Choosing to Love…A Look Ahead to Outlander Episode 2×06   48 comments


I’ve read quite a few reviews since Sunday afternoon and quite a few fan reactions.  I’d be quite interested to hear Ms.Gabaldon’s take on what some fans see as a misstep in the characterization of Claire as a meddler.  My initial take was that it was different than the book, but not totally inconsistent.  In fact, given the amount of meddling both she and Jamie are doing this just seemed like a natural progression to the request she eventually makes of Jamie. I thought they did a wonderful job of showing her regret and uncertainty. None of this is sitting well with her.

Read more after the jump!

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I’ve heard several fans say it seems awfully selfish of Claire to hurt Jamie over a man she doesn’t intend to return to anyway, a man who is, as one reviewer put it, her “boring husband”.  I find this pretty poor logic.  This isn’t some random guy we are talking about.  This was her husband and a man she loved and to some extent still loves. She didn’t have a bad marriage, she wasn’t looking to leave him  As Frank said in episode 2×1, “I knew deep down you would never have willingly left me.  Something had to have taken you from me…”  She did in the end choose to leave him, but he is correct in believing that she was torn from him by unforeseen forces.

Ms. Gabaldon did not present Frank and Claire’s marriage as a bad one.  On the contrary, Claire had always maintained that she loved Frank and that he was a good man. Lots of fans will argue that the more we know of Frank the more there is to dislike, but personally, I’ve come to believe there is much we readers just don’t know yet. I’ve always asserted that Frank’s biggest sin was simply that he wasn’t Jamie.  Instead of juxtaposing  a bad relationship with a good, the author showed us the difference between good and …something more.  My point is that even though he isn’t her one true love, he also isn’t just some guy she left behind.

It is a fairly compelling dilemma.  Claire has knowledge of future events.  Does she then just say,”Oh well”?  Add to that the people that she is trying to save are not unknown to her.  She lived with the highlanders and their families.  Is it so far beyond the realm of reasonable belief that she would want to try and save the people she loves and cares about?  Selfish?  If so, then I’d be willing to bet most of us would be as selfish as she.  I’d like to believe that I would make the noble choice, but I have my doubts.  This is one of those times I really wouldn’t know what I would do because I’m not in that situation.  If you were in Claire’s shoes you might find yourself leaning toward a more selfish choice too.

And Jamie, I’m amazed at the amount of fans and reviewers who are willing to give his behavior a pass.  Bless his little honorable heart he was going to get the chance to kill Randall and how dare Claire try and stop him.  Vigilante justice?  Justified murder? Revenge?  Getting himself arrested and leaving his pregnant wife to fend for herself when he knows she has enemies?  All this is okay, but Claire asking him to spare Jack’s life for a year is not?  We hurt for him, but it doesn’t make his playing God any better than Claire’s attempts to save Frank.  And, don’t even get me started on the if Frank doesn’t exist would she have ever gone to the stones in the first place because I think my head might actually explode from thinking too hard!  LOL!

I was surprised at how many reviewers got stuck on Claire’s meddling, yet missed the point.  I was even more surprised that critic Libby Hill of the LA Times, who  I believed had made up her mind to dislike the series, was the most insightful.  She was the only one to truly address that fine line between hubris and desperation. In her article entitled, “Jamie and Claire Play God Poorly” she says;

…As the series hinted in “La Dame Blanche,” the choices Claire and Jamie are forced to make about changing the future are getting more complex, making it far easier to wander from the path of virtuousness….

What Claire knows, or believes she knows, is that Frank Randall is the direct descendant of Jack Randall and Mary Hawkins. She saw as much in Frank’s genealogy records back in the first episode of the series. It’s why she interferes with Mary and Alex’s relationship and it’s why she begs Jamie to temporarily spare Captain Randall’s life. All of it is to try to protect the existence of a man who has done nothing to deserve his life being summarily snuffed out by ghosts from the past.

This is the Fraser family’s new reality and the price of playing God. You want to decide who gets to live, who gets to die and things inevitably get messy. The tragedy of it all is, given the flashback/flash-forward that began season two, whatever Claire and Jamie do, they’re successful in protecting Frank’s life, yet the two of them won’t realize it until it’s far too late.   Libby Hill, LA Times

She recognizes that playing God may, in the end, destroy their marriage despite their noble intentions.  They are good people doing bad for a good reason, but ultimately their good intentions are paving the road to their own hell.  Their hubris will lead to nemesis. Mrs. Gabaldon has never pretended to be an expert in time travel even though she once did present her theory to a group of scientists and the story has always been about relationships and the time travel element was an interesting complication, not the focus. However, right now it appears to be a big complication and one that is causing our characters to act out of character.  It is making for some very interesting TV.


Episode 5 ended powerfully with a tearful Claire reaching out to Jamie only to be told not to touch him in a voice seething with rage.  The fact that Jamie doesn’t storm out was powerful.  In fact, it has left me hopeful that the writers are going to follow the books lead and let Jamie spend the night thinking. Sometimes relationships endure and heal because someone chooses to love despite being hurt.  I want to see Jamie choose to love. This relationship needs more time and nurturing if the scenes that follow are to be believable. Trying not to worry.

The previews look different than the books, but wow they look intense.  So, I’m strapping myself in for a bumpy ride and restocking the tissues and whisky!

Posted May 11, 2016 by bethwesson in Outlander

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48 responses to “Choosing to Love…A Look Ahead to Outlander Episode 2×06

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  1. Love the review…and …don’t worry 🙂

  2. Great preview – thanks! I’ve never understood the line “I knew deep down you would never have willingly left me. Something had to have taken you from me…” She did willingly leave him when she made the choice to stay. Perhaps that’s semantics but it’s what happened. She had a chance to return and she – willingly – chose to stay. That sounded like a rationalization from Frank to justify why she left. Because, to me, she most certainly did make an active choice to leave him behind.

    • When Claire was presented with the opportunity to go though the stones by Jamie, she had no idea how the stones worked. She knew that the trip was horrifying and could have killed her and she had no guarantees that another trip through the stones would actually land her back in 1945 where she came from. She could have gone back another 200 years to the 16th century. She assessed what she had where she was at the moment – a deep and powerful love for Jamie and she was not willing to risk losing that for the gamble of traveling through the stones again. She did not leave Frank. Circumstances beyond her control put her into the 18th century and there was no guarantee that she could get back to her own time.

      • She could have tried to return but she didn’t. She could have stepped through those stones and made an attempt but she did not. She worked through her options and decided to stay, knowing it meant leaving Frank forever. And as we see in 201 she did return, so it’s likely that had she wanted to return to Frank when she had the chance to she could have.

        To me, no matter how it’s spun, she made an active choice to not return to her husband. It’s an uncomfortable realization for both Frank and the audience, but there it is.

      • Agree

      • I don’t buy that at all. She was going to make that trek before. She says why she didn’t leave (at least in the book). She couldn’t live without him not she was scared to go back through the stones.

    • But not one she deliberately sought is how I took it

      • Not until she took deliberate action to make that choice. What you say is true and I understand your position For a long time I tried to rationalize this choice as ‘out of her control’ but then realized I needed to face the uncomfortable truth – when faced with the opportunity to return to her husband she chose not to. She deliberated for hours over the choice and came to the decision to stay, after long and careful consideration. Even if she didn’t seek leaving her husband, in the end she did just that. The guilt of that choice plays into many of Claire’s decisions.

  3. Wonderful review as usual! I try not to think about the time travel issues too much as well! lol As a long, long time Star Trek fan, I’ve learned it’s best not to think too hard on the paradoxes that time travel creates. I loved the final scene in this episode. It differs from the book scene, but I think it’s just as powerful. And imo, the main thing remained the main thing. Jamie is furious, dumbstruck, and still…his love for Claire is there and, I’m thinking, makes his anguish all the more heartbreaking. He doesn’t leave the room. He doesn’t abandon her, but yet, he doesn’t want to be near her. That tension was fabulous! Claire’s meddling bothered me a bit, but not enough to worry me. I keep telling myself that the non-book readers need to see things in a way that will make the story move ahead for them and keep them interested. Those of us who have all of the knowledge gleaned from the book series should just smile knowingly to ourselves and enjoy the moment. We know it will all work out. We know what lies ahead. And I hope what lies ahead is the announcement from Starz that we get at least 2 more seasons! Come on, Starz!


  4. Claire, woman of science that she is, seldom has logic as her strong suit in her actions. Her heart can tangle up her mind.

  5. Great interpretation of Episode 5! We can’t expect the writers to follow the books exactly, but they’re doing a damn fine job!

  6. Great review!

  7. Clearly neither Jamie nor Claire understands how the timeline works, what can and can not effect outcomes and the ramifications of their attempts to change history. Yes, their motives are coming from a place of trying to save those they love in both centuries, but with every action they take, there is a consequence that is unpredictable. I have never had a problem with Claire asking Jamie to postpone his confrontation with BJR until history, as it was intended, played out insuring the birth of a child that would be Frank’s ancestor. I think in her desperation she handled it badly. Claire tries the most obvious argument first; “Dueling is illegal, it could land you in prison or worse and that would leave me and our child unprotected.” The higher responsibility is to safeguard his wife and unborn child. (This should have been enough if Jamie were thinking rationally.) Playing the “you owe me a life” card was a bad way to go. Had she thought it through she would have told Jamie that if Frank is not born, then she would not have married him and ended up at the stones in Inverness which ultimately brought her to Jamie. That would have given him pause and would not have been a power play on her part which he sees as a betrayal. My only criticism is the interference with Alex and Mary. That is where she comes off as selfish and disingenuous. How does she know that this is not what history intended? Why should their happiness and destiny not be as important as Frank’s. In this scene she betrays people she supposedly cares about and that is where I have an issue. That is out of character. As we will find out, she was wrong in her assumptions and hurt these two young people unnecessarily in this TV version. Book Claire is a true friend to Mary and Alex because she thinks BJR is dead when all of this happens. By setting things up so that Claire knows early on that BJR is alive brings us to this dilemma of what to do about Alex and Mary’s intent to marry. I think having her meddle in that relationship is what has even book fans disliking TV Claire. TV Claire has been written to be bossy, pushy and unsympathetic which is why both book fans and TV series fans are not liking her very much this season.

    • The only thing I liked about the “meddling” (Alex) scene is getting to gaze at his beautiful tricorn. But, as a book reader, thought, all will be well. Much of what you write, Kathy 1948, syncs very nicely with what I think.

    • Yes, and I am surprised that honorable Jamie didn’t respond to her “you owe me” by pointing out that he had’ saved her life on at least two occasions when she had disobeyed his orders by going somewhere he had warned her not to:1. the witch trial, and 2. when she ran to the stones and was captured. The latter put Jamie and his men in danger and exposed him to BJR and intensified Randall’s revenge. Gather Jamie’s code of honor so strong he acquiesced, at least for time being. I know when Randall gets his in the books, but just think Claire, always mouthy, tho usually admirable, was less so this episode with her meddling and “playing God” as one reviewer said. That said, dearly love this show and appreciate that it brilliantly portrays the bad along with the good in a great marriage. The tensions along with the passion.

  8. Brilliant, insightful review!

  9. I agree with Kathy1948…DG didn’t like that scene either (Facebook comment). Isn’t it curious that book Claire is frequent tossing her cookies and fainting…somehow seems more physically vulnerable in pregnancy. She is a lot tougher in the series, even physically.

  10. Love the comments and review. I, too, disliked Claire’s meddling with Alex and Mary and the tack her rationale took with Jamie, which did seem a betrayal of him. Jamie and Sam just so d..n appealing. Afraid I started thinking her actions may be setti g in motion or contriburing to Culloden.

  11. Reblogged this on My Outlander Blog! and commented:

    This week’s Outlandish Anticipation Post is up!

  12. I too want to see that they help Jamie choose love! I always, always enjoy your take on things!


  13. Does anyone remember a few years ago, that a group of female stars were given the opportunity to direct short stories? Jennifer Aniston was one of them. Her story involved, if memory serves, a couple who was facing an end of life situation in the hospital. One of the younger family members asked how the older couple had managed to stay together for so many years. The reply was that they “stayed in the room”. In other words, they stuck with it, didn’t run away when things got tough, didn’t take the easy way out. I love that Jamie ‘stayed in the room’ both literally and figuratively and wonder if Mr. Kahan saw the short film.

    • Wonderful Sharon!

    • Wow. This is beautiful. And so applicable to Claire and Jamie!

      • Really like what was written by Sharon and as a person married for over 25 years – I agree. I sometimes get tired of people getting angry over the deviations from the book. In my opinion, they are necessary. Sure, other choices could be made but then some people would get angry about those. I am loving the series and loving the books.

        When it comes down to it, I would side with Claire. I would make choices to protect those I know and love. As she said in episode 5 – Frank committed no crime against Jamie or her.


  14. Beth, I so enjoy your reviews, comments, etc on Outlander. As I read the comments on this post it occurred to me that we book readers have so much angst about how the TV series presents “our” story because we, just like time-traveler Claire, know how everything turns out. And just like Claire, it makes some things harder to accept. Perhaps the non-book reading viewers have the advantage in being able to enjoy the show without the comparisons.

  15. Maybe I’ve missed reading this somewhere in various posted blogs and comments, but no one has mentioned another reason Claire is so convinced BJR is the ancestor of Frank aside from seeing the family tree – they look exactly alike. Even in the book series DG writes BJR as a Frank look-alike.
    Which also leads me to a question I’ve had ever since reading the books – how on earth did she manage to go back to Frank and NOT see BJR every time she looked at him. yikes!

  16. Thanks, Beth, for another fabulous review. I love your perspective! I’ve read all the books. Diana, the master of words and story, is a writer of length and substance. I love this about her. I have to go back several times – chapters – to reread about details and characters. I do this often. She has created so many characters – I would like to think I have them down. But as with any great read, each time through brings new perspective to the storyline. Ok, that being said, translating to TV must be very tricky. Because we book fans want our story told as we envision it – and that changes each time we read a book! (I am going to interject my reading of The Shell Seekers – I’ve read it numerous times and each time, I come away with a totally different perspective). Surely, Season Two of Outlander has its changes. But I am so amazed that with each episode, with its changes, the main story is still there. With the beautiful fullness of character, Jamie is as strong and fierce as the book Jamie. Claire is meddling, in her way, same as book Claire. Why shouldn’t she meddle? She knows stuff. And Jamie trusts her. Yes, he is really angry with Claire about her wanting to save Frank (which means saving BJ) – I didn’t like it in the book and I don’t like it on TV. But the truth is, Claire really did love Frank. He was kind and loving and trying to make their marriage work after being apart through the war. That scene where he is going to meet the Reverand and Claire reaches up to take his hand is lovely. The is no doubt at that time they love one another. I am totally trusting in TV Outlander. It consolidates a lot of a Book Outlander – in the best way! Each character is shown to us with their strengths, their weaknesses and doubts. It is all I wanted in Season Two. Please, let’s all hope that there is Season Three!! Thank you, Beth, for your fabulous words. You put a lot of emotion into your reviews. Much more than I can say – but exactly what I want to say!

  17. Great review, dear Bess!!! Really interesting! I keep thinking Claire choosing Jamie has been the easier choice. Someone remembers yet Frank in S1 Ep. 1? A great man, literate, sensual, ineresting, in love, with a future. Very challenging. More easier handle Jamie than Frank. And Jamie was so disarming. Great characters all of them, each one in their own. Diana Gabaldon, a genius

  18. You are quite right Beth.Frank’s only sin is he is not Jamie. I have read the full Outlander series and Jamie’s only purpose is to provide sex for Claire, on demand, and to whoever else (BJR, Lord John, Mary, Geneva, etc, etc). He is shown to be nobody of importance, has no title, no land, no wealth. Claire cetainly lusts for him but loves Frank. This is made clear in many instances, she will sacrifice Jamie at any turn in favour of Frank and/or his ring. I envy Claire, having sex in the one life and love in the other.

    • Wow…don’t agree . I think Claire’s loving Jamie is way more than great sex! I believe Jamie (book . J at least) is one of the most deeply complicated men I’ve ever read and I totally get why Claire would love him.

    • Are you reading the same books? Jamie is not an objectified man at all in the books. Despite all that happens to him he remains a man of honor who will do what he must to protect his family and Claire. He is a born leader (a laird) no matter where he is. Lallybroch, Ardsmuir, leading men in battle. The connection that he has with Claire transcends time and space. He could never connect with another woman during their 20 years of separation and when she realized that he had survived Culloden and saw the possibility of being with him once more she chose to go back to him, leaving their daughter Bree behind in 1968, because her life was incomplete without him. If that isn’t a deep and complex MUTUAL love I don’t know what is.

  19. I love reading your blogs because they are SMART and well-written!! My reaction to Starz Outlander, the books and your blog (because it’s the only one I read) is that at the bottom line it is meant to entertain. In a world that at the global level is filled with greed and hate (but not at the community level), Outlander in all its forms has been a great place for me to get LOST!! My favorite is listening to the books on my long commute. But the goal is to entertain, just like Grey’s Anatomy, which I onced loved, and Game of Thrones, which I don’t watch because I can’t afford HBO. This season I have been struck by Sam Heughan’s acting, even more than the first season. I thought the first season was carried by Caitriona. I loved Sam/Jamie in the last two episodes. I loved the last episode when he got so worked up that spit flew from his mouth. I was totally caught up and for a few moments I forgot how scared I am about the world right now.

  20. Reblogged this on andreastam.

  21. Did you happen to see Diana G’s response, which she posted on HER FB page, to a fan who asked her what she thought of the conversation between Claire and Alex? Quote, “I didn’t like it.” Straight from Herself. I’m not sure what they were thinking. This made Claire unnecessarily cruel, and really, and after basically being told you are sickly, unemployed (read poor husband material), you need to forget about Mary, she deserves better than you and she will get over you in time, I’m her friend, which is ultimately more important that the fact that you two are in love, does it make any sense for Alex to say gee, thank you Claire, I didn’t even think of that, how silly of me, how wonderful for Mary to have a friend like you, I’ll just go with it? What young man in love would just take that advice at the word of a person he barely knows and not say, uh.., wait a minute, I’m going to discuss this with Mary myself? The good thing is that we know what happens, so despite Claire’s selfish and undermining meddling, he doesn’t forget about Mary, as Claire will embarrassingly find out. Otherwise, I liked it pretty well. Hope that as your article says, that we get resolution as we did in the book, after Jamie has time to think about things.
    We’ve said it before, but I am very concerned that because we didn’t close the circle on the PTSD in season one, that we are having Jamie and Claire so uncharacteristically angry and at each others throats so much that I don’t know how they can accomplish anything, and it is REALLY getting old. Just as you mentioned in last weeks review that is there no place else that they can meet besides the brothel? Please.

  22. I believe it will all work out. As a book reader I felt episode 205 had a lot of foreshadowing. I think that it was hard for Claire to tell Alex those things and will be surprised when it works out the way it is in the book. I have faith it will not deter too much from the book. Essentially it has stayed with it . Love your blog and assessments Beth ! Thanks

  23. I think Claire is trying to stop Jamie from doing something that will have serious consequences in their lives.I do not think she is being selfish, but she is instead protecting Jamie from being convicted for a crime which might cost him at least the rest of his life in prison. That is precisely her first request. When she sees this is not moving him to change his mind, she asks him to think not only about him, but his wife and unborn child; that did not move him either. Her last resource was to ask it as a debt payment. When she ask for a year is not only to assure Frank’s future, but also as a hope that, in the meanwhile he might change of mind. killing a british officer was a severely punished crime. He barely escaped from the “noose” during Season one and she does not want, by any means that fate for her beloved husband.

    Helena A Alfonzo
  24. Thanks Helena for saying that! Also, Claire is an honorable person like Jamie. If Jamie killed BJR, he would kill Frank – essentially 2 people. Knowing that Jamie would have killed Frank, that would have definitely drive a wedge between Claire and Jamie…because Claire already feels semi-guilty for leaving Frank. And to “kill” Frank would probably not be good for Claire and Jamie’s solid relationship.

    Also, there’s a funny meme about Jamie “saving” Claire’s life…three times.

    1. Marrying her so she’s safe, away from BJR
    2. When she ran away and Jamie comes to save her at Fort William
    3. When she was being whipped at the courthouse

    But who’s counting? 😉

    • I’m counting. I knew about 2x, but, of course, the 3d was marrying her. She still owes him in my mind. 

  25. thank you for your excellent review..

    Spoiler……. spoiler… SPOILER!

    well.. as readers we do “know the future”. Frank needs to exist for a very important reason….. and Jamie does realize the importance in the long run.

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