You don’t have to have read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series to know this was the episode we’ve all been waiting for.
To protect herself from Capt. Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) and the English, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) must wed Jamie (Sam Heughan) and consummate the marriage to become a part of Clan MacKenzie.
The key word here is “consummate.” This week’s episode of Outlander was all about sex: awkward, “I’m a virgin” sex; passionate, “women have orgasms too?” sex; tender “I just gave you my dead mother’s necklace” sex. But this wasn’t just gratuitous cable intercourse, this sex was earned over the past six episodes, and, boy, did it feel good.
The night kicked off with a flashback to Claire and Frank’s own wedding day, which was apparently as hastily arranged as her nuptials to Jamie. Frank popped the question outside City Hall on the way to introducing Claire to his parents. Claire was, conveniently, wearing white.
The thrill of that spontaneous, happy day stands in stark contrast to Claire and Jamie’s first kiss as husband and wife. Claire’s brow is furrowed; she looks pale and peaked.
As they retreat to their bedroom, Claire reaches for whiskey, downing glass after glass of it while Jamie looks on. To comfort her, Jamie regales Claire with tales of the MacKenzie clan. They chat late into the night. And so, finally, after hours of just talking, Claire invites Jamie to bed. “To bed or to sleep?” he asks and she gives him a come-hither grin.
The first, uh, encounter is short, mostly clothed and not especially romantic. And yet, Claire enjoys it, much to her dismay. Upset once about being an adulteress, she retreats into her shell of guilt.
But Jamie won’t give up on her. Because, though he says he married her out of necessity, it is so painfully clear in his eyes that he loves her, that he will do anything for her.
He recalls the first moment he saw her in her dress: “It was as if I stepped outside on a cloudy day and suddenly the sun came out,” he says reverently. “Take off your shirt,” Claire replies tenderly. “I want to look at you.” She caresses his scars and introduces him to some very R-rated pleasures.
Claire goes to get some food (it’s been a busy night!). She’s accosted by Dougal (Graham McTavish) who seems to think she’s fair game now that she’s a married woman. She turns him down, then goes back to her loving husband. As Claire frets over Dougal, Jamie drapes a beautiful pearl necklace around her neck. It was his mother’s, he explains, and now it’s hers.
They make love once again. In the morning, after Jamie has left, Claire folds up her wedding dress, dropping Frank’s wedding band in the process. It rolls across the floorboards, where it gets caught between two slats. The symbolism is clear: Torn between two men, Claire isn’t so certain who she would choose anymore.
Tune in next week for the mid-season finale of Outlander at 9 p.m. on Starz.