Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of Outlander. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
The aptly titled episode, “The Search,” has Claire on a mission to find Jamie, who was taken prisoner during a Red Coat ambush at the end of last week’s episode. Despite being the same length as previous episodes, “The Search” had a very epic (and long) feel to it. It reminded me of “Rent” in many ways, as we saw Claire traverse all over the Highlands in search of our favorite strapping red head. I’m going to break down this episode into three parts because Claire largely interacts with three different characters throughout this journey. First up is her sister-in-law, Jenny Murray.
Part 1: 18th Century version of Thelma and Louise
Once Ian returned with news that the Red Coats have taken Jamie, Claire gets ready to head out to find Jamie alone. Ian warns her not to leave alone and hastily tries to draw a map of where they were attacked. Jenny knows Claire isn’t familiar with the Highlands; so she decides to join Claire in finding Jamie. At first, Claire rejects Jenny’s help, since she just had a baby, but Jenny’s tracking skills and knowledge of the land will greatly help Claire in finding Jamie.
The two ride off, following the clues left by the Red Coats. We’ve seen Claire and Jenny bond in the last episode, and now they’re close friends and comfortable with each other. When they find the Red Coats and see that Jamie isn’t one of their prisoners, they hatch a successful plan to catch a Red Coat to question him. Even at gun point, the Red Coat won’t talk, and Jenny starts to rely on torturing methods. Claire tries to stop her; her natural instinct as a healer makes her not want to ever harm anybody. But Jenny is determined. Eventually, they find out he is a courier and opens his bags to read his letters. Through one letter, they learn that Jamie escaped.
Now that they know Jamie is no longer with the Red Coats, Jenny says they have to kill the Red Coat they captured because he knows too much. Claire is hesitant, and Jenny yells at her not to judge her. The women stand off until they hear a gurgling sound and see Murtagh slicing the Red Coat’s throat.
Ian had called on Murtagh about Jamie and that Claire and Jenny went after him. Now that Murtagh’s there, Jenny can head back home to take care of her newborn. Before she leaves, Claire tells Jenny that she wasn’t judging her for wanting to kill the British soldier; she was just thinking that she was definitely willing to do it for Jamie. Knowing that Claire would kill for Jamie proves to Jenny that she can count on Claire to find and help him. There is a chance that Claire may not see Jenny for a long while, so she tells Jenny to plant potatoes in anticipation of a famine in the next few years, and warns her that money will be tight because a war is coming soon. Jamie had mentioned to Jenny that Claire may tell her “some things” and that she should listen. She’ll follow Claire’s instructions.
Part 2: Claire and Murtagh’s Variety Show
Jamie could be anywhere, and Murtagh’s plan isn’t to go out and find him, but to draw Jamie out to him and Claire. How does he do it? By traveling from village to village conspicuously and making themselves known by the town folk. Claire will be a Sassenach healer, which is a rare thing to be in the highlands, and Murtagh will be the “Dancing Fraser.” He’s hoping that talk of them will eventually make it to Jamie’s ear, and he’ll seek them out.
Their plan doesn’t seem to be working. Murtagh’s dancing is constantly booed, and Claire is getting frustrated that no one has seen a red-headed Scot around lately. While being annoyed that no one is appreciating his dance, Claire suggests he “jazzes” it up. Not knowing what she means, she suggests singing a song and starts singing a jazz song from her time. Murtagh notices she has a decent voice, and he gets a new idea.
Claire isn’t very happy with Murtagh’s new idea, which now has her getting up on stage every night singing a bawdy Scottish song. A singing Sassenach gets more attention though, and before you know it, they start taking their act all over the highlands, collecting coin and asking people if they’ve seen Jamie. To no avail, they don’t hear a thing from Jamie.
However, they do stumble upon a gang of gypsies, who saw how successful their act is and stole it. They’re upset because now Jamie might mistakenly be drawn to the gypsies instead of Murtagh and Claire. They try to pay off the gypsies into not performing their act anymore, but it doesn’t work. After traveling all over the north, they don’t find one trace of Jamie.
Claire and Murtagh are not the closest of friends; in fact they bicker about a number of things. After all this, they fight and Claire yells at him that he doesn’t know what it’s like to lose someone you love. He disagrees because he has lost someone he loves. He loved Jamie’s mother, and he was the one who gave his mother those horn bracelets as a gift, the same ones Jenny had inherited and given to Claire. Claire shows him the bracelets, and he tells Claire that he loves Jamie like a son. This is just as heartbreaking for him as it is for her.
They decide to start from the beginning and once again meet up with the gypsies. They admit that they haven’t stopped performing the stolen act, but they did receive a message from someone that Claire and Murtagh likely know.
Part 3: DOUGAL JUST DOESN’T GIVE UP.
Instead of meeting Jamie, Claire and Murtagh are disappointed to find out that it was Dougal Mackenzie who sent the message. Dougal informs them that Jamie was captured by the British not too long ago and sent to Wentworth Prison. He is set to be executed in a day or two. Dougal suggests that it’s too late to save him. It’s impossible to escape Wentworth. Dougal offers to marry Claire, since she is about to be widowed Sassenach. Claire rejects his proposal and figures out that he only proposed so that he can get a stake on Fraser’s lands. Dougal doesn’t really deny it and makes it a point that if Jamie dies, Lallybroch will need the protection of the Mackenzie clan from the British.
Jamie isn’t dead yet, and Claire still wants to try to save him. She makes a deal with Dougal. He will let her try to save Jamie from execution, and if she fails, she will marry him. Dougal allows her use of his men, only if they volunteer to help her. At first there aren’t many takers in her mission since it’s so dangerous. Then young Willie volunteers, and Angus and Rupert follow suit. They ride off towards the intimidating and cold fortress-looking Wentworth Prison.
It’s sort of hard not to be a little disappointed by the end of this episode. Claire’s journey in this episode is the epitome of epic; a lot of time passes by and the whole singing Sassenach thing kind of threw off the tone of the show for a moment. After all of this, we end right before the action is going to start. If anything, this episode gave us a real chance to get to know Murtagh and understand how important he is to Jamie. It also reminded us of Dougal and the rising Jacobite rebellion. It’s a story that has been brewing in the background for most of the season, and I’m sure it’s going to hit the forefront of the characters’ lives by next season.
First though, we need to save Jamie Fraser. What horrors will happen to him at Wentworth? If Black Jack is involved, I can’t even begin to imagine.
Outlander is rated TV-MA and airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Starz.