Episode 311: Uncharted

Awww…that was great! Best episode of the season? It was certainly the funniest, creepy crawlies notwithstanding.

(brb gotta go apply bug repellant)

Ready to discuss?

Warning- Contains spoilers from Outlander Episode 311: Uncharted. Also, last few screencaps may be NSFW.

Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. I see your turtle and I raise you a soup.

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Like many of you, I’ve been re-reading Voyager this season, staying a bit ahead of the episodes. I finished the last chunk of the book over the holiday weekend and it was clear that the show was going to have to streamline and/or eliminate a lot of the remaining plot and extraneous characters. Which they did. But, I asked myself, would they keep the crazy?

My friends, I am here to tell you: THEY KEPT THE CRAZY.

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And it totally worked for me. Claire wandering the jungle alone was incredibly captivating. The scenes at Hacienda de la Fuente were some of the funniest of the series to date. Additionally, I felt Claire and Jamie really solidified their relationship in this episode and I have no qualms about their love story going forward. Marsali and Fergus’s wedding was a sweet touch, rounding out a truly excellent episode.

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“Serve ye the Lord with gladness. Enter into His presence with exceedingly great joy. Know ye that the Lord is God.”

Father Fogden invokes Psalm 100:2 as Claire finally stumbles into his herd. It is a prayer about thanksgiving, which is perhaps a nod to the American holiday this past weekend. But it is also a prayer about being alone and then coming back to the Lord. I am not an overly religious person and I am not going to attempt to apply a religious context to this episode, although you arguably could. But this episode is about isolation (Claire’s, Father Fogden’s, Jamie’s) and then coming together; our characters find each other and come back to their respective “folds.”

But the beginning of the episode finds Claire very much alone. She does not wash up on Grand Turk as planned but has instead floated a few hundred miles south to what we learn is Saint-Domingue. That’s current-day Haiti for those keeping track.

I know these scenes were filmed in South Africa, but I found this beach a very believable stand-in for the Caribbean, circa 1770. It was an interesting reminder that although we consider this region a modern-day vacation paradise, it is only that way because we’ve made it so. The beaches are beautiful but also wind-swept with an unrelenting sun and an unforgiving jungle. Stripped of basic necessities– shelter, food, fresh water– it is far from utopia.

Claire’s mission: find water, find people, then find Jamie. One foot in front of the other.

She serendipitously finds some flint, which comes in handy later for starting fire. It seems fairly unlikely that she would just stumble upon flint rock, but perhaps the Powers That Be decided to cut her a break.

What is believable is how capable Claire is alone in the jungle. This is a woman, after all, who spent her childhood on archaeological digs, served at the front lines of World War Two, and also endured a large chunk of time roughing it in the Scottish highlands. She’s made of tough stuff.

I texted my sister during these scenes, something to the effect of “BUGS, I’M OUT.” I was totally okay with the vomiting and diarrhea of the past two episodes. But bugs and snakes? Hard pass.

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Finally, after barely surviving in the jungle for two days, Claire collapses into Hacienda de la Fuente.

Where the loco-ness ensues. The episode cut a few chapters from the novel about harvesting bat guano from nearby Caribbean caves (no big loss), but I assure you- things are still pretty bat-shit around these parts.

Claire wakes up tied down, the bug bites on her legs treated by the efficient but disconcerting Mamacita. Much was made in the preview chatter about Mamacita examining the zipper on Claire’s homemade corset, but nothing really came of it (at least not yet). I think it only served to deepen the mistrust the woman has for Claire.

Science side note: The reason you can’t rehydrate yourself too fast with severe dehydration is due to hypernatremia– too much sodium. If you drink too much water too fast the water will rush into brain cells, leading to cerebral edema (brain swelling). In veterinary medicine we see cases of it in livestock that are left without a water source. In small animal medicine we sometimes see cases of hypernatremia when dogs eat homemade play-dough, which has a ton of salt in it; if your dog ever eats homemade play-dough call your vet immediately. 

Enter the benevolent but kooky Father Fogden and his imaginary talking coconut, Coco. The silver lining of my sister living in Japan is that we are able to converse with each other at all hours about Outlander. At midnight last night she very astutely pointed out that Father Fogden resembles Uncle Joey from Full House. I have to say, the likeness is uncanny. They both even have puppets:

Right? Caitriona Balfe does some wonderful acting here- gauging just how crazy this man really is. Luckily, Father Fogden isn’t dangerous but rather a cautionary tale of what too much isolation, heartache, and hallucinatory drugs will do to a man. I have no excuses for Uncle Joey.

This is more like the Club Med Caribbean vacation that was promised in the brochure: outdoor tub, goat’s milk soap, creepy animal skulls.

After bathtime it is supper at Casa de Loco, where Claire learns Father Fogden’s story. He is/was a priest who fell in love with a Cuban woman named Ermenegilda Ruiz Alcantara y Meroz. He and Ermenegilda (and also her mother, apparently), fled Cuba during the English invasion and escaped to Saint-Domingue. Ermenegilda died shortly after, leaving a hollowed, crazed man and a heartbroken, angry mother in her passing.

In case you were wondering, bath and dinner time in my house are equally just as crazy.

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Father Fogden then has a little digestif of smoked yupa, which is a plant native to South and Central America. Its seeds are hallucinogenic, which maybe explains a lot about all the absurdity going on in this abode. It’s also toxic to livestock, which is perhaps why Fogden’s goats aren’t doing so well.

Claire expresses that she wishes to leave immediately for St. Luis du Nord to make her way to Jamaica by way of Cap-Haitien. Mamacita also wants her gone, as she clearly feels the only welcome female presence in this home is the one of her deceased daughter. Father Fogden (and Coco) wish Claire to stay as he feels she is a good-luck charm to his herd of goats. Naturally.

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If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Claire attempts to convince Father Fogden to let her leave by having a rather animated conversation with Coco.

God, this was SO funny. Perhaps the funniest moment in Outlander history. Caitriona Balfe is obviously an excellent actress but Claire Fraser is an abominable one; her conversing to the coconut was extremely amusing. I’ve watched it at least ten times.

Claire is somewhat anxious to leave this house of kooky people and talking coconuts. That anxiety is only heightened when Mamacita discovers a dead goat, Arabella, and Fogden promptly dumps a jar of large, scary beetles over its severed head. He mentions that they come from a legendary Jamaican cave– Abandawe, which you’ll recall is the name foretold by Margaret Campbell in Episode 308 (Crème De Menthe).

Fun fact: these are Dermestidae (derm=skin, estidae=eat) beetles and they’ve been used for centuries as a natural way to clean skulls for mounting. And you don’t even need to trek to Abandawe to find them– you can buy them on Amazon. I am not kidding- check it out. For that someone special on your Christmas list.

Anyway, this is all very interesting to Claire. Interesting in the surreal way one might detachably observe a shark riding a bicycle. But what really grabs her attention is the little bit of information that a Chinese sailor killed the goat.

BINGO. Because we all know that where there is a Chinese sailor there is also…

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…one James Fraser. Picture provided for all your needs, public or private. You’re welcome.

It seems the Artemis suffered ship damage and crew loss when she hit some uncharted shoals and unexpected wind. Captain Raines, Mr. Murphy, and Warren are dead. The surviving crew members are on the beach repairing the ship as Claire races through the jungle to catch them in time.

I LOVED this. LOVED IT. I found my heart racing as Claire runs through the jungle and then signals with her mirror to Jamie on the Artemis. Claire and Jamie running into each other’s arms was as beautiful a shot as any classic Hollywood film; Bogart and Bacall have nothing on these two.

In many ways this felt like Jamie and Claire’s real reunion. Their first one in Edinburgh was so handicapped by nerves, time, and uncertainty. This reunion was nothing but relief and love. Everything this season has been leading up to this one moment.

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“Mac Dubh’s wife turns up in the most unlikely of places, does she no?” “Aye, she just drops in out of nowhere.”

This was also laugh-out-loud worthy. So meta, so perfect.

Yi Tien Cho efficiently sutures Claire’s injured arm (sustained while she was running down the hill), while Claire fills Jamie in on his warrants. Jamie, as usual, brushes off the danger and tells Claire he gave Fergus and Marsali his blessing for their marriage. A wedding is planned.

But first, concessions must be made. Yi Tien Cho apologizes to Father Fogden for killing Arabella. I have no idea if the cheeky goat in the background nibbling on the palm was planned but this, too, was HILARIOUS. Gah- have I mentioned that I LOVE GOATS?

Claire helps Marsali prepare for the wedding and this whole scene was very tender and thoughtful. Marsali is no doubt missing her mother, just as Claire is probably thinking about Brianna and the wedding she may never see. Marsali asks Claire about birth control and Claire is never once patronizing or resentful (not that we would expect her to be, but a lesser woman might hold a grudge). They both seem to come to a mutual understanding and respect.

Marsali, for her part, proves in these past few episodes that she is a young woman of deep integrity- she helps out with the broken ship, she takes Fergus’s amputated hand at face-value, and we never once see her complaining about what has certainly been a crappy past few months. Novel readers know she is pretty awesome, and here we see that come to fruition.

For an episode that started off fairly grimly, this hour just kept getting funnier. Father Fogden inquiring about Fergus’s penis during the wedding (and Marsali’s WTF face, top right) was great.

On a more serious note, Jamie giving Fergus his last name was also a heart-tugging moment. For a man that takes aliases like he breathes air, one wouldn’t expect such a thing to have so much meaning. But we know that of all of Jamie’s names, Fraser is the one he holds sacred; to give it to someone else is of great significance. Jamie told Claire as much so on the evening of their wedding.

Penicillin as foreplay. Do not try this at home. Unless you have Jamie Fraser at home, in which case please allow me to submit my résumé for New Best Friend.

At last we have our infamous Turtle Soup scene and it was great. Drunk Claire may be my favorite, and she and Jamie are so playful with such amazing chemistry here. Yi Tien Cho’s smile as he walks away mirrored by own.

We end the episode with our characters back with their flock, redeemed with love. Claire and Jamie are reunited. Marsali and Fergus are married. Father Fogden, for his part, has been reunited with the world at large. As in Psalm 100:2, all entered into each others’ presences with exceedingly great joy.

Okay. Deep breath. Only two episodes left and there is STILL so much to cover. We have to make it Jamaica, avoid death by hanging, and find and rescue Ian. Advance apologies to Father Fogden for the blasphemous language, but for the love of God can we PLEASE FIND MURTAGH? Is it so much to ask?

Obviously we don’t eat too many sea turtles these days, as many are endangered species. But here’s a recipe for mock turtle soup in case you’re feeling adventurous.

Until next week,

Slàinte.

5 thoughts on “Episode 311: Uncharted”

  1. I always look forward to your reviews. The images are fabulous. The snake scene was creepy (and it was good that the little featurette showed that “Scar” was a professional and behaved well. Can’t fault him if he enjoyed his scene with Cait, can we?). I loved the goat nibbling on the palm, too! If that was an ad lib, it was perfect.

    I loved this episode. The trudge through the jungle and Claire’s salvation by the nutty priest and his grim mother-in-law were a very well done contraction of the scenes in the book. The meeting with Jamie on the beach was wonderful, as was the wedding. Fergus officially gaining the surname of Fraser brought tears to my eyes (second time that happened in the last two episodes–almost unheard of for me), and Father Fogden’s crazy wedding technique was lifted straight from the pages of Voyager. Thanks for the side note about the danger to pets eating Play Dough, and why we must drink water slowly when we’re dehydrated. Most of all, love this review. Thank you!

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  2. I agree with you that this episode was beautifully done, and brought the humor that is so much a part of Book Outlander to the TV series as well. (Of course I’m referring to the wedding, but you pointed out other things I hadn’t really noticed on first viewing.) The stiff and expressionless 20th century Claire vanished for good in this episode—her face was alive with her feelings as she finally connected back to this world and her life love, Jamie. I loved how the jungle sequence was silent except for the sounds of the creatures surrounding Claire. Their reunion and drunk love-making was great! I’ve read a few reviewers (and fans) who didn’t like this episode at all, and felt amazed—-then I read your review, and as usual, you put into words what I was thinking, in your thoughtful, wonderful way. Thank you!

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  3. Deep in thought today, I have been thinking that the first half of Season 3 was Jamie’s story of moving forward. The second half has been Claire’s story of finding herself in the 18th century again, getting her groove back. Even though Claire and Jamie reunited in 306, I felt she has struggled to find herself in this world, once again an Outlander. She has conquered all sorts of internal and external obstacles in her own . Now let’s get onto the last 2 shows with Claire and Jamie working together to rescue Ian.
    I always enjoy your insights and humor, thanks.

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  4. Loved your review and have to say that your observations about this episode paralleled my own. I’ve also read criticism on other blogs concerning this episode and just can’t agree. There’s so much material to cover in Voyager that it’s amazing that the writers are able to capture what they do and make sense of it in their interpretation for the screen. I felt Claire truly come alive in this episode, more so than in earlier ones. Unquestionably committed to Jamie and their future together. And, although different from the book, I’m becoming crazy about Willoby, though I miss the pelican. Your insights were spot on, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with the final two episodes before Droughtlander begins.

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