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S04.E02: Do No Harm

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On 11/12/2018 at 1:03 AM, hertolo said:

I do like that this show absolutely shows us a „global“ history over the seasons as we often think of history in timelines locked in one place. The rural real Scotland of the first seasons and these slave plantations: (practically) the same time.

That is a major reason why I like this show too.  History of various places are often studied in isolation.  Although there are major problems with the rushed travelogue the show has become since Season 2 first half and Season 3 second half, I do find it interesting from a historical perspective.

It was educational to learn about how difficult it was to free slaves in the southern colonies at this time, and it was a reminder of the harsh punishments for slaves.  The problem was so systemic that there was no way Claire and Jaime alone could have been able to dismantle it.

Still, it was incredibly frustrating to watch Claire standing on her moral pedestal, refusing to see that her reckless actions could be endangering all the slaves at River Run.  You can't do good without resources, and during that time period, at least some slave owners were like the aunt and were at least trying not to be cruel.  Though I think the man who got his ear cut off was working for the aunt (I think) and he whipped Rufus, so some of them would still be mistreated.

At least this episode was much better than the previous one.

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Someone upthread said they were hate watching this show now, and while I'm not quite at 'hate', I'm 'disappointing watching' right now. I'm not sure where to begin so here goes, in no particular order...

One of the biggest problems with this Show since about midway through S03 is that it's a rushed journey of HEY WE'RE AT LALLYBROCH! HEY WE'RE ON A BOAT! HEY WE'RE AT SEA! HEY WE'RE SHIPWRECKED! HEY WE'RE ON ANOTHER SHIP! HEY WE'RE SHIPWRECKED AGAIN! HEY WE'RE IN AMERICA! HEY OUR FRIEND IS HANGED! HEY OUR OTHER FRIEND IS MURDERED! HEY WE'RE AT OUR AUNTIE'S PLANTATION! My neck is strained with all the to-ing and fro-ing. And that doesn't begin to cover the rinse and repeat cycle of: Nice scene without violence (domestic, travel or love scene), followed by DRAMA! VIOLENCE! RAPE/NEAR RAPE! DEATH! Rinse and repeat. It's gotten very old and quite frankly I'm shocked that Diana Gabaldon allowed or approved of turning her books into this bucket of shite. It's awful, I wonder if the books run off the rails too at midway through Book #3 and then #4. I have very low expectations for the rest of S04 at this point. Basically there is no down time to recover from the awful scenes, that's the problem.

All the references to Indians and Slaves was so degrading, and shameful. I guess because this is my country's shameful history that is still being played out today - which makes it all the more awful - it was very difficult to watch and I got no pleasure from this episode save the few moments of Young Ian and Rollo. The rest was a hard watch.

Things that made me go 'huh'?

Phaedra spoke with a wee Scotch burr, oh yes tha' lass did. Why??? No native accent at all, like Rufus. Seemed odd.

How on earth would Jamie Fraser know about growing RICE?!? Scotland is not a rice growing area, never has been, rice requires heat to grow. That was odd.

Random stuff:

At first I thought Ulysses was going to thank Claire for saving Rufus, so I was surprised when he chastised her and said the boy would be better of dead at this point. He was right, sadly.

I kept fearing that Bonnet would show up at River Run and run amok again. I know he'd not going anywhere because I hate him, so that means I'll have to deal with him for ages now.

I guess Young Ian is going to find himself a Native American gal as it appears he's quite interested in that option.

Guess who aint gonna be the lord of the River Run manor? Jamie, that's who! Buh bye...I reckon they'll be on the next river boat back to Wilmington ASAP.

Things I liked:

Aunt Jocasta mentioning Jenny. I miss Jenny and Ian, and I remember in the episode where Jamie and Claire return from France to Lallybroch, there is a mail call scene (when Jamie gets word that BPC faked his signature) and Jenny says there's a letter from Aunt Jocasta.

I loved Young Ian helping Auntie Claire with her surgery. He didn't hesitate and was able to help without freaking out, who'd a thunk it?

Shit I hated:

Dragging an already dead body. We didn't need to see it, did we?

Jocasta blind siding Jamie with being her successor. When Jamie said 'she's a MacKenzie', that never bodes well for Jamie, the MacKenzie side always brings trouble, or so it seems.

The English 'settlers' were just disgustingly awful. I know they were likely actually that bad or worse, but they made the Scottish Clans look like refined French intellectuals. What a deplorable lot.

This episode was painful and awful and made me feel sick. I cried at the end, I think because this country's history is so fucking ugly and we don't even know the half of it if we're not people of color.

Last but not least, Jamie's wig or hair piece or what the fuck ever that 'thing' is, HAS TO GO. I'm channeling Elaine Benis (tm Seinfeld) when I say, "I hate this thing, and here's what I'm doing with it!" *tosses into the river*

BTW, I find that I have less and less to say about these episodes compared to S01 & 02.

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20 hours ago, gingerella said:

I'm 'disappointing watching' right now.

I put on my reaction armour before I watch. Prepared for horrible violence? Check. Prepared for lack of depth? Check. Prepared for the (Alice) Through the Looking Glass experience that you described in your post? (Inexplicably running from plot point to plot point as fast as possible.) Well—I try but never succeed. 

20 hours ago, gingerella said:

It's gotten very old and quite frankly I'm shocked that Diana Gabaldon allowed or approved of turning her books into this bucket of shite.

In her defence—it seems the rights to adapt are a whole-package deal. And she loses ALL rights to how the material is treated. It seems the initial pitch for the first couple of seasons was encouraging enough to convince her to sign. I wonder if there was no real over-arching plan for the show beyond Season One and Two? It sure feels that way. (Full disclosure: I'm working my way through The Making of Outlander: Season 1 & 2. That's where the above came from.)

20 hours ago, gingerella said:

I got no pleasure from this episode save the few moments of Young Ian and Rollo.

I'd expand that to any scene Young Ian was in—and/or Rollo.  

  • The discussion where he sees a similarity between how Indians were described and his knowledge of Highlanders. (Including the receptive way John Quincy Myers—the beardy guy— reacted to this.)
  • As @gingerella mentioned—his interest in Indian women. I agree that this sounds like foreshadowing. 
  • His competence in helping Claire in her now familiar table-top surgery.  I am assuming Ian's had further practice assisting Claire—ever since he brought her surgical "cutlery" when Leery shot Jamie full of buckshot back in Lallybroch. (First Wife I believe.)
  • His face when Rufus told Claire that his family was back in Africa and how he was stolen from there. 
  • Of course, the encounter with the skunk and the interaction Mr. Myers when cleaning the stench off of Rollo.
20 hours ago, gingerella said:

At first I thought Ulysses was going to thank Claire for saving Rufus, so I was surprised when he chastised her and said the boy would be better of dead at this point. He was right, sadly.

I was sure he was going to try to give her some plain truths—that what she was doing was going to make everyone suffer—especially the enslaved people! So I was happy he risked that.  You could see all of the house-servants both amazed to see white people treat one of their people like a human being—but at the same time you could see the terror in their eyes as well because they knew they would be made to pay for her kindness in the most horrible ways. 

I've given her actions and attitude some thought and I can believe that both she and Jamie would be capable of blundering about as they did when faced with the obvious injustice they witnessed. 

Jamie fell back on Scottish ways and attempted to place Rufus under his protection. Even the white slave owners of Scottish decent didn't ascribe to that approach in the Colonies.  

I don't think Claire would have known much more than the concept that it is wrong to enslave another person. I doubt she would have read any books that described how slaves where kept down—which did exist in her modern lifetime. She was either travelling the world with her Uncle Lamb; or studying medicinal botany; or with her nose in medical texts. 

Neither she nor Jamie would know the legal knots that were created to bind both enslaved and slavers to the economic system that benefited the white settlers. Jocasta knew—and had made her peace with them by treating her enslaved people with as much respect and care as the laws would allow. She and her husband could be deemed pragmatic. Jamie saw the need for that way before Claire did and was the only one who could make her see the only path she had before her—to trample on her beloved Hippocratic oath. The call back to what she did for Colum was genius because it allowed her to make peace with that choice the way she had done for Colum.

20 hours ago, gingerella said:

Aunt Jocasta mentioning Jenny. I miss Jenny and Ian, and I remember in the episode where Jamie and Claire return from France to Lallybroch, there is a mail call scene (when Jamie gets word that BPC faked his signature) and Jenny says there's a letter from Aunt Jocasta.

Good catch! I dinna remember that. But it also explains Jenny's skepticism regarding Claire's lame excuse for not writing—even from the far away Colonies. 

I also agree that any time Scotland is even referenced gives a brief respite from the disappointment of so much of the rest.

Edited by Anothermi
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28 minutes ago, Anothermi said:

I put on my reaction armour before I watch. Prepared for horrible violence? Check. Prepared for lack of depth? Check. Prepared for the (Alice) Through the Looking Glass experience that you described in your post? (Inexplicably running from plot point to plot point as fast and possible.) Well—I try but never succeed. 

I need to start using this approach as episode watch preparation! It's rather sad but I feel like I wasted an episode watch last night, that's how much I hated this episode.

28 minutes ago, Anothermi said:

Jamie fell back on Scottish ways and attempted to place Rufus under his protection. Even the white slave owners of Scottish decent didn't ascribe to that approach in the Colonies.  

This is such a great observation, you're so on point! I felt that, but it didn't come to me as apparently as your comment. Jamie has no clue how things work in this new world. Just because someone has a Scottish burr and comes from your people does not a friend or sympatico business partner make. These folks have lost their damn minds in the Colonies. It's like their 'rules' are utterly ruthless because they have to keep slaves in tight control because those are the people who are creating this new world's wealth. The white folks aren't doing shit other than lollygagging about and bitching about slaves.

28 minutes ago, Anothermi said:

Neither she nor Jamie would know the legal knots that were created to bind both enslaved and slavers to the economic system that benefited the white settlers. Jocasta knew—and had made her peace with them by treating her enslaved people with as much respect and care as the laws would allow. She and her husband could be deemed pragmatic. Jamie saw the need for that way before Claire did and was the only one who could make her see the only path she had before her—to trample on her beloved Hippocratic oath. The call back to what she did for Colum was genius because it allowed her to make peace with that choice the way she had done for Colum.

To the first part of this para, yeah, it's typical Claire though, and Jamie too, to try to fight back on something they believe is wrong but without learning the facts and details surrounding the situation before acting and usually putting others in peril. The only time I can think of that this approach worked was when Claire asked Jamie to help her free the little lad who had his ear nailed to the pillory. That was the one time her/their impulsiveness to help right a wrong worked. Since then, pretty much every time they/she try to right a wrong it goes badly awry. They just never learn.

As to the second part of the above para, yeah, you could see Claire was going to refuse to even entertain a painless and empathetic death for Rufus, until Jamie brought up Colum, and then there was nothing she could hide behind. Rufus' death at the hands of those rabid neighbors would have been so much more awful than the peaceful passing she was able to give him. I also appreciated the call back to when Dougal's man, Geordie, got gored by the boar in the woods and Claire had to help him die peacefully. She did the same thing then by asking Geordie to tell her about his home as he bled out a merciful death. And she asks Rufus about his sister as he slips into a peaceful passing. It was such a sad scene but in a completely different way, and the tying together with that mirror technique was a small thing that worked for this episode, tying it back to Scotland.

One thing I didnt' mention above is that I feel like Ian is becoming more indoctrinated into his Auntie Claire's way of thinking about the world, and his ideas about native people/indians, Scottish Clans and such is a more modern perspective than most men of his time, regardless of their age. So he's becoming more and more like Claire, as well as like his Uncle Jamie. And I rather like that since Jamie cannot raise his own son, Willie, nor Brianna.

Oh yeah, that reminds me, WHERE THE HELL IS BRIANNA & ROGER?! I thought we were going to see them in this episode because in the opening sequence there were what looked like more modern Scottish Highlander dancers and I thought for sure we'd get a Bri & Rog sighting this week...alas I was denied yet again.

Edited by gingerella
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18 hours ago, gingerella said:

Oh yeah, that reminds me, WHERE THE HELL IS BRIANNA & ROGER?! I thought we were going to see them in this episode because in the opening sequence there were what looked like more modern Scottish Highlander dancers and I thought for sure we'd get a Bri & Rog sighting this week...alas I was denied yet again.

YES! I, too, thought the modern Highland dancing meant we'd get something related to Brianna and Roger!

Guess we'll have to wait for the appearance of the yellow brick road that leads to the stone circle being constructed in the first episode. 

18 hours ago, gingerella said:

I also appreciated the call back to when Dougal's man, Geordie, got gored by the boar in the woods and Claire had to help him die peacefully

I had a fleeting thought of that call back too—then promptly forgot it. 

On 7/21/2021 at 10:07 PM, gingerella said:

Phaedra spoke with a wee Scotch burr, oh yes tha' lass did. Why??? No native accent at all, like Rufus. Seemed odd.

I forgot to reply to this as well. I didn't actually notice the Scottish burr but I did take note that Phaedra appeared completely comfortable with Aunt Jocasta—enough to speak "familiarly" with her in Claire's presence. I'm sure that doesn't happen in the presence of other guests. 

But I am quite willing to assume that Phaedra is supposed to have learned English from Aunt Jocasta—who still has her Scottish accent. I looked up the actor and, despite a very short bio, I learned that she is classically trained—meaning has studied and performed in Shakespearian plays. So, what ever her original accent was, she'd have likely learned the skills to give a good stab at a Southern U.S. accent if required. 

Edited by Anothermi · Reason: spelling
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1 hour ago, Anothermi said:

So, what ever her original accent was, she'd have likely learned the skills to give a good stab at a Southern U.S. accent if required

Actually, this makes me take.pause to wonder exactly when that Southern drawl accent developed because eight now in the Show, everyone is either English or Scottish, or  slave.fro. Africa, or a Native American. There is no Southern accent yet. I wonder when that happened?

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The episode wasn't pointless, at least; it gave us a view of a period of American history not often dramatized, and very often romanticized: the founding of the nation. As soon as the story choice was made that Jamie's aunt MacKenzie married a landed laird of the colonies, we were headed here. It puts Jamie and Claire right back in the thick of a moral dilemma (lucky they, to have a choice in this matter), one with greater consequences for many millions more. So to me, the story-telling choice came down to how to dramatize their coming to grips with the reality of slavery -- that is, from the viewpoint of the visiting nephew and niece of the oppressor -- then with Jocasta's offer, then with their decision to reject it.

This isn't a story where we'll see a series of character-driven debates on the matter. No more than we ever saw Jamie really lay out where he stood with regard to Hanoverian rule or a Stuart restoration. As protagonists, Claire and Jamie react. They react and then take action on their own; in general, they don't seek to win hearts and minds. I'm not saying that among the colonials, hearts  and minds were there to be won -- only that in this episode, there was, perhaps, more than one approach to giving us a glimpse into Claire and Jamie's hearts and minds, and into what they were refusing. 

But then again, once you've chosen to include slavery in your story, is it wrong to try to depict the brutality that underwrote the institution, as well as its painstakingly-wrought, crushing legal weight? Or are we partly reacting to the complete change in tone from how slavery was depicted within the florid, oh-just-go-with-it shenanigans of the Jamaica episodes? 

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On 7/22/2021 at 1:07 AM, gingerella said:

All the references to Indians and Slaves was so degrading, and shameful. I guess because this is my country's shameful history that is still being played out today - which makes it all the more awful - it was very difficult to watch and I got no pleasure from this episode save the few moments of Young Ian and Rollo.

Agree.  Perhaps this is strange or even wrong, but I think it is important to see it so that we don't forget previous mistakes and have a deeper appreciation for sentiments that exist today.  We still have a long way to go.  I don't like the sanitization of history, no matter how hard it is to watch.

On 7/22/2021 at 1:07 AM, gingerella said:

Phaedra spoke with a wee Scotch burr, oh yes tha' lass did. Why??? No native accent at all, like Rufus. Seemed odd.

 

16 hours ago, Anothermi said:

I forgot to reply to this as well. I didn't actually notice the Sottish burr but I did take note that Phaedra appeared completely comfortable with Aunt Jocasta—enough to speak "familiarly" with her in Claire's presence. I'm sure that doesn't happen in the presence of other guests. 

But I am quite willing to assume that Phaedra is supposed to have learned English from Aunt Jocasta—who still has her Scottish accent. I looked up the actor and, despite a very short bio, I learned that she is classically trained—meaning has studied and performed in Shakespearian plays. So, what ever her original accent was, she'd have likely learned the skills to give a good stab at a Southern U.S. accent if required. 

 

15 hours ago, gingerella said:

Actually, this makes me take.pause to wonder exactly when that Southern drawl accent developed because eight now in the Show, everyone is either English or Scottish, or  slave.fro. Africa, or a Native American. There is no Southern accent yet. I wonder when that happened?

I'm so glad you brought this up, because it has always fascinated me.  Basically, I think that in Phaedre's case, she was born in NC at River Run, and so she would have picked up the Scottish of the Camerons.  Rufus was born in Africa, so he carried an accent.  In general, I think that colonists carried their home accents with them and then as immigrants from different countries mingled together, the language and accent changed.  Southern accents, though, are so distinct, and yes...where did that come from?  Let's do a research project!

17 hours ago, Anothermi said:

In her defence—it seems the rights to adapt are a whole-package deal. And she loses ALL rights to how the material is treated.

I think this is correct, and she has been openly critical of some episodes and/or various plot adaptations.  

17 hours ago, gingerella said:

Jamie has no clue how things work in this new world. Just because someone has a Scottish burr and comes from your people does not a friend or sympatico business partner make.

This is a really important consideration.  Something to note too, many Scottish colonists did not join the other colonists in rebelling from Britain during the Revolution.  Many were Loyalists - they had already lost one war against Britain, causing them to lose everything including their homeland.  They weren't about to go down that path again.  Claire and Jamie know the Revolution is coming, and she cautioned him about choosing the right side in the last episode.  

17 hours ago, Anothermi said:

Neither she nor Jamie would know the legal knots that were created to bind both enslaved and slavers to the economic system that benefited the white settlers. Jocasta knew—and had made her peace with them by treating her enslaved people with as much respect and care as the laws would allow. She and her husband could be deemed pragmatic. Jamie saw the need for that way before Claire did

I really try not to bring up book content (though it seems like I've been doing it a lot lately), but the show missed an important opportunity to further develop Jamie's character.  It in the book, he gives this brilliant speech about why he could never own slaves...because he has been enslaved himself.  It's a very moving scene.  Claire is adamant that they cannot take over River Run and she is panicking a bit because she simply cannot be a slaveholder.  It is flat-out wrong for them to do.  She can't own people.  Jamie allays her fears and is basically like, well duh, neither can I and here's why.  But it is much more emotional than that.  

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3 hours ago, SassAndSnacks said:

Agree.  Perhaps this is strange or even wrong, but I think it is important to see it so that we don't forget previous mistakes and have a deeper appreciation for sentiments exists today.  We still have a long way to go.  I don't like the sanitization of history, no matter how hard it is to watch.

 

 

I'm so glad you brought this up, because it has always fascinated me.  Basically, I think that in Phaedre's case, she was born in NC at River Run, and so she would have picked up the Scottish of the Camerons.  Rufus was born in Africa, so he carried an accent.  In general, I think that colonists carried their home accents with them and then as immigrants from different countries mingled together, the language and accent changed.  Southern accents, though, are so distinct, and yes...where did that come from?  Let's do a research project!

I think this is correct, and she has been openly critical of some episodes and/or various plot adaptations.  

This is a really important consideration.  Something to note too, many Scottish colonists did not join the other colonists in rebelling from Britain during the Revolution.  Many were Loyalists - they had already lost one war against Britain, causing them to lose everything including their homeland.  They weren't about to go down that path again.  Claire and Jamie know the Revolution is coming, and she cautioned him about choosing the right side in the last episode.  

I really try not to bring up book content (though it seems like I've been doing it a lot lately), but the show missed an important opportunity to further develop Jamie's character.  It in the book, he gives this brilliant speech about why he could never own slaves...because he has been enslaved himself.  It's a very moving scene.  Claire is adamant that they cannot take over River Run and she is panicking a bit because she simply cannot be a slaveholder.  It is flat-out wrong for them to do.  She can't own people.  Jamie allays her fears and is basically like, well duh, neither can I and here's why.  But it is much more emotional than that.  

I do not want all history sanitized but the show writers do have their work cut out for them to make some things acceptable to today's TV audience what with political correctness & hugely  sensitive subjects. Neither they nor the author got everything right!

 

Who is doing the research project? As a Canadian we don't have quite as many regional accents as the US, but I find this fascinating! I assumed Phaedre had indeed grown up at River Run, with Scottish accents around. 

 

As a show watcher first, I knew Jamie would not want to own slaves, because of being enslaved himself, but the show sort of ran with the idea that he could make their lives better, instead of that he could not own them at all! 

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15 hours ago, gingerella said:

Actually, this makes me take.pause to wonder exactly when that Southern drawl accent developed because eight now in the Show, everyone is either English or Scottish, or  slave.fro. Africa, or a Native American. There is no Southern accent yet. I wonder when that happened?

That's a really interesting question.  From a quick search, it looks like there was a diversity of different accents in the 1700s, and the stereotypical Southern accent became more uniform after the Civil War though it's a simplification of the linguistics of the American South.

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8 hours ago, SassAndSnacks said:

the show missed an important opportunity to further develop Jamie's character.

Arg!. And character development is what I want from this show. The galumphing about—highlighting plot points and emphasizing the story over the character depth—is my biggest complaint about theses two seasons (3 & 4).

I'd prefer if the main characters don't start out with modern-day attitudes but are flawed. Then the narrative can provide them with avenues to learn and grow—both internally and together. Sadly, Claire hasn't learned anything since losing her daughter Faith. Even that sounded more like self-pity than self-awareness. Jamie—on the other hand—appears to be "perfect-in-every-way" and is there to get them out of the messes Claire gets them into! 😠

This was not true in S01—which is why it is so irritating now. 

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