This Outlander Recap contains spoilers for S03E9 “The Doldrums”.
“The Doldrums” is a freakin’ great episode. It’s perhaps the most solid episode so far, in terms of there being no aspects of this episode that upset or disappointed me in any way. And I would like to point out that this episode contains very graphic depictions of the thing I am literally the most afraid of in the world, and I still think it’s a freakin’ great episode. THAT’S how great it is.
A little warning: if you, like me, suffer from emetophobia (pathological fear of vomit) you should be very wary of this episode…. OR you should read this awesome recap so I can tell you when you can skip ahead!
This episode is also pretty important because it begins a new arch for the season. The “reunion” is more or less over, and now Claire and Jamie are heading to Jamaica, to rescue Young Ian from his kidnappers. This also gets us a new opening sequence. I will confess I’m not a big fan of the new song. I don’t think it goes well with the song, and only adding a drum is not enough to give the theme song a Caribbean music style that it’s aiming for. But I am, however, a big fan of the sneak peaks to Claire and Jamie’s sexy time.
The episode beings with Claire and Jamie at the port, about to begin a journey to rescue Young Ian. Jared Fraser, Jamie’s wine-merchant cousin, helped them figure out what happened to him. The only ship that fit the description was the Bruja, a ship destined for Jamaica. In order to follow him, Claire and Jamie, Yi Tien Cho, Fergus, and Jamie’s Ardsmuir buddies Hayes and Lesley, sail on the Artemis to Jamaica.
Before they sail, Jamie tells Claire that if she’s still having second thoughts about staying, he can take her back to the stones. Claire reminds him that Ian is the most important thing at the moment, which I’m guessing is Claire’s way of saying “I was just overwhelmed by all this bullshit because we were standing on a cliff, but I still wanna stay with you”.Hayes, one of Jamie’s men, is super nervous about being on a boat since the only other times he had been on one were regarding his being sent off and his return from indentured service.
They finally embark on the Artemis where :
- Sam Heughan shows us how good he is at looking nauseous. Great job Sam, but can you be a little bit of a bad actor here??
- We see that the sailors are superstitious as hell. Not only are they weary of Claire (women bring bad luck on boats) but of Jamie (redheads too), and they all address him before he speaks to them since this will allegedly rid them of bad luck.
- But of all the superstitions, the most important of them all is that they touch a horseshoe on the boat, since not touching it will bring bad luck.
- They are SAILING FOR ADVENTURE – IT’S SO NAUSEATING (the first of many Muppet Treasure Island jokes from your editor)
- Claire, being her usual non-superstitious self (quite impressive for a time-traveler, I might add) was originally not going to do this, but decides to humor Jamie.
As they make jokes about sailors and kiss each other (squeals) they meet Fergus on deck who has quite the surprise for them: he has brought Marsali with him, Jamie’s stepdaughter. And not only that, they had gotten married!
However, the two had not actually gotten married but had handfasted. Claire is confused about the term, but from Jamie tells us, we can infer it’s the 18th century equivalent of eloping to Vegas: quick, efficient, and somehow still legal!
But the marriage is not still valid since the two newlyweds hadn’t been able to consummate their marriage. Jamie is about to send Marsali home, but Marsali is having none of his parental BS. She tells him that if he does that, he’ll tell everyone that she had slept with Fergus so that she would either be married or ruined. She also gives him crap for humiliating her mother, and while I’m all for Jamie NOT being married to Laoghaire, I’m also her for Marsali not taking Jamie’s crap. I mean, in general, I am here for Marsali.
Jamie allows Marsali to come with them, but with the condition that the new bride and groom sleep separately AND chaperoned: Fergus with Jamie and Marsali with Claire.
Claire is pissed about this and kindly reminds Jamie that they had not been together in twenty years.
Sam meanwhile continues to showcase his amazing talents, by looking like he’s going to be sick for an entire scene (DUDE YOU’RE NOT GETTING ANY AWARDS FOR THIS, STOP). Claire gets him some ginger tea, and they begin to talk about the newlyweds.
Now, in the book, Marsali is 15 years old at the time of the story, and Fergus is 30. This is what sends Jamie into intense Dad!Jamie mode. Now, in the show, the ages of both Marsali and Jamie are never mentioned on screen. While Marsali in the show might definitely be younger than Fergus, the show seems to have wanted to skip the controversy, and left her an ageless young woman. This means that Jamie needs to find a better reason to be upset. And it seems that these are a combination of being upset about the lies, and not believing that the couple knows what they are doing.
On their way from Lallybroch, Fergus and Marsali brought some of Claire and Jamie’s things. Claire was surprised to find that Jamie had kept all her Parisian dresses, as he could not stand to part with them (CRIES). However, he could not keep them in the hands of his stepdaughter. (Is this historically accurate? Eh. Did I still love it and the parallel to Frank burning Claire’s 18th-century clothes back in season 2? YES I DID)
Their conversation is interrupted when someone calls in Claire for a medical emergency. One of the sailors had gotten hurt, which had triggered a lot of superstitions beliefs amongst the crew. The only logical explanation they could find was that someone had not touched the horseshoe. Claire is still not buying the superstition, which gets her the Captain’s attention, and an invitation for dinner, with a healthy dose of Shakespeare quoting on the side.
Meanwhile, Jamie and Fergus are talking, and Jamie insists to Fergus that he hardly know anything about Marsali. Fergus tells Jamie that he had known Claire even less at the time, and although Jamie tried to argue the “It was an arranged marriage card” Fergus reminds him that he knew Jamie had been madly in love with Claire since before they got married. Jamie insists and begins to ask her if he has told Marsali the truth. And while Marsali knows that Fergus was raised in a brothel and had been a pickpocketer, but he hadn’t told her about all the girl’s he had been with before. And his face when Jamie asks him about it is priceless.
But Fergus reassures Jamie that although he had been with other women, he had not been with anyone else since he started his courtship of Marsali.
Claire is having dinner with the captain who pretty much tells her that regardless of how real or unreal the crew’s superstitions are, they are important because they can either make or break a crew.
And all Jamie Fraser-loving emetophobes should skip from 17: 55 to 18:23. But don’t worry friends, Yi Tien Cho is here to save us all from unnecessary depictions of seasickness. He’s confronting Jamie and tells him that he keeps being sick like that he’s pretty much going to have his testicles cut off.
You should also skip again from 18:59 to 19:09
Claire is getting ready to go to sleep, and Marsali is trying to act like the best roommate ever and offers Claire the bigger bed. Claire’s like “Listen, you don’t have to try to get on my good side, your dad’s #drama is none of my issues.”
Next morning, Jamie is having breakfast. Claire is in shock, but like everyone else in the audience, she’s happy he’s not throwing up. Fergus and Marsali come up to them, and Marsali tells him that Fergus told her the truth about all his exes. Claire tries to tell Jamie that if he just lets them be their relationship might just fizzle out, which is exactly what Jamie is trying to avoid. Marsali is disappointed because she had sort of been expecting that Claire’s having her back would help her. But the WTF BRO look she gives Claire makes it totally worth it.
Claire then goes out onto the deck and meets Yi Tien Cho, who is drawing Chinese characters with water. Claire asks him about it, and he tells her it is a poem.
He also shows her a stack of papers where he has written the story of his life. Claire asks if she can hear the story, but he tells her he can’t do that just yet because after he has told his story he will have to let it go, as it would be a life lived.
Now, it’s montage time!
Through a voiceover, Claire tells us about how several weeks passed while on the ship. Claire’s days were spent tending to injuries on the ship, and I think there’s even a scene of her making ginger tea for Jamie (you can see a piece of ginger next to her, and it’s not the kind that wants to spend the night with her). And because we’re on a boat (Lonely Island starts playing in the background) there’s a song about a woman who gets a lobster stuck in her vagina…
Also, Claire steals this hat. SERVING LOOKS.
Claire goes into Jamie’s room, presumably to tell him about the lobster-on-vagina song, and finds that he’s cheating on her with Yi Tien Cho. Medically cheating that is: the magical cure for Jamie’s seasickness had not been Claire’s tea, but Yi Tien Cho’s acupuncture.
Jamie confesses that he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, in particular since their marriage isn’t on very stable grounds.
I hope that the person who wrote that line, for a character that is on a boat, feels really happy with herself/himself.
It’s nice to see Jamie take on this wary attitude, in particular since, with everything that happened the last episode, he very nearly lost Claire. Yes, he’s still lying to her, but it’s such a sweet and silly thing compared to Laoghaire that it’s incredibly endearing. It’s also very endearing how he immediately recognizes that he was being silly and should have told her outright.
Claire also reassures him that despite how messy their reunion had been, she’s still in love with him. Claire begins to tease him for looking like a pincushion, but suddenly the plot attacks. There was no wind, and the boat had been forced to stop. And even though it looks like the boat had just stopped moving, the crewmembers had already started to speculate, claiming that bad luck had taken the wind because someone did not touch the horseshoe.
The next scene can only be appropriately summarized with the word FEELS.
Claire and Jamie are cuddling and staring up at the moon. Claire tells Jamie about the pictures of the moon that astronauts had taken before she left. She then began saying the words to Goodbye Moon, which had been baby Bree’s favorite story. She used to tell it to her favorite bunny, even.
And Caitriona Balfe deserves ALL of the awards for this one tiny scene because you can SEE how much she misses Bree from her face alone.
Weeks continued to pass, and the Artemis remained stuck somewhere in the Atlantic with no winds to carry her. To make matters worse, their water supplies had gone bad. This only spurs on the paranoia of the crew, who insist that they have to find the Jonah that brought the bad luck to them. The Captain intends to let the men go ahead with it and even tries to use Claire and Jamie to help find a culprit since he believes it will avoid a mutiny. Jamie tells him that he will not be throwing any of his men overboard. (They’ve got the madness. THEY’VE GOT CABIN FEVER. I’VE GOT IT TOOOOOOOOOO)
But sadly, since the Fraser gang is the one made up of non-sailors, the entire boat of the crew is looking for the Jonah amongst them (Earlier someone cleared Yi Tien Cho, and the “frog and his lassie” had been seen touching it as well). The only person that no one saw touch the horseshoe is Hayes, and he confesses that he doesn’t remember if he touched it or not.
And in a combination of his own anxieties before the trip, and everybody thinking that he’s the Jonah, Hayes climbs up to the mast of the ship (although it is not clear if he had been forced there). Jamie tries to help him get out, but that doesn’t change the fact that the crew is ready to throw the Jonah overboard, or the very sound argument that Claire will kill them both if they fall overboard which I don’t doubt for a second)
But while everyone is paying attention to Hayes, Yi Tien Cho notices a bird flying over the water. As we later find out, he knew this meant that the air was heavy, and it would rain soon. Knowing that he only had to stall the crew until the wind came back, Yi Tien Cho reads out loud the story of his life in China. He had been a prolific poet in China, making him known as “a bird of fire” for the powerful impact of his verse. He was so talented that the emperor’s wife invited him to serve in her household. This was a great honor, but the price to pay for it was a heavy one since he would have to be castrated in order to enter the empress’s household. And Yi Tien Cho had fallen in love with “woman”. Not a specific woman, but all women. And more specifically, he had fallen in love with making love to women. So he escaped but found himself in a western world of racism and discrimination, where no one could see the beauty of his verse, and no woman would “lower” herself to be with him.
His story is a success; he is able to distract the crew enough for the wind to return. And once it does, and as he had promised Claire, he lets his story by throwing into the wind. This scene deserves a shout-out for so many different reasons but there are two that stand out in particular: the first one is Gary Young’s amazing performance. The second is the fact that the show has taken a cliched character with racist undertones, and given back a soft-spoken, kind poet who, like Claire, is also an outlander. But for him, the strangeness is mixed with racism. And yet, he is still willing to let go of his work, in the name of saving Hayes.
Shortly after the winds start, and following Yi Tien Cho’s prediction, it begins to rain.
Claire and Jamie proceed to have a quickie in what seems to be a storage room. As a fan of this show, Claire and Jamie having a quickie on a boat is everything I want. Claire and Jamie cuddling after the quickie on a boat, and Jamie telling her how he loves the gray hairs that have now grown out/lost their dye is everything I need.
LOOK AT THEM THEY ARE SO HAPPY. I’M HAPPY CAUSE THEY’RE HAPPY.
But this is Outlander, so of course, some intense stuff is going to go down. The Artemis encounters a Royal Navy Ship: the Porpoise, commanded by the young Captain Leonard. Leonard is looking for a surgeon, and luckily for him, he just encountered one from the XXth century.
After speaking to Captain Leonard, Claire believes that the men have typhoid fever, but won’t be able to tell until she sees them.
Jamie doesn’t want her to go, but Claire reassures him that she can’t catch the disease. She also tells him that she made a vow when becoming a Doctor. Jamie knows by this point that he cannot talk her out of not going, but reassures her that he’s going to be waiting for her to come back.
Let it be stated that Claire committed herself to diagnosing and prescribing a treatment only.
Captain Leonard then takes Claire to see the sick men. Now, my fellow emetophobic Outlander fans should SKIP THE HELL OUT OF THIS SCENE. If you want to go ahead and brave it out, I advise you to mute it. It starts at 50:54 and ends at 52:53, and the only purpose it serves is that Claire confirms it is typhoid fever.
As planned, Claire gives instructions of what to do with the patients. But, as she’s in the middle of giving instructions, the Porpoise begins to move. Captain Leonard tells her that he will not be letting her go until they reach port in Jamaica.
Because, what’s the better than a 20-year separation? Another separation immediately after, only this time with the impending humidity of the Caribbean, amirite folks? They all need to watch their hair for incoming expansion.
“The Doldrums ” Episode Vitals
MVP: Yi Tien Cho
Favorite Moment: Torn between Yi Tien Cho’s story, and Goodbye Moon.
Biggest Annoyance: NONE OF THAT WAS NECESSARY. THAT WAS DISGUSTING. WHY. (You know what I’m talking about)
“There’s no talking you out of this, is there Sassenach?”
“It seems you are both older and wiser.”