The opening shows a seated man carving a snake out of a piece of wood. Just like Sawny, the snake Jamie was given by his long dead brother Willie.
Roger, Claire and Brianna are searching through documents looking for a record of Jamie. Claire finds him recorded at Ardsmuir prison… the prison closed in 1756 and they don’t know what happened to the prisoners. A celebratory whisky is required!
1756 – Helwater
Jamie is at Helwater, serving his parole. He is known to the Dunsany family as Alexander MacKenzie, accordingly I will call him this during this recap.
The Dunsany family arrives home from a trip to Italy. Lord Dunsany notes the new groomsman and asks to have him brought to him. Lord Dunsany speaks of losing his son at Culloden, Alex MacKenzie says also knows the loss of a child, he has lost two himself. The very different men have found some common ground. The fact that MacKenzie is a Jacobite prisoner who fought in the Rising of 1745 is not to be disclosed to Lady Dunsany who has never overcome the loss of her son. The memory of Culloden is long and bitter, for both sides. MacKenzie is to receive a small stipend for his services. Lord Dunsany reminds him he is still a prisoner.
Roger has car trouble, as Brianna teases him about Fiona’s attentions… Roger states clearly that he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Roger should stick to history, as clearly he is not mechanically inclined, poor guy! Brianna tinkers with the car’s motor and it starts! Roger teasingly asks Brianna what he owes her, equally teasing she answers that she will think of something!
Back at Helwater the grooms prepare to draw straws – the loser is required to accompany the haughty Lady Geneva Dunsany on her ride. Geneva is unpleasant and pushy, calling MacKenzie “a useless Scotchman”. As she rides off he cheekily comments “A boot on the hindquarters is what that one needs.” He has been overheard by Geneva’s sister Isobel, who asks “the horse or my sister?”. He looks down at the ground in a subservient manner, apologising. Fortunately she is friendly, doubting it would do Geneva any good. (I’m loving Isobel! She has spirit and insight!) MacKenzie asks if he may saddle a horse for her, however she says she only comes to look at the horses. It pains her that her father confines such splendid creatures. MacKenzie says the Helwater stables are the finest he’s seen. Lady Isobel says “A cage is still a cage”, as she continues to engage him in conversation, inquiring how long he was in the employ of Lord John. MacKenzie tactfully says he was “under his charge” for a wee bit over a year. Lady Isobel tells him she has known Lord John since they were young, and comments that he’ll make someone a good husband. MacKenzie cautions that the military and marriage are not easy bedfellows. Not put off, Lady Isobel says that dedication to King and country are some of the things she likes about him.
Back in Scotland…
Roger takes a call… it’s the hospital in Boston asking for Dr Randall. It’s Dr Joe Abernathy with news of a patient Claire obviously knows well. She cannot yet be enticed to return to Boston.
The Dunsany family escort a bewigged older man down the steps of their home. Lady Dunsany speaks to him, she is very pleased with the arrangement. Lady Geneva is destined to marry the old man, in a mere two weeks. The man, is disparaging towards MacKenzie’s hair colour. The conversation is about Geneva, but it’s as if she is not there at all. Her wishes in the matter don’t seem to count. Geneva looks rather too long at MacKenzie before she turns to go back to the house, she continues to look as he walks away.
Later, back at the stables, the groomsmen draw straws once more, however she instructs MacKenzie to accompany her today. Mac prepares the horses as the other groomsmen laugh. Lady Geneva and MacKenzie ride off through the woods. Slowing, Lady Geneva asks him what he thinks of her betrothed, the Earl of Ellesmere. He says it is not his place to have such opinions, but when pressed he says the old man seems fond of her. She says that his most attractive quality is his wealth, and asks he what he finds attractive. The tenor of this whole conversation is too much for MacKenzie who suggests they turn back. Lady Geneva wilfully states he has to do her bidding and rides off at a gallop, out of sight. He follows. We hear Geneva scream and moments later MacKenzie finds her laying on the ground apparently unconscious. He picks her up, only to find she has feigned the accident and laughs. He is infuriated and drops her in the mud. She is highly amused, saying she looks forward to their next ride. An annoyed MacKenzie rides away, leaving her in the mire.
A view of a chess board appears, Lord John Grey states his next move. Both he and Alex MacKenzie sit on stone benches playing chess. Grey conveys to him that the Dunsany’s are pleased with his work. He teases that Grey comes to Helwater to ensure his welfare… or is it because he can’t find anyone else to play chess against. Grey, smiling, admits he can’t find anyone else suitable. They are interrupted by the arrival of Colonel Melton, Grey’s older brother, accompanied by Lady Geneva and Lady Isobel. Geneva states that Melton must remember MacKenzie. He looks disapprovingly at Grey and says “Yes. Although it’s been some time now.” There is tension as Melton takes in what Grey has done. Grey has been wordless during the whole exchange.
Geneva comes up to Alex in a busy laneway near the stables. He is literally shovelling shit. She brazenly speaks to him, claiming she has a merciful heart, for not mentioning to her father that he dropped her in the mud. A subtle threat. Her wedding is in three days, He wishes her every happiness. She asks if he has ever been married. He says he has… Geneva says “then you’ll know what to do… when you come to my bed.” He tells her she’s lost her mind… “if you had one to lose”. They are both outraged. He by her suggestion and she by his response. He dismisses her… but then she fights back telling him of her knowledge of his background. Her threats escalate to the exposing his Jacobite allegiance, then still further to his family at Lallybroch. She says “Come to my room tonight.” Knowing he is trapped he reluctantly nods in agreement.
Later, night has fallen and MacKenzie slips inside a corridor and then to Geneva’s room. She calls him Jamie. He will not allow this, and insists she call him Alex. She instructs him to disrobe, in an effort to break the tension he says she can watch him… as he removes his shirt, she gasps at the sight of his scarred back. He assures her it doesn’t hurt. Naked, he faces her, and walks to her. She is wide eyed.
He asks permission to touch her. She admits she doesn’t know what to do. He tells her “We don’t have to do this. You can change your mind if you want.” She wants to continue, she wants her first time to be with someone like him… and asks for instructions.
He places her hands on his chest and she continues to feel his body. They embrace and Geneva gasps, asking if it will hurt much. He tries to reassure her, not if he takes his time…
He does what he must, his deprived body doing what his mind cannot. His physical being makes love to Geneva. When they are done Geneva declares he love for him. He tells her it’s not love she feels, merely physical arousal. It’s not the same thing as love, she could feel the same for another man. He covers her body with her nightgown. He says “Love is when you give your heart and soul to another. And they give theirs in return…” After speaking these words he looks sad and thoughtful.
Time passes… the Helwater groomsmen rush to meet an arriving carriage. Geneva alights from the carriage followed by the Earl of Ellesmere. Geneva, while being greeted by her sister Isobel, makes a point of turning around displaying her blossoming pregnancy to MacKenzie whose expression of mortification shows he knows the child Geneva is carrying is his.
Back in Scotland…
Fiona hands Claire a pouch. It contains the Scottish pearls, a gift to Claire from Jamie on their wedding night. Claire holds them tight in her hands for a moment, then replaces them in the pouch and enters the library which looks more like a war room… Brianna is excited to tell Claire the National Archives in Edinburgh have the most extensive collection of manifests in the country, but Claire is not feeling the same excitement, she is pensive. Brianna senses something is wrong and calls Claire Mama. Brianna hasn’t called Claire that is a very long time, Claire turns and embraces Brianna lovingly.
On a sofa near a fireplace we find Brianna and Roger…
Brianna is saying she’s a terrible person, Roger jokingly agrees. Brianna is becoming fearful of being parted from Claire, their relationship has deepened during their time spent searching for Jamie. Roger says that just makes her a daughter who cares about her mother. Roger is also fearful… if they do find Jamie, Brianna will want to go back to Boston. Suddenly, Brianna kisses Roger, they are both surprised… Brianna leave the room hurriedly.
Back at Helwater…
Drama unfolds as we see a figure running to the stables.
Isobel knocks repeatedly on the door calling for Mr MacKenzie… asking him to prepare the carriage and accompany them to Ellesmere. Geneva is about to give birth and all is not well.
Lord and Lady Dunsany together with Isobel run down the steps and board the carriage. MacKenzie and a coachman sit atop as the carriage makes haste though the woodland, the occupants looking serious as they bounce their way to Ellesmere.
The carriage closes on the imposing Estate buildings. We see the three Dunsany’s rush up the stairs inside as Jamie walks alongside a maid who answers Mac’s questions about Geneva. Geneva is still bleeding after the birth. The baby is a healthy boy.
Later MacKenzie walks along a corridor, he encounters Isobel who is sobbing.
He politely asks if she is all right, though she is obviously not… She tells him her sister is dead. He steps forward to comfort her and is shocked when she slaps him across the face. Ellesmere knew the baby wasn’t his. Isobel knew it too. Geneva told Isobel she never shared a bed with Ellesmere. Before MacKenzie can respond a maid calls them to come urgently. There is trouble. Ellesmere is outraged, calling Geneva insulting names, and threatening the newborn with a knife.
The situation is getting very ugly as Lord Dunsany draws a pistol. MacKenzie intervenes, convincing Dunsany to give him the pistol. Ellesmere holds the knife to the baby, threatening to kill the child. Jamie fires, Ellesmere falls, bleeding, he dies. Jamie rushes over and picks up the baby from the floor, cradling his own offspring for the very first time. The baby’s eyes open briefly, like an acknowledgement of Jamie’s paternity. A tiny flicker of a smile appears briefly on Jamie’s face.
Two weeks later…
We see an overhead shot of the baby, in a large pram, swaddled in fine baby blankets. The child is sleeping peacefully as Lady Isobel, dressed for mourning, pushes the pram. The child’s governess lurks in the background as Isobel seeks to speak to MacKenzie who is riding past. He dismounts. Isobel tells MacKenzie they have named the baby William, after her father. Smiling, she says she calls him Willie. He agrees it’s a fine name (after all it was his brother’s name). The baby fusses and Isobel picks him up. She apologises to MacKenzie for her earlier actions. In the background we see the totally black clad Lady Dunsany approach. Isobel places Willie back in the pram and walks away, allowing Mac a moment alone with Willie before Lady Dunsany reaches them.
Lady Dunsany tells MacKenzie the Coroner’s Court has met and determined that the Earl of Ellesmere met his death by his own hand, distraught as he was from the loss of his wife. Lady Dunsany expresses her gratitude and tells MacKenzie she knows who he is… Mac asks her to forgive the deception, but she does not seem concerned, as she tells Mac Lord Dunsany has considerable influence in London and can get him released from his parole. She ask him if he wants to go home… to Scotland. Mac smiles and thanks her, glancing down at the baby he says he will not go yet. Once more he is bound, this time by the invisible ties to the son he cannot claim as his own.
Fast forward to 1764…
Young Willie is delightfully precocious, Jamie is giving him riding lessons as Lady Dunsany and a friend look on, they remark on how much Willie is starting to look like Mac. Willie is helping Mac clean a carriage, in this process Mac sees his own reflection and realises the same thing.
In Scotland there is frustration when the ship manifests in the National Archive of Scotland are not the ones they seek. Claire and Brianna look at each other in despair as Roger checks… they are the only manifests they have. Claire throws a book down in annoyance and disappointment. They retreat to a pub and seek solace in a few drams. Even this doesn’t go well, other patrons look disapprovingly at the women for sitting in the “wrong” part of the bar. A poetess is reciting a Rabbie Burns poem… One which Claire used to quote to Jamie in a time before it was written. “Freedom and whisky…” Claire is despondent despite the encouragement from Roger and Brianna. Claire says this is what Mrs Graham warned her about… chasing a ghost. Claire toasts “To all of those… we have lost.” she pauses looking pensive, then says “It’s time to go home.”
Back at Helwater Mac is also preparing to go home. Young Willie tags alongside him insisting this is Mac’s home… Mac is clear, it is Willie’s home, but not his. His home is back in Scotland. Willie wants to come with him, riding Rosie. Jamie reiterates what he’s said a thousand times, Rosie is to big for him… Willie is petulant, saying he is the master and Mac must do as he tells him. Mac says no, telling Willie it may be a word he hasn’t heard too often but he should get used to it. Willie has a tantrum, and tells Mac he hates him! Mac tells Willie he’s not too fond of him either right now and calls him a wee bastard. Willie yells that he is not a bastard and tells Mac to take it back. The spat has gone too far… Jamie does take it back, regretting he ever used the word. Mac crouches in front of Willie and apologises. Willie is no longer angry, but upset that Mac must go. Willie embraces Mac. Mac speaks Gaelic to him… “Na bith coin a bhalaich… bithidh e gle cheart”. Sorry, I just couldn’t figure out how to do the accent things! In English, “Don’t cry my lad… it will be alright.”
Isobel and Lord John Grey have visited the stables, Isobel goes to dinner, Grey stays behind to speak with MacKenzie. Grey regrets losing his chess partner, and tells him he is wise to go… Jamie’s secret is walking around for all the see. Jamie asks to go for a walk… They stroll along a path edged with trees, Jamie asks Grey to look out for Willie. With total seriousness Jamie offers himself to Grey in return for safekeeping of his son. Grey is rather shocked, in return Grey tells Jamie he also has news. He is to be married… yes, to a woman, Lady Isobel in fact! Grey’s line “I made trial of my capacity in London” is a marvel! This means Grey will always be able to care for Willie. Jamie is grateful, reaching out his hand to Grey, who accepts it firmly. Jamie clasps his other hand over their already joined hands, reinforcing his sincerity. He tells Grey he will always have his friendship, if that is of any value. Grey assures him it has very great value indeed.
Jamie is alone… he brings out the paraphernalia of worship, a statue of St. Anthony, and a candles from a secret box.
He hears a noise, it is Willie… who says “I wanted to see you. Can’t I stay for a bit?” Of course Jamie agrees… Willie tells Jamie his grandmama says that only stinking papists burn candles in from of heathen images… Jamie says the he IS a stinking papist and that’s not a heathen image, it is St. Anthony the patron saint of lost things. Jamie lights a candle to pray for the ones he’s lost. Willie asks him who he prays for… Jamie says, his brother Willie, his sister, his godfather and his wife. Willie is surprised, and tells Jamie he has no wife. Jamie says not anymore, but he remembers… always. Young Willie doesn’t want a wife, but Jamie tells him there is a woman out there somewhere who’s meant for you, he will find her , or she will find him… Jamie looks wistful, remembering Claire finding him…
Willie wants to be like Mac, a stinking papist. Willie pleads with him, Jamie baptises Willie, as William James – his special papist name. He gives Willie a gift to remember him, a carved wooden snake, like the one his brother gave to him. Willie says he hasn’t got anything for Jamie to remember him. Jamie says dinna fash lad.. I’ll remember you. I’m certain that he will never forget the precious time spent with his secret son…
Cue music… Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, sung by Walk Off The Earth. “Oh, Where have you been my blue-eyed son…”
If you haven’t cried earlier in this episode I’m sure this will break you, as we see Claire taking down the research from the board in Scotland, then back to Helwater… Grey and Isobel farewelling Jamie… Isobel embraces him fondly.
Jamie looks completely empty, Grey looks stoic as he stands with his hands on Willie’s shoulders. Brianna walks, looking wistfully at the the house, and the flag… Jamie starts to ride away… Willie runs after him… Grey rushes to stop him… Roger turns his childhood toy plane in his hands…
we see a plane taking off… then Claire and Bianna in their seats… back to Jamie slowly riding away… (pardon me if I need a short break to take a few breaths to stop my outright sobbing!) he cannot turn around… his face haggard, a picture of misery.