MY Outlander Review – Eye of the Storm

A Finale of Two Halves, Some Far-Fetched Heroics, Geillis in Nutty Scottish Nationalist Mode and Some Sexy Foreplay. Contains SPOILERS.

From my perspective, this season’s finale was a bit of an anti-climax. Perhaps this was because the last two seasons finished with such strong episodes; or maybe because Season 3 was so enthralling at the start of the season that the final episode didn’t seem to live up to the very high bar these episodes had set; or maybe it was simply that in some places the story seemed slightly far-fetched even for a TV series which manages to carry off the time-travelling/Jamie as fantasy male storylines with such panache. And the fact that the fine raft of supporting characters was underused in this episode didn’t help matters.

However, we do catch a glimpse of Lord John Grey (David Berry) – he of the longing looks – and an even briefer glimpse of Fergus (César Domboy) and Marsali (Lauren Lyle). But even from this briefest of glimpses, it would seem Marsali is shaping up to be another Claire in the making despite her tender years. And it’s thanks to Fergus’s quick thinking in contacting Lord John, that the latter manages to get Jamie (Sam Heughan) from out of the clutches of Captain Leonard (Charlie Hiett) in next to no time while adeptly and most assuredly putting Captain Leonard (or Lieutenant Leonard as he keeps calling him) in his place.

Meanwhile Geillis (Lotte Verbeek) is in mad Scottish nationalist mode; and assumes Claire (Caitriona Balfe) has also heard about the so-called prophecy so believes it is she who is the one after her treasure. Then when Claire arrives at her house on the hunt for Ian (John Bell), Geillis goes into super paranoid mode, believing Claire is there solely to frustrate her plans for an independent Scotland. Not surprisingly, Claire is rather nonplussed by all this. As, I suspect, are some of the viewers.

When Geillis accuses Claire of being on her trail for the last 20 odd years, Claire proves she has, in fact, spent most of that time back in the future for the sake of her child, and proves this to a sceptical Geillis by showing her photos of Brianna.  Unbeknownst to Claire, this move puts Brianna’ s life in danger as Geillis realises that Brianna is the 200 year old child that needs to be killed for the prophecy of a Scottish king gaining the throne to come true. (And this isn’t even the far-fetched bit).

With both women pretending to be friends (and neither doing a very good job at the pretending part), Geillis has Claire shown to a guest room from which Claire later spots Ian being dragged away. (The servants evidently didn’t think that one through properly when deciding which room to stick her in.) Unfortunately, Claire also discovers she’s locked in the room, but not for long, as the newly released Jamie is soon at the rescue (of course he is) and breaks open the door.

While tracking Geillis and Ian down, Claire and Jamie stumble on some kind of generic voodoo/witch doctor festivity which reminds Claire of the dancers at Craigh na Dun. (Personally it reminded me of some stock scene you’d find in a 1950s’ movie, possibly staring Stewart Granger, or one of the James Bond films). Whether this is intentional misdirection or not, you assume that the dancers are all part of an elaborate ceremony by Geillis to help her go back in time and murder Brianna. So when Jamie and Claire are caught watching them, you imagine this isn’t going to turn out well for our heroes.

However, it transpires this little get together has nothing to do with Geillis but it’s just some incidental festivity where Mr Willoughby (Gary Young) and Margaret Campbell (Alison Pargeter) happen to be in attendance. In fact, as a soothsayer, it would seem Margaret is the guest of honour. And to top it all, Mr Willoughby and Margaret have fallen in love quicker than Jamie fell for Claire. (That’s quick). Having found true love and ditched her odious brother, Archibald (Mark Hadfield), not surprisingly, Margaret seems a lot, lot happier.

She also proves she’s no fraud in the second sight department. She only has to touch Jamie’s hand and she sees Jamie at Culloden; thereby also proving she’s different from most other straight women who, on touching Jamie’s body, would definitely be imagining something else.

When she touches Claire’s hand, she pictures 1940s’ Claire imagining the birdsong she was listening to was Jamie talking to her. But then Margaret seemingly transmogrifies into Brianna who, happy to see her parents, seems rather perturbed that she’s about to be murdered. This alarms Claire and Jamie, already unsettled by Margaret’s ability to see their past, but at this point Margaret’s pain-in-the-butt brother arrives. However, he does serve the rather handy purpose of informing Claire and Jamie about the prophecy, and it doesn’t take long for them to realise that the 200 year old baby that Geillis wants to murder is their own daughter.

Talking of murder, Mr Willoughby soon dispatches Archibald much to the general indifference of everyone else.  If anything, his corpse seems to add to the festivities. Meanwhile Claire and Jamie head for Abandawe, Jamaica’s answer to Craigh na Dun, where Geillis is about to murder Ian so she can travel back through the stones. (Again this isn’t even the far-fetched bit).

At which point there is a moment I did enjoy when Claire points out to Jamie that she might be drawn back through the portal and not be able to come back again. Now we all know how much Jamie dreads losing Claire but in true fantasy male mode, Jamie doesn’t hesitate to tell her that if something happens to him, Claire must follow Geillis back through the stones and save Brianna at all costs. (Sigh!) Then Claire and Jamie do that nodding head thing they always do to each other at a moment like this and then head off to deal with Geillis.

That’s followed by a truly shocking moment when Claire kills Geillis by almost decapitating her with a machete. Later, Claire realises that the dead body she inspected in Boston alongside Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson) must have been that of Geillis. It would seem in Outlander, it really is a small world. (Again this isn’t even the far-fetched bit).

Now reunited, Jamie, Claire, Ian and co are on the Artemis on their way back to Scotland, with Grey having used his influence to get Jamie’s warrant squashed.  Claire and Jamie use their well-earned downtime to do what they do best – shag each other senseless. This too is a great little scene, and is typical Outlander in that it mainly consists of foreplay, which, as we know, generally is non-existent in most other TV/film sex scenes.  Jamie, complete with that quirky, sexy look of his (another Heughan speciality), tells Claire how he’d like to shag her, Claire looks as if she’s more than happy to go along with what Jamie is saying for once and viewers empathise with her position.

However, this scene proves to be the calm before the storm, literally, as a major storm soon threatens to sink the ship. Claire, as usual, refuses to do as she’s told and goes up on deck, only – you guessed it – to be washed overboard. I know it would make for a much different series but at times you do wish that Claire would just do as she’s told for once. It would definitely make Jamie’s life a lot easier.

Then we see Claire descend to the depths apparently dead. For some reason, this scene was also used to start off the episode. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was an homage to Jamie seemingly dying in Episode 1 but for the average punter, i.e. me, you just wondered why Claire was in a coach, daydreaming of being dead at the bottom of the sea when her husband had just been arrested for a capital crime and she was off to try and engineer the escape of her errant nephew from nutty Geillis in ultra rabid nationalist mode. I just felt like shouting at the TV: Stop daydreaming and focus, woman. And while we’re at it, why did Claire go back and change? Surely time was of the essence and weren’t they on the road to Geillis’s when Jamie was arrested anyway?

But I digress because here comes the far-fetched bit and this is from someone who totally buys into the Jamie as fantasy male shtick. Despite the fact that the storm is almost biblical in its ferocity, Jamie jumps into the sea and firstly (and most importantly) manages not to drown but also jumps in more or less near to where Claire is drowning (handy) and then is able to swim to Claire among the sea’s murky depths like a heat-seeking missile. He then kisses her. I wasn’t sure if this was out of affection or an ingenious way to get some air in her lungs.

Once having reached the surface, luckily timing it so they are now in the becalmed waters of the eye of the storm, Claire nevertheless seems dead. However, as they are about another seven books in the series to go, one suspected that this may not be the case. And sure enough, Jamie and Claire end up, washed up on the shores of America, both fortunately alive and reliably informed that the rest of the Artemis crew are in the land of the living too (well apart from the poor sod who got washed overboard I suspect).

Of course, all fiction tends to be replete with consequences. It’s the nature of the beast. Look at Les Misérables – a novel set in a country the size of France where three people keep bumping into each other. However, it’ll be interesting to read Voyager and see whether it was because the story, as written, is more believable when read rather than watched on screen or because the writers had to leave certain aspects out or because they were too truthful to the novel or they simply had to fit so much into an hour of TV that made this season’s finale seem an episode of two halves as well as slightly far-fetched at times, even for a programme where there has always been an element of fantasy at its core, but one I’ve always been happy to buy into.

But on the whole I loved Season 3, and the first tranche of the series in particular was totally enthralling.  The recurrent characters such as Fergus, Marsali and Mr Willoughby were great. David Berry made you really feel for Grey and not begrudge, one iota, his love for Jamie; something I feared I might do when I heard about this new strand to the story.

As I’ve mentioned previously, there were some really stand out performances from some of the character actors in the smaller roles such as the comedy gold provided by Lorn MacDonald as Geordie and Nick Fletcher as Father Fogden, and not forgetting the exquisitely moving portrayal by Albie Marber as Elias Pound. Caitriona Balfe, as usual, proved she is one of the best screen actors going but this season it was Sam Heughan’s turn to shine, which he did to great effect, as he moved through the various stages of grief: where for the first half of the season he was called upon to play more or less five different Jamie personas.

So another Droughtlander is upon us and I have to decide whether I try and get a life or spend the intervening months just watching certain Outlander episodes on a loop. As usual, it’s going to be a tough decision!


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One Comment

  1. I loved this episode – with some elements lifted directly from the book and others modified to great effect -for example, Mr Willoughby and Margaret – liked them so much more on screen than I did in the novel. For me Season 3 has been exceptional tv and I can’t believe we now have a 9m wait for Season 4 – but at least we have got a little teaser trailer to keep us going. Thanks for all your reviews Maureen, I always look forward to reading them and you write them so quickly after the episode airs in the UK.

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