Claire Beauchamp: ultimate feminist badass
Jamie character development! finally!
Jamie and Claire have a truly sexy scene
Did we mention Claire was a badass?
Ill-advised attempt at making wife punishment comical
Droughtlander is over as Outlander comes back with a bang
We’ve waited over seven months for the return of Starz’s Outlander and the series finally returned on Saturday. During this hiatus, many fans grabbed a copy of the book in order to know what was at the other end of this long break in Outlander’s first season, but even then, no one knew just how good the return of the series to our television screens would be. Taking off from where the mid-season finale ended (with Jamie in Randall’s window with a pistol), the episode opens with narration from Jamie rather than Claire. Jamie and his fellow Highlanders rescue Claire from Black Jack Randall’s clutches only to turn around and punish her for disobeying him. Claire is outraged by Jamie’s brutal actions causing a rift between the couple until Jamie reforms his 1700s ways in favor of equality in his marriage with Claire. Was this episode worth the wait? We think it was and we’ll explain why.
1740s Feminism was a little different
While told from Jamie’s perspective, this episode is actually the most pro-feminism demonstration we’ve seen so far in the series. Jamie expects an apology from Claire for disobeying him, only to start one of the most emotionally intense scenes we’ve seen in the series, especially between the two leads. After such a narrow escape from the Redcoats and witnessing the physical and emotional degradation of Claire as a result, one would expect a more sensitive approach in the aftermath of these events, but the audience was surprised by the emotionally charged screaming match between the couple instead. Claire appropriately addresses her husband’s misogynistic tendencies (go Claire) and in fact the scene reminds us of their first argument in the woods in episode one, when Jamie follows her trying to escape and confronts her. Both of these scenes involve Jamie attempting to overpower Claire, both with his size and his gender, but in this episode, we see how the characters have grown and changed as a result of getting to know each other.
“Would you listen to me? No, no I’m only a woman. No, why should you pay any attention to what I have to say?” ~Claire
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe do such an incredible job with the emotions of this scene. They hold nothing back and the emotions are so raw, it’s almost uncomfortable to witness such an intimate argument between the couple. Instead of Jamie overpowering Claire, we actually see him break a little, blaming the situation on himself for being an inadequate protector of his wife, we see him thinking himself incapable of fulfilling his predisposed gender role and how this prospect affects him. It’s interesting to witness how ingrained gender roles are in this 1700s society and how Claire helps to combat these societal standards in Jamie’s mind. This scene is merely the setup for the character development we see later in the episode and this scene introduces the idea that Claire may be his wife, but she doesn’t have to obey him, and just because he is her husband, she can’t always hold him accountable to protecting her. This is the beginning of their understanding and trust in each other from this argument and resolution between them. This is the start of the equality in their marriage.
Bypassing some middle school flashbacks caused by the Highlanders ignoring Claire, the tone from the group of men towards Claire helped set up the audience understanding the time period we’re in as well as how the Highlanders risked their lives to save her. Yes, she was trying to thank them, but in their time and world, there was a tradition in which did things before a matter was settled: physical punishment. Some people knew this scene was coming and were very nervous to see how the show handled one of the most controversial scenes in the entire book series, but now, everyone can agree that this entire scene and its aftermath was handled beautifully by the production. Yes, that scene was done well, and not only because they decreased the brutality of the spanking as it was originally written, but because of how remorseful Jamie felt after doing so. The addition of Claire getting a good kick to Jamie’s jaw also helped to smooth things over for the audience, showing Claire wouldn’t just let this happen without a fight and that this sort of discipline was unacceptable to her (and to any modern audience). The spanking did, however, show Claire how necessary this punishment was in order for the Highlanders to return to their old selves around her, forgiving her for risking their lives, but it certainly doesn’t excuse it.
“I’m not sure who’s punishin’ who” ~Angus
Staging this scene as a sort of cat and mouse game, Jamie trying to pin down Claire in order to dole out her punishment, was perhaps a little too comically toned for the subject matter, but maybe that was the director’s intent. The music came off too light-hearted as if it were a fun scene, and yes, when Claire was throwing things at Jamie and screaming at him, it was kind of funny, but the entire situation was not. It does help, though, that Jamie got just as many injuries from this encounter as Claire did, proving the even ground these two stand on. Claire putting up such a fight against the spanking and causing rift in their relationship sparked a change in Jamie that is most important to their character and relationship’s development. While Jamie is already a quite forward-thinking and modern man for his time, there is still a lot he can learn from Claire and the ways of our modern world. Things don’t have to stay the same just because it’s what they were taught or what’s ingrained in their society. Claire putting Jamie straight the following night by now allowing him in her bed and later holding a knife to his throat in the middle of sex making him swear he’d never do it again ultimately made up for the imbalance of power in their relationship. After that, it was clear who had the control in their marriage and Caitriona’s performance of Claire during this episode of continuously standing up to sexism and misogyny was absolutely applause-worthy.
This is a man’s world
With new episodes brought new perspective with our first taste of Jamie narration. It was a fresh look from how we’ve seen everything in Claire’s 1945 point of view to Jamie’s, because we gain a real understanding of the time period and thinking. Some may have found it sexist to see a man’s point of view during what they view as domestic violence, but seeing things through his eyes actually brought to light a different way of thinking and viewing the situation that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We got to actually see what he was thinking through the camera work in the scene where he’s undressing to get in bed with Claire (who coolly rejects him), knowing what he wanted without the use of voiceover. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at how Jamie interacts with other people in the castle also brought a lot of other storylines to light such as the differing politics between Dougal and Colum or the ongoing advances from Laoghaire. We see that Jamie isn’t only dealing with his feud with Claire but also the responsibilities of his clan, his family, and his country. Not only that, but hearing his inner thoughts after the spanking scene allowed us to literally hear his character develop throughout the episode.
“I saw a rigid man bend. It made me mindful.” ~Jamie
After the punishment had been delivered, he thought everything was fine, but then he realized Claire wasn’t speaking to him and we hear and see him trying to work things out in his marriage, consulting with Murtagh, referencing his past, realizing what a horrible mistake raising a hand to her was. Had the narration been from Claire’s perspective, we would have been as outraged throughout the episode as Claire was, unable to see his remorse as fully as we get from his narration, the audience would likely not forgive him quite so quickly just because he made a vow to Claire. Seeing and hearing his struggles outside of his scenes with Claire reinforced the growth and strength in Jamie’s character that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Using the man’s narration for such sensitive material was a bold choice on behalf of the writer, Matt B. Roberts, but it definitely paid off as a result, allowing us to truly value the growth we witness in Jamie’s character throughout ‘The Reckoning.’
We can finally let out that sigh of relief that the whole spanking scene is over and dealt with, not to mention handled well by the writing of Matt B. Roberts. Who would have thought a Jamie-narrated episode involving disciplining his wife would show off just how fierce and straight-up badass Claire Beauchamp is? So many props to Caitriona Balfe for giving us such a fiery Claire in response to all the misogyny. She is such a perfect representation of a modern woman and is so strong and defiant I just want to applaud after her scenes. I’m also overjoyed that we’ve finally reached the block of episodes directed by Richard Clark. The way he works with the cinematographer to tell a story and really show off the landscape of Scotland is unparalleled. After the winter I’ve had, somehow Richard Clark has managed to make the snow look romantic and appealing. Though there were a few tiny snags in the fabric of this episode, it might actually be my favorite episode of the series so far. Despite the ill-directed music timing during the spanking scene, Bear McCreary’s score throughout the rest of the episode during pinnacle moments in the story shined through and made the series all the more epic. So are we okay with the hiatus having been so long? For what we got at the end of this droughtlander, I’d say Starz is forgiven.
Questions, Comments, Concerns…
- CLAIRE HOLDING A KNIFE TO JAMIES THROAT DURING SEX = THE ULTIMATE POWER PLAY
- Scotland politics made interesting?
- Can you believe Jamie had a chance to kill BJR and just PASSED IT UP?!
- Someone remove Loaghaire from the country
- Dougal drops his parental status in Colum’s face DRAMAAAAA
- Claire Beauchamp: role model status
Outlander 1×09 “The Reckoning” Review