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Eric Weiskott describes “the 13th-century revolution that made modern poetry possible” — namely, the change from alliterative verse (“the form of poetry used in Beowulf, Piers Plowman, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”) to the accentual-syllabic meters that underlie what we think of as traditional English verse, which began around the end of the 12th century. Weiskott gives as an example “the opening lines of the Ormulum, a very long religious tract composed by a monk named Orm”:
Thiss boc iss nemmnedd Orrmulum
forrthi þatt Orrm itt wrohhte
(‘This book is called Ormulum because Orm wrote it.’)
(Gotta love both the spelling and the impeccable reasoning.) I liked the apposite Pound quote (“To break the pentameter, that was the first heave”) and this interesting paragraph:
So if alliterative metre doesn’t measure stresses, syllables or even alliteration, what does it measure? Scholars have been debating the answer to this question since the 18th century. Current thinking is that alliterative metre measures a more abstract unit termed metrical position. A metrical position might contain one syllable, or it might contain more than one. Specifically, any number of adjacent unstressed syllables count together as a single metrical position. So, for example, the run of three unstressed syllables in the second half of the line from Piers Plowman, –e was the, is formally equivalent to the run of two unstressed syllables at the beginning of the line, in a. That’s right: a metre in which 1 + 1 = 3. In Beowulf, the rule is fairly simple: four metrical positions make a verse. By the time of Piers Plowman, the arrangement of positions had got more complicated.
Previously: Jamie survived Culloden, and got sent home to Lallybroch. Claire had their daughter and is trying to make a home in Boston.
The title splash is a redcoat posting a wanted poster for an outlaw called the “Dunbonnet.”
At Lallybroch in 1752, three boys, in the manner of troublemaking boys, find a hidden pistol in the dovecote. They are Rabbie, Wee Jamie, and Fergus (HEY FERGUS). Their bragging is interrupted by a bunch of soldiers who are looking for the Dunbonnet, who might also be Jamie. Jenny, who is very pregnant again, tells them (as they arrest Ian), that they haven’t seen Jamie since the filthy traitor went to the rebellion. The soldiers remind them that anyone harboring a traitor will be hanged, and they tell him the same thing they told five other commanders – there’s no Red Jamie there. They arrest Ian anyway, and Fergus spits at the Redcoat who is a Corporal MacGregor.
Of course, Jamie is there, in ragged clothes, long hair, and generally looking not at all like himself. He successfully hunts a stag (with a bow and arrow) and brings it to the house after dark. When he walks in, he has a vision of Claire working in the garden, but it’s really Jenny. He’s haunted and hunted and isn’t used to talking.
Inside, they butcher the deer, Jenny and Fergus keeping the conversation going while Jamie is silent. Jenny also asks Jamie if he can help with the books, since Ian is away for a bit. Jenny also tells him that her conscious is clear when it comes to lying, because she’s not: “James Fraser hasn’t been here for a long, long time.”
Claire, in her bed, pants as she remembers Jamie in happier times (by which I mean sex and fun bed times). We get a nice shot of Sam’s butt in her memory. But it’s Frank sleeping by her side, and she’s alone.
It’s 1949, and Claire puts Bree in her bed (with her Bunny), and in the Globe, there’s an article about Irish Independence. Bree fusses a bit, and Claire tells her that she’ll want to hear this: “This is history in the making.” Bree makes her own history by rolling front to back the first time. (Claire’s dressing gown is very 1940s, but also reminiscent of one of her Paris dressing gowns, which is a nice touch). Frank comes down in just a towel and they marvel over their clever daughter who rolls over a month ahead of schedule. Claire puts on a hand on his naked chest. It’s a moment, and neither is too sure what to do with it.
Jamie paces through the woods to his little cave covered by bushes. He hears someone outside, but it’s just Fergus, who SAYS he was very careful and doubled back on his trail. He’s brought the pistol and wants to learn how to shoot so he can be ready for the next rebellion. Jamie tells him there won’t be another one, and Fergus snaps ,”Just because you’re a coward now doesn’t mean I am!” Jamie just tells him that weapons are outlawed, so PUT IT BACK.
In the house, Jamie comes to help with the books, and finds that Jenny is in labor. Mary tells him not to worry. The boys are doing their chores, and see a raven. Rabbie tells them that his Granny said ravens are messengers of death, and they shouldn’t be near a birth… so they decide that the best thing to do is get the pistol and shoot the raven.
Of course, there are soldiers near enough to hear the shot. Jamie is about to throttle one or all three of them, when Mary tells him that the baby has been born- a boy- and takes the gun.
Inside, Jenny is quite pleased with herself, and is going to name the new baby Ian. He is a wee chicken. Jenny tells him that Jamie looks good with a baby, and then asks how long it’s been since he had sex. Jamie tells her to not go there, and she’s like it’s been 6 years and Mary McNab is young enough. Jamie takes the baby out to meet the others, when he hears the soldiers looking for the gun. Jenny settles herself in bed, and calmly tells them that there’s no weapons. They threaten to search the house. Baby Ian starts making noises and Jamie shoves a fingers in his mouth, and Jenny’s like look, we always cooperate, there’s no weapon!
He asks her if she’s given birth, and she tells him that baby came early and was dead. (MacGregor says that’s good, it’s one less Scot to deal with.) They ask where the body is, and then the Captain gives and order to find the midwife. At the point, Mary comes in with the pistol. She tells them that it belonged to her husband, and she kept it because it gave her comfort, and she fired it at a raven to protect that baby. MacGregor scoffs at the “stupid Highland superstitions” and offers to take her into custody. The captain says nah, they have the weapon, but warns Jenny that if anything happens again, they will not be so lenient.
The soldiers leaves, and Jenny muses that she’s seen the look in that captain’s eyes before… he’ll not give up. She tells Jamie to dig a fresh grave in the cemetery, just in case.
In Boston, Claire wakes Frank up and says she “misses her husband” and initiates sex (with her on top). This is the first time they’ve been together since she came back.
In Scotland, Ian is brought back, and MacGregor tells him that the garrison is searching to north and south, and they’ll be back. Fergus eyes them darkly. Ian thanks them for the “lovely visit.”
Fergus sneaks out, where there is a soldier hidden, waiting to see who leaves the house. In the woods, Fergus knows he’s being followed, and leads the pair of soldiers, including MacGregor, on what he intends as a merry chase. He taunts them Frenchishly, runs, gestures, and taunts them a second time. Jamie hears the yelling and sneaks to see Fergus spending more energy on taunting and less on running. Fergus gets cornered by another pair on horseback, and MacGregor uses his saber to cut off Fergus’s right hand. The soldiers leave, and Jamie tumbles down the slope and puts on a tourniquet and brings him back to the house.
Inside, Jamie paces by the fire, and Jenny tells him that Fergus is alive because of Jamie. Jamie says he should have stopped them, and Jenny sensibly points out that if he had, then they would all be dead. Jamie falls to his knees, sobbing, and Jenny holds him.
After he’s collected himself, Jamie finds Fergus, who says that Jenny has been quite generous with the whiskey (Though he prefers the taste of French wine). And that he’s sorry. Jamie says that Fergus reminds him that he does have something to fight for, and Fergus smiles: “There you are, Milord.” Fergus also reminds Jamie of the agreement they made in Paris: if Fergus lost an ear or a hand in his service, that Jamie would support Fergus for the rest of his life: “In one stroke, I have become a man of leisure, no?”
Claire and Frank are having Millie (the neighbor Claire met) and her husband over for dinner. They are having Eton Mess for dessert, and Millie laughs that she doesn’t do baking – if it’s not in the freezer section, too bad. Jerry says she that her “talents lie elsewhere.” They are affectionate, and easy with each other, in the way Claire and Jamie were and Frank wishes they were.
After Millie and Jerry leave, Frank pours Claire a nightcap, and after some banter, she takes his glass, removes her panties, and guides his hand between her legs. Her eyes are closed as he lays her down in front of the fire, and he asks that she look at him. She refuses, and he stops. He doesn’t want to be used as substitute: “When I’m with you, I’m with you. But you’re with him.”
The him in question gets a drink from Ian, and Ian talks about the phantom pains he gets in his leg: “Feeling a pain in a part of you that’s lost…Claire was your heart.” I dunno, that’s laying it on bit thick, show. Upstairs, Jamie sees a tapestry with the family arms on it that’s been slashed – the British did that. Jamie muses that they won’t stop until he’s found.
Jamie’s plan is to have Jenny turn him in: that way they get the reward money, they prove their loyalty to the Crown, so the soldiers will stop harassing them. Jenny hates the idea, like REALLY hates it. She’ll hide her brother forever if that’s what he needs, because Ohana Means Family. Jamie’s plan is that Jenny will tell the British that she’s heard from Jamie, and she knows when he’ll show up, so that’ll be that. Jenny says that he’ll be “hangit” but Jamie doesn’t care all that much, and besides, it’s been seven years. They’re not hanging people that much. It’ll just be prison. Jenny asks Jamie if he’s not seen enough prisons, and he shrugs. “Little difference to the prison I live in now.”
In his cave, Jamie sees Mary bringing him food and offers him company. She shaves him, and cuts his hair, and he thanks her for her bravery for turning over the pistol to the British. He leaves to go bathe, and tells her to bring back the books to the house, and toss the rest. She doesn’t though: she offered him company, and he comes back to find her in her shift.
What she’s offering is a moment of humanity. She’s not trying to compete with Claire. “Something we both need. Something to keep us whole as we move forward in this life.” He wrestles with himself, and admits that he hasn’t done this for a while. She hasn’t either, but they figure it out.
In Boston, Claire walks with Bree in her pram, and Bree is a super cute baby. Claire voiceovers that she did her best to resign herself to her new role as wife and mother, while looking at a headline announcing that Truman appointed a woman as Treasurer. She’s been a part of something larger, and eventually… she picks up a knife, and holds it like scalpel, and the picture fades into her actually holding a scalpel. “I would need to do something more.”
She’s in the Anatomy classroom at Harvard Medical. She’s a first year, and her professor muses that Harvard is being super modern this year, with a woman and a Black man in the class. Claire takes her seat amid the hostile glares of her classmates, until the Black man walks in. He asks if he can sit next to Claire, and she smiles. His name is Joe Abernathy. They shake hands, while the white dudes shake their heads in disgust.
The professor starts class: “Alright, gentlemen. Let’s begin.”
At the house, Claire comes into bed. She and Frank now are sleeping in twin beds.
Jenny feeds the chickens in the yard, and Jamie – shorn and shaven and looking like himself, comes to the gate. He swallows hard before saying that he’s come home (and takes off the brown hat). She says nothing, and the soldiers come out of hiding and seize him. He, acting, says, “No, Jenny!”
She, not acting, says that he brought this on himself and she’ll never forgive him for making her do this. The captain arrests Jamie and gives Jenny a large pouch of coins, and she looks away and ashamed. But she takes it. He’s loaded into the cart, and she runs into the house, crying. Jamie sits in the cart, staring at the irons on his wrists.
Claire walks across a bridge where a man playing Scotland the Brave on bagpipes is. She pauses to put money in his case, and walks on.
RHG: JOE ABERNATHY you are my favorite new character to come out of Voyager. HELLO.
I had a lot of thoughts while watching this episode- among other things, I’m not as enamored with Voyager as I am with the first two books, so my knee jerk “grouchy when things are changed” is considerably less that it was the first two seasons.
The second was articulated beautifully by this piece on (Bustle? I think it was Bustle) about how this episode made the point that the emotional part of sex exists for men, too. Frank wants the connection, he doesn’t want to be a sex toy. Mary understands that Jamie also wants the connection, and she can and will give him what she has to give.
Fergus, oh Fergus. Fergus, Fergus, Fergus.
Elyse: See, this is why I stopped reading after Outlander. I want my hero and heroine to overcome their pain and live happily ever after together. Instead Jamie is living in a sadness cave and Claire is sleeping in a Dick VanDyke bed next to a guy she doesn’t love anymore. Also I’m not chill about a kid getting his hand cut off.
So as a non-Voyager reader I just kinda let my head hit the back of the couch and went, “but whhhhhyyyyyy aren’t they together? Whhhhhyyy angst?”
I like that Jenny and Mary are holding everything together though. Jamie and Ian aren’t really present (by no fault of their own) and once again, Jenny is getting shit done.
What about you? How did you like this episode?
Alex + Ada is a series of three graphic novels by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn. The series is a love story between a man named Alex and an android named Ada. Over the course of the story, there are many parallels with past and current civil rights movements, as well as explorations of how, specifically, a rights movement for sapient androids might play out. It’s a tender, sweet story with moments of horror and tragedy but also with a truly enduring and endearing romance.
Alex is mooning over his ex-fiancée when his grandmother decides to get him an android companion. Alex’s grandmother, who is a constant source of comic relief, expresses great and uncomfortably explicit delight with regard to the success of her own android, Daniel. One day Alex comes home and finds a surprise from Grandma – an android named Ada.
Alex is quite creeped out by Ada’s complete lack of agency or interest in anything other than whatever he orders her to seem interested in. He is polite to her but can’t figure out how to interact with her (and no, he doesn’t have sex with her). Alex finds an online forum about android rights and learns that androids were built with the ability to be sentient, but have had that ability locked away. Unlocking an android is a difficult and illegal task but a person in the forum offers to unlock Ada. Ada would be a fully conscious person albeit still in an android body.
From this point on, Ada has agency and more of the story is told from her point of view. Unfortunately, unlocking a sentient is extremely illegal, as is simply being a sentient robot. Alex and Ada try being friends and try being lovers, while they also figure out what their lives can be like as a couple and individually given that Ada’s sentient state has to remain a secret.
The art in Alex + Ada is very simple, but I thought it fit the story. There’s no panel tricks here – everything is drawn inside uniform rectangles and the color palette is subdued. This allows the focus to remain on faces. Even when Ada is standing still and not speaking, it’s easy to tell when she is sentient and when she is not.
The focus of the story is very much on Alex and Ada, but I loved the side characters as well. The only problem is that the more villainous characters are too one-sided whereas the more sympathetic characters are either allowed more complexity or are simply more pleasant to be around. There are multiple examples of healthy, happy relationships that involve a variety of races, ages, gender preferences, and human or non-human statuses. I’m especially fond of a character with a prosthetic leg who wants to upgrade and hang his older prosthetic leg on the wall. His wife is generally supportive, but in an aside to Ada whispers, “That’s NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.”
This isn’t a very complex story and it doesn’t say anything we haven’t heard before about what makes a person a person. It’s also pretty brief and could use more elaboration about the world and other characters.
However, its very simplicity makes it emotionally focused. While everyone in the story is worried about society and the place of sentient robots and whether sentient robots will kill people and how to catch them, Alex and Ada just want to live their lives together. The story is affecting because of the relationship between Alex and Ada, and between their friends. There’s tough going at the end of the story but it ends on an optimistic note, with Alex and Ada poised to be the slightly boring suburban couple they always wanted to be.