Outlander season 3, episode 8 recap and review: First Wife


Jamie fesses up, the women are all furious, and the season pivots to Pirates of the Scottish Highlands in the latest episode of Outlander.

After watching “First Wife,” I stand by my initial opinion of the whole Jamie-has-a-secret-spouse plotline: I still think it’s a lazy way to force tension between Jamie and Claire. But I have to admit that I understand now why Jamie was so reluctant to tell Claire. If it was any woman other than Laoghaire (or perhaps the young French woman who openly flirted with Jamie in season 2), Claire probably would have gotten over the second marriage fairly quickly. I for one would be enraged if my husband rebounded with the person who tried to have me burned as a witch. But that’s just me.

Now that Jamie’s secret is finally out, let’s discuss some of the other developments in “First Wife”:

Don’t mess with Jenny Murray

Jenny continues to be Outlander‘s Most Valuable Secondary Character. Hands down she is the most entertaining player in “First Wife”: she manages to be assertive, passive aggressive, empathetic, and hostile all at the same time. Claire’s right on the money when she says, “Jenny casts a very warm light on those that she trusts and a very cold shadow on those that she doesn’t.” And throughout the first half of the episode, Claire is stranded in that shadow.

As we observed last week, Ian was visibly shaken when he saw Claire again, and quietly hurt that she did not try to reach out to him or Jenny in the intervening two decades. In contrast, Jenny is sarcastic and can barely stand to be in Claire’s presence. (Jenny even refers to Claire as a “stray” moments after she arrives with Jamie.) Even though she hasn’t had as many adventures or experiences, Jenny is just as smart as Claire — definitely smart enough to know when she’s being fed a line. “I hear truth in what you’re telling me, but I can see in your eyes there’s still something you’re keeping from me,” Jenny informs her sister-in-law. “When a horse breaks its leg, you put it out of its misery because it will never heal right. And neither will we.”

By episode’s end, the ice has thawed a bit between Claire and Jenny: Jenny feels remorse for summoning Laoghaire, and Claire tells Jenny that she still loves her and wants to be a part of the family again. For the moment there is peace, but I believe it’s only a matter of time before Jenny finds out the truth. And you know what? She’ll probably be angry that neither Jamie nor Claire trusted her enough to keep her in the loop.

A woman scorned

Suffice to say Claire is none too pleased to see Laoghaire again. For all that she’s witnessed and done in 18th century Scotland, I don’t think Claire has ever been more horrified than when her old nemesis enters the room with a young girl calling Jamie “Daddy.” I really thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head.

Of course Claire is angry that Jamie didn’t tell her about Laoghaire, but that’s not the only thing feeding her fury. She’s jealous and insecure. She’s still reeling from all the time she’ll never get back with Jamie, the time she could have had with him. And, as I’ve said before, Claire’s grand homecoming is not turning out the way she imagined — because real life never unfolds like your fantasies.

Claire has changed throughout the past 20 years, which is clear when she packs her bags after finding out about Jamie’s other wife. The Claire from the previous two seasons never would have given up on her relationship so easily. She’s at a point now where she’ll have to learn to let go of the time she’ll never get back and move on once and for all. “You belong with me,” Jamie tells Claire towards the end of “First Wife.” “Will you risk the man I am for the sake of the one you once knew?”

Come sail away

Alongside all the romantic and dramatic intrigue, “First Wife” finally gets us to the ship we’ve been hearing about. In a heartbreaking sequence, Jamie tells Claire about the man from “All Debts Paid” who foretold of The Frenchman’s Gold and the ban-druidh. In flashback, we see Jamie swim out to the island and desperately search for Claire to no avail. Instead, he finds treasure hidden behind a brick emboldened with the MacKenzie crest. Since he was still a prisoner, Jamie decided to leave the treasure, but needs it now for Laoghaire’s alimony money.

As Claire and Jamie look on from the cliff, Young Ian swims to the island to retrieve the treasure. Things are going according to plan until a ship appears and its passengers kidnap Young Ian as his aunt and uncle watch and yell helplessly.

I’d love to spend the rest of the season watching Jenny drop truth bombs on her brother and sister-in-law, but I’m glad Outlander is getting back to its adventure roots. After all the pain of finding each other again — and accepting who they are now instead of who they used to be — our heroes need some good old-fashioned fun and excitement to close out the third season. And if they want to avoid the wrath of Jenny, they had better find Young Ian good and quick.

Next: Outlander S3E7 recap and review: Creme De Menthe


  • Alias Watch: Young Ian calls Claire “Auntie” throughout the episode. It’s especially adorable since he’s the only Murray who is openly nice to her.
  • Most Swoon-Worthy Line: Jamie’s greylag metaphor. “It mates for life. You kill a grown one, out hunting, you must wait, for its mate will come to mourn. Then you must kill that one too, otherwise it will grieve itself to death, calling through the skies for the lost one.”
  • Hey, Jamie? “You’re the one who told me to be kind to the lass” is probably the weakest defense for taking another wife that I’ve ever heard.
  • Coitus interruptus, Jenny Murray-style: Dumping water and yelling, “Fightin’ and ruttin’ like wild beasts, and not caring if the whole house hears you!” Jenny really is the best.
  • I love that, after all he has endured, Jamie Fraser is scared of needles. I also love that he thought his fever was “the heat of shame.”
  • Jamie perfectly sums up the holidays: “I was filled with joy and loneliness at the same time.”
  • Ned Gowan’s anti-aging secret: “I never married.”
  • No offense to Nell Hudson or anything, but Laoghaire’s wig is atrocious.