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[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for “Outlander” Season 3 Episode 6, “A. Malcolm.”]
Unrequited, Requited Love
Coming face-to-face with the spouse you were forced to give up in battle two decades ago is a pretty unnerving thing — not just emotionally but also physically. Given that Jamie had no clue Claire was about to resurface, it’s no wonder he fainted, but on an even deeper level, these are characters that have supposedly aged 20 years since they last saw each other. The nerves, self-consciousness and innate fear of acceptance that situation would bring are pretty heavy; you’ve been carrying around this memory of a person for all those years. Not only do you want them to see you the same, but you wonder how they’ll look, act and have aged in their wisdom too.
Luckily this is television and both stars are just as pretty naked as they are clothed (Claire dyed her hair and Jamie has glasses, no biggie), so the hot-and-heavy love scenes that viewers have been waiting for were… well, hot-and-heavy. And there were extra long money shots of Jamie’s butt and back scars for good measure. Hey — the audience has been waiting and if you’re going to spend all of that money and time in makeup, you might as well show the goods, right?
When Two Become One
To be fair the reunion sex wasn’t all steam, thanks to a specifically awkward Claire nose-bop on Jamie’s forehead. Even the sultriest of lovers have to have awkward moments every once in a while, especially when they haven’t consummated their relationship in 20 years. That’s what keeps them real, y’all.
Of course, reunion sex wasn’t the only thing on this couple’s agenda; what makes them an epic couple is their soulmate status. As such, Claire and Jamie also got plenty of time to catch up on important matters, like what it is they’ve been doing with their lives during their time apart. Surprisingly, Jamie told Claire straightaway about his illegitimate son Willie, a huge departure from the book (more on that below), and explained that his new business ventures meant the duo probably wouldn’t be settling at Lallybroch again anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Claire ‘fessed up about Frank’s death and their life together before that, Brianna’s disposition and her new surgical skills, something Jamie found unsurprising given the fact that his wife has always been a healer. Oh, imagine how far her career might have gone had Claire had Jamie in her corner instead of Frank. But you know, in a post-World War II era.
All Grown Up
One of the luxuries of having had 20 years of time pass in the series is that some of the child actors — although fun to watch — can now be cast as adults. That meant saying a sad goodbye to Romann Berrux as young Fergus, and hello to the more dashing, adult version of the character as played by Cesar Domboy. His return in the episode was brief at best (audiences needed their Claire and Jamie time, after all), but given the character’s ongoing loyalty to Jamie, it’s a no-brainer that he’ll be a strong presence for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, we also got to meet wee Ian Murray (John Bell), all grown up. He rushed into Claire’s room where he unexpectedly met his famed witchy aunt, but for now, his storyline and what he was doing looking for Jamie remains to be seen. It’s all a part of this world re-building process, as we’re entering the time period through Claire’s eyes. Lots to catch up on in the coming weeks.
The episode also marked the official debut of Mr. Willoughby, a.k.a. Yi Tien Cho, as played by New Zealand actor Gary Young. A huge character in the book, Mr. Willoughby’s introduction wasn’t necessarily as lit up as it was in the novel, but it was still memorable thanks to some exposition between himself and Claire in order to give the character some background. As with all new characters on this show, the jury is still out on whether we can trust him, but it’s nice that we’re finally adding some new people to the mix and opening up the narrative for the coming weeks.
Brothels and Booze
Speaking of new people, if anything would make a newly reunited couple feel uneasy around each other it has to be reuniting in a brothel… especially when there are women around who seem to be entirely too familiar with Jamie. But as the character quickly explained to Claire, there has been no tomfoolery going on at the establishment involving his own person; in fact, the prostitutes are customers of his thanks to his new bootlegged liquor business.
You’d think by now Jamie would have learned to keep his head low or to try and go legitimate with the printing business, but between the papist prose he’s been publishing and the illegal booze, it seems like the character has just as much of a death wish as ever. OK, so maybe that can all be chalked up to morals and making a living in a post-Charles Stuart world, but however you see it, Claire and her sense of adventure should make her the perfect companion to stand by his side throughout it all.
A Cliffhanger Ending
So let’s talk about that dude that attacked Claire in the final moments of the episode… we all know he’s not going to actually kill her, right? The real question is, who will save her and what does the guy want? Sometimes waiting another week with this series is not the best for our nerves.
By the Book
Let’s go back to Diana Gabaldon’s third novel, “Voyager,” for a moment. At this point in the season there are seven episodes left and a lot of story left to cover. So tweaks to the narrative are expected, if not necessary. That meant Jamie revealing Willie’s existence to Claire early on rather than waiting for Claire to discover his identity on her own, causing a fight between the couple. In this particular episode the shortened timeline also meant no brutal attack scene at the bar, which had Claire and Jamie running for their lives shortly following their reunion. Claire meeting young Ian also differed from the book’s original set-up, in which Ian Sr. appeared beforehand and informed Jamie that his son had run away from home. These small tweaks are all meant to condense the story into TV time and dig into the heart of it all, leading to a more concise narrative that gives us all the best drama.
And, considering some of the places we’re going next, these small changes won’t affect things at all.
Next week: Jamie evades the Crown as Claire is faced with a moral dilemma. “Outlander” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz and on W Network in Canada.