Previously on Outlander, “Freedom and Whisky”
It’s interesting that we’re not exactly picking up right where the last episode ended; instead, we’re going to watch a little bit of how Jamie’s day went before that epic faint. His morning starts at a French brothel, has a stroll down the most picturesque Scottish street, does some shady business with a few of his treasonous prison buddies, and has to deal with his bitch of an assistant, Geordie. This is one busy morning! And seriously, Geordie is a real pain in the ass. Once he leaves and Claire appears in the window above, we’re all caught up to last week, and we finally get to watch the joy of the Frasers reuniting. Except… it’s not a joy. It’s painful, and awkward, and they’re not even Frasers anymore. And that ends up being the theme of the episode, I guess—neither of them are who they used to be, and can they learn to be together as their new selves?
Jamie takes Claire’s reappearance pretty in stride, after the fainting, and promptly removes his trousers. Just kidding, he spilled ale all over them when he fainted, but they do share their first of many teary-eyed and pantsless kisses. It’s actually quite touching, when he talks about how many times he’s seen her in the last twenty years and now she’s finally here, until Geordie the Work-Wife catches them in the act and breaks the spell. The air returns to a little bit awkward as Jamie redresses, and like proper old people the two discuss what parts of their bodies are breaking down since they were last together. Luckily, it’s just grey hair and spectacles for now.
He’s a little thrown off when Claire breaks out a ziplock of photographs of Brianna, because explaining that they were taken with a camera doesn’t really clear anything up, but they do a super quick recap of how darling Bri was growing up. Claire completely glosses over how terrible she’s been since she turned 20. Jamie drops his own Willie-sized bombshell on Claire, and she recovers pretty quickly when he assures he he never loved his son’s mother. And speaking of never loving someone, he asks a whole bunch of questions about Frank, and it’s hard to tell what he feels when Claire talks about what a good father Frank was and that they stayed together when she went back.
They walk and talk, since he was in the middle of a work day when she appeared out of thin air, and they run into sweet and much older Fergus, who is in just a little bit of shock to see her. It’s a fair reaction from him, but I don’t know how she recognized him because he looks and sounds like a completely different person. Fergus pulls Jamie aside to have a cryptic and whispered conversation involving Ned Gowan and legal responsibilities, and then Jamie and Claire are off to find Mr. Willoughby.
Mr. Willoughby turns out to be a small drunk Asian man who is causing a ruckus in a tavern, and also an “associate” of Jamie’s. Once the commotion has died down, Claire and Mr. W. get to know each other while Jamie does some illegal-seeming business in the cellar with a sketchy fellow. Did Jamie just turn into a degenerate in the last twenty years?
I bet Claire’s wondering the same thing, since their next stop is Jamie’s very own room in the brothel, replete with a hostile greeting from Madame Jeanne. It’s actually a pretty nice room, if you can live with very thin walls, but it’s clear that Claire’s calm veneer is starting to splinter. Jamie barrages Claire with slightly accusatory questions about why she came back, and even though they both explain themselves satisfactorily (Madame Jeanne is a customer and he rents a room; she came back because she finally found out he was still alive), it all feels like a weirdly aggressive way to go about rekindling a romance.
They’re interrupted yet again, this time by dinner, and instead of ignoring the meal and getting on with it, they take a whole bunch of time to eat and talk and reconnect, letting the tension build (according to the voiceover). When dinner is finally over, they remove their 18 layers of clothing each, and it’s like they’re back at their wedding night, all shy and scared. There are a few hiccups at first, some teeth knocking and bumping of heads, but they get back into their rhythm pretty quickly. And then there’s sex. Lots and lots of Outlander-branded sex.
Claire’s pillow talk revolves around trying to guess Jamie’s real occupation: he’s got a ripped body, a pissy pimp as a client, and six arrests under his belt. He’s clearly not just a printer. Truth is he’s a smuggler, and he stores his Brandy, Whisky, and a wee bit of French Wine in Madame Jeanne’s cellar while it’s on the move.
Since it’s probably a Wednesday, Jamie has to get up and actually go to work in the morning. A knock on the door after he’s gone introduces the now older Ian Murray, Jenny’s son and Jamie’s nephew. He’s also shocked to see Claire, though more because he thinks she’s a fairy than because there’s a strange woman in his uncle’s bed. At least he managed not to faint like his uncle.
When Claire finally decides she’s hungry enough to leave the bed, she heads downstairs to share breakfast with the ladies of the house. They think she’s their newest (but certainly not their youngest) coworker, but once Madam Jeanne discovers her there, she shames her into going upstairs to eat by herself. Or is that reverse-shame? Whatever it is, Madame Jeanne is clearly not happy about Claire’s mere existence. Claire returns to her room to find some swarthy-looking man rummaging around looking for Jamie’s ledgers, and when she orders him out he grabs her by the throat and pushes her back on the bed. 1960s Boston isn’t looking so bad right now.
Do you think Claire was intentionally close to unbearable for the entire season prior to this so that it’d be clear how much she and Jamie belong together? Like, Frank brings out the worst in her, and Jamie brings out the best? Yeah… me neither. But I do think this is just the first time she’s been legitimately happy in the last twenty years. I mean, can you imagine twenty years of just existing? And in that first sex scene between them, that look on Claire’s face; that was everything she’d been looking for, every time she was with Frank. Twenty years of needing only one person and finally getting them. It’s hard to stay mad at her.
The tension between her and Jamie was delicious and unsettling and so well-actedly uncomfortable, and there’s no way they covered everything they need to know about the last twenty years in that 36 hours. There has to be more coming–is it going to be bombshells, or just remembering that Jamie leaves the seat up and Claire leaves her knitted shawls lying around everywhere? Also, I think Jamie might have changed more than Claire; most of the episode his smile never reached his eyes.
Oh, Mr. Willoughby. Please, please, please don’t be problematic. I’m also not here for adult Fergus or Ian just yet. They better be pretty outstanding to justify that casting.
But what kind of surgeon doesn’t know if her nose is broken?
Outlander S3E6 Review Score
Outlander – S3E6 – “A. Malcolm” | Caitrona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies