tobias was very humble about it and asked “did I get it?”  Michael told him it was an Emmy worthy performance.  He hated to cut anything.    They filmed that scene in only 2 takes and he loved the way Cait performed Claire with great restraint when she really just wants to send him away.  She sees BJR in Frank’s anger but just as in the 18th century, she’s not backing down.  I wonder how much Tobias and Cait bring back and forth to the scenes when they are playing opposite each other as either Frank/Claire or BJR/Claire.

Frank tearing apart the Reverend’s tool shed was executive producer Ira Steven Behr’s idea after the first draft of the script and also took 2 takes as the crew was tired of setting up the shed again.  Good thing Tobias is good at breaking things!

Alicia Bessette noted that the Reverend Wakefield’s house was a very cool home in real life, although the exterior and interiors were two different houses.  She said that sometimes you would be surprised at the small details that require attention including things like there was  no white trim around windows in the 1960’s.

I was hoping that they would discuss the scene where Claire agrees to stay with Frank and where she starts to take off her ring.  This was not in the book and both author Diana Gabaldon and executive producer Maril Davis had to talk RDM out of writing it that way.  OLA was fortunate to attend the NYC premiere and there was a noticeable gasp from the audience when she attempted to take off the ring.  It was simply not who Claire is.  If she chose to keep Frank’s ring on during her years of happy marriage to Jamie, there is no logical reason why she would not do the same in reverse.

The scene on the airplane flying to the United States was almost entirely done with CGI except the window.  The transition was originally nothing special but Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told RDM it was boring and to make it more cinematic.  I was a little taken aback that they landed in New York first but maybe there were no direct flights to Boston in the 1960’s.  I feel your pain, Claire.

Many will notice that there was a date error when Claire and Jamie exited the ship into Le Havre France.  The note on that scene showed 1745 when the correct date (and noted in the script) was 1744.

I recall that Sam Heughan said that he wanted to play Jamie as half a man in these early episodes and that he should look different right down to his hair.  (As an aside, I hated his hair in these first few episodes because he didn’t look like JAMMF but I think that is exactly what Sam was going for.)

Other random observations in this episode from the podcast.

*Cait is always spot on with her instincts in her voiceover work and they rarely require multiple takes unless she wants to try something else

*The network occasionally aske=s Sam to Americanize his accent in a few scenes as his brogue is too thick and hard to understand.  This will also happen from time to time with other Highlanders.

* It is hard to cut scenes said in French when the editor doesn’t speak French but Maril Davis is fluent.  Is there nothing she can’t do?

*I was disappointed that some of the humor in the script between Jamie and Claire was cut for the program.  I think non-book readers miss a lot of what makes their relationship so special and humor is one of them.  Most edits seem to be for time constraints.  It’s quite amazing to read how much more they film that never makes it.  Adding up all the episodes and you could probably save a month of the filming season.  However, I hope many of the missing scenes in Season 2 make it to the DVD.  (You can pre-order the DVD or blu-ray  at the OLA Amazon store.)

RDM noted that the scene where they watch the Comte’s diseased ship burn was originally written by him  with the following exchange:

Jamie:  Another country, another enemy. Life with you is never dull, Sassenach

Claire: If you want dull, you should have married Laoghaire.

Cait asked RDM to cut that line as she thought it wasn’t appropriate for the moment.

It was learning that plus what Sam said about Jamie at this point in time so soon after Wentworth makes me confident that Cait and Sam know and care about their characters as much more than just an acting role.

 

 

 

Share
Read more