That’s it. That’s my intro to this recap of “The Birds and the Bees.” Let’s get to it.
Top Ten Moments from Outlander 409
Sophie Skelton’s Acting
It’s true that we haven’t always been fans of way in which she’s portrayed Brianna. But it is also true that we’ve been able to admit that this season she has really come into her own, and the material that she’s had to work with has been far better. Instead of Bree being a petulant child, intent on hurting her mother (whom most of us love as the protagonist of our story), she’s become a strong and independent young woman. But the opening scene of this episode highlighted how far she’s come as an actress in a very visceral way. Her pain, the way she she shakes, her movement and temerity all speak to an actress who is using everything she has to convey her trauma. The tender and tentative way that you see her get into bed. Her reticence to be near any man, especially the ones who might have been witness to her assault. These were choices that Sophie made (and based on interviews, researched extensively on her own), and they were flawless.
Sometimes there are changes from the book that make more sense, and that change the flow of the plot – why things might happen the way that they do, and I end up liking them better. In the novels, Roger leaves Brianna to go find the gemstones that he knows Bonnet has, not knowing how long that might take or when he might return. Instead, we see Roger making Brianna his first priority, gemstones or anything else be damned. He is intent on coming back to her, and is only prevented from it by the other pirates and Bonnet physically blocked him. Sure, he could have asked really nicely for a real quick chat with his lass before they sailed, but then where would the plot be?
Also this scene was a hefty reminder that Ed Speleers is doing the heavy lifting in every single scene he’s in.
I’ve long believed that the most annoying people in the fandom are the ones who can say without thoughtfulness … “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it,” every time we have something to criticize. What those folks are missing (other than the etiquette of fandom and how to avoid being total assholes) is that those of us who have the nerve to say some things about the show aren’t being done well still watch because we have an affinity for the source material that makes us want the show to be the best it can be. We aren’t book purists by any means, but some things are iconic to the books and need to be seen in all their glory … even if it’s through tears. Brianna and Jamie first seeing one another while he pisses on the side of a building is one of those moments. And let’s not forget that part of what made this scene so good – from start to finish – beyond Sophie and Sam’s acting was the fact that the writers left it intact. In emotional moments, you really don’t do better than Diana’s dialogue.
The second time I watched this was with the captions on and the sound off (airport), and I was still crying. THIS FACE. Sam has been giving us great face since the very first season, but even so there are times when I don’t see Jamie in that countenance. Not so here. If I hadn’t already been crying through this scene, this look on his face would have set me off. JAMIE FRASER laying eyes on his own flesh and blood, the beloved daughter that he has protected since before she was born, was too much for me to handle. Sam deserves all the awards.
THIS FACE TOO
Did I think I was crying before? I wasn’t crying until I was crying momma tears for the Claire and Bree reunion and for Jamie seeing his wife embrace his daughter for the first time. GUYS. The pain of their twenty year separation is brought to fore with moments like this one that transcend what happy families experience in reunion and otherwise. Right now, I’m sitting in an airport with one daughter, waiting to go home to see the other, and I doubt I will shed a tear when I see her, even though it’s been days and I miss her a lot. I KNOW I will see her; I KNOW she will be whole and healthy; I KNOW she will look the same as when I left her. Imagine all of Claire’s UNknowns. Crying momma tears again. Also, I love that Jamie is personally offended by the printer’s shoddy work.
Wee Young Cousin Ian
Ian is finally back, and to great effect in this episode. Happy to meet his new cousin, he doesn’t even have to try to find his empathy, his familial connection or his protective streak. The native American touches on Ian’s costuming are a glimpse into what he is coming to value and into the man he is becoming.
Fraser Family Dinners
The family unit aspect of this episode is keenly felt. Jamie is not the only one who would prefer to see them all together on the ridge, cabin after cabin, doing all the #ridgeshit he can muster. Part of what makes this episode work so well is the ease with which the audience can envision all of them in this space together, getting water at the creek, sharing jokes with Murtagh, feeding goats, making poultices. There is an endless array of togetherness and it’s a balm to the soul of the Frasers, and to the audience – who might be beleaguered by all the trauma that the characters have to go through.
Jamie’s conversation with Bree as they hunt is also one of the moments from the book that I was ecstatic to see left intact. Clearing the way for her to understand that he does not resent Frank’s place in her life, that he in fact is grateful to him is necessary to letting Frank no longer be the sainted one he often appears to be. The things that Jamie has endured over his life – the torture and rain and enslavement and imprisonment and more – all pale in comparison to being robbed of raising her. Can we let Jamie Fraser be the besotted father just a little while longer? I wonder if we will ever see him so completely contented again – like ever. The ones he loves in one place, finding his own face and his own mannerisms in the sleep of his long lost daughter. Seeing his pride in having her with him, by his side as they hunt and by his wife as they do the most simple tasks is so refreshing and hard won. He deserves this peaceful interlude.
Claire in full motherhood
I often forget that Claire raised Brianna and that they are meant to be truly close. Small moments like these remind me of what a MOM Claire is. I have two daughters, and I don’t want to begin to understand the powerlessness of the conversation that Claire has with Brianna about her rape. As much as I wish that this plot line had been abandoned altogether, it wasn’t and at least Claire reacts with the proper horror that rightly accompanies that kind of declaration and without the victim blaming that shouldn’t.
Jamie in full fatherhood
Jamie’s sense of protectiveness has been cloaking Brianna since her conception. He is a fiercely protective father, in ways good and bad, and above all else, this is his character trait that makes him the King of Men. As difficult as it was to watch him beat a man to an unconscious meat sponge, it is this type of ferocity that is born from his sense of honor that we love about him on the page.
This episode had all the goodness that this section of the story requires. It made me cry AND it made me happy. We are still postponing Hangoutlander in favor of having good new year. We will see you soon!