Outlander: Both Sides preview

Okay, I’ve been putting this post off only because I am feeling so verra tired! This first season of the show has been a rollercoaster, whirlwind ride and I’m a bit exhausted from all of it. It’s been an amazing adventure so far for me, both with the books- which I just finished as the show began airing, and the show itself. I just want to thank Diana Gabaldon, Starz and Ron Moore as well as all of the writers, actors and everyone else involved in bringing this story to visual life for all of us. This adventure has inspired me in so many ways that I can not even begin to name them all. One of the biggest inspirations it is that it has broadened my horizons and brought me out of my previous little world that so tied me to the computer… I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “Wait a minute, aren’t you tied to your computer now?!”  Well, yes I am still tied to my computer in some ways but, I do think it’s in a better way than I was before! Granted, I have most likely just switched my addictions but at least this one, while still just as consuming, does give more opportunities and reasons to venture out away from my computer screen! I do still enjoy my sims world, but now it is no longer the obsession or addiction that it once was. So, that’s probably a good thing! Now I find myself looking forward to doing other things such as rediscovering my kitchen! It’s been a pleasure to reacquaint myself with it, and with the foods I’ve been exploring and experimenting with thanks to Theresa at Outlanderkitchen.com! I am also learning so much more about a number of subjects as I work on this blog and hopefully am becoming better at it. I find myself wanting to do more of the things I did when I was younger besides just the writing and the cooking, such as sewing and even candle making. I am looking forward to a few of those projects in the future! There, now my gratitude and inspiration covered, we can move on to other subjects such as this week’s episode!

One other reason I probably put this one off a bit is that I feel like I already covered it in my previous discussion and thoughts?

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/outlander-marriage-of-convenience-and-other-things/

Last week, the writers chose to focus on just the Wedding. While at first I was a little frustrated with that decision, after thinking about it, it made excellent sense to do it that way and present this next episode as the mid season finale. It is one of those pivotal turning points in the story where they can leave us with an ending as in an ending of Claire’s old life and dreams, and a beginning of her new life with Jamie.  speaking of endings and beginnings, I just want to put down my thoughts on the recent announcement from Starz that the next half of the season will not air until April?! Upon hearing that, I was panic stricken… What, 6 months to wait??? Then I quickly calmed down and realized that it will probably take them 6 months just to edit the Wentworth Prison scenes. It also gives me six months to prepare myself to watch those scenes play out, they were difficult enough to read, let alone to see them being done!  Panic done… now, I have six months to do some of those other things on my list of want to do’s… and it also means I can devote January to April to my other passion… Vikings! Well, that’s a plan then, I am quite alright with the wait… after all, I got over my needs for instant gratification quite some time ago!

 

Now on to this week’s episode!

 

If you read my previous post on the Wedding aftermath, you know that the happily wedded bliss did not last very long? Damn that real life for always getting in the way of romantic dreams! Claire does get her knife fighting lessons this week even though Murtagh insists that the most appropriate weapon for a woman is poison!

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As I mentioned, their wedded bliss is short lived and Claire will be witness to that other side of Jamie… his hotheaded temper, his stubbornness and the harsh reality and meaning of the fact that he never breaks a vow he’s made to anyone.

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They meet an old friend of Jamie’s who has a wedding gift for Claire…. A Dragonfly in Amber!

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Most her so called honeymoon is spent on the road in the company of the men… not leaving much privacy for any romantic encounters they might be desiring.

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Those are the basics of the preview… but of course we all know there is so much more involved and going on beneath the surface?  And, there is some one else to consider this week as well. I am very interested in seeing how Frank Randall’s circumstances and reactions are presented. The book did not go into what was going on with Frank during this time other than the fact that he was most obviously frantically searching for his missing wife. OUT_108-20140518-EM_0812.jpg

 

In looking at the search items that lead people to my blog, I noticed that someone got here by asking Google why Claire stays with Jamie? I think that is a valid question and deserves some deeper answer than a simple, Because she loves him? For one thing, she didn’t love him right off the start…she didn’t even love him when she married him, and isn’t sure she loves him until this episode and portion of the book.  Great sexual chemistry does not necessarily equate to a love beyond time, or even a serious long term relationship. Claire realizes that, and struggles with the issue of having betrayed the one she did love, made vows to and had remained faithful to until event. She struggles with it for much of her life, even after she admits her feelings for Jamie and commits herself to him.

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I think what is most compelling about Claire’s situation is that Jamie understood it and accepted it better than she ever did herself? I think maybe that is a turning point for her in her feelings for Jamie, knowing that he accepts her feelings for Frank, supports her and encourages her to talk about it. It does become forever after in many  ways, a three way relationship between them. Jamie accepts it, Claire forever struggles with it and in the future Frank will struggle even more with it.

 

What I find so interesting about this week’s episode is how the writers will present Frank’s side of the story.  I have always found his character intriguing and I think there is so much more to him under that surface that he presents. I hope one day, as in the next book…Diana will expand on some of his history and enlighten us more on his unknown qualities and activities?  The bit of the clip we were given as preview causes me some frustration… I am well aware that he is most likely frantic at that point and not thinking quite rationally so might be duped into some scam? But, really the man is not just a history professor… he may appear on that glossy surface as one who could easily be taken advantage of, but those of us who have read the books know exactly what he did during his military service? Frank Randall was a part of British Intelligence and a rather high up part of it  for that matter.  As with all of Diana’s characters, he is a study in contrasts of behaviors and complex emotions. Personally, I want to know more about his story! I think he knew far more than anyone was aware of… slowly through the books and the novellas, some of his story has come out, but not nearly enough!

He shows up in the Novella, A leaf on the Wind of All Hallows. This short story is set during WWII and tells the story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents. I know that for the television viewers who have not read the books, Roger is an unknown character who will not show up for some time. I am only bringing this story up because it does pertain to Frank Randall during the War years when he was off doing things which he could not discuss with Claire… or anyone else for that matter!

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/books/outlander-series/short-fiction/a-leaf-on-the-wind/

 

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Frank Randall

 

How and why does a young, rebellious and free spirited Claire Beauchamp meet and fall in love with an even tempered, well polished, reserved historian Frank Randall? Why does he fall for her as well? Their early beginning aren’t really told in too much detail… this is a brief explanation.

Claire met Frank Randall, a historian, when he came to consult her uncle about his work. They were soon married, and spent a brief two-day honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands, followed by only a few months together before the outbreak of World War II. Claire and Frank were separated for most of the war. Frank trained as an officer in MI-6, and Claire as a nurse. Both served their country in their respective roles for the duration of the war. Once the war was over, Claire and Frank, reunited, decided to go on a second honeymoon in Scotland to reestablish their marriage in 1946. They stayed at Mrs. Baird’s bed-and-breakfast in Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands situated near an ancient stone circle called Craigh na Dun. 

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So, what we do know is that Frank, a historian knew her uncle Lambert and met her through that acquaintance… I have found this a curious coincidence throughout the whole story and often wonder just what Uncle Lambert knew? Just how did little Claire come to be an orphan in her Uncle’s care… Yes, Yes… I know, her parents died in a horrific car accident and she conveniently ended up with Lambert? But, after reading some of the other suspicious deaths and orphaned children, it gives me pause to wonder?

 

Okay, we know how they met, had whirlwind romance and quick marriage then both went off to fight the War. So, what we have is a War time romance between two people who probably didn’t know each other quite as well as they thought they did. It happened a lot during those times. But, what is important in the overall picture is that they really didn’t spend all that much time together before, or during their marriage. Claire probably spent more time with Jamie than she actually did with Frank during those early years of her marriage to him.

 

Why would Claire have been drawn to Frank in the first place and was it really that true love that she believed it was? I think Claire as an orphan, raised by Uncle Lambert probably saw Frank as stability and a balance for her? It was one of those cases of opposites attracting for both of them. She thought she wanted that stability, a home a family and acceptance from the world around her. She truly did love Frank, but I think that eventually even had she not went through the stones, they would most likely have drifted apart and gone their separate ways once the war was over and they attempted to settle into a life together. Had they stayed together, there would have been no children to hold them together and I think they both would have parted on some acceptable good terms as friends through life. Either that, or Claire would have just eventually drank herself into oblivion…  It was a whirlwind relationship fueled by the turbulence and passions of War, of heated emotions, partings and brief reunions. Yes, they shared some common interests, but more so on Frank’s part than Claire’s. He was obsessed with history and his own family’s history, she was used to such passionate obsession with history from living with her Uncle but she did not really share that passion. So, after the heated physical passion faded, what would have remained for them?

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Claire was pulled from the relationship before either of them could settle upon the notion that theirs was not necessarily a match made in Heaven. They both shared traits of stubbornness, determination and loyalty. For those reasons alone Frank would not have given up on his search for Claire… and possibly if he had the slightest suspicion that something else might have happened to her, such as with the disappearance of a certain pilot during his war years, he would have been determined to find some clue or answer.

 

For Claire is was at first a matter of not giving up on those vows she had made to Frank, no matter what. When she was finally faced with the opportunity to get back to him though, she had to come face to face with the reality of her truest feelings. Jamie was willing to take her back to the Stones and give her up for her own safety and for her own peace of conscience and heart. She had to make the difficult choice of which vows to betray, of which man held not just her heart but her soul, the decision of who needed her more, who and what she needed more than anything else.

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My one last thought on Claire’s dilemma at that time, and later when she did return through the Stones to Frank is, How incredibly difficult would it have been to look into Frank’s eyes everyday and not see Black Jack Randall? How to get past that inner feeling, and knowledge of the coldest, cruelest man imaginable, knowing and seeing those nightmarish images of what the man had done to someone you cared so deeply for each time you looked at someone you loved? I would think that in itself would have caused a huge divide in her emotions towards Frank without her even meaning for it to happen. Relationships have fallen apart for far lesser reasons than that one. “I’m so sorry Dearest but every time I look at you, I see the ghost of  the cruelest man I know, so no I am not really in the mood to be romantic with you?”

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Knowing what she knew,  having those images burned into her mind and her heart… could she ever really trust herself with any sharp instrument near Frank? All it would take is one flashback and she would be guilty of murder and insanity…

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7 thoughts on “Outlander: Both Sides preview

  1. Here’s what I don’t understand from the books (and I’m only up to the end of Book 5) or the TV series. Both Claire and Jamie are inherently good people. (BTW mild spoilers ahead warning for people who are only watching the TV series.)

    When Jamie brings Claire back to the stones, why doesn’t she do the right thing and go through the stones, tell Frank she’s found her true love and she’s going away, then go back to Jamie? I understand at that point she doesn’t understand completely how the stones work. But she can feel Frank through the stones.

    Jamie is an inherently honourable man. He knows Claire is already married. Technically and in the eyes of God Jamie’s marriage to Claire is not even valid since she is already married (no matter what the priest says at the end of the book). How does his honour not require Claire to officially end things with Frank properly?

    Yes she would be taking a risk that she can go back through the stones to Frank and then get back to Jamie again. I understand that. But doing the right thing is often hard while doing the wrong thing is often easy. For all she knows Frank is in prison for her “murder.” (DG mentions this in one of her essays.) How does she live with that possibility?

    You say in your essay that Claire is guilty for life because of her decision to be with Jamie over Frank. Well, maybe. But she doesn’t suffer from much guilty through Books 1-4. My rule of thumb for those first four books is Claire feels a mild twinge of guilty every 500 pages.

    It is only in Book 5 that to her credit she seems to really feel guilty. I think it is in Book 5, because of that guilt, that I really start to like Claire again.

    Sometimes I amuse myself by thinking the answer to my question is DG wrote the first book just for her own enjoyment and never expected millions of people to analyse it. 😉 But she has had lots of opportunities in future books to address the question retroactively. And again I am only up to the end of Book 5 so if she addresses this question later I apologize to everyone.

    Anyway, love your web site and your thoughts on Outlander. It is much more than a simple romance novel. I could discuss this forever — especially if we get into whether Frank really cheated on Claire — but I better stop here.

    Steve L.
    Fredericton, N.B.
    Canada

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    • Well, realistically the first book was her first attempt at writing a novel and she was pretty much winging it all the way! I don’t think she expected it to be any huge success so yes, I agree with you on the thought that she was writing for her own pleasure and learning experience. I don’t think she had any idea that so many of us would become so interested… ok obsessed with the books to the point of spending countless hours analyzing plot lines, researching and questioning her history, her characters or just about anything else within the vast number of books!

      I will admit that I was not all that fond of Claire and many of her decisions either for much of the series. You bring out an excellent point that I didn’t really think about before. I guess in the beginning, she didn’t understand how the stones worked and was afraid that once she got back to the future, she wouldn’t be able to return to the past again. I think In Jamie’s mind, he rationalized to himself that Frank didn’t exist yet and he took the Priest at his word in explaining the validity of the marriages. Also, here’s another thought on the whole validity of the marriages… When she went back to the past and married Jamie, in some odd warped way, that marriage becomes the first one as it occurred long before her marriage to Frank. So, if you looked at it that way then essentially when she goes back to Frank, she is cheating on Jamie?

      As the books progress there is a lot more discussion between her and Jamie about Frank and his role, so much in fact that in a way it becomes sort of a three way relationship with Frank’s shadow always in the background thoughts for both Jamie and Claire… As to Frank’s cheating on Claire, I will not divulge any further spoilers!

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  2. Thank you for your prompt reply. It is refreshing to hear someone other than me has a problem with Claire and her decisions. After my first post and your reply I went back to Outlander and read a few relevant chapters.

    You are correct that Father Anselm does suggest that since 1700 comes before 1900 then in some ways Jamie comes before Frank. Also the title of the chapter is “Absolution” which makes the author’s intention pretty clear.

    But here’s Claire’s reaction to Father Anselm’s suggestion about the time line:

    “Yes, strictly speaking,” I agreed, getting to finish a sentence for once. “But not in my time. I don’t believe canon law was constructed with such contingencies in mind.”

    So even Claire doesn’t buy that arguement. The fact that Frank’s wedding ring is on her left hand while the Anselm suggests Jamie came first also pokes holes in that theory.

    Also it is interesting that someone struggling with an intense morale dilemma would stop based just on the words of a strange priest she met just a few days ago.

    As for Jamie’s state of mind regarding Claire’s still living husband, his personal honour and the church’s rules on not marrying someone who is already married, the book is frustratingly silent on this. The priest’s absolution happens six months after Jamie and Claire visit the stones so Jamie had a long time to think about it. But I do take your point that human beings have an infinite capacity for self-deception.

    Back to what happened to Frank while Claire is away, Father Anselm has more comforting words for Claire. He helpfully says it’s been a year and Frank’s probably moved on.

    “Much as he may have loved you, loss is common to all men, and we are given means to overcome it for good.”

    This is a very 1700s way of thinking. Life is nasty and short. Women die all the time from disease and childbirth and accidents. Men just remarry and move on. But life in the 1900s is very different and, remember, there’s no body. Claire just vanishes.

    So what did Frank do for the year Claire’s been mysteriously missing in Outlander. (And remember its three years before she eventually goes back to him through the stones.) I deduce there are four possibilities:

    1. Frank mourns and moves on. Claire is declared dead by a court of law. Frank remarries but always wonders what happened to her.

    2. Frank becomes obsessed with finding Claire. He spends all his free time and money hunting for her, returning again and again to the Scottish Highlands. He vows to never stop until he finds her or her body. He hangs onto his job just barely, but he rejects all attempts by friends and family to stop him. He doesn’t date. He is miserable.

    3. The disappearance of Claire causes Frank to fall into a deep depression. He starts drinking. He never stops looking for Claire with all his free time and money. His obsession causes him to lose his job. Friends and family look after him for a time, but even they run out of patience with him. He moves permanently to Scotland to keep looking for Claire. But he has run out of resources and the drinking gets worse. He ends up as the pathetic town drunk in Inverness.

    4. Frank is arrested and charge for murder in connection with the disappearance of his wife. In such circumstances the husband is always the prime suspect. The evidence is just circumstantial, but Mrs. Baird did hear them arguing loudly the day before Claire disappeared. (When Frank asks Claire if she had a war time fling.) There is a sensational trial and Frank stoutly maintains his innocence, but the jury comes back with a verdict of guilty. The judge decides the evidence is not strong enough to sentence Frank to be hanged. But he is sentenced to 25 years in prison. His appeal fails. He languishes in prison, a broken and bitter man.

    My rather long point is why does Claire not once wonder what is happening to Frank while she is gone?

    Well that’s enough of my nonsense for now.

    Cheers

    Steve L.

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    • I do like your perspective of the situation! Why did Claire not once wonder or worry about Frank…well, because Claire is more concerned about what she wants, about what she feels than about how this will affect Frank. I give Jamie a little more leeway in all of this because he is thinking in 1700s terms and understandings of the whole situation. He also has a lot of other equally important stuff going on in his life at the time, and if I remember all of it accurately, he was quite a bit younger than her? I think when I sat down once and figured it out, he was probably only about 20 when this mess began, where she was about 28. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference because in some ways he was always a lot more level headed, rational than she was! He did give her that chance to go back earlier and she refused, so I think in a way his deeper inner rationale might have been one of “I tried, if she’s not going back then I am going to keep her!”

      I have issues with Claire all the way into the future…She gets back there and Frank willingly takes her back along with the coming baby when realistically he could have just as easily had her tossed in a nut ward and raised baby himself if all he wanted was a child! She did not put a whole lot of effort into trying to readjust to 20th century or making her marriage work. She set that distance between herself and Frank up then complained and blamed Frank for it. Ahhhhh sorry for my continuing rants about Claire- I try to keep them in some check or balance but the more I think about it, I always come back to being annoyed and irritated with her in either century!

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    • I do like your perspective of the situation! Why did Claire not once wonder or worry about Frank…well, because Claire is more concerned about what she wants, about what she feels than about how this will affect Frank. I give Jamie a little more leeway in all of this because he is thinking in 1700s terms and understandings of the whole situation. He also has a lot of other equally important stuff going on in his life at the time, and if I remember all of it accurately, he was quite a bit younger than her? I think when I sat down once and figured it out, he was probably only about 20 when this mess began, where she was about 28. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference because in some ways he was always a lot more level headed, rational than she was! He did give her that chance to go back earlier and she refused, so I think in a way his deeper inner rationale might have been one of “I tried, if she’s not going back then I am going to keep her!”

      I have issues with Claire all the way into the future…She gets back there and Frank willingly takes her back along with the coming baby when realistically he could have just as easily had her tossed in a nut ward and raised baby himself if all he wanted was a child! She did not put a whole lot of effort into trying to readjust to 20th century or making her marriage work. She set that distance between herself and Frank up then complained and blamed Frank for it. Ahhhhh sorry for my continuing rants about Claire- I try to keep them in some check or balance but the more I think about it, I always come back to being annoyed and irritated with her in either century!

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    • It is so nice to have a conversation and discussion with someone who has some of the same feelings and thoughts about Claire and about the relationships! I did not read the books for the Claire/Jamie romance of a life time aspect- in my opinion, the further you get in the books their personal relationship takes on far less interest (at least for me) and importance. When it comes down to a relationship to be a fan of, I am far more of a Roger and Bree fan.

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  3. Why is Claire not worrying about Frank? Because Claire is worrying about her own survival, dealing with a whole lot of crap and adjusting to a time-period far different from her own. She is assaulted, accused of being a spy, being watched day and night for much of the time, until she marries Jamie. I would guess that her wanting to ‘get back’ is evidence of her concern for Frank without great words or chapters of wordy sentiment.

    Once she decided to stay with the love of her life, that’s it, she’s made a choice and this is her new life. Let’s face it, her life with Jamie was more like the life she had lived before she wed Frank for stability, thinking that is what she wanted. Its like her entire life had prepared her for Jamie and that time.

    Frank and Claire didn’t have much of a marriage from my point of view. They were separated for most of it and when they reconnected after 6 bloody years, this guy who says he loves her above all else spends more time on his families history with Reverend Wakefield than with his bride. She has to coerce him to have sex with her etc. – give me a break.

    Then she meets a man he loves her body and soul. Who trusts her and gives her the truth at all times. Who shows her love and doesn’t just talk about it. She finds a man who is her equal in all things. Not a choice to my mind.

    Like she says, Frank lives in his head and she lives in and with her heart. This union, especially without children to bind them together would have been doomed IMHO.

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