In this episode of Outlander, titled “A. Malcolm,” Claire and Jamie get to know each other again, Jamie’s printing business is a front for his real occupation and Claire reunites with other faces from her past.

On the morning of Claire’s reappearance, it’s business as usual for Jamie. He’s got a woman in his life who sends him off to work; he greets acquaintances in the street and arrives at his print shop. He discovers that two men, Hayes (Keith Fleming) and Lesley (James Allenby-Kirk), spent the night there. It seems Jamie is in the habit of printing politically subversive material, and Hayes and Lesley help him distribute it to the masses — acts punishable by death. Jamie also employs a disgruntled young man named Geordie (Lorn Macdonald), who Jamie sends out on an errand.

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Keeping Up Appearances

This is when Claire arrives, causing Jamie to faint from shock. So after six episodes, these two are finally back together. (Thanks, Starz, for making us wait a week between episodes!) Anyone expecting or hoping for Jamie to immediately ravage Claire will be disappointed. They do share a kiss, chaste by Outlander standards, and are interrupted by Geordie, who is scandalized by the sight of his boss making out with a strange woman in the middle of the day and quits on the spot. It’s bad enough that he works for a papist but also an amoral one at that. This throws some metaphorical cold water on the two.

Jamie asks about his child, and Claire has brought photographs of their daughter; she has to explain to Jamie that photos are like paintings. Jamie pulls out reading glasses, which are about the only indicator that he’s aged at all in their 20 years apart. He’s not crazy about the name Brianna, but Claire reminds him of her promise to name their child after his father, Brian. The two reminisce briefly about Faith, who has obviously never been far from their thoughts. 

Jamie reveals to Claire that he has a son who nobody knows about, including his sister. He doesn’t provide all the gory details surrounding Willie’s conception and birth, but Jamie does admit that Willie is a bastard, and Jamie is certain he’ll never see him again. Claire questions if Jamie was in love with Willie’s mother, and his reply is no. He also blames himself for her death. (If he hadn’t had sex with her, she wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and died in childbirth.) It’s an even more bitter pill for him to swallow since he didn’t have any real affection for Willie’s mother at all. It’s really tragic that Jamie has fathered three children but has been unable to raise any of them. 

Jamie wants to know if Claire left Frank to return to him, and she tells him that Frank died several years ago. Jamie’s hope was that Frank would take her back and raise his child, and Claire assures him that’s exactly what Frank did, even knowing everything that happened between her and Jamie. It’s obvious that Jamie wants to know if Claire was in love with Frank, but all he asks is if she was happy. Claire doesn’t divulge the deets of her dismal marriage, choosing to highlight the joys of raising Brianna instead. 

Jamie has to meet someone, so the two head off to a nearby tavern. On the way, Claire fills Jamie in on Prince Charles’ fate. After Culloden, he spent years in hiding, even disguising himself as a woman. He escaped to the Isle of Skye until his brother came to rescue him. Charles may still be alive, but he’s not exactly living the dream.

The two encounter Fergus (Cesar Dumboy), who is now a young man. She notices his artificial hand, and he recounts how he lost it fighting the Red Coats. Fergus questions where Claire has been, and she spins a tale about heading to America after Culloden, believing Jamie to be dead. She didn’t want to return to Lallybroch, fearing she’d bring harm being the wife of a traitor. 

There’s No Place Like Home

Claire and Jamie make it to the tavern, where an associate of Jamie’s, Mr. Willoughby (Gary Young), has gotten himself into a predicament. The man is drunk and owes some money to a woman for licking her elbow, which proves you really can’t get anything in this world for free. Jamie pays Willoughby’s debt and introduces him to Claire. He leaves them to talk while he goes to attend to business. 

Jamie isn’t just a printer; he’s also a smuggler. He meets with Sir Percival Turner (Paul Brightwell), to whom Jamie gives a cut of his earnings most likely for the privilege of doing business. This arrangement appears to be heading south because Turner believes Jamie has expanded his territory, which requires a heavier “tax.” Jamie swears his operation remains local, but Turner isn’t swayed. He expects a bigger payment in the future.

Jamie takes Claire to a local brothel, and the woman from earlier in the day greets him warmly. Her name is Madame Jeanne (Cyrielle Debrail), and she’s surprised to learn that Jamie is married. She doesn’t exactly give Claire a warm welcome — she claims it’s an insult to the prostitutes for Jamie to bring a woman of his own, let alone his wife — but arranges for a room for the couple. 

Claire learns that Jamie lives in the brothel, and she wonders if it’s because he’s such a good customer. Jamie assures Claire that it’s Madame Jeanne who is his customer. Jamie travels for work, and she keeps a room for him so he can have a bed and a hot meal at any hour. It’s preferable to the cot at his shop. 

Jamie finally gets around to asking if Claire has come back to be his wife or just to bring him news of his daughter. Claire responds that she returned because she found out he was alive. He’s curious about how she tracked him down, and she gives him an abbreviated version of the search. His reluctance to completely accept Claire’s return leads her to believe that he might not want her after all. Claire knows he has a life and suspects he may have other “ties.” Jamie reassures Claire about how much he’s burned for her, but he is a different man than the one she left. They know even less about each other now than when they first got married. He doesn’t want her to go, but he must know if she wants him. Claire raises a similar concern. How does Jamie know she’s not a horrible person? He agrees that she might be, but he doesn’t care.

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Like Riding a Bicycle

They sit down to dinner, reminiscing about their life together and filling in the details of their lives apart. The lingering question is if they can be what they once were. One thing is certain: the attraction between them is as strong as ever. So now we get to the good stuff.

The two begin to undress each other. It’s quite a long build-up to the main event. Some fans may like the tension, but I think even David Lynch would think the pacing on this drags. Maybe I’m too much about instant gratification as opposed to savoring the sweetness of anticipation. Claire and Jamie are both a bit self-conscious, but these two don’t have anything possessing the typical middle-age mom and dad bods. (Claire actually looked older in earlier episodes; she’s slowly regressed back to season 1 hotness.) I guess we have no choice when watching a show about time travel, but to believe that her boobs look fantastic and she’s got no stretch marks or wrinkles anywhere on her body? And Jamie’s like the George Clooney of 18th century Scotland. 

There’s a few awkward moments as they try to regain their rhythm, but they get their groove back, and it’s as hot as we could have hoped it would be. And the only description for her face at the moment of … completion is pure rapture. 

Sex, Booze and Sedition

After briefly basking in the afterglow, Claire questions what it is Jamie really does for a living, commenting that working as a printer doesn’t usually result in such an impressive physique. He confesses that he’s a booze smuggler, and Madame Jeanne is a partner of sorts. Not only does she buy his goods, but she keeps the liquor in her cellar until he ships it off. He also admits that he’s still a traitor, only instead of a sword he uses the printing press. Jamie has been arrested for sedition six times in the past two years and had his premises seized twice, though the court wasn’t able to prove anything. If they ever do, he’ll likely be hanged.

There’s more sex, and Claire notices the scar on Jamie’s leg that he got from Randall’s sword in Culloden. She swears she’ll never leave him again. Jamie reassures Claire that she did the right thing; she’s a good mother and because Brianna is alive and safe they’ll live on forever. 

The following morning, the two ruminate about their strong physical connection, and Jamie admits that he never thought he’d feel anything for a woman again but blind, brute need. Claire wonders what exactly Jamie does when the need arises, and he isn’t eager to talk about it. (What is he hiding?) Claire decides that the only thing she really wants to know is if Jamie fell in love with anyone else after she left, and he makes it clear she’s been the only one.

Jamie leaves to attend to more business, and he reminds her that she’s Mrs. Malcolm, not Fraser. A young man arrives looking for Jamie, and it turns out to be his nephew, Ian (John Bell). He doesn’t remember her, and Claire reveals that she’s his aunt. Ian is surprised that she’s alive. He’s heard stories about her at Lallybroch. People say she’s a white woman or even a fairy. She gives him the same story about going to the Colonies as she did to Fergus. Ian seems a bit perplexed to learn that Claire is back for good but welcomes her anyway. 

Claire makes her way downstairs. The other women assume she’s a new arrival and figure she’s had a rough first night. They offer some tips on hygiene and birth control over breakfast. Madame Jeanne interrupts and is not pleased to see Claire fraternizing with the help and sends her back to her room. 

Someone is already there. Claire discovers a man named Barton (Ian Conningham). She orders him to leave, but Barton mistakes her for a whore. He promises that once he finds what he’s looking for, she can earn some coin. Claire clarifies that she’s Jamie’s wife. Barton wants to know where Jamie keeps his ledgers, and if she doesn’t know perhaps he’ll screw the information out of her. This nefarious would-be rapist must work for Turner or some other unsavory character to be named later. Barton grabs Claire, and we’ll have to wait until the next episode to see how she escapes his evil clutches. Some women might have reconsidered returning to a time and place that was so rape-y but not our Claire.

What else is Jamie hiding? Will Jamie tame his wild ways now that Claire has returned? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Outlander season 3 airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz. Want more news? Like BuddyTV’s Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of Starz)

Jennifer Lind-Westbrook

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.