Good news! We got some sex on this week's episode of Outlander. Bad news! It was all very sad sex.
Last week's episode ended with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Frank (Tobias Menzies) promising to start anew with baby Brianna, while wounded Jamie returned home to Lallybroch in the aftermath of Culloden.
Things in Scotland have not improved in "Surrender," this week's episode which takes place six years after the battle. The British are still searching for Jacobite traitors in the Highlands, specifically someone known as "The Dunbonnet," who I would bet millions is Jamie (Sam Heughan) in a brown hat.
All in all, it's a poor climate to be playing with a gun, which is exactly what Fergus (Romann Berrux) is doing, along with Jenny's son Jamie (who will henceforth be known as Young Jamie), and his friend Rabbie. Despite this foolishness, I am obsessed with Fergus. Has there every been such a beautiful boy?
Someone spies a troop of British officers riding into the courtyard, and Fergus hides the gun under some hay in the dovecote. Did someone say Chekov?
The British have come to take Ian away for what is apparently the millionth time. They suspect/know that the traitor known as Red Jamie and the Dunbonnet are the same person, which is to say Jamie Fraser. The one saving grace for this family is that Jamie signed over the deed to the land to Young Jamie before Culloden at Claire's suggestion, which means the house won't be confiscated. (Historical note: In the years following the conflict, anyone connected with the Jacobite cause was stripped of their titles and land, and their families left to starve. There was a famine in the Highlands, and the use of bagpipes, Gaelic and tartan were banned, as were traditional clan allegiances.)
Regardless, the soldiers take Ian (Steven Cree) for questioning, unknowingly riding right past their wanted man who is hiding in the woods. Oh My God. I mean, I'd seen the promo pictures of Jamie's new lewk, but nothing quite prepares you for the full impact. Nothing. That beard! That hair! THAT HAT!
Appearances aside, this is not the Jamie we know and love. This is wounded Jamie, damaged Jamie — not just physically, but emotionally. He is sullen and silent, brooding the loss of his love. When he returns to Lallybroch to deliver a stag he hunted, Jenny (Laura Donnelly) explains why she doesn't mind lying to the British about him: "James Fraser has not been here for a long, long time."
As Jamie continues to pound away at that deer carcass, Claire is having a sexy dream, presumably about Jamie pounding something else. (Oh hai, Jamie butt!) But when she looks over next to her, instead of Jamie's slow grin, she finds a sleeping Frank. Bummer. At least he doesn't snore.
Claire's day is made up of small victories, like Baby Brianna turning over all by herself. (Take that Dr. Spock!) At the very same time as this blessed miracle, the boiler cuts out in the middle of Frank's shower, causing him to come downstairs in his towel. Come to daddy, indeed. That dream seems to have awoken something in Claire because she is looking at her husband with a look that screams "I have not had sex in years and I NEED IT."
(Confession: I tripped and fell on Tobias Menzies during an interview once and he was really nice about it. I've been #TeamFrank ever since.)
Back in the forest, we get to see where Jamie's been living this whole time. It's a cave — he is literally a caveman. Sometimes, Fergus comes to keep him company. Oh look, and he brought the gun. Why are all the pretty ones so dumb?
Like me, Fergus doesn't understand where his old Milord has gone. This new Jamie is so stern! He warns Fergus to put the weapon back and never touch it again.
Of course, having said that, we are bound to see some gun action. The next time Jamie comes down to Lallybroch happens to be the same day Jenny goes into labor.
During the birth, Fergus and Rabie spy a raven on one of the ramparts, which is apparently a bad omen. Fergus has the bright idea to shoot it with the gun he's not supposed to have. The British garrison in the forest hear the shot, and head to the house, forcing Jamie to hide with the newborn, nearly smothering him in the process. Jenny tells the British the baby died was a stillborn, and after many, many questions, Mary McNab (Emma Campbell-Jones) shows up with the gun and says it's hers. They finally leave, but not without suspicion.
Meanwhile, Claire is lying in bed, stroking Frank's face. "I miss my husband," she tells him when he wakes up, and they have sex. (Note, that Claire is closing her eyes the whole time, so it's unclear which husband she misses.)
Approximately 200 years in the past, Ian comes home to Lallybroch. MacGregor, a Scottish volunteer, taunts him by saying the British have got a plan to catch Jamie, with a pointed look to Fergus who immediately runs out to tell his master about it. Obviously this was a trap, and MacGregor lies in wait. Fergus is no dummy though, and realizes the soldiers are following him, so he leads them on a wild goose chase. Unfortunately, that makes MacGregor extra mad.
Jamie, checking snares for rabbits, hears the whole exchange, which ends with Macgregor CUTTING OFF FERGUS' HAND. I'm getting very severe Jaime Lannister flashbacks, and I am not okay.
As soon as the British leave, Jamie (Fraser, this time) scrambles down to his young friend and fashions a makeshift tourniquet for bb Fergus' arm. We are treated to a close-up of the the hand, just lying there.
Fergus' injury just about breaks Jamie, who falls sobbing into Jenny's arms. The little cutie still has his sense of humor though, and reminds Milord of his promise that if he lost a hand in his service, he would support him for life. "In one stroke, I have become a man of leisure," Fergus jokes, as I laugh/sob.
Speaking of leisure, Claire and Frank have a dinner party with the neighbors, whose obvious physical attention make them deeply uncomfortable — they're still on shaky ground. After they leave, the two share a nightcap and banter, which eventually leads to some kissy kissy by the fire. Unfortunately, it doesn't end well — Frank wants Claire to look at him during sex, and Claire is tired of being asked to prove herself every single time they touch.
Finally, Frank speaks plainly: "Claire when I'm with you, I'm with you. But you're with him."
"Him" is having a drink with Ian, who shares his insight on missing limbs as a metaphor for Jamie losing Claire. ("That's just a hand, Claire was your heart.") But Fergus' plight is the final straw for Jamie, who finally realizes that the redcoats will never stop harassing his family until they find the Dunbonnet/Red Jamie. He wants Jenny to turn him in for the reward money. She is...pleased with this plan, but Ian chimes in to say that the British aren't hanging Jacobites anymore, just imprisoning them, which is extra convenient.
So, it's settled. Jamie returns to his cave for one last night, and Mary McNab surprises him with a home-cooked meal, and..."company" (wink wink), no strings attached. She also shaves him and cuts his mane of hair, so he looks almost like old Jamie again. Oh, my heart.
Finally, we end with our first Claire narration of the season. Although she's enjoying being a mother, she doesn't want it to be her only purpose in life, which only serves to prove that no matter how back in time she goes, Claire is a forward-thinker:
"I threw myself into my new role as best I could, but there was still something missing in my life. Once I had thought I was whole. I had been able to love a man, to bear a child, to heal the sick, and all these things were natural parts of me. But the man I had loved was Jamie, and for a time, I had been part of something greater than myself. I wanted that again. That's why I knew eventually, I would need to do something more."
And so, Hot 1950s Claire enrolls at Harvard Medical School, where she is the only woman in her Anatomy class, subjected to sexist comments by professors and rude boys. Another outsider, the only Black student in the class, sits down next to her and introduces himself: Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson), known to book readers as Claire's future BFF. At home however, things are not so great. Despite their friendly demeanor, Frank and Claire are revealed to be sleeping in separate beds. So much for that fresh start.
Ultimately, Jamie's plan works, and he is captured by the British who think they've set a trap for him, with Jenny's help. He's carted away to the sounds of bagpipes, which are banned in Scotland at that time. In fact, the instrument is actually being played in Claire's timeline. She comes across a piper on a Boston bridge, and stares wistfully before giving him some change.
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