An announcement: I have decided to have literally zero sympathy for Claire’s “I’m not sure if we belong together” hot takes. You have literally been drawn to each other VIA MAGIC across CENTURIES. You need to just accept it and work on your trust issues, girl. If anyone is destined to be together, it’s you and Jamie.
Jamie and Claire seem rather chill about embarking for the West Indies on a VERY small ship in pursuit of Young Ian, who’s about to be sold into servitude by the Portuguese, or something. Comfortingly, we are informed that the kid is probably worth a whole 30 pounds, so as long as he doesn’t Make Trouble, they won’t hurt him. You may be thinking, “Oh my God, what is Jenny going to say about this?” but Jamie has wisely decided to just send a letter back to Lallybroch and let that whole thing take care of itself.
Jamie’s official position on the ship is “supercargo,” which is not the name of an Autobot so much as an actual thing. He’s got some hometown support from well-wishers from his prison days, too.
One of those well-wishers, unfortunately, is our lad Fergus, who has brought along his BRAND-NEW BRIDE, Marsali! That would be Laoghaire’s daughter, who, for the record, looks exactly like her. In a tremendously shocking turn of events, she thinks Claire is a whore and probably a witch. She and Fergus are not really married yet, having handfasted but not consummated their union, so Jamie decides to be the youthful sex police. But we don’t have time for that right now.
As the episode opened, I thought to myself, “Hmm, obviously everyone will have major issues with Claire that she will eventually overcome by drilling holes in someone’s skull or diagnosing diabetes, but what form will those objections take?” Will Claire:
A) Just generally be a problem as a human woman on a ship, as sailors are a notoriously superstitious lot?
B) Try to invent feminism?
C) Try to interfere with someone getting flogged* and result in a whole True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle situation?
D) Do something excessively witchy, as she CONTINUALLY forgets that her weird futuristic ways come off as witchy?
(*It’s not a naval vessel so apparently they cannot actually flog anyone, ruining my plan to call this recap “Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash.”)
To be fair to Claire, could Jamie have maybe taken ten minutes to prep her for any of this? And maybe not full-on make out with her in front of the crew? He KNOWS that she runs her mouth 24 hours a day and has never had a thought she didn’t immediately share with everyone in her immediate vicinity. As it turns out, things get bananas so quickly (and from such unexpected directions) that Claire barely pings on the crew’s paranoia register. This voyage has all the bells and whistles, including a nice-enough captain who quotes Shakespeare and goes along with all the superstitions to keep the crew functioning. (Claire: “Believing something doesn’t make it real!”)
Unfortunately, another thing this voyage has is a set of chimes the sound guys play whenever Yi Tien Cho (a.k.a. Mr. Willoughby) shows up. Gary Young puts his whole butt into the role, to his credit, and so far he’s an improvement on the his counterpart from the novel (no foot fetish! score!) but it’s a lot of mystical junk so far and doesn’t fill me with a ton of confidence for how well the Jamaican plotline will go. Period dramas are never sure how to handle people of color, and the usual “let’s just be super-weird around it” method is on full alert so far. If the show weren’t tracking a very long series of novels very closely, I’m confident they would have bypassed the entire West Indies sojourn and stuck to Anglo-Scottish skullduggery, but there they are and here we are and we’ll see how it goes.
An extended period of time in the doldrums, resulting in the near-murder of a scapegoat crewmember, Yi Tien Cho gets a chance to flex his ability to read a room (a skill, as we know, that Claire has never acquired). Having spotted a particular seabird flying low enough to suggest a pressure change, he tells a very elaborate and flowery and What Would Edward Said Make of This story to the crew, distracting them from their pitchforks and torches just long enough for the wind to fill their sails and everyone to perk up.
This only gives us enough time for a very brief sexual encounter between Jamie and Claire — Jamie’s seasickness having been cured by acupuncture — before our next external obstacle to their union comes a callin’. We’re still very grateful for it, since she’s been sharing a cabin with an extremely unenthused Marsali in a pointless attempt to keep that girl a virgin.
That aforementioned obstacle, a British man o’war, is riddled with typhoid and in desperate need of a ship’s surgeon. Claire, having been vaccinated, is not worried for her own well-being, so she scoots right over to deliver her orders about boiling water and getting the sick dudes up on deck and so on and so forth … just as the ship sails off with her still on it. We’ve got ourselves an old-fashioned legal kidnapping! All those things we learned about impressment in high school finally paid off. (I’m not actually sure they can impress a woman, but let’s not get all hung up on the details.)
HOW WILL OUR LOVERS FIND EACH OTHER AGAIN? Will they reunite in the New World? Is Young Ian okay? Should we just start calling him “Ian” because we may not loop back to Scotland for a few more years? Sounds like a plan to me.