In this week’s episode Claire’s story takes a backseat, Roger and Brianna finally kiss and Jamie is blackmailed into having sex. Oh yes, and there’s a new addition to the Frazer clan. Contains SPOILERS (obviously).
I’m presuming Claire’s (Caitriona Balfe) story takes a backseat due to the fact that there’s limited dramatic value in watching three people plough through historical archives. Instead the episode concentrates on Jamie (Sam Heughan) aka Alexander Mackenzie as he’s now known (I told you he was bound to be called something different in this week’s episode) or Mac as he’s known affectionately by a new, younger character (but more of him later). No doubt Jamie will be called something else by next week’s episode.
Jamie aka Alexander is now ensconced in Helwater, working as a groom, with only Lord Grey (David Berry) and Lord Dunsany (Rupert Vansittart) knowing that he is in fact a Jacobite Scottish prisoner on parole.
There he encounters Dunsany’s two daughters, the very likeable Isobel (Tanya Reynolds) and the obnoxious Geneva (Hannah James). The latter having the unenviable duty of having to marry a man, the Earl of Ellesmere (James Cameron Stewart) who is old enough to be her grand-father.
Deciding she’d rather lose her maidenhead to Jamie rather than to the Earl (and you can’t fault her logic), she blackmails Jamie into having sex with her. Despite being there against his will, Jamie earns a few more points as fantasy male par excellence in the way he deals with the situation. As it is Geneva’s first time and she’s as ignorant in the ways of the world as he had been with Claire, the situation can’t help but remind Jamie of his own first time. Thus Jamie offers Geneva the chance to back out and when she refuses (wise woman), he takes his time, making love to her rather than simply fucking her, thus lessening the chances of Geneva suffering a rude awakening so to speak.
Not surprisingly, having had Jamie just make love to her, Geneva immediately declares her love for him, a declaration which Jamie dismisses as her simply being caught up in the moment. However, months later her sister tells Jamie that Geneva was indeed in love with him whilst also confirming that Jamie is the father of Geneva’s new-born child.
No sooner has Jamie heard the news, the supposed father Ellesmere flips and threatens to kill the new-born baby, furious that his now dead wife has born him a bastard. Considering that this fact must have dawned on him as soon as she got pregnant (they apparently had never slept together), you do wonder why he waited till the actual birth before he finally loses it.
Given how important family is to Jamie and that both his previous children have been lost to him, and not forgetting the small technicality that he’s a Highlander and an experienced soldier, we all know that threatening to do away with Jamie’s latest offspring is not the wisest of moves. No sooner said than done, Jamie shoots Ellesmere dead, a death recorded as suicide by the coroner despite the abundant number of eye-witnesses present at the time.
If this episode is about anything it’s about what we are willing to sacrifice for love. Brianna is willing to help her mother find Jamie despite their newfound closeness; Roger is helping Brianna and Claire in their search though every step nearer brings the day closer when Brianna will leave him; William Grey, who I’m beginning to like more and more as a character, is willing to risk his reputation and possibly a lot more by unilaterally paroling Jamie as a groom under the patronage of Lord Dunsany. A fact not lost nor appreciated by his older brother, Lord Melton (Sam Hoare), when he happens to chance upon them both at Helwater.
And as for our hero Jamie, he is willing to forego parole, freedom and the chance of returning back to his family in Scotland in order to remain in Helwater for the sake of the son he can never acknowledge as his. Years later, he is willing to make an even larger sacrifice, comparable to the one he made when forcing Claire to leave back through the stones for the sake of hers and their unborn child’s safety: Jamie leaves Helwater, aware that should he stay, people might twig that he is Willie’s (Clark Butler) real father, thereby exposing Willie as a bastard and in all probability ensuring he becomes a social outcast.
Having already lost his family once before, this act on Jamie’s part underlines the nature of selfless love that many a parent feels for their offspring. (And may go some way to explaining why I never became one).
But Jamie is not alone in being utterly selfless. Grey too encourages Jamie to leave knowing if Jamie stays that in all likelihood Jamie’s secret will come out. This is despite the fact that Jamie is clearly the love of Grey’s life and Jamie’s departure means Grey will most likely never see him again. When Jamie proposes sleeping with Grey in return for Grey promising to look after Willie in his absence, Grey refuses despite it being the one thing he seems to want most of all. Unlike Geneva, Grey understands that when you truly love someone you don’t oblige them to sleep with you.
Though by this point I’m not sure how miffed Jamie would be at the prospect, given how close they have become with Grey being the only person Jamie can really be himself with since Claire’s departure. Jamie then learns that Grey is to marry Lady Isobel, thus allowing Grey to care for Willie full-time. You can’t help but feel that this might be one of the main reasons why Grey has finally decided to marry Isobel.
As Jamie heads for home, so does Claire and Brianna (Sophie Skelton). Though not before Brianna proves she’s a chip of the old block and makes the first move on a diffident Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin). I’m really enjoying how Richard Rankin is portraying Roger, suffusing the character with a lot of charm and humour. In a way it reminds me of how Jamie was around Claire at the beginning of Season 1 (minus the killer instinct of course), and just like Jamie, Roger is obviously madly in love and feeling completely out of his depth.
Having suffered a setback in looking for Jamie, Claire has called it a day. This is not the Clare we know who, after all, is never short on coming up with a plan. It seems there must be more to her decision than the fact the trail has gone cold.
One suspects that Claire, who likewise sacrificed the love of her life for the sake of her child, is afraid of meeting up with Jamie after all these years. As anyone who’s reached middle-age can tell you, it can be scary meeting up with an old love. You’ve inevitably put them on a pedestal over the years and there is always the fear that finally meeting them means that the pedestal might start to topple somewhat or even worse: the realisation that the torch they were carrying for you wasn’t quite as bright as the one you were carrying for them.
Outlander, like all TV/film adaptations, can’t include everything that is in the novel, particularly a novel which seems to have so much going on in it as Voyager. Therefore, you do get the feeling that we’re getting a mere snapshot of what is in the source material but an enthralling one nonetheless. This is partly due to the fact that Outlander fortunately doesn’t fall into the trap, as some recent TV adaptations have, of being so busy moving from plot point to plot point that it doesn’t allow the characters to breathe.
I for one, however, will be holding my breath for next week’s show, hoping Claire has had a change of heart and wondering what Jamie’s new alias will be and, more to the point, with so many name changes, how in hell is Claire ever going to track him down.
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!