Read at your own peril. My thoughts will be sprinkled with SPOILERS!
Even after some eight or so times of watching this episode, my thoughts about it are still percolating. They managed to cram a lot of action in this one, but my first viewing left me a mess after the “stones” scene which just took my breath away and I broke down and cried. The acting by Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe continues to be brilliant.
They both bring so much to their respective roles that I honestly have been gob smacked from week to week. I realize that a lot of things go into making this show, but if these two people lacked talent, nothing and no one could bring these characters out. Good for us they are loaded with talent and once they put on those costumes on, they are Frank/Black Jack and Claire.
And here we are at the mid-season finale, episode 108 and aptly titled ‘Both Sides Now’ because for the first time we get to see ‘the other’ side, Frank’s side and it was heartbreaking watching Frank go through his grieving process.
First, this was an episode that was told simultaneously from Frank’s and Claire’s point of view, and it’s a huge departure from the books, but it worked for both audiences, book and non-book readers. Speaking as a book reader, it helped me to understand this man much better. It humanized Frank and brought me closer to him.
I said it before and let me reiterate, Ron D. Moore’s a genius and no doubt about it. I’m enjoying the show and leaving books behind while the show is on. He has a vision and he’s running with it and we can join and enjoy the ride or get off his train. Our choice and I must say, I’m joining the crowed that’s hitching a ride on that train.
That’s not to say that I’m on board with every choice he’s made about the adaptation, and I do think there was some missed opportunity in adding more dimension to Jamie Fraser’s character. I’ll try to explain this a little bit further down, but now let me say that this episode was a mixed bag for me. I predominantly liked it, but wasn’t enamored with it as with the previous seven.
I have to stop here and tell you that even though I’m watching the show without comparing it to the books [and it is not easy, but I’ve managed it so far!], I noticed that my opinion/observation of this episode in particular, comes more from a perspective of a “reader” than a “viewer”. I’ve noticed the difference only after I had a discussion with my awesome DH who’s been watching the show with me [never read the books]. I was surprised with his take on this episode and it was fascinating to hear him talk about the parts he loved and actually appreciated.
He thought that all that Frank stuff was necessary and very poignant, going so far to tell me the date that Frank went up to that hill [12/21/1945; Frank was listening to the news on his car radio] and he was the one to point Claire’s shawl to me which was all lost on me because I was a mess at that point. So, I guess we all bring to the table our own interpretation and none is right or wrong, but just our own.
Anyways, let me tell you the things I loved right off the bat.
I was very happy to have another point of view and watching Frank’s timeline was exhilarating, jarring and depressing, but boy was it welcome!
Wee Roger was curtness itself and I’m sure that we’ll see him some more before the season ends.
I was impressed by the filming of the ‘near rape’ from Claire’s perspective, giving us a ‘dream like’ view and speed. And as I said earlier, the two timelines converging at the Craig Na Dun, combined with a Druid song in the background, just did me in.
The cliffhanger wasn’t a surprise for me because I read somewhere that Ron Moore said that’s where he’d end it, and yet I still went nuts over it. Loved it! Watching Jamie’s snarl was awesome and seeing the expression on Black Jack’s face was disturbing to say the least!
All in all, I’m a happy camper, as a reader and a viewer. It’s rare that a book of this caliber gets an adaptation as close and vivid as this one is. Everything throughout the season has been portrayed as close to it as possible and the production is superb, from top to bottom. But knowing who’s behind it, it doesn’t surprise me, and as a fan of the creator of the show and books, I am in virtual seventh heaven and very grateful to them both, for creating and bringing this literary gem to me.
That said, I am disappointed that the character of Jamie Fraser hadn’t been fleshed out in these eight episodes as much as Frank or Black Jack has. And as much as people are quick to point out to me that I’m biased and speaking from my “reader” POV, I still think [and this is in no criticism of RDM & Co] but just my own personal observation, is that Ron Moore made a conscious decision to expand one character at the expanse of another.
While I’m all for it, I think it could have been accomplished with at least a third less screen time, which could have gone to the developing and ‘rounding’ of Jamie’s character. I understand that this is their prerogative and they are the experts. However, that still doesn’t change my opinion that the opportunity has been missed to develop him just a bit more.
Not to make him ‘King of Men’, nor to embellish him, but just make him more three-dimensional. I was and am on board with seeing Frank and his suffering; watch BJR’s character tell us his POV about the flogging. Those scenes gave us better picture of those characters. My question is why couldn’t we have had the same opportunity to get to know JAMMF in just the same way? The scenes we see JAMMF are very good, and majority was plucked right out of the book, but the most powerful one [of his flogging] was solely concentrated on another character.
So while they followed JAMMF’s story almost to the letter of the book, keeping him in the background [too long in my humble opinion] they fleshed out other characters, such as Frank and Dougal, even Angus and Rupert. That was wasted time and opportunity in developing JAMMF.
It’s water under the bridge now. I’m not losing faith in the show, in RDM or anything of the sort but that’s my impression …
But then I talk to my DH and he tells me from his non-book-reader POV, the show had developed Jamie character to his satisfaction. He is very impressed with the story and tells me that there’s plenty of time left to get into Jamie’s character.
I am given to understand that the second half will be in his voiceover which made me feel a whole lot better.
As much as I love Tobias Menzies, I’ll be glad when Frank/BJR are out of the picture.
so what do you think about the show so far/ are you hooked? And what are your thoughts on this episode? I always welcome discussion, especially the ones with different POV from mine. I’ll always give it respect that it deserves. We all bring to the table our own interpretation, and none is right or wrong, but just our own. If I respect your opinion, then I’m hoping you will do the same with mine, and not belittle it or discourage me to have one. This is what we as people with love of anything should always strive to do. Question, talk, discuss and be loving in all of it.
*PHOTO CREDIT STARZ
*Sam Heughan’s photo from his Twitter