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28 November 2017

jump the shark

(of a television series or movie) reach a point at which far-fetched events are included merely for the sake of novelty, indicative of a decline in quality.

Before I begin, let me advise viewers of the Outlander series that if you have not seen this week's episode, just leave right now because there will be lots of plot spoilers.  Come back after you've seen the episode.

Secondly, let me reiterate once again my love for this TV series.  Having loved the books, I am loving the television adaptation, though necessary revisions have had to be written to fit into an hour's time frame.  I'm also already anticipating the "Droughtlander" period that will begin when this season ends, in two episodes.  I don't remember who came up with the term "Droughtlander" but it's perfect.

That said, there were definitely a few moments in Sunday night's episode where I rolled my eyes, moaned and thought that they had jumped the shark.  Not that this indicates a decline in quality, but nonetheless, non-sex moan-worthy.

To recap, for those who don't watch the show and don't know the story, in the last episode, Jamie and Claire are on a ship trying to get to Jamaica, hoping to find Jamie's young nephew, Ian, who was captured by pirates in Scotland.  The small ship is hailed by a big British frigate.  The young captain comes on board asking if they have a doctor and that many of his crew are sick and many have died of the illness.

The time-traveling Claire, who back in the 20th century, became a doctor recognizes the symptoms as typhoid and agrees to visit the frigate and see what she can do to help.  But once she gets on the ship, it raises its sails and takes off, effectively kidnapping her so she must stay and take care of the sick.  Needless to say, neither she nor Jamie is happy about this.  She also learns that someone on the ship knows that Jamie is wanted for sedition and murder back in Scotland and that they plan to arrest him when he arrives in Jamaica.

Claire must warn Jamie but they are some 50 miles apart and she doesn't know what to do.  The woman on board the ship to tends a flock of goats which provide the crew with milk, agrees to help her, and after an abortive attempt to escape when the ship docks to let the goats graze on land, she shows Claire something that will keep her afloat, shows her that she is close enough to shore that she can swim and so, under cover of darkness, Claire takes the plunge, literally and the episode ends.

As the next episode opens, Claire has fallen asleep on her floating device but is now within sight of land, when a wave rolls her over.  She wakes up and stumbles ashore, a deserted beach with no sign of life anywhere.

By some miracle a packet containing all of her clothes somehow floated along with her and is waiting on the beach for her.

She needs to search for signs of life and heads into the forest, desperate to find water (she remembers that a human can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food).  She finds big leaves with small bits of dew on them and desperately seeks more as the forest deepens.

The first night she wakes up with her legs covered by ants, which leave big welts all over her.  The next time she falls asleep, she wakes up with a giant snake crawling over her.  (Award nomination for actress Caitriona Balfe!)

As she is losing strength, she hears singing and she collapses in the yard of an ex-priest, a weird guy who talks to coconuts.  The priest and his dour mother-in-law, Mamacita (his wife has died) nurse her back to health (apparently the ant bites disappear overnight) and tell her where she can find a town where there is a dock where she can rent a ship to take her to Jamaica.

Getting ready to head to the town, for some reason that is not logical at all, she finds a small mirror on a table and takes it.  I've never known Claire to steal anything and there is no logical reason why she would need a mirror, but she slips it in her pocket.

Just then the dog sows up with the head of a goat in his mouth.  Turns out the goat has been killed by a "Chinese" and Claire realizes that this must surely be Mr. Willoughby, who is traveling with Jamie.  She learns that there are sailors and wood pieces and sails down on the beach and she's sure it must be Jamie.

Mamacita points her in the direction of the beach and she takes off running.  The distance that seemed to have taken her two days to get there is covered quickly and though there is no path through the forest, she unerringly manages to find the beach.

On the beach it is Jamie.  Something happened to the ship he was on (it ran aground or something), the cruel captain is dead and Jamie and his men are working to get the ship sail-worthy again.  When all the work is done, they transfer everything back to the ship and prepare to set sail.  Naturally Claire arrives after they have all left.

But she is sure it is Jamie and calls to him -- across the very wide expanse of water.  When there is no response, she takes out the stolen mirror and tries to flash it in the sun.  It's a mirror about 2" square yet shines a light so bright it hits Jamie's eyes.  He gets a telescope and sees Claire on the beach. 

The next scene is not in slow motion, but it should be.  Jamie back on land running toward Claire, Claire running toward Jamie and the moment we have longed for for 2 episodes--they are together again.  All is well.

Other things happen but my eye rolling was over by now and I never dreamed that the spoken word "Fraser" could make me cry every time I see scenes of the wedding that takes place on the beach for Fergus and Marsali.

I loved the episode despite the moments when I felt it had jumped the shark (mostly with the mirror). And yes, it ends with the requisite bare buttocks and fade to black.



It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

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