First things first: Can we talk about the theme song? Here I was, ready to do my little Outlander sway-y dance, and my groove was totally thrown by the strange sudden island drumbeat. Why change a good thing, Outlander? This is somehow worse than the French lyrics of Season 2.
This is a problem because A) Jamie gets horribly seasick, and B) sailors aren't great fans of women on ships. To counter the superstition, everyone is required to kiss a horseshoe before the ship casts off, which later comes to be a source of conflict when things don't go as planned with the journey.
Along for the ride are Jamie's former prison buddies, Fergus, and, to Jamie's surprise, Laoghaire's daughter Marsali. The two have secretly decided to marry, but since they haven't yet consummated their relationship, Jamie refuses to let them bunk together. (Props to Marsali for refusing to be sent home. She's got guts.) That means Claire's stuck sharing a room with the daughter of her worst enemy, who isn't too keen on seeing her step-father throw her mom over. It also means that after 20 years apart, sex is very unlikely on this journey. If Jamie and Claire want to parse what it means to be together again, they'll have to do it with words. (The fact that he kept all her old Paris dresses probably earns him some points.)
While Jamie's laid low by seasickness (later cured by Mr. Willougby's acupuncture), Claire spends her days tending to minor wounds, and dining with the ship's captain, who helpfully explains ship superstitions. The horseshoe is but one; there's also the idea that the only way for women to ward off curses is to bare their breasts! Luckily Claire doesn't need to because the carved figure at the bow has done it for her! How kind.
As more and more goes wrong on the voyage, and the wind dies, the sailors begin to grumble that someone must have forgotten to touch the horseshoe. They need someone to blame. Of course, their first candidate is Mr. Willoughby, who, as a foreigner, is immediately suspicious. But someone points out they definitely saw him touch the horseshoe, so they move on to the next target: one of Jamie's prison friends. Declaring him a Jonah, they endeavor to toss him overboard as a tribute to the seas.
This all leads to a tense moment with Jamie and said friend barely hanging onto the mast as the crowd jeers below. Thankfully, Mr. Willougby steps in and recites his life story as a distraction. It turns out he was a poet in his native China, who caught the eye of the Empress. Since the price of joining her household was voluntary castration, Willoughby fled, arriving in Scotland in the cargo of a ship, which is how he met Jamie. I was worried about Willoughby's inclusion in the series, but so far, the show's done a good job of giving him a voice. He ends the monologue with a tirade against how he's been treated in this new land: as an other, unworthy of love. Was it worth it?
It turns out that Willoughby was just buying time, sensing that a storm was on its way. The wind picks up, and the sailors are appeased.
Throughout all this brouhaha, Jamie and Claire continue to grow closer. We get some nice, lighthearted scenes between them, some bonding over the man in the moon, and even a surprise hot and sweaty sex scene! Praise be!
Also worth noting is that Claire's hair has returned to its natural state without the help of Miss Clairol, and the grey is showing. Not only has the show allowed a woman to be sexual above the age of 35, but Jamie even acknowledges the silver strands. He likes it! "If you had said that in the 20th century, you'd be the king of all men," she says. Just goes to show that 18th century/20th century, same diff.
Unfortunately, all this mushy fun stuff is interrupted by the arrival of a British warship. Concerned that they mean to press some of the crew into service (which is apparently a thing that the Navy did back then — just take random men and make them become sailors), Jamie makes Claire promise to continue on to Jamaica. In reality though, the British ship is in need of a doctor, as they're dealing with an outbreak of plague (actually, typhoid fever) onboard. Ever the eager beaver, Claire volunteers to help. She's been inoculated against the disease so she can't catch it. (Remind me never to be on an 18th century ship when there's disease — or ever really. It's truly horrendous.)
In a classic move, the British ship gets back on its way with Claire aboard, leaving Jamie behind. The good news? They're also going to Jamaica. Looks like our happy couple will have to get used to being apart again.