This episode was a solid three stars on account of being super-boring until the last 20 minutes, which jammed in so much enjoyability that I had to up it to a light four! The show (and, for that matter, the book series) has figured out that what it does best is sexy reunions following periods of separation. It sometimes feels like the writers must sit around, coming up with reasons that Claire and Jamie will have to spend three days apart:
“Uhh … she has her period and they’re somewhere where they make menstruating women live in a tent?”
“It’s very foggy and she gets taken in by an Australian pirate?”
“Claire falls into a pit and they have to braid a rope out of Jamie’s hair to pull her out?”
It’s always worth it, of course, as it is in tonight’s episode, when Jamie and Claire run to each other across the beach like Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity, and then have delightfully explicit sex. We really had to wait for it, though! DID WE EVER.
Last week, as you’ll recall, Claire had jumped off the English ship in hopes of encountering Jamie before he landed in Jamaica to be promptly arrested by the authorities. (Incidentally, I thought murder and high treason were the kinds of things they sent you to the New World as a PUNISHMENT for.) Well, she washes up on the sort of beach you would pay a tremendous amount per night to stay within a stone’s throw of, and despite being fairly swiftly near death from exposure, her hair looks magnificent. Just fun, beachy waves!
We get a very long and dull Robinson Crusoe montage of her trying and failing to find water, starting a fire, getting burned by said fire, etc. until she eventually passes out and wakes up to find herself tied to a bed. Now, this being Outlander, obviously we’re like, “Oh, Christ, is someone ELSE going to try to rape Claire?” I can reassuringly say, “Not this time, it’s fine.” (My mind was singing the “please don’t be a murderer” refrain from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, however.)
Instead of a murderer, we get to meet and become friendly with a slightly mentally-ill former priest, who fled Cuba with his lady love and her mom. Alas, said lady love has died, so he now lives in the jungle with his mother-in-law and a collection of goats. He’s very nice! Sure, he talks to a coconut like it’s a person, in a beautiful tribute to Tom Hanks’s volleyball, but who are we to judge? After setting aside a very brief flirtation with the idea of keeping Claire as his wife, he informs her that they’re a good two-day sail from Jamaica, and once she’s healed, he’ll take her there. As you can imagine, this is not gonna cut it for Claire “I MUST RETURN TO MY HUSBAND” Randall Fraser.
The mother-in-law, having tearfully discovered one of their beloved goats being killed and eaten by a Chinese sailor (R.I.P. Arabella!), accidentally alerts Claire to the likelihood that Jamie’s ship is anchored by the beach. With very impressive cardio for a woman who was nearly dead about 12 hours earlier, she appears to move at a dead run for about half an hour until she can, as mentioned, sexily fling herself into Jamie’s arms.
(In case you’re wondering: The ship is briefly in stasis because of a broken foremast, also the captain is dead and Jamie is in charge, try to keep up!)
The remainder of the episode has a weird tone-shift to upbeat sexy hijinks, which feels VERY curious, but since this season has been irritatingly low on upbeat sexy hijinks, I’ll take it. Jamie decides it’s best to marry off Fergus and Marsali before they start humping each other out of wedlock, and the Coconut Priest is happy to oblige. (Jamie gives Fergus his last name, which is very sweet and touching, by the way.) It helps that Willoughby presents the Coconut Priest with a chicken and apologizes at great length for the untimely death of sweet, sweet Arabella.
Even Claire and Marsali get a nice little scene together, as Marsali’s mother had only known misery and fear in marriage, making Jamie and Claire’s marriage a hopeful dream for her. Also, being a SMART GIRL, she wants to know how to avoid having kids right away, and pronounces Claire maybe “not the devil after all” for promising to teach her. Do we think Claire will instruct Fergus on the finer points of pulling out, or will this be an herbal system?
But Claire, being a magnet for disaster, has managed to rip her arm open pretty good during her jungle jog. I must admit I expected a subsequent three-episode arc of blood poisoning and sepsis and near-death, but am delighted to report that instead she gets really loaded on a turtle-and-sherry soup, injects herself with penicillin (with an assist from a slightly squeamish Jamie), and then has glorious drunk sex. Not the bad kind of drunk sex, mind you — the pleasantly buzzed kind of drunk sex where you’re confident everyone is having fun.
Let us enjoy this idyll while it lasts, because I sense that Jamaica will soon take the wind out of our sails.