Jezebel’s resident Outlander fans Kelly Faircloth and Stassa Edwards spent the morning discussing “A. Malcolm,” Season 3's anticipated reunion between Claire and Jamie. We covered everything from the print shop to the glasses, awkward conversation to the female gaze, and the gorgeous set.
Warning: Spoilers for those who haven’t read the books!
Stassa Edwards: KELLY! OUTLANDER! Last night’s episode was wedding night redux, sans the amazing dress but with the whores.
Kelly Faircloth: You know, it’s nice to see a show respond to what its female audiences liked. “Oh, you liked that long, romantic, but also raunchy sex episode?”
SE: The answer is of course “yes.”
KF: “Well, here’s another one but with more sounds of bodies slapping together.”
SE: And accidental head injuries. Which was a nice way to work in the separation, plus the twenty years of aging.
KF: You know, I was a little worried they were going to go too soft focus until they thumped heads and Jamie reassured Claire she hadn’t broken her nose cause if she had, it would be bleeding like a stuck pig. Then I thought, “Oh, I remember how much fun these two are together.”
SE: Definitely. That chemistry that was really the best part of the first two seasons had been missing from the show. It was nice to see that, with both comedy and sex and conversation, back in the show.
SE: It made me realize that Jamie and Claire only have chemistry with each other and literally no one else on the show this season? Like, Claire is one of the only people Jamie is capable of having a conversation with that is somewhat human. Otherwise, his lines are all, “Dinna ask me where my wife has gon!”
KF: I mean, they would be incredibly annoying to be around in real life. Can you even imagine the mooning?
SE: They would be irritating as hell.
KF: I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of tension they were able to create. I mean, obviously, we know these two are gonna be back together like the sun is gonna rise in the east tomorrow morning. But they really had me sweating it.
SE: The episode had an awkward start. The exchange about Brianna was awkward or weird or something. Claire was like, “Here’s our daughter! Oh, and photography was invented!” And Jamie was like, “My bastard son....”
KF: Hahaha, yeah, that whole conversation. I think it may have been a pacing issue but I’m just going to chalk it up to 20 years.
SE: Yeah, I think they were trying to milk the awkwardness in place of tension at points.
KF: I was really sitting there thinking, damn, this is never gonna work between these two. Then they fucked and that fixed it! Their sex is magic.
SE: I like that the dialogue was basically a more romantic version of what you just said.
[SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOKS BELOW]
It’s gonna get even more awkward when the “Jamie is married” reveal happens. It was interesting that they chose not to actually say anything this episode but instead just had everyone look at Claire like “Okay....”
KF: But they’re neck-deep in hormones so neither of them really noticed, of course.
SE: Right. It’s just going to get really awkward when Jamie is like “Remember that girl who accused you of witchcraft????”
KF: God love him. But he’s so pretty.... so, so pretty.
SE: He is really just beautiful. Even with the glasses. I love how glasses are supposed to age him.
KF: Haha, the aging was so cursory.
SE: Right? I love that they made the glasses actual dialogue, to remind you that these two perfect looking people are supposed to have aged 20 years.
KF: I’m looking forward to the spinoff about the printing press workout.
SE: The printing press! It was so perfectly done. It was great to see the set and costuming back to full swing on the show. Claire’s mid-century timeline was (rightly) a little muted but I loved the grime of 18th century Edinburgh.
KF: Yes! Beautiful grime and warm red interiors—this show, again, understands what I want.
SE: I loved the Leda and the Swan painting that hovered in the background at the brothel. The attention to detail on the sets this episode was really amazing.
KF: It’s so true. Claire was a little tetchy about the bordello apartment but it was stunning in there.
So: They got loads of praise for the original wedding night episode. How do we think they’re doing on the female gaze front? Are they living up to their reputation?
SE: Hm, I think largely yes. This episode was such a clear pastiche of the wedding night episode, but it was little more focused on Claire’s pleasure; less of Claire instructing Jamie and more on remembering, or “riding a bicycle.”
KF: Which she deserved, after 20 years of Frank being a gloom cloud.
SE: What do you think? Did this episode live up to the build-up?
KF: It didn’t feel as revelatory but I think that’s because we’re on Season 3. (And the build up was VERY aggressive so it would have been hard to top, you know?) But I really enjoyed watching it and feeling like they saw why the original wedding night episode was appreciated and valuable and delivered a reunion episode that played to what had been the strengths of Season 1.
Especially after the experience of being so continually frustrated by, say, Game of Thrones—they seem to struggle with why fans love a character like Sansa and how to deliver emotionally satisfying triumphant arcs for her.
SE: Yeah, I felt like this episode was good in terms of getting the show back to its strengths, but it told us a lot we already know about the characters.
It would have been nice if they have moved the plot a little more, especially since—I think—that the show has been drifting a bit this season. In part, because the secondary cast of characters was completely changed this season
KF: Yeah, it’s hard to know who to get invested in, because when am I ever going to see them? In contrast to Season 1, where I was won over to every single one of the guys in the core MacKenzie raiding group.
SE: (Bring back Murtagh!) Right, but it’s hard to have all of these characters who are doing a lot of work, but it’s not clear what they’re doing there yet. And maybe I don’t like Brianna? So, I was relieved not to see her this episode.
KF: Yeah, she is not my favorite, which is frustrating, because I really want to like the kid that Claire time traveled to go raise in comfort and safety and access to antibiotics. Hopefully, now that Claire and Jamie have gotten back together and have started working through their backlog of sexual frustration we can put the plot in gear, however.
SE: It will be interesting, now that the main relationship of the show has been put back together, to see how they will build the secondary cast.
I love an archival search and tweedy history professors, but it does not make for great television
KF: Sad but true.