Claire and Jamie make it official (and very NSFW).
Note: Due to an editing gaffe, this recap was accidentally posted early. EW regrets the error.
This show is full of spectacular butts.
Sorry—I was struggling with how to start this recap. After all, “The Wedding” (alternate title: “9 1/2 Weeks in the Highlands”) is a big episode, and arguably the most anticipated of the season. So much pressure! So many things to say! So I just went with the first thing that popped to mind. (But seriously: If Caitriona Balfe’s personal trainer is reading this, please call me.)
Let’s really start with a different (potentially controversial) observation: Back when I read the wedding passage in Diana Gabaldon’s novel, it struck me as odd that Claire’s principal concern over marrying Jamie was that she didn’t know him well—not that she already had a husband waiting for her back in the future. Sure, that worry was there too, but it wasn’t as dominant as you’d think it would be. Here, that issue has been jettisoned by a surprisingly bittersweet opening, one in which Claire and Frank’s impulsive nuptials in the 1900s are skillfully juxtaposed with Claire and Jamie’s equally spur-of-the-moment ceremony (and ensuing “honeymoon”) in the 1700s. I expected to be titillated; I didn’t expect to feel melancholy, too.
We learn most of the details of the Beauchamp-Fraser nuptials through flashbacks as Claire and Jamie get further acquainted in their coital cloister. It’s post-ceremony, and Claire is sitting timidly on the bed, awaiting Jamie’s arrival. As he walks in, she hears the commotion from downstairs.
“Sounds like the wedding party is going strong,” she says. “I don’t suppose they’re going to bed anytime soon.”
“Nah, not until they know we’ve made things official,” he says. (At least they didn’t insist on being in the room!)
Not quite sure what to do, Claire suggests a drink. And then another. And another. And for the second time in the series’ run, Jamie assures Claire that she needn’t be afraid of him.
She, of course, has questions—mainly, why he agreed to marry her. Through Jamie’s recollection, we learn that Dougal used the threat of Black Jack harming Claire (and played upon the would-be groom’s own painful history with the Redcoat) to convince him. Knowing full and well what Black Jack could do, well, Jamie couldn’t say no.
“You have my name, my clan, my family, and, if necessary, the protection of my body as well,” he promises Claire. (Repeat: HIS BODY.)
Clearly touched, she takes his hand and asks to know more about his family. And what a missed opportunity for Jamie character development! In the book (the chapter’s titled “Revelations of the Bridal Chamber”), Jamie speaks at some length about his past and his family. But here, we’re only treated to stolen snippets of the conversation—trifling hints book readers will surely make sense of, while non-readers will be at a loss. (Contrast that with the intimate conversation we were privy to between Claire and Black Jack last week, and it feels as though we’ve been cheated.)
NEXT: Let’s get it on
As Claire and Jamie talk into the wee hours, Angus and Rupert just can’t help themselves any longer. They burst in to see if the deed has been done. They’re both disappointed to find everyone’s clothes still intact. Despite its ham-handedness, Claire takes her cue: “It’s getting rather late. Perhaps we should go to bed,” she tells Jamie.
“To bed, or to sleep?” Jamie replies mischievously. “Either way, you’re not likely to sleep in your corset. I’ll help you wish the laces and such.”
So he undresses her, and she him. And it’s hot. Totally hot.
“Where did you learn to kiss like that?” she asks.
“I said I was a virgin, not a monk. If I need guidance, I’ll ask,” he says, before throwing her onto the bed (notice how Claire turns around so they’re facing) and thrusting about a dozen times (it felt gauche to keep track of the actual number) and finishing.
“So, was it like you thought it would be?” Claire asks after several moments of silence.
“Almost. I thought…nah, never mind,” Jamie says. “You’ll laugh at me.”
She promises she won’t.
“I didn’t realize you did it face to face,” he admits sheepishly. “I thought you did it the back way, like horses, you ken.”
Jamie asks if she liked it. Which she did. Which gives her pause, considering, as she admits to herself, she’s now a bigamist and adulteress. Troubled, she makes to go downstairs to get food—but is halted by both Jamie and the hoots she receives from the clansmen awaiting consummation confirmation. Jamie shoos her back into the room and gallantly endures the heckling as he loads up a plate. Claire’s feeling a bit something (guilty? uncomfortable? scared?) when he returns, and bristles at his touch. She apologize,s but still distracts him by asking about the three marriage conditions he insisted upon from Dougal.
For one, he wanted a church wedding, so Dougal set about to enlist a priest. Except the only priest in the area demurred and was unwilling to perform the ceremony without the rites (which would take three weeks). Dougal got around that with a bribe.
Next, Jamie insisted Claire have a ring. He gave a key to Angus and Rupert to take to the blacksmith to melt down into a bauble for Claire.
Finally, Claire needed appropriate attire, which Ned sought in an inappropriate place: a whorehouse. But as luck would have it, a lord had been unable to pay for services rendered and bartered a trade, offering up a beautiful gown in exchange. (Of course, when Ned opened his sizable purse to pay, the prostitutes seized upon him and kept him busy while the dress was being wrapped.)
For her part, Claire’s wedding preparations had been much less thorough: She spent most of the day drinking, nursing a massive hangover during the exchanging of vows. Jamie remembers every detail clearly, though: “It was as if I stepped outside on a cloudy day and suddenly the sun came out,” he says of seeing Claire done up for the first time. Claire remembers this much: After stuffing Frank’s ring down the bosom of her dress, she walked with Jamie down the aisle. They exchanged vows (and some blood-letting) and sealed the deal with a lovely kiss.
Claire noticeably softens at the tender recollection. And if those earlier thrusts were a bit of a let down, well, here’s where it gets good (and where I surreptitiously closed my office door).
“Take your shirt off,” she commands him. “I want to look at you.”
She (and we) get a very good, lingering look, indeed.
“Well then, fair is fair,” Jamie says. “Take yours off as well.” And he’s mesmerized by what he sees (this being the first naked lady that’s all his, after all).
They go at it again, and when Claire cries out, Jamie apologizes for hurting her. But that’s not what he did.
“Does it happen every time?” a mystified Jamie asks.
“Only if the man is a very good lover,” Claire responds.
As Jamie dozes, Claire makes another attempt to go downstairs and get more food—unexpectedly running into Dougal, who’s been out spreading the glad tidings to Randall. Claire’s safe from Black Jack…for now. But then this happens:
“I commend you for doing your duty, but it needn’t stop you from sampling other pleasures,” Dougal says, standing much too close. “I find you to be the most singular woman, Claire.”
What!? WHAT!?! Nope. Dislike.
Thankfully, Rupert (once again) comes bumbling in, unwittingly rescuing Claire from a very uncomfortable situation. But is anyone else worried about where this is headed?
The next morning—in a scene that once again makes you somehow feel for Frank, despite sharing the same face with that dastardly sadist Black Jack—Claire shakes out her wedding dress and her ring from Frank falls to the floor. As she slides it onto her right ring finger, it serves as just one more reminder of her former life, which has fractured even more from her current one.
And that, Sassenachs, brings us to the mid-season finale, which airs next week. (Just as things are really heating up too!) Ah well, Innsidh na geòidh as t-fhoghar e.
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