What Outlander’s Jamie Gives Claire: Roots and Wings
Could it be because he’s a whisperer of fish, fowl, horse and lass, paying attention to every little thing about Claire, making him possibly the first feminist of Scotland? Is it because he claims Claire as his love of a lifetime?
Then, through the magic that is Diana’s brilliance, Claire receives her very own larger-than-life hero in the form of James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, aka Jamie, aka JAMMF. When their eyes meet for the first time near the end of season 1, episode 1, poof! I don’t know about you, but I forgot all about Frank.
There by the fire in the cottage, as Claire relocates Jamie’s shoulder using her skills gained as a nurse in the British Army, an unspoken trust between them is evident. Their bond begins to form with little more than a few words and nods.
As Jamie and a small group of Highlanders bring Claire on the road with them to Inverness, Jamie begins revealing his character as he somewhat unexpectedly (but, oh, so satisfactorily) is attentive and considerate to Claire. Riding together he shares his kilt for warmth, hinting that there’s much more to him than his brooding good lucks and physical strength.
Riding along, Claire tries to figure out what in the world is going on and how to get back to Frank. When she makes the predictable escape attempt at the first opportunity, we’re glad it’s Jamie who finds her because we get the sense that any of the other Highlanders, save Murtagh, would choose a different course than Jamie when she resists recapture.
Instead of killing her, we see his exceptional, yet practical, Jamie Logic for the first time as he seeks to persuade her to rejoin the group. “Now, if you won’t walk, I shall pick you up and throw you over my shoulder. Do you want me to do that?” [She doesn’t.] “Well then, I suppose that means you’re coming with me.” [She goes.]
Their journey continues with Jamie remaining caring and solicitous, advising her to drink the ever-present whisky to stave off hunger. Claire remains in combat mode, using her nursing skills to bandage and tend his wounds as she had with countless other soldiers. Jamie’s gratitude is palpable, truly, and he says that enchanting word for the first time, “Sassenach.”
In episode 2, Jamie shares bits of his story with Claire in what is my first favorite scene — that sizzling one by the Castle Leoch fire where Frank comes up in conversation (oh yes, there’s that husband issue). Claire gives in to her despair, allowing Jamie to comfort her, and their mutual infatuation leaps off the screen (I’ve since learned that’s referred to as eye sex.) Their tenuous bond takes a solid turn with Jamie’s “You need not be scairt of me” declaration, offering up safety for Claire and countless possibilities for them (and us!).
As time passes, Jamie comes to understand and appreciate Claire’s gifts and strengths. He also observes Claire’s potential weakness in 18th century Scotland — her forthright manner — and understands it could spell trouble for her. She gets into some scrapes as she tries to fit in to the largely foreign Highlander culture and gain their trust, all the while plotting her escape. Her bond with Jamie grows stronger and his mission, which he clearly chooses to accept, becomes one of service to Claire. He serves as guide and protector while allowing her to make her own choices.
That leads us to the Gathering and what became my new favorite scene. (Because that’s a thing, isn’t it? New favorite scenes each episode.) When Jamie sees that Claire has consumed considerable Rhenish, his Jamie Logic makes another appearance. In order to safely escort her back to her room, Jamie convinces Claire that he needs her help with his bandage. Once there, he fesses up, of course, and tries to make a graceful exit. But, no, Claire decides it’s a good idea to check her work. Up close and personal, their fledgling relationship takes another step forward (more eye sex!).
What is certain is that Jamie understands the importance of a wedding and vows. He takes extra special care with the ceremony preparations and, when it ends, we are past ready for what happens next. We are entranced (yes, more eye sex) as their platonic bond transforms into something so much more.
I know y’all have your own special vision of “the wedding night” so I will not intrude. I think it’s fair to say, however, that it is an extraordinary evening and we simply adore how they come to love each other, right?
As her husband, Jamie moves effortlessly into the role of Claire’s Rock of Gibraltar. When he storms in and saves her from a fiery death, she finally tells him the truth — the whole truth and nothing but the truth — and, just when we think we can’t love him more, we do, because he believes her unbelievable story. We unknowingly observe his Jamie Logic at work, as he makes Claire and us think they’re on a journey to Lallybroch.
Later it becomes clear that what Jamie’s really doing is making memories for himself before selflessly taking Claire back to the stones, to return her to Frank (oh yes, there’s that husband). We are solidly on Team Jamie and and ecstatic when Claire chooses to stay with him (sorrynotsorry, Frank).
Despite his many wonderful traits, it’s obvious Jamie isn’t totally perfect and we cringe as his Jamie Logic sometimes fails him. When the dastardly infamous British officer comes back into the picture, Jamie must rescue Claire… again. Afterwards, he reveals the depth of his feelings for Claire as his anger, rooted in his love, activates his 18th century sense of justice, opening a divide between them wider than the Grand Canyon.
Yes, Jamie struggles with being a good husband, with struggle being the key word, following the norms of the time. We never lose faith in him, though, because he trusts Claire, he believes in her. Eventually he realizes that the old ways may not be the path forward. They make up, compromise as all good partners do, and reach a new understanding, taking a fork in the road from the old ways to the new, guided by Claire’s own sense of justice. Their love transforms into a deeply rooted oak tree, holding them together through the storms of tragic and traumatic events that unfold.
Jamie has his own horrific encounter with the dastardly infamous British officer, taking costly personal steps for his limitless love of Claire. He survives when most wouldn’t, but his Jamie Logic seems to vanish as he struggles to recover physically and mentally. Now it’s Claire’s turn to serve as protector and guide.
In season 2, they move to France where Jamie pours himself into running a business and trying to change the course of history. Without Jamie as her constant companion, Claire turns to medicine and to fashion. Her confidence grows and, when Jamie lands himself in prison, she learns how to sail her own 18th century ship. She takes her own costly personal steps, for her limitless love of Jamie, and to absolve what she sees as her own sins, including the loss of their first child, Faith.
Ironically, their enormous sacrifices lead them back to each other and they choose to bear the consequences together. The bond they feared they had lost was mended and restored, and they return home, to Scotland.
Claire hones her medical skills, literally practicing medicine on countless patients, gaining experience as a dentist, midwife, general practitioner and surgeon, becoming a beaton ball of healing. Jamie navigates the Clan system in order to rally and train troops as they strive to change the course of history.
When their quest fails and Jamie’s preordained death appears imminent, we see his Jamie Logic at work again as he convinces Claire they must part, seemingly forever. Jamie reveals that he knows their second bairn is on the way and insists she leave the life they’ve built together in order to save herself and their child.
Claire resists, despite her earlier promise that she would if it became necessary. Jamie helps her understand that going back through the stones is the only choice. Like a migrating bird, she must return to the life she had first accidentally, and then intentionally, chose to leave behind.
When Claire lands on the other side, back in the 20th century, it is in yet another deep and murky pond, one that is both familiar and alien. After much soul-searching, she decides she must change course in mid-flight and find a way to leave the past behind, build a life for herself and Jamie’s child, and to again be a wife to Frank. Burying her cherished Jamie deep in her heart, she takes flight in yet another different direction, this time with Frank, across the ocean to Boston.
The love between Jamie and Claire is once again transformed, into Claire’s devotion to her work and to raising Bree, Jamie’s daughter. We learn that it enables her to keep calm and carry on without Jamie through the life that will be revealed in season 3.
When Claire travels back to Scotland for the first time in 20 years, it gives her the strength to help Bree understand the truth of why her mother always seemed to live in another time. And, when Claire learns that Jamie did in fact live on, it compels her to choose him once again, to make the decision to take flight back through the stones.
Why? Because Jamie gives Claire what she needs most, what no man ever has — not her father, not her Uncle Lamb, not even Frank. It was no vase.
It is what all humans desire — Jamie gives Claire roots and wings.