[This is not a spoiler-free review of the episode. If you have not seen the episode yet, read it at your own spoiler risk.]
Episode 304: Of Lost Things
Written by Toni Graphia, Directed by Brendan Maher
The episode begins in 1968, with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Brianna (Sophie Skelton) still in Scotland at the old Wakefield home. The three of them are together in what appears to be his living room, with a storyboard along one wall that they are using to track Claire’s tale from the previous season with the events that took place afterward. Roger (Richard Rankin) makes the connection that time passed at the same rate both here and there when she was in the past. This means they will need to establish that Jamie (Sam Heughan) is still alive in 1766 – 20 years after the Battle of Culloden – so that Claire could go back to be with him again. Brianna and Claire are scouring the records of the prisons after Culloden, since they assume this would have been his next step, having avoided death at and after Culloden. Fiona (Iona Claire), the housekeeper is a bit too friendly and helpful to Roger, and Brianna notices. They share a look, and Roger is uncomfortable at Fiona’s attention in front of Brianna. Claire is successful at last and finds Jamie’s name in the records for one of the prisons. The records span several years until it shut down in 1756, which means they need to figure out where he went from there. Knowing what we do from the previous episode where Lord John Grey (David Berry) snuck Jamie off to Helwater rather than sending him to the colonies, we can imagine how daunting of a task this will be for them without logical leads. Roger and Brianna are excited to have found further evidence of Jamie, regardless of the shorter time span than they need, but Claire seems apprehensive and even troubled.
Meanwhile, in 1756, we meet the Lord Dunsany (Rupert Vansittart), his wife (Beth Goddard), and his two daughters – Geneva (Hannah James) and Isobel (Tanya Reynolds)– arrive at Helwater, where Lord John Grey has used his influence to secure Jamie a position as a groom under an assumed identity. It is a role reminiscent of one we saw Jamie in during season one shortly after we first meet him when he worked as a groom at Castle Leoch, his uncle’s home. The daughters from the very beginning are opposite, with Geneva’s face set in a stern expression while dressed in delicate and bright fabrics, while Isabelle is dressed plainly, but with a sweet expression. Geneva seems to mirror her father’s own tight, haughty expression, while Isobel’s mirrors her mother’s more pleasant one.
Lord Dunsany is already taking an interest in Jamie, aware of his former years as a prisoner because of his treason to the crown during the rebellion He does not know exactly who Jamie is from that war, however. Talking with Jamie, he mentions the loss of his son – which for a man with a title and property in that time would have been a great blow not just for him, but for the entire family. He could blame Jamie for the part he played in that loss, but when Jamie mentions that he has lost two children, Lord Dunsany seems to appreciate his candor and allows him to stay. He warns him about Lady Dunsany, though, and her continued grief and ensures Jamie remembers he is still a prisoner, even if a well-treated one there.
Broken down by the side of the road, Brianna hangs back while Roger tinkers around under the hood. She mimics the housekeeper from earlier, asking Roger if he wants any cream on his scone. She grins, teasing him, but he is quick to deny that there is anything between himself and Fiona. Brianna presses further, commenting on how she had thought the two might have been an item when she had first met them. Taken aback, Roger again denies anything is going on there, stumbling over an explanation of having female friends, but no ‘girlfriend.’ It is clear to us that they like one another, but maybe not as clear to each other yet. Tired of playing coy, she maneuvers herself for a better look at the engine and finds the culprit – a loose distributor cap. Roger is both impressed and chagrined when she shows him up, as any man would be. It does begin to set the stage, though, for the fact that Brianna is the one who is good with her hands, as her birth father and her mother are, while Roger is a scholar like her adopted father, Frank.
Jamie, in his element with the horses, is pulled from his duties to draw straws with the other grooms. The man with the short straw has to accompany Lady Geneva on her ride – a very distasteful task. The girl in question arrives a sour expression with her nose in the air and orders the men around. She is a girl used to being in charge and obeyed. She even goes so far as to insult Jamie and his Scottish heritage. Is this from the pain of losing her brother in the Scottish rebellion or just the behavior of a spoiled child? Perhaps it is a little of both. Jamie makes the mistake of speaking his mind to one of the other grooms regarding the girl, only to be overheard by the sister. It is Jamie’s luck, though, that Isobel is amused by his words, rather than upset, and strikes up a genial conversation with Jamie. She and Grey have been childhood friends, and she speaks fondly of him. She even ventures to say that he will make a good husband to someone one day. Jamie doesn’t miss much, and it is unlikely that he has missed the tentative interest she has shown in his friend. Jamie knows John’s secret, though, and he attempts to let her down lightly, insisting that John is too dedicated to his military career to think about marriage. She is not deterred, though, and Jamie knows enough not to argue further with her.
Claire, who has been reading quietly near the fire in Roger’s house, is pulled from her quiet time by a phone call from Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson). He is calling from the hospital in Boston regarding one of her patients. She is concerned to hear that the man needs surgery the following week, but – after a moment’s hesitation – insists that Joe can handle it. He is surprised but recognizes that she needs some time to deal with whatever secret mission she is currently on before returning home and doesn’t press the issue.
Lord Dunsany and his wife, meanwhile, are very pleased with the betrothal of their daughter, Geneva, to the Earl of Ellesmere (James Cameron Stewart). The three are walking to his carriage, discussing their daughter as if she wasn’t walking right behind them. Her sister, Isabelle, is watching her with concern and pity. Geneva looks even sourer than she has before, clearly displeased with the prospect of her impending marriage. Lord Ellesmere seems unkind and perhaps even cruel, the way that he speaks about her shortcomings in front of her to her parents, but then lays it on thickly when saying his ‘good-byes’ to her. It is clear to be an unpleasant match, and you can’t help but feel sorry for her, despite her bratty behaviors. Even her sudden interest in Jamie can be forgiven, facing the future she is. You have to wonder if she chooses Jamie because he is the worst of the men she could choose from to cause mischief with, or if there is a genuine attraction there for her. Either way, she begins to pursue him relentlessly.
When it’s time for her to go out riding again, Jamie is hand-selected by Lady Geneva to accompany her on her ride. Resigned to his fate, Jamie complies, but the trouble starts quickly. While Jamie tries to maintain an appropriate professional distance from Lady Geneva, she is determined to cross that line. When Jamie suggests that it is time to turn back before getting too dark, Geneva insists that he has to continue riding with her. She rides on and, faced with the decision to leave her by herself or follow, he complies. She pretends to be thrown from her horse, though, and when he catches up and rushes to her rescue, scooping her up in his arms to carry her back home, she begins to laugh. She loves that he followed her as she told him she would, despite his initial protests. Infuriated by her spoiled behavior, he drops her roughly in the mud, making sure to step on her fine clothes as he makes his way back to his horse. Rather than upset, Geneva seems excited by his resistance and insists that he will ride with her again soon. It is the first time we see her smile and even laugh since we’ve met her.
A brief time passes, and Jamie is sitting in the woods, playing chess as usual with Lord John Grey on one of his regular visits. Their time is interrupted, though, by the arrival of the sisters and Lord John’s older brother, who has not forgotten Jamie’s face, even after ten years. Lord Melton (Sam Hoare), John’s brother, makes some veiled derogatory comments about his younger brother and then leaves, hinting at an already complicated brotherly relationship. Geneva, sly and observant, sees the tension between Lord Melton and Jamie and presses Lord Melton until she learns the truth of who Jamie is.
This becomes a real problem for Jamie when she tells him what she has learned. Now that she has something to hold over him, she forces him to agree to come to her bed that night. Initially, she threatens to tell her parents so that he will be sent back to prison. When he insists that he will not allow that to happen, she offers him veiled threats about what the soldiers will do to his family when sent there to look for him. He feels he has no choice but to do as she insists, despite his objections.
Though he comes to her room that evening as ordered, he makes his displeasure over the arrangement clear to her. She orders him around, at first, but when her façade begins to crack in the face of the decision she has made, he seems to soften to her. Perhaps a part of him is compassionate to her situation and understands why she is choosing to use her power in this way. Their coupling is different than when he and Claire had been together. It is rough and over quickly, having been years since he has been with a woman. There is a moment afterward where Geneva tells him that she loves him, but he is quick to cut that off. He clarifies that these are just feelings connected with sex, and what love is really about. Geneva marries Ellesmere, as planned, but his troubles don’t end when she moves away. We see her returning home for a visit, quite advanced in pregnancy. She gives Jamie a meaningful look, making it clear to him that the child she is carrying is his.
Back to Claire, she is lost in thought when Fiona finds her and offers her a beautiful set of pearls that Claire had previously given to Fiona’s grandmother, Mrs. Graham. There seems to have been a strong friendship there, even though we might not have seen all of it within the confines of the show. In the other room, Brianna is excited to tell her mother about the ships’ manifests that she and Roger discovered nearby, and that they can hunt for Jamie’s name on them the following day. Their relationship is healing, and the two are growing closer through their search for Jamie. Brianna admits as much to Roger as they sit in front of the fireplace later, torn between wanting to find her father, but also not wanting to let her mother go back to him as she knows she must. Roger admits feeling just as torn, knowing that, if they find Jamie, Brianna will be done there and go back to Boston. They share a sudden kiss, something that seems to have surprised both of them – and pleases them, as well.
Isobel comes running to find Jamie, in a panic because of her sister. Geneva is giving birth, but it is not going as smoothly as they would have hoped. Jamie rushes off with her, helping her get to the Ellesmere’s home. Geneva has just given birth to a healthy baby boy, and everything seems fine at first, but then sudden complications cause her to bleed too much. Isobel blames Jamie for her sister’s death and slaps him across the face. She knows the child is his because Geneva told her about what happened between them, not to mention she and the Earl had never shared that intimacy. Jamie recognizes that he is at least partly responsible for her death, just as Isabelle accuses.
A maid comes to gather them and brings them running to find Lord Dunsany with a pistol aimed at the Earl of Ellesmere, who is, in turn, pointing a dagger at the newborn in his arms. Jamie quickly jumps between them, attempting to talk them down and diffuse the threat to his son. Lord Dunsany hands over his pistol. Ellesmere, however, refuses to hand over the knife, and moves to stab the child. Instead, Jamie shoots and kills him, recovering his son before harm can be done. Jamie realizes what he has done, but it is too late to take back.
Back at home, Isobel is pushing Geneva and Jamie’s son, William, along in his stroller when Jamie and a couple of the other grooms ride by. She calls for him, and he dismounts to speak with her. She apologizes for her behavior and for blaming him for Geneva’s death, knowing how her sister was and that she was as to blame as he was, if not more. Lady Dunsany walks up, and Isobel leaves William with her to head back to the house. The Lady Dunsany informs Jamie of the cover-up of the Ellesmere’s death – more to save their reputations because of the Earl’s accusations of infidelity on Geneva’s part than for any desire to spare Jamie the consequences of his actions. She also lets him know that she is aware of his past time in jail and involvement in the rebellion. Because of the debt her family owes him now for saving William, she offers him her connections so he can be pardoned and freed to go where he would like, no longer a prisoner. Jamie is reluctant to leave his son, however, and plays it off with an excuse to stay, stating that sending much-needed money back to his sister and her family would be a better use of his time, requesting to stay awhile longer for that purpose. She seems suspicious but allows it.
William (Clark Butler) grows into a young boy, and we see him working closely with Jamie on his riding lessons near the house. Lady Dunsany and a friend walk over to observe, and they tease about how much William is looking like Jamie because of spending too much time with him. Jamie knows what people are saying, though and that the older the boy gets, the more obvious his parenthood will be. His time with William is limited.
At the Archives, Roger, Brianna, and Claire have dug through books upon books of ship manifests, but the last ones have a mix-up and are a hundred years off. The woman working there explains that those manifests are all that they have. It is a heavy setback, and Claire is visibly upset. Taking a drink at a nearby bar, Claire and Brianna are put off by the men who are staring at them – not used to having women sit at the bar instead of in the women’s lounge. It is a different world, even across the pond than what Claire has experienced in America, though it is a battle she seems to have been fighting all of her grown life.
Brianna and Roger try to comfort Claire, insisting that there are other avenues they can investigate, but she remembers a warning Mrs. Graham had given her about spending her life chasing a ghost. Claire seems resigned to her fate and insists that it is time they go home.
Jamie knows that it is also time for him to go home, but William does not take the news well. We see William’s tendency towards his mother’s spoiled attitude in his insistence that Jamie does as he tells him and takes him to Lallybroch with him. Jamie puts his foot down, despite William’s temper tantrum, going as far as to use his hand on the boy’s bottom to make a point. As children often do, William screams at Jamie that he hates him, and Jamie’s temper flares right back, calling the boy a ‘bastard,’ a word it seems the boy is not unfamiliar with, as he becomes offended and demands that Jamie takes it back. Temper waning already, Jamie apologizes and does take it back.
Lord John is visiting the estate and speaking with Isobel when Jamie passes. He stays to speak with him and affirms Jamie’s decision to leave. It is becoming too obvious to observers that William resembles Jamie, and John is concerned that William will notice soon, too. Jamie comes to a decision and asks John to walk with him. They head into the woods nearby, where the riding path is, and Jamie asks John for a favor – to look out for William after he is gone. He even offers to give himself physically to John in repayment for this favor. John is both amused and appalled by the offer, revealing much about his character that he would not dream to take him up on it, no matter how much he might desire Jamie in that way. He reveals to Jamie that he is marrying Isabelle, which puts him in the perfect position to care for Willie as a father. It is a surprise to Jamie, but John insists that he is fond of Isabelle and that there is more to love than physical fulfillment. The subtext here is that he is speaking about his love for Jamie, not just the love and respect he carries for Isobel. They part as good friends, even if they both know that John might always want more than that from Jamie.
That evening, while Jamie is packing up his statues, William sneaks into his room and starts to question him about those religious practices. Jamie lights some candles and explains to William who it is that he prays for. William, still looking up to Jamie, asks him to make him a papist, too. To appease him, Jamie baptizes him with holy water, giving him a christened name: James, which is the same as his own. He also gives William a snake reminiscent of the one his older brother had made for him when they were children, with the boy’s name carved into the bottom. William is distressed that he doesn’t have anything for Jamie to remember him by, but Jamie insists it isn’t necessary because he will always remember William.
We are then treated to much more modern music than we are used to, as Claire and Jamie each say goodbye in their ways. Claire says farewell to the husband she doesn’t believe she’ll ever find again, and Jamie to the new family he had found and is now having to leave. Even John has tears in his eyes as he watches Jamie ride off. William tries to chase after him, but John is able to hold him back as Jamie determinedly keeps going. Roger, too, is distracted from his reading at the thought of Brianna flying back home with her mother after too short of time together. It is a bittersweet ending to an episode full of emotional highs and lows for all parties involved.
Overall, I felt that it was a well put together episode. There was a lot of material here that they had to cover, not to mention in the series as a whole, so far, but they have managed to create a cohesive story despite the bits and pieces they have had to cut. The episode left me with several questions and takeaways as I watched.
First was the interesting comparison between the cute innocence of the budding affection between Roger and Brianna, and the innocent friendship between Claire and Joe juxtaposed with the strong sexuality of the other characters in the series. Brianna and Geneva, in particular, can’t be too far apart in age, yet they approach their “innocence” in completely different manners here. Perhaps the difference is that Brianna is also allowed to be young and innocent, while the other girl is being forced to grow up and be a wife with no regard for her feelings on the matter.
Claire’s feelings throughout this episode intrigued me to think on, as well. For the past 20 years, Claire has thought that Jamie was dead, and she had spent all that time trying to move on, building a secure and happy life for their daughter. Now that she knows that he was alive, she can only imagine what he must have endured, especially all the years he suffered in prison as a traitor. Does she think about how life could have been different if she had returned to him with their daughter sooner? Would he have suffered less if she had been in Scotland all of those years rather than back in her own time with Frank? How much of her heartache could she have avoided? And yet, she would not be the same person as she is now, and neither would Brianna if she had been raised during those times instead of the more modern, American ones. She told Frank in a previous episode that she wanted Brianna to be an American, so she must have realized that this was the world she wanted her daughter to grow up in, just as she did. Those ‘what-if’s still had to plague her now that she knows he was alive, at least for a brief time, after she had come home.
I also am preoccupied with the knowledge that Claire never fell in love again these last 20 years, or even had a brief affair to meet her physical and emotional needs at the time. We see here again where Jamie engages in physical – and even a certain emotional – intimacy with another woman in Claire’s absence, and we’ll see more of the next ten years of his separation from her as the season progresses. If Claire’s assertion during her fight with Frank can be trusted, she never intentionally strayed from her marriages to Frank or Jamie. There are countless reasons one could speculate as to why this is, and maybe it was addressed in the books (though it has been too long for me to remember right now), and it is a question that intrigues me.
There was one significant deviation from the book that I did appreciate in this episode (and which made me nervous when I wasn’t sure they would deviate from it). Within the constraints of a tv show episode, they created a clear, concise picture of Geneva and the story that, ultimately, was included only because it resulted in Jamie’s illegitimate son, William. Geneva herself is not important, but rather the character of her is because it is a recklessness and spoiled attitude that carries on in William and causes complications later on. More specifically, though, when Jamie comes to Geneva’s bed in the book, there is a fine line that I always was uncomfortable with between consensual sex and forced. In the book, Geneva tells him to stop, but he is so overcome with his lack of female intimacy in all the years he’s been imprisoned that he continues anyway. After a few moments, she relaxes and enjoys the experience, despite her initial nerves. This always made me uncomfortable, though, because Jamie essentially forced himself on her at that moment, regardless of what happened before and after. I liked that the show didn’t include that because it doesn’t fit at all with what we feel we know of Jamie at this point, and it definitely would not sit well in today’s culture. (Plus, let’s face it, there’s more than enough non-consensual sex in Gabaldon’s novels as it is, without this scene adding to it.)
As mentioned, I think the writers have continued to create a great story so far that makes sense not only for those of us who have read and loved the books but also for those who haven’t. That is important because it opens the story of Claire and Jamie up to a whole new world of fans. We could nitpick the color of character’s eyes and argue that it wouldn’t be hard to just put people in colored contacts, or any of some other small details. The reality is that if they are capturing the essence of the characters and are telling the story of the intense, strong love Jamie and Claire share for one another, despite the ridiculous number and size of the obstacles they have to overcome during their marriage, then that is what matters and I am satisfied. If the writers and actors and all involved in the elements of the production make you feel the hope and excitement Brianna does when they find Jamie’s name on the prison records, the heartbreak of Jamie’s farewell – possibly forever – to his son or Claire’s despair as she chooses life over chasing the ghost of Jamie – a task she may never succeed in – then they are all doing their job and are winners in my book.
I hope you all enjoyed this episode as much as I did and are looking forward to seeing Jamie, Claire, Roger, and Brianna’s journey through this season as much as I am! Tell us in the comments what your thoughts are on the questions that were sticking in my mind. I’d love to hear from you!
NEXT WEEK, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 8TH AT 8 PM ET: EPISODE 305: “FREEDOME & WHISKY”
“As Brianna grapples with the life-changing revelations of the past summer, Claire must help her come to terms with the fact that she is truly her father’s daughter – her 18th century Highlander father. To complicate matters further, Roger brings news that forces Claire and Brianna to face an impossible choice.”
Clips and Photos courtesy of Starz.