Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 3 episode “Heaven and Earth.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Hello, sassenachs! Your ever-faithful Outlander recapper is here to give you the scuttlebutt on everything that’s happened in this week’s episode. (Friendly reminder, as always: I’ve read the books but won’t be including any mention of them in these recaps.) Last week saw Jamie and Claire on the high seas -- they’re on their way to Jamaica to rescue Young Ian from being sold into servitude -- but a desperate captain and a ship full of sick men throw a serious wrench into their plan to stick together. Oh, and now Fergus and Marsali are a couple all of a sudden? (Do they have a ship name yet? #Fergali? #Margus? Fill me in.)
This week: Claire and Jamie begin the first part of their long voyage apart from one another, and neither of them is very happy about it. Claire’s got more to worry about than a bunch of dying crewmen, while Jamie tries to strike a deal with Fergus to help him escape in order to rescue his kidnapped wife. Oh, and there’s more vomiting.
Tonight’s episode started out without the normal buffer of opening credits, so I was thoroughly taken aback for a moment before I could even recover. We see the final minutes of last week’s episode play out from Jamie’s POV -- he’s talking to Fergus about (what else) Marsali. His adopted French son is still trying to convince him to bless their impending nuptials, and for a second it seems like Jamie is starting to come around until Fergus notices the British ship (the Porpoise) getting under way. My favorite part happens when Jamie looks through the spyglass to see Claire yelling at the captain from afar. Of course, Jamie orders the crew immediately make sail so they can catch up -- but Raines tells them to belay that order. Captain Leonard needs Claire to take care of his crew -- the ones who are still alive, anyway -- and they’re already taking the fastest route to Jamaica. Jamie will be reunited with his wife soon enough. He’s a hot-headed Scot, however, and gets himself tossed down below for making physical threats against Raines. The credits finally roll after Jamie helplessly watches the Porpoise sail away.
We rejoin the story on the other side of things, where Claire is putting the healthy crew of the Porpoise to work on keeping the ship as clean as possible to ensure that no more men fall ill. Trying to ensure proper sanitation on an 18th-century ship is a Sisyphean task, though. When Claire’s not dealing with literal poop everywhere, she’s earning herself quite a number of enemies for taking the alcohol intended for drinking and repurposing it to clean every nook and cranny. It’s the only thing that kills those newfangled germs, you see. Claire’s suggestions are met with scorn and derision by a majority of the crew, several of whom voice their feelings about taking orders from a lady doctor within earshot. One of the few exceptions is Elias Pound, a young midshipman who’s been assigned to assist Claire.
Considering that most of the senior officers on the Porpoise have already succumbed to typhoid fever, most of the surviving crew are practically babies next to Claire. The whole thing feels akin to Wendy Darling having to wrangle the Lost Boys in Neverland -- boys and several adult men who are more than a little disgruntled about having to halve their daily rationing of grog. (Side note: I looked up “grog,” having no idea what it was, and apparently it was watered-down rum -- or some other kind of alcohol substitute. Really, fellas, you’re not missing out on much.) It’s not just about a bunch of breeches getting chafed over having to take orders from a woman; Claire winds up on the receiving end of some particularly aggressive behavior from the ship’s cook, Mr. Cosworth.
Claire really doesn’t have time to deal with some bruised male egos, though. She’s been on the Porpoise less than a day, and already three more men have contracted the disease. You can tell by the way she surveys the rows of hammocks containing vomiting, pooping men with her hands on her hips that she knows she might be in over her head even at this stage. But her first instinct is a good one; she checks the logs of the original ship’s surgeon (you know, the surgeon who misdiagnosed everything and is now dead) to try and figure out when everyone started getting sick. As she makes clear several times within the course of the episode, the disease is typically spread through ingesting contaminated food. Contaminated with what, you ask? In essence, poop particles. Sure enough, the crewmen that first started showing signs of typhoid fever were all sharing meals together -- and the one who didn’t die was reassigned to the ship’s galley, giving him free rein to contaminate everything the crew have been eating. I’m with Claire at this point; without her, these men would all be dead. At least Captain Leonard is taking Claire at her word (although even he falls prey to the typical line of “you’d better be right about this” when Claire suggests something as mundane as quarantining the carrier of the disease).
Fifty miles or so away, Jamie is back to barfing now that he’s being sequestered below deck without access to Mr. Willoughby’s acupuncture needles. Fergus comes in with food, but given that Jamie’s having trouble keeping anything down it’s little more than a nice thought. He points out that Claire isn’t in any danger of getting sick on the other ship, but Jamie’s real concern lies with the 300 men who outnumber his wife on the Porpoise. Sure, a good number of them are severely sick or dying, but you can’t fault Jamie for being more than a little unsettled by the thought, considering how many times Claire’s life has been threatened already. He tells Fergus to make use of those pickpocketing skills and grab the keys that will unlock his cell. Fergus points out that even with the support of some of the men, they won’t be able to commandeer the Artemis and catch up to Claire given the lead the Porpoise already has on them. He’s operating on the side of logic here, while Jamie’s running on pure emotion. When Fergus finally refuses to help him, Jamie snaps. That non-helpful attitude, he says, must mean that Fergus doesn’t know what love is -- otherwise he would “move Heaven and Earth” (title of the episode!) to save Claire. This is all clearly just Jamie projecting, helpless as he is in his tiny cell, and as romantic as the notion is, he also needs to chill out a bit.
Claire’s not the only woman on board the Porpoise after all; there’s a Mistress Annekje Johansen, who owns several goats, which she milks to provide sustenance for the men. At first there’s a suspicion that Annekje’s husband has contracted typhoid fever -- but Claire uses her medical skills to determine that it’s actually alcohol poisoning, brought on by drinking the pure alcohol that’s been distilled from the supply of grog in order to disinfect the ship. More annoyed now than ever, Claire drops at least one f-bomb -- much to the amusement of the men around her. They’ve never heard such language from a gentlewoman, you see, but Claire makes a point of telling them that she is anything but. It’s then that she spots a Portuguese flag draped over some boxes below deck -- and, if you’ll recall, the ship (the Bruja) that first took Young Ian was flying a similar flag. The Porpoise had boarded a Portuguese ship several weeks ago in search of a surgeon, but no one can seem to remember its name. In search of answers, Claire heads to the captain’s quarters -- and, finding no one inside, lets herself in to do some rummaging.
Flipping through Leonard’s logbook indicates that the ship they stumbled upon isn’t the same one that Ian was on, but Claire’s eagle eye spots a more familiar name within the pages: Jamie’s. Apparently, Jamie’s face is so well known (for its beauty, obvs) that he was recognized on the Artemis by a Porpoise crewman named Harry Tompkins, even though he was traveling under an alias. One wonders why Claire wouldn’t have been concerned about introducing herself as “Mistress Fraser” if that were the case, but that’s just a minor quibble. She’s interrupted in her sleuthing by Mr. Cosworth, who claims he’s come into the captain’s quarters to fetch Leonard’s pipe. He’s giving off vibes of escalating aggression, and Claire pulls a chair between them to give herself a bit of breathing room. She vows she’ll scream if Cosworth tries anything, and considering how much Leonard trusts her there won’t be any question of who he’ll believe. Cosworth lets her pass, though he’s not Claire’s biggest concern at the moment. She needs to locate this Harry Tompkins character and find out what he knows about Jamie.
Her method to finding Tompkins -- and one that’s pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself -- is to fib a little. She tells wee Elias Pound that she believes Tompkins could be another carrier of the disease, though she doesn’t want him to act too hastily. Still, it takes several guards to haul Tompkins in, and when Claire gets a look at him both our stomachs drop. He’s the man who worked for Sir Percival back in Edinburgh, the one who confronted Young Ian in the print shop and wound up setting the place on fire in the process. (He’s even got the burn scars on his face now to prove it.) He knows Jamie’s been up to some illegal shenanigans because he’s been a part of them.
Claire requests some alone time, and there’s a beat where the show tries to convince us she’ll sink to the levels of torture to get him to talk. It almost works. Tompkins is more than happy to spill his guts, though; in fact, he says death is largely preferable than living on a ship full of disease. If Claire kills Tompkins, then no one will be able to arrest Jamie on hearsay alone -- but Tompkins laughs. There aren’t just arrest warrants out for Jamie on the grounds of treason anymore. He’s got murder charges to deal with too. Turns out Barton’s body was discovered in a cask of creme de menthe, so now there’s physical evidence linked to Jamie as well. Never mind the fact that Jamie didn’t actually kill anyone; the body was found in the liquor he was selling off. And Claire may have Leonard’s trust, but he’s an ambitious young man. Making a big arrest like Jamie would guarantee a rise in the ranks. Claire can’t do much at this stage, but she can get Tompkins thrown into a cell mere feet away from the actual carrier.
Thankfully, the worst of it is over by now; most of the men who have survived the disease are sleeping peacefully, and when Claire heads up to the deck there are others singing and smoking and drinking grog and generally having a grand ol’ time (basically, all indicators that things are on the up-and-up). The only other individual who didn’t make it unscathed is poor Elias Pound, who took ill during the last legs of the voyage. Claire finds him lying in a hammock and knows he’s beyond saving when he mistakes her for his late mother. She spends his last few minutes comforting him before he dies. I’m super bummed that we didn’t get to spend more time with him, but he started to look super haggard about halfway through and, well, Claire’s gotta do Claire.
With no one else to talk to about her problems, Claire seeks out the only other person she can confide in: Annekje. She confesses she has no way to warn Jamie about the warrants waiting for him when he disembarks in Jamaica. It takes a bit for her to understand Annekje’s broken English, but Claire realizes the other woman has a plan to help her escape. Annekje’s goats need grass in order to thrive, and the ship periodically lets them off to graze before setting sail again. This next time the Porpoise docks, Claire accompanies them to land and manages to steal away toward the port, but Leonard and a couple marines catch up to her and promptly escort her back to the ship. As Claire’s opportunity to warn Jamie begins slipping away, Annekje comes up with one last plan: literally jumping overboard and swimming back to shore. They hastily assemble a makeshift raft, wait for the night patrol on deck to swap guards, and then Claire clambers over the railing. With one terrified “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” she jumps. Cut to black.
- The Porpoise loses a bunch of men, and each time the crew has to wrap their body and stitch up the canvas before sending them down to Davy Jones’ locker. The final stitch has to go through the person’s nose to ensure they’re really dead. As someone who’s had their nose pierced several times, ow. I get these are dead bodies, but I was blinking back vicarious tears at several points in this episode.
- Fergus and Marsali have a brief interlude that leaves me feeling a bit more amenable to this pairing. She cleans his limb! They almost give in and have a bit of sexy time! If nothing else, this proves that Lauren Lyle and César Domboy have the chemistry I’ve been waiting to see. And Jamie finally gives them permission to get married in Jamaica! Drinks all around.
- At least Jamie’s been allowed to keep his glasses so that he can look at those pictures of Brianna. It’s a brief moment, but one that tugs at the heartstrings.
- This episode finally gives us Claire in a pirate hat, and now I’m itching for an Outlander/Black Sails crossover. They’re already using the same ships as hand-me-downs! I don’t think this is an unreasonable request. Keep it in the family, Starz.
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 the rest of Season 3, or tweet at us over at @Syfyfangrrls. Will Claire be able to get to Jamie in time to warn him? What will Fergus and Marsali do now that they know they can get hitched? Can we maybe go a few episodes without on-screen puking? We’ll find out next week!