Albie Marber was an adorable Elias Pound.
Cesar Domboy and Lauren Lyle are a delight every time they're on screen.
The plot was stretched paper thin to last for fifty minutes.
Characters we're familiar with got personality transplants and started behaving in ways contradictory to their personalities.
Outlander’s sea journey continues. And continues. And continues.
This week’s Outlander Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) are separated again after Claire is kidnapped by the British navy. She wastes no time in making enemies by commandeering alcohol and harassing the cook by trying to find the source of the infection. Luckily she has the support of the captain and a young officer but unfortunately she isn’t able to work quickly enough to stop a whole lot more men from dying.
RELATED | Outlander Roundtable 3×09 “The Doldrums”
Meanwhile Jamie has been locked in the brig for going a little crazy when Claire is taken. He tries several different tactics to get Fergus to free him and none of them are particularly kind. He even uses Fergus’ (Cesar Domboy) love for Marsali (Lauren Lyle) against him before trying to blackmail him into freeing him by offering his blessing if he’ll help arrange a mutiny. However he will not be persuaded and tells Jamie it’s because he loves Marsali and fears for her safety alone if they’re unsuccessful that he will not help him. Jamie finally relents and gives his blessing after he’s released to help sail the ship.
Back on the man of war Claire discovers that the dude who set fire to the print shop is not only on the ship but he’s told the captain that Jamie Fraser and Alexander Malcolm are one and the same. Jamie is due to be arrested as soon as he goes to retrieve Claire. After the infection is under control (but not after her teen assistant dies, RIP) Claire manages to escape with the help of the woman who tends the goats aboard ship.
Hmmmmm. Well let’s really chat about this one.
Wait, we thought we were in the doldrums last week?
It seems that Outlander has given us another hour long episode in which about fifteen minutes of action has become an entire episode. Claire’s realization that the Captain knows about Jamie was that action. We understand that convenient plot twists are a part of the novels. So despite an eyeroll that the man who started the print shop fire was on the ship, we’re actually just going to ignore that because it led to the only plot point that happened this entire episode. Last week we gave Outlander a pass because the episode was called “The Doldrums” and we assumed the creatives were going for something thematic. Maybe we were giving them too much credit. It doesn’t get a pass two weeks in a row.
“I had been on the Porpoise for less than a day. Surely no more than fifty miles separated me from Jamie. And yet it felt nearly as far as the two hundred years. Still. I was glad he was not here, knowing he would not have been safe from the typhoid raging through the ship.” -Claire
What’s difficult about criticizing the show for this is that it seemed like nothing happened and yet there was some emotional payoff. Take the character of Elias Pound (Albie Marber). At this point we feel we know more about Elias Pound than adult Fergus. Was it necessary? No. But thank goodness it provided some emotional payoff so that the episode had one redeeming quality. Otherwise the show was manufacturing character traits it was unrealistic for them to have (we’ll go into this later) in order to kill time.
Why was this episode not combined with the episode prior? Did we need two episodes of fifty minutes for nothing much to happen? It’s not as if we’ve learned anything new about Claire or Jamie. Or Fergus or Marsali since we only saw five minutes total between the two of them. The characters are confined at sea but does that mean we’re stuck being bored with them?
Can someone find Jamie Fraser? Because we can’t.
Who are these characters? Because other than Claire being pushy we don’t recognize them. And that’s not because we’re book readers and want them to behave just that way. These characters behave in ways that are antithetical to themselves in the show. Take Jamie for example. The man was a military commander. He’s often praised for his brains. So why would an intelligent man propose four men mutiny? The chances they’d be successful are next to nil and even if they were- none of them are sailors. So how exactly would they find the Porpoise? Do you expect us as viewers to suddenly imagine Jamie has completely lost his brains?
“Set me free from this cell.Help me rescue the woman I love from her kidnappers. Until you risk all you canna speak to me of love.” -Jamie
Where exactly is Yi Tien Cho? Where are new Rupert and Angus? Oh. They don’t have a girl they love for Jamie to leverage so of course we don’t see Jamie speaking to them. This whole scenario was so preposterous we almost couldn’t watch it. Jamie isn’t stupid enough to propose a mutiny. And he certainly wouldn’t be so cruel to a man who for all intents and purposes is his son. The dialogue between them was relentlessly callous on Jamie’s part. Nobody is perfect and we could understand Jamie initially reacting that way upon learning Claire has been kidnapped. But he persists in this ludicrous fantasy.
Outlander needs to leave sexual assaults alone.
Way back in season one we praised Outlander for its treatment of sexual assault. Both an assault on Claire and Jamie were dealt with in sensitive and thoughtful ways. But those days are long gone. Outlander needs to stop defaulting to rape. It’s already in the source material too much. However even if you give it a pass for that, the show persists in adding it everywhere it can. Yes we know that in this case it was only discussed. But why? Why is this the ultimate backup? What happened to Outlander’s strong female gaze? We haven’t seen it in some time.
“What do you think would happen if I told him you tried to violate me on his dining table?” -Claire
Claire is even the culprit who perpetuates this narrative. As a woman who has experienced an assault for her to stand in front of the cook and threaten to accuse him of rape? Who would do this? Bolstering this narrative as something women do without conscience is disgusting. Especially given that it’s Claire! We were seething. It also made no sense that a woman who two episodes ago spent hours trying to save a man who almost raped her pulled a knife threatening to kill Harry Thompkins. Come on Outlander. This has to be a joke, right?
Not to just have one unnecessary sexual assault conversation the show also had to have a bunch of sailors talk about violating Marsali. Because naturally Fergus isn’t smart enough to know mutiny is stupid. Or maybe he doesn’t have the strength of character to persuade Jamie that mutiny is the most ridiculous idea ever? Yi Tien Cho couldn’t have talked him around? We couldn’t have had a scene where he tries to steal the keys and realizes it’s a ridiculous idea? We could’ve done without this.
Final Verdict: Last week we talked about Outlander needing its lucky rabbit’s foot. We can reuse that title and say it needs it now in a pretty bad way.
We were talking in a tongue in cheek way about hoping people brought their rabbit’s foot to see. When Elias Pound pulled out a rabbit’s foot our eyes nearly rolled back permanently. There was just no excuse for the molasses pacing this week. But really the character departures were truly the most egregious part. Who are these people? They’re not just flawed people making mistakes. They’re people who are acting counter intuitively to ways they’ve behaved previously. A smart man with military experience suggesting five men mutiny and take over a ship? It was filler of the worst kind.
RELATED | Outlander Review 3×09 “The Doldrums”
How did the Sir Percival Turner know it was Jamie who stuffed the dude in the cask of creme de menthe? Follow this: The excisemen find liquor allegedly smuggled. They randomly open any old cask of creme de menthe and it happens to have the exciseman in it? How did they find the liquor young Ian sold? We know the book isn’t the show, but in a show with too little plot and a whole lot of boring, where was John Gray? Where are Bree and Roger? Perhaps this episode would’ve been a good time to cut back to what they’ve been doing?
Who are these characters. They don’t really resemble Jamie and Claire. Jamie knows he’ll get Claire back in Jamaica so why is it necessary to bully Fergus into stealing keys? So they can dump his cousin’s wine off the ship to make it sail faster so they might be able to catch Claire’s ship? We could have countenanced this stupidity for one scene. Too bad it lasted the entire episode. And our hearts broke for Fergus who basically just sat there and took it.
The bright spot in this episode was unfortunately completely unnecessary but we’ve carped about the horrific pacing and lack of plot enough. Albie Marber was really delightful as the young Elias Pound. His was a sensitive and moving performance with enough wide-eyed innocence to immediately endear him to both Claire and us as the viewer. When Pound died we did feel badly and it was the only truly felt emotional content of the episode.
The writing for this episode just wasn’t up to snuff. Luke Schelhass incorporated a lot of history but didn’t understand the characters. Plot inconsistencies and character inconsistencies abound. Dragging out paper thin plot lines to create hour long episodes isn’t going to make writing any easier. This episode would’ve benefitted from being combined with the one previous. We also can’t help but notice that the return of threatening sexual assault reappeared with a male writer.
Claire leapt from the ship but since that came up out of nowhere we didn’t feel any tension and we’re sure she’ll be fine. We are curious about how they’re going to reunite her with Jamie. So hopefully the next episode won’t be worse because you really can only go up from here.
Comments and Questions: Please bring us to the next episode
- Jamie’s creme de menthe was smuggled. How did they connect that creme de menthe with Alexander Malcolm exactly?
- Where were Lesley and Hayes? Just having a fine old time after one of them was almost tossed overboard last week?
- Why exactly did Claire have so much influence with the captain? Surely the captain would listen to his cook at least a little?
- Fergus being the one who wanted to wait in his scene with Marsali was kind of cute.
- Three cheers for the chemistry between Cesar Domboy and Lauren Lyle.
- Why did Claire just spill her guts the minute she was alone with the only other woman on board the ship? And why did it take so long for her to meet her?
- Marsali was the one who got Jamie to see reason, and not his son who he’s known for much longer?
- Elias went down pretty quickly. Thank God we didn’t see him puking.
- At least we got to see Jamie call Fergus his son.
- We had a brief chuckle when Elias Pound was surprised by Claire’s cursing.
Outlander returns Sunday, November 26th, 2017 at 8/7C on Starz.
Bring on more drama, OutlanderClaire’s gone overboard, but we won’t! Join us next week for more Outlander roundtable fun, and check out our reviews where we dive further and further into Jamie and Claire’s world! You can also live tweet with us every Sunday at 8.
Outlander Review 3×10 “Heaven and Earth”