Recap: 'Outlander' - This is 'The Search' that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends
When we last left our bonnie protagonists, Claire was in a panic over Jamie’s potential murder. Ian had lost his leg. And Jenny was ready to bludgeon all of Scotland into submission via stern disapproval.
The tables have turned. Now it’s the Sassenach’s turn to save her Scottish lover. But first…she has to find him.
If I’m being honest, I’d have been 100% okay if Jamie had faded into the background, leaving Claire and Jenny to be a marauding duo of badass ladies roaming the Scottish countryside. Claire knows the British will kill Jamie if they realize who he is — hell, they’d kill him for giggles and a ham sandwich — and makes a solid go of heading out alone to bring her wayward husband back to Lallybroch. But Jenny isn’t about to be out-badassed by some up-jumped British woman. Instead, Jenny leaves her THREE DAY OLD baby in the capable hands of her husband (and servants) and hauls her THREE DAY POST-PARTUM butt into a saddle. Internal bleeding be damned, there’s a rescue afoot!
The show has spent a lot of time explaining how Claire is “Not Like Other Girls” and will never balk at blood or broken bones or sleeping on the ground. She’ll also sass anyone with clear disregard for her own personal safety. But now Jenny steps into the “Skills Not Meant For Ladies” ring to track the British army using horse manure, broken branches, and hoof prints. Jenny also came armed with duel-wielding pistols because she’s trying to make me fall in love with her. Spoiler: It worked.
Had they picked up an 18th century lady MacGyver, they’d have been unstoppable. Having men in-universe be constantly outwitted, rescued, or sewn back together by women is always a nice subtle dig at the gender expectations of the time. Some of which are still relevant today.
Speaking of taking advantage of expectations, Jenny is both a pro and has balls of brass. It was a brave thing to fling herself bodily in front of a galloping horse with only the tenuous grip of honor among soldiers to save her. Using their feminine wiles to trap a British scout and then torture him for information might be my favorite scene to date.
Interestingly, Claire still doesn’t seem to fully grasp the reality of her situation. Her hesitation to torture a man is commendable, and her desire to not murder him is naively charming. But what exactly did she think the end game here was? Even if the scout didn’t rat them out, it was pretty clear he’d get the noose for letting the seal on his message be broken. As soon as Jenny flung herself out from that tree, that man was dead. Time and time again Claire has shown a stubborn refusal to acclimate to the society she has CHOSEN to live in. It’s getting old, girl.
Meanwhile, Jenny is the Batman of 18th century Scotland. Raise your hand if you’d watch a whole spin-off of her just kicking butt and taking names, all with a baby strapped to her back.
One of the little details “Outlander” is exceptional at is remembering the muck of living. Yes the women are hellbent on rescuing Jamie, but that doesn’t mean Jenny doesn’t have to express breast milk or risk her supply drying up. And it doesn’t mean they won’t stop so Jenny can administer last rites to the dead Red Shirts™ who didn’t survive the ambush.
Then Murtagh shows up like the perpetual wet blanket he is to kill the messanger (literally) and put an end to the “Claire and Jenny Ride Again” show. Instead of hiring a wet nurse, Mrs. Murray has to get back to her dumb old baby. This leaves Claire and Murtagh with the mission of finding Jamie
Unlike Jenny, Murtagh’s plan is stupid. Instead of Scottish Highland Rampage, he wants to make the rounds and let Claire heal the peasants and hope for the best, since it’s clear Jamie escaped the ambush and went into hiding. When this plan is the disastrous failure any sane person would’ve seen coming, Murtagh has Claire dress in drag and
do the hula sing a song from Jamie’s childhood to the tune of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
I kind of love this? Anyone who’s ever half-considered what they’d do if they traveled back in time has played with idea of making a living by “inventing” songs that are current or past Top 40 hits.
What I don’t love? Murtagh’s obvious racism against the Romani people. Sure, they were using Claire’s song because it’s popular and we’re several centuries removed from copyright protection laws. And sure, Murtagh doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy with enough introspection to see the irony of a Scottish man who is used to the second-class treatment of the English turning around and disparaging another minority. But still…
By the time Murtagh regales Claire with his tale of lost love and the reveal that he loves Jamie like a son because he’s the damn Severus Snape of “Outlander,” this search has taken up too much screen time. Splitting a season is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows the writers to let the plot breathe. On the other hand, it becomes painfully obvious when the plot has stalled out waiting for the next episode.
Finally, the Romani leader comes to save us all from montage purgatory with news: someone has been looking for Claire but found them instead. Following up on his lead turns out to be legit (suck it Murtagh) but instead of Jamie they find Scottish Santa and his Jacobite Rebellion garbage.
Dougal seems a little too delighted to tell Claire that Jamie has been recaptured and taken to Wentworth Prison. Her husband is as good as dead. Not one to waste tears over barely tolerated nephews, Scottish Santa puts on his Disney Villain™ hat and demands that Claire marry him “for her own safety.” However, if he wanted Claire to see him as a kind beneficiary, he probably shouldn’t have drunkenly sexually assaulted her in the past. But since he did, the audience gets the benefit of Claire’s genre-savviness as she monologues about how it was always Dougal’s plan to get Lallybroch. By hook or by crook or by marrying the heir’s widow. So what? Would Dougal have always found a way to dispose of Jamie? Was that the plan all along?
Probably. I mean, based on past experience Jamie is totally the kind of guy who’d never expect to be casually murdered by a family member until it was too late.
In the end, Claire agrees to marry Dougal if her plan to storm Wentworth Prison fails. The episode ends with the gang getting back together: The Tweedle Twins, Murtagh, Claire, and Interchangeable Clansman™. With this many favorite characters all in one place, the odds are high that someone isn’t making it out alive.
Odds & Ends
• Jenny didn’t take any feats in duel-wielding because she spent them on tracking and riding. Bless her for being the first person to think to arm Claire with a pistol. Tiny knives are not enough.
• Claire’s uncle has officially passed from “OMG TELL ME MORE” to annoyingly convenient exposition dump.
• More bonus points to Jenny for just accepting what Claire has to say when she goes all prophet-y and makes Jenny swear to plant potatoes and sell non-productive land in prep for the famine and the war.
• Murtagh’s terrible dancing isn’t even “so bad it’s funny.” It’s just bad.
• By the end of the “Boogie Woogie” montage, Claire has now spent more quality time with Murtagh than she has with Jamie.
• I don’t see why Claire should have to give up her pants for corsets just yet. Storming a prison doesn’t seem like a petticoat activity.