What even is happening?! You guys, Mom and Dad are fighting and I can’t even. I mean, they didn’t even kiss this episode! Maybe that’s just what happens when you’ve got so many illegal activities to worry about.
Last week we learned about how Jamie is different from the man Claire knew; now we find out just how Claire has changed in Jamie’s eyes. When the exciseman snooping around ends up with a head wound, Claire is determined to try and save him. Jamie would rather leave the man to his fate, but Claire stubbornly refuses to abandon her oath as a physician. (When she says “you understand” to Jamie, I don’t get the sense that Jamie does.) She has always been a healer, treating wounded soldiers in the Rising and helping at L’Hopital des Anges in Paris, but now she is more determined than ever to save any lives she can. Fergus hints at the rumors that Claire had taken lives in the past (the Comte St. Germain, sort of, and that redcoat soldier that was attacking her back in season 1). She was much more, let’s say, accommodating to death back then than she is now.
Claire also gets a new patient, aside from the man who attacked her; Margaret Campbell, a woman with an apparent mental illness who makes a living as a seer. When Claire takes her pulse, Margaret goes into a kind of fit and exclaims many strange things; they don’t make any sense that we can tell. (Or can we, book readers??) Claire prescribes what she can and leaves the woman and her brother to sail off to the West Indies the next day.
Yet another disagreement Claire and Jamie have is about Young Ian. This is after Ian Sr. shows up looking for the lad. Jamie lies to his face, saying he hasn’t seen the boy, which shocks Claire. She empathizes with Ian, the worried parent, and scolds Jamie for keeping him in the dark about his son. Jamie brushes it off, and Claire responds by saying something pretty hurtful - that Jamie doesn’t know what it’s like to be a worried parent. (Hasn’t he been the most worried parent ever for 20 years?) But it seems to me that Jamie is clinging to any opportunity to raise a child, as a surrogate for the children he can’t help. Claire calls him on it, which riles Jamie, and the two return again to Claire’s time away, and her and Frank. While they are happy to be back together, Claire and Jamie still have a lot of unresolved feelings about their time apart.
Meanwhile, Young Ian and Fergus are out and about trying to offload the liquor stored in the basement of the brothel, because the exciseman has raised fears that Sir Percival, the man Jamie has been bribing, is no longer satisfied with their arrangement. Ian and Fergus are adorable, with Fergus as the older brother teaching the innocent Ian how to woo women. Ian tries out the techniques on the barmaid and finds them successful - the two end up back in Ian’s room at the printshop, Ian learning the finer points of lovemaking. (A funny little callback to the wedding episode and Jamie’s own misconceptions about sex positions.)
Unfortunately Sir Percival’s henchman shows up and it’s coitus interruptus for Ian, who goes to try and chase the man out of the printshop. The man finds Jamie’s hidden seditious pamphlets, and in trying to stop the man, Ian starts a fire in the printshop. Jamie rushes over as soon as he hears, and goes in to rescue Young Ian. The two escape before the blaze consumes the building.
And thus the alias of A. Malcolm comes to a fiery end, as does Jamie’s primary means of income (and potentially Claire’s). The group resolves to leave Edinburgh and return to Lallybroch as Frasers, to escape Sir Percival and his evidence of sedition against the Malcolms.
Going back to Lallybroch will bring some news to light, about the legal matter on which Jamie wished to consult Ned Gowan. Jamie has a wife! He has another wife! Who lives in Balriggan, somewhere distant from Lallybroch. I’ve gotta say, it seems pretty stupid to keep something like that a secret, given all of the other information they’ve shared since Claire returned.
I guess overall I feel dissatisfied that things with Claire and Jamie are so at odds, but that’s kind of the point; and I’m glad that they didn’t handwave everything away. The last 20 years have had effects on both of them, and it’s not so easy to pick up where they left off. Let’s see what happens next week...looks like things at Lallybroch won’t be all sunshine and rainbows either.