Thursday, October 26, 2017

“There’s the Two of Us Now” - A recap of season 3 episode 6 by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage originals by Susie Brown 

It was always going to be about the print shop. While every season of Outlander has had its emotionally draining episodes - ‘Wentworth’ in season 1, ‘Faith’ and ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ in season 2 - nothing was ever going to compare to this season’s ‘A. Malcolm’. After a Droughtlander of some 14 months and then a week’s break between episodes 5 and 6, during which the publicity was amped up more with each passing day, the anticipation for the longed for reunion was at fever pitch by the time the episode began. And as with any highly anticipated event, it was going to be virtually impossible to please everyone. Indeed, once the episode had aired and the discussion on forums began, it became obvious that opinions varied wildly - from those who loved every moment, to those who were bitterly disappointed by the changes and omissions from Diana Gabaldon’s original. Just like the characters of Jamie and Claire, a period of adjustment was needed! 

The episode begins with some finishing touches to Jamie’s wardrobe being administered by an unknown woman. The two engage in some friendly banter before Jamie leaves to start his day as Alexander Malcolm, Edinburgh printer and bookseller. Right from the outset we can see what a shock Claire’s reappearance is going to be.

Jamie has settled into a new life and a new routine. He strides through familiar streets, tipping his hat to people as he passes. Who the woman is remains to be seen. 

On entering the shop, Jamie checks the ledger and some printed material, when he hears noises below. Drawing a knife he listens more closely, relaxing when he realises he knows to whom the whispered voices belong. Telling them they can come out, Jamie waits until the two men appear. The rest of the scene establishes some more detail: Lesley and Hayes work for Jamie, but not as part of the official business of the print shop. Rather, these two have the task of delivering some more treasonous pamphlets further afield. Jamie cautions them not to draw attention to themselves, not to be caught and not to be seen by the legitimate customers. 

Whilst passing on these instructions, his regular assistant, Geordie appears and is visibly displeased to see the other two, who waste no time in ridiculing him on account of his goitre and his haughty demeanour. Indeed, these two seem to be the Edinburgh equivalent of Rupert and Angus. Jamie admonishes them for their teasing and they make a half hearted apology before departing. Jamie then asks Geordie to get some more ash for the press, a request that is met with some displeasure by the latter as it means retracing his steps. He is soon gone, however, and Jamie is left to begin his work.

We see that Jamie has added another skill to his repertoire, as he confidently operates the machinery to produce more printed pages. The bell rings and Jamie calls out to who he assumes in Geordie, asking where he had gone to get the ash. We soon realise that this is a repeat of the end of episode 5, but this time we see Claire’s reappearance through Jamie’s eyes, ending with the same graceful faint as the opening credits finally begin. 

Jamie quickly regains consciousness, to find Claire kneeling over him. Shocked, he realises that this time, she is no apparition, but actually real. He says her name in wonder, “Claire”, as she tells him that she had thought him to be dead. Their hands touch briefly, before Jamie reacts in discomfort, realising that in fainting, he had tipped over the ale pot. He stands and begins to undress, but halts, suddenly shy. He asks Claire if she minds, to which Claire, equally shy, replies that it’s all right, as they are married, or supposes they are. 

The two are unsure of each other, but the longing is there, gazing at each other in disbelief. Tentatively they move closer. Jamie tells Claire he would very much like to kiss her and asks if he may do so and breathlessly, she agrees. A tear falls down Claire’s cheek as their lips meet and the reunion begins. Jamie is also tearful as they break apart, telling Claire how often she had come to him whenever he had needed her: when he was fevered, alone or afraid, but that in those dreams, she had never touched him. He takes her hand, as she replies that she can touch him now. Together they recite the words that Jamie had spoken after their wedding. “Don’t be afraid,” Claire begins. “There’s the two of us now,” an emotional Jamie responds and they kiss again, less tentative this time. Their embrace is interrupted by a horrified Geordie, who promptly quits on the spot, accusing Jamie of conducting orgies in the shop before noon. He storms out and Claire fights back laughter, saying that she hopes she hasn’t caused trouble. Jamie reassures her that Geordie will return and that he will explain the situation, but has no idea how to do so.

Claire asks if he has another pair of trousers and Jamie realises that he is still standing there in only his shirt. He says he has another pair out the back, asking Claire to come with him, almost as if he is afraid that she will disappear again if he lets her out of his sight. Claire follows him and watches as he changes. Suddenly, Jamie remembers something: saying “the child!” Smiling, Claire pulls a packet of photographs from her cloak pocket, telling Jamie she thought he would like to see their daughter. Jamie begins to get emotional. “Our daughter?” he says. “She... knows?” We can see the tears welling up, as she comes towards him with the pictures, explaining what photographs are. 

Self consciously, Jamie pulls out a pair of glasses, telling Claire he will need them to see properly, as his eyes are not what they used to be. Declaring him to be as dashing as ever, Claire reassures him that he doesn’t look at all like the old man he fears he must be. She confesses to her own vanity, telling Jamie that she has dyed the grey in her hair, because she had wanted to look the same for him as when he had last seen her. Jamie responds that time doesn’t matter: she will always be beautiful to him. He caresses her cheek, then puts on his glasses and asks Claire to shown him their daughter. 

The scene that follows has been hotly debated already, with many book fans upset by how it has been changed. In the book, on seeing the photos, Jamie “falls completely to pieces” in Claire’s arms, overcome by the emotions of seeing Brianna. Indeed, it appeared as if this was precisely what was going to happen. But despite these directions being written into the script that has been published online, it doesn’t eventuate and the scene plays out differently. Undoubtedly, Jamie is emotional at seeing Brianna’s photos. 

He stares at the first picture for a long time, needing to sit down and closing his eyes as he asks about her name. He then wants to know more, asking about her first word. Happily, Claire supplies the details, adding that baby Brianna had been a good sleeper, smiling in her sleep just like her father. When Claire says that Bree also has Jamie’s red hair, Jamie replies with “like her sister, Faith” and the two share a nostalgic sad moment. Looking at Claire’s graduation photo with Brianna, Jamie learns that Claire is now a surgeon, commenting that she always had been, only lacking the title she now has.  Jamie expresses disbelief at Brianna’s ability to chop wood and becomes suitably patriarchal and stern at the sight of his daughter in a bikini. But at the point where book readers were still expecting Jamie to be overcome with emotion and bury his head in Claire’s shoulder, instead he hands the photographs back to Claire and stands. Claire worries initially that Jamie is angered by the bikini, adding that it is quite modest. But Jamie has a confession of his own. Pulling out his own version of a photograph in the form of a colour portrait, he proceeds to tell her about Willie, his son. This is news that comes to Claire far later in the book and under entirely different circumstances. Many fans are not happy with this change, with the primary opinion being that Jamie seems more interested in his son than his daughter. However, it can also be argued that this admission is, in fact highlighting that Jamie now has the person back in his life to whom he can tell everything.

He has not spoken of Willie to anyone, not even Jenny and he is as keen for Claire to know about Willie’s personality as she is for him to know about Brianna’s. Claire is unnerved by the revelation, asking Jamie if he had been in love with Willie’s mother. She is noticeably relieved to discover that he wasn’t, but says only that she knew when she decided to come back, that Jamie would have had a life. This opens the door for Jamie to ask about Frank and whether she had left Frank to return to him. They skirt around the 20 years of the Randall marriage, Claire answering Jamie’s question about whether she had been happy with Frank by saying that she had been happy raising Brianna with him. Outside a bell rings and Jamie realises the time. He says that he needs to get to the tavern and asks Claire to accompany him. She replies that wild horses couldn’t keep her away and the scene ends. It is a scene that allows both Jamie and Claire to learn a little of each other’s lives in the 20 years they have been apart, but for those who felt the focus should have been on Brianna, it falls disappointingly short, despite the lovely acting throughout by both Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. (Indeed, during a Twitter chat with the Outlander Writers, Sam Heughan weighed in on the ‘falling completely to pieces’ debate, stating that the action lines in the script are guidelines only and that it had been his own creative choice to show an internal fall, rather than tears that could have appeared melodramatic and stall the flow of the scene. And with that, the debate seems to be closed!)

Jamie and Claire walk through the streets, as Claire updates Jamie on the fate of Bonnie Prince Charlie and how he managed to escape after Culloden. Claire remarks that while Charles is indeed alive in 1766, he is not living a happy life. Their conversation halts, as Jamie indicates a young man standing nearby.

The man in question utters a shocked “Milady?” and Claire realises that this is Fergus all grown up. The two embrace, Claire commenting on what a handsome man he has become, to which Fergus agrees! Claire notices the wooden hand that Fergus now wears and cradles it gently between her own hands, asking what happened. Fergus explains that he lost it fighting the redcoats. “Bravely,” Jamie adds. When Fergus asks Claire where she has been for so many years, Jamie and Claire share a brief look - this is not an explanation they have decided upon yet. So Claire follows Frank’s interrogation advice from season 1 - to stick to the truth as much as possible - and tells Fergus that, believing them all to be dead and not wanting to bring harm to Lallybroch as the wife of a traitor, she had gone to America. Fergus accepts this story and tells Jamie that he needs to speak to him about their friend, Mr Willoughby. They leave Claire in the marketplace for a few moments.

Once alone, Fergus asks Jamie if Claire will be staying with him. When Jamie replies that he hopes so, Fergus says, “What about...?” Book readers know the truth behind Fergus’ question, but it remains a mystery for tv only viewers at this point. Jamie agrees that he hasn’t had time to think it through, but that he will need to consult Ned Gowan on the law. Leaving that particular problem behind, the talk turns to Mr Willoughby and the trouble he has gotten into. Shortly afterwards, Claire is following Jamie to the tavern known as the World’s End, discussing the fact that Claire had told Fergus the truth of her disappearance, aside from leaving out the 200 year time difference. 

At the World’s End Tavern, Jamie is forced to pay a prostitute for the unwelcome attentions of Mr Willoughby, a Chinese man who, somewhat the worse for drink, has licked the woman’s elbow without permission. Claire begins to introduce herself to the man, with Jamie interrupting before she can utter her surname, announcing her to be Claire Malcolm, his wife. 

After they share a brief look, Jamie leaves Claire with Mr Willoughby so that he can keep his business appointment. This business turns out to be a meeting with an Englishman who Jamie pays to keep silent about his activities. Jamie tosses a purse onto a cask, but the man, annoyed at being kept waiting, is after 25% more “tax”, saying that he has heard that Jamie is dealing further afield to Arbroath and Dundee. Jamie disputes this, saying that he only deals in the High Street and won’t be paying any more. But as he walks away, the man’s parting comment indicates that there may be some danger ahead. 

Returning to Claire, Jamie discovers that she and Mr Willoughby, real name Yi Tien Chao, have been getting acquainted. Mr Willoughby has painted a heroic picture of Jamie, telling Claire how he would have died were it not for him. Claire is impressed and Jamie does not dispute Mr Willoughby’s account, deeming him to be an interesting fellow. Jamie and Claire leave, with Claire addressing Mr Willoughby by his real name and Mr Willoughby calling her by a phrase that Jamie translates as “honourable wife.” The look he gives Willoughby indicates that there is perhaps more to the story however. 

The introduction of this character has also been altered from the book, where the portrayal of Mr Willoughby has been seen by some as stereotypical and potentially racist in the 21st century. TV Willoughby is dressed more neutrally and has a finer command of the language, allowing him to tell his own story to Claire, rather than have others tell it for him. It will be interesting to see this character develop in future episodes. 

Night has fallen and Jamie is leading Claire towards a building that turns out to be a brothel. The woman from the opening scene returns, greeting Jamie warmly, kissing him on both cheeks. 

But Madam Jeanne’s expression freezes as Jamie introduces Claire and we witness a frosty, polite encounter between the two women. There is obvious jealousy on both sides, that Jamie chooses either not to see, or to ignore. Jeanne questions Jamie’s wisdom about bringing Claire to the establishment but he merely asks if his room is ready as they will be spending the night. Jeanne dispatches a maid to see to fresh linen and hot water and watches unhappily as Jamie and Claire walk upstairs. 

Inside, Claire is uncomfortable. With the noises of the establishment audible through the walls, she wonders why Jamie has a room in a brothel, asking if it is because Jamie is a good customer. 

Jamie is quick to explain. He apologises for bringing her to the brothel, but states that it is more comfortable than the print shop. He tells Claire that far from him being a customer of Madame Jeanne’s , she is one of his and that he has a room because he is often abroad on business and it is convenient to have somewhere to come for a hot meal and a bed on short notice. Claire accepts his explanation but it is clear that she is still uncomfortable.

Jamie asks her why she has come back - is it to be his wife, or to bring news of their daughter? Claire repeats that she has come back because she had previously thought him to be dead.

Jamie responds that he had tried hard enough. He asks Claire how she had found out he was alive and she tells him briefly of Roger’s help, adding that when she saw the name A. Malcolm she thought it might be Jamie and decided to take a chance. Still, Jamie wants to know why she has come. Claire asks if he is trying to tell her something. Does he have other ties, another life? Jamie responds that he has burned for her for over 20 years, but that they are different people now, who know each other less than when they were first wed. “Do you want me?” Jamie asks. Claire steps towards him, saying, “Whoever you are, James Fraser, yes, I do want you.” She adds that she might be a horrible person now herself, to which Jamie responds that he doesn’t think he cares. They are about to kiss when they are interrupted by a knock on the door: it is the maid with their dinner.  Once it has been delivered, Jamie firmly bolts the door. 

The next scene begins with them sharing a meal, slowly getting to know each other by telling stories, in the same way that they had done on their wedding night. Finally, Jamie asks Claire the inevitable question: will she come to bed with him? Claire smiles and agrees - and the next anticipated part of the episode begins. 

There are many parallels between the reunion lovemaking and the wedding night lovemaking. Both scenes begin with the slow undressing of each other, as this time they reacquaint themselves with each other’s body. Both are self conscious, smiling shyly and nervously. 

When Claire is finally standing naked before Jamie, she asks him to “bloody well say something”, to which he replies that she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Claire asks if he is as scared as she is and reminds him of their wedding night, when he had held her hand and said it would be easier if they touched. They do, but the initial stage of their lovemaking is clumsy - Jamie’s forehead coming into contact with Claire’s nose and then him crushing her as they lie on the bed. But their giggles soon give way to passion and their first time is urgent, with the joy and relief at finally finding each other taking over. 

Afterwards, they lie talking together, Jamie complimenting Claire’s body and how he can’t keep his hands from her. Claire replies that he has more hair on his chest now and declares their lovemaking to be like riding a bicycle. The term confuses Jamie, but giggling, she explains that it just means they haven’t forgotten what to do. The familiar noises of the brothel break into the conversation and Jamie comments that he should have taken her to a tavern. Claire answers that of the places she had imagined their reunion, she wouldn’t have picked a brothel and asks Jamie if he will finally tell her how he makes a living. She says that he can’t possibly be just a printer, as he is in too good a physical condition.  Lightheartedly, she suggests a few possibilities, as Jamie strolls back to the food and helps himself to some grapes. The two are much more at ease with each other now, teasing and joking together. Claire says that the last time she saw him Jamie was a traitor and he confirms that he still is, adding that he spent years in prison for treason after the Rising. His expression clouds for a moment at this memory, and Claire tells him that she knew that, and a bit more. Again, she asks what he does for a living. 

Jamie answers that he is both a printer and a traitor, with the printing press replacing his sword as a weapon. He has been arrested for sedition, he tells her, 6 times in the past two years, with his premises seized twice. Claire asks what happens when the authorities are finally able to prove his activities and Jamie responds by saying he will likely be hanged. It is said light heartedly and Claire responds in kind, but it is nevertheless a real danger. Jamie asks if she wants to leave. Claire tells him that she did not return to make love to him one time, but that she came back to be with him. Jamie tells her how after finally being able to touch her and knowing her to be real, he couldn’t bear to lose her again. Claire replies that he won’t lose her, adding as an afterthought, “not unless you do something immoral.”

Jamie seems to react at this and Claire asks if there is something else he hasn’t told her. We see him hesitate for a brief second, before the lighthearted mood returns. Printing seditious pamphlets isn’t profitable, he says and admits to smuggling whisky, cognac, brandy, rum and French wine, thereby explaining why Madame Jeanne is his customer. The alcohol is stored in the brothel’s cellar; some going to Madame Jeanne herself and some kept in storage until it can be moved on. 

Claire checks one last time: does Jamie accept part of his payment in trade, adding while she asks that it is none of her business. “Is it not?” Jamie counters and the second lovemaking begins. This time it is slow and tender, with the two looking into each other’s eyes constantly as they reconnect.

Afterwards, Claire runs her fingers over the long scar on Jamie’s leg, asking “How?”
“Culloden,” he whispers, after a long beat.
Seeing the weight of the memory on him, Claire says, “I will never leave you again.”
“You were right to leave,” he says in return. “You did it for Brianna.” He tells her that he knows that she is a wonderful mother and that she has given him a child who is alive and safe. “Because of her,” he says, “we will live forever, you and I.” Tenderly, he kisses her forehead and they sleep, but it is obvious that Claire’s last waking thoughts are of their daughter.

The next morning, Jamie is watching Claire as she wakes. When she looks at him, saying that she wanted to check that he was really there, he tells her that he could watch her for hours, looking for ways in which she is different and yet still the same. He strokes her hair, calling her “Mo nighean donn” and asking if she remembers, which of course she does. They reminisce about the time they had previously discussed what it was like between them and the depth of feeling when they touched. They speak of how they hadn’t known back then why the connection was so strong and still don’t, but the feelings are as strong as they ever were. Jamie says that he never thought he would laugh in a woman’s bed again, or even come to one, except as a brute blind with need. “Is that what you’d do?” she asks, “when you had the need?” Again, he looks troubled and starts to speak, but Claire stops what appears to be the beginning of a confession, telling him that they don’t have to rush things. She only has one question and asks it, unable to look at him as she does so. Had he ever fallen in love with anyone else after she left?

His answer is immediate and honest. “No, Sassenach,” he says. “I never loved anyone but you.” Breakfast threatens to interrupt their third lovemaking session, but Jamie sends the servant away, mischievously answering Claire’s question, “Don’t you want to eat?” with “Aye”. It is not food he has in mind though and the scene fades to black!

When Claire wakes some time later, a reluctant Jamie is finishing dressing. He tells her to go back to sleep, saying that he must take care of some business. Reminding her that she is Mrs Malcolm in Edinburgh, Jamie tells her not to go anywhere until he returns. She tells him that she isn’t likely to move, as her legs are like jello and entreats him to “Hurry back, soldier.” He kisses her once more and leaves. 

A knock on the door comes a while later, while a partially dressed Claire is eating the remains of the food from the previous night. A young boy peers into the room, in search of Jamie, asking Claire if she is Mr Malcolm’s woman. Claire says that she is and asks his name, which he gives as Ian Murray. Realising that he must be Jenny and Ian’s son, Claire introduces herself as young Ian’s aunt, telling the 16 year old that she knew his parents a long time ago. 

“But you’re dead!” he replies, telling Claire that the old women at Lallybroch had said Claire to be a wise woman, a white lady or a fairy, who had possibly returned to the fairies after Culloden when Jamie came home alone. Again, Claire tells her version of her story, explaining that she had gone to the colonies after believing Jamie to have died on the battlefield at Culloden. She confirms when Ian asks, that she has returned to be with Jamie once again. Ian tells her that it’s very fine to meet “Uncle Jamie’s wife” and asks Claire to tell Jamie that he is looking for him. Ian gives one last briefly puzzled smile, that Claire misinterprets but book readers do not, and he is gone. 

Dressed in shawl and shift, Claire heads downstairs, finding the young ladies of the establishment having breakfast. Believing Claire to be the new girl, the others introduce themselves, teasing Claire about her reddened neck and stiff gait, which they say is indicative of a busy evening’s work. They promise to show her where the herbs are for washing and start to give advice on how to avoid pregnancy as well as a trick to ensure that a client’s passion doesn’t last overlong. When a new customer is heard in the other room, the girls begin to complain, until they decide that as the new girl, Claire will have to take him. 

But when Madame Jeanne comes in, she is horrified to see Claire sitting amongst her girls. Expressing disgust that food had not been delivered to the room, she promises that the maid will be in trouble. Claire replies that this is not necessary, as she has been enjoying the chat with the ladies. But Jeanne is insistent that Claire return to the room, saying that she will have the rest of the meal sent up. Claire sees the frostiness of the other woman’s demeanour, but she is sure of herself and Jamie now and is no longer unnerved. With a cheery goodbye to the others, she heads upstairs.

But on opening the door to their room, Claire is shocked to see a man already inside, obviously searching for something. She tells him to leave, but he shuts the door. Dismissing her as a whore, the man tells her to wait on the bed until he has found what he has come for. 

Claire tells him that she is no whore and that this is her husband’s room. The man smirks. “Then you can tell me where he keeps his ledgers,” he replies. When Claire says that she has no idea, he comments that maybe he can jog her memory and moves menacingly towards her. Claire repeats her demand that he get out, but he grabs her by the throat and the episode ends. She hasn’t been 24 hours back in the 18th century and already, Claire is in trouble!

As well as being the most anticipated episode of the season, it is highly likely that this will also be the most controversial. While fans are undoubtedly thrilled to see Jamie and Claire reconnect at last, dissatisfaction remains for many, as to some of the alterations to the story. While ultimately tv and book are different mediums, it will be interesting to see what details appear in future episodes and what else may change from Diana Gabaldon’s words. Of course, we do have the luxury of both mediums now and despite what else happens, Jamie and Claire have certainly been reunited. It truly is “the two of them now.”

This recap was written by Susie Brown, a teacher-librarian and writer who lives in Australia. She admits that she was one of the fans who wanted to see Jamie fall completely to pieces, but does think that Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe did a beautiful job of showing the longing and uncertainty of 20 years spent apart. She is certainly looking forward to the rest of the journey, changes or not!

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