In Episode 2 Claire and Jamie get on with their lives but can’t let go of their past and so far I can’t get enough of Season 3.
Not surprisingly in an episode entitled Surrender this episode is about exactly that. We first see Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a shell of the man he was, having given up on life having lost Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and still haunted by her memory. Given the nature of the man Jamie was this change is all the more wretched.
Barely speaking, barely feeling, barely present, Jamie has cut himself off from all human emotion, his pain such he is simply surviving rather than living. Given to wearing a brown hat to hide his distinctive red hair (to be fair, he needs a much bigger hat), Jamie has earned the sobriquet Dunbonnet and, as a wanted man, is living in a cave near Lallybroch. Although saying that the cave in question looks roomier than your average London flat. And his beard is a definite improvement than the one he sported in the Faith episode in Season 2.
Jamie is forced into hiding as the Highlands are still under military occupation despite it being six years after Culloden. Even worse, a new captain is in town, Captain Lewis (Rufus Wright) who wants to make his presence felt and is determined to capture Dunbonnet.
Not slow on the uptake, our good Captain surmises that Dunbonnet and Red Jamie may well be one and the same. He is also convinced (rightly) that Jamie’s family know where he is. Jamie’s family, of course, deny all knowledge. The captain, still sceptical, arrests Jamie’s best friend and brother-in-law, Ian Murray (Steven Cree) while reminding everyone, rather pointedly, that aiding a Jacobite is a hanging offence regardless of sex or age.
Then as luck would have it, Jamie is almost captured when he happens to visit Lallybroch while his sister Jenny (Laura Donnelly) is giving birth to yet another child. There is a touching scene where we watch Jamie hold his newly born nephew, knowing this can only exacerbate the sense of loss he must feel at losing Claire and the child he presumes he’ll never know.
Meanwhile the younger family members spot a raven. Considered a harbinger of death by the Highlanders, Jamie’s surrogate son, Fergus (Romann Berrux) shoots the bird dead. He may have allayed Highlander superstition in one fell swoop but unfortunately he also lets the passing British troops know there are weapons at Lallybroch at a time when the possession of arms by Highlanders is outlawed by the Act of Proscription.
Needless to say, the Redcoats soon arrive and it’s only thanks to the quick thinking of the sensible, brave and endearing Mary MacNab (Emma Campbell-Jones) that a catastrophe is avoided.
This being Outlander, though, disaster is never far away and this time it is Fergus who, in a shocking scene, particularly for those like me who haven’t read the book, is mutilated by a Redcoat and saved from certain death by Jamie.
However, this brutal act shakes Jamie to the core, allowing him to feel again, presumably for the first time since Claire has left and in doing so makes him realise there are still things in life worth fighting for. He also appreciates that the British will never stop looking for him and that his family will remain in danger as long as he remains free.
Naturally cunning, Jamie therefore hits upon a plan to surrender to the British but in such a way that it will get his family off the hook and also earn them the reward money.
But before this apparent surrender to the British, Jamie has a chance of intimate human contact for the first time since Claire’s departure with the willing participation of Mary MacNab (and who can blame her), the latter also doubling up as a rather adept gentlemen’s barber. It’s actually a very touching scene. A wise woman, Mary realises she can’t replace Claire, while Jamie, like Claire, can’t be in the moment and make love with his eyes open but the fact that he agrees to be intimate with Mary signifies that Jamie is finally allowing himself to get in touch with his humanity again.
This brings me to another point about Season 3 so far. In the sex department things seems to be looking up, as we probably had as many sex scenes in this one episode than there were in the whole of Season 2. Fingers crossed this bodes well for when Jamie and Claire finally meet.
Talking of sex, Claire is having naughty thoughts about Jamie (join the club) in late 1940s Boston while making an effort to surrender to the life she has been given. Outlander has never shied away from allowing our heroine to be sexually pro-active and out of frustration and longing for Jamie, Claire makes the move on a surprised and accommodating Frank (Tobias Menzies).
With Frank clearly happy in his role as a new dad, things seem to be looking up in the Randall household at long last. But again, this is Outlander, so the harmony doesn’t last long, when Frank, who is no fool, soon cottons on that although Claire might now be having sex with him, it is Jamie that she’s thinking about.
And as for the woman herself, we all know Claire needs to be active and so it’s not long before she has enrolled into medical school, a decision treated with the same derision by the teaching staff and fellow students, as the arrival of an African-American student, Joe Abernathy (Wil Johnson) is. And there Episode 2 ends with Claire getting on with her life but unable to get away from her past, and Jamie in irons being taken away by the Redcoats, ironically given some meaning to his life by surrendering to the British.
So far Season 3 has proved to be engrossing, more so than the start of Season 2. I’m not exactly sure why that is: maybe it’s the storyline; maybe it’s the fact that a great part of the story is rooted in Scotland; or that the story is focusing on the characters we care about rather than introducing a whole raft of new ones; or maybe because at the core of Season 3 the story of what Jamie and Claire are going through is very human and we relate to it accordingly. Grief and loss are something each one of us has, is or will have to face. Whatever it is, Outlander is back on track and I for one am liking it.
Special thanks to @SarSketches for her illustration accompanying this post.
For further Outlander articles and posts, check out the following links or you can always listen to mine & Jen Brister’s podcasts on the subject!