“Monsters and Heroes” gives a different kind of Outlander hero a chance to shine
“Monsters and Heroes” might not be overtly descriptive of this episode but it’s filled with some deep explorations. We start with a sweet moment between Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Marsali (Lauren Lyle). She’s due to give birth any day now and she’s glad Claire is there as her Ma! Sweet. Jamie (Sam Heughan) interrupts a tender moment between Bree (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin) because it’s time for a hunt! Bree stays behind to dye cloth with the ladies and Roger heads out with the men.
They find some buffalo but it all goes wrong when Jamie is bitten by a snake. Roger tries to suck out the poison but Jamie very quickly gets very sick. While he’s out of it he tells Roger about the plan to kill Stephen Bonnet and he charges him to follow through if Jamie can’t. Roger carries Jamie on a stretcher close enough to the Ridge to be found and they bring him to Claire. His leg is infected. Claire is afraid that they’ll have to cut it off. Jamie is quite forceful with the would rather die before he gets quite the set down from Ian (John Bell).
After being carried upstairs by Roger, Jamie isn’t getting better. In fact he almost dies, and asks Claire to touch him. She does and he doesn’t die! He also assents to having his leg removed. Meanwhile Marsali goes into labor too far from Claire for her to help deliver the baby, but it’s fine and they name the girl Felicite. Just as Claire is about to remove Jamie’s leg, Bree figures out how to engineer a syringe from the very snake that bit Jamie in the first place.
Well that was exciting! Let’s get to the roundtable.
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – Languishing during the era of the corona virus. Trying to avoid ANOTHER re-read of the Outlander series and adjacents. Hoping Diana Galbadon has pity on us and releases BEES to help us get by. No spoilers will be shared, but remember, I know what comes next …
Teddie (@teepe54) – An obsessive Outlander book reader and later, show watcher, Outlander brought me into the world of blogging as a now former staff writer for Outlandercast.com. I’m also a long-time Registered Nurse working in the field of Brain Injury Rehabilitation. Amid all this, I somehow discovered Turkish television and I blog for that, too. I blame Droughtlander.
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – Jamie is a language arts teacher and author. Her debut novel, the Gothic fantasy Asperfell, was published in February and is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. Buy it here!
Liesel (@lcb257) – 20-something living in Alabama. Lawyer by day, but always a fangirl.
1. Sweet domesticity! Between the wool dying, Claire and Marsali, and Roger and Bree, do you enjoy seeing Ridge life? Why or why not?
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – I do enjoy #RidgeLife. To see Claire and Jamie together, happily, is the original premise and conflict of Outlander and the Outlander series. It’s always great to see Jamie enjoying time with the wife he sent through the stones, the family he made and gathered to himself when she was away, the daughter that he sent her away to save, and all of their offspring and settlers, etc. I only wish that we had time to meet more of the Ridge Settlers, most of who I think have not been introduced due to seasonal time constraints.
Teddie (@teepe54) – I did enjoy it. I’ve always felt as an American, that it was a wonderful gift to have Jamie and Claire find their place in colonial America, despite the hardships. All of the rich details from the book are now visually laid out on screen. Truly the best of both worlds.
Vida (@Blacklanderz) – I love these scenes showing life on the ridge and them doing their daily chores. It makes it more authentic to the time period. It also provides a bit of history of how things were made, and the labor that went into accomplishing whatever task they had without the modern inventions we enjoy today.
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – I adore sweet domesticity! It is within those quiet moments that we see what these characters have that they are willing to fight and die for, what sustains them during troubling times, of which there are many in their lives. I am also a history nerd, so I love any glimpse into the everyday life of another time! How these beloved characters respond to crisis and danger, and the choices that they make tell us much about them. But of equal importance is the ordinary, particularly with regards to Claire, Bree, and Roger, who are learning how to survive, and thrive, in a time not their own.
I really enjoyed the scene between Claire and Marsali as the latter prepares to give birth to her third child. During that time, women in rural and farming communities gave birth at home with their female family members and friends around them to offer support and encouragement, particularly given the dangers of childbirth and the dread that many women felt at the prospect. Marsali is not only lucky to have a competent physician such as Claire present, but she also views Claire as a mother, and yearns for the bonding experience a birth afforded women of that time. In the books, both Claire and Jamie were present at the birth of Jemmy, and when the show went in a different direction, I wondered if we would see Claire assist Marsali as a maternal figure, but we were treated to an even more surprising turn of events when it was Fergus who assisted his wife with the woodland birth of their third child. I was actually disappointed that we did not get to see that happen onscreen!
With Regards to Bree and Roger, sadly, many parents’ sexy-time was thwarted by sharing the same bedroom as their children. Quick, get Jemmy out of the house before Roger loses his, uh, sting! These two have suffered so much, and seeing them in a well-earned moment of quiet intimacy was beautiful. Also, did anyone else have a quarantine-inspired chuckle at Roger’s “Where else would we be?” response to Jamie asking if they were at home? I think we can all relate to that right about now.
Liesel (@lcb257) – I LOVE seeing the Ridge life. In fact, I don’t think we get it enough. It’s so nice to see these characters that we’ve come to know and love just being together, doing fun and normal and DRAMA-FREE things. I have to shout out the Claire and Marsali relationship, because it’s a vast improvement over the books (which I liked there as well!) and Lauren and Caitriona have done an excellent job with it. Also, Jemmy dropping a curse word at his parents was hilarious.
2. Well this hunting trip went wrong quickly. What was your first reaction to Jamie getting bitten and Roger’s immediate first aid?
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – Even knowing what would happen, it was still jarring to see – especially seeing Roger sucking and spitting out the venom. And, sorry to say, it made me laugh a little in spite of the seriousness of the situation, because it seemed like A LOT of blood and saliva (??) that Roger spit out. Overall, I thought they captured the graveness of the passage in the book quite well.
Teddie (@teepe54) – I feel Jamie has up to now been rather hard on Roger. While I give Jamie some leeway for having just been bitten by a snake, I’d cut back on the irritability towards the guy who just literally sucked out snake venom along with a good amount of my blood to try and save my life. I commend Roger for not gagging, and I commend ever-practical Jamie for eating that snake.
Vida (@Blacklanderz) – I had a feeling something was about to happen when Jamie and Roger separated from the rest of the men there. I did not think it was going to happen this early in the episode. Afterwards, I thought this would be the focus of the remaining episode. I was quite impressed how quickly Roger jumped into action, knew what to do and did it without hesitation.
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – I always have a bit of difficulty watching historical movies and TV shows with modern knowledge and sensibilities, and there was quite a bit of head shaking and groaning when Roger suggested sucking the poison out of the bite, but that was common practice at the time, and at least he had his head in the game and acted quickly even if nothing came of it. Speaking of Roger’s instincts, I actually wondered if he would think to take the snake’s head with him and was relieved when he did, though I was frustrated that he only thought to show it to Bree after Jamie had taken a turn for the worst. I thought perhaps he’d show it to Claire in case that helped Jamie’s treatment somehow, but I supposed if he did that it wouldn’t have led to Bree’s brilliant, “ah-ha!” moment with regards to the syringe.
Liesel (@lcb257) – I had been looking forward to seeing how this scene would play out on screen, and I was pleased from the beginning! I thought Sam did a solid job showing Jamie’s pain and his physical decline over those few hours, and Rik was excellent depicting the son-in-law-who-just-wants-to-do-SOMETHING-right-for-his-father-in-law emotions. My heart dropped both when Jamie was bitten and as Roger realized they were completely alone. The Roger and Jamie dynamic this episode felt so earned. Also, I can’t believe they actually made Roger suck the blood!
3. The episode touched on themes of who we are versus who we’re meant to be, and how we overcome challenges to get there. How did you see that manifesting for the characters?
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – This theme is a question posed to Claire by Brianna who did struggle quite a bit with the fact that she couldn’t follow in any of her parents’ footsteps in her choice of study and career. Only then to travel to the 18th century where she had to adapt her skills so that she wouldn’t stand out quite so much. I’m glad that they finally acknowledged it in this episode (it was a part of the main story for this episode, so they had no choice) – that Bree is an engineer. This struggle is also shared most poignantly by the time travelers – they’ve all had to adapt, including Claire. But you also are reminded in this episode that their family has had to adjust their lives’ expectations – Jamie became a founding settler of the Ridge, Marsali and Fergus are raising their family in the New World, Ian has been ripped from his life in Scotland, his new life in North Carolina and now, even his chosen life with the Mohawk. Each person is a part of this family, however, and each one’s happiness and wellbeing is connected their overall happiness and wellbeing.
Teddie (@teepe54) – Wow—where to start? Well considering Claire, Bree, and Roger have been torn from their own time, they each need to find their place. For Claire, ever adaptable, that’s an easy one. For Bree and Roger, not so much. Many characters find their way in this episode, but I’ll stick with Jamie for now. I love when he is permitted to show his flaws! His honor and self-concept are much more than his physical self; and of course, he had to learn how to make yet another existential choice the hard way.
Vida (@Blacklanderz) – Of all the characters, I think this episode highlighted that question mostly on Bree and Roger. They are the ones trying to find their place in the 18th century and figure out how to transfer their 20th century skills. It started from the beginning with Bree discussing careers with Claire and Claire’s advice that she must find her purpose or transform her calling. It also started at the beginning with Roger. He may not me a marksman, but he surely knows how to comfort people when they are down. If not for him being with Jamie, I think Jamie would have surely died out there in the woods.
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – The question of who we are meant to be hinges on who decides what that is. Is it us, our is it others? Who decides whether or not we have reached that predetermined potential? To say that who we are meant to be is who we are alludes to a belief in destiny, and not personal choice. I believe we are who we choose to be. I’ve been “meant to be” many things throughout my life that never came to pass, and I am completely fine with that! The things I am now I have chosen to be, and I will continue to make choices in order to become the person I want to be.
I found myself thing of Roger and Bree while I pondered this question… Bree chose to leave the expectations of who she was meant to be in the 1960’s to travel through the stones to warn her parents. Now that she has done so, she wonders how to be an engineer in this new place where an engineer is a very different thing. In choosing to give up her previous life, she is no longer meant to be that version of an engineer, but now must find a new way to be who she is. By the end of the episode, we see her reconcile her education and natural inclination with the needs and tools of a different time, to great success. It may not have been who she was “meant to be” by past expectations, but it is who she is now. With regards to Roger, he has always seen himself as a university professor, a role that is not as easy to reconcile with the life he now leads at the Ridge. He also chose this life by passing through the stones to follow Bree, and again by not returning when he had the chance, and the man he is now – husband, father, provider – is shaped by that choice, and not by the man whom he was once meant to be. I hope that, like Bree, he is able to find a way to be the man he has become as a result of these choices while still honoring the man he was.
Liesel (@lcb257) – I thought this theme was really well executed among the main four characters. Jamie struggling with and eventually coming to terms with the possibility that he may have to lose his leg; Claire’s struggle with what happens when she has to be a doctor and a wife in the same moment and how that influences her decision making (her conversations with both Jamie and Bree are excellent, and I’m so glad Claire had Bree to talk to); Jamie and Claire hashing out that collision of roles; Roger finding his place in this new world and helping Jamie while also taking on the promise to enact revenge on Bonnet; and Brianna coming through with the makeshift syringe after expressing doubts to her mother at the beginning of the episode! These four each had their own arcs in this theme that also intertwined with one another’s at times, which made for a compelling story. I even thought Ian and Fergus’s conversation touched on this well, when they talk about Jamie potentially losing his leg and how they would help him through that life-changing event.
4. Roger and Jamie’s heart to heart got really deep. What resonated with you from their really deep, poignant, and sometimes heartfelt time together in the woods (and really, the whole episode), and how do you think their relationship has changed now?
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – It seems that Jamie has finally accepted Roger as an integral part of the family. I wasn’t sure we were ever gonna get there, especially after last week’s episode and even at the beginning of this episode. I’m not sure if Roger’s earned Jamie’s respect or simply his gratitude, but I sensed a turn in their relationship. I think Jamie’s approval is significant and signals that viewers can also finally let go of any bad feelings towards Roger resulting from his storyline in season four.
Teddie (@teepe54) – Tables turned: Jamie must depend on Roger; in the process, Roger’s reveals his courage and steadfastness, something Jamie has always questioned and after this experience likely never will again. Killing and vengeance is not in Roger’s blood; Roger needs Jamie to know this, yet still, Jamie entrusts this act to Roger. In this dire scenario, new levels of mutual understanding emerge. Win/win!
Vida (@Blacklanderz) – I am glad Outlander decided to show men having a heart-to-heart conversation. That rarely happens in TV show and I loved it. Since the beginning, I know they have struggled with their relationship, but this was the opportune moment for them to bond. Their performances were outstanding; most of their scenes were so heartfelt and they made me cry. I was glad that Jamie finally acknowledged Roger as his son and showed gratitude that he was there with him. I also loved that Roger was a constant companion to Jamie throughout the whole episode, even after he was back at the Ridge and while he was on the mend. After all that happened, each has a newfound respect for the other.
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – There is still quite a bit of resentment on Jamie’s part for Roger’s delay in returning to Bree, but there is respect and understanding between them that was not there before. That Jamie would ask Roger to take charge of the Ridge if he died shows enormous trust and belief that he is worthy – Jamie is essentially placing the things he loves most in the world in Roger’s care. Seeing Roger so often by Jamie’s bedside once they returned was also incredibly touching. The relationship between father and son-in-law is a tricky one to get right, and Jamie and Roger did not exactly start off on the right foot to begin with.
Liesel (@lcb257) – One of the biggest surprises of this season for me has been how well they’ve made the growth in Jamie and Roger’s relationship feels earned. Roger taking care of Jamie and trying to boost Jamie’s spirits, and Jamie putting so much trust in Roger (and promising to teach Roger to fight!) was so lovely to see. I have to admit, though, the dialogue that resonated the most with me was right before Young Ian and Fergus found Jamie and Claire. I am WEAK for any dialogue that centers on their family, and hearing Jamie tell Roger, “Tell Bree I’m glad of her, give my sword to the bairn, and tell Claire I meant it,” said it all. I was so happy with how much of the book they stayed loyal to in this episode, and that’s especially true in this moment. Roger’s prayer was also incredibly moving. These two have an earned trust in one another, and it was so great to see. A “plus” was hearing Jamie speak fondly of Roger once he was back in Claire’s surgery. Seeing these four (and their other loved ones) be a family is really all I need for this show, and is what I think is the show’s greatest strength.
5. There’s a lot of talk about that plan to kill Bonnet. There are a lot of sides to this argument. Whose side are you on?
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – I’m on whichever side yields the removal of Bonnet from Brianna’s worries. I have to say, I like Bonnet as the new Big Bad (love Ed Speleer’s portrayal!). And knowing the outcome from the book, I’m interested in seeing how it is resolved on the show.
Teddie (@teepe54) – Actually, I am on Bree’s side. Someone needs to ask her what she would like done about Bonnet.
Vida (@Blacklanderz) – Whose side am I on? Jamie’s side, of course. That man has wreaked havoc in their lives that caused all sorts of trauma that affects them all. Jamie was right. If he’d not saved Bonnet, he would not have been able to carry out all his evil acts. I want him gone. Damn, enough already with him!
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – I’m more of a “put the dude on trial and let him rot in a jail cell for all time” sort of gal, so I suppose I side with Roger more than Jamie, but they are very different men born and raised in very different times, and their experiences have shaped their beliefs in very different ways. Jamie is still, at his core, a laird, and a warrior, and he is operating by a very different code of honor that has been instilled in him by his upbringing, and by the often brutal circumstances of his life. He does not see the killing of Bonnet as immoral because Bonnet is, himself, immoral, and Jamie believes it the right thing to do to rid the world of a man who has done great evil, and might still do more. Jamie has taken life when he believed it would save the lives of others. Roger has never been faced with such an impossible choice. Roger’s belief is very much shaped by the teachings of his adoptive father, Reverend Wakefield, and by 20th century philosophy and ethics. Is it ever right to take a man’s life, and whose right is it to decide?
That being said, the thought of Jemmy being taken from Roger and Bree by Bonnet? Hard no. Looks like Roger may be coming around to that way of thinking, though, which presents a delicious moral quandary for future episodes…
Liesel (@lcb257) – Call me wishy-washy, but I personally see both sides to how this family is feeling. Revenge does not always bring the peace that one thinks it’ll bring, as Roger points out. But Bonnet is out there right now harassing this family and potentially threatening their safety. And the way Jamie expresses his guilt over everything that happened brings a lot of nuance to what’s going on, and doesn’t make this decision any easier. Roger and Brianna’s conversation in the woods also highlighted the conflicts they face as a family, and how Bonnet is still a huge threat to them. It’s an unenviable decision, but goodness, does Ed Speleers make an incredible villain.
6. Jamie’s reaction to his leg being amputated maybe was pretty predictable, but what did you think about Ian’s and Fergus’?
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – I am glad that Ian told Jamie how ridiculous he was being. That was a welcome addition. Having Fergus reminisce about his early relationship with Jamie pulled on our heartstrings and was also welcomed.
Teddie (@teepe54) – Ian and Fergus gave it back to Jamie with everything in the arsenal. Personal loss, family dynamics, and a dose of what Jamie would expect from either of them. He raised them well.
Vida (@Blacklanderz) – I enjoyed their scene together. It took all the way to this episode for them to acknowledge that they were even family. For that, I was grateful. It was nice to see Ian trying to spare Fergus, though he thought, and Fergus setting the record straight. I especially liked that Fergus wasn’t moved at all by what Ian was saying and knew they needed to be by Jamie’s side no matter what the case was.
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – To be honest, I found Jamie’s reaction absolutely absurd! Jamie is so important to so many, and his life has purpose and meaning far beyond his physical contributions to his family and friends. Given his deep and abiding love for them, I was, quite honestly, aghast at his stubborn determination to leave them all behind simply because he feared being less of a man without his leg. And for him to make Claire swear she would not try to save him should it come to it? This is a woman who waited countless years for him, who traveled through time and space to be reunited with him. I do not, for one moment, believe she would have let him die if she could’ve saved him, his anger be damned. Young Ian was spot on here! Jamie’s stubborn pride and foolish, misplaced sense of honor were absolutely not worth losing everything he has. A man is not made whole by the possession of all his limbs and features, as both Ian and Fergus can attest to. Jamie calls it courage, where Ian calls it pride, and he is absolutely right. For Jamie to believe his life not worth living without his leg, to believe he does not have honor without it is shameful when one considers Old Ian’s and Fergus’s losses and the full lives they have both led.
Ian’s anger and disappointment is perfectly balanced by Fergus’s measured response as someone who has personally suffered such a loss, the same outlook Ian wishes Jamie would have, and may have eventually: be thankful for what you have and do not grieve what has been lost.
Liesel (@lcb257) – This was one of my favorite additions to canon that they’ve made in a long while. I loved their inclusion into Jamie’s rescue and healing. Ian’s conversation with Jamie reminded me SO much of the one Fergus has with Jamie in 3×02, and I silently cheered when I heard Fergus reference it later on! Jamie’s fear and anger was understandable, and it was also necessary for him to receive a bit of tough love from Ian. Ian has always been like a son to Jamie, and I loved that Ian referenced the bravery and sacrifice of his own father and namesake. (On a slight tangent, Ian’s comment made me think about his conversation with Marsali from the last episode, as they’re both children from other families who have found their place in the Fraser family). Ian’s love for his uncle came through in his conversation, and was what Jamie needed to hear. I also loved that Ian had Fergus to talk to about this, as someone who lost a key part of his body at such a young age. The promise they make to one another, that they will help Jamie if he did have to lose his leg, is a bond that connects them in their brotherly relationship.
7. Well Claire that was unexpected. What kind of healing did you think that was?
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – Claire and Jamie are soulmates and the heart and soul of this show. When all else failed, he knew that her touch would be what saved him. She called to his heart and he came back to her. This portrayal of the most basic but intense love story is what keeps us invested in Outlander. Kudos to Cait and Sam for their great work in this scene.
Teddie (@teepe54) – I was sort of expecting CPR. I’m not exactly sure what she did do, but I have my ideas. And as a health care professional myself, I’m not 100% convinced that Claire was applying evidence-based practice.
Vida (@Blacklanderz) – It was obviously the only healing that would bring him back. They have always had a strong physical connection that tethers them to one another. In that moment, I think Jamie could feel how much Claire needed him. I did appreciate his explanation of why he told her to touch him and why he came back.
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – It was sexual healing, that’s what it was! Earlier in the episode Jamie told her to work on her bedside manner. Looks like she took the hint.
Jamie’s speech at the end of the episode regarding what transpired before he opened his eyes and made his request of Claire actually made me re-think this scene, which I had previously found it a bit odd. Jamie and Claire’s sexual relationship has always been so central to the story of their extraordinary life together. In a way, what transpired between them was making love without making love, and the sentiment behind it was raw, and heartbreaking, and beautiful. It is a very honest and faithful representation of what physical love has always meant to them, even if some viewers find it surprising.
Liesel (@lcb257) – I could write a novel about how much I loved this scene. The music set it up perfectly, highlighting the desperation, love, and fear in both Jamie and Claire. Claire physically covers Jamie, placing her healing hands everywhere (and, yep, she really did go everywhere). Her hands engaging in the physical intimacy that has always brought them back to each other was a beautiful and heartbreaking metaphor, and I think was a lovely adaptation of this chapter. Sex, and the physical intimacy that underlies it, has always been their lifeline; and though we didn’t get a full love scene here, it turned out to be a literal lifeline for Jamie. Her touch brings him back to life, and Caitriona brilliantly performed that action. Hearing her say “stay with me” broke my heart. Jamie’s groans as he comes back to her, and her grateful kisses across his face, followed by that beautiful overhead shot? *Chef’s kiss* loved it. Her healing gives Jamie the courage to let her serve as his doctor, taking his leg if need be.
8. This episode was called “Monsters and Heroes”, and even though Jamie said there was a fine line between a monster and a hero, there were some unexpected heroes. Tell us what you thought about them.
J. La’Shay (@Endurance97) – I appreciated seeing the family and some of the Ridge Settlers rallying to help Claire save Jamie and save his leg. As I said before, this is the type of Outlander content that is at the heart of this series. A welcome and refreshing episode.
Teddie (@teepe54) – Every single character, including the maggot-gatherers, heroically rose to this extraordinary set of circumstances. Claire brought Jamie back from the light, and I loved that Bree found her engineering groove via a dead snake’s head, and likely saved Jamie’s life in the process. While Roger’s actions raise him to modest hero status, and Ian and Fergus take high honors, James comes out on top by allowing himself to accept the love of his family to conquer his personal frailties, with a little help from a near-death experience.
Vida (@Blacklanderz) – There were several heroes in this episode, and I think that is what I liked most about it. Roger surprised me in that he had the fortitude to make it through the night with Jamie, create that sled/stretcher to carry Jamie and figure out a way for Ian and Fergus to locate them. Instinctively, he also kept the snakes head. Ian immediately knew someone was wrong when he saw the horses had made it back without Jamie and Roger. He did not wait to for someone to tell him what to do. Fergus letting Ian know that he was dedicated to Jamie and why was a bit of a surprise. Why? Because we have not heard too much from this this season, let alone hear how he really feels about Jamie, his father. I also list him in this group of heroes because he delivered his own damn child . . . in the woods, of all places. However, Bree is the ultimate hero of this episode because she figured out how to create a syringe for Claire to save Jamie’s life.
Jamie (@thatjamiethomas) – Bree and Young Ian stood out to me as unexpected heroes this episode. Bree has been struggling to find her place at the Ridge and to reconcile her passion for engineering with her domestic life. I was certain what we were about to see was Claire straddling the line between monster and hero to save Jamie’s life by taking his leg, but Bree ultimately saved the day by plying her talents as an engineer in an unexpected way. I talked about it before, but Young Ian’s speech was another act of unexpected heroism. Jamie needed to be shamed in that moment, to be reminded of what the measure of a man truly is, and that the loss of him is far worse than the loss of his leg ever could be. It was particularly heroic given how much Young Ian has always idolized Jamie, has always looked to him to learn what a man should be. Words have power, and in this case, Ian’s words made all the difference. I imagine Fergus was a hero for Marsali in the forest when she gave birth to their child, but that wasn’t touched on in the episode.
Many of the acts of heroism in this episode were simple, domestic ones: A conversation, an act of healing, the fashioning of a simple tool. As a modern audience, we may not see them as particularly praise-worthy, but everyday life was so fraught with danger at that time that even these small victories were remarkable. The first question addressed sweet domesticity. For these characters whose lives are fraught with difficulty, those moments are so well earned and so well deserved.
Liesel (@lcb257) – We all know that Claire’s medical skills made her a hero this episode, as did Roger’s assistance towards Jamie, but there were definitely some unexpected heroes. First, let’s talk about our girl Brianna Fraser coming through with that snake venom syringe and saving her father! One of my critiques of this episode was that I wish we’d spent a little more time in that moment when she comes to Jamie and Claire, because it’s a BIG moment for the three of them in the book. But I’m so glad we got that moment for her. I also have to admire Ian’s courage in standing up to his uncle and giving him a necessary dose of reality. Standing up to your loved ones is never easy.
Final Verdict: “Monsters and Heroes” brings relationships to the forefront, and amps up the love
Why do we love Outlander? Sometimes we think the creators think we love it for “iconic scenes” or “the romance”. But it’s more than that. We’re in it for the relationships (and not just the romantic ones). Episodes like “Monsters and Heroes” go a long way to remind us why we love this story.
It’s those sweet moments between Claire and Marsali, where she calls her Ma, that make us fans. It’s in conversations like the one between Young Ian and Fergus towards the end of the episode that keep us tuning in. It’s about time we heard from Fergus, who wins the award for most under-utilized character this season. And César Domboy is so great that it’s a shame that Fergus has been so underwritten. We would have loved to see even just a piece of him delivering that baby, too!
While we’re still waiting for a deep moment of connection between Jamie and his daughter, we took some solace in the new connection between Jamie and his son-in-law. Roger is a man out of time and he’s struggling with his sense of self. Is Roger still Roger after his hanging? How does he move forward if he kills Stephen Bonnet and loses even more of himself? Has Roger even considered monsters and heroes before? Has he thought about himself as a hero? It’s clear that he’s acutely aware of becoming a monster and retaining his sense of self .
We’ve never been more intrigued by Roger Mac than we were during this episode. His struggle within himself and growing concern for his father in law seemed to surprise even him. And of course there was the clear foreshadowing of a future vocation for him as he discussed the bible with Jamie and called upon God for help. The detente between father-in-law and son-in-law was compelling and well acted by Rankin and Heughan. It felt earned in a way that some things in past episodes haven’t. We loved it, and our entire Roundtable did too!
On to some head-scratchers. We’re not really sure why the buffalo’s arrival at the Ridge was included here. In the book the buffalo has been shot by Jamie and therefore weakened and sick, much like Jamie himself. When Claire kills it, that’s where they find the maggots that help save his life. But here the buffalo doesn’t serve that function, so why include it at all? It just felt pointless.
If the buffalo was puzzling but forgivable, Jamie’s near-death was the real shocking moment. Though the roundtable mostly liked it, it’s our roundtable and we get the last word. Why on earth did Claire pull her chemise off to rub herself against him as it appeared his heart stopped? If it was supposed to be mystical, it didn’t even come close to reaching far enough. Previously in season one, the show elected to cut a scene where Claire healed Jamie in a strangely mystical way. Seeing this scene and reflecting on that choice, we think it was a wise decision. In the book this scene felt romantic and intimate, she touches him to ground him in this life. As shot here it felt over the top, painfully awkward and out of place. We might have even had to cover our eyes. Some scenes work great pulled directly from the page. Some might need a little tweak.
As stated above, this episode was full of fine acting. Sam Heughan and Richard Rankin do most of the heavy lifting, but there are fine performances all around from every cast member, Caitriona. We especially loved John Bell as Young Ian, laying into Jamie over his reticence to live with one leg. As John Bell tackles darker and more material, we love seeing him rise to the occasion. We also love Young Ian so we’re thrilled whenever he’s got a great scene.
We understand that not every show can take place on Fraser’s Ridge. And we do love action and adventure. But what we love about Outlander isn’t seeing iconic scenes from the book brought to life, like a snake bite and seeing a buffalo. That’s why we liked “Monsters and Heroes”. It’s seeing Jamie telling Roger about the plan to kill Stephen Bonnet and good writing showing us Roger’s internal struggle about doing what he said. It’s Claire scolding Jamie for stepping on a snake, and talking to Bree about finding her purpose no matter where she is. It’s Marsali calling Claire Ma, and Fergus having a heart to heart with Young Ian. This is why we keep coming back. This is why we love Outlander.