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

Claire and Jenny

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

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Claire and Murtagh

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

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

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

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

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

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Claire and Dougal

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

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

Herself and the Highlanders

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

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We love Badass Claire.

 

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Episode 110 is another great one in Season 1, and we’re glad to share some of our favorite scenes.

The Smackdown.

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Could you swear you didn’t cheer aloud when Claire slapped Leghair?  You know she had it coming.

The Edict

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This is great because it shows that Colum, though feeble and smaller in stature commands the room.   He is The MacKenzie.  There is no doubt about that.

Goodbye Kiss

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*sigh*  Here is the point in which Claire chooses.  “Come back to me, James Fraser.”  She has done all she can to take care of him, she has made sure he has more than what he needs, but she needs him to come back.  She loves him, and Jamie knows it.  That is why he is on the verge of tears at this parting.  He will miss her, yes, but he is touched that she will miss him as well.

And the kiss.

Mrs. Fitz

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We love Mrs. Fitz.  If her reaction is any indication of the majority at Castle Leoch, Colum may have underestimated the acceptance of Jamie as Laird and Claire as his Lady.  Regardless, Mrs. Fitz has always supported Claire and has a genuine affection for both of them.  We hope she and her family survive the aftermath of Culloden.

The Changeling

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This isn’t necessarily a favorite scene, but it is one that makes us wonder.  Claire is catapulted back through time 200 years, yet she completely dismisses any notion of fairies, changelings, or anything else from the mythological or supernatural realms.  After having an experience that defies explanation, one would think she would be a little more open minded.

 

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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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The Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou, among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.

While I know the term Hail Mary is applied to any and all last-ditch efforts, I couldn’t help thinking about the prayer itself and how it applied in this episode. Who, exactly, is full of grace? Because grace can mean any number of things. It can mean an act of goodwill. It can mean forgiveness and mercy. It can mean the way someone moves, with elegance. It can mean an attractive quality or good manners. It can mean an act of charity or leniency. Almost every character, at some point in this episode, shows a measure of grace.

Mary. Her voice has changed. It’s deeper. Measured. Gone are the hysterics and the stutter. Finally, she’s grown up. And as she talks with Claire we see how she is full of grace. She shows forgiveness, charity, and leniency all in one exchange at the apothecary’s. And I got a sense that she’s not so much naive as she is in denial about her situation. And when Mary agrees to marry BJR, they both do an act of goodwill for Alex. It eases his mind. And unbeknownst to them, it is an act of goodwill for Clair as it assures Frank’s life. (And say what you want, but this is necessary for Jamie’s child. Get over yourselves). She’s also pregnant, so it benefits her unborn child. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

Jamie. He can see the hour of all their deaths. And it weighs on him so heavily. He looks so gaunt in the face. It echoes what Dougal says, that their strength is dwindling on one bannock a day. But the entire episode his mind is always turning, always thinking of how to get out of this mess. Jamie’s Hail Mary is 100% trying to think of his own last-ditch plan. When O’Sullivan accuses him of ‘coward’s talk’, Jamie’s about ready to take his head off a la Sandringham. I had to wonder, did Claire tell Jamie the gold doesn’t arrive? To stall might be one of his plans. Any information that he receives is turned into another plan. Cumberland’s birthday? Trap the British. Colum handing him the reins? Bring fresh men to the battle. Now, and at the hour of our death.

Prince Charles thinks that their cause is full of grace and cannot fail. That God is with them. The Lord is with thee.

Claire. She is so resigned to history repeating itself. I keep remembering a hopeful Claire on the boat and early in Paris, telling Jamie, “when were you never up for a challenge?” But now, she’s the one who’s essentially given up and Jamie has to rouse her to the challenge. They lift each other up when they need to. She, too, is full of grace, in certain circumstances. With Alex. And in realizing the Mary needs BJR in case history does go according to plan. She is very logical and kind in her explanation to Murtagh as to why he can’t help Mary. Claire’s grace comes in the form of goodwill and wanting to make reparation for her meddling in Mary’s business. And with Colum. You could tell she wrestled with that one, but in the end she decided to forgive anything between her and Colum. And give him what he wanted. Which was to be in control of his life to the very end. Claire is a rare woman in this time. Intelligent. Compassionate. Gifted. Strong. Blessed art thou, among women.

Murtagh. He shows grace by offering to marry Mary Hawkins. An act of goodwill and charity. Unselfish. Gallant. Chivalrous. No wonder Jamie turned out the way he did. Murtagh has always had an easier relationship with Claire than the other highlanders. Like Jamie, he treats Claire as an equal. I believe he recognized Jamie’s love for her right away, when he told her Jamie needed a woman, not a lassie. And he’s always believed Claire to be different. From the beginning he had a gut intuition that Claire was someone special. Right when he found her in the woods and said, “I’ll stake my best shirt she’s not a whore”. And he’s grown to love, respect and trust her. It’s so nice to see that come to fruition. He’s always allowed Jamie to make his decisions and backed him up. So be it. He’s also bothered by what he knows of history. Jamie’s and Claire’s burden is his burden. Pray for us sinners.

Brief moment….can I ask why they made Alex look like the Vampire Lestat after a feeding frenzy?? …moving on.

Colum. Still The Mackenzie, even if he is on “rickety sticks”. In his own way, he asks for forgiveness in the way he compliments Claire. And Jamie. And admits he was wrong about their marriage. And they extend that grace to him. Gary Lewis is a master. His scene in asking Claire for the mercy of a death of his own choosing is heartbreaking. And Claire, not wanting to hear an ill word about her friend. Still showing mercy to Geillis after all these years. Because without Geillis, Claire most likely would not be alive. Is it just me or did anyone else feel like Colum gives Jamie the idea of saving the Lallybroch men from Culloden? I got a sense that a light bulb went off over Jamie’s head in that scene. At the hour of our death.

I absolutely loved watching BJR and Claire square off. They hate each other. They really do. And the fact that they extend no mercy towards each other, EVER, makes all the other relationships in the show that much more tender. Her face at seeing Jack Randall again for the first time encapsulated all the feelings from her miscarriage. She was literally Claire in the hospital, all over again. Her grace most definitely does not extend to Jack Randall. There is no charity or goodwill for him. Only bargaining. Something for something. And the Claire now is so different from the Claire we first met. She’s harder. Bitter. Angry. And when he baits her talking about Jamie, she pulls herself together, musters her hate and hands him guilt. Not grace. Finally, did anyone else think Jamie found his wife hot af when she reminded him she’d help him kill BJR?

You get a sense from Alex that Jack, in a former life, a life before the war, was a different person. Hell, even his name is different. Johnny. A name that is softer, that makes you think of a childhood friend. At one time Johnny was probably full of grace, for his little brother. What changed? Why? And how did BJR come to feed only his darker self? Try as I might to understand why a man might pummel the body of his dead brother, I cannot. Perhaps in order NOT to feel, BJR has to stay in the darkest place he can. Anger. Always anger. There can be no other emotion for this man. Because maybe if he starts to cry he will never stop. Maybe it’s the opposite of Dougal, who was upset that Colum never healed. Perhaps BJR is upset that he couldn’t heal Alex. Whatever, it was the most disturbing of reactions. There is no prayer of comfort for an act like that.

Dougal. The most powerful scene for me was between Dougal and Colum. In his rough and ungraceful way, Dougal is essentially telling Colum that he’s mourned for his brother all these years. Everything he expected his big brother to be changed in an instant. And all of Dougal’s prayers, wishes, and hopes for a recovery were dashed. Forever. In Dougal’s mind, he did all that was asked of him. For Colum. I got a sense he felt like he had to live his life, AND a measure of Colum’s life. Because Colum couldn’t. And when he comes to make peace with his brother, Colum dies. And Dougal can’t have the conversation because he’ll never get the answers he so desperately wants. He loved his brother. He truly did. He never forgave his brother for not getting better. And he weeps for THEM. Not just Colum, but for them…and who and what they could have been. Together. And at the end he runs out of time to repair it. Amen.

Final thought: War. When Claire is at war the first time she leaves Frank for 5 years. When Claire is at war the second time with Jamie she rides beside him. And as we see in the trailer for next week, she doesn’t want to leave him. Even knowing the outcome. She was committed to the War as a nurse the first time, independent of Frank. She is committed to the Jacobite Rising as a wife the second time, in union with Jamie.

Also, Things the writers fixed for me this Season: Claire’s habit of laughing hysterically when she’s stressed.

Having Murtagh accompany Claire to Alex’s boarding house, instead of Jamie.

Fergus as both Claire and Jamie’s and not just Jamie’s.

All of Murtagh. And fleshing out his relationship with Claire, the wife of his godson.

Colum and Dougal’s absolutely true to form brother rivalry.

June 25, 2016

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