After the shocking beginning sequence in Not in Scotland Anymore, it ultimately becomes a risque, riotous, and frenetic ride with a healthy side of serious, from beginning to end. This highly condensed hour covers approximately three months of time after Jamie, Claire, and Murtagh’s arrival in Paris. They are entrenched in Jared’s wine business and the running of his home. They are making a new life. The exteriors hark back to descriptions of old Paris, the costuming delights and is brilliant onscreen, and there’s a definite feel to the threesome being fishes out of water, in their new high society way of life.
The density of this multi-month spanning episode leads us to meeting 8 new supporting characters. With varying importance, each character has a key role to play in one or more of the plots that are underway. All a joy to meet, even the awkward Annelise de Marillac scene. I found Master Raymond beyond my wildest dreams.He can mix-up herbs for me anytime. Louise de Rohan is my new frivolous, yet cunning spirit animal. Alexander Randall, a wonderment. Is he good or bad? Sweet Mary Hawkins, there’s a quiet strength and rebelliousness in her. Monsieur Duverney, is a bit of a pervert when he drinks, but affable enough when all is said and done. King Louis is an ill-tempered, spoiled man-boy. It’ll be interesting how he turns out in the end. Finally, Prince Charles Stuart, the reason they’re in this plot. The Bonnie Prince is all about excess, AND doing God’s work. He is out of touch and ill advised. Yet, the man could charm a snake out of his skin. He is one strong will to reckon with.
Within all the moments of lightness throughout, mostly thanks to the ample hilarious lines by both Murtagh and Louise de Rohan, the serious nature of implementing the plan to off track the impending Jacobite uprising, and Jamie’s less than healed psyche, remained constant undertones. This is bawdy, sexy Paris. This is grand Court life. There are layers upon layers to discern and act upon or not. Nothing is ever quite as it seems. When in doubt, sex on any level -exposed cleavage, naughty conversation, or men frequenting brothels is de rigueur.
Overall, I liked it quite well. But…there’s always a but…
What do I not like? There’s one glaring thing. Jamie.
The wholeness of Jamie’s character is glaringly the missing element. The King of Men is a mere ghost of himself. I contend it was, and is a mistake, to have glossed over his healing in Season 1, because of the immense material Dragonfly in Amber offers up for adaptation. If there was no time then to devote (again, there were many wasted minutes that could’ve been given to this action instead), there certainly wouldn’t be adequate time in this even bigger, more difficult big book adapted season.
I don’t want Jamie Fraser to be a less than man. Men should want to be him and women should want to be with him or a man like him. I don’t see that as a possibility in how he’s currently being written. Whoever is envisioning Jamie, doesn’t get him. Sam Heughan is doing everything possible to elevate Jamie with what he’s being given. Being easy on the eyes and looking the part is not enough to be convincing, he needs to have the grit, the character, the will, to be Jamie Fraser. In my podcast, I said something that sounded the opposite, because I did not expound heavily on Jamie. The writers have indeed come into their own defined path with the characters voices. I happen to not be fond of the lacking in Jamie’s voice. After watching both Season 2 episodes several times at this point, I find him missing in plain sight.
What do I mean?
The first vision of Black Jack Randall in Jamie’s nightmare was over the top, but sensible since he has PTSD. The viciousness of it can also be accepted, as he needs to continue to process the vulnerability of it, what was taken from him, and what he was forced to participate in. This paints a realist picture with the recurring nightmares. Physically he is recovering well, but the emotional toll is taking longer as expected. Trauma such a he experienced is never forgotten, though possible to work through and survive well into thriving.
Moving on to Jamie’s inability to maintain full arousal and orgasm with Claire due to the continuing mental interference of Black Jack, (three months after being in Paris), feels utterly gratuitous. For Jamie to not have reclaimed his healthy sexual relationship with Claire, rings hopelessly hollow. Why is he not further along in his process and able to be physically intimate with his wife? The nightmares certainly fit, this doesn’t, not at all. Why? He’s already fought Claire acting as Black Jack during his stay at the Abbey. She took that tack knowing it was the only way for him to regain his will to live, recover his manhood (sexuality), and take his battered soul back, while facilitating the healing process.
Are we to believe he can take on extreme political plotting and the undoing of an uprising, if he is so emotionally fragile still? This feels painfully prolonged and unjustified. It’s hampering their relationship beyond the physical. It appears narrowly one-sided toward Claire having the control and power. Jamie is coming across as a subordinate to Claire, and not a strong, equal partner who will be able carry the burdens of what is come. His recovery should be about growing better, not waning and remaining the weaker. I hope with Claire finding out Randall is still alive, it will be used as the vehicle back to his full self. Whether by anger, vengeance, hate…it doesn’t matter. He needs to find that wholeness and balance. This is no way for him to live, and grow from and beyond his Wentworth experience.
I look forward to hearing your comments! Please leave on various social media sites or after this post.
On that note, you will find below, 175 or so screen captures, most with commentary. Some witty, some straight. I hope you enjoy them all as you relive the episode through them. Click on the thumbnail to view the larger photo.
Screen caps are the property of Starz.
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