Outlander Recap: Episode 1.9 — "The Reckoning"

Welcome back, everyone! It’s time to sing a song of a lass that is gone! When we last left our Outlander cast, Claire was captured by Redcoats. Just as Black Jack Randall is about to assault Claire, the window flies open — and there’s Jamie holding a gun!

As Sam Heughan noted on Twitter, six months is a hella long time to spend crouching in a window:

We open before this auspicious rescue, with Jamie taking over narration duty, reflecting on all of the choices he’s made. He’s a Man now. Yes, yes, we all saw the wedding episode, Jamie. Congratulations! Oh, I guess he also means taking on responsibility and being a husband and all that. Right, okay. Congrats on that, too. 

Jamie’s meeting with the Redcoat deserter Horrocks, who can potentially exonerate him of the murder charge on his head. And Horrocks can. Sorta. Apparently Black Jack shot the British soldier (surprise!), which is the least useful information since the British won’t exactly consider Jamie a credible witness against the man who publicly flogged him. But Horrocks has his gold, so he doesn’t care. Man, you just can’t trust money-hungry deserting soldiers with no sense of loyalty. What a world.

But we’ve got bigger problems as Willie rushes in to inform Jamie and our Castle Leoch crew that Claire was taken by Redcoats. Rescue time! And what a daring rescue it is as Jamie, with an assist from his rebel bros, skulks around Fort William, gets Claire’s location and busts a few Redcoat heads. CUE THE BAGPIPES OF ASSKICKERY! 

Rappelling down a rope, Jamie lowers himself into the window of the room where Claire is being held. Ahhh, God, she’s screaming. Claire is relieved to see Jamie, and Black Jack? Is ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED … in spite of the gun trained on his head. I think most people break too easily for BJR’s taste, so he really enjoys whatever challenge Jamie presents. He asks Jamie if he can see the scars on Jamie’s back because SADISTIC PLEASURE. 

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Jamie’s like “hmm, nope,” and Claire’s like “SHOOT HIM ALREADY, JAMIE” and Jack takes this opportunity to hold a knife to Claire’s throat as a way to force Jamie to drop the gun. 

Jack grabs the pistol, taunts Jamie about “pledging himself to a woman” (which: ahaha very revealing!) and then verbally runs through a variety of perverse scenarios: raping Claire in front of Jamie, inviting Jamie to have sex with him and Claire. 

Guys. Guys. I’m an openminded 21st-century woman who works at a magazine where we regularly discuss nipple clamps, pegging and ménage ranches, and Black Jack’s psychosexual sadism is so far beyond what I could’ve imagined.  This is A+++ villainy right here. Ugh, Black Jack, you are so repulsive, so awful. Truly the worst. Never change.

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Black Jack then tries to shoot Jamie, which frankly doesn’t seem like his style, but it doesn’t matter because the gun’s not loaded. Jamie uses Jack’s surprise against him and knocks him out cold. Jamie claims it never occurred to him to kill a helpless man, even one like BJR.

After they jump off a ledge at Fort William and swim (!) toward escape, Claire and Jamie meet back up with the Castle Leoch fellows. After assuring that Claire’s all right, Jamie goes off. He’s pretty pissed that Claire wandered away and that she hasn’t apologized. For her part, Claire is like:

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Well, not exactly, but these two really get into it and have their first married fight. It is, as all marital fights are, about control. It’s 1743, Jamie’s her husband and thus The Man, and Claire disobeyed a specific order from him. But Claire’s no 18th-century woman; she’s got 20th-century sass and she’s not about to think of herself as Jamie’s property. The argument is incredibly tense and escalates into very close talking/shouting and swearing at one another. They are in each other’s faces and Claire slaps Jamie and he calls her a foulmouthed bitch and it’s a littttle hot, if I’m being totally honest. BRB, Googling “emergency therapist.” 

Jamie’s shaken and upset by the argument and reminds Claire that he went to find her at Fort William, “armed with an empty pistol and my bare hands.” He’s almost on the verge of tears and suddenly feel like apologizing to him. You’re tearing his guts out, Claire! Claire tearily apologizes and he returns the apology, while VOing that he’d pretty much forgiven her for everything she could ever do to him when he fell in love with her. SIGH.

But all’s not totally well, as the Castle Leoch dudes are pretty incensed that Claire put them in so much danger by getting captured by the Redcoats and forcing an escape. They express this in a totally healthy way by explaining their feelings to her. JUST KIDDING! They ignore her ass. 

Murtagh tells Jamie that Claire has no idea what she almost cost them. Jamie knows What Must Be Done. Back in their room, Claire urges Jamie to come to bed. But Jamie has other plans. He explains that Claire put them all at risk and therefore she needs to be punished. Jamie removes his belt and asks Claire to lift her shift for some good old fashioned marital discipline! But Claire’s not about to take this lying down … or bent over, as the case may be. She’s apologized, she knows what she did was wrong and she’ll never do it again. 

Jamie is unconvinced! “A good hide-ing makes you understand things in a more serious light,” says Jamie. While Jamie increasingly seems like an exasperated parent, Claire throws any object near at hand directly at his head. The fellows downstairs in the pub chuckle in amusement. Jamie finally corners her on the bed, lifts her nightgown and smacks her square on the bum with his belt. But Claire fights this every step of the way, kicking Jamie and landing a few good hits and scratches along the way. She accuses him of being a sadist; Jamie doesn’t know what that means, but he admits he’s enjoying all the bum-smacking.

As for me?

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The whole spanking scene is very much played for a bit of saucy laughs, which I think is probably the only way the show could’ve handled it. Claire’s pissed as hell, understandably, and she doesn’t just knuckle under. So this entire incident is beyond upsetting to her. But Jamie doesn’t take this as seriously; if he did, he’d seem more like a stern jackhole and less like the lovable rascal we’ve grown to adore. This isn’t to dismiss the numerous feminist critiques of the spanking, but ultimately, with what comes later, I don’t think Outlander ends up endorsing an attitude of wife-is-chattel or wife-is-naughty-child. Your mileage, it may vary. 

Both Claire’s ass and ego are sore, so she and Jamie are … on the outs, to say the least, when they return to Castle Leoch and are greeted by cheers from the residents, including Mrs. Fitz. Love you, Fitzy. After he and Lady MacKenzie enter, Colum congratulates Claire on her recent nuptials … and pointedly ignores Jamie. Hmm. Colum’s not the only one taken aback by this sudden marriage — a weeping Laoghire confronts Jamie near the kitchens. Jamie explains that Dougal arranged the marriage, but neglects to inform Laoghire that he’s actually fallen in love with Claire. Hmmmm. Jamie promises to give Laoghire a fuller explanation later.

But first! A meeting with Ned, Dougal and Colum — the latter of whom is ticked off beyond belief. About the Fort William shenanigans — which could put all of Clan MacKenzie in danger from the Redcoats — and about the money they’ve collected for the Jacobite cause. Yep, he knows all about the plans for rebellion, since one of the rent-collecting party spilled the beans. (It’s Willie. Dammit, Willie, you are worse than useless.) Dougal stands up for his beliefs, inciting more than a little tension with Colum. 

While Dougal’s thinking big picture in terms of Scotland’s future as a country, Colum’s mostly angered by Dougal’s disloyalty to the smaller authority of Clan MacKenzie. This really raises Dougals hackles, especially since he’s always been loyal to Colum. Like the time he assured Colum’s bloodline. By sexing Colum’s wife. And siring Hamish. Very, uh, very loyal man, that Dougal. It’s a dirty job but something something … I guess???

For some reason, Colum isn’t immediately heartened by this startling confession of fealty, and refuses to give Dougal the collected funds for the Jacobite cause. Instead he furiously orders Dougal out. Alone with Jamie, Colum rails against Jamie for ruining his own chances to be Colum’s successor by marrying a sassenach. 

As Jamie relays this turn of events to Claire, she’s very meh. I mean, when the bar for shock has been set as absurdly high as falling through time, you can’t reasonably expect her to muster up some surprise at Dougal screwing his brother’s wife. Jamie then attempts to put the moves on Claire, but she’s not having it.

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The next day, there’s still some tension in the group of Castle Leoch fellows as Jamie pulls Angus off Willie, and has to field questions about his own loyalty to Colum vs. Dougal. Luckily a little stag hunting really takes the edge off as Dougal breaks things up. Murtagh quietly proposes that he and Jamie run off and live off the land since all this political intrigue is just too much. But Jamie has a wife now so this Lost Boy adventure won’t exactly fly. Murtagh reasons that the politics are probably meaningless anyway since Bonny Prince Charlie is conspicuously absent, which gives Jamie an idea.

Heading to Colum, Jamie encourages the laird to forgive Dougal and hand him the money. The plans of rebellion may never come, since Charlie hasn’t exactly made a move at this point. Better for Colum to mend fences with his war chief, heal the schism at Castle Leoch and deal with the erstwhile king if and when he decides to arrive. 

After Dougal reaffirms that his oath to Colum is an oath to Scotland, Colum does as Jamie suggested, and returns the gold. Colum also orders Ned to invite the Duke of Sandringham to Leoch, presumably to suss out the climate amongst the English nobility. Little does Colum know that the Duke is Black Jack’s protector. Yiiikes. 

As Jamie mulls over recent events while skipping stones, his solitude is broken by Laoghire. She praises his noble spirit, saving Claire from the British by marrying her. But apparently, Laoghire’s been in love with Jamie from the moment she saw him (duh, so have we all, Laoghire). Taking Jamie’s hand, she explains that when he took the beating for her in the hall at Leoch, she knew he had feelings for her, too. And then he kissed her, so obviously that means forever. Laoghire, if that’s our standard for True Love, then I must be practically married to the British dude I hooked up with on Halloween 2007. Sorry I haven’t called you in eight years, my precious dove. What I’m saying is: GET OVER IT, LAOGHIRE. THIS IS DONE. 

But Laoghire can’t hear me at all, because she undoes her cloak, exposing some, well, quite nice cleavage, I have to admit. She says she’s “lain with no one,” which doesn’t really make sense to me — why the hell did Jamie get his ass beat back in episode two if you hadn’t even boned anyone, Laoghire? Anyway, despite all the boobage, Jamie declines Laoghire’s offer to deflower her, citing his vow to Claire. So, Laoghire? Here’s a piece of advice:

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Emboldened by Colum’s change of heart, Jamie decides maybe there need to be other changes within Clan MacKenzie, like this whole patriarchal bullshit of disciplining your wife. I COULDN’T AGREE MORE, JAMIE. In their bedroom, he approaches Claire and kneels at her feet, pledging loyalty to her. Holding a knife, he quietly requests that if he EVER raises a hand against her again, she drive the dirk right into his heart. She remains silent. Jamie asks if she no longer wants him, if she’d like to live separately. “I feel that’s what I should want,” Claire says, “but I don’t.” 

Between this oath and Jamie’s story of melting a key to Lollybroch to make Claire’s ring — so his home would be as much hers as his — I’d say the Fraser lad has done quite a job of springing himself from the doghouse. And Claire agrees, as the “strong sexual content” we were promised at the beginning of this episode FINALLY begins.

It’s very difficult to recap sex, so let me just say: HOLY HELL. According to producers, this scene was actually shot BEFORE the wedding episode, so it’s Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe’s first love scene together. All the applause! It’s passionate and a little angry and amazing, as Claire rides Jamie aggressively, wrapping a hand around his throat. Goddamn. 

And then! Get this! SHE GRABS THE DIRK FROM EARLIER AND HOLDS IT TO HIS THROAT. Still riding him, she tells him that if he ever raises a hand to her again, SHE’LL CUT HIS HEART OUT AND HAVE IT FOR BREAKFAST. 

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Oh my GOD, guys. I can’t speak for any of you but I feel personally blessed by this show. At the moment of my death, I’ll whisper to my grandchildren, “Come closer, please, children.” I shall take their hands and make one final request. “Please, my dear, bring me the GIF (NSFW!) of Claire riding Jamie with a knife at his throat.”

“Grandma, you are really weird.” 

“Ugh, FINE. I’ll get it myself using telekinesis because that’s a thing that definitely exists now.”

Anyway, leaving aside my future disinherited grandchildren, let’s get back to Jamie and Claire, who are winding down their bone session with laughter and teasing. They’ve decided that Claire’s just as much Jamie’s master as he is hers. She teaches him the meaning of words like “fucking” and “sadist,” and things are delightfully kinky until … they find some weird stick thing underneath their bed. Creepy! According to Jamie, it’s an ill wish, for bad luck, harm, possibly even death. Who could’ve put it there? Jamie thinks Laoghire, which is quite possible since she sucks terribly and is awful and we hate her. 

Next week: we get to see the ever delightful Simon Callow as the Duke of Sandringham! Will we find out why he’s offered Black Jack his protection? Possibly because they are super into one another and are secretly lovers? Will someone feed Laoghire to a wolf? We can only hope! 

What did you think of the return of Outlander? Let me know! You can find all of my Outlander recaps here.

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