Earlier this summer, Katy Grace wrote a passionate plea to Outlander to include more women behind the scene, that what was lacking from the second season was female input. In her post, Katy pointed that in the thirteen episodes from season two, not one was directed by a woman. For a show that is based on a series by a female author, is marketed predominately to women, and has a strong-minded female protagonist, this data was disheartening.
That is why when I saw this..
…I screamed out, “Yasss, Queen!”
Is this episode perfect because it had both a female writer and director? No. However, it did give us well-rounded female performances and showcased the complex nature of women – something that really only another woman could honestly convey. It explored a woman’s strength, resilience, resourcefulness, fear, anger, sexuality, selfishness, and care.
While I don’t wish for men to stop writing or directing future episodes of Outlander, I hope that this was only the beginning of more women taking a larger role behind the camera, and I don’t mean literally hanging out behind the camera when Sam Heughan shoots a naked butt shot. However, I completely understand because yes, please.
Top Ten Moments of Outlander Episode 302 “Surrender”
1. The Hunt for Red Jamie
The title alone is a clear indication that this episode is all about the Redcoats’ pursuit of Jamie Fraser, and if we were still unsure about that, they gave us a wanted poster. Did anyone else get the impression that this rendering would be perfect on a label of barbecue sauce?
It’s been six years since the battle of Culloden and Jamie’s “escape” to Lallybroch. He’s a fugitive and clearly still considered to be a dangerous enemy to the crown, even though he has no clan or army to support him. His only support lies in his family, who is harassed by the Redcoats so frequently, it’s become part of daily life at Lallybroch: feed the chickens, collect some potatoes, see Ian arrested by Redcoats, milk the cow, and mend some pants.
The best part of this moment? When Ian’s being arrested and carried off to jail, he still rattles off chores to his son and the other boys LIKE A BOSS.
But for me, the part that made me cringe was the reveal of the infamous Dunbonnet. Listen, I know that Jamie’s been hiding in the woods for six years, and yes, he’s going to look rugged, but does he really have to have Julia Roberts’ 90s frizzed hair from Flatliners? And that leads me to my problem with this moment: we see his hair.
It may seem like I’m nitpicking but bear with me: in the opening scene, the Redcoat tells Ian and Jenny that the Dunbonnet is known by his resemblance to Red Jamie: red hair that he hides with a brown cap. When we see Jamie for the first time as the fugitive, his hair isn’t covered – it’s in full view for anyone, including persistent Redcoats, to see. If I was on the lam from the law, and I was called “Moleneck Julie,” I would be wearing an infinity scarf 365 days of the year.
Sam Heughan clearly conveyed Jamie’s broken spirit and damaged heart – in fact, he doesn’t even speak until fifteen minutes into the episode and even then it’s only minimal. His voice, his facial expressions and even his movements show us a shell of a man who has nothing left. Sam, this season clearly belongs to you.
But Jamie is still intelligent and isn’t careless. He knows he’s a wanted man and knows that he has a discernible mark. His hiding isn’t just for his own safety but for the safety of his family, and by having Sam look like he’s just trying to “find himself” in the woods, it doesn’t help convey Jamie’s shrewd nature and breadth of survival skills that helped him keep his family safe and evade capture for six years.
We Noticed That Too: Did anyone else think that it was unnecessary to have Jamie smell deer shit when the deer was clearly in his direct line of vision?
2. Claire’s Wet Dream
Well, it’s good to know that Claire Beauchcamp Randall Fraser Randall is like us: she also dreams about Jamie’s ass.
This scene broke my heart for Claire. Even though she has a man who clearly loves her lying right next to her, Claire’s heart and body still yearn for Jamie. Dream Jamie is still so sexually powerful, that she wakes from having an orgasm, which is the best way to wake up in my opinion. However when she wakes and looks over at a sleeping Frank, reality reminds her that the man who made her feel this way isn’t the man sleeping next to her.
The lack of dialogue and even Claire’s typical voiceover allowed just Caitriona Balfe’s facial expressions to perfectly convey Claire’s inner turmoil: How can you truly give yourself to another man if every fiber in your being, whether awake or sleeping, belongs to another? Can you ever move past that?
We Noticed That Too: The literal warmth of Claire’s dream is a stark contrast to the literal darkness of her reality. If I was her, I would try to go back to sleep.
3. Big Daddy Frank
In any other story, Frank would be the “good guy:” continuing to love a woman even after she fell in and continues to love someone else, helping support that woman even after she is pregnant with another man’s child, and even caring for that child. If this was any other story, the woman would realize that Frank loves her unconditionally, falls madly back in love, and is perfectly content with the rest of their lives.
Whether you look at it as unfortunately or fortunately, this isn’t that type of story.
For a brief moment, we are given a glimpse of what life would be like for Mr. and Mrs. Randall if there was no Jamie Fraser. They would be just a husband and wife, celebrating their child turning over by herself for the first time. But the ghost of Jamie will always be present in the Randall household, whether it be in the form of Brianna or in Claire’s emotional barriers.
But the reason I love Frank in this scene is that it doesn’t matter that Brianna is not his biological child.
It doesn’t even phase him that the child he is holding came from another man that his wife still loves. Frank loves Brianna, kisses her, affectionately refers to himself as “Daddy,” and doesn’t care what Dr. Spock says about his daughter’s growth. Frank is Brianna’s father. The child may have Jamie Fraser’s genetics, but she has Frank Randall’s heart.
4. Postpartum Deception
Outlander reminds us that men may be the ones “in charge,” but it’s women who get shit done.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the moment after Jenny gives birth to Young Ian. While men – in this case a teen with a pistol and a red-headed yeti hiding in a closet – are the source of danger, it’s the women who come in and save the day. Even after giving birth, Jenny remains calm and collected as she convinces the Redcoats that she lost her child, never once breaking under the pressure of having them mere feet away from her hidden brother and her newborn child. She also has the foresight to remind her brother to dig a grave in the family cemetery just in case soldiers search for a stillborn child.
But the real MVP in this moment is Mary MacNab, who selflessly confesses to a crime she didn’t commit – shooting the pistol at the raven – even if it costs her her freedom or even her life. She doesn’t hide or stand idly by as the Redcoats invade the privacy of a woman who just gave birth. In fact, Mary McNabb sought them out to make the confession, convincing them that she’s just a simple-minded, superstitious Scot when in reality she’s anything but.
We Noticed That Too: Even after giving birth, Jenny still cares about her brother getting laid.
5. Sexual Healing
In the spirt of women taking charge, it’s only fitting to give a round of applause to Claire, who finally decided to make her sex dream a reality. It was Claire who initiated the contact, and even her sexual position – the “cowgirl” – spoke volumes about who really was in charge of this moment. No amount of 20th century misogyny will change her or her sex drive.
But it’s her explanation to a sleepy Frank that made me frustrated about Claire: “I miss my husband.” Now here’s the question: who is the husband Claire is referring to? Frank or Jamie? In my opinion, she’s referring to Jamie, and my frustration lies in the fact that by using the title of “husband” to Frank, she’s manipulating his emotions, making him believe that she’s once again in love with him. The fact that she closes her eyes, never once looking at him during this moment just confirms to me that she’s not thinking about Frank but about Jamie.
This is a reminder that Claire isn’t perfect, that she has needs and can be selfish, and her actions do affect others, especially Frank.
6. “I’m Not a Boy, Not Yet a Man”
Anyone with a teenage child knows there is a precarious imaginary line that comes with young adulthood: teens want to be treated like adults but still act like children in that pursuit. This is definitely the case with Fergus.
We first see him childishly showing off the illegal pistol, boasting to Young Jamie and Robbie McNab that he should have been out on the battlefield at Culloden without fully realizing that people did die on that field. He antagonizes the Redcoats, not understanding that by doing so, he puts a larger target on the family. Even when he’s trying to protect Jamie by misleading the Redcoats, Fergus’ immaturity leads to his final confrontation with the Redcoats and it costs him his hand in such a violent manner, it’s a stark reminder that the soldiers show no one, not even a child trying to be a man, mercy.
But its when he’s recuperating from his injury that we see the man that Fergus will become. He doesn’t cry about the situation, which he has every right to. Instead, it is Fergus who assures Jamie that he will be fine and uses humor to show that “with one stroke, I became man of leisure.” It’s also Fergus who reminds Jamie that he’s not just the Dunbonnet. He’s Jamie F***king Fraser.
We Noticed That Too: This is the last time we will see Romann Berrux as Fergus, and it’s only fitting that his last moment on screen is making a stoic Jamie Fraser smile.
7. It’s Guy Love
Can we just take a moment to celebrate the other romance on Outlander this season? Jamie Fraser and Ian Murray.
First of all, Ian is continually arrested because of Jamie. Does he ever blame him or call him out on it? Nope. He just goes with the flow, shouting out chores for his kid to do when he’s gone.
However, it’s his brief discussion with Jamie that makes us realize that the one person left who really knows Jamie is Ian. Whereas Jenny is concerned that Jamie needs to sleep with a woman to get over Claire, Ian understands that Jamie is forever missing a part of him that he will never replace: his heart, which belonged to Claire. He’s nothing more than a shell of a man, waiting for who knows what.
It’s this moment, couple with the realization that the Redcoats will never stop looking for him, that forces Jamie to make the ultimate sacrifice: his freedom for his family’s wellbeing.
8. Friends with Benefits
This episode explores the complexity of sex, and for both Jamie and Claire, how it’s a way to escape their current situation. By closing their eyes, they can be together without actually being together.
It’s these two separate scenes that emphasize the difference between men and women, but I’m not referring to Jamie and Claire. I mean Frank and Mary MacNab.
In Frank and Claire’s sex on the floor scene, it’s real, raw, physical but lacks passion. For Frank, he cannot make love to woman who refuses to look at him.
He wants Claire to open her eyes, see him and only him. He wants a wife who is present in mind and in body. Claire cannot give him that, and Frank realizes that he cannot settle for second best. It was heart wrenching to see him finally acknowledges what he and Claire have been running from: Frank may be making love to Claire, but Claire is making love to Jamie, and nothing Frank does or time that passes will change that. As the episode ends, we see Frank and Claire still sharing a room but sleeping in separate beds, an indicator of their marriage’s future.
In stark contrast to this moment is the cave scene. Unlike Frank, Mary MacNab understands why Jamie closes his eyes – he’s not going to picture her while making love. She acknowledges and respects the bond he has with Claire, something Frank couldn’t do. Mary isn’t offering sex to Jamie to make him fall in love with her; she’s offering herself as way to make him forget, just for a moment, what has and what will happen, to make him feel whole again, even if it’s temporary.
As someone who openly complained that there wasn’t enough sex last season, I’m going to admit something right now that may be shocking: I loved the fact that they didn’t show us the entire moment and faded to black when Jamie and Mary kissed. The point about that scene isn’t about sex – It’s about Jamie coming to terms with his life without Claire. It was tender, intimate, and the balm that Jamie needed.
We Noticed That Too: The sweet way Mary wiped Jamie’s tear away when he leaned in to kiss her. If we can’t be Claire, can we at least be Mary?
We Also Noticed That Too: For a show that has explored the sexual stimulation of nipple sucking, they stayed far, far away from Frank acting like a human breast pump. I guess some people don’t think milk does a body good.
9. Claire’s Lean In
The 20th century world is changing around Claire – Ireland gained its independence from British rule and President Truman appointed Georgia Neese Clark as the Treasurer of the United States, the first woman to occupy that role. Claire’s world is changing too – with her marriage in crumbles, she devotes all her time to Brianna. However the pull to do more cannot be ignored, and being a mother and wife isn’t enough for Claire. She enrolls in medical school, where she quickly finds out that she’s one of two “outsiders” to be accepted. Once again, the patriarchal disdain for Claire’s desire to be more than just Mrs. Randall is more blatant in the 20th century than in the 18th century, leaving Claire even more determined to break the glass ceiling.
It’s this moment that we also meet the other outsider, Joe Abernathy, an African-American man who is subjected to a dramatic solo introduction followed by hateful stares. Although their interaction is brief, it’s apparent that Claire found a kindred spirit, united by their commonalities – being subjected to intolerance and refusal to adhere to societal mores.
We Noticed That Too: This scene also marked the return of Claire’s random voiceovers. Thanks, Claire. I needed your voiceover to remind me you wanted to be a surgeon when you were holding that butter knife. I thought you just wanted to cut a bitch.
10. The Arrest
It’s the third act of “The Frasers Fool the Redcoats,” as a clean-shaven, just got laid Jamie “visits” Jenny and is finally captured, letting his sister reluctantly collect the reward money.
Yes, the moment was a total setup, but it’s Jenny’s visceral reaction that shocks both Jamie and us. She was prepared to hide Jamie for the rest of her life, and witnessing her brother being dragged away to prison is not worth the price of those coins in the bag.
We Noticed That Too: So, I take it we have Mary MacNab to blame for Jamie’s bangs. Good to know.
Another Outlander episode done, and so far this has been the best season yet! We’ll see if this continues next week with “All Debts Paid.”