Outlander Creme de Menthe Review
Starz’s Outlander: Season 3, Episode 7: Creme de Menthe, similar to so many episodes of Outlander, contained the threat of sexual assault. Like Eleanor Guthrie in Black Sails, however, its potential victim in Creme de Menthe, Claire Beauchamp Randall/Fraser (Caitriona Balfe), was no push over. As the physical back and forth between Claire Fraser and John Barton (Ian Conningham) began, there was a terrible narrative threat, an authorial gut punch that could have punctuated Claire’s return to James “Jamie” MacKenzie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and their night of love-making – Claire’s rape the morning afterward.
That was the fear in the back of the viewer’s mind as the brief fist-i-cuffs transpired. Did Voyager author Diana Gabaldon create that moment in her book? Did the screenwriters translate that to the small screen (or come up with it on their own)? Were their collective imaginations that dark, narratively strategic, and uncompromising (think Paul Redeker in the book World War Z) in delivering their promise to Outlander‘s TV audience i.e. an unforgettable viewing experience?
No. In that instance, they weren’t. They were archaic instead.
The cranial surgery that Claire Randall performed on John Barton was barbaric but that is judging it by 21th century medical standards. Even though the criticism is unjust (the surgery was necessary), it was like watching a truncated lobotomy take place as Claire bore into Barton’s skull.
Claire showed how unique a person she was in Creme de Menthe. She was singularly human, Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut human, i.e. she was good to her fellow man even when they presented as her enemy. Even if Claire had not taken The Hippocratic Oath, that goodness would have still been there. How many people would have been that magnanimous to their would-be rapist? If that had been Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall unconscious, bleeding into his skull, Claire probably would have begrudgingly saved him as well.
Ian Murray, Jr. (John Bell) was eventually in need of saving during Creme de Menthe but his courting machinations were the most humorous aspects of the episode.
Ian Murray, Jr.’s courtship of bar maid Brighid (Zoe Barker) was very sweet, sincere, and very quick (though that does happen, sometimes, when the proper amount of chemistry is in place). It was scandalous and hysterical when Ian bent Brighid over, not asking permission, with no type of foreplay indicating that anything like that was permissible, and began the “boarding procedure” to the perplexed chagrin of Brighid. When Ian said he knew nothing about women to Claudel “Fergus” Fraser, he meant it, including common courtesy, though Ian genuinely meant no offense. Ian was a true, blue neophyte when it came to women and coitus.
The fight scene between Ian Murray, Jr. and Harry Tompkins (Ian Reddington), featuring a dramatic gun shot and a over-coming fire, were instigating events, fulcrums to usher Jamie Fraser, Claire Fraser, and Ian Murray, Jr. back to Lallybroch and its immense, waiting tension – Jamie Fraser’s second wife.
The fire in Creme de Menthe also reserved multiple other purposes: it got rid of a problem that Sir Percival Turner had with Jamie Fraser (the fire and the destruction it caused may have satiated Sir Turner and Harry Tompkins’ desire for revenge), it destroyed all physical evidence of Jamie’s wrong-doing (there is nothing connecting Jamie to the pamphlet that Tompkins stole) but it also focused attention on Jamie. Jamie Fraser’s name, the name of his shop, and the recent fire will be in the newspapers by the next day’s evening edition. Though Jamie will be able to slip away from the city, having used an alias, I doubt the men that he cheated, or the crown, will give up on him that easily. Hopefully Jamie takes every person with him that knows who he really is or where he might go. If not, those will be loose ends that will get tugged on. Someone will surely tug on the Creme de Menthe thread. Jamie’s minions sold three casks of that alcohol. John Barton’s body was hidden in a cask of Creme de Menthe. One of the three sold casks may have contained his body.
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