We see a large black dog sitting beneath a table… The camera sweeps up to a birthday cake complete with lit candles, anchoring us firmly in the 20th century.
Frank is a very brave man indeed, cooking black pudding in a white polo shirt! He is alarmed that Brianna is growing up too American, so he is preparing a full English breakfast… A nice domestic event… until it turns bad… Claire has a free night and suggests two movies. Frank has seen both… with someone else. There is reference to their agreement. Frank says he’s being discreet, it’s a very awkward moment, relieved only when young Brianna skips happily into the room and presents Claire with a drawing. A manufactured moment of storyline absent from Diana Gabaldon’s books… which were never definitive on whether Frank had affairs. Personally, I thought he did. No poor reflection on him though, a decent man who simply couldn’t give Claire what she needed – he could never be Jamie. In this scene both Claire and Frank are decidedly “buttoned up”, both wear very high necked clothing, another symbol of their situation.
Ardsmuir 1755. The prison looks forbidding, cold and bleak and two officers walk briskly though the grounds.
Colonel Quarry is in the process of handing over the role of governor to a fresh faced Major John Grey. The Colonel is desperate to leave, giving Grey a quick run down of the workings of the prison. He mentions the drink is compensation and the lure of the Frenchman’s Gold. Grey mentions the Jacobite prisoners. Quarry says they’re as docile as sheep, no heart left in them… There is no local society, only conversation with officers… and one prisoner, Red Jamie Fraser a notorious Jacobite officer, held in chains, who represents the other prisoners as their chief, who call him Mac Dubh out of respect. Colonel Quarry tells Grey he dined with Fraser weekly, Grey is outraged at the prospect of dining with a prisoner.
Jamie, bedraggled and dirty stands, surreptitiously studying Grey. Jamie and the men are herded back into the prison. Jamie’s chains clank as he enters the crowded cell, as if seeing it wasn bad enough! A man calls out to Jamie… “Mac Dubh” and hands him a herbal preparation. The men respect Jamie.
Jamie sits, as we hear a voice, Murtagh’s voice, coughing on the other side of a column. Murtagh has survived Culloden, though we don’t know exactly how… Jamie tells him the new governor seems familiar, but he cannot place him. Any joy we feel knowing Murtagh is still alive is soon extinguished and replaced by worry about him. Murtagh looks old, pale ill – he lovingly fingers a small scrap of tartan as he speaks to Jamie. Jamie gently tells him to tuck in away, they know the punishment. Jamie appears to fear Murtagh would not survive it…. I fear it too.
Murtagh coughs and Jamie looks at wound from a rat bite. Jamie gives him herbs to help heal him. Medicine Jamie knows about because of a lass he once knew. He can’t say Claire’s name – wow it hurts to think of Jamie so shattered he cannot bear to say her name!
In this situation their roles are reversed, it is now Jamie who cares for Murtagh, having his back, protecting him.
Jamie has been summoned to Grey’s office. Jamie is manhandled by two Redcoats as he is brought in, chains clanking… his eyes downcast as Grey introduces himself. Grey wishes to continue the understanding Jamie had with Colonel Quarry… Jamie agrees. A meal is brought in for Grey. A rat scurries at Grey’s feet… “Damn my eyes! It’s after my supper..” he exclaims! (Words destined to be classics I think). He orders a cat be fetched up at once.
Grey asks Jamie if there are rats in the cells. There are… a great many. He orders a cat for each cell. A kindly meant order with repercussions he could not imagine. At this, Jamie and MacKay look at each other, Grey asks what is the matter… Jamie explains the men would not care for a cat to take their rats.
“Surely the prisoners don’t eat them.” Grey asks. “Only when they’re lucky enough to catch one.” Jamie replies. Major John Grey takes in these words, looking shocked as he finally understands.
Jamie boldly steps forward looking directly in Grey’s eyes, and speaks… “God knows what you did to be sent here, but for your own sake, I hope you deserved it.” Grey still seated, straightens and stares back at Jamie. The contrast between the two men is marked, one fresh faced, one grimy, but both are prisoners here…
A young Bree instructs her mother, the newly minted Dr Claire Randall, to hold her diploma up just a bit higher as she takes a photo (using a box camera with a huge flash). Celebrations at the Randall home are in full swing, but Frank is anxious. He says “shouldn’t you be leaving” for the restaurant, Claire responds lightly there’s plenty of time, the reservation is for 7pm, Frank thought is was for 6pm. Really Frank? You may not be a mathematician, but that should have been easy to remember! Frank is not attending the dinner due to work commitments (despite Bree’s plea), or so he says!
Dr Randall is called over to have a celebratory drink, by Dr Joe Abernathy. As he says “There’s nothing a cold martini won’t cure” the doorbell rings.
Claire, smiling, opens the door… a blonde woman stands outside. Claire cordially asks if she can help, the other woman looks surprised and starts to apologise.
Frank goes to the door, followed by Bree, whom he quickly ushers away. Claire’s smile is lost, turned to stone, as she swivels away saying “Your work I presume.” She is being humiliated in front of her peers and friends.
The situation is extremely awkward as Claire rallies everyone to leave for the restaurant early (there is always the bar!), and they do… passing Frank’s other woman, by now standing in the entry alongside him. People look askance at the pair as they leave, the other woman looks at the floor. Gosh, she looks like she wants it to open up and swallow her, and no doubt Claire wishes the same!
Back time in Scotland we see a wagon with Redcoats converging on man walking though the moor. He looks thin, ragged and wild eyed. He speaks to them of cursed gold, speaks French and other jumbled words, of Gaelic and a little English. They take him back with them.
Back at the foreboding prison Major John Grey awaits Jamie in the courtyard. Grey is exceedingly polite, thanking Jamie for coming! Did he have a choice? Grey asks for Jamie’s help to translate the language of the man who was found, Duncan Kerr, who appears to be near death, whose information may be of “substantial interest to the Crown.” Grey offers to have Jamie’s irons struck off in return. Initially Jamie declines, he is a prisoner not an interpreter. Grey orders Jamie’s chains to be removed. Grey as two conditions… Jamie must give a full and true account of any information and relay it only to him. Jamie has one condition, that all the sick men are provided with blankets and medicine. Grey explains he cannot, Jamie tells him to return the chains if he must. Grey would honour Jamie’s request if he was able, he too is an honourable man. Jamie steps close to Grey, his eyes intent as he states he will settle for one man, his kinsman Murtagh Fitzgibbons who has been struggling to survive there ever since Culloden (this answers any question of how long Murtagh has been imprisoned). Grey and Jamie agree on the bargain. Grey gives Jamie a long lingering look of respect (and I think admiration).
Back in Boston…
Frank arrives home… quietly approaching the stairs. Claire is seated on the sofa, radiating hurt and anger. They argue. Frank states they have fooled no one, that Claire is not as good as actress as she thinks. Claire calls the other woman a “blonde harlot”, Frank responds angrily accusing Claire of being jealous. Now, others may disagree with me, but I don’t think Claire is jealous, despite Frank’s line “Green ain’t your colour Claire”. Clever writing maybe, but this is not a soap opera. It fell flat with me. Claire figuratively sets it all on the table – he should file for divorce – he is fearful of losing contact with Brianna despite Claire’s offer of working out a compromise. He says Claire has not been good at keeping her promises – well I would dispute that – and she is brought to tears. Just like me…
The walls of Ardsmuir loom and we are taken inside. Jamie talks to Duncan Kerr, telling him all he says will be told to the English. Duncan’s words ramble… speaking of MacKenzies, death, the white witch and silkies, nothing which Grey understands, but things meaningful to Jamie.
Duncan Kerr dies, his secrets along with him. Grey is not convinced Jamie has told him everything and threatens to force Jamie to talk. Jamie responds he keeps his bargains. There is nothing which can be done to him which hasn’t already been done, Grey can try if he must.
Flip to Boston and a time jump, Brianna’s 16th birthday celebration. So, Claire and Frank have stayed together, but there is still tension between them.
Back at Ardsmuir Murtagh is begrudgingly drinking a herbal concoction prepared for him by Jamie. Murtagh asks what Kerr told Jamie, a mad rant without much sense… he said the gold was cursed, a white witch had a connection to the gold. Murtagh questions if it could be Claire, he wishes they could know what became of her… after Jamie sent her through the stones. Murtagh still thinks of Claire, and the bairn she was carrying… Jamie fears such thoughts will only cause more pain and suffering. Murtagh wishes them sound. Jamie is called away, summoned to Grey’s sitting room to partake of a meal with him. Jamie is wary, a meal will not loosen his tongue. Grey is friendly, wishing to create a connection to ease the situation between them. Food arrives. Jamie requests the men be allowed to snare animals on the moor, as the Crown cannot provide sufficient food. Jamie also wants the men to collect watercress, Grey is incredulous at the notion that Jamie thinks it can prevent scurvy. Jamie mentions his wife, and says she is gone. Grey assures Jamie he will consider allowing the men to set snares.
Dinner is pheasant in wine sauce. Jamie smiles when he has a mouthful of the food, the first smile we have seen, and names the sauce as Vin de Burgogne – he knows more about the food than Grey who quickly realises he is facing a very unusual man in James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser. We could have told him about our King of Men!
Back in the cells after the dinner Jamie recounts the meals to the other prisoners. They savour his every word, even asking him to slow down while describing the meal to allow full enjoyment.
Men march behind a cart on the open moor, we see them organising a pre-planned diversion as Jamie escapes, and they cover his hiding place on the treeless, undulating moor.
Back at Ardsmuir Grey feels betrayed. For three days his men search the moor and coastline after learning a man has been seen swimming out to the islands. A Redcoat officer surmises that any man who swam out there would not be coming back, such are the currents and cold. Major John Grey orders the men remain until nightfall then to return to the moor. Grey finds a private place to have a piss. Jamie grabs him from behind, covering his mouth and explaining he knows exactly who Grey is. We see flashback to the young Grey who caught Jamie in a similar position.
The two men are both men of honour, as such Jamie offers himself to Grey to allow him to fulfil the promise he made to kill Jamie. Jamie kneels allow Grey to do as he wishes, as if to seek blessed relief, but Grey declines. On the moor Jamie says he faithfully told Grey what Kerr had said, but not that the story had special meaning to him. Jamie explains Claire was a healer, a white lady (ban-druidh in Gaelic) also known as a white witch. Kerr’s words seemed to refer to her. He simply need to look. Jamie explains that King Louis never sent gold to the Stuarts. Grey says it’s a nice story without proof, so Jamie proves it – giving Grey a large cut sapphire.
Back in Boston we see Brianna’s Graduation Ceremony (Class of 66), her proud but divided parents sit in the audience.
They look uncomfortable with each other, the emotional gap between them wider than ever.
A doctor enter the cell to treat Murtagh. Grey, knowing Jamie told him the truth, has also kept word.
Jamie and Grey play chess, Murtagh is much improved after three months treatment. The men talk and share stories of personal loss. Grey recounting the loss of a particular friend who died at Culloden (Hector, for non book readers to correct the mistaken view by some that it was Black Jack Randall). Grey did not have a chance to say goodbye to Hector. Jamie also tells a part of his story, of Claire. He finally speaks Claire’s name… “Claire. Her name was Claire”. Jamie explains to Grey that the woman he so gallantly tried to save at Corrieyairack, was Claire. Jamie thanks him, and tells him he admired Grey for it.
It is bonding moment, but it evaporates when Grey takes his comforting of Jamie a tad too far. Jamie’s expression turns to stone and he says in a lowered tone “Take your hand off me…long pause… “Or I will kill you.” Grey slowly withdraws his hand as if preventing an explosion. Silently, Jamie stands and leaves… Grey sheds a tear of shame and regret at his foolish move.
In Boston once more…
Claire is concerned about a case, Frank seems friendly until he drops a bomb. He wants to take Brianna to England. Firstly Claire is pleased but this soon changes when Frank says he’s been offered a position at Cambridge. Claire is taken unawares that he plans to move back to England, what about her work? Then Frank bluntly tells her he’s leaving her and wants a divorce. She has the stunning awareness that he plans to take Brianna away from her permanently. Brianna is now 18. Frank claims Brianna will willingly go with him as Claire has been too busy with med school and the hospital to spend any time with her. Claire turns on him fiercely, now fully aware that he has been waiting until Brianna turned 18 to do this… She simply won’t allow him to take Brianna away from her. Any grounds for divorce, except adultery which doesn’t exist, are fine by Claire. In bombshell number three Frank says he will marry Sandy when he’s free… Next what Frank says is undeniable… Claire couldn’t see Brianna without thinking of Jamie… He asks whether, in time, Claire could have forgotten him. She answers “That amount of time doesn’t exist.” I totally understand…
Frank picks up keys and leaves… At the same time the phone rings, Claire is called to the hospital…
Ardsmuir – the prisoners have been lined up outside. They are to leave immediately a ship is waiting! The prison is being closed. Jamie is also in line, until his name is called and he is taken away. Murtagh looks to Jamie and vice versa… there has been no chance to say goodbye, no chance to know where the other is going, except that the men are going to the colonies. They are separated without a word of farewell.
Jamie is shackled and led behind a horse, ridden by Grey, for three days… Until they reach a hilltop overlooking a large estate. Grey explains that Jamie could not be sent to the colonies due to the charges against him, he cautions Jamie to use another name. Grey cannot give Jamie freedom. This is the best Grey can do for him. Jamie gave him his life years ago, now Grey gives Jamie his life. Helwater awaits Alexander MacKenzie.
Hospital in Boston
Claire comforts the husband of a patient, as Dr Joe Abernathy approaches his face showing the unmistakable look of bad news. Frank has been in a car accident, he lies on a metal table, dead, only his face uncovered. Claire is distraught, as she kisses him her tears roll onto his face… she says she did love him, very much.