The redcoats are in hot pursuit of “the Dunbonnet,” Jamie’s latest alias, so named for the alleged brown hat he wears to cover his distinctive hair. We’re in 1752, six or seven years after Claire’s disappearance and the battle of Culloden. A (much older, wow!) Fergus is getting into mischief with the boys of Lallybroch, searching a dovecote for a hidden (and forbidden) weapon.
“It’s much braver to kill a man with a knife…”
The boys find the silver pistol, and Fergus brags about his heroics at Prestonpans, and how he killed a man. The redcoats appear on the farm, and the gun is hastily stashed. Ian is being dragged out of the house for questioning.
“Ye tell a braw tale, captain…”
Ian won’t give away Jamie’s whereabouts. A very pregnant Jenny watches from the door. She claims that they haven’t seen Jamie in six years – since he went to join the rebellion. The Captain isn’t playing and reminds them there is a reward, but Jenny and Ian stand their ground. Ian is arrested, which, by the look on his face, is par for this particular course. It’s likely not his first rodeo in “I don’t know where Jamie is” prison. Fergus spits on the Scottish redcoats and they trade threats.
“Ye scairt the bowels out of me!”
A very beardy Jamie is hiding in the woods, having seen Ian arrested. He stalks and kills a stag, then brings the venison home to Lallybroch. Even six or seven years on, he’s still seeing Claire around every corner. Alas, it is only Jenny. Jamie looks sad, and is quietly broken as Jenny chatters away. He says nary a word as she teases that he’ll soon enough have ballads sung in his honor as the Dunbonnet. She finally calls him on his silence. “Brother? Ye ken why I can lie to the British and feel at peace? It’s because I’m not lying. James Fraser hasn’t been here for a long, long time.” Jamie continues to butcher the stag in silence.
Clever girl, give daddy a kiss!
Back in Boston, we catch Claire pleasuring herself in the dead of night next to a sleeping Frank, as she thinks of Jamie. Claire’s timeline is moving a bit slower than Jamie’s in the story, so it has only been a few months for her. She looks over guiltily at Frank and still sees Jamie lying sleepily next to her instead.
Claire tries to settle into domestic life with Frank and Brianna, but other than with Brianna, her heart isn’t fully in it.
“Just because you are a coward now doesn’t mean I am!”
Fergus comes to visit Jamie in the cave, and shows Jamie the pilfered pistol. Jamie isn’t amused. Jamie says there will be no more rebellions, no more fighting. Fergus sasses Jamie and shoves him. Jamie calmly tells him to put the gun back where he found it and goes back to what he was doing. Fergus storms off.
Jamie comes back to Lallybroch from his cave to look at the ledgers, just in time for Jenny to give birth to his new nephew, young Ian. Fergus and the boys spot a raven near the house and decide that it is an ill omen for the baby. They are afraid that unless they scare it off (with the gun, of course), the new baby will die in childbirth. The three idiots load the contraband pistol and kill the raven, but they attract nearby redcoats, who have heard the forbidden gunshot. Of course, Jamie catches them immediately and is none too pleased. Mary McNab scolds the boys and takes the gun.
“I just want you to have some happiness!”
Jamie goes upstairs to meet wee Ian and Jenny wastes no time lecturing him about how long it’s been since he shared his own bed. “Don’t, Janet,” he warns. He hasn’t told her anything except that Claire is dead. Jenny points out that Mary McNab is a fine woman. Jamie says he won’t marry again, and leaves the room carrying wee Ian while Jenny is mid-sentence.
“We have the weapon, and she’s no threat.”
The redcoats burst into the house looking for the gun, and Jamie ducks into a wardrobe. They rudely question Jenny, who is still in her childbed. A redcoat searching for weapons cruelly rips her bedclothes away and the Captain notices that she is no longer pregnant. He questions where the baby is, and she says that it is dead. “Good,” snaps the redcoat, who is rebuked by the Captain. The Captain demands to see the baby’s body, and Mary saves the day by coming in with the pistol and claiming it is hers, and that it was she who fired it. The redcoats wisely decide to quit while they’re ahead. “He’ll never stop until you’re hanging from a rope,” says Jenny to Jamie. Nevertheless, Jenny orders Mary to dig a false grave for the baby, in case they look.
Strangers in the Night
Claire reaches for a sleeping Frank, trying to make the best of things. He wakes up and asks what it is. “I miss my husband,” she says, simply. I note that she isn’t specific about which one. The two make love for what is perhaps the first time since Claire’s return.
Ian returns, Fergus loses a hand
The redcoats drop Ian back off at home, and threaten him again. He blows them off, and the redcoats hide at the edge of the woods at Lallybroch, hoping to catch someone in a lie. Fergus cottons on and leads the two on a wild goose chase and in an argument, culminating with them holding him down and chopping off his left hand, leaving him to die. Jamie swoops in after they leave and saves Fergus, carrying him back to Lallybroch.
“Are you alright, you wee fool?”
As a worried Jamie paces, Jenny assures him that Fergus was saved by his quick action. She reminds him that there wasn’t anything he could do to stop it from happening, lest they all be dead. Jamie collapses in tears. Upstairs, Fergus is tough. Jamie apologizes to him. “You remind me I have something to fight for.” Fergus nods, smiling. “There you are, milord.” Fergus jokes about the hand, then reminds Jamie about the bargain they struck when Fergus was hired – should Fergus lose a limb during his service to Jamie, then Jamie must support him for the rest of his life. Jamie agrees to keep the promise. “In one stroke, I have become a man of leisure, no?” Jamie chuckles.
“Her talents lie…elsewhere.”
Back in 1949, Claire and Frank are hosting their peculiar neighbors for a dinner party. The neighbors are casually affectionate with each other, revealing that Frank and Claire still have a long way to go before they are back to “normal.”
After dinner, Frank and Claire share a nightcap and end up making love in front of the fire after Claire seduces him. Their tryst is interrupted when Frank calls it off – Claire won’t look at him and he suspects that she is pretending he is Jamie. She does not deny it.
“That’s just a hand. Claire was your heart.”
Ian and Jamie have one of their patented fireside chats. Jamie sees a ruined tapestry that the redcoats slashed when they were searching, and decides that he cannot make his family live like this. He wants Jenny to turn him in for the reward money. Jenny hates the plan, as usual, and is worried Jamie will be hanged. Ian points out that mostly anymore, Jacobites are jailed rather than hanged, and Jamie sees little difference between living in a prison and living in a cave. The plan is struck.
“Whose idea was this? Yours, or my sister’s?”
The next morning, Mary McNab visits Jamie in his cave and spiffs him up. There’s our Jamie again! He disappears to wash in the river, leaving Mary in his cave, and when he returns, she is wearing only her shift. Jamie is angry and embarrassed, and tells her it’s not going to happen. Mary says it wasn’t Jenny’s idea, and makes quite a speech on her own behalf. After all, a chance to bed Jamie Fraser might make all of us a bit more eloquent than usual, no? “I saw your lady, and how it was between the two of you. It’s not in my mind to make you feel you’ve betrayed that. What I want is to share something different. Something less, mayhap, but something we both need. Something to keep us whole as we move forward in this life.” Jamie doesn’t disagree, and the two kiss tenderly. He sheds a single tear. Swoon!
“A woman and a negro. How very…modern, of us.”
Claire still feels something is missing in her life, and decides that she needs to go to medical school and return to healing the sick. She excitedly introduces herself to her anatomy professor, and he’s a condescending prick. God forbid the class contain anything but smug white boys, right? Claire is undaunted, however, and even makes a friend when her fellow underdog, Joe Abernathy, sits next to her.
We cut to Frank and Claire at bedtime and Claire seems happier and more relaxed than she has in a long time, chattering about Bree and her classes, but we pan out to reveal that she and Frank are now in separate beds. Womp womp!
“I’ll never forgive you! Never!”
Jamie “arrives home” at Lallybroch and announces himself, which draws the redcoats out to witness his and Jenny’s playacting. Jamie is promptly arrested and Jenny collects the reward. Jenny cries as Jamie is taken away.
Land o’ my heart forever
Back in Boston, Claire tearfully tips a bagpiper who is playing Scotland the Brave on a street corner. She trudges to class.
- Bratty pre-teen Fergus should be closer to 16 or 17 years old, since it’s been 6 years since Claire’s disappearance when we first see everyone in this episode. I’m willing to allow it, however. He seems like he could be at least 14, which doesn’t stretch the limits of credulity too badly, until you remember that that means he’d have been 7 or 8 years old during the Battle of Prestonpans, and 6 or 7 when Jamie adopts him in France, and I think he was almost certainly older than that. **
** Edited to note that the actor playing Fergus, Romann Berrux, turned sixteen in August of this year.
Join us next week for Episode 3, “All Debts Paid.”
Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.