The thieves hole. The Examiners Court. The pyre readied. The outcome grim.
This episode is absolutely fantastic. Watch once, watch 5 times the effect deepens. It has something for everyone. Court drama, fight, secrets, anger, friendship, mob rule, lies, passion, desire, choices, heroism, tender mercies, tension, honesty, loss, gain, and love.
Heading up the writing team, Toni Graphia hit this episode out of the park. The deft skill from the writers’ room continues to astonish and endear. This team is to be trusted with our beloved characters.
The opening scene begins with the swirling starlings so evocative of Claire’s recurring theme of life, the living, nature. Wherever she goes, birds and natural life are illuminated. She does not walk in the dead immovable past. Even from the thieves hole with death looming, life beckons and will not be quieted. The unborn life within Geillis kicks, a presence undaunted by the situation at hand.
Even the element of fire is transformed from a death monger to the salvation of Claire by Geillis even as she is carried to her demise. It maintains status of nurturing sustaining warmth in the rest of the episode. Such a poignant and lovely detail. Affirming life from death.
The entire trial mob rule, testimonies filled with lies, assumptions, and crocodile tears. Laoghaire MacKenzie and Father Bain deserve a special pyre each. Total investment into this reality. True emotions come. We are led through this world and it is believable.
Claire and Geillis a cautious friendship, but a friendship nonetheless of something unspoken prior to the trial. They are almost magnetically drawn together. Clues are revealed but each is not quite sure the other is absolutely a traveler. When Geillis confronts Claire after Ned says only one can be saved, she emphatically knows who Claire is. The heartbreaking recognition she is to die for nothing shows a range in actress Lotte Verbeek that causes emotional upset and trepidation. Her vulnerability and bravery shine. Claire refusing to denounce Geillis seals the friendship and their individual sacrificial choices. Claire is scourged. Jamie bursts in (though we have no idea who told him about the trial). Geillis for once shows humanity and compassion. She shows utter love for her friend, Claire. The confession is theatrical and raw. The damned have nothing to hold back. Out of fire’s presumed ashes Claire’s life springs forth under the sacrifice of Geillis and the protection of Jamie. Masterful shift in Geillis’ goal driven character.
The other relationship that heeds review is that of Claire and Jamie. His tending of her wounds, gentle, loving, and kind. The earnest honesty speech and agreement between the two, allows Claire to simply pour out the truth to him. She talks, he asks questions. In the end he believes all she has said. His realization that he beat her for trying to go home, back to 1945, guts and guilt him. He is teachable. He is open. Fans fall in love with Jamie Fraser even more now. New stronger bonds are forged where strands were tenuous. Geillis said in the thieves hole, Dougal was her true match. This scene shows how Jamie and Claire are very well matched and should be together. It is more than sex. It is more than marriage. Strength for strength. Tenderness for tenderness. Truth for truth. Life for life.
Claire and Jamie travel for several days, away from Cranesmuir toward home. Lallybroch she assumes is where he is taking them. The last night before the denouement, as they lie by the fire, Jamie awakes Claire with arousing touches. He seeks to memorize her, inhale her essence, see her in bliss, feel her heavy passionate breath upon him, to bring out her vulnerability, be with her in this most intimate of ways. He is connecting to her without his own desire being played out. He is preparing for something. His refusal to kiss her until he brings her to orgasm is purposeful with a delicious tension. I am in awe of the sex scenes and how well done they are. I cannot stop gushing about the chemistry and bravery of these two actors.
“Are you ready to go home?”, he asks as Claire is washing by the stream. Her full-bodied yes and smile are stunning. She has no idea what is to come. She thinks they are going to Lallybroch. Up the hill they walk, Craigh na Dun comes into her view. And we all tear up, or in my case start to ugly cry. Jamie has brought her to the stones to send her home. His sacrificial act again makes anyone who is not in love with him, fall hard. His character exposed in full sight. He is willing to send her away so she can be safe in her own time with Frank. He loves her that much. As Claire goes to touch the stone, he grabs her back for one more kiss, for a proper goodbye. Off to the camp he goes. She now much choose. Stay with the love of her life, with her true match? Or go back to Frank? Back to safety, security, and into something that feels less? One silver, one gold. Rings upon her hand. Her yesterday and her today. Wrenching beauty. Choice, her choice matters more now than ever before. This scene was handled with an exquisite subtlety.
“On your feet soldier”, she says to a sleeping and now very startled Jamie. She chose to stay. She chose the life she is supposed to lead. And we all cry again. Now their relationship can move forward in a real way. Nothing is left behind. All is forgiven. The knowing of each other can blossom and deepen. Simply lovely.
In fact, I think I will watch yet again. I give it a resounding A.
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