Outlander, Episode 12: Lallybroch

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As the drama of Outlander continues, Jamie returns to Lallybroch with Claire where emotions run high and challenging memories resurface.

In episode twelve of the Starz original series reimagining Diana Gabaldon’s novels, Jamie and Claire take their places as Laird and Lady of Broch Tuarach – or Lallybroch – Jamie’s childhood home (brought to life by Midhope Castle in the Scottish village of Abercorn). Despite the price on his head, Jamie is determined to make his dream future a reality; but a warm welcome is less than easily obtained when he and Claire begin their journey to a new life. Upon meeting Jamie’s sister Jenny, Claire is given a glimpse into the unpredictable Fraser family temperament, which ranges from quiet fury to impassioned arguments. Together, Jamie and Jenny butt heads as Jenny reluctantly hands over the running of the estate to her outlaw brother and his sassenach wife. But the Fraser family is also made of strong heart, as Claire learns from the insights of Jenny’s husband Ian, and the determined Brit finds herself bound in love and duty to her new, complicated family.

Laura Donnelly as Jenny in Outlander, "Lallybroch" | © Starz
Laura Donnelly as Jenny in Outlander, "Lallybroch" | © Starz

This episode, “Lallybroch”, introduces us to two well-loved characters from the Outlander novel: the fiery, lovable Jenny (Laura Donnelly) and her kind husband Ian Murray (Steven Cree). In yet more wonderful casting, Donnelly and Cree capture all the colorful charm of their characters in a way that once again makes the pages of the book feel brought to life on the screen. The audience is pulled into the uneasy relationship between Jenny and Jamie as she tries to make sense of her long-lost brother’s return and he, in turn, tries not to be undone by his bleak memories. When last he saw Lallybroch and Jenny, Jamie was at the mercy of Black Jack Randall; now, Randall's villainy has managed to desecrate Jamie's fond memories of home. As he wrestles with the reminders now meeting him daily, Jamie finally reveals to Claire just how viciously Black Jack treated him as a prisoner of Fort William. Additionally, as Jenny recounts to her brother the truth of her experience with Randall she reveals her resolute strength in the face of terrifying danger. This account is portrayed in a flashback scene executed perfectly by Donnelly and Randall's Tobias Menzies; together with the show's excellent writer (Anne Kenney) and director (Mike Barker) they deliver a scene that underscores the seriousness of dangers women have - and still do - face while ultimately, through Jenny's fierce determination, showing the resilience of the female spirit.

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in Outlander, "Lallybroch" | © Starz
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in Outlander, "Lallybroch" | © Starz

While the series has been full of emotional relationships thus far, it’s particularly captivating to watch the Fraser siblings work their way through the turmoil of the past: their abuse and the violation of their home at the hands of Randall, the distance time has created for them, and most especially the loss of their beloved father, Brain Fraser (played in flashbacks by Andrew Whipp). While both Jenny and Jamie take rather obstinate opposing sides, clashing over the running of the estate as a way to air their mutual frustration, the similarities of their nature manages to bind them and the depth of their respect for each other is consistently evident.

Never far from the story and always with something new to discover, Claire does her best to guide Jamie to success both with his sister and in his new role as Laird of Lollybroch. But as she has learned thus far, 18th century Scotland is not the world she left behind, and soon Claire is met with more hurdles to overcome. Particularly harrowing, both for her and the audience, is when she witnesses a young boy being beaten by his father at a public event celebrating Jamie's return. As she takes matters into her own hands, we see once again how Claire’s modern grit lends her undeniable skill in this fierce new world.

With turns toward both the humorous and the devastating, the season’s twelfth episode does a particularly apt job at capturing the emotional complexity of Jamie and Claire’s tumultuous story; the series continues to prove itself as a beautiful and worthy rendering of Diana Gabaldon’s timeless creation.