Six years in hiding has changed Jamie -- and we're not just talking about the beard.
Outlander Season 3 2017
Credit: Aimee Spinks/Starz
Outlander Season 4 2018

Outlander may be Claire’s story, but Jamie — charged by an excellent performance by Sam Heughan — is absolutely owning these first few episodes of season 3. He may not say a lot, but he conveys multitudes.

This second episode fast forwards six years in the Scot’s story — a necessary jump seeing as he’s spent the time since his return to Lallybroch holed up in a cave, living a solitary life as an outlaw. (On the next episode of Cavefront Property Hunt!) Sure, he does stop into Lallybroch from time to time to see his family and tend to paperwork, but if his Hagrid makeover is any indication of his internal life, Jamie is feeling isolated and despondent. His time in hiding has also inspired new lore: Not only is he renowned as Red Jamie, but he’s also gained the moniker The Dunbonnet, owing to the beige cap he sports to conceal his immediately recognizable locks. And so it is that the Red Coats descend upon Lallybroch in search of the notorious Dunbonnet (a.k.a Red Jamie).

“No one here goes by that name,” says brother-in-law Ian, who is nonetheless carted away under suspicion of harboring a fugitive. (Don’t worry — he’ll be back by episode’s end.) Meanwhile, a pregnant Jenny bluffs and says that they haven’t seen him since he left for the rebellion six years before. It’s not really a lie, though, as she tells Jamie later while he’s skinning a buck: “James Fraser hasn’t been here for a long, long time.”

Jamie’s dependable companion Fergus, for one, isn’t giving up on him just yet. Armed with the pistol he found hidden in a storehouse, he creeps to Jamie’s cave for an unannounced shooting lesson. After all, he needs to be ready for the next rebellion.

“There will be no next rebellion,” Jamie replies. He instructs Fergus to get rid of the gun, as firearms are no longer permitted in the Highlands, but of course Fergus doesn’t do that. In fact, back at Lallybroch, when Fergus sees a raven roosted atop the house as Jenny goes into labor, he uses said gun to shoot the bad omen dead — and accidentally gains the attention of a roving bad of Red Coats. The soldiers charge into the house while a just-arrived Jamie is inside holding his newborn nephew. Jamie hides with the babe while Jenny tries to get them to leave. (Seriously, she just gave birth and is having to deal with this male nonsense!) The Red Coats’ line of questioning is relentless and increasingly invasive. When Jenny lies and says she gave birth to a still-born (to explain where the bairn has gone), they actually ask to see the body! It looks as though Jamie will have to reveal himself until the maid walks in with the pistol — confiscated from Fergus — and takes the blame for the crime. As she’s a harmless gentlewoman, her indiscretion is excused .

But the Red Coats are not so generous with Fergus, who’s been taunting them every chance he gets. Later, while in the woods near Jamie’s cave, the young Frenchman comes upon the band of soldiers and tries to lure them away from his employer’s hiding place. Jamie watches these events transpire but can do nothing because to intercede would mean not only his own demise but his family’s too. The confrontation escalates to the point where a fallen Fergus has his hand chopped clean off by a Red Coat! Why his hand, you ask? Well, in Voyager — Diana Gabaldon’s novel upon which this season is based — Fergus’ hand is targeted because he is carrying a flask of ale he won’t turn over to the soldiers. But that detail has been omitted for the TV adaptation, so this bloody act feels rather inexplicable.

As gruesome as this turn of events is (the spurting!), there is a small silver lining for Fergus. After being carried back to Lallybroch and bandaged up, Fergus reminds Jamie of the bargain they struck up at the beginning of his service: If he were to ever lose an ear or a hand, Jamie would support him for the rest of his life. “In one stroke, I have become a man of leisure, huh?” Fergus asks Jamie.

For Jamie, the assault serves as a wake-up call. “You remind me I have something to fight for,” he tells Fergus. And with that new resolve, Jamie is moved to action: He hatches a plan to insure his family’s future safety and benefit them financially. As you’ll recall, there’s a bounty on Jamie’s head — one that he insists his sister take full advantage of. Jenny is, of course, appalled, and initially refuses Jamie’s plan. She’s eventually convinced, though, and the game is a foot.

But not before Jamie gets a last-minute conjugal visit in the cave. It’s Mary MacNab, the maid from before. She’s a widow and is also in need (if you know what I mean). She assures Jamie that this act is not meant to wipe away the memory of his wife, and they ostensibly have sex. It’s an interesting decision on the part of the writers not to show this particular sex scene…

And so it is, a freshly shaved and shorn Jamie returns to Lallybroch…and into the arms of the awaiting British ambush. As he’s being dragged away, Jenny shouts after him, continuing her part of the ruse. But her words ring all too true: “You gave me no choice, brother. And I’ll never forgive you. Never!” (Recap continues on page 2)

Meanwhile in 20th-century Boston, Claire seems to dream of only one man: Jamie. Yet, when Frank emerges from the shower with just a towel around his loins, she seems slightly aroused. Suspicions are confirmed a few nights later as they lie in bed together and she starts to caress him gently in his sleep.

“What is it?” he asks drowsily.

“I miss my husband,” she says (not specifying which one). Regardless, she maneuvers herself on top of him and they have sex.

Yet, while their physical intimacy may be heating up, Claire and Frank’s emotional intimacy is only lukewarm, at best. That fact comes into stark relief when the couple invite over their very-in-love neighbors for dinner — neighbors who can’t seem to keep their lips off one another. Claire and Frank almost seem embarrassed in their presence. Later, when the two have sex once again (this time in front of their sitting room fireplace — a setup that felt reminiscent of a previous Claire-Jamie encounter), Frank stops mid-thrust to point out that Claire’s eyes are closed and that she never used to do that. She demurs and says it means nothing, but Frank doesn’t believe her: “Claire, when I’m with you, I’m with you. But you’re with him.”

Feeling unfulfilled in more ways than one, Claire decides to remedy her professional angst, at least, and enroll in medical school. But this being the mid-1900s, her presence in the classroom is largely unwelcomed by the predominantly male student body — except one, a Mr. Joe Abernathy, who, as the only black student in the program, understands Claire’s feeling ostracized more than anyone else ever could. And with that, Claire’s half of the narrative may finally pick up steam!

Be sure to tune in to Outlander Live!, hosted by Lynette Rice and Amy Wilkinson, every Monday at 12 p.m. ET on Sirius XM 105.

Episode Recaps

Outlander Season 4 2018

Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time-travel novels come to life in the Starz series.

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