Spoiler alert: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “Outlander” episode 112, titled “Lallybroch.”
The April 25 episode of Starz’s “Outlander” proved that family dinners could be just as awkward in the eighteenth century as they can be today, with Jamie (Sam Heughan) bringing Claire (Caitriona Balfe) back to his family estate, Lallybroch, for the first time — four years after Jamie was arrested and taken away from his home by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) and flogged within an inch of his life at Fort William. Not only did that flogging kickstart Randall’s obsession with Jamie, it also resulted in the loss of Jamie’s father, who dropped dead after witnessing the brutality of his son’s treatment.
In the intervening years, Jamie was left unaware of what transpired between Randall and his sister, Jenny (Laura Donnelly), during Randall’s first visit to Lallybroch, believing that the English Captain raped her and left her pregnant with his bastard — a misunderstanding that led to a painfully awkward reunion between the siblings after Jamie returned home, until he realized that Jenny had actually married his best friend, Ian (Steven Cree) and had a son with him.
“He had a lot of guilt, he felt responsible for what had happened for her — he didn’t know what had happened to her,” Heughan said of their strained encounter, conceding that coming home turns Jamie into “a little bit of a brat. He’s a guy that needs to grow up and I think that’s really important — he isn’t the king of men, he has pride and stubbornness and things he has to get over, and ultimately, he has these relationships that he hasn’t dealt with. Being with Claire forces him to do that, being back home forces him to do that — it makes him the man he is, and these are all character building to what he then becomes in season two, three, four…”
Balfe admitted that Claire “had a lot of trepidation about going to Lallybroch, because as much as she is so in love with Jamie and ready to build a life with him, she’s never really been the ‘at home lady’ who’s going to just serve her man, and also because he’s so unsure about his place. They come in and Jamie reverts back to being the age that he was right before he left, and it’s hard for her to see this man who she loves so much go through some growing pains, but she understands that this is a process that he has to go through, and as a good partner you have to help them through it.”
“She calls him out, and being that he is this wonderful character, he does take it on board, and actually address it,” Heughan noted of the friction between Jamie and Claire at the outset. “It takes some time and he makes some mistakes, but he ultimately deals with it. And that’s who Jamie is.”
For Heughan, a lot of Jamie’s behavior stemmed from the guilt Jamie harbored not just over Jenny’s assumed rape, but from his actions inadvertently leading to the death of his father, whom he clearly idolized. “It goes back to the moment that really started the whole story — when he got flogged by Black Jack. Jamie feels responsible for [his father’s death], and it’s something that Jamie’s never dealt with, and he’s always wanted to live up to his father. It’s another side of him that we see, and then realize why he becomes a bit of a brat or a little bit childish, it’s because he has a lot of expectations to live up to, and I think every guy goes through that experience.”
Jamie evolved hugely over the course of “Lallybroch” — trying everything from being friends with his tenants to drunken fisticuffs with an abusive father before he was finally able to make peace with his sister and tell Claire the truth about the indecent proposal Black Jack Randall made him as a way for Jamie to avoid a second flogging.
“It’s interesting, because what that obsession is… it’s not black and white,” Heughan noted of the connection between Jamie and Randall. “There is this strange bond between them, and a strange respect of their word. Maybe it’s the time period or the men that they are — they certainly know that if a man gives his word, that’s binding. It culminates in a really difficult way.”
Balfe admitted that as much as “Lallybroch” was a pivotal episode for Jamie’s character, it was also “a real growing period for her,” as well. “She finds a place for herself in that family dynamic and I think she starts to get a bit more comfortable with the idea of being still and being in one place. All her childhood she was traveling around with her uncle and then with Frank she was away in the war — she’s never really had a settled place or a home. It’s a real growing period for her, and just when she starts to feel settled, it all gets upended again.”
Heughan agreed that there’s further turmoil on the horizon for the happy couple, especially with Jamie striving to figure out who he is now that he has so much responsibility resting on his shoulders: “He’s constantly tested and it really is a time when he is working out who he is and who he wants to be as a man, and there are definitely a few points where he thinks, is this what he wants? Does he want to be married and be a laird and have a family? He’s always thought he does, but maybe there is another life he could choose.”
“Outlander” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.
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