When last we saw Claire and Jamie, Claire had just returned to Jamie’s time, and probably took ten years off his life. Last week in “A. Malcolm” we finally get to see the whole reunion!
The episode starts with Jamie’s usual morning routine, a little chatting with a madam, some light treason, oh, and he owns a printing press. Jamie may no longer have a sword and a dirk, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still fighting the good fight.
I, like most everyone else, had completely normal, not at all high expectations for this episode, and I gotta say, it did not disappoint. After Jamie is roused from the dead faint he fell into upon seeing his long lost love, things are awkward and cute. Jamie thinks he pissed himself for a minute (he didn’t) and neither are really sure of themselves and where they stand.Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan’s chemistry has been missed for the first five episodes, and seeing them together feels like coming home for the audience as much as for Jamie and Claire.
The reunion is sweet and funny, as Jamie’s employee Geordy quits in a huff of righteous indignation upon seeing his boss with an unfamiliar woman and without pants. Once Jamie changes and the two share a relatively modest kiss (he even asks permission), they sit and talk. Jamie tells Claire about how he used to see her when he needed her most, but he could never touch her, to which she replies that he can touch her now, and she in turn tells him about their daughter, handing him photographs she brought with her. This was one of my favorite scenes in the book, I have to say.
The awe and sadness, the bittersweet knowledge that his child is safe, but as lost to him as her sister, Faith, plays quietly on Heughan’s face. After collecting himself, Jamie tells Claire of Willie, the circumstance of his birth, and shares his sorrow over yet another child he loves and can’t be with. It’s cute when Jamie shyly puts on his glasses and Claire confesses to dyeing her hair.
Once the talking about Frank and Brianna and Willie is over, Jamie invites Claire to go with him on his errands and the two are off. While they’re walking, Claire fills Jamie in on Prince Charles, but is drawn up short when they run into a young man. Not just anyone, though. It’s Fergus! He’s all grown up and handsome. Claire asks about his hand and he in turn asks (nicely) where the Hell she’s been. Claire explains that she thought everyone was dead and didn’t want to bring trouble to Lallybroch, so went to America, only to return when she found out her husband was in fact, alive. I cannot wait to see more Fergus. He and Jamie have a brief conversation privately about whether Claire is staying and having to talk to Ned before Jamie and Claire are off again, set to help a friend.
That friend is a Chinese man named Mr. Willoughby. That’s not his real name, he tells Claire, but his given name, Yi Tien Cho, sounds like something foul in Gaelic, so he and Jamie changed it. I have to say I was concerned about how he would be portrayed in the show, since the books paint a much more caricatured, racially insensitive version of the character. I’m glad to see that while some key elements of the character remain, this portrayal is also a more fully realized character. He and Claire chat while Jamie goes in the back to handle some totally not shady business there. His smuggle buddy isn’t happy with waiting and thinks Jamie’s selling where he shouldn’t be, so demands a 25% rate increase. Jamie basically says “fuck off,” grabs Claire and goes.
Jamie brings Claire home with him, but home happens to be a whorehouse. Yay! The madam/landlady is not unsurprisingly, shocked to see that A.) Jamie has a wife and B.) He brought her with him to a brothel. It’s awkward and slightly catty, but Jamie brings her upstairs for some private time. When they get to his rooms, Claire asks him how good of a customer he is, to which he replies that he isn’t, it’s actually the other way around. Jamie asks Claire whether she came back just to tell him about his child, or if she returned to be his wife. After admitting to stalking Jamie through time, Claire tells him she is back for good, if he’ll have her. Spoiler: He will. He does… well, he would but just then dinner shows up! The reunited couple spends the next significant amount of time catching up, and learning who each other is after all this time. The parallels to their wedding night are strong, the slow burn like deja vu (in the best way).
After dinner, Jamie asks Claire to come to bed with him, and because Claire is not about to pass up something so good that one would ditch modern plumbing for it, she agrees. It may sound weird, but I love watching these two get undressed. The care Jamie always takes, like he’s unwrapping a gift, and Claire’s admiration for her husband are, I think, lovely. Once Jamie gets her naked (more quickly, thanks to Claire’s handy zipper), she gets adorably self conscious before Jamie reassures her that she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. It’s all highly romantic, especially when they compare it to being scared on their wedding night. It then becomes wonderfully realistic as they try to get back in the swing of it, bumping heads and laughing together. Eventually passion overtakes them, however, and they have some really hot, long overdue, sexytimes.
Much like their wedding night, once they’re done, they talk some more. Claire weasels out of Jamie that though he’s a printer by trade, he’s a seditious smuggler by birth. The rest of the evening and morning are spent talking and making love, discovering new scars and Claire reassuring Jamie that she won’t leave him again, while he tells her he’s never loved another. More interruptions ensue as Jamie tries to have his English breakfast (wink wink), and hours later, Claire wakes up to find Jamie dressed and ready to go attend some business. He reminds her that she’s Mrs. Malcolm here, and he’s off. Not long after, a young man bursts into the room, and introduces himself as Ian Murray, Claire tells him she’s his aunt and he he seems befuddled before asking her to pass word to Jamie that he’s looking for him.
Claire is hungry (she didn’t have Jamie’s “breakfast”), so she heads downstairs and eats with the working girls. They are all crass and sweet and I wish we spent more time with them before Madame Jeanne interrupts and, horrified, sends Claire back up to her room. Eating with whores isn’t a thing for a respectable lady to do, it seems. Claire heads up to her room only to find a not very nice looking rando there, who promptly grabs for her and asks about her husband’s ledgers.
I gotta say, I’m really enjoying this adaptation. I say that all the time, but it’s true. It’s such a well thought out show and I love it. I’m so glad that Heughan and Balfe are back together again, the show really improves so much when they’re onscreen, which is saying something, because it’s already fantastic.
What did you think of A Malcolm? Is it just me, or does anyone else still miss the Mackenzie men? Book readers, did it live up to your expectations? Anything you would change? Are you happy with the changes made to Cho/Mr. Willoughby?