The title card is a man (it’s Jamie) carving a wooden snake.
In Scotland, 1968, Roger has created a timeline murder board to try and find Jamie in the past – the plan is to establish that Jamie was alive 20 years after Culloden – that way Claire can go back and find him. Bree has been going through prison records, and found a bunch of prisons Jamie was NOT in. Fiona, the granddaughter of Mrs Graham, is there, keeping our intrepid history hunters fed and tea-ed, when Claire finds him in the records from Ardmuir. Roger sees that Ardsmuir was closed in 1756, so it’s time for a whiskey.
At Helwater, the family returns to a line-up of servants – Lord and Lady Dunsany, and their daughter, Geneva and Isobel. Lord Dunsany says that he needs a word with the new groom, who is Jamie going by the name Alex Mackenzie. Dunsany knows that Jamie was a Jacobite soldier in the Rising, and Dunsany lost his son at Prestonpans, but Dunsany also feels that the war is over, so as far is he’s concerned, it’s water under the bridge. But Lady Dunsany doesn’t feel the same way, and Jamie’s like yeah, losing a child is horrible “I’ve lost two children myself.” Dunsany will tell his wife that Jamie is just a groom, nothing more and Jamie will get a small stipend. “But you are a prisoner, Mackenzie. Mind you don’t forget it.”
Back in 1968, Roger is fussing with the engine of his car while Bree teases him about Fiona and her crush. Roger eventually stammers out that he doesn’t HAVE a girlfriend, and then Bree fixes the car and puts him out of his misery.
1756, and the grooms draw straws to see who gets the honor of going out with Lady Geneva on her afternoon ride. She’s kind of a spoiled pain in the ass. Jamie mutters that she needs a boot in the ass, and Isobel asks if it’s the horse or her sister – she knows what kind of person Geneva is. Isobel mostly wanted to ask about Lord John Grey. She’s known him since they were kids, and she thinks he’ll make a fine husband. Jamie’s like, uh…. Maybe. “The major’s…. passion… lies in soldiering.”
Roger gets a phone call. It’s Joe Abernathy for Claire. Mostly he’s trying to figure out when she’s coming back. “Soon.” “What month is ‘soon’ in?” He’s also operating on one of her patients, and she’s like, you can handle it. Let me know how it goes.
Geneva is engaged! To a man the age of her aged father! She looks positively murderous, and the old Lord Ellesmere has taken a liking her disposition! Isobel looks less than thrilled, as well. Ellesmere notes Jamie cleaning hooves of his horse, and says “My god, if a child of mine had hair that color, I’d drown it before it drew a second breath.” Then he slimes over Geneva’s hand, reminds her that it’s a fortnight before she’s his, and takes off. Geneva eyes Jamie with speculation, and when next she takes a ride, she chooses Jamie as her escort, instead of whoever drew the short straw.
She demands that Jamie give his opinion of her marriage, and he’s not that dumb. He tries to get her to turn back, and she’s like, you have to do what I say, and rides off at a gallop. He hears her scream, and finds her in a heap on the road, and when he goes to pick her up, she laughs. It was a prank, so he drops her in a mud puddle. She thinks this is HILARIOUS.
John Grey is coming by to check on Jamie as promised, and they play chess (because after all, there’s no one suitable to play chess with). At this point, the ladies come by with Grey’s older brother, Lord Melton (Hal, to family). He is not thrilled at seeing the man he had to sneak out of Culloden because of his baby brother’s oath just hanging around. Everyone is having a different conversation, and it’s very awkward.Geneva, who is spoiled rotten, is observant, and sees that there’s something up with Hal and Jamie and John.
Another day, Geneva pops down to the stables, and asks Jamie what he’s doing. “Shoveling shit, my lady.” She then propositions him. She doesn’t want to give her virginity to a depraved old goat. She wants her first time to be with Jamie. And if he doesn’t, she’ll tell her mother who he is, and she knows that he’d run to Lallybroch. She got Hal drunk enough to tell her what was up with him. He calls her a “filthy wee bitch” and she grins. Jamie feels like he’s been backed into a corner, and the only way out is through her bed.
That night, he sneaks into her room, and they do the do (she has a lovely white frilled dressing gown). We do get more shirtless Jamie, but there’s nothing romantic about this interaction. He does tell her that the first time can be “vexing” and she asks to be shown how it’s done. He does, and after, she admits she liked it, and tells him that she loves him. “It’s not love, my lady. It’s just the feelings I’ve roused in your body.” She asks what the difference is. He tells her that she could have these feelings for any other man, but when you give your heart and soul, and they give theirs in return… that’s love.
Later… some seven or eight months later… Geneva and Ellesmere come to visit Dunsany. She’s pregnant. Seven or eight months. Jamie makes the “I can do math” face.
In 1968, Fiona drops in on Claire. She has Claire’s wedding pearls. Claire had left them with Fiona’s grandmother, who left them to Fi, and Fi decided they really ought to go back to Claire. Claire wanders back into the study, where Bree tells her that they’ve found out that Edinburgh has the biggest collection of ship manifests in the country, so they can take the train down the next day. Claire’s unenthusiastic, and Bree asks, “Mama, are you alright?” Which is the first time she’s called Claire “Mama” in some time.
Later that night, Bree and Roger sit in front of the fire, and Bree worries that she’s a terrible person. She and Claire’s relationship has improved a lot since she found out about Jamie, but all the work they’re doing is so Claire can go back, and if she does, what if she can’t come home? Roger thinks that just means Bree is a daughter who worries about her mother, and he’s had similar thoughts, and when they find him, then she’ll go back to Boston. Bree plants one on him, and he’s like “well that escalated quickly.”
In Helwater, Isobel runs to the stable to tell Jamie to get the carriage ready. Geneva is in labor, but things are going badly, so everyone needs to hurry the fuck up. At Ellesmere, which is really too big for reasonableness, Geneva is still bleeding, but the baby is a “fine healthy boy.” Later, Jamie finds Isobel, crying. Geneva died. Isobel slaps Jamie and tells him that Ellesmere knew the baby wasn’t his, and that Geneva told her that she banged Jamie and and and basically everything is a mess. Before Jamie can say anything, a maid tells him to get his ass downstairs. Lord Ellesmere has lost his shit.
Ellesmere complains that he was promised virgin but got a whore, and he’s holding the baby with a knife while Ellesmere and Dunsany fight over the purity of Geneva. Dunsany draws a pistol, and Jamie tries to get everyone to put down their weapons. The Dunsanys ask to take the baby, and Ellesmere can mourn in peace or whatever, and he’s like nah, I’ll kill the kid first. So Jamie shoots him. The baby is fine, and Ellesmere is dead, and Jamie has a son.
Later, back at Helwater, Isobel pushes the baby in a pram, and she tells Jamie that they named the baby William. “I call him Willie” which was Jamie’s older brother’s name. Isobel also apologizes for the whole slapping thing. “It wasn’t your fault. My sister was a difficult woman, and you were kind to her.” She leaves the baby with Jamie when her mother comes by. Jamie takes the minute to tell baby Willie that he’s a fine, braw laddie, but so wee! “Dinna fash yourself. I am here.”
Lady Dunsany takes her turn. The coroner’s court rules Ellesmere’s death as a “misadventure.” And the Dunsanys are very grateful to Jamie. She also knows who Jamie is – not specifics, but that Jamie was one of Grey’s prisoners. She offers Jamie his freedom. Her husband could arrange it. Jamie is grateful, but declines. Times are still hard in Scotland, and he’s been able to send money back, and he’d like to keep doing that. She nods, and says that when he ready to leave, he needs only to ask.
It’s 1764, and Willie is learning to ride on a pony under Jamie’s watchful eye when Lady Dunsany comes by with a friend. They remark on how handsome a child Willie is, and then Lady Dunsany says “We sometimes joke that Willie spends so much time with Mackenzie, that he’s beginning to look like Mackenzie!” and then she realizes what she just said and what that very well might mean.
In the stable, Willie helps Jamie wipe down the carriage, and Jamie looks at his reflection in the window and at Willie. It’s becoming obvious.
In Edinburgh, Roger and Bree and Claire sit down with ledges of ship manifests but they’re from the 1600s, and the archives don’t have any others. Claire slams a book on the table. There’s only one thing to do: go to a pub. There’s a woman reciting poetry by Robbie Burns (“bard knew how to turn a phrase”) but the men at the pub at glaring at Claire and Bree for daring to sit at the bar. Roger says they can go to the lounge, but Claire’s like fuck that and your toxic masculinity. Roger is ready to go to every port of call, and Bree is sure that they’ll find him. The poem ends with “Whiskey and freedom gang together” and Claire is reminded that Mrs. Graham warned her about chasing a ghost. She offers a toast: “To all of those we have lost.” And it’s time to go home.
Jamie is also ready to go home. Willie wants to go with him, and Jamie’s like, no, you have to stay here. Willie stamps his little feet at says that he is the master, and Jamie has to do what he says. Jamie, at the end of his rope, snaps that “no” is a word Willie hasn’t heard much, but it’s time to learn it. Willie throws a tiny tantrum, and says he hates Jamie, and Jamie says “I’m not all that fond of you right now, you wee bastard!” Willie, who’s clearly heard the word “bastard” before, insists that he ISN’T a bastard, and Jamie needs to take it back. Jamie does, and Willie hugs him, in the way children have with the the adults they truly adore. Jamie mutters in Gaelic, a blessing maybe. (Translated: “Don’t cry my lad, It’s going to be alright.”)
Isobel and John are hanging about, and Isobel goes inside to set up tea. John pauses to talk to Jamie. John knows that Jamie is leaving, and tells him the timing is right. “Some sires stamp the get,” and Willie will figure it out himself if Jamie is still around. Jamie asks John to go for a walk. He wants John to keep an eye on the kid, be a parental figure. And Jamie offers to…. If John wants. John’s face is PRICELESS, and basically is like DUDE. I would LOVE to bang you, but, not like this. Jesus. Also John is going to married. “To a woman?” Yes, to Isobel. He tried being with a woman in London, and it worked out fine, so… he’s gonna, and they’ve known each other since they were children (and she adores him) and marriage isn’t just based on banging. And he’ll be in an official position to look after Willie.
Jamie offers his hand, and tells John that he shall always have his friendship. “If it has value to you.” A great value, John says.
That night, Willie sneaks to Jamie’s room. Jamie has been praying to St. Anthony, the patron saint of last things. Willie says that his grandmama says “…only stinking papists burn candles in front of heathen images.” Jamie tells him that he IS a stinking papist, and he prays for the ones he’s lost. His brother, Jenny, Murtagh, and his wife. Jamie offers Willie some life advice, even though Willie is like, I do not want a wife. One day, Jamie tells him, you’ll find the right woman. “Or she will find you.”
Willie also wants to be a stinking papist, so Jamie baptizes him William James. “My other names are William Henry Clarence George Ransom.” You get a special papist name, and Willie’s like, YAS I AM A STINKING PAPIST. Jamie also carved him a wooden snake, like the one his brother made him, with Willie’s name on the bottom. Willie worries that he hasn’t got anything to give Jamie, to remember him by, and Jamie’s like, don’t worry kid. I’ll remember you.
A cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain A-gonna Fall” by Walk Off the Earth begins to play. Claire take down the timeline murder board. Jamie says goodbye to Willie, Isobel, and John. Isobel hugs him, and assures him that they’ll take good care of “Your son.” Willie is angry-sad, and John is just sad.
Bree walks through the hall with her suitcases. Willie takes off after Jamie screaming for him to come back. Roger absently fidgets with his old model airplane, and Claire and Bree are on a real airplane. Jamie rides away without a backward look, while Willie, being firmly held back from running after him by John, has the look of a child who will never forgive this. Ever.
“Where have you been, my blue eyed son….”
Elyse: I have to admit that while Claire’s enormous hair is growing on me, her eyeshadow remains horrible. Also while they try to make Claire look as though she’s aging, Jamie stays exactly the same.
RHG: Not true! HE HAS BANGS.
Elyse: Right. Bangs.
They did a good job casting Geneva to look vaguely like Claire.
Also, STARZ is allowed to air nipple licking? Huh.
I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “Jamie got another woman pregnant” storyline. Or him shooting a guy holding a baby. Also is this kid going to be Roger’s ancestor? Is this going to a weird place?
Isobel’s mourning clothes are amazing, though.
I’m pretty lukewarm on Bree right now, but I have to say that Roger is adorable and charming and I have a crush on him.
RHG: Bree continues to be a difficult character. She was difficult for Gabaldon to write, and it shows. It really, really, shows here, and while I think Sophie Skelton’s accent is better, it still doesn’t sound natural to me.
Okay, yes, the kid playing Willie, Clark Butler, doesn’t look like Sam at all, but he’s got a presence about him, so I think it worked. And he was great. Poor kid. It’s for the best, really, but there’s no way to explain all of the complexities of the situation.
I’m feeling rather conflicted about the sexual politics of Jamie and Geneva’s encounter. There was coercion, right? At the same time, he was kind (and there was a change they made from the book that made Jamie look like an asshole that I’m really glad about) and made sure at least that she had a good experience. How do you all feel about it?
Also I am delighted with our Lord John and I would fully support a Lord John Mysteries spinoff. Fully. Support.
Next week: Looks like Claire is gonna have to improvise a time travelling costume. Also, Elyse will be doing the recaps for the next two weeks.
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