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Outlander - S3E9 - The Doldrums

Previously on Outlander, “First Wife”

The opening theme get an upgrade with some tropical imagery and some island-style drums; seems a little eccentric, even for Outlander, but it makes more sense about 5 minutes into the episode. Cousin Jared (the wine-merchant cousin from France) has booked Jamie passage on a boat as his booze ambassador. He’s done some sleuthing and found the boat that kidnapped Ian is on it’s way to Jamaica laden with young boys to sell. If they can get to him in time, they can save him from the auction—if not, at least he’ll bring pride to the family name by fetching a good price!

Images: STARZ

He and Claire board the boat with Fergus, Willoughby, and those new broke substitutes for Rupert and Angus, and as they set sail Claire somehow forgot she was in 18th century Scotland where women aren’t welcome everywhere they want to go. It’s an old sailor’s superstition that women and redheads bring bad luck to boats, so this whole Fraser outing is kind of screwing the pooch. It gets even worse when the current female population doubles. Fergus and Marseli, Jamie’s step-daughter (and Laoghaire’s daughter) snuck out and got themselves hand-fasted, which apparently still isn’t as legally binding as consummation, and as the newest Mrs. Fraser, Marseli has zero plans of letting Jamie get rid of her or telling her what she will be doing from here on out. Her eyeroll game is strong and her disdain for Claire is explosive and delightful to watch; but with an argument that borders on blackmail, Jamie has no choice but to let her stay. He clearly won’t be getting any ocean action, but if he’s lucky he won’t get caught in the crossfire of Claire and Marseli.

It turns out Fergus is actually quite in love with Marseli, and while he’s sorry he lied to Jamie about it, he hopes that the two cowards can find common ground. Seamen are a superstitious lot; when one of the sailors gets hit in the head, no one considers it an accident but instead a “bad omen”. Claire tries to reason with them and then gets condescending when the captain tells her to tone it down. When she dines with him that night, he is far more polite when he explains that the sailors rely on superstition as an assurance, and right now with two women, countless gingers, and a gaping head wound on board, they’re feeling uneasy.

Jamie didn’t get to join them for dinner; Jamie can’t stand upright without vomiting, let alone make charming dinner conversation. Mr. Willoughby convinces him to try out acupuncture, and the next day Claire finds him upright and eating. The meal is spoiled when Marseli and Fergus show up more determined to stay married, and even Claire throws her weight in their corner even though she thinks the relationship will fail.

One of the endless days at sea, Jamie realizes that the ship has stopped moving, and the sailors collectively freak out that they lost the wind. Immediately after that, all of the drinking water is found tainted with sea water and dead rats. It’s about all that they can stand, and the crew is ready to throw someone overboard. That someone? Stupid Rupert 2 (Hayes), who failed to touch the lucky horseshoe before they left Scotland. The captain is inclined to let the men take their vengeance, but Hayes instead gets blind drunk and tries to jump from the yardarm instead. Mr. Willoughby distracts the crowd with the story of how he left China while Jamie rescues the dangling drunk. And then, like the magic of science, the wind picks back up.

Jamie and Claire finally find a moment alone together, and she’s no longer mad about that pesky “other wife” problem from the last episode. While they’re below deck, a British Man o’ War takes them over with a plea for help: their crew is sick and they desperately need a surgeon. Claire diagnoses the illness as Typhoid Fever and boards the boat to sort through the sick and the dead and see if anyone can be saved. The captain promises to return her to her ship shortly, but he immediately pulls anchor and starts to flee. His crew can’t afford to lose a doctor, and he’s promised to drop her off safely in Jamaica as soon as he’s done with her medical services. And just like that, Claire and Jamie are separated yet again.

Things of interest

-Claire looks pretty good with a little bit of color on her.

-Marseli went from barely speaking in the last episode to be a little spitfire and God bless her for it. She and Claire have some fantastic chemistry, which almost makes up for how boring she and Fergus are together. I can see Laoghaire in her, but smarter and faster and more vicious. I hope she stays the fiery, sardonic little broad that she is and that we keep her forever.

-Mr Willoughby finally had a little more action; up until now he’s just been a small, quiet sidekick. The disappearing poetry smacked just a little of “far eastern mysticism”, but his story of leaving China was a little bit lovely and heartwrenching. Was the tossing his story into the wind sweeping and melodramatic? Absolutely. That’s what we’re here for. Was it enough to sway a hardcore crew of men not to murder their albatross? Eh…

-Although having said that, these men have not batted an eye a single time Claire has been presented as a surgeon. They may not like her sass mouth, but finally a group of people who don’t want to burn the woman.

-Jamie is officially suffering from resting smirk face. Young Ian is being sold into slavery? Smirk. Step-daughter stowed away and is married to adopted son? Side-eye smirk. Crew wants to murder one of his prison buddies? Menacing smirk. He doesn’t laugh much anymore, and he only smiled once this episode, but that man has got the smirk down.

Outlander S3E9 Review Score
  • 7/10
    Plot - 7/10
  • 6/10
    Dialogue - 6/10
  • 7/10
    Performances - 7/10

"The Doldrums"

Outlander - S3E9 - “The Doldrums” | Caitrona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies

User Review
5 (1 vote)
About Robyn Horton (94 Articles)
Robyn grew up a military brat whose parents let her indulge in her love of literature, mythology, movies, musicals, and Kings Quest (without telling her how nerdy they were). She is now a reformed graphic designer with a husband, two dogs, a Sweeney Todd themed bathroom, and a burning need to know how many books really can fit in one house.

1 Comment on Outlander - S3E9 - The Doldrums

  1. I debated whether to tune in this season. I’m glad I did…very enjoyable though Claire gets on my nerves at times. I like marseille character-hope she sticks around. And I like the new opening.

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