(Original post at The National Student)
In First Wife, Claire gets a not-so warm welcome at Lallybroch and finally learns Jamie’s dirty little secret.
Having fled Edinburgh, Jamie and Claire escort Young Ian back to Lallybroch. Claire has some explaining to do to Jenny Murray, who’s understandably a little bit shocked that her sister-in-law is back from the dead.
She’s also pissed off that Jamie would get Young Ian involved in smuggling, which feels like a legitimate concern for a parent to have. Jamie successfully negotiates Ian down from beating his son, instead getting him to work in the muck.
Young Ian is not at all pleased by this development, because like all sixteen-year olds, he thinks he’s an adult. Jamie asks Jenny to give her sulking son a little more freedom, and she retorts that she won’t be lectured by a bigamist. Jenny is having none of your nonsense, Jamie.
Later that night, Claire laments her new awkwardness with Jenny, who’s giving her the cold-shoulder after their twenty-year separation. God bless Jenny for being the only character who’s reacting appropriately to what a weird situation Jamie and Claire have put her in.
Jamie distracts her with the story of his flight from Ardsmuir, revealing just exactly where he went during his escape attempt. After hearing Duncan Kerr’s prophecy, Jamie swam to a nearby island in search of Claire. Finding no trace of her, Jamie did uncover the treasure that Kerr described, but was unable to take it back to the prison.
Jamie tries to reveal his secret marriage to Claire, but because this is Outlander, he doesn’t get the chance.
His confession is interrupted by the arrival of two young girls, both of whom call Jamie “daddy.” Moments later, their mother arrives, and she just happens to be Laoghaire MacKenzie.
Laoghaire (who, like the rest of the cast, doesn’t seem to have aged) is furious that Claire is still alive. She hurls a few choice expletives at Claire before Jamie drags her out of the room. Claire is left behind in her nightgown, looking pretty upset.
When Jamie returns, Claire turns her anger up to 11. She furious that Jamie would keep this from her, particularly considering the fact that Laoghaire tried to have Claire killed. Jamie reassures her that he’s not the father of the two girls, and he was never in love with Laoghaire.
This news is of little comfort to Claire, who accuses her husband of chronic insensitivity. Again, this seems justified (come on Jamie, sort yourself out!). The couple argue, which transforms into a fiery make out session that Jenny quite literally throws cold water on.
When alone together, Jenny calls Claire out for not staying in contact with the Fraser-Murray household when she thought Jamie was dead. Despite Claire’s protests, Jenny is smart enough to realise something’s not quite right about Claire’s story.
The following day, Claire tries to leave Lallybroch but is interrupted Laoghaire, who’s armed and feeling dangerous. Laoghaire shoots Jamie in the arm, leaving Claire to stitch him up. Whilst being treated, Jamie explains the loneliness and desire for a family that led to his unsuccessful second marriage.
Throughout First Wife, Jamie has been frustrating and touching by turns. His excuses to Claire have been callous, and almost out of character at times.
It’s lucky that these scenes are balanced by his moving accounts of isolation; without them, it would be difficult to connect to Jamie’s insensitivity.
The arrival of Ned Gowan brings some much-needed levity to proceedings. The elderly lawyer assures Jamie that because Claire is alive, his second marriage to Laoghaire is legally invalid. Despite having shot Jamie, Laoghaire manages to negotiate a generous alimony and support for her two daughters.
Jamie intends to fund his new obligations through the treasure on Selkie Island (see, that non-sequitur is relevant after all!). With Jamie unable to swim thanks to his new injury, Young Ian volunteers to take the plunge and retrieve the valuables.
Whilst Young Ian swims to the island, Jamie and Claire discuss their now fractious relationship. Claire is beginning to regret leaving her life in Boston, despite Jamie’s protests that he’s mated for life. In what has to be one of the best lines of the series, Jamie asks Claire if she’s willing to risk the man he is for the sake of the man he once was.
The arrival of a mysterious ship saves Claire from having to answer Jamie, but the vessel spells trouble for Young Ian. The teenager is kidnapped from Selkie Island by the ship’s crew, leaving Jamie and Claire distraught back on land.
The Laoghaire revelation produced some great performances, but Claire and Jamie are now truly estranged. The search for Young Ian will hopefully repair the couple’s relationship and remind them that they make a great team. Bring on next week- adventure on the high seas awaits!