She and her husband Jamie (Sam Heughan) found passage on a boat heading to Jamaica in hopes of finding young Ian (John Bell), who was kidnapped in last Sunday's episode. Claire is now in a similar situation because during the voyage their ship was flagged down by a British military vessel overcome with typhoid fever. Claire, obligated by her Hippocratic Oath, volunteers to go aboard the diseased ship to help them sanitize the situation in hopes of saving as many men as possible.
The plan was for Claire to board their ship, assess, assist and then get back to Jamie and her original crew. However, the Brits realized they needed to make it to Jamaica instead so they set sail with Claire onboard, forcing her to help instead of letting her return to her husband. Now Jamie must figure out how to save his wife before it gets to be too late to save his nephew.
We have no doubts that Jamie will inevitably find Claire and get back to rescuing Ian, because he is the King of Men after all, but this sudden interruption prevents Claire and Jamie from having the one thing they need the most — time to talk.
There was a period in Sunday's episode, "The Doldrums," when their ship had lost wind and left them stranded like sitting ducks for weeks. It allowed Jamie and Claire to get a little bit closer, but it still wasn't the in-depth exploration of their new selves that they need to have to be able to work out what a life together means for them now. The resurgence of winds led to a resurgence of their sex life, but the bigger issues at hand still need to be dealt with.
Listen, we're not going to argue with the sexy factor of seeing Jamie come to the rescue. This is a romance series after all and some tropes should be kept for the sheer delight that they bring, but the issue is that Jamie being a hero tends to erase the need for true conversation. It's too easy to get caught up in the relief of reunion to work through the real issues.
Claire's arrival meant that Jamie had to walk out on the only two daughters he's ever known. That's now five kids that have been taken from him. Claire is also dealing with the grief of leaving Brianna (Sophie Skelton) behind in a world where she had carved out a life for herself. These are not things that get worked through in one honeymoon-like reunion above a brothel. There are layers that must be peeled back and worked through — and we trust the Outlander writers to make that process poignant and interesting even if it's just talking.
The "Claire is in danger" narrative doesn't serve their love story right now, at least not in the long term. It adds action to a season that made a slow burn out of Jamie and Claire's reunion, which is exciting in one respect but distracting in another. They've physically gotten back on the same page but the real reunion Outlander deserves is one of Jamie and Claire's hearts and minds. There's still work to do there and it's going to be a lot harder than Jamie catching up to the boat holding Claire hostage.
Outlander continues Sundays at 8/7c on Starz.