There's have a lot to unpack in this episode, namely how exactly Claire appears to be getting younger with every passing year. She and Jamie have yet to reunite, which I'm still a big fan of, and her relationship with Frank has reached Revolutionary Road levels of bad. As for Jamie, well, he's still Jamie, just a little smellier. Let's dive in!
"All Debts Paid" opens in 1956 Boston and Frank is cooking! Apparently Brianna came home from school the other day and asked for Eggo toaster wafflers, which insulted his sensibilities as an Englishman. Black pudding and fried toast it is!
Inspired by Frank’s culinary prowess, Claire suggests that they see a movie together; she doesn’t have class tonight. But womp womp, Frank has already seen everything because he’s a man about town, i.e he’s been seeing other people, and taking them to The Searchers and Carousel. No one can fault him for this though, as the two seem to have an open marriage. How progressive! Frank promises he’s being discreet, which is nice? Thoughtful? I guess.
1755 finds us at Ardsmuir prison, where Major John Grey, the same man whose brother spared Jamie’s life at Culloden (and whose life Jamie in turn saved before the battle of Prestonpans), has taken up command. The former Commander gives him the rundown, which is basically that there’s nothing to do here aside from paperwork and booze. There’s also a rumor going around that King Louis XIV sent some gold to Charles Stuart before the rebellion that’s hidden somewhere in these parts, so he could also hunt for that if he's so inclined.
You'll have guessed that Ardsmuir is the very same prison that houses one Jamie Fraser, now known as MacDubh. The prisoners treat him as their chief, and he’s the only one kept in chains. To ensure goodwill, the former commander suggests inviting Jamie to dinner once a week. Grey is not down.
Those chains on Jamie look awfully uncomfortable. Poor bb is sharing a dank cell with a bunch of other Jacobite prisoners, who all show him respect and deference. Good news at last: Murtagh is alive! The bad news is he’s not looking so hot. Please, Outlander writers and producers, do not bring Murtagh back only to kill him. My poor little heart cannot deal.
Jamie thinks Grey looks familiar, but can't place him. Murtagh thinks all Englishmen look alike, which prompts a bitter conversation about the loss of his tartan. Looks like he’s saved a piece, which is a punishable offense. UM, THE RATS HAVE BEEN BITING HIM?!
John Grey asks to meet with Jamie to invite him to continue the weekly dinner tradition. After seeing a rat crawling around his chambers, he asks Jamie about the conditions in the cells. Grey declares that each cell should have its own cat — he’s nice like that. But Jamie points out that the men wouldn’t be too pleased with a cat taking all their rats. They eat them, you see. UGH.
Back in Boston, it’s 1958 and Claire is graduating med school. Mazel tov!
After taking a very awkward photo together, Frank asks Claire if she shouldn’t be leaving to make her celebratory reservation soon. Supposedly, he has work to finish but by the expression on his face, I assume he has a date coming over and doesn’t want them to cross paths. Bad form, Frank. Oh, and there’s the doorbell. Great.
Of course, Claire answers it, and finds a little blond lady who obviously was expecting a very different scenario. Claire ushers everyone out of the house and leaves Frank to his “work” with an impressive glare.
Back in the past, British officers come across a man wandering the moor. He’s clearly delusional, and going on about gold so they bring him back to Ardsmuir. Once John Grey hears a mention of gold, he brings Jamie in to translate the man’s Gaelic. Jamie declines, until Grey makes him a promise: he’ll have his irons struck off. After wearing them for three years (!), Jamie is keen to be free. He also asks that Grey provide blankets and medicine for the sick men in the prison, like the leader he is.
Home from the restaurant, Claire berates Frank for his tryst. “You invited her here,” she says. “Where our daughter lives.”
His excuse: “You were taking the car, so she was just picking me up.” Weak, Frank. Weak.
Claire accuses him of deliberately wanting to hurt her, which really isn’t fair since she’s been avoiding him for the past 10 years or so. When she asks if he's fucked Sandy, the PhD fellow in historical linguistics, in their bedroom, he responds:“I think our bedroom is far too crowded already.” Ouch.
Claire suggests that they should just get a divorce, but Frank refuses. This is the 1950s and a court will surely rule that a child needs her mother more than her father. He's not ready to give up Brianna.
Jamie tends to the man from the moor, whose name is Duncan Kerr, and asks him about the gold. Most of what he says is rubbish, until he mentions a white witch, Claire’s 18th century nickname. When Jamie presses him for more info, Kerr dies. When making his report to Grey, Jamie faithfully reports every work, but takes care to make it all sound like the ravings of a mad man. Looks like Grey is still suspicious.
[Flash forward: It’s Brie’s 16th birthday and Claire/Frank’s 60s aesthetic is strong.]
Later, Jamie tells Murtagh about the so-called White Witch of the moor, and Murtagh urges him to find out more. “I think of her, every now and then,” he says. AWWW Murtagh!
Then, Jamie goes off to dinner with Grey, and it’s… nice? Over pheasant in a red wine sauce ("vin de Bourgogne," pardon me), Jamie asks that the men be able to hunt so they can adequately feed themselves. He also preaches the gospel of greens in preventing scurvy, a trick taught to him by his wife.For a second, we catch a glimpse of old Jamie in that smile. He's still in there underneath all the grime and pain.
The next day, Jamie escapes, and three days later, he comes back, surprising Grey mid-piss, just as the latter did to him all those years ago. Jamie hasn’t given any indication so far that he recognized Grey, but looks like he was just biding his time. He reminds Grey that he promised to kill him once his debt was discharged, and offers him the sword. Grey tells him he won’t murder an unarmed prisoner, so that’s that.
This little moment seems to have forged the bond between the two, and Jamie tells Grey the meaning of the words Duncan Kerr spoke: he thought he might find Claire on the coast.
[Flash forward: Claire and Frank are proud 1966 parents as they watch Brianna graduate high school. (“That’s my girl!” *Heart melts*)]
The doctor finally comes to see Murtagh. Three months later, and he’s getting better. All he needed was a little TLC!
New friends Jamie and Grey enjoy a little game of chess, bonding over losing those they love. Grey shares about his “particular friend” who died at Culloden. “Some people you grieve over forever," he says, echoing Jamie's feelings.
Everything goes smoothly until Grey makes a move on Jamie, who threatens to kill him if he ever lays a hand on him again. Poor Grey — he really reminds me of Thomas from Downton Abbey. He's only mean because the world has been so cruel to him.
In the future, Frank informs Claire that he's ready for a divorce now that Brianna is 18; he wants to take her to England to live with him and Sandy the blonde PhD student. (The derision with which Claire calls her “Candy” is admirably shady.)
Claire loses her shit and threatens him with all sorts of terrible things if he tries to take Brianna from her. He, on the other hand, "would like to live the rest of my life with a wife who truly loves me," which is fair, I guess. After one last jab at Claire's undying love for Jamie, Frank turns and leaves. Claire gets a call from the hospital and heads there to check on a patient.
Back in Scotland, the prison is closing. As a convicted traitor, Jamie can’t follow the rest of the prisoners to indentured servitude in America (he can’t be freed without royal approval), so he is separated from Murtagh again, which really is not okay.
Grey has arranged for Jamie to serve in the household of a family friend, Lord Dunsany, at his estate called Hellwater. He suggests Jamie change his name, as his host is not well-disposed toward Jacobites, and promises to visit once a quarter. They share a final bonding moment, and I decide I like John Grey.
Meanwhile, Claire is giving good news to a frantic husband when Joe walks in looking somber: Frank’s been in a car accident, and is lying in the hospital morgue.
After all they've been through, the final moment between the two is simple, and all the sweeter for it. That moment where Claire leans in to kiss (smell?) Frank's neck made me sob out loud.
“If you’re still close enough to hear me," she whispers. "I did love you. Very much. You were my first love.”
RIP Frank. #TeamFrank4ever
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