On the D/L – Outlander
Season 1 Episode 7 – “The Wedding”
After 6 episodes of hints and teasing Outlander finally allows the relationship between Claire and Jamie to take center stage in The Wedding. Claire and Jamie’s reasons for getting married are so that Captain Randall can’t get access to her.
The episode begins quite unexpectedly; as it opens Claire and Jamie have already been through the ceremony and are nervously settling into their first night as a married couple. There’s a complication in that the laws of the time don’t recognise a marriage until it’s been consummated, something that Claire understandably feels a little nervous about given that she’s already married to a man far into the future.
Most of the episode involves them drinking, talking and generally enjoying each others company; it is something that surprised me I have to say. Part of me expected them to consummate their marriage right away and have their relationship feel as rushed as the marriage but that’s not what we get here. Instead we get an episode that has their relationship at the core of the story and we get many great scenes of them sharing information about their lives and experiences taking the pressure off the enormity of the expectations placed upon them. It is somewhat disappointing to see that their relationship only progresses through some kind of legal necessity but as I understand it this is what happens in the books so the story is somewhat bound by this.
I do like how the forced nature of their marriage is not ignored and makes it a large part of the narrative. It is something that neither Claire or Jamie are comfortable with, they are attracted to one another but forcing things to progress in this way is somewhat unnatural which causes them to feel apprehensive about the law forcing them to have sex. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan show this perfectly by coming across as rigid and nervous in the beginning of the episode but gradually become more relaxed as it goes along. The performances illustrate this perfectly by their conversation becoming softer and flowing more naturally as they become more comfortable. The episode takes time for this progression to happen and rightly so, the only way to sell this quick movement in their relationship is to take the time to make it seem natural. The tow actors having such fantastic chemistry makes these scenes an absolute joy to watch. When they finally do make things official it does start out seeming somewhat clinical but by the end of the episode there’s a definite sense of intimacy, as above the progression is so gradual that it absolutely works.
We learn lots about Jamie and his family through his conversation with Claire as well as finding out more about what sort of a man he is. He is clearly an honourable man who treats others with the care and respect he feels they deserve, we see this through his conversations with the other men who see women as objects that should be subservient to them instead of as equals who should be respected. Jamie clearly cares for Claire and doesn’t want her to do anything she isn’t comfortable with.
We don’t learn anything new about Claire but that’s not a bad thing, we’ve spent the previous 6 episodes getting to know her and how she things so it was good to devote lots of time to Jamie and learning about him. Through the narration we understand how Claire feels about this marriage and the shame she feels at actually enjoying it even though it makes her a bigamist and an adulteress in her eyes. I’m not sure where it stands ethically if you’re married to a man who hasn’t been born yet at the same time as being married to a man in the past, not sure there’s ever been a legal precedent either. What’s important is that she considers herself that way and it’ll be interesting to see how she comes to learn to live with that. The image of her wearing the two wedding rings, one on each hand is a particularly powerful one that highlights Claire’s emotional and ethical dilemma perfectly.
Even though the episode begins with them already married, it doesn’t mean we don’t see the wedding. The wedding ceremony is shown through flashbacks with the context of how each of them felt about it both at the time and now, it’s really clever in punctuating the key emotions felt and keeping the focus firmly on Claire and Jamie. We see the romantic side to Jamie as he gives his demands for his ideal wedding and there’s some humour involved in how the priest was convinced to perform the ceremony at such short notice which gives Dougal a great moment.
A fantastic character centric episode focusing on one of the core relationships in massive detail. Claire and Jamie are at the center of this episode and it does a great job of showing them gradually come to feel more relaxed in each others company following a forced marriage for legal reasons. Deeper insight into Jamie’s character is given through him telling of his past. Only downside is that I don’t think the relationship should have been forced to progress in such a way but the show is bound by the events of the novels.