It is said that as soon as a couple marries and consummates their relationship, their story is over. In fact, it’s when the story really starts.
I was initially surprised that the episode opened with a flashback to Claire’s wedding to Frank. On the second viewing, however, the contrasts between the two really stand out.
Frank proposes to and marries Claire almost on a whim. Because he doesn’t want a big church wedding, he assumes she doesn’t either. I say assume because, although she asks him what he wants, he never asks her what she wants.
Leaving aside for a moment how much Frank will no doubt hurt his parents by not inviting them to his wedding, the way he approaches telling them verges on the frightening. He tells Claire that his parents will “never meet Claire Beauchamp.” Instead, he will introduce her as “Mrs. Frank Randall.” By marrying him, Claire’s identity has been completely sublimated to his.
All of the preparation is just one clue that Jamie is already in love with Claire. As the evening progresses, it becomes even more clear. His actions and his words throughout the night (most of which are in the quotes section below) are those of a man experiencing deep feelings. The gift of the pearls was so simply done, yet incredibly powerful. There can be no doubt what this man is feeling.
It would be difficult to resist any man, especially one you already like, showing his emotions to that level. Claire doesn’t resist. Throughout the course of this hour, we watch Claire begin to fall for Jamie as well. As they talked, as they had sex, she began to see him as someone worthy of loving.
There was a lot of sex in this episode, but instead of being gratuitous, it served a storytelling purpose. From the initial encounter which was strained and awkward, to the final encounter which was lovely and loving, we watched these two draw towards each other in an emotional, not just physical, way. As Claire wraps both of them in the Fraser tartan, they become a couple in front of our eyes.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how wonderfully this show allows Claire to be a fully adult woman, one who is not afraid of sex and who, in fact, revels in it. The scene where Claire walks around the naked Jamie, just looking at him, took my breath away. She then climbs on top of him and introduces him to the pain can be pleasurable principle that was incredible to watch. What a subversion of the usual male gaze/male introduces female to sex trope.
The final scene with Dougal perfectly captures how far these two progress in only one night. His proposition is creepy in so many ways, but it succeeds in showing just how precarious Jamie and Claire’s situation is right now. Claire’s response, “I’m Jamie’s wife,” is wonderful. It not only effectively shuts Dougal down, it shows us that she sees her marriage to Jamie as something real. She will defend his honor now as ardently as she defends her own.
All wedding nights must come to an end, but, what a difference a night can make. As they are getting dressed, all of the awkwardness and tension is gone. They’re teasing each other and kissing each other casually. But, as Jamie leaves and Claire rediscovers the ring that Frank gave her, she stares at her hands. Each is wearing a wedding ring and each represents a man she cares deeply about. As I said, this story is just getting started.
This episode was everything I wanted it to be and then some. Four out of four glasses of whiskey drunk to take the edge off.
Bits and Pieces:
— I want to avoid spoilers for those who have not read the book. To discuss differences between the book and the show, foreshadowing, or anything else that might spoil the story, head over to my review of the novel.
— I just have to mention once more the wonderful way this episode allowed a woman to introduce a man to sex. No accident, probably, as the episode was both written by (Anne Kenney) and directed by (Anna Foerster) women.
— Also, kudos to everyone concerned around that first sexual encounter. I was waiting for Jamie to be magnificent, but instead it was perfectly shown as his first time. Not knowing exactly what to do and over far, far too quickly was funny as well as sweet. Just what losing one’s virginity should be.
— Dougal’s actions are becoming more odd. The scene with Jamie before the wedding was disturbing. He tells Jamie that not only must he marry this woman, he must have real sex with her, not pretend sex. All of this while making inappropriate comments about the woman in question. Then, the scene where he makes Jamie thank him, again dressed up in a horrible sexual reference. I’m not sure what’s going on with this man, but he is creeping me out on a level I did not expect.
— The one scene I would have loved to see was the pre-wedding sex advice from Murtagh, Ned, and Rupert. The scene we did get to see between Murtagh and Jamie was moving. Jamie’s missing his mum, so Murtagh reassures him that he is marrying the right woman. I got a tear in my eye.
— Claire with a hangover was hilarious.
Jamie: “To a lady of grace, a woman of strength, and a bride of astonishing beauty. My wife, Claire Fraser.”
Jamie: “You have my name, my clan, my family. And, if necessary, the protection of my body as well.”
Claire: “Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
Jamie: “I said I was a virgin, not a monk.”
Jamie: “I said I was completely under yer power and happy to be there.”
Murtagh: “Your mother had the sweetest smile. Would warm a man to the backbone just to see it. Claire’s smile is just as sweet.”
Jamie: “They’re Scotch pearls. They belonged to my mother and now they belong to my wife. They’re one of the few things I have left of her and very precious to me. As are you, Claire.”
TPTB have been reading all the criticism of these podcasts online; there is a lot of it. One recurring theme is how bad Dresbach is at these things, how she takes over the podcast, interrupting and talking over Moore. Although, disappointingly, she is part of this one, she mentions that she is going to try not to do that so much. She doesn’t really succeed, but kudos for acknowledging the problem.
The second major criticism online is from the second podcast when Dresbach revealed a major spoiler. She does so again in this one, but it has been beeped out. Thank goodness, because I didn’t want to know where the key comes from. At least, not yet.
ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.