The episode opens in a pub where the candles have all burned out and the tables are scattered with the left-overs of what appears to have been quite a feast. A cat is the only creature stirring, taking advantage of the meat scraps left unattended on the table.
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Frank (Tobias Menzies) are walking down a small cobblestone street, hands intertwined. They pause in front of an important-looking building where Frank asks Claire if she’s ready. It turns they are in front of the Westminster registrar’s office and another couple is kissing after their courthouse wedding. Claire hesitates, but it is clear she is excited by the prospect of being married on the spur of the moment. They both smile and laugh as he tosses aside each concern she brings up about eloping. He asks her to marry him and she agrees without hesitation before they share an excited kiss.
The kiss we see between Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire is anything but exuberant. Jamie pulls away as the priest announces that he can kiss the bride. Jamie is eyeing her carefully as the crowd in attendance cheers. The only one not at least pretending to be happy about this arrangement is Claire. She narrates, reminiscing about how a person could forget their previous life, comparing it to a broken strand of pearls, inevitably forgetting what the pearls, or old life, used to look like, but applauding the attempt to remember. There is a flash of her and Frank skipping happily into the courthouse before the audience is returned to a cozy room above the pub, sounds of the festivities below heard clearly through the thin walls. Claire sounds obviously bitter when she asks if they’ll be leaving anytime soon. A little hesitant, Jamie explains that they’ll be around until it is obvious the marriage is ‘official’. Not only has Claire been pressured into this marriage, but now she has to consummate the marriage that night in order for things to be legal and ‘official’.
The awkwardness between them dissipates slightly after Jamie makes a joke about one of his kinsman offering to watch them consummate things and, fears eased a bit, Claire suggests a drink to further relax them. The drink doesn’t seem to work until Jamie teases her about how he didn’t intend to force himself on her. She knows that he would never do that, and relaxes some more. After a couple more drinks, she ventures to ask him some questions, the first being why he agreed to marry her in the first place. His initial response is that, like her, he did not feel he had much choice.
Flash to a scene where Jamie is speaking with Ned (Bill Paterson), Dougal (Graham McTavish), and Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) in the barn. Ned discusses the necessity of the law, including the part where the marriage needs to be consummated in order to be legal and witnesses present in the building, if not in the room with them. Jamie asks if Claire is aware and Dougal makes it clear that she doesn’t have a choice. When Murtagh compares the arrangement to rape, Dougal argues that it is more ‘persuasion’ than rape. Jamie jumps in to defend her honor once again as Dougal describes what he would do to Claire, warning him about faking the consummation. Dougal, an intelligent man, changes tactics with Jamie, appealing to his sense of protection for her. He is impressed by how Claire withstood Captain Randall’s (Tobias Menzies) abuse (which we saw in the previous episode), but points out that he will treat her much worse if they have to turn her over to him in a few days as ordered.
Claire softens toward Jamie and the arranged marriage with the knowledge that he married her to keep her safe. Not only does this marriage give her the protection of being a Scottish citizen now, but also of his clan, his family (which includes the MacKenzie clan she has been living with during the course of the show so far), and even his own body if necessary. There follows a moment where you think romance may grow between them, as they hold hands on the bed, but she pulls away suddenly, asking about his family.
Time passes as they continue to drink and share stories with one another about their families and childhoods until it is fully dark outside and the room is lit solely by a number of candles scattered about. She comments in the voiceover that they are getting to know each other as spouses for the first time. He is a born storyteller, she says, just as all Scottish men tend to be. The tension between them has eased significantly and you start to see some of the old gleam that has been between them since their earliest scenes together. It is too good to be true, though, as Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) and her other ‘bodyguard’ Angus (Stephen Walters) burst into the room, disappointed to see that they are both fully clothed. Jamie glances anxiously at Claire several times as he ushers them, protesting and arguing, back out of the door, afraid the delicate balance between them may be hurt by the intrusion.
It does not seem he has anything to fear, though, as they both laugh once the door is closed on their unwelcome guests. Claire breaks the silence, suggesting that it is late and they should go to bed. Jamie eyes her skeptically and clarifies whether she means to ‘bed’ or to ‘sleep’. She remains vague, but the look in her eyes gives him hope. He follows her lead and continues to approach things with an off-hand way, observing that, either way, she needs help with removing her dress and other outer-garments. When he hesitates, she suggests he start with the skirts and turns her back to him. The look on his face is priceless as he tries to figure out how to begin, having never undressed a woman before. He is clearly a quick learner, though, as he quickly gets her down to her shift. The mood begins to shift as he gains confidence through his tentative touches, but the nervousness returns when she comments that it is her turn. He laughs a little as she unbuckles his kilt. Neither are able to hold back any longer and they begin to kiss passionately. She asks him where he learned to kiss like that, and he reminds her that he is a virgin, not a monk.
Their first time is over quickly and they are left lying beside one another, staring awkwardly at the ceiling. Claire breaks the silence by asking him if it had been how he’d thought it would be. He remarks that it almost was and then, after she assures him she won’t laugh, he explains that he thought you had to do it the ‘back way’, like horses. Despite her promise, she does laugh. He gives voice to his concern over whether she had enjoyed it or not. When she hesitates, he assumes that means she did not, and he goes on to talk about how Murtaugh and a number of others were right when they said that most women did not enjoy it. Clearly torn, she relents and tells him that she did actually enjoy it, narrating her guilt over being a bigamist, an adulteress, and now giving voice to the knowledge that she had even enjoyed it.
Fighting feelings of confusion and guilt, she heads out of the door in search of more food and drink. Jamie tries to warn her several times, but she misunderstands him and leaves the room anyways, where she is immediately met by cheers from the crowd still downstairs at the sight of her and her new husband half-dressed. Jamie quickly ushers her back into the room and, clad only in his very long shirt, gathers some refreshments for them. His clansmen taunt him good-naturedly throughout, but, in typical Jamie fashion, he plays it all off well. Just as he is about to head back up the stairs to their room, Dougal stops him, remarking about how he has not been thanked for setting them up yet. After doing so, and in a very sincere tone, Jamie is invited to sit with Dougal, lest he seem too eager to return to his wife.
Back upstairs with Claire, he finishes telling her about his experience downstairs, explaining that being too eager to please her would put him under her power, according to Dougal. She asks his response and, with a sly grin, Jamie reports that he told Dougal that he is completely under her power and happy to be there. Jamie ends up standing behind the chair Claire is sitting in before the fireplace, and starts to play with her hair, touching her shoulder. Though they have already consummated the marriage, she seems a little uneasy again and pulls away from him. Seeing him walk away, she regrets her reaction and apologizes to him. Returning to her, he starts playing with her hair once more, studying it in the firelight. He uses a Gaelic phrase which turns out to be him calling her his ‘brown-haired lass’, a fact he enlightens her on before telling her all the wonderful things he has noticed about her hair. Such as, how the curls are like swirling water he has seen in the burn before, or how there are hints of auburn mixed in with the brown. As he touches her tenderly again, she sidesteps his advances by asking about the new kilt. He explains that they are Fraser colors, different (redder) than the MacKenzie colors we have seen until this point.
Jamie tells about how Murtagh obtained the kilt from a Fraser widow whose husband has been dead a long time. Despite this, and how much conversation he had engaged in with her to obtain them in the first place, she insisted on them being returned to her by the following night. Both men seemed confused by the request, but don’t argue it further. Murtagh reports that he had had second thoughts about bringing the kilts to him in the first place, with how much the area is being patrolled by redcoats. Murtagh makes it pretty clear through the conversation that he does not approve of Jamie wearing the Fraser colors and the risk that that poses. If the wrong person was to find out who Jamie really was, the redcoats would be on him in a heartbeat. Jamie insists that, since he only plans to be wed once, that he wants to do it in a way that would make his mother proud. This opens a different train of conversation for the men as Jamie asks Murtagh is opinion of Claire and whether his mother would have liked her. Murtagh makes a joke about how he is not a gypsy who can commune with the dead to be able to retrieve her opinion of Claire for him, but softens after a moment when the joke falls flat. He asks for Jamie’s brooch and, as he is lovingly admiring it, talks about his mother’s smile and how men used to break themselves trying to make her smile. He tells Jamie that Claire’s smile is the same way.
Claire expresses surprise over Murtagh and Jamie points out that there is more to his godfather than she realizes. He admits, too, that he used the kilt as an excuse to delay Dougal’s plans as much as possible without putting Claire at risk, as well as giving three conditions for his agreement to the marriage. The first condition was that they be married in a church by a priest.
We see Dougal and Willie (Finn den Hertog) harassing the local priest into performing the wedding ceremony. The priest insists that there are certain protocols that must be followed before he can conduct the ceremony, but Dougal protests, saying they don’t have the time to wait as there are only a few days before they have to turn in Claire if she is still an English citizen. The priest appears to be ill, as he sneezes several times during the conversation and appears sweaty and dreary-eyed. Nevertheless, he is well enough to pull a dagger in response to Willie’s threat, as well as to quote verses back and forth with him, trying to convince him to circumvent typical protocol. Dougal loses his temper and takes hold of the priest, apparently attempting to shake him into submission. When the priest mentions not wanting to preach another sermon in that dank, drafty church, Dougal realizes what will convince him to cooperate: money.
Jamie reports that the priest hardly skipped a beat after the offer was made before asking when they wanted to hold the ceremony. Claire laughs, saying that money and the Church always seem to be connected. The second condition, he reveals, was for a wedding ring.
The same two men who have been watching Claire for the duration of the show so far, under Dougal’s command, and who busted down the door to check if they had consummated the marriage or not, are now shown heading to the local blacksmith. Rupert and Angus ask him about making a lady’s wedding ring to which the smithy replies that he has some extra silver in the back and it would not be a problem. Rupert insists that it must be made out of a key that Jamie had provided him. At first the smithy protests, saying it is too fine a key to melt down for this, but Rupert explains that Jamie wants the ‘front end’ and the ‘back end’ saved and to just use the middle as is for the ring. Some banter goes back and forth about the proper names for these pieces before Rupert gives the blacksmith enough money to convince him to have the key finished today.
Claire admires the ring on her right hand, marveling at the craftsmanship. She asks what the key had been for and, though he tells her that it was just something he had in his sporran, it is clear by the look on his face when he turns from her that he is lying. The third condition was one he sent Ned on personally.
Ned appears to be hunting for a wedding dress for Claire in a local brothel, and finding much more than he bargained for. None of the dresses are meeting his satisfaction and it does not seem to be helping that the girls are doing their best to entice him into other matters than shopping for a dress. The mistress of the place approaches him with a dress wrapped in a rough blanket, and from the glimpses we, and Ned, can see of it, it appears to be perfect for the occasion. The lady explains that there is a Lord who frequents their establishment and had bought the dress for his Lady, but when he lost all his money at gambling, the dress was all he had to pay for the ladies’ company. She explains that it has never been worn and that no woman should wear another’s dress on her wedding day. When he pulls out his money to pay them, she realizes the opportunity there and coaxes one of the girls to distract Ned with other ‘services’ while they wrap up the dress. Ned does not seem to hesitate this time and follows the girl quite willingly into an upstairs room.
Claire accuses him of making the story up, but he insists that he has told it exactly the way that Ned told it to him, describing how red in the face Ned was during the telling. He also pointed out the odd girl who had been at the wedding and, after a moment’s thought, makes the connection. Jamie asks her about what she had been doing the day before their wedding and she explains simply by peering at him through a half-empty whiskey bottle. We see a clip of Murtagh dragging her out of bed that morning for the wedding with a number of women in tow to make her ready. She insists that she remembers their wedding, despite being horribly hung over. Jamie informs her that he remembers every moment.
We see the first moment he lays eyes on her before the wedding, out front of the church. He describes seeing her in that dress as a ray of sunlight coming out on an otherwise cloudy day. Her eyes are down during the exchange by the church, avoiding eye contact with Jamie. Her dress is a beautiful silver and gray with embroidered leaves down the front as if having fallen from a tree above her. Everyone in the crowd makes approving noises at the sight of her once the cloak is removed. Jamie bows, offering himself as her servant, at least figuratively. She doesn’t answer, except to inform him with a sense of desperation in her voice that she cannot marry him. Before he can ask why, she points out that she does not even know his real name. He smiles, and tells her that it is James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, to which she introduces herself officially as Claire Elizabeth Beachamp. Dougal, impatient as usual, ushers them along.
Claire admits that some parts of the day are clearer than others and we see her removing the gold ring from her left hand and tucking it in the bodice of her dress as she crosses the threshold of the church. She remembers them exchanging their vows, him putting the silver ring on her right hand, and then Dougal cutting each of their wrists and binding them together so that the blood would mix and flow into one another. Once bound this way, Jamie quoted vows in Gaelic which she repeated after him, though she didn’t know what they meant. He explains to her then, in their little room, what she had been saying after him: “Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. I give ye my Spirit, ‘til our Life shall be Done.” We see their first kiss, this time from the beginning, and it is clear that Claire is at least somewhat aware of what is going on as she kisses him back. He points out that the way she kissed him back gave him hope for their marriage being more than just an arrangement.
She turns and walks some distance from him, but spins around and asks him to take off his shirt so she can admire his nakedness. She walks a full circle around him, admiring the unmarred, chiseled front, and the marred and scarred back. When he is finished, he tells her it is her turn. As he is admiring her nude form, she asks if he has ever seen a naked woman before. He says he has, but never so close, or one that is his. They have another love scene, and this time it is much clearer that Claire is enjoying herself. At first Jamie thinks he has hurt her, but then is fascinated that a woman can have that reaction. He asks if it happens that way every time and she informs him that it only happens every time if the man is a very good lover. She then shows him some other tricks she has picked up along the way until he falls asleep with a slight smile on his face. He says something in Gaelic beforehand, though, explaining that he said he thought his heart was going to burst.
Jamie asleep, Claire wraps herself in his unwrapped kilt, surveying the aftermath of the party downstairs, now that everyone has retired elsewhere. It is the scene from the opening of the show, with the cat taking advantage of the leftovers and all the candles and fires burned out. Claire is not alone, however, as she retrieves another bottle of whiskey. Dougal surprises her, telling her about his visit to Captain Randall and how he took the news of her marriage as they all would have expected, but that he will not likely be bothering her again anytime soon. He figures Randall has better things to worry about than one English woman, especially one who is now the niece of Collum MacKenzie. Then, as has been hinted towards in previous episodes, Dougal comes right out and propositions Claire, saying that she is more than welcome to try out other delicacies. She insists that she is married to Jamie and is saved from further harassment by Rupert’s entrance. She thanks Rupert for the ring and he, in turn, congratulates her on the wedding. As she is returning upstairs, Rupert makes a comment under his breath to Dougal about how, even though Jamie was a virgin, she looks ‘well ridden’. Dougal hits him for it and sends him outside to check on the horses once more.
Jamie wakes to find Claire still wrapped in his kilt, staring into the fire. He slips up behind her and sets a long strand of pearls around her neck, explaining they are Scotch pearls and had belonged to his mother. He compares their preciousness to him to how precious she is to him now. It becomes clear that even if the marriage had been for her safety at the start, it is much more than that to him now. They make love again, slowly this time, before the fire, both wrapped in his kilt.
The next morning, Jamie is dressing quickly to head downstairs for something to eat while Claire straightens up the room. She is shaking out her wedding dress when the wedding band from Frank that she had forgotten up until this point flies out and rolls across the floor. A crack in the floorboards catches it and, as she stoops to retrieve it, we see her reflection in its gold surface. She returns the ring to her left hand and then crouches, staring at her hands beside one another, one with the gold ring and one with the silver. We are reminded, even after the beauty of the night she and Jamie have spent together, where we might have forgotten about Frank, that there is another husband she has not been apart from for all that long and that she, as far as we are aware, is still plotting her return to.
Not a lot happens action wise during this episode, though we see the important beginning of the marriage between Jamie and Claire, and a moment which I’m sure a lot of the fans (if not all of them) have been eagerly awaiting. As my fellow authors on this site have pointed out previously, this cast of actors are all incredible and it would be repetitive to sit here and sing their praises once again. Suffice it to say that there was not a single moment in this episode that I did not believe the actors WERE the characters they were portraying. I am so impressed and humbled by the sheer acting ability of this cast and am thrilled to see how things are turning out so far.
That being said, I think it was a little difficult to get caught up in the romance between Claire and Jamie during this episode, namely because there was not much. Sure there were cute scenes between them getting to know one another and breaking the ice as husband and wife, and there were several very steamy love scenes, but there was none of the theatrical romance. This was actual romance, the reality behind what Hollywood tends to dress up and seem more glamorous than it can actually be. We see the initial awkwardness…and the undeniable awkward first sexual encounter between these two lovers. There are also the constant reminders, in Claire’s reactions as well as the flashbacks we see, that do not let us forget that she is already married, and still intent on returning home. For Jamie, this is for life. For Claire, this is an arrangement, albeit an enjoyable one, that is saving her from the clutches of her other husband’s insane ancestor. One cannot begin to imagine the guilt and anxiety she must be feeling that is keeping her from enjoying her wedding night with Jamie fully.
I like this, however. I think it would be too easy for us, the audience, to forget Claire’s whole goal up until this point. We have been watching the intense stares between her and Jamie all season, the undeniable attraction there which she has been dutifully ignoring until this point. There is also the tension in all of us that likes how happy she seems with Frank in the beginning, as well as her flashbacks (for me this is especially so when he surprises her in front of the courthouse at the beginning of the episode), juxtaposed with the same actor, same face, same voice, committing such horrible acts as almost rape, flogging, and interrogation through physical violence. We want to like Frank Randall and understand her desire to return to him, while also fearing the man in her present time, Captain Jack Randall. This is not a happy event for Claire and I felt bad for Jamie at several points because he does not understand yet why she is so very unhappy.
So while this may not be the intense romantic climax to Jamie and Claire’s relationship, I feel safe in assuring fans that the best is yet to come with these two lovers (without giving too much away from the books J). Don’t lose hope if you were disappointed at all with the emotional rollercoaster Claire takes you through in this episode. I feel there is a beauty in the realistic take on their marriage arrangement, one that is a fresh alternative to Hollywood’s typical hype when it comes to romance. Not that romance isn’t wonderful (my soon-to-be husband is proof of that), but there is a difference between the reality and the fantasy, and this episode, in my opinion, showed a more believable side to it, just as the books do.
Below are five clips courtesy of Starz: