Outlander: ‘Uncharted’


(Original post at The National Student)

Uncharted is a weirdly disjointed episode of three distinct parts- the jungle wanderings of castaway Claire, her recovery-come-captivity at Father Fogden’s home, and her blissful reunion with Jamie.

Waking up in the ocean, Claire finds herself drifting in the shallows of a nearby island. Intrepid explorer that she is, Claire goes in search of civilisation in an attempt to warn Jamie of his potential arrest.

Her experience walking through the wilderness is convincingly horrible, as Claire battles heat, thirst, and local wildlife over a three-day trek. Kudos to the makeup department for transforming someone as ethereally beautiful as Caitriona Balfe into a sweaty, ant-riddled mess.

Yet, despite the emphasis on Claire’s journey, the first third of Uncharted doesn’t add much to the story beyond discomfort, and at times it’s simply dull.

It takes until Claire finally collapses and is rescued by former priest Father Fogden for the episode to really heat up.

Father Fogden, whilst being a well-meaning sort of guy, is clearly affected by the death of his beloved wife Ermenegilda fifteen years ago. When he’s not grieving Ermenegilda, Fogden spends his days smoking psychotropic plants and talking to a coconut named Coco as part of a highly prescient homage to Cast Away.

Ermenegilda’s mother Mamacita is no fan of Claire and her futuristic zip technology. Although she’s all for kicking Claire out, Father Fogden insists that Claire must stay and recover before she can be shown the way to Jamaica. Naturally, Claire’s having none of this.

After learning about his wife, Claire tells Fogden about Jamie’s plight and elicits some sympathy from him. Her attempt to influence his decision by talking to Coco is less successful, as they’re interrupted by the news that a Chinese sailor has eaten Arabella, one of Fogden’s beloved goats.
Realising that the man in question could be Yi Tien Cho, Claire begs to be told where his boat is moored.
Luckily for Claire, the Artemis is undergoing repairs after storms that killed many crewmen. RIP Captain Raines et al, victims of narrative convenience.
Claire sprints to the beach before the Artemis can leave, tearing open her arm on the way. Using a mirror to signal to the ship, Claire gets Jamie’s attention and the couple have their passionate reunion on the beach.
Now they’re back together, Jamie and Claire resolve to keep looking for Young Ian as covertly as possible to escape Captain Leonard’s warrant. Before they start to find him, however, the Frasers ensure the marriage of Fergus and Marsali will take place.
Vulnerable for the first time, Marsali asks Claire to help her temporarily delay any chance of pregnancy so she can enjoy her sexual relationship with Fergus. Even if Brianna is two-hundred years away from her, it’s nice to see Claire slipping back into a motherly role.
After Yi Tien Cho apologises for eating Arabella, Father Fogden agrees to marry Fergus and Marsali in a romantic (if chaotic) ceremony. During the service, Jamie gives the previously mononymic Fergus the surname Fraser. All in all, the pseudo-parental dynamics in Outlander are very sweet.
Back on the Artemis, Claire recovers her strength through a combination of penicillin and boozy turtle soup. Jamie and Claire have tipsy sex, and – well, that’s it. As endings go, it’s pretty jarring, but it blows the Game of Thrones boat sex out of the water.
Uncharted starts out as a tonal mishmash, but steadily improves once it commits to a lighter spirit. The plot is pretty outlandish (pun intended), but injects some much-needed humour into what has been a pretty dark series so far. With only two episodes left, Claire and Jamie will soon have to get serious about finding Young Ian.

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