**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.**
Episode 307: Crème de Menthe (Or “That Wasn’t What I Expected,” by Young Ian)
Written by Karen Campbell, Directed by Norma Bailey
We open up in the immediate aftermath of the last episode’s cliffhanger, where Claire (Caitriona Balfe) was being attacked by a suspicious man (Ian Conningham) searching for Jamie’s ledgers. Claire fends off Sir Creep with a knife, and they tussle around the room, ending in the man being knocked out by an accidental blow to the head.
Any normal person would’ve breathed a sigh of relief and let him die, but not our Claire! Jamie (Sam Heughan) bursts in the room as Claire attends to the man’s wound.
“I have to help him. I’m a doctor.” She tells her husband, insisting he and Fergus (Cesar Domboy) watch him as she runs to get supplies at the apothecary. “Stubborn as ever,” Jamie mutters under his breath.
That’s right folks. The Outlander honeymoon is officially over.
Before Claire bolts to the apothecary, she insists that they can turn the man over to the authorities once she successfully heals him. Jamie reminds her that they would arrest her on an assault charge.
Claire hasn’t yet reacclimated to the 18th century, and it shows through the entire episode. I don’t blame Jamie for being frustrated with Claire over this, but at the same time, you can sympathize with Claire’s dedication to being a doctor.
Trying to stick up for Claire, Yi Tien Cho (Gary Young) states that he admires a woman who values the sanctity of human life. (Do fans refer to him as Mr. Willoughby or Yi Tien Cho?)
Milady’s always been a unique woman.
Jamie tasks Fergus and Young Ian (John Bell) with selling the remaining smuggled casks of liquor. Knowing Sir Percival (Paul Brightwell) is on the hunt to have him arrested, Jamie tells them to get rid of it all even at a monetary loss. Add Sir Percival to the list of countless people who want Jamie Fraser in jail or hanged.
Our healing heroine bursts in the apothecary and meets the obnoxious Archibald Campbell, who won’t let Claire go ahead of him in line. Campbell is like one of the jerks at the grocery store that’s ahead of you in line with only a few items and all the time in the world, but won’t let you go ahead because you’re in a hurry.
Desperate, Claire bargains with Campbell to treat his mentally ill sister in exchange for being helped first.
Meanwhile, our resident two junior rogues (I’m sorry FERGUS WILL ALWAYS BE A KID IN MY HEART) are bargaining with McDaniel (Robin B. Smith) to sell off the remaining casks of French brandy. Young Ian proves to be a shrewd salesman and gets 75 pounds by throwing in a free cask of crème de menthe for McDaniel. After they strike a deal, Young Ian jumps from crème de menthe to Auntie Claire.
Fergus recalls how Claire was able to heal even the most seemingly fatal of wounds. It’s clear that Fergus relishes being the older, wiser man to Young Ian, and adds with a spooky flourish about how Claire was rumored to have killed several men as well.
“If Auntie Claire was forced to kill men, I reckon they deserved it.”
Young Ian is the most adorable thing ever.
Meanwhile, Sir Percival looks hilariously out of place at Madame Jeanne’s establishment. While Percival’s crony is like, “So can we have fun with one of the ladies after we’re done?” Percival looks like he’d rather be inside of a volcano. Percival is hell-bent on finding evidence of Jamie hiding liquor and makes his way to the cellars of the brothel with his henchman.
There’s action going on on all levels of Madame Jeanne’s brothel. Claire valiantly attempts to save the life of the exciseman, literally drilling into his skull without the benefits of modern surgical tools.
“Oh, we have a leak! It is why I can’t store anything of value down here.”
So Madame Jeanne (Cyrielle Debreuil) is a bit of a badass. I am slightly more okay with her lusting after Jamie now. Slightly. Sir Percival twirls his mustache and says, “You haven’t seen the last of me,” and skulks off, with a sexually frustrated underling in tow.
Jamie storms back up to his rooms to find Claire, Yi Tien Cho, and a dead exciseman.
I really can’t blame Jamie at all for refusing to mourn the man who tried to rape and murder his wife. Yi Tien Cho continues to be adorable and tells Jamie Claire fought hard to save his life.
“If I had been in a proper hospital in Boston…Aye, but you’re not.”
And there’s the crux of the conflict of this episode.
“I’ve dedicated fourteen years of my life…to healing people without judgment.”
Claire’s ashamed of herself for losing a patient. While Frank may have attempted to console her by telling her she did her best, Jamie gently reminds her that there are other people who could benefit from her medical knowledge.
“I’ve caused you so much trouble,” she tells him. Jamie assures her that’s not the case.
“When ye walked into the print shop, it was as if the sun returned, and cast out the darkness.”
While I might’ve swooned under the weight of such a romantic monologue being delivered to me so passionately, Claire is like “Romance is great but you know what gets my heart racing? AIDING SICK PEOPLE.”
That is why Claire is the heroine, and I’m just a sassy post-grad.
Jamie continues along the theme of the Outlander men being adorable in this episode (Something in those casks of brandy?) by seeking reassurance that Claire will return after her medical appointment. Claire is like, But of course my adorable Scottish puppy dog and heads out to the Campbell residence before Jamie can start another romantic monologue.
Fergus and Young Ian prove that men enjoy beer and pretty women no matter what century. Is it too much to ask for these two to have their own spinoff as well? (I already have several ideas for Joe’s spinoff Outlander! They’re awesome I swear.)
Our resident Frenchman (they grow up so FAST) teases Young Ian about his obvious crush on the barmaid. I love how earnest Young Ian is when listening to the Fergus wisdom on wooing women. Fergus gleefully beckons the barmaid over to Young Ian, but not before explaining how a ménage à trois works with this absolute gem of dialogue.
Two women, one moi!
Young Ian tells the barmaid that she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Charmed, she accepts his offer for a drink. If liquor smuggling doesn’t work out for our dear Fergus, he should really consider matchmaking! (Domboy continues to do a fantastic job of making the transition from younger to older Fergus completely seamless.)
I don’t need a medical degree like Claire to diagnose Archibald Campbell (Mark Hadfield) as a major asshole. Claire can immediately see something is wrong with Margaret (Alison Pargeter) when the woman starts raving to her about the tree toads’ lullaby and a bloody moon.
Claire advises Archibald to stop giving her so much laudanum. His response is to ask if she’ll pay for him to translate Margaret’s vision to her. Balfe then gives the best WTF side eye of all time.
Asshole Archibald tells Claire that Margaret is a seer and he translates her visions. Claire diagnoses her as mentally ill and prescribes mistletoe tea. Archibald is like “Sooo will that knock her out when she can’t make me money? Because I can totally charge when people ask for her to have visions but otherwise they’re just creeped out.”
Claire tells Archibald that she wants to see Margaret again and he informs her they’re bound for the West Indies. She warns against it but advises Archibald to make sure she has plenty of fruit to eat. Balfe’s facial expressions are everything in this scene. She knows damn well he won’t do it and she’s full of concern for poor Margaret.
Nobody should be concerned for Young Ian, who is drunk and singing loudly off key, making his lady love laugh. What follows is the most amazing call back to Jamie’s deflowering.
“I’ve seen some of the whores do it like this?” He asks his more experienced paramour. She gives him a quick handy lesson in female anatomy, and Ian says the words every woman wants to hear.
“Tell me how ye like it. I’ll do it however you want!”
Needless to say, she takes him up on this offer.
Sadly, Claire and Jamie aren’t afforded sexy times this episode. But that’s a good thing. Jamie tells Claire he put the exciseman’s body in a cask of creme de menthe and Claire gently suggests to Jamie that perhaps they could find their own place that isn’t in a brothel?
(Side note. I just really enjoy how Heughan said creme de menthe. I may have rewound that once. Or five times. Don’t judge me.)
“And leave the brothel?” Jamie asks.
It was at that moment I knew we were due for a post-printshop argument.
I could see the seeds of conflict being planted as Claire eagerly suggested that she could open up her own healing establishment. Jamie is saved from responding by someone announcing that dear Ian (Steven Cree) is downstairs.
Jamie tells Claire not to tell Ian that his son is with them. Was that seed two I just heard being planted? For the first time, Claire looked genuinely disappointed in Jamie.
But I am loving how we get to see the previous season’s characters reacting to Claire’s return. And Ian is still handsome as hell with white hair! While Ian is clearly happy to see Claire, he’s obviously distraught by Young Ian’s disappearance. Jamie flat out lies to Ian about his son’s whereabouts as Claire looks on in shock.
What I am shocked by is this secret Jamie’s hiding! Ian knows about it too? WHAT’S GOING ON? “All will be well,” Jamie says, smiling.
Famous last words you sexy Scot.
I’m glad Young Ian’s father hasn’t found him just yet. The adorable boy is losing his virginity (I don’t know how I feel about this! He looks like he’s TWELVE! Is this how parents feel? I CAN’T HANDLE IT) Anyways, they’re interrupted by a suspicious sound.
Sir Percival’s crony is sneaking around Jamie’s printshop. Ian bravely but foolishly confronts the man and inadvertently leads him straight to some of Jamie’s seditious pamphlets. The boy attempts to stop the crony from getting his hands on evidence, and suddenly Uncle Jamie’s shop is going down in flames.
Ironically or not, Claire just happens to be standing by a fireplace as she confronts Jamie about lying to Ian. Jamie clearly enjoys being Young Ian’s cool uncle and refuses to rat him out to his parents. This is the first great example of the problem with the couple’s time apart.
Out of sight, it was easy to put the other on a pedestal where they could do no wrong. One only has to look at Balfe’s facial expressions in this scene to see that Jamie not only fell off his pedestal but cracked into a thousand pieces at the bottom.
You have no idea what it is like to be a worried parent.
I’m Brianna’s father. But I didn’t get a say in how to raise her, did I?
While Jamie’s crack about Brianna’s bikini was hilarious, the conversation once again reiterates that Claire failed to prepare herself completely for the return to the past.
“Christ. I forgot how bloody rigid this century is. A woman is either a Madonna or a whore.” A thousand feminist authors just cheered.
Jamie bluntly asks Claire if she fell back in love with Frank when she returned through the stones. It’s the first time Jamie really gets vulnerable in this episode. He sounds angry when he asks her, but it’s a very vulnerable inquiry.
Claire reassures him that while she cared for Frank, she only loved him before she met Jamie. Before Professor Sandy-not-Candy Travers has a chance to leap through the stones to say “I KNEW IT,” Madame Jeanne informs them that there is a fire in Carfax Close.
The A. Malcolm print shop is burning with no firefighter in sight because a public fire department hasn’t been invented yet (Dammit Ben Franklin hurry up!) Jamie doesn’t waste a second when he realizes Ian is trapped inside. After a harrowingly close rescue, Claire insists that they send Young Ian back to his parents and Jamie grudgingly agrees.
Watching Jamie observe his print shop go down in a fiery inferno was downright depressing. While you could tell, he was happy that Young Ian was safe that’s his whole livelihood burning to the ground. The symbolism of the shop burning down an episode after Claire returns did not escape me.
Claire had insisted they build a new home. But in the meantime, they’re headed back to Lallybroch.
Are we going to talk about the fact that Jamie IS MARRIED AND HASN’T TOLD CLAIRE?
I have a feeling I know who it is. A bad feeling. PLEASE TELL ME IT ISN’T HER.
Until next time!
NEXT WEEK, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5TH AT 8 PM ET: EPISODE 308: “FIRST WIFE”
“Claire returns to Lallybroch with Jamie, where she does not receive quite the reception she was expecting. Unbeknownst to her, Jamie’s made some choices in their time apart which come back to haunt them with a vengeance.”
Clips and Photos courtesy of Starz.