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The first wife 

There are episodes of saga Outlander which are flamboyant, others epic, and others still romantic
We have all, I am sure of it, of favourite episodes, that we look a little more often than the others: marriage, printing, Culloden, trial of the sorceresses and many others else, which awaken in us powerful and particularly identifiable feelings. And there is others, perhaps more discreet who, however, are bearing of essential information and of very strong symbolisms. If that's how it is of the episode 8 of season 3, The first woman ", which, from end to end we yours in breath, not because of that it shows us, but because he explores difficulty for Clear and Jamie to face up what 20 years of forced separation generated. It is obvious that their love was never put in evil. Clear the said besides to Jamie on Artémis during following episode:

- ' I have never settled question to know if I loved you or not '!


Et honestly, who could doubt it? Certainly not us who followed it throughout the unbearable despair during her double trey life in XXth century. No more than we can doubt the love which Jamie hits him, it which was only a painful shade up to its stay forced in Helwater. Not, their love is indestructible, nobody can doubt it, just as much as their need one of other one, and their physical attraction. Then about what is it? 

To fully understand the episode: 'the first woman', we must first take a little time to decipher the very beginning of the reunion of Claire and Jamie during episode 6 of the same season: 'A. Malcolm '.
We discover Jamie coming out of his home under the maternal gaze of a woman of old age, of whom we do not know anything. She pampered him, scolded him a little and looked at him with a tender and unequivocal air ... And if she was not maternal but in love? What do we know about Jamie following his departure from Helwater? Maybe he remarried after all!


We then accompany him in the streets of Edinburgh, rather happy compared to the first episodes of the season that showed us either dying or eager to be.
He greets the people around him, which suggests that he has been there for a long time and is well integrated. Then he arrives at his shop and takes the time to clean his sign, he then looks in his order book, inspects some impressions that dry on a wire and finally, moved to work. He is at home, that's what he built. That's where his life is from now on.

This is what we are preparing: Claire will not land in the life of a man who has nothing! She will not be the buoy thrown into the sea after a long agony! This will not be the chapter following his departure through the stones of Craigh Na Dun!


No, she will come to an organized and balanced life ... and maybe even happy.
Claire had the time to prepare for the idea of ​​finding Jamie again. It is an act that comes from her and that follows months of research, questions, choices, decisions and actions.
His arrival in the printing press is the culmination of a long process of repair and preparation, both physical and emotional and psychological. And we, spectators, impatient, who followed his slow and painful process of research, we are prepared just as much, it is little to say it.
But for Jamie it's quite different. Even if it took years to get out of his torpor and his indescribable pain, well, he seems to have succeeded. How? We do not know exactly, but we imagine without much difficulty the forces in him that he went to seek to fill this painful breach that had left him floored for years.
Will Claire's arrival make sense? Will there be a place for her in her new life?

Their reunion in the print shop shows their emotion and the strength of the feelings they still have for each other. Even if we had never doubted it, we are reassured.
We take the time to accompany them through this incredibly strong moment, when Claire introduces their daughter to Jamie through photographs ... and in return, nuanced, Jamie confesses to Claire being a father dispossessed of his son .
In a few chosen words, they validate their capacity to receive the life of the other in what is past and inevitable.

Then in the evening, they are alone at last. As in the past, their bodies are attracted, their eyes are captured, their words intersect, their hands join. We can not ignore the parallel that is made with their wedding night throughout this slow and torrid process of discovering souls and senses.

 

Diana Gabaldon could have stayed with that and gone back to her story ... It would only take a few extra episodes to fill the gaps, mend the misunderstandings ... what would we have to say ?! After all, this couple is out of the ordinary, we know it and have admitted it from the beginning.
But Diana is more subtle than that ... and that's good for us.
Love is not enough, it does not allow us to forget it.
Despite the night spent telling each other, loving each other, touching each other ... despite the happiness of being together again, of knowing how to live ... love is not enough.
The wounds are there, unavoidable, painful, and first of all, untold.

And then there's this other woman ... the one whose life is gradually being guessed, until Jenny gives her a precise form:
'It is foolish to take a wife when you are already married'. 

 

We really did not know it ... we were given some tracks already: moments of embarrassment on the side of Jamie and Young Ian, enigmatic sentences on the part of Fergus and Ian father ... But here, in Lallybroch, there are There is no doubt about it and we do not have time to wonder why Jamie did not bother to tell Claire that this other woman is coming ... and we are amazed to find out that Laoghaire!

I do not know about you ... But as far as I'm concerned, the first word that came to my mind is: Betrayal. And if I could read right and left about discussions about this episode, that many had found the attitude of Claire disproportionate, I admit that for my part I understood it.
Betrayal ... Double ... triple betrayal! He got married ... he got married to Laoghaire ... And most of all, he did not talk to her about it!
All fears rush into this gap suddenly wide open. All the words, all doubts, fears, resentment, suffering. Everything explodes then in this wobbly time where the present is accountable to a past that no one wished. There is no reference to cling to what they are experiencing. And no one can support them because nobody knows. Nobody can know. Nobody needs to know.
Those who know are in the twentieth century ... and Claire abandoned them to live this moment of betrayal.

Their almost animal dispute is a testament to the unsustainable nature of this situation. She, collapsed and betrayed, him, terrorized at the idea that she leaves, more victim than guilty, we do not doubt for a moment.
Their body-to-body anger and desire propel them into the space of emptiness and pain that the past twenty years have built. And maybe they would have found themselves in that passionate embrace if Jenny hadn’t stopped it.
Stopped dead, as surely as if Claire had crossed the stones again, here they are facing a wall. Icy, opaque… unavoidable.
What happens in Claire? What makes her want to leave the next day? What is this feeling so unbearable that all the efforts that finally led her, victorious, to cut back the stones to the love of her life, become vain?
While I understand her in her epidermal reaction, and in a certain way I can still understand her when, with a decided step, she seems determined to leave Lallybroch, I can even more easily put myself in Jamie’s shoes.
I feel what he’s going through, this palpable despair when he tries to reason with her, right there, at the entrance to Lallybroch… where years before he had been whipped by Randall, where he disappeared before being locked up in Wentworth, where Claire waited for him for days before finally going after him. Especially where he lived as a hermit for so many years without her.
Lallybroch, like a clear and symbolic border. If she crosses this line, is over for him. He won’t get over it a second time.
This is what we read in his gaze, this is what his entire repentant body expresses to us.

I make a small digression here, because there is, on this particular point, many differences between the original version of Diana Gabaldon and that of the scenaristes.
en effect, in his novel, Diana let Claire leave Lallybroch. Jamie is upset in the barn where he took refuge after the fight and seems resigned to let her go. And young Ian, who, on his own, catches her back so that it heals Jamie who has just been shot by Laoghaire.

I must admit, this is one of the few times I’ve preferred the writer’s version to Diana’s.
When I read the book, I couldn’t understand why they weren’t trying to talk.
That Claire was suffering, that she was angry, that she wanted time to think, I could easily understand. But that she already wants to go back to Craigh Na Dun without trying to understand, without forgiving? Why didn’t she give her the time to explain herself on the subject? If only out of respect for the man she loves!


What was she going to do? Cross the stones? Find her daughter, but end her life without Jamie? Knowing him alive, but abandoned by her? Claire is a passionate and impulsive woman, but she is also a reasoned and pragmatic woman. No, it definitely didn’t fit.
I also didn’t understand why Jamie didn’t do everything to catch up with her. He is a man of character, stubborn and most certainly wounded, but he is also of unparalleled courage and his love for Claire had always allowed him to overcome this pride. He couldn’t let her go without trying everything to hold her back, either, because it didn’t fit the man he was, the man we were taught to love.
In the show, however, Claire is on the verge of leaving, but Jamie stands in her way, broken, but determined to convince her not to leave him.


We will never know if Claire would have stayed after all. We feel her receptive to Jamie’s statement.
- You are my only love, he said to her, as she had told her on the moor of Culloden when she had gathered before the Fraser stone, but she has no time to answer, for Laoghaire is coming, more scutty than ever and shoots at Jamie (by accident it is true) who collapses to the ground.

 

Then everything changes.
Jamie is injured. He may die. Claire becomes the doctor she was when they first met. They can pick up where they left off…putting aside the last 20 years… or at least open up a space in which to find oneself enough to be able to evoke them.
The body takes back its rights to the head and heart, which has always been their meeting point (see the focus I wrote on this subject: Of flesh and blood)
Claire puts aside her sadness and resentment, at least during the care. As long as Jamie’s life is at stake, she will not leave. In a way, without knowing it, Laoghaire has just repaired what it had broken. She took Jamie away from him for a while, but by her senseless act, she just gave him back.

As the fever invades his wounded body, Jamie tells.
He tells the story of his return to Lallybroch after Helwater. Everything that Claire and we did not know.
 
Diana Gabaldon’s bias in telling the story from Claire’s point of view allows us to feel the gaps at the same time as her, to better grasp her fears, doubts and hopes as well.
Of course we sailed for a while alongside Jamie, the television adaptation forced this “transgression” of the narrative, but we knew nothing of his life since he left Helwater except again, he had to separate from his child. ; entrust it to another man… As if that were a curse from which he could not escape.
 
And what he’s telling Claire is going in that direction.
His return to Lallybroch as a stranger; Jenny’s children who hardly recognize him; the estate now owned by his nephew. He no longer finds his place in this family.
So why not build a new family? Laoghaire?
He who had to entrust his children to other fathers… why should he not become the father of other children? He who cannot have with him the woman he loves, why not have beside him a woman who loves him? Isn’t that the solution life offers?
And Jenny is in no position to blame her for her involuntary bigamy since, we also learn, she insisted heavily that these weddings take place.
But here we are— Laoghaire does not know how to love, nor does she know how to be loved, and this dream of a rebuilt family that would fill, at least in part, the void that he feels so deeply, almost immediately flies away. The worst part is that, somehow he would have content himself with it - and this shows us how broken he is- but the imbalance of Laoghaire, His folly, his wickedness were the end of his patience and he went to live in Edinburgh where he opened his printing shop.

Just two years. Two years that will only be unhealthy and desperate attempts at a semblance of life. Two years that he must now explain and that, finally, Claire hears and perceives.
Then she can silence her fear and resentment, or at least alleviate them.
It can also express them.
- Maybe I was wrong, she ends up telling him while Young Ian is swimming towards the island of Silkies… maybe we can no longer live together. I had my life in Boston, you had your printer… it wasn’t so bad after all. It’s harder than I imagined.

She thinks of her daughter, of course, but she has the decency to say nothing, because she knows that she is also Jamie’s daughter and that he has never had the chance to know her. He’s been missing it for 20 years, how could she compare her suffering to hers.

I pass without stopping on the episode 07-03: 'Cream of mint' which is only an articulation scenario necessary between life in Edinburgh and the precipitous departure to Lallybroch following the fire of the printing press.
Lallybroche, where Claire and Jamie finally arrive, tense and silent.
If there were only them, perhaps they could have isolated themselves, and, in the arms of each other, to say everything, to confide everything, to forgive each other. When they touch each other, nothing is impossible, as we understand it.
But there is Young Ian, there is Fergus, Mr. Willoughby! There is Jennie and Ian and their children ... there is everything that was built during their years of separation, as a constant reminder of what they did not share, of what, perhaps, even separates them ...
There is Jamie's life unfolding and interfering, while that of Claire, invisible, moves away in a time that no longer belongs to him. This life, it is there only in mourning, in the pain of separation, in the bad conscience ... and perhaps even in regret.

For us, spectators, it's an exciting time. In the same way that we followed Claire with hope during her research in the twentieth century, we feast on discovering the new life of Jamie, and imagining on the fly anything that is not said, or to hardly suggested.
But for Claire, the stakes are incredibly heavy! She left everything to join him. It is inconceivable that she is disappointed.

But Jamie doesn’t care about his arguments. He knows that they are inseparable. That the only place for one and the other is with the other. There is no doubt in him. He doesn’t like Claire because it’s easy! He loves her because he can’t do otherwise.
- When was it easy? He asks her in response to the doubts she has just expressed.

That’s what this episode tells us.
Whether it was two hundred years ago, when Claire was undergoing this journey through Craigh Na Dun’s stones with no idea what was waiting for her, or that present moment when she decided to return to Jamie’s side out of love for him, It is above all because Jamie receives her into his life without any fear and without any restraint that their story is possible.

By Valérie Gay-Corajoud

Valérie Gay-Corajoud