‘Outlander’ 3×08 Review/Recap: “First Wife”

Photo Credit: Starz

Have you ever had your heart hurt so much during an episode of TV? “Heartache” is our one word review for this latest episode of Outlander. After a fire at the print shop in Edinburgh, Jamie and Claire head back to Lallybroch with Young Ian. This homecoming isn’t met with warm embraces because of course this is Outlander and that would be way too easy! The latest episode “First Wife” fills in more of the blanks of Jamie’s life after leaving Helwater.

I’m pretty sure that every episode Laura Donnelly is in, I cry. Jenny is one of my favorite characters in this Outlander universe and Donnelly brings her to life with the same fire and passion that she possessed in the pages of Diana Gabaldon’s novels. In this latest episode, Jenny goes toe-to-toe with Claire and it’s a sight to behold. When Jamie, Claire and Ian show up at Lallybroch, it’s not a happy homecoming. Jenny is not only angry that Jamie lied about knowing where Ian was, but she’s even more angry that Claire is back.

Donnelly plays this episode perfectly because Jenny is not only angry that Claire was actually alive all these years, but she’s ripped open a wound that never healed. One of the most heartbreaking moments in this episode is when Jenny and Claire talk on the steps of Lallybroch. Jenny tells Claire that she loved her like a sister. We think a lot about how much Jamie was affected by Claire going back through the stones, but he wasn’t the only one Claire left behind. This episode does a great job at putting Jenny’s heartbreaking center stage as Claire starts to realize that Jamie was not only broken, but so was Jenny.

Laura Donnelly and Caitriona Balfe always work perfectly together and this episode was another example fo that. Not only do they play the hostility and animosity Jenny has for Claire perfectly, but the heartbreak and mending also comes through flawlessly. Balfe and Donnelly get a giant round of applause from me this week, as usual.

While Claire’s return to Lallybroach is met with animosity from Jenny, nothing compares to the hatred Jamie’s current wife has for Claire. Oh what? You thought Outlander forgot about that little bomb Fergus dropped in that last episode. NOPE. It takes center stage this week. Just as Jamie is about to finally tell Claire that he’s married, two adorable girls come and call Jamie “Daddy.” If that’s not bad enough we learn that their mother, Jamie’s wife is Laoghaire MacKenzie!


Now, just to get this out of the way, my hatred for Laoghaire MacKenzie burns brighter than the sun. I hated this development in the books and it was even worse seeing it play out on TV. The sheer heartbreak in Claire’s face as Laoghaire comes through the door speaks volumes to any conversation that could be had. Balfe does an incredible job at conveying everything Claire is thinking and feeling in this one look. Claire is not only shocked that Jamie is married, she’s stunned it’s Laoghaire, upset that Jamie lied, heartbroken that he’s married, and crushed that she left Brianna for this. All of this comes across to the audience in Balfe’s one look and that’s incredible.

What ensues after this revelation is a Jamie and Claire fight for the ages. The fight encompasses all the fights they could’ve had in the last twenty years but never had the chance to. They bring everything that they’ve ever been annoyed about up. From Jamie saying he thought about Claire and Frank together to Claire letting Jamie know that her time with Frank wasn’t a dream. It’s emotional and gut-wrenching. Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe play this scene out flawlessly, right down to the hate sex they almost have until Jenny interrupts.


After this fight, things only get worse for Jamie and Claire on Outlander. After their big fight—and Claire finding out that Jenny is the one who alerted Laoghaire to Claire being back— Laoghaire shows back up at Lallybroch with a loaded gun trying to kill Claire. Jamie tries to reason with Laoghaire but she ends up shooting Jamie in the shoulder. She’s CRAZY!

Claire jumps into surgeon mode and removes the shrapnel from Jamie’s arm and while he’s fighting off an infection they can finally have a calm talk about his marriage to Laoghaire. In a heartbreaking moment, Jamie recounts to Claire how lost he felt after losing Claire, Brianna and then Willie. Laoghaire children, Marsali and Joan, helped pull him out of heartache. It’s emotional for Jamie and as an audience, watching him finally find happiness without Claire.

Eventually, Ned Gowan shows up and tells Jamie that his marriage to Laoghaire is nullified because Claire never died. Not all heroes wear capes and Ned is one of those heroes for me right now. However, Laoghaire wants child support and it’s A LOT. Jamie comes up with the plan to have Ian swim out to the island where he found the mysterious treasure and trade some of the old pieces for money for Laoghaire. Sounds fool proof right? RIGHT?!

Wrong! While watching Ian swim out to the island for the treasure, Claire lets slip that she’s not sure her and Jamie and meant to be together anymore. But of course, Jamie says everything right and assures her that they are meant to be together forever. Heughan melts my heart in this instant and my ship has never been more adorable.


And of course, this is Outlander and we can never be happy for more than two minutes. So after Jamie and Claire have this adorable heart to heart a ship approaches the island just as young Ian has found the treasure. As Jamie and Claire try to get Ian’s attention, it’s no use. He’s taken by the sailors and boards their ship. AND THAT’S HOW THE EPISODE ENDS. Outlander doesn’t know how to let up the gas and next week is going to be crazy. We are hitting the high seas Outlander fans and it’s time to get ready!

Outlander airs Sundays at 8/7c on Starz. Catch up now with the Starz App!

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