The Outlander wedding — and wedding night — has arrived.
For fans of the book, Chapter 14 is the pivotal moment when Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) essentially begin their love story. Yes, we've seen their affection building, but until the moment Claire is forced into betrothal — as a loophole to Captain Jack Randall's orders — Claire is holding onto the hope that she'll return to Craig na Dun, slip back through time, and reunite with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). But nothing signifies the realization that this may never happen more than halfway through the episode when, as told through flashback, she slips off her wedding ring. Claire would later put it back on, with her new wedding ring on the other hand, in the final scene as she accepts her fate of being stuck between two worlds.
But before the episode gets to the juicy part (you know you've all been waiting for that sex scene!), it begins with Claire's memory of when Frank asked her to marry him. (If I'm not mistaken, this was not in the books or, in the least, did not come up just prior to the nuptials.) Their kiss then transitions into Claire and Jamie's first kiss at the altar. For a while, I thought the series would skip over the actual "I do's," and although it turns out the episode would show much of those moments through flashbacks, they left out Claire's hesitation as she put on the heavy satin gown and the moment she walked down the stairs to find the taproom suddenly silent — not to mention, the gift of Jamie's mother's pearls which, on the show, would happen in the bedroom.
Following the ceremony, Jamie and Claire retire to their bedroom, where they must consummate the marriage to keep to the "letter of the law." (Yes, it was really a requirement!) A quick toast and Claire begins to inquire about why a man such as Jamie would agree to marry her. He explains that Ned (Bill Paterson) and Dougal (Graham McTavish) told him it was the only way to keep her safe and the flashback scene depicts yet another time that Jamie wins our hearts as he defends Claire's character to his elders.
"You have my name, my clan, my family and if necessary the protection of my body as well," Jamie tells Claire as he does in the books. (And viewers everywhere swoon.) They then hold hands and are about to kiss before Claire breaks the tension by asking about his family history.
Before long, it's time to go to bed. Jamie helps Claire out of her corset and soon the two passionately embrace.
"Where did you learn to kiss like that?" Claire asks.
"I said I was a virgin, not a monk," he answers, as he does in the book.
From there it's on — quickly, of course. But the conversation that follows is endearing, as the two giggle over Jamie's naiveté and misconceptions about sex.
Following a sudden — and embarrassing — encounter with the wedding-goers, the pair continues to talk through the night as we see an enlightening juxtaposition of Claire taking the lead in the bedroom inter-cut with a perfectly coifed Jamie guiding a scared, yet gorgeous, Claire through their vows in flashbacks. Back in the present, Claire has Jamie undress so she can look at him— flogging scars and all. It's then that I really understand Diana Gabaldon's fondness for our leading man's backside as the two get down to business again, leading Jamie to ask, "Does it happen every time?" "Only if the man is a good lover," she says.
By the end of the night, Claire and Jamie have had another go, this time while she's wearing his mother's Scottish pearls. The following morning, the couple banters as if they've been together longer than a night. After Jamie leaves, Claire picks her wedding dress up off the floor causing her first wedding ring to drop and fall between the floor boards. She grabs it — in a cinematically stunning shot — puts it on, and the episode ends as she stares at both palms, and both wedding rings, almost in horror knowing she must face the reality of it all.
So, my fellow Sassenachs, did you enjoy "The Wedding"? Did it live up to your expectations? Vote in our poll and share your comments below!
The Outlander finale airs on Saturday at 9/8c on Starz.
Watch Ronald D. Moore and Tobias Menzies deconstruct last week's flogging scene: