Outlander: Both Sides Now (1×08)
Synopsis: Frank desperately searching for his missing wife, while Claire tries to come to terms with her new marriage to Jamie. Claire is faced with an emotional quandary as a life-altering opportunity presents itself.
It’s hard for me to express how painful these episodes have been for me. I just have to say at the end of this mid-season finale I have to give a standing ovation to Ronald D. Moore in his interpretation of Outlander.
So let’s talk this episode. Safe to say there are a lot of episode spoilers in this recap.
We open on Frank in the police department. We learn that he has been searching for Claire this entire time she’s been gone, and it’s been about six weeks. In the department, a picture of Claire on a wanted poster is pinned up next to a drawing of a man who looks quite like a certain Mr. Fraser. Frank describes this man as the man he saw standing outside Claire’s window in episode 1.
Interesting that we now are getting parts of the story in which both Frank and Jamie are getting into the time traveling aspect of the story. The drawing is undoubtedly Jamie, and now we are left to wonder how Jamie managed to jump forward in time.
The episode itself is wonderfully bisected with scenes of Claire and Jamie becoming closer as a couple. From a picnic in the rain to a romp in the meadow, not only does Claire seem to be more and more comfortable around the highlanders, but also around her new husband.
During their picnic, they meet a name named Hugh Munro, a licensed beggar and a messenger who tells Jamie that a man named Horrocks could testify that Jamie did not shoot the Seargant Major and therefore can stop hiding and return to Lallybroch. It’s hard to say whether this Horrocks will be a trustworthy man as he seems to be an English deserter.
Meanwhile, Frank continues to search with Reverend Wakefield for evidence of Claire. Although Wakefield seems to try to help, offering suggestions, it seems even he too might believe that Claire has run off with another man. But, maybe it’s just so they can drop the classic Sherlock Holmes line, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. Constant TV drinking game: a jaeger bomb must be had whenever that line appears on a show.
Seriously could they have picked a more predictable line?
Anyways, as Frank struggles with whether or not he should leave Inverness and searching for Claire behind him, he is met by a woman in a bar who claims to have seen the man in the wanted drawing. She tells him to meet her at a suggested place and tells him to bring the reward. FRANK. HOW DID SOMEONE WITH A BACKGROUND IN SPYING NOT SEE THIS COMING?
The inevitable happens. The woman was obviously lying, and leads him into an abandoned alley where two men assault Frank for the reward. Frank lays a pretty brutal beating on them and nearly kills one of the guys before choking the woman until she tells him that it is all a lie.
It’s interesting that we see this parallel again between Frank and Black Jack. He takes no joy in the pain like Jack would. In fact, it breaks him down even further. Lost even further in his anguish, in the fact that he could have lost Claire forever, he’s a ghost of the charming man we met in episode one.
Claire, on the other hand, gets a first hand lesson from Angus on the proper way to defend herself after the camp is raided at night by thieves. They teach her to fight with a hidden blade in her boot. This comes in handy, as when Claire and Jamie go off together to have sex in the meadow they are interrupted by two English soldiers.
The soldiers, deserters as we later find out, hold Jamie at gun point as one attempts to rape Claire. Remembering the hidden blade, she stabs the man on top of her in the kidney and Jamie kills the man holding the gun on him in the skirmish. Despite now being safe from the danger, Claire goes into shock after killing the deserter.
The rest of the Mackenzies come, after being attracted to the sound of a fired gun, and witness the aftermath. Deciding that it would be too dangerous for Jamie to meet Horrocks alone, given that he is also a deserter and therefore can not be trusted, they agree that they should meet Horrocks with swords brandished, in case he gets any funny ideas.
In 1945 Inverness, Frank speaks to Mrs. Graham who tells him about the stones at Craigh na Dun and that for centuries there have been stories of people who have gone missing there. But the people have always come back. She pleads, much to Reverend Wakefield’s opposition, for Frank to stay and wait for Claire. Ultimately this story is what pushes Frank away from Inverness. Unwilling to believe in the possibility of time travel, he departs from the inn with leaving Claire’s suitcase behind.
However, as he is driving off, he passes by the fork in the road that leads him back to Oxford or towards Craigh na Dun. We’re not really sure if he’s wracked with curiosity or just hopelessness, but he gives in to the urges and drives towards Craigh na Dun.
Back in 1743, the Mackenzies plan to find Horrocks. Jamie asks Claire to stay behind with Willie. The air between the two is tense after the incident in the meadow. For Claire, this moment has reminded her of her original mission to run away from the Mackenzies and return to Craigh na Dun. As the men ride away and she is left with Willie, she is given a moment alone. Wandering through the woods and thinking to herself she happens upon a clearing and sees in the distance what Frank sees in the future.
The hill with Craigh na Dun at the top.
Reeling after the attack, she asks herself “I was Claire Beauchamp, then Claire Randall, then Claire Fraser. The question was, who did I want to be?” Claire makes the decision to run for the stones. In that moment she makes a mad dash for the stones. There is some great cinematic cutting of scenes as we see Frank at the stones as well, sobbing for Claire. Props again to the magnificent Tobias Menzies. I have seriously gotten attached to this character. Haters are gonna hate, but I am Team Frank until the end.
As Claire makes for the stones, with Bear McCreary’s dancing druids theme playing (unofficial edit here), I am pretty much on the edge of my seat. I’ll be honest, I know the bare bones of the story. Part of me knows that she won’t be reunited with Frank, but the other part of me wants her to so badly. This scene did not help.
She hears Frank crying out for her through the passage in the stones, and responds through time. It’s heartbreaking as she finally approaches the stones to bring her back to her own time. To bring her back to Frank and back to her life. It’s heartbreaking because she’s within an inch of accomplishing her goal, and is taken captive by redcoats.
Claire is brought to Fort Williams, and back into the claws of Black Jack. The pain of seeing the wrong Randall is fresh in my mind, but Claire is straight to action. Putting on a show for Black Jack, making him assume she is working for Jack’s benefactor the Duke of Sandringham.
However a serious blunder keeps her from freedom and victory, as she is caught in her lie and bound in rope by Jack who now can interrogate her in any way he wishes. Again on the brink of a rape, it seems like nothing will save her from the sadistic hands of Black Jack. And it seemed to me like a horrible way to end the mid-season finale, until the last moment when Jamie decides to pop in through the window with a brandished weapon in his hand.
God, this episode killed me. Personally, it was a hundred times better than the previous episode, which was already good. If I could give it a hundred stars I would, but what a great way to break off the season. Now I must get my book out and finally finish it before the show returns in April.
How did you guys feel about the season so far? If you were a book fan first, how does it compare? If you’re a tv fan, are you reaching for the book like I am?