Not unlike Jamie and Claire, I’m not much on foreplay, so let’s get right into it.
You know it’s gonna be a great episode when the ratings system features every letter in the alphabet short of the vowels.
Aaaand segue-way into the preview material and a new voice over. Jamie is skipping stones on water while pondering the importance of life choices.
When he was young, he just trotted along onward with no discernible path like a fine ginger pony, but looking back on his life, he sees that “each step is a choice” and that those choices-right/wrong, life/death, love/hate-become your life. “The day I realized that, I became a man.” And whatta man.
We see the firelight reflected in his eyes, and realize that he is not at the lake, but staring into the fire while Horrocks and his hipster beard meet with himself, Murtagh and the Mackenzies. Turns out Dougal is a bit reticent in handing over money to a man he perceives as being untrustworthy, but Jamie convinces him. When the money finally exchanges hands, Horrocks says that the guard was shot by none other than “Captain Johnathan Randall himself”. Ned doesn’t believe that the Captain would stoop to shooting his own sergeant, but Horrocks wryly comments that they know Randall, and so they probably know the answer to that.
Jamie, upset, tells him that he can’t use Randall’s name to clear his own, but Horrocks answers that he bargained for a name, which is what he got. Dougal rushes the Englishman in anger as he mounts his horse to go, but It is at that moment that Willie comes galloping in leading Claire’s horse, and Jamie realizes she is not with him.
When Willie relays the news that she was taken by the English and was “thrashing and yelling”, Jamie and the men gallop off after her.
Intro song, and you might think I am making this up, but that stag knows something. WHO HAVE YOU BEEN TALKING TO, STAG?
This leads us into a title sequence that shows Jamie’s kilt assembly process.
He’s like a plaid Transformer, a ginger Rubik’s cube.
Fort William, night. Jamie and Murtagh are applying their fine interrogation skills to one of the English guards, convincing him to reveal Claire’s whereabouts by means of acute testicular coercion. I’m pretty sure this is how Navy SEALS do it.
Murtagh puts an end to what I am sure would have been a really interesting lecture by applying what shall heretofore be known as the “Murtagh Special”: a knife hilt anesthetic, applied firmly and swiftly to the back of the heid. Jamie whistles for Angus and Rupert, then creeps up on the rooftop guard and uses his rifle like a shinty stick, knocking him out and earning two points according to this judge. Looking around the portion of the roof that is unguarded, he discovers a handy rope secured to a beam, and uses it to lower himself towards Randall’s window, hurrying when he hears Claire scream.
It is dark and eerily quiet as Jamie rappels down the tower wall, and the lack of visual distractions has the intended effect. Even though I know full well what is coming, by the time Jamie crouches in the window and says the line we all know by heart, I am tense. Randall, however, is positively enchanted.
He alternately flirts, chitchats and snaps at Jamie in a manic whirlwind: coyly asking to see his back, and giddily telling Claire that they will have an audience. When Claire shouts at Jamie to “just shoot the bastard”, BJR seems to snap out of it a bit, threatening to cut Claire’s throat and demanding Jamie put his gun down on the table. When Jamie hesitates, he swears to him that he will cut her throat, and Jamie believes him. Although his words are threatening, his eyes are bright, and I realize I am avoiding eye contact with an image on film like I think it can steal my soul.
Claire tells Jamie to leave, and Randall takes Jamie’s gun in one hand and continues casually asks him who the man is in his marriage. Claire swears that she will cut his balls off, and he calls her a “foul-mouthed scold”, matter-of-factly commenting that he has “no idea why any man would pledge himself to a woman, especially a mendacious slut like this one”. JELLY MUCH?
Like any other character who is into men on this show, Jack is into Jamie. I can’t say I blame him, although it doesn’t make me feel warm inside. If anything, it juts makes him creepier, which I didn’t think was possible. Let me just suggest that, whatever you were planning for Halloween, you immediately drop it and replace it with Black Jack Randall. Be a giant stack of cards that add up to 21 with a tricorn, and laugh at sad stories. Wear thigh-high boots and fishnets as Sexy BJR and shout angrily at random intervals. You will win Halloween every year because THERE IS NO ONE CREEPIER. To say his affection for Jamie is inappropriately expressed is akin to saying the Hindenburg was a snafu.
Jack asks Claire if they she would like her husband to join them, and ends up done in by the dual enemy of any villain: hubris and the seductive pull of a monologue. He taunts Jamie, asking if he would rather watch, and puts his knife down, then takes a shot. The pistol is empty.
Jamie takes advantage of the surprise to knock his head into the table and hightail it out of there with his wife, leaving Randall unconscious. Jamie thinks back on why he left Randall alive, but it would have never occurred to him “ta kill a helpless man, even one such as Randall.” They run into redcoats on their first few attempts, but thank goodness it takes like a solid half-hour to load those guns or they wouldn’t have made it. As it is, they have to jump off the roof into the murky water below, which is totally not a metaphor.
The ride back is relatively quiet, and when they stop at a creek to water the horses, Jamie steers Claire away to tenderly ask her if she is all right. At her grateful assurance that Randall did not hurt her, he steps back and sternly if a little insecurely says that he is waiting for her to say something approaching an apology, and just like that, they are off.
Like any argument with a new spouse, this is pretty much the intersection of two worlds colliding. Claire and Jamie see the marriage from radically different perspectives and, what is less common, radically different time periods. Claire is outraged that Jamie should assign her fault when she had no ill intent (although one does not absolve the other), and Jamie is rigid in his view that their current predicament is Claire’s responsibility to shoulder (BJR had a bit to do with it). Of course it is coming from a place of fear, but it expresses as anger. Jamie tells Claire that none of this would have happened had she listened to her husband’s order, and because she does what she wants, he found her flat on her back “with the worst scum of the earth between your legs, about to take you before my very eyes.” Claire reminds him that she begged to go with him, but that he didn’t listen to her “because women are only fit to take orders.”
Jamie grabs her arm and growls that if only she had done that, they “would not be on the run with a hundred redcoats” on their tail. Claire, for some godforsaken reason that makes about as much sense as the rest of it, decides that it’s a good time to slap her angry husband and it escalates quickly and quite viciously from there.
The highlights: Jamie thinks Claire got herself abducted on purpose to get revenge for almost being raped before (huh?), and Claire shouts that she doesn’t like that she is married to him and she is nothing but a c*ck-garage (c*ckrage?). They are basically throwing verbal tomatoes at each other.
Claire follows Jamie around when he tries to turn away, and it finally ends when she calls Jamie a “f*cking bastard” and he retaliates by calling her “a foul-mouthed b*tch” and saying that she won’t speak to him like that.
I hate it when mom and dad fight.
After he shouts at her, there is an instant and discernible change on Jamie’s face, and you can see that he is surprised at the extent to which he has lost his temper. Surprise turns into dismay, and it is a testament to the acting in this scene that this transition is verbose without a single word being uttered. As his temper cools, Jamie seems to shrink and become frail, falling back against the rock and sliding down so his eye line and the bulk of his mass is below Claire.
In a subconscious complement to her husband, Claire’s face softens and becomes concerned, her natural healing instincts kicking in.
Jamie admits brokenly that he faced Randall “with an empty pistol and [his] own bare hands” and starts to shake when he recalls her screams. By the time he utters “Yer tearin’ my guts out, Claire,” she is ready for this to be over, and so am I. She apologizes twice before he looks up. “Jamie, forgive me.”
Jamie accepts, returning her apology and telling her that he didn’t mean what he said out of anger. Voice-over Jamie admits that it didn’t matter, he would have forgiven her anything she did or was going to do. There was no choice, because he had fallen in love. By the end of this scene I felt like I ate too much Lithuanian food: top-heavy, a bit queasy, and definitely ready for a nap.
Don’t let that scare you off Lithuanian food though, it’s delicious.
When they arrive at an inn for the night, Claire and Jamie are seated apart from the others, and though quite tender to each other, notice that the men are not replying to Claire’s attempts at conversation and pretending they can’t hear her speak, which I suppose is the most adult way a room of grown-ass men can handle this situation. Claire excuses herself to go upstairs, and Jamie catches Murtagh’s eye. With a shorthand that is terrifying in its brevity, the older man communicates in one sentence what the problem is “She doesna understand what she nearly cost us,” he tells his nephew. “Aye, and she needs to,” Jamie replies. MAYBE HE MEANT YOU NEEDED A PIE CHART, JAMIE.
Upstairs, a tired Claire invites Jamie to go to bed, but he tells her they have a matter yet to settle between them. Claire is tired, affectionate, and Jamie starts out kindly, explaining the things that would have happened to a man if he had put them in danger as Claire had. She apologizes again, and Jamie ruefully tells her that if it had only been him, he could have have let it pass, but it was not, and it is his duty as husband to see she is “punished.“
There is a nuanced buildup here that is so realistic and convincing.Claire’s expressions progress from bewilderment, to confusion, to disbelief, to alarm, panic and finally, anger. This is a thinking, logical woman of science, and this is some Lord of the Flies justice. I can totally get why she rejects the hypothesis that physical harm will somehow improve her memory.
Jamie is educated and open-minded as well, but not two centuries’ worth, and this is not an area where he sees a need to bend, much less for an individual that he is treating the way you would a child, not an equal. He tries reason, coercion, and finally, resorts to brute strength to get his way, holding her on his lap and smacking her on the rear with a folded belt as she fights him back with scratches and kicks.
Thinking about this critically, this is the visualization of every virtue these two possess drawn out to its darker, more negative expression. Jamie is a leader, and pretty good at getting his way. He has no reason to think his wife will not submit and obey like any woman of her time, plus he feels that he is within his rights as a husband. Claire is quick and logical, a healer and problem-solver which is a bit of an anomaly even in her time. She has no reason to think that hurting someone on purpose is justified by any means, or that she needs to be made an example of by a person who has pledged to care for her. Neither stance makes sense to the other, and so, worlds collide.
I think it would be less accurate to call this a spanking than an all-out domestic, even if Claire was always destined to lose. Jamie doesn’t expect her to fight back to the extent that she does, and Claire is clearly not taking this as anything but deadly serious. Although by the end he seems to get a sort of thrill from subjugating her, it won’t be one he enjoys for long, and he has no idea that the lesson he takes away will last longer and be more deeply impressed than hers.
The next morning the pair come down for breakfast, and the men are in a forgiving mood, joking with and about Claire. Ned even offers that she should sit with him, but she coldly says she will stand… away from Jamie, who stares balefully at her while she eats her oatmeal like a dummy that doesn’t realize that his headstrong wife can hold a grudge with surgical precision.
“Justice done, problem solved,” Naive Jamie later tells us via voice-over. He thought the matter settled, but that he also had “precious little experience as a husband” and did not realize that their arrival at Leoch would influence decisions he made on their behalf for a long time to come.
Upon their entrance into Leoch Claire and Jamie are greeted by the gathered inhabitants, who are waiting to congratulate them on their marriage.
The Laird and Lady also make an appearance, but while Letitia is gracious and cues her husband seamlessly, Colum can barely bite out a polite congratulations, and is obviously not pleased, walking out directly after a series of awkward pauses and stares so pointed that there couldn’t have been a single person in that hall who was fooled into thinking he was happy about this outcome.
In the next scene, we see Jamie rushing down a hallway when, with almost an audible record scratch, Laoghaire steps out to intercept him with a plaintive “Why?”
She wants to know what happened, explaining to Jamie that after their little kissing interlude, she thought there was something of a promise between them and that she had waited for him to come back and been surprised by his marriage.
Jamie, whether it is because he is knocked off-game by his argument with Claire or because he is hurrying to attend a summons from Colum, handles this in the absolute worst manner possible. He tells her it was not something he planned, but Dougal’s arrangement, and that an explanation will have to wait. She agrees that he “canna keep the Mackenzie waiting”, but when she nervously asks if they will speak again, he says “Aye,” with a small smile and then touches her shoulder and says gently, “You have my word.”
UGH JAMIE. She actually doesn’t have your word. You’re married. Someone needs to spank you so you remember it. Now I don’t blame the child for thinking that a man of marriageable age who takes a beating on her behalf and then kisses her stupid perhaps has feelings for her. Hell, when I was sixteen I was convinced I was going to marry George Micheal. What I am saying here is that Jamie, diplomat and strategist, really pooped all over this opportunity to be concise and direct, and I don’t blame her for being or feeling led on.
In Colum‘s study, Jamie joins Dougal and Ned, who are discussing the rents. Colum greets him jovially at first, but then asks which of the three “weasels” want to explain Fort William to him, and whether or not the consequences of that will fall on his clan. Jamie assures him that Randall will make sure they fall only on him. Colum then asks Ned about the rent money, and when he explains that there is still “some of the livestock yet to sell off,” the Laird asks about “the money for the bonnie Stuart prince across the water,” and picks up the purse to show them that he has it.
Colum points out that at least Jamie looks guilty, but he disagrees, saying he owes no allegiance to James or Charie and his conscience is clear. Dougal does exonerate him when he explains that they only used Jamie’s back to “illustrate British justice.”
Although taken by surprise, Dougal tries reason to bring Colum over to his side, explaining that the people who gave them gold knew it was being raised to restore “the rightful King” and that the cause “is more important than any clan-or man.” Colum doesn’t take this well.
He angrily replies that THIS clan remains under the charge of THIS man” and since it is still his pleasure to determine what causes are supported, he determines that “Clan Mackenzie’s welfare comes before any King or country.”
When met with the unremitting wall of his brother’s disagreement, Dougal boils over into anger, listing the things he has done for his brother and what he expects in return, a list that gets JUST A BIT SH*TTIER the longer it goes on.
“I’ve proved my loyalty to you time and again. I’ve collected your rents, I’ve fought your battles, I’ve protected your person… for the love of Christ, I’ve even assured your bloodline! Now…I think that such fealty is worth a mere bag of gold. Don’t you?”
Jamie’s eyes widen at this last revelation, and even Ned flinches. Colum, although shorter and seemingly weaker than his brother hardens and vibrates with anger, his voice deadly quiet when he orders Dougal to “Leave my sight.”
Ned follows to try to calm Dougal, and Colum tells him that it is either that, or he “will do it for him.” Jamie, showing his usual ability to read the room, quickly excuses himself with assurances that his uncle probably wishes to chastise him at a later time. “Stay,” Colum bites out, and Jamie does, looking like a school boy.
In a truly surprising development, Colum lists all the things he did for Jamie, and then takes him to task for marrying a Sassenach, knowing full well that this meant no Mackenzie would back him as his replacement. It is a throwback to The Gathering, and it crystallizes the Laird’s position on his brother’s succession in one moment. Dougal is a good, strong arm, but a hot head, and Colum likely had hopes that his nephew would succeed him.
It completes the portrait of Colum as the man who first promised Claire her freedom and then reneged. Even when it comes to his brother and his wife, Colum does what is best for the Clan. The parallels to Claire and Jamie’s disagreement are strong: the brothers are in a partnership that is supposed to pull towards a common, united good, but differences in perspective threaten that unity. Added to this dynamic is the fact that both are acknowledged leaders, and men. Jamie answers his uncle with a platitude, saying that he “meant no such betrayal”.
Colum, done with everyone who doesn’t mean to betray him but does, turns his attention to his pet bird and tells Jamie to get out.
That night, Jamie tells Claire about what transpired in the meeting, and she states that she knew Hamish was Dougal’s from the moment she saw them playing in the courtyard. Jamie says he had heard the gossip and everyone in the room knew it, but it was the first time he heard Dougal proclaim it, and he thought “Colum was going to run him through right there.”
As they speak, Claire is readying herself for and eventually climbs into their lovely decorated bed, and Jamie’s speech becomes increasingly more disjointed and his eyes wider as they focus on his wife in her thin shift, and the parts of her he can make out through it.
He takes off his coat with his eyes glued to her breasts, and Claire, not missing a beat asks “What do you think you’re doing?” “Well, I thought I would…” Jamie says, looking at her in bed.
“Think again,” she snaps, pulling the covers high and turning her back to him. Jamie leaves the room, cursing in Gaelic. HAHA you poor horny optimistic bastard. I think they wrote a song about you once.
When Jamie goes to join the men for a stag hunt, Rupert and Angus are ganging up on Willie, who it turns out was Colum’s informant. He pleads his case, saying that he did as the Laird asked of him, but it is clear that the men assembled are not so loyal to Clan Mackenzie as they are to its War Chief. Jamie pushes Willie behind him and tries to diffuse the situation by gamely pointing out that there is only one Laird, but Rupert points out that this is Mackenzie business, and maybe the Frasers should butt out.
Dougal arrives and takes in the situation at a single glance. He casually points out that they are hunting for stag, and mildly asks, “Who’s with me?’ with a loaded look around at those assembled. Jamie and Willie avert their eyes and Murtagh, in a moment of sublime wordless communication, takes his sweet time spitting on the ground in what can best be compared to a George Carlin insult, if Carlin had only spoken in phlegm.
Not even Dougal can help but be amused, and the situation is temporarily diffused, although still simmering.
In a moment of privacy watering a rock, Murtagh tells Jamie that they should leave that very night, since Rupert was right and this is not their fight. Jamie points out that Horrocks was his only chance of exonerating himself, and that living as a fugitive would be hard on Claire. Murtagh suggests leaving her behind and coming back for her when they are able, but it is clear from Jamie’s expression that he doesn’t endorse that and he’s through taking marriage advice from unmarried Murtagh.
In any case, it’s not urgent, Murtagh says, since the Prince isn’t likely to sail any time soon-information which Jamie repeats with a canny look on his face.
The following day Jamie employs his natural skill for diplomacy (one of his defining traits in the books) on his uncle. He tells a resistant Colum that he must forgive his brother, and that while keeping the money may soothe his anger in the short-term, it will not promote long term-peace. Colum brings up his warring clansmen, and the fact that he would be inciting treason.
Jamie, in turn, makes strategic use of Murtagh’s earlier comment: Bonnie Prince Charlie’s situation is nowhere near resolved, and his army just a faraway dream. If Colum appears to give his brother a token in the form of the money, he can keep the peace at home, and have time to scope out what is in the best interests of the Clan. Let Dougal play the rebel while he looks at both sides.
Jamie says that Dougal may be War Chief, but he knows that only Colum can call for war. It is an obvious ploy, but a compelling argument, and Colum asks him to go get his brother and Ned and bring them to him.
Dougal and Ned are brought back in, and stand facing Colum, who is staring at his pet bird, tied to his perch. Dougal finally loses patience and snaps, asking if there is a purpose to the meeting or if they are just meant to stand there all day, and you can see his brother rein in his temper before he turns around.
Colum walks up to his brother and says ruefully that one day he will talk his head off, “and right onto a pike.” He pulls his dirk out, and Dougal flinches, unsure.
Colum reminds him of the oath Dougal swore to him and asks what “a man’s oath is worth these days…perhaps a bag of gold?“ Dougal, offended, says that his oath to his brother was his oath to Scotland, and he has not broken either, nor will he. “We’ll see,” Colum answers, turning to his desk. He tosses Dougal the gold, and asks Ned to write a letter to the Duke of Sandringham, inviting him to a banquet in his honor. Dougal makes an off-color remark about how he should also tell the men to guard their backsides, and Ned snaps at him to guard his tongue, complimenting Colum on the wisdom of obtaining “the true measure of the Jacobite cause from an Englishman’s perspective.”
But Colum, outmaneuvered and out of patience, tells Ned it will take more than a compliment to get back in his good graces. “Get out of my sight, all three of you,” Colum says to the room at large, and they do.
This situation resolved, Jamie ponders the issue of his still-divided marriage, and while he is thinking on it by the river, Laoghaire comes by. She reminds Jamie that he promised they would talk.
It starts out innocently enough, with her revealing that she has been in love with him since she was seven. He points out that he is wed now, but she chalks it up to a gallant act of kindness, “marrying the Sassenach to spare her from the British”. Jamie says that it was “true that the marriage was arranged by Dougal but….” then seems to take an inordinately long time to come up with the end of that sentence. Did you have a stroke, Jamie? Did your tongue fall out?
Laoghaire uses the opening to tell him he does not look happy. “You look like you’re carrying the world on yer back,” she says, reaching for his hand and holding it. Jamie doesn’t only allow it, but strokes her fingers. I thought it was maybe the rage making my vision blurry, but no, I rewound! She tells him that the beating he took for her and later, the kisses in the alcove told her that he felt the same way she did. Jamie’s reaction? Silence.
So Laoghaire confidently plays her trump card. She tells him that while Claire was married before, she has not lain with anyone, and drops her cloak in the old-undergarments-under-the-overgarment-trick, placing his hand on her breast, naked under her bodice. Jamie could have…
…but no, in the age-old tradition of men who absolutely don’t want to f*ck someone, he squeezes her breast in a slow waltz beat while she leans in and tells him that she wishes him to be her first and only, whispering the last against his mouth. They sway precariously against each other for a few seconds until he pants out a “No“ and pushes her gently away with the hand he keeps on her breast for the first half of what he says next. “I made a vow, and I’ll no’ break it, not even for a lass as bonny as you. I’m sorry.”
I am sure I could consider that Jamie, newly awakened to sex and then denied it for an unspecified period could be forgiven for copping a feel, but I resist that train of thought. It feels out-of-character to me that a man who was outraged by Claire offering to share her room with him in “Rent” should not have stricter boundaries, and to say Jamie handles this poorly is a gross understatement, and not just because of Claire. Laoghaire is SIXTEEN, gently raised, in stupid, all-consuming first love and he uses her for selfish reasons. Saving me the need to swan dive into my TV set and kick Jamie in his very blue balls, the scene finally ends when Laoghaire, humiliated and rejected, runs off.
That night, Jamie comes into his room to find Claire brushing her hair. He tells her that speaking to Colum about Dougal has caused him to realize that there are times when you bend tradition. He says that in his father’s time and before that, if a wife disobeyed, a husband punished them… but maybe for them “it has to go a different way.” He takes out his sword, and kneeling before Claire, swears an oath of fealty.
When he is done, she stares at him wordlessly, and I am once again struck by how Jamie’s P.O.V. paints forthright, brassy Claire as a creature of mystery. He, and by extension we, cannot guess at her intent. Jamie asks if it is not enough, and if she wants to live separate.
She should want that, Claire says sternly, and Jamie gets ready to pull away… when her hand lands over his heart, and she whispers, “but I don’t.” Jamie places his hand over hers, and tells her that her ring was made from part of the key to Lallybroch, his family home. He wanted her to tell her when they visited it, so she would know it was part hers, too, although now they may never see it. Claire, guilty, is about to say something when Jamie interrupts. “The thought doesna pain me so much as it once might have.” He strokes her face and comes as close as he can to an admission of love without saying the words. “You are my home now.” Finally, a reconciliation.
Jamie then proves consent can be sexy as f*ck, telling Claire that he “wants her so bad he can scarcely breathe” and asking if she will have him. At her affirmative, they proceed to have the kind of sex that neighbors complain about and gleeful recappers rewind several times, then unexplicably blush at because they feel they are intruding .
Right at the beginning, Claire assumes the dominant position in more ways than one, pulling Jamie’s dagger out of its sheath by his head and holding the tip right to his carotid. While still actively body-^%$#@ing him, she mind$#@s him as well, going full Moriarty and telling him that if he ever lays a hand on her again, she “will cut [his] heart out and have it for breakfast.”
At his wild-eyed nod of acknowledgement, she tosses the dagger and then proceeds to get flipped like a pancake, Jamie grabbing her breast and growling to her that she is his. It is energetic, athletic, and not a little confrontational, this sex. It’s also pretty hard to get a screen cap without naughty bits, so here’s what I came up with. It’s pretty explicit.
When it is over, Jamie asks Claire what she meant by “fucking” and “sadist” and she explains both with a grin. He laughs and says that while she does not flatter him, he can’t fault her reasoning. They are very sweet to each other, Jamie tapping her nose and she teasing him.
When Jamie appears ready for another go, however, Claire confesses that she is “ravenous” and he reluctantly agrees to go to the kitchen for something to eat, pulling his kilt out from under the bed. As he does so, Claire notices something under there and pulls it out. It is a rough sort of poppet, and when she asks Jamie what it is, he tells her it is “an ill-wish.” Claire asks who would have put it under the bed, and Jamie comes to the same conclusion as we do, biting out what I am sure is the first of many an annoyed “Laoghaire”‘s.
Thanks for reading until the end! if this is your first time finding me, feel free to read my other Outlander recaps, archived here, and see you back for 110, “By the Pricking of My Thumbs”! For updates and other nonsense, follow me here or on Twitter at @conniebv