So now the much anticipated, controversial, and provocative Outlander episode The Reckoning written by Matthew Roberts and directed by Richard Clark has aired. The strapping heard around the world as it were. Yes and so very much more. This episode is deep and rich with story line, character development, and texture well beyond that few evocative minutes. I had so much to love about this episode. Every one seems to top the last. Pure viewing pleasure.
First off this episode completely takes us out of Claire’s point and view into Jamie’s point of view. He speaks the same five words Claire Randall utters in the opening voice over in Sassenach episode 101, “Strange the things you remember….”. Connecting the first half of the season to the second half with a bit of brilliance there.
He speaks of choices leading each step. When he realizes he had become a man. Choosing and decision making are continuously running themes for Claire thus far, now we see through Jamie’s eyes what he needs to choose, what he must decide. Another point of their intersection and growth.
The other refreshing start to this episode is that we are taken back to before where the last episode ended. We are given the insight from Jamie as to events leading up to Claire’s rescue.
Moving into meeting with Horrocks a much anticipated scene as Jamie seeks to gain information that might free him from being a fugitive. A hard quick letdown when the name provided is all but useless. What does this mean? Jamie has no hope of clearing his name. So much onus was put on this event, and it just thuds. Really like life sometimes, large expectation and no outlay only disappointment. A vehicle merely to get the viewers to a destination? Perhaps.
They all find out what happens to Claire when Willie rides up in a panic. I am unsure why no one is angry at Willie as he was charged with staying with and watching Claire when the meeting took place. What purpose was Willie in that scene, if he bore no responsibility? That is baffling.
Cutting from the ride toward Fort William to Jamie getting dressed almost ritualistically is intriguing and quite beautiful. I venture they stayed somewhere near and rested before nightfall to attempt the dangerous rescue and he had to redress. I am not certain why it is here, but though superfluous is nice.
The rescue attempt is enthralling. Jamie’s emotions though well encased are emanating through the screen pelting viewers. His acting is moving. Drawing us the viewers into his desperate need and desire to get Claire back. He is putting himself at immense risk in this pursuit. He loves her. This is not simply duty. He cannot bear the thought of her under the hands of Randall. Murtagh, Rupert, and Angus all willingly help him. A harrowing climb down the side of the fort wall by Jamie with Jamie sitting in the window stating to Black Jack Randall, “I’ll thank ye to take yer hands OFF my wife.” to a stunned and delighted Randall, takes us to the place where the last episode ended.
Disturbing and spine chilling inadequately describes the exchange between Randall and Jamie. For a moment it would seem Claire was not even present. Then Randall is quite aroused at the prospect of raping Claire in front of Jamie or including Jamie in the “fun”. An ugly game of cat and mouse between the men all the while Claire being held knife to throat by Randall. In the process she gets her own verbal digs in. Randall is sure he is the winner in this scenario after Jamie puts the gun down. Ultimately, this dance of the two men, an unloaded gun, is not the scenario Randall wins. He is knocked out cold before the escape. Even Jamie wonders in his “Jay-over”, why he did not kill him right then. He had never thought to kill a helpless man. And plot device for the future.
The rest of the escape is a dangerous romp. An arsenal explosion set off by Murtagh, Rupert, and Angus, a jump into the cold waters below, the ride off into the morning. The tension these scenes created was fantastic.
Once in the clear, the men stopped to rest and water the horses. Or so it would seem. Jamie taking Claire aside for an apology did not go well with her at all. She is bitterly angry at being blamed for being picked up by the redcoats. She did not stay put as Jamie told her to. Not to punish him as he thinks, but “Christ Jamie, I went for a walk” as she put it whilst Willie used the outdoors as a loo, then she saw the standing stones, spontaneously, not intentionally, she ran away from all the horrors of the past week and toward familiarity and safety of the 1940’s. Jamie and Claire’s bitter words and fighting demonstrate their fears, assumptions, and hurts. They must traverse these difficult roads to get where they need to be.
Jamie is overwhelmed by the fighting and all they have said to each other. He slowly crumples to the ground, emotional and wrought. “I went to ye at Ft. William armed with an empty pistol and my bare hands. When ye screamed……. Y’er tearing my guts out Claire.” She is deeply affected from his anguish filled, heart breaking words that pierce. Apologizing she is kneeling next to him. Seeking forgiveness. He seeks the same in return. Given they embrace. The “Jamie-over” ends with him saying “that was falling in love.” Gutted is the proper verbiage here. Us, Jamie, Claire. Powerful emotions. Passionate discourse. Again, flawless acting Sam and Cait are nowhere to be found, only Jamie and Claire. We are getting the peeled back layers of their relationship and individual selves.
The harsh reality of consequences quickly dons on Claire upon return to the inn where Dougal and the others are. The men overtly ignore her while jovially eating, drinking and sharing stories. She is separate from the group she so comfortably belonged. They feel wronged. They feel she put them in extreme harms way.
Murtagh makes it clear to Jamie it is his job to contend with her and that justice is served.
Understanding exactly what he must do, Jamie heads up to their room.
In his mind justice. This will teach her to listen to him in these dangerous times they live and to bring her back into the fold with the men. The dialogue tells us this is a customary practice to be punished. It is expected that someone who defies orders, no matter the reason, is to be have a punitive outcome upon them whether man or woman. If it happens to be a wife, then the husband has a duty to in this case strap her. Outlander is set in a fictional 18th century Scotland, not reality. Contextually, this scene has always made sense and does not bother me from my modern perspective.
That said Claire fighting back like a modern day woman rings absolutely correct. No woman of the 1940’s or today would just lift her shift and take it.
Jamie felt it was his duty not only as a husband, but to all the men being put in harms way. This scene was handled very well overall with gravity, shock, seriousness, and a little humor to break the tension. I am impressed no one on the team shied away from doing it nearly straight out of the book. Modern sensibilities can handle such things and discern what it is.
In the morning things are settled with the men and Claire, but there is a wide divide left to traverse between her and Jamie. He thought justice done, problem solved, and we move forward. Sigh the naively newly married man.
The return to Castle Leoch proves to not be a respite at all instead it seems something bad behind every summons or interaction. From the cool greeting by Leticia and Colum, sad sack delusional Laoghaire confronting Jamie on his marriage, Colum being angry about the raid and rescue of Claire at Fort William, Colum knowing about the Jacobite money raising campaign during the rent collection, and Jamie being nowhere back in graces with Claire, all hell is breaking loose in his world.
Chaos reigns and Jamie for the first time in his life has no idea what to do. Not yet anyway.
The episode is now moving toward healing and reconciliation with wonderfully unexpected paths.
Jamie has a plan to get Uncles MacKenzie into peaceful, cooperative waters. At first Colum is resistant and then wisdom seen, he gives the Jacobite fund raising monies back to Dougal. Brothers reunited for now with each other and Jamie.
At the river Jamie is still heavy minded over what to do about Claire. Skipping rocks when Laoghaire MacKenzie approaches. She is presented in a light that begs the viewer to be sympathetic as she tells Jamie she has always remembered him even back to 7 years old and how her heart leapt when he returned years later. She believes he has the same feelings since he took the beating for her and the way he kissed her in the alcove. He begins to tell her though it was an arrangement but… she cuts him off by dropping her cape leaving her in very little except her bodice and shift. She presses his hand to her overflowing breast, and declares she wants him to be the first to have her. Jamie will not kiss her and says he will not break his vows. Then he apologizes to her not once, but twice, as she runs off humiliated. Why did he apologize to her? Too much a gentleman at times. Frustrating with all his “Jamie-over” about choices, that he does not tell her he has fallen in love with Claire. He does not fully realize that she is officially well scorned now.
Once back in his room he has a strong desire to make amends with Claire. He offers an olive branch in relaying the coming back together of Colum and Dougal. That his rigid uncle could bend at the risk of looking weak to all who serve him. He says perhaps things can be different in their marriage than tradition of a woman obeying her husband and the husband punishing the wife. He then draws his dirk giving Claire the pledge he refused to give Colum. Claire sits there not as angry, stunned silent for a moment. She answers his plea. The repairs begin.
What a well written and played scene. All those strings of chaos getting tied up neatly. From damage, newness can spring.
As he touches her reached out hand, he tells her how the ring he gave her was smithed from his very own key to Lallybroch, his home. She is his home now and it is okay if he can never return there. YES. The ring scene is now come full circle and book fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
Having had Claire refuse to allow him in bed since the strapping, he tells her he wants her and asks if she will have him. A deep home run. She agrees. Jamie’s clothing flings off as quickly as possible.
With the events and emotions of recent days this is not going to be routine make up sex. This is going to be intense, a bit rough, and very raw. And indeed it is. Several parts of this lengthy scene are my favorite.
- While already having sex, Claire on top of Jamie grabs his throat in one hand and his dirk in the other, holding it to him says the much lauded words “Listen to me. If you ever raise your hand to me again James Fraser, I will cut your heart out and have it for breakfast. Do you understand me?” Of course he agrees, she is mmphmming him.
- After shifting positions, he tells her “You are mine mo nighean donn. Mine. Now and forever.”
- Then he says, “And I mean to make ye call me master.”
Lying together after mutual release, he has another gem to speak to Claire, “I am your master. And you’re mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own”. Swoon. They cemented their path of reparations. Sometimes sex is a way to break down and begin a rebuild. This is that sex. Awesome. Gritty. Realistic. Well except for the dirk to the throat. I have never seen that before. Sam and Cait chemistry, bravery, and acting chops.
Sweet and fireside moment Jamie seeking some definitions from Claire (fucking and sadist). Claire explains, then asks, “Was I too rough on you?” He responds, “Well if you bed a vixen, you have to expect to get bit. Come here and bite me some more.” A cute, sweet, and funny transition from the heavy emotions and sexual outlay prior. A welcomed respite.
All seems wonderful until, Claire finds the ill wish under bed. Puzzled she asks who would do such a thing. A pause and Jamie declares Laoghaire.
Roll credits. I applaud the chutzpah to take the complex subject matters and present them boldly. An excellently adapted episode. Overall a job well done. I will watch it over again.