'Outlander' recap: 'Lallybroch'
Claire goes home with Jamie—you can call him Laird.
One of the cutest bits of trivia I gleaned from my interview with Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan leading up to the midseason premiere of Outlander was that actress Laura Donnelly—who plays Jamie’s strong-willed sister, Jenny—also auditioned for the role of Claire. Which means that, yes, Sam has made out with his sister. (On-screen sister!) But it’s clear from “Lallybroch” that these two actors are much better suited to portray bickering yet adoring siblings. It’s nice to see Jamie in his element at home, and a major grounding force for him (in addition to his new bride) is his sister. Let’s retrace how we got here. (Hint: so many flashbacks!)
Given the most recent memories Jamie has of Lallybroch—being tied up and mercilessly flogged by Captain Black Jack Randall—the Laird is uneasy as he and Claire approach Broch Tuarach (meaning: the north-facing tower).
“It’s behind you now, Jamie,” Claire says trying to soothe him. “It’s in the past.”
But Jamie’s mind is troubled over current consequences, including the rumors that Randall had gotten Jenny pregnant with “a bastard child.” His dark and stormy demeanor only intensifies when he spies a young boy playing outside and an obviously pregnant Jenny jumps into his arms to welcome him home. And to top it all off, she’s named the “illegitimate” child after him!
“Do you not think I’d suffered enough for what I’d let happen that you must name Randall’s bastard after me to be a reproach as long as I live?” he asks his sister.
Of course, there’s an explanation but Jamie won’t let Jenny give it, so she threatens to do what she did as children to make him quiet: grab him by the “bollocks.” Jamie reproaches Jenny for saying such things in front of his wife, and her response is pure perfection: “If she’s your wife, I’m sure she’s more familiar with your balls than I am.”
His paternity query is quickly dispatched with, though, when up walks his friend Ian, otherwise known as Jenny’s husband.
Inside, slightly more rational and clear-headed, Jamie begs to know what punishment Black Jack exacted on Jenny. We see the events play out through sepia-toned flashbacks:
Black Jack drags Jenny back into the house, toward the bedroom. As she stands stricken, waiting for the violence to level against her, Randall begins sniffing her and sticking his blood-soaked finger in her mouth, causing her to nearly gag. “Look at me,” he commands. Jenny reaches behind her to grab a candlestick and wallops the Red Coat with it. But it’s not enough to subdue him. He starts undressing and pulls out his…Little Jack Randall.
(You guys! Do you think that was real or a prosthetic?! I mean, not to sound like a pervert, but I watched the scene twice and it looked as though Tobias Menzies was unfurling it like a rolled up Union Jack in his pants! I need some answers!)
Anyway, Randall tries to get himself, er, ready. But he can’t. It doesn’t help that Jenny, with uncanny intuition, is laughing at him. Big, hearty guffaws. Even though she’s a virgin and doesn’t really understand what he’s doing, she does know that her reaction is affecting him. To quote Margaret Atwood: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” Unable to get hard, he knocks her out. When she comes to, he’s gone.
NEXT: Indecent proposal
Jamie owes Jenny an apology for all his slut-shaming—and Claire tells him as much. But Jamie uses the opportunity, instead, to pull Claire aside.
“I’m your husband. You musn’t embarrass me in front of my family and the servants,” he scolds.
“I’m not the meek and obedient type,” she responds. And isn’t that the truth.
Back in the sitting room, Jenny asks how Jamie intends to stay at Lallybroch given that he has a price on his head. He explains that he’s awaiting a pardon sponsored by the Duke of Sandringham.
“I never thought you’d be so trusting of the English,” Jenny says, shooting a meaningful look Claire’s way.
Claire and Jamie retreat upstairs to the Laird’s quarters, and it’s there we learn the fate of Jamie’s father—again, in flashback.
We’re at Ft. William. Jamie has been flogged once and is on his way to a second helping. His father arrives, begging mercy from Black Jack, but he’ll have to get clearance from the Duke of Argyll. And by the time that happens, well, it’ll be too late for young Jamie. But the Captain has an offer for the lad:
“Give over to me, make free of your body and there will be no second flogging,” Randall tells him. And Jamie considers it. After all, it’d be quicker, less painful, and he’d be released the same day. But, ultimately, he knows that he cannot disappoint his father by giving in to Randall’s request. So it’s more lashes for our hero. And he’s in a bad state. In fact, his father can’t take the bloody scene any longer and collapses dead—unbeknownst to Jamie who’s in so much pain he’s passed out. He still carries the guilt of his father’s death with him all these years later.
But Jamie can’t hide away and wallow: It’s Quarter Day, similar to when the band of MacKenzies went to collect the rents, except this time, the tenants come to the Laird. Claire worries that the gathering sounds rather public. Couldn’t it put Jamie at risk?
“Our tenants are like family,” Jenny sniffs. “Not a man, woman, or child would think of betraying Jamie to the Red Coats at any price.”
So they proceed, though Jamie, feeling generous, lets the rent collection slide, as it’s been a hard quarter for so many. But he withholds his mercy to one: a Mr. MacNab, whom Claire witnesses hitting his son. The Laird (drunkenly) metes out his justice (or, rather, a lesson in “the difference between abuse and discipline”) later that day…with his fists. Jenny, for her part, is none to pleased. On top of Jamie not collecting the rents, they now have another mouth to feed thanks to his object lesson: Mr. MacNab has left his son, Rabbie, on their doorstep to tend to. I don’t think Dr. Spock would approve of this. I guess it’s a good thing he’s 200 years from being born.
Jamie does not respond well to Jenny’s reproach. “I am the Laird of the estate now,” he bellows. “And I don’t need to discuss the running of it with my sister.” You’d think having grown up with such a feisty sister and now being married to a 20th-century lass, he’d be used to assertive women. Apparently not. As he chomps on some bread to soothe both his hangover and his anger, he notices the bread is pretty crummy. (I made a punny!) Apparently the mill is broken and the cooks are grinding the flour themselves. Well, big bad Laird isn’t going to stand for this, so he stomps down to the mill to fix it himself, which entails stripping down to his long shirt (it couldn’t have been a little shorter, costume department? C’mon!), and diving into the mill pond to unstick the wheel. But just as he goes under, Jenny rushes over to Claire like a premature Paul Revere: the Red Coats are coming. Claire and Jenny quickly hide Jamie’s tartan by sitting on it (funny, that’s how I conceal the cookies in my office) and play coy with the soldiers, trying to shoo them away. Except, one of the Englishmen decides to help out and is about to dive under the water too. Jamie gets the mill going just in time.
As he breaks the surface, Jenny sees the scars on Jamie’s back—truly realizing for the first time just what her brother has endured. That evening they have a nice moment at their father’s grave where they apologize to each other for the way they’ve been behaving. And all is well between the Fraser siblings. But danger, it seems, won’t stop following Jamie. Claire wakes the next morning to find she’s alone in bed. She finds Jamie downstairs surrounded by men holding pistols.
Home, apparently, is not as sweet as it should be.