I’ve been dreading the mid-season break episode. Especially after I heard that it wasn’t going to return until April 4th! Just in case you didn’t figure it out, that is six whole dang months. Nevertheless, no matter how much I dreaded it, the mid-season finale came anyway. Thank goodness it was a good one!
Generally I hate to repeat myself, but I want to say again that I think Tobias Menzies is one helluva actor. In this episode we got more of Frank Randall then we have since the beginning. This time we didn’t just get loving, over-informative Frank Randall, we got devastated, angry, and scared Frank. We saw a bit of darkness in Frank that looked eerily like the darkness in BJR. I know that some fans are complaining about the addition of Frank’s search for Claire, because it wasn’t in the book, but just like the changes to The Garrison Commander I thought it was an excellent addition. It added more depth to story, helped the viewers get to know Frank more and to feel sympathetic for his loss and it definitely showed us why Claire was so eager to get back to him. I know that’s been said in previous episodes, but the early view into their marriage was just a drop in the bucket compared to the love I felt in Both Sides Now.
Two Frank/Claire scenes stood out to me in particular. First, the idea that Frank had the police and everyone searching for the Highlander who was staring up at Claire’s window. My goodness, the thought never crossed my mind and yet it makes so much sense! Of course Frank would have told the police about the strange man. Even if they joked around about the man being a ghost, if his wife disappeared he would definitely think of the strange man staring at her through a window. The ‘strange Highlander’ was also the catalyst for the viewers to see the dangerous side of Frank with the would be thieves. There was something in Franks eyes, after he was slugged, that just made me go ‘ohhhh sh*t!’ The darkness that the Reverend’s voice over narrated was apparent on Franks face. Excellent acting.
The second scene is connected to that image on the left. The scene that takes place at the stones. Okay, so I actually didn’t watch the day it premiered. I didn’t watch until Tuesday night. I did discuss it with a friend and she told me that she couldn’t wait for me to watch the scene at the stones. She said how some maybe felt like it was overly dramatic, but that she found it really powerful. Yeah, so I also thought it was powerful. Even though I’ve read these books a million times and every fiber of my being loves James Fraser, in that moment and watching the anguish on their faces I wanted her to get to him. I wanted her to put her hands on the stones and fall back into his arms. And when it didn’t happen and Frank broke down… ugh, watching that strong man burst into tears like that was hard. I even got a lump in my throat. Well done Ron Moore, you’ve made me finally understand why Claire fought so hard to get home. It was heartbreaking.
On another note, but in the same vein, I loved that Reverend Wakefield and Frank discussed the possibility that Claire fell in the river. It was almost an homage to the book. The scenes differed a bit but in the book, on her way to the stone when Jamie went to meet Horrocks, she actually did fall in the river and that was how the redcoats captured her. I felt like it was a little wink to the written pages. While it was small, it really stood out for me.
I also sqweed a bit when little Roger came on the screen. I won’t elaborate, but the excitement was there and he was absolutely adorable. It makes me more excited for the casting choices that will be made for season 2. (Bree!)
We were also introduced to Hugh Monroe. He didn’t look quite as he was described in the book, but I accepted it readily enough and the important aspects of his character were all there. I also really appreciated that Moore and Co. decided to keep in the gift of a dragonfly frozen in amber.
I think the only aspect of the show that I found a little off putting was the scene where Angus is teaching Claire to protect herself with the dagger. Killing someone with a small dagger is hard to do, as Angus explained. It’s hard to believe that one tiny lesson, showing her from the front and from the back was enough for Claire to truly be able to defend herself. Which of course led to the scene of the deserters in the glade. Claire was able to utilize those dagger wielding skills like an expert, without even a hitch, which I thought was just unrealistic. I was also waiting for Claire’s maniacal laughter afterwards, which was missing. Actually, since I’m mentioning them, I was also disappointed in the clan raid. I kept waiting for Jamie and Dougal to fight back to back, showing their one time camaraderie, and that didn’t happen either. Those are all small petty complaints, though, barely worth mentioning.
And the ending! The cliffhanger! Jamie, perched in the window and the gun and Randall…. It’s a horrible precipice to dangle on for the next 6 months. I was biting my fingernails and grinning as my husband said, “Why would they do that to us!”
Because they’re evil! Pure evil.