Sunday, October 1, 2017

REVIEW: 'Outlander' - Jamie Creates a New Life for Himself and Forms an Unexpected Connection in 'Of Lost Things'

Starz's Outlander - Episode 3.04 "Of Lost Things"

While serving as a groomsman at Helwater, Jamie is pulled into the intrigue of the British family. In 1968, Claire, Brianna and Roger struggle to trace Jamie's whereabouts, leaving Claire to wonder if they will ever find him.

The second season of Outlander ended with Claire discovering that Jamie survived the Battle of Culloden and, along with Brianna and Roger, set out to find him again in history. It was a provocative way to end the season. It confirmed that Claire and Jamie would spend twenty years apart. It was always known that Claire would one day travel through time once more and return to Frank. The story set in 1968 showed that she was able to keep her promise to him to completely leave her Scottish life behind. She had to completely forget about Jamie in order to build this family with Frank and Brianna. It wasn't until Frank's death and Claire's return to Scotland that she made this discovery. She spent a lifetime not chasing after Jamie in the past. She believed she had an understanding of what happened to him. That was proven not to be the case at all. In revealing the truth, she was able to form a genuine connection with her daughter while having a purpose moving forward once more. This season has complicated our understanding of the time Claire and Jamie have spent away from one another. It's showed the hardships each of them have endured. They've had to move on with their lives but that wasn't an easy thing to do. They were always aching for each other. But they had the acceptance that they would never be reunited. That longing has defined their lives. They've had to survive without the other person. It wasn't as simple as Frank dying which allowed Claire to remember Jamie again. Their marriage was never the perfect happiness both of them envisioned it could be. It was rough and difficult while creating divisions within the family unit. Jamie's life hasn't been easy either. It's been broken by a loss of family and identity while struggling to blend into the world once more.

This season has depicted this missing time. And now, Claire's story has caught up to what happened in last season's finale. It's able to continue from there. The audience now has the awareness of what life in Boston was like for Claire, Frank and Brianna. The marriage was strained because of the past. Claire pursued being a doctor while Frank pursued other women. Brianna was barely in the background at all. This wasn't a normal family. It was one of open resentment towards each other. Frank died having never escaped the tragedy of his life. He never got to be truly happy. There was always an undercurrent of love still to their dynamic. But it couldn't overcome these problems. And now, there is an open dialogue between Claire and Brianna. Her daughter now knows the truth. She has an understanding of the crazy life her mother has lived. She wants to do the right thing in finding Jamie for her again. She wants her to be able to return to her greatest love. But instead, "Of Lost Things" proves how difficult that is going to be. The trio can find records of Jamie in prison. They learn of the infamous "Dun Bonnet." But Jamie's life is soon defined by hiding under other names thanks to the good fortune of a new friend. So to Claire, it seems like he is forever lost to time. She's hopeful about him being alive. But she also has to accept that she can't chase after him forever. She still feels the pull to the future and the good work she can still do in Boston. And so, she and Brianna return. They've changed because of this trip. They'll possibly be closer as a result. But their regular lives won't change at all which is incredibly bittersweet too.

This episode is all about catching up with even more of the time in Jamie's story. He still has quite a bit to go in order to catch up with the reality Claire has lived. Roger even has to point out that time is moving linearly for both of them. Claire has continued living for twenty years. The show has found a spot to slow down and live in the uncertainty of her narrative. Jamie's story is closing in on that gap but still has a few more years to cover. They are years defined by his service to an English family. Lord John Grey was able to ensure he wasn't transferred to another prison once the crown decided to ship all of the inmates off to the colonies. He gave Jamie a chance at a new life. Jamie was introduced in the series working in the stable. And now, he has returned to that line of work. He's just now a prisoner instead of a fugitive. The master of the house knows that he's a prisoner who fought for the rebellion. But he doesn't know his true name. The rest of the house is completely in the dark. That's perfectly fine as well. Jamie is able to blend into this new life. He cares for the horses and fits in with his fellow workers for this family. They are annoyed by how demanding the eldest daughter, Geneva, can be. That sets the stage perfectly for Geneva finding out about Jamie's true identity and manipulating him into doing her bidding.

This is such a fascinating story as well. Geneva is blackmailing Jamie into sleeping with her. She is betrothed to a rich, elderly man. She wants her first time to be special. It's a nice sentiment. But she's forcing Jamie into compliance. Otherwise, she'll reveal his true identity. The reason why Jamie is in her room is very devious and deceptive. But how he acts once he's in the room sends a completely different message. He's lived his life content with never having a special connection with someone in the way that he did with Claire. He's hopeful about the life she has been living with their daughter. But he's never felt like he could give himself to another woman in a sexual way. Of course, this is the second time this season that he has had sex. The first was a freeing experience as he left his family for good. Here, he's being compassionate in showing Geneva what it is like. He's a gentleman with her. He learned so much from Claire about how to be respectful and caring in this regard. He's genuinely interested in how it feels for her. He doesn't want to do anything that will hurt her. As such, it really is a passionate scene. But it's also crucial for Jamie to say that it wasn't love. He knows what love feels like. This is just a crush that was forced into action. But that's still enough to cause a number of complications moving forward.

Geneva gets pregnant from that encounter. It's not surprising. It's the outcome I was expecting in Jamie's previous sexual encounter this season. He would get the woman in Lallybroch pregnant only to spend a lifetime away from his family home and his child's life. But instead, he gets to be present in his son's life but can't tell anyone who he truly is. That's just as tragic and destructive. It's very combustive to watch as Geneva gives birth. The boy is healthy but Geneva dies and her husband is ready to kill the baby knowing that it couldn't possibly be his. Jamie is the savior of this day for protecting the baby and killing the man who wishes it harm. That creates a bond with this family. They are willing to give him his freedom whenever he is ready for it. He can tell a tale of needing to send enough money back home for his family. But he truly wants to stay because of his son. He has been named William. The show features time passing by. Willie and Jamie form a bond. The child feels closer with him than anyone else in the world. That makes it apparent to everyone that a resemblance between them does exist. Some are actually aware of the biological connection. John does and so does Geneva's sister, Isobel. Jamie is allowed to have this time with his son in his formative years. But it won't be long until people really start to suspect what happened in regards to Willie's conception.

And so, Jamie is returning home to Lallybroch. He has emerged as a free man. After years of living on the run, he now has his freedom. It's not something he can celebrate though. He's leaving behind the only child he has ever known. He's lost two already. Faith died in France while Brianna was born two hundred years in the future. He got to spend time with Willie. He is able to ensure his protection moving forward. John and Isobel are bound to get married. They will care for Willie. That creates the possibility of this not being a goodbye forever. Jamie and John have formed a bond over the years. And yet, Jamie still believes he needs to sell his body to John in order for him to do right by him. It's a surprising notion to John. He believes their bond runs deeper than that. But it's still an offer that Jamie presents. He doesn't need to. Willie will be cared for. But it's so disruptive to see Jamie ride away not knowing if he will ever see his son again. He will always remember him. He knows his parents will be good to him. But it's a brutal goodbye. Jamie's entire life has been defined by brutal goodbyes. He's returning to a familiar place. But it could have changed drastically over the years. He doesn't know. He's been gone for a long time. He hasn't lived as James Fraser in awhile. He may not know how to be a free man anymore. But now, he has the potential to do whatever he wants. Those actions will probably define whether or not Claire is able to find him again.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Of Lost Things" was written by Toni Graphia and directed by Brendan Maher.
  • When Claire first returned to Frank in the 1940s, she gave up the necklace Jamie gave her in order to move past the life they had. And now, the necklace has been returned to her. It wasn't lost through time. It now serves as a remainder that Claire can be hopeful. If nothing else, she at least returns to Boston with a physical reminder of the love she's had.
  • It's not surprising in the slightest that things are becoming romantic between Brianna and Roger. They had that flirtatious dynamic last season. That continues here with the two sharing a kiss. But it also feels forced as well. The two of them don't really exist as fully dimensional characters yet. They are just along for this ride with Claire.
  • Claire is annoyed that even in 1968 a roomful of men are annoyed that she and Brianna are sitting at the bar enjoying a whiskey. The show can be over-the-top with its sexism. But it's also true to the time as well. That feeling that she's being watched with disdain is enough to motivate her to pack up her bags and return to the world where she is respected and can do some good.
  • Geneva is only able to learn about Jamie's true identity because John's brother shows up at the house as well. He still recognizes Jamie and is surprised by what his brother has done in being so friendly towards him. He's willing to keep it a secret though - at least until Geneva gets him drunk because she's so curious for answers.
  • Jamie could have become a prisoner once more for shooting Geneva's husband when he was threatening the baby. He killed him so that his lord didn't have to. It's still miraculous that he made that shot and didn't manage to hurt Willie at all. The family's gratitude is the only reason why he avoids more time in jail.