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  • Nicole Hill 2:22 pm on 2017/10/09 Permalink
    Tags: , outlander, , , , ,   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 5 Recap: Freedom & Whisky 

    Friends, countrymen, Sassenachs, the moment is finally here. Our long international nightmare (well, one of them) is finally at an end. The Outlander reunion is at hand, but first, we must look at how we got there.

    After last week’s disheartening episode, Claire and Brianna returned to Boston. And that is where we find Claire in action, her hands buried in someone’s chest. And despite the organs and blood and what not, it’s nice. So often, Claire’s been sidelined by circumstance—or the many, many men around her—and it’s refreshing to see her entirely in her element, owning the surgery.

    Everybody Hurts
    Brianna, on the other hand, is not excelling so much. Her Harvard history professor pulls her aside after class to inform she’s failing. In fact, she’s failing all of her classes, in stark contrast to her stellar grades last year. “What’s changed?” he asks. My dude, what hasn’t changed? Last year, the girl had one father. Then she had no father. Now she has a new father who is also technically dead as of December 1968 but alive in all our hearts.

    Needless to say, for Brianna, it’s complicated. And so we see something else we don’t give a glimpse of often: Brianna’s true feelings. She wanders through her childhood home, pulling out trinkets and photos and remnants of the father she knew, Frank. For once, it’s her pain, instead of her parents’, that’s front and center.

    This is why I audibly cheered when out of a taxi steps Roger Motherlovin’ Wakefield MacKenzie. He’s the gawky Scottish hero we deserve, and the one best suited to break up whatever argument Brianna and Claire are in the middle of when he arrives. As he bumbles into the house, we learn Brianna has decided to drop out of Harvard.

    “You expect me to just come back to Boston and be who I was?” she hurls at Claire. “I tried and it’s not working.”

    She soon leaves in a huff, promising to “hang out” with Roger tomorrow. Christmas, it seems, is canceled.

    Historian, Hero
    Left alone with Claire, Roger mentions, rather nonchalantly, that he has some news. “I’m a historian,” he declares, like the mild-mannered, broguish Indiana Jones he is. “That’s what I do: I pursue, like a dog with a bone.”

    The bone in this instance? Jamie Fraser. “I found him,” Roger tells Claire, pulling out a newspaper article from 1765. The article quotes a Robert Burns poem that hadn’t yet been written at the time, something Claire quoted to Jamie on another occasion. Beyond that, the printer’s name is Alexander Malcolm, one of Jamie’s several hundred middle names.

    Roger, you beautiful, sexy bookworm.

    Claire reacts … badly. “Twenty years ago, I shut the door on the past,” she spits out. (Frank would argue this point.) Now, with Roger’s digging, hope is toying with Claire once more. She’s also finally confronting the reality that running back to Jamie would mean running away from her daughter. So she does as Claire is want to do: shut down and suppress. She commands Roger not to tell Brianna.

    Over a nice set of 200-year-old human remains, Claire has a heart-to-heart with her colleague, Joe, in which he encourages her to pursue any kind of second chance of happiness. I bring this scene up solely because of Claire’s strange reaction to the skeleton laid out on the table. She’s able to identify within 50 years the age of the remains, as well as that the woman was murdered. More to come on that, I’d say.

    In other uncomfortable moments, Frank’s being honored by a posthumous Harvard fellowship. At the celebration, Claire runs into Frank’s former side piece, who is amazingly brazen in her contempt for Claire. The interaction, however, spurs some truth-telling between Claire and Brianna, first about Frank’s infidelity and then about Brianna’s concerns that both her father and mother had cause to resent her.

    There’s crying. There’s reconciliation. There’s a hug. And there’s a confession. Claire reveals to her daughter Roger’s discovery. And if she was looking for permission, she’s got it from the one person who matters.

    “I’m all grown up, mama. I can live on my own,” Brianna tells her mother. “I love you, but I don’t need you.”

    Homeward Bound
    With that, preparations begin and Claire’s anxiety continues to build. First, about the time travel itself. If she goes through the stones, there’s no guarantee she’ll come back. “It’s not like an elevator,” she says, in one of the few times the show acknowledges how little it knows about the mechanics of its central magical device.

    Claire’s also nervous about Jamie, of course, and about whether he still loves her. In the kind of conversation you can’t have with your co-workers anymore, she asks Joe to confirm something: her relative sexual attractiveness. “You’re a skinny white broad with too much hair but a great ass,” he tells her, objectively. “He’ll be in heaven when he sees you.”

    With that matter settled, we move toward Christmas. Roger and Brianna have gotten Claire an assortment of antiques and historical guidebooks. Claire, meanwhile, gives her daughter the family pearls and the deed to the house. They share an emotional and moving farewell, as Claire sets off for destiny in a yellow cab. For her part, Brianna turns for comfort in Roger’s arms, and we leave them, adorably, curled up on the couch, reading A Christmas Carol.

    That leaves us with Claire, who steps out of her cab and, in a deft bit of editing, into the past. My god, she finally did it. She went back through the stones in her handmade outfit and found her way to Edinburgh, where a plucky street urchin shows her the way to the print shop of Alexander Malcolm. Heart firmly in throat, Claire climbs the stairs and steps inside.

    And there he is, with those chiseled cheekbones and that MacKenzie smirk. And there he goes, passing out on the floor.

    As far as endings go, it’s a tease. But overall, I think Jamie took the shock well. Next week promises some extraordinary reunion love-making—once Claire’s able to revive her husband.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 5 Recap: Freedom & Whisky appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 2:00 pm on 2017/10/02 Permalink
    Tags: , outlander, , , ,   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 4 Recap: Of Lost Things 

    Quite a lot happened in last week’s episode of Outlander, and some of it, even, was not related to Murtaugh. This week, in “Of Lost Things,” we take our foot ever so slightly off the gas, though nothing is ever truly quiet in the love and lives of Claire and Jamie.

    Let’s start in 1968 Scotland, where we have finally caught up to the future Claire seen in last season’s finale. Bouncing back from Frank’s death, Claire has marshaled her investigative team to try to prove whether Jamie survived these past 20 years. (Roger has constructed a thumbtacked timeline so thorough you’d think he was tracking a serial killer.) Claire, however, is the one who makes the critical discovery: she finds Jamie’s name on the Ardsmuir Prison records. But where did Jamie go when the prison closed?

    They may not yet know the answer, but we do. Off to Helwater, England, we go. It’s 1756, and Jamie has taken up the role of groomsmen for the noble Dunsany family.

    The youngest (and brattiest) Dunsany, Lady Geneva, is about to be auctioned off married to an old codger who could be her father. If that were not concerning enough, the Earl of Ellesmere is rude to Jamie, a disqualifying trait for a potential suitor if ever I’ve seen one. Perhaps because she’s backed into a corner by pre-marital desperation, Geneva sets her sights on our favorite hunky servant.

    That this predator-prey relationship is spliced between glimpses of Brianna and Roger’s romance (with its standard teasing, flirting, stuttering, and roadside car maintenance) makes it all the more uncomfortable.

    Surely the arrival of John Grey can right the ship! He’s stopped by for a quick chess match, which is cheerful until it’s upended by his brother, Lord Melton, strolling into view with Geneva and her sister Isobel. Melton’s face upon seeing Jamie drains with Black Jack Randall speed. He, John, and Jamie then engage in a series of euphemisms as they try to avoid revealing the true nature of their acquaintance.

    Geneva may be annoying, but she’s not slow. She worms the secret out of a drunken Melton. And then she strikes.

    With the knowledge that Jamie is vulnerable and full of secrets, and with her own increasing desperation to have a decent, age-appropriate first time, she does what anyone looking to start a fling might do: she threatens to reveal Jamie’s true identity to her staunchly anti-Jacobite mother. And that is how she blackmails Jamie into her bed—all while they stand next to a pile of dung.

    “I’m damned if my maidenhead will be given to a depraved old goat.” I may not agree with her methods, but I can’t fault her for the sentiment.

    Their night together doesn’t come close to the levels of discomfort of Claire’s encounter with King Louis XV, but it tries. Jamie acts as lover, sex-ed instructor, and tour guide all at once, while Geneva’s typical bluster is tempered by her own inexperience and anxiety. Her post-coital evaluation escalates quickly: “It was painful at first, but then I liked it. I love you.”

    Jamie’s response to that is tender and a reminder of why Claire needs to get her modern tush back here. “What you have with me now, you could have with any other man,” Jamie tells a euphoric Geneva. “Love is when you give your heart and soul to another, and they give theirs in return.”

    While we sob, Claire has stalled in her efforts, though the interpersonal dynamics at play have not. Late one night, Brianna confesses to Roger that there’s a part of her that fears finding Jamie, because it means losing her mother.

    “Part of me doesn’t want to find him either because once we do, you’ll go back to Boston,” Roger replies, like the introverted heartthrob he is. And with that, Brianna finally seizes the moment and gives him a good snog. Well done, kiddos.

    Speaking of snogging: Jamie seems to have fathered yet another child with somebody else’s wife. This time, a fine healthy boy. Unfortunately, the boy’s mother, Geneva, dies shortly after childbirth—without ever having slept with her husband. The esteemed Earl is steaming, and Jamie steps in to resolve a standoff hurtling toward violence between him and Lord Dunsany.

    Well, he reaches a resolution of sorts. When Ellesmere moves to stab the baby in his arms, Jamie shoots him down. At least, Jamie will get to watch this child, William, grow up, even if he can’t reveal their true relationship.

    His actions also earn him goodwill among the last Dunsany left to win over: the anti-Jacobite lady of the house. Lady Dunsany has uncovered Jamie’s past, but she no longer cares. She comes to Jamie to offer her family’s help in securing his release.

    After looking into the wee face of his newborn son, however, Jamie turns her down, bluffing some excuse about wanting to earn some money to send home first. “When you are ready to leave, you have only to ask,” she tells him.

    That moment doesn’t come until 1764. By this time, Willie is a growing boy, and he’s growing more and more into a resemblance of his true father. Because nothing can ever go right in Jamie’s life.

    After a heartwarming scene saying his goodbyes to his son, and baptizing him as a “stinking Papist,” Jamie does, uh, something. He asks John Grey to look out for Willie, “to spend time with him, to serve as his father.” He proceeds to offer his body to John in exchange for this favor. Understandably, John spends a few minutes spluttering, before refusing this offer.

    Only then does he mention information that would have been prudent to disclose earlier: he is to be married—to a woman, to Lady Isobel, in fact. This, in effect, means he’ll be able to care for Willie without any more uncomfortable bargains with sex as the currency.

    Having missed this entire scene, Claire is getting dispirited by her inability to track down Jamie post-Ardsmuir. She complains of “spending my life chasing a ghost” before telling Brianna that it’s time to go home. Now, if you’ll excuse me for one moment.

    CLAIRE BEAUCHAMP RANDALL FRASIER, don’t you dare just give up.

    Ahem. The only positive at the end of this episode is the teaser for the next, which indicates Claire and Brianna wasted all that airfare home (but, man, those spacious plane seats!). The preview finds Claire walking in her 18th-century garb and knocking on a door, behind which is, hopefully, a disrobed Jamie Fraser.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 4 Recap: Of Lost Things appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 2:00 pm on 2017/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: , outlander, , , ,   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 3 Recap: All Debts Paid 

    There’s no reason to beat around the bush when it comes to this week’s episode of Pain and Suffering: The Miniseries Outlander. There’s plenty to talk about with Claire and Jamie, but let’s get the biggest news out of the way first: Murtaugh Fitzgibbons Fraser. He’s here, he’s chewing thistle against his will. You may cast off your black raiment. That’s all you need to know for now.

    Everyone in “All Debts Paid” is in some kind of prison, and it’s hard to say whether Claire’s or Jamie’s is more hellish. Let’s take them one at a time, starting with the grimier of the two.

    Ardsmuir Prison, 1755
    There’s a changing of the guard underway, or at least a changing of the governor. One Lord John Grey is taking command of this dank, dismal prison swimming in rats and disheartened Scottish prisoners. It’s a real dream job. What really sweetens the pot for John is that the chief spokesman and overall mother hen for the prisoners is a cold, sulky James Fraser.

    Jamie, for what it’s worth, has reinvented himself again and picked up a new nickname among his fellow prisoners: Mac Dubh. John clearly remembers Jamie, but it’s unclear if Jamie recognizes the young man who’s now his keeper. What’s more awkward: tradition around these parts is regularly scheduled dinners between Mac Dubh and the prison’s commander. So much time for bonding and fond memories!

    But you know what does bring back fond memories? The familiar surly countenance of Murtaugh, sharing a cell with Jamie. He doesn’t look great—apparently, he’s been here since shortly after Culloden. But he’s there, and he’s well enough to gripe about things.

    Murtaugh’s health is a priority for us all, so the appearance of a rambling man on the moors is a fortuitous circumstance. The man, Duncan Kerr, has a lot to say, mostly in French and Gaelic. The babbling the British soldiers can decipher, however, seems to indicate Duncan knows something about rumored French gold sent to aid Charles Stuart and hidden somewhere nearby.

    John Grey enlists the help of multilingual Jamie to serve as an interpreter. Jamie only acquiesces after receiving a couple assurances: 1) his irons are moved and 2) Murtaugh receives some medical attention.

    Duncan provides few details about the gold, but he does seem to have a message for Jamie. Something about the MacKenzies and a “white witch.” That sounds a lot like Claire, even to Murtaugh’s jaded ears. Jamie gives John Grey the bare minimum of information and then engineers a prison break. He’s gone for three days before returning in dramatic fashion, sneaking back into the prison and catching John while he’s indisposed. He takes this opportunity to reveal he does know who the young commander is.

    “I was waiting for the proper occasion,” he says, knife pointed. Grey points out that his family’s debt to Jamie has been discharged, but Jamie’s not concerned about the debt. He wants to remind John of his promise: to kill him.

    Fortunately for us, John Grey has qualms about killing unarmed men. Besides, it’s probably nice to have someone around to compare handsomeness with. (I mean, woof.)

    Rather than punish Jamie further, in fact, John Grey seems to have reached an understanding with him. In different ways, they’re both broken men, and Jamie’s admission he went searching for Claire during his escape solidifies a bond of heartbreak and respect.

    During a heart-to-heart talk, John Grey reveals he “lost a particular friend” in the war. Jamie shares kind words and sympathy. John senses the (wrong) signals and puts his hand on Jamie’s. That’s triggering for a victim of Black Jack Randall, and the night ends with the following sentence: “Take your hand off me or I will kill you.”

    Time goes by. You live. You learn. The prison is scheduled to be closed, and you all line up in your jimjams in the snow. Most of the Scottish prisoners are being sent to the American colonies for a period of indentured servitude. Actually, all of the prisoners except Jamie, who’s pulled out of line and away from the loving arms of Murtaugh, in the cruelest joke of this episode. John Grey has made separate arrangements for Jamie, who’ll be a servant for some landed gentry. Why? “You gave me my life all those years ago,” John tells him. “Now, I give you yours.”

    But what does life mean without Murtaugh?

    Boston, 1956
    With that emptiness inside us, let us turn to the future, where Claire and Frank have an open marriage, sharing little but Brianna and vast oceans of disillusionment. As we zip through the years, things get progressively worse.

    Claire earns her degree, but even that’s tainted. It’s poor form, Frank, to invite your latest fling over without checking the actual end time on your wife’s graduation soiree. Claire seemed fine with their arrangement until she’s confronted with the infidelity on her doorstep. As always, she takes it in stride, and husband and wife have a booze-fueled fallout later that night.

    “You really dislike me that much?” Claire says. “You humiliated me in front of my colleagues!” “Welcome to the club,” Frank slurs in response.

    They both gets some hits in, with Claire bizarrely asking if Frank had slept with his “harlot” in their bedroom. After seeing their twin beds last week, I too have a question: “Where?”

    With all this bitterness, you’d think they’d both just want a divorce. But Frank won’t do it, for fear he’ll lose custody of Brianna. When Claire says she’d never try to keep Frank away from their daughter, he gets in one last blow: “Forgive me, Claire, if I don’t risk everything on your promises.”

    This tension simmers and builds and finally boils over after Brianna’s high school graduation. Frank’s been offered a position at Cambridge. He wants to take Brianna with him to England—but not Claire. You see, Frank’s been “running out the clock” to Brianna’s 18th birthday. Now that she’s an adult, he’s ready for a divorce.

    “You couldn’t look at Brianna without seeing him, could you?” Frank asks his devastated wife. “Without that constant reminder, might you have forgotten him with time?” Claire crushes that hope with one sentence: “That amount of time doesn’t exist.”

    These are the last words these two characters share in this episode—and the last two they will ever share. Frank grabs his keys and takes off, where, off-screen, he’s involved in a car accident. The last we see of Claire is in scrubs, assuring a lifeless Frank one last time that she did love him, “very much.”

    What an uplifting hour of television. The only good news? We’re essentially up to last season’s finale in Claire’s timeline, which means we’re one step closer to a Sassenach-Jamie reunion. May that hasten yet another Murtaugh sighting as well.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 3 Recap: All Debts Paid appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 10:00 am on 2017/09/18 Permalink
    Tags: outlander, , , , ,   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 2 Recap: Surrender 

    This week’s Outlander introduces a new character to the series: Cave Jamie. We will treat Cave Jamie as a separate and discrete character because he is one.

    The show has done a little trickery and jumped us six years forward in the Lallybroch timeline. Cave Jamie has been living, indeed, in a cave, hiding from British patrols, who now refer to him as the Dunbonnet. He has used that time to become a hermit.

    Cave Jamie is both a look—like an escaped Wildling from the Game of Thrones set—and an attitude. When he does come down to the family estate for visits, he’s withdrawn, solemn, and largely silent. Minimal human interaction has done a number on him. But still he comes, even when some overzealous British soldiers haul in Ian on suspicion of harboring the aforementioned Dunbonnet.

    As Jenny says later, it’s not exactly a lie when she and Ian tell the soldiers they haven’t seen Jamie. “James Fraser hasn’t been here for a long, long time,” she says mournfully.

    Back in the 20th century, time has not moved so quickly—unless baby Brianna is the littlest 6-year-old ever cast. How is Claire doing? Well, her current hobby seems to be perfecting the art of intercentury orgasm, dreaming of Jamie while she sleeps next to Frank in her very lonely marriage bed.

    Motherhood seems to suit Claire, though. Fatherhood also suits Frank, who beams with pride when he holds their daughter. It’s just unfortunate that marriage seems to suit neither of them. There’s a sexual tension bubbling underneath the surface of their carefully crafted veneer, but it’s proving problematic.

    When Claire finally does make a move, there’s something very suburban about the whole thing. As she caresses her (first) husband’s face in the middle of the night, he stirs. “Claire, what is it?” asks Frank, a man so far removed from that loving feeling he can no longer conceive of it happening to him. “I miss my husband,” Claire replies, with a distinct lack of specificity.

    The careful, unfamiliar sex scene that follows is awkward, but seemingly pleasant, which is better than what happens when they try to repeat the act. Claire is the instigator in both instances, and her sudden insatiable appetite has a tragic component to it. Given what we’ve seen of their future, we know this story does not end well for either of them—but especially Frank, who serves as this show’s Charlie Brown, constantly trying to kick the football it places in front of him.

    This time, though, Frank knows. On the floor and half-naked, he tells his wife, “Claire, when I’m with you, I’m with you. But you’re with him.” It’s a painful truth, and one Claire doesn’t like, but it’s a truth nonetheless.

    Speaking of “him,” Cave Jamie has come down from his hideout in the hills only to discover Jenny’s in the midst of giving birth. (Pretty much every time Jenny strides into the show’s narrative, she’s giving birth.)

    This would be a joyous occasion if it weren’t for superstitious little boys like Fergus, who think ravens are bad omens and are trigger-happy. Fergus takes action and shoots the bird “to protect the bairn,” but the noise attracts the attention of nearby British soldiers. Firearms are banned in Scotland since the revolt, so naturally, the Redcoats come to search the house.

    Cave Jamie hides with the newborn in his arms. To explain the baby’s absence to the cheerless soldiers, Jenny and her maid, Mary MacNab, quickly improv that the baby died. Furthermore, Mary says she shot the pistol at the raven, which is to be blamed for the baby’s death. The lie works for the moment, but the British remain suspicious.

    Devoid of anything to hold him on, the British soon return Ian to Lallybroch, providing door-to-door service with a sneer. While there, they decide to catch themselves a Fergus, who takes them on a wild goose chase through the woods and takes every opportunity to insult them. The psychotic soldier in charge lops off the boy’s hand and orders his men to leave him there.

    Luckily, Cave Jamie overheard the scuffle and rushes the bleeding boy to Lallybroch. There, Fergus recovers and we, thankfully, see he remains a little scamp, reminding Jamie of the promise he’d made in France to support Fergus should he ever be harmed in the line of duty: “In one stroke, I have become a man of leisure, huh?”

    The episode has chastened Cave Jamie into action, however. In fact, he makes a decision, the wisdom of which you are free to question. He wants Jenny and Ian to turn him in to the British, so they can pocket the reward money and throw off the British dogs forever.

    Before he’s turned over, Cave Jamie receives an evening visitor: Mary MacNab, who does the world a favor by returning Jamie to us with a quick shave and a haircut. Oh, and soliciting him for a little desperate lovemaking. Jamie eventually acquiesces, though he’s conflicted throughout the procedure.

    A few scenes earlier, Ian had been discussing what losing a limb felt like, the pain lingering “in a part of you that’s lost.” It’s a feeling that sticks with you forever, “and that’s just a hand. Claire was your heart.” This episode is full of people saying verrah incisive things.

    Jamie is trying to fill a void, just as Claire has been with Frank’s intimacy. She’s got a new plan, however, and that plan is med school. Predictably, her male classmates and her professor are awful to her. But there is one bright spot. She sparks a friendship with the other outcast of the class: the only black student. At last, a positive development.

    Speaking of plans, Jamie and Jenny put on a show for the British forces who’ve descended on Lallybroch to capitalize on her supposed betrayal. As they cart off her brother, Jenny yells, “You gave me no choice, brother, and I’ll never forgive yah.” There’s a ring of truth to that statement, as she grits out those words through tears.

    With new … adventures … awaiting Claire and Jamie, we, the viewers, are left still to worry over the lingering question of our time: Where is Murtaugh?

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 2 Recap: Surrender appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 11:00 am on 2017/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: , outlander, , , , ,   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 1 Recap: The Battle Joined 

    Welcome back, all ye Sassenachs and Scotsmen! After all those lonely months polishing your standing stone circles, Outlander has returned for Season 3. As you’ll recall, last season ended in an uncertain—but hopeful—place, with 1968 Claire’s newfound knowledge that Jamie survived the Battle of Culloden.

    In this season’s first episode, we spend our time looking backward to the events after Culloden and to Claire’s return to the 20th century and to a life with Frank.

    Let’s start with the battlefield, heaped with the bodies of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s erstwhile army. (To be honest, I spent most of this scene anxiously searching for Murtaugh through the scores of corpses that look just like him—to no avail.) In the panning shot, we see Jamie just starting to open his eyes, feebly. He’s pinned under something, a body—the body of a British soldier. Why, is that the body of Black Jack Randall?

    Through Jamie’s frenzied flashbacks we see the mixed-up events between Claire’s exit through the stones at Craigh na Dun and the strewn corpses Jamie finds himself in now. As you might expect, these peeks into the past are littered with examples of Prince Charles’s poor leadership skills and military prowess. More importantly, they also provide a glimpse into the final moments of Black Jack at the hands of Jamie’s dagger, apparently after everyone else had already died.

    I think we can safely say Culloden wasn’t a total loss. Though if we learned anything from the events of Wentworth Prison, always check for Black Jack’s pulse.

    As snow falls, Jamie has a vision of a (real?) bunny rabbit and a (fake) Claire, who saunters toward him in a flowing white gown but turns out to be Rupert—just as in everyone’s erotic dreams.

    As his comrades roll Black Jack’s corpse off him and escort him to safety, Jamie drops Claire’s parting gift, the dragonfly in amber, which signifies to you, dear reader, that we are entering new book territory. We have left the second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, and sailed swiftly into Voyager. Seatbelts, everyone.

    But enough symbolism. Let’s check in with the purely straightforward 1940s, where Claire and Frank are house-shopping in the good ol’ USA. Everything is uncomfortable, like, more uncomfortable than the body farm we just left. Frank is laying it on thick with the doting husband routine, hoping Claire’s pregnancy can harbor a fresh start for the two of them in Boston. Claire is trying (and failing) to play the role of domestic housewife.

    “You’re lucky,” one of Claire’s neighbors tells her, as they gab about husbands. “You won’t find another man like Frank again.” If you think this one’s a charmer, lady, you should’ve seen the other guy.

    Claire’s having even more trouble trying to fit in with Frank’s new university social circle, who are all the worst. Frank’s peers manage to be nearly as misogynistic as the gangs of unwashed men we have been treated to in 18th–century Scotland. But at least we all got to listen in on some hot gossip about the Truman vs. Dewey electoral matchup.

    Jamie, meanwhile, isn’t in much better shape. Rupert’s taken him to shelter with other Culloden survivors in a nearby barn. He’s bleeding buckets, but he does still have the wherewithal to ask the question we’re all wondering: Where is Murtaugh? No one really knows, and Rupert has the gall to say he doesn’t really care. (The bad blood between Frasers and MacKenzies is still going strong. Curse you, Dougal MacKenzie, you door-lurking psychopath.)

    Shortly thereafter, the British discover the hideout. They give the “traitors” an hour, at which point they’ll be shot. Rupert and Jamie share a goodbye, which is short on forgiveness for Dougal’s murder, but long on fondness. Farewell, dear Rupert.

    Hold on one second though: Remember John Grey? That name is Jamie’s ticket to salvation because it’s the name of the young British spy Jamie spared last season. John Grey is also the younger brother of Lord Melton, the officer in charge of this execution bonanza. Melton, begrudgingly, feels duty-bound to keep his brother’s “debt of honor” when it comes to Jamie, even though he’d make a pretty prize for the king.

    Crankily, Melton secrets Jamie (who just wants to die already) off in a wagon in the dark of the night. He thinks Jamie won’t survive the trip, but at least such a death won’t be at his hands. Well, the joke’s on your stiff upper lip, Melton, because Jamie survives. And he’s greeted by Jenny and Ian. Our boy’s made it back to Lallybroch.

    With that happy news, we head once more to Boston. After a blow-out fight in which he just barely dodged an ash tray hurled at his head, Frank is doing some late-night research. He’s penning a letter to Rev. Wakefield back in Scotland for information on some highlander, a James Fraser, when he’s interrupted. Claire’s water has broken.

    The hospital is another frustrating situation where none of the men in charge deign to listen to Claire. (Though Frank is all ears when Claire informs the doctor, and her husband, that she’s had a miscarriage before.) When Claire wakes from the C-section she didn’t want, she’s concerned she’s lost another baby.

    But Frank enters with baby Brianna. The family’s full of love and joy and canoodling until a nosy nurse swings by to ask about the elephant in the room: “Where’d she get the red hair?”

    Of course, we all know the answer to that question, unlike several others: How will Jamie readjust to a Claire-less life? Will Claire ever be able to light her stove effectively? Where is Murtaugh? Let’s hope we find out next week.


    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 1 Recap: The Battle Joined appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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