Random Musings on Episode 112 – Lallybroch
Though I respect the need to adapt the book to fit television, I believe it is important not to change the personality of the characters. For me, this episode really did a disservice to the character of Jamie Fraser.
I understand there is need to establish conflict for every story arc—but depicting Jamie as the self-important laird was not the way to do it. His character has always been humble and self-deprecating. To portray him in a self-aggrandized way made him see foolish and selfish. This was a very unattractive side of Jamie that did not exist in the book. He would have never taken Claire aside and rebuked her on how to behave as his lady.
I find in general, the writers are doing Jamie’s character an injustice. I tried to be patient and allow them time to let Jamie’s character be revealed. In the first half of the season, he was a background character and did not get the camera time to establish himself as the strong but fair, intelligent and sensitive man that universally draws fans to him. When he finally was allowed to be the focus, rescuing Claire from Fort William, it was too much “swash swash, buckle buckle” for me. It was overdone to the point where it became the cliché “damsel in distress” story. And though I very much enjoyed Episode 111 – there was too little of the heart-breaking dialogue that reveals Jamie’s inner turmoil.
Though I had hoped for more in the scene where Jamie and Jenny lock horns, it was acceptable. What failed to happen was any sense of warming between Jenny & Claire. Lallybroch is supposed to be the first taste of any kind of real home for Claire. She is supposed to feel she is truly a part of this place and Jamie’s family. Jenny is supposed to be the sister she always wished to have. I see no sense of that in this episode—and with the watch already appearing at episodes end, I don’t see that there will be time for that to transpire. Is the Watch taking Jamie there and then? I can’t see that they will leave him be, only to take him while Ian and Jamie are away on an errand.
There were too many flashbacks to the whipping. I did not need to see Brian die. Jamie didn’t see it. Why are we presented with story that Jamie didn’t see? It was unnecessary. Claire should’ve already had this story from Dougal who DID see it. I’m sick to death of unnecessary flashbacks that eat up screen time for more important things. I understand they can’t have constant conversation—but there is really not enough dialogue between the characters. I missed the “feeling each other out” between Claire and Jenny—where Claire made it clear that she had no idea that Jamie was “laird of this place” when she married him.
And as for “this place?” The set of Lallybroch was FAR too opulent for what Diana Gabaldon describes in the book. It’s decorated more sumptuously than Castle Leoch for crying out loud. If Brian was born in 1691 – how did he built a place built in 1702? I’ve seen discrepancies in the book that say Lallybroch was built in 1720 (that’s what’s on the lintel). Even so, then if Brian were 29 when he built Lallybroch, and died at 49—he had a scant 20 years to decorate the place. I think it was way overdone for my vision of Lallybroch. I had a much more homely place in mind. Lallybroch was never castle-like. It was a manor house, yes, but not a castle. I thought I would be able to accept what they brought to the screen—but they’ve made the estate look much more substantial than a sizeable farm.
I understand why Grannie McNabb was left out—but I really missed her character. They couldn’t leave little Rabbie out completely, as they needed him as the reason why his father betrays Jamie to the watch. But I think they missed an opportunity here for a better story. I really looked forward to Granny describing Claire as her “puir” daughter-in-law who had gone “saft in the heid.” And I felt the naked shot of Jamie was gratuitous, even if they wanted to show his scars to Jenny. I missed the red flannel knickers, too.
I missed Ian sizing up Claire and realizing that Jamie had married her for her mind as well as her attractive countenance. I wanted to hear him say that he knew it would take more than a mandate from Colum to make Jamie wed anyone against his will. I missed Murtagh arriving with their belongings and the jesting between him and Jenny. Doesn’t Murtagh need to be there later on after the Watch take Jamie?
There are only 4 episodes left and a lot of ground still go cover. I get that the writers have to boil things down to brass tacks. But I see so many places where the flashbacks could have been eliminated in favor of 3 minutes of dialogue that never got spoken. The pictures do not always speak a thousand words when we’ve seen them before and long for the words to be spoken. Some work and are necessary—like the one with Jenny being assaulted by Black Jack. But the ones of Jamie being flogged have LITERALLY been beaten to death!
Laura Donnelly was excellent as Jenny. She’s very well cast and up to the task of being the hard-headed heart of Lallybroch. They did a great job of showing her stubborn feisty side—and even her softer side in the scene at the cemetery. But the writers did not allow Claire to encounter that warmth and welcome. I felt a real need for Claire to feel a connection to Lallybroch and Jamie’s family. I did not get that, yet. I’m not sure how we can see that happen in the time to come. Perhaps they’ll just set Jenny and Claire to be a bit adversarial. Perhaps that makes better television? For me, knowing where the story goes, it does not. Jenny’s later treatment of Claire has to come as a sucker-punch after feeling she is her friend and sister.
But, I can deal with a more opulent Lallybroch. I can deal with a less developed Ian, and I can live without Granny McNabb. What it comes down to is Jamie’s characters. He is coming across as petulant and ego-driven. And then he has to be emasculated by Claire in her “come to Jesus moment” where she calls him on his ridiculous behavior. And I do miss her saying “You mean to tell me that you married me out of love?” and his “Have I not…just been…saying so?”
I think there was sufficient conflict available to this episode with Jenny & Jamie’s fight over Jamie’s misconceptions and the guilt over their dad’s death, the Rabbie McNabb business, and the redcoats at the mill. There didn’t need to be Jamie as “King Joffrey” lording over his kingdom. That was totally out of character, unnecessary and unacceptable. I wished there was more of Jenny and Claire accepting one another…and a little of Jamie and Ian as lifelong friends. And Jamie teaching his namesake not to piss on his feet. Some of this lightheartedness is necessary to further the characters and the relationships.
Once again. Taking issue with the way this is being adapted does not mean I am a book purist and can’t appreciate the need for translation to the screen. I’m not daft and saft heided. I just want the relationships between the characters to be sound. Jamie can’t come across as a total asshole. I miss the humility in him that would’ve come out in his talk about how Ian and he were lashed for their misdeeds. I’d have liked that better than a trip to the laird’s bedroom to see where his dad put his boots or kept his blade.
One thing I truly did love about this episode? The small gesture with the blue vase that is given to Claire by one of the tennants. That was a truly symbolic nod to the fact that Claire is supposed to have come home at Lallybroch. It’s too bad that she was made to feel so unwelcome by Jenny and that her husband became a buffoon there!
UPDATE after listeningt to Ron’s Podcast:
I can see that some of the issues I had are due to Ron’s inclusion of the scene inside the Laird’s Bedroom with the Viking sword. I do not give a flying fig about his nod to the TV show Vikings. I know a lot of Outlander fans enjoy that–but it’s got NOTHING to do with the telling of this story. Diana herself had to interject to tell him that there was no way that sword could have been handed down by his grandsire…Ron should’ve just cut that whole scene entirely. It did nothing to further the story and it took up precious screen time when they could’ve been establishing some kind of relationship between Claire and her in laws.
I heard Ron talk about how Caitriona had no story in the episode if they didn’t give her the outrage over Jamie’s pompousness. How about the storyline for Caitriona be trying to find some common ground with Jenny? Yes! There was conflict between the siblings…but there was also a sorting out things between Jenny & Claire that only came off as negative. If they had only had the dressing scene where Jenny gives Claire her mom’s earbobs and the boar tusk braceletts we might have had a moment of warmth between the two would be “sisters” and a feeling that Jenny was giving Claire her seal of approval.
I heard Ann Kenney talk about how they cut the scene of Ian and Jamie being made to clean the broch as part of Brian’s idea of justice and punishment. I am sorry they cut that–it would have done so much more for the development of all three characters stories/personalities than the scenes at Wentworth where Brian dies. That story should have been told by Dougal who saw it. Not by Jamie! He didn’t see it. Not his part of the story to tell!
I am also irriated with Ron’s insistence in using Jamie & Claire’s story to leave love letters for his wife. I love Terry and Ron. LOVE THEM. But they need to write each others some notes or buy each other some flowers. This story is not theirs. I’d like Ron to leave themselves out of it. Diana’s dialogue for Jamie speaks volumes for him, just as Ron’s does in his lovestory with Terry. I’m sure Ron wouldn’t want the necklace he wears to be altered to reflect one of Jamie’s lines instead of the words that are important to him and Terry. It’s exactly the same thing to those of us who know Jamie & Claire’s story. Don’t mess with perfection. When he does this, he is like the pompous petulant Jamie in this epsiode–I am the laird of the show…I’ll decide what changes to make for my own caprice. PLEASE STOP! I takes away from my appreciation of you as a professional. (He did it when he robbed Jamie of his moment in the sun at the wedding when Claire REALLY sees him for the first time in all his splendor…and Ron made it reflect how he views his own wife…it was Jamie’s moment. And one of my favorites!)