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Outlander – S3E8 – First Wife

Previously on Outlander, “Créme de Menthe”

Images: STARZ

Aw, Lallybroch! It’s never been a long term residence for Claire, but it’s one of the few places that actually feels like home to her. At least, until she walks through the gate and gets Jenny’s special frosty reception. Oh, you thought you were getting hugs and tears? Sweet summer child. Jenny Murray is the master of the razor tongue and the single raised brow, and as soon as she’s done dealing with Young Ian and his runaway behaviour, she’ll take care of her brother’s wife. In the meantime, it’s time to lay down the law with Jamie and how he’s broadening Young Ian’s horizons: selling smuggled goods and watching men murdered before his eyes. Jamie better hope Jenny doesn’t know about the brothel!

He does have one small solution that can smooth things over for the next five minutes: instead of a thrashing, bring Young Ian down a peg by making him do a “boy’s task” (which, for all intents and purposes, appears to be making shit pies). Old Ian, always the most level headed of the family, sees the wisdom in this punishment, and he and Jamie are tentatively on good terms again.

Claire and Jenny are also trying to smooth things over, though every attempt at conversation can’t hide the “Claire has been missing for twenty years” elephant in the room. Babies that she has seen birthed and held now have babies of their own. Jenny and Jamie are also trying to smooth over their disagreements, though Jenny kind of has the upper hand on this one. Regardless of what Jamie tells her, playing the “thou shalt only have one wife” card kind of trumps everything else. What is this other wife business? Jamie weaves a tale for her of Claire being hidden away while he was on the battlefield at Culloden, him believing her to be killed in a massacre, her believing him to have died in battle; Jenny, God bless her, isn’t accepting a single word of his bullshit. The Claire she knew was riding against Redcoats to find Jamie when he was imprisoned, not hiding away and then secreting off to another country.

At night in the privacy of their company, Claire and Jamie rehash the day and what options they have in front of them. Claire is feeling the loneliness of not being in Jenny’s favor, but Jamie swears that telling Jenny the truth won’t bring any resolution. Which, by the way, doesn’t feel right at all. What could come of telling Jenny that Claire is a time traveller? At worst, she thinks she’s soft in the head and lets Jamie live his days out taking care of a simpleton. At best…why can’t she believe? Why isn’t Jenny allowed to make that choice, even if it’s clearly ridiculous? Jamie tells Claire the story of the sick man at the prison, Duncan Kerr, and how he went looking for Claire when the man mentioned the white witch. He was sick that he didn’t find Claire, but had to have felt slightly better when he found a small chest of MacKenzie jewels on Silkie Island.

And then, out of nowhere, the floor drops out from under everything: a girl calling Jamie Daddy opens the door, and before Claire can even register what is going on, fucking Laoghaire is in the doorway, calling Jamie her husband! Husband!! THIS is the other wife?! FUCKING LAOGHAIRE is the other wife?!

Laoghaire’s children are actually really sweet, and poor Jamie (eh…not a great descriptor, considering the circumstances) has to pick up the pieces of these poor girls’ shattered ideas of their “father”. Once he sends littlest one home to her mother, he finds Claire packing in a frenzy to get the hell out of dodge. Not just packing, but ready to throw Jamie’s secondary wedding vows back in his face the minute he tries to defend himself. When he calls himself a coward for not telling her, it seems like we’re all on the same page and he might be forgiven… until he accuses her of leaving him. Leaving him. As if Claire hadn’t spent every day of the last twenty years wishing she had been allowed to stay with him.

*problematic alert: their yelling turns into a physical argument, and even though Jamie’s words are sweet and sentimental, his actions (and also his actual words) say that he would have used physical force to make sure Claire never left him again. And then he does. Claire acquiesces fairly quickly, but that doesn’t make this whole scene less of an issue that I don’t know how to resolve, mentally. Luckily Jenny is there to throw cold water on the whole situation and give everyone a chance to cool off.

Claire learns that Jenny actually alerted Laoghaire to what was going on, and a reckoning takes place in the family room. Jenny points out that, in the days Claire has been back, a man has been murdered and the print shop has burned to the ground, but that all feels deflective (if not still accurate). Jenny is obviously hurt that Claire gave up the Murray family for her new life. Old Ian, though, has had enough of Jenny’s shit, and in no uncertain terms tells her to get her shit together and decide if she wants to participate in Jamie’s happiness or not.

Jamie tries to win Claire back with words, but is interrupted by an eavesdropping Laoghaire, who then accidentally shoots him. Claire performs emergency surgery, pulling the buckshot from Jamie’s arm in a graphic operation scene, and sweet Young Ian doesn’t leave her side as her new medical assistant. Jamie, who doesn’t seem to remember the seriousness of his situation because he wakes up with jokes, tells Claire the story of how he happened upon Laoghaire, twice widowed and with two little girls who needed a father. He loved those girls but had a wife “damaged” by previous husbands who had been unkind to her; he eventually left her alone and was married only in name.

Claire and Jenny do what they can to make up, but Jenny has too many questions to trust anything Claire has to say. It’s a fair point: she trusted everything up until now but has still come up short, and hurt in the bargain. Claire sticks with her “this is all completely normal” story, but as the two women admit how much they miss each other, it’s clear that Claire is going to have to cough up the truth sometime soon. Jenny deserves that much, at least.

Ned McGowan is still alive–that’s got to be a miracle in comparison to all of these other events! He’s there to advise Jamie on his current “predicament”; the second marriage is obviously invalid, but Laoghaire wants alimony far beyond what she knows he can afford. Jamie luckily knows of a stash of jewels that just might do the job, but with his bum arm he can’t swim the quarter mile out to Silkie Island to get it. Young Ian, who desperately wants his uncles’ approval at all times, volunteers immediately to retrieve the jewels so they can all go to France to exchange them for alimony sterling. A small complication arises, though, once Young Ian has swam out to the island and retrieved the treasure box: a boat appears on the horizon with a small boat of men rowing out to get the same box. Young Ian doesn’t see them coming, even with Jamie’s quarter-mile-away yellings, and he and jewel box get taken by the mystery pirates.

Worth Mentioning

Jenny’s Catalog of Burns:

-”tail dragging and with stray, dropped back into our lives after twenty years as if nothing’s changed.”

-”maybe we should all gather around the fire? I mean, if we’re to listen to a tall tale.” (this one is a little confusing, because it sounds as if Jenny knows how fantastical Claire’s tale really is.)

-”used to live in Lallybroch”

-”don’t want to bewilder the bairn with a strange face”

-”fighin’ and ruttin’ like wild beasts”

Super depressing story about the greylag bird, who’s mate you have to kill so it doesn’t mourn to death.

Jamie, in the officially worst timed placement of sarcasm, wants to point out that there is more than one red-headed man in Scotland? Really, Jamie-—that is the hill you want to die on?

Scottish children seem to have a preternatural understanding of alcohol and why adults need it to cope, like when Janet said Claire could probably do with a whiskey.

Did Claire really only bring two vials of penicillin with her and the rest of Scotland for the next forty or so years?

Outlander S3E8
  • 8/10
    Plot - 8/10
  • 10/10
    Dialogue - 10/10
  • 9/10
    Performances - 9/10

"First Wife"

Outlander – S3E8 – “First Wife” | Caitrona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

User Review
5 (2 votes)
About Robyn Horton (94 Articles)
Robyn grew up a military brat whose parents let her indulge in her love of literature, mythology, movies, musicals, and Kings Quest (without telling her how nerdy they were). She is now a reformed graphic designer with a husband, two dogs, a Sweeney Todd themed bathroom, and a burning need to know how many books really can fit in one house.

8 Comments on Outlander – S3E8 – First Wife

  1. Jamie and Auntie Claire are the worst, don’t leave your kids with them.

  2. Two vials!! *throws up hands in disgust*

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