TV REVIEW: Outlander, S1, E8: Both Sides Now

Well, it’s that time folks. We’re in for a long, long winter as the mid-season finale of Outlander is upon us and we won’t get to see anything new until April 4th, 2015. After the amount of anticipation built and perfection delivered for “The Wedding”, you think it’d be hard to match that in this episode. But you’d be very, very wrong on that.

With my eyes like saucers and jaw pretty much dropped, Ron Moore and his team have truly outdone themselves. I ended up shouting “They ended it there?!” and I’m sure that mostly everyone – book reader or not – had a similar reaction. Overall, I enjoyed the fact that we had the opportunity to see what’s been happening in the present/future since Claire’s trip through the stones. Tobias Menzies is an incredible talent and the glimpses of a certain Captain from the eyes of the usually mild-mannered Frank is chilling.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
A phone is ringing. There’s no phones in 1743 so we know we’re in the 1940’s, specifically inside the Inverness Police Department. It’s obvious from what’s being said that Frank has been hounding the officers for awhile now but they’re fed up. With no leads and no trace of Claire, they can only assume that she’s run off of her own volition with the mysterious Highlander “ghost” that Frank saw the night before her disappearance.

If they only knew that that’s actually what’s happened…except for the “of her own volition” part, but they’re not going to assume time-travel is mixed up in all this. This Frank is not the mild-mannered, sweet Frank of Claire’s memories. This Frank is tired, irritable and short-tempered and is starting to resemble his ancestor – Black Jack Randall.  He’s a bit scary when he loses his cool – yelling at the police for not finding anything new. Realizing he’s caused a scene – he gathers his things to leave.

It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside, I’m not one of those who can easily hide…ok ok, no more Elton John lyrics, I swear! But they’re pretty spot on as that’s essentially what Jamie and Claire are talking about, sitting on a hill together as they rub each other’s hands together. The feelings they have for one another are not typical (duh!) but before Claire can continue to explain, an arrow pierces the ground next to them. But upon examination, Jamie relaxes – the arrow is from Hugh Munro, a friend of his.

We learn immediately by his garbled speech and appearance that he is not well off but he does give Claire a telling wedding gift – a dragonfly in amber. (Who gets what I’m talking about? Hands up!) Jamie tells the story of what happened to Hugh; his tongue was cut out by the Turks. But the point of Hugh’s visit was to tell Jamie that there is a deserter from the English army named Horrocks who says he can testify to the fact that Jamie did not commit murder – making him a free man.

While Jamie is initially hopeful about this man, he’s not sure whether or not the turncoat (ba dum ching!) can be trusted. If a soldier can desert his brothers in arms, he can do anything. But you can see that Jamie wants so badly to go home and make Claire the Lady of Lallybroch.

BACK TO THE FUTURE
We’re back with Frank and Reverend Wakefield who are trying to find another explanation for Claire’s disappearance. But you can tell that neither man truly believes the words they’re saying. With each guess, you can see the hope at finding his wife continue to drain from Frank’s eyes. Mrs. Graham and wee Roger (who book readers will know all about) Wakefield make an appearance, serving tea and biscuits to the gentlemen. But Frank isn’t interested in tea or company – he heads to a bar to drown his sorrows.

A woman who’s name isn’t Sally sits next to Frank at the bar and tells him that she can take him to the Highlander and to bring the reward. Warning bells, ahoy! We know that she can’t take him to Jamie but he doesn’t know that. The anticipation of knowing something bad is likely to happen to Frank makes my heart ache for him all the more. He agrees to meet her after midnight in some dark, secluded alley. Hopefully he’s not too far into his drink to addle his common sense too much.

Back in ye olde 18th Century, Jamie tells Claire that by the time they get back to Castle Leoch, it’ll be Christmas and she makes a joke that falls flat about hanging stockings by the fire. Rupert is telling a story and starts to repeat himself – odd. But then Jamie notices that the horses are restless and has Claire stay still – everyone is aware that there’s someone (or several someones) lying in wait, probably to attack. She’s directed to take a dirk and hide in a log as soon as the fighting begins. And right then, it does – and we’re shown a raucous fight in the inky dark.

It was literally difficult to see and I can only imagine being in their shoes, trying to fight off an assailant in the dark. I don’t know how Frank does it either because I was right – that shifty blonde was up to no good! He’s caught off-guard by two men, who want to steal the reward money from a desperate man. But little do they know – Frank beats the every living daylights out of them and continues to violently hit the man – similarly to how Black Jack whipped Jamie. When Sally tries to stop him, he grabs her by the throat and begins to choke the life out of her but stops himself.

TURN AWAY FROM THE DARK
Reverend Wakefield can see the darkness beginning to take over Frank’s heart and beseeches him to let Claire go and leave Inverness before he gives into the evil part of himself. While neither want to believe that Claire’s abandoned him for another man, it’s the only explanation that makes sense. Claire on the other hand, is being taught to use a sgian-dubh or hidden dagger, to fight off anyone that might mean her harm. The men chuckle as she tries her attempts on poor Willy but don’t realize that she’ll be trying that move on someone quite soon.

The juxtaposition of Frank and Claire is interesting – he is giving up on his feelings for her while she’s giving in to her feelings for Jamie. As Jamie and Claire get it on – they’re rudely interrupted by two deserter redcoats and Claire uses her newfound knife skills to get one of them in the kidneys. But shock soon sets in – the camera work here is especially fitting – it’s blurry, slow-moving and confusing – all the things Claire is currently feeling.

FANTASY VERSUS REALITY
Mrs. Graham and Reverend Wakefield are arguing – she believes she knows what happened, that Claire has traveled through the stones. It’s unfortunate that it sounds so far-fetched because she’s right on the money. Sitting on a rock, hands bloody, Claire repeats calming words to herself and soon becomes angry at herself more than anyone, for forgetting her original goal of getting back to Craigh na Dun.

Jamie makes her promise to wait for him as he and the men go to confront Horrocks but when she wanders away and see the stones she’s been looking for, for so long, she can’t help it and runs to them. In the present, Frank is leaving Inverness and passes the sign to Craigh na Dun. But he can’t help but go back one more time and turns to go to the stones.

He finds her shawl by the center stone and loses it – and it’s painful to watch. As he screams her name, she actually hears him through the stones and yells for him, which he hears! I was breahtless and on tenterhooks waiting to see if she’d make it but before she can put her hands on the stone, she’s pulled away by Captain Randall’s men and taken to Fort William. As Claire tries to bluff her away out of Black Jack’s grasp, he catches her in her lies and goes to rape her but not before Jamie bursts through the window, gun pointed straight at him.

AND THAT’S WHERE IT ENDS?!! I yelled at my screen when it went black. So cruel! And that’s all they wrote…for now. What will you be doing during this hiatus? I’ve seen a few folks talk about doing a re-read of the series, especially Dragonfly in Amber, the book that Season 2 will be based on. Tell us in the comments!

Additionally, Ron D. Moore’s behind-the-scenes podcasts give great insight into choices made while filming the episode and only serve to add enjoyment to the series. Check out them out below:

BTS Episode 101 | BTS Episode 102 | BTS Episode 103 | BTS Episode 104 | BTS Episode 105 | BTS Episode 106 | BTS Episode 107 | BTS Episode 108

Rating: 5/5
Author: Sharlene Mousfar

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