Outlander: Of Lost Things

In our next installment of The Time Traveler's Husband, Jamie spent eight years in England as a groom and, inadvertently, a stud. In 1968, Jamie's wife and daughter continued to search for clues to his location, with Roger Wakefield's help.

This might be a shallow observation, but the Helwater years felt like an acknowledgement of our lead actor Sam Heughan's hotness. After three episodes covered with filth, it was so nice to see Jamie looking clean and handsome again.

Lord and Lady Dunsany had two young daughters of marriageable age and caricaturish characteristics: the spoiled and selfish Geneva, the quiet and sweet Isobel. The grooms on the estate strongly disliked Geneva and drew straws to see who would have to accompany her on her daily ride. When the unhappy Geneva became engaged to an elderly earl, she noticed that there was a spectacular-looking man in her stables and decided that she wanted him.

I dare say most stable hands wouldn't resist a pretty young woman throwing herself at him, but Jamie isn't just anyone. When Geneva pretended to fall from her horse so that he would pick her up, he dropped her face down in a mud puddle. (To give her credit, she laughed about it.) Three days before her wedding, while Jamie was shoveling horse manure – geez, no symbolism there – Geneva hit him with some major blackmail: he must come to her room that night and relieve her of her virginity, or she would reveal his secret identity as a famous traitor and endanger his family at Lallybroch. I loved Jamie's fatherly "You're misbehaving, young lady" response, even though it didn't work. He really does look older than Geneva; in 1757, Jamie would have been a still foxy thirty-six.



Their encounter was much sweeter than I expected, probably because Jamie felt some sympathy for her situation, and possibly because Geneva bore a superficial resemblance to Claire. The sex scenes in this series are usually filmed from the female perspective (and I am so okay with that); while Geneva remained clothed, Jamie invited her to watch him undress and stood naked in front of her, letting her look at him. He took his time and did his best to make it a good experience for her, with deliberate echoes of his wedding night with Claire when he was the virgin. He even gently explained the difference between lust and love. Generous of him, considering the circumstances.

Months later, Geneva arrived at Helwater, visibly pregnant. She told Jamie nonverbally that it was his by running her hand over her baby bump and looking directly at him. Jamie was clearly shocked. And helpless. There was literally nothing he could do. Not all of what followed worked for me – Geneva's death in childbirth, Jamie forced to kill the Earl in order to save the baby's life. I thought it was a convenient, overplotty way of giving Jamie a son without having him commit to another woman.

But what did work for me was how this situation cemented Jamie's friendship with John Grey. I enjoyed every drenched-with-subtext scene they had together. As the years passed, Lord John kept his word and visited Jamie every quarter. They played chess and talked openly, taking obvious pleasure in each other's company. Jamie accepted that Lord John was in love with him, and used that love as leverage to ask for a very special favor.

When Willie's resemblance to Jamie started to become obvious and departure became necessary, Jamie asked Lord John to look out for Willie, and offered him sex in exchange. It said a lot about the progression of their friendship that Jamie would even consider offering his body to Lord John, and not a surprise that Lord John would refuse. I particularly liked how Jamie took John's hand and held it, a deliberate callback and reversal of his rejection of John's initial sexual pass back at Ardsmuir.

Did Lord John marry Isobel specifically so that he could raise Jamie's son? He may not have said so outright, but of course he did. And maybe it wasn't such a hard thing for Lord John to do, since Isobel was kind and generous and had a thing for him. Not to mention that she was the only other person that knew Jamie was Willie's father, and she had treated Jamie with such kindness.

The final "stinking Papist" scene between Jamie and his son Willie was awkward and uncomfortable and I didn't care for it, but there was a point. There's a huge societal gulf between Jamie and Willie, who will be the next Earl of Ellesmere, and it's not one that can be bridged. Lord John and Lady Isobel can be Willie's parents, but Jamie cannot.

Sadly, this is the third child Jamie has lost: Faith is dead and Brianna inaccessible. Jamie doesn't even know Brianna exists.



As eight years passed for Jamie, it stayed 1968 for Claire. Brianna was adjusting to the facts of her parentage and starting to dread the possibility that her mother might leave her forever.

Except that they couldn't find Jamie. At least not in the corresponding time period, 1766, which is what it would be on the other side of the stones. Already aware of his "Dunbonnet in a cave" period, Claire found Jamie's name on a list of prisoners at Ardsmuir in 1753 through its closure in 1756. But for the ten years after that, Jamie eluded them. Probably because for eight of them, he was in England using the name Alex MacKenzie.

Mrs. Graham had once told Claire not to spend her life chasing a ghost, and after a dead end at the National Archives, Claire again took it to heart. To Bob Dylan's beautiful "A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall," Jamie left Willie and finally went home to Scotland, as Claire took down her hopeful wall of weird and went back to Boston. "Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son."

Noooo! Come on, guys. You can't give up now!

Bits:

— The title card vignette was Jamie carving a wooden snake for his son Willie, like the one his late older brother Willie carved for Jamie. Brianna has a brother she'll never know.

— The scene where Lord Melton showed up and melted down when he realized who Jamie was was delicious. I also loved the one where Jamie gently tried to warn Isobel not to fall for Lord John.

— Brianna knows what a distributor cap is. Roger doesn't. But he knows he wants Brianna, not Fiona.

— Title musings: Jamie has lost all three of his children. He prays in secret to the patron saint of lost things for his loved ones: his brother Willie, Jenny, Murtagh, Claire. In the final scene in the bar, Claire raised her glass to "all those we have lost."

— Jamie gave Willie the baptismal name "William James." Jamie might have named his son after his older brother, if given the choice. It was like it was meant to be.

— Mrs. Graham's granddaughter Fiona returned Jamie's pearls to Claire. Another lost thing. But how could Claire have given away Jamie's pearls?

— In this week's hair report, Jamie's hair is now driving me nuts. While it often looked good, it occasionally resembled a bird's nest, or maybe just a bad perm. I blame the queue.

Quotes:

Jamie: "The pain of losing a child never leaves you. I've lost two children myself, my lord."

Ellesmere: (re: Jamie) "My god, if a child of mine had hair that color, I'd drown him before he drew his second breath." Just a wee bit of foreshadowing there.

Isobel: "How has your family managed without him?"
Lord Melton: "If it were up to me, I would never have let such a man go."
Give me double entendres for a hundred, Alex.

Geneva: "What are you doing?"
Jamie: "Shoveling shit, milady."
Geneva: "Goodness."

Jamie: "Ye filthy wee bitch."
Geneva: "That language suits you, Red Jamie."
Maybe the fact that Jamie is an outlaw made him even more attractive to her.

Lady Grozier: "The young earl of Ellesmere is a handsome little boy, and such a lovely rider."
Lady Louisa: "Oh, yes. Willie loves his pony. We joke sometimes that he spends so much time with MacKenzie, he's starting to look like him."
Lady Grozier: "Why, you're right! How funny."

Claire: "It's time to go home."
Jamie: "It's time for me to go home."

Lord John: "Are you actually offering your body to me in payment if I promise to look after Willie?"
Jamie: "Aye."
Lord John: "Dear God. That I should live to hear such an offer."
Jamie: "You dinna want me then?"
Lord John: "I shall probably want you till the day I die. But tempted as I am, do you really think I would accept?"

I enjoyed this episode, probably more than I should have. Three and a half out of four wooden snakes, double entendre intended,

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

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