JESUS H. ROOSEVELT CHRIST THAT WAS AMAZING.
Warning- Contains spoilers from Outlander, Episode 313: Eye of the Storm.
Wow, my friends. I cannot begin to adequately describe how much I enjoyed this episode; it is easily my favorite of the series to date. The thing is- I KNEW they were going to make it. I knew Geillis would die and Claire and Jamie would rescue Ian. I knew they would survive the hurricane and wash up in the American Colonies. I knew all of this because I’ve read the novels and I STILL had to remind myself to breathe for a good portion of this episode. This was exquisite television.
As the producers discuss in the after-show, the cold open with Claire narrating her almost-death was meant to mirror Jamie’s experience at Culloden. And, if you pay attention, much is the same in the two scenes- from the lighting and art direction to the music score.
But this wasn’t the only “full-circle” moment in this episode. Far from it. In fact, the episode was almost entirely scene-by-scene acts of closure for nearly all of the major relationships: Claire and Geillis, Fergus and Jamie, Jamie and John Grey, Jamie and Yi Tien Cho, and Jamie and Claire.
Claire and Jamie are literally and figuratively in the eye of every storm in this episode, but the theme goes a bit deeper than that. Like the wind patterns of a hurricane and its eye, so much of this episode is circular.
And circles are the perfect analogy for time travel, are they not? Because if we believe in time travel, then we acknowledge that time is infinite and circular. If we are able to journey from the past to the future and from the present to the past, then we have to acknowledge that our present, past, and future are all happening at the same time. Time in this hypothetical universe is circular; eventually everything comes full circle.
With so much plot to wield into one hour the writers, actors, and director had a monumental task to achieve and they not only succeeded, they smashed it. Not a look, line, or action in this phenomenal episode was without concise purpose.
We begin picking up almost right where we left off last week, after Jamie was taken into custody by Captain Leonard. Claire has ditched the formal wear and is now hurrying to Geillis’s property to search for Ian. The carriage is briefly detained by a slave procession; the humming here is likely meant to foreshadow the humming of the portal.
Meanwhile, Marsali and Fergus return to the inn to find Claire and Jamie gone. They learn that Jamie has been arrested and Fergus knows just the person to ask for a favor… more on that later.
Marsali insists on joining Fergus with whatever plan he has. It should be noted that she’s wearing Claire’s dress from La Dame Blanche (204):
Recall, this was an episode where Claire reasserts herself into Jamie’s political sphere in Paris. Marsali is being just as insistent here, so in a way the dress itself has come full circle.
Claire furtively explores the slave quarters at Rose Hall in search of Ian and comes across the body of Henry, the boy from last week’s episode who correctly predicted his own death. She is captured by Hercules and dragged up to the main house…
…where Ian has had just about enough of Geillis.
Geillis’s mind begins to show its cracks in these scenes, as she insists Ian and Jamie and Claire know of the importance of the sapphires and the Brahan prophecy. In a strange way this almost (very, very almost) makes her a somewhat pitiable character; she has been so hyper-focused for so many years on Scottish independence that her vision is pathologically narrowed and her obsessive mind is diseased. Compare this version of Geillis to the one of the first season. The undercurrent of deceit and manipulation has always been there but her once-amused personality has been replaced by manic paranoia.
Things are perhaps looking just as desperate for Jamie. BUT, just when Jamie is about to get tossed back to Scotland, some Redcoats show up to stop Captain Leonard.
“On whose order,” asks Leonard?
Is it a bird? A plane? Nope!
IT’S THIS GUY. This gorgeous man giving the sexiest legal smack down in West Indies history:
I mean, WOW. That was SUPER fun to watch. And not only for me– Jamie gives just the barest flicker of a smile to Leonard while Lord John dresses him down with his super-hot legal and military brain.
By this time Jamie and John are losing track of whose turn it is to save the other’s life, although I think at this point Jamie is probably indebted to Lord John. In this way their relationship very much mimics their beloved chess games– I save your life, you save mine. Check mate.
Note: Fergus was the one who enlisted Lord John’s help. So, just as Jamie once saved Fergus from a British officer…
…now Fergus has also saved Jamie from Captain Leonard. Full circle.
Back at Rose Hall Claire and Geillis circle (for lack of a better word) around each other in the same wary dance in which they’ve always engaged. If you re-watch Season One they deliver nearly all of their lines with caution and suspicion, always wanting to tell the truth or ask the truth from the other but never fully committing until Geillis comes clean at the witch trial.
And, in a direct call-back to that episode, Geillis asks “Why are you here?”
This time it is Claire who is fully honest and we’ve come (dare I say it?) full circle. She tells of going back to 1945 and giving birth to Brianna and then coming back through the stones only recently.
Please just hand over some Emmy awards to Caitriona Balfe and Lotte Verbeek for this wonderful scene. Claire’s face as she watches Geillis’s near-delusional conviction transforms from one of confusion to one of the shocking realization that this is a truly deranged and dangerous woman standing before her.
In the course of Claire’s confessions Geillis realizes that Brianna is the two-hundred year old baby whose death will bring the rise of an independent Scottish nation. Although Claire is perhaps the most honest she has ever been with Geillis, Geillis once again slips into the manipulative liar we know her to be.
Geillis is surprised and disbelieving that Claire has never needed blood or murder to travel through the stones. I personally believe that the message being conveyed here is that love is stronger than hate; Claire has never needed to sacrifice anyone because she has love pulling her through to the other side, no matter which way she is traveling. Geillis has never had love. She has had seduction, lust, and passion but never love.
Claire nearly clubs Jamie as he comes to Rose Hall and helps her escape. Together they rush toward the light and commotion outside to save Ian…
…whereupon they encounter slaves performing a ritualistic dance. Even though most of us probably figured out this was supposed to be a call-back to the series premier episode (Sassenach, 101), they remind us that the dancers here resemble the druids at Craigh na Dun. Additionally, the shots of Claire and Jamie in these scenes match those of Claire and Frank almost perfectly:
Claire and Jamie are caught trespassing and for a minute things appear dicey. Not to worry because who comes to their defense this time?
THIS GUY! This kind, wise romantic soul of a man. Yi Tien Cho informs Jamie and that he and Margaret Archibald see the truth in each other and they plan to marry and live in Martinique.
And we have yet more circling on another relationship; Jamie and Yi Tien Cho’s story begins and ends with them rescuing each other from strangers.
Go to Martinique, my poetic friend. Live your dream. (But also be careful because that island is about to get swept up in all sorts of political drama)
But before she escapes to Martinique, Margaret imparts one more prophecy on Jamie and Claire, calling forth images of Culloden and Claire’s life in Boston. Margaret also invokes Brianna’s voice, jolting Claire into realizing that Brianna is the prophesied child whose life is in danger; Geillis intends to time-travel again to murder Brianna.
Prophetic visions notwithstanding, Margaret is much more lucid than she was when we first met her in Edinburgh, suggesting that Archibald was keeping her heavily drugged.
In any case Archibald doesn’t have quite the happy ending compared to Margaret. Yi Tien Cho kills him in self-defense and Archibald’s body is left to the mob.
Claire and Jamie realize they must get to Abandawe and the portal immediately. Not to worry, it’s conveniently right next to Geillis’s house. Imagine that!
As Jamie and Claire enter the cave they realize (almost too late), that they may lose one another yet again. Claire might slip through the portal and either one of them might be killed. No time for standing stone goodbye sex this time, although they do get in some passionate, adrenaline-fueled kisses. Good enough.
“We lost Faith, we will not lose Brianna.” Did you catch the double meaning there? It’s a bit rushed, but here in the cave Jamie and Claire have essentially promised to never again lose “faith.” Mother Hildegard, perhaps you were the true prophetic.
Show time. Jamie battles Hercules while Claire deals with Geillis and poor Ian is bound and writhing around, hoping to not be barbecued.
Ever noticed the irony that Geillis was almost burned on the pyre and the terror of that experience in no way makes her empathetic to the men she has killed and burned in the name of time-travel?
Don’t worry, Ian, you’re dying for a great cause! I had to laugh at that line because it totally reminded me about an episode of Bigfoot Hunters (don’t judge) where they couldn’t understand why Bigfoot just wouldn’t turn himself in and be a martyr for his species in the name of science. “You’re dying for a great cause” is probably the least comforting thing you could say to someone you’re about the kill.
Instead it is Geillis who is killed for a great cause- that of family. Claire, in a fit of mama grizzly, decapitates Geillis and diffuses the threat. Jamie and Claire have rescued both Ian and Brianna.
I loved this shot of Jamie calmly pulling Claire back from the portal. Contrast this to last year’s season finale when he was emotionally pushing her toward one. Full. Circle.
Hmmm. Where did we last hear about a two hundred year-old skeleton of a female murder victim in the Caribbean? Claire has a little freak out moment when she realizes she has held Geillis’s skull in the future. And this is where there is so much beauty in the concept of time travel. Claire holding the skull is in 1968, so it is both in the future and in the past. Time is circular and infinite.
Group hug. Me too, me too! Don’t we all deserve a hug from Jamie Fraser?
Claire gets more than a hug later on. Not really much to say here except it was beautiful and playful and perfect.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Afterward Jamie notes that the weather is turning, which is the ultimate understatement of the season. Not only is it turning, it’s a full-blown hurricane ripping apart the Artemis.
Enter the most beautiful two minutes in Outlander history.
Claire is knocked from the ship and is sinking unconscious, trapped in the ropes from the broken mast. The piano solo playing here is the same one that played in Faith (207) when Claire came home from the hospital after the still birth— the last time she felt like she was dying.
Jamie couldn’t rescue her then but he can rescue her now. He dives down to Claire and cuts her loose from the ropes, metaphorically freeing them from all that has been weighing them down this season.
They wait out the storm, trapped in its eye, and it’s clear that Jamie is convinced Claire has died or will die.
And perhaps she does. The camera pulling away up through the storm and into the heavens could arguably be Claire’s soul leaving and looking down on the world.
But, as with the portal, she is pulled back by love.
Jamie and Claire awaken on the shore, where they are overcome with relief to see each other alive and know that the Artemis survived the storm.
And where did they end up?
This is a cinematic shot we have seen many, many times but it never fails to move me. As an American I easily get swept up in the romance of a vast, open land full of possibilities, however flawed that emotion may be.
As Native American drum beats enter the soaring musical score we push in on the American horizon. This is a new land and a new chapter for our characters. I simply cannot wait.
Thank you for reading! Blogging has been a fun experience for me and I hope to do some retrospective recaps during the break. Suggestions for other shows? Sell me on Poldark- is it worthwhile? Let me know in the comments. Happy Holidays to all around the world.