Spoiler Warning: The following discusses detailed plot points from the Season 3 episode “First Wife.” If you haven’t had a chance to watch the episode yet, go back through the stones and return once you have.
Welcome back, sassenachs! It's me, your ever-faithful Outlander recapper, here once again to fill you in on all the latest and greatest when it comes to our favorite characters. (Just a friendly reminder to readers: I am fully caught up on the books, but I won’t be referencing them in my recaps in case there are those who are only watching the show.) Last week saw Claire getting her Grey’s Anatomy on in order to tend to a man who attacked her -- but even her newfangled medical skills weren’t enough to save his life in the 18th century. Meanwhile, the slight illegalities of Jamie’s side gig caught up with him, leading to the print shop burning down as a result. And Young Ian lost his v-card. They grow up so fast, don’t they?
This week: Jamie makes good on his promise to take Ian back to Lallybroch with Claire in tow, but it turns out there’s at least one Fraser who isn’t happy to see the prodigal wife. And she’s not the only one -- but more than that, the reveal of who Jamie has gotten married to in Claire’s absence threatens to drive them apart for good.
As the group approaches Lallybroch, Claire admits via internal monologue that it’s a place that’s always been near and dear to her. From the outside, she notes that it doesn’t appear a whole lot has changed -- but considering that a good chunk of time has gone by it’s safe to say that Lallybroch isn’t the same as when she left. Out of the three of them, though, it looks like Young Ian is definitely the most reluctant in terms of seeing Jenny and Dad Ian again -- but he might have good reason to fear them. He’s been gallivanting around the big bad city participating in all kinds of illegal activities.
And yet when they finally come face to face with Jenny, it’s Claire who gets the frostiest reception even as she inquires about the well-being of the family. Jenny admits that most of her own children have babies of their own now, and then right on cue turns to embrace Young Ian before slapping him upside the head. Classic maternal instinct. It’s evident that Claire was expecting more of a warm welcome, and she and Jamie both trickle inside silently as Dad Ian and Jenny proceed to give Young Ian a stern talking-to for worrying them half to death. Young Ian says that he’d rather be earning an honest wage in the big city than feeding chickens at Lallybroch, but then lets it slip that part of making that sweet cash money involved selling alcohol. Jenny and Dad Ian are definitely less than thrilled to hear that, but Jamie insists he fulfilled his promise to keep an eye on their son -- even if he was involved in some illegal activities. Of course, there is the matter of the “wee fire” at the print shop, not to mention the man that died under Claire’s care -- neither of which helps the situation.
Dad Ian and Jenny send Young Ian outside to wait for a thrashing, but Jamie suggests an alternate punishment that seems to involve using manure and hay to create some kind of thatching. After having to touch something that smells like “the devil’s arse,” in his words, Young Ian is already griping about preferring a thrashing over having to literally handle poop. Meanwhile, Claire is getting introduced to the newest generation of Fraser Murrays, including the grandsons of Maggie (whom Claire helped Jenny to deliver back in Season 1!) and Jenny’s eldest son Young Jamie, who isn’t so wee anymore and has four kids of his own. I’m having trouble keeping up with all the changes, so I can only imagine how Claire’s feeling, especially since Jenny continues to keep her at a distance.
Claire and Jamie are settling in for the evening, and he chooses then to regale her with the story of the old man he met back in Episode 3, the one who rambled on and on about the hidden Jacobite treasure guarded by “la dame blanche” (a white witch). Claire immediately recognizes it as the name she was given by the French back in Season 2, and Jamie admits that for a second he believed she would be at the location of the treasure -- on Selkie Island -- waiting for him. Of course, after he swam over there was no sign of her -- but he did find the small treasure chest containing an assortment of old coins and jewels. It was in that moment he took the sapphire back to give to John Grey as proof of the cache’s existence, but I’m guessing the point of this story is to remind us that the treasure is still out there, and will probably be retrieved soon.
Anyway, Claire and Jamie somehow change the convo to start talking about birds that mate for life -- and then proceed to get their smooch on. Pulling away, Jamie admits he’s been keeping something from Claire, but doesn’t get around to explaining himself because the door bursts open and two young girls walk in. They both call him “daddy” and Claire is appropriately dumbstruck, but not as gobsmacked as she is when their mother comes up behind them -- and it’s Laoghaire. Yes, THAT Laoghaire, who had a wicked crush on Jamie back in Season 1 and then tried to get Claire sentenced for witchcraft as a result of her jealousy. She shouts all kinds of venomous things while Claire can only sit there gaping like a fish -- and really, can you blame her? She just found out that the love of her life has been married to one of her worst enemies.
This scene kicks off the rollout of information that both we and Claire have been missing this whole time -- namely, that Jamie and Laoghaire’s marriage has been one of convenience and timing, definitely not love. Laoghaire was a widow with two children at the time, and Jamie insists he mostly married her to take care of her daughters -- who he still cares deeply about. (It’s hard for me not to care about them, too; little Joanie is especially adorable.) They’ve been married less than two years and been living apart most of that time. To Claire, none of that matters because of the sole fact of who it is: the woman who tried to have her killed via mob justice. She tries to leave the room with clothes in hand, but Jamie moves to block her path.
Claire rightfully points out that Jamie has been honest with her about everything else; why keep this marriage a secret? Jamie seems to be having a bit of amnesia, because while he admits his cowardice prevented him from being truly honest, he adds that he would’ve done or said anything to keep her from disappearing after she left him to go back through the stones. Um, if I recall correctly, Claire fought tooth and nail to stay and it was Jamie who told her to go back for her and their unborn baby’s safety? It feels like every time these two fight, Jamie brings up the subject of Frank and Claire has to remind him that theirs wasn’t exactly a happy marriage, but even as the yelling gets louder the music kicks in to let us know where this is headed. Jamie kisses Claire, Claire slaps him, Jamie kisses her again, they wrestle a bit on the floor and then they start tugging at each other’s clothes. The only thing that stops their frenzy is Jenny dumping a pitcher of water on them and yelling at them for making so much noise. There’s like 20 people in that house including young kids, you two. Slow your roll!
Once Claire pries herself away from Jamie, she goes downstairs to cool off(?) in front of the fire. Jenny’s daughter Janet brings her a whisky, and in the conversation that follows confesses that she was the one who went to tell Laoghaire of Jamie’s return. Claire doesn't fault her, admitting that one of them would have found out about the other soon enough -- but then Janet adds that it was Jenny who told her to go and fetch Laoghaire in the first place.
There’s a lot of rehashing in this hour, mostly revolving around Claire and Jamie trying to explain where she’s been this entire time. They both take turns giving Jenny the rundown over the course of the episode, but when Claire gets around to sharing her version of the story Jenny acutely points out that she can tell Claire’s still hiding something from her. Jenny’s always been super observant, so it’s not surprising that she picks up on the fact that Claire’s only partly telling the truth. My guess is that Jenny’s going to get clued in to the whole enchilada very soon, and frankly she deserves to be in spite of what Jamie thinks. She put her trust in Claire back in Season 1 even when she didn’t know her that well, and I think enough time has passed that both Claire and Jamie can trust her with this information -- maybe both her and Dad Ian, that is.
Regardless of whether or not they may have started to, ahem, patch things up in the bedroom, by morning Claire has packed her things and is set to leave Lallybroch even if she has to walk out on foot. Jamie’s standing at the gate to stop her and declares that she’s the only one he’s ever loved. These two are so extra. Of course, that’s around the same time Laoghaire walks up to them brandishing a pistol and points it right at Claire. Jamie steps in between to shield Claire, and just as I’m thinking that pistol looks way too big for Laoghaire to really manage even with two hands it goes off and catches Jamie in the chest and arm. Laoghaire flees and Claire is forced, once again, to go into doctor mode. Fortunately, it’s not a serious injury, and Claire’s brought back some medical supplies from the future that make quick work of the pistol’s birdshot. Jamie’s more than happy to drink plenty of whisky to sleep through the worst of it, and Claire digs out the pellets right on the Murrays’ dining room table.
When Jamie wakes up, he’s definitely expecting to see Claire all lovey-dovey and forgiving -- but she’s not exactly feeling sympathetic toward him as she brushes off his request for more alcohol and gives him water to drink instead. Things are going to be a little chilly between them for the foreseeable future, but the arrival of Ned Gowan does brighten their doorstep. Claire is happy to see an old friend, but less ecstatic with the news that he brings: Although Claire’s return invalidates Jamie’s second marriage, Laoghaire is still requesting alimony and other financial support. Technically, Jamie would be well within his rights to turn Laoghaire in for shooting him (which would solve a big problem), but as we saw in a flashback scene earlier, Jamie truly loves Laoghaire’s daughters, Marsali and Joan, who once put a smile on his face in his darkest moments after Claire's departure. He can’t bear the thought of leaving them without a mother, but he also has no idea how he’s going to be able to pay Laoghaire the amount she’s demanding -- and that’s when both Jamie and I remember the treasure cache back on Selkie Island.
With his injury, however, Jamie can’t manage the swim from one side to the other -- so he enlists the help of Young Ian, and he and Claire both watch somewhat helplessly from the shore as the boy makes his way across. As they wait for him to come back, Claire confesses that she’s starting to have doubts about whether she and Jamie still belong together, if it was a mistake for her to come back through the stones. “It’s been harder than I ever imagined,” she says. “When has it ever been easy?” Jamie replies. Almost right on cue, Claire notices a ship sailing in towards the island. A group of men have already taken a rowboat out, and Young Ian is in the process of coming back with the chest. Claire and Jamie try to call out to him in warning, but he can’t hear them over the winds -- and eventually, he’s caught by the men and dragged back towards the ship as we all watch in vain. And Jamie just got done saying he would take better care of him this time …
- This is a random thing, but I pride myself on being able to tell when an actor has a cold in the middle of filming. There are early scenes in this episode where Sam Heughan is definitely getting over a sniffle, and it’s adorable.
- Jenny referring to Claire as a “stray” felt unnecessarily harsh, but then I remembered she tends to wield prickly verbal barbs to keep people away when she’s hurt.
- Claire is convinced that little Joanie is Jamie’s daughter at first, but his answer made me chuckle: “Well, there are other red-headed men in Scotland.”
- Young Ian offering Claire a glass of whisky after operating on Jamie is a nice moment, as is Claire noting that he’s the only one of the Murray kids who calls her “auntie.”
- Carrying over from last week, am I the only one who appreciates what a silver fox Dad Ian is? Steven Cree is rocking those greys.
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. Who do you think took Ian? Will Jamie and Claire have to set sail in order to retrieve him? And who will they enlist to help them in their retrieval of the unlucky lad? We’ll find out next week!