Outlander – Season 1 Episode 13
Outlander continues with the Lallybroch arc as Ian and Jenny’s new baby is born amid various complications both with the pregnancy and with the internal politics of Lallybroch.
Considering how busy this episode is in terms of content it probably should have been a lot more important than it ultimately turned out to be. There’s a lot more plot machinations this week than last but last week felt like a more complete story in many ways.
The biggest problem with this episode is that the story stuttered along rather than flowing organically in a way that makes sense for the characters. In terms of progression there’s actually very little and I felt that the entire episode basically leaves the characters in the same place emotionally and story wise as they were at the start of the episode.
I did like how effective the tension in this episode was portrayed. The character of Horrocks (Lochlann O’Mearáin) was a figurative stone thrown into still waters and represented a big threat in every scene he appeared. I loved the way he threatened Jamie with the accusations against him and the subsequent price on his head. The dialogue was loaded with menace and Jamie’s reaction really sold how unsafe Lallybroch has suddenly become.
Having Horrocks be the constant threat effectively over Jamie’s shoulder throughout the episode worked well at giving the whole thing a dramatic through-line that managed to keep the whole thing moving in some way. There was always a sense that he was going to do something and it pays off when he eventually outright threatens Jamie.
This leads into a significant character beat where Ian runs him through with a sword in order to help Jamie. This is handled really well from a development point of view for Ian. We learn that he has killed before but doesn’t like it and never thought he’d have to do so again. It also tells us how loyal he is to Jamie with his willingness to go to that extreme to protect him. The regret he expresses at having to do this feels very real and human. In general this show handles the psychological cost of killing really well, it’s something that has been brought up before on several occasions.
When Jenny goes into labour it gives her and Claire an opportunity to bond over. Claire’s a little out of her depth as she has never delivered a baby before. She’s seen it done but never actually had a go herself so that creates a bit of tension in the narrative as it’s touch and go as to her limited experience being enough to help Jenny through this.
This plot was handled reasonably well but it felt a little overdone. It’s almost as if it was known that there wasn’t enough narrative to really carry this episode so longer and more frequent scenes of Claire and Jenny bonding were written in. The same ground tends to get covered in multiple scenes and it all feels a little superficial by the end. There were some standout moments like Jenny’s description of what it feels like to be pregnant and Claire revisiting her potential infertility.
Claire’s confession of potential infertility to Jamie is a great scene as it showcases more of Jamie’s open minded attitude to his marriage to Claire. He points out that having children isn’t the most important thing to him and it all nicely reinforces his love for Claire. Given how readily he accepts whatever Claire tells him I wonder if there’s anything she could say that would upset him. I hope that this conversation doesn’t mark the end of this fertility story as it’s definitely something with lots of potential to cause drama later on.
I wasn’t all that fussed about yet another cliffhanger ending that has Jamie in danger. It felt tacked on last week and feels even more so this week. There simply wasn’t enough story here to make it feel in any way worthwhile. Given that Jamie had very little in the way of contribution to the Lallybroch story this could probably have happened a lot earlier and spent a lot of the episode dealing with his -I assume- capture. It’s definitely not one of the stronger episodes.
A pretty mediocre episode when all is said and done. It does little to develop the characters or move the plot forward in any meaningful way.
The character of Horrocks was an effective antagonist who managed to keep the tension levels high throughout. He definitely came across as a credible threat to Jamie and Lochlann O’Mearáin did a great job of bringing this character to life. Ian’s reaction to having to kill him was a really strong moment for his character and says a lot about his values as well as his loyalty to Jamie.
Claire and Jenny’s bonding scenes over her being in labour were fine but a little overdone. The same information tended to get repeated and it all felt a little unnatural. All of it could have been accomplished in fewer scenes.
There were some really strong dialogue moments such as Jenny’s description of what it feels like to be pregnant and the return of Claire’s anxieties over her potential infertility. It all feels a little too neatly resolved but it was strong when featured.
Ending the episode on yet another cliffhanger involving Jamie being in mortal danger was completely unnecessary. The episode didn’t really end it and it lacked the tension necessary to give it the impact it needed. Perhaps if the episode had meandered less it might have felt earned.