This Outlander Recap contains spoilers for S03E7 “Créme de Menthe”.
If I had to describe Créme de Menthe episode in one word, it would, unfortunately, have to be “meh”. It’s not a bad episode, but out of all the episodes that we have seen so far, this is definitely that one episode of the season that you’re going to skip.
It’s not just that the episode is a filler (because it is), but it’s a filler due to adaptation. While Outlander is definitely not afraid of changing things about its source material, it’s still using the events of the book as a map. In Creme de Menthe the story is following that map, and that’s pretty much all it’s doing. Nearly every single scene in the episode feels incomplete; they’re introducing something that will be important later on, but for the duration of this episode we just sort of have to sit here and take it for what it is.
The episode ended on a cliffhanger, that I think added to this issue of adaptation. The episode’s cliffhanger is only a cliffhanger for fans of the show that haven’t read or do not know what happens in Voyager. Now, I imagine that a lot of Outlander fans are not familiar with the plot of the books, so it’s understandable that they try to keep Jamie’s second marriage as much of a secret as they would any other spoiler. But in this particular case, half the audience already knew Jamie was married and to whom. I’m all for keeping the suspense for the other half of the fans, but I think the writers needed to get creative in order to keep all audience members interested. And in this particular episode, they failed in that department.
“Créme de Menthe” continues with last episode’s cliffhanger: with Claire being attacked by a man looking through Jamie’s room. Claire attempts to defend herself from the man, and while doing so, the man slips and hits his head.
At this point, Jamie conveniently arrives back. Claire explains that the man had been looking through his things. As she’s telling the story, the man begins to show signs that he’s alive, which immediately kicks Claire into Doctor Mode. She also doesn’t mention the whole he tried to sexually assault thing again ???
Jamie wants to let the man die since he did after all attack, Claire. But for Claire, saving the man’s life quickly becomes an ethical/professional issue. As the Doctor that she is, she cannot allow the man in front of her to simply die without trying to help him. Jamie acquiesces, but he’s not very happy about the entire situation.
Fergus and Madame Jeanne arrive and are able to determine that the man is an exciseman named Barton. The man was working for Sir Fletcher (the man who Jamie had met with during the last episode). Sir Fletcher has a deal with Jamie: he turns a blind eye to Jamie’s smuggling and receives some profit in return. Sir Fletcher suspects Jamie expanded his business and wants to charge him more money. Barton was sent to find proof of this expanded business, which gets Madame Jeanne worried since all of the proof (aka the booze) was hiding in her storage room.
Jamie promises that he’ll get rid of the alcohol and employs Hayes, Lesley (the other prisoners from the last episode), Yi Tien Cho, Fergus, and Young Ian to help. As they talk about the man’s attack they all seem to be pretty shocked by Claire choosing to save the man. The only exception is Yi Tien Cho, who admires Claire’s beliefs. Because of this, Jamie sends him to nurse duty.
Fergus and Ian begin their businessman duty and start to sell away the alcohol.Meanwhile, Claire rushes into the apothecary to get the things she needs for Barton. When she arrives, another customer is ahead of her in line and is taking his sweet time. The man was looking for tonics for his mentally ill sister. Claire asks this man to let her go first, and in exchange promises to pay a medical visit to the man’s sister. He agrees and introduces himself as Mr. Campbell.
Fergus and Ian are bartering away like pros, adding some creme de menthe as an extra to their sellers.
Ian asks Fergus about what he remembered of Claire from when she was back. Fergus tells Ian of her amazing healing skills but of the rumor that she had also taken some lives.
While they both agree that she’s a BAMF, they also feel like she’s created a huge mess by coming back.
And while Claire does have an ability to attract trouble that would rival Harry Potter’s, the entire “catastrophe” that’s going on is sort of a coincidence. It’s mostly based on Jamie’s actions. Claire returns to the brothel, to find that Barton had briefly regained consciousness and that Jamie was an unhelpful nurse.
Claire preps for surgery, Sir Percival arrives at the brothel, knowing that Jamie was hiding products from him. While Jamie and Madame Jeanne try to show him that there was no alcohol, Claire and Yi Tien Cho begin a surgery that will save Barton’s life.
Sir Percival’s search proves to be fruitless since Jamie and the others had successfully cleared up the storage room. This visit still puts him on edge, and he returns to his room to tells Claire that her attempt to save Barton is over. The man had died, something that has actually upset Claire.
Claire explains to Jamie that being a doctor, attempting to save a human life without judgment, has been her life for the past 14 years. While Jamie seems to understand where she’s coming from, I’m sort of annoyed that they never allowed this conversation to continue. I understand that Jamie is upset because, as he sees it, this man did not deserve to be saved. But we never receive a response from Jamie when Claire begins to talk about why this is important to her.
Instead, the scene turns into Claire feeling bad about all the mess she’s caused in his life. While I personally love this scene (it is the only sweet moment between the characters) it feels very out of place in the episode. While Claire’s apology is overall one that makes sense: She did drop in unannounced and began shifting everything about his life, but nothing of what’s happened so far could justify this reaction.
At least we do have a scene of Jamie reassuring Claire of how much he needs her in his life. However, the moment is broken when Claire tells him she’s going to pay a visit to the Campbell’s. Jamie doesn’t want her to go alone, something that Claire feels is unnecessary.
After their financial success, Fergus tries to give Young Ian business advice. But when he sees Ian eying a waitress at a tavern, he turns it into sex advice. Ian has never been with a woman, but the much-older Fergus tries to tell him that now is the right time to get rid of his v-card. Fergus gives Ian some top-notch seduction tips.
(These tips are supposedly the things that made young Fergus able to have a threesome when he lost his virginity.)
Now when Fergus was giving Ian all of this advice, my immediate reaction was to roll my eyes and say ‘Yeah, right’. But when Ian actually tried the moves on Brighid (the waitress), with his adorable face and adorable smile, I kinda did fall for it:
JUST LOOK AT HIM
Claire pays her visit to Margaret Campbell. Whatever illness she has, it causes her to have a series of visions that her brother then “translates” to “clients”. Mr. Campbell has turned this into a business — selling his sister’s visions as fortunes. Claire leaves the Campbell’s with a list of herbal remedies, although they do not convince Mr. Campbell. She wants to continue visiting her, but Mr. Campbell informs her that they will be moving to the West Indies the following day. (also plz stop drugging your sister)
Again, this is another of the adaptation issue of this episode. This entire interaction seems pointless and confusing without the material of the book to back it up.
We cut back to the cutest cutie pie of them all: Ian, who is super drunk and who’s taking the waitress back to the print shop. And I think I might be in love with young Ian. I MEAN HE’S JUST SO CUTE THE WAY HE’S SINGING TO HER AND TELL HER HOW PRETTY SHE IS. AND THEN WHEN HE TRIES TO DO IT LIKE HORSES AND HE’ ALL LIKE “WHAT IT’S NOT LIKE THIS?’. AND THEN HE’S ALL LIKE “ TELL ME HOW YOU LIKE IT” BECAUSE HE’S SO INTO HER THAT HE JUST WANTS TO PLEASE HER. IAN MURRAY IS A PERFECT BYYE.
Claire returns to Madame and finds Barton’s body gone. Jamie informs her that they’d hidden the body in the Créme de Menthe (Gross).
Claire tells Jamie how much she misses having patients, and suggests that they could to try to make a home of their own. She could begin working as a healer in Edinburgh and perhaps help with money so they can find their own home. This scene is a little heartbreaking because it brings together what the entire episode has been trying to do: show us that Claire doesn’t fit anymore into Jamie’s life. As much as Boston was an unhappy place, she still had a home to call her own and a career. She needs to build that once again with Jamie. Now, we never get to hear Jamie’s opinion about this proposal, since they are once again interrupted. Except that for some reason he’s fine with him and his newly returned wife to live it up in a brothel.
Ian Murray Sr. has come to visit Jamie. He tells Claire that he is probably there in search of his son. Before meeting him, Jamie asks Claire to lie about having seen Young Ian.I need to give a special shoutout to Steven Cree for showing in one very short scene every single emotion that his reunion with Claire merits. I hate the “character returns from the dead” trope, mostly because it usually throws all of the grief that had surrounded the death out of the window. This doesn’t happen with Ian: He’s shocked by her return, is ultimately happy to see her, but the first thing he tells her is about how he and Jenny had mourned for her.
After they make the explanations for Claire’s disappearance, Ian explains what he’s doing in Edinburgh: As Jamie had predicted, he was looking for his son who had run away from home. Jamie lies to Ian, reassuring him that he hadn’t seen the boy but that he was sure he was safe.
Sadly, Young Ian is not as safe as his uncle thinks that he is. While he is having sex with a beautiful lass, Ian’s first time quickly goes from sexy to dangerous: the young couple is interrupted by Sir Percival’s man breaking into the print shop. Ian tells Brighid to leave and confronts the man for breaking into the shop. This quickly turns into a fight. As they’re struggling, Sir Percival’s man accidentally finds Jamie’s treacherous pamphlets. Ian tries to stop the man from getting access to the pamphlets but only succeeded in starting a fire at the print shop.
Meanwhile, Jamie returns to his room to find a very unhappy wife.
Claire is reasonably upset by Jamie’s lie since she knows how worried Ian and Jenny must be about their son. I think this is also upsetting for her since the image she’s had of Jamie has never been a liar or of a corrupt man.
Jamie believes that is doing what’s best for Ian, and that his parents do not know what’s best for him. While I understand that he’s trying to be the cool and supportive uncle, I personally agree with Claire on the whole: “Do we have to leave these pre-phone era parents with no idea where their child is?”. Claire then begins to pull out the big weapons by telling Jamie that he does not know what it’s like to be a worried parent. The fight then takes a quick turn and becomes about Bree’s bikini once again, and about how Jamie did not get to have a say in her upbringing.
I personally do not mind seeing that there’s conflict between this couple and it is honestly necessary to have some at this point in their relationship. Heck, one of my favorite Outlander episodes is “The Reckoning” mostly because it’s all about Claire and Jamie leaving their honeymoon-phase behind and begin to face some of the issues that their intra-temporal marriage is bound to have. This episode is trying to do the same thing for post-reunion Claire and Jamie. And it partially works, because these are the new and legitimate issue that they would be fighting about after these 20 years. But in “The Reckoning” these issues were addressed, confronted, and resolved. The conflicts in”Créme de Menthe” are fights that barely even begin and are never given a chance to continue or end, and nowhere is it more clear or more frustrating than in this particular scene.
Madame Jeanne comes in to inform Jamie of the fire. He and Claire rush over to the print shop, but only when they are looking at the fire, does Jamie realize that Ian is probably inside.He rushes into the building and starts showing off with some jumps around the open fire.
But he does rescue both his nephew, and the likeness of his son Willie. After he’s rescued, Ian tells Jamie what happened at the print shop. Fergus and Jamie explain that this puts Jamie in much of a riskier position since he could now be arrested for sedition. It’s only then that Jamie agrees with Claire to bring Young Ian back home. After all, both Jamie and Ian would be safe at Lallybroch, since Sir Percival only knew of Jamie as “Alexander Malcolm”.
Before they leave, Jamie pulls Fergus aside and tells him to find Ned Gowan. This is when Fergus, after a bunch of hints from everyone else and their mother, is all like “Oh you haven’t told her about your other wife”. This is, once again, one of the other issues of the episode. Half of the audience did not have a reaction to this line. While I don’t think that writing this show with only book-readers in mind is not necessarily a good thing, I think this entire “reveal” could have been handled a bit differently. In the end, this “reveal” left me with the same sense of