**Sorry for the tardiness of this review; it’s been a very hectic, crazy couple of weeks all around. Next week should be a bit better…I hope. Anyway, here’s the review…**
Long before Michael Jackson made millions singing about a paranoid man who believes his television is spying on him, Scotland had bands of Highlanders, known as the Black Watch, who were recruited by the British Crown to patrol the Highlands, just waiting to rat somebody out. And they were very good about sharing their creepiness wherever they went.
(And no, there isn’t any correlation between Michael Jackson’s ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ and the Highlanders. To be quite honest I’m not sure where that was going…)
Anyway, Episode 1.13, The Watch, can be broken into 2 main stories: The Watch that comes to Lallybroch, and Jenny going into labor. The episode, named after the ruffian gang of Highlanders that, let’s be honest with you, would rat you out for your last chocolate bar (and I would put up quite the fight for my last chocolate bar) have stopped at Lallybroch for a ‘visit’. And boy, do they know how to treat people when they get there…
I don’t know about you but this is quite the uncomfortable situation, given that the newly returned Laird has a price on his head. But shhhhh…don’t tell. It would so not be good if this little tidbit were discovered.
By some quick thinking from Jenny, Jamie Fraser goes back to being Jamie McTavish, only this time he’s her ‘cousin’. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would become rather confused by now. Who am I this time? (And we aren’t talking existentially here) The leader of The Watch, Taran MacQuarrie (played by Douglas Henshall from UK’s Primeval), seems to accept this. After all, he appears to hold the Murrays in a great deal of esteem, his idea of esteem anyway. This comes in very handy given they aren’t too thrilled when they learn that the ‘cousin’ has married a Sassenach, no matter how hawt she may be. As the episode continues on, Jamie struggles with trying to keep his identity a secret; trying not to kill the imbeciles (I can’t say I blame him); trying to get the imbeciles out of the manor BEFORE he can kill them; and trying to keep up with the lairdship.
And just let me stop here to say that I feel really awful for Jamie. I really do. I mean, he became Laird by default, having lost his brother at a very young age. For defending his sister he’s flogged…twice (well the second time was for stealing but I cry SETUP for that one)…then accused of murdering a guard during his escape. He flees Scotland, sees more fighting amongst strangers (but at least he did have Ian), returns to Scotland to run around with some tough guys, and ends up meeting his future wife…in the middle of a skirmish with the English. I mean, I totally get that the events shaped him to become the amazing man we know and love…and that the events very conceivably could’ve occurred in real life but…even Jamie deserves a break. When he took Claire to Lallybroch, all he wanted to do was lead a quiet life with his wife and family…and he is set up to be taken by the English. Yet again.
Really, though, how hard would it have been to keep his identity a secret? Not especially difficult if it hadn’t been for that douc…um…jerk Horrocks. What’s the toadie doing here?!? See? Jamie just can’t catch a break it seems.
What a party crasher. But did the dude REALLY think he could get away with blackmailing Jamie? Jamie isn’t no shrinking violet and he doesn’t look like he could be one either. I was certainly in for a shocker when it was Ian who killed the man…all the while briefly reminiscing about their time spent in France. Seriously, we need a TV movie just about Ian and Jamie’s time as mercenaries in the French army. That would make one awesome buddy flick, dontcha think??
In the meantime, while all of this is happening, Jenny’s going into labor. The gender line has been drawn, as each story seems to run parallel with just a few connections here and there. Laura Donnelly’s Jenny is great and I like Jenny much better in this episode than the first one. Laura as Jenny is feisty, smart, strong-willed, determined and yet completely maternal at the same time. Jenny and Claire certainly bonded, a nice thing to see. My only disappointment was the change of character for Claire in these scenes.
In fact, this entire episode was different from the book in many ways. However, these divergent events didn’t bother me like the divergent events of episode 10, ‘By the Pricking of My Thumbs’, perhaps because I felt that the events of episode 13 were more befitting of the characters than the events of episode 10. The beef I have with Claire in episode 13 is that Claire wasn’t trained in obstetrics. She said so herself, she’s a combat nurse. In the book this is a weak moment for her because she can’t deliver a baby. The midwife is the one who delivers Maggie. And, you know, I really enjoyed Claire’s strengths and weaknesses in the book. That’s what makes her human. I think I’d have prefered to see her tough medicinal facade crack on my television screen than the woman who automatically knows everything about medicine. I think it would’ve made for a very interesting scene. But, alas, Claire was gifted with osmosis as she was soaking up her medical training, unknowingly soaking up medical knowledge. Heck, she even knew how to palpate a breech baby.
However, I feel I must point out that I’m not a book purist. I believe that if the series gets the characters’ personalities correct then we should be ok. But this bothered me because it was a change of character. Yes, Claire did look somewhat helpless throughout but a bit too confident for a woman who received her training amongst damaged men who, as far as I recall, can’t give birth to babies. Just sayin’…
Overall I liked this episode a lot. It was a nice change of pace from the more sedate Lallybroch which, I agree, was necessary as it was a ‘calm before the storm’.
Some must call out some awesomeness…
At the risk of sounding horribly insensitive…Desperate!Claire. Desperate for her missing love. This desperation doesn’t mean she’s weak. It means she’s in love, a very intense, deep, violent love that will give her the strength she will need later on. But oh the end, when she’s staring forlornly down the road and her husband hasn’t returned with Ian, just broke my heart. Congrats Caitriona! That was marvelous.
Until we meet again my lovelies, tootles!!