Anything after Claire and Jamie’s big reunion in episode six is bound to fall a little flat, but last week’s episode was a good launch-point for the rest of the season.
“Creme de Menthe” begins where “A. Malcolm” left off, with Claire being attacked by the rando in her room. At first he seems to be ready to get a little sexual assaulting going on, but changes his mind to plain old killing when Claire proves to be a bit tougher to subdue than he’d like. They scuffle and he trips, cracking his head on the fireplace. Jamie comes in then, and after Claire tells him what happened, can’t bring himself to feel too bad for the guy. When it’s found that he’s alive, Claire rushes to help him, but Jamie doesn’t really see the point in saving someone who’d kill you. Madame Jeanne and Fergus join the party and they move the man to the bed. The mostly dead man seems to work for Sir Percival, the shady ass guy with whom Jamie has business dealings, and Jamie, Jeanne, and Fergus hurry to get rid of their illegal brandy while Claire heads to the apothecary, so she can get some herbs and a drill to bore into the dude’s skull. Ahhh it’s good to be back in the 18th century, eh?
While Jamie and the boys are moving the casks, Jamie tells Fergus and Ian to unload them, even if it means taking a loss, as they can’t afford to be caught with a shit ton of illegal French booze. Later, while Ian and Fergus are haggling with a buyer (and getting rid of 3 casks of creme de menthe), and gossiping about the prodigal wife, Claire meets an older man at the apothecary. His name is Archibald Campbell, and he’s kind enough to let Claire budge in exchange for treating his sister later on for free.
Upon her return, she finds Jamie being none-too-gentle with her head wound patient (who woke up and is screaming bloody murder). She doses the man with laudanum just before Jamie is called down to see Sir Percival himself. Percival accuses Jamie of smuggling (which is funny, since Jamie pays him a cut) and goes to the basement of the brothel with his pervy henchman to search for booze, finding none (because Jamie is smart like that), Sir Percival huffs a bit, threatens that he’s keeping an eye on Jamie (this works well bc his henchman is half blind), and leaves.
Jamie comes back upstairs to find an upset wife, Yi Tien Cho (her surgical assistant), and a very dead would-be assaulter. Jamie can’t find it in himself to feel bad, but Claire has spent the past decade and a half dedicated to healing people without judgement and is taking the loss of the patient hard. Jamie comforts her with the knowledge that she will be able to help many others throughout her life, and that he is grateful that she’s back, regardless of the cost (which has, so far, been one dead criminal and a lot of awkward conversations).
This reminds Claire that she has another patient, and she heads off to see the Campbells. When she gets there, Claire sees that Margaret Campbell is completely drugged up on laudanum, and that she’s not a little crazy. Archibald tells Claire that Margaret is a seer, but that he has to keep her subdued lest she get out and scare all the normal folk with her crazy. Claire gives him some tea recipes for when she has a fit and tells him to please stop drugging his sister before he tells her that they’re heading to the West Indies, so he needs to keep her just this side of unconscious so the sailors don’t throw her overboard for being a raving lunatic.
Meanwhile, Young Ian and Fergus are at the pub, drinking and celebrating their good sales while Young Ian eyes a pretty barmaid he’s had a crush on for awhile. Fergus, being and A+ wingman, waves her over and, with some seduction tips for Young Ian, promptly leaves. Young Ian and the barmaid flirt a bit before they head to the print shop for some devirginizing (of him), and we get a glimpse of Sir Percival’s one eyed henchman in the background, looking all sinister and whatnot.
Claire comes back from the Campbell’s to find the dead guy out of her bed, which is always an improvement, if you ask me. Jamie tells her they hid the body in a cask of creme de menthe, so no one will find it for some time, since no one in Scotland drinks the stuff. Claire asks Jamie if they can get a home of their own, and offers to work to help cover the expense and Jamie is weirdly resistant to not living above a brothel. Before they can get deeper into it a knock at the door alerts them to Ian (the older one) is here to see Jamie. Jamie tells Claire not to mention seeing Young Ian about as the two head down to see their brother-in-law. It’s a sweet and awkward reunion when Claire and Ian see each other again, and Claire tells the agreed upon version of where she’s been. Ian asks Jamie if he’s seen Young Ian, and Jamie says no, but if he does, he’ll send him home. As Jamie walks Ian out to search for his wayward son, Ian mentions that it seems Claire has taken Jamie’s news well, and I’m here like “WHAT NEWS?! WHY IS CLAIRE’S RETURN A CATASTROPHE?!” Anyway, Jamie tells Ian that he hasn’t told her, and assures him that all will be well, which pretty much guarantees the opposite.
Speaking of Young Ian, while he’s getting laid in the print shop, Ole One Eye breaks in and starts digging around, effectively cock-blocking the poor kid. Young Ian sends his lass out the back and confronts the man, who is there looking for the smuggled booze. The two start to scuffle and in the fight, Jamie’s false wall is broken and the man finds the seditious pamphlets. Deciding this is better, the henchman stashes some and leaves, but not without first shooting at Young Ian, starting a fire (there is a lot of flammable shit in print shops). Young Ian is trapped in the fire and goes to the back room.
Meanwhile, Jamie returns to a pissed off Claire and the two get into it over Jamie lying to his family about Young Ian. Claire tells Jamie he has to send Young Ian home, or at the very least, tell Ian that he’s safe. Jamie says he’s not doing anything wrong, since Young Ian is safe and keeps running back, anyway, and Claire thoughtlessly tells Jamie that he has no idea what it would feel like, having never raised a child himself. Sheesh Claire, that’s hitting pretty low. Jamie explodes then that he didn’t get to raise Brianna or have any say in how Frank and Claire brought her up. This is honestly the best scene from the episode. It’s when the heady reunion bliss and adrenaline from everything else that has happened finally start to wear off and the two of them are really getting to the heart of things between them. The hurt and anger both feel. The worry and yes, resentment. Jamie agonizes over not raising Brianna and wonders if Claire fell back in love with Frank. It’s moments like this that I think Balfe and Heughan do their best work. They are still fighting when word comes that the print shop is on fire. They rush to the shop to find it ablaze and knowing that Young Ian sleeps in the back, Jamie rushes into the flames to save him. While he’s in the shop, Jamie makes sure to grab Willie’s portrait and then climbs the press with Young Ian over his shoulder. When they’re safely outside, Young Ian tells Jamie what happened, effectively ending any life Jamie could have in Edinburgh. Claire insists that they take Young Ian back to Lallybroch and Jamie agrees. While giving Fergus and Yi Tien Cho instructions before they depart, Fergus asks Jamie if he’s told Claire about his other wife. And that’s where we leave off.
This was… not my favorite episode of the season, but like I said, it’s a fantastic launching off point for the rest of the season. I can’t wait to see Claire’s reaction to the news that Jamie is married, and I’m especially excited to see her reunion with Jenny.
Were you surprised to hear Jamie has another wife? What did you think of “Creme de Menthe?”