Outlander S03E10 “Heaven And Earth” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Amazon Prime Instant Video
Writer: Luke Schelhaas
Director: David Moore
Essential Plot Points:
- When Jamie realises that the Porpoise is sailing away from the Artemis, he tries to get the crew to pursue the ship.
- When Captain Raines prevents him, there’s a a fight between the Artemis crew and Team Jamie.
- Jamie is captured and put in a cell, which is practically his natural habitat.
- Claire, realising there’s little she can do about being press-ganged to be the Porpoise’s new surgeon, knuckles down and starts tackling the typhoid outbreak.
- This rubs the ship’s cook, Mr Cosworth, up the wrong way. He doesn’t appear fond of hygiene. Or being bossed around by a woman.
- Claire is backed up a 14-year-old officer, Elias Pound, who’s far too nice and clearly won’t survive the episode.
- Claire spots a Portuguese flag on the Porpoise and wonders if the ship has encountered the Bruja.
- While surreptitiously rifling through Captain Leonard’s records to find out (could she not just ask?) Claire learns that there’s someone on board called Harry Tompkins knows that Jamie is on the Artemis. Jamie’s been labelled a wanted seditioner.
- She’s spotted by Mr Cosworth. He threatens to tell the Captain about her snooping, but she says she’ll claim Cosworth tried to “violate” her, and the Captain will believe her because he has her trust.
- Using the ruse that “Harry Tompkins” could be a typhoid carrier, she gets Pound to sniff Tompkins out.
- Turns out he’s dodgy Edinburgh excise official Sir Percival Turner’s one-eyed henchman; they found the body of the man Claire killed and Jamie hid in a cask of creme de menthe. They believe Jamie is the murderer and he’ll be hung for it in Jamaica.
- Tompkins is put in the ship’s brig.
- Claire needs to get off the ship. Luckily she’s near-as-dammit rid the ship of typhoid, so her conscience is clear in that regard, although one of the final victims is her new friend, Pound.
- Mistress Johansen – the woman who tends to the goats that provide milk for the ship – hatches an escape plan (she likes Claire, y’see, after she helped save her husband from alcoholic poisoning).
- When the goats need to be fed, Claire accompanies Mistress Johansen to land, and tries to run off.
- But Cosworth has told the Captain about Claire’s snooping and the Captain Leonard is ready for her to try something like this – he easily recaptures her.
- So instead, with Mistress Johansen’s encouragement, Claire later jumps overboard and swims for land…
- Meanwhile, on the Artemis, Jamie tries to emotionally blackmail Fergus into helping him start a mutiny, and tells Fergus he will never give his and Marsali’s marriage his blessing unless the lad helps him.
- Knowing that a mutiny would end in his and Jamie’s death – and Marsali being left at the far-from-tender mercy of the Artemis crew – Fergus refuses.
- When the Artemis approaches rough waters and Captain Raines needs all hands on deck, Marsali convinces Raines that she can make sure Jamie will not rebel if he’s freed. She does this basically by making Jamie feel guilty for ever asking Fergus to do something so stupid, and by pointing out that Fergus’s refusal to do so is the sign of true love and loyalty.
- Fair enough, says Jamie, or something along those lines. He also agrees to give their marriage his blessing when the get married by a proper priest instead of all that hand-fasting nonsense.
Despite the Jamie plotline hitting some choppy waters, “Heaven And Earth” is an enjoyable voyage for the most part. For a change, Claire totally outshines Jamie. This is Caitriona Balfe’s episode, make no mistake, and not just because Jamie does little more than vomit and make really bad demands all episode.
(Talking of vomiting, have the last two episodes broken some kind of TV record for the number of puking scenes crammed into two hours of “entertainment”?)
It’s great to watch Claire in the driving seat, putting the men’s noses out of joint as she takes control of the medical crisis in her own way. Her cuss-filled rant at the drunk guy – and the expressions it leaves on the assorted seamen’s faces – is one of the episode’s highlights. And while it’s clear from the first moment that Pound grins at her that he has a neon glowing target on his forehead, their brief friendship is believable and moving. Then, at the end, with the goat-feeding ruse having gone off the rails, Claire tops it all by throwing herself off the ship and swimming for shore.
While the heart of this show is the Claire/Jamie dynamic, it’s refreshing to have an episode that doesn’t rely on Claire in relationship-angst mode, and kicking some serious ass instead.
The episode also, like last week, benefits from lots of little historical details that make this slice of 18th century shipboard life feel authentic (although the below-decks typhoids scenes aren’t quite as stomach-churning this time). Impressive production values and production design also help make you feel like you’re living the voyage with the characters. Buckets may be required for viewers with more delicate digestive systems.
Sadly, the Artemis scenes are nowhere near as compelling. In an attempt to add a bit of drama, Jamie rather unconvincingly tries to instigate a mutiny. Okay, so the poor guy may be pissed at being separated from Claire yet again, but this is a plan of such epic idiocy you have to wonder if Jamie has puked up his own brains. It just doesn’t ring true with everything we know of Jamie, who usually balances his impulses with a degree of practicality. On the plus side, this personality lapse does give Fergus a chance to shine, which is welcome, because César Domboy’s performance remains just a tad bland, so he needs all the scripting help he can get.
But this entire subplot never really comes to life, and ends with a whimper and some mutual backslapping, all of which is vaguely reminiscent of this ’70s US shows that used to end with moralising, “What have we learned about ourselves this week?” epilogues.
Anyway, did we mention Claire flinging herself off the ship?
- A real tour de force performance from Caitriona Balfe – the scene in which she sews up Elias Pound’s shroud is incredibly moving considering we’ve only known the guy for one episode, and that’s 95% down to Balfe. She’s compelling to watch throughout, especially when she’s putting the men in their place.
- Loads of fascinating historical detail again – much of it not drawn from the book.
- Thank God Fergus was having none of Jamie’s out-of-character rubbish about mutinying (see below). And for spotting the logical loophole in Jamie’s emotional blackmail: “I know you won’t give us your blessing now, but you asked me if I would move Heaven and Earth for the woman I love, and I will… even if it means I cannot marry her.”
- This has to be the best “Jesus H Roosevelt Christ!” yet.
- “How many casks will you require?”
“How man men would you like me to save?”
- Claire’s expletive-fuelled, officer-shocking rant about the goat-woman’s pissed-up hubbie is a potty-mouthed delight.
- Ian Reddington looks like he thinks panto season has come early with his boo-hiss performance as Harry Tompkins.
- Jamie seems to be acting a little out-of-character the whole episode. His willingness to mutiny is overly melodramatic and at odds with this usual pragmatism; sure, he would move “Heaven And Earth” for Claire, but not if he knows moving Heaven and Earth will result in a counterproductive ecological disaster that will do neither of them any good.
- Additionally, the resolution to “Jamie goes Fletcher Christian” plotline is remarkably undramatic – Marsali has a word with Captain Raines and all’s well! Cue wedding bells.
- Elias Pound has “victim” written all over him.
And The Random:
- Anyone else thinking that Mr Cosworth is channelling Argus Filch?
- Rather unusually, “Heaven And Earth” has some new action (rather than just the “story-so-far” recap) before the opening titles come up.
- An orlop is the lowest deck of a wooden sailing ship with three or more decks.
- Cockburn (or “Co-Burn” as Annekje pronounces it) is the capital city of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and is situated on Grand Turk island.
- According to Outlander: Inside The World, the rabbit’s foot continues a Briana-themed motif that links to the bunny seen in Briana’s cot and the rabbit seen on the battlefield at Culloden.
Review by Dave Golder