Consensus: There seems to be a mixed bag regarding this middling setup episode.
So Horrocks was like, "Give me all of the money you have and I'll leave for the States." And obviously this was a bad idea, because, guys, blackmail never ends. Never trust a blackmailer EVER. But Ian was like, "Jamie, I can think of no better thing to spend your inheritance on." So Jamie consulted Claire about using their family's financial future to line the pockets of an evil doofus, and Claire was like, "Well I might not even be able to haaave children, so...”
Awww, man! Claire has been canoodling with kids and babies almost since the series began. In fact, she was taking a break from helping Jenny to get through a difficult labor when she dropped this particularly heavy bombshell. Obviously, there are so many weird issues and pressures around being a woman and being a mother even in these times, we can scarcely imagine the kind of value placed on fertility in clan-based society in the 1700s, and Jamie and Claire are still newlyweds. Fertility fears are a big damn talk, and one Claire had not really counted on having (I honestly doubt if she and Frank even discussed it openly). And Jamie’s response was, as ever, ideal and perfect. He told her she was all he cared about and if having kids meant she'd never go through a horrible, potentially fatal labor then maybe it was all for the best. It was classic Jamie: 100 percent empathy and unconditional love and puttin' his lady's feelings first.
The tension of this episode was unrelenting. There were about 30 solid seconds of Claire and Jamie happily in each other's arms, but otherwise, this was an hour of white-knuckling it, and with Jamie now in the enemy's hands, our moments of dramatic relief are only going to get fewer and farther between. Can you handle it?! Thank goodness every frame of the series is as epic and resonant as a Bill Viola film or else I honestly don’t know if I could.
Confession: this one was hard to force myself to watch, no pun intended. After the relative gentleness of “Lallybroch,” and its cliffhanger ending, I knew “The Watch” was going to be full of unbearable tension surrounding poor Jamie’s fate. I was right, but the tension is relieved throughout this episode by lots of same-gender bonding, particularly the male kind. I was looking for Paul Rudd because the vibe of the episode was overwhelmingly bromantic.
Outlander: “The Watch” A lot happens, and yet, nothing happens
After everything, Jamie still gets caught by the Redcoats when The Watch is ambushed in off-screen action. That provides some direction for next week’s episode, but it could have so easily happened earlier in this episode—or even at the beginning—so the writers could get a jumpstart on the implications of his capture instead of dragging the pieces of “The Watch” out. It’s hard not to feel like Claire waiting three days for Jamie’s return—which never comes—when watching this episode. Outlander needs to start lining up the pieces for its finale, which is not that far off. “The Watch,” unfortunately, does little to move us forward.
Entertainment Weekly: Jamie's caught between a Horrocks and a hard place
Outlander the TV show has deviated from Outlander the book just enough that I wasn’t sure what to make of the concluding moments of last week’s “Lallybroch,” as Jamie stood surrounded by a band of dirty ruffians. Had disgruntled Mr. MacNab turned Jamie in after the Laird punished him for beating his son? (A plot twist that would have made Jenny’s line, “Our tenants are like family. Not a man, woman, or child would think of betraying Jamie to the Red Coats at any price,” a nice bit of foreshadowing.) Or had the estate fallen prey to a group of ruthless scoundrels intent on robbing and pillaging? Or was it all just a surprise party gone horribly wrong?
In actuality, it turns out the one supposedly committing larceny is Jamie! The Watch (imagine half a dozen kilt-wearing Paul Blarts) assumed our favorite ginger was a thieving trespasser since they’ve never seen him before. And they know the residents of Lallybroch well, owning to their frequent stays. Quick-witted Jenny smoothly clears up the misunderstanding. Sort of. “That’s no scoundrel, you fool,” she tells the leader, Taran MacQuarrie. “That’s my cousin, Jamie.” (Jenny obviously does not have a future in espionage. She couldn’t even give her brother/cousin a fake name!?)
Wall Street Journal
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, tonight’s “Outlander” installment, “The Watch,“ was one of those “calm before the storm” episodes. I won’t go so far to say that it was boring – because it wasn’t – but compared to the epic whirlwind of events that took place since the show returned last month, tonight’s episode was a bit on the slow side. Much of the narrative was based around faking out the audience that the Watch – a group of Highlander locals who offer protection from the Redcoats and other clans for money – posed a real threat to Jamie and Claire‘s safety. (Ultimately they did, but through a traitorous background player, not the men who initially had a pistol pointed at Jamie’s head at the end of last week’s cliffhanger.)
Decider GIF Recap: Scottish Babies, Irish Bastards, and Jamie Starts A Fight
Last week’s episode of Outlander ended on a rather tense note: Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) had only just settled in at Lallybroch, when Claire woke up to find her beloved hot Scot being held at gunpoint. What happened next?
Well, for starters, Jamie wasn’t shot in the face. That’s good. You know, because you would never want a face like that destroyed by a bullet.
New York Times: ‘Outlander’ Recap: Time to Kill
Oftentimes, when a TV show nears the end of a season, it invests in a table setting episode. That is, it produces a single episode that doesn’t necessarily move the plot forward but instead focuses on making sure that its characters are conveniently positioned for whatever the endgame has in store. On the surface, that’s precisely what this episode of “Outlander” appeared to be. In reality, “The Watch” turned out to be something much more mystifying: completely unnecessary.
IGN: OUT OF THE FRYING PAN
When people are repeatedly tried and challenged and repeatedly get past it, each instance of hardship carries less weight. Claire and Jamie have found a way out of every potentially lethal situation so far. We don't have any reason to believe they won't escape whatever is before them. That doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. It strengthens the idea that their love can overcome all. And knowing Claire and Jamie will solve any and all problems brings a particular test to the writers: They have to make us believe the peril is real and make sure it has impact. When they survive the impossible over and over again, Claire and Jamie should have the scars to show for it -- physical or emotional ones.
Vulture Recap: My Cousin Jamie
A handsome, if dinged-up, pocket watch lies on the leaves. Before it can explain itself, we return to Lallybroch, where a greasy-haired stranger, surrounded by other even rougher-looking strangers, has a gun pointed at Jamie. Claire doesn’t know what to do; luckily Jenny does. Put your gun down, she tells the stranger. This is my cousin Jamie. Cousin? Claire and Jamie play along and the stranger apologizes for being hasty.
The stranger identifies himself as [Gibberish McGibberish]. Ian hobbles in with a fake smile and gives McGibberish a sword that he had repaired for the man. Oh good, another lethal weapon, just what the doctor ordered. McGibberish is pleased.
Tom and Lorenzo
As for Jamie, we wouldn’t claim he deserves any of his treatment, but you can see why he’s constantly falling into trouble of one sort or another. You can also see why Claire fell so hard for him. Like her, he’s a bit impulsive, can’t keep his mouth shut when he probably should, and has a deep moral core that expresses itself in grand offense whenever it’s challenged. Even after being told by Jenny, Ian AND Claire to play nice with the watch for a few days, he was brawling with them inside of a few hours. That’s just the way Frasers roll. And in a way, you can’t blame Jamie for being reckless sometimes, because it really does seem like the world’s out to get him. Every action he takes always seems to have the worst possible repercussions. He looked to Horrocks to get him pardoned, then he wound up burying him after Ian killed him for being such a danger to the family, then he winds up riding with the watch because MacQuarrie discovered the killing, then he got ambushed by the redcoats. That poor boy just can’t get a break. Luckily for him, the women in his family tend to be badasses.