“Lallybroch” was one of those meditative episodes that spends a lot of time in the past, but it also spent ample time world-building. It’s also probably the most novelistic episode Outlander has had, taking its time not to set up big moments or huge reveals, but just to portray a slice of life, and some more important (though quiet) moments in Claire and Jamie’s relationship.
“Lallybroch” was, fittingly, all about introducing us to Jamie’s ancestral home, and meeting his sister Jenny. Even though it seemed likely from the start that Jamie and Jenny’s frictions would be solved by the end of the hour, the journey was still delightfully awkward to watch. Her treatment of Claire “the trollop” was unsurprising, and that most of that ambiguity towards her Englishness certainly made sense given what Jenny and the Fraser tenants had been through.
But most of “Lallybroch” was set in the past, with flashbacks to Jamie’s gruesome flogging at the hands of Randall, and the death of his father during it. Jenny also told the story of her experience with Randall, all of which fed into the truth that Randall’s true desire was Jamie (as seems to be the case an awful lot around there). Jamie actually talks Claire through his reasoning about his choice, as he explained his feelings about his home, his father, his abuse at the hands of Randall, and more. Last week, Claire talked and Jamie listened. This week, it was his turn.
Still, Claire had a few words for Jamie herself, and used a trick pulled from Jenny’s book to get him to listen. Jamie was trying to be the Laird his father was, and wasn’t being true to himself and his own desires. Some of the best scenes of the episode, though, were of Jamie communing with the tenants and falling down drunk afterwards, and Claire bemusedly (and occasionally with irritation) tending to him. It felt natural and real, as Jamie settles in to this new position, and Claire settles in to her new role.
Throughout the hour, we learned more about Jamie and his past, his family, and what he feels like is his responsibility in being Laird. Claire’s revelation to him was certainly not forgotten, not only in him tallying up their years jokingly, but later when she tells him about flying and he asks about elephants. His expressions of love to her, and her returning it, was a lovely moment between them, and so was Jamie and Jenny finally reconciling, as we knew they would.
Outlander hasn’t always known how to handle exposition, sometimes flooding us with narration, and sometimes skipping back with flashbacks like in “Lallybroch.” Neither way is necessarily ideal when there’s too much of it, and though “Lallybroch” was largely immersive in its story, it also felt (with the extensive use of flashback) like it was spinning its wheels. Being reminded of Jamie’s flogging was a powerful moment, but did we need Jenny both explaining what happened to her with Randall and us seeing it at the same time?
“Lallybroch” gets a bit of a pass, ultimately, because it was an even more exceptionally filmed episode than most. Yes there was a lot more focus on B-roll footage than we’ve seen in the past, but it all played into the wish-fulfillment fantasy that Outlander often is. Of course, things are never happy and beautiful for long — “Lallybroch” ended with Jamie’s life being threatened once again. Adventure calls.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Some of “Lallybroch,” though, proved again why I was not a fan of the handling of “The Reckoning.” Is Claire any less headstrong in their relationship? No. (Jamie still takes her aside and gives her an example of how a woman can be strong and be a lady, like Collum’s wife Letitia). Further, Jamie, knowing the pain of lashings and still haunted by them, would never see it as comic or sexual stimulation.
— Look, I think Caitriona Balfe is incredibly beautiful and I would give an arm to look like her, but I just can’t buy that she’s 27, nor that Jamie is however much younger. It would have made fine sense to age them up, even slightly, to better fit their real ages.
— Oh Starz, basically the only pay-network who shows penis. Not that we wanted to see Randall’s flaccid member, but still, I guess I have to appreciate the equality. Far more interesting was Jamie’s bottom, and him standing in the creek. Who needs to look at a penis when you have the rest of that?
— The blues in the Laird’s room were so gorgeous.
— “I considered the buggery” – Jamie.
— I loved the little details like Claire being handed gifts by some of the tenants, and then scorned by others. Although, McNabb was clearly a jerk. I wonder if his son will become a part of the story at Lallybroch now?
— “Jenny, turn around while I try to get out before my cock snaps off!” – Jamie.
— Englishman 1: “How does a perfectly good shirt get stuck in the mill?” Englishman 2: “It’s Scotland, sir.”