There’s good news and not so good news in Outlander Season 1 Episode 8. Let’s just jump to the not so good news :
this is the mid-season finale, meaning the drama does not return until April 4, 2015. Hold tight, though, Outlander Fanatics. We can get through this together.
Largely because there was plenty of good news in this solid episode, written by none other than Ron Moore himself and directed by Anne Foerester.
The devotees of Diana Gabaldon books have noted some slight deviations from the text thus far in Outlander Season 1, but this episode takes a big step by giving us a lot of Frank Randall. Definitely more than we’ve gotten since the pilot and, I think it kind of works. Let’s jump in...
The hour opens up in a place we haven’t been before: the Inverness police station. We quickly find out that six weeks have passed since Frank’s wife disappeared. We know where she is but obviously he does not.
We see MISSING fliers have been posted, newspaper stories have run, but Frank is justifiably upset that there’s nothing to show for the police’s search. The detective surmises she left with another man – probably the (ghostly) Highlander that Frank saw watching Claire in Outlander Season 1 Episode 1. A furious Frank is unconvinced that this is why Claire has disappeared and leaves. Makes ya feel for the guy, doesn’t it?
My wife is not with another man!Frank
We’re then taken back to 1743 and Jamie and Claire (newlyweds, remember?) who are having a swoon-worthy conversation about what they’re feeling for each other on a clearing.
Jamie: When I touch you, when you lie with me, was it always so between a man and a woman?
Claire: It's often something like this. But, no, this is unusual. It's different.
Of course, their nice moment is interrupted by…an arrow! But it’s not Randall or any other antagonist but an old friend of Jamie’s, Munro, who just happens to not have his tongue. His purpose here is to pass on news to Jamie and that’s a man name Horrocks who wants to meet with Jamie.
It’s a chance for Jamie to get the price taken off his head so he’s intrigued to check it out. (Why do I feel this is not a good turn of events?)
We’re back in the 1940s and Frank is talking with Reverend Wakefield. He has theories about Claire being lost (which, well, isn’t entirely untrue) but he’s way off base. And while this part of the story was not in the books, I’m glad it’s a part of the show. Ron Moore has done a splendid job of reminding us of Claire’s past in the future and this is quite the welcome departure.
Needing to tie one on, Frank goes to a local bar to drown his sorrows and meets a young woman who says he can call her Sally, though it’s not her real name. She has a flyer of Claire’s disappearance and while she’s very secretive, she tells Frank to come meet her later at half past twelve and she knows someone who has information about Claire.
(Hmmm…Jamie is going to meet someone mysterious about his situation and now so is Frank in the 1940s? Is there a connection?)
Returning to Claire and Jamie, they’re still heading back to Castle Leoch and talk of the upcoming Christmas holiday. Jamie notices the horses are somewhat restless and suspects something is up. He tells Claire to go to a tree and don’t move. The Clan works together to fight off the men and Ned even gets a shot in the midst of it all but nobody is seriously hurt. I can only surmise that this event happened just to keep us aware that danger is out there still.
Back to Frank meeting with whomever has information about Claire. Sadly for Frank, it is but a rouse to get the reward money from him. He nearly beats a man to death and almost chokes Sally in his rage and we see a flash of Captain Black Jack Randall in his eyes.
Later, Frank is back with Reverend Wakeland, who urges Frank to stop drinking so much and tries to convince him that maybe it’s time to move on from Claire.
Rev Wakefield: Go back to Oxford. You start your life over.
Frank: And what of Claire?
Rev. Wakefield: Let her go just as she has let you go.
Claire is back with the men the next morning and is given a knife by Murtagh to protect herself. Ned suggests she get some training and Angus supplies a lesson in just where to do the most damage on another person both in the front and the back. (Me thinks this is going to come in handy later, don’t you?)
Claire after given a blade for protection: It's too long and heavy for me.
Murtagh: Lassies say that to me all the time.
We see that maybe Frank has taken Wakefield’s advice and we see him packing up the room he’s been in for the past six weeks. He finds Claire’s suitcase and it’s quite moving to see him go through her clothes and personal items. I love how you really feel for this guy and hope he finds a clue that will help him. Instead, he finds a photograph from their wedding day…
…and while Frank is doing that, Claire and Jamie are in the grass getting frisky…
Does it ever stop? The wanting you?Jamie
But their moment together is interrupted once again…this time a much bigger threat as a pair of Red Coats grab Jamie. We now know why Claire needed that lesson and she takes care of the Red Coat who, of course, tries to rape her with Jamie watching at gunpoint. The distraction affords Jamie the chance to slit the throat of the man holding a gun to his head. Double murder! Aw hell…this is not going to get better, is it?
Rev. Wakeland and Mrs. Graham are arguing. She wants to tell Frank what she saw when she read Claire’s tea leaves and palms in Outlander Season 1 Episode 1. Frank enters and she tells him what she think she knows…and what we know to be true and that’s that Claire passed through the stones to another time.
The circle at Craigh na Dun marks a place on the Earth where the powers of nature come together - for certain people on certain days, it allows them to pierce the veil of time.Mrs. Graham
Frank listens and we’re not sure if he believes her or not…but he announces he’s going back to Oxford. Mrs. Graham says that they sometimes come back but Frank simply says he doesn’t share her beliefs. *sigh*
Jamie and Claire are comforting each other post attack and Jamie notices Claire is ice cold. She says she’s going into shock.
My mind jumped and danced from thought to thought like a stone skipping across a pond.Claire
While Claire tries to collect herself, Dougal tells Jamie he cannot meet Horrocks by himself. But maybe they can all go together or Jamie doesn’t go at all.
Frank is leaving Inverness and purposely leaves Claire’s suitcase.
Claire reveals - through her voiceover - that she is angry. Not because of Jamie or what has happened but because she’d forgotten her plan to get back to Craigh na Dun and return to Frank. With Jamie and the other men off to meet with Horrocks, Claire moves to the Stones.
Frank is driving and stops at a road marker 5 miles from that very place. He looks at his wedding ring and he heads that way…just as Claire realizes she’s very close to the spot and then she sees Craigh na Dun!
I was back to the place where'd it all begun. So much had happened, so much had changed. Last I was here I was Claire Randall, then Claire Beauchamp and Claire Fraser. The question was, who did I want to be?Claire
Claire runs to the stones and, like her, you probably also had mixed emotions. We’ve gotten used to her in this past world and her love with Jamie, yet we feel for Frank and what may be losing forever. We cut back and forth between Frank arriving at the stones and Claire also finding her way to the same spot. The music swells. Frank weeps at the spot and starts calling out her name…
…and as Claire gets closer she can hear the echo of his call. She calls back. He hears her and turns around. Claire rushes to the stones and puts her hands to them as she did in the pilot but…just as we go to darkness and sense that something all time-travel-like is happening, Claire is pulled away from the stones by the Red Coats.
Frank is alone and sees nothing. He leaves.
But Claire is now bound and moving in a wagon. She knows she is going back to Fort William and will be face to face with Randall in no time. Time to use those smarts, Claire!
He would have no advance notice of my capture, no time plan his interrogation. I, on the other hand, had the entire jolting journey in the back of the wagon to think. It was my one advantage. I prayed it would be enough.Claire
Claire is sitting at a table, being served wine by Captain Jack Randall. Much like Outlander Season 1 Episode 6, it’s cordial but we know things can change any moment now.
Madam, you need to understand your position in this, our third encounter. I fully intend by any means necessary to discover both your true nature and the secrets that you hold.Randall
Claire puts a stop to his plan by mentioning the Duke of Sandringham, who, in flashback, was discussed by Frank and Reverend Wakefield. Seems they figure out that Black Jack Randall had a benefactor who helped him get away with his unscrupulous actions.
Claire uses this knowledge to her advantage and tells Randall that she is also in the employ of the Duke and his detaining her will ruin her mission. Randall doesn’t believe her but she dares him to take the chance.
Perhaps he will be displeased and take measures to terminate your special relationship, withdraw the protection to which you've become accustomed and thus leave you at the mercy of your superior officers and local authorities.Claire
Alas, just as we think Claire is in the clear, Randall catches her in a lie and, well, hold on tight, people.
Like Claire, we are frightened out of our corsets since we know Randall will gladly punish her within an inch of her life (if not less). But, just as he’s about to commence with his torture…Jamie bursts into the room!
Jamie: I'll thank you to take your hands off my wife.
Randall (smiling): Good God.
And we’re done with the first half of season one. Pardon me while I go pour myself a glass of bourbon.
What did you think of this midseason finale? For you book aficionados, what did you think of the changes from Gabaldon’s tome? How will we survive the torture of not seeing more until April 4, 2015?! UGH!
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.