Claire deserved better
While I was watching 303 All Debts Paid, I suddenly realized that Claire’s graduation party is basically a metaphor for what has happened to Claire and her story since season one.
I love Claire. I love her courage, her ambition, her willingness to do whatever it takes to save the people she loves, her no-nonsense attitude, and her ability to heal people. And yes, I love her relationship with Jamie. It’s a true relationship of equals in every sense of the word.
Her graduation party is supposed to be a celebration of Claire and what she has worked so hard to accomplish. Becoming a doctor is huge, but the fact that Claire managed to do so in the 1950s when most women stayed at home makes it even more impressive. She’s a trailblazer and - yes - a true feminist, and seeing that on screen is important. After so much grief and hard work, she is finally able to be her true self and become a doctor. She shares a drink with her good friend, Joe, and beams at her daughter, knowing that it has all been worth it in the end. This is finally her time to shine.
Before anyone can say the word «gallbladder,» Frank has deliberately invited his new mistress over to crash the party, making it all about him. We have already been told that Claire is a horrible wife because she has forced her husband to cheat on her since she is so cold and heartless, and to make it even worse she wants to become a doctor and not stay at home, make dinner and look pretty for Frank’s boss. What a bitch! Even their neighbour made sure to tell Claire that she won’t find another man as perfect as poor Frank, so she had better make sure that meat loaf is perfect and the potatoes are delicious because Frank is clearly the hero in this story.
Poor Frank invites his mistress into their home, and the graduation party is no longer the joyous, fun celebration of a strong woman. It has now become Frank’s opportunity to humiliate her and show Claire’s future colleagues what a horrible, cold woman she is. «This is a woman who only cares about her ambitions, so I have to seek comfort elsewhere,» he wants to tell them, but he doesn’t have to, because the look on his face says it all. Poor, poor Frank. How dare this woman get these ideas into her pretty little head?
When Claire confronts him about it, he throws his relationship in her face since she was the one who forced him into an open marriage and to cheat on her, perpetuating the old stereotype about how women are to blame when their partners cheat on them because they’re not good enough. Frank is the wronged party here, you know?
Ten years later poor Frank is still hurting (and cheating on Claire,) but now he tells Claire that he’s going to take her daughter away from her since she is such a horrible mother. Well, obviously. Cold women like Claire who work full-time can’t be good mothers. Of course.
We are left with the impression that this has been the story about a poor man who has had to deal with his horrible, cold shrew of a wife while taking care of their beautiful daughter. Oh, and the shrew was married to some redhead at one point, which hurt poor Frank even more. No wonder he couldn’t stop sleeping with other people.
Because apparently the graduation party as well as the story itself were never about a wonderful and complex woman who managed to survive and thrive no matter what life threw at her. No, this was a story about a poor man whose life was destroyed when it turned out that the woman he loved had a mind of her own.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the story of Outlander. It’s too bad the writers of the show never got the memo.