Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 3 episode, “Creme de Menthe.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Salutations, sassenachs! Your friendly neighborhood Outlander recapper is here to head once more into the breach and find out what our favorite couple, Jamie and Claire, have been up to. Last week, it’s safe to say that their print shop reunion was super romantic -- and then it got downright steamy once things moved to the bedroom. (Sure, it’s a room above a brothel, but details.) Unfortunately, things aren’t all going to be fun sexy times for them, because Jamie’s side business (which is more than a little illegal) is starting to have some dangerous consequences.
This week: Claire makes good on the promise she took as a surgeon back in Boston to do no harm -- even to those who tried to harm her. Meanwhile, Jamie’s forced to move some of his product when more menacing individuals start poking around -- and we witness the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Young Ian and Fergus.
We resume right where we left off at that somewhat tense cliffhanger last week, in which Claire returned to Jamie’s room to find a man poking around in his things. He threatens her with sexual assault, but Claire’s a scrapper, and when he throws her down in the bed she grabs a knife from the nightstand, brandishing it in front of her and warning him not to come any closer. He doesn’t take her seriously and winds up with a cut on his leg for his trouble. At this point, he’s more fed up with Claire for actually fighting back and ups his threats to murder instead. Coincidentally, he’s already removed his belt by this juncture, and when he comes at her again he slips on it and falls, hitting his head on the flagstone in front of the fireplace. There’s a nasty sound and it’s clear that whoever this guy is, he’s not getting up anytime soon.
Of course Jamie picks that exact moment to return, and a shaken Claire gives him the Cliffs Notes summary of what just happened. She’s convinced the fall has killed her attacker -- until he groans and she realizes he’s still breathing. Cue Doctor Claire mode. She insists she can’t let the man suffer, but as far as Jamie’s concerned she’d be justified in doing so, since he attacked her. But Claire’s taken a vow to do no harm, and that even extends to the dude who was threatening to rape her (and worse) only minutes prior. It’s clear this episode is going to spend time setting up what a capable physician Claire is even in an earlier century, but I have to wonder if the medical limitations of the era will start to become a problem for her sooner rather than later.
With Fergus’ help, Jamie gets Claire’s attacker on the bed so Claire can start tending to him -- but takes advantage of the man’s unconscious state to rifle through his pockets. His name is John Barton, and he was hired by Sir Percival to steal Jamie’s ledgers -- most likely because Jamie’d been a little light on his last payoff and Percival needs to know if Jamie’s skimming off the top. Jamie admits his side smuggling business has expanded beyond Edinburgh, and he hasn’t exactly gotten around to informing Percival of his increase in profits. There’s a good chance Percival has heard word that Jamie is rolling in coin, hence his sending Barton to steal the proof from Jamie’s room. Now, if Barton doesn’t return, Percival will know something went wrong and come sniffing -- which creates an even bigger problem, since Jamie is currently stashing a ton of liquor casks in the brothel’s basement.
Claire decides to run around the corner to the local apothecary to procure some medical supplies -- though in this day and age, the best she has to make do with are some herbs and laudanum. There’s a man waiting in line in front of her, and when Claire asks if she can go ahead he balks at the suggestion until she offers to treat his sister -- who’s sick at home and suffering from some nervous condition. Claire promises to pay them a visit and then hustles back to the brothel to treat her patient. Across town, Young Ian and Fergus have been tasked with selling off the casks as soon as possible -- even if it means taking a profit loss. Apparently Young Ian is pretty good when it comes to bargaining; he manages to sell off all of the brandy Jamie needs to move and even throws in some creme de menthe free of charge for his paying customer. (Title of the episode, title of the episode!)
Claire gets back to the brothel and Barton has awakened kicking and screaming. Jamie and Mr. Willoughby are trying to hold him down and muffle his sounds so as not to attract unwanted attention, but Claire’s concern is that even a little inadvertent rough handling will make Barton’s head trauma worse. She doses him with the laudanum, but notes that his condition isn’t improving and she’s going to have to do that thing that most shows get around to depicting when a doctor is involved: drilling into someone’s skull in order to relieve pressure. As Claire preps for what’s essentially field surgery, the brothel’s Madame Jeanne promptly informs Jamie that Sir Percival has arrived. Now it’s up to Jamie to distract Percival while Claire sets to work trying to save Barton’s life -- with Mr. Willoughby close at hand.
Percival and his new lackey search the basement, but thanks to Young Ian and Fergus everything’s already been moved and the only thing remaining is a puddle of water on the floor. Jamie may have fooled Percival for a short time, but Claire wasn’t so fortunate on her end of things. Despite her efforts, Barton is dead, and as she washes up Claire berates herself for not being able to save him. Of course, Jamie reminds her that even if she couldn’t save one life she can still use her advanced medical knowledge to save others. That reminds Claire that she has a patient to see to across town, but Jamie makes her promise she’ll return as soon as she’s done. He doesn’t want to take the chance of her disappearing again, which frankly is downright adorable.
Young Ian and Fergus have hit up a pub to celebrate their successful sale, and of course the conversation quickly turns to what most young men are thinking about at that age: sex. Fergus admits that he’s sold a ton of French brandy under the guise of it being the equivalent of 17th-century Viagra (even though we all know the opposite is true). Young Ian, however, is starting to get thoroughly distracted by Brighid, the barmaid of his dreams -- and Fergus declares that tonight should be the night Ian turns his dreams into reality. It’s in this moment that we learn that Fergus first lost his virginity at the age of 15 -- in a threesome. Somehow I’m not surprised and also now in receipt of more information than I ever needed to know.
Claire’s first real patient is a complicated situation, to say the least. Margaret Campbell lives with her brother Archibald, who claims she’s a seer who has the occasional vision -- something he proudly interprets for a modest fee. It’s difficult to determine what she’s actually suffering from, and Claire winds up prescribing simple teas to keep her comfortable, which may only be a Band-Aid over a bullet hole in the long run. Either way, she makes Archibald promise he won’t dose his sister with laudanum anymore, as it’s too potent for continual use.
Dad Ian shows up at the brothel and looks understandably shocked to see Claire alive and well, though it turns out there’s a reason for his visit. He wants to retrieve Young Ian and bring him back home, mostly out of concern that the city is no place for a young man. (Apparently there are gangs roaming around Edinburgh? The things you learn on this show.)
Speaking of the kid himself, Young Ian has more game than I think even he knew, because he’s brought Brighid the barmaid back to the print shop for a little after-hours fun. He’s more like his uncle Jamie than expected, especially when it comes time to get down to business, and he tries to do it 'round the back like horses, ye ken. Brighid all but calls him a sweet summer child and then helps him lose his virginity in a slightly more traditional manner -- but they’re interrupted, much to Young Ian’s disappointment. Sir Percival’s other lackey has broken into the print shop and is currently rifling through Jamie’s things. Young Ian takes it upon himself to send Brighid away for her safety (such a Good Boy) and then tries to go up against the intruder. In the scuffle, the man discovers the seditious pamphlets Jamie’s been printing and fires his gun at Young Ian. Turns out most things inside a print shop are flammable, and Ian tries to put out the fire that ensues, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, Claire isn’t very happy that Jamie lied to Dad Ian about what Young Ian has been up to in Edinburgh -- and the conversation eventually shifts to Jamie expressing regret over not being able to raise Brianna himself as her real father. He brings up the ridiculousness of the bikini in the photos, and Claire openly scoffs. In this century, a woman is apparently either a Madonna or a whore -- and besides, Jamie’s one to talk as a currently active criminal. As far as Claire’s concerned, she and Frank did a fine job raising Brianna, though Jamie also seems stuck on whether Claire fell in love with her first husband when she went back through the stones. (I thought they had this conversation already?) Claire admits that Frank had been her first love BJ (Before Jamie) -- which doesn’t sound so outrageous to me -- but the conversation is soon interrupted by Madame Jeanne coming in to tell Jamie about the fire at the print shop.
When they get there, Jamie hurries inside to save Young Ian as the fire continues to spread, and amid the growing flames manages to save the small portrait of his son William before getting his nephew to safety. When he learns that some of the seditious pamphlets were taken in Young Ian’s scuffle with Percival’s man, Jamie realizes that it’s no longer safe for them in Edinburgh. Smuggling might be illegal, but sedition might get him killed. It’s time for them to leave the city -- and go home to Lallybroch. In all of Jamie’s whispered conversations that ensue out of Claire’s earshot, Fergus reveals the Big Secret we’ve been kept in the dark on: Jamie is already married.
- When Claire insists on helping Barton, Jamie’s muttering about her being “stubborn as always” is equal parts full of admiration and resignation, and it’s a delightful thing. She’s barely been back a day or two and she’s already keeping him on his toes.
- I loved Fergus regaling Young Ian with tales of Claire from when he was a boy. So many of the men speak of her as if she’s a legend (which she kind of is), but it’s nice to see how much they all care for and sort of revere her. (Willoughby even refers to her as “honorable wife.”)
- The expression on Dad Ian’s face when he sees Claire for the first time was the moment in this episode that gave me big-time emotions. He cries! It’s very touching.
- “I didn’t realize lies had shades.” I bet they do, Jamie. I bet they have … fifty shades.
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 3, or tweet at us over at @SYFYFangrrls. How many babies do you think Dad Ian and Jenny have had by now? Who the heck is Jamie’s first wife? And will we be able to check in with Roger and Brianna at some point? We’ll find out next week!