Any Outlander fan worth her smelling salts will tell you, rather emphatically, that the Starz drama (and the source material upon which it is based, written by Diana Gabaldon) is most certainly not a bodice-ripper. And, well, they’re not wrong. Outlander blends historical fiction, action, and, yes, romance to tell the story of former World War II combat nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), an Englishwoman who inadvertently travels through time and falls in love with an 18th-century Highland warrior named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). And so the series is a bit of a genre-buster, luring male and female viewers in nearly equal numbers.
So, with Outlander’s fourth season underway, Vulture took a deep (deep) dive into the series’ many sex scenes, ranking all 20 [they only listed 19] using a complicated calculus factoring intensity, duration, mutual satisfaction, and plot advancement (with that last one weighted least heavily, because let’s not kid ourselves, we all know why we’re here).
All that’s left to do now is take a good long look …
[Since they started at #19, rather than #20, I added it via TV Guide. ~ Vida]
20. Take me Home to Lallybroch
Season 1, Episode 11 — “The Devil’s Mark”
Claire and Jamie have very bad luck when it comes to hooking up in the woods, but the night after Claire tells Jamie the truth about being from the future turns into a magical encounter. Jamie forgoes having full on sex and chooses instead to focus solely on Claire. “I want to watch you,” he whispers as he touches her intimately.
This is the first time that he’s seeing her for who she truly is and he knows that this might be the last time they’re together, which adds a whole other layer to his affections. Let’s be real, this move probably had a lot to do with why Claire didn’t return to Frank the next day, when Jamie brought her back to the stones that transported her through time in the first place.
19. The French Connection
Season 2, Episode 7 — “Faith”
In one of the series’ most transactional (read: least arousing) sex scenes, our heroine Claire offers up her body to King Louis XV in exchange for husband Jamie’s freedom after he’s caught dueling (a big no-no in 18th-century France). “I closed my eyes and thought of England,” Claire says in voice-over as she lies back on the king’s brocade bedding, fully dressed. Louis placidly thrusts half a dozen times (at least by my count) before finishing. And with that, the pardon is granted, and Claire is so over France.
18. The Honey Pot
Season 2, Episode 2 — “Not in Scotland Anymore”
After suffering unimaginable abuse at the hand of Black Jack Randall, Jamie struggles with the thought of ever being intimate with his wife again. So in an attempt to arouse her husband’s passion, Claire indulges in a French spa treatment (a.k.a. a wax), and shows off the results to Jamie. “Your honey pot is bare!” he exclaims. “I thought you’d be intrigued,” she replies. The two begin to make love, but Jamie stops abruptly as visions of Black Jack begin to appear. So instead, they simply go to sleep. It’s a heartbreaker of a scene, demonstrating just how broken a man Jamie has become.
17. The Long-Lost Lover’s Apology
Season 3, Episode 2 — “Surrender”
Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to describe Claire and Frank’s relationship after she returns to him in the future, pregnant with another man’s 18th-century baby. Their love life, as it were, is nonexistent — a state of affairs that would be easy to write off to Claire’s burgeoning belly. But after she gives birth, Frank is less accepting of her disinterest. And so one night, as the two lie in bed, Claire attempts to make amends. “I miss my husband,” she purrs into his ear. (Whether she actually means Frank — and not Jamie — remains to be seen.) She proceeds to straddle him and peel off her nightgown. After just a few moments, however, the scene fades to black before anything particularly interesting can happen — rather metaphorical, I’d say.
16. The Long-Lost Lover’s Antipathy
Season 3, Episode 2 — “Surrender”
I’m pairing these two Claire-Frank scenes together since one is really an extension of the other, as conditions continuing to deteriorate at the Randall home. Some time later, as Claire and Frank share a drink next to the fire, Claire again initiates sex, this time slinking out of her underwear and offering herself to Frank. He scoops her up and gently places her on the floor next to the warming blaze. “Look at me,” Frank commands as he attempts to have sex with his wife. “Claire, open your eyes!” He stops when Claire doesn’t acquiesce, accusing her of fantasizing about Jamie. “Claire, when I’m with you, I’m with you. But you’re with him,” he says. And with that final indignity, it seems that the doomed couple’s sex life is, truly, over.
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