Every TV show has an episode that on its own isn’t inherently bad but it lacks the action or drama of its predecessor so it seems weaker by comparison. “Lallybroch” is that episode for Outlander. After last week’s witch trial and then Claire’s tumultuous decision between Jamie and Frank, “Lallybroch” is a walk in the park. However, it’s a necessary episode for furthering the story, especially since last week’s episode would have been considered a happy ending for some stories.
At the conclusion of “The Devil’s Mark” Jamie took Claire back to Craigh na Dun, back to Frank. However, Claire ultimately chose to stay with Jamie, and the pair set off for Lallybroch to start their new life together, knowing now that they both willingly decided to be in the marriage. It only took eleven episodes but Claire finally seemed resigned to accept her life in the 18th century. Though I imagine she is quickly trying to invent (reinvent?) indoor plumbing, because life with so many Scottish men can’t be pretty.
It’s a sweet scene, watching the Frasers enter Lallybroch, full of hope and optimism for their future. Yet, that bliss is soon squashed when Jamie encounters his older sister, Jenny. The two have a wee bit of spat and this is a moment I cannot understand. Jamie feels guilty for the things that occurred between Jenny and Black Jack Randall, saying he would have rather died than to have her bear Randall’s child. Being more stubborn than even Jamie, Jenny rightly calls him a fool for his behavior. For a man that days before listened intently to his wife tell him she was from the future, he does not give his sister any such respect or sympathy to tell him the truth. He even goes so far as to insinuate her current pregnancy is from ignoble actions. The Fraser siblings have a relationship built on bickering and butting heads but this greeting seemed a bit out of character for Jamie, a man who has defended the women in his life on several occasions. To spare the siblings from eating each other’s throats, Jenny’s husband and father of her children, Ian Murray, appears and Jamie pulls a 180, all too happy to see his family again.
Once inside Lallybroch, the new Laird and Lady of Broch Tuarach still have troubles to sort out in terms of running the lands. Jenny has been managing it with the help of her husband for many, many years, and for Jamie to just waltz in, put his feet up on the table, and proclaim, “It’s mine” is shocking for her. Naturally, she fights against Jamie’s wishes. She and Claire have it out a few times as well, because Claire tries to defend her husband and Jenny cannot believe Jamie would have married an Englishwoman. The Fraser children then share their respective stories about moments with Black Jack Randall, and it seems to soften the tension between them for a time.
Along with the family relationships, “Lallybroch” was an episode that also explored Jamie and Claire as a couple, without the life or death situations, without threats from outside sources, without the need for passion or anger. Both soon realized what so many young couples do, marriage is hard and you’re no longer acting for just yourself. Jamie, again, follows what everyone else before him has done, what he believes his father would have done in such situations. He is guided by this notion of being who he thinks he should be, rather than simply being who he really is. It was almost cringe-worthy, watching Jamie put on the smarmy Laird act, boisterous and mostly drunk. Claire is somewhat understanding of his position as Laird, as well as the image she puts forth as Lady, but it’s hard for her to fight her headstrong nature. She is not one to go down quietly, which leads to her confronting Jamie about his personality change. More importantly, her obstinate attitude gets her into trouble when she defends Rabbie McNabb from his abusive father. Jenny rightly puts the Laird and Lady in their place by snapping, “Do you think life just started when the two of you walked through that door?”
However, it takes a more than a witty response and flashbacks to life’s horrors with Jack Randall to bring the Frasers back together. When Jamie has a naked close call with the redcoats, and Jenny finally sees the marks Jack Randall left on his back, the trio forgo their stubbornness in exchange for something more akin to compromise. Claire and Jamie share a nice moment later that night when Jamie tells Claire how he loved her from the very beginning. It’s cheesy but I’m a sap and I won’t lie, I swooned a bit when Claire told Jamie, “I love you” for the first time. However, as things are wont to do, as soon as everyone seems to be getting along, Claire wakes up to find Jamie with guns pointed at his head, and the episode ends.
So much for a quiet homecoming.
Outlander airs Saturdays on Starz at 9pm EST.
Photos courtesy of Starz.