**This is not a spoiler-free review of this episode. This is also a review from a non-reader and any comments revealing spoilers from the books will be deleted.**
So I was going to title this “Holy Sexamole Batman,” but then I reminded myself that I watch this show for the plot.
Episode 306, “A. Malcolm”
Written by Matthew B. Roberts, Directed by Norma Bailey
Mark me Outlander fans. What a lovely episode this was.
We rewind to earlier in Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) day before THE SCENE. He’s being dressed by a woman who also just happens to be obviously in love with him. There’s not enough time to wonder who she is before we get the glorious sight of James Fraser in a tricorn hat.
I’m not sure what I enjoyed more. The tricorn hat or the fact that Jamie is a treasonous pamphlet printer.
Jamie is greeted by the stench of seaweed and whiskey (I think freedom and whiskey would make a much better band name). Lesley (Keith Fleming) and Hayes (James Allenby-Kirk) address Jamie respectfully as Mac Dubh and are clearly in his employ.
The two men aren’t nearly as respectful towards poor Geordie (Lorn MacDonald), gleefully teasing the stuffy young lad. Geordie basically responds with the attitude of “How dare you tease me when I will forever be quoted in one of the most iconic scenes on this show?”
After Jamie sends the three men on various treasonous errands, we hear the beautiful chime of the shop door. Is it just me, or does Claire (Caitriona Balfe) look even more angelic from Jamie’s point of view?
Incorporating the directing/writing credits through Jamie’s prints in the opening was clever. Jamie looks amazed that Claire is still there when he finally comes to. He asks Claire to turn around as he needs to change his soiled trousers. Claire is surprised by his shyness.
“We’re married aren’t we?” Claire asks. I love the range of emotions Balfe shows us through this episode. Hesitation, vulnerability, her old fire. (More on that later, wink wink nudge nudge.)
Jamie runs his fingers over Claire’s wedding ring. “I never took it off.” She tells him softly.
I almost felt like I was disturbing a private moment between two lovers when Jamie told Claire he really wanted to kiss her. If you didn’t cry when Jamie said, “I can touch you now,” do you really have a soul? (DO YOU?)
I finally get my big romantic kiss I’ve been positively fantasizing about with the music swelling to a glorious crescendo…
Geordie, I believe thou hast committed the heinous crime of a cockblock.
I mean can you blame him though? Walking in on his employer kissing a woman with his trousers down? Jamie is too happy to care, and you can see Claire is on the verge of happy tears.
Claire continues to give zero regards for time travel rules and gives Jamie photos of their daughter. (Love Sam Heughan’s acting when Jamie first hears of Brianna.) Jamie’s outrage over the Brianna bikini was adorable and made me long for him to meet his feisty offspring.
Jamie surprises me by telling Claire immediately about Willy. I love that he refuses to keep him a secret from her. Claire asks if he loved Willy’s mother, and I just want to yell at Claire, “GIRL DON’T WORRY,” but Jamie says he’s guilty of Geneva’s death because he didn’t love her.
I knew when I decided to come back; you would have had a life.
After Jamie confirms that Claire didn’t leave Frank to be with him, he inquires if Frank loved Claire. She technically isn’t lying to him when she says that Frank loved Brianna very much. The two depart for the tavern and Claire starts telling Jamie about our favorite Mark me prince, when they’re interrupted by the sound of, “Milady?”
While one does have to suspend disbelief somewhat to accept that Jamie and Claire are twenty years older, whoever cast Cesar Domboy as OLDER FERGUS made a fantastic choice. (Can Romann Berrux return in a flashback, preferably after a ghost Frank appearance? A girl can dream!)
Older Fergus essentially asks Claire, “Where the hell have you been,” but in a much nicer way of course. Claire comes up with the motherload of all excuses by saying she escaped to the colonies thinking they were all dead.
I mean, that’s also technically true.
Evidently, Jamie is hiding something. Fergus asks him what’s he going to do about….and Jamie says it shouldn’t be a problem now that Claire’s here. (I mean what could be worse than a bastard child? A secret wife? Two bastard sons? A secret wife with two bastard sons? SOMEONE TELL ME?)
Jamie and Claire look adorable in the street. Jamie tells Claire they’re going to “World’s End,” and I couldn’t but think, “The third Pirates of the Caribbean movie?”
Instead of meeting Jack Sparrow at the tavern Claire meets Mr. Willoughby (Gary Young), a Chinese associate of Jamie’s. Claire inquires about Willoughby’s real name, and he tells her his Chinese name means leans against heaven which is literally how I felt watching this episode.
Meanwhile, Jamie engages in shady business dealings with a stuffy British man. I know illicit business deals are never going to bode well especially when someone says, “We shall see, Mister Malcolm.”
He interrupts Claire and Willoughby bonding and brings her to the most romantic place a man can take his long-lost wife.
A brothel, of course.
The woman who was dressing Jamie at the beginning of the episode turns out to be Madame Jeanne (Cyrielle Debreuil). She pretends to be upset that Jamie brought his wife to such a place of ill repute, but Claire can tell she’s also sweet on her ginger-haired Scot. (She says the word wife with enough disdain to power a Boeing 767.)
There are noticeable contrasts between the way Claire communicated with Frank and the way she talks to Jamie. With Frank, every concern Claire had was masked under a false note of chipperness, boiling to the surface when they both exhausted themselves keeping up the facade.
Pardon my pun, but with Jamie, Claire is allowed to be franker. You can tell Jamie respects Claire far more by the fact that he is bluntly honest with her about things. When he asks her why she came back, Claire is hurt by him even asking, but Jamie has to know.
It’s not Claire that needs reassurance the most in this episode. It’s Jamie.
He has to know if Claire is ready to be with him the way he is now.
Whoever you are James Fraser, yes, I do want you.
They dive headlong into a passionate kiss when they’re interrupted a SECOND TIME.
I’m about ready to travel back in time and hunt down Geordie myself, but it turns out to be dinner. While I normally like Claire’s voiceovers, I’m not sure how I felt about the way it was used for this scene. I felt like the episode had been doing a fine job of showing how they were slowly reconnecting.
Case in point, the sweet scene of them slowly but surely undressing each other. Surely contrasts will be made between this moment and the glorious wedding episode. The passion is clearly still there, but on this night, the spouses are as shy as virginal teenagers.
Also, Jamie’s introduction to zippers was cute beyond measure.
Claire stands before Jamie naked and vulnerable, and he responds perfectly. “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” They start to passionately kiss for the third time and head for the bed…
Where seasoned manly man James Fraser nearly breaks his wife’s nose. That’s right men; even Jamie isn’t perfect in bed!
While watching the sexy times itself was fun to me, the perfect part was the moment after. Where Jamie softly caressed Claire’s arm, and Claire gazed at him like she couldn’t believe she was in his arms again. The way Jamie couldn’t stop waxing poetic about Claire’s naked body.
“Is that how you felt, the first time we lay together?”
“It has always been forever for me Sassenach.”
I could watch a whole season of Claire and Jamie just conversing in bed and looking beautiful. Seriously.
Claire is hell-bent on finding out what Jamie does besides printing. Jamie reveals he’s been arrested six times in the past two years for sedition and says he’s likely to be hanged if they can finally prove his guilt.
Jamie finally reveals that he’s been smuggling various liquors on the side. After another beautiful sexy time scene, Claire sees the scar on Jamie’s leg from Culloden and fiercely declares that she’ll never leave his side again.
One of the sexiest things about this? Hearing Jamie call Claire Sassenach again. Jamie reminds Claire that she is not a Fraser in Edinburgh, but a Malcolm and gently warns her not to leave the room as he heads off to work.
Madame Malcolm is like, “How can I move when you’ve reduced my legs to jello?” which leaves Jamie looking quite pleased.
Claire’s nephew, Ian Murray (John Bell) bursts in on her breakfast, looking for Jamie. Ian is adorably respectful to her even when he assumes she must be one of the brothel whores. After Claire reveals that she’s his not-dead aunt, the sixteen-year-old genuinely asks if she was a fairy-like all the old ladies at Lallybroch said. Young Ian is the cutest thing ever.
One of my favorite parts of the episode was Claire’s breakfast with the ladies of the brothel. They mistake her as a newbie and tease her for the way she staggered down the stairs. The women are kind to Claire until they mention that the rookies always have to take the unsavory customers.
The ladies immediately withdraw when they hear how Madame Jeanne addresses Claire. Claire returns to the Malcolm love nest only to be greeted by yet another person who thinks she’s a prostitute. Unfortunately, the man isn’t as kind as the brothel residents. Demanding to see Jamie’s ledgers, Claire stands her ground.
So naturally the man threatens to rape her, and of course, THAT’S WHEN THE EPISODE ENDS.
To take on the monumental task of adapting such an iconic reunion is daunting, but Matthew B. Roberts did a great job. There is absolutely no way that this episode could build up to the hype that I’m sure book readers built in their heads ever since first reading Voyager. Is A. Malcolm a perfect episode? Of course not. No episode is.
What Roberts and director Norma Bailey gave us was pure, sweet, unadulterated love that was beautifully conveyed by Balfe and Heughan.
There’s so much hate and vitriol in the world right now. Terrorism, mass shootings, and natural disasters amongst other things. Happiness is the rare gem that the world scoffs at, yet secretly longs for. Love? Even more so.
That’s why people adore Jamie and Claire. Sure they’re a fictional couple. Sure many people might find the concept of soulmates harder to believe in than a time-traveling nurse from the 20th century. But it’s nice to see two people see each other again after years and be given a chance to love each other once more.
I love how their reunion isn’t easy. It’s painful, quiet, vulnerable and sometimes downright awkward (Still dying over Jamie nearly breaking Claire’s nose.) And yet these two continually show us is that love is the best choice one can make.
Bless you, Diana Gabaldon, for crafting a couple that people want to root for.
Until next time dear Outlander family.
NEXT WEEK, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 29TH AT 8 PM ET: EPISODE 307: “CRÉME DE MENTHE”
“In the aftermath of a violent confrontation, Claire follows her conscience as a surgeon, even though it could put her and Jamie’s lives at risk. At the same time, Jamie attempts to evade the reach of the Crown as its representative closes in on his illegal dealings.”
Clips and Photos courtesy of Starz.