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Sweatpants & TV | Outlander, Season 3, Episode 9 – “The Doldrums”

By Emily Parker

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Catch Up:

Episode 1: The Battle Joined
Episode 2: Surrender
Episode 3: All Debts Paid
Episode 4: Of Lost Things
Episode 5: Whisky & Freedom
Episode 6: A. Malcolm
Episode 7: Creme de Menthe
Episode 8: First Wife

He went to Jared…

We open getting ready to set sail aboard the Artemis. Cousin Jared appears to have made some of the arrangements and is there to see them off. Claire means to act as the ship’s surgeon/physician. Jared points them in the right direction – apparently, the ship Young Ian was kidnapped by is headed for Jamaica.

Jared sees them off.

Jamie wonders aloud if God has cursed him. “No God worth his salt would take your nephew away from you, just for wanting to be happy.” “Will we be? Happy?” Jamie wonders aloud. He asks Claire if she wants to go back to her own time. She doesn’t exactly answer. “The most important thing now is finding Young Ian.” Ouch, Claire.

Jamie feels cursed.

…And the baggage from Lallybroch

Much is made of seafaring superstitions, as everyone touches the horseshoe on the ship for good luck. Women and redheads are also bad luck, so Claire and Jamie are starting off with a shortage of goodwill from the crew.

Jamie and Claire joke about seafaring superstitions.

Two of Jamie’s crew inform him that Fergus is already aboard the ship, along with his “baggage from Lallybroch.” That baggage turns out to be none other than Marsali, Laoghaire’s eldest daughter and Jamie’s stepdaughter. They’ve been handfasted and plan to be married. Jamie is furious, but Marsali is delighted and Fergus looks like the cat that got the cream. They’ve been courting for some time, apparently, but Fergus hasn’t taken her to bed, meaning he can still get out of it. Jamie decrees that Marsali will be disembarking at the next port.

“Fergus and I are married!”

“So you see, I shall either be married, or ruined.”

Marsali is furious and points out that Jamie is taking Claire. Claire’s his wife of twenty years, sweetie. It’s a little different. Marsali sasses Jamie. “You left my mother for this English whore and made her a laughingstock, and you’re going to tell me what to do?” Jamie basically tells her that he’s sending her home, no ifs, ands, or buts. She retorts that she’ll tell everyone Fergus bedded her and that she’s ruined, regardless of whether that’s actually true. “Fine,” Jamie says, but informs them that Fergus doesn’t touch her for the duration of the trip – Fergus will bunk with Jamie, and Marsali with Claire. Say what? Claire’s none too happy. “I’m obliged to protect her virtue,” Jamie explains lamely. “Mine as well, it would seem!” Claire snaps. Poor Jamie has had a bad run with women, lately.

Claire has heard plans she likes better than this one.

Ill omens

Claire and Jamie’s chat later that night is interrupted so that Claire can care for an injured crew member. The first rumblings of “bad luck” on the ship are sewn, although Claire assures the captain that accidents happen. “There are more things on heaven and earth, Horatio,” the Captain begins, “than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” Claire finishes, with a smirk. “Shakespeare was a very wise man.” The Captain invites Claire and Jamie to dinner that evening.

Claire can quote Shakespeare with the best of them.

Crazy, Stupid Love

Meanwhile, Jamie lectures Fergus about the wisdom of marrying a girl he hardly knows. Fergus points out that Jamie hardly knew Claire when they were married. “We were forced to marry,” Jamie argues. “Lord, you forget,” Fergus smiles. “If you were forced to marry milady, then I am forced to breathe.” He guilt-trips Jamie, who isn’t having it, particularly. He asks if Marsali knows about all of the other women Fergus has been with. She doesn’t, although she does know some of the more unsavory details about Fergus’ early life.

Jamie lectures Fergus, unconvincingly.

“Believing something doesn’t make it real.”

Claire dines with the Captain, who lectures her about respecting seafaring traditions, and makes a lame case for why she should technically be bare-breasted, if she were concerned with being good luck. Thankfully, the women traditionally mounted to the ship’s hulls serve that purpose in lieu of the real thing. Claire argues that believing in such things is silly, and the Captain retorts with more Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Careful, Claire, they’ll think you’re an atheist, too.

Claire dines with the Captain.

Snip, snip

Jamie is grotesquely seasick, and Mr. Willoughby looks in on him. He warns that if Jamie continues this way, his guts can get twisted up and so can his testicles, requiring their removal. Scaring someone out of hiccups, I’ve heard of, but seasickness? Jamie responds by puking even more than before.

I can’t tell if he’s throwing up gang signs or threatening my balls.

“Daddy may think you’re a wise woman, but I still think you’re a whore.”

As Claire and Marsali bed down for the night, there’s no love lost between them. Marsali starts out trying to be nice, and Claire tells her there’s no need – none of this is her business. Marsali snaps that the time to mind her own business would have been before she ruined a family. Claire isn’t having it. “Right, well, the whore should have the bigger bed, shouldn’t she.”

It’s a fine time to start minding your own business now, Claire.

“It’s a beautiful morning, is it not?”

The next morning, Jamie has mysteriously recovered and is eating breakfast. Fergus and Marsali make another plea to Jamie to bless their union, and Claire agrees. She pulls Jamie aside to explain that if he leaves them alone, their romance might “fizzle out.” Jamie isn’t sold, and won’t approve.

“I don’t know what a fizzle is, Claire.”

Willoughby got soul

Claire finds Mr. Willougby painting with water on the ship’s dusty deck. It’s a poem, he says. He pulls a sheaf of papers out of his coat. “More poetry?” Claire asks. He explains that he’s been inscribing the story of his life in China, so that it will not be forgotten. “A story told is a life lived,” he smiles. Claire asks if he will tell it to her. “Not yet,” he answers. “Once I tell it, I have to let it go.” The poem dries and disappears as he leaves.

Mr. Willoughby is full of surprises.

“I feel like a damned pincushion, but I havena vomited for weeks!”

After many days on the ship, they’ve all forged a comfortable routine. One morning, Claire walks in on Jamie and Mr. Willougby, and Jamie has a face full of needles. A woman of the world, Claire recognizes it immediately as acupuncture, and is amused that this is what has cured Jamie’s seasickness – not her herbal concoctions. Jamie didn’t tell her because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, and his reason is hearbreaking. “We aren’t on the most stable ground, and I didn’t want you to see it as more proof that we dinna belong together.” Claire reassures him that her return has been…something else, but she’s never questioned that she loves him.

Go away, Claire, nothing to see here!

The best part of making up is…needles in your face?

“We’re not moving.”

Jamie realizes suddenly that the ship isn’t moving and charges onto the deck, needles still in his face (oops.) Mr. Willoughby tries to explain to the bewildered Captain and crew, and hastily removes the evidence. The wind being gone is another piece of bad luck. The Captain tries to be reassuring, but the men are already suspicious as it is.

By the way, what’s wrong with your face?

Mutiny on the Artemis

The wind does not return for weeks, and the men are growing anxious. They discover that much of their drinking water has been tainted. “Go to half rations, and pray for rain,” the Captain rather unhelpfully suggests. The men have another suggestion – to find the “Jonah” who has brought them bad luck, and toss him overboard! Privately, the captain wants to know who is to blame. Jamie and Claire say there’s no one to blame – these things happen. The Captain tells them that they need a scapegoat to appease the men, regardless of whether there is one or not. They need what amounts to a sacrifice.

Looking for a Jonah.

You’re killing me, Jones

The men seem to have more or less decided that the Jonah is Jones, one of Jamie’s men (and one of those who helped him in his smuggling business in Edinburgh.) For Jones’ part, he can’t remember if he touched the horseshoe or not. He scampers drunk up the ship’s netting, and Jamie has to coax him down.

Don’t make me come after you, Jones.

“I was born Yi Tien Cho…”

When Jones comes down safely, the men are furious and want him thrown overboard. A fight breaks out, which Mr. Willoughby breaks up by ringing the ship’s bell hard, and beginning to tell his life story. The men are immediately enraptured, and he’s poetic and beautifully spoken. As he finishes his tale, he scatters his written pages overboard, where they are miraculously picked up by…wind! The men practically sob with relief and spring into action. Better yet, the rain is coming, too.

Letting it go.

The second kidnapping of the week

The Artemis is flagged down by a British ship, and they’re afraid that they may commandeer some of the crew. It turns out that they have a bad breakout of typhoid fever, and require Claire’s services instead. Claire agrees to help them, and she proves to be so useful that the young acting Captain kidnaps her for the duration of the trip! Thankfully, the British ship is heading towards Jamaica, too. First Young Ian, now Claire!

Jamie’s had a rough week.

Stray Observations:

  • Some may have noticed that the opening credits added drums, lending The Skye Boat Song a little island flavor. I liked it!
  • Marsali has some fight in her! I couldn’t help but laugh when Fergus scolded her for calling Claire a whore, and Marsali just rolled her eyes at him.
  • The fact that Jamie couldn’t bear to sell Claire’s clothing from Paris was so sweet. “Sell them? Memories of you? Never!”
  • In the novels, Mr. Willoughby was kind of a broad Chinese stereotype of a character. It was played for laughs, and I’m sure it was toned down for the changing times, but I am DIGGING soulful Mr. Willoughby, rather than his pervy predecessor. He seems like a much more fleshed-out character, here.
  • Claire mentions the children’s book “Goodnight Moon” when she’s talking to Jamie, and how she used to read it to Brianna. This is not an anachronism – the book was released in September of 1947, one year before Brianna was born.
  • Sailors use the name “Jonah” to personify someone who brings bad luck. This is after the Bible story of the prophet Jonah, who was swallowed by a whale after God caused his ship to sink.
  • Mr. Willoughby’s tale was pretty wonderful, wasn’t it? Some bawdy parts, adventure, tragedy, outrage…an instant classic, although I could perhaps have done without him referring to Western women as “as coarse and rank as bears.”
  • Jamie is often referred to as “the King of Men” amongst the book-readers, but Claire makes such a reference tonight when Jamie tells her that he likes her grey hair. “How can I not love a man who says such things?” She smiles. “If you were to say that in the 21st century, you’d be the king of all men.”

Join us next week for Episode 10: “Heaven and Earth.”

Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.

Emily Parker is a musician, writer, and avid reader who started Bucket List Book Reviews, the ‘1,001 Books to Read Before You Die’ project. For Sweatpants & Coffee, Emily hopes to inspire the reading of the classics by a whole new audience by only reviewing the really good stuff.

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