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‘Outlander’ Review: Resigned Homecomings Force More Heartache in An Episode of Tragedies

In Season 3, Episode 4, “Of Lost Things,” Jamie faces an impossible decision while Claire gives up chasing ghosts.

© 2017 Starz Entertainment, LLC

[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for “Outlander” Season 3 Episode 4, “Of Lost Things.”]

Unrequited Love

With Frank gone and Brianna embracing the truth about her real father, the hunt for Jamie was on in full force in 1968 Scotland. With a little help from Roger, they tracked Jamie all the way to Ardsmuir, where they promptly lost him. Meanwhile, in 1756 England the story picked up with the Helwater clan welcoming Jamie into their folds as a stablehand, with some receptions a little warmer than others. Indeed, one such reception completely altered Jamie’s life yet again with even more heartache.

Despite the different eras, at this point in the narrative it’s clear that both Jamie and Claire still hold that torch for each other, but that they’re also feeling the impossibility and weight of their separation. As far as Claire knows Jamie may as well be dead, whereas Jamie rarely speaks of his former wife because there’s no point in driving himself mad. Were this real life that might have been where the story ends. But this is an epic love story spanning decades, wars and very coincidental meetings—  Claire and Jamie giving up at this point is nothing more than the red herring of love stories. We all know they aren’t quite done yet.

A Prisoner By Nature

A prison is a prison, whether it be a rundown place like Ardsmuir or the open-concept nature of Helwater. Jamie learned as much this week when he dealt with more threats to his family via the spoilt daughter Geneva Dunsany, who forced him to bed her or else reveal his true identity. Obviously, the entire deal they struck went entirely awry when it resulted in Geneva birthing Jamie’s son and dying during that childbirth, not to mention the Earl of Ellesmere’s death when he threatened to kill the baby for not being his true heir. Jamie has been in a few impossible situations that threatened his life and honor over the seasons, but this particular instance is one that also threatens his sanity. Eventually, despite the promise of freedom from the lady of Helwater, he couldn’t leave because he couldn’t bear to stop seeing Willie grow up, and that became another form of prison altogether. In the end leaving was the only thing for Jamie to do when people began noticing the physical similarities between secret father and son, marking another dark spot in James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser’s soul indeed.

A Friend in Need

While the first two seasons dealt with Jamie’s effect on the men through the evil entity that was Black Jack Randall, the third season’s Lord John Grey has become the antithesis to those storylines. Not only is Grey in love with Jamie and has given him a version of his life back more than once, but going forward he’ll also become a stepfather of sorts to Willie now that he’s marrying Isobel Dunsay. That’s a firm bond that will forever put these two in each other’s debts, and Grey turning down Jamie’s offer of “his body” in exchange for watching over Willie speaks volumes to the type of friendship they share. After all, the last time Jamie offered to exchange his body to save someone he loved, the result was a lot more devastating.

Strange Bedfellows

For all of the animosity Jamie held towards Geneva — including dropping her in a puddle when she pretended to be thrown from her horse — the subsequent love scene between the two of them was rather intimate. While plenty of fans have probably been waiting all season long for a glimpse of Jamie’s naked rear end, to see him licking and sucking on Geneva’s breasts in a close-up was unsettling, to say the least. Shouldn’t such scenes be saved for the big reunion with Claire, whenever that comes? On the other hand, at least Willie’s conception was born out of some form of tenderness, which makes his story slightly less tragic.

A Budding Romance

Meanwhile back in Scotland Roger and Brianna finally made some headway on their unexpected romance when Roger admitted he didn’t want to give up the search for Jamie because he didn’t want Bri to leave. The feeling was mutual, since Brianna responded with a kiss, but there wasn’t enough time in the episode to delve any further. Considering how little we know about either of those characters, it would be nice to explore that spark a little more in the coming weeks. After all, we need some sort of romance to cheer for these days, what with Claire and Jamie being separated for so long.

A Woman’s Place

It’s nice to see that, despite everything else, Claire still hasn’t lost her penchant for calling out a crowd of men for being ridiculous. When the men at the pub were staring at her and Brianna for sitting at the bar with them, she made it perfectly clear that she and her daughter had just as much right to be sitting there as the men. Now that’s the spirit we’re used to seeing from the character, which gives us hope that she’s coming back to herself bit by bit.

Packing It All In

There was less exposition needed this week thanks to the Helwater time jumps and slightly less focus on the search for Jamie in Claire’s storyline, and the episode was much better for it. The emotional punches (Geneva’s death, Jamie’s “baptism” of his son) were more poignant and heartfelt because they were self-contained within the episode, making for a mini standalone installment that could have easily been called “Jamie Just Can’t Win.”

By the Book

While John Grey does indeed become a stepfather to William in Diana Gabaldon’s third novel, “Voyager,” that information isn’t revealed until much later, as Grey recounts William’s story to a certain character who shall for now remain nameless for the sake of spoilers. Meanwhile, Grey’s older brother Lord Melton doesn’t discover Jamie and spill his secrets to Geneva the way he does in this episode; the girl learns about Red Jamie by intercepting his secret letters to Lallybroch that the gypsies had been carrying for him. Combining the storyline made complete sense given the time constraints of the episode, although seeing what gypsies in that time period would have looked like would have been a fun element to be sure.

As for Claire’s storyline, she did indeed return to Boston in the novel, but she did so because of work—Brianna stayed back with Roger to continue the historical hunt. Having Claire fly back and forth doesn’t make a load of sense to the story, so it’s definitely a small departure, although Bri also returning to Boston cuts into the ability for writers to flesh out her romance with Roger for the time being. We guess we’ll just have to make due with Jamie and his tender love-making skills to bratty rich girls for now.

Grade: A-

Next week: Brianna struggles with her self-identity just as Roger brings earth-shattering news. “Outlander” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz and on W Network in Canada.

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