But in an episode that’s frenetically getting so much else done, such nuanced tension gets a little lost. It’s the sort of episode in which Claire meets two fortunetellers who forecast something dire in her future, and by the time she gets back from the consult, she’s already forgotten it in favor of two other plot points. It’s the sort of episode that straight-up runs out of time to sort through Jamie’s casual lying to his family about young Ian, or Claire’s frustrations with the patriarchy of the 18th century, or whether that rapist’s corpse ended up in one of the barrels of crème de menthe that got sold. (Given how poorly everything else this episode goes for our team, we’ll assume yes.)
And it’s definitely the sort of episode that was always going to end on a dramatic reveal. Sure, technically the episode ends with Jamie’s mourning his chance at life as a printer, as it all quite literally goes up in flames. But there’s no way Jamie’s regret is going to overshadow the moment just before it, when Fergus poses the episode’s most perfectly soapy question: “The lady does not yet know about your other wife?”
• Characters we meet this episode that we have probably not seen the last of: Archibald and Margaret Campbell, fortunetellers for hire.
• Caitriona Balfe works hard to sell the frustration of a modern doctor in an era when barbers performed surgeries, and Bear McCreary’s music gives the moment a solid assist, but one of the casualties of speeding through her life early in the season is that Claire is still having to explain how much being a doctor means to her, because we haven’t really seen it until now.
• I appreciate that Claire calls Mr. Willoughby by his real name, and although there’s too much else happening to get a sense of him here, it’s an improvement over last episode.
• I really enjoyed the reunion of Claire and Ian Murray the elder (Steven Cree), which has the same sort of loaded fondness as Jamie and Claire’s reunion, but without the magnetism of true love to push the awkwardness aside. It’s another of the show’s quick pivots of perception, through which we experience the scene as Ian Murray must, rather than as Claire does — her presence seems supernaturally strange in a way it didn’t last episode.
• I kept imagining this episode entirely from the point of view of Madame Jeanne (Cyrielle Debreuil), whose attempts to run an uneventful, gauzy “Game of Thrones”-style theme day in her own brothel are constantly thrown into shambles by the obnoxious upstairs tenants who can’t go twenty minutes without murdering an intruder or needing their whiskey smuggled or getting their print shop set on fire.