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Outlander – S1E8 – Both Sides Now

Previously, on Outlander: “The Wedding

Let’s start with Frank; this is a pretty Frank-centric episode. Claire has been gone for seven weeks now, and Frank has been harassing the local authorities about finding his missing wife. Not that they haven’t been trying–rewards are offered for info on both Claire and the mysterious Highlander seen beneath her window, and they’ve searched 100 square miles with nothing to show for it. The detective tells Frank that they’re not going to be looking for her anymore, even though both he and Reverend Wakefield still have hope. A mysterious woman in a bar tells Frank she has information on this Highland stranger, but when he meets her in a dark alley (where all good information is exchanged, naturally) instead of information he gets beaten and held up for the reward money that he foolishly carries around with him at all times. Or rather, they try to beat him up. Beating up an Mi6 operative is clearly harder than it sounds, and he walks away from the fight with still holding on to his £1000 and his dignity. Well, some of his dignity.

Outlander | Both Sides Now

Following the Reverend’s advice, he decides it’s time to move on to Oxford, but not before Mrs. Graham (the housekeeper and local druid leader) gives the most obvious explanation for Claire’s disappearance: time travelling through magical standing stones. She doesn’t know where the travellers go, or when, but they always come back. They always come back! Her story rings in Frank’s ears as he drives out of Inverness, and he makes a quick detour to the stones for one last glimpse. Thinking he hears Claire calling his name, he realizes he’s turned into a crazy person whose wife has left him for another man, and gets back in the car and leaves Scotland for good.

Outlander | Both Sides Now

As for Claire, she and Jaime have been enjoying the fruits of their new marriage all over the place. In fact, they’re interrupted in the middle of a “picnic” by an arrow attack–but it’s just Jaime’s friend Hugh Monro, who always shoots arrows at his friends to let them know he’s coming. Hugh had his tongue cut out by Turks and speaks in only rudimentary grunts and sign language. He signals that there is a man, Horrocks, who can clear Jaime’s name and that he wants to meet with him, and that it is not a trap. Absolutely no trap here.

Outlander | Both Sides Now

One night by the fire, in the middle of more Claime cuddling, the travelling MacKenzies get attacked by another clan raiding for food and horses. The men all successfully fend off the attack, and thoroughly enjoy doing it, but realize that Claire really has no knowledge of how to properly defend herself. After a little instruction, some demonstrations, and her new sock-knife, Claire is now prepared for danger, and none too soon. The next day, while Claime are mid-coitus, they’re interrupted by a pair of Redcoat deserters. While one holds a gun to Jaime’s temple, the other prepares for the raping–he gets awfully close, too, but isn’t expecting Claire’s new knife skills. While she perforates his kidney, Jaime turns on his captor, and the day is saved. Except now the day is all awkward and angry, and while Jaime apologizes for not protecting Claire, she realizes how pissed she is at him. Or not at him, but more at herself. Or a little bit at him, some at herself, mostly at this whole stupid time travelling double-marriage situation. She’s just angry.

Outlander | Both Sides Now

So angry, in fact, that when Jaime and the men leave her behind to meet Horrock and his not-trap, she runs away. Again. More accurately, it dawns on her that she can see Craigh na Dun on the next hill, that they’ve been travelling back to Inverness this entire time, and that she is steps away from going home. To Frank! She runs from her guilt over Frank and from her feelings for Jaime and back to her modern life–and just as she is reaching out for the stones is snapped up by Redcoats. Black Jack Randall’s Redcoats!

Outlander | Both Sides Now

So every time Claire runs away, she gets caught and harassed by Black Jack, right? This time is no different. They verbally spar back and forth, but it ultimately ends with her hands tied behind her back, bent over the table with her skirts over her head. And just as Black Jack is about to commence the raping…Jaime appears in the window with a heroic “I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife.” And Black Jack laughs.

And THAT is how we leave for the midseason break.

The best and the worst of this episode:
  • Poor Frank. It’s becoming my mantra. Not as likeable this episode, but he can’t be blamed. The strain is getting to him. It’s funny that he’s a far more sympathetic character than Claire, I guess because he’s not off adventuring and remarrying at the same time that he’s missing his wife–he’s just being sad and lonely. And angry. The theme of this episode is angry.

Outlander | Both Sides Now 6

  • Look everybody, it’s Roger!! In a teeny tiny chubby cheeked cameo we’re introduced to Roger Wakefield, the Reverend’s adopted son. I squealed. Both times. And at the risk of spoiling future (or is it past?) episodes, all I can do is squeal again.
  • There was something about that scene by the campfire before the men are attacked that I loved. How everyone just keeps moving and acting normal and telling stories while they pull out their knives and get into position, and they don’t even need a nod to each other to be on the same page–just the merest eye contact. And then all of a sudden, they’re up and fighting and simultaneously everyone has each other’s back, forming some sort of Scottish Voltron.
  • What’s the deal with Claire? Her words and her sexy actions say “Sure, I’m into you, Jaime”, but her face and her inner monologue are just kind of…lame. Disinterested. Dare I say, bored. She’s supposed to be growing closer to him despite herself, and she really just looks like she could use a good nap. It’s no fun for things to heat up if she’s only going to be lukewarm. Be hot, Claire! Be hot for Jaime!
  • I love that we’re calling Randall “Black Jack”, like we’ll get confused if he’s just called Jack or Captain Randall. He has to be Black. Also, in a neat twist, the little club that Frank beat his assailants with is called a blackjack. SYMBOLISM, DAMMIT. They will literally beat you over the head with it lest you miss it.
  • Since we’re verging on a pretty hefty break between episodes, I’m going to address the big rapey elephant in the room. On one hand, they’re book accurate, and I’m pretty sure they’re historically accurate, and they’ve always at least propelled the plot. On the other hand, enough with the rape already! And on the third hand, if there were one, they’re absolutely necessary for a whole other non-plot reason. This whole show is being lauded for its strong woman lead, for its feminism, and for showing the whole range of woman’s perspective without idealizing or romanticizing (or for at least being honest while romantic). It quite honestly could not be done without including the ever-present danger of sexual assault. Look, it’s not a modern issue, and it’s only a barely modern conversation, but to ignore that it happens–to all women, in all centuries, even for an hour of escapist television–would be disingenuous. And I think that, without being genuine, the show would never work.
  • Obviously, midseason breaks are the worst. Episode 9 will air on April 4, 2015, so we’ve got seven months to read (and reread) the books and marathon the episodes. And if you absolutely HAVE to get your period costume drama fix (albeit less exciting), Downton Abbey will start in January.
About Robyn Horton (94 Articles)
Robyn grew up a military brat whose parents let her indulge in her love of literature, mythology, movies, musicals, and Kings Quest (without telling her how nerdy they were). She is now a reformed graphic designer with a husband, two dogs, a Sweeney Todd themed bathroom, and a burning need to know how many books really can fit in one house.

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