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Outlander: A Most Uncomfortable Woman

An uneven episode with many enjoyable moments, but a few too many coincidences.

Lallybroch, 1980. A couple of years have passed in which the MacKenzies lived in an RV in front of the house during renovations, and Jemmy and Mandy grew old enough to have lines. (It's a shame we didn't get to see the MacKenzies actually in the RV.)

I just did some math. Brianna was born in 1948, and Roger in 1940. That makes them 32 and 40! Guess it was time for them to buy a house and settle down.

But while Brianna just landed an engineering job, Roger is at odds, no longer pursuing a career in the ministry because the existence of time travel has made him doubt God. I like that Roger is trying to figure out time travel rules, and putting them on paper for the kids. If time travel exists, what about pixies and demons? Was that just the active imagination of the MacKenzie children?

The MacKenzies are also having financial trouble, since whatever Frank and Claire left Bree and (I assume) the Reverend left Roger wasn't enough to renovate a decrepit pile like Lallybroch. Does that mean we're going after the gold in North Carolina?

After all, it's been a couple of years. Bree and Roger have read all of the letters by now, right?

Much of this episode was an introduction to Jamie's son William Ransom, with an emphasis on how much William is like the father he doesn't know.

At the Red Falcon, William was the only bystander who tried to help the unfortunate prostitute that the soldiers set on fire because they thought she had the pox. Yes, that's what Jamie would have done. And then, during William's secret assignment in the Great Dismal Swamp, William was attacked by a snake and nearly lost his arm. Sound familiar?

Fortunately, the long arm of coincidence struck, and Ian and Rollo showed up to rescue William. May I say that the state of Virginia is extremely large and the Great Dismal Swamp is enormous? It's, shall we say, unlikely they would just run into each other. Okay, okay, fate is definitely referenced repeatedly in this series. I know.

But let's move on to the doctor that Ian found for William. Denzell Hunter, a doctor and a Quaker, was just about to amputate William's arm when he hit an abscess with his saw, so William's run of luck is clearly continuing. I liked the bit with Ian and William and the rosary, a callback to Jamie giving William a rosary in "Of Lost Things," as well as a reminder of his baptismal name, William James. William remembers Jamie. Of course he does.

The title of this episode is certainly about Claire (more about that below), and probably about Brianna confronting her possible employer, but it might also be about Rachel Hunter. She says herself that she is too forward, and it does appear that she was exchanging meaningful glances with both Ian and William. I wonder if Rachel's resemblance to his Auntie Claire might make her more attractive to Ian.

I like that, in this story of war, they've introduced characters who believe in peace. I have a lot of admiration for Quakers and their principles, especially back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when they actively worked against slavery.

Denzell is planning to join the Continental Army as a surgeon, and he and Rachel are heading for Fort Ticonderoga. In yet another far reaching coincidence, William is also heading that way and offered to travel with them.

Meanwhile in Wilmington, shocker – Claire literally ran into Tom Christie, who was so happy to see her that he kissed her right on the mouth. They went and sat down at the ordinary and had an uncomfortable cup of tea. As it turned out, the war saved Tom; he was needed as Governor Martin's secretary, and when they were done with him, there was nowhere to surrender him for trial. Claire operating on his hand was what made that secretary bit possible. Claire didn't tell him his son Allan was dead, and no wonder. It was all awkward enough.

Tom placed the obituary! A long-time mystery solved. Tom couldn't bear for Claire's death to go unmarked. He told her he'll have no peace while she lives, but that it was okay with him.

It was fun how this segued into a Jamie/Claire love scene with talk about jealousy, or the lack of it. But it was a bit bizarre that Jamie just got drafted. And now everyone is on their way to Fort Ticonderoga. It's clearly the place to be.

The year 1980 was given for the Lallybroch scenes, but none was given for our eighteenth century contingent. But if everyone is heading for Fort Ticonderoga, it must be 1777. That means, if the time difference is still 202 years, that our stories are not running in parallel. I'm okay with that, though, since it's consistent with season three.

Didn't Brianna mention Frank taking her to Fort Ticonderoga back in "Dragonfly in Amber" when she and Roger were touring Fort William?

Book versus Series

Yes, pretty much everything was from the books. I wasn't crazy about the long introduction to William in book seven, An Echo in the Bone, but here, his adventure in the Great Dismal Swamp was greatly compressed, and I was fine with that. Although that compression did make it seem like Rachel Hunter, an extremely virtuous character, is an inveterate flirt.


— The post credit scene was someone taking a drop cloth off an old desk. I assume that was Roger's. Or is now Roger's and was once Jamie's? I don't remember what the desks at Lallybroch looked like in season one.

— I liked the mention of an apple a day. In the books, Claire making her eighteenth century family eat fruits and vegetables was mentioned more often. She was right that in that time, women her age rarely had teeth.

— Ian is understandably paranoid about Arch Bug, worried that he will kill Jamie and Claire.

— In the earlier scene, William was with his cousin Henry and they talked about Uncle Hal, John Grey's brother. Hal was in a couple of season three episodes, most notably as the officer that spared Jamie's life at the farmhouse after Culloden.

— The guy who gave William the intelligence assignment in Virginia, an assignment that later appeared to be bogus, was named Captain Richardson.

— Jemmy put Mandy in the priest hole. I'm sure that's a Chekov's gun priest hole that will be important later.

— William has a red beard?


Boss: "I'm sorry, there's been a misunderstanding. It's a secretary we'll be needin'."
Brianna: "Perhaps so. But I'm applying for the plant inspector position."
Boss: "But you're a woman."
Brianna: "And what aspects of plant inspection require a penis?"

William: "I mean you no harm, sir. Do you speak English?"
Ian: "I've met Englishmen who'd say no. But I think you'll understand me well enough."

Tom: "You should be dead."
Claire: "So should you."

Jamie: "He laid down his life for you once. I trust him to do it again."
Claire: "I didn't want him to do it the first time."

As I said at the beginning, there was a lot to enjoy. But this episode didn't wow me, like the first three did. So... two out of four rosaries?

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


  1. Nice summary. I've visited Fort Ticonderoga and had to Google it's history as a reminder lol

  2. I have a lot of admiration for Quakers and their principles,...

    I had the same reaction to a new Quaker character. I'm very excited about that, and I definitely think she should marry Ian.

    Tom placed the obituary! A long-time mystery solved.

    And a huge irony! Just as we find out that Roger's entire sense of the plan for the world is in a tizzy, we also find out that he is wrong. Roger is always a bit out of step with things, isn't he?

    But if everyone is heading for Fort Ticonderoga, it must be 1777.

    I appreciated that the episode ended with Jamie saying the name of the fort one more time, in tones meant to indicate that it was important, because I have literally never heard of it. I am a bad American.

    I've also never heard of the Great Dismal Swamp, though, so that was a lovely surprise. It really does sound like something from the first draft of The Princess Bride, before they realized it was a bit too on the nose.

    I am really enjoying Bri and Roger in the 1980s, but I am absolutely horrified at how they're turning Lallybroch into a cliche of a 1980s ranch style home.

    I'm also interested in the symbolism of Bri's job, taking care of water. I feel like there's an undergraduate essay waiting to be written on the symbolism of water in this show.

  3. I've never minded coincidence on this show, because it long established as the nature of time travelers. William might not exist and Ian would've had a different life had Claire never gone back in time. Weaving their lives together as though drawn to one another works thematically too, and the supernatural element makes it easy to hand-wave.

    I really did like William and Ian's scenes and I immediately liked the Hunter siblings. I'm also very happy William didn't loose his arm, because this is Outlander, a show were that was a real possibility. The parallel to what happened to Jamie was just another lovely nudge of fate saying that he really needs to know that Jamie is his father.

    I absolutely loved Brie in this episode, she is very much the daughter of Jamie and Claire. Really all of the scenes set at Lallybroch were great. It isn't just fitting that they are living there, it is her birthright, she is Lady Broch Tuarach after all. I am curious what all the Scottish fae folk are doing to poor Jemmy, perhaps there is something real going on other than a wild imagination.


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