Confession: this one was hard to force myself to watch, no pun intended. After the relative gentleness of “Lallybroch,” and its cliffhanger ending, I knew “The Watch” was going to be full of unbearable tension surrounding poor Jamie’s fate. I was right, but the tension is relieved throughout this episode by lots of same-gender bonding, particularly the male kind. I was looking for Paul Rudd because the vibe of the episode was overwhelmingly bromantic.
First, to the opening action: turns out the guys threatening Jamie’s life are well-known to Jenny, and they even love her rabbit stew. Mmm, rabbit stew. She tells them to put the gun down, as the lad they’re fixing to murder is “my cousin, Jamie McTavish.” These fellows are members of The Watch, which is basically a local group of guns-for-hire who take payment to protect the locals from the Redcoats and other marauding clans. For some strange reason they don’t seem very trustworthy, however and Jamie is convinced that if they knew about the price on his head, they’d sell him down the river in a wee moment.
Over dinner, The Watch members, led by MacQuarrie, warm up to Jamie. They trade tales of being in the French army and rushing into battle, but they’re notably suspicious of the fact that Ian has never told them about his French fighting cousin before. Surely you were drunk, Jenny assures them, but MacQuarrie is not so convinced. At this point I was coming up with better answers for Jenny and Ian to reply: “well, there was a family rift so we didn’t talk about him for a while, but now all’s mended.” “We didn’t think he should have been in France.” “We thought he was dead.” Seriously, “you must have been too drunk” is a poor excuse of an excuse!
Still, eventually everyone’s happy to drink a toast and go to bed. Then, the next day as Jamie and young Robbie McNabb shoe a horse, a troublemaker fire and Jamie shows off his skills taking the situation in hand. The Watch is impressed: they can see he’s not just a fighter, he’s a warrior — in the bedroom. Oh, I mean, with a sword. Right. With a sword.
Soon thereafter, a new fellow pulls up on its steed and it’s Horrocks, the deserter from earlier in the season. A long look is exchanged ‘twixt him and Jamie. “Do you lads know each other?” asks MacQuarrie. Nah, Horrocks says, all Scots look the same to him. But of course we know he knows Jamie. Claire and Jamie are convinced the guy is trouble “Lallybroch was the one place I thought would be safe,” said Jamie. (Hello, plot hole, why were you not there from the beginning?) “I should never have come home.” Claire assures him that they’ll get through it fine, which, whatever, Claire, ye ken naught, lass. Ye ken naught.
Claire and Jenny have a woman-to-woman chat about childhood Jamie, his friendship with Ian, and Jenny’s pregnancy (Jenny is sure it’s a boy) and Jenny’s water breaks. Later, as labor begins, she tells Claire about the experience of pregnancy, both good and bad, and Claire seems extremely sad. As it turns out, Claire’s melancholy arises because she thinks she’s infertile, as she eventually confesses to Jamie. She tried to have a baby with Frank but it didn’t work. Jamie’s response is typically kind, but clearly he’s a little bummed.
Jamie and Horrocks have their tête-à-tête. Horrocks wants to sail to Boston, and blackmails Jamie, promising silence in turn for a letter of recommendation to Harvard, err, cash for the passage overseas. Jamie and Ian talk about the Watch, and Ian admits he has a thing for MacQuarrie because he’s a good fighter to he reminds him of Jamie.
When Jamie delivers a bag of gold to blackmail Horrocks, Horrocks says he wants more money. Raise your rents, he sneers. Then Ian, badass that he is, emerges from the underbrush and runs the bastard through with his sharp sword, declaring that he’s going to stand with Jamie ’til the end. To forestall questions about Horrocks’ disappearance among other things, Ian and Jamie join The Watch on their raiding party. Before they leave the still-in-labor Jenny and Claire, Jamie and Claire share a smoldering goodbye. Jamie may know how to put out fires (see above!) but he also knows how to set them, apparently.
Out on the patrol, there’s a even more of male bonding to be enjoyed. MacQuarrie tries to woo Jamie to join him in his life of freedom and plunder, and swears to Jamie he’d never turn him in to the Brits: “I’d shoot ye first,” he jokes, speaking of the conditions in British prisons. They wait for their ambush opportunity in the spot beneath the bridge, the leaves stir, and then…
Back home, the women sit on the steps with a bundle of joy, anxious to hear from their menfolk, Ian hobbles up, legless and horseless. Claire stares behind him and sees nothing but an empty road. It turns out Horrocks betrayed The Watch, and let them be ambushed by the Redcoats. Everyone was killed except Jamie, who it seems has been taken by the Redcoats once again, and may be back in Black Jack Randall’s clutches at any moment.