A Curious look at Outlander's Master Raymond: Who is this guy? *SPOILER WARNING*

Written By: Janet Reynolds



By now we have all — maybe — stopped weeping over episode 7 of Outlander. The script, the set, the ACTING — "Faith" was the episode where season two finally came together in one glorious hour of outstanding television. Move over "The Wedding." "Faith" may supersede you for fan rewatching.

This is the also the episode where, barring Ron D. Moore et al losing their collective minds, we bade farewell to the enigmatic Master Raymond. Like the man himself, his screen minutes may have been small, but he figures large in Claire's life and, ultimately, in the way history plays out.

We first meet Master Raymond (so wonderfully portrayed by Dominique Pinon) in episode 2, "We're not in Scotland Anymore." Claire comes to his apothecary seeking a potion to help Jamie sleep. (Important side note here: The sets this season overall have been mind-blowingly beautiful and impressive. But set designer Jon Gary Steele really takes it to another level with the apothecary and later the Star Chamber in "Faith." Wow.)

"I see your nose is not purely decorative," Master Raymond says to Claire after she picks up a vial, sniffs, and announces its contents. The scene also sets up their friendship. Claire is out of her element in Paris and she has made a serious enemy in the Comte St. Germain. After Master Raymond mentions that he and the Comte are rivals, he says, "And since he's your enemy as well, you must in point of fact be my friend."

Master Raymond turns out to be perhaps the friend for Claire. Yes, Louise comes through in that beautifully touching scene at Claire's bedside, but before that she is more frill than substance. And Mother Hildegard is both demanding mentor and, ultimately, mother as well as friend. But Master Raymond is an instant soulmate — an herbalist and a healer of sorts (healing has its dark antithesis in poison of course). You can almost see Claire's guard fall away as she first wanders into his shop. She smiles as she watches him roll along the shelves in his shop, gathering up herbs to help Jamie sleep. She is at home for the first time since she's stepped foot on French soil.

If ever Claire needed a friend, it's in Paris — a city of deception and intrigue and a place in which both she and Jamie are totally out of place. Their entire lifestyle is a metaphor for falsehood, from the albeit beautiful but extremely ornate, constricting clothing and unfamiliar social mores to the halls they skulk around. They navigate because they must but they are mostly miserable doing it. Master Raymond is Claire's anchor in this roiling sea.



Their friendship is sealed further in the gut-wrenching hospital healing scene, in which Master Raymond risks all to help save his friend. "What do you see, Madonna?" he asks as he places his hands on her face. Blue wings, she says. "Blue is the color of healing. The wings will carry your pain away if you let them," he says, beginning to move his hands slowly down her body.

Master Raymond understands that emotions can be as damaging as bacteria, that anger and hatred can keep us from getting well; these emotions can literally block us. "Call him," he tells Claire. "Call to him." And Claire, initially reluctant, finally pushes Jamie's name out of her clenched teeth as the piece of placenta killing her is expelled from her womb. The healing, literally and figuratively, can begin. (Interesting not coincidental side note: Blue is also the color of the throat chakra. In Indian thought, the chakras are the centers of spiritual power in the body. The throat chakra is how we express ourselves, enabling us to carry power with our words when it is open and stifling our true selves when it is not. Claire's clenched screaming showed her literally releasing herself. Never one to hold back her thoughts before, she was killing herself metaphorically by not speaking what needed to be spoken, with the final cleansing coming in her admission of her feelings of guilt at the episode's end.)

This scene also shows us more of Claire's potential power to heal. Master Raymond hints, through his own healing hands, that Claire is more powerful than she even realizes. After he calls her Madonna again and Claire dismisses the moniker. "I am not Madonna. I have no child." "I call you Madonna not because you were with child," he says. "Everyone has a color about them. Yours is blue like the virgin's cloak, like my own." Master Raymond is hinting that they are more tied to each other than Claire can see at this moment.










*Non-book readers, go no further.  Here be spoilers!*











That other unifying force, of course, is that they are both time travelers,  something Master Raymond clearly knows but about which Claire, oddly, uncharacteristically, is oblivious.

Master Raymond's time-traveling abilities help make it clear that Geillis Duncan was not a one-off, something book readers know but that needs set-up for those who are TV-only Outlander fans. In episode 4, "La Dame Blanche," someone tries to poison Claire. She comes to Master Raymond with a pretty good idea of who that person was, asking if he sold poison to the Comte. Master Raymond tells her about bitter cascara (handy tip it turns out) and takes her into his inner sanctum.



Source

By the time this visit is over, it's clear to everyone but Claire apparently that Master Raymond is a time traveler. "I'm fascinated by things that are not of this time," he says with a knowing look as she studies an obviously prehistoric fish skull. This skull is no arbitrary prop. As obsessive regular Diana Gabaldon website followers know, 18th century Paris is not Master Raymond's first stint on this earth. Gabaldon has written that he's a prehistoric time traveler. "I think he came from somewhere about 400 BC or perhaps a bit earlier (not technically 'prehistoric,' but they certainly weren't using written records where he started out) and the 18th century is not his first stop."

Oddly, Claire, normally so intuitive, seems oblivious to Master Raymond's' time-traveling hints. She clearly thinks he's more than a straightforward herbalist; why else would she tell him she's concerned about Frank's future? Master Raymond whips out the sheep bones to provide an answer at which point Claire launches into a story about how she saw the Zulus use bones like these while traveling with her Uncle Lamb in Africa. This is a completely unguarded observation by Claire, a woman who's been on guard since stepping through the stones. It's also a totally out of time comment. An 18th century woman child traveling in Africa with her archeologist uncle? Wha? Does Claire's frankness suggest she understands Master Raymond's past but it's not going to, for some strange reason, be more of a plot reveal? Or is she really, as the treatment suggests, unaware?

But while Claire appears blind to Master Raymond's time traveling abilities, we are not. For any viewers still in the dark, the point is solidified in episode 6, when she warns him of the king's plans for those who practice the black arts and he tells her he will see her again, either in this lifetime or another.

Claire and Master Raymond's friendship reaches its climax moment in the Star Chamber scene, where Master Raymond ultimately saves Claire's life for the second time — and his own obviously — by poisoning the Comte. They unify for the first time in their healing powers and what a power it is. Claire has no choice other than to use her abilities for evil, carrying the poison Master Raymond has placed in the cup to the Comte. While she despises him, she has never actively killed someone with her herbs. And yet, she knows she must do this to save herself and, ultimately, Jamie.

As Master Raymond is lead out of the room, Claire says in a voiceover, "I'm going to miss you most of all." While this voiceover seemed jarring to me, The Wizard of Oz reference (the second in the series; who can name the first? Leave your guess in the comments) is at least relevant. This is what Dorothy says to the Scarecrow when she is returning to Kansas, when she's going home. Claire believes she has fulfilled her payment to the king (oops, not quite) and that she and Jamie will finally be able to return home to Scotland. And she loves the Scarecrow best because he has brains.

And so the mysterious Master Raymond leaves France. The thing about time travelers, though, is you never know where they'll show up next. Or where they've been before. Is Master Raymond's recognition of Claire only because he sees her aura or have they been together at another point in time? Gabaldon gives a few hints on her website:

        "He is–or was–a shaman, born with the ability to heal through empathy. He sees auras plainly; those with his power all have the blue light he has–born warriors, on the other hand, are red (so yes, “the red man” is iconic). He has a rather strong aversion to Vikings, owing to events that happened in his own time; hence his nervousness when he sees Jamie. He’s afraid of them, but he also realizes just what a strong life-force they have–that’s why he makes Claire invoke it (using the sexual and emotional link between her and Jamie) to heal her.
        His descendants–a few of whom he meets now and then in his travels–have the blue light about them, too; in large degree or small, depending on their talents. So he knows Claire, when he sees her, as one of his great-great, etc. grand-daughters. And Gillian/Geillis is another–you notice she has Claire’s sense of plants, though she tends naturally to poison, rather than medicines.
        We’ll see him again–though not in Jamie and Claire’s story, I don’t think. Master Raymond should get his own series of books, eventually.  So in fact, we’ll see Claire, Jamie, and Geillis again, then– but as secondary characters in Master Raymond’s story."
We, of course, ALL hope Gabaldon turns to this story after she has finished the Outlander series. I will add this one final note: If you want to know more about the past relationship of the Comte and Master Raymond, read her novella (available only as an e-book) called The Space Between. I guarantee you'll be surprised. 

As to what happens with Claire and Master Raymond down the road, only time will tell. 


What did you think of Master Raymond? Were you surprised he was a time traveler? What was your favorite Master Raymond moment?

31 comments

  1. The Hospital scene, he is a dynamic little man who comes through as very wise and likeable. I loved his character and wish we could have seen more of him in this season along with the King and St. Germain. I am going to miss France, love the dresses and people.

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    1. Cherie---I'm personally excited to be back in Scotland. Jamie and Claire were so uncomfortable in their roles in France. I'm hoping we see more of them feeling united back home but I LOVED Master Raymond and how he was portrayed in the show. Really good adaptation and additions from his character in the book. I really recommend The Space Between for some more Master Raymond background

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  2. First Wizard of Oz eference was when she gave Laoghaire a love potion and told her to say "There's no place like love..."

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    1. Erika--you're so right! I felt like this reference was a little out of place myself. Not sure that was the right tone in that voiceover. What about you?

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    2. I had to look it up myself when Claire said "There's no place like love..." The movie was released in 1939. So Claire would know of the wizard references. The book "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" was published back in 1900. So plenty of time for her to be aware of these stories.

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  3. Master Raymond seemed wise beyond his years. What a kind, knowing soul. It would have been quite interesting if he and Claire could have shared their time traveling experiences. I wonder if we will see Master Raymond again. Will he stay in the 1700s, or find another, safer time?

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    1. He turns up again in the novella The Space Between.....as does someone else who figured large in that Star Chamber....will say no more so I don't spoil it for you :)

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  4. I liked the emotion behind "I'm going to miss you most of all" and as the Wizard of Oz was such a huge hit in Claire's teenage years, it makes sense to quote it and more than once. We all quote movie lines. And I know that RDM wants to throw in little reminders of her twentieth century life on the regular. I thought her breaking the 4th wall by saying "you know the one I mean" when referencing the movie wasn't good dialogue and certainly not true to normal internal dialogue. The voiceover should have just been: "As Dorothy said to the Scarecrow, I'm going to miss you most of all".

    As far as her sharing her traveling with her uncle - I didn't think that seemed like such a "tell" about who she really is. While unconventional, there were plenty of missionaries in the 18th century who dragged their families all over the world. I'm not sure when the term archeologist came into use, but people were studying past civilizations at that point, so not an unheard of profession. And, a relative raising a young child whose parent's were dead was probably more common in the 18th century than 20th. I guess that just seemed fine to me. She didn't pick up on Geillis' story until she saw her vaccine scar, so she's not yet that in tune to other time travelers. Now, Master Raymond did drop some hints, be "we'll see each other again in this life or another" can also be read as "this life or the next" - as in heaven (or Hell if you're the Comte!)

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    1. Linda--I hadn't thought of that heaven or hell idea as another way to suggest a lifetime. Interesting. Maybe because I know Master Raymond is a time traveler so I was only hearing it one way. I like your point of how the Oz VO should have been done. I think that would have improved it.

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  5. Love Master Raymond and love the idea that Diana might do a spinoff book or series about his experiences. Loved "The Space Between". The Wizard of Oz references are reminders of Claire's time and I like the use of them. If you consider that all of season two is really being narrated by Claire as she tells this story to an adult Bree, then "you know the one I mean" is not directed at us but is actually directed to Bree. I think that perspective justifies the many voice overs that are being used. She is telling this story to Bree. With a book that is written in the first person, adaptation for a TV series is next to impossible without more voice overs that we are accustomed to. From the podcast Ron did on 207, he feels that the non-book reader viewers are now sufficiently familiar with our characters that fewer voice overs will be necessary. He cut a ton of them out of this episode. I will truly miss Master Raymond. I wonder if Ron will deviate from the books and have him make an appearance at another time. Wouldn't that be fun?

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    1. Kathy your point about how voiceovers have changed from season one to two is a great one. I've thought about that and now want to go back and rewatch (another excuse) to think from that perspective. Maybe I'll do a post on it :) It also makes the "you know the one I mean" more clear. As for seeing MAster Raymond again in this show---you never know what RDM will do but it's hard to imagine where it could happen and not have it be totally weird. I do hope Diana writes his books---AFTER she finishes Outlander of course! :)

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  6. I love Master Raymond, and will miss him. You mentioned Chakras, and the blue chakra is the throat chakra, but blue is also the color of the "perfect" body...when healing with chakras, one can use blue to pull injury out and show a person what they could be....not sure I'm explaining that correctly. I practice Chakra balancing a type of healing touch and blue is a strong healer...and orange that shows up so often in this episode is the emotional body...and only by dealing with her emotions can Claire be healed. But...this is about Master Raymond. I will miss him and what a mentor he could have been to Claire...as was Mother Hildegarde.

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    1. Chris--that's interesting about blue and the perfect body. I didn't know that but it adds a lot to what they were doing with color and the healing theme here generally. Your point about orange also makes that stand out more too. Thanks for sharing that tidbit. And yes, Master Raymond could have really brought Claire up another level in her already very intuitive healing process.....Maybe Claire will show up in the book Diana has planned for Raymond?

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  7. For anyone interested in The Space Between .... it can be found as part of an anthology of Diana's short stories (A Trail of Fire) at Amazon.com. I know there are a couple of other places, just can't think of them at the moment, but it is available in book form, not just as an e-book.

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    1. Thanks Jan. I couldn't find it as a book so had to do the e-book version, which I typically don't do. I like to hold books in my hand still. :) No matter how you read it, though, it was a terrific little book.

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  8. This is a great write up, but spoiler alert.

    The Comte is not dead. He shows up again in The Space Between 30 years later.

    The novellas are worth reading people.

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    1. CAT yes I know! I read The Space Between and was blown away by learning he and Master Raymond know each other. It really made the Star Chamber scene particularly juicy to know of their past. So good.

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  9. Thank You Janet,what an interesting piece you've written.I like master Raymond very much,kind,wise & intriguing person,having read the books I realised he was a time traveller!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Zsuzsip. I really recommend The Space Between if you want more Master Raymond time.....and the comte too! Short but intriguing.

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  10. I will miss Master Raymond. Such a kind, wise man. Claire seemed to connect with him more than any of the others from Paris. He's related to her? Wow, that'd be interesting. Too bad they never had time to talk about it and share that knowledge. Perhaps sometime in the future? Maybe Claire researching her family tree...

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    1. Anne--Claire researching her family tree---now that's an interesting idea. We've never gone beyond her parents so far. That would be a good way for Diana to show everyone that Claire and Master Raymond are related, something she's only hinted at on her private pages rather than in anything in print....I love that idea!

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  11. I love the Wizard of Oz references and thought they were done well. They are a make analogy and it makes sense for Claire to identify with being out of her world and into a new one, at some points seemingly on a wild journey to find her way home, and at others attached to the characters she's come to count on and love.

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  12. Gina
    At first the Oz references seemed out of place but as Claire recounting from the past and the whole theme of returning home, they really resonated and work quite well. I wonder if we'll see that film used at other points in the series?

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  13. The relationships between Master Raymond and Claire, Claire and Jamie, the truth about the nature of their time traveling and healing gifts is far more interesting to me than much of the war maneuverings. I have enjoyed learning about the genesis of the Battle of Culloden and the American Revolutionary War, but hope that future Outlander books set aside some of the war/politics in favor of more extensive exploration of this aspect of the story.

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  14. I wanted to chime in. There is a third WoO reference in book 3.
    Claire refers to Jaime as "the cowardly lion".
    Of course at this point she's had plenty of time to become familiar with the film. My thought though was how similar the overal story arc of the first book mirrors this legendary film and story.
    Swept away into a rather wild and dangerous alternate universe. Trying desperately to get home while finding unexpected love and friendship in a strange place.
    There is even the whole "you were all there" aspect to the Frank/ Blackjack Randal character.

    So, I'm wondering if Oz was the inspiration for Gabaldon's first book? Or maybe she just simply saw it emerging as she wrote and decided to pay homage?

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  16. I have wondered if Master Raymond is like Dr. Who and can time travel at will, righting the wrongs of history. DG herself was inspired to write Outlander from watching Dr. Who when she was younger. Geillis, his descendent, says that the purpose of ice travel is to change the future. And he was probably the one who instructed the Native Americans to time travel to keep the Europeans out of North America. I will be very happy to read what DG dreams up.

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