Outlander, Starz great Television Series 3 Episode 8 sees Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) and Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) following the fire that destroyed his print shop in Edinburgh, leaving to take his nephew young Ian Murray (John Bell) to Lallybroch, their family home at last, an event that will have lasting consequences for everyone.
Jamie’s ancestral home is a place forever printed in Claire’s head and heart… although this time she has a premonition that her being there will not be or ever feel the same again.
Jenny (Laura Donnelly) Jamie’s sister gives both Jamie and Claire a frosty welcome.
On her first day, there’s so much left unsaid between Jenny and Claire, who used to be like sisters. Jenny is resentful Claire gave up on Jamie and has not written at least to her through all the years. Little does she know how hard that would be from the twentieth century.
Young Ian gets a clip over the ear from his mother for the worry he’s caused both his parents. Jamie apologises to Ian (Steven Cree) his brother in law for lying to him about his son being with him in Edinburgh. He suggests an alternative punishment for the lad instead of the thrashing ordered by Jenny, which was common practice at the time.
Don’t read any more if you don’t want spoilers.
Always a fiery woman Jenny is very reluctant to let Claire help her in any way. Jamie goes to talk to her about treating young Ian as a child instead of man, but she’s reluctant. She knows very soon he will leave home, permanently out of her control.
Jamie goes to their chamber to find Claire in a state of distress at Jenny’s attitude and hostility towards her. Jamie cautions her they have both been out in the world while Jenny has never left the farm. She has no experience of a wider world and is full of questions we have no answers for and so, we must cut her some slack.
Claire wants to tell Jenny the truth observing how she casts a warm light on those she trusts and a cold shadow on those she doesn’t and Jamie agrees. He tells her he finds it hard sometimes to believe she’s truly back in the past.
They settle down to talk about the twenty years and what has happened to them both at last now finally having time to do so. Jamie tells Claire how there was a man named Duncan in prison with him who was dying. He told Jamie about a treasure hidden on an island, which was being guarded by a ‘white witch’ and it gave Jamie hope Claire was alive.
He escaped the prison and swam to the island hoping to find his ‘heart’. He didn’t, but noticed the McKenzie family crest carved into a stone and found the ‘treasure’ behind it. A box full of ancient coins and gems, I took a sapphire and gave it to the governor of the prison where I was prison leader in turn for a favour, leaving the rest in place for a ‘rainy day’.
That’s why he ended up at Helwater in service to an English family rather than being transported.
I was also out there wishing you would come and find me Claire says, telling Jamie while she wasn’t on an island, all the while she was wishing he would come and find her.
He then tells her there is something he has to tell her but has hesitated as he’s been wanting to speak to Ned Gowan the family solicitor to if the law of the land has been changed since the British took control.
Seriously there’s something I have to tell you he begins to say, something it’s not been easy to keep it from you he says. You must listen he tells, her with all your heart.
Jamie’s just about to unburden his soul when their chamber door bursts open and a child of about 9 years of age with red hair and her older sister in her teens asks ‘Daddy’ who is that woman – what are you doing.
Hot on their heels comes their mother who Claire had known years ago at Lallybroch and who openly hated Claire for marrying Jamie and had tried to have her killed, Laoghaire (pronounced Leeree) MacKenzie (Nell Hudson)
She’s in a rage and tells Claire to go to hell, railing at her ‘Sassenach Witch’ rival – he’s my husband now she says, flouncing out leaving Claire in deep shock.
Claire is thinking Jamie has lied to her about Laoghaire’s two ‘daughters’ noting their ‘red hair’… but he says, I am not the only red-haired man in Scotland and that the girls are not his. Will she believe him? Why would he start lying now?
He explains how he Laoghaire were only married two years ago and how he quickly knew it was never going to work and left shortly afterwards. He cannot explain more because he feels he must go downstairs and explain to the smallest child who loves him and is very distressed, who Claire really is.
She’s my first wife he tells her. I thought she was dead and by the grace of God she came back to me. I tried very hard to be a husband to your mother…. but we do not have a bond that keeps us together. He promises her he will always love her and her sister and look after them.
Jamie comes back to explain to Claire the ‘marriage’ was a great mistake, born out of his loneliness and they both argue at the top of their voices until that point where they are both spent. Why didn’t you tell me… you forced me to go back when I would have died at Culloden with you says Claire.
Being a printer was nought to being your husband. It has been hard… so, don’t apologise for it, but you belong with me. We’re mated for life Sassenach. Will you risk the man I am, for the sake of the man I once was?
They fall into each other’s arms and Jenny arrives to tells them both off just as they are settling into making love and she is both furious and judgmental.
Jamie chases after Jenny and tells her about how he had arranged for Claire to have passage to the colonies in case he didn’t return from Culloden. He wants Jenny to forgive her.
“When she thought I had died in battle she boarded a ship just as we planned” he says, and then just “… like I had to make a new life she made another life for herself which included getting married again”.
It’s because her husband died recently she came back because she had also learned I was miraculously still alive. But Jamie is not going to get off that lightly if Jenny has anything to do with it.
Claire tries talking to Jenny again, telling her how she had another husband in America and when he died I came back to visit Jamie’s grave to tell him he was the only man I ever loved. Still she’s unrelenting. Then Ian arrives and accuses Jenny of denying her brother Jamie happiness. And she knows she has now gone too far.
The next morning Claire packs her bag and puts on her travelling clothes and is leaving Lallybroch because she feels she cannot deal with any more shocks. Jamie comes to stop her, pledging his love for her and her alone.
While they are outside Laoghaire arrives and goes to shoot Claire and Jamie throws himself in the way and is badly shot in the arm. He is as ever casual about it and she asks him has he forgotten what she taught him about germs?
While they are together as he is recovering he tells her the story. When I returned from Helwater, from England. Everything was different. My nephews didn’t recognise me. I was a ghost. I was here but I wasn’t home. I suppose I was lonely and it was my first Hogmanay at Lallybroch. Everyone was having a good time except for me… I was filled with joy and loneliness all at the same time.
Laoghaire’s children asked him to dance with them… and for the first time in years I laughed, he explained. The two bairns were looking for a father… all the things I had to forget when I said goodbye to you at the stones. I wanted to show them how to be in the world. I left Laoghaire because I could not bear the thought of someone fearing my touch. So, I went to Edinburgh and set up the Print Shop.
Claire has to operate on him and to dig the pellets out of his chest, without severing an artery and while taking the precautions she needs to. He contracts a fever which could lead to death and so she is forced to use the first of her precious penicillin injections to save his life.
Jenny makes her peace with Claire and tells her she had a vision of her standing between Laoghaire and Jamie on their wedding day.
Jenny needs to know more. So, Claire decides to tell her how much she loves her brother… I never forgot any of you… Jenny tells her you were a sister to me and Claire asks her for a second chance.
Old Ned arrives and is overcome to find Claire. He counsels Jamie to pay Laoghaire alimony.
Young Ian to help Jamie out proposes he will swim to the island and retrieve the remainder of the treasure. Jamie would do it but Claire won’t let him until his arm heals. Young Ian will also go with he and Claire to France where they can trade the ancient coins and Jenny and his father Ian agree.
Young Ian makes to the island and Claire and Jamie watch on as he disappears into the ruins on the top of the island where it is hidden. Suddenly however, a ship arrives and the crew rows ashore where they find Ian with the treasure on his way back down the hill. Capturing him they set sail with him on board as Claire and Jamie watch on, helpless to do anything to help.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017