This most recent episode of Outlander was all about family bonding. You know, like when you shoot the shit with your new in-law while sorting through Christmas ornaments, as your significant others make a grocery run for milk and Cheez-Whiz.
Except with casual roadside killing and breech birth instead of more mundane pursuits.
After last week’s reconciliation between Jamie and Jenny and Ian and Claire’s coming to an understanding vis a vis living with these goddamn maddening Frasers, this episode splits right down the middle along gender lines. Jamie and Ian deal with violent threats to the family; Jenny and Claire deal with the messy business of reproduction. Ah, the romance of eighteenth-century Scotland! Flipping back and forth between the two plotlines was enough to give you a headache—or maybe that’s from being thwacked upside the head with the parallelism between birth as the brutal work of women and warfare as the brutal work of men. (Not that I’m complaining.)
And they were certainly handling a real sack of vipers, this week. When last we left our protagonists, their Lallybroch idyll had been interrupted by a bunch of shabby scoundrels with guns. Turns out they’re “the Watch,” a paramilitary organization that’ll protect households from passing raiders and redcoats—for a fee, of course. Honorless scavengers, as far as Jamie’s concerned, but Ian and Jenny remind him that they’ve been running this goddamn place for four years just fine, thanks very much, and they’ve found them useful (if unsavory).
The scabby creeps that fill out this scourge on the Scottish countryside are irritating enough; there’s also the fact that the leader, Taran MacQuarrie, is fascinated with Jamie, who is trying to fly under the radar so they don’t realize there’s a price on his head. Oh, and our good buddy Horrocks the deserter finally turns up. He immediately recognizes Jamie and wants to blackmail him for money to get the Colonies.
Meanwhile, Jenny’s water breaks smack in the middle of laundry day. Ain’t it always just one damn thing after another? It quickly becomes clear that the baby is breech, and Jenny doesn’t want Claire blabbing to Ian and Jamie, so they’ll be handling this on their own. Gotta say, Claire, “I’ve seen childbirth” was not the most reassuring phrasing you could’ve gone with.
And so commences a very long labor, with Jenny cycling through several different positions over what must’ve been a day and a half at least. It’s worth noting that, once again, on a show that offers so much handsome male flesh, we were getting glimpses of a woman’s body that were much more about practicality. That nightgown was awfully see-through, but the context was labor, not titillation.
Also we know the Watch are real scum because they think it’s cool to yell at a woman in labor to shut up.
In the meantime, Ian kills Horrocks. He feels bad about it, but Jamie tells him it’s fine, let’s bury this dirtbag. Unfortunately, Taran puts it all together and he isn’t shy about blackmailing Jamie into riding with him on his next raid. Incidentally, I would almost certainly watch a show about eighteenth century Scottish mercenaries roaming Europe, fighting in Spain and Silesia and wherever else. I’d rather watch Outlander, of course, but if somebody maybe wants to pitch something about the War of Austrian Succession, that’d be great.
Finally, Jenny and Claire are successful and manage to bring a perfectly healthy baby into the world. Things go less well for the gents—Ian makes it home, but Jamie’s been captured by the redcoats. Will somebody please fucking kill Black Jack Randall already?
Photos via screencap.