Outlander Recap: Rent (S1E5) or TOO MANY DAMN DICKS

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Jamie praying that the 6th episode will be better

Athena:

This episode was a mixed bag for me. There were some things that I felt were done very well, but the pacing and focuses were different from what we’ve seen previously. So I’m going to start broad, and then narrow it down.

Pro:

“Rent” did a lot for world building. We got to see a bit of Scottish life beyond Castle Leoch, and we were introduced to more of the tensions between nationalities and genders.

I liked the introduction of the old lawyer, he was a nice companion for Claire who also added a bit of realism to the series. It’s not all Scottish Highland warriors. There are lots of ordinary people too. But he was distinct enough to give Claire more of an intellectual equal, which she lacks for the most part with her education and knowledge of the future.

It was also interesting to see all the men together on the road. Singing, fighting, making stupid sexist jokes, and fighting some more. We didn’t get to see any sexy, shirtless duels unfortunately. But it added to the historical feel and also the sense of adventure.

Con:

In this episode’s focus on politics it seemed to totally forget about who its characters are and what their relationships are.

Claire threw a lot of tantrums and did a lot of things that went beyond stubborn and crossed into dangerously ignorant territory. Of course she’s tired, frustrated, and scared, but she’s also smart and level-headed. Why did the showrunners think having her throw a fit and fight at every opportunity would adequately show us her inner turmoil? It was very out of character, and a bit irritating to watch actually. It’s like they abruptly took her development in a different direction with no real build up or explanation. The voice over didn’t do much to help on this front.

Also Claire and Jamie were not all smoldery this episode! What I look forward to most in this series was inexplicably absent! Instead they were kind of distant from each other, which doesn’t fit with the bind they’ve been forging. Their brief conversation over lunch had her on edge and Jamie seemed not particularly interested in making friendly conversation either. These two things taken together suggestion there’s more going on, but it’s not really clear. It’s like we’ve missed a couple scenes or something.

Addendum:

I should add that Claire is totally entitled to anger and outbursts, but they are set up very poorly in this episode.

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Nobody is feeling this

Heather:

I agree that this episode was a bit of a mixed bag. There were some things I quite liked and some things that weren’t my cup of tea. And then there was one thing that really bothered me, but I’ll get to that later.

Pro:

I did really like the introduction of the lawyer guy and I hope we see more of him. It was beginning to get a bit stereotypical what with all the rough Scottish blokes running around. I’m glad they’ve got at least one bookish Scottish guy in the show. I also quite liked that we got a look at village life. That moment with Claire and the women singing the working song while they set the dye in the cloth was great. And though Claire and Jaime weren’t all that steamy this episode, I thought it was interesting to see Jaime with the other men a bit more.

Con:

All the character interactions seemed a bit off kilter, to me. I was frankly quite surprised to learn that Claire was still being guarded, given the end of last episode. So that whole incident where the guard dude couldn’t find her and freaked out just seemed absolutely ridiculous. The show had Claire behave like a petulant child, and all the men behave like misogynist chum buckets. All of Claire’s angry moments are, as you say, poorly set up. She bursts into anger and the men chide her, and the show can’t quite make up its mind whether it wants the audience to fall on Claire’s side or the men’s. And that wouldn’t be such a problem, except that the men all respond to Claire’s anger in the most misogynist ways possible.

And I’m going to jump to the end here and point out the bit that really yanked my chain. Near the end of the episode the very same misogynist chum bucket who had previously called Claire a whore to her face then rushes to “defend her honour” because someone from outside Clan Mackenzie called Claire a whore. And one of them says something along the lines of, “we get to insult you, but no one else does.” That was just…for all this had been quite a feminist show up until then, I couldn’t believe that was being said. The notion that a man gets to say horrible shit to a woman because that woman is ‘his’ is so messed up. And that the audience and Claire were meant to take that as some sort of sign she’d been accepted, or something. I’m sorry, but no.

Like, yes, they had that moment where she shoots back a joke at one of the Scottish blokes to show she’s “one of the guys” or whatever. But that almost made it worse. Like, this whole ‘not like other girls’ thing is getting to be a bit much.

Plus, as you say, not nearly enough half naked men in tartan to distract me from the nonsense.

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Athena:

OHMYGOD Claire and the village ladies was my favourite part of the whole episode!!! We got to see her relaxed, having fun, and drunk. Drunk Claire was pretty adorable, with the peeing and the attempted-goat stealing (the only part of that justifiable but frustrating freak out I enjoyed). I want more scenes of Claire interacting with women, in any capacity really. More Claire drinking mystery booze and squatting over a bucket while in the good company of other ladies.  This show threatens to turn into a sausage-fest. And while I did say that I enjoyed the men’s interactions with one another as a scene-setter, your 100% right about it getting into well-worn stereotype territory. This series promises a more woman-centric view and that is it’s biggest strength.

WHAT WAS UP WITH ALL THE MISOGYNY AND TANTRUMS IN THIS EPISODE?!?! All the men were basically angry yelling ballsacks with fists. Just like Claire seemed out of character, they did too. The men never showed this much aggression towards her before. Guarding her so closely after all this time, getting angry and surprised over her patent stubbornness, and claiming ownership over her when she was just a suspicious guest before? This episode was an unnecessary and bizarre overdose on macho. I totally agree, every little attempt to make Claire and the Scots closer afterward was just gross.

Also has she totally forgotten that Dougal tried to rape her?!?! CON CON CON. But more on Dougal later.

Con:

Now I’m jumping ahead a bit. All this cock-waving made Jamie’s attempt at chivalry, sleeping outside of her room to protect her from unwanted advances (see: rape), come off as more of the same sexist garbage. In the book (which I binge-read in 2 days), it was a sweet gesture. They had another crucial moment of romance-building connection, and it was also a bit of a way for Jamie to assert his masculinity in a non-aggressive way after losing so much power to his uncle. Here all the emotional intensity and meaning was lost in translation.

Con:

Back to the goat. So Dougal doesn’t give a fuck about the woman and her baby when she needs the goat, but later when a father comes with his son and talks about the redcoats taking all their food Dougal is suddenly sympathetic? DOUGAL I FUCKING SEE YOU AND I AM GIVING YOU ALL THE SIDE EYE I HAVE TO GIVE.

Pro:

So all the Scottish guys are waving around their dicks bracing themselves for battle because this one random English dude actually addressed Claire like a person instead of talking about her like she wasn’t there. This of course was tinged with the same Manly Man Hero complex the show has oh-so-subtley suggested was common in that time, but at least he actually spoke to her. I loved when he pulled on his English army jacket as soon as they weren’t paying attention. In my head I was like “Ah shit! Things are going to get real later!” All the shouting and flailing failed to build the sense of thrill that this one brief moment did. It reminded me that things are actually at stake on a large scale too.

Yet Another Con:

Jamie said he’d protect Claire and stand up for her in the first episode, and did this pretty much continually up until “Rent”. He’s nowhere to be seen when she’s goat-napping and getting yelled at. It’s not like he couldn’t have smoothed things over somewhat. So far Jamie has been one of the only consistent bridges between Claire and the Scottish world, and nobody would have been surprised if he intervened.

Heather:

No, but Athena, it’s fine because Dougal only tried to rape Claire because his was drunk. OH MY GOD.

This is an episode of cons, I think. This episode recap will be brought to you by Ranty McRantystein.

I haven’t read the books and I definitely felt that Jamie’s sleeping in front of her door was all kinds of creepy. It totally came across as the pedestalisation/chivalry end of the sexism. It came across as Jamie being there to do nothing more than protect Claire’s virtue. And where the heck was Claire’s fiestiness in that scene, too? She’d gone all docile with Jamie, there. Not a fan, Athena. Not a fan.

Con:

That damn goat. See, Athena, that man and his young boy could possibly fight, whereas that woman and her baby couldn’t. PRIORITIES. GAH! I don’t know how it worked in the books, but in the show that whole goat situation did not come across well. I mean, presumably we’re meant to start siding with the Scottish folks at some point but so far Dougal doesn’t seem that much better than the redcoat chum bucket who’s Frank’s ancestor.

Pro (but also Con?):

Yeah, that moment the English dude addressed her and actually spoke to her, I was like, “hell yeah!” Even at the end of the episode, there, he comes in and he actually asks Claire if she needs his help. He’s got like a dozen guys with him; he could easily take out Dougal, but still he asks Claire. Actually treats her like a human being. Like, I kind of really want Claire to go with the English. I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE SIDING WITH THE ENGLISH, HERE!

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At least it was a very pretty episode

Athena:

You know I think this is our first bad Outlander episode. The previous episode “The Gathering” was met with mixed reception because of the way it told 3 separate stories, none of which really amounted to anything major. But I personally still really enjoyed that one. There was character development, sassy Geillis seeing right through Claire’s plan, Claire flexing her wits and Jamie flexing his own too. It was entertaining despite it’s problems. Everything in “Rent” after Claire peed in a bucket was either frustrating or just not quite enough.

Pro:

The only other thing I think really merits discussion in this episode (beside brief glimpses of shirtless Jamie) is the revelation of the political intrigue. My inner history nerd (which isn’t really all that inner, since I’m a History minor) loved that, including the little explanatory flashback with Frank. As I’ve suggested before, the Frank flashbacks are necessary to help remind us a) why Claire wants to go back to him over throwing herself at Jamie like the rest of us would and b) that she had a life before she became a ‘sassenach’. But I digress. This is the other aspect of world-building I appreciated besides seeing the Scottish people and landscape, the history and politics. Plus it gives us another major plotline besides Claire’s love life and Claire’s attempt at escaping. If they’re going to set a show in ye olden times, they might as well give us a taste of that.

Pro:

It adds to the tension between the English and the Scottish, and means there’s even more at stake at the end when Claire and Dougal are confronted by the English soldiers.

Con:

There was a lot of suggesting and stating (via Ned Gowan) that Claire is too smart for the era and her own good, but I didn’t quite buy that she didn’t see it was more than just run of the mill thievery going on in those taverns. What would be the point of tearing off Jamie’s shirt, and the total captivation of Dougal’s audiences? Protection from the English doesn’t seem like enough. I also wasn’t really on board with her suddenly forgiving them all because they were taking money for a doomed political coup instead of for themselves. Why would she be more sympathetic with their ‘rebel spirit’ (or however she described it)? I know that in her time WWII had just ended, but the Allies saw themselves as the good guys defending freedom rather than rebels. And she knows there’s going to be  lot of needless bloodshed, much of which will essentially be on Dougal’s hands.

I totally wanted her to go to the English too, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what the series is supposed to be doing. If the point of all this misogyny is to make Claire’s decision at the end (cut off by a very unsurprising cliffhanger) more difficult and add to the suspense, it REALLY did not work the way they hoped.

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Athena:

And that’s it, unfortunately. At the end Claire and Dougal are talking and then a group of English (with the same redcoat from the beginning, because Chekov’s gun) trot up and ask Claire if she’s with the Scottish of her own volition. And she doesn’t answer. Because cliffhanger.

Heather:

You know when the highlight of an episode is someone peeing in a bucket, there’s a problem.

 

 

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