**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.**
God Bless Modern Medicine and Goats
Episode 310: Heaven & Earth
Written by Luke Schelhaas, Directed by David Moore
Hey, Emmy Nominating Committee.
There’s this actress named Caitriona Balfe.
She plays one of the most complex and strong female characters on television.
And if you only need one episode as proof of how she plays Claire Fraser with grace and badassery, look no further than this episode.
We once again rewind to slightly earlier before the end of the last episode from Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) POV. After realizing that the Porpoise is sailing away, Jamie desperately orders the men to pursue the ship. Captain Raines (Richard Dillane) quickly reverses Jamie’s order without a trace of remorse for allowing them to kidnap Claire.
Raines is like, You try telling a much larger ship “no” and see how well that works for you.
Jamie lunges at the Captain and his crew immediately draw their weapons. Jamie’s men return the favor, and the ship comes to a standstill. After ordering Jamie to make his men stand down, Jamie pleads to at least let them sail in sight of the Porpoise.
Raines responds by ordering his men to restrain Jamie and take him below.
Meanwhile, Claire is getting shit done.
She explains to the men that typhoid fever is spread through hands or food contaminated with infected urine or feces. One of the men scoffs at her orders to keep things clean but is swiftly reprimanded by Claire’s helper.
Sorry Young Ian. You may be out-adorabled by the young Mr. Pound (Albie Marmer).
Claire orders that no men must leave the area without dipping their hands in grog. The crew has no concept of germs, and even Pound is perplexed. He licks his hands after dipping them in the grog. Claire chides him, explaining that the alcohol in the grog disinfects their hands, but by putting his hands in his mouth, he risks spreading the disease to others on board.
“I had been on the Porpoise for less than a day. Surely no more than fifty miles separated me from Jamie. And yet it still felt nearly as long as the 200 years.”
Pound gives Claire a hat to protect her from the unforgiving sun. He asks if it would help if they enlisted the aid of two men who knew how to distill alcohol from rum.
“You catch on quickly Mr. Pound.” He clearly looks up to Claire.
Claire orders that the men’s ration of rum be halved so they can use the alcohol for disinfecting. After hemming and hawing, one of the men asks Claire how many casks of rum she’ll require.
“How many men would you like me to save?”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call badass.
While they feed the sick, Claire tells Mr. Pound that he can touch the ill men but mustn’t touch his face, hair, or clothes without disinfecting them first. She asks him his age and first name to get to know him better.
Elias Pound is only fourteen years old. Been at sea since the age of seven.
He freezes when he sees his friend from his town, clearly dead. Claire fails to notice that Elias goes to shut his eyes.
Claire wisely tries to find the source of the fever. She has Captain Leonard (Charlie Hiett) pull out the former surgeon’s logs and discovers that the first reported case was in the carpenter’s crew.
She asks to speak to the surviving members of the carpenter’s crew. Leonard tells her the only surviving man was strangely the only one who never came down with the fever.
Of course, the carrier of the disease had been reassigned to the galley. Claire explains to the belligerent cook Mr. Cosworth (Lawrence Joff) that his only helping hand may not be sick but can still carry the disease.
Captain Leonard orders that the carrier be taken into custody.
“You better be right about this Mistress Fraser.”
Poor Jamie is retching in his cell. Fergus (Cesar Domboy) checks in on him, and Jamie attempts to order him to steal the keys to his prison so he can bust out and start a mutiny,
I think Fergus has every right to call Jamie out on how dangerous the idea is. Jamie accuses Fergus of not knowing what love truly means. Desperate, he offers a trump card.
He’ll bless his marriage to Marsali (Lauren Lyle) if he gets him the keys.
Elias stitches his poor friend for burial at sea. “The final stitch is always done by a friend.” He tells her. It’s utterly heartbreaking how this comes full circle later on near the episode’s end.
Mr. Cosworth confronts Claire later that night, challenging her methods of treating the men. Claire’s adorable guardian angel arrives to reprimand the cook.
Elias asks Claire how she stays so calm in the midst of such death. Claire explains the concept of compartmentalization. He gives her his mother’s talisman for luck. They’re called below decks to aid another ill man.
Corporal Johansen is passed out cold in the cabin he shares with his wife. Anneke Johansen (Chanelle de Jager) has been the woman responsible for tending to the goats that were providing nourishing milk for the ill men. Poor Anneke is distressed, thinking that her husband must be dead.
Claire loses it when she realizes he’s only passed out from alcohol poisoning.
“Half the men on this fucking ship are dying of typhoid, and this bloody fool has almost drunk himself half to death on the alcohol I need to stop the goddamn fever from spreading!”
Girl just took swearing like a sailor to the next level.
I loved the relationships Claire formed with Elias and Anneke in this episode. I believe it’s the mark of real writing when you grow to care for side characters within a sixty-minute time-frame.
Claire thanks Anneke for all the work she’s done with procuring the goat’s milk.
She spots a Portuguese flag and Jones tells her they boarded a Portuguese frigate two weeks prior in search of a surgeon. Claire heads up to Captain Leonard’s quarters to inquire if it was the Bruja.
Although Captain Leonard isn’t there, Claire doesn’t waste time waiting for him. She scrolls through his ship logs and makes two startling discoveries.
The ship didn’t board the Bruja, but rather the Cacador two weeks ago.
Harry Tompkins recognized that “Alexander Malcolm” was probably an alias for the wanted Red Jamie.
Of course, this is the moment Mr. Cosworth barges in. You can practically see the triumph flash across his face. Finally, he’s caught the cursed woman in a compromising situation!
So naturally, Claire threatens to scream and tell Captain Leonard that Cosworth tried to violate her on his table if Cosworth doesn’t let her leave.
While Claire is defending herself against crabby cooks, Fergus and Marsali discuss Jamie’s proposal. Marsali wisely points out that if both Jamie and Fergus get arrested there will be nobody to protect her (I guess she doesn’t count Yi Tien Cho (Gary Young)?).
I can see why these two lovebirds fell for each other.
Rife with unfulfilled passion, the two start kissing in a way Papa Jamie certainly wouldn’t approve of. Marsali is eager to take the next step, and Fergus has to use all of his willpower not to oblige her.
Frustrated but resigned, Marsali notes that Fergus sticks to his oaths. Just like Jamie.
Is it completely ethical that Claire enlists Elias to find Tompkins by telling him that Tompkins might be the second carrier of typhoid? Not really. But I understand why Claire does it.
Fergus eavesdrops on Captain Raines and two of his crewmen. He spots the keys and listens as one of the men make disgusting comments about Marsali.
Elias and Jones bring Tompkins to Claire. The two recognize each other immediately.
Claire tries to threaten Tompkins with one of her surgical tools. Given how Tomkins would rather be dead than remain on the ship, the threat loses its power.
It’s hard not to feel a bit of pity for the man when he begs for Claire to cut his throat. But then he relishes in telling Claire that Jamie is wanted for the murder of the exciseman.
Yup. They opened THAT cask of Creme de Menthe.
Does that make it right for Claire to use her power as the ship surgeon to imprison Tompkins in the same holding cell as the actual carrier of typhoid? No. That’s what makes Claire so believable. She is incredibly flawed and sometimes ruthless.
Both Jamie and Claire would move heaven and earth to protect each other, even if it meant ending up in hell.
Claire doesn’t catch on to the fact that sweet Anneke is totally offering her a means of escape.
Fergus, on the other hand, denies Jamie the chance to escape. He declares that he’d move heaven and earth to protect Marsali, even if that means he cannot marry her. It’s a selfless act and a wise choice.
Claire grips Elias’s lucky rabbit’s foot as the sounds of dying men start to decrease to the beautiful sound of silence.
Her victory is quelled by the last death on the ship. Poor sweet Elias has been suffering silently. As he weakly calls out to his mother, Claire is helpless as he passes away.
She finally breaks down when they prepare him for burial.
“It should be done by a friend.”
I don’t know what made me tear up more. When Claire finally broke down and told Elias his mother would be so proud. Or the fact that none of the crew even seemed to notice his death.
Anneke and her husband tell Claire that they’re going to dock at Grand Turk island. Claire finally realizes what Anneke was trying to tell her earlier.
In a frustratingly futile escape attempt, Anneke helps Claire make a getaway. Our heroine is nearly home free until she runs smack dab into Captain Leonard.
I mean she did just save his crew from completely perishing. I think Claire has a right to ask Leonard not to report Jamie to authorities.
You know how he replies of course.
Captain Raines decides to release Jamie, on one condition. Marsali assures Raines that if Jamie gives his word not to act out again, he’ll stick to it. Jamie’s stepdaughter tells him that he has Fergus to thank for his release.
Papa Fraser finally decides to bless their union.
In an astonishing act of badassery, Anneke has wrangled together another escape plan. She tells Claire to jump overboard, pointing to land up ahead. Claire is like, “I just stopped an entire ship from dying from fever, but I’ll be damned if I jump into the ocean at night.”
Anneke becomes the coolest woman in existence by preparing a small raft for Claire and giving her her earnings from working on the ship.
If Claire doesn’t warn Jamie, Anneke is certain he’ll hang.
“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” Claire exclaims as she makes a literal leap of faith towards land and Jamie.
I truly believe that this was the episode that truly rekindled the fire in Claire’s soul. While I loved her reunion with Jamie, I appreciated the fact that the writers still left a dose of self-doubt in her heart. Did she do the right thing by returning to the past? Should she have left Brianna?
Claire’s main struggle has been trying to decide where she belongs. With one foot in the past and one in the present, she’s never really felt truly settled. Her profession is where she feels like she’s in complete control. People need Claire the healer, doctor, and surgeon, no matter what century.
Balfe plays this amazing woman with such sincerity and spirit that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else being Claire. All in all, this is Claire’s story, and I’m excited to see where she goes next regarding her overall character growth.
Until next time dear readers!
(But seriously, how the hell are they going to find each other, let alone Young Ian?)
NEXT WEEK, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26TH AT 8 PM ET: EPISODE 311: “UNCHARTED”
“After making a leap of faith, Claire washes up on a seemingly deserted island where survival is her only option. Navigating treacherous waters has crippled the Artemis, so Jamie devises a joyful moment for his crew in the midst of devastating setbacks.”
Clips and Photos courtesy of Starz.