Oh, Frank - My Complicated Journey of Feelings About Frank Randall

Written by: Erin McGowan

This is a disclaimer that may help shed light for some on why I'm writing this and why I may have these feelings. I was about half way through Voyager when a lot of the things I talk about below took place. Yeah, you book readers know what I'm thinking about...so, let's get started.


I have a very complicated relationship with Frank Randall as a character. After watching the first season, it's hard to deny, Ron D. Moore (RDM) made Frank a far more interesting character than he ever was in the book series (no offense intended towards Diana or how she wrote Frank). However, that doesn't sway the primarily negative opinion I have of one Frank Wolverton Randall.

I started reading the Outlander book series after I had already seen the first episode of the television series. STARZ released the first episode, Sassenach, online earlier than the official premiere date and I jumped on that faster than a fat kid and free candy. Not going to lie, I really didn't mind Frank. Honestly, he didn't seem that bad to me. He appeared to be quite a doting husband and I was all for that. Then my family and I took a 14 hour car ride to Toronto in August of last summer and I took that time to finally start reading Outlander. Now you may be thinking, "Okay Erin, get to the point." Well, that is my point. I started reading Outlander. The Frank I watched on screen was not the same Frank I read in Outlander. Maybe it was because the books are from Claire's point of view and once she goes through the stones, we really don't hear much about Frank anymore, or maybe it's because Tobias Menzies is just an amazingly talented actor and makes even the most mundane characters interesting. I didn't know. What I did know, there were definitely differences between book-Frank and show-Frank...and I didn't mind.

What I did mind, however, was the fact that in the show, it seemed that Claire's sole reason for wanting to return to her own time in the 1940s was so she could return to Frank. That didn't jive with me because, well, Frank was boring. No, I should really say, book-Frank was boring. Show-Frank was okay, book-Frank was extremely boring. All he cared about was researching his family history. He was supposed to be on a sort of second honeymoon with is wife because they had both just been reunited after being apart for five years due to WWII! That's a big deal! Who cares about family history when you and your wife both survived WWII?! These two Frank's I had in my head just didn't mesh.


But as I stated before, I really didn't mind the differences I saw in show-Frank. I actually enjoyed the differences. The show was giving more depth to a character we really didn't learn too much about...besides the fact that he has a particularly nasty ancestor. I was quite content to enjoy show-Frank for all he had to give, which was actually few and far between. To be fair, there really wasn't that much show-Frank. I can't really complain too much.

What really started to get my blood boiling and actually started this whole Frank debate in my head were people's reactions after The Wedding aired. In my opinion, The Wedding was one of the most amazing and sensual episodes I have ever seen on television and I'm sure many people would agree. We were shown two characters who were, quite literally, from two different worlds start to grow and understand each other; We witnessed them falling in love, which is why I'm still dumbfounded when I think about the reactions I saw from people about that episode.

As I normally do after an episode airs, I would scroll through the Outlander tag on Tumblr just to see people's different opinions, maybe see some edits or gifs people had made already. I enjoyed it. I check the tags for a lot of various television shows I watch. What I was not expecting was the onslaught of criticism Claire was getting for her decision (although she didn't really have much of a decision) to marry Jamie. People were berating and belittling her and I was shocked. Granted, this was a small handful of people on Tumblr, but I was still shocked anyone could have felt that way. At this point, after watching the entire season unfold, I'm sure those people's opinions have changed, but it got a ball rolling for me and it hasn't stopped, especially considering what happens in later books.


I saw people posting things along the lines of, "Claire is betraying Frank," or "Claire is cheating on Frank." Basically just many variations of those two sentiments. RDM had even touched on Claire's feelings about that topic in The Wedding, which were along those lines, as well. She contemplates what her marriage and her feelings for Jamie actually mean. What kind of person does it make her? Not a bad one, I can tell you that.

This is when the two Frank's I had in my head, book-Frank and show-Frank, started to become one. I started to get angry and the Frank's started to become one because my anger was directed towards him, Frank Randall, as a whole. While people were blaming Claire, I was blaming Frank because I didn't understand. We barely saw anything of Frank in the show. And in the book, we didn't get much more. Why does a character we barely know warrant such loyalty? I didn't understand, so I got frustrated and defensive.

Claire had to marry Jamie. It was for protection against BJR. It's not like she had a choice. And yes, she does start to develop feelings for him, but come on, who wouldn't?! After being thrust into an unfamiliar world and having to survive when you don't have any idea what's going on, I'd start to develop feelings for the only man who actually seemed like a decent human being, too. And he was trying to help and protect her. Developing feelings, even a modicum of fondness, would be natural. I was lost at how people could blame Claire in this situation, completely lost. Plus, Claire and Frank are separated by 200 years and Claire has no idea if she can even get back to her own time. I'd hardly call that cheating.


And then episode eight happened, Both Sides Now. As a whole, I really enjoyed episode eight. If I'm going to point out the details, well, there were also a lot of things I didn't like. This is when I talk about why the 'Claire's sole reason for wanting to return to her own time in the 1940s was so she could return to Frank' actually bothered me so much, and it wasn't just because Frank is boring. It's because Claire just wouldn't have done that...and she didn't do that in the books.

Claire went back in time, something that should be impossible, but she did it. I would not be okay. I don't know about you, but I would be freaking out. Claire is a very level-headed, intelligent and pragmatic person, though. She evaluates her situation pretty quickly and figures out what she needs to do to survive, aka get the hell out of dodge. She needs to find her way back to the stones and return to her own time so she doesn't die, a pretty basic survival instinct. In episode two, Claire even says herself, "So far, I had been assaulted, threatened, kidnapped, and nearly raped." The Scottish Highlands in 1743 was a dangerous place and Claire was well aware of that. In the books, even with Jamie there to protect her, she still wanted to get back to the stones to return home because she travelled back in time! Something that is not natural! Who cares about my husband right now because holy crap I travelled back in time! I shouldn't be here.

That's why, towards the end of episode eight, the running-towards-the-stones-screaming-Frank bothered the crap out of me. It was so out of character, in my opinion. I could have brushed off all the other instances throughout the series of Claire proclaiming how she had to get back to Frank, but that stones scene was ridiculous and just put me past the breaking point. At this point, I didn't like Frank as a character and I didn't think the emphasis on Claire wanting to return to Frank was necessary.

There's actually quite a few more reasons why I have a strong opposition towards Frank Randall, but as I'm trying to stay spoiler free, I will not divulge. I will save that for another post...another post I will hopefully be able to make by the end of season two ;) All I will say is, Frank does some pretty crappy stuff and treats Claire pretty poorly. If you want to know what happened, definitely read the books. And then maybe you'll come back to this post and read it from a new perspective.

I will end with this: one important thing to know about me, I become attached to characters very easily. When the best thing I can say about a character is that I didn't mind them, well, that's not really good. But when an author and a show writer can change my opinion, change my once indifferent view to something with true feeling, then that's what I call great writing. So, good on Diana and Ron for making me feel something real about Frank, whether that was the intended reaction or not.

Do I sound completely unfair in my opinion of Frank or can you see where I'm coming from? What are your opinions of Frank?



Do you want more Outlander chat? Get your fix by listening to The Outlander Cast Podcast with detailed show discussion and amazing interviews with cast, crew, writers and directors of Outlander on Starz.

21 comments

  1. I completely agree with you about Frank. Throughout the 8 books & a side book we find out what he knew & what he did to hurt or help the situation. I think once this comes out in the show (if we get that far) and more people read the books, more will come to this point of view. RDM really likes Frank, so he will continue to show a better man than the books do, but I wonder as we go further if he can keep that up. Sometimes I can see both sides & see how he may have been right at some points, but mostly I am not a Frank fan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm curious how long the show can paint Frank in a good light, as well. But I actually like the fact RDM shows Frank in a better light. That doesn't make me like the character any more, but I don't mind RDM's perspective on Frank.

      Delete
  2. Erin and Suzanne, I agree on Frank. At best, they aren't compatible long term and if Claire hadn't gone thru the stones they would have discovered that. She was 18 when they married, they had about 2 years together before war intervened and they spent 5 years apart. Crucial years for Claire as far as maturing and becoming a woman. They came back together as different people and admittedly were having issues, that's why the "second honeymoon," and Frank apparently missed the definition of that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've missed you, my sweet! Let's get to know each other again, while I ignore you and research my slimy ancestor.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I completely agree. Even if Claire hadn't gone through the stones, I think the war and the time apart was enough to cause a rift between them. Both of them were changed people.

      Delete
  3. I think episode 8 did show a bit of frank's darker side in the fight scene. I liked how they showed scenes from frank's point of view and hope to see more in the upcoming seasons

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the most part, I was okay with the scenes from Frank's perspective simply because we just don't get to see that side in the books, so it's interesting to explore it.

      Delete
  4. Very good comment Erin. Unless someone has a really bad attitude and looking for an online fight, then they should be able to see how fair you were, to both Franks. The advantage of watching the show before reading the book, is you the viewer start without any favoritism. The disadvantage is not being able to tell who the hero is. The love between show Frank and show Claire, shows a true love, great sex, and very happy Claire. One statement from the show, said Frank was suffering from PTSD. I suppose they came to this conclusion, by the his lack of talking about the war and using his research to block out the war memories. All I took from the show, was Claire being glad he had his research, just as she had her new enjoyment of plants as means of healing. Show Frank was very considerate and asked Claire was she happy, and her yes sounded very honest. This big change in their relationship, made a huge difference in Claire's frantic need to return to him. Why? Because this was a man who she seemed deeply in love with. Right up to the night before Jamie returns her to the stones, she is still thinking of dear Frank. She "feels adrift, anchorless etc......and no matter how much Jamie talks about his home, she does not feel it's going to be home to her. Then bam, the very next day, she decides to stay with Jamie?? Why??? This is most likely why some viewers called Claire some pretty nasty names. Some thought the stones didn't work, so Jamie would have to do. Whether I agree or not, I can understand why so many have become Frank fans. When J and C return to his home, there is nothing but bickering and fighting, and none of the humor found in the book. Claire finally telling Jamie "I love you" was a puzzle to me. As was her saying she finally felt she belonged. They had been there just a few days, and all filled with strife. There again, one would have to wonder when this soul mate love happened. Only if a viewer is projecting what they have read, onto the show, could they 'feel' their love. If nothing else, I would have loved to see show Claire smile half as much that she did with show Frank. Erin, you stated there really wasn't much of filmed Frank. I'm not so sure.. I haven't sat and timed every shot he was in, but a lady did time Sam/Jamie's time on screen. 1.5 out of 8 hours. Not much for a leading role. Whatever time show Frank had, he was given great lines and very important flash backs. My goodness, the Wedding started with Frank and Claire's.!! This was no accident. I don't understand it, but the powers that be, wanted Frank a better and more appealing hero than Jamie. Sounds as if a growing number of fans feel this way too. Many readers and non readers alike, love the street smarts Frank. He takes on multiple thugs, and reveals traits of evil BJR. Seeing and learning more background (Ron's version) on Frank is all well and good, IF Jamie's character had stayed the same. I could find no redeeming qualities in E 8. Frank, Frank, Frank, was everywhere and someone called the running to each other, a "Take me away Calgon" moment. Erin, you are right about how show Frank is much more appealing than book Frank. I cannot imagine what S2 will be like, if we have more Frank. And Ron announced there will be lots more Frank. If I had not liked Sam so much as Jamie, I would be able to say, I really liked Frank. But seeing the direction, Ron has taken, then no I do not like show Frank, and I never liked Book Frank

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really enjoyed reading everything you had to say, especially because it's exactly how I feel too. As a book reader, I definitely think I projected what I knew of Jamie and Claire's relationship/love onto the tv versions of the two characters. Once I read that comment and I took a step back, I could definitely see where you were coming from with the fact that, yes, Claire's realization that she loves Jamie was a little abrupt. I don't really know what to expect from season 2 in regards to Frank, but I do have faith in RDM. He has definitely made Frank more interesting in the show and if there's more Frank scenes in season 2, so be it, I will accept it...to an extent (episode 8 still bugs me with all the Frank that was in there, we agree on that).

      Delete
  5. Are you take issue with RDMs version of Frank - especially when he said that Frank defines clear and that in order to understand clearly we need to understand Frank. That is total crap! Claire is defined by her work no matter what century she's in. Also, I always read the book as Claire not really understanding what being in love was. She loved Frank, but he was as much a father figure to her as a husband. He represented stability and safety and she married him when she was 18! To me, this is what enables the rest of the story and makes Claire's love for Jamie makes sense. A woman passionately in love in a good and stable marriage with her husband - which is what they showed on the show but was not in the book - doesn't fall passionately in love with another man. To add insult to injury, they took away the friendship, the trust, the camaraderie between Jamie and Claire before the wedding. Sex is the only thing that binds them. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me about the negative comments about Claire after the wedding episode. When she was so mean to Jamie at the beginning, I was wondering myself. The wedding episode was wonderful but I think we were supposed to get from that that she was totally in love with him by the third encounter and that is utterly ridiculous. If they knew they weren't going to explore the relationship with Jamie and Claire, it was even more important not to show Frank in such a good light. Everyone responded to the complaints about the change in Frank's character and the expansion of his role by saying - if it's this good for Frank, I imagine how great it's going to be when they show Jamie! Well, they never did. And it's a mess. Non readers are still wondering if Claire is going back to Frank after the end of the last episode. It's ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do take issue with RDMs version of Frank - especially when he said that Frank defines clear and that in order to understand clearly we need to understand Frank. That is total crap! Claire is defined by her work no matter what century she's in. Also, I always read the book as Claire not really understanding what being in love was. She loved Frank, but he was as much a father figure to her as a husband. He represented stability and safety and she married him when she was 18! To me, this is what enables the rest of the story and makes Claire's love for Jamie makes sense. A woman passionately in love in a good and stable marriage with her husband - which is what they showed on the show but was not in the book - doesn't fall passionately in love with another man. To add insult to injury, they took away the friendship, the trust, the camaraderie between Jamie and Claire before the wedding. Sex is the only thing that binds them. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me about the negative comments about Claire after the wedding episode. When she was so mean to Jamie at the beginning, I was wondering myself. The wedding episode was wonderful but I think we were supposed to get from that that she was totally in love with him by the third encounter and that is utterly ridiculous. If they knew they weren't going to explore the relationship with Jamie and Claire, it was even more important not to show Frank in such a good light. Everyone responded to the complaints about the change in Frank's character and the expansion of his role by saying - if it's this good for Frank, I imagine how great it's going to be when they show Jamie! Well, they never did. And it's a mess. Non readers are still wondering if Claire is going back to Frank after the end of the last episode. It's ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I do take issue with RDMs version of Frank - especially when he said that Frank defines clear and that in order to understand clearly we need to understand Frank. That is total crap! Claire is defined by her work no matter what century she's in. Also, I always read the book as Claire not really understanding what being in love was. She loved Frank, but he was as much a father figure to her as a husband. He represented stability and safety and she married him when she was 18! To me, this is what enables the rest of the story and makes Claire's love for Jamie makes sense. A woman passionately in love in a good and stable marriage with her husband - which is what they showed on the show but was not in the book - doesn't fall passionately in love with another man. To add insult to injury, they took away the friendship, the trust, the camaraderie between Jamie and Claire before the wedding. Sex is the only thing that binds them. Therefore, it doesn't surprise me about the negative comments about Claire after the wedding episode. When she was so mean to Jamie at the beginning, I was wondering myself. The wedding episode was wonderful but I think we were supposed to get from that that she was totally in love with him by the third encounter and that is utterly ridiculous. If they knew they weren't going to explore the relationship with Jamie and Claire, it was even more important not to show Frank in such a good light. Everyone responded to the complaints about the change in Frank's character and the expansion of his role by saying - if it's this good for Frank, I imagine how great it's going to be when they show Jamie! Well, they never did. And it's a mess. Non readers are still wondering if Claire is going back to Frank after the end of the last episode. It's ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Once again we are almost in agreement, Jessica Nealon

    ReplyDelete
  11. I do find that I like the show Frank, more then the book Frank...but knowing what is to come adds more depth and more controversy...but without spoilers, I can say that having read the book already had me looking for things...that I can see may have non-book readers confused.. Claire loved Frank...and if she had never met Jaime may have been happy with him. That was a time that you worked on relationships and stayed together...not near as much divorce as surrounds us now. But...she did find Jaime and his kindness and the sparks between them are better seen in the books...but Claire did feel some pain marrying Jaime because of Frank...and she never wishes Frank ill. He is a part of who she is...for good or ill.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I like the way Tobias portrayed Frank but my opinions haven't changed. He cheated on Claire, he liked to feel he was somehow in charge I feel and if Clarie had not gone through the stones I don't think their marriage would have lasted, she went from being taken care of by her uncle to being taken care of by Frank and after the war she was much changed and had grown, if bed is the only place you connect then I feel a marriage is at risk. You couldn't fall in love with someone else as Claire did with Jamie if you truly loved your husband, as proved by the fact that Claire spent 20 years loving Jamie when she thought he was dead. Frank loved Bree but I don't think he did Claire and it shows a spiteful meaness of spirit not to tell Clarie that he found Jamie. He could have trusted her not to take Bree to a time where she would have been at risk but he chose to keep that from her and then continue to have affairs using Claires love for Jamie as an excuse, as far as we are aware Claire was much more honourable and never cheated on Frank, overall I think he was flawed like the rest of us but not a terrible nice bloke if it didn't suit him.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I read the books before the series came out - not a lot before but enough to digest up through book 7. There isn't a lot TO Frank in the first book - it never gelled for me why Claire was so bent on getting back to him. Back to her own time and place, sure....but not necessarily to Frank. The show gave this character a depth I hadn't really seen before and Tobias played the part (AND BJR) brilliantly.

    There is a lot more to Frank as the story progresses. He wasn't perfect - but he did CARE - very deeply. Perhaps RDM portrayed some of the things he did with Frank in S1 knowing the long term story and was giving the TV viewers who haven't read all the books, a look at the whole character rather than just the bit we get in Outlander.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I enjoy the more depth of show Frank. I would like to remind you that one of Claire's key character traits is her loyalty. Yes, she married Frank young, but was a worldwide traveler with Uncle Lamb. Show Claire wanted to adopt WWII orphans, Frank did not. They are both upper class, especially show Frank's family because Claire asks if he wouldn't want a "big church wedding." Also fans, it is 1945, post WWII, between Frank's PTSD and maybe Claire has it a bit too this couple hasn't spent hardly any time together during the war. Claire's uncle is dead. Frank is her 'person'. Please excuse the 'Grey's Anatomy' reference. Wouldn't you be driven to try to get back to the only person who knows your 'history' or your 'person' regardless of an attractive Scots warrior that you know that doesn't trust you-but interested in you sexually. Claire's character traits of stubbornness, straightforwardness, faithful/loyalty, & compassion being partnered with show or book Frank long term plausible but she'll be content not happy. Sure show/book Jamie and Claire's relationship has its ups and downs as any 'normal' relationship.

    SPOILER

    Claire offered to leave Frank several times, Frank doesn't have grounds for divorcing Claire. She does, remember book Claire and Frank were married in a Catholic service. Hopefully Ron Moore will fill in book 2 Frank's motives a bit more than the book. I wonder if we will learn more about Frank's shady work in book 9.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Frank did not define Claire as Ron has stated. And Oultlander is not about a love triangle the show yes....the book no

    ReplyDelete
  16. If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you need to watch this video
    right away...

    (VIDEO) Text Your Ex Back?

    ReplyDelete

Back to Top