The whispered ending to the Skye Boat song was hauntingly disturbing, in light of what happened last week. Rest in peace, Sinéad O’Connor. 💔
I really liked 707. The writing, directing, casting, acting, camera work, editing, and myriad other things teamed up to make a captivating and engaging episode. My one distraction remained the too clean costumes and faces, and there were a couple of issues, but mostly I thought this ep was top notch.
My favorite scene is a toss up between the sex scene between Roger and Bree – yes, I said that – and the scene when William loses his friend and goes berserk on the battlefield a la Jamie Fraser.
I mean wow! Roger and Bree had a hot sex scene! Kudos to the intimacy coordinator Vanessa Coffey. That scene was well choreographed and well acted, in my opinion. I bought it and was hormonally engaged (as Catherine would say). I also noticed that Richard infused Roger with some sexy in the scene just before the sex scene, when he’s wearing his kilt and looking for Buck. Roger has been missing that piece in my opinion, and it was nice to see that unleashed. I think the addition of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” – very ’80’s was a brilliant move by Bear, I’m assuming. Roger should wear his kilt more often.
A lot worked for me in this episode – much easier to list what didn’t. But a few things are – excellent adaptations – lots of minor changes from the source material to make the story work, and they were seamless. I bought into them. The actor who plays Buck – Diarmaid Murtagh – was very well cast in my opinion, props to Suzanne Smith and team again and again. I thought Diarmaid did a tremendous job with that role, which could have been a huge fail if not played just right. And here’s an eerie Outlander Effect type thing – well, his last name is Murtagh, so there’s that, but Diarmaid is Irish, and his name has historically been anglicized as Jeremiah or Jeremy!!
I also feel that Chris Fulton, who plays Rob Cameron, captured that character perfectly.
Charles Vandervaart is doing a beautiful job of adding the layers to William over the course of this season, in my opinion. Someone commented that William is fiery and we weren’t seeing that. I think the character arc for William over this season is well written and being well played. Again, Charles takes his time, he lets us see the feelings and the transformations he goes through; like watching Sam, we see his emotions in his facial expressions, and in his body language. I feel like we watched William cross over from boyhood into manhood in this episode: the loss of innocence when his friend Sandy was killed. William’s baser self emerged, and we saw shades of Jamie Fraser when William went berserk on the battlefield. I loved how that whole sequence was shot, with General Fraser calling him out of his shock and grief, and to his men.
We have seen evidences of William’s honor this season – from trying to save the fireship, to his behaviour with Rachel, to telling Sandy he would not participate in ranking women’s breasts. And then we saw this honor infused with his birth as a soldier – his realization that war isn’t glamorous or what he fantasized about, these are real men who gave up their lives. William’s honor and role as a leader take on a deeper meaning, and a new version of William is born; we see him roll up his (perfectly white) sleeves and jump into the trench with the others and start digging. As he becomes a man, and a leader of men, he becomes more and more like his old da’.
William actually managed to look like both his fathers (I guess technically, he has three), in these battlefield scenes – some definite Lord John Grey here…
Did you notice the look in Sandy’s eyes before the battle? I thought “OK, this guy is gonna die.” Was that fear? Or fettling himself for battle? Did he know that he was going to die? Great juxtaposition of William the boy going in, with William the the soldier, coming out. And what a great vehicle to cement that – General Fraser quoting Aeschylus: “They sent forth men to battle, but no such men return.” And, “You’re a different man, now.” And then William repeats that line, and finishes the poem, “…and home, to claim their welcome, come ashes in an urn.” I thought this was a really well done scene. It made me think of my own grandfather – who fought in World War I – he was 24, and came back from the war a different person. How could you not? So whether you come back in an urn or just as a new version of yourself, it is striking to pause and acknowledge this.
Francis Lewis Williams , WWI (my Grampa)
We saw much less of Jamie and Claire in this episode, but it worked. All three stories – Bree and Roger in the 1980’s, William, and Jamie and Claire – were very engaging. When we switched from one to the other, there was no sense of let down that can sometimes happen if the story is not evenly balanced. Episode 412 is a good example of that – there were two storylines, and one was gripping and the other was meh (for me). I didn’t feel rushed or jostled around, I was in for the ride.
UPDATE ***After letting it simmer, I’m coming back to say that I did not find the Jamie and Claire storyline completely satisfying. I wasn’t sure what it was that bothered me exactly, but I think the answer is, not enough time. The other two storylines were given space to breathe. Specifically, this scene bothered me –
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) July 29, 2023
At first I thought Sam was over acting (perish the thought), or Caitriona was under acting. But then I thought, well, he is going off to an unexpected battle. He usually has more time to prepare and do all his rituals. I think what didn’t sit right for me, was the abrupt change from the casual spectacles scene, to the suddenly dramatic leaving for war. I went back and looked and that whole scene, from when Claire enters the tent and asks what’s happening, to Jamie leaving is less than 1 minute!!! I ken these are our veterans, but I feel like that wasn’t enough time for my brain to adjust to the sudden intensity of Jamie. Maybe it’s just me. Did anyone else find that this sequence didn’t quite sit right? I will say that in the past, they have completely (or almost completely) left Jamie and Claire out of episodes where other storylines are focused on – 412, as I mentioned, Down the Terrible Rabbit Hole, for another, and that very definitely does not work, because as Antoinette says, they are the heart of the story, and the story revolves around them. Maybe we were seeing the contrast of Jamie going into battle (with so much experience) and William’s first battle. Sam said in the interview that Jamie’s an older man now, and it doesn’t go so well for him – maybe he had a premonition? I don’t know, but I think this scene needed a little bit more time to breathe. The fact that I didn’t notice that Jamie and Claire only had two very short scenes in the whole episode, when I first watched, speaks volumes about the power these two pack. I just think they needed a little more time with that second scene to make it gel.***
I am going to call out the directing and the writing in this episode. Unfortunately, having this episode come after 705 and 706 makes the difference in the directing prowess even more glaring. Same actors, continuation of the story. I will say that I think the writer/director combo in Ep 705 was the weakest. Ep 706 had many of the same issues, but was better. It was like going from a clunky high school production to a professionally well done piece of work. That was my experience, anyway. Kudos to writer Margot Ye, and director Joss Agnew.
The pacing and the flow of this episode worked. It could have been very choppy, and it wasn’t.
I loved the one snippet of Young Ian, in his war paint, confronting the deserter. And I really appreciated the way that deserter scene was shot, from above, when the character takes off his coat – running through the thick brush; it made me think of William in the Great Dismal. Perfect example of a tiny scene, creatively written and shot, moved the story forward (Antoinette), and left the audience to figure out what was happening / didn’t spoon feed us (Catherine).
I also thought the actor who played General Burgoyne did a good job. As well as Sandy. I can’t decide how I feel about General Fraser. What did you guys think?
I liked how the Tufty Club opening credits were tied into Jemmy’s disappearance, and that also ties back to Roger mentioning the Tufty club early on back in… Season 4?
Likewise when Jemmy asks his mom to show him the tunnel (foreshadowing) and the interplay between Rob and Bree about the incident in the tunnel, he pretending to be a converted feminist. (Puh!)
What didn’t work –
OK, that little flashback with Young Jemmy: Speak line: “It sings” <walk two steps forward> Speak line: “She hears it too.” Eesh. That was bad. But, that was an awfully little guy, so I cut him a break. Perhaps they did many takes and that was the best one?
Again, all the costumes were perfectly clean, as were the people. What happened to the blood spray across William’s face in the battle?
Mandy was not as distraught as I had imagined she would be, when Jemmy was missing. Other than that small discrepancy (in my head), I thought she did great. And I again, appreciated that the writer just had Bree say “Their connection,” and we got it.
Things I noticed…
The other thing I tend to notice, besides the too clean costumes, is the lack of 18th century dentition – many of these people have clearly had braces and use teeth whitener!
Did anyone notice that Roger’s clothes certainly seemed to fit Buck very well, even though Buck looks a good deal bigger than Roger?
I loved Mandy combing Uncle Buck’s beard with a doll comb!
I noticed that Buck also looked pretty clean, for a guy who’d been living in the woods for a long time.
Standouts for me in this episode were Charles Vandervaart and Richard Rankin. I feel that Richard has really come into his own as Roger, and that he also conveys a lot with just his face and body language. He feels like he’s settled into the character. And, he gave Roger some sensuality in this episode, which made him feel more complete for me.
Karmen’s take –
“Interesting commentary as always, Courtney.
Agree on many things. I very much liked William’s transformation into a killing machine once his careful grooming was replaced with rage over Sandy’s death.
I do like General Fraser’s character a lot. Somewhat jaded, a classic British officer (although a Scott), with a perfect bit of wryness to his observations. He knew exactly what Williams struggled with and called him to action. See to your men! I wasn’t sure at first but I am now. He is great!
I found the Roger and Bree love scene to be a bit cringe worthy. I know Roger fans will love it. Did Roger shave his back? Cos, it was quite hairless. For me, shortening the whole scene would have helped. Also, wondered if Sophie had been watching porn clips with her mouth open for so long like that? I realize it was supposed to convey passion, but over done. I will say it was their best love scene to date. Where was Mandy while Phil was crooning? I guess Jemmy had already left for “Bobby’s house.”
I like Diarmaid Murtagh’s portrayal of Buck very much. What a hulk of a guy! Also notice that although quite a bit larger, he resembles Roger quite a lot which I think is a nice touch. Far more than Graham did.
I love seeing Mandy combing Uncle Buck’s beard. Reminded me of the book where Claire finds the children of Lallybroch putting ribbons in Jamie’s hair (DIA?)
I enjoyed the sweet scene between Jamie and Claire where he offers her a book he found discarded near a stream. Tried to see the title to no avail. Claire resisting his observation that she needs spectacles. But, especially his criticisms that the gutters and letters are terrible. Even knows the font type and size. So Jamie!
Agree, wee Jem trying to explain his baby sister’s ability was dreadful. I realize getting wee kids to act must be challenging, but then I think of Shirley Temple at 5 and other child stars that knock our sox off. Also think Mandy is too big for how old she is supposed to be. Her fear about the bad man taking Jem wasn’t convincing. She is super cute though.
Sandy swipes a wine bottle and William takes an apple from the officers tent. Reminded me of Claire swiping the orange from the King of France. Also enjoyed William slicing the apple in half with his sword. Real or CGI?
I am deeply disappointed over the “priest hole.” I under that it might have been difficult to create but this is just a storage room. The lock is covered by hanging jackets. Not exactly a hidy-hole.
I thought Sam made Daniel Morgan’s costume look manly!. The outfit does appear to be historically correct but it is a bit odd. Think perhaps the fringe was to wick water away from the main garment which is what leather fringe was designed to do?
I also very much enjoyed the last scene between Claire and Jamie when he asks her to kiss him. He appears concerned and uneasy…not his usual cocky stance before heading into battle. Does he have a premonition? Is he feeling his age in his late 50s? Does he really still want to kill men? All the above? For me, he portrayed that perfectly. My dad deer hunted all his life, but in his final decade, he would just go to be with the men. He didn’t have the heart to kill anything anymore. I loved that about him.
Richard is doing the best acting so far in this series. Can’t help but wonder if he is more comfortable playing a 20th century guy and also not acting next to Sam?
Congratulations to your grandpa and thank him for his service! My uncle served in WWII, was captured and put in a Japanese POW camp. He was eventually rescued but was never the same. Drank himself to death.”
My response to Karmen –
I did notice the lack of hair on Roger, and it made for a more aesthetic viewing experience, for me. I have nothing against hairy dudes, but I found it distracting in the hand fast scene – all backlit by the fire. That and the squishing noses.
Re Sophie’s mouth being open, hmmm, not sure. Maybe she does this in real life? Or maybe she is playing Bree as a mouth breather?
That was a nice touch when the boys grabbed the wine and the apple – showing again, they are still boys at this point. Yes – I like your tie in to Claire taking the orange. A small act of defiance. I think that was probably a real scene with the apple, but I’m not sure. I forgot to mention that I LOVED Sandy’s scene with the horse and the apple – so well done! A cute addition – again – adding to the lightness of the pre-battle feeling.
Yes – Jem was at Bobby’s and I guess Mandy was asleep. Most caravans are pretty small, so maybe she’s a very sound sleeper?
I’ll have to look back and notice the physical similarities between Buck and Roger – I missed that. He is a huge dude!
I agree – the priest hole is pretty lame. They were able to construct a believable version of the place Geillis and Claire were “stowed” before the witch trial – seems they could’ve done something like that.
Sam was an absolute GILF in this ep, I agree. What happened to Daniel Morgan – who is supposedly a bigger and taller man than Sam? (I don’t think that’s happened since Lord Lovat). Those costumes are strange, but if accurate, more power to them – I agree with Felice though – too clean!!
I love what you shared about your dad and hunting . And (I know you know this), Jamie does indeed tell Claire that he doesn’t want to kill – especially young men – anymore, in Bees. I don’t think he’s feeling that way yet at this point in the books, but Maril said recently that they were halfway through filming Season 7 before they knew they were getting a Season 8, so they may have included those feelings earlier for the Jamie character. I think knowing Jamie, maybe he did have a premonition. Sam definitely did, since he had read the script .
That’s so sad about your uncle, but understandable. There was so little known about trauma and how to work through it in those days – I think alcohol was the therapy of choice. My grandfather was not an alcoholic, but he could be mean, and in most of his photos in later life, he looked like he had a headache. He was a machine gunner in WWI – it was his job to carry the machine gun to different places (I’m sure with help), set it up, and then shoot it. You have sons – when I think about my son going from his normal life to something like that as his obligation to his country, and the trauma – I know it was and still is a fact of life, but it’s heartbreaking.
I love you Karmy!!! I miss you, and the other gals. xoxox
(you can respond to both our takes in the comments below!)
Sophie and Diarmaid
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) July 31, 2023
Anyone who's watched #Outlander as long as I have has long thrown away the rose colored glasses in exchange for very intense protective goggles. Enjoy these insights from the making of Episode 7!
(previously recorded) pic.twitter.com/b78R25ynSb
— Outlander (@Outlander_STARZ) July 30, 2023
Cheers and best wishes to all xo
Past posts for this season…