Recaps

Two Takes: Outlander “The Battle Joined”

Photo Credit: Starz

This latest Outlander hiatus almost killed us. We’ve been yearning to find out if and when Claire will make it back to Jamie and what her life will be like with Frank and the baby in Boston.

For someone who didn’t read the book before we started watching episodes (Kara), half of us went in totally blind. The other half (Tina) knew a bit of what was coming. It’s possible we’ll also discuss similarities or difference from the book, since we’re both in the thick of it. But before we talk about that, let’s talk the season premiere.

Kara: Before we talk about the premiere, I want to talk about the S2 finale for a sec. I re-watched it recently and can we just talk about how devastated I was (again), when Dougal died? And by died, I mean he was murdered by Jamie and Claire. Necessary? Absolutely. But when Graham McTavish made an appearance during the Outlander panel at Comic-Con this year that hit me right in the heart. Another huge moment, of course, is Jamie sending Claire back through the stones. Jesus, I’m already emotional and we’ve barely started.

Tina: I’m completely and utterly with you. I re-watched the finale right before gobbling up the season three premiere. While their goodbye was absolutely devastating, it was also very beautiful. In my preview, I even quoted a part of the blood vow (from their wedding) they recited to each other shortly before Claire went back to her time. That moment hit me hard. It was quintessential Outlander and totally defines their relationship. I teared up, as we fans are wont to do when watching this show.

Photo Credit: Starz

I’m so very happy the hiatus is finally over and we can get to the business of finding out what happens next. “The Battle Joined” had to accomplish a lot and it did so in a very all over the place kind of way, which I ultimately enjoyed. Much of it was told while Jamie was lying on the battleground gravely injured (and looking so very gorgeous while doing so. How that happens, I’ll never know).

Kara: The battle of Culloden isn’t in the book, only the aftermath, but I do understand why Ron Moore wanted to start on the battlefield with the men fighting. I think it’s necessary to say a proper goodbye to Black Jack Randall and to find out how Jamie faired. We see Jamie, badly wounded by Jack and that Jamie ultimately killed Randall. That scene! They’re fighting hand-to-hand and you see how badly each wants to kill the other. Yet, they end up in a kind of embrace, even in the end.

Tina: Yeah, it was a pretty powerful scene. And while I hated seeing Jamie hurt, it was so damn satisfying to see Black Jack’s reign come to a deadly end. Everything that man did to Jamie? I needed to see him lose. I always thought I never wanted to see the actual Battle of Culloden play out. But the rivalry and the pain and anguish and the history that existed between these two men had to be resolved.

Photo Credit: Starz

Post Mortem Sidebar: We had a chance to talk to Tobias Menzies about the scene at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour.

It’s a non-verbal scene, so it’s purely about this fight they have. We ended up shooting this idea of this strange stroke-dance-stroke-grace. I was just keen to do it well and finish it in a good way. It’s a peculiar sequence. You don’t know whether it’s actually gonna land. Is this gonna be a satisfying end? I don’t know.

So witnessing Jamie bring down Randall was everything I wanted it to be and more. Jamie living is even better revenge. Although Jamie might beg to differ. He seemed pretty ready to die.

Kara: More than ready to die. Claire’s gone. He’s badly wounded. He needs to answer for the murder of Dougal, in this life or the next. Things are bleak. Although I do have to applaud the show for the gallows humor. I’m not sure how many times Jamie says he wants to die, but despite that he doesn’t. Because he saved John Grey’s life and he’s owed a life by that family, Lord Melton grants that to him and sends him back to Lallybroch.

Tina: I’m not sure if Jamie is the luckiest person in the world or the unluckiest. I mean, he keeps getting in these situations where’s he’s injured or flogged or worse. Yet he survives them all. After the British find the injured Scots, they start executing them one by one, even asking for volunteers. Everyone around Jamie is dying. Of course the one who’s ready to die — Jamie — is the one that lives. It’s difficult to say poor Jamie, because he gets the chance to go home.

Meanwhile, Claire’s making a new home with Frank in Boston in 1948. She’s anything but ready to let go of the memory of her man as Frank soon finds.

Kara: The Claire/Frank stuff was a little hard for me because I feel like Claire is punishing Frank for not being Jamie. I love Frank, as I like to remind everyone who will listen. And, while I absolutely think and know Jamie is the love of Claire’s life and it’s only been a few months, I just… I’m having trouble with Claire. I want to be fair to her, but she’s hurting Frank and making me hate her just a little. Watching her rebuff Frank is hard. It seems like all he’s trying to do is comfort her. I don’t think he’s trying to rekindle anything, mainly because he knows how much she has no interest in that. And while I don’t know if Frank every really forgives Claire for falling in love with another man, he wants to be there for her and the baby and he’s trying so hard.

Tina: I have a lot of empathy for Frank. He had no control over how the universe basically blindsided him. And I loved how he got so frustrated with them not talking about the elephant in the room that he had to express that frustration:

-When are you going to come back from the f–king past?
-I haven’t been the one who’s been f–king other people.
-I didn’t force this bargain on you, Claire. I’m not forcing you to stay.

At the same time, I have so much compassion for Claire, too. I mean, what do the rules say about how long it’s going to take to get over losing the love of your life that actually existed 200 years ago? Could she be more sensitive to Frank’s feelings? Yes. But she probably has so many emotions all pent up and those feelings have nowhere to go. That moment she shuddered when Frank tried to touch her, I felt so bad for both of them. It’s just really good relationship drama. You feel for both parties.

Photo Credit: Starz

Post-Mortem Sidebar: Menzies talks about Frank and Claire’s struggles in Boston.

Essentially he wants her to love him as much as he loves her. I think early on, he still maybe thinks that’s a possibility. There are moments in those early episodes, I think you feel like they might have a chance — the arrival of the baby. Maybe this can glue them together. Maybe they can make it out of this pretty tricky corner.

A lot of the drama, a lot of the relationship is told through looks rather than what is said. A lot of the conversation is skirting around the issue with lots of meaningful looks in between.

Kara: This whole situation is just so fraught. We’ve essentially got three people, all trying to navigate their individual heartbreaks and move on.

And as EP Toni Graphia reminds us:

People forget that this is what Jamie wanted. This is the only man I trust with my wife and daughter because he knew that Frank would love and take care of Claire and Brianna and that’s what happened.

Before we obsess over that — there’s plenty of time for that in upcoming episodes — let’s talk about Claire and Frank’s “reconciliation.” After Claire is put under in the delivery room, against her wishes and over her objections, there was that moment of genuine panic where she thought she’d lost another baby. But Frank walks in with their little bundle of joy and, finally, it seems like they’re on the same paige. Claire acknowledges how awful she’s been to him and it looks like they’re finally ready to move on together.

Photo Credit: Starz

Tina: Yeah, everything’s all nice and sweet and sort of loving. They talk about a new beginning. But then there’s that throwaway line at the end of the episode where the nurse makes an observation while looking at the baby: “Where’d she get the red hair?”

OMG. I laughed so hard. So very awkward.

Random Thoughts

Frank’s American-isms

Tina: How cute was Frank making observations about American culture like calling those tea bags “paper diapers” and speaking with a Wild West accent, or whatever that was. All I do know is he was mighty adorkable in those moments.

Rupert

Kara: Can we talk about Rupert and how much his death affected Jamie? It was nice that Rupert told Jamie he wouldn’t go to his grave hating him, even though he couldn’t forgive him for Dougal’s death.

Tina: Jamie was affected. How about me? When they talked about Angus, it took me back. Rupert saying, “It’ll be good to see him again” when he was on the verge of being executed…man, that made me emotional.

Jamie Returns Home to Lallybroch

Photo Credit: Starz

Tina: I don’t know about you but when Jamie finally returned home it was so incredibly nice to see Jenny and Ian. I had such a big smile on my face.

Frank’s letter to Reverend Wakefield

Tina: I’m not sure what motivates Frank reaching out to Reverend Wakefield. I know he wants to find out what happened to Jamie after the Battle of Culloden. But why?

Kara: And the timing is so interesting. Frank can’t sleep because he’s just had that fight with Claire. So why now?

Claire and the Sexist 1940s

Kara: When Claire has to put on makeup and “look pretty” for Frank’s boss and then he HAS THE NERVE to spout his sexist ideals at her…. I’m just happy Claire was able to hold her tongue. She pushes back a bit, but ultimately she knows she has to lose this fight for Frank’s sake so that Frank doesn’t lose (any more) face in front of his boss.

Tina: She’s a better woman than me.

Claire’s miscarriage

Kara: Of course we know what happened with her first pregnancy because we were with her and Jamie in France, just Frank was blindsided. I wonder if there’s a time Frank will know everything that happened to Claire when she was away. Although, does he really want to know? Because with every new detail revealed, he has to realize how much she moved on without him.

Frank’s one-sided love

Kara: Can we talk about the fact that Frank tells Claire he loves her twice and that she doesn’t respond?

Tina: I felt so bad for him, but she’s not going to say it if she’s not feeling it. Both “I Love Yous” came in the hospital and both times: crickets. Ouch. I hope he stops trying to say it after this.

Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.

 

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