This Outlander review/recap/commentary/list/whatever is brought to you by Laphroaig Quarter Cask. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m basically going through the Scotch whiskies that were featured in Scotch Tasting with Sam Heughan and Kristin Dos Santos. It’s not the same Laphroaig as in the tasting, but the Quarter Cask was on sale. It’s very smokey.
Outlander is gearing up for its season 1 finale; “The Watch” signifies the beginning of the end. Jamie and Claire’s peaceful life at Lallybroch couldn’t last, lest the show lose its male viewers. (Some were bored with last week’s episode which focused on Jamie’s personal growth.) The idyllic life came to an abrupt end last week in the form of a gun pointed at Jamie’s head. If you didn’t guess the perpetrator of this abomination, it was the Watch, those pesky highwaymen who are loyal only to the highest bidder.
1. The Watch
While the gist of the Watch camping out at Lallybroch wasn’t in the book (drink!), the episode was chalk full of book-related vignettes, and they worked very well within the context of the show. Book readers who were dissatisfied with the last two episodes should be appeased.
The Watch invades Lallybroch. Jamie is incensed, but Jenny and Ian are familiar with the drill. Jamie becomes Jamie MacTavish once again, a cousin of Jenny’s (since Jamie Fraser is a wanted man). The leader of this group is an” honorable outlaw,” but his cohorts, less so. They smoke Ian’s tobacco and set fire to a wagon load of hay when Jamie berates them. They get into a scuffle with Jamie, and even though the odds are about 4-to-1, Jamie gets the upper hand. Because he’s that fucking awesome!
Guess who’s also a member of this gang? Horrocks, the British Army deserter who was unable to clear Jamie’s name in “The Reckoning.” But Horrocks doesn’t give Jamie Fraser over to the Watch, so he too is honorable, right? Nnnnope! He blackmails Jamie to pay for his passage to America in exchange for his silence. But like most blackmailers, he doesn’t stop there. When Jamie says he has nothing more to give, Ian Awesome Murray runs Horrocks through with his sword. Way to go you adorable, peg-legged darling of a man. Good riddance, Horrocks.
3. Jamie and Ian
We get a glimpse at the life-long friendship of these two warriors. When Jamie’s in trouble, Ian is there to calm him down and remind him of what’s important. I would pay a great deal of money to see more of the two of these magnificent men.
4. Jenny Murray is NOT a bitch!
She has warmed to Claire, and vice versa. Good thing, since Jenny goes into labor and the local midwife isn’t available. Claire is there to help with the traumatic (i.e., breech) birth. Claire asks her what being pregnant is like, and Jenny describes the most sensual relationship between a man and a woman. Oh, and…
It’s a girl!
5. Willie Fraser
Book readers (drink!) bemoaned the short shrift Jamie’s older brother Willie got in “Lallybroch.” Well look at that. Willie receives the most loving of treatments here, in the form of “Sawny,” the wooden snake Willie carved for Jamie on his 5th birthday. The moral of this tale: Always trust in the Ronald D. Moore.
6. Claire and Jamie discuss family
Jamie discusses the life he’d hoped to have at Lallybroch, raising a family with Claire. He feels he’s let her down because he has to use that money to pay off Horrocks. But Claire believes she’s let Jamie down because she thinks she’s barren. After only one beat or two, Jamie says it’s probably better this way. He can tolerate his own pain, but wouldn’t be able to bear Claire’s. They embrace and Jamie kisses her neck.
*thump* That’s the sound of me falling off the couch in a swoon.
Once Claire leaves, Jamie drops his facade and sits down to contemplate his disappointment. It’s verra sad.
7. Jamie Alexander
Motherfucking Malcom MacKenzie Fraser
Were you bitching about the “ruination” of Jamie Fraser in “Lallybroch?” Well, bitch no more, bitches! Jamie AMM Fraser is one brave, strong, intelligent man.
When Head Watch Guy asks about Horrocks—no wait, he doesn’t. He actually surmises that Horrocks is dead. Anyway, when that happens, Jamie sets a steely gaze at Head Watch Guy, admits he’s a wanted man, and takes the blame for killing Horrocks. Turns out Head Watch Guy never liked Horrocks anyway.
And let’s not forget the taking on several Watch guys and coming out on top. And a lot of other amazing Jamie Fraser, King of Men, stuff. (Sam Heughan said this was his favorite episode. I can see why.)
8. The Raid
Before he “mysteriously” disappeared, Horrocks told the Watch of the ideal place to intercept a clan’s rent party when their coffers are full. But Horrocks is dead, and the Watch is one man short. Jamie is enlisted to help, and Ian, being the fabulous friend he is, refuses to let Jamie go alone. Claire and Jamie have a beautiful, loving goodbye; and you know it’s not going to end well, because Jamie turns and leaves in slow motion—just like the last time Claire and Frank parted.
Well, fuck me. The ideal place to hide and wait for an ambush turns out to be a trap. The Redcoats are waiting and the Watch have no way of escape. Horrocks set his Watch buddies up to win his freedom. Too bad he’s dead. (Not.)
Meanwhile Claire and Jenny bond while anxiously awaiting the return of their husbands. Three days go by. Jenny gives Claire a pair of ivory (I think) bracelets. Personally, I would have kept my mother’s bracelets for myself, but then, I am tall and queenly, too—just not as young, thin, or beautiful as
Catriona Balfe Claire. Claire kisses Jenny on the cheek, and Jenny is like, wha..?? It’s adorable!
Ian finally returns without his horse or his wooden leg, supported by the only surviving member of the Watch. Jamie survived, too but was taken prisoner by the British. Knowing there’s a price on his head and Jack Randall’s interest in Jamie things are not looking good.
9. Sam Heughan’s Hair
In the first half of the season, Jamie’s hair was in a constant state of flux, sometimes wavy, sometimes curly, sometimes downright frizzy. Hell, sometimes his hair changed texture within one scene. But since we’ve returned from the hiatus, his hair has consistently been a thing of beaury. Perhaps the hair people realized what they they were dealing with and added an anti-frizz agent to his styling.
Word of warning (to non-readers of the books): Enjoy it for now, because it may not last.
10. The final unanswered question:
What happened to Donas?? Don’t know who Donas is? He’s the glorious black horse Jamie rides. He’s so fucking awesome, he has his own Twitter account! Jamie rode a black horse into the raid, but the horse didn’t return. Did Donas die? Get taken by the Redcoats? Left to wander the countryside, riderless and alone?
One final note:
Only three more episodes, only one more until… that one. The one that no one is looking forward to. Just try to remember the sweet, endearing episodes from the series beginning, as we got to know bits and pieces of Jamie Fraser. Perhaps it will help with the trauma.
[Another final note: I wrote this while still under the influence of the Scotch. Decreased inhibitions mean more swearing. It’s the sailor in me.]