Outlander S03E13 “Eye Of The Storm” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Amazon Prime Instant Video
Writers: Matthew B Roberts, Toni Graphia
Director: Matthew B Roberts
Essential Plot Points:
- Claire heads for Rose Hall to look for Young Ian, but is caught snooping by Geillis’s hulking servant Hercules.
- On a tip-off from Fergus, Lord John’s men intercept Captain Leonard’s men as they try to take Jamie off the island.
- Lord John asks Lieutenant… sorry Captain Leonard to produce either a warrant or affidavit for Jamie’s arrest. Leonard cannot, so Lord John says, “Tough luck, mate! Oh, and by the way, if you were in a proper armed force like the army there’s no way you’d be able to call yourself a captain.” Once more, Jamie has Lord John to thank for his freedom.
- Claire and Geillis have a frosty conversation in which the paranoid Geillis accuses Claire of spending the last 25 years trying to ruin her plans.
- Claire points out that she could hardly have done that since she spent most of the past 20 years in another century.
- Geillis is sceptical at first until Claire shows her photos of Brianna.
- At which point Geillis has a lightbulb moment – Brianna must be the 200 year old baby she needs to fulfil the prophecy! She steals one of the photos and prepares to bring Brianna back through time.
- Geillis locks Claire in a room. Through a window, Claire sees Geillis head away from Rose Hall with Hercules carrying a trussed-up Ian behind her.
- Jamie rescues Claire from Rose Hall and they head off after Geillis.
- They run into a maroon (escaped slaves) ceremony, complete with a guy who looks like he’s trying to make a Toho Godzilla film… though he’s probably representing a crocodile spirit or something.
- They’re surprised to find Mr Willoughby here with Margaret Campbell. They’re an item now!
- The maroons apparently heard of Margaret’s gift so invited her along and she brought her new beau with her. That’s one hell of a first date.
- Mr Willoughby and Margaret plan to head to Martinique for a new life of bliss together after the ceremony.
- Margaret’s gift kicks in and she speaks about images that remind Jamie of lying among the dead at Culloden and Claire of her time in Boston.
- Then Margaret starts channelling Brianna! Spook! Brianna pleads with her mum and dad not to let the monster take her.
- Then Margaret says the word, “Abandawe!” again, as she did in London.
- Claire now knows this is the name of a mystic cave. She deduces this must be where the portal that Geillis plans to use to pull Brianna through time is located.
- One of the maroons points the way to the cave, warning that it is an evil place and they will die.
- Jamie and Claire head off to the cave anyway.
- Archibald turns up and starts being nasty to Margaret again. So Mr Willoughby kills him and the maroons think, “Waste not, want not!” and use his body in the ceremony.
- Claire and Jamie find the cave. Inside, next to a supernaturally blue pool which acts as the portal, they find Geillis preparing to sacrifice Young Ian to activate the portal.
- Jamie fights Hercules while Claire has a scrap with Geillis.
- Full time result: 2-Nil to Team Fraser.
- But while Jamie lets Hercules go, Claire ends up decapitating Geillis. It’s not entirely intentional but it still shakes Claire, especially as she has a flashback to her time in Boston when Joe Abernathy examined the skeleton of decapitated woman found in a cave in the Caribbean.
- They rescue young Ian and have a group hug.
- Back on the Artemis, they begin the voyage back to Scotland; apparently Lord John has had a word with the authorities in Edinburgh and had the warrant against Jamie withdrawn. He’s like the Swiss Army knife of handy plot resolutions, isn’t he?
- Claire and Jamie have epic sex, with Jamie giving a running commentary throughout.
- Later, a massive storm descends on the Artemis.
- Claire is thrown overboard and Jamie dives in to rescue her.
- They cling onto some driftwood and eventually drift to a beach. There, a local family, the Olivers, find them and assure them that Artemis is a few miles down the coast and there are survivors.
- Claire and Jamie ask where they’ve been washed up. Georgia, says Joseph Oliver. Ladies and gentlemen, the series has arrived in the United States.
Now we know that if Jamie ever travels through time to a period after the telephone was invented, he’d make a killing on phone sex chat lines. It takes a brave show to turn nearly six minutes of an episode (that’s over tenth of the running time!) over to somebody giving a verbal blow-by-blow account of how they intend to give someone else the mother of all rogering, but amazingly, Outlander does just that and manages to turn it into one of the show’s most electrifyingly sensual moments ever. Fan service, sure, but very clever and creative fan service.
Does it really matter what else happens? Well, since this is a season finale you’d hope so, but it’s not the most momentous of season finales.
Ironically for an episode called “The Eye Of The Storm” – referring to the uncanny calm at the centre of a hurricane – the middle section of the episode is a frantic, noisy mess, surrounded on either side by much more elegant storytelling. There’s something about the pacing of the episode that’s reminiscent of True Blood season finales. That show habitually seemed to be in a unholy haste to wrap up the past season’s arc plot, so that it could get on with teasing us about what’ll be happening next season instead.
Here, the Geillis plotline doesn’t so much climax as run out of steam. It’s a shame because the episode starts very promisingly with two great scenes early on: Lord John totally humiliating Captain Leonard in order to get Jamie freed; and Claire’s edgy, awkward meeting with Geillis, which sparks with mutual animosity. Both are totally absorbing character scenes of the type Outlander excels at.
After that, though, it all goes a bit, “And then… and then… and then…”. Things just happen, with little emotional impact: Jamie rescuing Claire; Willoughby declaring his love for Margaret; Archibald’s death; the discovery of the cave; the showdown between Claire and Geillis; the decapitation. It’s like a conveyor belt of incident; efficient and watchable but not massively exciting. Even the cross-cutting between the voodoo ceremony and Jamie and Claire realising what’s Geillis is up to – which surely on page was designed to be a heady, intense, pivotal moment – falls flat, while fight in the cave lacks any tension or visual impact. It doesn’t help that the mystical pool looks like a spa.
Don’t get us wrong. There’s nothing particularly poor about any of this. It’s just that as the climax to a plot that’s been bubbling away for three seasons, it’s a little bland. Rushed even. Only the moment when Claire has flashbacks to the whirling dancers at Stones at Craigh na Dun during the similarly swirling voodoo ceremony does the episode touch on the kind of stirring mythic quality you’d expect. On the other hand, when Margaret channels Brianna going on about a monster coming to get her, you’d expect that to be a real spine-chilling moment, but instead it’s a little hokey.
Luckily, once that’s out of the way – surprisingly early in the episode – things improve massively, and not just thanks to Jamie’s sex talk. The storm scenes are hugely impressive also, and moment when we realise that Jamie and Claire have survived because they’re at the eye of a titanic storm has exactly the mythic feel that’s missing elsewhere.
Of course, if you’ve read further, you’ll know the Jamie and Claure are in a metaphorical eye of the storm too. Arriving in America doesn’t mean that the fall-out from time-travelly events aren’t going to continue to swirl around them.
- Who’d have guessed that a sex scene that was 95% running commentary and about 5% sex could be so electric? Five-and-a-half minutes of a shirtless Jamie describing what he’s going to do turns out to be far more erotic than the actual 30 seconds of so of actual bonking. Wonderful scene.
- Jamie: “I’ve considered in great detail what I want to do to you should I have you naked and willing and no one hearing. With enough room to serve you… suitably.”
Claire: “Well, I’m willing. And there’s certainly enough room. And as for being naked, well…”
- While the final fight between Claire and Geillis is a disappointment, their earlier verbal sparring in Rose Hall is utterly engrossing.
- Lord John totally outmanoeuvring
CaptainLieutenant Leonard is huge fun to watch too. It’s like watching someone play chess with an opponent who only knows the rules to checkers: “You don’t have the warrant? Then what do you have, Lieutenant Leonard? Forgive me, Captain Leonard. You must excuse my unfamiliarity with the somewhat liberal practices of the naval service insofar as conferring rank is concerned. I’m afraid the army takes a somewhat more traditional stance in these matters, preferring to grant a title of command only when it has been earned.”
- The storm scenes are very impressive, especially the visual FX.
- Checking on IMDB, it appears that not only is this episode the first time Matthew B Roberts has directed for Outlander, but his first official outing as a director ever. He doesn’t do a bad job, just a workmanlike one. It seems odd to trust a season finale to a a newbie, even if he has worked on the show as a producer and writer since year one.
- Not just a problem with Outlander but with many TV shows and films that head under the waves – we’re pretty sure that visibility underwater in the middle of the Atlantic during a storm would be a darn sight murkier than the beautifully-lit water ballet we get here.
- The sudden insertion of a voiceover from Claire announcing, “It was then I realised that the pool was the portal,” is so intrusive that you have you suspect it was a last minute addition. Maybe the explanatory line got cut from elsewhere? Or maybe when the episode was edited together someone pointed out that just making the pool really, really blue didn’t get the point across strongly enough.
- WORST LIAR EVER! Claire: “My coachman left me at the end of the road, and I got lost trying to find the house.” Hang on, she means Rose Hall? The massive building that dominates the skyline in all its establishing shot?
And The Random:
- It’s interesting that Margaret mentions the rabbit at Colluden shortly before channelling Brianna, since the rabbit motif has been connected to Brianna throughout this season.
- Although not made clear in the episode, the book confirms that the former slaves at the ceremony are maroons, a term which means Africans who escaped from slavery in the Americas and mixed with the indigenous peoples to form independent settlements.
- The very last scene Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan filmed for season three was the drowning sequence, in a massive studio water tank in South Africa.
Review by Dave Golder