This episode is, essentially, an hour of coughing and arguing, and Outlander stringing your emotions onto a very rickety violin and then playing it angrily with a bow made from a child’s future. It’s The Gavroche Effect again, but this time without the child rape. (And still no singing.)
I. Mr. James
We open with our hero James Fraser aboard the Artemis, counting crows and sharpening his knife while he anxiously awaits Claire’s return. He sees Fergus trafficking in something with the cook, and of course it turns out he’s basically getting some bespoke pot pourri for Marsali so that her room will smell slightly less vile. “I thought it might impress her,” he says shyly. Jamie assumes this is actually an attempt to impress him. Fergus kind of rolls his eyes at this because not everything is about YOU, Mr. James. Sometimes it’s about his junk.
Down on the old Artemis
Sailin’ with this yellow-haired girl.
Mr. James is her absentee stepdad.
And we’re married. But there is no sex-fun
‘Cause he crushed our mojo and our souls.
So, I mix herbs while he glares at me.
As we wait, she’s suddenly beautiful.
Or, she’s here, and that’s kinda beautiful.
Man, I wish she was beautiful.
Let me give her my scent-bag.
That’s not a metaphor.
Sha la la it’s a a real bag of stuff, yeah.
Come on, MacDubh, man.
You’re givin’ me some prostate cramping.
Pass me a condom, Mr. James.
This undercurrent of ’90s pop is curtailed when Fergus notices the other ship beginning to sail away. Jamie’s telescope spies Claire arguing with the captain, and he freaks out and tries to command the Artemis to give chase. The captain intercedes; he has accepted the ship’s deal of taking Claire and then delivering her to them in Jamaica, because he’s pretty sure that if they don’t go along with a naval vessel’s demands, they’ll all end up dead or arrested. When Jamie shoves the captain and a fight looks to break out, his men all draw blades, and the captain’s men draw guns. Jamie’s side loses and he gets thrown in the brig.
Jamie spends the rest of the episode in a jail cell, snarling things at Fergus through the bars (while also barfing, because I guess Willoughby isn’t being granted acupuncture privileges). He reminds Fergus that he’s a career pickpocket, and demands his help escaping so that he can steal command of the ship and give chase; Fergus thinks that is a lousy idea that will put them all in peril, laying out several rational reasons why Jamie’s plan is rash and crazy. “I love her too, my lord, but…” And then Jamie gets nasty to a startled and hurt Fergus, telling him that OBVIOUSLY he is a crappy prospect for Marsali because he doesn’t understand Wuv, Twoooo Wuv. “You would risk arrest and death, even hell. You would do it as easily as the prick of a pin,” he says self-righteously. “Until you risk all, you cannot SPEAK of LOVE.” And when that doesn’t immediately work, he tosses another log onto the fire: “Get me those keys. Help me break free and I will give you my blessing to marry Marsali.”
Mr. James and me
Chillin’ in the brig here
He’s sayin’ shit to my sad face.
‘You’re a crook kid.’
I don’t think so. You’re crookin’ on ME.
Don’t blackmail my penis.
It can’t handle more letdowns.
And I know milady loves you.
But, dude, could one of you
ACT LIKE YOU LOVE ME?
Marsali takes tender loving care of Fergus’s stump and warns him that helping Jamie escape and failing — which he likely will — lands them both in jail or dead, leaving her alone on the ship with no protectors and a literal boatload of horndogs. Then she turns an affectionate kiss into a hot makeout session, while panting that neither of their chaperones is present and that if he does decide to risk his life then they’d better bang while they can. Marsali, you are smart. This is totally that Grease 2 scene, “Let’s Do It For Our Country,” except gender-flipped. Our Fergus won’t be seduced by Louis DiMucci in a bomb shelter. He has promised to wait, and he will. I would have found it sweeter if he’d said, “I do not want your first time to be on this nasty smelly ship when we haven’t had a proper bath in ages because DO YOU KNOW how dirty we both are?!? And also I am not a Cool Rider.”
Fergus, en route to steal the keys, does some eavesdropping and hears the sailors joking that they’re gonna deflower Marsali as soon as Jamie and Fergus are off the ship. So Fergus doesn’t do anything, and instead faces the wrath of Red Jamie. “I know you won’t give us your blessing now,” Fergie Ferg sniffles. “But you asked me if I would move heaven and earth for the woman I love, and I will, even if it means I cannot marry her.”
Jamie, by the way, has been allowed to have his glasses in prison. As he sits around reading… whatever he’s reading, the captain comes down and says there’s weather and stuff and they need good and able men to blah blah blah they’re letting him go if he promises to behave. Marsali has persuaded him that Jamie won’t attempt mutiny because once he gives his word, he never breaks it. She also quietly tells Jamie that what Fergus did — rescuing Jamie from himself — was as much out of love for Jamie as anything. So Jamie comes out and tells them that he’ll bless their wedding in Jamaica, and thanks Fergus. Case closed! Assuming no one else gets murdered, Marsali will get her man.
II. Mr. Pound
Claire is faced with trying to explain to a bunch of cranky sailors exactly how, and why, typhoid spreads. They are not so much into science, so she boils it down to, “Don’t touch each other, and wash your goddamn hands.” There is even a grog bucket they use to dip their hands as a best chance of disinfecting them, but the sailors then lick the extra grog off and undermine the effort. Claire is pissed. But I can’t say I blame them; a groggy finger is a terrible thing to waste.
Several of them give Claire sass for daring to speak with authority AND have a vagina, until a young moppet of an officer scolds them in prepubescent tones about being impertinent to the ship’s surgeon. He turns out to be a very quick study AND he cares about SPF: He brings Claire a tricorn hat to protect her from the sun, and informs her that they have two workers who know how to distill pure alcohol from their rum supply — thus creating a much better disinfectant. He is so earnest and intelligent and respectful that it’s clear he’s going to perish the shit out of it.
Mr. Pound and me
Look into the future.
It includes him dying real slowly.
That sucks for him
And it’s also pretty sucky for me.
I’ve buried so many people.
Mr. Pound isn’t even someone I killed personally
But when everyone’s got typhoid
Aw, son, that’s just about as deadly as shit can be.
Mr. Pound, aka Elias, turns out to be 14. He makes himself very much Claire’s deputy, and he’s got a touching story about how he’s been at sea since he was seven, previously with his uncle. He positively blooms under her attention, so it’s going to be a real downer for them all when he kicks it. We even get a preview of this when one of Mr. Pound’s pals dies, and Mr. Pound sews the shroud because “it is always done by a friend.” Claire watches tears roll down his cheeks as they cast the dead into the sea. At this rate, Foreshadowing’s tireless clubbing is going to give us all CTE.
Claire figures out that the typhoid started in the carpenter’s crew, and the lone survivor got moved into the galley to keep him clear of the contagion. TOO LATE. The cook, however, does not believe in Claire’s witch’s notion that disease can be spread by things like touching, so he doesn’t want to give up his only sous-chef — even though that chef might be the reason people are still dying in droves, because his tainted nosh is going down the gullet of healthy men. Alas for him, they quarantine Typhoid Howard in the brig. Poor Typhoid Howard. He just wants to make an omelette.
The bitter cook takes every opportunity to taunt Claire about how people keep dying, despite her water-boiling and tireless confiscation of booze. Mr. Pound comes to her rescue, and then they discuss how to cope with all this grief. “If you let yourself be affected by every death, then you’d never save a life,” says Claire to the boy as Death nods thoughtfully and strokes his beard. Though she does note she wasn’t friends with any of the dead, so that makes it easier for her. She then sighs that it surely won’t be the last burial, but with any luck, they’ll get smaller and smaller. Mr. Pound gently says that he’s spent three days in awe of her work and doesn’t believe she needs luck, but gives her his rabbit’s foot totem just in case, which came from his now-dead mother when he set sail at age 7. “‘Luck and health,’ she said. Well, that is what we need,” smiles Mr. Pound.
Mr. Pound and me
Bondin’ on the lido.
He is too nice to live on this planet.
Which is fine, see,
’cause he’s only got another ten mins.
At least he isn’t a rapist.
Mr. Pound, he’s our only other secondary role type:
Everybody loves him.
Aw, son, but in your face, Death’s yawning back at me.
Also, everyone thinks the goat man — the one tending to production of milk — also has typhoid. But no, he’s guzzling all Claire’s valuable distilled pure alcohol and is headed for a rollicking hangover. In the process of investigating this, Claire compliments and befriends his German (?) wife, Annika, and sees a Portuguese flag lying around in the Hall of Goats because of course. This sends her knocking on the captain’s door to suss out whether that ship was the Bruja (it wasn’t); she finds his office empty, but decides to snoop through his logs and finds in there his notes on some testimony from a Harry Thompkins who recognized Alexander Malcolm aboard the Artemis and believes him to be Jamie Fraser. Before she can do anything about this, the cook comes by for a quick spot of physical menace. He doesn’t trust her and threatens to rat out her suspicious presence, and she in return says she’ll cry rape if he does that. They part, secure in their mutual hatred.
Claire lies to Mr. Pound that Harry Thompkins might be a second carrier of typhoid, and that she needs to interview him. (Mr. Pound is already starting to look tired and clammy, but Claire thinks he’s just exhausted. This… is not adept doctoring, Claire. Death is practically licking his face.) When they locate Harry, he turns out to be none other than the Twisted-Faced Man who interrupted Young Ian while Ian was swiping his V Card, and who set the shop alight and got scalded in the fracas. He recognizes Claire as Jamie’s wife, which I don’t completely understand — am I forgetting a time when he or his boss would have run across her? I thought she was essentially anonymous in Edinburgh, and always elsewhere when Twisted was lurking. I guess it’s possible he followed her and Jamie around town for a while before he struck the shop, and all that was just… off-camera.
Claire grabs a cleaver and demands to know what his secrets are. He, instead, begs for death. “After the month I’ve had, I’d be more than glad to see the inside of a casket,” he says, ripping open his jacket to reveal the words, “I Discovered Seditious Leaflets and All I Got Was Hot Lead In The Face and Denied a Promotion and Sent To This Hideous Ship, and Also This Lousy T-Shirt.” Claire smirks that maybe she should kill him so that his testimony will vaporize, but he tells her that they also discovered a little surprise in Jamie’s creme de menthe.
Mistress Claire and me
Haggling for my future
Yeah she’s waving a knife in my face.
But the joke’s on her!
‘cuz I’m really not that into my face.
Oh and guess what, I know secrets.
Mistress Claire wishes she and her hubby could get funky,
but when Jamie goes and greets her,
They’re gonna arrest him for murder, see?
Mistress Claire, STAB ME.
My exposition here is done.
We see a flashback to a flashback of his men hammering open one single solitary cask, as if they knew exactly which one to open — do we suppose the smell led them there? — and the dead henchman slides right out, pale but preserved and likely free of plaque on his teeth. Claire sucks in a breath and then says, honestly, “My husband did not kill that man.” Too bad! That’s not what the warrants say. So as soon as Jamie arrives in Kingston, he’s busted. What’s interesting to me is that I thought Jamie wasn’t using “James Fraser” because it wasn’t safe, and yet he clearly introduced himself that way because the young captain knows him thusly (and in this instance it’s the A.Malcolm name that’s tainted). I don’t recall Jamie even bothering with names, but I assume off-camera, he was like, “HELLO SIR, LET ME, JAMIE FRASER, ESCORT YOU DOWNSTAIRS SO THAT I, JAMIE FRASER, A MAN BY MANY NAMES BUT MOSTLY THIS ONE, CAN DISCUSS YOUR PLIGHT.”
Claire’s pretty bit of revenge here — despite being completely guilty of this murder herself, and in the legal wrong — is NOT to kill Thompkins. “He’s the second source of the fever,” Claire announces in order to get him quarantined, and like, I get it, but isn’t EVERYONE at this point a source of the fever? She’s JUST been yapping at everyone about contagion. You would have to lock up all of them, wouldn’t you? Regardless, they toss him into the brig next to Typhoid Howard. Hooray! Some company for Typhoid Howard. Except: She then leans into Thompkins and purrs that he shouldn’t get too close to Typhoid Howard, because, well, he’s Typhoid Howard. As Thompkins cowers and backs away in horror, Typhoid Howard basically loses his only chance at a friend. Poor Typhoid Howard. He just wants to make oatmeal.
Typhoid H and me
Are gonna be — wait, nope.
Claire is told that the epidemic seems to have passed, and she walks around decks smiling and watching the sailors sing and toast, and rubs Mr. Pound’s rabbit foot with a happy smile. Death spits in the grog stash just as she spies a sleeping Mr. Pound in a hammock and goes to rouse him… before noticing that he, in fact, has the fever and is about to die. “Mother,” he murmurs. “Yes, Elias, it’s mother,” Claire whispers. “Time for you to come home now.”
And as Death blows its nose on her apron, Claire kneels down and puts the rabbit’s foot in his shroud and tells him how proud his mother would be. Then she’s offered the chance to finish his shroud, as his friend.
Mr. Pound and me
Are pretty much now done here.
He was a super surrogate child.
‘Til I forgot him.
And then he died in an old dirty ship’s swing.
Thank you for the plot twist.
Mr. Pound wishes he was something more than just filler
But when everybody loves you
That’s about as functional as you can be.
Mr. Pound and me
Aren’t gonna get
Next: a visit to Annika, who is so thrilled to have a friend that she lets Claire have a taste of goat cheese. That is the greatest love of all (sorry, Whitney). Claire greets this offer with tears, and Annika is basically like, “NOBODY CRIES AT FREE CHEESE, SO WHAT’S WRONG?” Claire says her husband is in trouble when they get to Jamaica, and she is the bait. Annika has a plan to help: “My goats need grass.” Claire doesn’t get it and assumes Annika is just a kook. But no, she’s actually a genius. Annika, in fact, turns out to be a Get-a-Grip Friend. Once they reach Grand Turk — the unpopulated side, because they’re under quarantine — a small group of healthy people are allowed to get off and gather supplies like water, and Annika disembarks to walk the goats. Claire can accompany her… and escape. But the captain tries to order everyone to stay within eye shot of the beach. Claire balks, but Annika won’t let her, so she urges Claire to turn around and flee anyway even though everyone can see them? I didn’t say Annika was GREAT at planning, but she is at least full of gumption. So Claire scampers off on a hike and runs smack into the captain, who was doing rounds to make sure the men didn’t catch a whiff of a nearish brothel. Claire can’t even fumble her way through a decent excuse. “I do not lie when I say that I am in your debt,” he says. “But I cannot let you warn your husband. I know what you saw in my log book.” He says he’s duty-bound to report Jamie and refuses her entreaties to look the other way.
So, Plan B: Annika thinks Claire should hurl herself overboard. She’s concluded they’re still close enough to Grand Turk for Claire to swim there, even though they’re quite high up and leaping into the chilly water is not an appealing choice. Claire is all, “NO, THIS IS CRAZY,” which almost makes me feel sorry for Jamie because he was prepared to usurp the captaincy and steal a ship to chase her. But then Annika all but smacks her upside the head and is all, “No! HUSBAND!!!!” Seriously, Annika is almost better than Jenny. She’s every bit as decisive but not as judgmental, and also has cheese.
She gives Claire some money in a coin purse and helps wrap up her shoes and outerwear, which she ties to a flotation device. “Not drown. I know water,” she says, proudly. I am not sure why Claire didn’t think of that, but whatever. I am totally here for another lady with moxie. They shove the raft over, and Claire stares at it in terror for a second before saying, “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” and leaping into the sea.
I have so many questions, not least of which is: Why on EARTH do they think Claire will make it to Jamaica BY SWIMMING and ON FOOT and then I guess ON ANOTHER SHIP before any of this goes down with Jamie? I suppose we’ll soon find out.