Written by Diana Gabaldon, Ronald D. Moore, and Anne Kenney
Directed by Anna Foerster
This is the pivotal episode of the first season. If you’ve read the book, you will know how it goes. I have to say, though, the addition of a few scenes for television really helps. Claire is wistful for her old life. She’s not forgetting Frank at all, but does what she has to in this case.
The episode opens with a flashback (or a flashforward?) of Frank (Tobias Menzies) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) visiting Westminster Town Hall and getting married on the spur of the moment in 1940. It was a happy memory as Claire had no family left, and Frank didn’t care about his family being present for the wedding, so they just did it.
Back in the 18th century, Claire and Jamie (Sam Heughan) are married, and Claire’s face is not a happy one. She is resigned to her fate, but not enjoying it. Jamie comes up, stating that the rest of the revelers won’t go to bed until they know the marriage has been consummated.
Instead of jumping into bed, the two spend time talking and getting to know each other. Jamie tells Claire about how his decision was made at the behest of Dougal (Graham McTavish) to marry her. He knows what Jack Randall is capable of, and couldn’t let her be his victim, so he married her to protect her. They talk about their families as a way of getting to know each other.
After Rupert (Grant O’Rourke) and Angus (Stephen Walters) crash into the honeymoon suite, checking if it’s been consummated, Claire relents and decides that she will consummate the marriage.
There is some beautiful camera work with Jamie and Claire undressing each other. The flickering of the firelight off of their skin and the shadows it creates really add to the scene. We know that Jamie is a virgin, but Claire is not. Still, he doesn’t seem to want to rush into it, until he can’t wait any longer. It’s over rather quickly, and at first, it seems as if Claire didn’t enjoy it.
However, she’s suffering a lot of guilt. She feels as if she’s a bigamist and an adulterer. And she hates that she did enjoy it. She’s struggling with a lot of emotions. Jamie is kind and caring, making it easy for her to fall for him, although she hasn’t quite yet. However, there’s a part of her that knows she is trapped here and might not be able to make it back even if she made it to Craigh na Dun, and Jamie is a good man.
Jamie recounts to Claire what happened leading up to the wedding from his perspective. Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) managed to find Fraser tartan for Jamie to be married in. It means a lot to Jamie, although he knows it would put a target on him for the British. It seems that Murtagh had some affection for Jamie’s mother. Dougal and Willie (Finn Den Hertog) kidnap a local priest and have to do some convincing to have the wedding in the church without the banns being read. Ned Gowan (Bill Paterson) also secured the wedding dress in a rather unusual manner.
I know there was a big deal made of the dress in the book, and in the commentary it’s stated that a lot of thought went into it, but I hated it. It’s pushing Claire’s breasts up a ridiculous amount. In the book, Claire was rather well-endowed. However, the actress Caitriona Balfe is not as well-endowed so they have the dress pushing all that she has out of it. It also looks terribly uncomfortable. I think if they hadn’t tried pushing all of her breasts up out of the top it would have been much more attractive.
There is nudity in this episode. We see Jamie and Claire both naked, although no full frontal for Jamie. It is close though. The idea is there that Claire is a woman who enjoys sex – that much was clear when she was with Frank – and even if she is not in love with Jamie (yet), she can enjoy him physically. This surprises Jamie since all of his friends have told him women generally do not enjoy sex. The scenes are tastefully done, but I wouldn’t watch them with children around.
Thinking everyone is asleep, Claire goes downstairs to get a drink and encounters Dougal, just having come back from having a talk with Captain Randall. Dougal states he is attracted to her, and thinks he can bed her now that she’s Jamie’s wife. It does seem that Dougal has a thing for strong women.
At the end of the episode, as Claire is shaking out the dress, she almost loses the wedding ring that Frank gave her. She manages to retrieve it and puts it on her left hand while Jamie’s is on her right.
This episode is the launching point for the rest of the series. Caitriona Balfe does a fantastic job as a woman with her heart in two different worlds. Jamie is pretty dazzling to be married to, but she doesn’t fall for him immediately. It’s going to be a bit of a process. Her heart is still with Frank, back in the future. However, with whom Claire had to choose from, she did okay. I think Dougal would have jumped at the chance, but he’s already married. Also, the book makes it clear that Jamie marrying an Englishwoman would disqualify him from being able to lead Clan MacKenzie, thereby assuring that Dougal is next in line to lead the Clan until Hamish comes of age.
Ulterior motives aside, this is a great episode with a few faults. It’s faithful to the book, although there is more information in the book, particularly on Jamie’s family and why he is on the run.
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