I’m onto you people. You’re only here for the sexy men! Not so much of that this week, unfortunately. But we did have adorable goats, which is always a bonus in my book.
I enjoyed this week’s episode quite a bit, mostly because I love seeing smart and capable women (Claire and Marsali) kicking ass and taking names. I was also very invested in the relationships between Claire and Elias and Marsali and Fergus. High marks all around.
Let’s make like Claire and jump in. Ready?
Warning- Contains spoilers from Outlander, Episode 310: Heaven and Earth
Hold the phones. Did we just get Rickrolled?
No, no, no. Not that Rick Astley song. This one:
(OMG the choreography. I die)
Together forever and never to part
Together forever we two
And don’t you know
I would move heaven and earth
To be together forever with you
I’m mostly kidding. I’d love to think of the writers sitting around and placing bets on getting a Rickroll into a show somehow, but mostly because it would bring some levity to what was otherwise a very sad episode. In the words of another 80s pop icon, only the good die young.
I generally love the novels and the series in equal measure and for different reasons. Heaven and Earth was one of those few episodes of Outlander, however, where I felt the scenes really did so much better onscreen than on page. It is one thing to read about a ship of dying men, it is quite another to see a whole deck of men wasting away from septicemia and dehydration. I’ve imagined Claire jumping overboard, but visualizing the jump and the ocean from her perspective was terrifying. I’ve read about Elias Pound’s death many times, but seeing such a young, innocent, and earnest boy brought to life and then perish was a different gut punch altogether. The added burial at sea scenes provided a truly sad and profound understanding of what a situation like this really entailed.
There’s a word for it. It’s called “compartmentalizing.” It means separating certain areas of your life so you can do your work. If you let yourself be affected by every death, you’d never save a life.
This week emotions are compartmentalized in an effort to save the ship. Fergus is forced to separate his loyalty and love for Jamie from pragmatism and realistic expectations. Men are physically compartmentalized, too- the sick are quarantined and the ones that can’t be trusted (Jamie, Harry Tompkins) are put in the brig.
As in A. Malcolm (Episode 306), we begin the episode where we left off, from Jamie’s perspective. Despite his promise to not take his eyes off the Porpoise as long as Claire’s onboard, he’s distracted and giving Fergus a bit of a hard time; he doesn’t notice the Porpoise sailing away with Claire as its precious cargo.
Geez. These two can’t catch a break. Claire’s been back a few weeks now but Jamie only really just got her back. Their physical and emotional intimacy last week was the first time we truly saw glimpses of their old marriage shine through. Gone again. Faster than you can say Salmonella.
This proves to be a bit too much for Jamie to handle and he’s taken down to the brig. Separated from Claire and compartmentalized from the crew.
Claire, for her part, is almost too busy to think about the Artemis. She is truly in her element- giving orders, taking charge of a dangerous situation, and commanding a group of men that need her. And she is Prepped. For. Battle. Look at her costuming:
Claire’s clothes are a direct call-back to her wartime nursing. The colors are inverted but the apron and collared shirt are the same. Even her head scarf has a distinct 1940s, Rosie the Riveter vibe.
She’s stepping on toes but has zero shits left to give. It should be noted that we’re shown multiple times that the men on board the Porpoise do not readily give her the respect she deserves; they often only defer to her at the command of Elias, a boy who is less than half her age. Here the purser is less than enthused to hand over the grog in order to distill pure ethanol.
For me the most painful aspect of Elias’s eventual death is how much knowledge, compassion, and understanding he absorbed in his last few days, only to have it wasted away by disease. We see glimmers of the man he would have been; I suspect he would have turned out similarly to Lord John Grey- enormously kind, respectful, and empathetic.
If germ theory is a difficult task for these men to understand, carrier states are almost impossible to comprehend. Claire zeroes in on her Typhoid Mary–Joe Howard–a former carpenter who was reassigned to the galley. As an asymptomatic typhoid carrier he’s been inconveniently prepping fecal-contaminated food. De-licious. Mr. Cosworth, the ship’s cook, promptly decides to be Claire’s nemesis.
Also noteworthy is how the young people on the Porpoise, namely Captain Leonard and Elias, are the first to most readily accept Claire’s germ theory. And that’s pretty much how the world always works, isn’t it? The world changes and we are forced to keep up, often with our younger generations leading the way.
Did you see Fergus pickpocket the bread for Jamie? He’s still got it.
The lighting, the low camera angles, and the position of the actors in this scene all serve to show Jamie as a caged animal, almost rabid with desperation for Claire. He even lunges at the cage bars, wild mane of hair flying.
I’m well-acquainted with the inside of a cell, Jamie snipes at Fergus. True. But it has been a very long time since Jamie had anything left to live for; in the cave and in Ardsmuir he had nothing else to lose.
In his madness Jamie lays out a plan to break out of the brig, raise mutiny, and sail after Claire. Fergus mentally gives this a big, fat NOPE.
César Domboy’s face breaks my heart each time I watch this scene. Fergus looks at Jamie with a profound sense of understanding but also sadness; Jamie is his hero, to be sure, but he is also very, very human. And humans, especially ones that are raving mad with worry and grief, make mistakes. We can all probably relate to a moment where our angels fall down to earth.
On the Porpoise a burial at sea is held for the typhoid victims. God, how many times has Claire had to do this in her life? Whether it’s been at a battle site, the surgery table, or the front lines of a disease epidemic, this is a woman who has seen more than her fair share of death. There’s always another bloody war, she once despaired. War is senseless. Infectious disease is senseless, too. Especially in the eyes of a twentieth century doctor.
Cosworth swings by to tell Claire he still hates her and he doesn’t believe in boiling water or hand washing. Thanks, jackass. You’ll be the first to die in a zombie apocalypse. Here’s a reminder that for every capable women just trying to get her job done there’s often (but certainly not always) a threatened bully of a man getting in her way.
I know I’m not the only novel reader who kept expecting someone else to walk up on this deck with Claire (please no spoilers). I was a bit disappointed that didn’t come to fruition– not because I felt the change was a detriment to the story, but only because I REALLY miss said character and want to see them again.
Instead we got a very lovely scene between Claire and Elias. Claire explains the psychology behind being a successful doctor or nurse (or any kind of caretaker, really)– compartmentalization. It’s not just death and sadness that need compartmentalizing, either. It’s also the bullies and naysayers adding to the chorus of doubt in your head.
If infectious disease doesn’t wipe out this crew it seems bad decisions will do it for them. Annejke Johansen is the caretaker for the goats, so by default we know she is AWESOME. Goat people are always awesome. In any case, her husband decided to drink the distilled ethanol and almost kills himself with alcohol poisoning.
Claire clearly went to college because she rolls the dude on his stomach and tells his dormmate wife not to let him choke on his own vomit.
Based on knowledge that the Porpoise boarded a Portuguese ship two weeks ago, Claire goes snooping around in the Captain’s cabin looking for information about Young Ian. Instead she finds out that Jamie has been identified as a seditious traitor and is in big trouble once everyone gets to Jamaica. Mr. Cosworth catches her and reminds everybody that he is still eeeeevil.
A few notes about this scene, in which Marsali is helping Fergus clean his stump and apply his prosthetic hand. First, it’s clear that she’s done this before, which means they are already as intimate as two married people can be. They haven’t had sex, but this is arguably a far more intimate gesture. Marriage, as we know, isn’t always roses and romance. Moreover, we see Marsali’s true colors shine through here; the angry manipulations are a cover for a young girl who is actually very thoughtful and tender.
Also she wants to jump Fergus’s bones (girl, I don’t blame you) but Fergus is a stickler for propriety.
Elias Pound is looking pretty awful. Claire, in her distraction, chalks this up to exhaustion. But first she enlists him to go find Harry Tompkins so she can question him about Jamie.
And here is said Harry Tompkins, aka Mouth Breathing Henchman for Sir Percival Turner. We almost feel sorry for him, as he relays his tale of getting burned in the face with hot lead and then forced into servitude aboard a plagued ship. Almost.
He tells Claire that they did indeed find the stashed body of Barton in the crème de menthe and Jamie is wanted for murder once he lands in the West Indies. Claire lies and tells the crew that Tompkins is another disease carrier and he is thrown in the brig.
F*%# this. Sorry. I know Elias Pound is fictional, but his story was very real for so many. The sad truth is these men were simply born two hundred years too early; it’s fairly maddening to think of all the lives lost over the years before the advent of vaccines and antibiotics. What is even more infuriating? Typhoid fever still happens all over the world. In some places mortality is as high as thirty percent. It seems senseless that in 2017 we have people on this planet dying of a preventable and treatable disease. End rant.
Claire is having a difficult time separating her emotions, as she just lost someone for whom she truly cared. As many others have pointed out Elias, with his rabbit’s foot and young age, was a bit of a stand-in for Brianna. Claire’s loneliness and sorrow is palpable. Hats off to Caitriona Balfe, who gives us such an amazing performance against what is surely a green screen.
Captain Leonard gives Claire a little pep talk and thanks her for saving the ship. But, to quote a line from the best Friends episode ever, we know he knows she knows. He is grateful for her efforts but has compartmentalized this gratitude in a different spot than his duty to country.
And that is confirmed here. Claire attempts to escape when they stop on the Turks Islands to feed the goats and get fresh water. She’s caught by Captain Leonard and returned to the ship. He’s a captain first, a friend second.
(Side note: I’m not sure what kind of goats these are so I’d love for someone to enlighten me. I consulted with my goat-loving awesome friend Gina, also a veterinarian, and we don’t think they are dairy goats– at least not any kind of dairy goat we have here in the United States. They appear maybe to be a Boer goat cross? Which would make sense, since Boer goats are South African in origin and that’s where this was filmed. Boer goats are meat goats, although technically you could milk any goat. Anyway, goat people of the world- give me your feedback!)
In another nod to novel readers, Jamie is looking at the pictures of Brianna. He’s calmer now, perhaps sobered by Fergus’s words and the reminder that he has a wife and child for whom he needs to stay alive.
Fergus has wisely decided to decline Jamie’s plan for mutiny, knowing it would be a suicide mission. Sometimes loving someone means making the hard decisions for them.
Marsali convinces Captain Raines that Jamie can be trusted enough to be uncaged, and her scene here with Jamie was extremely well-acted. Again, the young people come to the rescue as Marsali essentially tells Jamie to get his head out of his ass.
Annejke suggests Claire jump overboard and let the currents carry her to shore, to which Claire is initially WTF NO WAY. But after about twenty seconds of careful deliberation she agrees this is the best plan and sheds her clothes and shoes. You know things are getting desperate when leaping off a British man-of-war is your only option.
The music playing during these few moments is the same that plays for scenes at Craigh na Dun. It’s her “leap of faith” music. Claire is compartmentalizing in a totally different way here- pushing aside fear so she can go save her man.
Only three episodes left! If this week we are all thankful for antibiotics I think next week we will all be thankful for sunscreen.
p.s. Happy Thanksgiving for those in the United States! For everyone else, I wish you a wonderful Thursday. For all parents home with kids this week: