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The long Droughtlander ended with a powerful beginning to the new season. Episode 301 did not disappoint.

Not a Docu-Drama

While most fans raved about the season premiere episode, some expressed mild dissatisfaction that more focus wasn’t given to the Battle of Culloden. While the point here is to address favorite scenes, the negative reaction was so surprising (to me, anyway) that it deserved a minor mention. Outlander is a sci-fi, fantasy, historical, or period romance, take your pic, but it is NOT a docu-drama on the Jacobite Rebellion and the Battle of Culloden.

Naturally, one of the favorite scenes was Jamie finally taking his revenge on Black Jack Randall. It was a long time coming, and being able to exact his revenge was probably the only thing Jamie lived for at this point, having just lost the love of his life and his unborn child. The final confrontation was given a surreal feeling with special coloring, which added to the dramatic effects. BJR finally succumbs to his wounds and the two embrace each other is what has been called (by Tobias Menzies) a “death dance.” Oddly, BJR ensures Jamie’s survival on the field my collapsing on top of him, allowing the weight of his body to apply sufficient pressure to the wound he inflicted on Jamie to actually save his life. Bye bye, Black Jack.

Though heartbreaking, other favorites scene occurred on the battlefield. When Jamie appeared near death and saw Claire walking towards him was a tearjerker. When she touches his face and asks me if he is alive, we see that it is Rupert. This was immediately preceded by the odd and untimely appearance of a hare on the field very near Jamie. Ron D. Moore claims the hare was added as a contrast to life in the middle of a scene of death. Some of us prefer to apply a more metaphysical meaning.

Gotham-Ruaidh offers an excellent explanation for the symbolism of the hare. “Lying on Culloden Moor, yearning to become one of the dead, Jamie sees a hare. ‘The Celts believed that the goddess Eostre’s favorite animal and attendant spirit was the hare. It represented love, fertility and growth, and was associated with the Moon, dawn and Easter, death, redemption and resurrection.” (Thanks to IrishAbroad.com.)’

“Easter Sunday was April 10, 1746, six days before Culloden. The hare is a symbol of the risen Christ and Jamie’s own impending resurrection from near-death. The hare is a symbol of the risen Christ – and Jamie’s own resurrection from near-death. It is only after seeing the hare – and then seeing Claire – that he returns to the land of the living. For Claire is his salvation from sin and death. She brings him back to life, even when he wishes to die, raises up his soul, and then his body. Resurrects him. Redeems him.”

Immediately after seeing the hare and vision of Claire, Rupert appears to rescue him from death on the muddy battlefield.   See why Gotham’s explanation is more intriguing?

In Episode 216 we saw Jamie returning Claire to the stones. Using flashbacks to that time after she literally disappeared in his arms was a nice touch. I always wondered how he reacted when she vanished into thin air.

Who can’t admire a defiant Claire? Claire is out of her element and seemed much more comfortable with her life back in the eighteenth century with Jamie, even without the modern conveniences the twentieth century offers. When she has trouble lighting the gas stove, we can almost see her think to herself, Fuck the 20th century! She solves her dilemma by making dinner in the fireplace. Of course, she’s probably recalling all the times she cooked outdoors with Jamie, and at the end of the scene she closes her eyes and thinks of Jamie. It was heartbreaking enough, but then it fades into Jamie awaiting execution after the Battle of Culloden.

There were so many sad moments in this episode, not the least of which was Rupert’s goodbye to Jamie.  It was good to see Rupert come to terms with Dougal’s murder at the hands of Jamie, even if he didn’t exactly forgive him.  Regardless, Rupert did save Jamie’s life.

At the end of the episode, we see the nurse asking Claire and Frank where Brianna got her red hair. This simple question interrupted their moment of new parent bliss and brought them back to reality. That’s right, Frank. Jamie will always be with Claire, and she will see him every time she looks at Bree. She may not speak his name, but he is always on her mind and in her heart. The blood vow with Jamie will last an eternity… for both of them.

“Ye are blood of my blood, and bone of my bone. I give you my body. that we tow might be one. I give you my spirit, ‘til our life shall be done. Ye are blood of my blood, and bone of my bone.”

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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.

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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

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Lotte Verbeek and Caitriona Balfe in ‘Outlander’ | © Amazon/Starz

Scotland / FILM & TV

The Beautiful Scottish Locations Showcased In Amazon’s ‘Outlander’

Cassam Looch
Film Editor
Updated:
We recently visited the set of hit Amazon Video show Outlander and spoke to the stars about the upcoming third season. You’ll be able to see our exclusive videos with Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan before the series returns next year, but in the meantime, join us as we take a tour around some of the iconic locations in Scotland that feature in the show’s first and second seasons.


The village of Culross in Fife | © Culture Trip

The village of Culross in Fife | © Culture Trip

As we follow the time-hopping antics of Claire Randall (Balfe) over the course of the Outlander saga, the one constant across the ages has been Scotland. Even when the show took a detour at the start of the second series to the opulent palaces of 18th-century France, we knew the characters still longed for their beloved Highland home.

Doune Castle

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A medieval stronghold near the village of Doune, in the district of Stirling, the castle was built in the thirteenth century and has been damaged and rebuilt a number of times since. Previously famous as one of the locations used in Monty Python and the Holy Grailthe castle is now best known as Castle Leoch, the home of the powerful MacKenzie clan.

In season one of Outlander we saw two versions of Castle Leoch. Claire and her 20th-century husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) visit the location before we see it in its full 18th-century glory.

1940's Castle Leoch | © Amazon/STARZ

1940’s Castle Leoch | © Amazon/STARZ

The extensive filming for season one took place over three months. To convert the exterior and courtyard, 65 tonnes of soil were used to cover the ground. To avoid causing any permanent damage to the grass, a removable membrane had to be laid out first and any structures such as wooden huts or fences had to be raised from floor level. Interiors such as the kitchens were built on studio sets, but took heavy inspiration from the rooms inside the building itself.

The Courtyard of Doune Castle | © Culture Trip

The Courtyard of Doune Castle | © Culture Trip

Unsurprisingly, visitor numbers have increased by 40% since Outlander was shot at Doune Castle.

Culross

The village of Culross | © Culture Trip

The village of Culross | © Culture Trip

The village of Culross in Fife is a rare example of what a Scottish town would have looked like in the 17th and 18th centuries. The central Mercat Cross area was transformed into Cranesmuir in the show, and was the site of some of the most dramatic moments in the series.

Giellis Duncan's house in Outlander | © Culture Trip

Geillis Duncan’s house in ‘Outlander’ | © Culture Trip

Geillis Duncan (played by Lotte Verbeek) lives in a house in the square. For the show, the exteriors were painted in a different colour, and were also used as the setting for the aftermath of the witch trials which saw Geillis make the ultimate sacrifice for Claire.

Fans will recognise this spot as where Jamie and Claire help the young boy being punished for a minor crime © Culture Trip

Fans will recognise this spot as where Jamie and Claire help the young boy being punished for a minor crime | © Culture Trip

The impressive Culross Palace has an equally impressive natural area behind it, and served as the herb garden that Claire and Geillis used to pick ingredients for their potions and medicines. It obviously looks a lot different in the summer months, when the plants are in full bloom.

The herb garden behind Culross Palace (on the left) | © Culture Trip

The herb garden behind Culross Palace (on the left) | © Culture Trip

Midhope

Lallybroch | © Culture Trip

Lallybroch | © Amazon/STARZ

This 16th-century tower house is one of the most recognisable locations in the show. The home of Jamie Fraser (Heughan) and the Fraser Clan, Lallybroch is referenced in the show long before it is seen. The near-mythical ancestral home of Jamie, it becomes the place that feels safest to Claire and where she first meets fiery Jenny Murray (Laura Donnelly).

Midhope Castle | © Culture Trip

Midhope Castle | © Culture Trip

Still used as a working farm, production has to be scheduled around the day-to-day running of the area. The telegraph pole you can just about see in the image above has to be removed when shooting and replaced afterwards.

Blackness Castle

The Ship That Never Sailed | © Culture Trip

The Ship That Never Sailed | © Culture Trip

Romantically known as “the ship that never sailed” on account of the way the structure juts out into the Firth of Forth, Blackness Castle also has a far less savoury past.

Once used as a prison and military garrison, in Outlander it was turned into Fort William, which is where Captain Jonathan Randall (Menzies) flogged Jamie in front of a horrified crowd.

Jamie Fraser and Jack Randall in Outlander | © Amazon/STARZ

Jamie Fraser and Captain Jonathan Randall in ‘Outlander’ | © Amazon/STARZ

Drummond Castle Gardens

When the second series of Outlander began in France, the look of the show changed dramatically, but the locations used hadn’t moved that much at all.

Drummond Castle Gardens | © Wikicommons

Drummond Castle Gardens | © Wikicommons

The stunning gardens we saw were actually located in-between Perth and Loch Lomond in the grounds of Drummond Castle. Proof that the transformation was perfectly executed was evidenced when many fans went looking for the location in France!

'Outlander' season 2 | © STARZ/Amazon

‘Outlander’ season 2 | © STARZ/Amazon

[amazon text=Order Season 2 on BluRay&asin=http://astore.amazon.com/outlande0c-20/detail/B01I5SLOJ4]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back in time

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

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

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Secrets, Lies, and Deceptions

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

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

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“I’m sorry I doubted ye, brother.”

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

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

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

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

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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!


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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

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

“You owe me a debt.”

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

A “Highland Coos” Drive-By

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

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

“You are a magnificent creature.”

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

“No more Claire.”

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

Out of the darkness and into the light

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I was wrong.”

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

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

 

 

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

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

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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

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

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

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

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Brave Hearts

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

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

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

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We love it when Claire plays the witch card.

 

 

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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!

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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‘Outlander’ a great fit for TV writer Anne Kenney

 

sam-heughan-anne-kenney-out-thumb-640x427-28882 Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser on “Outlander,” with writer Anne Kenney on location in Scotland. Courtesy of Anne Kenney.

“Outlander” writer Anne Kenney’s cozy home office on the Westside is a world away from the fan-intense Writers Bloc event (Inside the eye of the Outlander storm) where we first met last month. As part of the press tour for the show’s second season, Kenney joined her fellow writers and lead actors Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, and Sam Heughan for a panel to discuss the challenges of adapting for television Diana Gabaldon’s much loved and complex series of books about a World War II combat nurse who accidentally time travels back to 18th century Scotland. It was a rare on-stage appearance for the writers. The shows actors are usually the stars of such occasions, but on this night they seemed happy to let the writers have the spotlight. Members of the always passionate Outlander fandom filled the audience at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, many possibly realizing, for the first time, just how vital a role the writers play in bringing their favorite piece of literature to the small screen.

I visited Kenney a couple of weeks later to find out what life has been like for her since starting on the Starz show in 2013. “I’ve never done anything like this,” the veteran writer/producer said of working on a project with such a huge built-in fan base. “I went from having four Twitter followers — my family — to almost 10,000 and it’s all about “Outlander.” I usually don’t tweet about anything else.” Kenney still finds it strange when fans come up to her at events and want to have their picture taken or have her sign things. “But actually,” she says, “that’s been kind of fun and mostly people have been positive.”

Known for her work on “L.A. Law”, “The Big Easy”, “Greek, and “Switched at Birth,” Kenney had read (and loved) Gabaldon’s books and jumped at the chance to write for a show that combines so many genres. There is historical fiction, adventure, fantasy, romance, and refreshingly, a strong female lead character in Claire Randall (played by Balfe.) “This show is great for women. It’s from a woman’s point of view,” says Kenney. She earned high praise from critics and fans last season for writing episode 7, “The Wedding,” in which Claire is forced to marry the young, virginal Highlander Jamie Fraser (the show’s other lead character played by Heughan) in order to protect her from the British army. Much was written (see How Many Women Does It Take to Make the Perfect Sex Scene?) about the episode’s groundbreaking female-centric depiction of intimacy between lovers who start off the night as awkward near-strangers.

Originally from Oregon and Ohio, Kenney always knew she wanted to be a writer. After earning a journalism degree from Ohio University, she worked on small newspapers until classes in playwriting and television writing led to a move to Los Angeles in 1987. She met her husband, writer/producer Fred Golan, the same year. A voracious reader, particularly of historical fiction, Kenney enjoys the process of adaptation but acknowledges that Outlander can be problematic. While the first season was fairly straightforward, with Claire mostly trying to find her way back home to the 20th century, the second season, now well under way, was far more complicated to adapt. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t yet watched, but as Kenney says, “there was so much exposition, so much more explaining to do.” Things won’t get easier for the writers if the show continues on to season three. Gabaldon’s books are famous for their geographical reach and huge jumps in time.

The Outlander writers are based in Los Angeles (the writers’ room is in the Valley and Kenney crafts her scripts at home) but all are producers as well, which means periodic stints in Scotland to supervise production of episodes. The show is shot at a studio in Cumbernauld, just outside of Glasgow. The cast and crew also spend a huge amount of time on location. As a supervising producer “you’re there at the beginning and during prep when we’re deciding what the locations will be and what scenes stay or go for production reasons,” says Kenney. “We work with the actors and directors and there’s a give and take. Sometimes there’s something I’ve heard in my head and one of the actors will come up and say ‘this sounds really weird to me’. There’s a negotiation that goes on.”

For example, she points out that it’s “very interesting” working with Menzies, who plays a dual role: Claire’s twentieth century husband Frank and his 18th century ancestor, the villainous Black Jack Randall. “I think the assumption is that actors want more to say, rather than less,” she says. “I’ve found that’s generally not the case…especially with Tobias. He often feels he can tell the story more effectively with fewer words, and frequently he’s right.”

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Kenney was in Scotland for two months last fall, overseeing one of her own episodes for season two as well as one written by Gabaldon. It was the Outlander author’s first attempt at adapting her work into a script. Kenney says working with Gabaldon was “really fun…we had a good time. My experience was she really put her student hat on. She was there to see how it goes and she was such a trooper. It rains a lot and we were out in the cold and wet. She was fun and funny and didn’t complain once. Like all of us, she got notes and certain things would get re-written and she was very cool about all of it.”

Outlander production has been a boon to the economy in the areas where the show shoots, as Kenney saw one day on location with Gabaldon. “Diana and I were in a coffee shop in a place called Culross. We had our headsets around our necks…our names were on the back. After picking out some stuff, the guy followed us out, went up to Diana and said, ‘oh my god, are you Diana Gabaldon? You’ve brought us so much business..everything’s on the house for you.’ After that the joke was that we all should write her name on our headsets to get free food.”

In addition to dealing with inclement weather, Kenney has found some differences in the way Scottish sets are run. The typical working day is 10 hours (unless the crew agrees to go over) unlike the usual 12-14 hour day in the U.S. There is also a “right to walk” rule that allows the public to legally access any location where the crew is shooting. But so far “people have been very respectful and the actors have been extremely gracious with fans who show up and want to talk and have pictures taken,” Kenney says. She admits that one of her (and fellow writer Toni Graphia’s) biggest problems is understanding some of the Scottish accents. The desk clerk at their hotel was one of the toughest to decipher. “He could have said ‘there’s a serial killer on the third floor’ and we’d be like, great!”

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