Outlander recap: Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?
Well, Sassenachs, it’s time for me to throw a hissy fit. We’ve arrived at my least favorite moment in the entire Outlander books, when Jamie gets bit by a snake.
At first, things seem good on the Ridge. Claire says Marsali’s baby is strong and in perfect position, and Marsali makes a sweet comment about wanting to share the birth with Claire as a mother to her. Meanwhile, Roger and Bree are having a lazy morning in bed.
It’s quickly interrupted by Jamie who wants Bree to join him and the men hunting to get meat for winter. She declines, wanting to dye cloth with Claire and insists Jamie take Roger. And we all know Bree doesn't really want to dye cloth, she just wants Roger not to consistently feel emasculated.
The men of the Ridge are out hunting a herd of bison, and they devise a plan that requires Jamie and Roger break off from the group. But while Jamie is taking a shot at the herd, he gets bit by a snake. Don’t worry, he hacks his head off with a knife. Roger works quickly to try to fix things, slicing Jamie’s leg and sucking the venom out. Jamie sends Roger off to find the others, and Roger picks up the snake’s head to take with him.
While dyeing cloth, Claire and Bree have a heart-to-heart about their dream careers and finding their purpose. Claire explains she initially only pursued nursing because becoming a doctor wasn’t an option, but she was determined later in life to finish her studies. Her life without Bree or Jamie would make her less whole, but she would still have her identity as a healer/doctor remaining no matter what. She reassures Bree that she will find a way to become an engineer in this world. Both Bree and Roger will find their purpose, Claire is certain.
Roger gets lost in the woods, firing shots in frustration in the hopes it will draw the other men to him. But they’re already back at the Ridge and disturbed to discover that Roger and Jamie have not returned.
Roger returns to Jamie, who has made a meal of the snake. Fair is fair, as he says. Jamie looks like he’s in poor shape and tells Roger his lips are numb and he has pins and needles in his fingers. Roger tells him in the future they would use anti-venom, and they decide to wait for first light to return to the Ridge. But Jamie’s wound looks majorly inflamed and infected.
In the middle of the night by the fire, Jamie asks Roger if he knows the last rites, but Roger insists Jamie doesn’t need them. So Jamie asks that he at least say a prayer for the sick. Jamie also has a deathbed request for Roger. Roger must complete Jamie's mission to kill Stephen Bonnet. He explains the plan they’ve set in motion using the whisky and Philip Wylie. Roger is not pleased at the idea of taking another man’s life, but Jamie insists he will have to be. Jamie regrets saving Bonnet’s life only to watch him murder his friend and attack both Claire and Bree. He fears this death is his penance, and now Roger must pay for his sins.
Jamie also makes Roger promise to take care of Claire on the Ridge, but Roger still insists Jamie is going to live. Jamie tries to rile Roger up by telling him Bonnet will try to claim Jeremiah as his own. Bonnet’s crimes are unforgivable, and they need to rid this Earth of him. Finally, Jamie admits that he’s glad Roger returned to the family. Roger begrudgingly tells Jamie that he’ll need to teach him to fight if he wants him to kill Bonnet. He steadfastly refuses to accept Jamie could die.
The next morning Ian is perturbed to find Jamie’s horse with no rider has returned. He and the men go out looking, while Roger tries to pull Jamie through the woods on a makeshift stretcher. Jamie faces his mortality once again and makes Roger promise that they all should return to the future if he dies. He makes some deathbed requests, asking Roger to bequeath his sword to Jem, tell Bree he loves her, and to tell Claire he meant it. Roger finally is scared enough to pray over Jamie and resumes his attempts to drag him home.
Roger is able to hear Ian and Fergus searching for them, but he’s unable to call out so he hits a tree with a stick. They find him and get Jamie on a horse to get him home.
Claire studies his leg; she’s unaccustomed to snake bites as a surgeon and only ever saw the results of one in an autopsy. Claire sends Marsali and the other settlers out to find maggots to eat the dead flesh and fight infection. Claire is distraught because the venom is in Jamie’s blood and with no syringe, she can only give him penicillin broth, which is less potent. It’s a good sign that Jamie has stopped vomiting, but she fears gangrene.
Claire sends Bree out to hunt for maggots and sits at Jamie’s bedside. He says he knows he should be scared since Claire is being tender instead of scolding him. So, she gives him some signature attitude, calling him a fool for stepping on a snake.
Later, he grabs her saw and makes her promise she won’t take his leg. She insists she will choose his life over his leg, but he doesn’t want to live that way. In his eyes, there is no real choice here, so he’s made his. He'd rather die.
Bree and Roger hunt for maggots together, and Roger tells her about the plan to go to Wylie’s Landing to find and kill Bonnet. He reveals Jamie’s fear that Bonnet might have the right to try to take Jemmy from them. Bree is horrified, but Roger reminds her they live in a time where people believe that conceiving a child is a sign of consensual relations. Bree, remind me why you don’t just want to go back to the future?
Eventually, Josiah finds some maggots, and they put them on Jamie’s wound to treat him. Claire thinks the infection is too deep for the maggots to help now, though. She needs a way to get penicillin in Jamie’s bloodstream.
While hanging laundry, Lizzie is terrified by a wounded bison who seems to be heading straight for Jem. Bree runs out and tries to distract him, leading the bison to charge her, while Claire shoots him dead. The Ridge chops up the dead animal for food.
While Roger sits at Jamie’s bedside, Jamie asks him to help him move to sleep in his own bed. While Roger and Ian move Jamie, Claire breaks down to Bree about her promise not to amputate and how the thought of doing it makes her ill. Bree says that at least Jamie would be alive to be mad at her for breaking her promise if it comes to that.
Jamie growls to Ian and Roger about Claire’s intentions to take his leg off, insisting he’d be useless with only one leg. This angers Ian, and he reminds Jamie that his father and Fergus get along fine with one leg and one hand respectively. They’re still the same people. Ian goes off on Jamie saying there’s nothing honorable about being bit by a snake, and that now he sees how courageous his father was and that he’s ashamed of Jamie for feeling this way.
Later, Ian tries to prevent Fergus from visiting Jamie, fearing Fergus will take offense at Jamie’s stubborn refusal to lose a limb. Fergus tells Ian of his joke when he lost his hand that he became a man of leisure, dependent on Jamie. Fergus reminds Ian all they can do is be there for Jamie as he has been for them.
Jamie calls out to Claire in the middle of the night and asks her to touch him. He seems to die for a moment, and she pulls off her nightgown, pressing her warm flesh to his cold body and stroking him. She begs him to stay with her, and after what seems an eternity, he breathes again. The next morning he tells her she can take his leg.
At the cabin, Roger shows Bree the snake head he kept. As he’s about to throw it into the fire, Bree is struck with inspiration.
Gathering plants on the Ridge, Marsali suddenly goes into labor. Fergus says he’ll go fetch Claire. But she insists there’s no time.
Since they’re all a bit preoccupied, Claire prepares to cut off Jamie’s leg, just her and Ian. Jamie asks Ian to take his leg and bury it when everything is done. Ian apologizes for what he said, but Jamie says he was right. Ian gives Jamie a cloth to bite down on, while Claire prepares her knife with shaking hands.
But Bree rushes in just in the nick of time. She’s marveling over the engineering of the pit viper and its hollow fangs, which she has now converted into a syringe. Claire is able to now inject penicillin and avoid amputation. Somehow I think if Jamie’s leg had already turned black, it was probably too late to turn it around with antibiotics, but hey, I’m not a doctor.
Later, Claire goes to meet Marsali and Fergus’ baby, a girl Felicity.
Jamie awakes to find Roger at his bedside. Roger gloats over being right that Jamie didn’t die, refusing to pass up the opportunity. Jamie releases Roger from any obligation to fulfill his dying wish, but Roger tells him he wants to go with him to Wylie’s Landing.
Later, Jamie and Claire have a heart-to-heart, and he admits he was ready to die. He could feel himself slipping away, and he saw a passageway to go through. He wanted to, and he knew it was his choice to live or die. That’s why he asked Claire to touch him, knowing she was the only thing that could bring him back. Because of her, he chose to say. He says it’s because she needs him. Not because he loves her, but because whether he is alive or dead, he will always love her.
So, there you have it Sassenachs, the snake ordeal is over. It was only slightly less dull than it was on the page, but what can you do? What did you think? Did you like it and the expanded storytelling about the possible amputation? Sound off in the comments below.
Outlander…On Demand! is indefinitely on hiatus, but you can catch up on old episodes on the website or the app. And, if you tune in to EW's Instagram stories on Monday at 10 a.m. PT, Outlander expert Lynette Rice and Ruth Kinane will be discussing this episode on Instagram Live.
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