Outlander Season 3 Episode 9 Review: The Doldrums

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Are you guys loving the new theme music as much as I am?

The story was stalled along with the ship on Outlander Season 3 Episode 9, and that was intentional. It doesn't mean that I enjoyed it, even if I can step back and appreciate the idea.

The lack of plot movement prompted me to focus on the attention to detail the production crew attends to though, and I found myself gleeful at all the little touches in "The Doldrums." There's always something to love about Outlander. 

Jamie on a Ship with Whom? - Outlander

Things like the engraved ships on Jared's brooch distract me from my initial distaste for the casting of Marsali. It's not that the character is rude to Claire; that's hilarious. Lauren Lyle just doesn't feel right.

It's strange that it didn't bother me during Outlander Season 3 Episode 8, but then again, she pretty much just looked shocked and did some dancing. Marsali suddenly seems much older then the 16-year-old we were expecting. 

But maybe familiarity will breed fondness. I find it hard to believe that after three years, the production team suddenly sucks at casting. 

Well, Daddy may think you're a wise woman, but I still think you're a whore.

Marsali [to Claire]

While I wait for Marsali to grow on me, I'll just keep humming that dirty little sea shanty to myself. 

If you didn't have the captions on during that scene, you need to go back and watch Outlander online with them immediately. The first time I watched, I thought it was a just a fun little ditty. With the captions on, it became extremely ribald.

It turns out that those lyrics have been cleaned up! I dirtied my search history up so you wouldn't have to; the alternative chorus is far filthier.  

Who are you calling a whore? - Outlander Season 3 Episode 9

Bear McCreary does not get enough credit. I mean, sure, he saddled us with that terrible take on Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy in Outlander Season 1 Episode 14, but he was only following Diana Gabaldon's orders on that one. 

We have three different versions of the theme song from him now, and I'm honestly hard pressed to pick a favorite. The original Song of Skye is hauntingly beautiful, and as a francophile, I adore the Outlander Season 2 take. 

But this most recent offering does more than changing the language, so I think it's a better change. There's more than language to define a place, and the added drums add to the Caribbean feel. More so than the French lyrics, it sets the mood for the rest of the episode. 

I'll tell everyone Fergus has already bedded me. He hasn't, but I'll say it anyway. So, you see, I shall either be married or ruined.


The joy that Bear's music brings me (all of the soundtracks are available on Spotify, FYI) distracted me from troubling plot holes like why Claire wasn't given her old clothes back while she and Jamie were still at Lallybroch.

And confusion over why Marsali would receive the clothes instead of one of the nieces. Maybe Maggie, who Claire literally brought into the world? 

Rembering Season 3 Episode 9

In addition to all the happy little distractions, there were some genuinely good scenes. 

I loved Jamie and Claire in the moonlight, with her reminiscing about Bree. On the surface, it was about Claire's one regret about leaving the 1960's. Touching in and of itself, especially since we know that the mother-daughter relationship was sometimes strained. 

But it became positively heart wrenching for me when I looked a little deeper and considered it as one more way that Claire was introducing Jamie to their daughter. With Claire as our main narrator, we get used to seeing everything from her perspective, but it's useful to think about it from Jamie's point of view sometimes. 

Milord, you forget. I know your story. If you were forced to marry Milady, then I am forced to breathe. My heart, it is forced to beat.


And then there was Fergus' plea to Jamie in their berth. One of the things that I regret the most about the show (and the books) is how Fergus' adolescence isn't attended to. What was he up to while Jamie was at Ardsmuir and in Helwater?

I mean, besides somehow having a menage a trois in the Highland countryside.

We may not know for sure, but his scenes like that one make it clear that Jamie was always his father. I honestly don't understand how Jamie thinks Fergus would marry anybody less than his soulmate after the example he and Claire (and Jenny and Ian) set. 

For the love of woman, I am come to a place where no woman is worthy of love, to a place where women are coarse and rank as bears, creatures of no grace. And these women disdain me as a yellow worm, so that even the lowest of whores will not lie with me!

Mr. Willoughby

Mr. Willoughby's life story was technically very good. Gary Young delivered his monologue with passion, hitting all the right notes. But I'm not sure how it's playing out in the broader context of the show.

Obviously, in part, it was motivated from desperation to save Hayes' life, and it worked. But when Claire asked for it earlier, he was unwilling to share so that he would not have to let it go. So I have to wonder -- what part was he holding onto?

Were the memories of how revered he was in China? Was it just the fond remembrances of home? Was he holding on to his anger about his treatment in Scotland?

And maybe the more important question raised: what happens now that he has let it go? How does that change him? 

In the Wind - Outlander Season 3 Episode 9

Those questions aren't going to be answered immediately, or maybe ever. The primary focus of Outlander Season 3 Episode 10 is going to be how to get Claire back from her English captors. Jamie will be butting heads with Captains Raines on "Heaven & Earth," no doubt about it. 

Claire may be pissed at the Porpoise's captain, but she's a doctor now. Besides, even before she took the Hippocratic oath, she wouldn't have done anything other than try and stop an epidemic. As long as there are ill sailors, she's staying on that ship. Once everyone is cured, it's another matter.

Older and Wiser - Outlander Season 3 Episode 9

Jamie's incarceration looks more intriguing, and I'm curious about the deal he's willing to make with Fergus. It puts the handsome Frenchman in an awkward position -- does he cooperate to get what he wants even though he knows Jamie is consenting against his better judgment?

We'll have to wait to find out what happens, but now it's your turn to share your thoughts about "The Doldrums." Did the episode get you down? What do you think of Marsali now that we've seen some more of her? Should the Artemis keep hunting the Bruja or follow the Porpoise? 

Let us know your predictions in the comments section below!

The Doldrums Review

Editor Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (46 Votes)

Elizabeth Harlow was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in October 2018.

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Outlander Season 3 Episode 9 Quotes

Milord, you forget. I know your story. If you were forced to marry Milady, then I am forced to breathe. My heart, it is forced to beat.


I'll tell everyone Fergus has already bedded me. He hasn't, but I'll say it anyway. So, you see, I shall either be married or ruined.