Outlander Recap: The First Wives Club


First Wife
Season 3 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Aimee Spinks/Starz Entertainment, LLC

Okay, as much as I’m loving Claire’s return to Jamie, this whole nonsense where he’s got a secret attic/Lallybroch wife is a Bit Much. Not that he has a secret wife, mind you. It’s been a very long time! No, the idea that he wouldn’t instantly tell Claire. Of COURSE he would have! “Yeah, I, like you, have been married to another person because we were separated by a couple hundred years and the Atlantic Ocean.” I’m pretty confident that Claire would have flushed a bit and then gotten over it. It’s always aggravating when a show uses someone behaving stupidly (and, more important, out of character) in order to move the engine of the plot forward, and this whole bit seems pretty ham-fisted as a result.

Now, that being said, was I excited to see the big reveal? You bet your ass I was! They REALLY made us wait for it, with a liberal dose of Jenny being all squiffy with Claire for having scarpered off after Culloden, Jamie revealing he DID find treasure on that island, etc. And, in classic TV form, Jamie is juuuuust about to tell Claire everything when …

I just have to come out and say it. It’s Laoghaire. His wife is Laoghaire. Yes, THAT Laoghaire. With two red-headed daughters in tow! (They’re not actually his kids, but the optics are not fantastic in the moment, as you can imagine.) Jamie wins all the awards for saying dumb shit by replying, “You’re the one who told me to be kind to the lass!” when Claire is all, “SHE TRIED TO HAVE ME BURNED AS A WITCH.” I laughed so hard I almost fell out of bed.

The ensuing balls-out fight transitions into balls-in sex, or, rather, it’s about to, when Jenny tosses water on them like they’re dogs fighting in the street. These two are such messy bitches who love drama, bless them. It’s really for the best that they clear the air. Jenny is the one who Claire really needs to clear the air with, of course, as we all know she and Jamie are our OTP. She knows Claire isn’t telling the whole truth.

Jenny’s irritation is very understandable. She’s fiercely loyal to family, if very mercurial toward those she loves, and for Claire to have swanned off to the Colonies without spending at least a year trying to find any trace of her husband OR writing to his family is a slight she’s not likely to swiftly forgive. Mind you, she won’t have much time to sulk over it.

Laoghaire, not content to merely swoop in and hurl the C-word at Claire, also has to return on the morrow to shoot Jamie in the arm — a time-honoured non-fatal shooting location beloved by showrunners everywhere — and get patched up by a Very Annoyed Claire, who gets to give him the world’s first dose of penicillin. This, obviously, gives Jamie a chance to explain how the ACTUAL HELL he wound up married to that blonde tramp. To no one’s surprise, the answers are “Lonely” and “Horny” with a dash of “Trying to Be a Good Dude.”

The non-romantic subplot (the actual plot, some might say) of this week’s episode is about the hidden treasure chest on Selkie Island, which Jamie briefly mentioned to Claire before Laoghaire went all Kill Bill on him. It’s more relevant now that Jamie is on the hook for an OUT-RAGE-OUS amount of alimony and child support. (She SHOT him and this is a very sexist society! I do not understand how she’s pulling this move.)

Jamie being all busted up, it falls on Young Ian to swim out to the island and recover the booty, which, being a chest of loose jewels, will need to be taken to France in order to become … potatoes and cotton and bullets or whatever Laoghaire needs. Of course, nothing EVER goes smoothly for Jamie, and Ian is promptly intercepted and dragged off by an unknown ship while Claire and Jamie shriek impotently from the shore.

I’m more sympathetic to Jenny’s attitude toward Claire (which, to be fair, is rapidly softening) than before, as it really is true that Jamie has had nothing but trouble since the day he met her. It would be hard to spin her return as anything more than an extra dose of drama in what was already the world’s most dramatic life. Despite having started the episode mad at Jamie (and the writing) for being deceitful, I wound up mad at Claire for being mad at Jamie. He’s so doggedly obsessed with her, while also being tremendously handsome and rugged and determined to make her happy! It’s almost as though she’s married to a historical-romance* novel protagonist. How dare she hold it against him that he lied about being married and adopting two children!

Claire, of course, is going to have to forgive Jamie, as they will probably need to embark on a series of wild adventures to save Ian and recover their treasure and avoid imprisonment and not get burned for witchcraft or shot by the British. The show is never clear on what to do with a happy and un-persecuted Jamie and Claire, domestic felicity not being their strong suit. We’ll see if that begins to wear on us.

*I know the author objects to this categorization, but these are 100 percent historical-romance novels and there is NOTHING wrong with that. It’s a ripping yarn!

Outlander Recap: The First Wives Club