You can't really blame Laoghaire's daughter Marsali for resenting Claire on Outlander, but that doesn't mean you have to tolerate her attitude. In "Heaven and Earth," Claire is on the Porpoise with her, and a different side of Jamie's stepdaughter comes out. Spoilers follow. Marsali and Fergus on Outlander help free Jamie from his imprisonment on their ship, the Artemis, but not until after Jamie insults the young couple's relationship. Jamie thinks the two kids are foolhardy and not truly in love, but once they have him released, he gives their union his blessing. So is Jamie's initial disapproval correct? Will Fergus and Marsali's young love not last? Book readers already know the answer, but TV viewers may be surprised with where their story ends up — and it will most likely change your opinion of Marsali too.
The purpose of Jamie and Claire's journey to Jamaica is to rescue their nephew Ian, who was captured. But the trip does also offer them the chance to reconnect without Jamie's second wife around. Yet, matters became immediately complicated when Jamie and Claire's pseudo-adopted son Fergus boards the ship with his new bride — Jamie's stepdaughter — Marsali. The pair had unofficially and secretly wed in a handfasting ceremony and to get married in the church, they wanted the approval of Jamie — after all, he is kind of father to both of them.
Jamie vehemently resists the marriage at first, but this resistance most likely stemmed from the tensions that Marsali's presence would cause for Claire and him. Sure, Jamie was probably upset that he never knew Fergus was courting his stepdaughter and that Marsali had fled her home, but Jamie understands doing impulsive things for love and perhaps should have been more compassionate to their plight.
Jamie's selfish attitude toward their relationship becomes more apparent in "Heaven and Earth," when he tells Fergus he will approve of their marriage if Fergus helps him mutiny. It's unfair to bribe Fergus in such a way, especially since it means risking his life, which could potentially abandon Marsali on a ship full of men. But Jamie justifies this request by saying he's doing it for love. And so when Fergus denies him, he accuses Fergus of not understanding what true love is.
That's an unfair assessment, as Fergus proves by the end of the episode. Not only is Fergus correct in thinking that Jamie's plan is pretty stupid, but he chooses the safety of his intended bride over the opportunity to marry her. And it's Marsali who ends up freeing Jamie from his cell by convincing the captain that Jamie won't mutiny. Because although Marsali is a new character to viewers, she knows her stepfather well and respects him as a man who will keep his word. And she sees that trait in Fergus as well, which is one of the reasons she admires him.
Even if you aren't a fan of Laoghaire's daughter, she probably earned your respect in "Heaven and Earth." And the episode also gives viewers an intimate glimpse of Fergus and Marsali's relationship, which seems to indicate that these two do really love one another. As Marsali actor Lauren Lyle explained in an interview with ELLE.com, "I think they've grown up together, sort of, and they have a bond of some kind. And also, I don't think love has to make sense."
Lyle continued, "And Marsali is so brave that she gives up her whole life. She's from a teeny little farm, and she doesn't have that much of an education, and yet she throws herself on this boat and goes after what she loves, and doesn't give a sh*t what anyone thinks." And when you think about it that way, Marsali does seem like a character worth rooting for — even if presently she can't stop calling Claire insulting names.
However, even her relationship with Claire will change over time. Book spoilers follow. In the Outlander books, Marsali's opinion about Claire changes and they form a close mother-daughter bond. Their relationship also benefits from the fact that Marsali's relationship with Fergus is the real deal. And as of the most recent book, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, this couple is still together.
So while it took some convincing, Jamie is right to allow Fergus and Marsali to marry in Jamaica. And with their union, Jamie and Claire's family will continue to grow.