Women Are Bad Luck on Ships, Sassenach; Redheads, Too: Outlander, ‘The Doldrums’

***Spoiler Warning Spoilers for Outlander through Season 3, Episode 9, and Book Spoilers through Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager follow. Spoilers***

Doldrums, indeed. Perhaps the requisite byproduct of a decades-spanning love story is catastrophe after catastrophe, problem after problem, and intermittent filler strung between the separations and reunions. This Outlander hour set us adrift with Jamie and Claire, tenuously together again, bobbing up and down amidst the drummed up drama of superstitious seamen, and worthy winds refusing to blow. After last week‘s fast-paced finish with Young Ian kidnapped by scoundrels unknown, the Frasers commission a ship to track down Jamie’s hapless nephew; vociferous vomiting and a wonderfully wordy Willoughby, our faithful companions.

Aboard the Artemis, luck’s gone wrong (thanks to women and redheads); Fergus packed Parisian apparel, as well as an unauthorized companion — his hand-clasped wife, Marsali (Laoghaire’s lively daughter) — much to Jamie and Claire’s consternation. Despite their pleas, Jamie believes he’s obliged to protect his charge’s virtue, sentencing his own wife to sleep with the snippy girl … not that anyone has time for sleep. In between tending to her seasick man, Claire deals with the ship’s minor injuries and major prejudice and strange beliefs — “Believing in something doesn’t make it real.” “On this ship it does.”

Aided by Willoughby’s acupuncture rather than his preferred doctor’s prescribed doses of ginger tea, Jamie notices the ship’s not moving (nor is the plot). Suffering silly asides of sacrifice and seaworthy sonnets (Willoughby’s ode to stone-fruited women’s parts) until wind and rain return, we know something’s fishy when the Porpoise, a British man-of-war, signals for help. Ever the dedicated doctor, Claire agrees to board and help when she recognizes the acting Captain Leonard’s (Charlie Hiett) description of Typhoid Fever. A quick goodbye and toured hull of the sick and dying later, Jamie and Claire are once again separated; the second kidnapping in as many episodes. Though Claire takes small comfort in Leonard’s assurances they’re headed to Jamaica — just as her husband’s ship is  — the Frasier’s uncertain future, book surprises yet to be revealed, loom as large as the widening divide between them. 

Deep Thoughts:

Yeah, this was a bunch of filler, and a fairly monotonous hour, at that. Still, I appreciated the beauty of some of the scenes; Willoughby’s disappearing stories on the deck, Claire and Jamie in the moonlight, and the whole change of setting. That said, without Tobias Menzies’ huge presence, Season 3 is definitely a completely different — sometimes lacking without him — animal.

Love the new opening credits, with Bear McCreary’s musical modifications adding to the gorgeous new Voyager snapshots.

I’m sure I’m not alone in being thrilled that Mr. Willoughby is so changed from his awful book depiction. That said, I’m not so certain about his poetry. Amusing, it was, but also pretty bizarre. That said, Gary Young is doing a bang up job with the role.

There’s still a lot of Voyager story to cram into only four more episodes. I’m so curious where the series will leave off Jamie and Claire with Season 3.

Foreshadowing ***Book Spoilers*** events to come, Jamie asks Claire to continue the search if he’s taken, and find Young Ian. Readers know the captain knows who Jamie is, and in fact, when they reach shore, he’ll be arrested.  ***End Book Spoilers***

Le sigh … at least the Frasers got their quickie in before Claire left again, though that did not look comfortable.

Amusing that Claire spoke of Brianna and missing her terribly; can’t say as we feel the same.

The Artemis’ masthead was also a statue in the Season 2 brothel.

Great Lines:

Willoughby:  “And yet, I had fallen in love with woman … not a woman, all women. Their beauty blooming like lotus flowers; the taste of their breasts, like apricots; the scent of a navel in winter; the warmth of a mound that fills your hand like a ripe peach. I fled on the Night of the Lanterns … I fled to a place where the golden words of my poems are taken as the clucking of hens, and my brushstrokes for their scratchings. For the love of woman I come to a place where no woman is worthy of love — to a place where woman are coarse and rank as bears, creatures of no grace. And these woman disdain me as a yellow worm, so that even the lowest of whores will not lie with me. By not surrendering my manhood, I have lost all else. Honor, livelihood, country. Sometimes I think, “Not worth it”.

When the seon tin jung fligh high, it mean the air light — dry, no rain. When they fly low, it means …”

Jamie:  “The air is heavy. Rain is coming.”

Claire to Jamie:  “No god worth his sort would take your nephew away from you just because you want to be happy.”

Jamie to Claire:  “Woman are bad luck on ships, Sassenach. Redheads, too.”

Artemis Captain to Claire:  “A woman’s bare breasts calm an angry sea … the horseshoe is more complicated.”

Willoughby:  “A story told is a live gift. Once I tell it, I have to let it go.”

Captain to Jamie:  “You look like a pincushion.”

Claire telling Jamie about what she saw of the moon trip photos:  “You can see the craters from here, the dark spots.”

Jamie:  “That’s just his face.”

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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