SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the ninth episode of the third season of “Outlander,” entitled “The Doldrums.”
As we rejoin Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan), they’re boarding a ship to search for Young Ian (John Bell), who was captured by Portuguese sailors when he was trying to retrieve a box of valuables for Jamie.
Jamie and Claire’s friend Jared (Robert Cavanah) helps prep them for the long boat trip. He tells them “at least there will be a doctor on board for when you start retching.” (That doctor is, of course, Claire.) Jamie confides to Claire that he feels like maybe he’s asking for too much — he gave Laoghaire all his money so he could be with Claire and now this has happened to Ian. Claire tells him no god would do that to him. Jamie knows Claire belongs with him but says he’ll take her back to the stones if she wants that. Claire says that right now, the most important thing to do is find Young Ian. Jamie says he sent Jenny and Ian a letter explaining everything.
Onboard the ship, Fergus (Cesar Domboy) and Marsali (Laoghaire’s older daughter, played by Lauren Lyle) greet Jamie and Claire and reveal they’re married by hand-clasp (a ceremony where a couple clasps hands in front of a small group of people). Jamie threatens to send Marsali home. She won’t let him. He says she can sail to Jamaica but she and Fergus can’t stay together — she’ll stay with Claire in a cabin and he’ll stay with Fergus in another. Claire objects but Jamie says he has to protect Marsali’s virtue.
Claire notices everyone on the ship touches a post with a horseshoe for luck. Jamie tells Claire women are bad luck on ships, as are redheads. So they’re both getting looks from the crew.
In one of the ship’s cabins, Jamie is seasick. Claire makes him ginger tea to battle the nausea. Claire notices a trunk and finds her clothes from Paris in it. Jamie says he kept them as memories of her. Claire is asked to come help care for another man on the ship who has a cut on his head. Claire tends to him. The ship’s captain asks that Claire and Jamie dine with him that night and she accepts the invitation.
Fergus tells Jamie he doesn’t need time — he knows he’s in love with Marsali. Jamie asks why he lied all this time and Fergus says “for the same reason you didn’t tell Claire about Laoghaire.” Fergus says he told Marsali about growing up in a brothel but not about all the other women he’s been with. Fergus says he hasn’t bedded Marsali yet. Jamie says he has to be honest with Marsali about everything.
At dinner that night, Claire dines alone with the ship’s captain — Jamie’s in his cabin. as he still feels sick. The captain tells her she has to earn the crew’s respect and explains that touching the horseshoe is about giving the men assurance and that’s what’s important. Claire says, “Believing something doesn’t make it real.” Captain says, “On this ship, it does.”
Jamie is throwing up. A lot. Mr. Willoughby aka Cho (Gary Young) is on board and checks on Jamie, warning him about the danger that constant retching can do to his stomach and testicles. In Marsali and Claire’s cabin, Marsali offers Claire the more spacious bed. Claire says Marsali doesn’t have to try to be nice and Marsali says that Claire returns and ruins their lives and “I still think you’re a whore.” So much for being nice. Claire counters, “Well, the whore should have the bigger bed then, shouldn’t she?”
The next day, Claire finds Jamie having a bite to eat and something to drink. He’s feeling better. Marsali tells Jamie that Fergus told her everything. Claire pulls Jamie aside and tells him that if he allows their infatuation to continue, it may just fizzle out. Jamie says he can’t allow it to continue.
On deck, Willoughby paints a Chinese poem on the deck with a brush. He tells Claire he’s also writing down the story of his life in China. She asks him to tell her the story and he says, “Once I tell it, I have to let it go.”
Claire tends to minor injuries and makes medicines while the long journey continues. One day, as the sailors are drinking and singing, Claire goes to Jamie’s cabin and finds him with acupuncture needles in his face. Willoughby apologizes to Claire and says he should have told her he was trying to help Jamie with his nausea. Claire asks why Jamie didn’t tell her and he says he didn’t want to hurt her feelings and make her feel like she didn’t belong here. Claire says her return has never been a question of whether she loves him. She tells him he looks like a pincushion and they kiss. Then Jamie realizes the ship isn’t moving. On deck, the captain tells Jamie they’ve lost the wind and that it’s bad luck. The captain assures everyone that the wind will return and they must be ready when it does.
That night on deck, Claire finds Jamie and they smooch in the moonlight. She tells Jamie that before she left Boston, men had just flown to the moon where it looked rocky and barren with no life at all “and it was beautiful.” Claire recites lines from a book she used to read to Brianna. Jamie asks if she misses Bri and Claire says, “Terribly.”
Weeks later, the ship is still stranded at sea and the wind hasn’t returned. The bilge water spoiled the barrels of drinking water. At dinner, the captain tells Claire and Jamie the men are angry and want to throw someone overboard to break the bad luck. Claire can’t believe this is happening and the captain says he has to maintain the crew’s confidence. Jamie says, “You’ll not throw any of my men overboard.”
The crew talks below deck. One guy tells Jonah, “You’re not long for this world.” Up on deck, Jonah is drunk and sitting high up on one of the ship’s masts. Jamie finds out Jonah can’t recall if he touched the horseshoe or not. Jamie climbs up to try to talk Jonah down. Jamie reaches the high mast Jonah is on and tells him that if he jumps, Jamie will have to go into the water after him and then Claire will kill them both. Jonah takes Jamie’s hand then dangles for a bit before grabbing the rope ladder! But they are both able to climb down safely. The crew wants to throw Jonah overboard. A scuffle with Jamie ensues. Willoughby rings the ship’s bell and begins to tell his personal story about women, his manhood, and how he lost everything. It distracts the men and the fighting stops. The captain tries to hush Willoughby but Jamie says, “Let the man speak.” Willoughby continues talking and the crew listens. At the end of the story, Willoughby throws the pages he wrote into the water and the wind picks up! Claire thanks him. Heavy rain begins to pour which replenishes fresh water on board the ship. It also means the boat starts a-rockin’. Claire and Jamie go to his cabin and have sex.
On deck, a British man of war ship fires a salute at the Scottish ship and wants them to “heave to.” The captain tells the men to do so. Jamie tells Claire that if the Brits take him, she should continue to Jamaica and find Young Ian. Claire agrees to do so.
The very young British captain boards the ship and asks if they have a doctor on board. He tells Claire and Jamie there’s been an outbreak of plague on the British ship. Claire tells the British captain not to touch anyone. He tells her 80 people have died and 100 more are sick and asks Claire for medical assistance. Jamie doesn’t want Claire to go to the ship to examine and treat the men. He pulls her aside and she tells him, “It’s typhoid fever — something you don’t know about yet. I can’t catch it because I’ve been inoculated.” Jamie realizes he can’t talk Claire out of going to the other ship. She says, “So you’re older and wiser.” Claire goes to the British ship and Jamie watches the ship like a hawk.
On board the British ship, Claire goes below deck and it’s an awful scene: men puking, an awful stench, and sick and dead men everywhere. She examines one man’s stomach, sees a rash. She tells the British captain that it’s typhoid fever and says the men have to be washed, then they have to get fresh air and drink lots of fresh water up on deck, so they have to boil a lot of water immediately. She says they also have to get to land as soon as possible. Claire warns him that they’re likely to run out of drinking water, and a lot of the sick will die and it will get worse before it gets better. She offers to stay for a bit to help get them organized. The captain accepts her offer and orders his men to do whatever Claire needs them to do.
Claire talks to the British ship’s chef to ask him to start boiling water then realizes the ship is moving! She runs up on deck and tells the captain he can’t just kidnap her. He says both ships are headed toward Jamaica. Claire anxiously looks back toward the ship Jamie is on.
“Outlander” airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz.