Last week Claire – and the audience – were subjected to a harrowing experience. We got up close and personal with an honest-to-God psychopath wrapped in a shell of gentility. Black Jack Randall is welcome to die in a fire.
But with the help of Scottish Santa, Claire escaped…and was immediately betrothed to Jamie to save her from falling back into the British army”s clutches. So without further ado, on to “The Wedding!”
Full disclosure: By the end of this episode, I am still solidly Team Frank.
Instead of opening at the wedding, or with a flurry of wedding preparation spearheaded by Mrs. Fitz (because she”s back at Castle Leoch), we open at another wedding. Claire and Frank”s to be precise. Just grind that salt into the wound harder, Starz.
Frank and Claire are holding hands and walking past the courthouse when Frank stops. Claire is puzzled but she looks so sharp in that off-white ensemble that I”m momentarily distracted. Why is 1940s fashion so pretty!? But it”s a good thing Claire is wearing a wedding appropriate outfit because her beau just proposed. Why wait to get married?
We just learned a few interesting things. Whenever this is taking place, Claire has not yet met her future in-laws. Frank is far more spontaneous than I would”ve pegged him for. And he”s also romantic and cares not for convention. He just wants to spend the rest of his life with his lady love, the societal pressures of his family be damned! He pops the question on the spot and Claire kisses him…
…but we are never to know if they went into the courthouse before heading to dinner as the new christened Mr. and Mrs. Randall. Claire was having a flashback to a happier moment while kissing Jamie. At THEIR wedding. Awkward.
During some voice-over narration, our heroine tries to explain her current mindset. She compares her situation to broken string of pearls, with each pearl being a memory of her life with Frank. Slowly, each one is rolling away from her and into the darkness, and one day she might not remember it at all. As a happily married woman, this analogy terrifies me. Someone is getting a super long hug later.
While Claire voices one my literal worst nightmares, we transition to the honeymoon suite. Jamie enters and looks uncomfortable as hell. Whether this is because his wife has been on the verge of tears all day, because he has no idea what he”s supposed to be doing, or because all the boys downstairs won”t leave until the marriage is consummated, is left up to viewer discretion. I”m going with “all of the above.”
Trying to diffuse the mood, Jamie quips that only Tweedle Hagrid and Tweedle Dumb have to watch the consummation. In a delightful moment of time-forgetfulness, Claire sarcastically calls him a “regular Bob Hope.” Jamie – and any audience members under the age of twenty-five – are confused. Who?
Speaking Claire”s language, Jamie hands his new wife a decanter of wine. It”s not Rhenish, so she tucks in fast to get drunk enough to handle what is about to happen. Three glasses disappear in quick succession. Poor Jamie tries to save the moment by giving a lovely speech about their new life together but Claire just pours herself another glass, while maintaining a look that screams she”s either about to pass out or throw up.
Damn girl, you and Cersei Lannister are lush sisters separated at birth. Slow down!
Awww. Jamie thinks she”s knocking back enough fermented grapes to kill a small horse because she”s afraid he”s going to force himself on her. Claire is like, “Hahaha! I would never have thought that. Excuse me while I get another bottle,” before distracting her new husband from any thoughts of sexytimes with an impromptu Q&A session.
We are thrust into our second flashback of the episode as Jamie explains why he would even agree to this. Budget Ben and Dougal have cornered our lad in the stables. You can tell this is serious because BB has a huge book of law. If Jamie hadn”t agreed, my money is on they were going to beat him with the letter of the law until he relented. They let Jamie know that if he doesn”t agree to this, Claire is going right back into the tender care of Black Jack and nobody wants that, DO THEY?? When Jamie asks why Dougal even cares what happens to Claire, it boils down to she didn”t rat them out to the British and one good turn deserves another.
After laying on the guilt nice and thick, Dougal is forced to reveal the kicker. For the law to stick, it has to be a proper wedding. Jamie will actually have to sex Claire up…because just lying about it or making it look like they had sex is too complicated for these masters of law manipulation. I mean, she”s not a virgin. How would they even prove it? If Jamie came out and was all “Yep, it”s done,” who”s going to argue with him? Hell, pull an “Easy A” and have the two of them jump on the bed and moan to make it convincing!
I am so disappointed in their lack of commitment to Sparkle Motion. Even Jamie”s Fairy Godfather is all “Dougal, you are supposed to be anti-rape. man!” But Dougal would rather split hairs about “persuasion.” And just like that he is back on my shit list. I”m getting whiplash from his numerous conflicts of personality. Dude, just be good or evil. Stop acting like a three-dimensional person! God!
Back in the present, we”re all distracted by Claire”s cleavage. And if you claim otherwise, you are a liar. She is one deep breath away from a wardrobe malfunction.
Jamie makes another attempt to get the conversation back around to wooing his new bride. He says now that they”re married, she is safe. Claire has his name, his clan, and his protections. “AND MY AXE!” yells Gimli, wandering in from the wrong universe.
It seems to be working, they go in for a kiss and…”TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FAMILY!” Super subtle, Claire. But it works. Somehow she manages to keep her husband”s mind off sex for hours as they swap stories about their families and lives, all while going through enough wine to put Dionysus to shame. So long in fact, they end up having to light candles. Maybe even too long, because suddenly Tweedle Hagrid and Tweedle Dumb! They burst in hoping to find the couple In flagrante delicto, but alas they”re just boring old talking. In their clothes still. The boys are disappointed but beat a hasty retreat before they are struck down where they stand.
So, did Jamie seriously not lock the door? If not, rookie move man. You”ve clearly never had college roommates.
The Tweedle Twins unannounced check-in does remind our young couple of what they”re supposed to be doing up here. Claire suggests they go to bed. Basically, she”s finally reached that point in being drunk where you know something is a bad idea, but the part of your brain that regulates guilt has been turned off.
Okay, here we go. Jamie helps get Claire out of her clothes. He quips that she can”t sleep in her corset and I”m like, “Have you met your wife? She was literally doing just that like two days ago. Pay attention.” The skirts come off, the lacy choker. Jamie lingers over her neck and back and I”m assuming this is supposed to be sexy but, and here”s where I”m going to part ways with a lot of you I think, I”m just creeped out. Jamie is as sweet as can be, but the circumstances are just uncomfortable to me.
Before I know it, the corset is off, so we definitely fast-forwarded past how hard those laces are to get out of, and Claire is nearly naked in front of him. Jamie hesitates for a minute, I guess out of uncertainty about how to touch a woman, before the gears click into place and figures it out. Bloody hell, I am not the target audience for this scene. I”m 100% sure this is supposed to coming across as sweet and a good thing but I”m nearly having a panic attack. As a happily married lady projecting myself into this situation, all I can think it Claire should”ve been like “Look, just let me get blackout drunk and then do what you gotta do.”
To the surprise of no one, Jamie is enthusiastic but lacking in stamina and technique. He accidentally crushes Claire and then finishes after approximately five seconds. Womp womp. Props for what might be the most harshly realistic take on how most guys lose their virginity, though. Cue an awkward silence, punctuated by awkward smiling. Please, please don”t let him ask her if she liked it.
Annnd, he asked her if she liked it.
Our heroine is silent, because I mean, what do you say to that? Jamie takes it as confirmation of what the guys told him. Apparently women generally don”t care for sex, according to the men of Clan MacKenzie. Lord help me, we are over a hundred years away from the advent of the vibrator. No wonder so many ladies had “the vapors” – they were literally living a life without orgasm. It”s a miracle they didn”t just spontaneously combust from repression! Instead of being appropriately outraged, Claire simply assures Jamie she liked it.
Girl, no. If you don”t tell him the truth, he”ll just keep doing the same things over and over again, thinking they work. It is your God given duty to teach this man what a clitoris is!
Okay, so Claire meant she enjoyed it in the sense that she actually was cool with what was happening. So points for realizing you can enjoy sexytimes without getting off. But now she”s having a crisis of faith, because not only is she a bigamist and an adulteress, she enjoyed it. The only thing that will solve his mental dilemma? The sweet, sweet void brought on by more alcohol.
But out in the hallway, the only thing awaiting her is the cheers and jeers of the men of Clan MacKenzie. Huzzah! Jamie is a man! Jamie allows Claire to flee back to the safety of the honeymoon suite while he braves the crude innuendo of his family to get whiskey and bread. Just about everyone is happy for the new couple; everyone but Scottish Santa, that is. Dougal is surly as hell and who knows why? The inner workings of a Scottish Santa”s mind are a mystery for the ages.
Jamie immediately tattles on Dougal to Claire, and they laugh at Dougal”s backwards notion that men shouldn”t seem too eager, lest they cede their power to the women. Jamie is straight up like, “I”m under her thumb and I like it.” Good answer.
Such a declaration leads in to Jamie waxing poetic about his new wife”s hair. Brown is only a boring color if you aren”t in love with the person it is attached to. We”re inching closer to Round Two when a spark of sobriety flares in Claire and she deflects with more questions about how this wedding came to happen so quickly.
Another flashback! Jamie has some very particular thoughts about how his dream wedding is going down and one of the uncompromisable parts is he wants to wear Fraser colors. Luckily, his Fairy Godfather was able to turn up a kilt on short notice, riding into Red Coat infested moors to retrieve it in time for the ball…I mean wedding. He even goes so far as to tacitly approve of Claire, saying her smile reminds him of Jamie”s mother. Awwww. Also ew, maybe Oedipal?
Turns out in order to marry Claire, Jamie had three conditions. So this is ACTUALLY taking on the structure of a fairy tale. Jamie Fraser is a Disney Princess. I”m absolutely okay with this surprising role reversal.
Okay, the Three Rules For Marrying Jamie Fraser are:
Rule One: Jamie wants to get married in a church. Of course, the only priest in the tri-county area is a hateful little man who is armed with a knife and the flu. Dougal and a young Interchangeable Scotsman track him down. Our nameless MacKenzie has a bit of a Bible verse-off with the good Father when the latter refuses to perform on such short notice, but Dougal ends it by promising to get actual windows for the church. Which is what reminds me that priests didn”t decide where they would preach; it was assigned by the Vatican. So a man of the cloth could end up somewhere he loathed…much like in this case.
Rule Two: Jamie wants a wedding ring for Claire. The Tweedle Twins are on the case! They pay the exorbitant blacksmithing fee to expedite the production of a wedding band created from a key. At this point Claire interrupts to ask what the key was originally for. Jamie gives the world”s worst poker face and tells her it was nothing important. She”s either too drunk to notice or too nice to pry further.
Rule Three: Jamie”s wants a wedding dress for Claire. Budget Ben is dispatched to the local whorehouse to find something appropriate. Because when you think “quality virginal garment” you think “prostitutes.” But one of the girls actually has something that”ll work. Payment from a Lord who was short on cash but long on lust. Never been worn. Budget Ben pays a whole shilling for the gown and then who knows how much more for one of the girls.
But now Jamie wants to know what his blushing bride was doing all day while he was running hither and yon to make this the Best Wedding Ever™. Was she in a tizzy about her impending nuptials? Was she getting ready to a soundtrack of birdsong? Nope, she was waking up with a killer hangover and wishing she was dead. Ahhhh, young love.
I have drastically underestimated Claire”s drinking prowess. She started at the end of the last episode and literally never stopped. They don”t show it, but I assume she just kind of stood still – alternately groaning in agony and putting back swigs of whiskey – while the ladies of the house tried to make her presentable.
Speaking of presentable, here comes the reveal of the dress! Yesssssss! Ughhhh, it is so pretty! Those are some serious sleeves. It”s white, but not virginal white (probably since that won”t become standard until Queen Victoria) with an inlay of silver leaves on the bodice and skirt. Flawless.
Not that our heroine remembers it. The entire proceedings are lost in a haze of alcohol. Well, almost all of it. She clearly remembers removing her wedding band, and symbolically her commitment to Frank. Oh, she also remembers Budget Ben brought a date, but didn”t realize she was a woman of ill-repute. That”s right, he brought his own version of “Pretty Woman” with him to the wedding.
Claire looks like she”s going to cry, or pass out, or bolt at any moment, as the noose of this new marriage becomes ever tighter. The priest performs the rites and then Dougal cuts both Jamie and Claire”s wrists and ties them together. Ew, gross. What is this? Are we joining a pre-teen treehouse secret society? This is how you get bloodborne illness! Do you want bloodborne illness?
The vows complete, the newlyweds kiss. This is where we came in. Only now the focus is on Jamie”s face. Without knowing Claire is lost in a memory of Frank, he is led to believe she”s kissing him and not the memory of her first husband. Awkward and sad.
Back in the present, maybe Claire feels guilty for not being lucid for their wedding. Or maybe she”s just so drunk, she should by all rights be dead and has thrown caution to the wind. Either way, she”s finally over whatever was holding back and demands to see Jamie naked. He obliges.
Claire inspects her new husband in a lazy circle, in a way most shows would have a man inspect his new bride. Switching things up takes away the undercurrent of thinking of women as property. But it”s slightly marred by the fact that I can”t figure out where Claire”s sudden change of heart came from. Also, he is awfully hairless for a dude living in a time before Brazilian wax…just sayin”. Jamie, do you manscape?
Jamie”s turn to ogle Claire. He doesn”t get very far, though. And by “not very far” I mean he is so struck by being within arm”s reach of a naked lady, he can”t be bothered with a slow inspections. It”s straight back to the sex. Things go better this time and Claire manages to have an orgasm, to the absolute shock of her husband. He didn”t even know women could do that. He thought he was hurting her.
Do you hear that? That”s the annoyed hiss of the ghosts of a thousand thousand women who”s lovers were inconsiderate clowns.
As a reward for being an accidental quick learner, Claire immediately goes down on Jamie. I think? Maybe not? Honestly I don”t know what she”s doing, because her head is not nearly far enough down his torso for what the camera angles are implying.
Her husband now out cold – typical – Claire throws on a wrap and goes in search of food. All the revelers have left…all except Dougal. Of course. He let”s Claire know he just got back from telling Randall she”s married now and he and the British army can sod right off. Then Scottish Santa just can”t help himself and goes for the creepy kill by letting Claire know he”s around if Jamie isn”t cutting it for her.
Before things take a turn for the worse, Tweedle Hagrid shows up and situation diffuses. Claire escapes back upstairs and Dougal takes out his regret at not marrying her himself on Tweedle Hagrid”s jaw. Seller”s remorse, man.
Upstairs, Jamie is awake again. And he has a present for Claire. A string of pearls. Well, that bookends the episode nicely. They belonged to his mother and it”s one of the last things of hers that Jamie has. I will now take opening bids on someone – Dougal or Randall or Leery – ripping them right off her at some point.
Jamie has the world”s shortest refractory period and our newlyweds go for Round Three…while Claire wears his mother”s pearls. Suddenly my Oedipus joke from earlier seems less like a joke.
The next morning, Claire kisses Jamie and sends him on his way. Well ,that was a fast turnaround! Wait, maybe not. While shaking out her wedding dress, Claire dislodged her wedding ring from Frank. It skids across the floor and I actually shout “Oh shit!” out loud, thinking it”s about to fall through the cracks in the floor and be lost forever (like the metaphorical pearls). But no, phew. Claire catches it.
We end with Claire placing the ring back on her finger and staring in despair at her hands, a wedding band on each hand.
So what did you guys think? Are you Team Jamie or Team Frank? Do you think Randall will really let it go so easily?