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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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WARNING:  This article contains spoilers.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________

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

 

____________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I thought I had been most discreet.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Episode 108 is the mid-season finale.  We see what Frank has been doing since Claire went through the stones and we also see how Jamie and Claire’s relationship continues to grow.  She has become one of the clan.  She forgets about her plans to return to Craigh na Dun until she suffers an attempted rape and happens upon the stones while awaiting Jamie’s return from meeting Horrocks.  Before she can touch the stone, she is captured by British soldiers and taken to Black Jack Randall.  Jamie rescues her just in the nick of time.

It’s different.

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Jamie and Claire are married two days when they picnic at the top of the cliff and meet the beggar, Hugh Monroe.  Hugh gifts Claire with a unique fossil, which appears to be a dragonfly trapped in a chunk of amber.  We will see this fossil twice more in Episode 213.  However, my favorite part of this scene is illustrated in these gifs.

Jamie, as inexperienced as he is, recognizes that their relationship is special and wonders if what they have is typical of married couples.  Out of guilt, Claire fights her feelings for Jamie but ultimately does not lie to him.  She confesses that what they share is not usual, it is different.  This may be the first time Claire admits to herself, as well as Jamie, that they share a unique and special love and a unique and special physical relationship.

May I just add here that the hand sex in the last gif is super sensual?

The Sgian Dubh.

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“Every man and woman must know how to defend themselves, Sassenach, especially those married to a Fraser.”

After the attack by the Grants, the Highlanders decide Claire should learn to defend herself from an assailant.  Poison is often seen as the weapon of choice for women, but as Dougal points out, “it has certain deficiencies in combat.  The lass needs a sgian dubh.”  Angus trains Claire in the proper use of the sgian dubh (hidden dagger), and we later realize that this scene is foreshadowing an imminent future event.

 

The Sgian Dubh Again.

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While frolicking in the meadow (because the wanting never stops), Jamie and Claire are attacked by two British soldier deserters.  The situation looks grim, as one soldier holds a gun to Jamie’s head while the other attempts to rape Claire.  Claire takes a brief moment to gather her wits and recalls her sgian dubh training.  Because she has the weapon and knows how to use it, she is able to save both their lives.  During the instant the gun wielding soldier is distracted by the screams of his dying partner in crime, Jamie is able to slit his throat.

I love badass Claire.

The Cliffhanger.

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Jamie rescues Claire before BJR can harm her, but Jack’s reaction is priceless.  “Good God.”  Then he laughs like he is happy to see Jamie, which is probably true given his obsession, but Jamie is the last person he expected to see in his window.  This is a great cliffhanger because we know we’re going to see a confrontation, a battle between good and evil.  We even suspect Claire will have some explaining to do since she promised Jamie she would “stay put.”

Then begins our first Droughtlander.

 

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Episode 106, “The Garrison Commander,” is not one for the feint of heart.  Claire’s meeting with Black Jack Randall is expanded from the book version to take up most of the episode.  Ron D. Moore’s expanded adaptation was intended to help shed light on the diabolical behavior and nature of the infamous Captain of Dragoons.  The flashbacks to Jamie’s flogging as Black Jack Randal recounts the events to Claire are disturbing and difficult to watch.  Two of our favorite scenes occur at the end of the episode and offer some much needed levity from the brutality of most of the subsequent scenes.  Therefore, rather than focusing on the darkness in which BJR tells Claire he belongs, we will focus on a scene that illustrates Jamie’s strength and defiance of his tormentor.

“The boy would not beg.”

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UGH!  This scene was both the best and the worst for me.  It was awful to watch, yet so masterfully played.  From an acting standpoint it is exceptional.  We have not just the voice over from Tobias (as BJR) in that flat affect, but Sam really sells so convincingly the pain of the flogging and Jamie’s stubborn determination not to acknowledge it.

From a narrative POV, THIS small but effective scene is the crux of the relationship between Black Jack Randall James Fraser.  This moment is what precipitated BJR’s fascination/obsession.  Jamie’s strength of will became Jack’s white whale.  And we know how THAT turns out.  Grrr.

This scene, this horrible, awful, beautiful scene so perfectly showcases and explains everything that comes after it.  Everything.  All of Black Jack’s subsequent actions (and words) to both Jamie and Claire are predicated by what he says here.  We see that he likes to hurt.  He likes to break.  He attempts it with Jamie in the actual flogging.  He attempts (and perhaps succeeds) in the recounting of it to Claire.  I don’t believe that it was a moment of self-reflection for him.  It was a moment of pride.  He was gloating to Claire, and thereby breaking her trust that somewhere inside him was a decent human being.  He set her up perfectly for the literal/metaphorical gut punch that comes next.  BJR is literally the worst.

Even though this passage is less than a page in the book, I love that they devoted an entire episode to it in the series.  It was important not just to learn the lengths that BJR will go to, but we learned a lot about Jamie and Claire as well.  We actually learned a great deal about Jamie, more so than we have probably learned up to this point.  Yes, we were told of the flogging, but Jamie brushes it off.  He does not want people (Claire, Alec) to be uncomfortable or pity him for it.  But we never see the strength of character or stoic nature that Jamie has until we see the moment.  We see EXACTLY what Jamie is willing to put himself through for the people he loves.  We see the pride that Jamie has.  This pride is not a character flaw.  It is a pride of WHO he is… not just as a man, but as a Scot.  He is a symbol of the Scottish people.  They are beaten, shackled, and abused, but they are not broken.  They will not beg.    -S

“Well, I must admit, the idea of grinding your corn does tickle me.”

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I love Graham McTavish, but his character, Dougal, is not a favorite of mine.  That said, in Episode 106, Dougal has a line of dialogue that has become iconic in the Outlander fandom.  “Well, I must admit, the idea of grinding your corn does tickle me…”   Truthfully, with the possible exceptions of Father Bain and the Duke of Sandringham, who among the male characters wouldn’t like to grind Claire’s corn?

People who had not read the Outlander books before seeing this episode must have been anxious to learn exactly who Dougal had nominated for the position of Claire’s husband.  They must have breathed a sigh of relief to learn that it was not Angus, Rupert, or even Murtagh, but Jamie.  Don’t worry, Claire.  Everything is going to work out just fine.

“I reckon one of us should ken what they’re doing.”

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Claire, you are a lucky woman.  Dougal nominated Jamie for the job.  (Though I must add that Jamie is also lucky because God is giving him a “rare woman.”)  This is one of my all time favorite scenes. Claire isn’t pleased about the forced marriage, but with the aid of a bottle of whisky she reconciles herself to it.  Jamie isn’t nearly as bothered about it.  Their mutual attraction is strong, but he is willing to do anything to protect Claire from Black Jack Randall.  The look on Claire’s face when Jamie informs her that he is a virgin is simply priceless.  The thought of de-flowering the young highlander clearly makes her anxious, but as we will see in the next episode, “The Wedding,” Jamie is a quick learner.  In fact, in the book, Claire reflects that “Virgins are highly underrated.”   -D

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