Saving her attacker
We open on Claire contending with her unwanted visitor from last week. She pulls a knife as he moves to rape her. She struggles and manages to cut him, and he decides he’s just going to kill her and maybe forget about the raping. Smart move on his part. She attacks and he falls and hits his head on the hearth. He’s out cold.
Jamie walks in on the scene and Claire explains that the man was looking for Jamie’s ledgers. Jamie takes the knife from her and Claire, over the initial shock of the attack, inspects the man’s wounds. She decides she’ll have to operate to save his life. Jamie is more in favor of letting him die.
“I have to try and save him, Jamie. Please!”
Enter Fergus and Madame Jeanne, who agrees to help Claire gather the things she needs for an impromptu surgery. Meanwhile, Jamie picks the man’s pockets and finds out that he is John Barton, exciseman. He’s a crooked agent of the crown, sent to find out where Jamie keeps his hidden merchandise and extort even more money from his illegal liquor smuggling operation.
Madame Jeanne quickly surmises the problem – if Barton dies and doesn’t check in with his employer, someone will be back, and the hidden merchandise is in her basement. Jamie reassures her that nothing bad will happen to her. Claire asks Madame Jeanne for a drill, so she can put a hole in the guy’s skull. Ever the professional, Madame keeps her cool. “I will see what I can do,” she says, even as Jamie and Fergus cannot conceal their shock.
“He doesn’t deserve your mercy.”
Claire says she needs to go to the apothecary for some things and asks Jamie to stay with the patient until she comes back. He lights her up. Needless to say, he’s not super on board with that idea. He basically tells her to do what she wants; he has shit to take care of, and says he’ll send a man up to watch the exciseman.
Mr. Willoughby remarks “I admire a woman who values the sanctity of human life.” “Then you can be the one to go up and keep an eye on him,” Jamie snaps, as they move casks around in the Madame’s basement. Young Ian smartly points out that if they sent someone to the brothel, they may send someone to the print shop as well. Jamie isn’t concerned. “I don’t keep casks at the print shop.” The men remind him that he does keep “other items” there – referring to the seditious pamphlets. Jamie isn’t worried, for some reason. He instructs Fergus and Young Ian to sell the casks, even at a loss, just to get rid of them.
“‘Tis more of a nervous complaint…”
At the apothecary, Claire cuts in line and earns herself a free visit to a sick village woman. Claire promises to visit with the man and his sister later that day.
“I like ye, McDaniel, so I’ll no’ be put off by your paltry offer.”
McDaniel, the man buying the casks, offers half price for the lot. Young Ian expertly haggles with him and gets him up to 75%, and throws in three casks of Creme de Menthe for good measure – the Creme de Menthe is a bit of an albatross around their necks, as no self-respecting Scotsman drinks it. “I’m no’ a man to refuse liquors at no charge,” McDaniel agrees. Ian is ecstatic.
“She isn’t a woman you want to cross.”
Fergus fills Young Ian in on Claire, and the rumors about her. “She saved many lives, fearlessly, but she likely took a few as well.” Ian isn’t having a bar of it. “If Auntie Claire was forced to kill men, likely they deserved it.” I love his instant loyalty to family. Fergus grins and points out that even so, her return has created a bit of a mess for Uncle Jamie, hasn’t it? Fergus seems delighted at the prospect of a bit of drama. Ian can’t disagree with him, there. “Aye.”
He needed a hole in the head like he needed, well…
Claire returns to Jamie and the men holding her thrashing patient down. Claire knocks the guy out with some laudanum and gets to work. Jamie gets called downstairs to help Madame Jeanne greet Sir Percival and allow him to search the basement. Claire gets to drilling the poor man’s head, much to Mr. Willoughby’s concern and interest. She initially succeeds in releasing the clot, but the exciseman dies nonetheless. Sir Percival, as expected, finds nothing in the basement. He leaves Jamie with a stern warning.
“Honorable wife fought hard for his life.”
Jamie returns to Claire and learns the fate of the attacker. He’s not exactly aggrieved by the news. He tells Claire that God took him. “God has nothing to do this. *I* failed him.” Claire’s having a hard time. Jamie gently reminds her that she’s not in Boston any more. She explains that her life is completely about saving human lives, and that she doesn’t often lose one. He tells her she’ll have other chances to save people. She’s right – he doesn’t understand her on this one. Not really.
Claire apologizes for causing him so much trouble by her return. He is more than reassuring. “Don’t you see? Since you left, I’ve been living in the shadows. And then you walked into the print shop and it was as if the sun had returned and cast out the darkness.” Claire mentions that she has another patient to see, and now it’s Jamie’s turn to worry. “You will return afterward?” he asks, nervously. “Of course,” Claire smiles.
“Tonight is the night you do more than just look!”
Fergus and Ian celebrate their big sales day with a drink at the brothel. Ian admires one of the girls, and Fergus regales him with tales of how to seduce women. He decides that tonight will be Ian’s night. Ian is nervous, but Fergus waves the girl over. Ian rolls with the punches admirably. If I were the Murrays, I might be more concerned about Fergus’ influence on my son than Jamie’s!
“Sailors are a superstitious lot. Can’t risk ’em pitching my sister overboard!”
Claire visits the Campbells, and it turns out that the brother is a con artist, exploiting his sister for her “visions.” He plans to take her to the West Indies to ply their fortune-telling trade there, but wants drugs to keep her calm for the voyage. Claire politely refuses, but prescribes teas and assures Mr. Campbell that his sister is not, indeed, a seer. The poor woman is simply mentally ill, but her “visions” are nonetheless dramatic, and profitable for her charlatan brother.
“I’m not a whore tonight, am I?”
Young Ian has managed to lure the object of his affections back to his room at the print shop. He’s adorable in his attempt to seduce her – which works – and she shows him a few of her worldly ways. Meanwhile, Claire returns upstairs to Jamie and wants to know where the body is. He has hidden it in a cask of Creme de Menthe, assuming that since nobody drinks it, it will be a long time before the dead exciseman is discovered.
Claire changes the subject – she’s not too keen on living in the brothel. Jamie says that they have everything they need, no rent to pay, and that all of his money goes to Lallybroch as it is. Claire wonders if maybe she could make some money as a doctor. Before Jamie can answer, the Madame announces that Ian Murray Sr. is here, undoubtedly looking for his son.
“Jenny and I…we grieved over you for years!”
Ian is shocked and delighted to see Claire, and she quickly explains her presence. Ian asks after his son, and before Claire can answer, Jamie lies and says that he hasn’t seen him in months. He quickly shoos Ian out of the brothel. Ian says goodbye to Claire and leaves. Now, I’m not up on 18th-century Scottish etiquette, but it seems to me that if your crippled brother-in-law travels a very long way to see you, that maybe you should offer him a drink, dinner, and a comfortable place to stay for the night, rather than lying to him and blowing him off. Just me? Jamie walks Ian out and Ian wants to know if Claire knows about Jamie’s little nuisance of a “legal issue.” She doesn’t.
Young Ian defends the print shop
Back at the print shop, Young Ian is in flagrante delicto with the pretty prostitute when the one-eyed man who accompanied Sir Percival in his search of the brothel’s basement breaks into the print shop to look for the casks of liquor. Young Ian spirits the girl to safety, then fights the man. In the scuffle, a false wall opens and the man discovers the seditious pamphlets Jamie has printed. The fight intensifies and a fire breaks out. The one-eyed man escapes, but young Ian is trapped.
“Since when do you lie to your family?”
Back upstairs, Jamie recognizes the way Claire’s looking at him, and she’s not happy. She says that Ian and Jenny must be worried sick. Jamie is completely unperturbed by this idea. “Better he runs off to be with his uncle than to some Godforsaken place, like Aberdeen…” He says that Jenny and Ian don’t know what’s best for their own son. And smuggling is? Claire admonishes him for lying again, and Jamie says she’s not one to judge people for lying, considering her dubious origin story. Claire explodes. “You have no idea what it’s like to be a worried parent,” she scolds. Jamie doesn’t take all that kindly to that (even though she’s right), and questions Claire and Frank’s raising of Brianna. The fight turns fairly ugly, and is interrupted only by Madame Jeanne’s announcement that there is a fire in Carfax Close.
Trouble on the horizon
The two run to the print shop, which is ablaze. Jamie runs in, knowing that Young Ian sleeps in the back. Jamie manages to haul the boy to safety, but the shop is a total loss. Ian explains to Jamie about the one-eyed man and what happened – now Jamie is in danger of being arrested for high treason. Jamie says they’ll all leave town tonight, but Claire won’t hear it. “We’ll take Ian home to his parents, where he’ll be safe.” Jamie glares at her, then nods. He gives some loose-ends orders to Mr. Willoughby and Fergus, sending Fergus after the one-eyed man. Fergus questions the wisdom of going back to Lallybroch, and Jamie assures him that it’s miles from Broch Mordha. “Milady does not yet know about your other wife?” Fergus hisses. “Not yet,” Jamie admits.
- This episode seemed a bit shorter than usual, but perhaps that’s just because last week’s was extended.
- Claire calls Mr. Willoughby by his full Chinese name, Yi Tien Cho.
- Fergus’s guide to seduction is straightforward: “Step 1: Tell her how beautiful she is. Step 2: Offer her a drink. Whatever her heart desires. Step 3: Repeat 1 and 2!”
- Now that Fergus has spilt the beans, you know Jamie’s big secret is that he got remarried while Claire was gone and has another wife. I won’t spoil who it is, but Claire’s not going to like it any, and neither will we!
- In the reunion episode, Claire jokes that the only way she’s leaving Jamie again is if he’s done something immoral. Smuggling and sedition are one thing, but now she’s seen him lie to his (and her) family. Will that be a deal-breaker for her? Maybe not by itself, but coupled with finding out he’s been lying to her about his other wife, well…I sense some rough waters ahead for the Frasers.
- When Jamie finds Young Ian in the fire, he vaults off of the balcony like a superhero to save him. Not something one sees a 45-year old man do every day!
- Young Ian isn’t all Jamie saved from the fire – his small likeness of his son, Willie, gets snatched up and pocketed as well.
- In another possible departure from the books – it’s been a while since I read this one, but I don’t believe the man who broke into the print shop survived the fire in the original novel – as I recall, Young Ian wrestled with the weight of having killed a man. Anyone remember for sure?
Join us next week for Episode 8: “First Wife.”
Image Credits: Sweatpants & Coffee.