Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the season 3 episode, “Surrender.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Greetings, Sassenachs! It is I, your faithful Outlander recapper for this season, and we’re only two episodes in but a lot has gone down already. So far: Black Jack Randall finally met his bloody end, Jamie was spared an inglorious death via firing squad and Claire gave birth to their daughter - albeit with some awkward questions about where Brianna got her red hair from.
This week: It’s all about sex. Well, not really, but sort of. Claire might be back in her own time, but her lady parts are still on fire for the love of her life from two centuries earlier. Jamie grows a sad beard, his sister Jenny remains fierce, and Fergus’ mischief catches up with him in a big way.
The season premiere wound down with Claire and Frank promising each other a fresh start after Brianna’s birth, but it appears as if Claire’s heart is writing checks her mouth can’t cash. In other words: she’s still having sexytime dreams about Jamie (I mean, can you blame her?). In typical television fashion, these fantasies involve Jamie walking around naked while doing mundane things like stoking fires and gazing intensely. As a new mother, the effects of being cooped up at home are definitely starting to get to Claire (At one point, she reads the newspaper to Brianna as if the wee babe has any idea what she’s talking about).
If “The Battle Joined” was the beginning of Claire’s chafing at the constraints of domesticity, her frustrations - emotional and otherwise - continue to manifest in big ways in this episode. When Frank emerges from the bathroom wearing nothing but a towel, his shower interrupted by a failing boiler, the two of them have a Moment in which Claire’s hand lingers on his dewy chest. She’s trying to reconcile her love for Jamie with the fact that Frank is the closest willing hot-blooded male around, but then the Moment passes and Claire’s left to soothe her daughter and try to temper her raging libido.
That only lasts for so long, because once they’re in bed together in the middle of the night Claire reaches out for Frank and pretty soon they’re doin’ it. At first, it seems like this could very well be a new beginning after all, akin to that second honeymoon they took in Season 1. But alas, their attempts at reconnection don’t last long.
After hosting a dinner for their neighbors (the wife we met last week, along with her husband), Claire and Frank enjoy a nightcap by the fire - but Claire has other ideas. One thing leads to another and they start getting busy on the living room floor. In the midst of things, Frank realizes that Claire’s eyes are closed - and she won’t look at him at his urging. He stops, Claire misinterprets that for lack of interest and scrambles away angrily - but Frank’s the one who has more of a right to be hurt. He’s here with her, but she’s there with Jamie. I’m sure, however, that Claire’s inability to look at Frank during sex is twofold. She loves Jamie and is clearly thinking about him even while she’s with Frank, buuuuut it doesn’t help that Frank bears a certain resemblance to a recently deceased ancestor of his who tormented her.
Either way, Claire’s not feeling fulfilled in more than one aspect of her life, and as much as she adores Brianna she needs to be a part of something greater than herself - so she decides to go to medical school at Harvard. Right from the start, it’s clear that this is not going to be an enjoyable experience for her. The professor is evidently not happy about having to accommodate a woman in his anatomy class, but Claire’s not the only one who is going to stand out in the room - as we see when Joe Abernathy, a black man, walks in looking for a place to sit. He takes the spot next to Claire, and from the look of things the two of them are certainly going to be united against the others trying to keep them out of the medical field - but there are signs of a new friendship being forged here. I’ll admit I got a little emotional as a book reader because Joe - like John Grey - is a name you’ll want to remember.
At the end of the day, Claire comes into the bedroom after putting Brianna down for the night and pulls back the covers to go to sleep. That’s when the camera pulls back and we see that Frank and Claire are now sleeping in two separate twin beds. Oof. They just may have lost that loving feeling after all.
In case you missed it, it’s been six years now since Jamie’s life was spared post-Culloden. Thanks to a debt of honor owed him by Lord John Grey (remember that name), he was whisked off to Lallybroch on the back of a wagon in the early morning hours, thus being spared an ignominious death. Since then, he’s officially earned himself the title of wanted man. As one of the Jacobite rebels, “Red Jamie” (who is also now being referred to as “the Dunbonnet” in certain circles) is guilty of treason. Rather than hide out in his family home, Jamie’s going all Man Vs. Wild instead - living in a cave, killing deer with a bow and arrows, growing a sad beard of mourning.
After Jenny’s husband Ian is hauled off to the garrison by the Redcoats who have come by to interrogate them about the Dunbonnet’s whereabouts, Jamie emerges from the woods. He brings Jenny some fresh deer and she tries to have a heart-to-heart with him, but Jamie would rather take a cleaver to the deer than talk about anything having to do with Claire. (When Jenny’s not having to deal with Redcoats, she’s also repeatedly reminding Jamie that it’s time for him to get laid - because that’s what you do for your brother, obviously.)
Jamie’s essentially become a living ghost, a shell of who he was before, but frequent gossip about him within the village continues to have negative effects on his family and the other residents of Lallybroch. Wee lad Fergus is still hanging around, and though he’s sprouted up a few inches since we saw him last season he isn't getting up to any less mischief. Jenny (who’s pregnant again) goes into labor after Ian is taken to the garrison, and a raven swoops down to perch above the house. It’s a bad omen in the Highland tradition, and could jeopardize the safety of the baby - so Fergus gets the idea to retrieve a concealed pistol of Jamie’s, load it and shoot at the bird. You guessed it: in these lands that sound travels, and a nearby patrol of Redcoats comes by to check it out. Jamie’s made his way to Lallybroch by then and hides out in a side room, swaddling his new nephew Ian in his arms to keep him from crying. Poor Jenny, who has literally just given birth, has to deal with the soldiers interrogating her and ransacking her house to look for the gun - which is illegal for Scots to possess post-rebellion. Eventually, kitchen maid Mary MacNab gives up the pistol as her late husband’s and says she was the one who shot it to scare away the raven. The Redcoats retreat, but only for a time.
Black Jack Randall might be dead, but there’s another villainous Redcoat who seems to have taken his place. Corporal MacGregor, a Northern Scot who is now serving in league with the British, has been suspicious of Fergus from the start and stays behind to follow him when the boy heads into the woods to visit Jamie. Of course, Fergus is confident in his own ability to know when he’s being followed and deliberately leads MacGregor and his subordinate in a circle - but his taunting and various insulting gestures goads MacGregor into chasing him. The sound alerts Jamie, but he can only watch from a distance as MacGregor catches up to Fergus, orders an officer to hold him down, and then draws his sword to cut off the boy’s left hand.
This moment, horrific as it is, forces Jamie to realize that his presence here is endangering the lives of everyone he cares about. (Not sure why it took him six years to come to this conclusion, but ...) Fergus is alright, for the most part, although he’s also allowed to get drunk on whiskey to help with the pain. Jamie goes to Ian and Jenny and tells them they have to turn him in to the Redcoats. They can collect the reward money, and he’ll go off to the garrison to serve his sentence.
But before he goes, he gets one last visitor in his man cave: the Widow MacNab, who brings him supper, cuts his hair and shaves his beard - and then surprises him with the offer of a little sexytimes as well. She’s broken, and Jamie’s broken, and this can be something to keep him whole before he has to go to prison. Jamie refuses at first, but eventually, he figures out that her offer comes with no strings and then he’s down with it. The next morning, he surrenders himself to the English in a grand performance that convinces them Jenny’s betrayed him for the ransom money, and it’s off to jail he goes.
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. Is this the beginning of the end for Frank and Claire? Will Jamie survive the garrison? And how many years will we fast-forward next week? To be continued.