Tara Ward celebrates the return of Outlander to Lightbox with a recap of episode nine: The Reckoning. //
We open with Jamie on a riverbank, skimming stones and contemplating the meaning of life. Listen, Jamie: if you’re not skimming stones on still water, you’re wasting both your time and mine. Shouldn’t you be saving your wife from Black Jack Randall, for the love of all things Gaelic?
We meet the English deserter Horrocks who, for a bag of jingly coins, reveals it was Black Jack who committed the crime Jamie was imprisoned for. Or something. I’m more worried about Our Claire, who we know from Both Sides Now is currently being manhandled down Craigh Na Dun by those pesky Redcoats. They had nothing better to do than hide behind a bunch of standing stones and grab a harmless woman just trying to get back to 1945.
Jamie’s redemption goes on hold while he and his crowd of hairy associates try to save Claire. They sort the lily-livered Redcoats out quicker than you can say “sharp dirk to the groin.” The Macgyver theme tune starts as Jamie rappels through a window, uttering the immortal words: “I’ll thank ye to take your hands off my wife.” Pleasantries are exchanged, followed by pistol fire and a cracking headbutt. Jamie and Claire flee, jumping from the prison into the water below.
This is a leap on several metaphorical levels – but they could also do with a good wash.
Sure, I’d be mad if my wife wandered off to be imprisoned, and I had to risk my life (and get my favourite boots all soggy) just to rescue her. Claire, however, thinks Jamie’s overreacting and introduces him to the finer points of first wave feminist theory.
A fierce contest of angry chins, bad language and miserable faces follows and Jamie confesses this bizarre independent behaviour from his wife is “tearing my guts out.” It’s no wonder he’s taken to hiding on riverbanks, worrying about his manhood.
They quickly forgive each other – I’ve stayed madder for longer over dirty teabags left in the sink – but Jamie won’t move past the whole ‘my wife disobeyed my orders’ malarkey. They’ll be no newlywed jiggery-pokery tonight, as Jamie announces he must physically punish Claire for defying orders and endangering them all. Claire says ‘there’ll be none of that, you crazy ginger’, and gives as good as she gets. Surely a sticker chart, or time out, would have been a more effective behaviour management plan? The honeymoon is totally over for these two.
There are awkward pauses aplenty as Claire and Jamie return to Leoch as husband and wife. Laoghaire is especially upset – the last time that she saw Jamie they were busy sucking face in the corridor. “Why did you do it?” she wails, her bosom heaving. Jamie plays the victim and says it was all Dougal’s doing. He just turned up on the day, ye ken? Jamie promises they’ll speak again and gives her his Sexy Eye look, which does nobody any favours, Jamie.
Nor is Colum best pleased. His nephew is married to an irrational Sassenach, while his brother is crowdfunding a Jacobite rebellion. Dougal won’t take Colum’s accusations of disloyalty quietly. In fact, he’s so dedicated to his brother that he continued the family line on Colum’s behalf. Say what? Did Dougal just reveal he bedded Letitia and that Hamish is his own son? Why, yes he did. Just as well Colum still has his birds for company, just like Major Dad in House of Cards.
Jamie’s back at the river, moping because he can’t make the stone bounce more than twice. That’s the least of your worries, tiger. Laoghaire skulks into view with surging bosom and hair in blonde ringlets like an 18th century Nellie Olsen from Little House on the Prairie. Run, Jamie, run! Laoghaire suggests Jamie might like to grind her virginal corn and Jamie refuses, but keeps his hand upon on her bountiful chest a bit too long for my liking. Way to be the anti-hero this episode, Big Red.
At last there’s Claire, who may as well have disappeared through time for all we’ve seen her in this episode. She is massively pissed off, even before she finds out about crazy ol’ Tits McGee. “Wives obey their husbands,” says Jamie. Claire rolls her eyes – we’re back to this bullshit? Jamie promises she can kill him should he hurt her again, but Claire’s still peeved that the Highlands winter makes her hair frizz like a 1986 spiral perm.
Jamie’s sweet talk leads to an intense resumption of marital relations that makes me a) hope Claire has a herbal remedy for carpet burn and b) glad I’m not watching this with my mother. Their post-coital bliss is shattered when Claire discovers an ‘ill-wish’. “Who would put such a thing under our bed?” asks Bewildered Claire. Thinking Jamie knows exactly who: “Tits McGee”.
The Reckoning was indeed a triumphant return for Outlander. Between the fury, the fondling, the politics and the punishment, the only thing missing was Claire’s seemingly endless array of hand-knitted goods. Alas, it’s an ill wish that blows no good, and I fear Claire and Jamie are galloping down a one-way track to McTroubletown. Or should that be Duntrouble? Either way, mo charide, let’s enjoy the ride.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the days' best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.