Jamie and Claire finally reunite, and even though things are a little awkward, they find their rhythm again 😉 Full recap of “A. Malcolm”, including new clips (first aired Sunday, October 22 at 8pm ET|PT on STARZ).
Settle in Sassenachs and let’s relive one of Outlander‘s very best episodes 🙂
“A. Malcolm” takes us back to the morning that Claire arrives in Edinburgh, this time from Jamie’s POV. We start with a cold open (no opening credits) and a French woman is helping Jamie to tie his cravat. She insists that it takes a woman’s touch to do things properly (hmph). The woman helps Jamie to put on his coat and scarf. He dons his tricorn hat and makes his way outside. Jamie walks through downtown Edinburgh, wishing good morning to those he passes. He arrives at the A. Malcolm printshop, adjusts the sign and cleans it, then enters.
Inside the shop, Jamie removes his outerwear and gets to work. He checks on the orders and the materials that have already been printed. As Jamie walks to the printing press, he notices that something is amiss. He takes out a small dagger and follows the sounds of more whispering. Jamie must recognize the intruders because he puts the dagger away and calls for them to enter. The two men refer to Jamie at Mac Dubh. Apparently, they lost their place at the boarding house and Young Ian told them they could crash in the room at the back of the print shop. The two men assure Jamie that no one saw them enter the shop (apparently Jamie can’t afford to have his legitimate business linked to these men). While they’re there, Jamie asks them to make a delivery of secret, Papist pamphlets to Arbroath. Jamie tells them to be careful because the pamphlets are considered treasonous. They should make the delivery and not linger to drink or cavort with women. They are interrupted by Geordie, one of Jamie’s assistants at the shop. They poke fun at Geordie’s goiter and soon leave. Before Geordie begins his morning work, Jamie asks him to go pick up some ash for the press. Geordie goes, but resents having to leave the shop to run errands he could have done on his way there (*shrugs*).
Jamie gets to work, preparing the press, setting the letters, adding paper and ink. Jamie puts on his glasses to check on the output. Time passes as Jamie does his work, and he eventually hears some movement upstairs. He thinks it’s Geordie who’s back with the ash… but it’s not. Claire calls out that it’s her and Jamie is stunned. He turns around and looks up to see it is her… and then promptly passes out, knocking over the papers and his mug of ale. (Cue the opening credits!)
The episode continues with Jamie waking up to see Claire with him. She’s real. Claire responds that she thought he was dead, but Jamie is still stunned. However, he does notice that his pants are wet. At first Jamie thinks he peed himself, but it’s just the ale. Jamie gets up and starts to take off his pants. He asks Claire if she would mind turning around, but she says it’s alright. They are married… Jamie agrees (a little reluctantly) and takes off his pants. Jamie then takes Claire’s hand–there are tears in both their eyes–and he notices the wedding ring he gave her. “I never took it off.” Their movements are a little stilted, but Jamie asks if he can kiss Claire… he hasn’t done this is a really long time. She says yes. (And we say YASSSSSSSSSS.) It’s perfection. They kiss as a rendition of “The Wedding” theme plays in the background and I may actually pass out from all the emotion.
Jamie tells Claire that he dreamt of her. Whenever he needed her encouragement, he’d see her smiling with her hair curled around her face.
“You never touched me.”
“I can touch you now. Do not be afraid.”
“It’s the two of us now.”
They’re crying, they’re kissing… hell, we’re all crying!
Jamie and Claire are interrupted by Geordie. He has returned with the ash, but is scandalized that is employer is without pants and kissing a lady in the middle of the shop in broad daylight. No, Geordie wants nothing to do with that immorality.
Jamie and Claire chuckle and he says that he’ll explain everything to Geordie somehow. Jamie goes to the backroom in order to change into a clean pair of pants, but he asks Claire to come with him. He takes her hand as they walk through the shop, then Jamie puts on his trousers. He remarks that it’s very nice to see Claire, but is curious about why she has returned. Did something happen to their child? Claire reaches into her pocket and pulls out a stash of photos of their daughter. At first Jamie is confused by the photos, but Claire explains a little of the technology. Jamie puts on his glasses and seems a embarrassed about it. He doesn’t have the eyesight he used to, but Claire assures him that he looks as dashing as ever. Jamie does the same: “Time doesn’t matter Sassenach. You will always be beautiful to me.”
Jamie looks through the photos and it’s a really emotional experience–he has to sit down. Claire sits down next to Jamie as he asks for their child’s name. When Claire says it’s Brianna, Jamie laughs a little: “What an awful name for a wee lass!” But it isn’t an awful name. Claire did what Jamie asked her to, she named Bree after his father (Brian). Claire tells Jamie about Bree’s first word (dog), that she used to smile in her sleep, just like him. Bree has his red hair. They take a little time to think about Bree’s older sister, Faith *SOBS*
They continue through the pictures: Claire’s graduation day (she’s a surgeon now!), Bree with their dog Smokey, and Bree in a bikini. That photo agitates Jamie (the idea of his daughter out and about, practically naked), but Claire tells him that it’s the fashion of the time.
Jamie has something of his own to share. He tells Claire about his son, Willie and shows her a portrait. Jamie hasn’t told anyone about Willie, not even Jenny, and he knows he’ll never see Willie again. Claire looks at the portrait and asks about Willie’s mother. Jamie says he feels guilty about Willie’s mother’s death, but no, he didn’t love her. Claire asks about Willie and Jamie tells her about his being spoiled, stubborn, and braw and strong.
Jamie then asks about Frank. She tells him that Frank died a few years ago, but that when she first came back through the Stones, he loved her and took care of her. Claire confesses that she told Frank everything about and then they never spoke of him again. “It was hard for him. But he loved Brianna, so we made it work.”
Claire says that she was happy raising Brianna with Frank, that he was a good father.
They’re interrupted by the bells chiming a new hour. Jamie realizes that he’s late for a meeting at the pub. But Claire must come with him… they make their way through town and Claire updates Jamie about where Prince Charlie is (alive, but unhappy). As they’re walking Jamie points out Fergus, now a grown man. They hug each other, and Fergus says it’s a miracle. Claire notices Fergus’ false hand. He asks where Milady has been this whole time, and Claire says that after Culloden, when she thought Jamie was dead, she left for America. Fergus hugs her again, but takes Jamie aside to talk about their mutual associate, Mr. Willoughby.
Fergus asks Jamie and whether Milady is staying and Jamie says he hopes so. “But what about…?” What about what, Fergus?! Jamie doesn’t seem concerned, but says he needs to consult Ned Gowan about the law. Jamie returns to Claire and says they must make their way to The World’s End to meet an associate who’s gotten into some trouble. Plus, Jamie still has a meeting. When they arrive at the pub, they witness one of the barmaids fighting with a Chinese man and knocking him to the ground. That’s Willoughby. He’s drunk and tried to get handsy with the barmaid without paying… licked her elbow. Jamie pays the barmaid and then Jamie introduces his wife, Claire Malcolm. Willoughby seems taken aback, but says it’s a pleasure to meet her. Jamie asks Willoughby to look after Claire as he attends his meeting.
Claire and Willoughby begin their conversation with his real name, Yi Tien Cho. Apparently, Jamie told him his true name sounds like a bad word in Gaelic, so they went with Willoughby. He continues by telling Claire how he arrived in Scotland from China and when Jamie saved him.
Jamie goes into a backroom of the pub to meet a man, a customs officer, who he pays off. The customs officer demands a 25% increase in his bribe, since Malcolm has expanded his business. However, Jamie maintains that he is only selling the agreed upon amount…
…He returns to get Claire so they can leave and Yi Tien Cho greets her in Chinese. Jamie translates what he said as “honorable wife.” Yes, y’all. Jamie understands Chinese.
By the time Jamie and Claire arrive at his home, it’s dark. Claire (and we) are shocked to see that Jamie lives in a brothel. The woman at the beginning of the episode is the Madame, Jean. Jamie introduces Claire as his wife, Madame Malcolm. Madame Jean is not at all pleased, but assures Jamie that his room is prepared.
Claire is still pretty stunned… I mean, there are a lot of sexy times noises. Jamie apologizes, but says that they need a hot meal and his room at the brothel will be more comfortable than the cot at the shop. But why would Jamie have a room in a brothel? Is he such a good customer? Jamie laughs off Claire’s concerns. Madame Jean is a customer of his, and she keeps a room for him that’s private and conveniently located by the printshop.
But perhaps there’s a bigger question to discuss. Why has Claire really come back?
“Why do you think I’ve come back?”
“I dinna ken. You’re the mother of my child and for that I owe you my soul. But have you come back to be my wife again or only to bring me word of my daughter?”
Claire says she came back now because she’s only just learned that Jamie was still alive, that she got help from a young historian. He confesses that he did try hard to die… but still, WHY has Claire returned? Claire gets a little flustered; she knows he has a life of his own and other ties. Jamie shuts that all the way down:
“I have burned for you for so long, do you not know that? But I am no longer the man you once knew. You and I, we know each other less than when we were first wed.”
“Do you want me to go?”
“No I don’t want you to go. But I must know, do you want me.”
“Whoever you are, James Fraser, yes, I do want you.”
But how does Jamie know that he wants who Claire is now, too? As far as Jamie is concerned, Claire could be a horrible person, but he doesn’t care.
They’re interrupted when dinner arrives. Jamie and Claire share a toast, and then reminisce about their time together all those years ago and some details of how they spent their time apart. As for me, I love every moment–the side glances, the coy smiles, the eye-fucking… “We ate slowly, savoring each other as much as the meal before us…”
When they finish, Jamie takes Claire’s hand and asks if she will go to bed with him. YAS HONEY.
They both stand and walk towards the bed. He helps to unbutton her vest; she unbuttons his. She undoes his cravat and the top buttons of his shirt; he unties her neck scarf and slides it off. She pushes off his jacket and then takes down her hair. Together they remove his pants and, with a little instruction, he unzips her girdle/corset. He unties her shift and slides it off, leaving her completely nude.
Claire covers herself and demands that Jamie says something instead of just staring:
“Christ. Claire, you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
She giggles and teases that Jamie must really be losing his eyesight.
Claire then helps Jamie remove his shirt and she looks too. They both admit that they’re a little scared, similar to their wedding night. At that time, Jamie held Claire’s hand and said it would be easier if they touched. They could try that now…
They kiss and fall into bed, and it’s so sexy… at least until they head-butt each other. OUCH. Jamie assures Claire that she hasn’t broken her nose and kisses it. The moment is so perfect because of course things would be awkward. Jamie and Claire are trying to find their rhythm again after 20 years. But they laugh and play and pleasure naturally follows, too: “Do it now and don’t be gentle.”
Jamie follows Claire’s orders and my, OH MY. Jamie demands that Claire give him her mouth, which she does. Their sex is a little rough, but passionate, desperate. When they orgasm, they stare into each other’s eyes. Yes, this is real.
Afterwards, Claire and Jamie lay in bed together. He’s caressing her body and complimenting her: “It’s always been forever for me, Sassenach.”
Claire reflects that sexy times are like riding a bicycle. Of course Jamie asks for clarification:
“I just mean… well, we seem to remember what to do alright.”
Jamie says he might lack practice, but he hasn’t lost all his faculties. They hear some noises from outside their room and Jamie says he should have taken her to the tavern. Claire reassures him that it’s OK and that it’s good to hear that he isn’t a pimp.
Claire also doesn’t believe that Jamie is really a printer. He’s way too fit. Jamie says that he’s thin because he doesn’t have anyone to cook for him, but is glad to see that Claire hasn’t missed any meals. Jamie spanks her booty and gets out of bed to grab a snack from the table. Claire reflects again that Jamie wouldn’t get his muscles from working a printing press. Maybe he’s become a highway robber? Kidnapping for ransom? Petty thievery? Piracy?
Jamie says that he’s still a traitor and that he even spent time in prison after Culloden. Claire knows about Ardsmuir and says so. Jamie maintains that he’s a printer… and a traitor. His press restored a different type of weapon into his hands. Jamie has been arrested for sedition six times in the last two years, his printshop seized twice, but never convicted. Claire asks what will happen when he’s convicted one of these days, and Jamie says he’ll likely be hanged. They’re both very blase about this, I guess he has warned her. But Claire isn’t going anywhere: “I did not come here to make love to you once. I came back to be with you.”
“I canna tell you what if felt like when I touched you today and knew you to be real. To find you again and to lose you…”
“You won’t lose me… not unless you do something immoral.”
Claire is kidding, but Jamie’s face is pretty serious. Are there still secrets? Jamie lightens the mood by saying his job printing seditious pamphlets isn’t very profitable… so he smuggles whisky and wine on the side! This is why Madame Jean is a customer of his. They store the liquor in the brothel when it arrives from France until it’s ready for sale. And no, Jamie doesn’t take out payment in kind from Madame Jean.
For sexy times, round 2, Jamie and Claire are side-by-side, moving together as they gaze into each other’s eyes and share the same breath.
Afterwards, Claire notices a long scar on Jamie’s thigh and asks how he got it. It’s the scar from when Black Jack Randall stabbed him at Culloden. All Jamie tells Claire is that the scar was from Culloden. She promises never to leave again, but Jamie says it was right for her to go all those years ago: “You did it for Bree. You are a wonderful mother Claire, I know it. You gave me a child Claire. She’s alive and safe. Because of her, we will live forever, you and I.”
He kisses her forehead and they go to sleep.
The next morning, Jamie wakes up before Claire and gazes at her, almost longingly. When Claire wakes up, she turns over and touches his face. He’s really here!
“I could watch you for hours, Sassenach, see how you’ve changed, how you’re the same…”
Jamie says she’s still his mo nighean donn!
She still doesn’t know what exactly it is between them, why their connection is so powerful. But both Jamie and Claire acknowledge that it’s still there. He mentions how he thought he’d never again come to a woman’s bed in laughter, only because of his beastly needs. Claire asks about those times he’s had sex with other women, but Jamie becomes really uncomfortable. She backtracks and says that they don’t have to tell each other everything now.
“I only have one question. Did you ever fall in love with anyone else after I left?”
“No, no Sassenach. I never loved anyone but you.”
Sexy times, round 3, is interrupted when someone knocks at the door with breakfast. Jamie has no intention of stopping. He yells for them to come back later. When Claire asks whether Jamie wants to eat, he grins and proceeds to make quite the meal of her. 😉 😉 😉
The next time Claire wakes up, Jamie is dressed. He has to take care of some business, but he’ll be back. Jamie reminds her to use Malcolm instead of Fraser and Claire promises to stay put: “my legs are like jell-o.”
When Claire finally gets up, she’s nibbling on leftovers when someone arrives. He introduces himself as Young Ian Murray and she says that she’s Aunt Claire. Ian is confused because he’s thought Claire to be dead. But then again, he heard the rumors at Lallybroch about Claire being a White Lady. Had she gone back to the fairies? Claire says that she’s been at the Colonies when she thought Jamie had died; however, she’s back now! Ian is a little flustered, but Claire promises to tell Jamie that he came by.
Claire eventually leaves the room and goes downstairs to eat with the other prostitutes. At first they’re surprised that the Madame would take someone as old as Claire, but they offer her food and promise a warm bath. They share some advice about how to avoid pregnancy and when an early customer arrives, the ladies say that Claire (being the newest girl) has to take them. When Madame Jean sees Claire with the other ladies, she apologizes that no one brought food to her room.
Claire heads back to her room and comes upon someone rifling through Jamie’s things. The intruder thinks Claire is a prostitute and tells her to wait on the bed until he’s finished searching. She tells him A. Malcolm is her husband, and the man demands to see ledgers. Claire doesn’t know anything about ledgers and tells the man to get out. Instead, he lunges and Claire and grabs her throat…
We couldn’t keep calm because PRINT SHOP is here! We talk about Jamie and Claire reclaiming their intimacy and parallels to their wedding night, Mr. Willoughby and portrayals of people of color in the series, and much more in our weekly video review:
If you missed tonight’s episode, you can watch (or rewatch) “A. Malcolm” on STARZ Play online HERE or via the STARZ Play app.
Sassenachs, I’m so deep in happy feelings that I don’t know what to do with myself. The perfection of this episode can’t be overstated. How are you doing? Share your thoughts and feels with us below!