SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “All Debts Paid,” the Sept. 24 episode of “Outlander.”
The third episode of “Outlander’s” third season jumps back and forth between Jamie (Sam Heughan) in jail in the 1700s and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) raising her daughter and struggling with her marriage through a number of years in the 1950s. While Jamie uses things Claire taught him to help his fellow prisoners, he can’t help but continue to feel her loss, being so far apart in space and time. Claire, on the other hand, suffers a literal loss with the death of her husband.
Ardsmuir Prison, Northern Scotland, 1755. Known as “MacDhu” among the prisoners, Jamie acts as their leader. He’s the only prisoner kept in shackles. Jamie tells fellow prisoner Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) that Officer Grey looks familiar but he can’t place him. Jamie gives Murtagh milk thistle to try to help him feel better – one of many medical fixes he learned from Claire.
Sir John William Grey (the brother of Lord Melton, the guy who snuck Jamie back to Lallybroch) is a key figure in this episode as he becomes Jamie’s new jailer and at the end of this episode, the man who gives Jamie his freedom – sort of. Here’s what you need to remember from the second that’s shown in flashback: Grey was the 16-year-old British soldier who sees the Scottish campfires, finds Jamie alone, and takes it upon himself to try and bring Red Jamie down but does not succeed. Jamie and Claire trick him into believing that she is being held prisoner, and if Grey doesn’t give them information on the redcoats, Jamie will torture and kill her. Grey falls for the ruse and hands over information that leads the Jacobites to victory in the Battle of Prestonpans. Jamie spares the teen’s life and sends him back to his troops. Grey also swears that he owes Jamie a life, but once he repays him, he’ll go ahead and kill him.
Back to Ardsmuir, where Grey wants to get to know Jamie. He asks Jamie to talk to an old man the soldiers found wandering near the prison and find out what the guy knows about some buried gold he mentioned. Grey knows Jamie speaks French and Gaelic and asks him to talk to the old man, then come back to Grey and tell him what the old man said. Jamie says he’ll do it if all the prisoners are given medicine and blankets. Grey says no, as supplies are low. Jamie asks if he’ll get medicine and blankets for Murtagh, and this time Grey agrees. Jamie talks to the old man, who rambles, but Jamie perks up when the man talks about “a white witch who seeks a brave man, a MacKenzie.” Then the old man dies. When Jamie tells him there was no info about the gold, Grey threatens Jamie, saying he can force him to tell the truth. Jamie tells him he can’t do anything to Jamie that hasn’t already been done.
Officer Grey asks Jamie to dine with him. Jamie asks Grey to let the prisoners hunt for snipe by setting traps and to allow them to collect watercress, so they won’t get scurvy. Grey asks how Jamie knows this, and Jamie says, “From my wife. She’s gone.” Jamie dines with Grey, while the prisoners are allowed out to hunt, with redcoats guarding them. One prisoner escapes and the soldiers go looking for him. Back at the prison, after Grey steps out to go to the bathroom, Jamie sneaks up on him and grabs him in a chokehold. He finally remembered who Grey was! Grey explains he was a foolish boy when he first met Jamie and that his foolish actions saved Jamie at Culloden. Grey takes back his sword, holds it to Jamie’s neck, then says, “I’m not a murderer of unarmed prisoners.” Jamie gives Grey a blue stone he’s been holding onto.
Back in Boston, time has passed, and Frank and Claire celebrate Brianna’s birthday. Claire tells her not to wish for a car because she’s not getting one but Frank says, “Maybe.” Later, Frank and Claire beam as they watch Brianna graduate from high school. Time is flying for Claire, but not as much for Jamie.
At the prison, Grey and Jamie are playing chess. Grey confides to Jamie that he lost a good friend at Culloden, saying, “He inspired me. I found him dying. My brother [Lord Melton] dragged me away – he was embarrassed. Some people you grieve forever.” It seems this particular friend was more than a buddy. Grey asks Jamie if he finds life burdensome and Jamie says, “Not quite so.” He smiles as he mentions “my wife Claire was a healer.” Grey puts his hand on Jamie’s hand and says, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Jamie’s jaw tightens and he growls, “Take your hand off or I will kill you.” Grey has tears rolling down his face.
Jumping forward in time and place yet again, Frank tells Claire he wants to take Brianna to England and that he’s been offered a job at Cambridge. Claire says she can’t leave Boston, but Frank says he doesn’t want her to come to England, as he’s planning to marry Sandy as soon as he’s divorced from Claire because, he says, “I want to live my life with a wife who truly loves me.” He twists the emotional knife, saying to Claire, “You couldn’t look at Bri without seeing him,” meaning Jamie, Brianna’s birth father, of course. Frank leaves the house. The phone rings, and it’s the hospital asking Claire to come in to perform a surgery.
Ardsmuir is closing and the prisoners are being sent to the colonies. Jamie is being marched away from Ardsmuir in shackles behind Grey’s horse. After walking for three days, Grey tells Jamie he’s delivering him to Hellwater, where he’ll serve a new host. When Jamie asks Grey why he’s doing this, Grey says he regrets his moment of weakness with Jamie, and as Jamie gave him his life years ago, Grey is giving Jamie his life now.
Unfortunately the episode doesn’t end such a positive note, though, as Claire, while still at the hospital, gets a message hat Frank has been in a car accident. She finds him in the hospital’s morgue and begins to cry as she tells him, “I did love you, very much. You were my first love.” She kisses Frank goodbye and must prepare to move on, alone.
“Outlander” season 3 is on Starz Sunday nights at 8 p.m.