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Outlander: First Wife

"What, d'ye think we were all just frozen in time waiting for you to return?"

It made me sad to see how alienated Jamie is now from his beloved Lallybroch. You really can't go home again.

Jenny and Ian were most decidedly not happy to see Jamie and Claire. No hugs, no smiles, and it wasn't just Jamie lying about their youngest son. Jenny treated Claire like an unwanted house guest and Jamie as if his happiness wasn't even a consideration for her anymore, like he should just send them money and stop causing trouble already.

But, and I'm trying to see Jenny's side here, Jenny was absolutely right that the Claire she knew way back when would never have stopped looking for Jamie. Twenty years were simply too many years, and the fiction about going to the Colonies didn't work this time. But how can they possibly tell Jenny the truth? She would never, ever believe it.

Sending for Laoghaire showed a shocking amount of hostility on Jenny's part, though – too much. What did Jenny think would happen? That it would make Jamie come to his senses? Although come to think of it, if Jenny's goal was to make Claire leave, it nearly worked. From Claire's perspective, Laoghaire was literally the worst woman on earth Jamie could have married, and possibly the only thing that would make her pack up her things and go. And all that heavy baggage – Laoghaire, Frank, Brianna – led to Jamie and Claire having their angriest, most serious fight. It was certainly their most physical. (Jenny breaking it up with a jug of water was somewhat comical.)

It was ironic that Laoghaire brought Jamie and Claire back together again by shooting him. It would be impossible for Claire to walk away from Jamie when he's injured. I'm not sure quite why the operation on the dining table delighted me so, but it did. Perhaps because Claire treating Jamie's injuries was what brought them together in the first place? And maybe because I'm still enjoying having them back in the same room together, no matter what they're doing?

Let me add that Claire jabbing a puzzled and apprehensive Jamie in the ass with a hypodermic full of penicillin was delightful, too. "What in God's name is that?"

The scene by the fire was much needed breathing space. It gave Jamie time to explain himself to Claire, and it really did make sense. When he came home from Helwater, home didn't feel like home any more, it was the holidays and Marsali and Joanie asked him to dance, the still pretty Laoghaire was smiling at him and not looking at all like someone who threatened to dance on Claire's ashes, and Bob's your uncle. It was a chance for Jamie to assuage his grief and loneliness by acquiring an instant family.

Even with the five new holes in his arm courtesy of Laoghaire, Jamie wasn't vindictive. After consulting with our old friend Ned Gowan and wrangling through a confusing legal situation with multiple marriages and an illegal pistol, Jamie opted to give Laoghaire alimony. So we ended up back at the Silkie Island treasure box, because this particular improbable plot thread simply won't go away.

As they were waiting for Young Ian to swim to the island, Claire and Jamie finally finished their argument, and it did not go well. And I get it. Claire made a grand gesture to end all grand gestures – she gave up literally everything to come back to Jamie – and he's not the same person. He lied to her, something the two of them had established early in their marriage as unacceptable.

And yet, from the moment Claire arrived, Jamie has been tap dancing as fast as he can to keep her from leaving again. The story Jamie told Claire earlier about the greylag goose was outright depressing, but he had a point: they have both been miserable without each other, existing but not living. "You kill a grown one out hunting, you must wait, for its mate will come to mourn. Then you must kill that one, too. Otherwise it will grieve itself to death, calling through the skies for the lost one." Another hint. I often get the feeling that Outlander is a tragic story, that it won't end with happily ever after.

I will again say that part of me wants Jamie and Claire to build a place of their own and live a quiet life together somewhere on Lallybroch land, but that would make for boring television. By now, it's obvious that it's not going to happen, anyway. So now they must figure out how to rescue Young Ian. And that's okay because I like him now. He was the only member of the Murray family who accepted Claire and called her "Auntie," and apparently the only one who actually wants Jamie to be happy.


— Welcome back, Laura Donnelly. She's done such a memorable job as Jenny. I'm also very fond of Steven Cree as Ian.

— At Jamie's wedding to Laoghaire, Jenny had a vision of Claire standing between them. It's karmic that Laoghaire finally got Jamie to marry her, and then she didn't want to sleep with him. Also sad that she was likely abused by one of her other husbands.

— So Jamie has actually been supporting two households, and not living in either. No wonder he went for a life of crime. And why a rent-free room in a brothel was so appealing.

— The scene with Jamie and little Joanie was sweet. Jamie really has been cheated of fatherhood at every turn.

— We finally saw what happened back when Jamie escaped from Ardsmuir.

— Young Ian got off with a chore instead of a beating. Maybe a bit too twentieth century there. Not that I'm complaining.

— In this week's hair report, the wild loose hair made Jamie look more like himself again. I'm not a fan of the queue, even though it's apparently all the rage in the eighteenth century.


Jamie: "Everything was fine in Edinburgh, Janet. Then an agent of the Crown started extorting me. Sent his ruffian after Claire."
Young Ian: "Auntie Claire killed him. Killed him good."
It was almost embarrassing how Young Ian kept saying things guaranteed to make his parents absolutely crazy.

Jenny: "Ye must ken it's a mortal sin to take another wife while the first still walks the earth."
Jamie: "I would never have taken a bride if I thought Claire was still alive."
Jenny: "Since ye believed her to be dead, why didn't you share your grief with me?"
Jamie: "I barely wanted to breathe, let alone speak of it."

Claire: "That little girl with the red hair?"
Jamie: "Well, there are other redheaded men in Scotland, Claire."

Claire: "She tried to have me killed!"
Jamie: "Well, you're the one that told me to be kind to the lass!"
Claire: "I told you to thank her, not marry her!"

Young Ian: "Those are very fancy knives you've got there, Auntie."
Laugh out loud.

Claire: "She made a nice Swiss cheese of your arm."
Jamie: "I dinna ken what Swiss cheese is, but if it looks like that, I wouldna want it on my bread."

Claire: "You need liquids. Water or broth."
Jamie: "Whiskey's a liquid, no?"
Claire: "No."
Even feverish, Jamie was flirtatious. He knew very well that his injuries had softened Claire up.

Jamie: "Will you please explain why jabbing needles in my arse is going to help my arm?"

Claire: "You look exactly the same. What is your secret?"
Ned Gowan: "I never married."
Laugh out loud again.

Ned Gowan: "If found guilty, she could be transported to the Colonies. Virginia, most likely."
Claire: "I do hear Richmond is nice this time of year."

An often funny and enjoyable episode. Three out of four very fancy knives,

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


  1. I really hated this one. I just didn't buy it from start to finish. I was already struggling a little bit with Jamie keeping his wife and young Ian secret but I was going to let it pass. Logically, he's got to know these are secrets that can't be kept indefinitely and the damage of keeping them will only increase with time, but maybe during his years as a prisoner he's become that fearful of confrontation. But I simply can't believe he would marry Laoghaire. I'm not surprised he married somebody, and Claire, if she's being fair shouldn't be surprised either. But no woman in the world has done him more harm than Laoghaire. There must be any number of widows with children in Scotland who aren't insanely possessive monsters who tried to have your wife burned at the stake. And seriously, if he's so attached to these kids, why does he live in Edinburgh?

    Then I just couldn't believe Jenny would tell Laoghaire rather than confronting Claire herself, and end up dragging her kids into this scene. That's the action of a spiteful teenager who just doesn't care who gets hurt and just wants to stir up drama. I get that Jenny's angry at Claire suddenly reappearing and upending Jamie's life again, but I just don't believe that's how she'd handle it.

    Finally, the ending was so contrived and preposterous. Why don't they just rent a small boat rather than swim--how is Young Ian supposed to swim back to shore with that box anyway? Plus, how does that ship appear out of nowhere? A ship that big should be visible from a long way away and it doesn't take a strong swimmer that long to swim a quarter of a mile and get a box.

  2. I've really enjoyed this season, although it took me until this episode to realize why each episode left me a bit dissatisfied: the contrast between active and reactive characters.

    Active characters do stuff and deal with consequences. Season Two was stuffed to the brim with active characters, as when Claire and Jamie tried to change the future, or when they realized they couldn't and went all-in on trying to avoid the battle of Culloden while appearing to support the cause.

    But Season Three, especially in the past couple episodes, has been very reactive, and the pirates capturing Young Ian really epitomize how odd that reaction is. Because it's not just that crazy things are happening. It's that improbable things are happening at an improbable rate. If Jamie and Claire's love is dictated by fate, their current circumstances are dictated by Dickensian coincidence.

    That sort of meta-analysis is the kind of thing that I usually only fall into if I've been taken out of the story's current, and I blame Laoghaire for that.

    Laoghaire has been my least favorite plot for a while now, because her character is so, so extra, and her relationship with Claire is so competitive--noticeable mostly because Claire has so few female friends. Is this show suggesting that women can't be friends, especially if one of those women has a hot husband?

    (Speaking of that hot husband: Jamie, what on earth were you thinking? Laoghaire?! Really?!)

    Whenever Laoghaire pops up, I cringe a bit because it all feels like a cheesy 1990s thriller about female psychosexual dysfunction.

    Luckily, we seem to be moving on, and I'm grateful for the pirates to distract us from women competing over a man. As long as Young Ian is okay, of course.


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