For some unknown reason, we start with Jamie pulling a snake from the privy. Why Outlander, why? You have manifested my worst fears with an opening shot that honestly doesn’t need to be there. Thanks, guys…..And now back to our regularly scheduled programming sans snakes in toilets.
Jamie is out splitting wood, which means thank ye writers that he gets to let his hair fly wild and show off what made us all fall in love with him in the first place — his rock hard bod commitment to care-taking. John Grey approaches in the trees and takes a minute to appreciate Jamie splitting wood (*cough* — super subtle guys). John is in the Americas now because he has business in Virginia, but once he heard Jamie was here he couldn’t resist stopping by. And he’s brought Willie, who now prefers William, with him.
Claire is collecting water from the river with some assistance from Murtagh, who she says has made Fraser’s Ridge feel like home. Murtagh has to return to his forge to pay his taxes though. He’s sent men from the regulator camp to petition the governor for lower taxes. They happen upon Willie, who is covered in leeches, and like the entitled member of the English aristocracy he is, he demands Claire remove them from his legs.
Claire brings Willie back to the cabin, where Jamie and John have already been discussing whether the boy will remember Jamie from his time as a groom. When Jamie is introduced to him, he doesn’t show any sign of recognition. Also, Isobel, John’s wife, has died while crossing from England to Jamaica. John is the only family William has left now. Or so he thinks. Jamie invites them to stay for a while. Murtagh also recognizes Lord John from Ardsmuir, and John begs he not reveal the circumstances under which they all met.
Later at dinner, Lord John sings the praises of Governor Tryon and his new “palace.” Entirely failing to read the room, John gets into an argument with Murtagh over the government’s excessive taxes and how they’re going to build a stately home for the governor. John calls the regulators an angry mob, while Murtagh insists the stories are exaggerated. John asks if they’ve had any trouble at Fraser’s Ridge, but Jamie wisely sidesteps the issue and tries to remain neutral. Oh, and by the way, Ian is off hunting with the Cherokee and conveniently absent for the duration of this episode.
Lord John wants to play chess with Jamie for old times sake, and dinna fash, he always travels with a set. But first, Jamie has to teach young William how to use an outhouse instead of a chamber pot because this kid is such an entitled s–t that he thinks his is literally someone else’s problem. But as they walk to the outhouse, the sight of Jamie with the horses triggers his memory and he asks if Jamie’s name is also Mackenzie. Willie does remember Mac – though he insists he does not still have the wooden snake Jamie carved because he’s too old for toys. Back inside, Claire continues to mistrust Lord John and tries to suss out if he’s been sent by the governor to spy on Jamie and ensure his loyalty.
Claire and Jamie are stoking a fire outside. Claire isn’t surprised William remembers Jamie, and Jamie is filled with longing by how much the boy is still like the small child he knew. He promises Claire a moment alone with her as soon as they’re free of all their houseguests. Heading into the house, he runs into Murtagh and warns him he’ll be eating rats in prison again if he’s not careful. But Murtagh doesn’t trust John’s sympathies for the governor — he wants to know why Jamie does and then realizes Willie is Jamie’s son.
Jamie and John return to their favorite pastime, playing chess, and throwing back some of Jamie’s homemade whiskey. John is emotional to learn that Jamie has everything he wants — a home, honorable work, his wife by his side, good friends, and knowing his son is safe and well-cared for. David Berry is the master of the silent look of unrequited yearning, and he turns it on full-force here. It’s enough to almost make you wonder (and maybe even want) what could have been if Jamie didn’t love the ladies, specifically Claire, so much.
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