Outlander Season 2, Ep. 203 (Occupations & Deceptions)

Mary Hawkins
Mary Hawkins – The Key to Frank’s Existence

Once again, my Starz subscription on Amazon had the episode posted at 9 p.m. PST last evening. Even though I was ready for bed, I clicked on play to time travel back into the past with Jaime and Claire. However, the episode struggled to keep me engaged, and I admittedly yawned a few times.

The story is progressing this episode at a rather slower pace. Not as lighthearted or intense as others, I call these types of episodes fillers – the necessary scenes to push the story along. Nevertheless, you will find Claire and Jamie at odds with one another during the current state of affairs. Not much by way of romance, except perhaps for naked boobs dangling in front of Murtagh’s face as he’s getting it on with Claire’s lady’s maid. Starz couldn’t help themselves giving us a flash of flesh and nipples, as usual.

Early on in the episode, the light comes on in Claire’s head regarding Frank when she realizes little innocent Mary (concerned about what French men put between the legs of ladies) must marry a Randall in order for Frank to be born. Okay, time out. I got lost at this point and went Internet searching. Holy Outlander, people! There is an Outlander Wikia with character backdrops and forums to discuss the ancestral lineage. You’re all obsessed!  (Oh, wait, that line is from Phantom of the Opera.)

Apparently, there is some confusion about who begat who besides me scratching my head over the names in Frank’s family bible. If you are one of those fans with an insatiable need for anything Outlander, you might follow this link and try and figure out Black Jack Randall’s lineage for yourself. OUTLANDER INFO CLICK HERE. It’s Johnathan Randall who marries Mary Hawkins so Frank can be born generations later. Dear oh, dear. Gotta keep that bastard alive a bit longer for Frank to be born.

Moving past ancestral ties, Claire is bored while Jamie is running to and fro trying to save the Scots from being wiped-out in the future.  She’s sleeping alone while he’s spending nights rubbing elbows with the necessary society at the brothel.  (Thank God, at least he’s faithful and not rubbing anything else as the prostitutes keep throwing themselves at him.)  She is bored – he is tired. Hence the episode title, “Useful Occupations and Deceptions.”

Claire decides to volunteer her time at a charity hospital to find purpose again. It’s hard being dressed up in finery all day and having tea and playing cards. When the nuns discover her usefulness, she’s accepted into the fold, tasting urine and lancing puss-filled legs so you can watch the gore on the screen.  Your tolerance for blood up close will be tested again by the camera crew.

Meanwhile, Jamie is entertaining the Prince at the brothel, playing chess, decoding stolen letters, and coming home looking for wifely comfort over a bad day. When Claire is nowhere to be found, he’s angry that she’s not taking care of her real purpose in life — being his wife. While she’s tending the sickly poor, Jamie is rightly concerned that she is putting the baby at risk by exposing it to disease. On the other hand, let’s not talk about her drinking during pregnancy.

They seem to be drifting apart, the romance is a bit cooled, and Murtagh keeps telling Claire she better tell him that Randall is still alive. Of course, the episode ends, and she doesn’t.

What about kernels? Sorry, I dropped the popcorn bowl last night watching the lancing of the leg with oozing puss and am still picking up the mess. Nothing to scatter in this review. My stomach is a still upset.

Outlander Review (Episode 8 – Both Sides Now)

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. The show won’t be back on the air until April 4, 2015.  That means you have 190 days from today to wait before the return of Outlander. Take a deep breath.  You can do this!  No doubt reruns will feed your addiction.  I’m sure Starz doesn’t want its fans to moan and groan from highlander withdrawals. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about Episode 8 — the mid-season finale.

Yes, all things come to an end.  Even books in a series…eventually.  And so it is with mid-season one, the much anticipated and highly coveted Outlander on Starz. In a diversion from the book, this episode is heavily focused upon Frank and his desperate search for his beloved wife, who has somehow vanished into thin air.  Much of the focus of the story has been on Claire’s experience being sucked back in time, but I think this diversion adds richness to the series by exploring what Frank is dealing with as well.

Rightly so this episode is named Both Sides Now, but I’d like to add a third that it had a rather dark side.  The greatest criticism of this series has come from women who do not see this as a romantic novel, when there are instances of attempted rape, actual rape, and beating one’s wife with a belt.  I am staying neutral and not commenting. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion.  Of course, there are the groups of readers who have loved this story of Jamie and Claire regardless of the not-so-pleasant scenes of brutality tucked between the pages.

Variety has a rather good article and interview with Ron Moore about Episode 8 and some of the changes from the book, if you are interested.  He explains the reasons behind his departure from Diana’s text.  READ HERE  Here is a recap of tonight’s episode, which flips back and forth in time with parallel scenes and thoughts between Claire and Frank.

The police, after six weeks of searching, tell Frank they’ve done all they can do.  Their theory is that she ran off with another man. Reverend Wakefield throws out the possibility that the river swept her downstream when she wandered off and got lost.  His druid wife tells Frank the tall tale of Craigh na Dun and the stones that suck people back in time.  As Frank screams to the copper, “My wife is not with another man,” we are taken back to Jamie and Claire reminding us that’s exactly where she is while wearing two wedding rings.

After a scene where Frank is set up in a dark alley by some woman in order to steal the reward he’s offering, we see the dark ancestral side of the modern Mr. Randall.  The men in the alley are no match for angry Frank, who nearly beats to death his attackers and almost strangles the woman for her complicity in leading him into a trap.  Yes, the man is hurt, frustrated, and these poor people crossed Frank at the wrong time in his life.  His actions get him a preaching session from the reverend about turning from the dark side and back into the light.

Claire is given lessons by Angus on how to defend herself with a dagger. She finds the opportunity to do so when Redcoats turn up unexpected, interrupting Jamie and Claire doing the deed on the grassy ground.  Once again, we are faced with a potential rape, but Claire stabs her attacker in the back and Jamie brings down the other two men holding him from intervening.

The entourage of Dougal, Angus, Murtagh, Willie, Rupert, Jamie, and Claire (did I forget anyone?) continue on their journey to meet a man who might be able to clear Jamie’s name. However, to be safe, Jamie leaves Claire alone with Willie in the woods.  She promises Jamie to stay put, but when she realizes that they are near Craigh na Dun, she slips away and runs toward the mound.

This scene is the most powerful in the episode.  Frank decides to visit the area before he gives up and leaves for Oxford.  He stands by the stone crying (poor guy) and then begins to yell Claire’s name.  Claire hears him through time, and she yells his name in return.  Frank hears her voice, but then it is suddenly silenced. Just as she reaches the stone to touch it and return, those pesky Redcoats capture and drag her away to Frank’s disgusting ancestor, Black Jack Randall.

The dichotomy of the two characters has returned, as Randall and Claire play their cat and mouse game of let’s tell the truth.  Fed up, he binds her, pushes her face down on the table, and lifts her skirt.  Another scene of attempted rape ensues. (Poor woman how much of this must she endure?  I do see the point here.) When we think all is lost, Jamie bursts open the window, points a gun at Randall, and tells him to take his hands off his wife.

End of mid-season one, and the cliffhanger has been played. Of course, those who have read the book know the outcome.  The second half of season one may be the most controversial if Ron Moore, the executive producer, goes down that road showing the consequences of Claire’s disobedience and Jamie’s belt meeting her often exposed bottom in this series. For some reason, I don’t think that’s going to go over well with some women in the audience not familiar with the written text.

Nevertheless, the episodes have ended. Life returns to normal, and maybe I can finish book four in my own series, which only contained one attempted, not welcomed advance of a despicable nature. From my own experience, I can tell you that romance books containing potential rape or rape scenes do not often sit well with some readers.  It’s a path that I try to avoid if possible.  It appears that many fans, however, are so taken by Jamie’s character, that it either doesn’t bother them or they have turned a blind eye in order to enjoy the man in the kilt.  Whatever the reason, get your calendars out, your markers, and start checking off the next 190 days you must live before more episodes arrive.  I just hope for your sake the world doesn’t end before then.

Outlander Review (Starz Series 2014 – Episode 1 – Sassenach)

5 Kernels

Stars: Claire (Caitriona Balfe); Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan);
and Frank Randall/Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies)

 Let me preface this review by clarifying a few things:

1) I have never read Outlander or any of Diana Gabaldon’s books.

2) I do not have extended cable. So any episode after this one, I will not be paying extra from my cable carrier to pick it up. Therefore, I will have to wait.

Okay, so I’ve been watching on Facebook and hearing everyone else talk about the “highly anticipated” Outlander television series on Starz. On the other side of the camp, all the Poldark lovers are going crazy over that series being redone by BBC.

I know very little about Outlander, except for what I’ve read in multiple blog posts and reader reviews. Like most stories, including mine, there is a lot of polarization regarding the story. The disagreeable reviews say this — they liked the beginning, but as the story continued were appalled by two scenes that turned them off (mainly, the rape of Jamie, and Jamie beating Claire for disobedience). Since I’ve not read those scenes, I cannot comment and will stay clear of that hot debate.

Like any other author, I dream that one of the books I’ve written will one day be acted out on screen. I’ve even had few readers state they’d love to see The Legacy Series picked up. Of course, that takes luck, agents, producers, and those who believe in your story-telling talent. Somewhere in that long line of wishful thinking lies the magic fairy of success.  I’ve yet to meet her personally. Outlander, of course is a bestseller, read worldwide, and its popularity has remained throughout the years. I can only imagine how Diana must feel seeing her story come to life on screen. It must be wonderful, as well as her bulging bank account.

What makes a story extremely popular is uniqueness. Outlander is apparently one of those novels, as it takes the reader back in time from the 1940’s into 1700’s Scotland. It contains all of the right elements – mystery, danger, surprise, handsome Scottish hunk, bodice ripping, passionate lovemaking, and a difficult decision for the heroine to make.

So, let’s talk about the free Episode 101 available to watch on the Starz website. Of course, with all the hullabaloo about this story, I decided to sit for an hour and watch the first episode. I will now probably wait a year or more to see the remainder, since I’m too cheap for extended cable adding $89 a month to my budget.

Nevertheless, I was impressed. Starz has the big budget for production, the stars to carry the parts, and the scenery to add to the flavor of the movie. It begins after the war, and five years later when Claire is reunited with her husband, Frank. The scenario is quite real, as even my parents were separated for five years during WWII, only to be reunited faced with the challenge of learning to live and love all over again.

Frank, decides on a second honeymoon in Scotland before they settle back into life. Enter a few hot sex scenes, an old village with strange practices, Frank’s interesting genealogy, and the story begins to unfold with a touch of mystery. Claire and her husband watch through the night and into the early morning hours the dancing of women around an ancient grouping of stone monuments, apparently carrying out a ritual.

Claire returns to the ruins alone the next day to look for a flower that caught her eye the day before. As she walks between the monoliths, things become a bit weird and sounds catch her attention. She is drawn to a particular stone, and after she places her hands upon it, she is transported back in time. I always ask myself, however, why is it when people travel through time they get dumped into a perilous scene with warriors and shooting? (Reminds me of the movie “Timeline” with Gerard Butler. Check out that perilous time-traveling flick.)

Besides being thrown into danger, we also have the element of surprise. She goes back to where she parked her car only to find it gone. Confused, she wanders about until she sees Redcoats who are chasing someone and shooting their rifles. Of course, she thinks she’s walked into some movie set by accident. However, as a real bullet flies by her head, it becomes all too real and she takes off running. Personally, I think I would have freaked out a bit more than strong Claire. She is feisty, swears like a sailor, brash, and lets every male she comes in contact with know her sentiments.

Now, let’s go to the heartthrob. Pictures of Sam Heughan have been clogging my timeline on Facebook for months. To be mean, I clog everyone’s timeline with a few shots of Aidan Turner (the Poldark hottie). Nevertheless, Jamie is quite the hunk–young, virile, strong, and well-endowed, no doubt, as women think about what’s under that kilt. With his thick Scottish brogue, you just want to kiss him to shut him up, if you don’t mind the sweat and blood on his face to get there.

As far as the rest of the burly Scottish men, Jamie is the only thing worth drooling over. If you have a good imagination of greasy hair, sweaty faces, and bodies that probably haven’t bathed in months, you’ve got the picture of the other men. Of course, Claire is a muddy mess, too, at this point in the story so she fits right in.  When she tries to run away, Jamie catches up to her and demands she continue on with them.  She says no, and he says, “I’ll shall pick you up and throw you over my shoulder.  Do you want me to do that?”  Well, I know you do!

Has the first episode intrigued me? Yes, and when I can, I’ll probably watch the remainder. Will I read the book? Nope. I have this terrible aversion of other people’s ideas, phrases, and whatever else sinking into my subconscious and coming out in one of my own books. Therefore, I rarely, if ever, read any romances by other authors.

As far as the intro music, I absolutely love it. Need to find out where I can download it. “Sing me a song of a lass that is gone…”

So that’s it! Go for it, you Outlander fans! I’ll being waiting for Poldark on BBC Masterpiece Theatre slated for 2015 release with Aidan – picture stage right.

In conclusion, I supposedly do have a drop of Scottish blood in my veins from my second great grandmother, who was born in Glasgow—so there.

Next trip to the UK, I’ll make sure to make it up north to Jamie land. Maybe I can get sucked back into time. As long as I don’t end up in the middle of a battle somewhere, I wouldn’t mind.

8/7/14 – UPDATE:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I said I wasn’t going to get Starz.  And, yeah, yeah, yeah, I said I wasn’t going to read the book.  I’m eating my words.

I’ve added Starz for $10 a month from Comcast and downloaded the book on Kindle.  I’ve read about 70% of it, but because of my schedule, I’ve had to skim parts but have read a pretty hefty portion.  I’m impressed with the author’s skill and knowledge.  There is no way, however, I can read the entire series, but have skimmed the synopsis of each to get the drift. I will, however, be tuning in on my brand new 32″ Magnavox for upcoming episodes.