Outlander 3.04 recap: It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

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Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 3 episode “Of Lost Things.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.

Greetings, sassenachs! Your fearless Outlander recapper returns once again to fill you in on everything you saw (and anything you might’ve missed) during your weekly intake of fine Highland content. Last week was a bit of a downer, with Claire finally having to say goodbye to Frank in a permanent sense after a car accident claimed his life. Meanwhile, back in the past, Jamie came face to face with an aged-up John Grey, who gave him a second chance at redemption by paroling him at an estate in England.

This week: We circle back up to where we left off last season with Claire, Brianna, and Roger in their search for Jamie’s whereabouts. Jamie is back working in one of his favorite pastimes -- tending to horses -- but winds up having his hands full of a manipulative young woman, if you catch my drift.

Jamie (1756)

One year later, Jamie is gainfully employed! He’s working as the new groomsman at Helwater, an estate belonging to Lord William Dunsany, who lives there with his wife and two daughters. To his credit, Dunsany is not completely ignorant of Jamie’s past; he knows Jamie fought on the side of the Jacobites, but there’s one truth Jamie still possesses -- and that’s his real name. As far as the Dunsany family is concerned, Jamie is Alex MacKenzie -- but there is a touching moment where Jamie and Lord Dunsany bond in their grief over the loss of a child. For Dunsany, it’s his oldest son he lost at the Battle of Prestonpans; for Jamie, it was Faith (the baby Claire miscarried in Season 2) as well as Brianna (the unborn child he never got to meet before Claire went back through the stones). Maybe this place won’t be so bad for Jamie after all -- although, as Dunsany takes care to remind him, he’s still technically a prisoner even if he is earning a small stipend.

Apparently the person Jamie has to watch out for isn’t Lord or Lady Dunsany -- it’s their eldest daughter. Geneva is -- well, pardon my French, but she’s a b-word who’s more than happy to give orders left and right and snaps at Jamie when he doesn’t bring her horse around quickly enough for her daily ride. Until we learn she’s been promised to a wealthy man old enough to be her grandfather, the Earl of Ellesmere, you don’t really feel too bad for Geneva. You have even less sympathy for her when she informs Jamie he’s to accompany her on her daily ride, then fakes a fall from her horse. When Jamie scoops her up, she smugly informs him that his willingness to rescue her is proof that he’s at her beck and call. (Or maybe he’s just a good guy … ?) In response, Jamie drops her face down in a mud puddle, but Geneva only laughs at his back as he walks away.

However, Geneva is as manipulative as she is bitchy, and when John Grey and his older brother Harold stop by Helwater for a visit she uses the opportunity to learn the truth about Jamie. After getting Harold drunk, he spills everything about Jamie’s real identity, the location of his family at Lallybroch, you name it. Geneva approaches Jamie with a proposal (or blackmail, really): Either he visit her in her bed that night so she doesn’t have to lose her virginity to Ellesmere, or she tells her mother who Jamie really is -- and he gets his parole revoked, sending him back to prison. Jamie’s eager to avoid more time in jail at all costs, so he sneaks into the estate later that evening and into Geneva’s room.

There’s a twisted parallel between Jamie losing his virginity to Claire on their wedding night in Season 1 and Geneva losing hers to Jamie in this episode, although the latter scenario is definitely full of dubious consent. Jamie goes through the motions at first, but then actually tries to make it enjoyable for Geneva and assuages her fears (which is more than she deserves, IMO). Naturally, when they’re finished and lying side by side, Geneva declares that she’s in love with Jamie after all. Jamie says no, silly girl, not really, she’s just basking in the afterglow of what he did for her. Real love is about more than giving your body to someone else; it’s heart and soul too. Anyway, Geneva goes off to get married, and wouldn’t you know it, nine months later returns to Helwater visibly pregnant. Jamie’s face says it all -- but I guess in all her bedroom tutelage Claire never made a point to mention the pullout method.

Childbirth in the 18th century was never without its complications, and Geneva dies after giving birth to a healthy baby boy. Ellesmere, however, is incensed; apparently Geneva didn’t even try to share a bed with her old husband, and he knows it’s not his child. He and Dunsany shout insults at each other, and when Ellesmere holds a knife to the baby in his arms Dunsany pulls out a pistol. Jamie tries to initiate some conflict resolution and takes Dunsany’s pistol away, but when Ellesmere moves to hurt the baby Jamie’s the one to shoot him. Eventually, it’s ruled that Ellesmere died of “misadventure” (alluding to potential suicide), and the baby is taken in by his family and given the name William. Lady Dunsany offers to release Jamie from his employment, but he refuses, saying he wants to stay for a little while longer -- presumably to keep an eye on his son.

A few years later, wee William has grown particularly attached to Jamie -- but the other thing that’s growing is the shared resemblance between them. Lord John Grey returns to Helwater and informs Jamie he’s engaged to marry Lady Isobel, Geneva’s sister, and makes Jamie the promise that they’ll look after William like their own child. Jamie leaves Helwater, but not before secretly baptizing William as “William James” and giving him his own carved wooden snake, similar to the one he’d been given as a boy.

Claire (1968)

We resume two years after Frank’s death, but technically at the tail end of Season 2, where Brianna and an adult-Roger have agreed to help Claire search back through time (and a ton of poorly kept historical records) for Jamie. Now that they believe he survived Culloden, they have to search for him through the available prison records. Claire spots Jamie’s name on a list from Ardsmuir Prison, but the records only go so far into the future because (as we already know) Ardsmuir was closed down and the prisoners relocated to work as indentured in America. However, rather than look any further Roger suggests they break for a drink. If this is indicative of their research habits it’s no wonder they’re taking so long to find Jamie.

Evidently Claire’s been gone long enough that some of her more involved cases at home are starting to become an issue. Her old friend and colleague Joe Abernathy calls her up from Boston about a patient of hers who’s scheduled to go into surgery next week. Claire tells him he can handle it, but Joe says that’s not the point: It’d be nice to know if she’s planning on coming home. The scene is brief, but what it serves to emphasize is that Claire needs to make a decision. She can either remain in the past -- and head there -- or she can move forward, but she can’t put her life on hold for much longer.

As if Claire couldn’t be any more conflicted, she gets another blast from the past: the pearl necklace Jamie had given her on their wedding night. She’d given them to Mrs. Graham after first returning through the stones, and Mrs. Graham had left them to her granddaughter Fiona. One would think Claire would be delighted to see another reminder of Jamie, but if anything she appears more mixed in her emotions than ever. When Brianna greets her excitedly with news of archived ship manifests, Claire’s response is less than enthused -- until Brianna refers to her as “mama,” a name she hasn’t used in a very long time.

During a fireside conversation with Roger, Brianna reveals her own mixed feelings about their search for Jamie. Now that she knows who her real father is, the barrier between mother and daughter is slowly starting to come down - but Brianna’s worried. If Claire does decide to go back through the stones, what if something happens to her in the past? What if she can’t come back again? Roger’s torn as well; once their research on Jamie wraps up, Brianna will probably return to Boston. The two kiss for the first time, and though the conversation isn’t resolved it may be a signal that Brianna won’t be leaving right away.

At the National Archives, the group stumbles upon their first roadblock; the records they thought were complete are in fact more than a century off. Unfortunately, there aren’t any more ship manifests for them to go off of and for now it looks like their research has officially stalled. While drowning their sorrows at a pub in Edinburgh, Claire and Brianna ignore the looks being shot in their direction by various male occupants (apparently, women weren’t allowed to sit at the bar back then). Brianna doesn’t want to give up the search, but Claire isn’t certain how much more time she should spend searching for a ghost.

And so Claire makes the decision to leave Scotland. The last time we see her this episode, she’s got her bags packed and she and Brianna are sitting on an airplane bound for Boston. While I half-predicted we'd see Claire get off the airplane before it left, it looks like both mother and daughter are bound for home for the time being.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

- Jamie’s legendary status as the Dunbonnet has traveled far and wide; Fiona mentions that her grandmother Mrs. Graham told many stories about him to her when she was young. I wonder if Claire feels like she’s married to the Scottish equivalent of Santa Claus now?
- I wasn’t the biggest fan of Roger and Brianna’s growing relationship last season, but this season the show is starting to win me over. That scene by the broken-down car is all it takes, apparently.
- Was I the only one who thought Willie was going to be a bit more of a ginger like his half-sister, Brianna? The casting department did a fine job finding a kiddie who looked like Sam Heughan, but I kind of expected William’s hair to be slightly more of an identifier as to his true parentage.
- Jamie offers himself to John Grey in exchange for Gray looking after William. Fortunately, John is a Good Guy and refuses - but oh, Jamie. We really need to rethink your instincts here.
- The final scene marks one of the first times a more modern music cue has been used in overlapping scenes, as Jamie and Claire both move to depart their respective places. Normally I wouldn’t be a fan, but this cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” just somehow works.

That’s it for now, Outlander fans! Feel free to sound off in the comments about your favorite moments this episode, as well as your predictions for season three, or tweet at us over at @Syfyfangrrls. How long will it take Claire and Brianna to return to Scotland? Where is Jamie bound for next? And when will these marrieds finally reunite?! That’s the real question most of us are asking at this point.