Pictures up above; the recap down below. As usual, please refrain from discussing upcoming book events, as they could be considered spoilers; however, it’s fair game to discuss deviations from the books that have already taken place.
This week is all about fire: in loins, in veins, and in actual places made of wood. It’s a bit of a slog of an episode, because we’re back to having to set the table for whatever big adventure Claire and Jamie will doubtless embark upon together, and that means clearing it first.
For Claire, her fire manifests as her professional drive (and later, her temper). Her would-be rapist makes an energetic attempt to assault her, even acting amused when she brandishes a dagger and takes a swipe. (Jamie’s claims last week that the brothel is a great place to stay because of privacy seem even more absurd now that some new stranger could just wander into their chambers.) In the scuffle, he falls backward and cracks his head on the stone floor in front of the fireplace. Jamie enters right at that time and clasps Claire’s trembling hand as she explains what happened. Just then, her assailant groans, and she snaps into action, determining that it’s a brain bleed but not a catastrophic one yet. Jamie is kind of like, “But… he tried to rape you, so no big loss?” Claire disagrees. “I can’t let him suffer. I’m a doctor,” she says. “I have to try and save him, Jamie. Do you understand?” He doesn’t, but he knows better than to go up against a Sassenach when death is on the line.
Who’ll slice you with her dagger
But then your wounds repair?
That contradictory marvel known
As The Hippocratic Dr. Claire.
I was about to say that I am not sure I buy Claire finding life SO SACRED that she wants to perform emergency brain surgery on her would-be rapist, and as an example I was going to cite the time she murdered a particular person… and then realized my mind had crossed Outlander with Scandal. Claire did not murder the vice president in the White House; that was Olivia Pope, although I suppose the eight thousand Outlander books COULD still go in surprising directions. It’s the morning after Halloween, and the Dodgers won, and I’m in the airport waiting to fly to Vegas to see Britney… I’m not at my sharpest, and even so, my sharpest has all the danger of a stick of butter. And now I can’t remember how many lives Claire herself has taken or conspired to take, if any; regardless, I’ll give Claire the point that in the interim decades, she’s begun to view life and death differently.
Fergus, Madame Jeanne, and Willoughby join the party soon, and the patient’s bleeding body is heaved up onto the white-sheeted bed at a fairly leisurely rate, considering. I kept waiting for Madame Jeanne to be like, “BUT WHAT ABOUT MY LINENS,” and then I remembered it’s a brothel and she’s probably had a lot worse run through her laundry.
Exposition time: The man’s name is John Barton, and he’s Sir Percival’s thug — that being the imperious Brit to whom Jamie paid hush money last week. Jamie explains that he pays Sir Percival a cut of his profits in exchange for a blind eye to his illegal booze dealings. Fergus asks, “Do you think he’s had word we’re trading as far as Dundee?” Jamie chews his lip. “Maybe,” he says. “Just yesterday he attempted to extort me” for more cash. Yes, Jamie, and when he did, he said he heard you’d been trading as far as Dundee, so I’m PRETTY SURE we know the answer to Fergus’s question. Come on, MacDubh, don’t be the Dumbbonnet.
Claire announces she needs to pop over to Rite-Aid and pick up some laudanum and other supplies before beginning this apparently not-urgent neurological procedure. Jamie and Willoughby are charged with watching the patient, though Jamie would like Claire to abandon her cockamamie brain surgery scheme — given that if she’s caught she’ll be presumed guilty, because Scotland is in a particularly unforgiving century and the police will assume the man was innocent and she an adulterous wench who assaulted him. She won’t relent. “Stubborn as always,” he says, but you can tell he finds it kinda hot. Meanwhile, Madame Jeanne is extremely concerned that an agent of the Crown might come poking around in her establishment, given that all Jamie’s cargo is in her basement. Fergus and Young Ian are sent to offload it, and Young Ian all but salutes uncle in his enthusiasm: “I WILLNA DISAPPOINT YOU UNCLE JAMIE,” he burbles. He has the most open and eager face. He’s like a hairless flavor of Roger: just as anxious to impress, but less repressed about it. Like Rog with a dose of Ralph Wiggum.
WHO’LL HANDLE ANY JOB YOU HAVE
BE IT LARGE OR DIRTY OR CLEAN?
IT’S ME! MEEEE! YOUNG IAN WILL!
I AM SO EXCITED TO SHOW YOU THAT I AM GREAT AT THINGS!!!! IAN!
Young Ian, it turns out, has a knack for dealmaking. He offloads the whiskey and three “free” barrels of creme de menthe to a dude who’s completely suckered in by the prospect of free liquor (even though Jamie points out later that he knows zero Scotsmen who actually consume creme de menthe). Fergus is impressed with his cunning. Oh, Ian. It’s impressive that he can negotiate, because the rest of the time he opens his mouth and feelings come right out — like when he fascinatedly asked Claire if she was a witch, or here when he wants to know if Fergus remembers anything about her. Fergus fondly says she was spirited and brave. “She would hear men who’d been cut in half by swords, blown to pieces by cannon fire,” he says. “She saved many lives. But there were rumors… that milady took a few lives as well. She’s not a woman you want to cross.” Ian processes this and then concludes that anyone Claire had to kill clearly deserved it. Fergus grins that she’s created quite the catastrophe here today, which… I mean, if y’all weren’t smuggling, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Just saying. Anyway, the point is: Ian is clearly awed by Claire, by Fergus, by Scotland, by everything.
UNCLE JAMIE I DID IT I TALKED TO A GROWNUP
PLEASE SEE HOW CLEVER I’VE BEEN!!!
YOUNG IAN’S MY NAME AND I’VE SAVED THE DAY
BUT I MIGHT BE A LITTLE BIT AFRAID OF YOUR WIFE THOUGH BUT THAT’S OKAY BECAUSE SHE’S PROBABLY NOT GOING TO KILL ME BECAUSE I AM NOT MEAN! IAN!!!!!
It will not surprise you that RIGHT when Claire is about to go all Fraser’s Anatomy on her patient, Sir Percival’s Spidey Sense has tingled its way over to Madame Jeanne’s. So, downstairs, Jamie is engaging in a cat-and-mouse game with Sir P, while upstairs Claire is DRILLING INTO THE BAD GUY’S SKULL. Willoughby just kinda watches with great interest as she drains the clot right outta there. He also insists on referring to her as Honorable Wife, which… among other objections, I don’t buy for a second that Claire wouldn’t have said, “Please just call me Claire because I am a fully realized individual,” even though he obviously is complimenting her. (I like Willoughby; I just feel like this show can’t totally decide how far to go with what is clearly a bit of a stereotype.) Anyway, Percival finds nothing, and Jamie returns upstairs to find a very, very clean corpse and a very, very clean bed. Claire huffs, “Well, he’s dead, so you got your wish.” Willoughby gently says — as much for Claire as for Jamie — that she tried her very hardest to save him, but Jamie will hear no more sympathy for the devil.
As Willoughby leaves to find a way to dispose of the body, Jamie and Claire argue. He wants to write this off as God’s will, but Claire is flailing: “I’ve dedicated the last 14 years of my life to respecting human life. To healing people without judgment. I work hard. I don’t often lose a patient.” Cut yourself some slack, girlfriend. You’re using a hand-cranked drill and whiskey. I couldn’t even tap a wooden keg that way. Jamie lovingly notes that she’ll have loads more opportunities to save people, just like last time, because — my words — people bleed all over the place wherever they go. Claire, emotional, nods and tries to smile, and then essentially apologizes for causing Jamie so much trouble and putting his livelihood in jeopardy. Jamie’s like, “Eh, it’s fine.” What he should have said is, “No. This is a muck of my own making that predates you, and perhaps if I hadn’t been making an illegal living all these years, nobody would care at all for my comings and goings, and rapist shitbarges wouldn’t be poking around my room looking for my ledgers.”
He does, however, go in for a little sweet talk, telling her that she came thousands of miles and 200 years just to find him, and that he would chuck the lot of it for her. “Since you left, I’ve been living in the shadows. When you walked into the print shop, it was as if the sun returned and cast out the darkness.” She’s all, “PHEW okay thanks gotta go run another errand.” See, when she was at Duane MacReade, she bargained her way to the front of the queue by promising a man, Archibald Campbell, that she’d drop in on his ailing sister free of charge. Jamie wants Fergus to escort her but she refuses; she’s anonymous to Sir Percival, and she’s pretty sure she can take care of herself. That will only last for so long, though. At this rate, he will know her by the trail of the dead. It’s only been 24 hours and she’s already got one kill.
The Dunbonnet was a wily brute;
MacDubh had a fearsome stare.
But not even Red Jamie can compete
With the Kill List of Dr. Claire.
Oh, Claire, I tease. Don’t be cross.
Fergus and Ian are imbibing at a local tavern, toasting their success, with Fergus dreaming of the day when they will run their own profitable scams. Young Ian is dreaming of something else: He also asks Fergus if French whiskey gives you eternal boners (which he calls “cock-stands,” and now all I can picture is a bicycle with a large penis propping it up). Fergus, and basically every woman in the world, says, “UM NO.” Turns out Young Ian has his eye on Brighid, a comely barmaid, and Fergus decides that Young Ian is going to man up all over the place that very night. Ian is mortified and thrilled.
WHO’LL PLUCK HIS NO-GOOD FLOWER
AND GIVE HIS MANHOOD SOME STEAM?
THIS GUY! IAN!! IT’S ALL HAPPENING FOR ME!
IT’S LIKE A DREAM COMING TRUE AND HONESTLY I’M A LITTLE NERVOUS BUT I’M PRETTY SURE THIS DRINK IS GOING TO MAKE ME ROCK HARD SO LET’S GET MORE OF THAT PLEASE! IAN!!!
We learn that Fergus lost his virginity in a menage a trois when he was fifteen, which seems KIND OF unusual for a kid who lived in Scotland at the time, unless it happened in a brothel. Right? I mean, my knowledge of the sexual practices of late 18th-century lasses is very limited, but that feels like more of a Versailles story (also, this part made me think very sadly of the fact that Fergus ACTUALLY lost his virginity by being raped in a House of Ill-Repute by Black Jack Randall — though it sounds like in the books, he was portrayed as having been forced into many other encounters beforehand, which is even more distressing). Young Ian doesn’t even know what Fergus is saying. “Two women, one moi,” Fergus grins, as Ian turns pale with awe. “It was a rather religious experience.” Young Ian has no idea what to do. I kept expecting Fergus to use elaborate hand gestures, but instead he just tells him, effectively, to flatter her and get her drunk. I wish I could say that advice would be enormously different today. Sigh.
Oh, but Sir Percival’s one-eyed henchman is watching from the shadows. Danger has donned its nighttime bloomers and will now dance the Highland Reel OF THE DAMNED.
Fergus summons Young Ian’s waitress and then bolts. Young Ian is very nearly unable to get out any words, until he borrows from Fergus’s advice and tells her she’s the most glorious creature he’s ever beheld, and that he’d like to buy her any drink her heart desires. Grinning, she plops down and asks for whiskey. Is she not… working? Or are they at the brothel and she’s a prostitute? Apologies for being vague on the details. She sure LOOKS like a barmaid. Anyhoo, Young Ian’s saucer-eyed delight charms her, and later we cut to them drunkenly singing through the streets as he leads her back to the print shop. (Which has a PLENTY acceptable place to sleep and/or boink, so I’m not sure what Jamie’s on about here.) They make out for a bit, and then he gallops over and tries to prepare for a backwards pounding, because he thinks that’s how it’s done, because it’s all he’s ever seen at the whorehouse. “I’m not a whore tonight, am I?” she giggles, further confusing me about what her job is. “Lie down and I’ll show you,” she says, to Ian’s rapacious glee.
EVERYTHING’S COMING UP IAN
ESPECIALLY IN MY PANTS.
I’VE GOT THAT LOVIN’ FEELIN’
AND I REALLY HOPE THIS LASTS AT LEAST TWO MINUTES. MAYBE EVEN THREE!!!! IAN!!!!!
Claire, meanwhile, is at the Campbells’ house. Archibald’s sister Margaret is touched in the head, as they’d have put it in olden times, veering from raving rants to catatonic silences. Archibald comes across all caring, but really, he’s a charlatan: He tells everyone Margaret is a seer, but that she needs him to translate her psychic visions. For a fee, of course. Claire uses GREAT restraint in not eye-rolling any of this, and prescribes some specific tea concoction to give her instead of the laudanum he’s drugging her with; he claims he does that to keep her from freaking out strangers with her ramblings, but it also comes across like he’s not keen on her giving it away for free when he can turn it into a cottage industry. He’s not venomous — yet — but more of an opportunist. It’s revealed that Claire can’t check on them tomorrow because they will set sail for the West Indies, and aha, the pieces here are starting to fall into place: I’m guessing Jamie and Claire end up on that ship, because it’s terribly convenient that she now knows of a getaway craft, and further I’m guessing Margaret Campbell might turn out to be the 200-year old skeleton that was delivered to Joe Abernathy in 1968. (Don’t tell me. Let me be woefully wrong.)(But I’m totally going to gloat if I’m right, because gloating is fun.)
Claire drifts back to Jamie’s room, which does not smell of brain fluid nor blood, and learns he hid the dead body in a cask of creme de menthe — which I hope will be one of the ones that Fergus and Young Ian gave away to the merchant. It’ll impart that special umami flavor. Claire tentatively asks Jamie if they will ever get a place of their own. MacDubhass is genuinely surprised she would want to leave a whorehouse when they’ve got a roof, a fire, a door that does not seem to lock, sex noises covering their every moan, food, and free rent. Besides which he sends all his money to Lallybroch. Claire — presumably inspired by Archibald Campbell, Pre-Vaudevillian Entrepreneur — suggests that she’d like to open up a Little Shop of Healing and make some scratch (“legitimate cash,” she does not say, but surely means). But they don’t get a chance to finish that conversation because Old Ian shows up in search of his namesake loin-fruit, and Claire stands by in shock as Jamie openly lies to him about it. Ian’s grief and worry is obvious, and Claire’s disillusionment at the ease with which Jamie inflicts it — pretending he’s not seen Young Ian — becomes more and more clear. However, it IS sweet to see how delighted and emotional Ian is to see Claire, if also slightly dumbstruck to realize that they grieved her so thoroughly when in fact she’s perfectly fine and hasn’t even bothered to get a wrinkle.
Jamie is also, by the way, lying to Claire: “You’ve not told her yet?” Ian asks. Jamie shrugs it off. “I’m waiting for the proper time. All will be well,” he says. “You’ll see.
Who’ll live in warm denial,
His better sense occluded?
Why, it’s that blinkered rogueish sex train
The Uncomprehending MacDubhluded
Young Ian is getting expertly ridden by Bridget, and they’re both having a bonny good time until One-Eye breaks into the print shop looking for the casks of booze. Ian wrangles his blue balls back into his britches, helps Bridget escape, and bravely marches in and WHAT’S ALL THIS THENs the situation. In the ensuing fight, One-Eye throws Ian against the doors to Jaime’s secret room, and they spring open — Claire! You should have brought back some combination locks! — to reveal the stash of treasonous literature. But, as we all imagined would happen, the shop catches alight. One-Eye escapes with the pamphlet, and poor Young Ian is left inside.
THE BURNING IN MY MANBAGS
LED TO A FIRE AT MY JOB.
NOW NO ONE WILL KNOW YOUNG IAN
MANAGED TO GET HIS KNOB ALL UP IN SOME LADYBUSINESS SO BASICALLY EVERYONE IS GOING TO THINK I DIED A VIRGIN WHICH IS BASICALLY THE WORST AAARGH ALSO MY CROTCH HURTS
Jamie and Claire are having a fight after Old Ian leaves: “Years apart canna erase the meaning of THAT look,” he says, humorously, before realizing Claire is NOT IMPRESSED. Jamie shrugs off her concerns about lying to Jenny and Ian, because his logic is that the truth will not be acceptable to them but he can do nothing to change it: “I’ve tried to send him home twice, but he came back each time.” He ALSO makes it sound like Jenny and Ian are lamebrains who don’t want Young Ian to learn the ways of the world, forcing Jamie to teach him. Claire is like, “AHEM, he is THEIR child, and you sound LIKE A LUNATIC.” Jamie thinks it’s mighty rich of her to abhor his lie when the two of them romped through Paris and Scotland on a bed of them, and given that she just told a whopper to Old Ian. Claire correctly notes that sparing Ian a story about time travel that will explode his head is simply a harmless white lie. “I didn’t realize lies have shades,” Jamie hisses. And here, Claire barges right on into the worst thing she can say: She says that Jamie has no idea what it means to be a worried parent.
She’s deft with a drill and a scalpel
And her stitches are damned debonair.
But her words are the weapons she cuts with the best,
Does our rapier-tongued lass Dr. Claire.
Silence. Claire doesn’t seem to have quite connected the dots here that Jamie has all this parenting he wishes he could do, but life robbed him of the chance. He makes it clear here, though, when he brings up how he never got a say in how Brianna was raised. He dredges up the bikini again, too, as if we don’t already get that Times Are Square Here. “Christ, I forgot how rigid this century is. You’re either a Madonna or a whore,” Claire seethes, although honestly, can she possibly have expected him to react any other way to a photograph of his daughter sitting on the beach with a dude in public in something racier than any undergarment he knows? Claire is smarter than that. But even so, it’s a bit tiresome that all he can do is throw back some 18th century version of slut-shaming over the bathing suit. Claire counters with, “If we’d raised her to be a criminal, or a smuggler, you’d approve?” Jamie is all WELL AT LEAST SHE WOULDN’T BE TAINTED BY THE DEMON BIKINI THAT HAS DESTROYED HER VIRTUE. Claire sniffs that Frank was a fabulous father to Brianna. Way to rub that in, Claire. Somehow, instead of telling Claire she’s kind of a jerk for throwing in his face that his whole life is paternus interruptus, Jamie turns this around into the jealous ask of whether Claire ever fell back in love with Frank. She says no, but never gets to explain that they made each other miserable and wallowed in mutual enmity, because Madame Jeanne arrives with news of the fire.
It will shock you that Jamie barges in there, finds Ian, and rescues him — but not before climbing up and recovering the tiny portrait of Willie. Young Ian explains what happened, leaving out the bit about how he might’ve left the shop vulnerable because he was pitching woo and then pitching tents. Fergus is going to try and locate the man before he can fork over the leaflet, but that seems a faint hope, given what a head start he has — although Young Ian did throw boiling hot water in his face, so it’s as likely they’ll find him dunking his own head into a rain barrel. Jamie plots his, Claire’s, and Ian’s escape to parts indecipherable (my closed captioning wasn’t triggering), but Claire crossly demands that Young Ian be returned to Lallybroch before she and Jamie and/or Fergus or ANY of their ragtag bunch skips town. Jamie reluctantly agrees, then pulls Fergus aside, at which point Fergus asks Jamie whether Claire knows about his other wife. Jamie shrugs that he’ll just wait and tell her later once everyone is safe. GOOD PLAN, James. That’s not going to blow up in your face like so many print shops AT ALL.
As they glance at the shop, aflame and in ruins, the A.MALCOLM sign ominously falls to the ground and burns.
It was nice while it lasted, my friend,
But it’s time to vacate this locale.
So much for this name — it’s a traitor’s brand now.
Fare thee well, Mr. A-dot-Mal.
But WHAT OF GEORDIE, JAMIE?!? Why is nobody thinking of him? Did we spend all that time with him last week for NOTHING?
However, it IS a relief to see that next week Claire is starting to doubt her connection with Jamie, given that he was a dink about Young Ian AND has spent the better part of two decades being a total scamp. Oh, and has a secret wife. James, you had better stop kvetching about the bikini and GET RIGHT.