I can’t go on.
I’ll go on.
~Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
We stumble. We stutter. We rise. We are lifted. ~Anthony of Padua
Scotland, 1968. At the Reverend Wakefield’s house, Roger get his link analysis on, narrowing the Jamie search window to 1766 by theorizing that time has passed at an identical twenty-year rate for both Jamie and Claire.
Brianna and Claire are looking though prison records, but there’s no mention of Jamie. As they talk, Fiona stops by with tea and scones, and her admonishment to Roger to eat more prompts Bree to vividly imagine those two frolicking like shih tzu puppies.
Her expression is so syrupy that Roger winces at the unspoken implication, but Claire doesn’t notice at all. She has found Jamie’s name on the prisoner list for Ardsmuir Prison, number 7, James Fraser. Looking through the prisoner rolls, Roger determines he was there from 1753 to 1756, when the prison closed. He and Bree head off to celebrate with some whisky, and a hopeful Claire is left alone to ponder the possibilities.
Helwater Estate, England. 1756. Lord Dunsany, his wife and two daughters arrive at the estate after an Italian holiday. Dunsany asks Evans, his butler, to bring “the new groomsman” to him at the house. That message telephones its way down the chain of command until the head groom gets to a serious Jamie, who is going by the name Alexander MacKenzie and sporting the entire front half of Molly Ringwald’s hair from Pretty in Pink.
John Grey told Dunsany that Jamie had fought at Culloden, spared John’s life and was honorable. Dunsany lost his son Gordon in the rebellion. Jamie concedes that “many good men were lost on both sides,” and Dunsany replies that he respects a man who fights for a cause. It comforts him to think that Gordon died for what he believed in, and as far as he’s concerned the end of the war meant an end to the quarrel — but not Lady Dunsany. She never got over her son’s death, and “carries a great hatred for any Jacobite.”
As Dunsany speaks, it’s obvious that the mention of his son still pains him, as well. Jamie picks up on it, commenting that the “pain of losing a child never leaves you,” and confessing that he’s lost two of his own. Dunsany seems touched, and after a moment of quiet reflection, resolves to tell his wife that Jamie is just a groom that came well-recommended by John, and not a prisoner. “But you are a prisoner, MacKenzie. Mind you don’t forget it.”
Scotland, 1968. Roger’s car is broken down on the side of a road, and he’s under the hood while Brianna teases him about Fiona’s obvious crush on him.
Roger downplays her interest as helpfulness, but when Bree drops that she initially thought Fiona was his girlfriend, the speed at which he rushes to explain how very, very single he is causes him to whack his head on the hood of the car. He has friends that are girls, he clarifies, but no girlfriend.
It’s the sort of adorkable moment that seems to characterize this particular ship, and they smile big, goofy grins at each other until Bree asks Roger to step aside so she can take over the car repair. She reaches in, pushes on something, and tells Roger to try the car again. It starts, and to Roger’s credit, there is nothing but frank admiration on his face as he asks what she did.
“Distributor cap was loose,” she says, and it’s another nod to her mother’s ability to fix systems, except Bree’s talent is mechanical instead of biological.
Helwater, 1756. Over in the stables, Jamie is being introduced to the grooms’ tradition of drawing straws to see who gets to hold back the urge to commit murder as they accompany the Dunsanys’ spoiled eldest daughter, Geneva, on her daily rides. Geneva is beautiful, bitchy, and oddly bears more than a passing resemblance to Claire. Even though Jamie isn’t selected, he gets to endure her verbal abuse while he readies her horse. “Hurry up, you useless Scotchman,” says the lady who can’t even dress herself.
Jamie is watching Geneva ride out, snarking about her needing a kick to the backside, when he is overheard by the younger Dunsany sibling. Isobel might seem plainer in comparison to her sister at first glance, but she possesses a practical nature and a dry wit, asking if he’s talking about the horse or her sister, and saying that even if it happened she doubts it “would do her any good.” When Jamie offers to saddle up a horse, Isobel says she didn’t come to ride, but simply to look at the horses.
Isobel expresses regret at the fact that her father keeps them captive, but Jamie reassures her that he’s seen a lot of stables and Helwater’s are the finest by far. “A cage is still a cage,” Isobel replies with surprising insight, and then instantly contradicts that impression when she begins to ask Jamie about John. “I’ve known the major since we were youngsters. I find him to be a rare and interesting person. I imagine he’ll make someone a good husband.”
Jamie, acutely aware of John’s preferences in the husbandly arts, gently tries to dissuade her from her obvious admiration by saying that the military and marriage don’t really mix, and that “the major’s passion lies in soldiering.” Isobel says that his dedication “to King and country” are part of what she admires the most about him.
Jamie gives up, because he knows what it’s like to be super into your English bae.
Scotland, 1968. Speaking of bae, Roger is wearing the heck out of some pants and Claire’s reading a book when the phone rings.
It’s Joe, calling from Boston to read his ‘Lady Jane’ and play Guess My Lunch. He offers to make a reservation at one of their favorite restaurants, and asks Claire when it should be for. “Soon,” she replies, and Joe doesn’t miss a beat. “What month is soon in?”
Claire can’t say, so Joe tells her instead about a patient of theirs that has to go into surgery, perhaps hoping to bait her into returning. When Claire tells him he can handle the surgery, he expresses surprise that she doesn’t want to do it herself.
Claire continues to be noncommittal, and hangs up.
Helwater, 1757. Lord and Lady Dunsany are enthusiastically extolling the virtues of the Earl of Ellesmere, to whom Geneva has just become engaged.
Less enthused is Geneva herself, who puts up grimly with his backhanded compliments, general boorishness, and mothball smell. While marriage to an older man was not unheard of at the time, I can still find it gross in this time. For his part, Ellesmere was warned to perhaps go for “a less pettish” girl, but pettish is his jam and he’s all about Geneva.
What he’s not for is gingers. When he sees Jamie, he makes sure to let the Dunsanys know that if he ever had a red-headed child, he’d “drown him before he drew his second breath.” He takes off, reminding his fiancée that it’s only a fortnight until their wedding. As his carriage takes off, Geneva’s gaze alights with interest on the fit, young groom who just attended her vintage future husband: Alex MacKenzie.
The next time the grooms draw straws, Jamie doesn’t draw the short straw, but Geneva requests that he accompany her. When they are riding, Geneva “demands” Jamie’s opinion of Ellesmere despite his saying it’s not his place to do so. “He seems fond of you,” he says diplomatically.
Geneva responds with the assertion that Ellesmere’s most attractive quality is his wealth. She then attempts some pretty bold flirting, and when Jamie notices, he deflects like a Jedi and sternly tells her that they should turn back before it gets dark. Geneva turns on the petty, reminding Jamie that he has to do what she says, and gallops off into the woods. Jamie waits for a moment, and goes after her.
Jamie hears a cry and comes upon Geneva, arranged becomingly on the forest floor, eyes closed. He rushes over to pick her up, and she starts to giggle about how she knew he’d do what she told him. Jamie, annoyed past thought, drops her hot-potato style right into a muddy puddle. To her credit, Geneva laughs it off, gleefully calling after him that she looks forward to their next ride. I don’t think she means on a horse.
At some unspecified later date, John is doing his quarterly Jamie wellness check/checkmate. He tells him that the Dunsanys are pleased with his work, and Jamie teases him about chess. Then they take a cool minute or so to just grin at each other. It’s clear their friendship has been restored, and is in good standing.
Onto this idyllic scene walks Melton, with a Dunsany sister on each arm. Both Hal and John are surprised to see each other, but Hal is most surprised to see Jamie. Geneva introduces him as MacKenzie, and she and Isobel both allude to their supposed prior acquaintance as master and servant, and what a loss it must have been to the Greys.
Hal plays along, although with two short lines he renders a succinct, savage judgment on the situation as he sees it: “If it were up to me, I would never have let such a man go. But then, I’m not my brother.” Geneva intercepts the pointed looks Hal sends his brother, and cajoles Hal into coming back to the house to “catch up” with them over a game of cribbage.
Later, Geneva stops off to speak to Jamie while he’s unloading the dung he shoveled from the stables. Although he’s very obviously exasperated with her, at first Jamie plays along with her conversation when Geneva points out she could have told her father on him for dropping her in mud, and commenting on the “vile agreement” of marrying “a man old enough to be my grandsire” in three days’ time. But when Geneva asks him if he’s ever been married, Jamie freezes before answering. Claire is still a sore subject.
Her next comment outrages him entirely. “Then you’ll know what to do. When you come to my bed.” Jamie is like, “You cray,” and she’s like “How dare you” and he’s like “How dare YOU?” Jamie is amazed that a well-brought up young lady would make indecent proposals to a groom. (Jamie and I don’t read the same novels.) Geneva is just as outraged that her virginity should go to “a depraved old goat like Ellesmere.” By comparison (and let’s face it, even without comparison), Jamie is a gift.
Jamie doesn’t have much to say to this besides, ‘Good day,’ and it’s at that moment that Geneva lets the nuke in her back pocket fly. Suspicious of the closeness between Jamie and John, she got Hal drunk and found out Jamie is a Jacobite prisoner. Geneva threatens to tell her mother, who would have Jamie’s parole revoked, incarcerating him once more. Jamie loses his temper and calls her a “filthy wee bitch,” but all it does is turn her on because Geneva is what my sainted mother would call “a little sh*t.”
“That language suits you… Red Jamie,” she purrs. Jamie, internally OMFG’ing, attempts to reason with her, saying he is sorry for her brother but won’t go back to prison. But Jamie’s real name isn’t the only thing Geneva found out. She asks if he would go “back to Lallybroch,” and wonders if they would post soldiers there as a result. This knowledge of and threat to his family are the final straw, and the next time she tells him pointedly to come to her room that night, Jamie avoids her eyes when he nods in assent.
That night, Jamie sneaks into Geneva’s bedroom and she starts off trying for some intimacy, calling him by his real name. Jamie nixes that right away, on account of having sex under threats to his family, and tells her to call him Alex instead. Geneva tells him to disrobe, and Jamie takes off his boot and loudly tosses it across the room, which is what you do when you’re trying not to get caught having sex with the master’s daughter.
Geneva is trying to low-key sneak a peek at the goods, so Jamie tells her she can watch because Jamie is a generous lover. She is pretty into it, giving Jamie her best sex eyes, until he walks over and asks to touch her. When he goes to open her nightgown, Geneva flinches and whispers that she doesn’t know what to do. Jamie rushes to tell her they don’t have to do this, but she is firm. “I’m doing this for myself. I want my first time to be with someone like you.” Jamie, never one to deny a woman some agency, softens his attitude.
What follows is a surprisingly sexy, though impersonal combo of constant consent coupled with sex tips none of us will definitely be using. I think one of the reasons this scene is such a scorcher is because we’re watching 100% lust onscreen, though someone forgot to give Geneva the memo. When it is over, Jamie falls off to one side and asks if he hurt her, but though painful at first, she liked it. Not only that, she says she loves him.
Jamie is touched, but explains to her that what she’s feeling is “strong, but not the same as love.” Geneva asks about the difference, and Jamie sits up to hand her her gown while he explains that what they just did, she could have with any other man — it’s not particular. But love is “when ye give yer heart and soul to another, and they give theirs in return.”
Jamie is obviously thinking of his wife, and Geneva can tell.
Six or seven months later when Geneva visits her family with her new husband, the only person surprised to see her pregnant belly is Jamie.
Scotland, 1968. Fiona hands Claire a little pouch that she had once left with her grandmother. In it are Ellen MacKenzie’s scotch pearls. Bree comes in, all excited to tell her mother about the ship manifests at the National Archive in Edinburgh, when she notices Claire’s expression. “Mama, are you all right?”
Claire, touched by being called ‘Mama,’ hugs her and says she hasn’t called her that in a long time.
Later, sitting on the couch with Roger, Bree laments that she is “a terrible person,” and Roger laughingly agrees. Bree smiles, but then confesses that she and Claire have gotten closer since she found out about Jamie, but the closer they get to finding him, the more scared she is of losing her.
“I think that just makes you a daughter who cares about her mother,” Roger replies with the insight of the emotionally healthy. But Bree isn’t done yakking up her fears. She worries about something happening to Claire in the past, or that she may not be able or want to come back. Roger, done talking about Claire, uses the opportunity to make his move. He tells Bree that if that makes her a bad person, so is he.
Part of him hasn’t wanted to find Jamie “Because well, once we do, you’ll go back to Boston.” Bree, overcome, launches herself at his mouth like a sleek little ginger missile.
Roger looks a little dazed, and looks for a word to describe what that was. “Unexpected,” Bree supplies with a smile, and leaves the room. I didn’t expect a kiss so early in their story for these two, but it was a welcome surprise. They are cute as baby rabbits, and the expression on Roger’s face is one of the reasons Richard Rankin is such a good fit for this role. The subtle comedy he infuses into Roger balances nicely with Bree’s cheerful but more intense nature.
Helwater, January 1758. Isobel runs to tell Jamie to get the carriage and hurry with them to Ellesmere. Geneva is in labor, and something is wrong.
As the Dunsanys all rush into the house, Jamie finds out from a maid that Geneva is still bleeding, and that the baby is “a fine, healthy boy.” As she rushes off, Jamie takes a moment to let that sink in. He might not be able to claim him, but he has a son. Later that day, Jamie overhears Isobel crying.
Geneva was sitting up, laughing and holding the baby when she began to bleed again, and died. Jamie approaches Isobel to express his regret, but she slaps him. Both she and the earl know the child wasn’t his. Isobel from Geneva herself, and Ellesmere because he and Geneva never shared a bed. Leaving aside the fact that we saw the deed and Jamie didn’t do the bare minimum to prevent pregnancy… OH COME ON, GENEVA. YOU HAD ONE JOB.
“She was in love with you. She said that you lay with her. She made me swear not to tell anyone,” Isobel accuses. Jamie is shocked into silence, but he doesn’t even get the chance to respond. A maid comes running down to tell them that Dunsany needs Jamie, and they both follow her.
Up in the house, Ellesmere is loudly complaining to Dunsany about the fact that he paid virgin money for a non-virgin wife. He calls Geneva a whore, her son a bastard, and says he “won’t grieve for a woman soiled by the c*ck of another man.”
Dunsany is no slouch, shouting very highbrow insults at the earl, complaining that Geneva isn’t yet cold in her bed. As Jamie checks out the situation, he notices Ellesmere is holding the baby in one arm and a knife in his other hand. When Ellesmere intimates that maybe Dunsany knew his daughter’s state because he was the one that got her that way, Dunsany loses it, and pulls a gun on the earl.
Jamie manages to convince Dunsany to give him the gun so as to avoid harming the baby, but when Lady Dunsany asks to take the baby so Ellesmere can grieve, the earl shouts back that he’d rather “kill the bastard before I let you have him.” He lifts the knife as if to stab the child, and Jamie shoots. The earl falls down dead, the baby still curled in the crook of his arm. Jamie runs to pick him up, and one tiny, round eye opens and blinks at his father.
Jamie is exercising the horses in the woods when Isobel comes upon him, pushing the baby in a buggy. He sends the other groom on with the horses, and stops to ask about baby William, named after Lord Dunsany. “I call him Willie,” Isobel tells him, and Jamie smiles affectionately at the coincidence that his son is named after his beloved older brother. “”Tis a fine name.”
Isobel takes advantage of the opportunity to apologize for the way she spoke to Jamie the day Geneva died. She was angry, grieving, and needed someone to blame. “My sister was a difficult woman, and you were kind to her.” They look up to see Lady Dunsany walking towards them, and Isobel discreetly steps aside to let her mother talk to Jamie. While he waits for her, Jamie coos at Willie, calling him “a braw laddie, and “so wee.” His face glows with his affection. “Dinna fash yerself. I am here.” This is the first opportunity Jamie has had to interact with a living child of his body, and I can’t lie, I teared up.
Lady Dunsany tells Jamie that the coroner’s court met, and ruled Ellesmere’s death a “misadventure.” They thought that the earl, upset by his wife’s death, took his own life. Lady Dunsany thanks Jamie, and he says you’re welcome…and then things take a turn. “I know who you are,” Lady Dunsany says casually. “Not your name, but that you were one of Major Grey’s Jacobite prisoners.” LOUISA, YOU SCAMP.
Jamie apologizes for the deception, but she isn’t there to condemn. Grateful for her grandson, she offers to use her husband’s connections to have Jamie released from parole. She wants to know if he’d “like to go home to Scotland.” Jamie is thrilled, but then he looks down at a sleeping Willie and decides to pass…for now.
Lady Dunsany wants to know why, and he tells her times are hard in Scotland and he’s been able to send money back to his family. It works because it’s not the whole truth, but probably a real factor and I can’t fault Jamie for wanting to watch over Willie with so little left in his life to look forward to. “I would like to continue in your service, if you have no objection.” Lady Dunsany accepts, and tells him that if he ever wants to leave, he has only to ask.
Helwater, 1764. Baby Willie is now a strapping six-year-old, learning to ride his pony while Jamie leads him around.
Lady Dunsany, visiting with a friend, tells her that her family jokes that Willie “spends so much time with MacKenzie, he’s starting to look like him.” Later on when Willie is helping him clean the carriages, Jamie himself notes the resemblance between the boy and his own reflection in the carriage window.
Scotland, 1968. Claire, Roger and Bree are striking out at the National Archives. Love this glimpse of Denis Fildes’ portrait of Queen Elizabeth. They’ve been going through the ship manifest archives, but the last book they have left to inspect is from the 1630s, over a century earlier.
Roger checks with the clerk, but there aren’t any more. That’s it. Jamie’s trail has gone cold, and Claire is so frustrated she stops whispering and slams the antique registers down loudly. “Damn!”
They go to drown their sorrows like true Scots, at a pub where someone is reciting ‘Rabbie’ Burn’s “The Author’s Earnest Cry and Prayer.” Bree notices people staring at them, and a cranky Claire points out that it’s because she and Bree shouldn’t be at the bar.
Bree gestures to the woman reciting the poem, but Roger explains that she’s “the entertainment,” and suggests they could maybe move to the other, presumably more woman-friendly, lounge. Claire, heartsick and disappointed and frankly done with everyone’s shit, snaps “This is 1968. And we have as much right to sit here as any man.” You go, Claire.
Roger, probably the most emotionally intelligent character on the show, knows that what Claire is really frustrated with is the search for Jamie. He calls it “a little setback” and suggests going to all the western ports of call. Bree reassures her mom they will find him. Just then the performance ends, and Claire smiles at the memory of quoting the line about “Freedom and whisky” to Jamie. Bree says she will again.
But Claire doesn’t want to do what Mrs. Graham warned her not to, spend her life “chasing a ghost.” She proposes a toast to “all those [we] have lost,” and when she puts her glass down, she tells Bree it’s time to go home.
Helwater, 1764. Jamie has also made the call to go home, but when he tries to tell Willie, the boy is confused. “This is your home.” When Jamie clarifies that he means Scotland, Willie wants to go with him.
When Jamie tells him he can’t go, much less ride the horse he wants to take, it devolves into a tantrum where Willie reminds him that he has to do what he says. “I’m your master!” Jamie crouches down to his level and explains that “no” isn’t a word he’s likely heard much, but he’ll have to get used to it. Instead of listening, Willie runs and kicks over some of Jamie’s buckets.
An exasperated Jamie swats his behind, and Willie strikes back with the worst thing any parent can hear from his child. “I hate you!” Still, Jamie one-ups him pretty harsh. “And I’m not very fond of you just now, ye wee bastard.” The word seems to send the child into a rage, and he angrily demands that Jamie take it back.
Jamie is horrified as he realizes that this isn’t the first time his child has been called a bastard, and he hurries to apologize. “I should have never used the word. I’m sorry, my Lord.” Willie plaintively asks if he must go, and Jamie nods. The boy throws himself at ‘Mac’ for a hug, and as Jamie holds him, he whispers in Gaelic. “Don’t cry, my lad. It’ll be all right.”
Later in the stables, Isobel leaves John alone with Jamie so they can talk. In a foreshadowing of their conversation, he and Isobel’s outfits match. John found out through an unhappy William that Jamie is leaving.
He tells Jamie that although he feels they are entitled to their secrets, that he is right to leave because soon, anyone with eyes will be able to tell William is his. “Some sires stamp their get.” That sentence is flattering to no one, but what John is saying is that soon Willie will look into Jamie’s Fraser eyes with his own Fraser eyes and see himself looking back…at himself.
Jamie asks him to take a walk.
On that walk, he asks John to look after William in exchange for his body. Yes, you read that right and the line for babysitters starts behind me. “Dear God, that I should live to hear such an offer!,” John exclaims in amazement.
Jamie wonders if he is no longer wanted, but that’s not it at all. John will want him until he dies, but is just flabbergasted at the terms and says if he wasn’t aware of the emotion behind the offer, he might be offended. He switches gears to tell Jamie news of his own: he’s to be married. “To a woman?” Jamie wonders. John rightfully points out that it’s not like there are many other options open to him. Jamie continues to look a bit more perplexed than the situation warrants.
Not only a woman, but fellow Lord John fan Isobel Dunsany. John even did a trial run in London to make sure he could perform his husbandly duty, and I honestly don’t have words for how adorable I think that is. Jamie withdraws his objections when John tells him he is fond of Isobel, and tears up when John reveals that he will be able to care for William in Jamie’s absence.
It is a truly selfless, noble act born out of his love for Jamie, and Jamie recognizes it. “I’m grateful to ye,” he says, holding out his hand for John’s. “And you shall always have my friendship, if that has any value to ye.” He covers their two hands with his own, “A very great value indeed,” John replies. There’s a lot of manly mutual respect in this scene, and it’s hawt.
That night, Willie sneaks into Jamie’s room as he is preparing to pray, and notes that his grandmother said “only stinkin’ papists” burn candles in front of “heathen images.”
Jamie admits to being a stinking papist, and points out that the image is of St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things. He shows Willie how he prays for those he has lost: his brother Willie, his sister, his godfather, and his wife. Even though Jamie admits he doesn’t have a wife anymore, he still remembers her, and someday, he tells Willie, he’ll find a wife as well. “Or she will find you.”
Willie, bored by the wife talk, asks instead to be a super-cool “stinkin’ papist” like Jamie, and Jamie obliges when the boy promises not to tell his grandmother. Jamie wets his finger and makes the sign of the cross on Willie’s forehead, baptizing him “William James,” Willie’s “special papist name.” He also gives the boy a carved snake that looks like the one his brother gave him, and shows the boy his name carved on its underside.
Willie bemoans that he doesn’t have anything to give Jamie to remember him by. “Oh dinna fash, lad,” Jamie says ruefully. “I’ll remember you.” As they smile at each other, Walk Off the Earth’s cover of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall ” begins to play, and continues to play under the next scenes all the way through to the credits.
Scotland, 1968. Claire is in a crisp army green suit, methodically taking down Roger’s timeline all the way back to 1746 and pausing to muse over the “Battle of Culloden” index card and mentally berate Charles Stuart. Behind her, the blue lines on the white paper look like a negative image of the Scottish flag.
Helwater, 1765. Isobel, John and Willie stand outside the house to bid Jamie goodbye. Jamie rises from where he was crouched in front of Willie, and places a hand on his head as if offering up a blessing.
John, who is holding Willie’s shoulders, clenches his jaw and tries not to cry. Sensitive Isobel rushes to hug Jamie, and whispers “We’ll take good care of your son.” A tight-faced Jamie nods to John, then turns to mount his horse.
Scotland, 1968. Brianna comes down the stairs of the Reverend’s house carrying her luggage, wearing the same exact outfit she wore when she first stepped foot in the house. She briefly pauses to take in the framed saltire with its Stuart motto, and then she walks out.
The next scenes flash by in quick succession, and alternate timelines: Jamie is riding away when Willie breaks away from John to chase after him, shouting at him not to leave. Roger sits alone in the Reverend’s study, idly playing with the old toy plane he and Bree found in his attic. A plane takes off towards Boston, and Claire looks sadly out the window at Scotland, Bree next to her. Finally, John and Isobel hold on to a squirming Willie as they watch Jamie ride away. His eyes are red and his jaw clenched, but he doesn’t look back.
I got more into the overarching themes of this episode in my Deep Thoughts, but I want to get into one of the aspects that stayed with me, and that is the transformative power of loss. We have seen the ways that Jamie and Claire dealt with their heartbreak. Claire poured herself into her career and raising her daughter as a means of compartmentalizing her emotions. It was a fairly effective coping mechanism, except that now her daughter is grown and her career path set, she realizes she has neglected the part of her that craved the adventure of loving Jamie and sets out to recover that aspect of her self. Where Claire had Brianna to serve as focus for all her frustrated love, Jamie had no one. Even Murtagh, the only person who knew the truth of Claire’s origins besides himself, is lost to him. Unlike Claire, and with few exceptions, Jamie kept himself emotionally (and sometimes physically) isolated from human connection. And then fate intervenes (I won’t say chance, because Geneva was pretty determined to hit that), and Jamie has another child, and he is healthy and strong and a joy to him in lonely times. There aren’t many scenes between them, but from what we do see, Jamie is attuned to Willie, patient and more like the JAMMF of old than with any other character since Claire herself. He belongs to this child, and if he can’t have Claire, then he can have this. And then he can’t anymore. Whereas Claire chastises herself for “chasing a ghost” and makes the decision to withdraw back to her life in Boston, Jamie’s heart has been cracked wide open, and it’s a different man who leaves Helwater than arrived there. Jamie has recovered the part of himself that loves fiercely, and forever, and that need for affection and meaning is the basis of the next part of his journey.
Loss is perhaps the single thing we dread the most. The loss of love, of death, of closeness. For many people there is no other choice. There are no stones, no way to go back and recover the people we lose, or who we were when they knew us. To that end, it felt good and honest to give these characters’ choices context and space to develop. At the closing of the episode, both Jamie and Claire experience loss. They give something up, close a door behind them and worry that it will never open again. But loss wouldn’t impact them if they had never invested deep emotion, and their capacity to mourn is inversely proportional to their capacity to love. In life, as in Outlander, love is a risk, but despite the specter of loss, it remains one worth taking.