All together now: “On the road agaaaaaaaain. Just can’t wait to get back on the road agaaaaaaaain.” Jamie and Claire are, without a doubt, one of the most mobile couples on television—and without the benefit of planes, trains, or automobiles! Just imagine the capers they’d get up to if they had, like, a Honda Civic. In what has become something of a recurring theme in this first season, one Fraser has become captive, the other rescuer. In “The Search” it is Claire who must deliver Jamie from the clutches of the Red Coats.
But seeing as she doesn’t know the Highlands well (nor where to really even begin looking for him), Ian volunteers to accompany her. Except, well, he’s missing a leg—a casualty of last episode’s ambush. So, in his stead, recently pregnant Jenny will ride. (Just imagine Kate Middleton hopping on a stead to travel home from the hospital!) But Jenny’s a no-nonsense woman and an expert tracker, not afraid to squeeze horse poop in her palm to see how warm it is. Yuck. With Ian’s crudely drawn map of where he, Jamie, and the Watch were set upon, the two women are off. Soon Jenny notices vultures circling and follows—finding several dead Watch men. She prays over them, and picking up the tracks of the heavy cart likely transporting Jamie, they’re off once again.
Eventually, all that galloping does take its toll, as Jenny exclaims that she’s about to burst. The two dismount, but instead of popping a squat, Jenny expresses a bit of breast milk to relieve her pain. It’s during this respite that Claire lays out her plan: She’s going to go above Black Jack’s head and appeal to his superior Lord Thomas (whom we met in “The Garrison Commander” episode). She believes he took a shining to her. Jenny is not impressed.
Up ahead they hear voices. Jenny double-fists her pistols like a Scottish Lara Croft and hands one to Claire. They take cover, spying a Red Coat encampment. Watch leader MacQuarrie is there, but where’s Jamie?
“Do you suppose they’ve killed him?” Claire asks, worried.
“Why would they?” Jenny responds.
“Because he’s a headstrong Fraser,” Claire says.
The two hatch a plan to get further intel: Jenny takes a fall in front of one of the mounted Red Coats as he leaves. When he leans down to check on her, she and Claire draw their weapons. Jenny, it turns out, has a very particular set of skills—beyond her bloodhound-level tracking. They’re torture skills. She takes a flame-licked rod and presses it to the soldier’s bare foot. Claire struggles to stomach the proceedings. When he doesn’t talk, Jenny gets really serious:
“Maybe if we smoke your bollocks, it will change your mind!” she declares.
Thankfully for the Red Coat, Claire has another plan. He had been carrying correspondence bound for Ft. William. She rifles through his bag for clues and finds a notice about Jamie having run away. If they simply tear it up, the search parties will be none the wiser. But there is the dirty little business of the soldier. Jenny reasons that they can’t just leave him there, after all. They must kill him. As they bicker about their next course of action, their captive begins emitting some strange noises. They turn around and see Murtagh (whom Ian dispatched) slicing his throat. Someone else made the hard decision for them. (Though Claire does confess to Jenny later: “I just know that if Murtagh hadn’t turned up when he did, I would have done it myself,” confirming her undying love for Jamie).
The next morning, with Murtagh now on the scene to escort Claire, Jenny returns home. But not before the two trade supplies and advice. Jenny gives Claire a knife and a bag of coins; Claire tells her to plant potatoes because there’s going to be a famine in a few years.
“Jamie said you might tell me things,” Jenny says. “It didn’t make much sense at the time, but he said if you did, I was to do as you ask.”
NEXT: There’s no business like show business[pagebreak]
For his part, Murtagh doesn’t know where to even begin looking for the Laird. But that doesn’t matter much because Jamie is going to find them. Say what? You see, all they have to do is draw enough attention to themselves that Jamie can’t not find them. Murtagh sums his plan up thusly: “Very few fortune-telling healers who roam the Highlands with a dancing Fraser clansmen in tow.” Yep, they’re a veritable two-person vaudeville act, with Claire reading (and soothing) palms and Murtagh doing his funny jig. A long game if ever there was one. (But seriously, though, how much time would it take to gain acclaim across a country without the use of Twitter/Instagram/Vine/the internet?)
The clansman’s routine, rather unsurprisingly, only garners rotten tomatoes, though, so Claire suggests an addition: a song! She performs a casual rendition of the Andrew Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” to demonstrate. But Murtagh insists she perform the ditty (but with Scottish lyrics—apparently that version is one of Jamie’s favorite songs because Dougal used to sing it. Hmmmmm) and dress as a man. That Murtagh: a head for business and a bod for sin!
I probably shouldn’t scoff, though, because the act becomes pretty popular, so much so that a “rival” group of touring gypsies steal it and tout their own singing Sassenach. Which, in addition to being just plain unimaginative, is dangerous for Jamie. What if he follows the wrong troupe? When Claire confronts the group’s promoter, a Mr. Ward, he demurs: “A song is a song is a song.” But he’s curious: Is she doing this for politics or for love? Because why else would a high-born Englishwoman involve herself in such a farce? Claire admits her true intentions and offers her bag of cash as a sort of payment/recompense for not performing the routine. Murtagh knows this plan is bunk and tries to send Claire back to Lallybroch. But she points out that she outranks him and she plans on staying the course. Lean in, Claire. Lean in!
Claire and Murtagh continue their roving performances until they reach the end of the earth. Quite literally—they find themselves at the ocean.
“If you look hard enough you might see the Americas,” Murtagh muses. “It’s the only place you haven’t sang that damn song yet.”
Claire is distraught by this turn of events and takes it out on Murtagh. What does he know about love and loss, after all? Plenty, actually. It was he who fancied Jamie’s mom and gave her the tusk bracelets Claire now possesses.
“You think you’re the only one who loves Jamie?” Murtagh asks. “He’s a son to me.”
Claire, realizing her wrong, tearfully embraces Murtagh. She may be headstrong, but she, more so than most, is also the first to apologize when she’s wrong.
The two decide to start back at the beginning, which just sounds like the most tedious thing ever. But! A stroke of luck. They once again cross the path of Mr. Ward, who admits his group did not, indeed, stop performing the “Boogie Woogie.” In fact, during one performance, they were passed a note for “Sassenach,” asking for her presence at a meeting spot, posthaste. But when Claire and Murtagh appear at the location, it’s not Jamie but Dougal who greets them. And with bad news. Jamie’s still alive, but he’s been taken to Wentworth Prison, tried, convicted, and condemned to hang—that day or the next.
At that, Claire readies to leave, but Dougal asks for a moment. He has a plan. A plan for Claire’s future after Jamie is executed. And that plan is for Claire to marry Dougal. After all, she’ll be a widow with no money, no property. It will only be a matter of time before Black Jack comes knocking at Lallybroch. Yep, pretty despicable move. Claire’s obviously turned off, but she knows she has to concede a bit if she’s to get the help of the MacKenzie men to rescue Jamie. So she agrees that if the rescue attempt fails for whatever reason, she’ll marry Dougal.
So with a handful of clansmen in tow, Claire rides on to Wentworth Prison to rescue her beloved. If she can.
(Book readers, do you feel emotionally ready for next week? I’m not so sure I am…)