After a highly linear season 2 of “Outlander,” the premiere (recapped wonderfully by our dear friend Meg) went offscript and gave a non-linear, dreamlike sequence of events. The second episode of this season followed that same model. In 1940s Cambridge, Claire and Frank only have about 4 months’ time passed (based on baby Brianna’s apparent age); in 18th century Lallybroch, a strong SIX years have gone by with Jaime acting as specter around his family.
Claire and Frank, dedicated to raising Brianna as a united front, are in trouble. I’m loathe to say that the majority of the problems stem from Claire but…the majority of their problems stem from Claire. From not addressing her grief in losing Jaime to the space-time continuum, to not fully being invested in her (renewed) relationship with Frank, she’s shut down emotionally. Is it any wonder she and Frank are sleeping in separate beds?
While Claire is ghostwalking through the 1940s, Jaime has lost 6 years of living to the devastation of war and the death of many friends and kin. Back at Lallybroch, the Fraser clan is habitually harassed by British soldiers trying to find “The Dunbonnet.” Jaime is doing his best Les Stroud as survivorman routine, living out of a cave and being bearded and wild. He only ventures home to bring fresh game and not talk to his family (his reticence borders on muteness).
His sadness weighs heavily: on him, his sister, his ward Fergus, on us. The loneliness just rolls off of him and the beard he sports adds to that. It acts as a barrier-something that allows him to hide and shield himself from the world.
The reawakening of James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser comes at a steep price. Young, precocious Fergus-both a trickster and fierce advocate for his adoptive kin-leads a scouting party of redcoats in a giant circle through the highlands (away from Jaime’s cave). As things often do, the plan is foiled by a traitorous wretch of a lowlander. Taking his rage and impotency out on Fergus, he sword cuts his dominant hand clean off. It’s a shocking and disgusting moment, one which shakes Jaime from his torpor.
Thanking Fergus and reiterating his promise to take care of him now that he is a man of leisure, Jaime accepts the assistance of his sister’s housekeeper in garnering. Reawakening equals reemergence. Reemergence equals making Jenny and Ian accept his surrender to the British. Jaime-ever stubborn-makes Jenny swear to not alert the redcoats to the plan (in order for the reward money to come to Lallybroch). Jenny is aghast but unable to change Jaime’s mind.
In his final moments as a free Scot, Jaime shares a tender moment in his cave with Mary McNab, the head housekeeper of Lallybroch. Meg touched on the growth Jaime (played to perfection in “Surrender” by Sam Heughan) is allowed in this portion of the series last seek. This episode didn’t disappoint. When his voice breaks in his saying “I haven’t done this in some time,” and one manly tear rolls down his face…well, let’s just say a womanly tear might have rolled down mine.
Stay tuned for Meg’s return next week and catch Outlander Sundays at 5PM on Starz.