Written by Diana Gabaldon and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Anna Foerster
This eighth episode of the first season, also the mid-season finale, told a part of the story that wasn’t in the books. Since the books are from Claire’s perspective, and she narrates events as they are going on with her in the series, we never hear in the books what Frank goes through when Claire disappeared through the stones. In passing, she thinks about what Frank must be going through, but it’s not much more than that. Both Sides Now makes it clear how much Frank loved her and how much time he spends looking for her.
Both Sides Now opens with Frank (Tobias Menzies) in 1945 at a police station in Scotland. The police have spent a long time searching with nothing to show for it. They believe she has run off with another man; the Highlander whom Frank describes having seen staring up at their window. In a sense, that is true, since what Frank saw was Jamie’s ghost. Frank goes back to the Rev. Wakefield’s (James Fleet) home, which is their headquarters to try to find Claire (Caitriona Balfe). Even Frank though, is starting to believe she won’t be found.
It’s fashionable in this modern age to dismiss the idea of good and evil, but there is evil, and it finds purchase in good men by giving sin the sweet taste of ecstasy. The Nazis drank from that poisoned cup, thinking all the while they were slaking their thirst with the sweetest wine.– Rev. Wakefield
While out getting a drink, Frank is approached by Sally (Olivia Morgan), who claims she can lead him to the Highlander in the picture as long as he brings the reward. It’s a trap to steal the reward money from Frank, but he turns the tables on them.
Rev. Wakefield counsels Frank to get on with his life, afraid of his friend descending into madness if he stays in Inverness. Before he goes, Mrs. Graham (Tracey Wilkinson) tells him about the old stories of people traveling through the stones. However, he doesn’t believe her and decides to return to Oxford.
Claire and Jamie (Sam Heughan) are sharing a private picnic when they are rudely interrupted by Hugh Munro (Simon Meacock), a friend of Jamie’s. Munro had his tongue cut out when he was a slave in Algiers and gets by now by the good graces of others. He brings Jamie news of a witness who could possibly help him get the price off of his head. While they are camping that night, they are attacked by a band of robbers, who don’t really get much. It’s more of an introduction to life in this century and this location for Claire, and they spend an afternoon teaching Claire how to defend herself with a knife.
Later on, Jamie and Claire have gone off by themselves for some privacy, when they are waylaid by two Red Coats. Claire’s education comes into play and she stabs one of the assailants while Jamie takes care of the other one. Dougal (Graham McTavish) arrives and counsels Jamie against trying to find Horrocks on his own, worried that it will be a trap. Jamie leaves Claire behind with Willie (Finn Den Hertog), and she figures out they are near Craigh na Dun.
At the same time, Frank is headed south in 1945. He detours to Craigh na Dun, wanting to believe what Mrs. Graham told him; wanting Claire to return to him, yet his scientific mind can’t believe in it. Sobbing, he calls out her name. Claire sees the rocks in 1743 and runs towards them. She can hear Frank’s voice through the stones and calls out to him. Just as she’s about to touch the stones, she is captured by Red Coats and brought to Fort William, where Captain Jack Randall waits for her.
Claire gambles with what she knows and drops the name of the Duke of Sandringham, hoping it will buy her release. However, she makes a mistake and Captain Randall knows she can’t be working for the Duke of Sandringham. Still, he now wants to find out how she knows there is a connection between the two of them. He is about to rape her when Jamie appears.
I have a friend who tried to watch the series and thought it was “too rapey.” This episode would seem to reinforce that. Claire is almost raped not just once, but twice. However, this was what it was like in those times and why it was so important for a woman to have a man to protect her. That job was her father’s until she found a husband, which was why that was important as well. In “polite society” people didn’t experience it as much, but if you were a maid working for a particularly unscrupulous employer, warming the master’s bed could be part of the job whether you wanted it to be or not. This is something Jamie tries to impress on Claire again and again. He has said that Claire seems to come from a place that’s not as dangerous as here, and that would be correct. She’s expecting a certain degree of civility that doesn’t exist here. Women are treated one step up from chattel.
Caitriona Balfe does a great job acting in the episode. There are a few flashbacks to her time with Frank, but it’s the various things she goes through that test her skills. Claire is loving with Jamie, afraid when with Jack Randall and the soldiers, running from this life to a loving husband when running for the stones, challenged when she’s given lessons on how to use a knife, and goes into a form of shock after actually having to use it. She manages to make all of this believable in the short time of this episode as well as in the overall makeup of the character.
Tobias Menzies, too, had two faces here but they are two different characters. It becomes obvious he had some defensive training in the war as he turns the tables on the people who are looking to swindle him. It’s a side of Frank we haven’t seen although we also haven’t seen much of him. Perhaps it’s also a call back to his nefarious ancestor as well. Jack Randall seems to have that cruel streak in him not only when it comes to Jamie and other highlanders, but for anyone who defies him and doesn’t bend to his will. That is now Claire.
This episode will have an impact going forward. Jamie’s perception of the situation drives a bit of a wedge between them. I think Claire’s treatment at the hands of Jack as well as other events yet to come will impact her relationship with Frank when she returns to her own time. It’s also setting up the possible exoneration of Jamie for a crime he didn’t commit. I liked the added details of what Frank went through while searching for Claire when everyone was dismissing the situation as her having run off with another man. Only Mrs. Graham seems to be on his side, and her explanation is one his scientific mind can’t believe.
This is a good episode, and I think Ronald D. Moore was correct in giving viewers a look into what Frank was going through after Claire disappeared. It adds more to the story that needs to be seen. The coincidence of Claire and Frank being at the stones at the same time feels a bit contrived, but it is something that will pay off later on as well.
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