This week, the series came roaring back with the goodness. Last episode was the troublesome middle child in the Fraser Reunion Trilogy, but this week resolved all my issues with 307. 308 was all the things I love about Outlander: real talk, athletic sex that serves the story, a successful Bechdel test, emotions, Science!Claire and more fun words (kebbie-lebbie, Hogmanay) than you can shake a stick at.
[Quick personal update: Still doing the recaps, just very slowly. I knew the moment the series changed from summer to fall that I would likely not be able to keep up, so for the meantime there are these, and recaps to come when life slows down.]
Spoilers ahead for episode 308.
Here are five takeaways:
The Gideon of Scotland. For a dude who is nominally childless, Jamie sure does have a lot of kids. Only William and Brianna are of his body, but besides Fergus and now Young Ian, we find that he has played father figure to Laoghaire’s two daughters, and that he was upset when his nephews didn’t recognize him upon his return from Helwater. Jamie genuinely loves children, and enjoys their company. The two young men closest to him, Young Ian and Fergus, differ in that one was bred in a whorehouse and is no stranger to crime, and the other raised in a peaceful home, with only the stories of his uncle’s (mis)adventures to aspire to. The real kicker with children is that as much as you counsel them with words, it’s the actions that they mimic, and Ian Sr.’s advice to Jamie to be mindful of Ian’s love and tendency to follow him “like a puppy” proves to not only be accurate, but premonitory.
Dishonorable Second Wife. Whatever else you can say about her (mouth like a sailor, cute daughters, fine ability to sew a pleated cap) maybe the most relevant thing, to me, is that Laoghaire MacKenzie MacKenzie MacKimmie Fraser is a woman who courts unhappiness. I never hated this character like a lot of people did. I have a lot of sympathy for her early unrequited love of Jamie. I think her setup of Claire was more heedless than evil. To me, she is more of a cautionary tale about the dangers of drawing self-worth solely from the object of one’s affection. As a young woman, Laoghaire let her feelings for Jamie and an assumed moral superiority over Claire draw her into sinful and criminal behavior. As an adult, holding on to her unhappy union with Jamie supersedes everything. She is not above using her children, a gun or the law. And I don’t think it’s because Laoghaire truly values what Jamie provides. She’s an attractive woman, and could still marry elsewhere. The reason Laoghaire balks at giving Jamie up is because having him is the sole thing that has given her life meaning, and if he goes, he takes her identity with him.
Ghosts of Past and Present. For all the comparisons that can be legitimately drawn between Frank and Laoghaire — most obviously the fact that they both failed miserably in their chance at happiness because the person they loved would never love them back, and their resulting bitterness — what struck me most deeply was their differences. Frank wanted to make things work with Claire, but ultimately decided to let her go. Laoghaire and Jamie seemingly struggled from the very beginning, but even when the end was inevitable Laoghaire turned to violence rather than accept the inevitable. Frank and Claire both struggled to put parenting Brianna first, while Laoghaire thinks nothing of subjecting her daughters to their stepfather’s humiliation, leaving Jamie to console little Joan and assure her of his love. It’s not the first time I’ve thought that, after all is said and done and for all her own suffering, Claire was much luckier in their life apart from each other than Jamie.
If You’re Coming for Jenny Murray, Make a U-Turn. The world according to Jenny Murray might have shades of grey in it, but probably only two or three. She is, without a doubt, the best representation of the moral compass of the time. Jenny’s greatest asset is her ability to see directly into the heart of a matter. Her greatest failing is her resistance to applying that insight inward. She may have seemed hard, but when Claire first came back, Jenny gave her a brief opportunity to come clean. When Claire attempted to resume their old closeness without its accompanying honesty, that door shut tight. Instead, Jenny hastened to arrange matters to lance the infection she saw poisoning her family. Not even Ian agrees with the way she dealt with the situation, but where other people have self-doubt, Jenny has a gold-plated statue of herself giving herself a thumbs-up. I may not always agree with her, but she speaks a lot of truth (love her pointing out that Claire went looking for Jamie last time she was told he was dead, and that by leaving him, she left the rest of his family, including Jenny herself). I can’t help but love a woman whose f*ck field is so very, very fallow when it comes to anything other than her family.
The Power of Love. One of the things I have always loved best about the story of Jamie and Claire is that neither is perfect in anything but their love for one another. Time and again it has served as both an inspiration and a reality check. As much as we all love to call him the King of Men, it’s instances like this that show how Jamie gained the wisdom he did to truly earn this moniker. He and Claire were not married long before their separation, and though his delay in telling her the truth was understandable, so is Claire’s disappointment. These are two people who have risked much to be together, and though it would be tempting to make their reunion all wine and roses to compensate for their time apart, it felt very satisfying to finally see the depth and complexity of these feeling exposed and discussed. Unlike last episode, this all flowed, it all felt rooted in genuine emotion. This is the part of marriage that almost no one shows on television: the constant reaching out, past hurt and pride, that ties each pearl and sinew of a lifetime together. The look, touch, or words from one heart to another to say, “Are you still in this with me?” “Are we okay?”
Man you guys, I have been NAPPING, but I figured I should start on my backlog of long recaps before the month is out and give all you folks standing in line at ComicCon something to read. Ready?
Also, remember when people complained that this episode was slow? HAHAHA. Oh, we were so young back then.
Open on a Claire and Jamie, riding towards Lallybroch and talking about the wonders of the modern world, such as air travel, which Jamie is curious about.
Suddenly, Jamie asks Claire her age. “I’m twenty-seven,” she answers, and he replies that he always thought she was his age, or younger. She asks if he is disappointed, and he replies that it’s only that when he is 40, she will be “245,” which sets up an age difference of about five years, minus a couple of centuries. She laughs, and suddenly he halts the horse. “There it is,” he tells her, and we get our first panoramic view of Lallybroch.
They dismount to gaze upon it, and while Claire says with a smile that it is just as he said it was, but Jamie remembers his last time there, and Randall’s attack on his sister, and his face falls.
As the walk the horse towards the entrance, Claire reminds her husband that those events are in the past, and he tells her that Dougal told him that there were rumors that “Randall had got Jenny with a bastard child.” Claire tells him that they are just rumors, but his “Aye,” seems unconvinced.
Upon entering the courtyard through the archway, Jamie once again flashes back to being tied up and whipped while Claire gamely approaches a small boy sitting outside and starts asking his name.
It is only a moment before his mother comes around the corner and we see her-Jenny, Jamie’s sister, pregnant and obviously not for the first time, as she has called the little boy ”Jamie.” Jenny is looking at her son, but her gaze is pulled to her brother, standing in the archway, and she drops her basket and runs to embrace him.
At this show of friendliness from his mother, the little boy runs over, and Jenny, who is tearfully chiding Jamie for his four years away with no word, smilingly introduces him to his uncle, who he was named after. Jamie’s face hardens, and he asks why she would name him so. At first she thinks he is ill, but Jamie speaks bitterly to her, asking if she does not think he has suffered enough that she must name Randall’s bastard after him, to reproach him all his life.
The joy is gone from Jenny’s face, and after sending wee Jamie in, she gives her brother the benefit of the doubt, patiently asking if he is saying she “played the whuure to Captain Randall.” Jamie doesn’t answer, lost in his memories and regrets and probably trying to forget he saw her boobs. Instead, he bemoans his sister’s fate, saying that he would rather be dead than see her dishonored.
Jenny listens with a sort of incredulity as he points at her belly and says, “And whose is this one?,” bemoaning that it’s not enough that she was dishonored because of him, but now she’s hung an “open for business” sign on her uterus and is using it to shoot another fatherless child into the world. “We shouldn’t have come,” he snaps at his silent, observant wife, and Claire tries to ask him to go inside, but she is cut off by a fed-up Jenny.
His sister tells Jamie that he should “Tell that trollop to keep her neb out of my business.” As he walks back to his horse, Jamie angrily points out that the trollop is his wife, and she should speak of her with respect. Jenny snatches at his arm and when he roughly pulls away, she threatens him with a technique she employed when they were children: grabbing onto his dangly bits to keep him still and attentive. I know the scene is meant to be dramatic, but I get SUCH joy out of Jamie acting like a normal little brother, and how easily she riles him.
Jamie is outraged that she should shame him in front of his wife, but Jenny retorts that if Claire is his wife, she imagines she is more familiar with his balls than she is, and you guys, mark 8:25 as the instant I fall in love with Jenny. She is fresh out of f*cks and not intimidated by someone she’s seen in diapers.
She brings up again that the last time she saw Jamie he was beaten bloody and hung up in the archway, and all this time she thought he was dead. They are both arms akimbo and glaring at each other, and when Jamie retorts by asking whose child wee Jamie is, his answer comes from a man with a wooden leg. Ian Murray, his sister’s husband.
He tells Jamie he is the father of both her children, and welcomes his old friend back. “You always knew how to make an entrance,” he says with a smile, and mentions that they thought him dead until only recently, when his chest of belongings came from Castle Leoch. Ian looks at Claire, wondering who she is, and she introduces herself as “The trollop. Otherwise known as Claire Fraser.”
Even if Jamie and his wife are now on good terms with Ian, when Jamie turns and attempts to speak gently to his sister, she is the one who is resentful and not disposed to listen, telling him he is a damned fool, and no wiser in the four years they have been apart.
Inside, Ian serves whiskey to Claire, who is being coy about her consumption but at least the two are speaking cordially, which is more than can be said for the Fraser siblings, who are silent, eyes downcast. Finally Jamie turns to his sister and asks to be told the story of what happened with Randall, and she tells him that she will tell it “once..and never again.” The entire time, she holds tight to her glass and mostly avoids eye contact, and my heart goes out to her.
After Randall knocked Jamie out, Jenny says, he took her by the hand and up the stairs of the house to a bedroom, talking the entire time. She can’t recall what she said, because her mind was racing, trying to plan what to do. “I was just trying to keep my wits.” Once in the bedroom, he smells her, makes her taste her brother’s blood and takes her hand, placing it on himself. It says something about the level to which I am sensitized to his
batsh*ttery that what struck me as the strangest, most disturbing thing
was Jack ghosting his lips over Jenny’s face and eventually, kissing her
It is just this, however, that finally gives Jenny an idea. She spots a candlestick nearby and reaching for it, hides it in her skirt as she turns and pulls Randall behind her, swinging back to hit him with it and dart for the door. She is not swift enough, as Randall catches her and pays back her attempt by throwing her against a wall, dragging her by the hair, tossing her on the bed, and backhanding her.
Back in the present day, Jenny remembers that, although she did not know it at the time, he was trying, quite unsuccessfully, to get himself “ready”, and the reaction it provoked in her. She laughed, and even though Randall struck her twice, she kept laughing. Present-day Jenny says that she does not remember why she laughed, only that it was the only thing she could think to do, and that she kept doing it because she could tell he didn’t like it.
At the time, Randall was trying to get her to lay on the bed, but after additional laughter he pushes her hard and her head strikes one of the posters on the bed. Jenny loses consciousness, and she tells Jamie in the present that when she woke, Randall was gone, and that was the last time she saw him. “Ye satisfied?” Jenny asks her brother.
Jenny points out that he was mistaken, and she expects an apology. Jamie, whether due to sheer little-brother orneriness or honest confusion, asks if he hasn’t already “said as much.” It isn’t Jenny who answers, but Claire, who tells her husband that no, he hasn’t, and that Jenny is right and deserves an apology. Jenny interjects to tell Claire that this is between she and her brother, and as she tries to explain herself, Jamie in turn interrupts her and asks to speak to Claire in private.
Once alone, Jamie tells Claire that she mustn’t embarrass him in front of his family and servants, and she points out that he is doing a pretty good job of that himself. Jamie tells her that she has a sharp tongue, “but there’s a time and a place for it.”
Claire is indignant that he thinks to be the judge of what those times are, but Jamie tells her that he needs her trust. “This is my family. My land…my time.” He points out that he is Laird and she, Lady, and they should conduct themselves as such. Claire tells him she’s “not the meek and obedient type,” and Jamie stands in for the fandom when he wryly says that he doesn’t think anyone would ever make that mistake.
He tells her that Colum’s wife, Letitia. She is known and respected as a strong woman, “feared even,” but she never gainsaid Colum in public, even if in private he “dodged a lot of crockery in his day.” Claire accepts this as a reasonable enough request, and jokes with Jamie to be careful, as her throwing arm is much better.
They go once again into the sitting room, and to break the uncomfortable silence, Ian asks Claire where she is from. She gives the usual response, but then looks at Jamie with a bit of wonder as she says she supposes that Lallybroch is now her home. Jenny is surprised to hear he is staying, and asks about the price on his head. Jamie tells her that he is expecting a pardon with Sandringham’s aid, and Claire adds that it has not yet come through, but they hope it does soon. “Never thought ye’d be so trustin’ of the English,” Jenny says tartly.
Even though everyone in the room notes the insult, Claire rises from her seat gracefully as a Queen and asks Jenny for water to wash up. “Been a difficult few days,” she says with a look of her own, and asks Ian about their trunk from Leoch. Ian says he had it put in the spare room, but Jenny notes that if they are staying, they should have the spare room and asks a servant to have her things moved to the North room. Claire politely declines to put her out, but Jamie singsongs that it is the Laird’s room after all…in a tone that seems designed to needle his big sister.
Upstairs, Jamie hauls in the chest while Claire tells him about the “whirlwind” as the servants took the Murray’s things away. Jamie looks around, once again lost in memories that he relates to a smiling Claire as they occur to him: where his father kept his book, his boots and finally, his sword.
She identifies it as Viking, and looks at it while Jamie tells her that the Laird’s room was sacred, and he used to slip in and hold it when his father was out in the fields. Claire points out that it is now his, and he corrects her. “Ours.” Claire repeats it, and he says that his father built the house, his blood and sweat in the stones, and now it is also where his bones are, buried out in the graveyard next to his mother and brother Willie. This causes Claire to ask the last time Jamie saw his father, and he responds, “It was at Fort William,” about a week after the first flogging.
Flashback, Fort William. As two soldiers drag Jamie down a hallway, Brian Fraser calls his name. Jamie is surprised to see him there, and Brian informs him that he had come to have a word with Captain Randall to see if they could get him out. Jamie immediately apologizes to him for what happened to Jenny, but Brian tells him that what happened was not his fault, and he knows that he was flogged.
One of the soldiers interrupts to tell Brian curtly that “Captain Randall is waiting” for Jamie, but Brian cries out to them that this is his son, and do they not have compassion? The soldiers pause, and Brian addresses his Jamie. “Remember ta pray, and I’ll stand by ye no matter what happens.” Suddenly, he reaches out and embraces his son, kissing him on the cheek and activating all my tear ducts.
One of the soldiers pushes him off and starts to take Jamie back down the hallway, and as he does, Brian calls out after them. “Ye’re a braw lad, son!” Ellen, girl, I can’t hate. This man. I can see where Jamie gets it.
The soldiers take Jamie to Randall’s office, where the Captain tells him he just met his father, who is worried about him.
Randall also mentions that he was disappointed to hear that Jamie’s charges are so serious that he can’t be released on bond without a written clearance from the Duke of Argyll. You waiting for the other shoe to drop? ME TOO. “The thing is, Randall says, “even if he does succeed in getting such a clearance, which I doubt, it would be impossible for him to make it back in time.” I quoted this entire line because it encompasses two of what I believe are the traits that make Randall so chilling: his ease of manner and his reasoning. Buffalo Bills are easy to distance oneself from. How much harder to do so from Hannibal Lecters. It’s a quality that never fails to terrify, turning the familiar into the other.
Randall says to Jamie that it is a shame that they got off to such a poor start, as if flogging the back off someone were akin to serving them cold tea.
Jamie must think the same, because in the flashback his head jerks sharply up, and the older version of him shakes his head at the window in Lallybroch. Older Jamie tells Claire that only a week before, Randall had flogged him “near to death,” and that he didn’t understand him. Randall kept talking. “He likes to do that. Likes ta play with his toys.” In the end, Jamie tells Claire that Randall was quite blunt about what he wanted. When she asks what that was, Jamie answers simply, “Me.”
At Fort William, Jack explains his “quite simple” plan to the young Jamie: “Give over to me. Make free of your body…and there will be no second flogging.” Jamie looks away, clearly shocked by the request.
“And if not…”
Randall walks over to him and worms a finger into the neckline of his shirt, inserting it into a cut as Jamie jumps and hisses in pain.
Back in Lallybroch, Jamie explains that his back was still raw from the first flogging, he could barely handle the touch of his shirt, he felt dizzy every time he stood up and that he couldn’t imagine being bound and flogged again, being helpless… Claire listens, silent and teary-eyed.
Even if he had no real idea, he thought “being buggered” would perhaps be less painful and over quicker than a flogging, not to mention Randall told him he would be set free the same day…so he considered it. Jamie looks down as he says this, not at his sympathetic wife’s eyes, and Claire, eyes full of tears, walks across the room to put her arms around him.
Jamie does not look down, but his arms wrap around his wife as well, as he tells her that he could still feel his father’s kiss on his cheek, and the thought of what he would think of him–not for the buggery, he would not have cared nor given it a thought–for giving in stopped him. “For letting that man break me. So I couldn’t do it.”
In the flashback, we once again see Jamie being flogged, and he tells Claire that Dougal was there, as well as his father, though he did not know that at the time. About halfway through, Jamie fell, and Dougal said they thought he was dead, and that Brian “let out a small sound and dropped like a rock, and didn’t get up again.”
Back at Lallybroch, Jamie tells Claire he didn’t see his father there, die, carried away, or buried. He has not even seen his grave. Claire, bless her rational little heart, asks him if he thinks that giving in to Randall would have made a difference. In her opinion, Randall would have still had him flogged, “just for the sick pleasure it gave him.” Jamie sniffs ruefully, and tells her they’ll never know. Just then Jenny knocks on their door and crabbily asks how long it takes them to get dressed, because supper won’t keep, and Jamie tells Claire they should get cleaned up.
Downstairs, dinner is just the chipper affair you would expect with two alpha females circling each other. Claire breaks the ice as only Claire can, grabbing the wine and pouring some first for Jenny, then for herself. Her sister-in-law asks if she has ever run a house, and Claire says no.
As the men walk in, chatting amiably, Jenny says that she will have a lot to learn about running a place like Lallybroch in the tone of a person who thinks maybe the other person is a moron. Claire responds that she can imagine it’s challenging, but that she is a quick study.
Ian sits down and tells Claire that she will get her chance, as Quarter Day is tomorrow. When she asks what that is, Jamie explains that it is like the Mackenzie’s collection of rents, except at Lallybroch the tenants come to them. Jenny explains that the money is sorely needed, as they have had poor harvests the past two years and are “piling debt upon debt.” Ian says with a smile that they can talk finances later, as tomorrow will be a time for celebrating the Laird’s return.
He and Jamie toast, but Claire is worried at the public nature of the affair, and asks if it is not risky before Jamie’s pardon comes through. Jamie starts to answer, but Jennie interrupts him, saying that their tenants are like family, and that “not a man, woman or child would think about betraying Jamie to the redcoats at any price.” Jamie hums at his sister, but spares her the talk about being submissive because I am assuming there’s a lifetime of “just shut up” built there. Claire says “Of course” in an irritated tone, and Jamie tells Ian that he will look at the ledgers after they’ve eaten.
Once again, Jenny interjects with her unsolicited opinion, and tells her brother that she thought he would visit their father’s grave. Jamie says in a reasonable tone that he will go the next day, but Jenny will not let it go, saying that if Brian were alive, he would expect a visit that evening. “If he were alive,” Jamie finally responds, irritated, “he’d expect me to go over the ledgers and prepare for Quarter Day.” Jennie sighs, hands over her belly, and tells him to suit himself. The tension is palpable as the four begin to eat.
Quarter Day. Jamie is dressed up in his father’s coat and looking dapper as his tenants come to greet him and be introduced to his lady. Trust this production team to remember the small details, as Claire is gifted with a small vase, in the same blue and white tones of the ones she once admired outside a shop in Inverness.
As she admires it, Ian pokes his head out to ask Jamie if he’s ready to begin, and Jamie follows him in, leaving Claire to greet the later arrivals. Inside, the atmosphere is warm and jovial as the tenants who have already paid entertain themselves, the women chat and children run around. Even Jennie is laughing as she speaks to the other women, but she still keeps an eye on Jamie and Ian across the room.
Jamie greets the tenants affably, while Ian enters the payments into the ledger. One tenant, Duncan, only pays half of what he owes. When Ian advises him of this, he apologizes, saying he and his wife lost a cow to illness two months ago. Jamie dismisses him with an assurance that he can make it up next quarter, when he is sure things will be better.
Duncan thanks him for his “understanding and mercy” but Jamie says it is no mercy. He reminds him that his father was a good man who was farming the land when Jamie was a child, and asks Ian for the money Duncan just gave him, He gives it back to him, saying that he will not “squeeze the last penny out of him when times are hard.”
He continues in a louder, more stentorian tone than we usually hear from him to say that this was his father’s view, and his as well. Ian looks uncomfortable, but says nothing, and across the way, Jenny watches.
Outside, Claire is talking herbs with the local wives when we see a boy of around eight steal a bannock from the table holding the food gifts.
A man, presumably his father, catches him as well, and slaps him three times before Claire makes her way over there. She introduces herself to the man by her married name and title, and he ignores her, telling the boy that he told him there would be nothing for him and placing the stolen bannock back on the table.
Claire exclaims in exasperation that there are plenty of bannocks, and his only response is to look directly into her face and comment that people had said that “he had married a Sassenach.” Claire replies coolly that this is correct, and asks if she can be of some assistance. The man shakes his head and says that the boy just has to learn to do as he’s told. Claire offers politely to take the boy off his hands for a while so he can enjoy himself with his friends.
He accepts, but not before warning her not to fill his head “with any of that English claptrap” and his son to behave. He shoves the boy aside and leaves, and when Claire reaches a hand to him, the boy flinches. She tells him it’s okay, and with one last annoyed look behind her and a gentle hand on his back, leads him inside to the kitchen to get something to eat.
Once inside the boy runs to Jennie, and she looks worriedly at the red welt on his cheek. Claire mentions that his father was “very rough” with him. The boy is rubbing absentmindedly at his back, and Claire asks him if it is sore. When she raises his shirt, there is a giant bruise on his back that Jamie can see from across the room, which causes him to come over and ask about who did that.
Jenny answers that it is not his concern and takes the boy off to find the housekeeper, but Claire tells him that it was his father, and that she saw him beat him outside. Jamie tells her he remembers the man, MacNab, but then gets drawn away by Duncan, who asks him to have a drink with him.
Claire calls after him, asking if they shouldn’t do something about it, but Jamie doesn’t respond, and she heads upstairs alone, visibly annoyed.
Later that night, a drunken Jamie stumbles into their bedroom trying to undress quietly so as not to wake his wife, but is unsuccessful. Claire huffs awake and tells him that she’s “seen elephants sit down with less impact.“
Jamie mutters to her in Gaelic, and when Claire asks for English he leans over to shake her hip and replies that she is a Scot now, and should work on her Gaelic. “Where have you been?” Claire replies, and Jamie replies that he’s been out with MacNab. He says he tried to reason with him, but in the end had to “show him the difference between abuse and discipline-with these,” and to illustrate, taps Claire on the rump with his hand.
He then tells her that he finally had to warn him that if he ever saw evidence of abuse on his son that he would “have to answer to Laird Broch Tuarach-that’s me,” he clarifies with another tap to her rump. “Yes, I know,” Claire says, eye rolling so hard it’s a wonder she doesn’t pass out. Jamie slumps amiably over her as she tries to go back to sleep, and ignores her comment that he reeks to ask if she has actually seen an elephant. Claire’s side-eye is epic.
“Yes. Rode one, too,” she says smugly, but Jamie is worn out, and he flops on the bed mumbling that she will have to tell him all about it. A second later, he is snoring, and although Claire shrugs off the rest of his weight with an annoyed grimace, she watches him sleep for a moment and settles back down with a smile on her face.
The next morning, Laird Broch Tuarach is late to breakfast, hung over and unable to eat. Claire serves him some “hair of the dog,” and he sips gingerly, telling her he thinks he may need the whole hound. Jenny sweeps in to tell him that Ian informed her he didn’t collect the rents the day before.
Jamie tells her it’s been a hard year, as she herself said, and as Laird he decided to give the tenants a break. Jenny counters that they certainly won’t be at ease when the estate goes under because they can’t make ends meet. Claire gently suggests they postpone the conversation until Jamie is feeling better, but Jenny goes on, reminding Jamie that he has “saddled [them] with another mouth to feed,” because thanks to their talk last night, Rabbie MacNab’s father threw him out.
He said “If Jamie Fraser thinks he can be a better father, he can damn well pay for his upkeep.” Claire points out that Jamie was trying to help, and that clean clothes and bannocks weren’t likely to stop the boy from being beaten. Jennie strikes back, asking if they think life started when the two of them walked in. She explains that she and the boy’s grandmother had been working on MacNab’s sister to take Rabbie, and asks Jamie if he didn’t even think of talking to her before he “pulled out [his] fists?” She may have gotten somewhere until she asks him if that is how their father would have handled things.
Jamie jumps up, his face inches from hers and snarls that he is Laird now, and does not need to discuss the running of the estate with his sister. Jenny, however, is not at all intimidated, and her voice drips with sarcasm as she uses his formal title to beg his pardon and flounce out.
Jamie takes two steps after her, but she shuts the door behind her and he does not open it. Instead he angrily flings his napkin down and grabs a bannock, biting into it as he glares through the door through which his sister just exited. Suddenly he chokes and spits it back out, calling for Mrs. Crook. He tells her the bread tastes “like it was made with pebbles,” and she tells him that it is because the mill is not working properly, and they had to grind the flour by hand.
Jamie asks what is being done and she tells him that the mistress Jenny had him send for a Davy McAndrews to fix it, but Jamie gets up and says he will do it himself.
Once at the mill, Jamie discovers that the wheel isn’t turning, and guesses that something must be caught in the sluice.
He quickly strips off his boots and kilt to go into the pond to investigate, and the music rises to cover the collective sigh of every homo sapiens who has been yearning to revisit the view of his backside.
Claire watches him approach the water in only his shirt, saying worriedly that he will freeze to death, and Jamie agrees with a grin. “At least ye’ll be able to serve decent bannocks at my wake.”
He climbs in, cursing at the frigid water as it envelops his lower half. Suddenly Jenny’s voice is heard griping that Mrs. Crook told her “the stupid fool” had come up there. Claire is concerned that she is running around in her condition, saying that there was no need, but Jenny grasps her around the shoulders and quickly spins her around. “Aye, there was,” she says grimly.
Six English soldiers are riding their way, and Claire sees them just as Jamie does, rising up out of the frigid water only to dive back below to hide. Jenny pushes his clothes and boots under her and pulls Claire close to sit down next to her, spreading their skirts out as a cover. She urges Claire to stay silent to hide her English accent, and pastes on a cheerful grin just in time for the soldiers to stop. Jenny attempts to make them leave, saying cheerfully that if they have stopped for grain, the mill wheel is not working just now.
Instead of moving on, however, an officer dismounts and asks what is amiss, walking towards the mill. When Jenny tells another solider that he should call him back instead of letting him meddle in things he doesn’t understand, the soldier reassures her that the Corporal’s father owns a mill in Hampshire. “What he doesn’t know about water wheels would fit in me shoe,” he says, as we see the Corporal from Jamie’s view, still underwater.
The corporal suddenly calls out that he’ll have to go under to see what’s harming the wheel. As he takes off his bag and prepares to undress, the wheel suddenly starts to move. The corporal exclaims, wondering at it, and when he turns, sees Jamie’s shirt in the spokes. He picks it out, proclaiming it “perfectly good,” and hands it to one of his soldiers, asking how he thinks it got stuck. “It’s Scotland, Sir,” he says wearily, and with an apologetic glance at Jenny and Claire, the Corporal mounts and the soldiers ride away.
Claire jumps up at once, shouting her husband’s name, and he bursts out of the water naked as a newborn. “Blessed Micheal defend us!,” Jamie exclaims, reading my mind. He attempts to get out, covering himself with one hand, but is not prepared for Jenny to come over to chastise him. He turns around to preserve his modesty, shouting at his sister to please turn around so he can get out “before [his] c*ck snaps off.”
Jenny is still for a brief moment as she finally sees the network of scars on his back, and with a sudden, silent intake of breath, turns and runs away. Claire notices this and is grim-faced, snapping at Jamie when he asks what the hell Jenny was doing there. “Heard about the redcoat patrol. She was just trying to warn you,” she tells him, turning and following her sister-in-law. Jamie takes a moment to process this, and then climbs out of the water.
That night, Claire is wandering the halls with a candle pretending to haunt Jenny, looking at the family portraits.
Ian surprises her, kindly joking that she is a night owl. At her agreement, he tells her that Jenny is “up with the lark,” but that he too has always been an owl. Claire holds the candle up to a portrait of a young girl with a bird, and Ian confirms that it is Jenny, and that as a child, she would heal any lame birds and have them eating from her hand.
Claire stares at the portrait and says nothing, and Ian asks if she is surprised that Jenny has a gentle side. Claire immediately denies it, then smiles a bit at Ian’s expression and admits “Perhaps a little.” Ian reminds her that his wife is a Fraser, which means “their hearts are as big and soft as their heads are thick and strong.”
He tells Claire that it was Jenny who cared for him after his return from fighting in France “with a stump of wood.” He also comments offhandedly that while it doesn’t slow him down much, it does hurt towards the end of the day. Claire asks if he has tired guelder rose or water pepper, and at his admission that he has not tried the latter, offers to make some for him. Ian says that Jamie mentioned she was a healer, and asks if she has seen many mangled men.
“Jamie hadn’t,” Ian replies, and tells her that her husband tried to hide his initial shock when he first saw Ian’s injury. Then Jamie brought him back, and Jenny made him whole again. “Is that why you married her?” Claire asks, and Ian laughs, asking her in return if she thinks he had any choice in the matter. He tells her he was mending a fence in the field one day, and she came to him “like a bush covered in butterflies,” and though he doesn’t remember what she said to him at first, it ended with her kissing him and telling him they’d be married on St. Martin’s Day.
He says he tried to explain to her why he could not, but before he knew it he was in front of a priest saying “I take thee, Janet…” Claire laughs, and comments that Jenny is an extraordinary woman. Ian agrees that she is, “when she’s not being an outright stubborn-headed, pain-in-the-arse mule.” He tells Claire that once Frasers have dug in their heels, there is no budging them, and that she doesn’t want to get between them when their danders are up.
She asks him earnestly how he manages. Continuing his metaphor, Ian tells her that she can tug on the rope or give “a wee kick to their backside” and they might move- or she might get bit for her trouble. “And then what?” Claire asks. “Kick them harder,” Ian says seriously, and Claire sighs deeply, and nods.
Back in the Laird’s bedchamber, Jamie sleeps pleasantly as Claire walks in.
She pauses for a moment by the door, watching him, and then reaches over quick as a snake and tugs the sheets tight around him, causing him to wake when he topples off. “Good. Now I have your attention,” Claire says sternly. She kneels down next to him and tells him to listen to her. She did not marry the Laird of Lallybroch, she tells him. She married Jamie, who has been scarce since they walked through the gates.
“That’s who I am-” Jamie tries to interrupt, but Claire isn’t having it. She reminds him she is speaking, and he can do so once she is done. She bluntly reminds him that his father is dead, but even if that were not so, Brian would give him a thrashing for the way he has been acting. “You’re trying to be someone you’re not, and in the process you are wrecking the family that you do have left,” she says urgently as he listens, serious. “And if you’re not careful, you’re going to lose them, too.”
The next day finds Jenny climbing the path to the cemetery, where Jamie stands paying his respects to his father’s grave. His sister startles him, and when he admits it, she jokes that he must have thought for a minute that it was a ghost.
There is an uncomfortable pause as the both realize that they are, in fact, in the presence of ghosts, and they speak as one, both saying the others’ name in a chagrined tone. Jamie asks her to speak first, and at her nod, hands her the rent he must have gone back and collected from the tenants. Jennie is surprised, but takes the money.
Jamie also offers to speak to Rabbie’s aunt, but Jenny waves that away, saying that even if she had agreed to take the boy, it likely would not have lasted, as the woman has too many children of her own. She admits that Lallybroch is a better place for him, and that their father would have thought so as well. “Aye,” Jamie admits softly, and they exchange a tiny smile.
He immediately admits to his sister that he was wrong not to consult her, and that he is sorry for it. When Jenny does not look up, he adds, “Truly. I hope to do it different in future.” She lifts her gaze then, and her eyes are red. She tells Jamie that she is the one who wronged him, and she is “so ashamed.” “Of what?” her brother asks, and cannot look at him as she admits that when their father died, “a small, dark part of me has blamed you for his death.” Jamie is stung, but says nothing.
Jenny explains that when she was told that Randall flogged him and that seeing it is what killed Brian, she thought he must have shot his mouth off, “acted without thinking of the consequences, as you have done all your life,” or done something else to bring it upon himself. Jamie opens his mouth to say something, but she starts to cry in earnest, talking about when she saw the scars on his back at the mill pond, and how they must have been “laid down with such…fury…” Jamie interrupts to tell her not to worry about it, but she continues, admitting on a sob that it was her fault that Randall beat him so.
If she hadn’t mocked him, she says over her brother’s protests, and given him what he wanted, then he wouldn’t have treated him as he did and their father… She can’t finish, bursting into sobs, and Jamie croons to her in Gaelic and holds her.
He admits that he did anger Randall at Fort William, and that he spent the past four years blaming himself for Brian’s death because of it. “But now you know better?” Jenny asks, her face still buried in his chest. Jamie grins and kisses her forehead, fixing a strand of hair that has come loose.
He tells her he knows that it is not her fault, or his. “There’s a devil in that man that no one can influence,” he says darkly. “The only one responsible for putting father in his grave is Jack Randall.” Jenny nods, accepting the truth of this. Jamie tells her that it did bother her that she went with Randall to save him, and that he would have died to spare her. Jenny sounds back to her old strong self when she replies. “And if yer life is a suitable exchange for my honor, tell me why my honor’s not a suitable exchange for yer life?”
She tells him that if he is saying she may not love him as much as he loves her, it’s not true. “No,” Jamie says, smiling, and Jenny smiles back. “Welcome home, Laird Broch Tuarach,” she says, and Jamie walks over to place another kiss on her forehead. He puts an arm around her, and with one last glance at Brian’s grave, leads his sister home. I don’t have anything intelligent to say about the Jamie-Jenny conflict than no one knows where to strike better than a sibling, and nothing feels better than making up a fight with someone you love.
That night as Jamie readies himself for bed, Claire sits at their window and comments on the tower from which Jamie’s title originates, pointing out that for a “north-facing tower,” it has no face.
Jamie grins and tells her the door faces north, which makes her laugh. “Frasers,” she mutters with a smile. As Jamie walks over, she tells him hesitantly that she is starting to feel like she actually belongs there. Jamie pulls her against him and settles himself at the window, telling her that he knew she belonged with him almost since the first time he laid eyes on her.
He tells her that it was one of the reasons he agreed to marry her, though not the main one. Claire, intrigued, asks what the main reason was and Jamie replies with a playful growl that it was because he wanted her “more than he had ever wanted anything” in his life.
Claire smiles, turning to kiss him. He continues, telling her of the moment he fell off his horse and woke up in the dark, looking at her face. Then, he tells her, was their long shared ride, “with that lovely round arse wedged tight between my thighs”-at this he palms the part in question-”and that rock-solid head thumping me in the chest.”
Claire smiles, asking if he agreed to marry her for her round arse and rock-solid head? “I wanted ye from the first moment I saw ye,” Jamie says tenderly, “but…I loved ye when ye wept in my arms that first night at Leoch.” Claire is visibly touched, but Jamie continues, telling her that now he wakes up every day and finds he loves her more than he did the day before. They kiss, and when they break apart, Claire looks into her husband’s eyes in the moonlight and quietly says, “I love you.” Jamie pauses, smiles, and carries her off to bed.
The next morning a very satisfied-looking Claire awakes to find Jamie is not in bed with her.
She emerges from the bedroom, dressed for the day, to overhear Jamie arguing with someone. She takes a look over the balcony to the parlor below, to see her husband held at gunpoint by a man advising him to stay silent as a lamb, lest the “lovely lass” have to scrub his brains off the floor.
Jamie turns slowly to make eye contact with his wife, shaking his head minutely in the negative as Claire stands frozen, a horrified look on her face.
Thanks for reading! If you liked it, here is a list of my other recaps for the season, and I will be catching up on these long S1 ones during the hiatus. Follow me here or on Twitter @ conniebv (omit the space) for more fun!