Secrets and Lies: Outlander, ‘Crème de Menthe’

***Spoiler Warning Spoilers for Outlander through Season 3, Episode 7, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager follow. Spoilers***

With quick resolution to last week’s precarious situation, the aggressive intruder threatening Claire is (fairly) quietly despatched and cask(et)ed, but not before we’re subjected to another gory surgery scene. While our innards spun along with a slowly twisting hand drill as she bored into Barton’s nasty skull, the depth of Claire’s commitment to preserving life played out in the extreme. Here was a man who, given the chance would have viciously raped and killed her; mere accident may have been Claire’s only saving grace and still, instinctive self-defense leaves her guilty and shocked into healing mode. Though he might not entirely understand, Jamie — having slipped into his own savior mode when he walked in and found his wife fragile, nearly broken — finds his way to respecting her professional mandate. In the end and perhaps, a window to their long separation, the first inkling of the hour’s complicated back and forths leave the Frasers shaken.

While Claire deals with the mess upstairs with her appointed assistant, Willoughby, Jamie, Fergus and young Ian rush to stay a step ahead of Sir Percival and his henchman. Determined to find the liquor they know Alexander Malcolm is hiding somewhere, the pair demand to search the brothel basement, already cleaned out … its caskets of brandy (and a few of Scotsman-spurned Crème de Menthe) disposed by a “master salesman”. Ian foreshadows later disaster at the print shop, but not before a seasoned Fergus sets up his naive friend with a longtime crush.

In one of Outlander‘s best ever, ridiculously fun asides, Jamie’s young apprentices meet up at the local pub to share a celebratory ale and toast to their future endeavors. Smitten by beautiful barmaid, Brighid, young Ian admits he’s utterly unexperienced, but after a quick lesson from his charming friend, a boy’s about to bed his first lass … adorably and awkwardly, I might add. Unfortunately, their print shop back room interlude is interrupted by another intruder and in one of many slight book departures, after attacking Ian, Percival’s (blind in one eye) man seemingly escapes with a seditious pamphlet, and the shop is accidentally set ablaze. Trapped inside and passed out from smoke inhalation, a quick superheroic rescue by Jamie leaves his nephew traumatized, but none the worse, physically.

As the print shop succumbs to flames, Claire tends to Ian, and Jamie passes on last minute instructions in preparation for necessary —  “Betraying Percival is one thing, inciting sedition …” — escape, Fergus brings up another pressing matter. Though Jamie questioned Claire’s “shades of lies” defense, he clearly has his own barometer for truth-telling and what secrets one should keep. Admitting he’d had a son, but never fallen in love with another woman after Claire left, there’s rather a large admission Jamie has left to reveal. With wild disbelief written across his face, Fergus leaves Jamie and us with a final, devastating question: “Milady does not yet know about your other wife?”


Deep Thoughts:

The big, slightly out of place reveal here that Jamie has another wife is of course, shocking to non-readers. ***Book Spoilers*** Those who have read know Jamie’s marriage isn’t (as with his blackmailed Geneva copulation) exactly a marriage of choice. Arranged by Jenny after Laoghaire (Nell Hudson) — who you might remember had a crush on Jamie back in Season 1 — was widowed and left to raise two daughters alone, Jamie’s sister sought to relieve Jamie’s loneliness, but the relationship doesn’t work, and Jamie leaves her. So, no real worries, except for Claire’s anger when she finds out. I do hope they don’t drag out that reveal.  ***End Book Spoilers***

Once again, I have to shout out to both Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who’ve evolved into top notch actors before our eyes. Claire’s every emotion plays across Balfe’s countenance in the smallest scenes (the range she went through after Barton hit his head and she’s left shaking) — anger, fear, frustration, hopelessness — and over time, Heughan has utterly opened up Jamie’s as well — his sheepishness when he walked in the door, and when Fergus questioned him at the end of the hour were on full display. The affecting moment when Jamie gently and slowly took the knife from Claire’s hand was gorgeously acted by both.

It’s understandable that both Jamie and Claire have a difficult time divulging their intimacies with other partners — anyone else think Claire is being slightly disingenuous about her time with Frank? — but once they began discussing, I don’t quite get why there wasn’t a full data dump. You were both in different times where neither truly believed you’d see each other again; any indiscretions should be accepted and if you want to be together, start with a clean slate. But, I suppose drama, both television and book-wise, needs to be fed with mistrust and/or deceit.

Holy-I-Had-to-Look-Away from that whole surgery and drilling scene, though I admire and am happy for the series attention to detail, and commitment to Claire’s profession. In multiple timelines, she’s fighting the patriarchy — “I’d forgotten how bloody rigid this century is. A woman is either a madonna or a whore …”  — standing up for women’s rights. It’s cheer-worthy and disconcerting (we’re still fighting the same archaic ideas) to watch such scenes play out.

Poor, poor Ian — everyone lies to him! And kudos to Steven Kree for that beautifully emotional scene when he tears up at the sight of Claire.

Jamie really did seem to be a superhero when he rescued Ian, the adrenaline fueled him to move a press so he could toss Ian over his shoulder, and climb up and out.  A shout out to this shot of his cape-flinging over the shoulder, slow-mo jump and Spider-Manlike landing.

Brighid (Zoe Barker) was just a wonderful (lit up the room) as our favorite pair this episode — Fergus and Ian — whose pub scene have us dreaming of spinoffs and further adventures for the boys. I could have watched them the entire show. Excuse me while this page temporarily converts to Tumblr:

As with the book, I couldn’t have cared less about Archibald and Margaret Campbell, though her visit to the woman serves to offer Claire a chance to use her skills.

For the curious:  Laudanum, which Claire told Archibald was too strong to give Margaret on a daily basis, is a strong narcotic made of opium and morphine. Instead, Claire suggested tea with the herb Valerian, a natural sedative people still use today.

Great Lines:

Claire to Jamie:  “I have to try and save him, Jamie. You understand?”

Ian to Fergus:  “You remember Auntie Claire all those years ago … What was she like?

Fergus:  “Spirited, fierce … She saved many lives. There were rumors, that milady took a few lives as well.”

Ian:  “If Auntie Claire has killed, they likely deserved it.”

Willoughby to Jamie:  “”Honorable wife fought hard for his life. Put her best foot forward.”

Jamie to Claire:  “Sassenach, you came thousands of miles and 200 hundred years to find me. I’m grateful that you are here no matter the cost. I would give up everything I have for us to be together again. Don’t you see that since you left, I’ve been living in the shadows? And then you walked into the print shop, and it was if the sun returned and cast out the darkness.”

Claire to Jamie, when he worries about her traveling alone, and wants Fergus to escort her to the Campbells:  “Sir Percival doesn’t know who I am, or what I’ve done to the person he sent.”

Claire to Archibald:  “She’s not a seer. She’s suffering from a mental disorder.”

Claire to Jamie:  “Since when do you lie  to your family?”

Jamie:  “I couldn’t tell him his son is helping with smuggling … We lied our way through Paris. Didn’t we just lie to Ian?

No. I’m Brianna’s father, but I didn’t get to raise her, did I?”

Claire:  “If Frank and I trained her to be a criminal, that would be okay?

I’ll have you know that Frank was a wonderful father.”

Jamie:  “And was he wonderful to you as well? You asked me did I fall in love with anyone else. Did you fall in love with Frank again?”

Claire:  “No.”

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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