Episode 3 of The Time Traveler’s Wife begins with a video of an older Clare recalling her childhood. Six-year-old Clare always feels like she’s waiting. One day, she sees her mom taking a prescription drug and tells her dad, “I think mommy’s sad again.” He essentially ignores her.
Older Clare ponders that no one should meet their soulmate when they are 6. Still, she asks the audience to remember: “This is not the story of a time traveler. This is the story of a time traveler’s wife.”
Older Clare remembers hating Henry’s absence, always counting the days until he returned. During one visit, a teenage Clare asks if it’s funny that she’s called Clare and his wife is called Clare. He brushes off her suspicion.
One night, Henry yells for her in pain while her dad is hunting. Clare runs to look for him and finds a patch of blood. She tells her dad, but when she turns back, the blood is gone. When she sees Henry next, he’s perfectly fine. She asks if it could have been an older Henry. He tells her it could be, but he doesn’t want to know what’s coming.
Clare, at 13 years old, mentions to Henry that she has the odd idea that he’s married to her. He denies it, and older Clare remarks that this was the decent thing to do.
Later, he appears when she’s 16. She flirts with him and has scattered his clothes around. She makes him win checkers to get them back. Afterward, they go to the park and get ice cream.
The next time he appears, she leaves him a note. “Sorry, I’m at a party.”
She goes to the party, where she’s known as “Miss look, but don’t touch.” Her friends invite her to go to the balcony to stare at the guys at the pool. Clare leaves, and her friends ask if it’s because of the older man she was with at the park.
She denies that they’re together and instead goes to the pool. She has her eyes set on a guy named Jason.
Later, Henry hears her calling for him frantically. She runs for him, her dress and face covered in dirt. Just then, Henry disappears.
The next time she appears, that event has already happened for both of them. She tells him they’re going for a drive.
She drives insanely fast on the road and wants him to tell her where he lives. He says she’s not allowed to meet him yet. She drives on the wrong side of the ride because there’s another thing she’s not “allowed” to do: die.
He asks her what’s wrong, and she finally stops the car. She was waiting for him to ask. He gets on to her for what she did, insisting that whatever she chooses determines her future.
She tells him there’s a boy named Jason at her school. Since Henry can get away with anything as a time traveler, she wants him to kill Jason.
Henry calls himself (the younger Henry who works at the library) to tell him to have an alibi that night. He and Clare drive to Jason’s.
Henry uses Clare’s father’s gun to coerce Jason into the truck. Clare shows Henry the bruises all over her body. She insists Jason didn’t rape her, but he hurt her. He had said it wasn’t fair to him that she changed her mind, but she says she never told him she would sleep with him. He also burned her with a cigarette on her breast.
Henry tells her she needs to go home; he’ll handle this. She refuses. “We’re gonna hurt him; not kill him.” They end up taping him to a tree.
Older Clare says on video, “Of course he raped me. Of course he did.” Clare simply didn’t want Henry to know. She never told him. She also remarks that Henry has been dead for a long time.
Jason tells Henry to read Clare’s texts. He says she thanked him for “a great night.” She tells Henry she sent those texts because she feared him and didn’t want him to be angry with her. Henry believes her.
Jason claims Clare likes it rough, but Henry yells at him that she doesn’t, and he knows because he’s her husband.
Clare looks at him, stunned. Henry suddenly feels he’s about to disappear. “I don’t know why, but I think you’re going to need this.” He hands her a pen. “I love you.” And he disappears.
That night, after Henry disappeared, Clare called her friends. She used the pen to write the story of what happened with Jason on Jason’s body, and on the tape. She had her friends write their own stories on him of how they’ve been hurt.
Clare only saw Henry one time after that. Then she went to college and met him again when she was 20.
The Episode Review
“This is not the story of a time traveler. This is the story of a time traveler’s wife.”
It’s hard to take this statement from Clare seriously when the past two episodes have been almost solely about Henry. The time traveler’s wife has been mostly sidelined until now, in this series that’s named for her.
When we finally get a glimpse of Clare’s background, we see a tragic drama that, while hard to look away from, leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. The show even continues to use the cliché framing of video recordings–this time with Rose Leslie made up to look much older than her years.
The high stakes in this episode will at least have you on the edge of your seat, but there’s still nothing to advance the greater conflict. Except that one mysterious patch of blood…