Have we all recovered from last week's momentous episode? Ready for another one? Good. When we last left off, Jamie had left to tend to business, leaving Claire to fend off an attacker in Madame Jeanne's brothel. "Creme de Menthe" picks up at the very same moment, with Claire brandishing a knife at her would-be rapist.
In the scuffle, he falls and smacks his head on the floor, which causes his brain to hemorrhage. When Jamie walks in, and finds his newly returned wife tending to her assailant's wounds, his reaction is to talk her out of it. Their exchange is interesting, because it tells us that A) Claire can take care of herself, which we already knew, and B) she has evolved in the 20 years since she left Jamie, and isn't going to let him push her around. As a doctor and a surgeon, it's her sworn duty to help the wounded.
The man in question turns out to be a rogue exciseman, who was presumably there to gather evidence of Jamie's shady liquor dealings. This is bad, and could bring down the law on everyone, including Madame Jeanne, who happens to be hiding a large quantity of casks in her basement. Claire wants to call the police on the man once he's better, but Jamie reminds her that this is the 18th century, and that she is a woman who assaulted a man who isn't her husband in a brothel. She'd be arrested, not him. Isn't time travel amazing?
With Claire in full doctor mode at the apothecary (good to see she hasn't forgotten the medicinal properties of ground yarrow root), Jamie sends Fergus and young Ian to sell the leftover liquor to the local pubs, and asks Mr. Willoughby to watch over the patient.
Sir Percival, the head exciseman, shows up at the worst possible time to search the premises of the brothel. He knows Jamie is hiding something. Claire returns, and with the help of Mr. Willougby, manages to relieve the pressure in her attacker's head, which should cure him. It doesn't though, and he dies. Jamie is relieved, but Claire is shaken. She has dedicated the last 14 years to healing people, she explains. That won't change just because she's come back to him.
I really appreciate this emphasis on the characters' separate personalities and evolution, especially in light of their big reunion last week. These are two people who have spent far more time apart than together. They're not going to get to know each other in the span of 24 hours. Nothing makes that more clear than when Claire asks Jamie if they can, you know, move out of the whorehouse he calls home. He hedges, reminding her that they can stay there rent-free, and that every penny he makes goes to Lallybroch. But she's a modern woman, and wants to earn her own way as a healer. She can provide! Their conversation is interrupted, but I get the feeling our brawny Scot isn't going to be too keen on the idea.
And on that note, Claire has another patient, the sister of a man she cut in line at the apothecary. In present day, Margaret Campbell would probably diagnosed with severe manic-depression. In 1763 however, she's merely deemed clairvoyant. Her brother Archibald has a job posting in the West Indies, so they're about to embark on a major journey, which explains his need for Claire to prescribe a treatment. Given the random emphasis being placed on these two, I imagine we'll be seeing them again some time down the line. Perhaps in warmer climes?
Meanwhile, it turns out Ian Murray is a grand negotiator, and he and Fergus celebrate their business acumen with a drink. (Side-note: the barman is in for a nasty surprise when he finds the body of the exciseman hidden in one of the casks of creme de menthe. On the other hand, does anyone really drink that?) This leads to Ian confessing that he finds the barmaid, Bridget, attractive, and Fergus setting them up. After heading to the print shop for another kind of reunion (there's a fun throwback to Jamie thinking sex can only be done doggy-style), Ian ends up burning the whole place down while fighting off an intruder looking for the liquor casks. Mama Jenny isn't going to be happy about any of this.
Speaking of Murrays, Ian senior arrives from Lallybroch looking for his son, who it turns out has come to Edinburgh on the sly. He has a very normal reaction to seeing Claire, which is to say his eyes nearly roll back into his head. This "I was in Boston," excuse appears very convincing, though, and Ian turns his attention back to his missing son. Jamie lies, and says he hasn't seen the boy, which seems shady. Ian is truly concerned! Claire clearly shares this indignation, and tells him so. Why is Jamie lying to his family? No way around it, he's being a dick.
We see the changes the years have wrought once more when Claire brings up the fact that Jamie has no idea what it means to be a worried parent. (Subtext: She does.) Jamie isn't as cool with the whole having another man bring up his child thing as he initially seemed. Case-in-point, he's still upset at the bikini photo. But while I enjoy a good feminist monologue, "a woman is either a madonna or a whore" is a little on the nose. We get it, guys — 18th century mores suck.
The fact that Jamie apparently has ANOTHER WIFE (WHO IS SHE????) makes his indignation about Frank even more hypocritical. Mark my words, shit's going to hit the fan.
In the meantime though, Jamie has bigger fish to fry, namely the fact that his entire legitimate business just went up in flames. Ever the hero, he dashes inside the burning print shop to save young Ian, who's okay, if a little singed. (If nothing else, watching 18th century fireman attempt to slow a blaze with nothing but buckets and a manual hose is hugely entertaining.) After coughing up a lung, Ian warns Jamie that Sir Percival's man stole some of his treasonous pamphlets. Jamie is in big trouble. To avoid being prosecuted, he decides to take young Ian back to Lallybroch. There is literally no way Claire won't find out about the other woman now. Good luck, Jamie! I hear Claire is a whiz with a scalpel.
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