Outlander S03 E09: ‘The Doldrums’
On the last episode of Outlander, Claire got a cool reception from her sister-in-law Jenny at Lallybroch. To further complicate their relationship, she and Jamie were entrusted with Jenny and Ian’s son, even though Jamie previously failed to tell his parents that young Ian was with him when the young man went missing from home. Ian was to recover the treasure chest from the island so that Jamie could pay Laoghaire’s alimony. Unfortunately for everyone, Ian was intercepted and swept away on another vessel during his mission. How are the Frasers going to handle this latest problem? Please note that spoilers follow.
Jamie and Claire are told Ian is most likely going to Jamaica on board the Portuguese ship that picked him up. Fearing for his safety, they secure a ship called the Artemis in order to find him. Jenny and Ian believe the trio are on their way to France with the treasure, but Jamie says he sent a letter explaining everything, but it’s not clear what he told Ian’s parents.
Claire is feeling a bit ignored aboard the vessel. Jamie tells her that sailors are a superstitious lot. They believe redheads, as well as women, are bad luck on ships. We see the crew touch a horseshoe that is hung on the Artemis. Claire seems to think the superstition is nonsense, yet she touches the horseshoe to appease Jamie.
Familiar faces dot the deck of the Artemis. Willoughby has come along, and Fergus, too, is on the voyage. What I didn’t see coming was Fergus’s wife Marsali (Jamie’s stepdaughter by marriage to Laoghaire) joining the group. Jamie is less than thrilled by the news, and considers their handfast marriage not binding as they have not yet consummated it. Jamie intends to keep the lovebirds apart, and has Marsali room with Claire, but neither woman is happy about that arrangement. When Fergus later asks his uncle for the blessing of his union, Jamie does not give it, despite Claire’s advice to the contrary.
One of Claire’s first patients aboard the ship is a man who suffered a head injury. At least one man believes that this incident is a bad omen rather than an accident, and thinks someone aboard didn’t touch the horseshoe.
Over dinner, the captain tells Claire about superstitions on board ships. Although he may not believe in it, his men do, and that is what is important. These beliefs may prevent mutiny at sea. Jamie was absent from this meeting, as he has been under his wife’s care for seasickness.
Speaking of Jamie’s illness, he is caught receiving acupuncture treatment from Willoughby, which he believes has helped him far more than Claire’s tea. She scoffs at the notion that her feelings would be hurt if she found out.
Meanwhile, the Artemis has run into a problem. She can no longer sail because there is no wind and again the horseshoe superstition is brought up. Claire suggests that the crew should all touch it again, but apparently that must be done at the beginning of the voyage. The situation grows even more dire as a result of no wind for weeks. The water supply has been contaminated and the rations are reduced. The men point the finger at crewman Hayes for bringing bad luck, who cannot remember if he touched the horseshoe or not. He climbs to the top of the ship, preparing to take his own life before he can be thrown overboard by the others. Jamie intervenes, and both men climb down. The men call for Jamie to be thrown overboard, when Willoughby commands all their attention by telling the story of why he left China. He earlier declined to tell Claire the story, as he said he would have to let it go once it was told. Upon completion of the tale, he tosses the pages of his story to the wind, which carries them away. The wind has returned to propel the Artemis on her journey, and the rain they had been hoping for arrives.
As the voyage again gets underway, a British ship is spotted trying to get their attention. The acting captain of the British ship comes aboard the Artemis and asks for a surgeon. It seems his ship is suffering from a plague, leaving several men dead and sick, including their own surgeon.
Claire feels duty bound to board the ship against Jamie’s wishes, but she tells him she thinks it’s typhoid fever that she can’t catch because she has received a vaccine. He acquiesces because he cannot talk her out of it.
Claire boards the British ship to help the men. The conditions below deck are awful as Claire attempts to find the cause of the men’s distress. She diagnoses typhoid, and relays that to the captain, as well as steps to contain it. Claire offers to stay aboard a while to help them get organized but the captain has another idea. In their desperation, they need Claire’s help and set sail along with her. When she protests, she is assured that she will be accommodated when they reach Jamaica, which is where the Artemis is headed anyway. I guess they feel this is more akin to borrowing than kidnapping, as she will be reunited with the Artemis crew eventually.
How will Jamie react to this latest development? Since they are sailing to the West Indies, I can’t help but wonder if the eccentric brother and sister will again make an appearance. Another great episode is in the books, now to wait another long week for the next installment.