Nov 13 2017 11:30am

Set Sail: Outlander Season 3, Episode 9 Jamie and Claire Heart-to-Heart

Outlander 3x09, The Doldrums

Show/EpisodeOutlander, Season 3, Episode 9, “The Doldrums”
Couple(s): Jamie and Claire

Outlander 3x09 Captain's LogThere’s only one thing Jamie and Claire can do when Portuguese slavers nab Young Ian; sign on a merchant ship bound for Jamaica, in pursuit. Jamie becomes supercargo of the merchant ship, Artemis, with Claire as the ship’s surgeon. Wracked with guilt Jamie  suspects this may be God’s punishment on him. Maybe Claire was right about them not belonging together. If she wants to go back, he’ll take her to the stones. Nothing doing, Claire says, and they board the ship together, in time for a crash course in nautical superstition.

Both women and redheads are considered bad luck on shipboard, so Jamie and Claire need all the luck they can get. Touching the horseshoe nailed to a post on deck is crucial, but not apparently effective, as we get Surprise Fergus, with Surprise Mrs. Fergus,—Jamie’s stepdaughter, Marsali—who had handfast just that morning. Consummated? Nope. Okay, then, all Jamie has to do is keep them from consummating, and the marriage won’t be binding. Separate cabins for both, which also means separate cabins for the Frasers. Claire is not okay with this.

Jamie is also not okay with seasickness, which Claire attempts to treat with ginger tea. Claire gets her first patient before they’ve left sight of land, a sailor with a head injury. Obviously, this means somebody didn’t touch the horseshoe, and they are all doomed. While Claire tends her patient and receives a dinner invitation from the captain, Jamie tries to talk sense into Fergus, who is far too in love to listen.


With Jamie too seasick to join her, Claire discusses nautical superstition with the captain, over dinner. By rights, the captain informs her, both she and Marsali should be bare-breasted, if they must be on the ship, to ensure calm seas (uh huh, sure...for calm seas) but never fear, the ship’s figurehead bears hers, so the real women don’t have to. The captain may not believe in such superstitions, but the sailors do, and that’s what’s important. It’s not a matter of if something is true, but if the men believe that it is. Claire is not impressed. Her day goes from bad to worse, when new roommate Marsali makes it clear she still considers Claire a whore. Fine, then. The whore gets the bigger bed.

The next morning, a vastly improved Jamie enjoys a hearty breakfast and greets Claire with vigor. His good mood soon sours, as the newlyweds make another bid for his blessing. Claire suggests Jamie play along and let the infatuation burn itself out, but it’s still a no from Jamie. Later, Claire and Willoughby have a moment, as Claire asks Willoughby about the poetry he writes, in water, on the deck. Are those papers he carries more poetry? No, that’s the story of his life in China, and no, he won’t read it to Claire. When he tells it, he has to let it go.

Three weeks into the journey, Claire visits Jamie in his cabin, and finds Willoughby, sticking needles into Jamie’s face. He let her think her tea cured him, when it was acupuncture all along? Pretty much. Bashful Jamie is adorable Jamie, even with needles in his face, and Claire can’t resist leaning in for a good smooch. The earth moves, but the ship does not. They’ve lost their wind, and the ship is becalmed. Clearly, this is absolute proof somebody did not touch the horseshoe. Claire still considers this horse puckey and suggests they all lineup and touch the horseshoe, so there’s no doubt. Too late, Claire. It has to be the beginning of the voyage.


When night falls, Jamie and Claire take advantage of the calm, just him, her, and the man in the moon. Claire describes the photographs she saw of the moon, in Boston, and quotes from Goodnight Moon, which she read to Brianna. Does Claire miss Brianna? Terribly, she answers, and Jamie gives her what comfort he can.

The days turn to weeks, and the wind does not return, hundreds of miles from shore. This is not good for morale. Especially when the water goes bad, and food gets reduced to half rations. Time to pray for rain...or find out who didn’t touch the horseshoe, and throw him overboard. At dinner, the captain asks Jamie and Claire who they should blame. Not who’s guilty, but who they should blame. The men want a Jonah, and they have to have one, or there will be mutiny. Jamie insists nobody is throwing any of his men overboard.

He might want to tell that to the men, who have made their selection, who takes himself to the rigging, with a bottle. Jamie takes to the rigging, to bring the man down. Willoughby distracts the men by reciting his life story, how he fled China because only eunuchs could serve the emperor’s wives, and Willoughby loved women too much. Now his poetry is wasted, western women will not have him, and his sacrifice is worthless. He climbs onto the rail, and tosses his papers into the returning wind.


Jamie and Claire take their celebration belowdecks, for a little consummating of their own. IN the afterglow, Jamie compares the gray in Claire’s hair to moonlight. If he talked like that in the twentieth century, he’d be the king of all men. Jamie assures Claire that, no matter what, nothing will change how things are between them.

Except maybe the British man o’war that fires across the bow of the Artemis. If the Navy needs men, they can press half the crew into service. If they pick Jamie, he wants Claire to continue to Jamaica, but Jamie isn’t the one they want. The acting captain, more boy than man,  needs the ship’s surgeon. A quarter of his crew has been felled by fever, including all senior officers. Claire is quick on the differential diagnosis; this sounds like typhoid fever, but she has to examine the men to be sure. Jamie vows to watch at the rail until Claire returns.

One look at her first patient is all she needs. It’s typhoid. The men need baths, sunlight, and to get to Jamaica as fast as possible...uh, why is the ship moving? Jamie may have a long wait ahead.

Memorable Lines:

If you were forced to marry milady, then I am forced to breathe.

By not surrendering my manhood, I have lost all else: honor, livelihood, country. Sometimes, I think, not worth it.

Charting the Course:     

Young Ian has run afoul of Portuguese slavers. Fergus and Marsali are married, though not for long, if Jamie has anything to say about it. Willoughby is not a eunuch, but has mixed feelings about that, and Claire’s medical skills land her aboard a plague ship, sailing away from Jamie.

Next Stop: Season Three, Episode Ten: Heaven and Earth

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Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her on Twitter.

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Nicki S
1. Nicki S
Will we still get these articles when St. Martin's takes over these newsletters? Can we please get a complete explanation as to what exactly is going on with H&H?
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