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‘Outlander’ Recap: First Wife

We’re officially on the second half of Season Three, and it looks like things are finally picking up. The first half was a slow, sometimes infuriatingly so, burn to Jamie and Claire’s reunion. Even once they were back together the pace didn’t pick up. Episode 308, however, is a whirlwind of reunions and plot developments. Claire and Jamie arrive back at Lallybroch, where they must contend with an angry Ian, a deeply hurt Jenny, and a headstrong teenage Young Ian. Let’s take a closer look at what the last two decades have brought to the Highlands.

*Spoiler Alert! The following recap contains spoilers for episode 308, “First Wife.” Do not read further if you have not seen the episode and want to avoid spoilers.*

Sword Score: 8/10. At the heart of this week’s action is Jamie’s eternal quest to become a father. He lost the ability to raise all three of his biological children, but he’s been a father figure to several. Now that Fergus is grown, Jamie is training Young Ian in the ways of the world. When Jamie and Claire return Young Ian to his parents at Lallybroch, Jenny is none too pleased to discover that her son has been learning the smuggling and sedition trades instead of printing. She’s angry with Jamie in the way that only a sister and a mother can be, but the two eventually come to a meeting of the minds over Young Ian. In the meantime, Jamie delivers the kind of creative punishment that makes Young Ian wish he’d gotten a simple thrashing instead.

It’s not just his blood relatives that Jamie cares for. In the biggest twist of the episode, it’s revealed that Jamie is now married to Laoghaire and has been for two years. Claire is understandably furious over this revelation- Laoghaire did once try to have her burned at the stake, after all. Jamie defends his actions by explaining that he did not love Laoghaire. His desire to be a father and a husband was simply too great to bear any longer, and Laoghaire’s two daughters were the first ones to make him smile since he lost Claire. Even after Laoghaire shoots Jamie in a jealous rage, he refuses to turn her in to the authorities to keep the girls from losing their mother. He even agrees to an outrageous sum of alimony to ensure the girls are provided for. It’s a good thing that he knows the location of a literal treasure chest.

Skin Score: 5/10. Last week’s episode could have been so magnificent for Claire’s character development, but failed to deliver. This week is much the same. Claire comes face to face with Jenny after a 20-year absence, yet she doesn’t seem to know what to say. Claire lied her way through Scotland and France, as well as 20th century Boston, but she can’t lie to Jenny. Maybe she feels too close to Jamie’s sister to do it, or maybe it’s because this time the lie isn’t for the greater good. Whatever the case, it rings false to see Claire so wrong-footed without a good explanation.

Jenny, however, is exactly as expected. The years have done nothing to soften her intelligence and stubbornness. She isn’t buying Claire and Jamie’s story. The Claire she knew would never stop searching for Jamie, and Jenny won’t rest until she gets some real answers. She is deliberately cold towards Claire at first, begrudgingly introducing her to the herd of now-grown children and their children running around the house. Then Jenny sends word to Laoghaire of Jamie’s whereabouts. This doesn’t lead to the blowout argument typical of Frasers. Instead, it leads to a heartbreakingly quiet scene in which Claire and Jenny try to come to terms with their mutual betrayals of each other’s trust. Claire desperately wants to tell Jenny the entire story, but all she can manage are half-truths that fit within Jenny’s concept of the world. Jenny knows that there is more than she’s being told, and struggles to accept it. Both women know that while this wall exists between them, their bond will not be restored. All they can do is try to move forward.

In the spirit of moving forward, Jenny and Ian agree to allow Young Ian to accompany Jamie and Claire to Silkie Island to retrieve the treasure chest, and then to France to exchange the contents for usable currency. Naturally, Young Ian gets kidnapped almost immediately. Claire and Jamie will have to act fast to rescue their nephew, especially since there are just five episodes left in the season.

Outlander airs Sunday nights at 8 pm on Starz. Viewers can catch up anytime on or the Starz app. Check back here to for episode previews and full episode recaps.