Sunday, September 17, 2017

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Claire and Jamie Try to Feel Fulfilled by Their Lives Once More in 'Surrender'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 3.02 "Surrender"

Hiding in a cave, Jamie leads a lonely life until Lallybroch is threatened by redcoats pursing the elusive Jacobite traitor. In Boston, Claire and Frank struggle to coexist in a marriage haunted by the ghost of Jamie.

Jamie and Claire came into each other's lives and fulfilled them in ways that were completely unexpected to them. They were always surprised when they were together. There was an excitement to their lives because of each other. It was this grand love story that was more enriching the deeper the show delved into it. This season there is a profound sense of longing and aching because the two of them are no longer in each other's lives. It was nothing more than a momentary glimpse of happiness. They are forever changed by having known each other. But now, they truly believe they will never see each other again. But their actions are still full of love. There's still the sense of wanting to be with each other. They know better than to believe this. They know it's unlikely to ever happen. But there's still that connection. They've departed to live their separate lives centuries apart. It's been traumatizing for both of them. They both lost something on that day before the battle of Culloden. They are both still alive. But there is a piece missing to their lives. Without it, they don't feel completely whole or fulfilled. Years go by and they still feel this way. Time passes and they are still in mourning. They are trying to live their lives. But that piece is still missing. They can try to fulfill it once more. But it's proving more difficult than they thought. They seemingly have everything they've ever wanted but it's not good enough without each other in their lives. That's tragic in such a moving way.

Jamie is literally just a shell of his former self. He should have died in the Battle of Culloden but didn't. A part of him did die on the battlefield. Another part died when he said goodbye to Claire beforehand. He never expected to be living this life. He always knew he was destined to die alongside his brothers fighting in the rebellion. And now, he's just a ghost haunting Lallybroch. He's been returned to his family but it's not a joyous celebration. Years have gone by. And yet, the British are still coming to the family home and arresting Ian for refusing to tell them where Jamie is heading. It's a pattern that has come to define their lives. Jamie is just a wanderer in the woods. He provides for the family. He's not completely off-the-grid and disconnected from the life he could be living. He still interacts with the family. But he's still haunted by his past. He still sees visions of Claire when she couldn't possibly be there. His heart still yearns for her. To him, life isn't worth living without her there. But that's a belief that is proving to be quite destructive to his family. He wants to protect them. But any kind of interaction with the British only risks exposing him and bringing forth even more punishment. It's a vicious cycle that is destined to keep repeating until he is caught.

So far, it's a pattern that only affects Ian because he's tossed in jail every time the British do a sweep of the land. All it takes is the right commander with a renewed sense of energy to ride up to the front gates demanding Jamie to be handed over. He's still a treasonous traitor who deserves to pay for his crimes. Ian must pay for potentially harboring a fugitive simply because he's the man of the house. It's something that has happened many times over the years. But he's never held for very long because no judge can justify doing so. But it still has a cost to it. Ian misses the birth of his new son because of Jamie. He's in prison instead of being there to see his son be born. That's heartbreaking. The British are there as well. They heard a gunshot from this direction and need to discover who could possibly be disobeying the law. It was just the boys trying to do the right thing by shooting away a superstition. But it's an action that proves to have consequences. The Fraser family is living in a constant state of fear. Fear that any day could be the day that Jamie is caught and they'll all be punished alongside him. They've been able to keep him hidden for awhile. He hasn't wanted to cause anymore trouble. But that's unhealthy for him as well. Inaction is just as destructive to Jamie.

There's a severe consequence to inaction here as well. Sure, it's a brutal display of monstrosity. But it carries so much weight and destruction to it too. Fergus is still ready and willing to fight. He has completely joined the cause. He has been welcomed into the highlander culture. He feels it's a part of him now. He has Jamie to thank for that. Jamie gave him a home when no one else would. He would proudly keep his secret from those who wish him harm. But he's pushing to fight and for Jamie to feel the need to lead a rebellion once more. He's anxious to revolt again. Those feelings lead him to trick the British soldiers into believing he's leading them straight to Jamie. He knows these woods better than they do. And yet, he still gets caught because he's outnumbered. It's such a tragic moment. The commander cuts off his left hand as a way to put him in his place. All Jamie does is watch in horror on the sidelines. He doesn't jump into action to save Fergus' life. He could have fought against these soldiers before the blade came down on his hand. And yet, he chose not to. That realization is so destructive for him. He's seeing the cost he's putting on the people he cares about. It's in seeing this brutality that he knows he must surrender. He has to do that in order for his family to live a better life.

It's a moment full of melancholy. Jenny is adamantly against it. She doesn't want to be seen as the woman who would turn her own brother in to the British soldiers. Jamie explains it will help her because she'll be given the reward money. It will ultimately be beneficial to the family. But it's still a betrayal. Jenny can never forgive Jamie for what he has done. It's him choosing to do something. Of course, it doesn't quite carry the weight that this action normally would either. Before, him being captured meant him being killed by hanging. But now, him being captured means him being thrown into jail. It's a different kind of punishment that ensures he'll stay alive. That's a crucial part of this story. It creates the expectation that he will one day escape and be able to live a life again. He's already starting to make those decisions as well. He doesn't want to be with anyone in a romantic way other than Claire. But he ultimately does in order to feel some passion in his life again. It's not a relationship that will have any future to it. They both know what he's planning on doing the next day. It's a connection of conveniency. She's looking to start a family and views him as an honorable man. His children would grow up in a good household. It's something she wants while potentially giving him something to live for in the future.

Elsewhere, Claire is still trying to connect with Frank in the 1940s. The two of them are adjusting to having a baby in the house. But this is a story much more about intimacy and love. When Claire fantasizes about sex, she still imagines Jamie. She still thinks about being with him and the connection they had together. Her trying to force those feelings onto Frank is awkward. She knows she must do this in order to be happy with the life she has. But it still feels like a betrayal to her. It's her ignoring the strong feelings she has. She's doing it for her family. It's the sacrifice she's making. She wants to believe she can love Frank once more. In the past, all she wanted to do was be reunited with Frank. And now, she has. She also wanted a family. And now, she has one. But she still feels an emptiness inside of her. Her initiating sex shows that she has more of a willingness to move on than Jamie does. She's forcing it to happen. She's the one in charge of her own intimacy. That's very empowering to watch. She's the one who leads Frank into connecting in this way. She wakes him up from sleep to have sex. She undresses in front of the fireplace to have sex. It's a passion the two of them are able to act on. But Frank is still afraid that she is somewhere else with someone else instead of focusing on the connection that they are having right now. She denies that. But it's much more conflicting for the audience as to whether or not that is true.

It's just more important to know that Claire is still feeling unfulfilled in her life. She has her family. The society of the 1940s says that's all she should ever want out of her life. She has a happy and healthy home that she's in charge of. But she's experienced so much more in her life and wants that again. She can't be with Jamie. She needs to find excitement elsewhere in her life. That leads to her returning to school. It's just a simple anatomy class at the end of this episode. But it's a crucial decision she chooses to make. This is what she wants to do with her life. She wants to continue helping people. And yet, she is judged immediately for it. Everyone in the class is staring at her and wondering how she is possibly allowed to be here alongside them. That forges an immediately bond between her and a black student. They are faced with intense judgement and scrutiny simply for being who they are. It's such a traumatizing moment where nothing needs to be said at all. The looks alone are enough to make Claire feel isolated. And yet, she's still herself. She still confidently believes she can do this. She's ready to prove them all wrong. But it's then chilling to see what all of this has done to her marriage with Frank. Their connection was already very tenuous. And now, it's revealed that they don't even share the same bed anymore. It's such a simple reveal. But one that shows the disconnect between two people who allegedly love each other.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Surrender" was written by Anne Kenney and directed by Jennifer Getzinger.
  • Things are extremely intense when the British invade Jenny's home right after she gave birth. She needs to lie and say the baby was stillborn. And yet, that could create a number of problems for her. First, it's miraculous Jamie is able to keep the baby quiet through all of this. But if any British soldiers think to look closely at this family, they could wonder where this new baby came from then if hers died.
  • Six years have gone by for Jamie. This is the life he's living for all of them. And yet, the only noticeable difference is that he's really let his hair and beard grow. It's impressive to look at. But everyone else is basically the same. That's fine for Jenny and Ian. But Fergus hasn't changed. He's still played by the same actor who doesn't immediately seem six years older.
  • This means that Jamie could be in prison for many years this season as well. The show is moving forward in time at an accelerated pace. It still needs to catch up to the moment in the 1960s where Claire, Bree and Roger discovered Jamie survived the Battle of Culloden. So, it should be interesting to see what effect prison will have on Jamie at this stage in his life.
  • It's humorous that Jamie tells Fergus that there will never be another Scottish rebellion after this ond failed so profoundly at Culloden only for the story to cut to Claire reading an article in the newspaper saying that a new rebellion is forming. That's still the news that excites her the most. It means nothing in this American newspaper. But everything to her.
  • Moreover, the episode ends with Claire walking to her classes only to stop and listen to a man playing the bagpipes. It's such a random thing to see in Boston. No one else has stopped to listen or tip him. But it holds more significance for Claire. It's a remainder of the life she had. But she still proudly walks away because of the life she is now determined to live.