Previously on Outlander, “The Battle Joined”
As three little boys–Robbie McNabb, Jamie Murray, and wee Fergus–squabble over a shiny gun they find in the dovecote, Red Coats are marching into Lallybroch still in search of Red Jamie. It’s been six years since the Battle of Culloden, according to Jenny, and Jamie hasn’t been anywhere near the house that is no longer his. Whether it’s true or not (and there’s no way it’s true, right?), the new Red Coat commander makes sure Jenny, Ian, and everyone who lives there understand that Jamie is a traitor with a bounty on his head. Just for good measure, they haul Ian in and give him time to “think about it”, which has been happening every few months for six years while Jamie has been gone.
But Jamie is there, lurking around the woods like a ghost, coming home periodically to bring a fresh kill or balance the family checkbook. He’s a haunted man who speaks only in grunts and hard stares, and is in desperate need of a shave and a bath. You’d think a fugitive known for his distinctive red hair would work a little harder to keep that shit under wraps. When Fergus asks him for shooting lessons to prepare him “for the next rebellion”, Jamie’s terse reply is full of every thought he’s had for the last six years and hasn’t said out loud. Fighting lost him his land, his family’s safety, most of his clansmen, freedom from the British, indoor plumbing, and Claire. There will be no more fighting.
And whether he likes it or not, life does go on: Jenny is in labor the next time he makes it to Lallybroch, and an unfortunately timed gunshot brings the Red Coats a-runnin’. A quick cover story from Jenny and Mary McNabb keeps them from finding Jamie as they tear the house apart, but isn’t everyone exhausted from cutting it that close every time? It’s not until the same soldiers chase Fergus down and chop his hand off in the woods that Jamie snaps out of his fugue state. He rescues the little bastard from bleeding out and delivers him to Jenny for surgery; he realizes he does have something to live for, and it’s not just because he promised to take care of Fergus into his old one-handed age.
Truthfully, his family has been in nothing but danger in the name of his safety, and if he’s going bide his time living a hollow existence, he might as well be able to keep them safe while he does it. He and Ian hatch a plan where Jenny turns him in to the British, both receiving the bounty on his head and getting the Red Coats of their backs. It’s 6 parts madness, 4 parts genius—they don’t even hang Jacobites anymore!—and puts such a spring in his step that he lets old bag of bones Mary McNabb talk him into some sexy time on his last night of freedom.
On the day he arrives “back” at Lallybroch, he flashes that full Jamie smile for the first time in two episodes (and probably six years) before the Red Coats descend on him. Everything plays out exactly how he and Jenny scripted it, but it’s not until he’s being carted away and she screams out that she’ll never forgive him that he realizes he might not be doing Jenny any favors by getting out of her hair to go to prison.
Claire is being haunted too, and her dreams of Jamie at night drive her to do the unthinkable during the day: touch her husband. Frank and Claire make a pretty charming vignette, cooing over baby Brianna’s first roll-over, but Claire breaks the spell when she puts her hand on Frank’s bare shoulder for the first time in who knows how long. Later at night, when she can’t stand it any longer, she instigates a midnight roll around, but it’s not until she wraps her legs around him after a dinner party that he calls her out on it. It’s hard to believe your wife wants to be with you when she won’t even open her eyes to look at you. Poor, sweet, patient, understanding Frank finally has to admit that when Claire said she missed her husband, she didn’t mean him.
Claire throws herself into motherhood, because she doesn’t have a whole lot else going on, but years and an unflattering hairstyle later makes her realize that she’s got too many voids in her life to life with. In a room full of misogynist bigots who clearly have no regard for combat veterans, she becomes the first woman enrolled at Harvard Medical School. Claire is going to be a doctor!
A second watch with Closed Captioning changed the entire game of this episode. Maybe it’s just been while, but the brogues were extra thick this time around.
I wonder how many times in that ginger baby’s life one of them will have to stop themselves from saying “Clever like her father.” Every single time she hits a milestone, one of them will turn to the other and say “Who’s a clever girl? Clever just like… (mumbles incoherently) …(looks around in awkward silence).”
Two weeks in a row, I’ll stand by it: Claire isn’t as terrible as she used to be. On the surface, sure, she’s lying to herself, lying to her husband, lying to her awful, vapid neighbors. But I think, once Frank finally called her out on still being with Jamie this whole time, she had been trying to do the right thing by Frank and was just as upset as he was that he figured her out. Let’s also not forget that every time she sees him, for a split second she’s face to face with Black Jack Randall. The fact that she hasn’t accidentally gutted him as he comes around a corner is kind of a marvel in itself.
Ian talking to Jamie and calling Claire his phantom heart made my phantom heart melt. Between that and Jamie’s single tear before sex (a tricky move to pull off, guys who are reading this), I think the gentlemen won this episode.
Considering all of Claire’s other friends consist of conniving witches and repressed housewives, I think she’s finally making good choices by letting Joe Abernathy sit next to her on the first day of school.
Seriously, where is Murtaugh?
Outlander S3E2 Review Score
Outlander – S3E2 – “Surrender” | Caitrona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies