A surprisingly tender and altogether superb episode 3.4 of Outlander on Sunday night — in fact, the best of this season and among the best of all three seasons so far, I'd say.
There's not much that's been tender, at least recently, in Outlander. But on Sunday Jamie, blackmailed to make love to one of the daughters — a virgin — of the lord of the manor, complies with the utmost of care of not only her body but her mind. And, of course, Outlander being what it is, she becomes pregnant with Jamie's baby, marries an "old goat," dies in childbirth, and Jamie has no choice but to shoot the old goat, who's on the verge of killing Jamie's baby. (OK, that part wasn't tender.)
But Jamie's love for his son is, as is his decision to stay and help raise the boy when Jamie's given the chance to go back home to Scotland. And the prelude to his eventually leaving, where he offers himself to the man, who both put his hand on Jamie's hand, then freed him from prison, was also one of the most quietly powerful of the series.
But in some ways the very best was saved for last. As Jamie at last rides off to go up north and those centuries, Claire and their daughter are on a plane back home, or their home now, which is Boston. And while these two modes of travel are happening, horse and plane, Dylan's "Hard Rain," nicely sung by someone who could be Claire or Brianna, plays soulfully in the background. That's what I call a fine piece of television, or movie making, and indeed there is no difference when the television is this deeply engaging.
But, if ever the course of true love didn't run smooth, this story with its time travel soft and strange would be it. The irony of Jamie finally getting to within striking distance of seeing Claire again, just as she's leaving those very future premises, is acute indeed. With all those allusions in Dylan's song keeping them apart, they have a lot to overcome indeed.