This Outlander Recap contains spoilers for S03E02 “Surrender”
Just to let everyone know that they are indeed watching Outlander, at the beginning season three’s second episode, Surrender, Starz kindly informs its audience that the episode is rated Mature for strong sexual content and violence. (And of course, forgot the two most important warnings about the episode: Angst and hair).
But, before we get to the actual episode, I just want to point out that I love the new theme song arrangement. I’m a big fan of opening credits, and I love how dedicated Outlander has been into making every opening unique to what is happening in the story, while still maintaining some of the same images.
I also love this shot of Jamie standing by the water.
The episode starts with Scotland in 1752, six years after the battle of Culloden with Fergus, Rabbie MacNab, and Not-That Wee Jamie. AND OH MY GOSH FERGUS’S VOICE BROKE. BBY IS GROWING UP. WHAT IS THIS? The boys had gone on an excursion to find Ian’s gun, which is a great thing for three boys under 15 to do when they don’t know how to use a gun. Back in Lallybroch, the boys find that Red Coats are in the house, arresting Ian for apparently no reason at all. Ian is clearly not happy about this, but his much-lighter hair should indicate that this kind of BS is not uncommon at Lallybroch. Eventually, we find out that a redcoat officer, Captain Lewis, is looking for the Dunbonnet (aka, a redheaded Jacobite officer that escaped execution and wears a brown hat to cover his hair). Jenny and Ian are of all like :
Of course, the Captain doesn’t believe this and arrests Ian just to test for how long he can put up with the BS. As they’re taking Ian away we meet two characters that become really important to the plot of the episode: the first is Captain McGregor, a Scottish lowlander that has become a redcoat (to the anger of Fergus) and Mary MacNab, who is simultaneously the housekeeper and the person in charge of exposition. After Ian is taken away, we finally are able to see the legend himself: the one and only Dunbonnet.
Now, I really don’t want to talk about the hair, but I feel that not talking about the hair would be an insult to both the hair and the bonnet, so I’m going to talk about the goddamned hair.
I am really really conflicted about this hair. I love the fact that Jamie is practically unrecognizable in these clips. It helps showcase the effect that his grief has had on him. I love the look on his face when he has a vision of Claire — with the hair, the beard, the dirt, and the dead animal on his shoulders. It’s such a chilling look and it helps showcase how overwhelmed he is in his own sorrow.
But also… WHY? LIKE IT MAKES NO SENSE WHY DOES HE WEAR A BONNET TO HIDE HIS RED HAIR WHEN HIS HAIR IS TOO LONG TO FIT UNDER THE BONNET???
But then again I also like how un-Jamie it makes Jamie look, and it adds a lot to how people around him are perceiving him. Of course, the hair is only one of the many ways in which this becomes apparent. Remember how in Season 1 Jamie was so eager to take over the role of laird? And how he made decisions about tenants without consulting Ian and Jenny because that was has his responsibility? In this episode when pregnant Jenny asks him if he wants to go over the ledgers because Ian has been arrested, Jamie does not speak a word.
However, to remind us of days of a better Jamie (and with better hair), we go back (forward) to the XXth century. Claire is seen panting heavily in her bed, one hand clutching her pillow like there’s no tomorrow and the other inconspicuously not visible under her sheets. And although Frank is lying asleep next to her, it’s memories of her other husband that are playing in her head.
I think this scene is the first time we’ve seen Claire show her true feelings since she came back into the XXth century. This fantasy is the first acknowledgment that she misses Jamie.
But perhaps the most painful part about this is that, after she finishes, she turns around and looks at Frank, almost as if afraid that he’s caught her in this moment of grief and pleasure. Leaving aside the fucked up fact that Frank will not allow Claire to grieve, this is showing us how utterly isolated Claire is. I love the way the camera pans out and all you can see is Claire surrounded by bedsheets and shadows, with absolutely no sentient being that knows what she’s grieving.
And of course, the next morning, all seems well in the Randall household. Baby Bree has a stuffed rabbit and Claire is an article about Irish Independence on the Boston Globe. ( I really love the fact that they made Caitriona Balfe read an article about her own country’s independence)
Bree was very bored by all of this and decided she was going to change the topic by turning over, which is apparently a baby milestone. Just as this is happening, Frank is exiting the shower in nothing but a towel, because something had happened to the boiler. They bond over the baby milestone, and all is well until Claire realizes she has a naked husband in front of her.
We then jump back to the 1750s, when a long-locked Jamie is visited by Fergus, who wants Jamie to teach him how to use a weapon for when the next rebellion comes. As any responsible foster parent/ husband of a time-traveler would do, Jamie tells him that there is not going to be another rebellion. Fergus replies that just because Jamie is a coward now, it doesn’t mean Fergus one is too.
It wasn’t until I had to write about this scene that I started to think a little bit more about how Fergus must have perceived Jamie. Jamie was a tall Scottish warrior that hired him to spy on people and saved him from the life of being a busboy in a French brothel. This, added to the fact that Jamie was the first person that really provided him with care and protection probably led to a lot of idealization on his part. And with Jamie living as a caveman, with Claire gone, Fergus is seeing his vision of Jamie fall completely apart.
Fergus’ reprimand at least manages to shake Jamie enough to go help out with the ledgers. When he arrives he finds that his sister is giving birth. While she’s in labor Fergus, Rabbie and Wee Jamie see a raven — an omen of death.Fergus decides he’s going to shoot the raven (because apparently, he had always known how to shoot, he just wanted to ask Jamie for the drama™). Fergus shoots, and baby Ian is born “fine and healthy” as announced by Mary MacNab. Jamie is immediately put on uncle duty and is given the baby to hold.
And for some incomprehensible reason, Janet Fraser Murray decides that this precise moment (you know, right after being birth) is really the best time have the following conversation:
And while I definitely see where Jenny is coming from and why she wants this for her brother…
WHY ARE YOU HAVING THIS CONVERSATION RIGHT AFTER GIVING BIRTH. SHOULDN’T YOU BE SLEEPING OR SOMETHING?
Jamie is of course not having this, and he takes Ian so he can meet his older brother. And, because this is Outlander, it is at this exact moment that Captain Lewis and McGregor, who had heard the gun going off, came rushing into Lallybroch.
Jamie hides with baby Ian while Jenny tries to convince the redcoats that there were no weapons in the house. Jenny is, of course, freaking out, and Captain Lewis doesn’t believe her. He eventually catches on to the fact that Jenny had just given birth and they have the following interaction:
“Hey, lady where’s your baby?”
“It was born dead.”
“Kay, Imma have to see a body.”
“The midwife buried it. ”
“Kay, Imma have someone dig up your dead baby, because this is how invested I am into proving that you’re lying.”
While all of this is happening, Jamie is holding baby Ian is pretty much the next room over and trying to make sure he doesn’t cry. It’s pretty clear that this BS is going to end badly, but thankfully Mary MacNab to save the day. comes into the room with the weapon in hands and claims it at hers. This is enough to satisfy the redcoats. However, Jenny tells Jamie to dig a grave for the fake dead baby, because the captain might possible be that invested in them.
We are then taken back into the future, we jump into the Randall marital bed, where Claire is surprise surprise, initiating sex with Frank.Frank, of course, is a little bit confused and asks her if anything is happening, to which she replies that she misses her husband. Yup. You heard that. She misses her husband. Not I miss you, Frank, but I miss my husband. Claire is pretty much explicitly saying: I miss Jamie, but I’m also really horny, so I’m going to use you to satisfy myself while simultaneously pleasing you so you can stop being a crybaby over me not wanting to touch you. And then she proceeds to get on top of him and have sex with him with her eyes closed the entire time.
And to be honest, without considering how much she does or does not miss Jamie, based on every encounter she had with Black Jack Randall alone, can we really blame her? Although she never had any encounters that were nearly as traumatic as Jamie’s, the guy still attacked and assaulted her on more than one occasion, raped and tortured her husband, raped her adopted 10-year-old son, tried to rape her sister-in-law, and indirectly caused Claire to have a miscarriage. And while Frank as a character doesn’t share BJR’s mannerisms (shout-out to Tobias Menzies for being amazing) he still looks exactly like Black Jack. So, Jamie or no Jamie, the surprising thing about this scene is not just that Claire is closing her eyes, but that she’s also not covering his mouth so she doesn’t have to hear him breathe. However, we all know that she’s closing her eyes because she’s thinking of Jamie, and I want to think that this is in a way Frank paying back that crime for what BJR did to Claire and Jamie’s marriage last season.
Back in Jamie’s time, a group of the redcoats that includes McGregor, are bringing Ian home. When they do, they take the opportunity to follow Fergus in the hopes that he would lead them to Jamie. Fergus starts to take them in circles, and after they catch on he provokes one of the redcoats. Throughout the entire episode, Fergus had consistently insulted McGregor for being a traitor to the Scots. By this time, McGregor has had enough of this shit, and in anger, he cuts Fergus’ hand off. Jamie has been watching all of this but was hiding away so that he would not be captured. After the redcoats leave, quickly rushes in and starts taking care of Fergus’s wound, reassuring him that he’s doing what he had seen Claire do with other patients before.
And because a teenager losing his hand is not traumatic enough, the folks over at Starz decided to show us the hand. Just so we’re sure that it was actually cut off. Also, I’m not gonna act like I’ve ever seen a dismembered hand, but I’m pretty sure it did not look like that. That kinda looked like a barbie hand.
And although he has now been crippled, Jamie was still able to save Fergus. However, this event is too much for Jamie to handle. Although he knows that not stopping them was the best thing to do: as Jenny reminds him, they would have both been dead had he tried. The guilt is still a lot for Jamie. After all, if Fergus had thought him a coward before, what could he think now? Jamie can’t take it anymore and breaks down in his sister’s arms.
After this, he goes in and talks to Fergus in what is probably one of my favorite scenes in the episode. This is the moment Jamie remembers that although he had lost Claire and their child, that there were still people that made his life worthwhile — even in grief. The fact that it’s Fergus who gets hurt — who is as much his and Claire’s child as Bree or Faith– makes this even more powerful. Simultaneously, I think Fergus is trying to reassure Jamie that he hasn’t disappointed. He does this by cracking a joke about how Jamie had promised to sustain him if he ever lost a hand while in his service. Jamie smiles, and although it doesn’t quite reach his eyes, it’s the first time we see a semblance of happiness cross Jamie’s face this season.
Back in the XXth century, a lot less random amputations are going on. The price for this is that you have to have dinner parties with your neighbors. Remember Millie Nelson from the last episode? Well, Millie and her husband Jerry have now invited to a dinner party at the Randall’s, which we assume has not been cooked on the fireplace. Jerry is complementing Claire on dessert and suggests that she pass on the recipe to Millie. This turns into a short conversation about the Nelsons’ dessert habits that ends with Jerry commenting Millie might not be much of a baker but that her talents lie elsewhere, which he says as he literally winks.This comment makes Frank and Claire hella uncomfortable because it’s a crude reminder of how extinguished their passion has become.
(I would also like to apologize to everyone in the Greater Boston Area for whatever sort of accent Jerry and Millie have going on)
Claire then tries to initiate having sex again with Frank, in a scene that in a way reminds me of that one time they had sex at Castle Leoch in the very first episode. Claire is trying to act with the same coy attitude as in that episode, but the role doesn’t seem to suit her anymore. I’ve always felt that Claire acted like a girl and not a woman in the scenes with Frank before she traveled back (always very teasing, playful, and undemanding). This wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that Claire doesn’t behave like this in any other context or with anyone else. I’ve always felt like this was related to the fact that Claire and Frank started their relationship when she was much younger, with her being older than her. Although this is never explicitly stated in the show, I think it can be inferred from, you know, math (Claire is 27 in Season 1, and on more than one occasion it’s stated that they were together for seven years). At the beginning of season 1, this was understandable. Claire was going back to her life after the War, and it’s understandable that she wanted to return to a life that preceded it. Now, it feels forced and awkward.
Frank still plays along with her because at first, it seems like Claire actually wants to engage with him. But, of course, once the action starts, her eyes close immediately. She also refuses to open her eyes when Frank repeatedly asks her to. I think this scene is intended to be a parallel Claire and Jamie’s scene in The Reckoning. In both scenes, Claire and her corresponding husband are by a fireplace, during a time when their marriage stands at a crossroads. And in both cases, their lovemaking shapes the future of their marriage: For Claire and Jamie, it establishes their marriage as one that is going to be founded on their mutual respect, love, and passion.
Claire and Frank’s scene is cut short. Frank, who is not an idiot, after all, knows that Claire is closing her eyes, not from pleasure but because she’s imagining Jamie. Of course, I could understand how this would make anyone unhappy, but in a sense, Frank isn’t giving her a choice. He wants her to be with him, but he’s not giving her a space to mourn for Jamie. The only way Claire can try to reconcile this is by doing things like this (having sex with her eyes closed), but even then, Frank is demanding that Claire give herself entirely to him. All of which would have been a fair request, if Claire had actually chosen to go back to him, or if she hadn’t done it because she believed Jamie had died.
Back during Jamie’s time, Ian is describing to Jamie what having a phantom limb feels like. As Ian tells Jamie, this is a feeling that is not going to be entirely unfamiliar to Jamie since he also lost a pretty important part of his body: Claire who was his heart.
Jamie seems to have gone back to life during this episode. He hasn’t necessarily abandoned his mourning but has started to live with it. And the first thing he decides to do is to make his sister and brother in law hand him to the redcoats. The plan is simple: Jenny tells the Captain that her brother has contacted her saying that he’s coming home. They arrest Jamie, and Jenny can keep the reward money while also presenting herself as a loyal subject. Jenny gets the cash, the redcoats leave them alone, and Jamie gets transferred to a prison that at the very least is above ground. Jenny is of course not about this, but Jamie really isn’t giving her much of a choice. Before he leaves, Mary MacNab shows up at his cave and is all like:“Listen, bro, you gotta get rid of this hair before the end of the episode.”
She cuts his hair and shaves him, and he takes his leave so he can bathe. When he comes back, Mary is in naught but her shift, waiting for him. At first, Jamie is not having it because he thinks this is something Jenny set up. However, she tells him that she’s not interested in marrying Jamie, or replacing Claire in any way. She wants to be comforted and to provide him comfort as well before he leaves. I love the way this entire scene is presented. I’ve always hated (The only other person we’ve seen be sexual/romantic with Jamie so far) Laoghaire as a character because to me she’s never been granted the respect of being a realistic character and her motives are terrible and make no sense.
Mary is not only a realistic character to me, but it’s also very refreshing to see the ‘other woman’, if you will be an empathetic and charing character, and not a caricature. And, if your heart did not break enough during this scene, then it certainly did when, like his wife, Jamie begins to close his eyes:
It’s also simultaneously sad and heartwarming to compare this kind of love scene to the one Claire is having. Mary is giving Jamie what Frank should be trying to give Claire: selfless, legitimate affection but without the expectation that by having Mary, Jamie is letting go of Claire. It’s heartwarming to see Jamie have this, but sad because Claire is nowhere near close to this, even when the person she is with, in theory, should care more for her than what Mary cares for Jamie.
In the XXth century, Claire has also resumed her life by going back to the one thing she could have that was better in her own time than in Jamie’s: medicine. And as a giant “fuck you” to the guy in the last episode, Claire starts medical school. And of course, she’s such a nerd that she shows up to class super early. Now, you know this is going to be kinda fucked up when the Professor sarcastically informs her that the school is being very modern by taking in a woman and a black man (using that word) in the classroom.
However, it’s super great to see Claire sit down by herself as white pasty guy after white pasty guy walks into the room (I’m sure this is what the casting call said). And then Joe Abernathy walks into the room, takes one look at everyone there, and goes up to Claire and asks her if the seat next to her is taken.
After class, Claire goes home and is getting ready to go to bed. And the show throws us another wonderful oh shit moment: Claire and Frank are now sleeping in separate (twin) beds.
Back in the 18th century, Jaime and Jenny’s ruse to get him arrested begins.
Oh my, would you look at that, THE BONNET IS COVERING ALL OF YOUR HAIR.
Everything goes according to plan, Jamie makes an elaborate announcement of his return and many loud declarations about how betrayed he feels. Jenny is, of course, playing alone– but it’s not until he’s actually arrested that she drops the act. It’s understandable how this is so heartbreaking for Jenny. Every single time he has left their home, there has been the possibility that he was never going to return, and this time around he wasn’t just leaving, but forcing her to make him leave.
And to end the episode on an emotional punchline, we see Claire walking through what I’m guessing is meant to be the Boston Common (nice try Starz). A street performer is playing “Scotland the Brave” on a bagpipe. A teary-eyed Claire stops and listens for a while, before reaching for her wallet, giving him some change and walking away.