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June 18 2016 @ 08:33 am
Can we discuss that whole Laoghaire subplot again?  
I apologize for beating a possibly dead horse with this post, but I finally convinced my husband to watch Outlander with me, and last night, we watched season 1 ep 11 (The Devil's Mark). That, of course, reminded me of the Laoghaire subplot brought forward in season 2 ep. 8. I know I voiced issues with this subplot on the episode discussion thread, but after seeing ep. 111 again, I felt a need to explore this in more detail.

If you've not read the books, at least up to book 3 (Voyager), I'd recommend skipping the rest of this post.

[Possible spoilers for season 3]There was chatter online prior to the airing of 208 that Diana Gabaldon had called something in that episode a "jump the shark" moment. In a recent blog post, Diana explains that she didn't understand the actual meaning of "jump the shark":

But I don’t watch television the way most people do, and frankly, while I did know the term "jumping the shark" and what it referred to (the incident with Fonzie and Happy Days), I’d always taken it in the sense of "something exaggerated and/or strikingly unlikely in context"; something that goes too far or is inappropriate.”

One of my more culturally-informed offspring, hearing about the subsequent controversy, told me kindly that I should really have referred to what the writers had in mind as "screwing the pooch," as "jumping the shark" had to do with some outre move introduced to get eyeballs for a failing show—which was clearly not the case here

(Let me just say here that my interpretation of "jump the shark" has always been pretty much the same as Diana's.)

While Diana never identified what the "jump the shark" moment of ep 208 is, it's clearly the entirely invented subplot involving Laoghaire. Ron Moore and Toni Graphia explain the rationale for it in the 208 podcast. I've transcribed the relevant discussion with the approximate time stamp if you want to go find the sections yourselves:

17:46 Ron: The Laoghaire part of this, I think, came out of two desires. One was to set up things that will happen with Laoghaire in season 3. I felt pretty strongly that she (Laoghaire) needed to see her (Claire) in season 2 to bridge that -- where we left her (in season 1) and where we're going to find her in season 3. And the second one is I think we needed something to service this story at Lovat's. (Discussion of Lovat plot line follows.)

22:30 Toni: The other discussion we had about Laoghaire, too, was that in our story, Jamie knows that Laoghaire was the one who ratted Claire out as a witch, one, and she testified at the trial. Neither of these things happen in the book so because of where things go, there was a very strong feeling that we had to, you know, we had to give her some moment of redemption before we could get to where we want to go.

Ron: You had to move it forward because it felt if she just showed up the way she shows up in book 3 and the next season, you would really go "Wait a minute!"

Toni: You would not be able to believe it.
(emphasis added)

The first highlighted section is problematic since it's the main justification for this entire deviation from the source material. Toni claims that, unlike book Jamie, at this point in the story, TV Jamie does know that Laoghaire was behind the message supposedly from Geillis which found Claire at Geillis' when the wardens came to arrest her. The next part of that sentence isn't 100% clear. I can't really tell if Toni is saying that TV Jamie ALSO knows that Laoghaire testified at the trial, or if she's simply stating that in ep 111, Laoghaire testified against Claire, but TV Jamie doesn't necessarily know that part. She then states that neither of these things happened in the book.

In the book, it is very clear that Laoghaire is the one who was behind Claire being at Geillis' when the wardens arrive. In fact, it is Laoghaire herself who delivers the message to Claire that Geillis needs to see her (that's on p. 514 of my copy of Outlander -- chapter 24 if you have a different edition with different page numbering -- near the very end of the chapter). In ep. 111, the note purporting to be from Geillis is delivered by a young boy. It is true, however, that in the book, Laoghaire does not testify against Claire.

However, TV Jamie's knowledge of either or both of these things is certainly far from clear. In ep. 111, when Jamie storms into the court to rescue Claire, yes, Laoghaire is present among the spectators, but a circle of men forms around Claire trying to ward off Jamie, so it's doubtful that he could see her or would have noticed her. Having rewatched the episode just last night, there is absolutely no definitive or even "maybe-ish" camera shot that gives the impression that Jamie notices Laoghaire among the many people in the court. His attention is divided between Claire, the "judges", and the various men pointing swords at him. We don't even see Laoghaire in any of those camera shots. The ONLY camera shot that could be interpreted as Jamie being alerted to Laoghaire's presence occurs when Jamie and Claire are hiding behind a building watching the procession carrying Geillis to the pyre make its way up the street. Laoghaire is seen in the procession, but again, it's not definitive that Jamie specifically notices her or singles her out in the crowd.

Even if he did see her in the procession, that is a far cry from knowing that she was the one who "ratted Claire out as a witch". Witch trials (and all other foms of justice) were public events back then -- remember the crowd present at Fort William when Jamie was being flogged by Black Jack? Or the crowd who were teasing the young boy who had his ear nailed to the pillory? Jamie knew Laoghaire hated Claire, so if Laoghaire had heard that Claire was on trial, it wouldn't be all that surprising for her to go watch proceedings. My point here is that I have major issues with Toni's claim that it's a fact that TV Jamie knows of Laoghaire's role in all of this. TV Jamie doesn't come across to me as any more informed about these events than book Jamie at this point in the story.

In ep. 208, when Claire confronts Colum about his role in the witch trial, Jamie doesn't blink an eye. He just sort of stares/glares at Colum with "yeah dude -- explain yourself!" look. And when Laoghaire's role in events is brought up by Claire, again, nothing from Jamie. We don't even see Jamie in the camera shots during that exchange between Colum and Claire. And when Colum's done explaining, Jamie just asks him if Dougal is with him -- nothing at all about Laoghaire or the trial. So clearly that was not the first time TV Jamie hears about all of this because if it was, surely there would have been some sort of stunned/outraged reaction from him written into the script? Or at least a camera shot of him looking stunned or something? So if TV Jamie has heard all about this previously, when the hell did that occur? Certainly not in ep. 111, and by the way things played out, not in 208 either.

Toni and Ron then both explain that we needed a transition with Laoghaire otherwise what happens in book 3/season 3 would be unbelievable to viewers.


They are referring, of course, to the fact that Jamie ends up marrying Laoghaire in book three during the 20-year period that he and Claire are apart after Claire goes back through the stones just before the battle of Culloden.

However,  the key point here is that this plot line in book 3 only works because Jamie has no idea of Laoghaire's role in the witch trial!! When Claire (and readers) find out in book 3 that Jamie married Laoghaire (because readers find out at the very same time as Claire does), it IS totally unbelievable. We're shocked! How could Jamie have married that bitch?! Why are we (and Claire) shocked? Because we know what happened. And then you realize that Jamie doesn't. Claire never said anything to him. And as Jamie makes very clear to Claire when he finally does find out about Laoghaire's involvement (in book 5!), if he'd known, he would never have agreed to the marriage.

Contrary to what Ron and Toni think, having TV Jamie know that Laoghaire was the one who, at the very least, ratted Claire out as a witch, makes it LESS believable that Jamie would agree to marry her in season 3, not more. At least it is to me. I have no idea how they are going to twist the storyline to make that work next season. Claire is the love of Jamie's life. I can't ever see him forgiving Laoghaire for almost costing Claire her life. I just can't. It's totally contrary to Jamie's character.

Sorry for this hugely long post. I just needed to vent!
coffee_gyrlcoffee_gyrl on June 20th, 2016 08:59 pm (UTC)
I've read all the books and always thought it was a bullshit part anyways. Claire freaking out over Lerry was so overdone especially since she is very well aware of divorce and she had braced herself that Jamie might be remarried. I think she totally overreacted by a bunch and would be very happy if they just cut that part out. But no, given this part of the episode, they won't. I agree that they didn't need to put Lerry in this. I'm going to roll my eyes when this part comes up again in season 3.
siobhan63siobhan63 on June 21st, 2016 12:52 pm (UTC)
I sort of agree that Claire overreacts when she does find out in Voyager -- at the very least, she should have given Jamie time to explain the situation.

That said, I can also sort of see it from her point of view. Yes, she had considered that Jamie might have remarried during those 20 years that they were apart, but Jamie never said anything to her when they did reunite -- he should have. Plus, when she does find out -- very abruptly -- that he not only remarried, but is still married, and that he married Laoghaire!! And that, initially, she thinks he had children with her (because Joan and Marsali both come into the room with Laoghaire and call Jamie "Da" or "Daddy" can't quite recall) -- I can see that pushing her over the edge. It hurts her that Jamie will never (she thinks at this point) meet or get to know the daughter that they had together, and then she thinks he's had two kids with the woman who almost had her killed. That has got to hurt something awful.

Edited at 2016-06-21 03:47 pm (UTC)
Jill aka Josireesanwar on June 28th, 2016 07:26 pm (UTC)
I do agree with you but Claire lived for those 20 years with Frank (almost that long) and she now blames Jamie for possibly moving on? I never liked it. I mean that it is L could be a huge point of contention here but I think if it was another woman Claire would have reacted the same and scrambled for a reasoning behind it.
Kaylee Winchesterroguem on June 21st, 2016 09:55 am (UTC)
I'm really wondering how they'll try to explain this in season 3. I just can't see it working very well.
I'll never understand this change being made for the TV show. Their reasoning is faulty.
siobhan63siobhan63 on June 21st, 2016 03:48 pm (UTC)
This +1000.
Jo Ann: AG: GIF Jesse nodding yesyeuxdebleu on June 22nd, 2016 06:04 am (UTC)
For what it's worth, I am in complete agreement with everything you said.
Jill aka Jo: OB: Alison as Sarahsireesanwar on June 28th, 2016 07:24 pm (UTC)
No apologies. I love discussing stuff as long as it is civil.

Yes, I was confused by her mention of Jumping the Shark because nothing in Outlander so far has done the jumping the shark type thing though I see why Diana and you thought it was one of those moments. But Jumping the Shark would have been more like sending Mickey Mouse through the stones.

So in the books, Jamie doesn't know about Laoghaire's involvement in the witch trial until Claire tells him either after they see Laoghaire again or when she's nursing him from his gunshot wound. I can't remember which but I do remember it being one of her justifications that he not have married her and he was completely clueless. In the books, Jamie never knows about Laoghaire and her ways. The ill wish is even a mystery to Jamie though Claire speculates.

In the show, Jamie is the one to blame L for the ill wish and while L was at the witch trial there is no indication that Jamie does know though I believe Toni's rationale is that Claire would tell Jamie about that interesting detail which I admit struck me as odd in the books that she hadn't.

Going back to Geillis being taken away. As you said, this is a public event so L's presence could definitely just be spectator rather than participant.

I do think Toni and Ron are speculating that Claire would have told Jamie about L's involvement because he seems to know about it when Claire confronts Colum and Jamie doesn't seem stunned. I mean all Jamie had to do in that moment with Colum is say, "What?" Give us a, "I'm out of the loop" moment and we'd probably be pretty satisfied with this convo with Claire and Colum which would then clue in Jamie. But I think they are trying to convey he's been told and we just didn't see that convo between J&C.

To me the whole idea that Jamie will marry L because he didn't know seems more plausible. When Claire tells him in the books he's got a WTF moment and an almost... I wouldn't have married her if I'd known (as you said). But now he'll be marrying her knowing her actions against Claire and how does that help things?

I do think Ron and Tony missed something because now it will be almost a betrayal of Claire to marry L in Voyager. I totally see where you are coming from. Why would Claire want to stay knowing Jamie did such at thing?

I do wonder if Jamie will justify this with being angry about her being with Frank which is just petty. If the writer's go there I'll be annoyed. It is possible, I suppose, Jamie could actually believe L's involvement in the witch trial was a youthful mistake but it still nearly cost Claire her life and in turn makes her a no go for marriage.

I don't know how they plan on justifying this but I can see it being a point of contention when it airs.