Outlander Recap: The Hot Zone

Photo: David Bloomer/Starz Entertainment, LLC


Heaven and Earth Season 3 Episode 10
Editor's Rating 3 stars

I started this recap already feeling chastened, as my visiting father informed me that he and my stepmom had given up on Outlander “since it’s becoming a melodrama.” Obviously, I sputtered something about how it had always been a melodrama, but unfortunately, this episode backed him up pretty solidly.

Since Claire can’t contract typhoid and Jamie is safely on the Artemis, the show is at a bit of a loss as to how to make the epidemic seem real and emotionally significant. Their answer (similar to how a young Fergus was shoe-horned into the Paris timeline last season) is to give Claire a sweet, earnest little 14-year-old helper, who could not be more marked for death if he had a raven on his shoulder and was followed 24/7 by a cloaked man with a scythe. Do not get attached, Claire. It’s not happening.

One senses that Sam Heughan was off getting a root canal when this episode was filmed, as he gets about two minutes of screentime, and his face is almost exclusively shown behind bars because Jamie laid hands on the captain like a DUMMY. He wants Fergus to bust him out so he can mutiny and go get his girl — no, I am not clear on how he plans to overthrow a British man-of-war either — and Fergus, bless him, is like, “Hard pass.”

At any rate, it does provide the narrative excuse for Jamie to finally give Fergus and Marsali his blessing to wed, thanks to the old “defying me shows that you truly are a man” gambit. Now those crazy kids will get to be as miserable as anyone else. That’s pretty much all that happens on the Artemis, so let’s get back to the real story.

Claire, busily working to alienate a whole new set of men, has made tremendous strides. She’s figured out that one of the galley hands is the Typhoid Mary of the Porpoise, over his vehement denials, and has the man clapped in irons and sent down to the brig. This, of course, infuriates the already surly cook. Don’t worry, he definitely will get a scene where you’re convinced he’s about to rape Claire, because this is still Outlander.

We’re all very impressed that Claire is bringing germ theory to the people with mixed success, but she’s ruining everyone’s grog rations to do it, and they seem like they’d probably rather just die of typhoid. Ah, well, she takes her work seriously.

My husband, grimly enduring Outlander next to me on the couch while trying to read John Keegan’s The Price of Admiralty, had a number of devastating critiques of the show’s naval inaccuracies, which I’m sure you would have enjoyed very much. He was just warming to his task when Claire spotted a Portuguese flag, briefly hoping that the Porpoise had encountered the same ship that took our Ian.

Having snuck into the captain’s cabin to learn more, Claire quickly discovers that Ian is the least of their problems at the moment, as a crewmember has recognized Jamie as the A. Malcolm of seditious pamphlets and murder (!) fame. That crewmember, of course, is the milky-eyed henchman of old Sir Percival that we were dodging back in Aberdeen. Claire should really just kill him, IMHO, but the captain knows as well, so at this point there’s not much to be done.

Claire, having forgotten that she straight-up killed a dude, is all, “Murder? What murder?” and the henchman is like, “Do you remember there was a corpse in the crème de menthe? Because we found a crème de menthe in the crème de menthe,” and she’s like, “Ohhhhh, ohhh, right, gotcha.”

It’s time for Claire to move heaven and Earth to warn Jamie that he’ll be clapped in irons the minute he sets foot in Jamaica, but first, of course, we must deal with the promised melodrama. Our sweet young lad Elias has contracted typhoid and dies EXTREMELY quickly, hanging on just long enough to ask Claire if she’s his mommy (“Yes Elias, it’s mother”) and give her all the emotions. She sews him into his shroud; it’s all very sad. Farewell, Elias! It was a beautiful one-and-a-half episodes getting to know you.

At least Claire has made friends with the Dutch woman in charge of keeping the ship’s goats alive. (You can IMAGINE the stench of goats on a ship with no plumbing.) It’s that relationship that helps her first make an aborted escape attempt, and then — we hope — a successful one. She’s a ramblin’ man, our Claire, and I am VERY concerned about her ability to swim (!?) to the Artemis, not to mention what will happen when she gets there. But that’s for us to find out!

Outlander Recap: The Hot Zone