Recaps

Two Takes: Outlander “Surrender”

Photo Credit: Starz

Last week’s Outlander was a tale of life and death. The defeated Scots were summarily executed after the Battle of Culloden. Jamie, however, escaped execution because he once spared the life of John Grey, the brother of the Brit whose job it was to kill Jamie and his fellow soldiers. Chalk it up to a code of honor kind of thing. Instead, Jamie was taken home to Lallybroch.

Meanwhile, in Boston, Claire gave birth to a baby girl. Up until then, she and Frank had to deal with tension in their relationship. She couldn’t shake the memory of Jamie and Frank found it hard to compete with that. But they reached a good place after the delivery, even though the unaware nurse asked that totally awkward ‘where does she get her red hair from” question. Let’s see how long this peace will last.

Tina: Kara, I’m not sure what aspect of “Surrender” to talk about first. Think I’ll go with Jamie, who’s home at Lallybroch. He’s still a wanted man, as we know. Because literally everybody in the entire universe wants Jamie for one thing or another. This means he’s forced to hide out in his version of a man cave and isolate himself from the world and his family, except for the rare times he does visit the house. His appearance and his manner have changed. He’s still big but he’s seriously hairy — that beard on him! — he barely talks, he always seems to be a second away from doing something dangerous. He’s a bit scary and feral, even.

Photo Credit: Starz

Kara: Yeah, Jamie’s a changed man. It might be a reach, but “Surrender” to me can be interpreted in a more subtle way. Like, I feel like Jamie has surrendered to this new life without Claire. We know he’s in a mental prison. He misses the person he loves the most. He hopes Claire and the baby escaped to safer place, but he has no way of knowing that, so he’s retreated so deeply into himself. Is it a survival mechanism? It seems so. Both Jenny and Fergus comment on it, but nothing they do seems to pull him out of it. He eventually comes back to himself, but Jamie is this quiet, hulking, hurting version of himself for six years. SIX YEARS, Tina.

Tina: Six years. Painful. I am not shocked he slid into this version of himself. Last week, he wanted to die. This is probably a step up from that. Claire had that much of an impact on him. Without her, who is he? He doesn’t want to seem to figure that out just yet. The man needs a hug. I volunteer, of course, but I don’t know that’d he appreciate it. Okay, I digress.

The entire time Jamie’s living his best feral life, the Redcoats periodically make their presence known. They’re on the hunt for Red Jamie or Dunbonnet as he’s also called. Speaking of which, love Jenny’s line after she learns about these nicknames. She tells Jamie “soon enough you’ll have ballads sung in your honor.”

Anyway, the British put the pressure on Jenny and make life hellish for her and her family. Jenny and Ian lie to their faces. Fergus is ready to defend Lallybroch from the Redcoats. And while they do arrest Ian, they stay strong. I just really love this family dynamic and the way everyone’s so protective of each other.

Kara: It is nice to see these people care so deeply for each other. Before we switch over to Claire and Frank — because there’s plenty going on there — I think we have to talk about Fergus. In the book his hand is taken by a faceless, nameless solider. But something the series has done (and something I approve of wholeheartedly) is creating a villain in Corporal MacGregor. He’s Scottish, but he’s basically betrayed himself and his people by becoming a Redcoat. Not only that, but he’s a particular thorn in the side of all the inhabitants of Lallybroch.

Photo Credit: Starz

Fergus, always quick to share his opinion, calls MacGregor out repeatedly. So when MacGregor and another solider follow Fergus when he sets out for Jamie’s cave, they think they’re finally about to capture Red Jamie. But Fergus knows they’re following him and takes them on a bit of a merry chase. When they catch on, Fergus taunts them and then has to make a break for it when he becomes surrounded on all sides. Only, he doesn’t get away. So Jamie has to witness these soldiers hold Fergus down, take his hand and leave him for dead.

I can’t imagine how helpless and impotent Jamie felt in that moment. But what was the alternative? If he would’ve revealed himself, both he and Fergus would have most likely been killed.

Photo Credit: Starz

Tina: Fergus is so brave. I continue to love him as much as I did during Dragonfly in Amber. In fact, there’s a really nice Jamie and Fergus scene after this injury happens. It’s clear there’s a love that exists there. And there’s humor. Fergus reminds Jamie that he said if he ever lost an ear or a hand, Jamie would have to support him for the rest of his life. It was an adorable way to handle what had just happened to Fergus.

This leads us to Jamie’s big sacrifice. He sees the toll all of this is taking on everyone. After all, when Jenny gives gives birth to little Ian, the Redcoats infiltrate their house and she’s forced to lie to them saying her baby died. Meanwhile, Jamie was in a corner holding Ian trying to keep him quiet. That was a close call. Too close a call as far as Jamie’s concerned.

He’s someone who will sacrifice everything for the ones he loves. So he concocts a plan to keep his family safe and earn them some money in the process. Jenny has to go against everything she stands for and turn Jamie in to the Redcoats. Kara, this was a heartbreaking moment to watch. I know it was pretend but Jenny was damn convincing when she yelled at Jamie she would never forgive him.

Jamie’s resigned to whatever will happen to him as a prisoner once again. But before this all goes down, house maid Mary McNab brings a last supper to him. She offers to have sex with him before giving himself up. It’s not a sexy exchange. It’s very matter of fact. Neither have had sex in a long, long time. While they’re in the midst, the cameras show Jamie has closed his eyes, presumably thinking about the love of his life, Claire.

Kara: It’s interesting. While I agree that their exchange isn’t sexy, I feel like both Jamie and Mary get something they need from the other, even if Jamie has to close his eyes in order to get it.

Claire, on the other hand, goes about getting what she needs in a slightly less honest way. I know I’ve been hating on Claire so far this season, but apparently she’s doing things I really dislike. Although I can’t understand her actions (and I hope I’m never in a position where I would), I totally and completely get why she’s doing it. So while I might come across as harsh, I feel like I have to reiterate that I still love her and am fully committed to her journey.

We know Claire’s missing Jamie because she essentially has a wet dream about him that wakes her up one night. We can see that Claire’s wondering if she should reach out to Frank and try to reconnect with him, at least physically. They seem like a pretty solid unit on the parenting front, but we know things are still extremely awkward for them in the bedroom. So when Claire decides it’s time to start having sex with Frank again, things seem good until Frank realizes she’s imagining Jamie while she’s having sex with him. Ouch. I mean, she’s into it but only because her eyes are closed and she’s picturing Jamie. While Frank’s 100% there with her, Claire still living in the past with Jamie. I think Frank’s right to end things then and there and later we see they’re sleeping in separate beds.

Tina: Thankfully, Claire decides to pursue other interests like Harvard Med School. A place where she once again faces sexist speak. To make things really awesome, there’s racist speak as well. In fact, her anatomy professor was especially obnoxious in that regard. He said something like, “A woman and a Negro. How modern of us.”

Enter Joe Abernathy, a black student who ends up sitting at the same desk as Claire. And for those of you who have read the books, he becomes a really close friend of Claire’s. This fact makes me happy.

Kara: Even though I’m not there in the book yet (note to self: stop procrastinating and get back to reading that behemoth), I have seen the first five episodes of this season and I really like where the Claire/Joe dynamic goes. There’s some good stuff there.

In the meantime, I think we’re just left to wonder how Jamie will fare, now that he’s headed back to prison and if Claire will find enough fulfillment in medicine.

Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.

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