Outlander season 3, episode 2 recap: “Surrender”


Our heroes stop delaying the inevitable and finally embrace their circumstances in a melancholy installment of Outlander.

In “Surrender,” Claire and Jamie seem to be moving forward, even if they are not totally moving on. The episode ends with both of them on trajectories similar to the ones they were on at the very beginning of Outlander: Claire does her best to transcend the gender roles of her time in order to work as a skilled, respected healthcare provider. And Jamie is imprisoned after years of evading the redcoats with a bounty on his head.

That last part might sound a little glib, but let’s keep in mind that Jamie was originally introduced to Claire as Mr. McTavish because he was wanted by the British and couldn’t reveal his actual name. He’s been in and out of prison–or avoiding arrest–for, I want to say, at least a decade now. After being reduced to living in a cave for six years, it almost feels like a relief to see Jamie finally being carted off by the redcoats. He’s miserable but at least now, as he told Fergus, he has “something to fight for”–and the next few episodes of Outlander will be all the better for it.

Let’s talk about the other highlights from “Surrender”:

Rebel with a cause

Speaking of Fergus, it is adorable how devoted the young Frenchman remains to the Jacobite cause and his adopted home of Scotland. Even if everyone else is scarred from the failure of the rebellion, Fergus is just biding his time until “M’lord” is ready to plan another uprising. Unfortunately for the wee fool, his loyalty to the Jacobites and his tendency to run his mouth cost him a hand. Literally. The Scottish redcoat Corporal MacGregor, who seems particularly sensitive about being called a traitor, cuts off Fergus’ hand in one fell swoop as Jamie watches in horror. It’s a terrible price for anyone to pay–especially a young pickpocket–but it’s what Jamie needed in order to snap out of his bearded funk and decide to get the British away from Lallybroch once and for all.

I’m not sure if the violence exacted on Fergus was enough to inspire Jamie to build up another Scottish uprising, but it was enough for him to turn himself in via an elaborate plan involving Jenny. After cutting his hair and losing the beard, Jamie “returns” to Lallybroch where the duped redcoats are waiting for him. When Jenny says, “You brought this on yourself,” for the redcoats’ benefit, she’s actually speaking the truth. It’s hard to see Jamie in chains again but, in his eyes, his family’s safety is worth his freedom.

Phantom limbs and sexual healing

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, phantom limb syndrome is “the ability to feel sensations and even pain in a limb or limbs that no longer exist.” Jenny’s husband, Ian (who lost a leg in a previous war), experiences it and expects Fergus will as well. Ian also observes that the intense pain Jamie has endured throughout the past six years is something similar. “Claire was your heart,” he tells his brother-in-law. Just because she’s gone doesn’t mean you can’t feel her.

Claire is having some phantom limb syndrome herself. In her first scene of “Surrender,” she is sadly and quietly masturbating while thinking of Jamie. She mourns all of Jamie–his sense of humor, his smile, his intelligence–but she is especially missing the physical connection she shared with him. It’s not there anymore but she still feels it, so she tries to recapture it via Poor Frank.

“I miss my husband,” Claire tells Frank during one of the more clinical consensual sex scenes Outlander has ever produced. Something seems off and Frank puts his finger on it a few scenes later when Claire initiates sex again: she refuses to look at him. “Claire, when I’m with you, I’m with you,” Frank says. “But you’re with him.” And being physically intimate with a woman who wants someone else just isn’t good enough for Frank. By the end of the episode, he and Claire replace their queen mattress with twin beds.

At least, Jamie and Mary Macnab put it all out on the table when they have sex. Jamie has made it plain that he will not be marrying again or replacing Claire. Mary understands and has no interest in becoming the next Lady Broch Tuarach; she just wants them to share “something to keep us whole as we move forward in this life.” In a parallel to Claire and Frank’s storyline, Jamie also keeps his eyes closed during sex. It’s not that Mary isn’t pretty, he tells her tearfully, “it’s just something I always do.”

Jenny is the best

Jamie’s sister is hands-down the MVP of “Surrender.” I’ve always enjoyed the dynamic between the Fraser siblings, but for some reason, I found the character of Jenny especially delightful this episode. She’s confident and unwavering when the British officers threaten her home and family; she manages to elicit a few laughs in a pretty sorrowful episode (“You scared the bowels out of me!”), and she offers Jamie the emotional support he needs. No wonder Jamie goes to Jenny when he’s finally ready to open up about his guilt and grief. He knows she’s the only person who could understand.

Oh, and I also appreciate how hard it seems to be for Jenny to betray her brother, even if it comes across as a staged, fake betrayal. In her heart, I’m sure she knows that Jaime’s capture will be the best thing for everyone at Lallybroch. Yet her tears when the redcoats finally take Jamie away are real, as are her parting words to him: “You gave me no choice, brother. And I’ll never forgive you. Never!”

Next: What is on Jamie’s face? Our burning questions ahead of Outlander S3E2


  • Another reason I love Jenny: she and I have a similar sense of humor. “Soon enough you’ll have ballads sung in your honor,” she jokes to Jamie aka The Dunbonnet, which is comparable to a comment I made recently. Please, Starz, give Laura Donnelly her own Jenny-centric spinoff ASAP!
  • After the scenes of sexual frustration with Frank, Claire decides she’s missing something from her life and starts medical school. I have no issue with the plotline, but it felt very much shoehorned in. I wish they would have taken another episode to show that Claire loves motherhood but needs something just for herself, too.
  • Another week, another old white guy being awful to Claire. Upon meeting her, her med school instructor, Dr. Simms, says: “The dean informed me there was a woman in this year’s incoming class. A woman and a Negro. How very … modern of us.” What a peach.
  • The black man in Claire’s class is Joe Abernathy and the two seem to hit it off. Here’s hoping Outlander shines a sensitive, nuanced light on race in the upcoming episodes, like it has previously with gender and class.
  • I’m not surprised Jamie feels drawn to Mary. Her quick thinking during the redcoats’ raid at Lallybroch is very Claire-esque.
  • Between the long hair and full beard, the cave, the martyrdom, and being fake betrayed by Jenny, Jamie acted as quite the Christ figure in “Surrender.” He literally holds his arms out in a T-formation when he makes his phony return.
  • Update: I’ve been rewatching some season 2 episodes and Red Jamie has, indeed, been Jamie’s alias all along. Apologies for missing that last week, but I still maintain it’s a terrible nickname.