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This week’s episode of “Outlander” was probably the most anticipated moment in the series; Jamie and Claire got married. This wedding however isn’t your typical fairy tale full of romance and bliss, in fact it’s 100% the opposite. Claire is being forced into marriage in order to protect her from falling in the hands of sadist Black Jack Randall and Jamie agrees to it knowing full well that he plans only to marry once in his lifetime…if things don’t connect between he and his wife – he could have a lifetime of unhappiness ahead of him.
The episode was written non-linear, as producer Ron Moore explained, this was to break things up so you wouldn’t just be cramped in their “honeymoon suite” for the entire episode. Over the course of the episode we see these two acquaintances who were on friendly terms before the wedding have to get to know each other as husband and wife.
Jamie and Claire’s days leading up to the arranged event were stark contrasts. Jamie spent his day making arrangements and setting up terms. Dougal nearly had a hissy fit when Jamie suggested that perhaps he wouldn’t go through it, leaving the hot-headed Clan Warrior fuming, “If?…you know Randall, you know what he’s capable of. What do you think will happen to her if she falls into his hands again?” Dougal really shouldn’t have been stressed out, for once Jamie knew that he was holding all of the cards, and he most certainly wouldn’t let anything happen to Claire. His coyness was mostly a ploy to get his Uncle to fulfill three wishes for him for the wedding. 1) He wanted to be married in a church by a priest. 2) He wanted a real wedding ring for Claire. 3) He wanted Claire to have a proper wedding gown. Jamie said that much of these demands came out of the hope of honoring the memory of his mother (someone we haven’t heard of up until this point,) but Jamie also wasn’t blind, he knew that Claire was miserable about the situation. By doing what he could to make the absolute best of the day, he hoped that he could maybe turn her gloomy view of the situation around.
The scenes with the various MacKenzie men trying to rapidly fulfill Jamie’s requests added humor into a very emotionally charged episode, from Angus and Rupert trying to direct a local blacksmith on how to make a ring out of a key, to Dougal nearly attacking the local priest when he stubbornly wanted to uphold traditions of waiting days before the marriage to take place, to Ned trying to obtain a gown at a local brothel; these men did surprisingly well at fulfilling Jamie’s requests, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend that they take on jobs as wedding planners.
Claire meanwhile spent the day in a drunken stupor, wallowing over the fact that she was about to become an adulterer. Even by the time of their wedding, things were hazy for her as she was fighting off a major hangover. Jamie however, told her that he remembered every “moment..every second” of the event. And when her gown was revealed to him, Jamie stated, “I’ll never forget when I came out of the church and I saw you for the first time. It was as if I stepped outside on a cloudy day and suddenly the Sun came out.” To any gentlemen reading this review – that BTW is a massive swoon-worthy thing to say. It’s even more swoon-worthy because in a recent interview Ron Moore’s wife said he said the same thing to her on their wedding day and he managed to sneak it into the episode. Claire meekly asked to know Jamie’s real name, for at this point he’d been hiding under a pseudonym. How Claire remembered to say “James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser” several times during the ceremony while nursing a hangover was most impressive. Jamie at least did manage to get a nice, real kiss from his wife at the service, which gave him hope that perhaps she might not view their union as all doom and gloom.
The actual couplings during the episode take place over the entire episode. The first round, led by Jamie’s inexperience went rather as expected – fast and ho-hum with some much needed humor when Jamie’s eyes were opened to the fact that perhaps animal husbandry isn’t the best way to learn the birds and the bees. His whole approach was hilarious, he sort of treated her like one of the guys with a “way to go you!” type of toast. It wasn’t until she kept chugging down booze that he realized that things were going to take some time to get her nerves in the right place and that bar room banter wasn’t going to get him lucky. Even then his inexperience left things flat for them. Claire did study her new husband after their brief coitus and her wheels were churning on how she was going to fix their problem. It took her warming up and getting to know him better in order for things to start to click.
The second round things finally started connecting for both of them. Once they finally unclothed fully, Jaimie’s confidence rose. Jamie’s breathless expression on seeing Claire fully nude for the first time was quite charming. Claire asked, “Haven’t you ever seen a naked woman before?” Jamie replied, “Well yes, but not so close, and certainly not one who was all mine.” Rowr – confident, possessive Jamie is sexy! By the third time, Claire was all in and Jamie clearly was no longer a boy but a man. These were two people who had learned how to please each other and complement each others needs. Jamie giving Claire his mother’s pearls, one of the only things that he had left of her was beyond touching at this point in the evening. Truly neither of them had anything to give each other but themselves. Even by morning you could tell that Claire was happy and had forgotten about her gloom from the previous day, until Frank’s wedding ring rolled across the floor and was a physical reminder of her past life.
The actual sex in the episode was never gratuitous. It felt like a natural progression of how two people who were thrust into this situation would fall in love. It was by talking through their awkwardness, drinking to kill their nerves, and getting to know each other that they were able to finally come together and enjoy each other. The more they got to know each other the easier things got for them. Dougal got the pie in the face for the episode when he discovered that both Jamie and Claire had zero interest in him interfering with their relationship any further at this point.
Book fans are still nit-picking about certain phrases that were left out the episode, welcome to the world of adaptation, the writers don’t have to use all of the existing dialog, they can leave their mark on the series by infusing their own voices into the story in order to enhance it. This episode reminded me of everything that I loved about “Battlestar Galactica” – Ron Moore has a fantastic way of finding the heart and soul of his characters and bringing them to life on screen. This episode was the first time that Jamie finally got to truly reveal himself to Claire because he was no longer hiding his identity. And Claire allowed her guard to go down. Bear McCreary’s music was lush and romantic as well which only further brought the beauty of the episode full fold.
The acting was top notch in this episode. High kudos have to go out to Sam Heughan for willingly playing the naive, nervous groom and making women swoon worldwide in the process. And Sam’s lady fans highly appreciate the many hours he obviously spends at the gym. Rowr!
Sadly, next week is our last episode before the series goes on hiatus until winter. For anyone out there who’s already in mourning, if you’re looking for something to watch, I recommend “Battlestar Galactica The Mini-Series” by Ron Moore. Don’t let the show’s sci-fi packaging fool you, the characters are every bit as rich as those we see here on “Outlander” and Bear’s soundtrack will lull you in with warm familiarity. At least we have one more to go before the long wait until winter!