Heartbreak. Longing. Pain. If you think about it, these are (in some ways) the central tenets to Outlander as a series. Even when our heroes are together, it seems like there is always somebody waiting to pull the rug out from under them.
Unfortunately on Outlander season 3 episode 8 (entitled “First Wife”), the person waiting to do this was Jamie himself. At the end of last week’s episode it was revealed that he had another wife that he had not told Claire about. Tonight, (those of us unfamiliar with the source material) found out the identity of this said wife: Laoghaire. Let’s just say that it was one of the few people Claire truly loathes and we’re not sure that Jamie could have married anyone else who would have made her more upset.
So, with that, why in the world did he do it? It’s fair to question his decision-making here, even after his story. Through the flashback scenes all indications do suggest that he did this just because of the virtue in his heart and his desire to see her kids have a good life and a father figure who would care for them. Jamie knew that he wanted one thing more than anything else in his life: Family. This marriage gave him an opportunity to do that in theory, but he was so detached from the idea of romance at this point. He didn’t know what a true partner meant anymore; he didn’t understand what sort of horror he was setting himself up for. We think he got somewhat transfixed on the idea of the children and did not think too much about Laoghaire and his past with her. He also clearly felt as though Claire was never going to come back, so he felt like he had no other choice if he wanted to be married. He loved Laoghaire’s children, and he was willing to settle with her.
Well, this “settling” on his part eventually led to one of the more violent moments of the episode — Laoghaire, learning of Claire’s return, pointed a gun in her direction. Jamie stepped in the way, took the bullet, and had to be operated on. This was the culmination of this storyline, which already included Claire contemplating as to whether or not she made the right decision to come back in the first place. She had all these expectations as to what her life with Jamie was going to be like, but never in a million years did she think he would be dishonest with her and that things would be so difficult.
She also did not believe that Jenny would be anywhere near as harsh to her upon returning to Lallybroch as she was. For Jenny, she was there to witness much of the pain and suffering that Jamie had endured over the course of the many years Claire was gone. She understood how hard it was for him, was more suspicious than anyone over Claire’s return and wanted to know answers as to why she left and why is she hurt both her brother and the rest of her family. She was in protective-sister mode to the max.
What the writers did really well with these interactions is they reminded us about the central conceit of the series. Claire is from the future and knew that she couldn’t be completely honest about her story. Jenny is extremely perceptive; even after Claire told her about some of her time in America and her other husband, she was able to determine that she was still hiding something. There was admittedly a part of us that wanted Claire to just come out with it and say exactly where she was and when she was, even though it may not have been the right move. Not everyone is as receptive to matters of time travel and things that they cannot understand as Jamie is.
The important thing we felt in this episode was that Jenny and Claire are more on the same page now, and while we do think the Jamie and Claire have a long way to go in order to repair the fissure that is now in their relationship, they are on their way. The cards are out on the table. If nothing else, there is affection enough for Jamie’s entire family to keep her from going back through the stones as of this moment. After all, “First Wife” ended with a massive crisis. Jamie found himself in a position where he was forced to pay Laoghaire to effectively go away and have the marriage disintegrated. The best way he knew to do that was to take some jewels that he found years ago on an island in the midst of one of his searches for Claire. He sent Young Ian to execute the task of retrieving them, but soon realized that Young Ian was in serious danger due to a ship being out there on the island at the same time.
Basically, Young Ian found himself captured and there wasn’t much that Jamie could do about it. For one, he was hurt from the shooting earlier in the episode, but even if he was better he would not have made it out there in time. This is the new crisis for Jamie and his entire family to figure out. Claire is not the sort of person who would leave when the going gets tough, and even if she has some resentment still towards Jamie odds are she’ll be staying put for a while.
Can we just take a moment and recognize just how beautifully filmed the final scenes of this episode were? The sense of perspective in looking out at the ships and the island proved to be fantastic, as were the performances of Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan. They always are.
Outlander season 3 episode 8 was a rather intimate episode in some ways given that almost the entirety of it was set around Lallybroch and only on a small handful of characters. Yet, in doing this we were allowed a chance to really get to know individual people and individual relationships so much better than we would have otherwise. An episode like this is essential so that when the scale becomes epic again, we are fully invested in everyone. This was a nice step up from the week before, and some of the wheels are now in motion for what is going to be an exciting home stretch of the season.
What do you think about Outlander season 3 episode 8? Was “First Wife” what you were expecting, or is there something else that you wanted from it? Let us know in the comments section below!
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