TV reviews

Outlander 3×13 – ‘Eye Of The Storm’ – Review

Finally, Season 3 of Outlander ends with ‘Eye of the Storm.’ The last 13 episodes have felt like a long and weary journey. We finally end the season with a climatic battle between Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Geillis (Lotte Verbeek) at another time portal, a cave named Abandawe. It is fitting that the final conflict of this time-travelling drama series should be between two women and the only two characters who have travelled through time. Outlander has always firstly been a story about a woman’s experience in a historical period that is not her own so it makes sense to end Season 3 on such a theme.

Before we examine the conflict between Claire and the ever increasingly crazy Geillis, the show throws us into Jamie’s tired arrest story-line. Jamie (Sam Heughan) must be a pro at being a prisoner by now, since he has been repeatedly arrested, imprisoned and threatened by British authorities throughout his life. Lord John Grey (David Berry) has somehow got wind of Jamie’s arrest and takes Captain Leonard (Charlie Hiett) to task for not being in possession of a warrant.

It is nice to see John Grey graduate from a lovesick young aristocrat to a wily and commanding politician. He completely destroys Leonard’s case against Jamie and exhibits an in-depth knowledge of both the British legal system and also naval regulations. In ‘Eye of the Storm’ he is smarter than he has been allowed to appear in earlier episodes. Despite this, Jamie’s arrest and criminal status is all resolved a bit too quickly. But then that is how Outlander likes to deal with events: introduce a dilemma and then resolve it in minutes. This seesawing between threat and safety dispels any narrative tension and suspense and ultimately annoys the viewer.

Young Ian (John Bell) is finally standing up to Geillis and it is great to see his feisty side at last, since he has been a bit of wet blanket all season. Claire is still searching for her nephew and is found sneaking around Geillis’s slave barracks, where she discovers a dog eating a dead body. This discovery would be all the more sinister if the production team hadn’t decided to choose an adorable looking pooch for the cadaver munching. Claire is then roughly dragged away to confront Geillis in the big house, at last it appears that both women do not trust each other.

What follows is a lengthy plot exposition and mystery reveal doubling up as a conversation between two 20th Century women who find themselves in the 18th century, one of whom is crazier than a bag of hammers and another who is just hopelessly gullible. In a rather hilarious piece of dialogue, Geillis compares Claire’s tale of time travel to the plot of a Mills and Boon novel. This is actually quite accurate as Outlander itself has developed into a romantic melodrama in Season 3. Geillis is patriotic, but murderous and obviously deluded. She believes a prophecy that a great Scottish King will arise if a 200 year old baby is killed. The baby is obviously Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna, conceived in the 1700s and born in the 1950s. Claire, who exercises even less sensible judgement than she has shown in previous episodes, stupidly reveals the existence of her daughter to Geillis by showing her some photos of Brianna from the 1960s.

This is where we hit one of the major plot gaps in the story. It’s not clear if the prophecy is true and accurate or just something Geillis believes. Despite the entire series leading up to this prophecy, we are given no more information about the mystery except that Geillis is willing to kill for it. The viewer needs more of a reason for all the coincidences that have taken place in Season 3 than just mere fate or a vague prophecy. Another plot gap follows on quickly in which Jamie manages to find Claire at Geillis’ house without any indication of how he knew she was there. The couple race off in to the night yet again determined to find Young Ian.

The episode is not just filled with plot holes but also cliches. A mystical prophecy, a bunch of slaves dancing in a voodoo ceremony, a magical pool which is also a time portal and a psychic channelling an absent spirit. The voodoo dancing scene feels especially overdone as actors shriek and wail and jiggle about in front of a bonfire while the main characters run around on the outskirts of the ceremony conversing with each other. The dancing mirrors the scene of the druid women dancing at Craig na Dun back in Season 1 of Outlander. The writers of the show must assume that the audience have a short memory because they include several unnecessary flashbacks throughout the rest of the episode, just so we can understand how all the plot strands of the subsequent seasons are supposed to be wound together. Even Claire’s eventual killing of Geillis (she almost decapitates her with a sword) is linked back to the mysterious skeleton that Joe and Claire examined in Boston in the 1960s. It is rather heavy handed story-telling and all a bit exhausting.

There is a nice scene where Jamie embraces the rescued Young Ian and Claire. Over the course of the series, Jamie has grown from impulsive young man into the responsible head of a family. Predictably after they return to the Artemis, Claire and Jamie engage in some flirting and then have sex in a scene that is basically a repetition of all the other sex scenes that have come before. We are losing track of how often Claire and Jamie’s sexual life is used as portent for disaster. The basic pattern goes like this: Jamie and Claire are in peril, Jamie and Claire are separated, Jamie and Claire are reunited, Jamie and Claire have sex, events then take a turn for the worse again. As a general rule any character in Outlander should be worried when this old married couple decide to get physical, as disaster is sure to follow afterwards. This episode is no exception, right after the lovemaking, the Artemis is shipwrecked in a storm.

Somehow both Jamie and Claire survive the storm making them both simultaneously and improbably both incredibly unlucky and lucky. They and the rest of the Artemis crew are washed up on the shore of Georgia in America. This is where Season 3 of Outlander ends, leaving us with the obvious questions: what are Claire and Jamie going to do in 18th Century America? Knowing the Fraser’s penchant of attracting and getting in to trouble, we suspect that they will definitely end up playing a prominent role in the American Colonies’ Revolutionary War against the British. Expect at least more perilous sex in the New World when Outlander returns in late 2018.

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