‘Outlander’ Postmortem: The Past Catches Up to Jamie at Lallybroch

outlander lallybroch jamie claire
Image courtesy of Starz

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.

What did you think of “Lallybroch” and Jamie’s struggle as Laird? Weigh in below!

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  1. Railie Douglas says:

    I loved this episode. Lalleybroch is beautiful. The interactions between the main protagonists was compelling. Great acting all round. Jenny was fabulous. Like a terrier! Didn’t give Jamie an inch. Loved his whole drunken, loutish, boyish charm. Sam plays him to perfection. And Claire dumping him on his arse with a perfect Nurses roll was very funny. Man, she ticked him off but good. Graveyard scene was just great.

  2. i think Jamie is just showing his young age. Thankfully he’s intelligent enough to reflect on his actions and ultimately think like the man he is, not the boy he was

  3. Eve says:

    I don’t recall that in the books Jenny was so rude to Claire – I think that’s a real departure. Nor did I get the sense from the books that Jamie and Claire intended to settle at Lallybroch, but always planned to leave after a short while. Thus the competitive tension between Jenny and Claire was much less in the books – Claire always acknowledged Jenny as the keeper of the home.

  4. Jane N says:

    to Kaye he left home at 16 went to Leoch tutored MET SANDRINGHAM the 1st time where he paid ALOT of attention to Jamie! I don’t think he’s been a BRAT slightly misguided due to Uncle D’s lies Jenny not being out with the parentage of lil Jamie that could have all been nipped in the bud! But then we’d have nothing to talk about……YE KEN!!

    • Broughps says:

      Jamie fostered with Dougal at 14 so was out of the house before that. People keep forgetting this is a 23 year old from 1743 not one from 2015 who’s had everything handed to him. Kids were trained from the time they could walk for jobs around the house/shop/forge/farm/etc..

  5. larrouxgirl2 says:

    He did behave like a spoiled brat initially, pretending to be a laird as he imagined as a youngster he might do. The sibling thing is quite familiar, being an older sister to TWO younger brothers, taking and laying blame in turns when neither is ever the whole truth. I wonder how people without siblings learn to live in the world with people unlike themselves when they’ve not had experience as children. But this is fiction, and I am ever confident that the cream will rise to the top. Outlander is a truly delightful weekly interlude which, even when gory and fitful, ultimately satisfies in every way.

  6. Sassenach Viv says:

    Great interviews! Sam and Cait explain very well the challenges Jamie and Claire had in this episode. Theory put into practice isn’t easy: Jamie has to learn how to become a Laird, the hard way. He’s a 22 year old kid trying to fill his father’s boots. The siblings’ interaction is perfect! LOL And Claire’s challenge to settle down as a Laird’s Lady isn’t easy either! Loved Jenny and Ian! And the scene with Brian, trying to protect his son, was simply heartbreaking. Love how this series recreates in each episode all the complex and challenging Outlander world!

  7. theresaEH says:

    IMO the writers took Jenny’s personality from book 8 instead of book 1 and turned Jamie into a brat. They did redeem themselves at the scene at their fathers grave.

  8. Broughps says:

    Too bad they’ve changed Jamie’s character from the books. He was never a brat, but a natural leader and laird. There were no growing pains to go through.

    • Pat Cocivera says:

      your right on the money, never in the book did Jamie act that way especially in front of the people of Lollybroch. They really blew this episode. Even the parts they took out of the book were changed. Hopefully next week they will get back to the book

    • D says:

      I have read the books. No, not verbatim to the books, but the way Jamie accuses his sister when first home is a bit of a brat. The manner in which he handles McNab was not mature and led to the same repercussions we see in the show. In the book or in the show, he has to learn. He is never a natural Laird or Leader, it always weighs on him. He takes the responsibility seriously. He tries to do his best, and people look to him for leadership because he is the Laird. He does not always make the right choices, but he tries to do what is best.

      • Broughps says:

        He was trained to be Laird all his life by the examples of his father, Colum and Dougal. Men do naturally follow Jamie and while leadership may weigh on him it’s still natural to him. It should weigh on anyone in a leadership role because as you say it’s a serious responsibility. I won’t discuss later books but even in the show we see that Clan McKenzie would be divided if Jamie took the oath of loyalty because half the clan would follow him instead of Dougal had anything happened to Colum. That wouldn’t happen if Jamie hadn’t already shown a natural ability to lead.

        The show has from the beginning had tried to make Jamie out as somewhat immature or naive if you will. Other than about sex, no he wasn’t. This is a man who through life experiences was older than his years.

  9. Love this series.Its very well acted .This episode gives the
    story depth . Cant wait for the next.

    • Susan Watson says:

      I agree with Broughps. I’ve read all of the books as well as the Lord John Grey series and Jamie was always a man admired for his personal integrity and leadership skills. That’s why Dougal saw Jamie as a threat for the leadership of the clan. Jamie’s difficult relationship with Jenny resulted from his guilt, but when he made mistakes, he was always able to recognize his error and try to correct it or apologize for it. In the film, Jamie said, had he accepted BJR’s offer, his father would not be bothered by the buggery but by the fact that BJR had broken his spirit. I never interpreted the situation that way. Jamie admired his father as a man of principles, a man who provided life rules by example. I think he refused the offer to escape the second flogging because his father’s kiss reminded him of what a decent man, a moral man, an honorable man, would do; his father would not sacrifice his manhood to escape punishment and neither would he. Otherwise, why would Jamie find BJR’s character and his abuse of authority to be so repugnant. Why would Jamie be so incensed by BJR’s sexual abuse of both genders. Colum and Dougal both used authority to control him, but neither inflicted punishment that diminished his manliness. In the book, Jamie kept a Bible that belonged to another prisoner who had committed suicide in Fort William. He vowed to avenge that boy’s death because he understood why that boy had chosen to take his own life, a grievous sin for a Catholic.

  10. tayscreen says:

    Outlander is just wonderful and hope folks agree beautifully complimented by our Fife and Perthshire filming locations in Scotland. Outlander follows a great list of legendary story tellers here from Hitchcock on – if you’re curious take a look at http://www.tayscreen.com/moviemap.cfm :)

  11. Moi says:

    Almost everybody who has a reunion with their family of origin, revert back to their roles, their beliefs and how they relate to one another. I think the reactions of the Fraser family are, well, pretty normal, considering that this was their normal.

  12. Kate says:

    Jamie is learning and we know that he’s a fast learner but he left Lallybroch at 18 when his father was still Laird and has been on the run or out of country for years, give him a break. I’m all for strong female characters but not at the expense of the male characters making them look like a bunch a doofus that can’t put on their boots without lectures from the all-knowing women.

  13. Jane N says:

    Jamie had been LIED to by uncle D. he is keeping MENTAL notes payback is hell. So the encounter with Jenny is what he thought was true. Jenny could have been a bit easier on baby bro. He has always been told what and how to do things at LEOCH , TUTORS, MILITARY think for himself is new and shaky he has some good ideas like with the uncles mending fences, he is 22 men are slower give him a minute to grow up, Claire can only help so much!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Junk4Gand says:

    Jamie’s father had a STROKE (known as apoplexy back then) – not a heart attack.

  15. Albalass says:

    I thought this was an incredible insightful episode-almost pivotal to the progression of the storyline. We now know about BJR’s obsession with Jamie, not Claire. This episode was absolutely needed to understand what drives Jamie’s decisions in episodes to come and what makes him the man he is.

  16. mama spins says:

    I think Jamie’s reaction to returning home is a normal one when anyone tries to “go home again”. A lot of questions where unanswered for him. His sister is bossy but she had to shoulder the responsibility of managing Lallybroch by herself and has her own family too. It was a good glimpse into Jamie’s earlier life with his sister and his family home.

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