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Looking Back On Its Best Episode

Sing me a song of a lass that is gone… Outlander, Starz‘s sweeping period drama, has been delivering some of TV’s best romance and adventure for nine years now. The series premiered on August 9, 2014, bringing Diana Gabaldon‘s beloved book characters, Jamie and Claire Fraser, to life with the help of stars Sam Heughan and Caitríona Balfe.

As announced this winter, Outlander‘s final season (Season 8) will consist of 10 episodes. With the Season 7 midseason finale airing Friday, August 11, and Season 7 Part 2 on the 2024 horizon, there are 19 episodes left to bring Jamie and Claire’s on-screen love story to a close. Looking back on the series, there’s one episode that encapsulates everything that makes this TV couple and the series at large so great.

Fans, you know which one it is. Say it with me: “The Wedding.” Season 1 Episode 7 originally premiered on September 20, 2014. Considering how bleak the series gets after that, it’s one episode that merits several rewatches. Feeling forlorn is part of the Outlander viewing experience. This episode serves as the tonic.

In it, Claire has not long been stuck in 1740s Scotland, but she has no idea how she traveled back in time or how to get back to her husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies), in the 1940s. Despite her love for Frank, an interest in Jamie has already sparked, though Claire hasn’t acknowledged it just yet. The feeling is mutual for Jamie, but circumstances bind them together before their secret feelings ever have the chance to come to the surface.

Jamie and Claire are forced to marry in order to protect her from being taken by the villainous Captain Jack Randall (Frank’s ancestor and doppelgänger, also played by Menzies). The British army can’t take Claire from the pack of Highlander rebels if she’s married to one of them, so uncle Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) makes the hasty arrangements. What follows is one of the most romantic episodes of television you’ll ever see.

Neil Davidson / ©Starz! / Courtesy Everett Collection

It’s not the sex scenes that make this episode great (while those do help, and in truth the first one in this episode is intentionally awkward) — it’s the precious intimacy shared between Jamie and Claire as they nervously get to know each other after sharing their vows.

Flashbacks to the wedding preparations allow viewers to get to know Jamie alongside Claire. We see his romantic nature (fashioning Claire’s ring out of the key to his ancestral home), his love for his family and Scottish culture (the demand to be married in a Fraser tartan at the risk of revealing his identity), and most endearingly, his humor and storytelling abilities. Claire is unable to tell the full truth about her life because of its recent inexplicable events, but we get to see her tenderness and playful spirit return, traits naturally put to the wayside as she was in survival mode up until this point. It’s Claire’s first moment of peace since being thrust back in time, and it’s either luck, fate, or both that Jamie — the one person who could provide that respite — was chosen to be her husband.

Through this narrative structure, we get to fall in love with Jamie and Claire while Jamie and Claire fall in love with each other. And “The Wedding” makes falling in love as easy as breathing for both the main characters and viewers, establishing these intimate, private moments between the two as the series’ safest space. Thanks to Episode 107, viewers can trust that whenever Jamie and Claire are alone together throughout the series, it’s going to be a breath of rejuvenating air. It makes you crave these scenes just as much as the characters crave their reunions, and when they’re parted for those 20 years, oh, do we feel that sting, too.

“The Wedding” excellently balances Claire’s confusion over her unbelievable circumstances with her guilt over Frank and the necessity to make the best of this situation. Her world has been knocked off its axis, but Jamie unexpectedly sets it right. Who can blame her for leaning in?

Jamie and Claire feel like the only people in the world as they spend these hours connecting in the makeshift bridal suite (a cozy room in a rustic Scottish inn). Despite the brief interruptions from the party downstairs, the sound of laughter and music emanating from the celebration somehow makes the scenes in the suite feel even more romantic. And we can’t talk about the romance without addressing the sex scenes. While they alone aren’t what make this episode, they are inextricably linked to why it’s the series’ best.

Outlander sex scenes have long been praised as being some of the best on TV because of the emotional connection that informs each moment. “The Wedding” was the first foray into this. It showed characters asking for consent before touching (which, along with intimacy coordinators, was largely unheard of on TV at the time) and that asking for consent is sexy. And it wasn’t just Jamie asking — Claire, too, made sure to make Jamie comfortable throughout. It also flipped the script on typical TV sex scenes: Jamie is a virgin in this episode, Claire is not. Through their delicate, slow build to the emotional (and physical) climactic moments, these sex scenes become necessary to understanding the characters, their feelings, and their choices, making them vital to the plot.

“The Wedding” is one episode of Outlander you’ll want to watch again and again. But the buildup to it (as well as the episodes that follow) makes it even more pleasurable to watch. You could watch Episode 107 on its own, but watching the stories leading up to it make the payoff so much better. Outlander spans decades of these characters lives, jumping hundreds of years into the future and back several times. The first half of Season 1 feels so good to watch (and rewatch and rewatch) because you’re reminded of what it was like to fall in love with the characters. Of all the TV episodes I wish I could see for the first time again, “The Wedding” is the top of that list.

Outlander, Season 7, Midseason Finale, Friday, August 11, 8/7c, Starz

This story originally appeared on TV Insider

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