[SPOILERS BELOW FOR THE MIDSEASON FINALE OF OUTLANDER]
The first half of Outlander‘s first season came to a close this weekend – it will be back for another eight episodes starting in April – and while “Both Sides Now” was a perfectly good midseason finale, much of the hour felt a bit anticlimactic after last week’s wedding episode.
The modern story has a quicker pace and more urgency for the first part of the episode. We pick back up with Frank, who is, of course, frantic with worry for his wife and convinced the police aren’t trying hard enough to find her. But I was actually impressed by how much it seemed the police had done, since there was no real evidence of foul play and they clearly thought Claire had run off. And of course people would try to take advantage of the reward Frank offered to rob him; a show less concerned with presenting both Jamie and Frank as viable, attractive options would have just let Frank be beaten up, but here he gets the better of his attackers.
Of course, that leads Rev. Wakefield to express his concern about what the search for Claire is doing to Frank’s moral compass, and also to opine a bit on the nature of good and evil, and the war they’ve just all fought: “Evil has but one cup. [The Nazis] drank long and deep. Yours was but a sip.” He wants Frank to accept that Claire has left him and move on with his life, but before Frank can be convinced, Mrs. Graham finally tells him about the stories of Craigh na Dun and that the people who go through the stones often come back. Frank scoffs at the superstition and says he’s leaving anyway – but he first heads for the stones. This whole question of whether Claire left him is an interesting one, because obviously that wasn’t her intention, but she is having feelings for another man.
Meanwhile, marriage has made Jamie even more concerned with getting the price off his head, but while meeting a supposed witness who could clear him, he and Claire walk into a trap. (Or, okay, the trap walks into them while they’re having sex in a meadow. Whatever.) Luckily, the Highlanders have been teaching Claire to defend herself, and she stabs the Redcoat who tries to rape her, while Jamie gets the better of the one holding him. Confession: at this point my notes say “aw, killing people together!” because I clearly have problems. In the aftermath of the attack, Claire’s in shock and mad at herself for forgetting her own plan to get back to Craigh na Dun, but winds up there anyway – and has to decide whether to try to get back to her own time. “The question was, who did I want to be?”
For now, at least, she wants to be Claire Randall, so we have Claire and Frank both running for the stones from opposite sides, and here is where I thought the episode picked up and started feeling like a finale. They’re yelling at each others’ names, but while Claire can hear Frank, Frank can’t hear Claire – or maybe his brain transposes her cries into bird songs, because he doesn’t really believe in the myths. I wasn’t looking at the clock and thought for a moment that the episode might end with Claire launching herself at the stone – that would have been a decent cliffhanger – but no, the Redcoats capture her and take her back to the other Randall at Fort William.
Claire is handed back over to Jack Randall, but at least the ride there has given her time to formulate a strategy: She once again uses information from Frank’s history lectures, as she guesses that Randall’s powerful patron is the Duke of Sandringham and tries to play him by implying that she’s a spy working on the same side. And it’s a testament to her intelligence and quick thinking that she almost gets away with it. But Randall figures out she’s lying, and clearly he’s not going to let her get away a second time. “What gentleman keeps a rope in his desk?” But Jamie shows up just in time: “I’ll thank you to take your hands off my wife.” With a gun! Randall’s response? He laughs. And that was a delightfully chilling moment on which to end this run of episodes.
Other favorite lines and points of interest:
- “Is it always so between a man and a woman?” “It’s often something like this . . . No, this isn’t usual.” Aw, she tried so hard to lie.
- On Christmas: “Don’t suppose you hang stockings by the fire.” “To dry them off, you mean.” Hee.
- Loved Wakefield quoting Sherlock Holmes.
- “Now I know why the Church calls it a sacrament.” “Why?” “Because I feel like God himself when I’m inside you.”
- Loved the news bulletin about the death of Patton on Frank’s car radio.
- “I doubt you have a sentimental bone in your body.”
- “You are going to regret this.” “I doubt it.”
What did you think of the finale? Are you eager for the show to come back in the spring?