This week's episode of Outlander finally delivered, and Sam Heughan's butt is everything Diana Gabaldon promised it would be. The food at that wedding reception, though—you'd think the local laird's nephew could've done better. And not a centerpiece in sight!
"The Wedding" opens with Claire's misty memories of marrying Frank, who apparently proposed while they were passing the county clerk's office on the way to dinner with his parents. No judgements if you think "Why not???" is the height of romance, but I must say this rather dimmed Mr. Randall's shine for me. Claire goes for it, though! I guess the looming threat of war with Europe puts a different spin on the big church wedding. Then, boom, she's kissing her unasked-for new husband, Jamie Look at Those Goddamn Muscles Fraser.
Understandably, the wedding night gets off to a rocky start. Maybe this is why the show has kept Jamie from our hungry eyes so much lately—it makes the awkwardness that much more pronounced. Claire proposes a drink; Jamie toasts to her, "a lady of grace, a woman of strength and a bride of astonishing beauty." It's a good effort, but not quite enough to get Claire out of her undergarments in broad daylight. Maybe because he sounds like a little girl trying on her mom's lipstick and pumps. He's still settling into the role of husband (and sexually active adult, for that matter).
Instead, Claire wants to know why he married her. Cut to Ned explaining their gambit won't work worth a damn unless the marriage is airtight. It's got to be consummated immediately, and they can barely get away with not having someone literally in the bedroom. Jamie's not sure, but Dougal reminds him that the alternative is Randall getting hold of her—and he knows firsthand how she'll be treated.
Jamie's motives make sense; Dougal's are murky. Is it just a point of principle that they won't allow mistreatment of a MacKenzie guest? Is it to prevent Randall from torturing information about the Jacobite cause out of her?
At any rate, Jamie has agreed and now he's committed to protecting Claire, whatever it takes. With that bit of gallantry, Jamie leans in—only for Claire to ask about his family. CLAIRE. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US/YOURSELF. (His giggle, though. That giggle!)
So they spend the next several hours drinking and chatting up a storm, exchanging stories about their families and getting to know each other while night falls and Jamie's stubble returns—missed you, stubble. This little interlude is interrupted by Angus and Rupert, wo stop in to see whether they've sealed the deal. They're tossed out with a bit of what you might call sex wisdom: "You can do it with your clothes on." "Aye, but not on your wedding night!" Angus, you romantic.
So there they are again, reminded of their task. Claire suggests bed; Jamie asks for a clarification: "To bed? Or to sleep?" His facial expression: priceless. Sam Heughan was really doing some GIF-worthy things with his face this episode. Please do enjoy this Vulture roundup of his sex faces, which is choice.
And oh my God, we're finally getting this show on the road. I must say, Jamie helping Claire out of her copious undergarments was worth the wait and will be burned into my memory for all time. (Was she wearing that choker just so he could remove it? I'm gonna guess yes.) Another nice moment came as Jamie sort of bobbed his head while undoing the laces. Plus a little boob-palming! Claire announcing "it's my turn" was pretty great, but "I said I was a virgin, not a monk" was downright Emmy-worthy.
And then, after all that buildup... well, that was quick. My case of the vapors petered out quite quickly! At first I thought Claire was really disappointed. (Because, you know, wow, it's taken me longer to swipe into the subway.) But actually, she's quiet and weird because she DID like it. And as far as she's concerned, she's still married to another man. She's so disturbed that she bursts into the common room and is treated to a volley of lewd commentary from Rupert, Angus and company.
She retreats, while Jamie goes downstairs to grab snacks. In his shirt and boots, knees bare. (He rocked this look for much of the episode, because God is good.) Dougal wants thanks for finding him somewhere worthwhile to stick his manhood and also advises Jamie not to rush back, thereby appearing too keen. Dougal MacKenzie: PUA.Jamie brushes him off, takes the plate, goes back to Claire and relays the whole thing, suggesting he's already taking to this husband business like a duck to water.
Side note: I recently discovered a website devoted to recreating dishes that appear in Outlander and I cannot believe he couldn't come up with anything better than cheese and whiskey.
I really, really loved the structure of this episode. For one thing, one of the best parts of being married is debriefing each other every night, in the privacy of your own bedroom. And "The Wedding" really laid the groundwork here for Jamie and Claire being a pretty functional couple, as opposed to a couple of lust-blinded bunnies. The couple that gossips while consuming leftover cheese together, stays together. The episode's layout also hints at how much better off Claire is as half of a team—already she's getting better inside scoop on what happens when she's not around. (Geillis did warn her that the Highlands are no place for a woman alone.)
But that's enough warbling about marriage because hey, Jamie is waxing poetic about Claire's hair. It's auburn in the sunlight! It's like a highland stream! Claire dodges, asking about his kilt. Jamie patiently explains where he got the kilt and adds that, oh by the way, Murtagh says she has a smile as sweet as Jamie's mother. I knew Murtagh approved.
Which segues into Jamie's tale of groomzillahood. Not only did he demand a Fraser plaid, but he also insisted on a proper church wedding and sent Angus and Rupert to acquire a wedding ring. Let's all take a moment to appreciate the idea of Angus and Rupert as bullied bridesmaids, dispatched all over town on stupid errands. He also made Ned find a proper wedding gown. A round of applause for the fact that a show on a premium cable channel included a scene set in a house of ill repute and showed just a single nipple!
Claire, for her part, spent much of their wedding day drunk or hungover, and removing her ring from Frank dominates her memories. But Jamie remembers every second. (Is that my heart melting orrrr....) He compares the sight of his bride to the sun breaking through on a cloudy day which I'm pretty sure is already a major meme on Pinterest and by the end of the week you'll be able to purchase needlework pillows to that effect on Etsy. The dress is stunning, too—cheers to costume designer Terry Dresbach.
But it seems Claire's finally (or at least temporarily) OK with the fact she finds Jamie so very appealing because it's time for round two. And this time, they're naked! Because Claire demands he shuck it. I don't want to get vulgar (although God knows I could and probably will in the comments) but we finally got the firelight flickering on so much more than Jamie's pectorals! What followed was one of the few sex scenes I've ever seen that felt like it wasn't written explicitly for men. GAZE, LADIES, GAZE.
I like to think that with that blow job, Claire created some sort of oral-sex-related causality paradox for the English-speaking world.
The glow wearing off, Claire sneaks out for more whiskey and bumps into Dougal, who says he's spoken to Randall about her being off-limits and then makes a pass because wow, what a classy guy. He finds her to be "a most singular woman"! She turns him down because Jesus, she's already got husbands in two time periods, she doesn't need an obnoxious lover, too. Rupert lovably bumbles in and breaks up their tête-à-tête, but it's pretty clear that Dougal has just been upgraded from annoyance to potentially serious problem.
On the bright side, she returns to her room and there's a buck-naked Jamie Fraser waiting for her. The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away. He wakes up and gifts her with a beautiful Scotch pearl necklace. A LITERAL ONE, OKAY? They belonged to his mother and they mean a lot to him, just like Claire. Get your minds out of the gutter. Actually, no, stay in the gutter because here we go again, round three! And this time, they're wrapped in his plaid. There are going to be so many plaid throw blankets purchased with this very scene in mind.
The next morning, Claire's shaking her wedding dress and out falls her old wedding ring. She squats on the floor, holding one in each hand. Little heavy-handed, Outlander, but I can probably see my way to forgiveness if you promise at least ten minutes of Jamie's butt next week.
How will Claire resolve her dilemma between past and present? Who's the more pressing problem, Dougal or Black Jack Randall? Will anybody keep watching now that Claire and Jamie have finally boned? Tune in next week to find out!
Images via Starz