DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER IF YOU ARE NOT CAUGHT UP OR ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH GORE.
DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER IF YOU ARE NOT CAUGHT UP OR ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH GORE.
Due to life being life this last week or so, you’re getting a tasty two for one deal.
So in this episode we’re seeing how far Will is willing to take this game of cat and mouse with Hannibal. It’s actually at the point for me now where I’m not sure if it’s just a way to catch Hannibal anymore. Will seems to genuinely be touching the darkness in himself. And Jack certainly doesn’t seem to be in on the game. He ate Hannibal’s omelette. Obviously that’s a people omelette. I doubt Will is going to go so far as to eat meat at Hannibal’s any time soon.
But before jumping to the big reveal at the end, I want to talk about the theme of human nature vs. some kind of illusory ‘animal’ nature, and the return to theme of questioning identity, which hasn’t been as prominent in recent episodes as it was here.
There was something truly horrific about the detachment of these killings, something unsettling about the belief that it was okay for this man to tear his victims apart because of some kind of species dysphoria. I had never heard of species dysphoria before, and I feel like it’s probably unlikely people who experience it go around killing people with a cave bear skull. But it was a great concept for this episode. The obvious symbolism was a desire for a bloody transformation, or the inevitability of it, and the human cost. What did you think of the murder parts of this episode?
On the other hand, I guess maybe I should have seen the species dysmorphia coming? Will after all sees himself changing into the stag multiple times, including in this episode. And he envisions Hannibal as that creepy stag/human hybrid. The last episode featured bodies emerging from horses. And we had the return of Peter, who feels a closer bond to animals than humans. Hannibal wants Will to get in touch with some sort of animalistic side, he’s clearly a believer in that whole idea that human beings are naturally violent savage animals and our humanity is just a trained facade (something I definitely do not agree with, but this idea is more pervasive in society than I like). This is the gradual and literal build up of that idea.
So this week I want to begin by looking at what this episode excluded. Su-zakana returned the series back to it’s main plotline, the give and take between Will and Hannibal. Yakimono was like a sledgehammer in terms of major and shocking developments. But then this week leaves us hanging. I’m not opposed to this at all, I think it’s important to take time to build up other aspects of the story and not overload the episodes with action. But do you think there was more significance to the choice to leave out Miriam’s and Chilton’s fates than that?
I suspect part of it has to do with hooking Hannibal. I think we’re only going to know as much as he is. The lives of those two characters have major implications for his future and the show. Like it or not, Hannibal is both one of the protagonists and the antagonists
Surprise! I looked up the meaning of su-zakana! Apparently it’s a small dish, usually palette cleanser. So I think this episode was just that, a palette cleanser. It was very much about re-establishing Jack, Hannibal and Will’s relationships with each other. And I think it was very important to do that before continuing on with the big, overarching plot. Enough had happened that these men’s relationships have been affected, and it was good that the show stopped for a moment to show that to us.
I also think that after that initial fishing scene with Jack and Will, we’re going to be stuck in the dark about their plans. I like how now it’s Hannibal who’s possibly getting played after the previous two episodes which have been all about Hannibal’s plan. At the end of the episode, where Will was about to shoot that other psychopath, I couldn’t help wonder if he was just playing Hannibal, there. Was Will really going to shoot that guy? Or was he just pretending to see how Hannibal reacted? I mean, Hannibal did give quite a bit away at the end of that episode. We realise he’s trying to make Will into a killer, but specifically to try to kill him.
So this episode was the peak of Hannibal’s design. From next week’s preview it seems like Jack and Will are luring him in. I feel as though Jack remains unconvinced of Chilton’s guilt (or at least not wholly convinced of it, despite his immediate anger). But for the time being everything is coming up Hannibal and there are not many people left who can combat this.
If the last episode was actually Will’s design, this one is Hannibal’s. He essentially flexed his sociopathic muscle to subtly create the exact scene he wanted. Alana was not the only pawn in this episode, virtually everyone was expertly played by Hannibal. Perhaps even Will, since Will essentially gave Hannibal the excuse to break away, and it was easy for Hannibal to threaten Will and assert dominance once again.
Why Bryan Fuller, why?!
So I usually like to attempt to go through the episode chronologically, but I want to begin by talking about my uncomfortable levels of attractive to the two swimming killers this episode. Can we discuss this? Like ew, but also ooo. I’m confused!
This gif is all I need.
Trigger Warning: This episode dealt with suicide, so we will also be discussing suicide thematically.
So the theme of this episode is suicide. But it’s not an easy or straightforward motif. The show is asking the audience to consider what the cost of the characters’ actions are, and if making choices that lead to their own deaths is a form of suicide. Whether through recklessness or a death wish. And in the end, are the two really so different if the result is the same?
This episode in some ways was a lot more straightforward than most. We knew it would be all about the trial. But I still think they managed to keep it interesting. It was my least favourite episode of the season because I had clear expectations, but it was by no means a weak one.
I really like the utilization of dream sequences/hallucinations for Will. I’m glad that carried over from the last season. It’s still not clear what exactly is his imagination and what is the effect of previous or even current illness. What did it mean when he electrocuted himself? Why did it reverse so it could be done once again? I think it has something to do with the fact that if his plan fails him he could end up being his own executioner. Especially with his accusations of Hannibal. What do you think?
That opening juxtaposition of Will and Hannibal getting dressed was total fan service. I wish we had seen them a little less clothing for a little longer. Thankfully all the Fannibals on tumblr seized the opportunity to meme that shit up.
Speaking of fan service, in some ways that was what the trial was to Hannibal. Having his accomplishments paraded out for everyone to be appalled by, indirectly being called “the smartest person in the room” (he couldn’t even conceal his pleasure). What were your thoughts on the trial?
So this week’s episode was head and shoulder’s above last week’s. The English were all horrible, but at least the show didn’t try to excuse it. They were just awful people. And Frank’s ancestor dude was basically just the worst. Like, he’s the worst human being in this story. Those last five minutes, though, were like the best in this series so far. Claire’s conversation with Jaime was freaking hilarious. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So yeah, back to the beginning of the episode…
The English were all sufficiently horrible enough that I’m quite firmly siding with the Scottish now, even with all of Dougal’s assholishness. I mean, none of those English soldiers have any redeeming qualities. I feel like this show really needs the English to be the clear enemy so that we’ve got someone to root against.
Also, shout out to Newcastle and the Geordie accent! Why aye, man!
I really wanted Claire to some something to them about their prejudice earlier than she did. She just kind of sat their quietly while the menz ran their mouths off, then she came in like a mother all, ‘Okay kids, settle down.’ For once I’d like to see a woman character verbally spar with the menz and not be immediately punished for it, y’know? Claire does a bit more than most women characters, I’ll give you that. But still, she was far too silent at the table, except for the few times she spoke.
Jamie praying that the 6th episode will be better
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.
“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.
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.
I should add that Claire is totally entitled to anger and outbursts, but they are set up very poorly in this episode.
Nobody is feeling this
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
At least it was a very pretty episode
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You know when the highlight of an episode is someone peeing in a bucket, there’s a problem.