It’s not an episode of Outlander without at least one relationship being thrown into havoc. This week, we get four of them! From Jamie and Murtagh’s still-fragile reconnection to Claire and Lord John Grey going toe-to-toe over who loves Jamie the most, there is more shade in the cabin than in the entire forest outside. We’re not even mad that Young Ian and Rollo don’t appear at all this week, and that’s saying something. Let’s take a closer look at all the relationship drama with our weekly “Skins vs Swords” recap.
*Spoiler warning! The following recap may contain spoilers from episode 406. Do not read further if you have not seen episode and wish to avoid spoilers.*
Skin Score: 7/10. Claire and Jamie are alone at the cabin, having sent Young Ian off to hunt with the Cherokee warriors. Their peace is almost immediately disrupted when two blasts from the past rides up: Lord John Grey and William, Jamie’s secret son. Jamie and Claire welcome the pair into their home for a short stay, a decision that they almost immediately regret. Murtagh chafes at the presence of the former Ardsmuir warden, Jamie is devastated that his son doesn’t remember him, and Claire is angry with the man who helped keep her and Jamie apart for so long. They all hold their tongues, mostly, in order to endure the next three days. Then Lord John starts showing signs of measles and the short stay becomes much longer and much more difficult.
Claire sends Jamie off into the woods with William in order to protect the boy from contracting measles. She then must set aside her feelings about Lord John in order to perform her duties as a doctor. She nurses him as best she can without the aid of modern medicine. However, she must hear his fever-fueled confessions about his enduring love for Jamie and the bonds that they share. The conflict in Claire, between saving her patient and escaping the confessions of a man who caused her husband so much suffering, is wonderfully shown and is the best part of this episode.
As Lord John’s fever leaves him and he recovers, his manners return. He apologizes to Claire. He asks her if she knows what it’s like to not be able to give someone happiness as a spouse, simply because you weren’t meant for each other. Claire recognizes the parallels to her own marriage to Frank. This shared experience finally connects Claire and Lord John in a way that didn’t seem possible at the beginning of the episode. As final proof of this, Claire wishes Lord John happiness and “a look of satisfaction” upon his face as he and William leave Fraser’s Ridge.
Sword Score: 9/10. While Claire tends to her patient, Jamie takes Willie, sorry, WILLIAM, out into the wilds of Fraser’s Ridge for a camping trip. It’s a painful experience for them both, as they work through their shared memories of each other in order to find a way to reconnect. Over the week, Jamie tells William lots of things: fishing, hunting, and dressing their game, the boundary line between the King’s Land and the land of the Cherokee, and how to make peace and avoid trouble with the Cherokee. But Jamie doesn’t tell William who he truly is. At least, not until the boy’s life is put in danger.
Jamie awakens one morning to find William gone. He tracks him to the Cherokee side of the river. Before Jamie can get William back to their side of the border, a band of Cherokee show up. They demand blood payment from William. Jamie throws himself in front of William, announcing that he is the boy’s father and that his blood will suffice. Unwilling to see Jamie injured or killed, William quickly denies that Jamie is his father and insists that the punishment is his to bear. The Cherokee leave him with only a small wound on his hand and a very important lesson about honesty and respecting boundary lines. As William leaves with Lord John, he looks back over his shoulder in a clear sign that he intends to see Jamie again.
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