‘Outlander’ Season 3 Episode 9 Recap: The Doldrums

Outlander Season 3 Episode 9

Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) in ‘Outlander’ season 3 episode 9 (Photo Credit: Starz)

Tonight’s episode for week nine of Starz’ Outlander season three is called “The Doldrums,” quite apropos! The chase across the sea begins in order to retrieve young Ian (John Bell) from the pirates who kidnapped him, bound for the Caribbean. This episode is dull on several levels, but the connection between our dashing couple is still red hot. I don’t mean to imply I didn’t like the episode; I thought it was great. It’s just one of those transitional points in any show that has to move the plot along, so it’s not particularly heart-pounding most of the time. You do have to further the plot, ya ken?! And time on the water is a complete horizon of nothing but water, so you can see why this would be called “The Doldrums.” Though, it wouldn’t be Starz’ Outlander without a few excitements, so let’s get to it.

The episode starts with a distinctly Caribbean feel to the Skye Boat song. Love the drums and new title pictures, keeps the opening interesting and fresh. As the crew make the Artemis ready to sail, Jared Fraser (Robert Cavanagh) gives Jamie (Sam Heughan) charge over his cargo aboard the ship. That’s the excuse for the ship to take Jamie, et al, along with them to Jamaica. If you don’t know that our dashing hero has the highest aversion to water travel, you will soon find out. Everyone’s joking at him about it now, but it becomes no joking matter soon enough. Bon Voyage Frasers!

As the ship makes way, they all take one last look at land. They sure won’t be seeing that for a long while. One by one the crew of the ship pass by Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie standing at the rail. They are touching an iron horseshoe for luck on the voyage. If you are not aware of how superstitious sailors are, you will have no doubts about it after this episode. Women are bad luck, redheads are bad luck, not touching the horseshoe is bad luck, and many more. The crew is predisposed to feel this voyage will be a challenge, even before they get fully out of port.

Fergus (Cesar Domboy) comes up with a surprise on his arm that makes Jamie irate. Marsali (Lauren Lyle) has come with Fergus, and they inform Jamie they are handfasted as of that morning. Handfasted is to basically declare yourself married before witnesses until you can make it legal before God with a minister. Naturally, the argument begins. Marsali had sent her mother a letter and puts Jamie over a barrel about her remaining on board with them. Fergus has not consummated the marriage, so Jamie makes the men stay in one cabin, and puts Marsali and Claire in the other cabin. No one is happy about this, but Jamie has to protect her virtue and by default protect Claire’s as well. No conjugal visits for our favorite couple either, it would seem.

Jamie’s seasickness kicks in with a roar. He has more than the average case of seasickness. You can’t get this clearly in the show, but the books do it up very well.

Jamie comes almost to the point of dying. If someone could vomit themselves completely inside out, it would have been Jamie. You will see how this is resolved a bit later. Claire does her best but she’s not the ‘physician to the rescue’ this time. As Claire is attempting to tend to Jamie, she’s called to tend to a man who had an accident.

Captain Raines and Claire have a short back and forth about the superstitions of sea travel when she dines with the Captain that evening. Jamie’s sick and could not attend the meal. The Captain is by far more practical than his crew, but he makes Claire understand that he does have to play to those fears or risk a mutiny.

Jamie and Fergus argue about Fergus keeping his courting of Marsali from him. Fergus throws the quick love that was between Jamie and Claire back in his face. Jamie makes Fergus tell Marsali about his other girlfriends prior to their relationship so she has the knowledge to make her decision. Maybe Jamie did learn something about hiding his second marriage. Then again, maybe not…

Yi Tien Chow (also known as Mr. Willoughby) comes in to check on Jamie. Mr. Willoughby (Gary Young) asks Jamie how long he’s going to let the retching continue. He explains some of the physical dangers of letting the vomiting continue for too long. (Fun conversation, to be sure.)

Marsali and Claire have a delightful {said in all sarcasm} discussion in their cabin about which bed they will use. Claire handled it much more patiently than I would have done. The word ‘whore’ would have been fighting words. But, they sort of call an unspoken truce long enough to go to bed.

The next morning, Claire enters the galley to see Jamie eating breakfast and is more than a little surprised. Marsali and Fergus come up asking again for Jamie’s blessing. Fergus proves to Jamie he told her the truth of his other girlfriends. They say they want to be married anyway. Claire tries to help, much to Marsali’s surprise, but Jamie still says no.

Claire goes up on deck to see Mr. Willoughby writing in Chinese in the dust on the deck with a paintbrush and water. Claire asks what he’s doing and he explains he was writing a poem. Naturally, the sun dries it from the boards quickly. It’s such beautiful work to just vanish like that. He’s an interesting man.

Outlander Season 3 Episode 9

Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) in ‘Outlander’ season 3 episode 9 (Photo Credit: Starz)

As the days roll on, Claire has to tend to minor injuries and various work she had performed in a simpler time. Claire ventures up to the cabin where Jamie is and catches Willoughby in the act of acupuncture to keep Jamie’s seasickness away. Clearly, he didn’t learn yet to refrain from keeping things from Claire. She asks why he didn’t tell her before that was how his seasickness stopped. Can Jamie just stop being a coward where Claire is concerned, sheesh man! Remember the days when you could tell each other anything?! Claire smirks and kisses him. Jamie pulls away to realize the boat has stopped moving. They have lost the wind. Now the fears about the superstition of the horseshoe are cranked up to a new level.

At night, Claire finds Jamie alone on the deck. Jamie’s staring out at the unmoving sea and they embrace, relishing the moment alone. They both look up at the moon and Claire explains she was able to see a man step on the moon shortly before she came back through the stones. Jamie asks what it looked like and Claire describes the barren wasteland of the surface. Claire tells Jamie one of the children’s rhymes she used to tell Brianna (Sophie Skelton) when she was young about the cow jumping over the moon. Jamie asks if Claire misses her. She simply replies, “Terribly.” Jamie wraps her in his arms all the tighter.

Weeks pass by with no wind. To add even more prodding to the superstition that brought ill luck to the voyage, most of the barrels of water have gone bad in the cargo hold. They now don’t have enough to last the voyage unless it rains. The crew start rumbling about casting the ‘Jonah’ overboard who did not touch the horseshoe before the voyage began. If you understand the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale, you know why they call the unlucky person a Jonah. Jamie declares to the Captain that none of his men will be thrown overboard. The Captain tells Claire and Jamie of his tentative situation in keeping the men from mutiny. If they decide to cast someone overboard, he would be unable to prevent it.

The crew start running down the list of who touched the horseshoe and come to one man who did not. They start calling Hayes (James Allenby-Kirk), Jonah. Hayes climbs up to one of the yardarms and Jamie comes out on deck to see the chaos. The ship’s crew yells for him to jump but Jamie tells him to stay. Jamie starts his way up the netting to save Hayes from jumping off to his death.

As all this activity is happening, Willoughby notices a seagull flying very low, just above the water. If the other sailors had not been so caught up, they might have noticed it too.

Jamie manages to save Hayes from jumping, but the crew is not satisfied. Jamie and all his men line up against the crew, severely outnumbered, and fighting almost begins. Yi Tien Chow rings the bell on the deck to get everyone’s attention. He starts to reveal the story of how he came to leave China. His tale engulfs the crew and calms the situation. I could not possibly do his tale justice, so I will leave it to you to watch the episode to hear his incredible story. It really is quite heartbreaking.

He buys the time needed and just as he finishes his story, the wind catches up the sails. He and Jamie explain what the low-flying gull mean when Claire asks, telling her rain is coming. Yi Tien Chow is hailed as their savior.

Jamie and Claire take the moment of everyone’s distraction to run down to the cabins. They intend to have their own celebration of the rain and wind. Conjugal visit, here we come! As they’re laying together, postcoital, Jamie says he likes the grey that shows in her hair. Claire calls him the King of Men, which of course he is. They agree that what’s between them down to their spirit and soul never changes.

Soon, a British Man-of-War appears. Jamie informs Claire the British ship could take him and several of the other men since they are subjects of the Crown. As the other ship’s acting Captain, Captain Leonard (Charlie Hiett), boards the ship and reveals he’s not looking for men, he’s looking for medical help. Claire asks what the symptoms are and believes she knows what it is that’s befallen the crew. Jamie’s not happy when she says she needs to go see the men to be sure. Here Claire goes again, not taking heed of her husband’s wise advice. Jamie tries to argue but Claire tells him what the disease is and that she’s been immunized against it, so she can’t catch it. Jamie remembers how useless it is to argue with her when she has set her mind to treating a sick person. Still, he’s not happy about her going.

Claire arrives on deck of the British ship and they show her down to the hold where the sick are crammed in like a horribly nasty nightmare. Every manner of upper and lower bodily fluid is covering every inch of the hold. She finds a man to examine to confirm her suspicions and starts right away with explaining how to stop the spread of the disease to the rest of the crew.

While Claire is making plans to get the sick above deck, the British ship lifts anchor. The Captain has sent word to the Artemis that they will meet them in Jamaica to return Claire. They need her skills to stop the spread of the disease until they reach land. And yet again Claire has put herself in danger. Tune in next week for more water and wind, hopefully ending in palm trees and sand.

Interesting fun fact: Do you know where the other ships, besides the Artemis, came from for this episode? They’ reusing some from the Starz series, Black Sails.

More on Outlander:
Outlander Season 3 Episode 1 “The Battle Joined” Recap
Outlander Season 3 Episode 2 “Surrender” Recap
Outlander Season 3 Episode 3 “All Debts Paid” Recap
Outlander Season 3 Episode 4 “Of Lost Things” Recap
Outlander Season 3 Episode 5 “Freedom & Whisky” Recap
Outlander Season 3 Episode 6 “A. Malcolm” Recap
Outlander Season 3 Episode 7 “Crème De Menthe” Recap
Outlander Season 3 Episode 8 “First Wife” Recap
Outlander Season 3 Episode 10 “Heaven and Earth” Recap

Exclusive Interview on Season 3 with Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore
One-on-One with Sophie Skelton
Richard Rankin Interview on Outlander Season 3 and Playing Roger
Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies Q&A

Follow Me


An entertainment junkie beginning to venture into writing. After completing BSM, MBA, and MPA degrees my new hobby is writing my first novel and dancing when I think no one is looking.'Outlander' fans can stay in touch with me on Twitter - @yellowrose816.
Follow Me

Comments are closed.