Time is Ticking
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The Watch is downright the weakest episode of Outlander so far, surpassing even the subpar Rent from the first half of the season. As with that particular episode, The Watch is criminally thin on plot, to the point where certain scenes are dragged out for far longer than they need to be under any circumstances. More so than being thin on plot, I’m fairly irritated that the show feels the necessity to pull the gasp-inducing cliffhanger so often. If every week the episode ends on Jamie and or Claire in some sort of trouble which is resolved in the following episode that also ends on that gasp-inducing cliffhanger, the severity of the gasps is reduced fairly quickly. For example, if last week had ended on Claire and Jamie settling into life at Lallybroch, it would have provided that episode a neat ending for the hour’s arc. Opening tonight’s episode with the sudden arrival of the mercenaries would have been shocking, but it would have given The Watch the arc that it needed. If the move to dwindle season two to thirteen episodes is true, then that is a good move on the part of Starz and the showrunners. Outlander thrives far more on the strengths of its characters than plot and that certainly is fine, but at certain moments it becomes apparent that two episodes could have easily been streamlined to one.
Jamie’s past comes back to haunt him in a fashion that feels a bit contrived in all honesty. In the rural Scottish lands in this day and age, there were no security systems that would dial 911 to protect your home just in case some Redcoats came marauding by. Mercenaries parading themselves as protecting the Scots against the Redcoats made sense enough, but them being equal opportunity assholes and imposing their presence on their hosts made even more sense. For families like the Frasers and certainly far more so for families that were less fortunate, there was simply no option but to acquiesce to any demands that these mercenaries imposed on you. If they wanted food, you gave them food. If they burned your hay, you simply had to stamp out the fire and then throw the hay away. A refusal certainly meant something close to death, if not death itself. There’s little sense of honor, even if some of the mercenaries do believe in what they’re doing. But they’re a rare breed, if the exist at all. And there’s simply nothing stopping this piracy in its tracks.
Jamie is incensed that Jenny and Ian had made a deal with the mercenaries, but an angry and pregnant Jenny isn’t having any of his nonsense. It drives back to last week, where Jenny notes that her brother can’t simply storm into his home after being gone for four years and demand that everything simply go back to the sunny ways he remembered. There’s an additional danger that the mercenaries would learn of the price on Jamie’s head and simply give him up to make an extra bag of coin, which is an entirely logical assumption to make. Jenny quickly names him as her cousin Jamie McTavish, a smart move just in case anyone would say his name out loud by mistake considering the pomposity with which he had been received last week. But amidst them is a man named Horrocks who knows Jamie and the price on his head. He first blackmails Jamie for money so he can get to the colonies before demanding he give up more money and possibly some of his land so that he can open a business in the colonies. Jamie is loyal to his family certainly, but before he can make another decision, Ian stabs Horrocks through the back. Ian is visibly horrified that he just took another man’s life and him wrestling with that decision was a profound, heavy sequence that I was glad to have witnessed.
Claire this episode is preoccupied with a feisty, hormonal Jenny who is about to give birth. Traditional signs pointed her to having a boy, but smartly the script has her give birth to a baby girl instead. Claire’s intensity in helping Jenny with the baby came off initially as just being her natural instincts considering the job that she had held before being transported back into time. But as she confesses to Jamie, there’s something buried underneath her that came out during Jenny’s labor. She confesses that she tried to have a child with Frank, but she never became pregnant. Claire’s tearful confession that she might be barren was heartbreaking to watch. But proving once again that he is better than pretty much any man in the world, Jamie embraces Claire, noting that “I can bear pain myself, but I can’t bear yours.” His disappointment is evident, but the love he feels for Claire far outweighs it. It is sad, truly, that for all of the effort he put in into getting back to his home with the love of his life that he finds himself once again at the mercy of those who have no wish to dispense it.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Broken watch in the ground
+Taran MacQuarrie was a neat character, expertly played by Douglas Henshall. His remembrances of the horrors of a British prison being the reason for not turning Jamie in was a nice touch and a neat bit of foreshadowing.
+“Lallybroch is the one place where I thought I’d be safe.”
+Claire is an only child
+Jamie’s brother died of smallpox and his gift of Sawny left behind
+“The baby will be drunk, too.”; “Then he’ll come into the world a true Scot.”
+“I hear Boston’s an expensive city.”
+“I thought I killed the last man in the war.”
+“If you’re going to Hell, I may as well go, too. Lord knows you’ll never manage alone.”
+“The road’s a dangerous place to live.”
+“He will come home. He always does.”
Title: The Watch
Written By: Toni Graphia
Directed By: Metin Hüseyin
Image Courtesy: Decider