“Do you think you’ll cook the American out of her?”
We open in Boston 1956. Frank is cooking a full English breakfast, occasioned by Brianna’s too-American request for Eggo waffles. In high spirits and in need of a break from her studying, Claire suggests that she and Frank go see a movie that night. Of the two she suggests, Frank has seen both. Interestingly, this could have been played like Claire is simply too busy with her studies to hang out with Frank – which is likely true – but his “I’m being discreet, Claire,” leaves nothing to the imagination about Frank’s real activities. He isn’t entertaining himself by going to the movies alone.
“Not much in the way of local society, I gather?”
At Ardsmuir Prison in 1755, Major John Grey is being shown around as the new warden. Grey & Colonel Cooper chat about a legendary gold treasure nearby which nobody has ever found, nor is entirely sure exists. The Colonel quips that he cannot wait to get back to “civilization”, indicating that the prisoners are not particularly sophisticated company, save for one.
“You’ll have heard of Red Jamie Fraser?”
John blanches a bit at the name. Jamie is the only man they keep in shackles, and the prisoners are all afraid of him, although he acts as their spokesman. They call him Mac Dubh, a sign of respect. “They say he’s the devil himself,” the Colonel says, as he describes Jamie’s legendary status. “Poor devil, now,” remarks John. The Colonel mentions that the former warden used to eat with Jamie periodically and suggests that John do the same. Grey is horrified and refuses.
“He seems familiar. I canna place him.”
Jamie’s irons clank as he shuffles to his dark cell. A fellow prisoner hands him a cup of something and he sits, glowering. They speculate what the new warden will be like. Jamie shuffles a few seats down, and…MURTAGH! He’s alive and in prison with Jamie! He survived the Battle of Culloden! Their reunion took place off-screen, but I would have loved to have seen Jamie’s face when he learned that Murtagh survived.
“Not more thistles!”
Murtagh is sick, though, and coughs as they chat. The prisoners are being gnawed half to death by rats. Jamie brings Murtagh a homemade concoction to drink, inspired by Claire’s tips and tricks for doctoring people. “I learned the trick from…a lass that I knew…a fair amount.” He can’t even say Claire’s name out loud to Murtagh, after all this time. Don’t be silly, Jamie. Murtagh knows good and well who Claire was.
“God knows what you did to be sent here. But for your own sake, I hope you deserved it.”
Major John sends for Jamie and says he’d like to continue the dinner tradition after all. Jamie says fine. Grey sends for a cat to be brought to his own quarters to take care of the rat problem. He inquires after the state of the prison cells, and Jamie says don’t bother sending cats – the prisoners are eating the rats for meat, when they can catch them. John is shocked and dismisses Jamie before they’ve even eaten.
Frank’s “work” keeps him busy
Back in 1958, a 10-year old Brianna takes pictures at a party for her mother’s graduation from medical school. Frank and Claire pose awkwardly. Frank tries to shuffle Claire and her friends out the door, claiming to have work to do, but Claire points out that their dinner reservation isn’t for another hour, and that they’d be “out of his hair soon.” Damn, Frank, not even going out to dinner for your wife’s graduation party? That’s cold! The doorbell rings and Claire answers. It’s Frank’s very shocked mistress, who clearly didn’t intend to walk in on a cocktail party. Claire is just as shocked, but storms past Frank. “Your ‘work’, I presume,” she snaps. She suggests to everyone at the party that they leave for the restaurant early. Claire and her confused guests shuffle out, much to everyone’s mortification.
“If you do what I ask, I will have your irons struck off.”
The prison guards find an old man wandering the moors, muttering in a mixture of Gaelic and French about gold. Thinking it might have something to do with the treasure, they bring him back to the prison. As Jamie is rumored to speak both languages, he is summoned to make sense of the old man’s ramblings. Jamie declines to help, and John makes him a deal – help, and I’ll unshackle you. That’s not a bargain Jamie can pass up, after three years in chains. Jamie says he’d also like blankets and medicine provided for all of the prisoners. John says they don’t have enough of any of those things. Jamie says fine, how about just Murtagh, then? John agrees, and the bargain is struck.
“You invited her here. Where our daughter lives.”
Back in Boston, Frank returns home a bit drunk from “work”, and Claire is FUMING. She scolds him about the mistress, and Frank makes excuses. They both get pretty nasty with the insults, and Frank defends his mistress yet again. “Oh, what, are you jealous, now? Green ain’t your color, Claire,” Frank snaps. He admits that he wanted to hurt her, to “give her a taste of her own medicine.” He snidely calls her “Dr. Randall,” emphasizing her title. Clearly, he is jealous that Claire’s career is more fulfilling to her than he is.
They’re both maybe a bit too drunk to make this a useful conversation, but Claire tells Frank to file for a divorce. He refuses, afraid that Brianna will be awarded to Claire by the courts and he won’t see her any more. Claire, exasperated, says she would never keep Bree from Frank, but Frank is finished talking about it.
Jamie attends to the sick old man, asking him about the gold. Duncan says that the gold is cursed, and “The Mackenzie is dead.” Jamie prompts him about the gold. “All dead!” He says. “Colum, Dougal, Ellen, too!” Ellen is Jamie’s mother. “Folk do say how Ellen MacKenzie did leave and go to wed with a silkie from the sea….” the old man rambles. Jamie looks worried by this point, but prompts him again about the gold. “Do ye be warned, lad, it was given by the ban-druidh…the white witch.” Jamie’s eyes go wide. Could it be a reference to Claire? “Who is she? The white witch?” Jamie begs. “She seeks a brave man,” the old man says. “A Mackenzie.” Could Claire be looking for him? “She will come for you,” the old man sighs, then dies.
“He spoke of silkies, and white witches.”
John accuses Jamie of holding back in his translation, since he can’t make sense of what was said. Jamie basically tells him to get stuffed. “I can force you to talk,” John threatens feebly. Jamie says he’s welcome to try whatever he likes. John storms off.
Wishing your life away
We cut to Bree’s 16th birthday. Time marches on. Frank and Claire are strained, but Frank is whimsical with Brianna. “Don’t wish for a car, you’re not getting one!” Claire teases, as Brianna blows out the candles. “Oh, wish away. You never know,” Frank smiles indulgently.
“I wish we could know what became of her.”
Back in the cells, Jamie is filling Murtagh in on the chat with the “crazy” old man. Murtagh thinks maybe the white witch could be Claire, too! He fondly says how he thinks of Claire now and then, and of the baby. “Try not to think about it,” Jamie snaps. “Can I at least pray them sound?” Murtagh chuckles. “Aye, that you can,” Jamie says, as he is summoned by the guards again.
The way to a man’s heart
Grey has invited Jamie for dinner. Jamie agrees, but sees it as another foot in the door to make a bargain. He asks that the men be allowed to hunt the moors, since they’re not being provided with adequate food. John is incredulous, but Jamie assures him they don’t need weapons to catch their dinner. John says he’ll consider it. Jamie tastes dinner, and the look of pleasure on his face says it all. He names the sauce in French, to John’s surprise. John always manages to look shocked when a prisoner is more worldly and knowledgeable than himself. He’ll get used to it with Jamie.
“That’s how it’s done.”
Later, when the guards are distracted by the prisoners harvesting the spoils from the snares set upon the moors, Jamie makes a hasty escape. Major John and company look for three or four days, but Jamie isn’t going to be found unless he wants to be. Back at the prison, as John is relieving himself in the yard, Jamie grabs him from behind, just as John did to him so many years before. He calls John by his full name, indicating that he has finally placed who he is, after all of this time.
“Well sir, here I am.”
The two chat about their shared past, and John reminds Jamie that his debt of honor has been discharged. “But not your promise,” Jamie says. John does not remember his boyhood promise to kill Jamie the next time he has an opportunity, and is aghast. He is not a murderer of unarmed prisoners, he says. Poor Jamie. For all that he’s tried to die in the past few episodes, he can’t catch a break.
“You said she was dead.” “I said she was gone.”
The two chat on the moor, and Jamie admits that some of what Duncan said had personal meaning for him, and that’s where he’s been for the last three days – checking out the possible lead on his wife’s whereabouts. “There was nothing there to do with her,” he says. “She’s truly gone.” “And the gold?” Jamie claims that there was naught but an empty box, save for one jewel. He drops a large sapphire into John’s hand by way of proving the truth of his story.
“Claire. Her name was Claire.”
We skip to Bree’s high school graduation. The family are all smiles at the ceremony. Meanwhile, John makes good on hiring Murtagh a doctor.
Three months later, we cut to Jamie and John playing chess, and they appear to have become something like friends. They have a chat, and John seems to subtly indicate that he has homosexual tendencies. “Some people, you grieve over forever,” he laments, about a “special friend” he lost at Culloden. John asks about Claire, and Jamie smiles, remembering her, and finally says her name aloud. He admits that the “English Lady” he held captive in order to take advantage of John many years ago was indeed his wife, who was in no danger. John is amused. Jamie praises John’s misguided chivalry. John covers Jamie’s hand with his and says how sorry he is for his loss. “Take your hand off me, or I will kill you,” Jamie threatens quietly. Shocked, John slowly withdraws. Jamie leaves as a tear rolls down John’s face.
“You were just running out the clock!”
Post-graduation, Frank and Claire are home alone. They exchange pleasantries, and Frank says he’d like to take Brianna to England. Without Claire. He’s been offered a job there. Claire says she can’t just leave the hospital and her patients, and Frank points out that he didn’t ask her to – he finally wants a divorce. Claire flips out and Frank accuses her of being an absentee mother. He says he’ll marry his mistress straightaway. Claire explodes. “You want to divorce me? Fine. Use whatever grounds you like, except adultery. Which you can’t prove, because it doesn’t exist. But if you try to take Brianna away from me, *I* will have a thing or two to say about adultery!”
Frank inquires whether Claire might have forgotten Jamie in time, if Brianna hadn’t existed. Claire admits that such a length of time does not exist. Frank leaves, defeated, as Claire is called back to the hospital.
“It’s called Helwater.”
We cut to the prison as it’s being emptied. Jamie and Murtagh are separated. The prisoners are being sent to the colonies for a period of indenture of fourteen years, but Jamie is being led on a rope behind Major John’s horse, all alone. John admits that he couldn’t get Jamie’s sentence commuted – he’s a traitor. The next best thing was to get him a job on a nearby estate as a servant. John leaves Jamie with a bit of advice – the new master is no fan of the Jacobites, so maybe use an alias. He unties Jamie and sends him on his way. “Why’d you do that for me?” Jamie asks. “I didna let you have your way.” John more or less says it’s because he’s fond of Jamie, and that he’ll check on him quarterly.
“You were my first love.”
That night at the hospital, Joe Abernathy comes to Claire, distraught. Frank’s been killed in a car accident. Claire rushes to the morgue, where she’s able to say goodbye to his body. “If you’re still close enough to hear me,” she whispers, “I did love you. Very much.”
- In the opening credits, Frank and Claire appear to have adopted a Newfie (Newfoundland) dog. We don’t see it again in this episode.
- Murtagh’s surviving the battle of Culloden represents the first major deviation from the novels. I’m glad he’s back, though!
- In the novels, Jamie’s mother is said to have wed a “silkie”, that is – a magical sea lion – who is Jamie’s father. Romantic folklore. The MacKenzies are legendary.
- The 1958 Boston costumes for Frank and Claire are so on point! They could have been my grandparents, based on our own family photos.
- Perhaps it was the lighting in this episode, but I found myself stopping several times to marvel aloud what a good-looking man Sam Heughan is. That, or prison agrees with Jamie? Anyway, he was tremendous in this episode as usual, and very easy to look at.
Join us next week for Episode 4, “Of Lost Things.”
Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.