Synopsis of 1×09: Jamie and the Highlanders rescue Claire from Black Jack Randall; politics threaten the harmony of Clan McKenzie; Laoghaire tries to win Jamie back.
With the break finally over, we are back with STARZ’s hit new series Outlander. And it picks up right where it left off!
The episode takes a sharp turn in narration, as we switch from Caitriona Balfe’s melodic narration as Claire to San Heughan’s brogue as young Jamie Fraser. Never has the description of Jamie as “young” been more accurate than this episode. It’s been made very clear to us that Jamie, despite his maturity as a warrior and in his kindness, is still very much young and untested.
Especially in the arena of marital arguments.
After saving Claire from the clutches of Black Jack Randall with nothing but a good bluff and some explosives, a frustrated Jamie relays his feelings to Claire disobeying his orders. While to an independent and modern woman like Claire this is nothing short of insulting, since according to her, she just went on a walk (we know the story to be a little different), to Jamie and the other Highlanders of Clan Mackenzie this nearly cost them everything.
The clansmen are understandably upset, and although Jamie has forgiven her, the men haven’t, and give her a cold shoulder after she has been rescued until Jamie punishes her for her actions.
It’s an interesting direction to take on an admittedly difficult scene to film. Seeing it from the perspective of Jamie, for whom this kind of flogging is commonplace, sets an odd sort of laxness with a scene that would otherwise be upsetting for modern viewers. I’ll admit when I first watched the scene I was caught between feeling uncomfortable and simply accepting it as something that had to be done.
It certainly sets the viewer up for what we can expect in the future from Jamie’s point of view (and by proxy, the Highlanders’ point of view).
For all intents and purposes, Jamie Fraser has yet to completely win my heart. I am still holding out for Frank in some way, and through Claire’s narration, it’s hard to separate her love for Frank with her love for Jamie. However, a change in perspective has already started to convert me. There is no malice in the flogging scene, and it’s made painfully clear that he has no idea what he’s done is wrong until he’s repeatedly sent to the doghouse by Claire, and manages to learn quickly that with Claire, it has to be different.
Jamie also gives us proper insight into Colum’s discovery of Dougal’s sleight of hand with the Jacobite rebels. We get a confirmation that Colum’s son is biologically Dougal’s, as well as the internal struggle between the clansmen over their loyalty to their laird versus their war chief. As the Mackenzies pick sides, Murtagh is quick to remind Jamie that they are not Mackenzies and would do well to get out while they can, or pick sides in the civil war brewing.
Jamie manages to quell the insurgence, but it’s clear that the problem is far from being over, and as we already know, there will be an uprising soon and many Mackenzies face imminent death.
Speaking of imminent problems, with the return to Castle Leoch, the rest of the clan are ready to greet the newly married couple, and some are not so ready. Laoghaire, the girl who has been carrying a torch for Jamie since she was seven, the girl he made out with in a hallway, the girl he stood up for when no one else did, is met with the harsh reality that Jamie is now married. Instead of letting something like matrimonial vows get in the way, she offers herself up to him, and is scorned when Jamie turns her away.
When Jamie is finally forgiven by Claire, and the two reconcile in a biblical manner, they are shocked to find a hex hidden underneath their bed that is meant to cause pain and suffering and sometimes death, placed there by Jamie’s scorned unrequited love.
It’s an interesting place to pick up the series, and as book readers know, it really doesn’t get much lighter from here on out. Despite the discomfort I felt initially watching the episode, it was a powerful way to set the tone for the second half of the season. It’s Jamie’s narration, while not nearly as strong as Claire’s, throws us right back into the culture of Clan Mackenzie and the Highlands.
Next week we see Laoghaire face off against Claire in the aftermath of finding her ill wish underneath their bed, as well as an indication of Black Jack facing some repercussions for his sadistic actions (thumbs up to this episode of explaining ‘fucking’ and ‘sadist’ to Jamie).