Well, after some wrist surgery I’m back to recap last week’s Outlander for you! Thanks to the lovely Tiff for filling in for me on episode two, and now let’s dive right in to “All Debts Paid.”
Vignettes of Claire and Frank’s marriage are peppered in throughout the episode, but the focus is still very much on Jamie, which, I gotta say, I’m glad of. Of the two storylines, Jamie’s is much more watchable and interesting. Having been “turned in” to the Redcoats by his sister, Jamie is now held at Ardsmuir prison, where a young new governor by the name of Lord John Grey has just been installed (I gotta take a moment here and just heap all the love and praise and excitement onto David Berry, who has taken a character I’ve had mixed feelings about for years and added some lovely depth and emotion to him, making us connect all the more). Needless to say, the conditions of an 18th century prison are not what we’d call ‘ideal,’ but closer to hell on earth. For everyone. There is no village or town nearby for the soldiers and guards, and ya know… prisoners are in dirt and refuse and eat rats. Lord John is not exactly diggin’ his new gig, and looks appalled when the man he’s replacing suggests he regularly dine with Red Jamie, the only man in chains, and the man the other prisoners have chosen as their leader. The best thing about Ardsmuir is that Murtagh is there. I am not exaggerating when I say that I yelled his name when I saw Jamie’s godfather on the screen. It’s a welcome departure from the books, and I’m thrilled that Duncan LaCroix will (hopefully) be around the rest of the season.
If Jamie’s life is Hell in the Highlands, Claire’s is bereft in Boston (I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry). It’s 1958 and Claire has just graduated! Her relationship with Frank is stilted and awkward, but Bree is cute and proud of her mama. All is (not so) well until Frank’s “work” shows up early and Claire is confronted with the discreet-but-not-discreet-enough girlfriend. Claire ushers out everyone at her party to head to dinner early, and all the guests file out avoiding eye-contact with a humiliated Frank and Sandy. After the party ends, Frank comes home drunk from his date to a super-not-mad-at-all Claire, who has definitely not been drinking her rage for the past few hours. The two fight, and Claire offers to grant Frank a divorce. Frank would like nothing more, but he doesn’t want to lose his daughter and rightfully doesn’t trust Claire to keep any promises. It’s so heartbreaking to see what has become of these two people we met way back when. Misery is etched on every feature of them and sadness radiates so potently that I can’t even be mad. They decide against divorce, and the cracks widen.
Back in Scotland, an old man wanders on a path and into some guards, spouting “gibberish.” Well, not really, it’s a combination of Gaelic and French, but may as well be gibberish to Grey, who speaks neither (I honestly didn’t think a highborn Englishman that didn’t speak French existed, but here we are). Jamie luckily speaks both, and agrees to translate the old man’s ramblings in exchange for his irons being struck off. Old Man McGee (not his real name) tells Jamie a whole bunch of random shit that makes little sense, but Jamie hears the names of his uncles and mother, as well as “white witch” amidst all the talk, which piques his interest. Not much of what he says before he dies makes sense, which is what Jamie tells Grey, who is suspicious to say the least. The two have dinner (which Jamie will describe in great detail to his men later on, much to their delight) and forge a good and mutually beneficial relationship. Later while the prisoners are walking the grounds and checking the snares Grey allowed them to set (rabbit is tastier than rat), Jamie up and escapes. Dude legit just runs off and hides under some grass while the guards are looking the other way. A super pissed Grey searches for him for three days before giving him up for lost. Just then Jamie catches Grey unawares (he has a habit of doing that), and the two trade insulted memories of the old days, before Jamie asks Grey to keep his promise from when he was but a lad and kill Jamie.
Grey refuses, and the two walk towards the cliffs where the old man was discovered. Jamie explains to Grey about the White Witch and the significance it has for him. He had to go and see if she was there, or if there was any sign of her. He tells Grey there was no sign of her or any gold, but gives Grey a blue gem he found. In keeping with their agreement (these men are nothing if not honorable), Grey sends a doctor to treat a very ill Murtagh, and a strange friend-ish-ship is formed.
Flash forward three months and we see Jamie and Lord John playing chess and having an amiable chat. They have become friends of a sort, and Jamie even tells Grey about Claire (at last saying her name). Grey is confused when Jamie thanks him for saving her honor, and it’s a nice moment when Grey realizes the English Lady he saved when he was a boy was in fact, Jamie’s wife. Jamie’s confidence in telling him about Claire and some of his feelings after Culloden spur Grey to share some of himself, as well. He tells Jamie of a “particular friend” that he lost in the same battle, and how his death has stuck with him. It’s clear that Grey was in love with this friend, and grieves his death much like Jamie grieves for Claire. This quiet moment of bonding is shattered, however, when Grey leaves his hand on Jamie’s just a little too long, brushing his thumb just a little too much, and Jamie quietly threatens to kill him if he tries that shit again.
Speaking of shit, time to push onto 1966! Bree has graduated highschool, and Frank tells Claire he wants to take her with him to England. Not on holiday, though. Frank has accepted a job at Cambridge, wants to take Bree with him, and divorce Claire in order to marry Sandy. Claire obviously takes this super well and they fight. I can’t say I blame Frank for wanting out, and wanting a wife who loves him. They have both been living a half-life for years. Claire says she will give him the divorce on any grounds but adultery (since her only indiscretions were of the heart, not body) but it will be a cold day in Hell before he takes her daughter. They argue some more, and the knife gets twisted when Frank asks if Claire could have forgotten Jamie in time if it weren’t for their daughter, to which she replies, “That amount of time doesn’t exist.” Frank leaves, and Claire is called into surgery.
Ardsmuir is closing back in the 1700s, and all the men, save Jamie, are sent to the colonies to work as indentured servants for 14 years, when they’re to be set free. Jamie, as a convicted traitor and feather in the cap of the Crown, is not given that deal, so Grey ties him to the back of his horse and the two go for a stroll that, three days later, ends up on an Estate called Helwater. Grey explains to Jamie that he couldn’t get him his freedom, but this is as close as he could get. Lord John tells Jamie that he will come by quarterly to check on his wellbeing, and apologizes for his advances from before. He regrets the moment of weakness, and seeks to give Jamie his life back, in repayment for the life Jamie gave him so many years ago. Grey advises Jamie to change his name (new boss not a fan of The Pretender) and the two head off to Jamie’s fate.
Meanwhile, Claire is just getting out of surgery when her friend and fellow surgeon, Joe Abernathy, comes to her and tells her that Frank was in a car accident and died. She rushes to his body and tells him that she did love him, and though tears, says goodbye to her first love. Oh Frank, you deserved so much better. You and Claire both did.
Alright, so my only regret for this whole episode is that we didn’t get to see as much of Lord John Grey and Jamie’s friendship grow. I understand time constraints and a shit ton of story to tell per episode, but that is just something for which I wish they’d had more space to elaborate. I’ve seen some weird comparisons of Grey and Jack Randall, and I gotta say, other than the name Johnathan, I fail to see a parallel. Yeah, Grey made a pass at Jamie, but it was in no way equivalent to the shit BJR pulled. Yes, both men are in a position of great power over Jamie, but I think Grey has a real love and affection for the man, not to mention a deep respect. Like I said, both Grey and Jamie are men of honor, and Grey backed off as soon as his advances were rebuffed. BJR’s pleasure and joy was in the terror and pain he inflicted on Jamie. He was obsessed with Jamie, he didn’t have any feelings of love. BJR was a monster, Grey is just a man. That is my rant.
I’m also sad to see the last of Tobias Menzies, because he got me to like and care more about Show-Frank than I ever did about Book-Frank.
What did you think of last week’s episode? Are you going to miss Frank? What did you think of John Grey? Did your heart ache for literally everyone? Were you happy to see Murtagh??