Previously: Claire goes back. Jamie faints on his ass.
We jump in, with Jamie being dressed by a French woman, and their relationship is… close. He’s in Edinburgh, in 1766, and I’m telling you guys, the streets are too clean. (Every tour guide and every museum in Edinburgh mentioned poop and the disposal thereof. My impression of the history of Edinburgh is that it was mostly shit with the occasional murder and bodysnatching. Anyway.)
Anyway, he goes into his printshop wherein he finds a new set of Things One and Two. They are buddies of his up to shady shit. Young Ian told them they could crash for the night. Jamie is annoyed because his printing business can’t be associated with them, but he sends them off with seditious pamphlets for delivery anyway. Jamie also has a snooty assistant- Goiter Geordie (he’s called that because his name is Geordie and he has a goiter). Jamie sends Things One and Two out the back, and sends Goiter Geordie out for ash for the presses. Geordie snits that Jamie should give him his errands before he comes in, “So I’m no’ retravelling my steps.”
Jamie prints a few pages. He now has reading glasses for up close things (by the way, if you’re ever in Boston, there’s a colonial era printshop near the Old North Church you should check out). The music gets excited and anticipatory, because it (and we) know who is walking in the door. It’s no Goiter Geordie- it’s Claire (who, to quote the Fug Girls, did not spend any time coming up with a REALLY good entrance line).
Jamie faints. Credits.
The title splash is Jamie pulling sheets up from the press, and those sheets tell us who wrote and directed the episode. On first viewing I liked it; now I’m not sure.
Jamie wakes up, and yeah, Claire is still there and very real. And so is he. They mostly stare at each other a lot, until Jamie realizes that he fell on the ale pot. He needs to change his breeches, and he’s like, “do you mind?” and she’s like “We’re still married though?” She still wears his ring, and he asks permission to kiss her. They do, slowly, and sweetly, and the music swells: he tells her that she came to him so often in dreams and when he had a fever. “Whenever I needed you, you were there, smiling…but you never touched me.” “I can touch you now.” And they make out a bit more…. Until Goiter Geordie comes back, and he HAS HAD IT. HE QUITS. Working for a papist is one thing, but an immoral papist is just a bridge too far (and it does look kinda bad, since Jamie isn’t wearing any pants). “God’s tooth! It’s not even noon!” Goiter Geordie is my favorite.
Claire worries she’s caused trouble, Jamie’s like nah, I’ll explain it to him. Then is like, I don’t… actually know how. He goes to find more trousers, but also doesn’t want to let her leave his sight. Also there are a LOT of lit candles in this print shop.
He puts on pants, and then asks after the baby. Claire came prepared: she brought photographs so he could see his daughter. Jamie absorbs all of this, and asks if she knows, and then, adorably, apologizes for needing glasses. “You look as dashing as ever.” Claire’s like, look, we’ve put on some years, also I have some gray hair that I dyed.
Jamie sits down on the bed to look at the pictures of tiny baby Brianna. He thinks that’s a horrible name for a wee lass, but Claire’s like, look fucker, I named her after your father like I promised. Bree’s first word was “dog” and then “no.” “They learn that one fast.” She tells him that Bree has his red hair. “Like her sister, Faith.” They look through the pictures some more, and Jamie is scandalized to see one of Bree on the beach. In a bikini.
He gives the pictures back, and then confesses about Willie. He’s never told anyone about him, not even Jenny. He sketches out the broad strokes about Willie, and shows Claire his miniature. Claire asks if he loved Willie’s mother, and Jamie’s like, no, and I feel terrible about all of that. Claire asks what Willie is like, and Jamie has the kid’s number: “Spoiled, stubborn, ill-mannered, loud, wicked temper, and braw, and brawny and canty and strong.” “And yours…I knew, when I decided to come back, that you would have had a life.”
Jamie asks if Claire left Frank to come, and she tells him no. But Frank did take her back, and she told him everything. But he loved Bree, “So we made it work.” Jamie asks if she was happy with him, and she says that she was happy raising Brianna with him.
Jamie remembers that he had business in a tavern, and he and Claire pop out, while Claire tells him what Bonnie Prince Charlie was up to after Culloden (drinking and wife beating, mostly, according to the National Museum of Scotland).
AND THEN THERE’S FERGUS, who is all grown up. “I thought I was seeing a ghost!” They have a touching embrace. Fergus asks where she had been, and she tells him that she thought they were all dead, and she didn’t want to bring harm to Lallybroch, so she left for the Colonies. Fergus then tells Jamie that there’s a problem with a “Mr. Willoughby.”
Okay. We’re gonna stop here for a minute and say that a) there’s a lot of problematic shit in these books. And b) Mr. Willoughby is one of the most cringey. And well…I guess we’ll see what RDM has decided to do with him…because for fuck’s sake, Diana.
But mostly, Fergus is so happy that his Milady is back. He asks Jamie if Milady is staying and Jamie’s like, she’s been back for less than an hour, so…. I don’t know. “What about….?” and Jamie’s like IT’S BEEN AN HOUR also I need to check with Ned Gowan about some legal shit (WHICH MEANS NED GOWAN IS ALIVE Y’ALL) (I mean, I knew that he was in the books, it’s just nice to have confirmation).
Mr. Willoughby has been drinking in a tavern, according to Fergus, and that’s not always great. (Oh, they’re going to the World’s End, where we tried to eat twice and failed both times. It’s set where the old city walls were on the far side of the Royal Mile from the castle. That’s why it’s called the World’s End.) Inside, Willoughby is a Chinese man, who a tavern wench said tried to lick her elbow without paying. Jamie pays her, and Claire introduces herself – almost as Randall, but Jamie corrects her as Madame Malcolm. Mr. Willoughby is his associate. He leaves Claire with Mr. Willoughby, who astutely surmises that Willoughby isn’t his actual name.
No, his actual name is Yi Tien Cho, “Which mean Leans Against Heaven” but he doesn’t use it in Scotland because it’s similar to rude word in Gaelic, so Jamie gave him the name of Mr. Willoughby.
Down in the cellar of the tavern, Jamie finds a man who has been waiting for him, who is very annoyed that Jamie is late. Jamie tosses him a pouch of money, and the guy is like, seems light. Jamie’s apparently “Branched out” as far as Dundee (a kinda cute city with lots of hills), so he expects a 25% increase in payments. Jamie’s like nah, brah.
Back in the main room of the tavern, Mr. Willoughby has been regaling Claire with his life story, how he stowed away on a ship and nearly starved to death until Jamie saved. Mr. Willoughby bids Claire goodbye, calling her “honorable wife” and Claire calls him by his name, which makes him happy.
Jamie brings Claire to another establishment… a brothel, where the woman from the opening is the madame, Jeanne. She’s like, Mr. Malcolm, why would you bring another woman here? That’s insulting. Jamie’s like, this is my wife, and it’s all very awkward. Jamie asks if his room is ready, since they’ll be spending the night.
Jamie’s room is bigger than many, and light with lots of candles, and it’s not soundproof, as the sounds of banging can be heard from other rooms. “So…uh, you live in a brothel?” Jamie says it’s got supper and it’s more comfortable than his cot in the printshop. Claire’s like, no, why do you have a room in brothel? Are you a customer? Jamie says no, Jeanne is a customer of HIS, and it’s nice to have a room and a bed at any hour he needs it, so….
Jamie asks why she came back, and she’s like, why do you think? “I dinna ken. You are the mother of my child and for that I owe you my soul.” But is she back to be his wife again? Claire’s like, YEAH THAT’S KIND OF THE POINT. Claire explains that they were able to trace him through records, and figured out that he was alive, so she came back. “But why?”
Jesus fuck, use your words, you two.
“I have burned for you for so long.” But he’s a different man, and she’s a different woman, and they know each other less than when they first married. He asks, kind of hesitantly, if she wants him, and she’s like YES I DO. She asks him if he still wants her, since she could be a horrible person for all he knows, and he admits that might be true, but he doesn’t really care. They’re about to kiss when dinner arrives, and instead of getting nekkid, they eat, because you need energy for reunions. Claire voiceovers about getting to know each other, and when they finished, “the same thought was uppermost in both our minds.”
NAKED TIME. They use dress each other slowly, so we get a good look at the corset Claire fashioned together out of longline bras and girdles (Terry Dresbach is a genius). There’s a zipper involved, and Jamie is a bit perplexed by it, and then fascinated, and then distracted by Claire’s breasts. He stares at her for a long time, and she’s like… say something but his dick is doing a lot of the talking. They both admit that they’re a bit scared. Claire reminds him that on their wedding night, he said it would be easier if they touched, and she asks him if he wants her now. “Oh God, yes.” Then they fall into bed and he cracks her in the nose with his forehead. They’re new with each other, and awkward, but it’s like falling off a bike – you remember how. (Jamie asks what a bike is, and she doesn’t tell him.)
Afterwards, they snuggle and chat, and she finally is like, now I’m gonna guess what you really do. She doesn’t think he’s a full-time printer, since he’s too built and hasn’t gone soft around the middle (He asks if she really know what it takes to work a printing press, which is fair). Anyway, we get a nice shot of Sam’s butt, and she asks about highway robbery, kidnapping for ransom, petty thievery? “Can’t be piracy, unless you’ve gotten over being seasick.” Being a traitor isn’t that profitable, besides, he hasn’t been convicted lately. (She tells him that she knew about Ardsmuir, and he’s got so many questions, but she does not educate him on what you can find in the historical record.)
Anyway, he finally admits that yes, he’s a printer, and prints seditious shit where he’s been arrested six times in two years. But no one’s been able to prove shit. If he gets caught, he’ll be hanged, but that’s par for the course. He asks if she’s still going to stay, and she tells him she did not come to bang him once and leave. Even if she didn’t know what he was doing with himself, she knows what kind of man he is. Which is a man who does a bit of smuggling on the side. Booze, mostly. Jeanne is a customer, and the booze gets hidden in the cellar of the brothel. (No, he does not take out his price with Jeanne in trade.) They go back to the banging.
Later, Claire promises that she won’t leave him again, and he reminds her that she was right to leave, since Bree is alive and safe. “Because of her, we will live forever.”
In the morning, Jamie watches Claire wake up, and they’re cute and adorable and totally don’t need to brush their teeth or anything. Jamie admits that he didn’t think he’d laugh in a woman’s bed again, or even come to one, “save as a brute, blind with need.” She asks him if that’s what he did, and he doesn’t want to answer. She tells him he doesn’t need to, and just wants to know if he ever fell in love with anyone else after she left. “I never loved anyone but you.”
Breakfast knocks on the door, but Jamie tells it to come back later, he’s eating something else. Later, he’s getting dressed, and has some business to attend to. He reminds her that she’s Mrs. Malcolm, not Fraser, and she’s to stay put until he gets back. She tells him that she’s not likely to go anywhere, and to “hurry back, soldier.”
Later on, Claire has gotten up and put on her shift, when a young man comes in, and introduces himself as Ian Murray. He’s Jenny and Ian’s kid, the one who was born just before Jamie had himself arrested as the Dunbonnet. Ian is 16, and knows what kind of a place this is. Claire introduces herself as his aunt, and Ian’s like, uh, you’re dead. Ian word vomits about how some people at Lallybroch thought maybe Caire was a fairy, and that when Jamie came back without her, it meant she went back to where she came from. “Do you live in a dun?” Claire tells him that she was in the Colonies, but she came back. Ian’s like “….okay….” and then asks her to tell Jamie that he’s looking for him. Claire will.
And then she ventures downstairs because breakfast never came back. The rest of the ladies are sitting around, and they assume (not unreasonably) that she’s a new girl (with good skin and nice bubbies), and give tips on contraception and how to make a man hurry up and finish (a finger up the bum).
An early customer shows up, and the girls are all like, “new girl gets the one no one wants, so have fun with that!” (but also tell Claire that they’ll save her some more breakfast, which is nice.) Jeanne comes in, and is MORTIFIED that Claire is with her girls. She hustles Claire back up to Jamie’s room.
But up in Jamie’s room is a bald man who’s looking for Jamie’s ledgers, and assumes that Claire is a whore. And then when she can’t tell him where they are, he tells her that he’s going to fuck it out of her. Because Claire can’t spend 24 hours in 18th Century Scotland without the threat of rape, I guess.
HI I’M BACK, also I was in Edinburgh a week ago. So as I’m watching Jamie go into the print shop, I’m thinking, “….that’s looks really familiar. Have I been there?” I have! It’s behind the Museum of Edinburgh, which is a very cool little museum. (Also all the little Closes and Wynds off of the Royal Mile are incredibly tempting to anyone who has no sense of self-preservation going “Hey, I wonder what’s down this dark passageway!” and that’s what will lead me to my death someday.)
And I again say there’s not enough shit on the street, and no one yelled “gardyloo!” when emptying their chamber pots out the window, so this is a very unrealistic version of Edinburgh.
I’m just saying.
That said, the main color of Edinburgh and the Royal Mile is grey stone, so that was correct. But the road by the World’s End is a lot steeper than that. (Someday I’ll stop being annoying BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY.) It is kind of awesomely surreal that this episode is the one I come back to, after having walked those streets.
When I first read Voyager, I started it in the evening sometime, and thought that I would go to bed once Claire and Jamie were back together. THREE HUNDRED ODD PAGES LATER it was 2 am and they finally were and that’s the most memorable meeting of the Bad Decisions Book Club I ever attended.
So Jamie and Claire are back together and…it’s okay I guess? I think so much of this episode was devoted to sex, it’s weird for me to watch onscreen. Partially it’s because it’s totally devoid of foreplay, and partially it’s just awkward.
I did like the fact that there was an element of shyness and insecurity to them being together after twenty years. It was kind of hilarious though because obviously Sam and Caitriona haven’t aged twenty years, so seeing them stand there mostly naked talking about how their bodies have changed (when they haven’t and are still arguably model-perfect) was snort worthy.
I loved that we got to see a grown up Fergus. My baby! And the scene where Claire has breakfast with the prostitutes was a delight.
Leaving the episode on a potential rape scene had me going “meh” though. I guess Gabaladon really likes those. I could live without it.
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