These recaps are getting sooo looong. I need to scale back, but then I get started and I can’t. Sorry it took so long. Plot below; pics above; please keep book spoilers out of the comments unless it’s about events past. Merci!
Warning: This recap is CAPSY. See, sometimes I really love this show, and sometimes it frustrates the hell out of me — and often, both at once. There are plenty of sympathetic motivations swirling around here, but when I finished, I was like, “UGH, everyone is THE WORST.” To me, The Other Wife — who she is, and how it all went down — is nearly a character-ruining twist for Jamie. And some of the plot twists are the kind of contrivances you’d swear were made solely for dramatic TV music stings and/or cliffhangers, except that obviously these were books first. Also: pirates. Really.
And if you’re a Laoghaire fan, you’re probably not going to dig me. Because GUESS WHO JAMIE’S NEW WIFE IS, and GUESS HOW I FEEL ABOUT IT.
Who’s the lamest plot contrivance
To be Jamie’s wedded dearie?
That conniving sprite they wholly hate
The lying, cheating, HORRIBLE lass Laoghaire.
I cannot STAND Laoghaire, who was once so mad that Jamie didn’t marry her — or even fondle her boobs real quick that one time by the lake — that she FRAMED CLAIRE FOR WITCHCRAFT AND TRIED TO HAVE HER BURNED. There are very good reasons that name is pronounced “leery,” and it’s because a) she Dawson-level sucks, and b) one must be deeply leery of her, and c) I do not respond well to this actress (see also: her work on Victoria), which works if she’s meant to be awful but not when you’re supposed to believe anyone would willingly bless her union to Jamie. But what annoys me even more is that once the shoe DOES manage to make me find sympathy in my cold tar heart for Laoghaire’s life, it then has Jamie act like a dink about it, which means she’s only at Defcon 1 right now because he wasn’t a particularly steadfast partner. Ugh. I don’t know which is more bothersome: seeing her, or having her be the reason Jamie further disappoints me this season.
Besides which, I think people underestimate the power of a love triangle in which both sides are rootable. Sure, Ms. Lavinia Swire on Downton lacked Mary’s chutzpah — she was the Melanie Wilkes to Mary’s Scarlett O’Hara — but she was kind and caring and Cousin Matthew liked her a whole lot and would’ve borne many a child with her if she hadn’t died. (Oh my god, she IS Mellie.) So while the pull of the Matthew-Mary chemistry was there, the idea of Lavinia being rejected was a bummer. Imagine how great and emotional this would’ve been if Jamie had married an actual kind person and given that union his whole effort, and he was then forced to wrestle with the love of his life versus the settlement of his life. In other words: MANIPULATE ME. I AM HERE FOR IT.
To begin: Network Note Claire tells us they’re arriving at Lallybroch, a place we’ve seen a gazillion times and could probably render by heart, and that it’s the same but not. Thank you for that powerful insight. Jenny is glaring at Claire like she hopes to chip off her toes one by one and feed them to Lallybroch livestock — livestoch? — are lurking around. The house is also teeming with children, and for once, they’re not all Jenny’s. It seems her fertility is genetic, because her oldest kids are now sprogging up on their own, and Jenny is a grandmother. (If Claire ever tells Jenny the truth, I hope she withholds the part about advances in birth control unless she brought some with her.) Anyway, Jenny hurls a lot of low-grade but on-target burns at Claire — stuff like constantly harping on how much time has passed since she frittered out of their lives, and that she’s nothing but a bewildering stranger to everyone, especially all the wee grandbairns. Young Ian may have helped burn down the shop, but Jenny is a very adept emotional arsonist.
Who’ll sharpen her tongue and verbal claws
And slice your weak underbelly?
Why, it’s the snarling sasspot of Lallybroch
The irritable Madam Jenny.
Jenny is supremely irritated to know that the only reason they crawled home was because the shop burned down and they’re in trouble. She glibly refers to Claire as a stray they picked up, and prefers to reclaim her time rather than listen to Claire’s “tall tales.” Truly, she is the Maxine Waters of Lallybroch.
It seems Jamie did come clean about Young Ian, rather than simply pretending to have stumbled upon him, and Old Ian is furious. Young Ian, though, is all too delighted to tell his parents how great he is at selling illegal alcohol, and that Rad Auntie Claire came back from the dead and straight-up murdered a crooked agent of the Crown.
WHO’S THE SILVER TONGUED DEVIL
WHO’LL SELL YOUR WICKED HOOCH?
WHO PUTS THE ‘MAN’ IN ‘CREME DE MENTHE’?
IT’S ME, IAN, WHO ALSO COCK-STOOD A LADY PERSON AND ISN’T EVEN SCARED OF KILLER AUNTIE CLAIRE ANYMORE EXCEPT MAYBE A LITTLE! IAN!!!
None of this helps their cause, because naturally, and correctly, Jenny disapproves of her son running criminals. However, Jamie also correctly points out that Jenny didn’t seem to mind about all that illegality when he was funneling her the money, though she clarifies that what sullies Jamie’s soul doesn’t have to touch her son: He could have left Ian out of that and taught him the actual printing trade instead of just how to front. Oh, Jenny. Where was all this righteous indignation when your brother needed it? Someone needed to stop him from being an immature dingwad, because he sure as hell wasn’t stopping himself.
Jamie tells Jenny that he treated Young Ian like his own son, and since Jenny doesn’t know the truth of Jamie’s life, that floats right past her and Old Ian — who proffers a switch and says Jamie is welcome to punish him as such. But Jamie decides to find another way, which twenty years ago was not his M.O. when he whipped Claire. So I guess he gets points now for having a social conscience (which you’d think he’d have had BEFORE given his own brutal lashings). GROWTH, Claire!
Jamie’s having girl problems.
I feel bad for you, son.
You’ve got 99 problems
But a taste for the switch ain’t one.
Outside, Jamie and Old Ian each credit the other with being right — really? I’m PRETTY SURE Jamie was wrong to lie to you and hand your son a life of crime, Ian, unless you’re specifically referring to Jamie withholding the beating — and do that dude thing where they make up without saying a whole lot.
A big part of Jenny’s problem is that she is astute, and she smells a rat. She’s clever, but petty, which means I would LOVE to have a drink with her but would be terrified of crossing her or otherwise giving her information about my personal life. She starts a beef with Jamie about how it’s a mortal sin to marry another while your first wife still walks the Earth. She clearly thinks Claire’s story is a crock of hooey, noting that she has witnessed first-hand Claire’s refusal to give up on Jamie and that the Claire she remembers never would have accepted a mere rumor of his death. She’s totally correct. You cannot play Jenny, guys.
Don’t be fooled by the graindbairns I’ve got
I’m still I’m still Jenny from the ‘Broch
Used to have some savvy, now I’ve got a lot,
And don’tcha know I’m turdproof, you liars.
The one thing that’s weird here is that Jenny says to Jamie, of when he thought Claire was dead, “Why didn’t you share your grief with me?” Jenny, he was AN OUTLAW LIVING IN A HOLE, and he spoke mostly in grunts. You knew he said she died; you knew he wasn’t best pleased about it, and you knew he sat in a cave all day brooding alone and not touching women until Kind Mary popped by for a sad shag. You are better than this, Jenny.
Later, Claire suggests coming fully clean, because Jenny “casts a very warm light on those she trusts, and a very cold shadow on those she doesn’t.” And, after all, it worked with Murtagh. “He was a man in the world,” Jamie purrs. “Jenny’s never left this farm.” First, I’m sorry, but we need to stop and pour some out for Murtagh. He’d better turn up and be like, “Yo, dudes, I was chillin’ in Boston this whole time! You were too, Claire? Did you know Pat? Pat from Boston? Man, that dude was hilarious.” Second, that’s a questionable argument to me. Murtagh having Seen Things suggests to me that he’d be LESS likely to believe in mysticism, whereas a young girl who’s been confined to her estate might be more susceptible to the fantastical legends like the White Witch — Young Ian certainly drank that one in — and also JUST TELL HER. It can’t be any worse than it already is.
She wants to stab you with her eyes
Or club you like Olivia Pope clubbed Jon Tenney.
She can’t hate you more, so you should just ‘fess up
So as not to stoke the wrath of Red Jenny.
Jamie gazes at Claire and his breath catches, and says he still can’t completely believe she’s here. He retells her the story of when he escaped from prison — except we learn that, contrary to what he told his buddy John Grey, he did discover treasure hidden behind a Mackenzie crest. Since he couldn’t leave with it, and the prisoners needed him AND he was mad with grief that Claire hadn’t somehow apparated into the ruined castle and put a roast on the fire, he just took the sapphire as future collateral and left the rest for later. This leads to a lot of blah-blah about Claire hearing his voice in the birdsong, and stories about avian mating habits, all of which is a long road toward Jamie unburdening himself. Of his truth, not his pants. We STILL have had only one solid round of shagging.
But, before Jamie can stop stroking Claire’s leg long enough to ‘fess up, the door bursts open and darling redheaded girl appears and says, “Daddy, who is that woman?!?” And then WHO should come SCREECHING in behind her bellowing, “THAT SASSENACH WITCH”? Only THE WORST PERSON EVER.
She’s the syphilis of unwelcome guests,
The Clayton Kershaw of obscenities.
If you thought Jenny’s bad side was rough,
Woe betide thee who crosses Laoghaire’s.
It is here, dear reader, that I swore. And so did she, hurling a c-bomb into the room with no apparent regard for how or where it exploded. As Claire reels, Laoghaire screams, “He’s my husband now, you adulterous bitch,” while the two daughters — they look to be about 12 and 7, maybe? — look on all, “Wow, mummy is a she-wolf.” (That personality rehab sure didn’t take.) The little one, who is Anne Shirley-level adorable, privately asks Jamie what’s happening and who Claire is and why is this plot twist ruining her sweet little angel life (I’m paraphrasing)(okay, inventing). Jamie tells this darling creature that Claire is his first wife, and “By the grace of God, she’s come back to me,” COMPLETELY not considering that his might make Angel Child feel like crap. Sure enough, she’s scared he’s going to leave them all forever EVEN THOUGH HE BASICALLY ALREADY LEFT GIVEN THAT HE LIVES IN EDINBURGH and he promises that he’ll always be there for her and her sister YET THAT IS ALREADY A LIE. DO NOT INVOKE THE SPIRIT OF THE FRIENDS THEME SONG IF YOU DO NOT MEAN IT, JAMES.
So no one told you I was gonna stay away
Your mom’s a joke, she’s broke, our sex life’s D.O.A.
It’s not my fault though; I’m just bored out here.
It’s more fun selling stolen booze than bedding Ghaire-comma-Leor
I’ll be there for you
Unless I don’t like your mom
I’ll be there for you
Except for how I’ll be gone
I’ll be there for you
Just don’t ask where; that won’t doooooo.
She hugs him super tightly and he’s touched, and like… I find the tragedy of Jamie’s desire to be a parent, coupled with the impossible circumstances of the babies he did father, really moving. But he undercuts all of that with the way he acts. UGH. JAMIE. I’m getting ahead of myself.
As you can imagine, Claire and Jamie have another massive fight about this. She is, yes, hurt by the fact that he’s married and that he lied — but she’s SUPER skeeved that it’s Laoghaire. She’s correct. There are only a few situations in which I would accept Jamie marrying a woman who tried to have Claire killed:
- Leoghaire is comatose and her children are endangered because of it;
- He is dying of something that requires him to place his wang in a vagina on an extremely regulated schedule, and it must be the same vagina, and every other vagina in the nation is busy.
And honestly, even that last one… not sure that would fly with me. Die first, James.
Jamie says Laoghaire was a widow with two kids when he married her, and they’ve lived apart the whole time, and then ACTUALLY says, “You’re the one who told me to be kind to the lass!” Claire is like, “UM, NOT WITH YOUR GENITALS.” This fight is about whether the two of them truly can make peace with the miles that existed between them, or whether they will hold against each other any attempts to have a life after Culloden. Frankly, I wonder if TV Claire isn’t a tiny bit irritated that she spent zero time having torrid, meaningless affairs.
Claire furiously asks why Jamie could tell her about his son, but not Laoghaire. My answer: because his son matters to him and Laoghaire does not, but Jamie doesn’t think to say this. Instead, he shouts that it’s because he’s a coward who feared she’d turn tail and leave: “I would sacrifice honor, family, even life itself to lie with you again,” he growls. “Even though you LEFT ME.” Wrong answer, James. Claire wheels around and points out that Jamie is the one who made her go back, for the baby, and asks if he’s blaming her for returning. “God no,” he says. “Do you know what it is to live 20 years as half a man? To accustom yourself to living in the bit that’s left?” Claire does. Because she was half a person, too. Basically, what comes out is that Jamie is struggling with the fact that Claire went back to a man who loved her, and a marriage, and imagining the two of them merrily bonking while he was miserable and alone; Claire, knowing that was not the reality, can’t handle the idea that Jamie actually tried to find himself a ready-made situation also. Jamie’s jealousy of Frank has consumed him all these years, and Claire cannot believe LAOGHAIRE of all people was his only coping mechanism (in a sense, Laoghaire is as dangerous as Frank to Claire, because she was every bit as enamored of Jamie). And yet when Jamie insists it was meaningless, Claire dings him for that, too. Jamie screams that he just can’t WIN, then — either he’s “a faithless lecher [or] a heartless beast” and that’s also accurate. I don’t like Claire that much when she’s on her angry high horse, although she is at least CONSISTENT about fighting dirty and a bit unfairly. She is allowed to be mad at him for any number of things, but she has to choose on which grounds she holds his feet to the moral fire.
No matter: Rage turns to heat. The two of them start clawing at each other, and Jamie seizes her and kisses her firmly. She doesn’t want it initially, but then I guess she does, because at the end of the day these two will never NOT want to screw like a construction crew. I don’t care for Jamie deciding to tongue her into submission though. Claire should’ve bitten it off.
Who’ll turn up the sexual volume
When an arguments starts to stink?
Whose crotch shouts down multisyllabic rants?
Tha horny-as-hell MacDink’s.
Sadly, they don’t even get their kit off, because Jenny throws a bucket of cold water on them. She is fun-killing her way through this episode, and I am about to get real, real mad at her. Because: When one of her daughters brings Claire a comforting bolt of whiskey downstairs, she confesses that she notified Laoghaire that Jamie was at Lallybroch… at Jenny’s request. JENNY. SINCE WHEN ARE YOU TERRIBLE? This is so obviously the last thing Jamie would want, and it’s obviously a selfish act of revenge against Claire. Jenny is the one acting like a woman scorned. She’s pretending to be annoyed that Jamie isn’t respecting Laoghaire, but is really hurt that Claire let them all think she was dead — “Family writes letters telling one another they’re alive” — and so she’s lashing out, feeling like she was kept out of some great secret. See? She’s a bit petty. Jenny likes petticoats and her favorite NASCAR driver is Richard Petty and for Halloween she went as Lori Petty from Tank Girl and in the bath she rocks out to Tom Petty and in the military she would be a petty officer and she is PET.TY. I can respect that sometimes. We all love a petty tantrum. But the thing about Jenny that always made sense was her love for and loyalty to Jamie, and I don’t think she’d ever delude herself into being Team Laoghaire, or into thinking that being anti-Claire is pro-Jamie. And I REALLY don’t think she’s give up Jamie’s whereabouts to ANYONE without him wanting her to do it.
Claire explains that she not only understands time didn’t stop without her, but that she had a husband in the colonies herself. Jenny is visibly surprised. Claire sidesteps and says he and she never had a child together — y’all, Jenny is going to be ENRAGED when she finds out about Brianna — and simply says that when he died she wanted to come find Jamie’s grave to tell him she never forgot. (Nobody has asked the key question, “And how the hell did that quest magically lead you to his print shop in Edinburgh?”) Jenny listens and says, “I hear truth in what you’re telling me. But I can see it in your eyes there’s still something you’re keeping from me…. When a horse breaks its leg you put it out of its misery because it’ll never heal right, and neither will we.”
BURN BABY BURN.
Oh, but we’re not done. No. As Claire storms out the next morning to go… I don’t even know, pick some medicinal herbs, or spin around in a field and scream… Jamie tries to make amends. Claire admits that she knew coming back was a risk, but that she never imagined lying would be their problem: “When you tell me something, let it be the truth, and I’ll do the same,” she quotes. “Those were your words Jamie. We could have secrets but not lies.” Can I point out that technically this was a secret, and not a lie? Jamie did not say, “While you were gone I specifically did not marry anyone, especially Laoghaire, and I certainly was not the absentee stepfather to her children.” It was a lie of omission, and isn’t a lie of omission basically a secret? Jamie agrees with me because he points out that Claire only asked him if he’d ever loved another, and the answer to that is emphatically no. “THERE’S THE TRUTH OF IT, THEN,” we hear, and of course there’s freaking Laoghaire with a pistol. And because she is the worst, while she is in the middle of making a very salient point about Jamie providing for her children, it goes off by accident and nails him in the arm.
Claire, of course, turns the Lallybroch dining room into an operating theatre, and lets Young Ian watch as she uses her modern scalpels to dig out the fragments and save Jamie’s artery. (She also later has to give Jamie a shot of penicillin, and I think takes no small amount of joy in getting to scare him with a massive needle before jabbing it right into his comely buttock.) Young Ian is so awed that he brings her a post-stitches whiskey and calls her “Auntie,” which she loves — “You’re the only one that calls me that” — and then Young Ian bestows upon her a smile of genuine adoration, because he thinks everyone and everything is so goddamn groovy that it’s almost more than his face can handle.
IS IT THEE I’M LOOKING FOR?
I’M AFRAID OF YOUR WITCH ARTS
BUT I WORSHIP ALL YOUR SMARTS
YOU CUT MY UNCLE OPEN
YET HE DIDN’T LOSE HIS PARTS
‘CAUSE YOU KNOW JUST WHAT TO SLICE
AND YOU QUITE KNOW HOW TO SEW
I WANT TO TELL YOU SO MUCH
THAT YOU ARE THE COOLEST PERSON I HAVE EVER SEEN IN THE FLESH EXCEPT MAYBE THAT GIRL WHO LET ME TOUCH HER ON THE INSIDE! IAN!!!
During Jamie’s woozy recovery, he and Claire finally talk calmly. He explains that he’d been freed from his service and came to Lallybroch, only to feel like a ghost in its halls, full as they were with kids who didn’t even recognize him. It was his house but no longer his home. Then, when Jenny threw open the doors for a festive holiday bash, two little girls saw him alone in the corner and pulled him into the dancing. We see this in flashback, and it’s Laoghaire’s girls; Jenny watches approvingly as Jamie starts to let go and even finally laughs, and it’s not until the end of the dance that he learns who their mother is. Jamie essentially says that he’d found two girls who needed a father, and that he was a father in need of children, so he let Jenny badger him into the marriage. JENNY MIND YOUR OWN BEESWAX. Also were there NO OTHER comely lasses available? The thing is, Jenny isn’t psychic, but she’s also not an idiot. She has her ear to the ground. She makes people talk. She sees through bullshit. It is ALMOST impossible that she wouldn’t have any inkling of Jamie’s history with Laoghaire, or that it wouldn’t have come up that Claire almost burned as a witch that one time, HA HA HA, hilarious family stories, etc. And I feel like if she wanted him to be happy that badly, she’d have turned over every rock to find a girl who’d do that who ISN’T deranged.
Jamie does say they rarely spoke so as to avoid squabbling, and then this part kills me: I feel an actual pang for Laoghaire when Jamie says it was clear that one of her husbands sexually mistreated her, so that when he laid with her and tried to be gentle, she still looked afraid. He couldn’t bear seeing a person be afraid of him, and THAT is why he left. Let’s recap: Very shortly after they married, Laoghaire was too fragile and emotionally damaged to have comfortable or kinky sex with him, and it hurt HIS feelings? So HE BAILED ON THEM ENTIRELY and moved to Edinburgh? WAY TO MAKE THAT ABOUT YOU, JAMES FRASER. You fickle bastard. The entire reason for this marriage was Jamie’s extremely relatable desire to be the father he has never gotten to be, and two seconds in, he’s like, “Well, I’m sure that husband was mean to her but she doesn’t want to bang, and that’s really sad for ME, so I’m gonna peace out to the big city and leave some money on the dresser every couple weeks.” Up yours, Jamie. Jenny is actually correct to be cross with you for bailing on that situation, as someone with forty-three kids who would probably GLADLY forego sex with Ian as long as she had backup.
Next, Claire and Jenny talk, and here is where once again it doesn’t make sense that Jamie didn’t think Jenny could handle the truth. She says she had a vision on Jamie’s wedding day of Claire standing between Jamie and Laoghaire, which sounds awfully like someone who’s open to mysticism, and tells Claire that she never once questioned any of the weirdnesses they asked her to accept — like when Claire told them to plant potatoes, no questions asked, and they did and lo and behold it kept them alive post-Culloden. Jenny feels like her faith should be rewarded with the full truth, but Claire can’t give it; she simply says she loves Jamie very much, and loves Jenny, too, and hopes very badly for a second chance.
And now for some logistics: Claire being alive means Jamie’s marriage to Laoghaire is not legit, and that she’s flirting with disaster because she had an unlawful weapon. They COULD try to convict her on that, and she’d be shipped off to Virginia. “I hear Richmond is nice this time of year,” Claire snarks. But Jamie won’t do it, because all of a sudden the girls he never bothers with are of paramount concern to him. (I am going to assume that Book Jamie was much cooler about hanging out with them.) Essentially, Laoghaire wants Jamie to FRY and SUFFER, but would accept cash because she is not stupid. She wants 20 pounds a year, though, plus another 10 for the girls, which Jenny points out is nigh on impossible. Jamie taps his chin and recalls that massive chest of treasure tucked away on the mysterious island. But he can’t swim with his bum arm, and so guess who volunteers?
WHO’LL SWIM THE OCEAN CHILLY
AND TRAWL CASTLE WALLS FOR GEMS?
WHY, THE SCOTTISH MICHAEL PHELPS, OF COURSE!
I, YOUNG IAN, WILL GET THEM!! ALTHOUGH MAYBE I AM MORE RYAN LOCHTE I HAVEN’T DECIDED YET BUT ALL I KNOW IS THAT I AM VERY FAST AND WOULD AT LEAST PLACE FIFTH! IAN!!!!!!
Jamie convinces both Jenny and Old Ian to relax and let their son explore with their permission rather than as an act of rebellion. So off they go, and as Young Ian plows his way through the water, Jamie and Claire talk one more time. He’s noticed she can’t even look at him, and Claire says it’s because she’s not sure they’re right for each other anymore. She had a career and a home and Brianna in Boston, and he had a print shop and a happy life in Edinburgh; maybe that was better than all this angst, she wonders. Jamie shrugs that it’s never exactly been easy for them, but: “You belong with me. We’re mated for life, Sassenach. Will you risk the man I am for the sake of the one you once knew?” Claire is about to answer but she notices a ship descending on the island right as Young Ian is skipping down from the castle with a honking big box of treasure. How do they think he’s going to swim back with that thing? Even Jamie had determined he couldn’t leave with it, and so he turned himself back into Grey. Oh, wait they don’t have to worry about it: The pirates club him over the head or something, and drag him and the treasure into their rowboat. Jamie, you are officially the WORST babysitter Jenny has EVER hired.