STARZ Outlander Series 3 Episode 11 sees both Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and his wife Claire (Caitriona Balfe) about as far away from Scotland as they can possibly imagine, separated by miles of crystal blue sea.
Claire, during her time curing sick sailors on board the British Brig Porpoise aimed for Jamaica, worked hard to save dozens of patients from certain death with Typhoid Fever.
She discovered a sailor on board the British Brig had recognised Jamie and knowing he was wanted for murder in Scotland by the British, had informed on him to the ambitious young Captain who vows to have him arrested the minute he steps on shore.
Taking her life and Jamie’s in her own hands and knowing that all the sailors are cured or about to be, Claire leaps overboard in the dead of night. She is hoping to land on a nearby island but instead, finds herself negotiating uncharted waters in more ways than one.
This episode focuses on Claire’s outward struggles, without getting into the nitty gritty. It is infested with things that crawl and things that bite and some that go bump in the night. She gradually sheds the uniform she’s worn for much of this series as she struggles to survive, working with the hand she’s been dealt.
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Stranded on a vast beach and not knowing where she is or how and where she would go about finding Jamie, Claire at first dries the bundle of clothes she’s managed to salvage and then sets out in search of fresh water, without which she knows she will not survive.
As a doctor, Claire fully understands humans can only go three days without water and three weeks without food, but only if she finds water first. Out of luck by the end of the first day she finds pieces of flint and gathers wood and dry leaves for a fire. She falls asleep exhausted, waking up in the morning with her legs covered in biting ants (I’m sure to have nightmares about these)!
Turning into irritating sores, she covers them as best she can and walks on, finding herself going deeper and deeper into a tropical jungl, where she finds a coconut tree although it is to no avail because she does not have the skills to climb the smooth barked tree to retrieve one.
Falling asleep the next night again exhausted and without water, she wakes up with a python crawling over the top of her – good heavens, more nightmares and another bright start to the day! It takes all her willpower and ours to stay calm and still until it finally leaves.
On the third day her bites and sores now severely aggravated, she stumbles on until suddenly she sees an apparition, a man dressed in outmoded clothes. Who would blame her as she faints dead away.
When she wakes her legs and feet are tied to a simple bed in a hut with a woman watching over her. She gives her water first and then Mamacita (Vivi Lepori) tells Claire imprisoning her was the only way she could stop her scratching and infecting her sores further.
Claire sleeps again, waking this time to find the outmoded gentleman watching over her and he frees her at last. Father Fogden (Nick Fletcher) the priest who she saw, is pleased to discover she is an English woman. During her talks with him Claire discovers he seriously consults ‘Coco’, a coconut about what decisions he should make. She realises his time on the island has not only caused him a lot of pain and anguish, but also he is because of all his misadventures, perhaps, a little unhinged.
She can sense Mamacita doesn’t want her to stay and so as instructed, has a welcome bath and dons a borrowed dress. Invited to sit with them both and have a meal, Claire listens carefully as the Priest tells her his love story… before smoking a pipe full of pot.
It seems he had run away with Mamacita’s beautiful daughter, who sadly died. Now he doesn’t want to allow Claire to leave and he and Mamacita begin to argue because she is afraid this woman will replace her daughter. She wants her gone.
Time is of the essence for Claire who knows if she doesn’t leave the next day she will miss Jamie before he gets to Jamaica. She dons her clothes, which have been washed for her and takes a chance, talking to Coco positively in earshot of Father Fogden, hoping he will perhaps agree to let her go.
Mamacita arrives in a flap carrying a goats severed head with its still open eyes… very spooky. She relates how a Chinaman has slaughtered and eaten Father Fogden’s favourite goat. Thankfully Claire realises she is talking about Mr Willoughby and begs them both for directions about how to get to the beach as she’s sure Jamie’s brig must be anchored there. Mamacita willingly directs her.
Meanwhile Mr Willoughby, Jamie and Fergus and the men from the Artemis are indeed on the beach repairing the main mast and sail. It appears there has been an accident at sea which has killed the horrible Captain who had imprisoned Jamie.
Now free, Jamie and his men have taken charge of the ship once more. Going back to the ship they are busy hoisting the mainsail when Jamie notices a flashing light from the shore.
Grabbing a spyglass, he sees it is his Sassenach. She had pocketed a shard of mirror she had found and is signalling to them. Finally they are united after he races along the beach to her, vowing to never let her out of his sight again.
She asks Mr Willoughby to please stitch a deep wound received on her arm when racing through the jungle to the beach.
To keep her mind occupied through the pain Jamie tells her he has agreed to Marsali (Lauren Lyle) and Fergus (Cesar Domboy) being married and instead of waiting until Jamaica, Claire takes them all back to the priest who performs the ceremony.
Claire helps Marsali to dress beforehand and they make peace between them, with Claire saying she will enlighten her younger charge about how to practice birth control.
Back on-board the Artemis Jamie finds Claire has a fever. Fortunately, she had left her penicillin on board the Artemis when she had been taken aboard the British ship Porpoise and so is able to inject herself to prevent the spread of the infection.
Mr Willoughby has made Turtle Soup for dinner. a known aphrodisiac it is also packed with goodness and sherry. Finally, relieved relaxed and intoxicated Jamie and Claire retire for a night of steamy sex, after all, they’re making up for lost time.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017