Outlander Episode 308: FIRST WIFE aired on Sunday, 5 November and the first thing I have to say is … oh, the hair. Jamie’s lustrous hair. It’s back. I know aesthetics like hair should not be important, but Jamie’s red mane is a defining element (as Diana Gabaldon writes about so much in the novels) of the man over whom we love to obsess. Both Claire and Lord John Grey make a big deal about it, so why can’t I? What follows is one of Diana’s passages describing a vivid moment on the trip from Ardsmuire Prison to Helwater.
At the crest of the next hill, the track split, going off in two directions. Fraser, some distance ahead, pulled his horse to a stop and waited for direction, the wind ruffling his hair. He had not plaited it that morning, and it blew free, the flaming strands lifting wild about his head.
Squelching his way up the slope, John William Grey looked up at the man above him, still as a bronze statue on his mount, save for the rippling mane. The breath dried up in his throat, and he licked his lips.
“O Lucifer, thou son of the morning,” he murmured to himself, but forebode to add the rest of the quotation.
– from Voyager, Part Four: The Lake District, Chapter 14: Geneva by Diana Gabaldon
Love the ‘squelching’ part but enough about mud and hair – for now – let’s talk about the episode. The lovely Nell Hudson as Laoghaire MacKimmie (neé MacKenzie or should we say Fraser? It’s hard to keep track around here.) is back and seems to be over her puritanical repentance. Maybe it died with Colum. She’s one of those moms who has no qualms about badmouthing others in front of her children. I do believe the expletives flying out of her mouth are the worse we’ve heard on the show. She’s no lady. But then … we’ve always known that.
As if John Bell as Young Ian doesn’t add enough sparkle and shine to the series, two more adorable kiddies join the cast. Layla Burns is cute as a pixie as Joan MacKimmie with eyes bright as a penny and hair red as … hey, wait a minute. Red hair? What exactly has Jamie been doing the past 20 years? Guess we’ll let him ‘splain himself later. Meanwhile, beauty Lauren Lyle plays little Layla’s big sister Marsali and is moony-eyed over … well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
Both girls are sweet and polite, amazing considering their mother has probably done nothing but rant and rave about Jamie for the past few months. No doubt, Claire’s name came up more than a few times over the years as well. The c-word? Really? What is this – Game of Thrones? Come to think of it. Our Jamie could have used their Jaime’s Bronn (too cool to have a last name) as his wingman in the reunion scene. Not that one, this one. Bronn would not have stood for Laoghaire’s behavior or her potty mouth. Or maybe it would have turned him on.
Back from the dead, er never-dead, is Ned Gowan. Bill Paterson is a pleasure to see in this episode although I actually expected him to show up with a young, pretty (perhaps former hooker) wife. Alas, he never wed, he tells Claire when she gawks at his agelessness. Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around.
The best parts of the show (besides Jamie and Claire, of course, and Young Ian and Joan and Ned and Bronn (I wish!)) are Jenny and Ian’s biting remarks. Laura Donnelly as Jenny is not as happy to see her brother as she was all the other times he dragged himself through the gates of Lallybroch – this time with a “stray.” She has a burr up her skirt and almost more bairns than she can handle. How many bedrooms are in this place? Ian is as-ever the soft voice of reason but does show a bit more grit in this episode. Steven Cree is as splendid in this role as Tobias Menzies is/was as both Randalls. (Gosh. I miss that guy.) Laura and Steven together – perfection. Skinny and one-legged, Ian still stands up to Jenny when she crosses the line although she refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing. Is she right, or is she wrong to send word to Laoghaire? It’s not like Jenny doesn’t know the girl is crazy as a bag of cats. What could possibly go wrong, eh?
Seeing as the episode is called FIRST WIFE, it makes sense the story is central around Claire. Poor Claire. She was so sure everything would work out. She planned to find Jamie waiting for her, somehow re-virginated, with a steady printer’s paycheck. Instead, he’s got a shady business on the side, hoors for roommates, kids running amok and a spare wife. Good thing he hasn’t told her about John Grey. Caitriona Balfe puts out an extraordinary performance in this episode. She’s an estranged wife, sister wannabe, life-saving surgeon and a woman unsure of her choices. Don’t you hate it when you travel back through time and everything is harder than you thought it would be? I know I do.
Sam Heughan finds himself in hot water with three and a half different women in this episode. As Jamie, he has words with Jenny, manhandles Laoghaire (although not hard enough), shares a hug with Joan, and wrestles with Claire (which is just about to get interesting before Jenny ruins it). For much of this episode, the women are in a tizzy, but Jamie doesn’t seem to get it. Ian gets it. Too bad no one listens to him. Like most men, Jamie does not understand why you cannot have too many hens in the house. And these are three of the bossiest hens in 33 counties. What has Jamie gotten himself into? Let’s find out, in this week’s episode of …
Jamie’s Top 30 How To Moments for Episode 308: FIRST WIFE.
#30: Jamie’s How To Kill Time Moment: This would have been a great time to tell Claire about his other wife … instead of 15 minutes later.
#29: Jamie’s How To Look Like A Pirate On A Horse Moment: A little prep work there, maybe?
#28: Jamie’s How To Talk His Way Out Of That One Moment: Where are all these other red-headed men? No, really.
#27: Jamie’s How To Talk With Your Eyes Moment: And they’re saying, “keep your mouth closed.”
#26: Jamie’s How To Break The Bad News Moment: Too little, too late?
#25: Jenny’s How To Clout Your Son On The Head Moment: Geez. Think I would have run away, too.
#24: Jamie’s How To Be A Male Chauvinist Pig Moment: Aw. I’m just kidding, but not really.
#23: Jamie’s How To Read A Woman’s Mind Moment: Yep. No matter what. When there’s another woman involved, the man is screwed either way.
#22: Jamie’s How To Build Trust Moment: Says the man with two wives.
#21: Jamie’s How To Look Cool Looking Through A Telescope Moment: Didn’t think it was possible, did you?
#20: Ian’s How To Lay Down The Law Moment: I’m with Jenny.
#19: Jamie’s How Not To Tell The Truth Moment: He’s had a lot of practice at that.
#18: Jamie’s How Not To Be A Heartless Bastard Moment: He’s had a lot of practice at that, too.
#17: Jamie’s How To Act When You’ve Forgotten Your Line Moment: Come on. You all thought the same thing.
#16: Jamie and Claire’s How To Rut Like Wild Beasts Moment: Jenny simply does not want Jamie to be happy.
#15: Jamie’s How To Get Out Of The Doghouse Moment: Politicians could learn a thing or two from Jamie.
#14: Jamie’s How To Flirt With The Psychopath Who Tried To Have Your Wife Killed Moment: Just like that.
#13: Jamie’s How To Be An Adorable Drunk Moment: Is he ever anything but?
#12: Jamie’s How To Make Your Sister Stop Asking Awkward Questions Moment: Warning. This only works once.
#11: Young Ian’s How To Make His Mum Hate His Aunt and Uncle Even More Moment: Good thing Young Ian doesn’t mention Mademoiselle Brighid.
#10: Jamie’s How To Tell Joan Her Mother Was Not His First Choice Moment: Best to leave out the crazy parts.
#9: Jamie and Ian’s How To Reminisce Moment: All those times Brian took a strap to them … good times.
#8: Jamie’s How To Prepare Yourself For Emergency Surgery Moment: There’s an awful lot of emergency surgery going on in Scotland.
#7: Jamie’s How To Look Good During A Fireside Chat Moment: He pretty much has this down pat.
#6: Jamie’s How To Make Claire Feel Really Sh*tty About Leaving Moment: Eh. She gave it a week.
#5: Jamie’s How To Kiss Twice, Smack Once Moment: Wait a minute. We’re all feminists here. We don’t want to be thrown down onto the bed … do we?
#4: Jamie’s How To Be A Great Dad Moment: Some men have a woman in every port. Jamie seems to have children in every century.
#3: Jamie and Claire’s How To Do A Big Finale Moment: Add one big ship et Voila!
#2: Jamie’s How To Be Happy Moment: Where’s Mr. Fezziwig?
#1: Jamie’s How To Put It All On The Line Moment: I’d say yes. But then, I’ve read all the books.
All images used above are property of Sony Pictures and Starz, Inc.
“Claire and Jamie leave Scotland, sailing to the West Indies on an urgent quest. But when the superstitious crew looks for someone to blame after a string of bad luck, rescue comes from an unlikely source.”
If you missed the other fun looks from Outlander Season 3, you can find them here: