Last week was an Xfinity Watchathon Week, and I finally got to catch up on Outlander. I think the best part of the season was keeping up with what Jamie was doing without Claire in his life. We see real growth in him. Claire’s life in the 50s and 60s is okay, but I couldn’t care less about it. As I watched through the season one and then two times, I found some issues that bothered me.
Today, I want to talk about the parts of the show that I found unrealistic or ridiculous. I’ve accepted for months now that I will never make it to book 2 of Outlander, so you and I will have to live with this being mostly about the TV show.
NOTE: Do I really need to give a spoiler alert when you know I’m going to be talking about the third season of Outlander?
I’ve been waiting for months to find out why Brianna hates her mom so much, and I didn’t find anything useful. The only thing the show gives us is that Frank claims Claire was hardly around as Brianna grew up. While this might explain emotional distance between mother and daughter, Brianna never looks distressed or distant during her growing up. The only thing I have to go on is a Wikipedia description about her getting hurt while someone was supposed to babysit her, which helped build the bond between father and daughter.
This has me thinking about what could have caused this hatred. I could see being mad or hurt at finding out that everyone has lied about her paternity, but I don’t think that’s enough for hatred. Could it have been enough that in the books that she was abandoned and seriously injured when Mom took off for school? If it hadn’t been Claire hearing that Frank had died in a car accident, I could have bought her being the surgeon on call and Brianna thinking her mom let Frank die. Whatever the reason, I don’t understand why Brianna so hated her mother.
While I still don’t understand why she’s so hateful of her mother, I don’t buy this 180 that she does in the last episode of Season 2 and that carries over to Season 3. She was so furious at her mother that it is very sudden for her to say something like, “I believe you, love you, and I want to help you now. We need to get you back to Jamie.” No. She doesn’t even seem to be struggling with whatever feelings should have carried over in her attempt at forgiving her mother. Everything is perfectly fine now.
This is unbelievable and unrealistic for someone being so angry at her mother. Even if they’re trying to heal the relationship, there will still be issues.
20 years passed for Claire = 20 years passed for Jamie
This is one of the reasons I don’t generally like time travel stories. It is too coincidental that Claire goes back in time and the same number of years have passed for Jamie. It would make more sense if she went back 10-15 years after the Battle of Culloden or 25-35 years after the fact.
This is why I like The Time Traveler’s Wife, where husband and wife keep meeting at different ages in their lifetimes. For example, the 30-40-something wife is impregnated by the younger version of her husband when the 40-something one had gotten a vasectomy.
How could this be solved?
- Explain the mechanics of stone travel more. Geillis at least tries to control how far she goes back in time.
- Have Claire actively seek to go back to an equal amount of time that Jamie has been without her.
To talk about this last point, Roger is clearly a good resource for Claire, but she only seems to need him for minor details. I don’t understand how he, or Brianna for that matter, would know Jamie’s potential aliases. Then Claire never consults him on the era for dress and laws before going back. I know she lived there before, but I highly doubt she remembers everything or what 20 years might have changed.
The Photos of Brianna
I think it’s nice that she brought something back for Jamie so that he could see what their daughter looks like. Why did she think it was a good idea to bring a photo of her daughter in a bikini? She knows the social mores of the time. Jamie is okay with women wearing trousers and short-sleeve shirts, but showing that much skin would be a stretch. She had to know that her husband would react badly to it. That’s why it was part of an argument between them.
The photographs also survive a lot of water damage. Claire gets half-drowned twice. I know some parts of her original dress are made of raincoats, though I’m not aware of the material being around the photos and sealed. Maybe she has great protective sleeves around the photographs, but the only one that ends up damaged is the one Geillis stole.
Jenny is right
Jenny, Jamie’s sister, is the one of the smarter people in this family. She isn’t stupid. She rightly questioned the story about Claire’s whereabouts for the last 20 years. She knows that Claire would never give up looking for Jamie, and she says that Claire should have written if she was alive. She calls the flaws of their lies for what they are. Is a flawed story that’s also a lie a problem for the show? No. I’m more concerned that it’s made me reconsider everything Claire and Jamie did around the Battle of Culloden.
Why didn’t Claire go back to Lallybroch? I know she ended up agreeing with Jamie, but she seemed determined for a while to stay in the time period. Is it that if she couldn’t live with Jamie that she would rather have Frank? I don’t think Jenny or Fergus were on her mind back in Season 2.
Of course, she might have had a reward out for her head, like Jamie, but Jenny and Ian would’ve protected her. It could have also turned into them claiming Brianna was theirs if there were raids and Claire had to hide.
Why didn’t she send a letter to cover her tracks? She could have and should have said something to those at Lallybroch. She didn’t know if she would be coming back, but I don’t think it would have been bad to tell Jamie’s family a story. Say that she was safe and that Jamie sent her to be with her family, or something.
Keeping Laoghaire a secret
Apparently, Jamie married Laoghaire (LEER-ee) a few years ago. I agree with Claire that it’s a problem that he married Laoghaire, Laoghaire who tried to get her burned at the stake for witchcraft. Of all the women in Scotland! She’s also burned hard for him since him took a beating for her. She is trouble.
I think Claire would have been okay if his second wife wasn’t Laoghaire and if he had said something before it was thrust on her.
The one redeeming thing about their marriage is that Jamie did it for the girls. He wanted to be a father to those girls and make sure they would be taken care of.
First, what the hell is this scene?
Why the reference to the old idea of bathing in the blood of infants or virgins for eternal life and beauty? (Yes, I know it’s goat’s blood in the show.) I wasn’t aware that she wanted that. I know she wants a Scot on the throne and that she isn’t afraid to do ritual killings, but she never said she wanted eternal youth and beauty. This scene is over the top.
Second, I’m annoyed that she survived the Witch Trials. I understand how and why, but how is she crazier? Why is she still so desperate to kill for a Scottish king?
I also don’t understand how Claire knew exactly how Geilis died before it happened in her own lifetime. She touches the bones and knows. I would be okay with this if magical elements were more of a reality in the show, but they’re usually treated as savage or as something explained with social reasoning.
Trauma in Claire’s life is not lasting
Claire kills two people this season, and she seems forever unaffected. Immediately after the fact, she’s shaken. That makes sense, especially since she’s not used to killing people. The problem for me is that she never revisits these traumas later.
When she basically kills the man who tried to rape her, she has a weird overall reaction to it. She is freaked out once he falls and smacks his head on the fireplace. Then she is completely ready to heal him. Once he dies, she’s upset about losing a “patient” on the operating table. Then it’s never brought up again—not when Jamie says where he hid the body and not when One-Eyed Shady Guy accuses her husband of killing him. I get that life goes on, but she never has one moment of thinking about it or reacting to the memories of it.
With Geillis’s murder, Claire is completely shaken. Then it cuts to her and Jamie feeling like they want to have sex on the ship. She never even talks about killing this woman who she thought pretty well of. She considered her a friend.
Murder doesn’t phase this woman in the long-term. She is magically cured of trauma 24 hours later. We don’t need to spend episode after episode about it, but don’t tell me that she can be so visibly affected by killing someone herself that she doesn’t ever think about it later.
As much as I love Outlander the show, I don’t like that it gets worse with each subsequent season. What makes shows great are when each season is equal to or better than the previous. We see this in shows like Game of Thrones or Shameless, but Outlander can’t seem to maintain that streak. I can only hope that Season 4 gets better.