(Original post at The National Student)
A triumphant return to form for Outlander, this week’s episode Of Lost Things provides the pathos that the season has been lacking so far and fixes the pacing issues from previous instalments.
Thankfully, we’re finally back in 1968 and watching Operation: Save Jamie unfold. The previous three episodes have given us some compelling moments, but the show hasn’t quite felt like Outlander until now.
Roger, the adopted son of the late Reverend Wakefield, deduces that Claire’s and Jamie’s timelines are unfolding at the same rate. Claire rejoices in the fact that no Narnian time shenanigans are about to scupper their chances of a reunion, and so she, Brianna and Roger attempt to track down Jamie’s whereabouts in 1766.
The main task in Of Lost Things is bringing the two timelines up to date, and so much of this week’s episode is dedicated to Jamie’s life at Helwater, working as a groomsman under the false name Alexander MacKenzie.
It might seem dangerous to put so much emphasis on only one of the show’s leads, but luckily the scandals of the genteel Dunsany family are the kind of soapy melodrama that Outlander excels at.
Lord Dunsany agrees to conceal Jamie’s rebellious past, but is still yet to learn that his new servant is Red Jamie, the man who orchestrated the successful battle in which his son Gordon was killed. Dunsany has two daughters, Isobel and Geneva, the former of whom is likeable and the latter of whom is decidedly not.
Geneva is quickly betrothed to a cruel old aristocrat, the Earl of Ellesmere. She’s not too happy about this arrangement, and contrives a plan to seduce Jamie whilst riding in the estate. Geneva feigns a fall from her horse and Jamie comes to her aid, until he realises what she’s plotting and promptly drops her in a puddle.
Lord John Grey continues to visit Jamie, ostensibly to protect his wellbeing, but in reality to stare lovingly into his eyes over a chessboard. Colonel Melton’s reaction to Jamie makes Geneva suspicious, and after plying the soldier with wine, she learns Jamie’s identity.
Geneva visits Jamie and asks him to take her virginity, desperate for her first sexual experience to be with him rather than Ellesmere. Jamie refuses, and so Geneva threatens to uncover his past, implicating Jenny and all those at Lallybroch in the process.
In that moment, Geneva stops being entertainingly stuck-up and starts being genuinely terrible.
Jamie is a rare example in the TV landscape, because it’s unusual to see a male lead that’s routinely put through sexual exploitation. Geneva’s use of her position and knowledge to force Jamie into sex is undoubtedly assault.
In a prolonged scene, one that eerily mirrors Jamie’s wedding night at times, Jamie and Geneva have sex. Jamie once asked Claire whether their connection was typical of all sexual relationships or something more; he’s now older and able to explain the distinction between the two states to Geneva when she claims she loves him.
Back in the 20th century, Brianna’s characterisation takes a positive step forward. It’s pleasantly surprising how cavalier Brianna has become, throwing herself into the pursuit of Jamie and flirting up a storm with Roger.
Considering their relationship should form a key theme of season three, the lack of scenes between Caitriona Balfe and Sophie Skelton seems like a serious miscalculation.