Outlander – Between a Rock and a Hard Spot (S01E06-07 Recap)
Claire Beauchamp Randall (Caitriona Baife) thought life was difficult in the 1940s. Caught in the clutches of World War II, she was not only torn from her husband, Frank Randall, for five long years, but she served on the front lines as a field nurse. She had watched many a good man die, more than she was able to save. But her childhood as a world-class traveler with her archaeologist uncle had prepared her for the deprivations and rigors of war.
But despite all this, Claire was not prepared for the war-torn world of the Scottish Highlands in 1743. Hurled back into time by touching a screaming sacred stone, she was thrust into the midst of the Jacobite rebellion with the British redcoats. Not only did her Scottish captors, the MacKenzie clan, not trust her, neither did the British, despite the fact that she herself was a well-bred Englishwoman. Add to her dilemma the fact that the infamous and ruthless Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall is the splitting image of her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies), and we can see how it is taking everything for Claire to not suffer a complete mental and physical collapse.
In S01E06 entitled “The Garrison Commander,” Claire is interrogated by Black Jack Randall. At first, she feels that being among the British gentlemen officers is her chance to finally escape, to return to the sacred stones that hurled her back 200 years into the past. Perhaps it is her pining for her mild history professor husband Frank that convinces Claire to let down her guard. Additionally, Randall is a man prone to mind games and deception who loves to inflict both psychological and physical torture on his victims. Just look at how he nearly beat poor James “Jamie” Fraser (Sam Heughan) to an inch with his life because it amused him to torture him before he raped Jamie’s sweet sister. Randall is clearly not a man to be trifled with or out-maneuvered and Claire makes the fatal mistake of trying to do just this. Randall lavishes his beating of her and despite Claire’s attempts to bring him back to his humanity, Randall declares that he belongs to the darkness.
Fortunately for her, Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish), clan chieftain, was there to rescue her. But it was a short-lived victory as Randall demands that Claire be brought forth for further interrogation. Claire is devastated as her only hope of escape has evaporated. To make matters worse, caught between a rock and a hard spot, she must choose to permanently stay with her Scottish captors or be turned over to her British ones. Be further interrogated and tortured by her husband Frank’s ancestor or become a Scottish citizen. And how precisely does she become a Scottish citizen? Why of course by marrying Jamie Fraser, the man who has a price on his head and is penniless with no hope of a future marriage prospect.
Well, the fact that Jamie is a virgin and drop dead gorgeous is a no-brainer for the worldly yet helpless Claire. So, in S01E07, entitled “The Wedding,” Claire Beauchamp Randall takes the plunge into a second marriage with Jamie Fraser. I thought this episode was extremely well done. Not only did it compare and contrast Claire’s former marriage to Frank, but it showed the importance of the wedding and the many preparations and conditions prior to the wedding from both Claire and Jamie’s perspective. I thought the post wedding bedroom romance scenes were both tender and awkward and fit the characters perfectly. Claire, being stuck in the past, is making the best of the situation and Jamie is trying to be a gentlemen and respect his new wife.
In a previous episode back in 1945, Claire had a tea leaf reading where it was foretold that she would be married twice, but that it was more of a fork in her palm than one marriage after another, as if it was two divergent paths. This symbolism was done nicely in Episode 7 where Jamie makes Claire a wedding ring. When Claire is undressing, her wedding ring from Frank that she stashed inside her dress rolls to the floor and lodges in a crack in the wood planks. We see her reflection in the ring, almost as if she’s trapped in both the past and the future simultaneously.
With only one more episode (S01E08, “Both Sides Now”) left in the series for 2014 before the mid-season split where it continues again in April 2015, I broke down and bought Diana Gabaldon’s novel also entitled “Outlander,” the first in her epic paranormal historical romance. Both the amazing show by Starz and the equally amazing novel by Ms. Gabaldon have me hooked in this simultaneously charming and dangerous world populated by the most interesting and rich character types that I have ever known. Like Claire, I have been drawn into this world and I will not be leaving for awhile.
– Des Manttari, Editor-in-Chief, Phoenix Genesis
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