Jamie's secrets catch up to him again

By Amy Wilkinson
October 01, 2017 at 09:00 PM EDT
Aimee Spinks/Starz


S3 E4
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  • Starz

The deeper we get into this third season of Outlander, the more and more impressed I am by Sam Heughan’s work as our adrift hero Jamie Fraser. Of course, it helps that much of the narrative spotlight shines on him, but Heughan’s performance has been particularly strong, continuing into this heart-wrencher, “Of Lost Things.” If you’ve never read Diana Gabaldon’s books upon which the TV series is based, these events likely came as a bit of a shock — they sure did to me when I was spoiled many months ago.

We find Jamie settling into Hellwater nicely as a groom under the assumed name Alexander MacKenzie — not the most creative of nom de plumes, but then again, they didn’t have Google back then. And given that the lady of the house hates Jacobites since her son was killed by one at Prestonpans, it’s a necessary alteration, part of Jamie’s backstory as a “groom heartily recommended by Grey,” explains Lord Dunsany. The other residents of the manor house include the Dunsany’s two teenage daughters: Isobel and Geneva, the latter of whom is so notoriously nasty that the grooms draw straws to see who will be forced to accompany her on her daily rides.

“A boot in the hind quarters is what that one needs,” Jamie observes to a fellow groom, just as Geneva’s sister Isobel walks up to the stables. He begs her pardon, but she is only amused. They begin to discuss their mutual acquaintance Lord John Grey, and it’s clear Isobel is crushing. “I imagine he’ll make someone a good husband,” she says.

“The major’s passion lies in soldiering,” Jamie explains diplomatically, hoping to dissuade her.

Isobel is, of course, not the only young lady in need of a match, and it comes to pass that Geneva is betrothed to one Earl of Ellesmere — a crotchety, silver-haired man old enough to be her grandfather and who says things like “A mere fortnight until you’re mine!”

When it is time for her day’s ride, Geneva requests MacKenzie by name — no long straw can spare him this time. As they meander through the woods, she tells Jamie of her fiancé.

“His most attractive quality is his wealth,” she sneers, before inquiring, “What do you find attractive?”

“I don’t think of such things,” Jamie says.

“Liar,” she replies, galloping off, leaving Jamie to catch her. He comes upon her thrown from her horse and lying in the grass. But when he gallantly scoops her up, she giggles. It’s all a ruse. Jamie drops her into a mud puddle.

“I look forward to our next ride,” she yells cheekily at his receding figure.

But they meet much sooner, as Geneva, Isobel, and family friend Lord Melton come upon Melton’s brother and Jamie playing chess in the clearing — Grey has been good on his word about visiting once a quarter, but he didn’t let his brother in on Jamie’s cover as their former groom. So when Geneva notices the discomfort with which Lord Melton addresses Jamie, she presses him. And Lord Melton tells her everything about the groom known as Alexander MacKenzie, or rather, the Highland traitor Red Jamie. Geneva is quick to use this information to her advantage. You see, she doesn’t want to give her maidenhead to the old prune she’s marrying in three days’ time — she wants to give it to someone like Jamie. He has no intention of participating in this scheme. That is, until Geneva reveals everything she knows and invokes Lallybroch as a veiled (or perhaps not so veiled) threat. (Recap continues on page 2)

And so, he slinks into her room later that night as she sits at the foot of her bed in a frilly white nightgown, hair cascading down her shoulder. She welcomes him by his real name, but he will not allow it. He tells her to call him Alex.

“You may disrobe,” she continues rather perfunctorily, turning her head away.

“You can watch me if you like,” he says. As he removes his final piece of clothing, his shirt, he turns his back to her and she gasps. The scars. He tells her not to worry, they don’t hurt. He slowly approaches her: “May I touch you, my lady?” Ever the gentleman. She wants him to show her how it’s done, and he takes her hands and places them on his chest. He pushes her onto the bed and they have sex.

Afterward, she is besotted. “I love you,” she declares. He tries to explain that it isn’t love; it’s just a strong feeling brought on by being intimate with another. And while it may not have been pure romance, the tryst was certainly fruitful: When Geneva returns to the manor house with her now-husband Ellesmere in tow, she is with child. Delivery, however, proves trying. Hours after giving birth to a healthy boy, she dies. Sister Isobel is inconsolable, and blames Jamie. She knows the baby is his.

Ellesmere is also wise to the fact that the baby is not his and — with bundle in arms — begins ranting and raving to Dunsany about how he was promised a virgin. Dunsany produces a pistol, which Jamie ultimately coaxes from him. The Dunsanys say they’ll go in peace if Ellesmere will just hand over their grandson, but he’s having none of it.

“I’ll kill the bastard before I let you have him!” he shouts, brandishing a knife. Jamie takes one very lucky shot, killing Ellesmere without harming the baby. The Dunsanys are now free to take the child home and raise him as their own. They name him William, after Lord Dunsany, but it’s a fortuitous moniker, as that’s also the name of Jamie’s dead brother. And as a sign of gratitude, Lady Dunsany — having long ago figured out Jamie’s real identity as a prisoner — offers Jamie his freedom. But he opts to stay for a little bit to be near to his son. As the lad grows, Jamie teaches him to ride, yet the older Willie gets, the more his resemblance to his father shows. And so, Jamie decides that in order to protect his son, he must finally leave.

“I’m sorry to lose my chess partner,” Grey tells him. “But you are right to go. We all have our secrets.”

Jamie asks Grey to watch over his son, and in exchange, he will give him his body, just this once. Grey is appalled, and will not accept such an offer. And, as it turns out, he’s already made arrangements to stay close, as he’ll be marrying Isobel. Yes, a woman.

Jamie is dubious, but relieved: “You shall always have my friendship, if that’s any value to you,” he tells Grey.

“Very great value, indeed.”

Young Willie takes the news of “Mac”‘s departure very hard and sneaks into his friend’s quarters to see him one last time. When he spots Jamie’s St. Anthony figurine — the patron saint of lost things — he asks Jamie if he is, in his grandmother’s words, a stinking papist. Jamie nods, and Willie begs to be made a stinking papist too. To that end, Jamie dabs his finger into a basin of water and baptizes his son, William James. He gives him a memento to remember him by: a little carved snake, much like the one his brother Willie made for him. When Willie complains that he has no trinket to give Jamie in return, Jamie assures him he will surely remember him. And with that, he leaves behind his only child he’s ever known. (Recap continues on page 3)

Yet back in the present, his other child, Brianna, is looking for him. We’ve now caught up to the events of the season 2 finale, with Roger, Claire, and her daughter seeking information in Scotland about Jamie’s whereabouts. They’ve established that time passes at the same rate in both timelines, so they need to figure out where he was 20 years after Claire returned through the standing stones.

All of this time together researching has brought brought Brianna closer to her mother, but she confides to Roger — as they sit in front of a romantic roaring blaze — that she worries about what will happen if they do indeed find Jamie, and if her mother decides to go back in time.

“I’m a terrible person,” she says of her private fears.

“Finally, something we can agree on,” Roger jokes, adding that he too is fearful — fearful that when their research ends, Brianna will go back to Boston. And to that, Brianna leans over and kisses him.

And it appears that Claire and Brianna may indeed return to Boston empty handed, having searched volumes upon volumes of ship manifests to no avail. With no more leads, they pack their bags and board a plane.

Be sure to tune in to Outlander Live!, hosted by Lynette Rice and Amy Wilkinson, every Monday at 12 p.m. ET on Sirius XM 105.

Episode Recaps


Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time travel novels come to life in the Starz series.

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