No cold open.
Title card is a slave powdering a man’s wig. The man wears a creepy cone to protect his face that looks like a cross between one of those old-fashioned plague doctor masks and a dunce cap. Later it becomes clear that this person is Phillip Wylie and that mix is spot-on, frankly.
Scotland 1746. Carriage racing down the road in what appears to be the early morning light. They’re stopped by redcoats. A man with an English accent says that he’s Samuel Torrington and they are fleeing Culloden and grateful to see the redcoats. They ask him to have his wife and daughter step out of the carriage. His wife is Jocasta, which tells us this is Hector Cameron, not Samuel Torrington, and they are in trouble. They search the carriage, it’s empty, and they are free to go. But then their teenage daughter gets her boot stuck in the mud. The redcoat bends to help her and notices a locked trunk under the carriage. It has French gold in it, which reveals them as Jacobites. Guns are drawn, shots fired, and Hector Cameron accidentally shoots his daughter (Morna) in the head. (If I remember correctly, she is both his stepdaughter and niece.) Jocasta falls over the body, saying Morna’s name. The redcoat now wearing her brains is in shock. Hector Cameron seizes the moment and stabs him. Hector makes a wailing Jocasta leave Morna’s body where it lies, grabs his chest of gold, gets back in the carriage, and tells the driver to leave. Jocasta wails and cries, clutching a ribbon from Morna’s hair as the carriage races away.
This episode has three plots and Jocasta’s is the only one I care about. Show me Jocasta MacKenzie’s life story: a parade of Camerons and the bad-ass woman who kept on living after each of them fell. She’s Ellen’s sister; show us that! Is there already a petition for a MacKenzie-centered prequel series? I will sign it.
Present-day 1770s, Jocosta is holding Morna’s ribbon while a slave does her hair. Duncan Innes enters the room. He has a gift for Jocasta, a lavender pillow to soothe her nerves. He assumes she is a nervous bride, which I think means he doesn’t know her at all, but the pillow bears the MacKenzie motto, “I shine, not burn,” which shows some understanding. (Or maybe that’s a default suggestion for the MacKenzie on one’s shopping list?) Innes starts to make a heartfelt speech and Jocasta flat-out interrupts him and dismisses him. She’s a cold one when she wants to be. Ulysses enters and says that Jamie and Gerald Forbes are waiting to see her. When they are alone, Ulysses says to Jocasta that he wants her to be happy. Jocasta says happiness doesn’t come into it, but she hopes that someday Duncan Innes will help her feel some peace.
Jamie and Gerald Forbes are there because Jocasta is signing River Run over to Jem before she marries Innes. She signs the document and then Forbes asks Jamie to sign as a witness, because of course Ulysses can’t sign as a witness, because the law doesn’t recognize him as a person. Forbes doesn’t say that; all parties in the room know it.
River Run’s new master isn’t even there, he’s back in the cabin with his parents on Fraser’s Ridge. Why aren’t they at the wedding? I see — Brianna stayed home to care for Jemmy because he’s sick, and Roger stayed home to help her and also so he could snub Jocasta.
What’s this in Adso’s mouth, and on the windowsill? Uh-oh. Plague of locusts.
At Jocasta’s extravagant, multi-day wedding celebration, Jamie is pouting. Murtagh should be there, these people are redcoats, etc. Claire convinces him to try to enjoy the party for Jocasta’s sake. Ah, Lord John! And Governor Tryon and his wife and all sorts of people of importance. Tryon is proud of the law he’s recently passed preventing people in groups of 10 or more from assembling and I feel differently about that idea now than I would have had I watched this episode three months ago. Mrs. Tryon invites Claire away from the men.
Back on the Ridge, the tenants are discussing the incoming plague of locusts. Rabble, rabble. Someone suggests setting fire to the field. Roger says that’s not a good idea because their homes could burn down. People don’t like that and wish Jamie were here because Jamie would know what to do. Roger wishes that too, but Jamie left him in charge, so . . . .
Back at the wedding, Mrs. Tryon is nice to Claire and offers to distract Phillip Wiley on her behalf. Claire overhears two women discussing Dr. Rawlings’ medical advice and can’t help but join the conversation. She insults them by crassly suggesting that the reason a woman might not want to have a baby is because she can’t afford to raise it (the very idea!) and then excuses herself and bumps into Phillip Wiley. He appears to suck on the back of her hand while kissing it and is all-around gross and the worst. Mrs. Tryon interrupts, saving Claire with an excuse.
At the Ridge, Roger remembers a story the Reverend read to him as a child about smoke warding off locusts and decides to set fires around the crops to try to smoke them out.
At the wedding, Jamie visits Tryon in his tent. Tryon explains that the riot act preventing assembly also allows him to retroactively punish people who were at previous riots. Something about people who were previously pardoned having to submit themselves to justice or else be punished. I admit I’m confused by this — he pardoned them, but then he didn’t?
Roger is making smudge pots out of dung and goose fat to put in the fields and burn to create smoke.
Phillip Wiley corners Claire near the wedding gifts. He brags about knowing an “Irish seafaring gentleman” who can get for her anything she wishes. This sparks Claire’s interest and instead of continuing to try to avoid him, she invites Wiley for a drink — of Fraser’s Ridge whiskey. While they drink, Wiley asks about her two wedding rings. She tells him one is from her late husband and one is from her current husband. She asks about getting his associate to help them sell the whiskey and Wiley confirms her suspicions by using Bonnet’s name.
Wiley says “you’ve shown me your pride and joy, now I want to show you mine,” and it is only because I’ve read the books and know where this is going that I don’t expect him to rip his pants off right then and there. (My husband shares this assessment, calling Wylie “the douchebag that gives all other douchebags a bad name,” and saying that if Wylie were alive today, he would be “the king of the unsolicited dick pic.”) Claire hasn’t read the book she’s in and doesn’t know he’s not going to rip his pants off, but she follows him anyway.
On the Ridge, they are executing Roger’s plan: fires of green wood on the perimeter of the fields and smudge pots burning in the center of the fields. It must smell horrific.
Wiley leads Claire to the stables to introduce her to his favorite horse, Lucas. Lucas is rare and expensive like all Phillip Wiley’s things. While she’s admiring the horse, Wiley lunges at Claire, grabs her, and kisses her neck. She fights and pushes him away, he lands in a pile of horseshit, and Jamie walks in. Wiley blames the situation on Claire, calling her a “vile succubus,” but Jamie‘s not having any of it. Jamie pulls a knife on him (deservedly), but Claire (sensibly) tells Jamie not to kill someone at his aunt’s wedding. Jamie lets him off with a threat and Wiley runs away. Jamie hugs Claire and finds Wiley‘s fake beauty mark stuck to her neck. (My husband thought that was the best part of the episode. We had to pause the show because we were laughing so hard.)
Claire explains that she was trying to set up a meeting with Stephen Bonnet, but now that she’s thrown Wiley in horseshit and Jamie’s threatened to kill him, that probably won’t happen. Jamie gets an idea.
At the Ridge, they’ve got smoke going everywhere, waving cloth to fan the smoke over the fields, and then a gigantic CGI swarm of locusts comes, blocking out the sun.
At the wedding, Jamie challenges Wiley to a game of whist, threatening to destroy the man’s reputation if he doesn’t play with him and asking him to bet Lucas the horse. Wiley tells him that he doesn’t care about his reputation, Lucas is worth 10 times the amount of money Jamie has laid down, and if Jamie wants to gamble, he’ll have to bet something far more valuable. This leads Jamie to ask Claire for her gold wedding ring from Frank. She is pissed. They argue and she says, “if you’re going to take this ring you may as well take both of them,” and hands Jamie‘s ring back to him as well.
Back at the Ridge, they’re putting out the fires because they worked! The locusts passed them by and they suffered minimal crop damage. Evan Lindsay and Ronnie Sinclair come to thank Roger. They thought his plan was foolish, but it worked and they are indebted to him.
A day of partying is over and it’s now the night before the actual wedding. Jocasta is turning in, but Ulysses tells her there’s one more guest who arrived late, and lets Murtagh into her room.
Murtagh gives her a gift: a pin like the one he wears. (She feels the pin on his chest — that’s a moment from the credit sequence.) Then Murtagh gets on his knees and asks her to wait for him and not marry Duncan Innes now. Jocasta is angry; Murtagh had his chance to tell her not to marry Innes and he did not. Murtagh is a wanted man. She can’t be with him. Murtagh tries to woo her with his sexiest tone of voice, and it looks like it might work for a second, but Jocasta tells him no. He asks her why she would want to marry someone like Innes when she clearly doesn’t love him.
“I shine, not burn.” A MacKenzie would not burn in the hottest fires of hell, a MacKenzie would survive.
Joscasta tells Murtagh the story of Hector having them flee after Culloden. She didn’t know Hector had the Stuart gold. After the shootout with the redcoats, she left Morna in the mud and could hear her calling for her. Her other daughters and their families died in the fires that followed Culloden. She always thinks about it. Jocasta has spent the past 30 years living in a palace built by the gold that took her children from her. Her blindness is a punishment for leaving them; for not looking back. Hector Cameron‘s passion for his cause ruined her life and she swore she would never again give her heart to a man who believed in a cause above all else. She gives Murtagh back his gift. He tells her that he loves her and leaves it on the table as he leaves the room. Jocasta sobs and I am sobbing; this show is killing me; this is so good.
Claire, still pissed, goes out to the stables to see Lucas. A very drunken Jamie finds her there. Jamie did not lose her rings. They argue. He says, “you’re a woman like no other, Sassenach, but don’t forget, you’re still a woman.” She slaps him for that and boy, does he deserve it. But then the slap leads to sex because this is Jamie and Claire. They have sex standing up in the barn and he says, “look down, watch as I take ye,” but if she looks down, all she could possibly see is acres of cloth since her voluminous skirts are hiked up around her waist. It’s supposed to be a sexy line (and I think it’s from the book), but it just made me giggle. So much cloth between her eyes and their joined groins.
After the sex, Jamie explains that he won Lucas and it broke Wiley’s heart, but then he told Wiley that he would trade him back his horse for a share of the whiskey partnership and an introduction to Mr. Bonnet. He intends to meet him as Alexander Malcolm, an alter ego from past days. Claire asks him to promise that Stephen Bonnet will never take another thing from them again. That seems like a lot to ask him to promise; Jamie may be the King of Men, but not everything is in his control. Jamie gives her back her rings and promises that they will never leave her hands again. And here we get the clasped hands from the credit sequence.
Gerald Forbes meets Stephen Bonnet in a coffeehouse and tells him that his son is now the proud owner of River Run. What the hell, Gerald Forbes?
Governor Tryon summons Jamie to his tent to tell him that since none of the Regulators have submitted themselves to the mercy of the court (and what has it been, one day?), they’re going to have a war after all. Jamie is to gather his men and meet them in Hillsborough within the fortnight.