First Wife starts with Jamie and Claire returning home to Lallybroch with Young Ian. Claire and Jenny have their reunion in the dooryard where Jenny is clearly stunned. Both Jenny and Claire are clearly overwhelmed and Claire asks after the children who Jenny says are all grown and some with their own. Jenny goes to Young Ian and tells him he worried her half to death before smacking him on the head. He starts to comment but his father tells him to hold his tongue before it gets him into more trouble.
Ian asks Jamie why he didn’t just say the boy was with him as Jenny and he were worried. Young Ian tells them he didn’t want to be feeding chickens when he could be out earning a wage. He also confesses that Fergus said he was good at it and brags about the liquor he sold and the fire. Jenny isn’t impressed and Jamie squirms a bit but says they had a small fire.
Ian points out if the fire was small they wouldn’t be there and Jenny realizes Jamie lost everything which is why he’s home with his tail dragging and a stray (Claire) back after 20 years. Jamie defends their position saying an agent of the Crown sent a ruffian after him who attacked Claire and Young Ian tells everyone that Auntie Claire killed the man.
Jenny isn’t excited at all and sends Young Ian out. Claire tells her he wasn’t present when she killed the man and she had to defend herself as the man attacked her. Jamie thinks Young Ian was fine but Jenny doesn’t want him learning to be a criminal. Jamie snaps he treated Young Ian like his own son and the elder Ian thinks Jamie should punish the boy like he was his own son too. Jamie convinces them to give Young Ian a different punishment.
Outside we see Young Ian shaping manure and straw into round disks complaining that the job is for a lad. The elder Ian has to admit it is a good punishment and Jamie was right and Jamie admits Ian was right in telling him he should have informed Jenny and he that Young Ian was with him.
Back inside children run around and Jenny chases out Angus and Anthony who have been in the kitchens eating. Claire meets them and is told they are Maggie’s children the child she helped bring into the world.
Wee Jamie comes down with a child and Claire reminisces how he was barely old enough to see over a wash tub. Jenny informs Claire wee Jamie is now old enough to have three children of his own and as Jenny holds Benjamin in her arms she states he’s wet himself and Claire offers assistance but Jenny doesn’t want to frighten him with strangers.
Later, Jamie comes to the dooryard where Jenny is doing laundry and tells Jenny that Young Ian has mad enough dall for a month’s fuel. Jenny asks Jamie if he’s an authority in raise bairns and Jamie admits he’s not but says he’s an authority in being a 16 year old boy on a farm. He councils Jenny to give Young Ian some freedom while he still thinks it is theirs to give.
Jenny tells Jamie it is a mortal sin to take another wife while the first still walks the earth. Jamie tells her he wouldn’t have had he known Claire was alive and Jenny wonders why he didn’t share his grief with her. Jamie tells her he didn’t want to breathe let alone speak of it. But Jenny wants to know what happened.
Jamie tells her he meant to die on the battlefield at Culloden and because of the danger he arranged for her to hide with money to get safe passage to the Colonies but then heard the British went through the village (where she was supposed to be hiding) killing everyone but Claire has escaped and gone to the Colonies thinking he’d died in battle. Jenny isn’t buying it as she remembers the Claire that went searching the roads for him when the Redcoats took him and the Claire she knew would have never stopped looking for him.
Jamie wants to settle down on the land but Claire says Jenny can’t stand to look at her. Claire wants to tell the truth but Jamie doesn’t think they’ll be able to handle it even though Murtagh could. Claire tells him Jenny can cast a cold shadow on those she doesn’t trust.
Jamie still can’t believe she’s with him and tells her about escaping Ardsmuir and how he went to the Selkie Island when Kerr told him the treasure on the island was protected by a white witch. He tells her he swam out and searched but didn’t find her. Instead he found the MacKenzie crest on a stone that hid a small chest filled with ancient coins and jewels. He took one sapphire which he gave to the governor of the prison (to convince Lord John of his story) and left the rest.
Claire wonders why he didn’t take the treasure and go and he said he couldn’t leave his men. He was their leader. Claire tells him she wasn’t on an island but she was out there wishing he’d find her. Whenever she heard bird song she’d pretend it was him talking to her.
Jamie tells her if you kill a grey lag you have to wait for the mate and kill it too or it will mourn itself to death.
Jamie finally works up the courage and tells Claire there is something he’s been meaning to tell her. He was hoping to talk to Ned Gowan before telling her and she’s stunned Ned is still alive. Jamie tells her to listen but two girls enter and the younger calls him daddy while the other asks who that woman is. Laoghaire comes in calling Claire a witch and asking out Jamie could do this to her. Little Joan asks for Daddy and Ma to stop while a shocked Claire looks on horrified. Laoghaire tells Claire Jamie is her husband and Jamie gets her out of the room with the girls following while Claire reels.
Downstairs, Joan asks about the woman and Jamie tells her that she is his first wife who he thought was dead but she came back to him. He tells them he was going to tell her and her sister. Joan wonders about Ma. Jamie explains that Laoghaire and he don’t have a bond that keeps people together but does with the other woman. Joan says he’ll go away forever but Jamie says he’ll always watch over her and her sister. Joan hugs Jamie goodbye.
Jamie goes upstairs to find Claire getting ready to leave. Jamie says the marriage was a great mistake and Claire points out they have two children but Jamie tells her they aren’t his they were from another man but Claire can’t get past that girl with red hair so much like Brianna. Jamie tells her they have been married two years and he hasn’t lived with them most of the time. But Claire is mostly upset that it is Laoghaire who tried to have her killed. Jamie points out that Claire told him to be kind to her and she said she only wanted him to thank her.
Claire tries to leave and Jamie gets in her way. Claire calls him a liar for saying he never fell in love with someone else and Jamie says he never loved Laoghaire. Claire wants to know why he told her about Willie but not about this. Jamie said he was a coward and he feared he would lose her again. He’d risk anything to be with her again even though she left him.
Claire tells him he forced her to go back and now he wants to blame her. He doesn’t because it was for Brianna. She wants to know if he blames her for coming back. And he says no, yes, no. Then asks if she knows what is feels like to live without a heart? She knows and wonders if she really thinks she went back and lived happily ever after with Frank. Jamie says he imagined it and he wanted to kill her for it but Claire says she doesn’t have to imagine Laoghaire. Jamie say he never cared about Laoghaire.
Claire snaps that he’d marry a woman he didn’t love and he says he can’t win. Claire tells him he should have told her and Jamie says she’d have left. The two wrestle around and Jamie tells her he loves her and they tearing at each other until Jenny comes in and douses them with water.
Claire leaves and is downstairs when wee Janet tells Claire she went to get Laoghaire because her mother told her too. Jenny enters and Claire confronts her and Jenny says she is his wife. Claire says she’s Jamie’s wife and Jenny wonders why it took her so long to come back. Claire tells him she thought him dead. Claire says she wanted to come back to their family but Jenny tells her family writes letters.
Claire confesses to another husband and she had to put her past behind her to make that marriage work (epic fail). Jenny is stunned and asks if Jenny knew. Jenny wonders if she had bairns but she says not with him. She came back to visit Jamie grave only to find him alive. Jenny knows there is something more she’s hiding. She’s not sure she wants to trust her again.
Jenny is cleaning up Jamie and Claire’s room when Ian comes in and calls Jenny out for stirring up the trouble. Ian tells her he hears her pray for Jamie’s happiness and now she can’t let him have it. Jenny asks if it looks like happiness to him.
Claire is leaving when Jamie stops her and says he wants to make things right. Claire throws back his words about their being truth between them… secrets not lies. He apologizes again and tells her she’s the love of his life.
Laoghaire appears with a pistol planning to shoot Claire and Jamie steps between them trying to talk her down. But she accidently shoots Jamie. Laoghaire tries to go to him but Claire pushes her away and takes him inside.
Jenny and Ian come in and Ian asks who did it and Claire tells them Laoghaire which shocks Jenny.
Claire has Jamie lay on the table while she digs the pellets out of his arm and chest. Young Ian is impressed with her tools and she tells him they are from the Colonies. Claire sows Jamie up and Young Ian asks if she wants alcohol and Claire points out he’s the only one calling her Auntie.
Jamie is resting on a couch when Claire checks him and then asks him to tell her how he came to married Laoghaire. Jamie tells her after Helwater no one knew him. All the children were older and didn’t recognize him. Then at Hogmanay he was watching the festivities and two lassies came up and asking him to dance and he did. He enjoyed himself and feel in love with those children. He wanted to be a father and a husband and then he realized Laoghaire was their mother and she in need of a husband. He thought if he married her he could have those things but things didn’t really work out.
Jamie tells her that Laoghaire would go weeks without speaking to him and they always fought and he tried to be gentle but she was always afraid of him. He realized she was hurt in one of her marriages and he couldn’t bear the thought of someone being afraid of his touch.
Claire realizes he’s burning up and she makes him roll over and gives him an injection of Penicillin in his bum.
Later in the door yard, Claire sits down with Jenny. Jenny confesses she had a vision of Claire between Jamie and Laoghaire when they wed. Jenny tells her she never asked questions. They didn’t know Claire or her people. She said plant potatoes and they did which saved them many times. Jamie choose Claire and that was enough but it isn’t now. Claire says she loves Jamie very much and she never forgot him or them. Jenny says she was a sister to her and Claire says she loved her too. She just wants a second chance.
Ned arrives and Jamie and Claire discuss the situation and realize if they turn Laoghaire in then the girls will lose their mother. Jamie agrees to pay her alimony in the amount of 20 pounds up front and 10 pounds a year until her girls are properly wed. Jenny wants to know where he’ll get the money and he says the treasure on Selkie Island. Claire says he can’t swim out there with his arm and Young Ian offers but Jenny sends him off.
Jamie says he’ll take them to France for Jared to exchange. He wants to take Young Ian so he can see a bit of the world like he and Ian did. Jenny mimics Jamie’s words about giving him freedom and Ian asks they take better care of him.
Later they stand on the shore while Young Ian swims out to the island. Jamie notices Claire won’t look at him and Claire suspects they aren’t supposed to be together. She says they had lives and they weren’t that bad but Jamie doesn’t think it was better. Claire thinks things have been too hard and he points out it has always been hard.
Claire sees a ship come around the island and Jamie looks through his looking glass to see a boat approaching and Young Ian heading right for the men from the ship. The men find Ian and take him with them on their ship.
Jamie and Claire run trying to get closer but ultimately there is nothing they can do. They see he ship which now is sailing away with Young Ian aboard; the distance growing greater every second.
“The principal challenge for visual effects was to create an island when we didn’t have one; an island that would appear a fair distance off-shore and yet one which we could also stage scenes on.
The simple (in principle) solution was to use a headland with suitable building on it and remove the main coast alongside, creating the rest of the island as a matte-painting and then setting it out to sea in seascape plates shot for the purpose. It needed to feel desolate and hard to reach, battered by the seas and a place that would take a heroic effort to reach, with only one safe route through perilous rocks to sheer cliffs nearly all around.
The second main challenge was adding the “Bruja”—a substantial pirate or buccaneer's 18th century tallship. With it being far from practicable to bring such a ship to the location, or indeed to film one elsewhere at sea, the solution was to create an entirely CG ship. A longboat travelling to and from the Bruja was filmed practically at the location.
The final significant component to these scenes was to transform the modern landscape seen in a wide drone shot looking back from the sea into a wild highlands shore of the 18th century, replacing and extending the shoreline, cliffs and hills beyond. Derived from multiple reference photos taken at the location, this was a series of matte-painted elements projected onto simple geometry to create sufficient parallax for the camera movement.”
-Richard Briscoe, VFX Supervisor