This post contains Spoilers for non-book readers.
Along with millions of other Outlander fans, I’ve been impatiently waiting for April 4th to arrive so I can finally see the second half of Season One. As you may know, Black Jack Randall, himself, convinced Starz to allow him to choose the return date in order to inflict suffering on the audience–Starz actually wanted February 4th. While musing about what we’re going to see in that episode, it occurred to me that the waiting and anticipation may be different for book readers vs. show watchers, as book readers already know what’s coming and why; and we know parts of Episode 9 are going to be very tough to watch. As I said above, there are SPOILERS in this post.
When last we saw Jamie and Claire, Jamie had scaled the outside wall of Ft. William in order to save Claire from the clutches of the evil Black Jack. A few hours earlier, Claire had promised Jamie she would wait for him on the road side, but instead she hightailed it to, Craigh na dun and the waiting arms of her first husband ‘Fraaaaaank!’ faster than you can say ‘Willie is making a poopie’ Unfortunately, she was immediately captured by the British soldiers.
In order to save Claire, the lives of the traveling MacKenzie clansman are put on the line and Jamie has to kill a guard which brings the wrath of all the British soldiers down upon the MacKenzies’. Claire, who has narrowly escaped torture and death, is terrified and extremely grateful to be rescued. However, as she’s coming from another time, she truly does not understand the seriousness of the situation she has put the MacKenzies in and she doesn’t understand that apologizing is not going to be enough. Until now, Claire has seen her situation as temporary and the clansman as sort of participants in a costume drama. The MacKenzies, however, fully understand the impact of the day’s events and they want Claire to be punished and pay for what she has done.
Before you think they are being overly mean or vindictive, imagine for a moment what would have happened if the MacKenzies had taken in a young Englishman they’d found on the roadside, feeding, clothing and putting a roof over his head for weeks on end. Then imagine if at the first opportunity he had run away and been captured by the English with the very real possibility of imminent torture and death. If rescuing him put all their lives in danger, he would most assuredly have been abandoned to our resident sicko Black Jack with eventual death as his only escape. But Claire is a beautiful, young woman and Jamie loves her, so he risks everything to save her including the lives of his clansmen and because she is Jamie’s wife, it falls to him to administer her punishment. And Jamie Fraser is never a man who shirks his duty no matter how difficult.
So, this is where things get tricky. The punishment Jamie must administer is a dozen strokes with his sword belt. This spanking/beating, must cause physical pain and be enough of a punishment that the clansmen will forgive her and allow her to live. And before we organize protest marches and on-line petitions accusing Jamie of domestic abuse, we must understand that this was a different time and place with different rules and beliefs. Jamie loves his wife, is a fair man and will do anything to save her and there is no question that the ‘beating’ saves her life. Claire eventually realizes the truth of the matter and forgives him, but they will have to go some distance before she gets there.
Book readers have had years to prepare themselves for this event and may understand and move on more quickly. I’m more worried about the show watchers as they won’t have the benefit of reading the explanation in the book so they can understand exactly why he has to do this, and this may change their opinion of and affection for Jamie Fraser.
One fact cannot be disputed and the bottom line (oh, see what I did there?) is this. If Jamie doesn’t spank/beat her, the MacKenzies will probably do much worse to her. As hard as it may be for us to understand, this beating saves her life. I’m sure thousands of words will be written about this event after this episode airs, including more from me…but I am 100% sure that after seeing it with my very own eyes, my opinion will not change.
ADDENDUM AFTER VIEWING:
I just re-read this blog after viewing the episode and I still agree with myself! And, I also think it wasn’t nearly as bad of a ‘spanking’ as it could’ve been and will also go out on a limb and say I’d bet my best shirt (like Murtagh) that thousands of women would willingly line up to be disciplined by Jamie Fraser.