Two weeks ago, Starz confirmed that episode 6 would be THE episode. It would be supersized, it would be intense, it would be sexy. And clocking in at 74 minutes, "A. Malcolm," which picks up from the moments right before Claire entered the print shop in the previous episode, delivers the goods. So without further ado, let's dive in.
Two thoughts right off the bat:
1) Jamie's (Sam Heughan) looking very dapper in his tricorn hat.
2) I can't believe they're going to prolong this reunion by having us relive his side of that story. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!
Jamie enters his shop, checks his ledger, and has a meeting with his smuggling associates, all while oblivious to the fact that Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is on her way to see him.
There, we meet Jamie's poor, beleaguered employee, Geordie, who appears to be an excellent human, and is fast on his way to becoming my favorite new character. ("Pardon me if I don't welcome that sort of amity" is my new response to anyone who tries to address me on a Monday morning.)
We also get a glimpse of the travails of 18th century pamphlet printing (and Jamie's new glasses, the only concession that 20 years has gone by since last season) before hearing that fateful bell. Only this time, we see the emotions unfold on Jamie's face, rather than Claire's...aaaand there he goes, smack on the floor.
When he wakes, he's astounded that she's not a hallucination. "I thought you were dead," she explains, as if that could really account for all that's happening in this particular situation. Jamie realizes that he's rather wet in the nether regions, and breathes a sigh of relief (seconded!) when he discovers it is due to spilled ale, and not incontinence. He starts to pull his pants off before realizing that might get weird, but Claire reminds him that they are married. Off they come!
I'm seriously starting to feel like Sebastian in The Little Mermaid, but let's have a rousing chorus of "Kiss the Girl." Maybe that'll get them going.
"I never took it off," Claire tells Jamie when he sees she's still wearing his ring. "I would very much like to kiss you," he replies. Never doubt the powers of well-timed Disney songs.
Their first kiss is perfect. It's sad, it's happy, it's tentative, it's passionate, it's everything a kiss between two people who thought they would never love again should be. And then of course Geordie spoils it all with his untimely return. "I quit," he bellows, presumably because he's just walked in on his pants-less employer making out with some random lady in the workplace. ("God's tooth, it's not even noon!" He really is delightful. More Geordie, please!)
This interruption actually allows Jamie and Claire to share a laugh, and everything almost seems like it was before, for a second. Jamie decides to put on some pants, and leads Claire to the backroom where he has a bed and washstand set-up. (Does he live in his shop?) Once dressed, he finally remembers that last time he saw his wife, she was heavily pregnant with their baby — "Our child?" he asks.
Claire has come prepared. She takes out a little Ziploc (!) bag full of pictures and hands them over. "I thought you'd like to see our daughter," she says. Oh, except of course, Jamie doesn't know what the hell these devil images are — photographs haven't happened yet!
Sam Heughan's jaw muscles are the real stars of these emotional reunion scenes. He manages to convey the impact of seeing his baby daughter for the first time in just one clench. And his little breath intake when Claire tells Jamie that she named their child after his father, Brian! Truly a thing of beauty.
As they go through the stack of photos, Claire gives Jamie a quick rundown of the last 20 years — Brianna has red hair! She's a doctor now! They had a dog! Bikinis are a thing that women wear!
Jamie returns the favor by dropping the Willie bomb. ("I haven't told anyone about him, not even Jenny.") Claire asks if he loved the mother (Lady Geneva), and Jamie (harshly?) answers not. He asks if she left Frank to come to him. She explains that he died a few years before, after taking her back and taking care of Brianna.
Satisfied that they've covered some of what they missed, the two decide to seek out some food. Jamie's late for an important date at the tavern.
On the way, they run into Fergus (César Domboy), who has grown from beautiful boy into beautiful man — his fake hand is very Jamie Lannister. Claire gets a chance to practice the story of where she's been all these years: After Culloden, thinking they were all dead, she left for America. It's actually close enough to the truth to be believable, so Fergus buys it immediately.
In a private conversation with Jamie, Fergus asks if Claire is staying this time. His "what about..." implies that there's something about Jamie's living situation we don't quite know about yet. Is he married to someone else? It's something he needs a lawyer's advice on, so I'm guessing this will come back to haunt him in a later episode. They also discuss Mr. Willoughby (Gary Young), an associate of theirs who apparently has a drinking problem.
As a book reader, I have very mixed feelings about Mr. Willoughby. In fact, I half expected the showrunners to cut him from the show altogether. The idea of having a Chinese character whose main attributes are his foot fetish and alcoholism seems counterproductive for a show that has been so sensitive in dealing with other fraught topics. And yet, here he is, so I will attempt to keep an open mind.
Off to a great start, Jamie and Claire rescue Mr. Willoughby from the World's End tavern, where he has apparently gotten insanely drunk and licked a sex worker without her consent.
Jamie steps out to deal with smuggling business, leaving Claire with Willoughby (real name I Tien Cho). When he returns, we find out Jamie somehow speaks Chinese, and also lives in a brothel run by a Madame Jeanne, who throws impressive shade. Could this be what Fergus was talking about earlier?
Turns out Jamie's not a pimp though. Madame Jeanne is a customer of his, and he trades her booze for room and board, which is a relief to a slightly jealous Claire. But this leads to a very serious conversation about why Claire is really here. Does she want to be his wife again? Is she ready to get to know him again? Does she want him? She does, of course, and the two celebrate by giving us a truly fabulous sex scene. (Think wedding night episode, but with 20 years worth of pent up passion and lust.) Welcome back, Outlander we know and love!
Their version of a post-coital cigarette is a fun conversation about Jamie's treasonous activities. He prints seditious pamphlets, and smuggles alcohol from France, which they store in the brothel's cellar. This turns out to be quote the mood-setter, and they get right back down to business. The rest of the night is spent getting to know each other's bodies again, scars and all.
The next morning, after some more sex, Jamie goes to take care of important smuggling business, and Claire meets Young Ian (Joe Abernathy), Jenny and Ian's youngest and the same baby that Jamie saved from the redcoats a couple of episodes ago. He's very surprised to find out that his Aunt Claire isn't dead, although people really seem to be buying this "I was in the colonies" excuse.
On the hunt for food, Claire gets mistaken for one of the ladies of the house, and ends up having a very raunchy breakfast. I fear for Madame Jeanne's mental health after seeing her reaction to finding Claire sharing a meal with her employees.
Satisfied, Claire goes back upstairs, where she's attacked by a man lurking in the room, presumably waiting for Jamie. The episode ends with him attempting to rape her, thus proving every point I've ever made about the perils of time travel.
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