Droughtlander is finally over, Outlander faithful, and the long-awaited continuation of Claire and Jamie’s adventures is an intricate depiction of clan politics, familial dynamics and the shift in social mores over the centuries.
Oh, who am I kidding? All anyone’s going to be talking about tomorrow is the spanking. And the sex. But mostly the spanking.
So let’s get to it, aye? Read on for the highlights of “The Reckoning.”
SEARCH AND RESCUE | Soon after the episode opens with a Jamie voiceover, we see Jamie, Dougal and the men meeting with Horrocks, the deserter who claims to know who shot the man Jamie’s accused of killing. Sadly, Horrocks is not young Fraser’s savior: He says Jack Randall is the real killer, and there’s no way that Jamie will be able to exonerate himself by accusing the man who whipped his back so much it looks like a wicker picnic basket. All of this will prove important later, but all I can think about is the fact that Claire is, at that very moment, headed for some very bad business with Black Jack himself.
Thank goodness, the guy who was left to guard Claire comes riding up to tell Jamie she was kidnapped by British troops, and soon Jamie is rappelling down the side of the British fort, perching in the window and kindly thanking Randall to take his hands off his wife.
Jack is pervily delighted to see Jamie and thinks it’s a hoot that he’s married to Claire… who’s no less naked or in danger of losing a nipple than she was the last time we checked in. (Side note: I complain at work when the kitchen is out of those little bags of peanut butter-pretzel sandwiches. In contrast, Caitriona Balfe sanguinely spent hours with her curvy bits laid out on a table like a deli platter. Lady, I salute you.)
Randall disarms Jamie, who vibrates with anger — particularly when the captain calls Claire a “mendacious slut.” Joke’s on you, Black Jack: That pistol Jamie brought in isn’t loaded, and in the moment of surprise after the Brit tries to shoot him, Jamie knocks Randall out and escapes with Claire. “It never occurred to me to kill a helpless man, even one such as Randall,” Jamie voiceovers, moments before Dougal’s men set a diversionary explosion and Jamie and Claire escape by plunging into the ocean below.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS | Happy ending, right? Och, no. When they’re a safe distance from the fort, Jamie ascertains that Claire is OK… then rips into her for disobeying his orders. (Claire’s hair looks absolutely amazing in this scene. That detail is not important at all, but it’s worth noting.) They say a lot of nasty things, many of them at high volume and uttered centimeters from the other’s face. He thinks she blames him for them almost getting killed in the glade, she’s mad at him for being mad at her, and for their first real argument, it’s a doozy. “I ordered you TO STAY PUUUUUUUUT!” Jamie yells (and that’s an entirely accurate representation of how long it takes Sam Heughan to say “put”). He then calls her a “foulmouthed bitch,” and James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, we do not use that kind of language to talk to Our Lady of Eternally Fixing Your Shoulder.
The moment it’s out of his mouth, Jamie realizes he’s gone too far, and nearly folds in half as he admits that he was afraid something terrible had happened to her. “You’re tearin’ my guts out, Claire,” he whispers, and of course she goes to him, both of them utterly wrecked, and they forgive each other for everything.
END OF THE MATTER | But Dougal’s men haven’t quite gotten over the fact that Claire’s actions put them all in danger and made them a target of the Crown. At an inn that evening, they freeze her out; upstairs in their room, Jamie explains that a little spanking will go a long way in buying back the group’s approval. Claire looks absolutely horrified as she realizes that Jamie means to tan her hide. When bargaining doesn’t work, Claire takes to hurling whatever’s handy at her determined husband; and when he finally gets a hold of her after a chase around the room, she kicks him in the face and claws his cheek before he bares her tush and (rather gleefully) achieves his goal.
Kudos to Richard Clark, who directed this episode, and Ron Moore and Matthew Roberts, who wrote it, because this scene plays out exactly like I always imagined it would. The music, Claire’s anger, Jamie’s just-grin-and-bear-it attitude and the men’s reactions downstairs take a moment that could have been icky — and which some TVLine readers have been decrying since the Starz series was announced — and made it very fitting for the times and the characters. (And if you disagree, I want to hear about it in the comments.)
BE LEERY OF LAOGHAIRE | The gang returns to Castle Leoch, where everyone — save Colum and Laoghaire— is happy to see the newlyweds. Jamie’s uncle also is angry that Dougal has been raising money for the Jacobite cause, but after Jamie points out that it’s not hurting anyone and Prince Charlie is unlikely to return to Scotland anytime soon, Colum lets his hotheaded brother keep the cash to put toward the efforts.
Laoghaire is less easily appeased. She tearfully confronts Jamie in a hallway and asks how he could marry Claire when he had demonstrated affections for her. He promises her they’ll talk about it, which she interprets as “Please find me in my secret, rock-skipping place and proposition me while wearing a corset without anything underneath.” Jamie certainly looks tempted when she tries to kiss him, but he reluctantly pulls away and informs her that he won’t break his vow to Claire. Pro tip, JAMMF: That I’m-an-honorable-man thing you’re selling would be more believable if you had managed to pull your hand away from her boob before you’d finished saying it.
MAKING UP IS HARD TO DO | Jamie later finds Claire, who had kicked him out of her bed after the shellacking, and assuages our 21st-century sensibilities by suggesting that the two of them forget about traditional marital gender roles and instead do what feels right for them. (He’s far more dramatic about it, there’s kneeling and a dagger involved, but that’s the gist.) For a moment, it looks like Claire might not accept his offer, but from the way it’s already creeping off her shoulder, her nightgown is clearly on board with the plan.
In no time, Mr. and Mrs. Fraser are going at it on the floor in front of the fireplace. If you ever need a reason to love Claire, let it be that she grabs the aforementioned dagger, holds it under her husband’s chin and warns him never to raise a hand to her ever again all while continuing to thrust against him in rhythmic fashion. Is it any wonder he readily agrees? As he later tells her, “I am your master, and you are mine.”
Know who’s no one’s master, and hella mad about it? The same person who placed a witchcrafty looking bundle of twigs and bones and such under the Frasers’ bed: “Laoghaire,” Jamie growls.
Now it’s your turn. Did the premiere meet your expectations? Were you touched by Jamie’s turning the Lallybroch key into Claire’s wedding ring? Do you feel bad at all for Laoghaire? Sound off in the comments!