Friday, November 17, 2017

"Superstitions, Jonah's and a life story told" -a recap of season 3 episode 9, by your Aussie Blogging Lass!

Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown 

From the moment the opening music begins, we know that the story is moving forward. Bear McCreary has added new Caribbean rhythms to the melody and there are new images in the credits. In the same way that France was left behind for Scotland mid season 2, so too Scotland is being left behind at this point in season 3. The new destination is the West Indies, where the rest of the drama will play out. Changes are ahead!

Claire is watching the preparations of a ship about to sail, as Jamie and Jared approach. Jamie is to act as supercargo on board the Artemis, but Jared notes the changing weather and comments that Jamie is lucky to have a physician at hand for when his seasickness takes hold. Jamie says that he will manage, as the main concern is for Young Ian. Jared says that the records show there is only one ship sailing under a Portuguese flag, the Bruja. 

With a home port of Jamaica and the fact that it was sailing low in the water, the men surmise that the ship is on its way home. Jared tries to reassure them, commenting that a healthy male will sell for 30 pounds in Jamaica, so as long as Young Ian hasn’t been making trouble, he will be unharmed. Thanking Jared for his help, Jamie and Claire bid him farewell. 

Jamie comments that it was ill luck having to pay Laoghaire and that perhaps he is being punished for wanting to be with Claire. 

Claire replies that she can’t believe any God would take away a man’s nephew simply because he wanted to be happy. Again, Jamie asks for reassurance: will they actually be happy? While he believes they are mated for life, he offers to return her to the stones if she truly wants to leave. But Claire deflects the question, saying that the most important thing right now is that they find Young Ian. 

Lesley and Hayes (aka the new Rupert and Angus) appear, arguing with each other about tides. It is clear that no one is really looking forward to the journey ahead, but the men are always willing to help Jamie, so are coming along. They tell Jamie that Willoughby and Fergus are already on board, together with some “baggage from Lallybroch”. (This is a set-up joke for a revelation that is to come in the next scene.) As they walk towards the ship, Claire and Jamie briefly discuss Jenny and Ian. Not enough time has passed for them to be worried yet, so Jamie has sent them a letter explaining everything. 

The voyage begins and the seas already look choppy, but Jamie hasn’t noticed his stomach yet, he tells Claire. He is sadly watching the Scottish landscape disappear, vowing that he won’t set foot on Scotland’s land again without Young Ian. The sailors begin their superstitious routine, touching a horseshoe and politely addressing Jamie. Yet no-one speaks to Claire and she begins to wonder if she is invisible. Jamie explains the superstition - both women and redheaded men are considered bad luck on a ship. To ward off misfortune, the sailors always speak to Jamie before he speaks to them; do not address Claire at all and everyone -Claire included- must touch the horseshoe. 

Fergus appears on deck, and is greeted warmly by Jamie, until it is revealed that Marsali is with him. They are married, the couple say, handfast that very morning, after a courtship that had begun the previous August. Since the two young lovers have not yet consummated the marriage, Jamie says that the handfasting is not binding and demands that Marsali return home, as the voyage is too dangerous.

But Marsali is every bit Laoghaire’s daughter. After calling Claire an English whore and rolling her eyes at Fergus’ admonishment that she must not address Milady in such a fashion, Marsali says that she has sent her mother a letter informing her of the handfasting and if Jamie forces her to return home, she will lie and say that Fergus has bedded her. She will, she adds, either been married or ruined. Painted into a corner, Jamie has no option but to agree, but demands that the two are not to share a cabin. He will share with Fergus and Marsali with Claire - a decision that results in unison cries of “What?!” from both women. Claire tries to change his mind, but it is no use. He must protect Marsali’s virtue, he tells a frustrated Claire. When she stalks inside, saying “Mine too, it would seem”, Jamie mutters under his breath that now he is going to be sick!

This certainly seems to be the case as the next scene begins. An obviously nauseous Jamie is being fed ginger tea by Claire. Trying to distract himself, he talks of Fergus and Marsali’s deception. Claire comments that she doesn’t think the two have thought through what a lifetime of commitment will mean, but neither had they when first married. She notices a chest in the corner and Jamie tells her it is some of their things from Lallybroch. 

Confused, Claire opens the chest, to find her gowns from Paris inside. Jamie had kept them, he says, as memories of her, but had also allowed Marsali to make use of them. He is becoming more seasick by the minute, prompting Claire to make him drink more tea. She muses that the sea may be calmer the next day, but Jamie says he will be dead by then and asks her to ensure that he is buried at Lallybroch. There is a knock on the door and Claire is called away, Lesley telling her that she is needed.

Claire tends to a sailor who has been injured on deck. It is an unexpected injury and the captain has come below to see what has happened. The sailor, named Manzetti, is asked if he touched the horseshoe. He assures everyone that he has, but it is being taken as an ill omen nonetheless. Someone has not touched the horseshoe, it is mused, something which is extremely bad luck. Claire comments that accidents happen, but this logic is not well received. The Captain quotes Shakespeare in his explanation to her and invites Claire and Jamie to dine with him that evening. Claire accepts, but says that Jamie will probably not feel like food, a comment that brings a brief chuckle from the captain.

Meanwhile, Jamie is trying to talk sense to Fergus, telling the young man that he hardly knows his bride. Fergus counters that Claire and Jamie hadn’t known each other well when they married either. Jamie tries to say that he and Claire had been forced to marry, but Fergus isn’t buying this argument for a minute. 

If Jamie and Claire had been forced to marry, he says, then his own heart is forced to beat; he is forced to breathe. He knows the story and also knows that Jamie had wanted Claire from the moment he saw her. Jamie didn’t need time and neither does he. Fergus expresses disappointment that Jamie isn’t happy for him. Jamie asks why Fergus hadn’t told him beforehand. Fergus answers that it is for the same reason that Jamie had kept Laoghaire a secret from Claire: he was a coward. Jamie asks if Fergus has lied to Marsali too. No, Fergus says, he and Marsali have no secrets. She is aware of his birth in a brothel and his life as a pickpocket. He is forced however, to admit that he hasn’t told Marsali about his previous liaisons with women, but stresses that he has not yet bedded Marsali, nor any other woman since their courtship began. He has waited: a fact which must mean something. But Jamie says that it doesn’t mean anything if Fergus cannot be honest with his bride.

Captain Raines and Claire are dining in the captain’s quarters. Raine expresses his regret that Jamie’s seasickness has prevented him from joining them, but Claire comments that she believes that she is the one he had wanted to dine with anyway, as she had questioned his authority in front of the men in regards to the horseshoe. 

Raines replies that he merely wants to help: to gain the respect of the men she must put herself in their shoes. He reminds her that her mere presence on the ship is ill luck and that by rights, she and Marsali should be bare breasted, as it is believed that a woman’s bare breasts calm an angry sea. It is the reason why the ship’s figurehead is a bare breasted woman: to keep the ship safe from curses. The captain adds that a horseshoe is more difficult, as there is no substitute. Claire expresses disbelief that touching a piece of iron will bring better luck, but Raines tells her that every ship has its own superstitions. Anything that provides the crew with assurance is to be encouraged. Claire counters that the men can also lose faith just as easily, if the portends indicate disaster, but Raines says he would rather have them make their own luck than give up hope. His own beliefs about touching a piece of iron are immaterial: the men believe in it. Believing something doesn’t make it real, Claire tells him, but the captain disagrees. “On this ship, it does,” he replies, before quoting Shakespeare once again. “There is nothing good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.”

The next scene begins with the extremely unpleasant sights and sounds of Jamie vomiting into a bucket. Interviews about this scene revealed that Sam Heughan actually had to “vomit” up a mixture of egg whites on cue - and it is a mystery how he wasn’t actually sick in the process! 

This is a very realistic - even nauseating - sight! Mr Willoughby enters, asking how long Jamie plans on continuing this farce, but Jamie says he must allow time for Claire’s ginger tea to work. Willoughby argues against waiting, telling Jamie that the retching he is experiencing can cause more damage, by tearing muscles and even twisting his testicles to the point of requiring removal. He tells Jamie that if Jamie truly wants to wait it is his choice - but it is obvious that he has another plan in mind. 

Meanwhile, Marsali and Claire are choosing beds. Marsali comments that Claire should take the bigger one, so that she won’t bump her head when she gets up. Claire misinterprets this as an attempt by Marsali to get into her good graces so that Claire will put in a good word with Jamie, and tells the younger woman that she doesn’t need to do this, as the situation with Marsali and Fergus is none of her business. 

In a retort worthy of both her mother and Jenny, Marsali responds with dripping sarcasm. Claire has dropped out of the clear blue sky, she says, sticking her nose in and ruining her family, but now she has suddenly decided to mind her own business. Jamie may think Claire a wise woman, but Marsali still thinks she’s a whore. Abruptly, Claire abandons any pretence at friendship and takes the bigger bed! This scene is fabulous comic relief by Caitriona Balfe and Lauren Lyle and it is hoped the two will share many more scenes in the future!

The next morning, Claire comes across a much improved Jamie having breakfast and she is pleased to see him looking so much better. Marsali and Fergus appear and Marsali tells Jamie that Fergus has told her everything. 

She’s not naive, she says, she knows Fergus has been with lasses, but now they only want to be with each other. Fergus asks for Jamie to bless their union. Claire speaks up in support, which causes a brief look of disbelief to cross Marsali’s face. Claire takes Jamie aside, telling him that if he allows the infatuation to continue, it may well fizzle out. Jamie’s response to her is amusing, if for no other reason than it turns the word fizzle into a double entendre, but he will not change his mind, telling the young couple that he simply cannot allow it. 

Up on deck, Mr Willoughby is painting characters onto the boards with a brush and water. Claire, who has finally ditched her coat and has repurposed her outfit into a more casual “African Queenesque” ensemble complete with loosely tied ponytail, sees him and asks what the characters are. 

Willoughby replies that it is a poem and takes papers from his pocket. Claire assumes this to be more poetry, but Willoughby tells her that he has been scribing his life in China so that it will not be forgotten. The water characters start to fade as Willoughby says that a story told is a life lived. Claire asks if he will tell the story to her. But Willoughby refuses, saying “Not yet”. If he tells the story, he will have to let it go. He leaves her on deck and she watches the last of the characters disappear as she looks out to sea. 

Time passes. Claire immerses herself in her job as ship doctor, treating injuries and making medicines. She likes the life at sea, as it reminds her of a simpler time. 

A bawdy sea shanty is in full swing as she walks back to the cabin, where she discovers Mr Willoughby treating Jamie with acupuncture needles. It is his treatment, not her tea, that has cured his seasickness. Willoughby apologises, saying that Jamie hadn’t wanted the treatment but he himself had insisted. Jamie tells him it is all right and Willoughby leaves the cabin. Claire asks why Jamie hadn’t told her about the acupuncture and Jamie replies that he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, given that they haven’t been on the most stable ground recently. He didn’t want Claire to see the failed tea as more proof that she didn’t belong. And at last, there comes some affection and reconciliation between the two.

Claire tells him that while her return has been confusing and frustrating, there has never been any question that she loves him. Their arms go around each other and she teases him, saying that he looks like a pin cushion. He feels like one too, he tells her, but he hasn’t vomited in weeks. They kiss briefly, before Jamie looks quizzically above, commenting that they are not moving. 

It is true. The ship has stopped. The sailors are checking the instruments, but even though they are on course, they have lost the wind. Jamie comes up on desk and asks what is going on. 

The acupuncture needles are still in his face and Raines asks about them. Willoughby explains, saying that it is a Chinese treatment for sea sickness.  Jamie asks if it is usual to lose the wind in these latitudes and the rumblings about ill luck begin again, as well as some comments about who might be responsible. Claire tries to stop this, by suggesting that everyone line up and touch the horseshoe then and there, so that the ship’s rules are complied with. Hayes agrees that this is a good idea but the sailors dismiss it: it is too late to touch the horseshoe now - it must be done at the start of a voyage. Raines tells everyone not to worry: the wind will return and they must be ready when it does. 

It is night and Claire and Jamie share a moment alone on deck, marvelling at the fact it is just them at last. “And the man in the moon,” adds Jamie, kissing her. Wrapping herself in his arms, Claire tells Jamie that before she left Boston, men had just flown to the moon. Jamie wonders what it looks like and she tells him of the photographs she has seen. It is rocky and barren and lifeless, but beautiful. She tells him that the craters can be seen, pointing out the dark spots. 

Jamie refers to them as the Man in the Moon’s face and says that the moon looks close enough to speak to. Claire begins to quote from “Goodnight, Moon”, explaining emotionally to Jamie that she used to read the book to Brianna and that Brianna could recite it to her toy bunny before she could even read. ”You miss her,” says Jamie. “Terribly,” she whispers in response and he pulls her closer to him. This is a beautifully tender scene, acted spectacularly as always by Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. 

Another day dawns and still the ship is not moving. A clock is heard ticking in the background, as Claire’s voiceover announces that the days have turned into weeks. Sailors are trying to keep busy with various tasks, but the tension is building. The ship is becalmed in the middle of a vast ocean and even the most experienced sailors are starting to fear the worst. And indeed, it appears as if the worst has happened: the drinking water on board has started to go bad, spoiled by the bilge water. Raines instructs the men to save what they can, and to boil the rest. On top of that, they must go to half rations. He tells them all to pray for rain and leaves. 

But the sailors have another suggestion: to find the Jonah who has brought them ill luck and throw the man overboard. A close up on Hayes’ worried face indicates the possible identity of the “Jonah” as the scene ends.

Raines, Claire and Jamie discuss the situation. There are only five unspoiled barrels left, which will not be enough. They could normally wait for the wind to return, but not without water or ale. Raines asks who they should blame. Claire says that the bilge water spoiled the barrels, but Raines says that is not what he asked. A scapegoat is needed and Raines is going to allow one to be chosen. Indeed, Raines says he may not be able to stop the sailors. They must believe that he is doing everything he can on their behalf or there will be a mutiny. Jamies states that none of his men will be thrown overboard.

Meanwhile the sailors are going through a list of people they have seen touch the horseshoe. All of Jamie’s party have done so, except for one: Hayes. They start to openly call him Jonah and Lesley leaps to his friend’s defence, but when the two are left alone in the cabin, Hayes admits that he doesn’t think he touched it.

The threats and uncertainty have gotten to Hayes: drunk now, he has climbed to the top of the mast and the others are encouraging him to jump. Lesley explains to Jamie what has happened: the sailors have accused Hayes of not touching the horseshoe and he can’t remember if he did so or not. The men had planned to throw him overboard, so he had climbed up high to escape them, but is now thinking they might be right. And so Jamie, ever MacDubh to his men, promptly climbs the rigging to reach Hayes and talk him down. 

Jamie reminds him of Ardsmuir, encouraging Hayes to listen to him and not the others. “It was us versus them and it’s the same now.” If the men are going to throw Hayes overboard, Jamie says, they will have to throw him, Lesley, Fergus and Willoughby (who has just noticed a sea bird flying low over the water) overboard first. Jamie tries another approach: if Hayes jumps, he will be forced to go in after him and Claire will kill them both! He promises Hayes that he won’t let any harm come to him and holds out his hand. Hayes takes it finally, but loses his balance and a few anxious moments pass until he manages to catch hold of the rigging. The two men climb down and face an angry mob below who chant “Jonah”, as knives are drawn and threats are made. 

But it is Willoughby who saves the day. Ringing the bell for silence, he begins to tell his own life story. Willoughby tells them how, in his own country, he was a poet. His poetry came to the attention of the Emperor’s second wife, and she asked him to join her household. This was a great honour, but with the condition that as a member of the household of the Emperor’s wife, he must be a eunuch. It was dishonourable to refuse; a death sentence, in fact. But, an emotional Willoughby explains, he had fallen in love with women; the taste of their breasts, the scent of their navels, the feeling of their warm mounds like peaches. He is winning over the crowd with his erotic descriptions, and Claire and Jamie share an amused smile! Willoughby fled on the Night of the Lanterns, he says. He left his house and came to a place where the golden words of his poems are taken for the clucking of hens and his calligraphy for bird scratchings. The women now call him Yellow Worm and even the lowest of whores will not lie with him. By not surrendering his manhood, he has lost everything else: honour, livelihood and country. 

Sometimes, he says, he thinks it is not worth it. Dramatically he stands on the edge of the ship and throws the papers of his life story overboard. But instead of sinking, they float into the air: the wind has returned!  The sailors spring into action, preparing the boat to set sail once again. Hayes approaches Willoughby and makes a guarded apology, by way of saying that he has heard worse stories. Claire asks Willoughby how he knew the wind was about to return and he draws her attention to the low flying bird. When birds fly high, he says, the air is dry, but when they fly low, the air is heavy and rain is coming. Calling Willoughby by his true name, Claire makes a heartfelt thank you. Overcome, the man turns away. Rain patters onto the deck, erasing the last of Willoughby’s letters. 

The mood is jubilant as the rain falls. Barrels are filled, men stand with their mouths open, drinking in the rainwater. Below deck, Jamie and Claire giggle as the rolling of the ship knocks them into each other. Aroused, they rush into a storeroom and make love as quickly and as quietly as they can. Claire tells Jamie that others will hear them, to which Jamie responds “Let them!” Afterwards, Claire lies with her head on Jamie’s chest, as he strokes her hair, telling her that he likes the grey that is returning. The way the light hits it, it is like a piece of silver moonlight. Claire comments that it is impossible not to love a man who says such things. 

With a clever nod to the fandom’s name for Jamie, she tells him that were he to say that in the 20th century, he would be the King of All Men. Seriously now, she tells him that she had always known, when she decided to return, that they would have to get used to each other again. “No matter what troubles happen around us, Sassenach,” Jamie says, “This, what it is between us, never changes.” They kiss tenderly - and the fans rejoice to see them happy again. 

And so, of course, this must mean that the happiness is destined not to last. The ship is being pursued by a British Man o War, which is signalling that they want the Artemis to heave to. Raines says that the pursuing ship may be short handed and will need men. There is no choice but to heave to. Hastily Claire and Jamie discuss what may happen. Jamie tells Claire that by law, they can press any British subject into service, which amounts to over half the crew, Jamie included. 

Jamie tells Claire that if he is taken, she must continue on to Jamaica to find Young Ian. She agrees. But when the very young acting captain of the Porpoise comes aboard, it is not men that he wants, but a surgeon. The ship has suffered an outbreak of infectious plague, Captain Leonard explains. Claire tells him that she is the surgeon, but that he shouldn’t have come on board, nor should he touch anyone while there. Leonard says that he had no choice: the captain and 2 lieutenants are dead, as well as the surgeon and the surgeon’s mate. He himself is not experiencing symptoms, but hundreds of others are. He is not there to press men, as he doesn’t want more mouths to feed. What he does want is medical assistance. Claire asks what symptoms the men are experiencing and is told griping pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and a rash on their stomachs.  Claire says she knows what it might be, but she will need to examine the men first. Leonard asks if she will come aboard, and Claire agrees at precisely the same time as Jamie refuses. The two retire to discuss the situation. Jamie tells Claire she can’t set foot on a plague ship, but Claire says that she cannot catch what is on board. It is not plague but typhoid fever, which she has been inoculated against.

She can show the men what to do, she says and she has an obligation to help, due to the oath she swore to become a doctor. Jamie understands oaths. He rubs his finger over her wedding band, remarking that he has taken an oath or two himself and none of them lightly. Jamie remarks that he knows there is no talking her out of it, to which Claire replies that they must both be older and wiser. Jamie says he will not take his eyes off the ship until she returns and they kiss. 

Jamie watches as Claire is rowed over to the Porpoise. She is greeted formally on her arrival by the healthy men who remain. She is taken below to where the sick men are and the sights and sounds are horrific (to the viewer as well!) Covering her mouth and nose, Claire takes stock. The conditions are deplorable. Examining the stomach of one man, she sees the tell tale red rash. 

In the captain’s quarters, Claire tells Leonard that the disease is called typhoid. The methods of containing it are different to other diseases and she knows how to do this. She relays the instructions, but warns Leonard that most of the sick men will still die. What is important is containing the spread, but it will get a lot worse before it gets better.  Claire offers to stay for a while to help them organise themselves and Leonard responds that he will be grateful for any assistance. Claire says she will need a dozen healthy crewmen and is promptly introduced to the first of them: a very young man, known as Mr Pound. Claire says that she will work fast, as Jamie and Captain Raines will be anxious to get underway. Leonard tells her that she will inform the ship that she will be a little while longer.

But while Claire is below in the galley fighting with the cook for boiled water, a sudden surge indicates that they are underway.  

Claire goes to confront Captain Leonard. He has no choice, he says, as they are desperate. Since both ships are travelling to Jamaica, he has sent word that accommodation will be provided until Claire is able to rejoin the Artemis. Mr Pound reappears to tell Claire that they are ready to move the men. With one last despairing look at the Artemis, she turns to begin her work. There is nothing else she can do.

This episode focuses a lot on the concept of respect. First and foremost, superstitions on ships must be respected and are ignored at peril. Character wise, Willoughby earns the respect not only of Jamie and Claire for his skill with acupuncture, poetry and calligraphy, but also from the men at large for seemingly returning the wind and breaking the curse. Claire and Marsali are yet to earn each other’s respect and in turn, Marsali and Fergus are waiting for Jamie to respect and approve their wish to be married. The captains of both ships respect Claire’s skill, but this is not enough to prevent yet another separation for Jamie and Claire. Now viewers and readers are left to respect the storytelling of the episodes to come - and trust that the Frasers will soon be reunited! 

This recap was written by Susie Brown, a teacher-librarian and writer who lives in Australia. She hated the realism of the vomiting scenes, and although she doesn’t suffer from seasickness, started to turn green along with Jamie! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

“Hell Hath No Fury” - A recap of season 3 episode 8 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown 

Ever since Claire’s reappearance in the 18th century, hints have been dropped about the secret that Jamie is keeping from her. In the previous episode, viewers finally learned what it is: Jamie has another wife, a situation that he is desperate to resolve with help and advice from Ned Gowan. But while waiting for this advice to arrive, his life is thrown into upheaval once again with the destruction of the print shop. Jamie finds himself needing to return to Lallybroch, in order to take Young Ian to safety and reunite him with his parents. It is strange to see Jamie’s reluctance to go home, when in the past he has always been reluctant to leave. Nevertheless, Jamie does what he knows to be the right thing, which leads inevitably to a show down involving three formidable women: his first and second wives, and his sister, Jenny Fraser Murray. Such a combination could never be anything but volatile and it is certainly a dramatic hour!

As the episode begins, Jamie, Claire and Young Ian are riding towards Lallybroch. Each face indicates their feelings: Claire is nervous; Young Ian resentful; Jamie resigned. This is a big moment: as Claire’s voiceover says - everything looks the same, but it doesn’t feel the same. And indeed it isn’t. Jamie watches as Claire and Jenny greet each other. 

It is an awkward meeting, with Claire resorting to telling Jenny she looks well and enquiring after the children, while Jenny comments that she never thought that Claire would grace her front doorstep again and that when Ian told her Claire was still alive, she could have been knocked down with a feather. It is polite enough conversation, but what is unsaid is equally clear - why has Claire been away so long and why didn’t she contact any of her family? There is no hug, no smile, only tension. The hug Jenny has reserved for young Ian, although it is accompanied by a clip around the ear as well. The elder Ian is stern and there is no hint of the affection he showed towards Claire in Edinburgh. Perhaps this is because he feels that Claire also deceived him when Jamie lied as to Young Ian’s whereabouts; or perhaps it is because he picks up on the overall tension. Neither Jenny nor Ian speak directly to Jamie at all. There is no hint of the prodigal son about this reunion - it is tension all the way, further enhanced by Jamie’s nervously tapping finger as he follows the others indoors! 

The gloves are off once the group are inside around the fire. Ian expresses his anger at Jamie: why hadn’t he told him that Young Ian was in Edinburgh? It is Young Ian who answers: he didn’t want to be brought home to feed chickens when he could be in Edinburgh earning a wage and he boasts to his parents at his skill in selling casks of brandy until being forced to flee after the fire. But this only makes the situation worse. 

It is not a pretty picture that Jenny and Ian are painting of Jamie: he has had their son selling illegal liquor and consorting with criminals, before putting him in danger in the fire; only returning to them because there is nothing left, and bringing his “stray” with him, who has dropped back in their lives after 20 years, trying to act as if nothing has happened. 

At this, Jamie tries to defend himself. He says that he had looked out for Ian and that everything had been fine until Sir Percival had tried to extort money from him and sent his ruffian after Claire. Young Ian joins in to sing Claire’s praises, saying that Claire had killed the man. But this doesn’t have the effect he intends and results in his being sent from the room. Jenny is quietly furious, asking Claire to confirm whether she had killed the man in front of Ian. Claire tells her that Young Ian wasn’t there and that she had had no choice, as she had to defend herself. Sarcastically, Jenny suggests that perhaps everyone should gather around the fire, to listen to some tall tales. 

Jamie is angry now: Jenny hasn’t complained when he has sent home money, even though she knew it was not from printing psalms. Jenny responds that yes, she knew how Jamie made his money, but why couldn’t he have taught Young Ian the printing trade instead? Jamie tries once again, insisting that he treated Young Ian as if he were his own son. This prompts Ian to take off his belt and hand it to Jamie, remarking that if that is so, he will need to punish him as his own. But Jamie is reluctant to dole out physical punishment, suggesting an alternative.

The next scene shows the beginnings of a return to a “family” atmosphere, amongst the younger Murrays at least. Young Ian and his sister Janet are squabbling as they do their chores. Young Ian is particularly incensed because his punishment of making dung cakes is a boy’s job and his considers himself a man: as proven by the whiskers he now sports.

But Janet calls them “muck” around his mouth. Ian and Jamie are watching this exchange and begin to make their peace with each other: Ian admitting that perhaps Jamie’s suggestion of punishment was the right one and Jamie admitting that he should have sent word that Young Ian was with him in Edinburgh and apologising for not doing so. At this, Ian admits the real reason for his anger: Young Ian worships Jamie, following him around like a pup and we see the sadness and hint of jealousy fleetingly on Ian’s face.

More children are running around inside and Claire is introduced to young Angus and Anthony. They are Maggie’s children: the same Maggie that Claire had helped to deliver. Claire remarks that it is strange to think of Maggie being old enough to be a mother and Jenny responds that that’s what happens when twenty years go by. Another strange face appears, in the form of a now grown Wee Jamie, holding a baby of his own. Again, Claire tries to reminisce, telling James that she remembers him as a boy barely tall enough to see over a washtub. 

But he shows no sign of remembering her and rather than introducing Claire as his aunt, Jenny tells her son that Claire used to live at Lallybroch. James nods politely to Claire and remarks that he is going to see his uncle. He leaves the baby with Jenny and Claire offers to help her, but Jenny replies that she doesn’t want to bewilder the child with a strange face. Throughout the exchange she has been icily polite, but refuses to look at Claire for any length of time. It is obvious that the sisterly bond the two women once shared has been shattered. 

Jamie and Jenny have their own icy conversation out in the yard. When Jamie comments that there are other methods of learning a lesson than thrashing, Jenny asks him if he is now an authority on parenting. Jamie replies that he does know something about being a 16 year old living on a farm and that Jenny needs to stop treating Young Ian as a boy, but as a man. 

She needs to give him a taste of freedom, he tells her, while Young Ian still thinks that it’s hers to give. But Jenny changes the subject: doesn’t Jamie know that it is a mortal sin to take another wife while the first one is still walking the earth? Jamie replies that he would never have done so if he had known Claire to be alive. Jenny is still trying to understand: if Jamie had believed Claire to be dead, why hadn’t he shared his grief? Jamie answered that he had barely wanted to breathe, let alone speak of it. Jenny accepts this, but demands that Jamie speak of it now, as she needs to know what had happened. Jamie tells his own explanation story: saying that he had planned to die and had arranged for Claire to hide in an inn, giving her enough money to go to the colonies when everything died down. But when he survived, he learned that the English had gone through the area, killing man, woman and child. Each had believed the other to be dead, he says, so Claire had sailed for the colonies. But Jenny is not buying the story: she had sat on the steps with Claire when Jamie had been taken by the redcoats, she tells him, and had ridden with Claire to find Jamie when he didn’t come home. The Claire Jenny knew, she says, would never have stopped looking. A brief look at Jamie’s face tells us that he knows his attempt at an explanation has failed.

Later, Jamie and Claire discuss what they should do. Jamie says that they can build a cottage on the edge of the land and make Lallybroch their home again, but Claire remarks that Jenny can’t stand the sight of her. 

She asks Jamie if they should tell Jenny the truth, saying that Murtagh had believed them, so why wouldn’t Jenny? Jamie says that while Murtagh had been out in the world. Jenny has never left the farm. She wouldn’t understand or believe the truth. But, Claire counters, the longer she avoids the truth, the bigger the wall between them. It is a very telling statement and we see Jamie squirm uncomfortably. We know, though Claire does not, that he is rapidly building his own wall. Claire adds that Jenny shines a warm light on those she loves and turns a cold shadow onto those that she doesn’t.

Jamie, disquieted, tells Claire that he still has trouble believing that she has really returned. He tells a story - that we see in flashback- of the day when, after hearing Duncan Kerr’s story of the white witch, he had escaped from Ardsmuir and swum to Silkie Island, to see if she was the white witch of Kerr’s tale. Of course, he had found no Claire, but he did find the treasure, hidden beneath a stone bearing the Mackenzie crest. The box was full of ancient coins and gems, but he had taken just one: the sapphire that he had given to Ardsmuir’s governor John Grey. 

Claire asks why he had gone back: he was free and had the treasure. But Jamie said he couldn’t have taken the treasure with him and that the prisoners needed him, he was their leader. Claire shares her own story of longing. She wasn’t on an island, she tells him, but she was out there, wishing that he would come and find her. Whenever she heard birds singing, she would pretend that it was him, talking to her. Jamie tells her of the greylag geese who mate for life, and how if you ever kill one bird, you must kill the other, for it will grieve itself to death,calling through the skies for the lost one. The metaphor is obvious and Claire strokes the side of his face tenderly before kissing him. But something is up and Claire asks what is wrong. Jamie replies that there is something he must say and that it hasn’t been easy keeping it from her.

He adds that he had been hoping to speak to Ned Gowan first to see if the law was in their favour. He tells her that she must listen with all her heart, but before he can begin, the door opens. A young girl and a teenage girl are standing there, both referring to Jamie as “Daddy” and asking who Claire is.

But the shock of hearing Jamie being called Daddy is nothing compared to the one coming: the former Laoghaire Mackenzie strides into the room, calling Claire an English witch and telling her she is supposed to be dead. Laoghaire and Jamie begin to argue, causing the youngest girl to cry in distress “Daddy” and “Ma”. A shocked Claire repeats, “Daddy?” and Laoghaire realises that she hadn’t known. With language worthy of a sailor she begins to insult Claire. Jamie forces her from the room, but the damage has been done. 

Downstairs by the fire, Jamie tries to explain the situation to Laoghaire’s youngest daughter, Joanie. Jamie explains who Claire is, telling Joan that by the grace of God, Claire has been returned to him. He had wanted to talk to the girls and explain, he says, but he didn’t get a chance. 

When Joan asks about her own mother, Jamie explains that while he had tried to be a good husband, Laoghaire and he did not have a bond that keeps people together forever. “And you have that bond with that other woman?” Joan asks.  “Aye,” is Jamie’s reply, taking pains to reassure her that he loves both her and her sister  and that he will always look after her. He sends Joan in search of her older sister, who will take her home to her mother, who needs her. The little girl stands, but turns and runs into Jamie’s arms (finally solving the mystery from the season trailer as to who the small child hugging Jamie was!) This scene gives us a beautiful glimpse of a parental Jamie, gentle and loving. It is easy to see why Joanie would be so upset at the thought of him going away forever, as well as giving us some idea of how things would have been if Jamie had been able to be father to a young Brianna. 

But if Joan has understood and forgiven Jamie, the same cannot be said of his first wife. On returning to the bedroom, Jamie finds Claire grabbing her clothes and dressing as quickly as possible. Jamie tries to explain, saying that he doesn’t live with Laoghaire and the girls and that the marriage had been a huge mistake. 

Claire says that with two children it had taken him a long while to figure that out. Jamie tells her that he isn’t father to the girls, despite Joanie’s red hair - commenting that there are other red headed men in Scotland. The marriage is less than 2 years old and they have lived apart for most of the time, but this doesn’t matter to Claire. It is the thought that Jamie has wed Laoghaire, the woman who tried to have her killed. In frustration, Jamie reminds Claire that she had told him to be kind to Laoghaire, the last time that they had seen each other at the Old Fox’s estate. (This was the episode that book fans had strongly criticised at the time for precisely this reason. How could Jamie ever wed Laoghaire, knowing what she did to Claire? It is interesting that this is dealt with briefly here in Claire’s throw away line, “I told you to thank her, not marry her.” It is perhaps not completely convincing, but an attempt at any rate, to begin to tie the two parts of the Laoghaire storyline together.)

Claire is determined to leave, demanding to know why he hadn’t told her about this marriage on her return. Jamie replies that it is because he is a coward - he didn’t want to tell her for fear of losing her again. He says that he would give up anything to be with her again, family, love, life itself, even if she had left him 20 years before.

The heartbreak on Claire’s face in hearing this is breathtaking. “Left you?” she sobs. “You forced me to go back. I would have gladly died at Culloden with you. And now you want to blame me for that?”
Jamie says that he doesn’t blame her for going, as it was for Brianna’s sake, but is less convincing when asked if he blames her for coming back, finally asking her if she knows what it is to live 20 years without a heart, to live half a man and to become accustomed to existing in the bit that is left. 

Claire is incredulous. Yes, she tells him. She knows exactly what it’s like. She asks if Jamie thinks that she went home to Frank and lived happily ever after. Jamie’s jealousy comes out at this point, telling her how sometimes he had imagined that she had done just that. When Claire responds that she doesn’t need to imagine him with Laoghaire now, his anger explodes. Knocking over furniture in the room, he hisses that he doesn’t care for Laoghaire and never did. She is furious too, accusing him of discarding a woman that he didn’t even want. Jamie despairs that he can’t win: he is either a faithless lecher or a heartless beast.

Angry words soon give way to angry sex, which is halted abruptly by Jenny, who throws a bucket of water over them. She is furious too, that they have been fighting and rutting without caring if the whole house hears them. Claire leaves the room and after a long look at her brother, so does Jenny.

By the same fire where Jamie had comforted Joanie, another child comforts Claire. This time is is Jenny’s daughter, Janet, who offers Claire a whisky, which she accepts. Claire apologises for disturbing the household, but Janet says it is she who should be apologising, admitting that she had told Laoghaire of Claire’s presence. She hadn’t meant to cause such drama, she tells Claire, but had gone to tell Laoghaire at the instruction of her mother. Jenny appears at this point and Janet beats a hasty retreat.

Claire asks Jenny why she had summoned Laoghaire. “She’s his wife,” Jenny responds and Claire corrects her, saying that no, she is Jamie’s wife. Jenny wants to know why Claire hadn’t tried to find Jamie after the war and why her return has taken 20 years. Claire repeats that she thought that Jamie was dead and Jenny agrees that in a way he was, as it had taken him years to start living again. 

But within a week of Claire’s arrival, a man has been killed, the print shop has burned and Jamie is once again on the run from the law. Claire tells her sister-in-law that she had wanted to come back to be part of the family, but Jenny replies that family writes letters, letting each other know that they are alive. Did Claire think that they had all been frozen in time, waiting for her to return? (This is such a clever line, as in a way, that’s what it has been like for Claire, with her 18th century life frozen in time until she could return to it - but of course, Jenny is not to know this.) So Claire tells the bit of the story that is the truth: she had another husband in America and that it had been a matter of survival. Her life hadn’t been easy and she had had to put the past behind her to make that marriage work. Jenny asks if Jamie knows and if Claire had had any children. Again, Claire tells the truth up to a point - yes, Jamie knows; no, she had not had children with her husband in America. When that husband died, she had decided to return to Jamie’s grave to tell him he had never been forgotten and instead, had found him to be alive. This explanation of her absence is one that Jenny sees truth in, although she comments that she can see in Claire’s eyes that she is still keeping something back and she isn’t sure if she can or even wants to trust Claire again. A horse with a broken leg is put out of its misery, she says, because it will never heal right - and neither will they. 

Jenny is cleaning up the broken crockery in the bedroom when Ian comes in. Jamie is in the stables, he tells her and Claire in the guest quarters. Gently, he admonishes his wife: he has heard her prayers for Jamie’s happiness despite the sorrows he has seen, yet she won’t allow him to have his happiness now. Jenny thinks about this for a moment before asking, “Does this look like happiness to you?” and Ian has no answer for her.

The next morning, Claire and Jamie meet in the courtyard. She has a bag with her - evidently she is planning to leave. She ignores Jamie calling her name at first, finally telling him that she should not have come back. He comes towards her, saying that he can’t take back the 20 years, or the life he has lived, but he means to make things right. Claire reminds him of the pact they had made years ago, that when they told each other something it needed to be the truth. There was room for secrets, but not lies. He apologies, saying that he has only known one love in his life and it has been with her. But just as Claire appears to be reconsidering, Laoghaire arrives in the courtyard, brandishing a pistol. She has overheard Jamie’s protestations of love for Claire and aims the gun at her rival. 

She will not sit at home, she tells him, while Claire walks away with him. She has come to protect what is hers. It is time for Claire to leave them be and to stay out of their lives. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, she says, but even if he wasn’t under her roof, he provided for her. But suddenly the gun goes off, hitting Jamie in the arm. Laoghaire moves towards him, but Claire pushes her away and distraught, Laoghaire runs off.

Inside, Claire goes into doctor mode. Sending James for alcohol, she instructs Jamie to remove his shirt. Jenny and Ian come running, Jenny crossing herself at the sight of the blood and looking horrified when she discovers that Laoghaire is responsible for Jamie’s injury. She rushes to get clean towels and bandages, while Young Ian is sent for Claire’s medical kit. His father goes in search of hot water and an apron. Jamie comments that it is only bird shot and not serious, but Claire reminds him about germs, telling him that she will have to dig the pellets out. In response, Jamie begins to drink the bottle of whisky that James has returned with and lies down on the table.

Young Ian is watching the operation and comments that Claire has very fine knives to work with. Claire remarks that she knew a very fine cutler in the colonies. The final pellet is the most problematic, Claire telling Young Ian with a surgeon’s detachment that if it has penetrated the artery, Jamie will bleed to death and there will be nothing she can do. 

She cuts into Jamie’s arm, deep enough to rouse him briefly from his alcoholic anaesthetic. But Claire is a talented surgeon and removes the pellet, without the artery being penetrated. Young Ian is suitably impressed, offering her a drink as she stitches up the wounds. Throughout he has addressed her as “Auntie” and Claire comments that he is the only one who calls her that. They smile at each other: with this relative at least, she has made a special bond. Ian hands her the glass of whisky, saying that his uncle is lucky that she is there.

Later, Claire checks Jamie’s bandages. She tells him that the pellets are out, but her coolness towards him has returned. Jamie asks for a whisky, which is denied. 

He is allowed liquids, but that is all. He tries gentle teasing, stating that whisky is a liquid, but Claire will not smile: he can have water or broth. Again, the talk turns to Laoghaire. Jamie asks Claire if she really wants to hear, entreating her not to be angry. She replies that she hasn’t stopped being angry, so he may as well explain himself.

So Jamie tells her of the time after his return from Helwater. He was like a ghost, he says. Jenny’s children didn’t recognise him and he was lonely. On the first Hogmanay celebration at Lallybroch since he was a lad, everything was shining. Everyone was laughing and dancing and Jamie was watching, feeling both joy and loneliness at the same time. 

Two girls had come over to him, offering him a fig and then asking him to dance. He had been won over by their enthusiasm and allowed himself to be led onto the dance floor. Within a few moments, he tells Claire, his heart felt lighter. The music had wrapped around him and he was laughing for the first time in years. Afterwards, the girls complimented him on his dancing and he asked them if they were his cousin’s daughters. “No,” the eldest had said, “Our mother is Mistress McKimmie.” Looking over to where she pointed, Jamie saw Laoghaire. He realised that she was twice widowed with two daughters aching for a father. He had wanted to be a father and husband himself. Without Claire, or the opportunity to father either Willie or Brianna, perhaps the match could be made that would give him at least some semblance of family. When Claire asks if that was what had happened, he told her that his bond with the two girls had grown, but that he and Laoghaire had never connected with each other.

Laoghaire had been hurt, perhaps by her previous husbands, but she had seemed afraid of Jamie’s touch and would not speak to him for weeks on end. So he had left for Edinburgh. 

Moved by the story, Claire puts her hand on his at last, and realises that Jamie is burning with fever. He tells her that if she isn’t going to stay, he would rather die and be done with it. But Claire switches back into doctor mode. She tells him that tempted as she might be, she is not going to let him die and brings out the first of the 20th century penicillin, which she jabs into the behind of a distinctly wary Jamie. 

Jenny is sitting on the steps outside and Claire joins her. Jenny tells her that she had a vision of Claire on the day that Laoghaire and Jamie had married, seeing Claire standing between the two of them at the altar. Jenny said that she had never known who or what Claire had been, never knowing her people or her place. But she had also never questioned anything, even when Jamie had told her that Claire may tell her things that made no sense. Jenny comments that Claire’s instruction to plant potatoes had saved them in the winters after Culloden. “Jamie chose you,” Jenny said. “That was enough.” Claire remarks that it’s not enough now and Jenny says only that she supposes that Claire will never tell her the full story. 

Claire tells Jenny that what she can say is that she never stopped loving Jamie, had never stopped wearing Jamie’s wedding ring and had never forgotten any of them. “You were a sister to me,” says Jenny. She is thawing a little and Claire senses it. “I loved you too, Jenny,” she replies. “I still do. I’m only asking for a second chance.” For the first time, Jenny looks into Claire’s eyes. It is a beginning. 

The scenes between Caitriona Balfe and Laura Donnelly in this episode are tour-de-force ones. The women explore the gamut of emotions from shock, wariness, anger, hurt, guilt, sorrow and finally, the beginnings of a reestablished trust. Jenny can see that despite her long absence, Claire still loves Jamie and he her. She knows that there is more to the story (Indeed, the writers debated another significant chance with Jenny being let into the secret of Claire’s 20th century life, but decided against it.) but starts to make her peace with this lack of knowledge. It is no accident that this shift occurs on the same steps where Jenny and Claire had sat as sisters, waiting for Jamie and Ian’s return after being captured by the redcoats in season 1. Much has happened in the years since, but the bond between the two women still exists and we are left with the feeling that it will ultimately win out. 

A man is walking down the corridors - it is Ned Gowan! He and Claire embrace, each overcome at seeing the other. Ned has come to see Jamie, he says. When Claire tells him that he hasn’t changed and asks his secret, he responds wryly with, “I never married!” 

Ned tells Jamie and Claire that legally, with Claire’s return, the marriage to Laoghaire is invalid, although Jamie must still make reconciliations with the church. Ned informs them that Laoghaire has also made a complaint to the Justice of the Peace for distress and loss of support. Jamie asks how Laoghaire can do this and Ned quotes in response: “No hell hath fury like a woman scorned.” Claire points out that it is Laoghaire who shot Jamie and Ned agrees: in the Highlands, possession of a firearm is a criminal offence. But when asked if there is any way of proving that the gun belongs to Laoghaire, Jamie is forced to admit that there is none. 

Ned says that if it were to go to court, Laoghaire could be indicted and that it might be possible to arrange to have the rifle, which has been hidden in the stables, turned over to the British. Jamie asks what would happen and Ned replies that if found guilty, Laoghaire would be transported to the colonies. Jamie refuses: although he agrees that Laoghaire should be punished, he won’t do it to the girls. They are already losing him as a father figure and won’t have them lose their mother as well. He asks Ned what Laoghaire wants and the older man replies with his usual humour. Laoghaire’s chief desire, he says, is to see Jamie castrated with his bollocks hanging on her wall, but he suspects that she will be amenable to alimony instead, and proceeds to write a figure onto the paper in front of him.

Both Jenny and Ian are outraged by Laoghaire’s financial demands: £20 and £10 per year to support her girls until they marry. Jamie agrees that it is a high price to pay, and one that he won’t burden them with. When Jenny asks how he plans on finding money that is the equivalent of 2 years’ wages, Jamie talks of the box that he had found on Selkie Island, musing that perhaps he could go back and get it. Claire tells him that he can’t swim anywhere until his arm has healed, but Young Ian has overheard. He appears in the doorway, wearing a coat that looks remarkably like the Laird’s coat that Jamie had worn, as well as a shirt tied at the neck like his uncle’s. It is obvious that the hero worship is continuing. 

Ian asks how far it is and when Jamie says that it about a quarter mile states that he can swim that distance, but Jenny sends him away. She asks Jamie what good the ancient coins are and Jamie replies that he will take them to Jared in France, who will be able to trade them for sterling. Jamie then asks permission to take Young Ian with him, thinking him old enough to see a little of the world outside of Scotland. Showing that she did actually listen during her earlier argument with Jamie, Jenny replies that perhaps it would be better for them to give Young Ian his freedom now, while he still thinks its theirs to give. Jamie recognises his own words quoted back and smiles. Ian adds, “You’ll take better care of him this time, Aye?” and Jamie responds with “We will. You can trust us.”  And of course, with promises like that, viewers can’t help but feel nervous immediately...

The next scene shows Young Ian swimming towards the island, while Jamie and Claire watch from the cliffs above. 

They discuss the coldness of the water, but Jamie tells her not to worry, as Ian is a braw swimmer. Sure enough, we see him reach the shore and head in search of the box. But the tension on the cliff is palpable. Jamie comments that they have barely been alone since leaving Edinburgh, but now that they are the only two people on the cliff, Claire won’t meet his eye. Claire hesitates, still unable to look at him. Finally she says that she’s afraid it is all a mistake, not sure if they belong together anymore. When Jamie asks how she can say that, Claire speaks honestly.

She had a life, she tells him, they both had. She hadn’t hated Boston, she had a career, a home and friends, while Jamie had had the print shop. Maybe it hadn’t been the plan, she says, but it hadn’t been so bad. 

But Jamie is unconvinced. Being a printer didn’t compare with being her husband, he says.  Claire continues, telling Jamie that she had been haunted by the memory of him for 20 years, but returning had been harder than she could have imagined. Jamie asks her when it has ever been easy. He has apologised and done everything he can to make it right. He strokes the side of her face, telling her that she belongs with him and that, like the geese he had told her about earlier, they are mated for life. Then, he utters the line that fans have been waiting for since its non-appearance in episode 6: “Will you risk the man I am for the sake of the one you once knew?”  

But before she can answer, Claire notices something out towards the island. A large ship is approaching and a small row boat is heading towards the shore. Through the spyglass, Jamie sees Young Ian, triumphantly carrying the box, heading back down the hill. 

Futilely, they try to call a warning, but it is to no avail. The sailors have reached the island and confront Young Ian. Jamie and Claire race down the cliff, but even before the slow motion effect that always heralds disaster begins, we know that their desperate action will be of no use. Young Ian has been forced into the row boat and it is heading back to the big ship. Jamie tears the sling from his arm as he reaches the shore, but Claire stops him: he is injured and cannot go after his nephew. Instead, the two are left watching helplessly as the ship unfurls its sails and sails away from them. 

The focus of this episode was well and truly on relationships. How much heartache becomes too much to bear? Can relationships survive distance, secrets and time apart without explanation, or will they crumble? The scenes are beautifully acted, from the sadness of Joan McKimmie, to the icy courtesy of Jenny, the frustration of Young Ian, the vicious jealousy of Laoghaire, and the heartbreak of Jamie and Claire. Every scene tugs at the heartstrings and it is a true ensemble performance, with everyone giving their absolute all. While some relationships do indeed break, others seem to be reaching a tenuous rebirth, until the ending of the episode throws everything into chaos once again. With only 5 episodes left in the season, it’s going to be a wild ride from now on!

This episode recap was written by Susie Brown, a teacher-librarian and writer who lives in Australia. She loved the return of Ned Gowan and wished there could be more scenes with him - the comic relief of his witty conversation was much needed in an otherwise emotionally draining episode!