fashion illustration of claire on outlander

claire from outlander illustration

Much of Outlander’s attention right now is because of its super hot sex scenes with the main couple, Claire and Jamie. But there is just as much to talk about when the characters have their clothes on.

Terry Dresbach, the shows costume designer, talks here about eight of her favorite looks on the show. Not surprisingly, Claire is on that list four times. I drew her in one of my favorite looks of hers, a gorgeous deep teal bodice and plaid skirt.

Claire has so many different looks on the show, but they are only made up of a few different items mixed and matched. The idea is that Claire has limited clothing given to her, and she wears those items over and over in different combinations.

I could learn a lesson or two from Claire on how to mix it up with a smaller wardrobe, and on how to wear a bodice like a boss.

Here’s a video on some of my coloring process.

outlander s1e14: the search

Claire

Jamie is missing. For a girl who turns in mostly to see Claire and Jamie be in love, I wouldn’t have bet an episode with only one half of this couple would be this entertaining. But on her search for her husband, Claire tries on many different identities, and the show flirts with many different genres, to do whatever it takes to get what she needs.

With Jamie missing, and Ian missing his leg, Claire and Jenny are the only two who can feasibly go look for their missing laird. So the pair sets off on horseback, Jenny with a pistol on her back.

Just as I was wondering what women back then did when they were lactating, and just as I was about to roll my eyes at a new mother going on a trip (on horseback!) without any discomfort with her body, Jenny addressed the issue in the most straightforward way possible.

In an 18th century version of pumping, Jenny squeezed her breastmilk into a cup to relieve herself. And just like that, a normal occurrence for so many women was portrayed matter of factly on TV. Huzzah!

I would SO WATCH a show of just Claire and Jenny being outlaws. (Or maybe a reality show, Survivor: The Scottish Highlands–they aren’t here to make friends.) They are both headstrong and fiery, and they both have deep hearts and survivalist instincts. They push each other, and their skills and personalities complement each other so well that it’s a blast to watch. I pity the person who gets in their way–they both made it very clear they would do whatever it takes to get Jamie home.

After they take a courier at gunpoint and torture him for information, Claire first decides to bandage him up when they are done with him. But Jenny knows that if the soldier returns to his men, he will tell them about Jamie, putting them all at risk. As Claire struggles with the idea of killing this man, Murtagh, sent by Ian, arrives and does the deed for them, before calmly walking off to find them something to cook for dinner. Problem solved, I guess?

One of the standout moments on this episode full of so many is when Murtagh returns to Claire and Jenny after hunting for dinner. Murtagh offers the animal to each of them to prepare it to cook, but he should have known Claire and Jenny cook no man’s dinner they don’t want to. The side eye they give him is UNREAL.

Murtagh is such a delight, which was a lovely surprise since I couldn’t remember his name until this very episode. When Jenny heads back to Lallybroch to care for her newborn daughter, Murtagh comes up with a plan for he and Claire to lure Jamie out of hiding in the countryside.

Which is when we get to the Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman portion of the show. Murtagh and Claire travel from town to town calling as much attention to themselves as possible so word of mouth will spread that an English healer and a Fraser clansman dancer (just go with it) are in the area. When Jamie hears of the beautiful English healer, he will know it’s Claire and he will come to them.

Claire is no stranger to trying on different identities to make herself useful and to keep herself alive. Becoming a healer is what saved her when she first went back in time, and she returns to this tactic now, searching for Jamie.

But they abandon the healing part of the plan pretty quickly when Claire comes up with a catchy song for Murtagh to use in his dancing act. Only Murtagh wants Claire to sing it instead. And they have to change the words, he says, because what Scot in the 1700s would know what a Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is, anyway.

So Claire changes her identity again and dons a sort of gypsy pantsuit (they’ll get more attention if a lass dresses up like a lad, according to Murtagh), and she sings on every stage she can. The song become so popular, in fact, that a group of gypsies steal the act for themselves. (And here we are all of a sudden in a show about a broadway musical with rival singers trying to upstage each other.)

This reminds me of how my friends and I have often talked about how we would know if someone polyjuice potions us–what’s the one fact that only you and your friend could know?–but now I’m thinking we also need a plan for how to covertly get each other’s attention if we were on enemy grounds. Murtagh uses the lyrics of a song that he knows Jamie will recognize. I can’t think of any situation where I would know my loved ones were calling out to me in code.

But this song works so well that not only Jamie knows it’s a signal, so does Dougal MacKenzie. (I mean really, did the MacKenzies decide on this song being a code in a clan meeting?)

When Claire gets a message to meet at Glenrowan Cross, she rushes off hoping to find Jamie. Imagine her disappointment when she sees it’s Dougal instead.

Dougal is a worm, but his scene with Claire is wonderful because she drops (almost) all her acts in her last-ditch desperate plan to get Jamie back. Dougal tells Claire that Jamie has been captured, and he’s due for hanging any day now. In a super sleazeball move, Dougal then proposes to Claire under the pretense of keeping her safe after Jamie is gone. Claire sees his marriage proposal for what it is, a play to get the Fraser’s land. Her sharp wit and disgust at Dougal’s tactics come through loud and clear, as does her love for Jamie. This is Claire’s true heart. She is not only a healer or a wanderer, she is a tough, smart woman who does what she needs to survive and help those she loves. Claire is not acting or pretending with Dougal; she is her fiercest self.

After she comes up with a plan to help Jamie, Claire plays one more role as the Laird’s Lady begging for the MacKenzies to help her break Jamie out of prison. They agree, and set off, outlaws once more.

outlander s1e13: the watch

jamie from outlander the watch

Jamie, Claire, and their in-laws face one near miss after another in this episode, spinning their wheels and ending up almost exactly where they started–plus or minus one baby.

Jamie is introduced to the Watch–a Scottish highlands version of the mob–in the most Jamie way possible: being held at gunpoint. He escapes death after some quick thinking from Jenny, when she lies and says he is her cousin who dropped in for an unannounced visit.

When Jamie’s not facing the barrel of a gun in this episode, he and his family are narrowly escaping death, imprisonment, and blowing Jamie’s cover. (Which should be a lot more exciting than it was.)

Jenny and Jamie almost get away with their lie, but the leader of the Watch Taran MacQuarrie knows their story doesn’t add up, and his suspicions are confirmed when Horrocks arrives and recognizes Jamie.

Horrocks demands a bribe to keep Jamie’s identity a secret and not turn him over to the Redcoats, and he alllllmost gets his money, until Ian stabs his sword straight through him.

Ian and Jamie almost get away with killing Horrocks, until the Watch notices he’s missing, but his horse isn’t. As Ian is just about to confess, Jamie jumps in to take the blame himself, gambling by telling the almost truth to Taran, who ends up impressed with his killer instinct.

While the men are figuring out who killed who and how to go on a raid, Jenny and Claire are also dealing with life-and-death matters as Jenny goes into labor.

Claire tells Jenny the baby is breech, and they almost get help–until they find out the midwife has been called away to tend to a sick family member.

Jenny is in labor for hours and is worried she will die in childbirth. Claire almost tells Jamie and Ian that Jenny is in trouble against Jenny’s wishes, but she doesn’t. She does, however, tell Jamie that she thinks she is infertile and may not be able to give him the son or daughter he is planning on.

Jamie reacts shockingly well to this news, assuring her that maybe it’s for the best and he couldn’t bear to see her during the pain of pregnancy and childbirth. (But the emotional pain of not being able to have kids if you want them is ok or something? On that note, does Claire even want kids? About two episodes ago she was ready to go back to the 1940s.)

Jamie and Ian are invited (well, forced mostly) to go on a raid with the Watch while Jenny is still in labor. Ian almost stays with Jenny–but then he doesn’t. And because men have nothing to do whatsoever with getting pregnant or giving birth or raising kids, Jenny tells the men to leave them alone to deal with this nasty business of bringing new life into the world, but to come back safe.

Which they almost do. Jamie realizes the raid is a trap a little too late, and only Ian makes it home to the women. In some of the only action that sticks this week, Jamie has been captured by the British, yet again.

I’m pumped for next week, when it looks like Claire and Jenny turn into a crime fighting outlaw duo. Hopefully that will have more action and more fun.

outlander s1e12: lallybroch

outlander lallybroch

Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. You’d think you had learned something after being married to Claire. Like not to assume you know what’s going on with the woman of the house. Or to, I don’t know, listen to her about the state of the estate she’s run for the past four years.

But no! Supposedly diplomatic Jamie turns into a dumb, egotistical boy the second he gets home to Lallybroch–just like how I revert back to being my 12-year-old self as soon as I walk through the doors of the house I grew up in.

But now Jamie is an adult, and he is the laird (which he keeps reminding everyone), and the stakes are much higher than they were when he snuck into his father’s room to play with swords.

Claire, Claire, Claire. You’d think you’d have learned something after choosing to stay in the 1700s. Like that even if you don’t agree with certain social rules, that doesn’t make them go away. And that maybe you don’t understand the entirety of the situation based on 30 seconds of your own observation in a place and time completely new to you.

But, no. Claire still assumes she knows best and speaks without thinking of the consequences, telling both Jamie and his sister Jenny how they should operate.

But both Claire and Jamie grow a little in their time at Lallybroch–thank goodness. When Jamie asked Claire to listen and to trust him on how to talk to his family, Claire finally begins to realize that she might be able to get more of what she wants if she knows the rules of the game–and knows when it’s best to break them.

Jenny’s husband Ian also helps Claire see this, as they bond over loving the hard-headed Frasers. Their conversation rang so true to in-laws discussing the family they love, but are outsiders to. Ian seems to really love Jenny. He lets her be herself, and when Jamie came back and effectively kicks Ian out of his position of power, not to mention his own bedroom, he doesn’t argue or fight. He respects Jenny’s family and the way they choose to do things, and he does his best to support the Frasers–not just Jenny, but Jamie and Claire, too. When Claire sharply asks why Ian married Jenny, he sweetly speaks of when they met, and how she made him whole. This does not sound like a man who married for opportunity or power once Jamie was out of the picture, it sounds like a man in love.

In fact both Ian and Jenny don’t seem to hold on to resentment toward Jamie for coming home and assuming role as laird–their (legit) resentment instead is for his boorish behavior while doing it.

But Jamie, like Claire, starts to listen in this episode, and after a harsh talk from his wife, Jamie gets it together. He apologizes to Jenny, and the two reconnect and discuss their roles in their father’s death and the guilt they’ve held onto for so many years.

Laura Donnelly as Jenny is fantastic in this episode, displaying a complex character juggling family issues, trauma, and essentially running a business. When Jamie first sees his sister after four years of being assumed dead and accuses her of having two bastard children and punishing him by naming one Jamie (uhhhh Jamie, bro, this isn’t actually all about you), she fights back and stands up for herself and her family.

In a powerful scene, Jenny tells what really did happen with Captain Randall. After Jamie is knocked unconscious, Randall took Jenny upstairs to assault her. As he attempted to rape her, Jenny laughed at him. Rape scenes on TV have become a cliched shorthand to show women’s trauma, but this scene is like nothing I’ve seen before on television.

This story, like so much of what happens at Lallybroch, shows Claire and Jamie that things aren’t always what they look like at first glance, and that the both of them should stop to think and listen before they do things they can’t take back. (Though I’m going to go on record and say that even if Jenny was raped and did have two bastard children, Jamie still owed her an apology and shouldn’t have acted that way.)

Hopefully Jamie and Claire remember the lessons they learned this week because next week it looks like they will be back to fighting for their lives, and the consequences will be much higher than a familial spat.

outlander s1e11: the devil’s mark

claire and geillis from outlander

To be a woman in 2015 culture is to speak the truth in a crowd and have no one believe you. It is to never be able to find the right balance of what that crowd thinks women should be. It doesn’t matter if you do everything to fit their expectations or if you are fiercely yourself–either way you’ll get burned.

Geillis is great because she knew how to live with the trap of being a woman in her time period to get what she wanted. She married an old, wealthy man who she didn’t have to have sex with and who she could steal money from. She knew how to keep him invalid so she could do the things she wanted. She knew how to kill him, so she could marry the man she loved. Don’t like her methods? She didn’t let that stop her.

Geillis worked within her system, but that system still trapped her in the end.

Claire and Geillis’ witchcraft trial was doomed from the start, but at several points I still hoped maybe they could logic their way out of trouble. (Silly me, I know logic doesn’t work.) Witness after witness builds a case against them, using evidence generally based in truth, but framed so that witchcraft looks likely. (Because women couldn’t diverge from expectations all on their own.) Their lawyer, Ned, works the case by systematically discrediting each woman witness. He first frames a young woman maid as an unhappy, whining woman who is going after her employer. He then gaslights a grieving mother by telling her that because she didn’t step in when she saw Claire holding a child, that it was the mother’s fault the faeries didn’t come for her son. And when Laoghaire says Claire used potions to steal Jamie’s heart, Ned paints her as a jealous, scorned harpy (ok, that one is unfortunately true).

Ned doesn’t discredit the male witnesses–the crowd jumps in to condemn Claire and Geillis each time a male witness speaks. As each witness makes their case, Claire tries to tell the crowd what really happened. So many times being a woman can mean screaming over and over what you know to be true while others ignore you and drown out your voice. Claire’s arguments often make the trial worse–but how could it be worse, really, and how could she stay silent.

As the trial goes downhill, Ned says that their only option may be to save one woman instead of both of them. To do that, he suggests Claire say that Geillis is the witch and that Claire was under her spell. (Of course one woman must turn against another to save herself, for there is a limited allotment of space and resources for women to live on.)

Claire refuses to disown her friend, and she stands with Geillis to face their fate together. In that moment of friendship, Geillis shares her biggest secret yet. That she is from 1968. Of course she is! She’s such a ’60s babe. I dont know where Geillis is from originally, but no matter where it was, I am sure she was a hippie.

When Jamie bounds in brandishing his sword to save Claire, it is a relief. (She needs her husband to save her, and even then it might not be enough.) As Geillis looks on, she decides to do what she can to save her friend. So she gives the crowd what it wants and confesses to being a witch who tricked Claire.

Claire and Geillis reconnect in this episode, unfortunately under terrible circumstances. Their late night talks and shared looks on the stand were great to watch, and I’ll miss them if they are gone for good. Since we didn’t see her die, I have hope that Geillis is still somehow alive because I’d hate to lose her wit and for Claire to lose her friend. Especially when that friend also has time-traveling experience.

After watching Geillis get taken away to burn at the stake, Claire and Jamie steal away to safety. As Jamie tends to Claire wounds, he asks her for the truth.

And she tells him.

Jamie has risked his life to help Claire on numerous occasions, but the most heroic thing he has ever done is simply to believe her. In a world (past and present) where women often have to defend every assertion and prove every experience, to be heard and believed is a rare gift. Jamie doesn’t have to understand Claire or what happened to her, he just has to listen. And in doing so, he gives her the greatest support.

Jamie also listens to Claire’s choices, even when he doesn’t like them. So he hears her when she says she wants to go home, and he takes her to Craigh na Dun.

But Claire chooses to stay with Jamie. (And, girl, I get why.) Jamie and Claire’s relationship is rare in any century, and I can’t wait to see where they go with their new shared knowledge.

outlander s1e9: the reckoning

(I’m trying some new things with writing, and I’ll also be writing about some new things. I’m a big fan of the TV show Outlander, and what follows is a recap of the newest episode that aired last night in the U.S. It assumes you’ve seen it, so there are some spoilers, FYI.) 

After a long dry spell waiting for Outlander to start again, Claire and Jamie are finally reunited. And the first thing they do after escaping the British is not have super sexy Outlander sex, it’s have a horrible fight.

It’s an ugly fight, but it seems real to me. Their hearts have been torn open and ripped out, and terrible truths fly out from the depths of the cracks. A part of them means every word they said. But as Jamie says in his opening monologue, the first time we are privy to his point of view, life is a series of choices–to forgive or hold anger, to love or to hate, to live or to die. Claire and Jamie’s choices in this episode begin to shape their life together. 

The midseason finale left us with Black Jack attacking and almost raping Claire when Jamie appears in the window, her knight in shining armor…kind of. Turns out, his gun isn’t loaded and he bluffs his way into the room hoping for the best. He rescues Claire, leaving Jack alive, and the two head off into the sunset…kind of. 

Turns out Jamie is mad as hell that Claire disobeyed his orders to stay put, and he blames her for getting kidnapped. The fight they have, and Jamie’s quiet admission of fear that followed on what it cost to go after her with an unloaded gun and his bare hands, was a raw moment that showed the other side of the gentle romance and dashing heroics we are used to seeing from the couple. 

Both Jamie and Claire can encompass all of that fear, love, bravery, naivete, arrogance, ugliness, and beauty because they are both complex humans who feel all those things. And their marriage and their life together is born out of what they choose to do with those real, conflicting emotions.

These contradictions lead to mistakes, of course, but also to course corrections. 

Jamie has been so kind to Claire and has been such a bright spot in an unfamiliar place that I wanted him to continue being that heroic, perfect man. But he isn’t perfect, and the ugly things he spits at Claire reminds us he is a product of his time and experiences–as anybody is. 

Which leads him to handle Claire’s disobedience in the way he knows, and the way he thinks is right. In a horrifying scene, Jamie lectures Claire once again, and then removes his belt to HIT HER WITH IT to be sure she will never disobey him again. Claire obviously does not agree to this, so Jamie CHASES HER AND HOLDS HER DOWN. No, in this episode Jamie is not exactly a hero. Not even close.

When he says he is going to hit her, Claire says no and he actively ignores her lack of consent and violently holds her down. It’s a disturbing scene, perhaps coming across a little too lightly on the show, and it leads to the first real struggle in their marriage.

Lucky for Claire, and for us, Jamie is open to changing the status quo, and after seeing compromise play out in his clan, he realizes he should bring a more open mindset to his wife as well. So he pledges fealty to Claire and swears to never hit her again. But maybe more importantly, he shows he means it by waiting for her verbal yes before finally having that sexy sex. Listening for consent respects someone else’s agency, and Jamie is learning how to respect Claire. 

(btw I love Claire’s angry hairbrushing before Jamie apologizes. When women lose control in other aspects of their life, they can often turn to “women’s things” like hair and clothes, to assert themselves and take back a little bit of self. So you brush that hair, Claire, you keep brushing it. Also note how the camera views Jamie in the mirror–how does the way he sees himself compare with how Claire sees him right now?) 

Jamie thought men should always beat their wives because that is all he has seen and all he had known. He also thought husbands and wives only had sex like horses. Lucky for Claire and for us, he lets Claire help him form a new worldview, one where your wife’s personhood matters. 

After Claire and Jamie find their way back to each other, they finally have that sexy sex we’d all been waiting for…kind of. Claire shows once again she is no obedient pushover by PULLING A KNIFE on Jamie WHILE THEY ARE HAVING SEX and threatens that if he ever hurts her again she will cut his heart out (I’m guessing she doesn’t mean metaphorically). But I guess it all worked out because Jamie and Claire reconnect and both seem to have reached a greater understanding of each other. 

They seemed to have passed the first test in their marriage, but the repercussions from their choices may only be just beginning.

The other members of Jamie’s clan are laying some (admittedly less sexy) groundwork themselves. Jamie’s marriage to an Englishwoman and Dougal’s fundraising for a Jacobite army are not exactly easy pills for their laird to swallow. Loyalty and tradition are no. 1 for the MacKenzie clan, and Claire and Jamie are breaking down tradition one tiny step at a time. 

Next week, I hope we see more Claire, I missed her a lot this episode. And where is Geillis???