Attention, lads and lassies: there are no sex scenes in this episode. I repeat: there are no sex scenes in this episode. As a public service, I am putting this disclaimer above my recap. But that doesn’t mean there’s no fun to be had (okay, there’s a little less fun to be had). If you watched last night, you know that “Lallybroch” was one of those “calm before the storm” episodes, full of comic relief, resolution, and some small conflicts that are sure to explode and wreak havoc throughout the highlands in good time.
We begin with Claire and Jamie headed towards his home castle of Lallybroch (also known as Broch Tuarach for some reason). As Claire tells Jamie of futuristic things like airplanes (“Thousands of feet! God’s own view of the world from that height,” he exclaims), she tries to assure him that his homecoming will be welcome. “It’s all in the pahhhst,” Claire assures Jamie of his mistreatment at the hands of Black Jack Randall. But Jamie is freaked out that his sister Jenny has been got wi’ Randall’s bastard (bastarrrrd) child. Shame and dishonor upon the house of Fraser. But an even worse memory, it turns out, is that Jamie’s father collapsed and never recovered during his flogging.
When they arrive at beautiful Lallybroch, Jenny and Jamie have a comically awkward sibling reunion, since he thinks her son is the child of his mortal enemy and she thinks he’s being a suspicious, unfriendly jerk. “Trollop,” “bollocks” and other delightful slurs and euphemisms fly between them spiritedly, as Jenny reveals that Ian, Jamie’s old friend, is her husband and the father of her children. It’s obvious that (a very pregnant) Jenny is as brassy, warm and tough as her brother.
Finally, sitting down over the most intense whiskey of all time, Jenny tells the newcomers about what really happened with Randall, which is that he attempted to violate her but couldn’t get himself aroused because — well, because he’s a hollow, sick freak of a man. Being a Fraser, Jenny laughed in his face, he knocked her out, and then departed. And that was the end of that.
Jamie is still being something of a heel, bossing his sister around and trying to get Claire to be more wifely. “I’m Laird, and you’re my lady,” he whines. This is only the beginning of his childish behavior — delaying visiting his father’s grave, allowing the tenants to delay paying the rent, and generally acting the big man of the house without much to back it up.
At the festival/ rent collection day, Claire sees a tenant horribly abusing his son, Robbie McNabb. While she and Jenny spirit the child away for a bit of bannock, Jamie gives the father a dressing-down, which leads him to kick his son out and saddle the Frasers with another mouth to feed. “Do you think life here just started when you walked through the door?” asks Jenny. She had been planning to get the boy taken care of by his aunt.
This is an important plot point. But perhaps the best moment of comic relief, and dramatic tension, arrives when the new Laird is down at the flour mill, trying to dislodge something from the wheel. He takes of hiss kilt and plunges into the water in naught but his shirt, and we get a nice sight of his legs. Suddenly, Jenny huffs and puffs down to the riverbank to warn him about redcoats, and he plunges beneath the water while the ladies, sitting on his clothes, chat with the soldiers and try to pretend nothing is wrong.
We all know this means Jamie is totally naked under the water (in Northern Scotland, brrr) and the suspense kills. Just as one mill-knowledgeable soldier is about to dive beneath the surface to check things out, it starts working again. Something mysterious has caused the wheel to turn and Jamie’s soaking shirt is lifted on a spoke. How did a perfectly good shirt get there?
“It’s Scotland, sir,” says one of the condescending officers before they trot off. Jamie emerges freezing and fully naked, yells at his sister, and she sees his scars.
Back at the house, Ian and Claire bond a wee bit over being wedded to those hot-tempered Frasers. “Their hearts as big and soft as their heads are thick and strong,” says Ian. Indeed, those softhearted Frasers have a reconciliation at their father’s grave, apologize, and make good. Jenny admits that she secretly blamed Jamie for their father’s death, thinking he acted out to cause Jack Randall to flog him. But when she saw his scars, she realized it wasn’t his fault, and now she blames herself. “It’s not your fault, nor mine either. There’s a devil in that man… ” says Jamie of Jack Randall. They banter about which is worth more, Jamie’s life or Jenny’s honor, and generally start to act like loving siblings might be expected to — in extremely violent and brutal times.
At least, Jamie and Claire have a (sexless) reconciliation in their bedroom. They cuddle and he says he married her to get her to this home, but also because of her round ass. Good answer, Jamie — I’m unsure, however, why this ass comment doesn’t lead to more onscreen canoodling rather than some deadly dull “I love you more each day” talk and a fade to black after Jamie carries Claire to bed. Again, I ask: WTF, writers?
Sadly, the chaste bliss is short-lived (isn’t it always with these two?) The following morning, Claire wakes up to find the Laird being held at gunpoint. We can be sure that next week’s episode will not be as quiet as this one.