I’d like to believe that even the purest of source-material purists among us would agree that the small-screen adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander has benefited greatly from the increased presence of Claire’s left-behind-love Frank. After all, how tortured can a love triangle really be when the third party is missing in action? Ever since our heroine disappeared through the standing stones, we’ve been reminded—through both bittersweet flashbacks and pained present-day moments—what really is at stake if Claire decides to stay in 1743 Scotland with Jamie.
The midseason finale (Outlander won’t return until April 2015!) starts with a sound we haven’t heard in a long time—a ringing telephone. It’s the Inverness police station, where Frank has returned (once again) to inquire about his wife’s whereabouts and the ensuing investigation. The detective assures they’ve done everything they can, rambling off the statistics: six weeks, 100 square miles searched, 175 interviews, 1,000 man hours. But it’s not enough for Frank. And he certainly won’t accept the copper’s conclusion that Claire ran away with that mysterious Highlander.
“My wife is not with another man!” Frank yells. (Oh, Frank.)
Cut to Jamie and Claire enjoying a peaceful moment together in the countryside. “Is it usual, what it is between us when I touch you?” Jamie asks.
After a beat or two, Claire responds: “No, this is unusual. It’s different.”
And then an arrow whizzes into the ground just feet from where they’re sitting. But all’s well: It’s just Hugh Monro—an acquaintance of Jamie’s who has news. Apparently, some man named Horrocks can vouch for Jamie. He was there the night of the prison break and knows who killed the sergeant that Jamie is accused of murdering. Jamie could have the price taken off his head and return home if this Horrocks is legitimate—but the mystery man is also a Redcoat deserter, so Jamie’s right to be suspicious.
(It should also be noted, that before leaving, Hugh gifts Claire with a dragonfly in amber. Ahem.)
Later that night, as Jamie and Claire are canoodling around the fire, the clansmen are attacked by raiders. Though they only got away with a horse and three bags of grain, it inspires the MacKenzies to teach Claire how to protect herself. Angus is elected her Miyagi, showing her how to deftly dispatch with a man from the front (or the back) using a sgian-dubh—a small dagger. (Anyone else catch Rupert’s “That’s what she said” joke when Claire said the first knife was too long and heavy for her? He’s grown on me, that one.) Anyway, our dear Sassenach is now prepared for the Highland’s marauding menaces.
Her training is put to the test just a short time later. Jamie and Claire splinter off from the group to get busy in the meadow (as you do), when they’re interrupted in flagrante delicto by two Redcoat deserters. As one holds Jamie back, the other drops trou to rape Claire. Quick-thinking Claire grabs her dagger and stabs him in the kidney, just as Angus taught her. As he cries out, Jamie escapes the grasp of the other soldier and slits his throat. And while (mostly) physically unharmed, Claire is rightfully in shock.
NEXT: The other side