This week’s episode of Outlander, “All Debts Paid” got back to the tone I want to see in the show. This episode is full of story and sets up many of the events that will carry through the season. We meet Lord John Grey, a character that will continue to be an important addition for seasons to come.
1. Pacing, Pacing, Pacing
The pacing of this week’s episode was excellent. We moved seamlessly through Jamie’s new time at Ardsmuir Prison and Claire’s life in Boston. We cover years of story with Claire and Jamie both, New characters are introduced. Former characters are revealed to be alive. Relationships end. Relationships begin. I think episodes like this are when the show is at it’s best.
2. Swapping One Duncan For Another
The showrunners made a major change to the book storyline and I am loving it for purposes of the show! As we follow Jamie to his cell near the beginning of the episode, we hear a familiar voice from behind a column. Sure enough, Murtagh survived Culloden and has been serving his debt to society in Prison. In the books a long term character named Duncan Innes comes from this period in Jamie’s life. It looks like the show has replaced him with Duncan Lacroix and I am totally okay with that! I don’t think it will complicate further stories much, and we hopefully see more of the Murtagh we know and love!
3. Lord John Grey
Hello, Lord John Grey! He marches into Ardsmuir very officially, taking over from the previous warden. I was very impressed at how simple the writers made it to demonstrate the bond between him and Jamie. After sharing many stories over games of chess, Jamie speaks Claire’s name to him. Something he had avoided even with Murtagh earlier in the episode. Another excellent moment is when John rests his hand on Jamie and is told in no uncertain terms to remove it or Jamie will kill him. Black Jack is still haunting him, all these years later. It paints the picture that no matter how close these men get, there will always be ghosts within them.
At the end of the episode the prison is shut down and the prisoners, including Murtagh, are sent to a life of indentured servitude in the colonies. Jamie is led to England by Lord John Grey and told he will be serving his time working on an estate called Hellwater. John explains that given Jamie’s infamous past he was unable to work out a full pardon, even given his efforts as liason at Ardsmuir. You can tell from his face that this arrangement is more a personal favor and Jamie knows that. Fellow fans, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
4. Gold In Them There Moors
One of the more interesting subplots of the episode is when the English soldiers find a raving man wandering near the prison. He is babbling in a mix of English, French, and Gaelic so Lord John asks Jamie to interpret. After some negotiation to get medical care for Murtagh and hunting rights for the malnourished prisoners, Jamie agrees. The man clearly knows who he is as he speaks of Dougal and Collum. Apparently there is a huge hidden stash of gold from King Louis in France that was shipped and never received by Bonnie Prince Charlie. Mark me, a find like that could be the ticket back to civilization the soldiers have been looking for!
The crazy guy also speaks of a white woman. When they go to search Jamie disappears for three days trying not to find the gold, but to see if Claire is the white witch the man spoke of. He returns after finding an empty box with only one stone left. A sapphire he gives to Lord John Grey as a token of honesty.
5. Time Flies in the 20th Century
We move quickly through the years back in the Claire and Frank timeline. The first scene is when Claire seems to be first faced with the reality of Frank dating other women. Fast forward through Brianna’s life up to her graduation. Along the way we see a few more spats between Claire and Frank, these cover some of the reasons they stay together. In the final major scene between these two, Frank announces that now that Bri is grown, he plans to take her to England. He will take her along with his new wife as the time has come to divorce. He leaves the house in anger. Claire is called in to the hospital to deal with a patient.
Once she is out of surgery, Claire is speaking to the family as she sees her friend Joe rushing down the hall to her. Thanks to Catriona we all feel the sinking feeling in Claire’s gut. There has been a car accident, and Frank did not survive. She bids him a tearful farewell, the proceeds down the hall. The last thing we see is her taking a moment to collect herself as she pushes through the door, moving forward with her life. This brings her story close to where we found her in season two, traveling to Scotland with Brianna.
As fast as things are going, I checked out the episode titles and it seems we have two weeks before the timelines sync up again. Hang in there fans! The best is yet to come!