Outlander, Ep. 1.12, “Lallybroch” is another bold hour

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Outlander, Season 1, Episode 12, “Lallybroch”
Written by Anne Kenney
Directed by Mike Barker
Airs Saturdays at 9pm ET on Starz

After Claire’s bombshell revelation to Jamie last week, Outlander does not change much. The pair arrive at Lallybroch, and Jamie spends the hour exposing old wounds and struggling to take care of new ones. His relationship with his sister Jenny is complicated, and he doesn’t make it any better when he accuses her of having Jack Randall’s bastard child. Perhaps as a result, she doesn’t take very kindly to Claire either, and the episode is devoted to repairing this relationship as Claire settles into her new home.

There are some subtle differences in the new dynamic between Claire and Jamie. When Claire starts speaking up in front of Jenny and her husband Ian (the child’s actual father), Jamie scolds her. “This is my family, my land, my time.” It’s a harsh remark, a display of territorial superiority, a way for him to attempt to keep Claire in line. This is his time, and she must abide by his time’s rules and practices. Claire, of course, not changed one bit, has none of it. Later, after Ian confides in her about how stubborn Jamie and Jenny are, she confronts Jamie with force about how unlike himself he’s been acting since they arrived, fighting with Jenny and not listening to her advice or worries. He tries to interrupt. “I am speaking and you can talk when I’m finished.” Damn right.

That said, “Lallybroch” suffers from from fairly clumsy writing and plotting at times. Late in the episode, for example, when Jamie and Jenny have their heart-to-heart and make up, she very overtly makes the subtext straight-up text when she tells Jamie that some “small, dark part” of her has been blaming him for their father’s death, which helps explain her curt behaviour towards him and Claire. That she explicitly spells it out for him is a little on-the-nose, but helps establish the stakes of their relationship. Their father hangs heavily over the episode, as Jamie comes to grips with being something of an outsider is his own home, and in taking on his new responsibilities (he’s not very fiscally responsible, it turns out). As Claire must navigate how much she must adapt to this world now that she’s chosen it, Jamie must learn (the hard way) how to work himself back into his home.

Jamie and Jenny are bonded, however, having undergone similar traumas at the hand of Captain Jack Randall. The writers are certainly trying very hard to make sure viewers see Randall as the epitome of Evil with a capital E. It works, and the flashback scenes of their encounters with him strongly show that family stubbornness, as they both refuse to let him win more power over them, subverting his attempts to dominate. Randall tries to rape Jenny in a particularly unsettling scene, until he’s unable to get an erection, and she seizes the opportunity to start laughing at him, belittling him, manifesting his insecurity and shame, whatever the consequences. We also see, several times, his flaccid, uncut penis, as he furiously attempts to get it up, and this, combined with Jenny’s remarkable reaction, makes this one of the boldest and most revolutionary scenes of television this year. Truly, that Outlander would feature such a subversion of sexual violence is no surprise. One hopes that it doesn’t continue like this, however, lest it turn exploitative.

Jamie refuses Randall in his own way, after Randall offered to spare him a second flogging if he gave him his body. Jamie would not give him that power either. These things still very plainly haunt both Jamie and Jenny, but standing beside their father’s grave, they seem to find some comfort and genuine acceptance in each other. And Randall is a terrifying villain indeed, despite being belittled. He craves all power, and will use anything to his advantage to get it, though he seems to favour sexual power over all else. He has strongly affected Claire, Jamie, and now Jenny too. He is a seemingly unstoppable force, though a showdown will surely occur by the end of the season.

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