I had to marinate on Outlander’s latest installment, Lallybroch, before writing about it. On the surface, it was Jamie’s return to his home, a happy event that he’s looked forward to for years, but deep down he’s harbored the guilt that he caused his father’s death and ruined his sister.
Jamie believes that on the fateful day Black Jack Randall rode into Lallybroch and whipped him for defending his sister that he caused the chain of events that have haunted his family. He also blames Jenny for going with Black Jack and “letting” herself be raped. Somehow, not sure how or why, he believes that she could have prevented that. Or more likely, he wants to believe she could. I’d think that by now Jamie knows there is no dealing with Black Jack. He will do what he wants.
When Jamie and Claire ride into the courtyard of Lallybroch and Jamie sees a young boy, he assumes it’s Black Jack Randall’s bastard son. Jenny, clearly happy to see her brother, is stunned at Jamie’s anger towards her when she tells him the young boy is named after him. He believes Jennie is mocking him in some way. Thankfully Ian, Jenny’s husband, walks up and tells Jamie he is the father. Jamie isn’t relieved or even happy, but still seething.
We’re seeing the other side to Jamie. I think this is brave of the show. It’s easy to portray Jamie as the romantic hunk with no flaws. He’s a man in his early twenties who was ripped away from his family, beaten almost to death, and whisked away to another country. Now he’s returning and he’s afraid of what he’ll find.
What he finds is that things are running smoothly at Lallybroch. That he really isn’t needed there any longer. That in this instance you can’t go home again. Jenny and Ian move aside and give them the Laird’s room, but it feels wrong. Jenny doesn’t acknowledge Claire. Ian is welcoming and explains a bit about the prickly relationship between the siblings.
I enjoyed our visit at Lallybroch. After reading and hearing so much about the place it was nice to finally see where Jamie grew up. It’s warm and cozy, tucked into a valley with fields surrounding the home. We learn that they are struggling financially to keep the place going. A harbinger of what’s to come in the future for the Lairds and their people.
Inside, around the table, Jamie asks Jenny about what happened the day he was beaten and taken from his home. Jenny says she’ll only explain this once. That Black Jack Randall dragged her into the bedroom and, at first, was relatively gentle with her. Not that rape can ever be gentle. When she tries to hit him with a large candlestick so she can get away, Randall turns hard and harsh. Watching this part the second time, I wondered if Black Jack was trying to be – what he perceives – as gentle. To see if that part of him still existed. After throwing Jenny on the bed he opens his pants and tries to bring himself to arousal. The full frontal nudity of Black Jack surprised me. You’d think that would have been leaked or mentioned on the many Outlander sites, but as far as I know there was no mention of this before the show aired. Jenny, desperate, scared, and traumatized, laughs at him. As Margaret Atwood wrote “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” Black Jack thrives on inflicting pain and fear. He does not thrive on Jenny laughing at him and eventually knocks her out and leaves.
In the Laird’s rooms Jamie tells Claire that Black Jack offered to release Jamie, and not whip him a second time, if he’d relent to Black Jack’s sexual desires. Jamie thought about the offer. Who wouldn’t? But in the end Jamie doesn’t think he could ever face his father again if he relented. So, instead, he’s beaten almost to death while his father has to watch and has a stroke and dies.
Jenny has her own guilt about that day. That if she’d not laughed at Black Jack and done what he wanted that he wouldn’t have taken Jamie and her father would still be alive.
Jamie and Jenny, separated by necessity, never had a chance to discuss or work through what happened to them. Instead of seeing it for what it was, a horrible thing that happened to good people that they were not responsible for, they’ve lived with the guilt that they could have done something to prevent the terrible chain of events. In all likelihood, Randall would have taken Jamie no matter what Jenny did, or didn’t do. And even if Jamie had agreed to Randall’s terms, it doesn’t mean Randall would have let him go. Thankfully, towards the end of the episode the two prickly siblings reconcile.
Claire tells Jamie she loves him. I thought this was kind of lost in the story and wasn’t shot as pivotally as it could have been. We already knew she loved him. I mean if she didn’t, she’d have gone back throw the stones. Still, her giving voice to her love was a major moment.
Jamie thinks he can stay at Lallybroch…really? Claire mentions he has a price on his head. Jenny snaps that no one at Lallybroch would turn him in to the red coats. Hmmm. Claire’s common sense and realistic viewpoint proves correct. The last sequence of the episode is Jamie being surrounded by the Black Watch.
So much happened in this episode that it was hard to settle in and enjoy it. Instead I felt whipsawed from one revelation to the next.