Check out the Top 40 Looks from Outlander Episode #107: THE WEDDING
Ep107 THE WEDDING has a lot, and I mean a lot . . . of hand holding. Hands are good for so many things, most notably for touching. There hasn’t been as much touching in any of the other episodes combined. And I’m not only talking about Claire and Jamie. Everyone gets in on the touching action in this episode – not all of it gentle.
Last week, I summed up THE GARRISON COMMANDER in two words: Bloody brilliant. This week, I sum up THE WEDDING with two new words: Blazing hot.
What makes this episode blazing hot are the two people for whom we’ve been waiting to touch these past seven weeks, beyond playing footsie under the table and patching up the latest black eye. Caitriona Balfe (Claire Beauchamp-Fraser) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) sizzle together onscreen, elevating their performances to yet another level of intimacy, vulnerability and open honesty.
I make no secret of my concerns regarding Jamie’s character arc thus far. I feel in certain story lines, his responses have been lessened compared to his actions in the Outlander novel by Diana Gabaldon. He’s also been held in the shadows while the main plot develops and other characters are expanded. With this episode, we seem to have caught up with our ginger-haired hero, and it is indeed a pleasure to spend quality time with him.
Expectations were extremely high this week, putting co-Executive Producer & writer for this episode, Anne Kenney, and Director Anna Foerster in the spotlight. Both did an admirable job in this latest chapter of the story, but I believe Ms. Foerster’s masterful direction did most of the heavy lifting. I don’t normally pay attention to insert shots during a first viewing, but the small touches added made a large impact in my viewing pleasure which you will learn as I discuss the episode.
Past the kitty, SPOILERS are ahead.
The newest aspects introduced in this episode are the alternate character perspectives, mostly Jamie’s. Angus (Stephen Walters), Rupert (Grant O’Rourke), Ned (Bill Paterson), Willie (Finn Den Hertog) and Dougal (Graham McTavish) all carry a few delightful scenes on their own as flashbacks through Jamie’s storytelling. Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) is at Jamie’s side in each of his first person perspectives.
Flashbacks are a story device either loved or hated by most. I happen to love flashback storytelling when done right. I am happy to report, I believe it is done very well in THE WEDDING and adds to the anticipation and momentum of Claire and Jamie’s budding relationship. Rather than the traditional build up from wedding to wedding night, the story jumps right into the honeymoon suite.
But before we get to the hot and heavy sequences, let’s start at the beginning. The first flashback is one of only two Claire has, and it all starts with hand holding.
Mr. Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) is escorting Miss Claire Beauchamp to a luncheon with his parents, her first time meeting them. In an act of spontaneous romanticism, he proposes marriage in front of the local registration office.
Claire exclaims, but she agrees and they skip into the building together, still holding hands.
This is probably a departure from the novel which may ruffle a few feathers. Claire and Jamie are supposed to get married in the same chapel where Claire married Frank. Obviously, that doesn’t happen here which leads to other changes in the story. I mention this deviation as a fact, not a complaint. Because of the flashback format of the episode, the chapel conspiracy would only have convoluted the story; therefore, I’m fine with the change.
Another wonderful rip through the space-time continuum occurs as Claire kisses Frank to the voiceover announcement that “the groom may now kiss the bride.” We cut from happy bride to unhappy bride Claire kissing Jamie.
It’s not clear if her first wedding memory is on her mind while kissing Jamie. This is a good time for Claire to stop thinking about Frank – at least for the rest of the day.
The real story begins in the middle. Claire and Jamie have just gotten married and finished celebrating with his kin. We join Claire alone in the honeymoon suite, waiting for her groom while the festivities continue down below. The suite is a whale-like chamber complete with a romantic fireplace and large bed. Everything a newly wed couple needs.
Jamie enters to find a tense Claire sitting in her corset and undergown. Her wedding dress, of which we are given only a close-up glimpse, lies discarded on the floor. They have a short awkward conversation regarding the making of their marriage official.
Jamie is trying to make the best of the situation, understandably confused by Claire’s mood and general pissed-off demeanor. At this point, she is most likely angry with every man in her life – past, present and future. She’s a fiercely independent woman being commanded and forced into having sex with the best looking man she’s ever met in her life, and she can’t even enjoy it. She turns to her usual solution – alcohol. They break out the whiskey, and Jamie makes a short but sincere toast:
“To a lady of grace . . . Woman of strength . . . And a bride of astonishing beauty . . . my wife, Claire Fraser.”
The show’s had a great deal of fun making Claire out to be a lush, but Jamie’s face doesn’t show appreciation. He raises his glass between each refill to make further toasts then gives up. Finally, he puts a hand on her arm and assures her that he has no intention of forcing himself on her. Little does he know his prowess is the least of Claire’s concerns. Jamie has said all the right things, they just happen to be all the wrong things to say to Claire.
With liquid courage coursing through her veins, Claire ask Jamie why he agreed to marry her. She had no choice in the matter but is convinced he has better things to do with his time than lose his virginity.
Jamie explains the situation from his point of view, and we flashback to his conversation in the barn with Dougal, Ned, and Murtagh. Ned makes clear what must be done on a hasty timeline, i.e. consummating the marriage within earshot of witnesses.
Apparently, Jamie wasn’t given all the details of his shotgun wedding when he agreed to marry Claire. He appears shocked to learn she has to have sex with him right away. Did he think it was one-way? Or maybe he didn’t see last week’s episode.
This scene feels out of conjunction with Jamie and Claire’s “important conversation.” What exactly has changed to make Jamie say?
“If Claire does become my wife . . .”
He can’t possibly think she’d rather choose option A) be turned over to the English, imprisoned, questioned none too politely, and tortured almost certainly. I suppose he might feel persuading her to have sex with him – as Dougal puts it – is just as bad or worse than what Black Jack will do to her. Whatever his reasoning, Dougal brings Jamie to an abrupt halt by reminding him of Black Jack’s evilness. Yeah. I think Jamie is the last person who will ever forget what’s inside Black Jack.
“So you married me to keep me safe.”
Claire says when we swing back to the honeymoon suite. Jamie nods as if it’s nothing then turns on the heroic charm with:
“You have my name. My clan. My family. And if necessary, the protection of my body as well.”
This is the first point in the story where I wonder why Claire is not jumping Jamie’s bones, specifically when he says the word “body.”
Calmly, she sets her glass down – Step 1 – and joins him on the bed. Ever so slightly, she drifts toward him or maybe she’s off balance from too much whiskey. Jamie’s okay with that and takes her hand to lean in for the hero’s kiss.
I think this is an excellent place to stop and talk about the MacKenzie and Fraser family trees. Claire thinks so, too –Jamie a little less. But he’s a good sport and nervous as hell, so he goes with it.
I rather like this version of the honeymoon. It’s playful and very much in line with both characters. In the novel, Jamie is just as nervous but approaches their unorthodox situation with a horse handler’s experience – by suggesting they hold hands while they talk. He understands the importance of touch and the development of trust. It’s missing from this scene, but we do see a glimpse of it later. It happens to be my favorite scene in the episode. More when we get to it.
Several hours pass with Jamie telling story after story. They drink more whiskey. The sun sets. Claire shares what she can about her life and manages to stay sitting up. Eventually, the whiskey (about a barrel’s worth by now) and Jamie’s natural storytelling ability relaxes her. This is starting to feel like the perfect first date until Rup and Ang barge into the room to check on kilted matters.
Dougal has sent them upstairs to find out if Claire has put a smile on her new husband’s face yet. I can’t really tell if they’re drunk or back to their old selves – maybe both. They argue and are tossed out by Jamie before coming to a consensus on the groom’s virginity.
Alone again, an awkwardness returns. While Jamie stares around the room at nothing and Claire sits coyly on the bed, I’ll jump in and say – Thank goodness she wasn’t forced to marry one of the two dimwits. She has yet to know Jamie very well, but it’s plain to see she has absolutely nothing in common with Ang and/or Rup. I can’t imagine the hellish wedding night with either of those two.
Back to Jamie and Claire. She, being the non-virgin, makes a fine and dandy suggestion:
“. . . it’s getting rather late. Perhaps we should go to bed?”
Jamie’s courage is on the rise, probably in direct relation to a certain part of his anatomy which until tonight has seen very little action.
“To bed . . . or to sleep?”
I could be mistaken, but he seems to add a little swagger to his delivery with a wobble of the head. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be cute, cocky, or sexy. I don’t think he knows either. Regardless, it works on Claire, but then she’s drunk.
Given this is Jamie’s first time with a woman, he catches on fast by offering to help her undress. After all, Mrs. Fitz isn’t around, and Claire can’t possibly handle all the tiny buttons, laces and doodads in her current condition.
Hand action ensues. Claire takes Jamie’s hand and rises from the bed. Jamie takes Claire’s whiskey which leaves her hands free to fidget. I hope this is a sign of sexual anticipation and not alcohol withdrawal. It’s only been about 5 seconds.
What comes next sobers Claire up right quick. Imagine this . . .
You turn around so Jamie can unfasten the ties of your ridiculous skirt and undergarments. Not very sexy, so you want them off as quickly as possible. Step 2 is complete.
Now Jamie’s hand slowly runs up along your arm, skimming over your exposed shoulder. His gentle fingers pull on the ribbon tied around your neck, releasing the wispy band to slide down over your breasts.
Step 3: With a shy smile he turns you around to face him. He is mesmerized by your beauty and your reaction to his touch. His eagerness grows as he undoes the front of your corset. It slides to the ground to join the puddle of clothing at your feet. All that separates you now is a gauzy chemise – molecules of transparency.
Shall I go on or would you rather stop reading and watch the episode again? I can wait but while you’re gone, I’m going to talk about first kisses.
The first kiss is very, very important to women. I’m not saying it’s not important to men, but I’m a woman – so I can only speak from a female perspective.
It’s all about anticipation. Claire has been wondering, as their evening draws on, what it will be like to kiss Jamie. Silly Claire. She’s expecting she’ll have to teach him. But then again, he seems to know what to do with his hands. Just because he’s never touched a woman’s breast doesn’t mean he can’t figure it out – as he quickly proves.
Once again, the scene is played a bit different from the novel. Literary Claire is less nervous and takes early command. She removes his shirt and slowly runs her hands across his chest before kneeling down to slide her hands up his kilt. When she touches the Cracker Jack surprise, Jamie pulls her up for their first real kiss.
In the show Claire doesn’t get that far. She unbuckles his kilt which is enough for Jamie to plant one on her. No pictures here. Kissing in an action verb and thus should be watched in action. I highly recommend it – watching the scene, I mean. And kissing, for that matter. I do provide an adorable insert shot of Claire rising up on her toes, the better to kiss Jamie.
Now that he’s knocked her socks off – well, not quite yet. Claire asks in a very breathy voice the epic question:
“Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
To which Jamie replies – say it with me, girls:
“I said I was a virgin, not a monk.”
Then in a very definite cocky tone, he adds:
“If I find I need guidance, I’ll ask.”
Jamie proceeds to line her up for a rear mount, but Claire takes command. In unspoken direction, she pulls Jamie down onto the bed, face-to-face! Two-minutes later, we see Jamie’s reaction down below.
“I dinna realize you did it face-to-face.”
Jamie says sheepishly.
Claire reacts with a laugh which, by the way, makes her a big fat liar. She promised she wouldn’t. If literary Claire can hold it in . . . just sayin’.
When Jamie asks if she liked it, Claire’s reaction is delayed. It’s clear on her face she liked it quite a bit, and that’s the problem. Claire’s never had a casual sexual encounter her entire life. She thought she could remain detached and stay true to Frank, but that don’t work with Jamie. Maybe with Rup or Ang, she would have fantasized about Frank, but Jamie is an impossible man to substitute.
Sex shame falls on Claire. She admits to liking it and calls herself names. Jamie perks up, not able to read her confusion. He’s just happy she liked it. Claire can’t handle his innocent happy face and dashes from the room for food, wearing only her chemise. Jamie runs after her, and they both stop on the landing outside their room to the sound of catcalls and rude remarks from the men down below in the tap room.
Gotta say, I didn’t care for this rendition of the scene. I’m also not sure why Claire stands on the landing staring down at the men as they shout up at her. As a modern woman, especially one serving in WWII, this is nothing. Either ignore them or go back into the room. Jamie steps closer and tells her to go back inside. Thank you, Jamie, for bringing that part of the scene to an end.
The rest is a welcome perspective addition to the story. Jamie strolls through the tavern in only his boots and shirt – hilarious, by the way – and makes up a plate of food. He dishes out the insults as they’re served to him. Then he approaches a very drunk, very smiley Murtagh by the fireplace and accepts his godfather’s congratulations.
Heading back upstairs, Jamie passes a grumpy Dougal. His uncle has been nursing his decision all night, pissed he’s not the one ploughing Claire. Is Dougal in love or in lust with the Sassenach? The show has certainly amped up his feelings for her much more than in the novel. I have a few problems with this subplot but am eager to see how far they take it. Dougal is an enigmatic character who adds an interesting spark to the Jamie/Claire dynamic.
Back upstairs, our newlywed couple dine on what look like steak fries, and Claire talks Jamie into opening another barrel of whiskey. He fills her glass then reaches out to touch the back of her neck – a completely natural gesture. Claire shies away from the intimate contact. She’s still fighting her attraction and doesn’t want to get too comfortable too soon. Jamie moves away, not happy about being rejected by his wife so soon. He figured he had a few more months before that happened.
Claire realizes she’s being silly – Silly Claire! – and apologizes. I’m detailing this short scene because it leads up to my favorite in the episode.
Jamie smiles from across the room and returns to stand behind her. He’s back to staring at her with an openness spawned by true love. Jamie loves Claire, and now she’s his. It shows in the way he looks at her, and especially the way he touches her.
Here, he teaches her a bit of Gàidhlig:
“Mo nighean donn,”
he says softly. “My brown-haired lass.” Note: I have brown hair, too.
Claire smiles at his teasing tone, not realizing he’s no longer playing. This young man is figuring out the sex-love connection pretty darn fast, and he’s ready to try his hand at seducing. It takes only a second for her expression to change.
Jamie’s warm steady fingers – I’m positive they’re warm – caress the back of her long neck. Then he slips his hand under the blanket covering her shoulders and pulls it off. His fingers brush along the edge of her barely-there chemise. It’s in the way.
Yeah. He’s ready to go again.
Claire doesn’t dare turn around and look into his eyes.
I love the play between these two – the wrangler and the skittish colt. Jamie puts his animal husbandry skills to good husbandly use. It’s my favorite interaction between them because it’s subtle, sexy, playful and so very Claire and Jamie.
The main difference between the honeymoon scene in the book and the show is mileage. Jamie and Claire’s growing intimacy is stretched out in the show. It starts out slow and tentative and builds as they get to know each other. It makes their final lovemaking scene all the more powerful. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
While Jamie plays with Claire’s neck, she slows down his libido by asking him more questions. Jamie humors her and jumps back into storytelling mode. Several flashbacks follow.
Jamie and Murtagh have a bonding moment in the barn over a broach belonging to Jamie’s mother, Ellen. Murtagh compares Claire’s sweet smile to that of Ellen’s, helping to allay Jamie’s reservations about marrying a complete stranger – even one as pretty as Claire.
Jamie then lays out to Dougal his three conditions for marrying Claire. He wants a church wedding, a ring and a proper wedding dress for his bride. In the novel, he also insists on an extended honeymoon at an inn. Dougal and Willie procure the use of a dilapidated church, using threats then honey to induce the priest to forget about the required 3-week bans. Rupert and Angus are sent to procure the ring from the local blacksmith. And Ned Gowan pays a visit to a whorehouse to buy a dress for Claire. He transacts a bit of business for himself, telling the whore he follows up the stairs, “not too fast.” I doubt she’ll be saying that to him.
Claire’s hours leading up to the ceremony are less productive and more booze-related. As in the novel, she gets stinking drunk and has to be dragged from her bed. Murtagh does a fine job of having her whipped into shape. Where exactly did he find strong, black coffee?
Finally, we arrive at the wedding. The story of the ceremony floats back and forth between Jamie and Claire. Mostly it’s from Jamie’s perspective because Claire has very little memory of her big day though she does remember some later parts. In Jamie’s words:
“I remember every moment . . . every second. I’ll never forget when I came out of the church and saw you for the first time. It was as if I stepped outside on a cloudy day and suddenly the sun came out.”
From beginning to end Claire is in a daze, being swept along by the events. Dressed by strangers. Marrying a stranger. She looks up at Jamie as the enamored groom approaches her and tells him she can’t marry him because she doesn’t know his name. I guess she was too drunk (how long is that excuse going to work?) to read it off the marriage certificate she signed.
Jamie, standing proud in Fraser plaid, speaks his full name for the first time:
“James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser,”
pausing between each name. Claire holds out her hand, introducing herself to her new life-long partner.
“Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp.”
Dougal decides they’ve had plenty of time to get to know one another – Who needs more than 5 seconds of hand holding anyway? – and encourages them to move things along. I think he’s trying to get Claire married to Jamie before he changes his mind and elopes with her to Paris.
I’ll let the ceremony speak for itself.
Claire may not remember much, but she does recall the kiss. Though this isn’t the passion they share in the honeymoon suite, she clearly reciprocates his ardor. Jamie confesses to thinking:
“When you kissed me like that . . . Well . . . Maybe you weren’t so sorry to be marrying me after all?”
Silly Jamie. Silly Claire. So much miscommunication going on between these two. Thank goodness for Uncle Dougal playing matchmaker.
From here on out, Claire and Jamie come together because they want each other, not because it’s a duty. True, it’s a duty James is more than happy to perform, but he honestly wants to understand Claire, to please her.
He tried flattery. It made her drink. He tried storytelling. It got him one roll in the sack. He tried seducing. It made her nervous for all the right reasons though he doesnt’ know that.
Claire finally decides, she’s ready to give Jamie the night of his life. No more holding back. No more guilt. No more nice girl. With the touch of her hand, she grabs his attention.
It’s naked time. Claire orders Jamie:
“Take off your shirt. I want to look at you.”
In the novel, this is something Claire requests very early. She dives into the deep end and takes Jamie with her. I rather like the build up to this moment in the show. It’s what the writers and producers knew they had to do to make up for the lack of camaraderie between Jamie and Claire in the last few episodes. I’ll admit, I think it’s still missing from these scenes. There’s very little humor and joking between them which is part of what makes their relationship so special on page. But Ms. Balfe and Mr. Heughan do a lovely job of bringing Claire and Jamie together in a romantic, I-have-to-have-you-or-I’m-going-to-die sort of way. I think their offscreen friendship is what pulls it off. They trust each other and work well together which makes for an engaging onscreen chemistry.
The scene which follows is scintillating from Claire’s exploration of Jamie’s body with her hands and eyes to Jamie’s claiming of Claire as his own. Neither one of them holds back, especially Claire who decides she’s been too lady-like for long enough. I won’t describe the details of their sensual sex scene. That’s for you to enjoy on your own.
Jamie falls asleep – naturally – which leaves Claire alone and in need of a drink – of water this time. She traipses downstairs in Jamie’s kilt and finds the tavern empty. Dougal enters with that sixth sense of his and calls out her name:
Frankly, I wish this part had been left out entirely. Dougal is confused; thus, I am confused. He wants her. He doesn’t like her. I guess he doesn’t have to like her to bed her. The scene would make much more sense if he were drunk, but he’s stone-cold sober having just come from a visit with Jonathan Randall. He reports Claire is in the clear – for now – so it seems. But she’s not safe from his advances. Dougal is still looking for payment for all the times he’s saved her butt.
“I commend you for doing your duty,”
Dougal says with a hand cupping her chin,
“but it needn’t stop you from sampling other pleasures. I find you to be the most singular woman, Claire.”
Dougal’s good. Dougal’s bad. Dougal wants to help Claire. Dougal wants to screw Claire. Dougal thinks she’s a whore. Dougal thinks she’s singular. I think he bounces back and forth so much, even he doesn’t know who he is or what he wants.
I’m going to defend Dougal and say I think this scene is way out of character for him. If he were drunk and back at Castle Leoch, then maybe he would hit on her. I don’t buy him trying this less than 24 hours after she marries his nephew. We get it. He finds her attractive, but he does too much lurking, smirking, pouting and grumping about it.
His confusion further shows when Rupert enters the tavern, greets Claire politely then makes a completely normal guy joke about her looking well-ridden by an inexperienced Jamie. Dougal punches him in the face and orders him to check on the horses again. Then he takes up drinking while watching Claire re-enter the bridal suite. Now, she’s Mother Theresa.
Back upstairs, Claire sits by the fireplace waiting for her Scot stud to wake up. From the look on her face, she’s at peace – her first moment of it since her arrival in the 18th Century. Jamie has given this to her.
As if her thoughts call to him, he wakes and stares at his new wife from across the room. Rising from the bed, he takes something from his sporran and drapes it around her neck, telling her:
“They’re Scotch pearls. They belonged to my mother. And now they belong to my wife. They’re one of the few things I have left of her. They’re very precious to me. As are you, Claire.”
Claire is touched by his tender honesty. He has shared himself completely with her. His words express a genuine feeling, and she does not trivialize his affection. Silently, hand-in-hand, they make love.
From consummation to sex to making love, Jamie and Claire experience it all in this episode. Claire may believe infatuation is driving her, but it’s something much stronger which she will eventually learn. Jamie falls in love only once in his life, but he recognizes it for what it is, though it’s more powerful than he ever imagined it could be.
This episode begins with Claire holding hands with Frank. In between, there’s much hand holding with Jamie as seen above. It ends with her staring at her own two hands. Two rings. Two husbands. Two lives. Two loves?
Overall, I enjoyed this episode very much and admit to watching it with a smile on my face – simply because I was happy to watch Claire and Jamie together. The script is not as strong as that for THE GATHERING nor as brilliant as the writing for THE GARRISON COMMANDER. It had a lot to achieve in a short span of time, and I think it accomplished the task.
I mentioned an open honesty at the beginning of my review and was disappointed to lose the dialogue from Jamie at the start of their first night together. Trust and honesty are very important elements in their relationship, established early on. The history of Claire’s origin is the one thing she cannot share with him which leads to several problems, as the readers know.
I am looking forward to many more perspective changes in the story – a huge and intriguing departure from the novel. The additions create an interesting potential for the scenes in Wentworth and Lallybroch.
Going back to the wedding, I’d like to point out one other obvious scene removed from the show – that of Claire fainting after the ceremony. I am guessing it was eliminated because of the change in location. Without the chapel where she and Frank were married, there’s less reminder and connection to her first wedding. It’s a charming scene in the novel and would have been lovely to see, but it’s not necessary in this story line as written.
Ron Moore and Terry Dresbach’s podcast for Episode 107: THE WEDDING is available for free on iTunes or you can listen to it here. Mr. Moore also gives us another inside look at the making of this episode with special attention on Claire’s incredible wedding dress:
The final 2014 Outlander Episode #108: BOTH SIDES NOW airs on Starz on Saturday, 27 September in the U.S.