This article centers on Season 3, Episode 11 of Outlander, “Uncharted.” If you’re not yet caught up with the show, be warned: Spoilers abound.
The first half of this week’s episode is basically the worst episode of 18th-century Survivor ever. Or, maybe it’s more like a retelling of Castaway, with a coconut Wilson (stay tuned). When we last saw Claire, she was jumping into the ocean for love (hot sex); and this week finds her wandering around a seemingly deserted island with no food or water, the sun beating down on her without mercy, and experiencing basically all the worst parts of the Bible—again for love (hot sex). She has somehow floated past Grand Turk and landed on a mystery island. She walks around, panting, getting sunburned, and probably longing for 20th century Boston, eventually licking some leaves, desperate for fresh water. (Unfortunately, the leaves don’t have any water on them.) At one point, Claire stumbles upon some flint. In that moment, I understood that this episode was going to exist solely within the realm of the absurd. With that realization, I was thus able to enjoy it a lot more. Sometimes you simply have to surrender. This is a show where, whenever a character needs something, the universe will somehow provide after making them hurt for it a little or a lot. Let’s just go with it. Time travel is a thing, after all.
For around twenty minutes and three days, Claire stumbles around suffering. She makes a fire the first night with her remarkably found flint and falls asleep, hungry and thirsty and probably horny. When Claire wakes, she is covered in thousands of ants. She frantically brushes them off and her legs are completely jacked up—we’re talking Defcon Amputation. I lost my shit a little because I hate bugs and insects and I would have thrown myself in the ocean after such an incident. Claire wraps her legs with some fabric. Why? I do not know. Then she resumes her walkabout, heading into a jungle. There are scary sounds and it looks pretty sweltering and horrible, but Claire is surprisingly calm. Still no water to be found. When she falls asleep that second night, she is still deep in the jungle, nestled against a tree. This time when she wakes up there is a huge snake crawling across her and she lies there, perfectly still, making crazy eyes as the snake slithers across her and on to its original destination. Watching this episode was a trauma from which I will not soon recover.
On the third day, Claire is stumbling around, her legs raging with a scary ant infection, when she hears a man’s voice. And, of course, she passes right the fuck out. When she wakes up, she’s in a home of some kind, tied to the bed…but not in a sexy way. A woman named Mamacita (let us not even get into how problematic this is) speaks to Claire in Spanish, explaining that she has tied Claire up so she won’t scratch herself. Mamacita gives Claire a little water and Claire, understandably, passes right back out. She comes to again, and is being stared at by a Father Fogden, who is giddy to encounter another Englishperson in the middle of wherever. Claire quickly learns that she is on Santo Domingo and that Father Fogden is a bit nutty. He has a coconut, Coco, whom he consults on various matters and with whom he has lengthy and elaborate conversations. Every single time Fogden chatted with Coco, I wanted to shout, “WILSON!!!!!!” Also, he gets high on his own supply, so who knows what all is going on there.
I’ll just get Fogden’s story out of the way—he went to Cuba for mission work and fell in love with a woman named Ermenegilda. There was some drama, so they fled for Santo Domingo where, alas, Ermenegilda perished. Now Fogden lives with her mother, Mamacita, who doesn’t like having Claire around, worrying that Claire will take the place of her dead daughter in Fogden’s heart. Mamacita is none too subtle, calling Claire a whore and other feminist terms of endearment. This is the silliest bit of plot but, like I said, surrender.
Claire, for her part, just wants to get to Kingston to warn Jamie, but Fogden says Coco doesn’t approve and she must wait a week, two weeks, forever probably. Claire tries to strike up a conversation with Coco to change Fogden’s mind but it isn’t until Fogden realizes that Claire loves Jamie the way he loves dead Ermenegilda that he’s willing to let her go, maybe, if Coco approves. Mamacita, meanwhile, is doing everything she can to get Claire on her way.
There is some excitement at the Fogden household when Mamacita comes running up with a skinned goat’s head, as one does, talking about a Chinese sailor who spit-roasted Fogden’s beloved goat Arabella. Fogden gets a jar of horrible bugs and lets them loose on the goat head and explains the provenance of the bugs—a cave in Jamaica. Then Claire has a flashback to that one guy’s mentally ill sister from a few episodes back, who mentioned these same bugs. It’s just… a lot. Claire, always quick about her wits, realizes that the Chinese sailor is probably Willoughby, and that Jamie is far closer than she realized. With a little direction from Mamacita, Claire takes off running, the spirit of Jamie’s cock guiding her.
Not at all far away, Jamie and Fergus are walking and talking on a beach, Jamie’s pectoral muscles bared and well defined. It quickly becomes apparent that the Porpoise ran into some trouble. Captain Raines and a lot of the crew are dead. The remaining crewmembers are repairing the ship’s mast and sails and Jamie is basically the boss of everyone. Fergus is worried that his dirty thoughts caused the accident but Jamie assures the younger man such is not the case.
When Claire makes it to the beach, Jamie and the crew are already back on the ship because the drama has to get a little more dramatic before it can be resolved. Will they reunite? Yes, they will. Claire takes a little mirror from her pocket and signals to the ship and Jamie spies her waving to him through a spyglass and then he’s rowing back to the beach and they are running into each other’s arms and the score is swelling to let us know that something romantically thrilling is happening. Guys, we know.
Jamie’s kinsmen, Lesley and Hayes, have a funny little chat where one says, “MacDoon’s wife turns up in the most unlikely places, does she not?” and the other says, “Aye, she just drops in out of nowhere.” It’s nice that the show is willing to acknowledge the absurdity of this couple’s globe-trotting and the wild convenience with which they show up where they are wanted at the most opportune times.
As Claire catches Jamie up on her adventures, Willoughby stitches a cut in her arm from running into a sharp branch as she ran to her beloved. She is worried that Jamie is going to be arrested in Jamaica, but Jamie is determined to find young Ian and assures Claire that everything is going to work out even though their lives are constantly a disaster.
To cheer everyone up, Jamie decides there should be a wedding and Claire certainly knows a preacher. They head back to Father Fogden for a wedding. Willoughby apologizes for killing Arabella, offers a rooster as penance, and then smokes up with the priest.
While Marsali is getting dressed, Claire helps lace her into her corset and they have something of a sex talk and become a bit friendlier. Marsali asks about birth control and Claire, surprisingly, says, “You don’t want a child?” It’s quite bizarre to see Claire being so old-fashioned and gender conforming, particularly when she is so sexually…spirited. The show had the chance to do something really interesting with this scene and they fell short, though in the end Claire does tell Marsali she’ll help her stay child-free so she and Fergus can have lots of newlywed sex without worrying about a wee bairn until they are ready.
The wedding ceremony itself is charming and quite sweet; true to who Fergus and Marsali are. When Fogden asks Fergus for his last name, it is Jamie who speaks up and says he is “Fergus Claudel Fraser.” Awww, shucks. Back on the Porpoise, Claire eats some turtle soup like it’s the last meal on earth. When Jamie kisses her, he realizes his wife has a fever. Claire says not to worry because she has her handy future antibiotics. She’s perhaps a bit drunk and mad with fever, but when it comes time for Jamie to help out and give Claire a shot in her ass (heh), he wusses out. Claire gives herself the shot because a woman’s work is never done.
With that taken care of, feverish Claire is feeling randy. She eats some more turtle soup and notes, “Turtle is supposed to be an aphrodisiac.” Now the Frasers are really feeling each other. The flirting begins in earnest, with Jamie telling Claire, “Your nipples staring me in the eyes, the size of cherries.” The size of cherries? But in Jamie’s brogue, it actually sounds pretty sexy. At first, Jamie protests coyly about not taking advantage of Claire in her inebriated feverish state but before long they are making out and stripping and having incredibly hot sex, while standing up. Finally, FINALLY, in the waning moments of the episode, Outlander gets to the good stuff. Hopefully, next week feature even more hot sex on a ship in the Caribbean. Fingers crossed!
Roxane Gay is the author of Bad Feminist, Difficult Women, and most recently, Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.