‘Outlander’ 4×01 Review: When My Body Dies, My Soul Will Still Be Yours

By
America The Beautiful

How could I start but with that quote? What else that was said in this episode sort of encompasses the whole of this journey – a journey that, just as the season four premiere, titled “America the Beautiful” has been, at times, slow and arduous, happy, passionate, hopeful and utterly devastating.

We got through the same emotions in this episode, all of them, it seems, and yet, there’s one common thread to everything, the same thing that has been a common thread for this show from the beginning.

Jamie and Claire.

This is a story about a time period, yes, and a story about time travel, and even a story about family, but it is first and foremost, a romance, and this show has never once been ashamed to be just that. The love that Jamie and Claire share is the backbone for this tale we’re watching, and that’s why, through its ups and downs, we’re still here.

Because we love them, and we love the way they love each other.

It hasn’t been easy, and it won’t get easier from now on, I don’t think, but that’s not what great romances are about. Obstacles are a part of life, and Jamie and Claire have gotten through a lot of them together, and they will continue to do so.

So before we embark on the journey that is season four, let us take a moment to say thank you to Outlander, for being the show they are, and to Diana Gabaldon, for writing the story she wrote: one of many pieces and many people, but overall, one of love.

And yes, four seasons in, we’re still here for this romance. That’s not changing. Imagine that.

NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED

Book reader or not, the show does a really good job of setting up the idea that helping Stephen Bonnet is just not the right thing to do. Jamie seems to have misgivings as well, because honor, but in the end, he ends up helping anyway, because mercy. And yet, even as he was doing it, and even knowing that it was a really bad idea for him to do it, I couldn’t help but think: Did we really want Jamie to be the kind of man who didn’t help?

The answer, of course, is no. And, in the end, when it comes to a man like Bonnet, that might not have made a difference. He was even more likely to go after them if they didn’t help, and he might have done more than steal things if he’d truly been angry with them, as he likely would have been if they’d just left him on the side of the road. For Bonnet, this is business. Nasty business, but he is the type of man who would steal from absolutely anyone. If they hadn’t helped him, he would have been doing it for revenge, and that’s much, much worse.

Not that we should truly be thankful to Bonnet for not harming anyone, he did a really bad thing, and he’s not a good man just because he stole and didn’t kill or rape anyone. Let’s not ascribe any virtues to him because he somehow wasn’t as bad as he could have been. Stephen Bonnet is a truly bad man. Period.

Remember this.

So, all in all, yes, I wish Jamie had been less Jamie, but in general, I’m glad he is the man we know. In some instances being a good man might feel like a burden  – I myself titled this section no good deed goes unpunished, but more often than not, being a good man is truly something to be proud of.

Our Jamie is a good man, and that’s why we – and Claire, love him.

BANISHING GHOSTS

Sometimes I feel like ranting about Outlander using rape as a tool, I do. It happens way too often, and though I understand that the reality of the time period means this is accurate, I still don’t necessarily think the narrative needs it as much as it’s been shown to happen.

That being said, Outlander is also one of the few shows that treats something as devastating as rape as exactly what it is for the victim: a life changing experience that doesn’t define, but it does change you.

And that’s why, just as the beginning of Season 2 is hard to watch as Jamie comes to term with what happened to him, the scene between him and young Ian (I’m never calling him just Ian) is incredibly uncomfortable, and yet also truly touching, in a way very few shows manage to be.

We need these kind of conversations on TV, conversations about consent, conversations about how the victim is never to blame, conversations about how you are not what happened to you, and it’s okay to grieve, and to feel bad, but it’s also okay to attempt to move on, and Jamie is really the best positioned to talk to his nephew about this subject.

The conversation is just a moment within a busy episode, and you’d think it wouldn’t merit a whole section written about it, but that’s exactly how the waters of what consent is have been muddied, by not talking about it. When a show does something right, we should applaud it, just as we condemn them when they do something wrong. At least, that’s what I’m going to do.

 

SEXY PRINCESS BRIDE

There was a whole Princess Bride vibe to basically every Jamie and Claire conversation in this episode, a kind of defiance against a universe that has, many times, conspired to keep them apart, and has only managed to derail them momentarily.

All they needed was someone yelling that death cannot stop true love; all it can do is delay it for a while.

But the sentiment stands. Jamie and Claire have proven that the kind of love they share isn’t the kind that will be deterred by obstacles, or the kind that will fall to any of the usual tricks TV throws on established couples to break them up. No, Jamie and Claire are the glue. They’ll stick.

Twenty four years after they met, though, this isn’t just about sentiment. Yes, they love each other, but the love they share is not the wide eyed infatuation that accepts no trials, it’s a mature love that understands that life comes with its ups and downs, and they can weather those, as long as they’re together.

Even more importantly, though, this is a love that’s built not only in respect and trust, but in a deep knowledge of each other. This isn’t just lust, though there’s plenty of that. Jamie knows Claire, enough to call her out gently on the fact that she isn’t being totally forthcoming with him, and Claire knows Jamie. They can anticipate each other, and they can support each other.

Many fandoms will argue about what the best OTP on TV is, and truly, there are many great ones, and the matter of taste also comes to play when this question is asked. There isn’t one definite answer. But one thing is for sure, Jamie and Claire should be in every conversation to that regard, and I’m not just talking now, but for many, many years to come.

WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY

The decision to stay isn’t as clear cut as it might seem, especially considering Claire knows her history and knows what becoming buddy buddy with the British could mean for both her and Jamie at this stage. A war is coming, there’s no avoiding that. She couldn’t change Culloden when she was actively trying; she can’t and doesn’t want to change this one.

And it kinda sucks to be on the wrong side of history once again, especially of history you knew was going to go wrong both times!

For Brianna, however, both Jamie and Claire choose to stay in what will in a few years become the United States. That means that they have to be looking over their shoulder, it means they must be strategic with their decisions going forward, but it might also mean they can do something that can in some real way affect their daughter, in the future.

That’s the plan, at least.

It’s important to remark that everything Jamie and Claire are doing is for Brianna, because there’ll come a time when we’ll have to stare at the other side of the coin, and see what Brianna is willing to risk for her parents. This is a story about Jamie and Claire, yes, but it’s also, in a very real way, a story about a family. Right now, that family includes Brianna, but it only includes her in an abstract way, as Jamie doesn’t really know her.

But he wants that. She wants that. And, for family, you put everything on the line.

Things I think I think:

  • Oh, the stones in North Carolina. Interesting.
  • I love you Jamie, I do, but I’d forgotten how HARD it was to understand you sometimes. Is that just me?
  • Fine, I teared up a bit at the song in the tavern. There’s something to be said for honoring the dead your own way.
  • THEY CHANGED THE THEME SONG A LITTLE BIT AND I STILL LOVE IT AS MUCH, IF NOT MORE.
  • Geillis scares the shit out of me.
  • “Some ghosts can only be banished by speaking their name out loud.”
  • Ain’t that the truth.
  • This is surely going to be a running theme, but I fucking hate Stephen Bonnet, and I KNOW that’s the point, but I just want to state that I hate him even more than I thought I was going to hate him.
  • There’s probably an editorial to be written about how Outlander treats Jamie and Claire, twenty four years after they first met, as two people who still not just love each other as much as the first day, but WANT each other as much as the first day.
  • Oh, and their steamy scenes are still that, steamy.
  • “I was dead. Yet all that time I loved you.”
  • With lines like THAT, no wonder the woman loves you.
  • Jamie’s gift to Claire was the most thoughtful thing ever. Surely it’s going to be very useful, too.
  • The way the last scene is shot gave me goosebumps. And FUCK BONNET, again, a theme, TAKE FRANK’S RING. TAKE THAT.
  • And yes, I know that’s more valuable. I don’t care.
  • This is a departure from the book – which ring Claire loses, and yet I find that it’s not one I mind. The point is to make the scene even harder to digest, and in that respect, it truly works.

Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!

Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.




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