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Outlander: Crème de Menthe

"Since when do you lie to your family?"

This episode felt like an unpleasant hangover on the morning after. Why are spectacular episodes often followed by not-so-good ones? Did they pour all of their effort into "A. Malcolm" and leave "Crème de Menthe" wanting? (And can I squeeze another alcohol-related cliché into this paragraph?)

I get why Jamie didn't want Claire to save the life of the nasty excise man who'd tried to kill her. And maybe Claire was forgetting how the current legal system worked – it's been awhile since she was tried for witchcraft.

But has Jamie Fraser lost his wee mind? Yes, Claire is far from your average eighteenth century woman, but did he really think she would simply move into the brothel with him? Especially after being attacked by the excise man who is now in a barrel of crème de menthe? Even worse than expecting Claire to live in a brothel, I was genuinely disturbed that Jamie lied to the now grayhaired Ian, his brother-in-law and lifelong friend.

Although, and here I am scrambling to explain rather than excuse Jamie's behavior, lying to keep Young Ian in his life went right to the core of what Jamie has lost: the chance to raise his own child. It's understandable that after being hit in the face with it, Jamie would be angry that Claire stayed married to Frank and raised Brianna with him – even though that was exactly what Jamie had asked her to do. Theory and reality are two different things.

It's obvious that Jamie had formed a parental bond with Young Ian that was strongly reciprocated, since Young Ian ran away more than once to be with his uncle. And honestly, I don't dislike Young Ian. He's very cute. Although I didn't feel that I was well enough acquainted with him to watch him shtupping a barmaid. (Brighid probably did it to get him to stop singing.)

Although I did mostly enjoy Fergus giving Young Ian romantic advice. But my god, Fergus would be over thirty, wouldn't he? Nearly twice Young Ian's age? I hadn't thought that one through.

I do understand why Jamie hasn't told Claire yet that he remarried. It would be the one thing guaranteed to push her right out the door and back to the stones, especially if he has married the most obvious candidate, which would be the despicable Laoghaire. To be fair, Claire was the first to commit bigamy all those years ago. Or... if Claire technically didn't commit bigamy because Frank "wasn't alive" when she married Jamie, Jamie technically didn't commit bigamy when Claire was in another century, either. It's a unique time travel problem that the courts would never be able to untangle. We'll have to see how Ned Gowan manages.

What this episode needed was some quiet time for Jamie and Claire to work through their issues and problems. We didn't need impromptu brain surgery, fortune telling and teen romance, or for the writers to wrap up Jamie's entire life of crime in Edinburgh in one fell swoop: Young Ian selling all the smuggled liquor, the print shop spectacularly burning down, both of Jamie's businesses gone literally in a flash. Although the fire scene did show that Jamie is still a man of action, dashing into the burning shop, climbing up the printing press as he was carrying Young Ian to safety.

What now? I assume Jamie doesn't have State Farm.


— Claire had two patients on her first day back. Imagine how quickly she could have a flourishing practice.

— Margaret Campbell seems to be a genuine if somewhat annoying psychic. Her brother Archie, wretched man, was keeping her drugged to control her. The Campbells were about to leave for the West Indies. Would Margaret Campbell, a woman in her late forties, be the two hundred year old murder victim Claire and Joe were examining?

— Jamie is still sending all his money to Lallybroch. That explained why he was so set on continuing to live rent-free at Madame Jeanne's.

— Medicine in China is likely more advanced than in Scotland this century. Yi Tien Cho seemed unalarmed and rather interested in what Claire was doing to the excise man, even admiring her efforts.

— This episode's sex scene was probably why they made Young Ian sixteen instead of fourteen.

— Title musings: "Crème de Menthe" is probably the huge metaphorical and unpalatable cask of unwanted issues they're going to have to overcome to make this marriage work again.


Fergus: "She saved many lives. Though there were rumors."
Young Ian: "What kind of rumors?"
Fergus: "That Milady took a few lives as well. She's not a woman you want to cross, mon ami."
Young Ian: "If Auntie Claire was forced to kill men, likely they deserved it."
So Claire had become a legend. That made sense.

Claire: "I've caused you so much trouble. Just dropped in out of the clear blue sky. Put your livelihood, your life, in jeopardy."
Jamie: "Sassenach, you came thousands of miles and two hundred years to find me. I'm grateful that you are here, no matter the cost."

Young Ian: "How old were you..."
Fergus: "Fifteen. A menage à trois."
Young Ian: "A what?"
Fergus: "Two women and one moi!"
Young Ian: "Christ!"
Fergus: "It was a rather religious experience."
And exactly how did that happen at Lallybroch, a farmhouse full of virtuous people who would have noticed?

Margaret: "The moon be choking with blood. Ye best be careful. Abandawe will devour you!"
Has to be a future plot point.

Jamie: "It's not likely to be broached. I've never seen a Scotsman drink crème de menthe."

Claire: "Maybe we could find a place of our own."
Jamie: "And leave the brothel?"
I honestly can't believe Jamie said this to Claire.

Jamie: "We lied our way through Paris, did we not? Did we no just lie to Ian about where you've been for the past twenty years?"
Claire: "A white lie to conceal something that Ian can't possibly understand."
Jamie: "I didna realize lies had shades."

Claire: "You have no idea what it's like to be a worried parent. You're not the boy's father, Jamie."
(Wow. Low blow, Claire.)
Jamie: "No. I'm Brianna's father. But I didna get to raise her, did I? I didna have a say in how you and Frank brought her up, wearing that... that wretched thing you call a bikini."
Jamie really needs to let the whole bikini thing go. Men who live in glass brothels shouldn't throw stones.

Up until this point, there hasn't been a single episode I disliked. Guess it was time. One out of four... bikinis, trephines, or casks?

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm new to outlanders and I realize this is an older article, but I also felt this episode showed Jaime and Claire out of sync. But I don't believe it was an indication that they no longer had the same love and passion. Rather after all those years they simply had to get reacquainted.. Later seasons showed their love as maturing and strengthening rather then being so caught up with sex. It wasn't a good episode, but it also showed in a way how even the most in love couples can have bad times and bumps in their relationship. That may have been one of the only times the series was remotely realistic.


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