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TV Review: Outlander (Season 3, Episode 10)

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In Heaven and Earth, Claire makes friends and enemies aboard The Porpoise, whilst Jamie finds himself imprisoned once again.

With Claire sequestered on The Porpoise in attempt to stop the typhoid outbreak, Jamie demands that they pursue his kidnapped wife. Captain Raines refuses for safety reasons, and Jamie makes the gallant (but very stupid) decision to attack him. For his pains, Jamie’s carted off to the brig.

On The Porpoise, Claire’s not letting her captivity get her down, and busies herself treating the sickly crew. She’s joined by an unlikely ally, a fourteen-year-old midshipman turned Claire Fraser hype man named Elias Pound. Claire’s suitably impressed by his diligence and the two quickly become friends.

It’s pretty obvious that Elias is destined to die, and Heaven and Earth spends a lot of time humanising the young midshipman, so the typhoid epidemic has some kind of emotional pay off. It’s lucky then that Albie Marber and Caitriona Balfe have great chemistry, otherwise the predictability of events would ruin the episode.

After identifying and quarantining a potential carrier of the disease, Claire angers the ship’s cook Mr. Cosworth, who’s left without his final galley-hand. Following an emotional sequence where the dead crew are buried at sea, Cosworth questions whether Claire is really helping stop the epidemic.

Elias asks Claire how she can be so calm in the face of death, and she explains that she’s compartmentalising for the sake of her work. Now Elias, Claire’s number one fan, gives his new BFF the lucky rabbit foot his mother once gave him. Oh, Elias. You are so, so doomed.

Back on The Artemis, Jamie pitches a poorly-thought through mutiny to Fergus, who reluctantly agrees to steal the jail’s keys in exchange for Jamie’s permission to marry Marsali. Despite successfully stealing the keys, Fergus decides Marsali would be in too much danger if the mutiny fails. Fergus rejects Jamie’s plan once again, accepting that this means he may never marry his fiancée.

Somewhere in another bit of ocean, Claire treats a man for alcohol poisoning and discovers a Portuguese flag covering a sailor below deck. Claire goes in search of Captain Leonard, but finding his office empty, decides to look through his ledgers for clues.

Although the flag wasn’t taken from the ship that took Young Ian, Claire does learn that a crew member of The Porpoise named Harry Tompkins recognised Jamie’s true identity and informed the captain of his seditious past. Oops. So much for the Frasers’ peaceful Caribbean holiday.

Claire is confronted by Mr. Cosworth, who finds her trespassing in Captain Leonard’s office, and escapes only by threatening to scream. Claire has Harry Tompkins summoned to her, claiming he may be a second carrier of typhoid.

Tompkins, deeply scarred and hating life at sea, turns out to be the henchman who attacked Young Ian at the printshop. He informs Claire that the body Jamie concealed in a cask of crème de menthe was uncovered, and he’s now wanted for murder.

Captain Leonard is aware of Jamie’s crimes, and will have him arrested in Jamaica when he comes to get Claire. Claire proceeds to shoot the messenger and locks Tompkins away with Howard, warning him sadistically that he might contract typhoid. Pretty savage, Claire.

Claire’s medical expertise has brought the epidemic to an end, but not without one final victim. Claire finds a delirious Elias lying near-death in a hammock, who hallucinates that Claire is his mother. Claire obliges his dying fantasy, and gives Elias back his rabbit foot before he’s buried at sea.

Annejke, the wife of the man with alcohol poisoning, resolves to help Claire escape after learning of Jamie’s predicament. Needing grass for the goats whose milk sustains the crew, Annejke provides Claire with an opportunity to escape whilst the herd grazes.

Unfortunately for Claire, she runs into Captain Leonard’s patrol whilst heading for Jamaica. Leonard informs her that he’s aware of Jamie’s identity, and that he cannot let her warn him of his arrest warrant.

Over on The Artemis, Marsali persuades Captain Raines to let Jamie out, after Jamie gives him his word he won’t try to mutiny. Jamie, finally convinced of the extent of their affection, gives Fergus and Marsali permission to marry. Aw, shucks.

Annejke proves to be a resourceful ally, and gives Claire a second chance to escape The Porpoise. Taking her on deck late at night, Annejke shows Claire some barrels she can use as a raft if she jumps into the sea and drifts towards land. Initially reluctant, Claire eventually throws herself into the icy depths, all for a chance to stop Jamie from hanging.

Despite fine performances from Balfe and Marber, the outbreak on The Porpoise had little emotional resonance. The episode livened up considerably once the threat to Jamie was revealed, forcing Claire into the moral ambiguity that characterised her choices towards the end of season two.

With Claire now attempting to rescue her husband, Outlander is moving away from the tired trope of romantic heroines as damsels in distress. Allowing Claire to take control, even in the harshest of circumstances, should make for interesting viewing next week. Something tells me Claire’s ocean voyage to Jamaica won’t be all smooth sailing.

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