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Outlander Recap: The One Where Claire Is Too Good for Her Own Good

Welcome to our weekly recap of Outlander. Like Game of Thrones, this Starz drama is based on a series of best-selling novels that many viewers have yet to read. We therefore ask that book fans refrain from posting comments that might spoil upcoming plotlines for anyone sampling this show without having checked out Diana Gabaldon’s books yet — and to be civil toward them as well. Thank you for understanding. And now, on to the recap.

Look, I don’t know how to break this to you, but Jamie and Claire don’t have sex in this episode. I have concluded that their coupling is a figment of someone’s imagination, the cruelest, sexiest figment. Je suis désolée.

As the episode begins, Claire and Frank are arguing because he wants to use his position to change Claire’s orders but she refuses because she is a modern woman who will do her duty. Frank, clearly realizing he is outmatched, concedes, “Woe betide the man that stands between you and what you set your mind upon. Damned if that stubbornness isn’t what I found so attractive about you.” They have the least romantic goodbye ever because, well, this is Frank we’re talking about, and Claire is off to the front lines, like a boss, while Frank does whatever he does, far away from the front lines.

Back in the castle in the miserable 18th century, Claire is given the Ice Bucket Challenge by Mrs. Fitz, who cannot help but remarking upon Claire’s unblemished skin. Claire indulges in a bit of a daydream where she tells Mrs. Fitz the truth about her situation but quickly realizes the folly of that and resigns herself to carrying her secret in stoic silence while looking remarkably beautiful because that is the power of historical television. 

There’s to be a gathering of all the McKenzies so Claire has to care for the people of the clan using those damned 18th-century methods with her magical 20th-century knowledge. What a pickle! 

While chatting in the kitchen with Mrs. Fitz, Claire learns that the son of Colum’s chambermaid died because he visited the Black Kirk. Everyone in the castle believes the child’s death was the work of Satan but Claire isn’t so sure.

Claire is called to give Colum a massage in his chambers. He hops up on the table and pulls up his frock to reveal a bare but quite firm and pleasant ass. She works him over so well, he invites her to hear the bard sing. There’s your happy ending.

Finally, finally, Jamie makes an appearance. Claire sits with the strapping Mr. McTavish and Miss McKenzie, the woman he gallantly saved from a beating last week. It’s clearly a love triangle — Miss McKenzie wants Jamie who wants Claire who is getting toasty on 18th century spirits. The more she drinks, the happier she feels and soon, Jamie, ever the gentleman, asks Claire to take a look at his “dressing,” so quickly, they away to Claire’s surgery. Miss McKenzie is not thrilled by this turn.

At this point, I was on the edge of my seat because, foolishly, I thought we were finally going to see some hot romantic action. Jamie admits he only asked for help with his bandages to escort Claire safely home and then they sort of banter and there is so much sexual tension and there’s a fire crackling in the background and come on, already! My body was ready but Claire and Jamie’s bodies were, I guess, too shrouded in clothing and decorum and whatever. Claire makes a pretense of examining Jamie’s wound, gently touching his perfect body but then she sends him on his way. As she watches him leave, Claire sighed the heaviest sigh and honestly, I did too. We may never know what’s going on beneath the McTavish kilt but, I suppose, we can imagine.

The next day, Claire meets Geillis Duncan to pick herbs or something, and she learns that Thomas Baxter, Mrs. Fitz’s nephew, is about to undergo an exorcism because he too visited the Black Kirk. She rushes to the boy’s side and finds the boy tied down (in case he gets violent) and she gives a quick exam. It’s obvious the boy is sick not possessed but before Claire can get down to medical business, Father Bain shows up with his old tyme religion. Claire is pretty disgusted and watches helplessly as the family begins to pray over a boy who simply needs some medicine. The 18th-century kind of sucks, is the message here.

At dinner, Claire gives Jamie a hard time because she saw him catting around earlier with the McKenzie lass. Claire has a jealous streak, y’all. They play footsie under the table and Jamie rushes off. This other guy slides across from Claire and explains that Jamie needs a woman, not a girl and it’s actually a great, great scene. In one of the countless voiceovers, Claire explains she was jealous of the intimacy she saw between Jamie and the lass but we know there’s something more there. I choose to interpret “I miss my husband” as “That tramp better keep away from my 18th century man.”

Dougal takes Claire to visit Geillis in the village, and the ladies share a bit of gossip. As they chat, there is a commotion in the village square. A boy has been caught stealing and Geillis tells Claire the boy will probably lose his hand. As always, Claire is appalled by the Highlanders’ barbaric ways. At what point will she stop being so surprised by the 18th century? She’s getting a bit Taylor Swift about the whole thing, all that wide-eyed surprise. The judge, Arthur, visits Geillis with indigestion and she woos him into offering a lighter punishment — an hour on the pillory, one ear nailed, which is exactly, EXACTLY, what it sounds like. If you think you’re tough with your ear plugs, think again, body modifiers.

Geillis is a smart woman, and she tries to figure out why Claire is so different. It’s not just that Claire’s a Sassenach, obvi. But before Claire can spill her guts, Jamie shows up to take Claire back to the castle for dinner (only dinner ... the disappointment continues). In the square, the boy is still nailed to the pillory. Jamie informs her that the boy’s punishment is over but he has to tear himself from the pillory to free himself which, ouch, right? Claire will not be having that. She pretends to faint and Jamie yanks the nail out of the boy’s ear. Once again, Mistress Beecham saves the day. Now that she and Jamie are conspirators, she convinces him to take her to the Black Kirk, where she gets all CSI and figures out that Thomas Baxter ingested Lily of the Valley not wood garlic. Claire rushes to the boy’s side with a cure. Father Bain is NOT pleased because she is a heathen and, worse yet, she is a woman.

Unfortunately, Claire is too good at her job. She eased Colum’s pain. She saved the boy. As she and Jamie talk while brushing a horse, which is, I guess 18th-century foreplay, she realizes she’s never going to get away from the castle. Claire is so very sad as she tries to accept her fate. She is very, very sad. That night, only the lure of Colum’s rhenish gets Claire out of her room. Jamie finds her, of course, and explains the meaning of the bard’s song, which is all about Claire’s own adventure into the past — a folktale but also her real life. She is emboldened again. The episode ends with Claire vowing to escape or die trying and it makes no sense, because she is only trying to get back to Frank who, we have already established, seems very boring indeed.

Looking Ahead:

  • What do we have to look forward to now that it seems that Claire and Jamie getting down is not really a thing?
  • Will the pace of the show pick up?
  • Will Claire ever stop being surprised at how terrible everything is in the 18th century?
  • Will Mrs. Fitz ever allow Claire to bathe and dress on her own?
  • Will we see Colum’s remarkable ass again?
Photo: Neil Davidson/Sony Pictures Television