Thursday, October 1, 2015

RECAP: Outlander 1x12 - Yeesh, Jamie, Tone It Down a Notch

Well, chickadees, it's that time of the week again - time to recap an episode of Outlander! Yay!

Last week we found Jamie and Claire having to hightail it away from Castle Leoch in the wake of Claire's witch trial. I have a sneaking suspicion that they're not going to find safe harbor back there any time soon. It was after the trial, when Jamie proved that he was willing to fight for Claire, witch or not, that Claire decided to tell him the truth: she's an accidental time-traveler from two hundred years in the future. Jamie took it surprisingly well.

So well, in fact, that he decided to help Claire return to her own time. Knowing the ache and sting of being forever parted from the place (or time) you call home, Jamie brought Claire to the standing stones where she first fell through and gave her a chance to go back to her own world. The thing is, Claire didn't want it.

I mean, she did, but ultimately she decided that she would rather stay in hellish 1743, because that's where Jamie is. Good on her. The only question then is, where can a man with a price on his head and a woman wanted for witchcraft hideout from their many many many enemies?

At home!

Yup, this episode starts off with Jamie and Claire making the trek back to Jamie's family home of Lallybroch. Now, to most of us this seems like a terrible idea. I mean, Lallybroch is basically the first place anyone would go to look for Jamie. But then again, he hasn't been there in four years, their neighbors and renters are notoriously loyal, and Jamie will hopefully be pardoned soon. So maybe this isn't such a terrible idea after all.

Unfortunately, coming home brings back bad memories for Jamie. As you may recall (and he certainly does), the last time Jamie was at Lallybroch he was being flogged by Jack Randall and watching his sister be carted away to be raped. So clearly not happy feelings associated with the place right now. And it's even more emotionally complex when Jamie reveals that he heard Jenny (his sister) had a baby after that. That Black Jack Randall, the tormenter of Jamie's life, is the father to Jamie's nephew.

So obviously in the name of really good timing, this is exactly when Claire spots a four year old boy and goes to make friends and Jamie sees his very pregnant sister in the courtyard. Jenny, who doesn't look much like Jamie except for the incredibly stubborn sets of their jaws, is thrilled to see her brother...for about thirty seconds. Then Jamie starts making accusations about Jenny being a whore for Randall and having his child, and then implies that Jenny's coming baby doesn't have a legitimate father either. It's not good.

And unfortunately, the appearance of Jenny's husband, Ian, who is apparently a lovely man, does nothing to soothe tempers. Claire gets called a "trollop", Jamie and Jenny glare at each other, and Ian just sort of stands in the corner and awkwardly asks if anyone wants some dinner.

Inside we get more of the full story of what happened to Jenny during the fateful day when Jack Randall came to Lallybroch. According to her, he didn't rape her. Probably. He tried, yeah, but he couldn't get it up and Jenny was so delirious with fear and the absurdity of the situation that she started laughing hysterically, which enraged Randall and made him beat her until she passed out. She's reasonably sure he didn't rape her.

Jamie is obviously very relieved to hear that, but he doesn't let it make him any more likely to apologize for calling his own sister a whore. Not even when Claire gently encourages reconciliation. Actually, that makes him bring her out and give her an impromptu explanation of eighteenth century marriage norms. See, as his wife, Claire really shouldn't badmouth Jamie or tell him what to do in public. Claire is dubious about this. But Jamie insists that it's a sign they're not united as a couple. So Claire agrees, with the promise that if he doesn't listen to her in private, she's not above throwing crockery and she has a very good arm.

Anyway, with Jamie back that makes him the Laird of Lallybroch. Certainly not as high and mighty a position as Colum's Laird-ship, but not half bad. He and Claire move into the big room in the manor - much to Claire's incredible awkwardness and murmurings about not putting anyone out - and he sets himself up as the chief man around there. Ian is incredibly good-natured about it, because Ian is a lovely lovely man, but Jenny is slightly less pleased.

Then we go immediately into Quarter-Day. Like when Jamie and Claire helped Dougal collect rents for the MacKenzies, the Frasers also live off of rents, just a lot fewer of them and much more humble. Quarter-Day is when, once a quarter, their tenants come to the house and bring their rent, along with being a celebration and sort of a fair. There's lots of food and gathering and people chatting up a storm.

A few notable things happen at Quarter-Day. The first is obviously that Jamie, deciding unilaterally to be more lenient about the rents because the harvests have been bad for a few years (and because he has no idea what he's doing but he's trying to be like his father), does not actually collect any rent. This is a problem because it basically means that Lallybroch is going to have to go into debt to get through the winter.

The second thing that happens is that Claire, slightly better at mingling with the locals than she was last time around, interferes in a domestic matter. When she sees one of the men beating his son for daring to take a bannock (like a scone) off the table, Claire steps in and takes the child inside to get him cleaned up and fed. Jenny helps her, and it becomes clear that Jenny knows what is going on. And Claire doesn't know what to do with that information. Because if Jenny knows, why hasn't she done something?

Then Jamie gets involved and manages to get stinking drunk and have a fight with the boy's father that night. Said boy, Rabbie, gets kicked out of his house and ends up living at the manor, which means they have no money and one more mouth to feed. Good job guys.

Oh, and the third thing is just that Claire might be better socially this time, but it's still super awkward explaining to people that, yes, she is Jamie's English wife, and no, this does not mean she's a redcoat supporter. Jenny's not much help there either, content to let Claire do some talking.

There's a quite funny scene that night where Jamie, drunk as hell, comes to bed in the middle of the night and wakes up Claire. She's less than impressed with him, but they have an adorable drunken conversation about how Claire has seen and ridden an elephant and Jamie thinks that's neat. We're reminded that even if Jamie is stubborn as hell and kind of acting like a weird overbearing jerk right now, he's a nice guy. It'll be okay.


Somewhere in there we also find out what happened to Jamie and Jenny's father. Their mother died a long while ago, but their father died while Jamie was in prison. Actually, he died at the prison. It seems that when Jamie was incarcerated, after the first flogging but before the second, his father came to see him and beg for his release. Randall, obviously, wouldn't bite. But he did think it was interesting, so he made Jamie an offer: if Jamie let Randall "have" him, then Randall wouldn't go through with the second flogging and would set Jamie free.

This adds an interesting layer to what we know of Jack Randall, but I don't think said layer is that Randall is actually gay. Or at least that's not clear. What is clear is that Randall is a sadist and literally can't get off without his sexual partner being hurt or miserable or non-consenting. Which is super gross.

At any rate, Jamie tells Claire that he very seriously considered it, because the flogging was horrible and he figured whatever Randall would do to him in private couldn't be that much worse. But he knew his father would be disappointed in him. Not for the "buggery" as Jamie puts it, but for giving in to Randall and taking the easy path. So Jamie said no, was brutally beaten and flogged, and passed out before he could see his father die of a heart attack in the courtyard.

His father died thinking that Jamie had been beaten to death, and apparently Jenny was laboring under that assumption as well until a trunk of clothes appeared at their doorstep a day or so before Jamie and Claire. Mrs. Fitz, ever resourceful, figured that Lallybroch would be the safest place to keep Jamie and Claire's things after they went on the run. Good woman.

Anyway, things between Jamie and Jenny continue to be antagonistic for a good while yet. Jamie is unhappy that Jenny keeps questioning him, Jenny feels like Claire and Jamie are trampling all over the way things ought to be done and taking on airs, and everyone is cranky. Except lovely Ian, of course.

Claire is mostly awkward, like when you go over to a friend's house and they get in a fight with a family member while you're there. It's the worst.

There are some good moments, though. Upon discovering that the mill is broken and so no one can grind flour, Jamie takes it upon himself to fix the wheel. Unfortunately, that requires him to swim under the millwheel and figure out what's wrong. While Claire watches him (and we all ogle his really well-formed bare butt), Jenny runs up. The redcoats are coming, and Jamie is still a wanted man.

It's a hell of a scene. Claire and Jenny sit down on Jamie's clothes to hide them, and Claire has to keep her mouth shut so no one realizes she's English, while Jamie hides underwater in the actual mill structure. Even more problematic, it seems that the redcoats who turned up are actually decent human beings and want to help fix the mill. Worse yet, they know how!

It's only a bit of quick thinking that has Jamie getting the mill moving again before the redcoat commander can step into the water to fix it himself and discover Jamie in the process. The redcoats ride away pretty quickly, but Jamie is left sputtering in the freezing cold water, buck naked, with his wife and sister staring at him.

Naturally he takes more issue with the latter.

In his attempts to cover himself up, though, so that Jenny can't see his bits, Jamie inadvertently shows her something else: his scars. And Jenny is shocked. She's never seen them before and they are clearly more horrible than she imagined. She runs, leaving Jamie and Claire kind of confused on the riverbank.

That night, Claire and Ian commiserate about being married to crazy stubborn Frasers. Apparently Ian wasn't even the one to propose. Jenny walked out into a field one day and announced that they'd get married in a month and he was still trying to figure out how to explain to her that she might want to wait when he ended up in front of a priest. There's no getting between Frasers when their dander is up, Ian tells Claire.

So what do we do? That's what Claire really wants to know. I don't think she much fancies the idea of being trapped with two stubborn squabbling siblings for the rest of her life.

Well, as Ian explains, the only way to get through is like getting through to a mule: kick them. And if that doesn't work, kick harder next time. Naturally, this is exactly what Claire does.

After literally dumping Jamie out of bed while he's sleeping to get his attention, Claire gives him the rundown. He's acting like a jerk and he needs to knock it the hell off. Jenny and Ian were doing just fine before Jamie came back, and he needs to swallow his pride and take some tips from them about what it means to be Laird of Lallybroch. He might have the name and the birthright, but he's being a jackass about it. If his father were there, he'd give him a right beating for how he's been acting.

The thing is, Claire is right. So the next morning we find both Jamie and Jenny at their father's grave, tentatively making peace. Jamie apologizes for being a dick and even gives her the rents. He's collected them after all. Jenny, for her part, apologizes for being so hard on him. For a long time she blamed him for their father's death, and then she blamed herself. But neither one is correct. Really it's Randall to be blamed, or no one. The siblings finally finally hug it out, and we all breathe a sigh of relief.

For like a minute. The next morning we see Claire wake up slowly and happily only to come out of her bedroom and see Jamie being held at gunpoint in the downstairs hall. So that's not good.

And that's where the episode ends.

This week's episode was really fun for me. I mean, all the family drama stuff wasn't great, but I liked seeing Jamie put out of his element. For once it's both Jamie and Claire who are strangers. And it was funny seeing Jamie revert to being a snotty eighteen year old for once. I'm so used to him being a sweet and gentle romantic hero, it was kind of refreshing to watch him being a jerk.

Even more, I loved the introduction of Jenny and Ian. Ian is, of course, just a wonderful human being and one of the only actually mellow people on the whole show. But Jenny has a special place in my heart because she's so clearly an interpretation of how one really can be a strong woman in a time and place like 1740s Scotland. She takes no shit, but she has the capacity to be really gentle. She's firey and stubborn and kind of a bitch, but she's also an amazing mother with a big heart and a fierce love for her family. In other words, she's complicated and well written and I really like her.

I also like that we have the opportunity for Claire to make a real female friend again. That would be nice. And it's super fun imagining what Jamie and Jenny must have been like growing up together. In a word? Terrifying.

So that's it for this week and next week it looks like we've got more Lallybroch and the resolution of what those guys with guns want. Awesome.


  1. I, too, loved LOVED the portrayal of Jenny. I loved the dynamic between Jamie and Jenny - that stubborn, fiery way they can fight simply because they are siblings. And the way Ian is really a great complement for Jenny - fantastic.

    I didn't like how childish Jamie seems in this episode, which is probably compounded by how young the actor looks. But maybe Jamie was just as childish in the book but I don't remember because it's been years since I read the book.

    One of the things I really appreciate about these character-development episodes is that when you see inside characters like we do, future actions (no spoilers, I promise) make sense when you see them because you know they are consistent with the character. Having read all the books so far, I am looking for certain things in these characters as shown on the screen, and I can tell you that so far the series has done an excellent job. But Jamie still looks a bit too boyish for me to take seriously.