Spoilers for the Outlander novel will follow.
So one of the downsides of working shorter and slower is that I have not been able to speak to current episodes as efficiently, but since being asked for my thoughts prior to the episode, I thought I would share. Here are the thoughts going through my head as I prepare for it, and the advice I would give anyone if anyone asked for my advice. If you don’t want suggestions, consider maybe watching this nice video instead or remembering that much as I would relish it, I have yet to develop the power to bend you all to my will. 🙂
1. If trigger warnings are needed, I am giving you one now. If you have suffered through abuse and feel that you may gain more anxiety than pleasure from something meant to be a leisure activity, maybe sit this one out. Your mental health is first and foremost, and you are important. It is better to avoid an episode and read about it the day after to decide you want to see it than watch and propel yourself into an emotional black hole. Be responsible and take care of you, because you are real, and Jamie is not.
2. It’s gonna KILL ME. And yes, I’m all in. Those of you saying that you hope it’s not “too much”, or that you “hope you don’t get freaked out” and are “already sick thinking about it”… It will be, you will, and you should be, or else you are a robot (HI ROBOT!). Remember reading the book and having to put it down? SAME. Think of it as one of those freaky haunted graveyards you visit at Halloween. It is meant to be creepy and awful, and second-guessing the experience will only dilute it. If you feel like you want to dig a hole and live in it forever, tweet Ron and let him know that he has been successful. I bet he’d be thrilled. This is art, and it should envelop you and overtake your emotions. If it doesn’t, it’s not great art.
3. Yes, the actors are hot, and yes, the violence is not. Would I love to be any kind of nominal vegetable in between the beautiful sandwich meats of Menzies and Heughan? Absolutely. Anyone who knows my penchant for deli meats and witty men knows I’m holding the truth stick. That said, acts of violence on an unwilling victims are not sexy. I can celebrate and enjoy the beauty and talent of the men bringing this to life while still condemning real-world violence. No blurred line here.
4. Remember the moment. I have said it before, and I will repeat it now. There are series that make seminal, landmark moments in television history, and I believe Outlander is one of them. This is a scene that will be referenced for years to come, and which took no small amount of preparation, discussion, compromise and hours to assemble. It will likely hit the nail on the head for some and veer wildly off mark for others, but it will absolutely change the landscape of television viewing and cement the talents of the actors. For book readers, it is the culmination of decades, so even if you hate it, revel in it like a baby in a smash cake. Rewind. Drink. High five someone. Holy hell, they’re putting this on television!
5. Heroes are forged in fire. This is the event that shapes Jamie and Claire’s journey, the critical tragedy in Jamie’s life. There is a beauty in his rise from so dark a hole, and the part Claire plays in it. This one small part is a tragedy, yes, but what life is without it? Why do all of our greatest stories involve great loss, great suffering? Because stories are the way we tell others of our lessons, and it is in our deepest losses that we gain our most enduring strengths, we discover the relationships that matter most, and where we emerge reborn, better, nobler. So I’m not dreading Wentworth. I want the payoff. I want that growth. I want the kind of love that overcomes the darkest night. Gimme.
Wentworth is coming, and my eyes are wide open and I. AM. READY.
WITH A PILLOW.
And I’ll be here after if anyone wants to hug it out.
You guys, what can I say about this episode that hasn’t already been fervently prayed sotto voice or bitten longingly into a pillow? Not much, but I’m gonna do it anyway.
Thea Queen, stabbed through the gut, is dragging herself across the floor covered with broken glass towards the phone when Oliver comes home and finds her. What does she say to him? “I couldn’t stop him.” THEA JESUS F.
The fact that this is what she uses possibly her dying breath to say is incredibly telling of her mettle, and my pride in her somewhat helps with the void in my chest as I watch Oliver dial 911, press a blanket into his sister’s wound and tell her to hang on before lifting her up and carrying her out.
Outside the O.R., Oliver is asked to stay outside as the doctors work to save Thea, who flatlines. They manage to get her back, and Oliver falls back against the wall in numb relief. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be a wall so bad before in my life.
In the hall outside Thea’s room, Oliver holds himself as if cold (shock) and I am absolutely not looking at his arms when Thea’s doctor comes out to speak to him and delivers what is, in my limited experience as a hospital interpreter, notice that his sister is alive but basically brain dead. They can keep her alive, Dr. Depresso says, but he may want to consider other options…and she hands him what are commonly known as DNR papers. Oliver does not take them and seems to crumple in on himself, asking in almost a child’s voice, “May I see her?” and then holding in a sob as he is let into her room.
Inside Thea’s room, Oliver cries and apologizes to her and generally looks miserable but somehow still amazing and damn it it’s like my feelings are having a fistfight in my chest. Then Malcolm arrives and Oliver nods once in the negative.
I know Malcolm caused this, but he so obviously loves his daughter. Is it shitty, damaging love? Yes. Maladaptive in a sense that someone should do a study and document it for a textbook? You betcha. But oh God, Malcolm holds her hand and Oliver falls into a chair by her bed, his head in his hands as they both cry and my heart just breaks for them.
The Arrow writers are not f*cking around, y’all.
***FLASHBACK ALERT SUMMARY THINGY*** Something happens with the Alpha/Omega and Shreve and I don’t care. No f*cks in my f*cktruck, sorry, Yamashiros. ***END FB***
Diggle and Felicity arrive at the hospital where Oliver is just staring off into space like the saddest Easter Island statue ever. He doesn’t even react at first but when he does, it is to tell them how “they just left her there to die”. John starts to ask the obvious, but Oliver just says “It’s bad.”
Suddenly he looks out the window and sees black smoke-the League is calling him. Digg wants him to wait until they have a plan, but Oliver says there is no plan, because they won, and asks them to watch Thea as he heads out.
Oliver shows up to meet Maseo, and doesn’t wait for him to answer if he stabbed Thea before he punches him right off his feet. Maseo doesn’t waste time or any of his teeth by telling him that there is a way to bring his sister back-if only he will accept becoming the heir to the demon.
Oliver is packing his trusty GTFO duffel when Felicity and Diggle show up (who the hell stayed with Thea, guys?) to ask him what he’s doing. Oliver’s all “There’s a way to save Thea” and when Felicity nopes him, in saunters Malcom to tell them about the Lazarus pit.
At first they don’t believe him, but Oliver tells them he’s seen it and Digg guesses that it is an exchange, and that Oliver has to Heir Up.
Felicity lets Oliver know she is not letting this happen, even if it is to save Thea, and Malcolm says that it wouldn’t, because the person that comes out is NOT the one that went in. Oliver clarifies that they lost Thea because of him, and when Felicity speaks up, he cuts her off with a gruff “I would prefer that we didn’t do our usual ‘please don’t go’ dance.”
But that wasn’t what Felicity was going to say. She is going with him, because assuming this works, someone will need to come back and bring Thea home. Now they just need a ride- and to fix a dangling plot point.
Palmer Technologies. Felicity shows up and tells Ray that something awful happened and she needs a favor-his jet. As she tells him it’s really for Oliver, Ray takes the opening we all wish he would have taken several episodes back, but I can’t even hate because Routh kills it, and I almost feel sorry for him.
Almost. He tells Felicity that last night he realized what he should have a long time ago, that she responded to his I Love You with jell-o because she is in love with Oliver. Felicity apologizes and says that he is the last person she ever meant to hurt, and he very generously offers her the jet.
Felicity lies to the MD and says Thea is being moved to Central City, and Malcolm suggests trying S.T.A.R. labs first. He tells Oliver that even though he loves Thea, he would rather lose her forever than subject her to the pit. But Oliver is done caring what Malcolm thinks and just tells him to get on the plane.
On the plane, Felicity hands Oliver a blanket and an opportunity to think he’s “grown as a person” by thanking him for not objecting to her coming along. He tells her that he knows he hasn’t told her much about his time away, but he tells her about when he came back to Starling and killed Thea’s dealer, because he wanted to protect her. “All I’ve ever wanted to do was protect her. I failed.”
It is a lovely scene, quiet as not many Arrow scenes are, with a fragile sort of intimacy from Oliver that we only ever see him express in the most honest of times, and the fact that Felicity listens in silence. For once the woman who always knows what to say says nothing. It is a moment where they both feel their helplessness keenly, but they choose to feel it together, and their mutual presence in the moment speaks volumes that words can’t express.
Nanda Parbat. Oliver and company arrive in Nanda Parbat, and he is greeted as Al-Sahim.
As he walks forward with his sister in his arms, the assassins kneel. inside, he hands Thea over to Maseo so that she may be prepared, and shows Diggle to his room. Diggle immediately brings up that if Serab/Maseo gave a damn about Oliver, he wouldn’t work for the man that killed his sister.
In Maseo’s mind, Oliver is benefitting, but Diggle says he is not brave or powerful, but cowardly. Maseo then confirms what we suspected-Akio died in his arms with his father lying and saying he would be ok, and though Digg apologizes for his death, he asks if his son “would be proud of his father now”. OUCH.
Thea is lowered into the Lazarus Pit, and it is all very dramatic until it’s ridiculous. Honestly, I applaud the actors’ efforts but even though everyone looks suitably concerned as she is lowered and then fails to rise, I can’t believe no one laughed when she hissed like a demented frog.
Thea is out of control and Felicity watches as the priestess touches her with a wand she has dipped in a special powder and Thea passes out. R’as, who could care less about his incredibly sh*tty timing, just wants Oliver to know that he held up his end, and now it’s his turn. CALM YOUR TITS, R’AS. Damn.
Later on Thea wakes up in a room with Malcolm and Oliver both sitting on her bed and Digg and Felicity in the room.
She doesn’t recognize her brother and thinks that “Ollie’s dead,” but somehow recognizes and trusts Malcom as “Dad,” even if she discovered Malcolm was her father after Oliver came back from the dead the first time.
Malcolm chastises Oliver for what he did to his sister, but he argues that it saved her life and, even if she does think Moira is still alive, he, John and Felicity will take her home and she will recover. Not so on board is Felicity, who asks Oliver what that is worth, and stalks out shouting that it’s “Just wrong.”
Felicity sashays right up to R’as and tells him that she won’t let what he is doing to Oliver happen.
The Demon’s Head is almost affectionate as he speaks to her of her fire, and counteracts every one of Felicity’s objections with a calm, quiet assertion. When she threatens him with war, he pulls a CLASSIC R’AS and zigs instead of zags. He tells her of a woman he once loved, and a family he had, and how one night, a man showed up and gave him a choice: watch his family be tortured and killed, or leave without a word, and he left, enduring agony to spare them. “Sounds like you gave up too easy,” Felicity says, and I LOVE HER MOXIE. Still,R’as ignores her point to make his own: Life is short.
He says that she has an opportunity that he was denied: tell Oliver goodbye, that she loves him, and whatever her heart “needs to express” before he is lost to her forever. It is creepily kind, and eerily human, and as much as I like what happens next, it will never not be icky as %$#@ that this is who sealed that deal.
Oliver waits in what looks like a church vestibule, going by the candles alone. Felicity knocks and we see it is his room. She comes in, and they talk.
Oliver tells her that he has struggled with his identity, and even though he doesn’t know if he should be the Demon’s Head, that all his choices have led to that moment, and if that is the case, he is not sure what it was all for. “I do,” she tells him, and sits in front of him to look into his eyes.
She tells him that even if she wishes she could change his mind, she knows she can’t. She scoots closer and takes him by the hands.
Just how I know that leaving you here is going to destroy me. I don’t regret a single moment, and you shouldn’t, either. You have done so much. You have saved so many people…lives…and you have changed so many for the better- including mine. Knowing you has changed my life. You…opened up my heart in a way I didn’t even know was possible. I love you.
At this point I am doing joy-laps around my coffee table and my Twitter is blowing up like someone just declared independence.
What can I say? It is glorious. Oliver’s intensity and attention are one thousand percent focused on Felicity, and hers on him.
They are literally consuming each other with their eyes before any clothes come off…and then bless Odin, they do.
I won’t continue to soil this holy event with my word-vomit, but if there is an Emmy for hands, and Amell doesn’t win it, HE WAS ROBBED.
Am I warm or is it just the afterglow? Trick question:BOTH.
Later that night, Oliver is looking at the moon and probably howling like the lucky dog he is when Felicity saunters over on her sex-legs in a robe I need right now and reminds him they just made the assassin with four backs.
Oliver, for some reason, is fully dressed and tells her quietly that he’s glad he hit it, which is always nice to hear and makes this look appear on Felicity’s face because Felicity is a breathing human female.
They kiss and smile and there are dimples EVERYWHERE.
Oliver asks about the bottle she is holding, and she hopes it’s something alcoholic. She comments that there’s not much to toast to, and he sweetly, gruffly says “There’s us.” This gets another smile, and after Oliver drinks…an apology.
Even though she knows the likelihood of them escaping someplace R’as can’t find them is small, Felicity has to try. “I can’t lose you,” she whispers to a rapidly-fading Oliver. “I won’t.”
Now I heard there was some hate in the fandom for Felicity here drugging her man to save his life. Remember that time they stabbed Roy to save Oliver? THEY STABBED A DUDE. Putting some Nanda Parbat Nyquil in his wine to save his life barely even registers on the Arrow morality scale, Inquisitors.
Later on, Felicity is dressed and discussing her crazy plan with Malcolm and John, who are both aghast and not real positive about her chances of escape. She doesn’t care, because she is desperate, and she can’t leave him.
She tells Malcolm she knows there has to be a secret tunnel he knows of, and snaps at him to not “even try to play games” with her. Malcolm tells her about the catacombs, which they can reach through the Temple. Felicity tells him to get Thea and meet them in five. When he starts to object, she shouts at him to go.
Malcolm gets Thea and manages to clear the way down the hall. Diggle is carrying a passed out Oliver over his shoulder like a drunken fiancé at a stag party, which, let’s face it, is pretty much what this was.
As they enter the Temple they are helped by a figure in black: Maseo, who recovers just enough humanity to shoot someone for a friend and tell them which tunnel to take. They stop because Thea panics, and are surprised by League members in the hall.
Just as Malcolm is advising against being taken alive, Oliver pops up and declares himself Heir to the Demon, and orders them to obey.
He dismisses them to tell R’as he’ll return shortly. At Felicity’s desperate, “Oliver, please!” he tiredly thanks her for trying, and says he loves her “all the more for it-but this only ends one way.”
Outside, Oliver stops outside the city entrance and tells Diggle that even if the jet is near, there is nowhere for him to go. Thea questions why he is not coming with them, but he tells her in a voice gruff with tears that Malcolm will watch her, and that he loves her. “Don’t ever forget that, okay?”
He wipes his face as John tells him he he doesn’t know what to say, but Oliver smiles at his friend, and tells him he is the best man he has ever known. “Whatever happens, you’re my brother.” They hug, and it’s manly and gorgeous and this is when the actual tears start falling down my face.
Now the final twist of the knife to our collective guts.
Oliver walks up to Felicity, and she tells him she is afraid that she will never forgive herself for leaving him.
He reminds her that she told him once that life was precious, and that the only way he can get through what he needs to is to think of her happy.
Felicity deadpans that they are always saying goodbye, and you think they would be good at it by now. Oliver winces sharply and his eyes water, and he quickly smiles down at her. “Let’s not say goodbye this time.”
They kiss, and it’s bittersweet- sweet because no one is shutting that Pandora’s box anytime soon and it is so good to see open affection between these two, and bitter because it is an unwilling goodbye from two people who only just managed to get their sh*t together, romantically speaking.
Felicity pecks him one last time and rests her forehead on his for only an instant before walking briskly away and not looking back.
LOOK AT HIS CRUSHED BROKEN FACE AFTER HE KISSES HER JESUS WHY.
For a moment Oliver looks lost, and then he squares his shoulders, turns, and walks back the way he came.
Starling City. Thea wakes up and remembers she hates Malcolm, but not where her brother is. Malcolm explains that Oliver traded his life to save her, and that the joined the League. He also tells her that now the LoA is no longer after him. He is free, and he wants to stay and care for her.
I guess Laurel needs to know Oliver is gone, so Felicity tells her and cries in her arms. Okay, I guess?
Nanda Parbat. R’as is vengeance-stabby and wanting to punish someone for Oliver’s escape, but Oliver tells him that he stayed and that no one close to him can be hurt anymore.
R’as then asks for the name of the traitor who helped him through the catacombs, and even though Oliver does not say, Maseo confesses.
R’as doesn’t kill him because he is happy he confessed and recognizes that it was Maseo, not Serab, who acted. He tells him that Oliver will need him in the coming weeks, and explains to Oliver that vestiges of his old identity still remain, but “Oliver Queen must be extinguished from memory.”
Later, R’as monologues about etymology and tells Oliver that every man there has gone full Borg, giving up his identity. He brands him, and Oliver dons his LoA gear for the first time.
Evil? Maybe. Still hot? DEFINITELY. I’m still in.
Thanks for reading till the end, and for bearing with me as I took some time off. I’ll be catching up now, but I might do a shorter 321 if any at all. If you like, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.
Rest of my Arrow stuff linked here.
The specific reference in the title we’ll find out later in the episode, but as I watched this I couldn’t help but take note of a couple of themes. First, every character here had at least one weakness on prominent display. This episode wasn’t only about good and evil, but about virtues and flaws, and how their expression or repression affects outcomes, and through those outcomes, lives. I think we are taught to think of people as bad or good, when really each choice has potential to color our perception and that of others. The second thing I noticed was otherness, and how we as people compare and contrast ourselves to those around us. The us vs. them mentality was strong, but there were also lovely moments when unexpected connections occurred that were very moving.
And speaking of moving….
Claire and Geillis are introduced to their new quarters via gravity, that is to say they get tossed into the thieves’ hole to await their trial with only rats, stale bread and each other for company.
Geillis immediately sets upon Claire with her suspicions that perhaps she had a hand setting her up, but Claire says it was Laoghaire, and tells her how she sent the letter and watched the wagon take them. Geillis tells her she should have kept her secrets, and Claire, scared and exhausted, said that her maid Jeannie told her where she was, and maybe she shouldn’t have made it common knowledge that she was “under the full moon, dancing naked and burning effigies.”
Now that they are alone have nothing to lose, the truth comes out. Geillis asks Claire if she thinks her a witch, and Claire comes clean with her assertion that, although she was not involved in the death of Dougal’s wife, Geillis did poison Arthur Duncan. Geillis’s reaction is a smirk, a raised eyebrow, and silence.
They are at separate corners harrumphing at each other when Geillis throws the towel in first and tells Claire that she started poisoning her husband a few months back in hopes that he would die before the baby began to show. It is done in such a matter-of-fact lighthearted tone, it makes you wonder about the young unmarried Geillis, and what brings a young woman to such a place, emotionally, that a man’s life is an inconvenience to be dealt with in such a way. Claire is suitably disgusted, guessing that she wanted to be free to marry Dougal.
“Mm-hmm,” Geillis asserts, and then tells Claire that the baby is a boy, and tries to take her hand so she can feel him kicking, but Claire isn’t having it and snatches her hand away. The guard comes and tosses stale bread for them to share, and Claire, her calm veneer falling off like a scab, screams desperately that there has been a mistake, and that she is the niece-by-marriage to the Laird of Leoch. “And I’m King Arthur,” the guard deadpans.
Geillis follows this up with a joke of her own, just in case we haven’t gotten the message yet that she’s the calm one. Claire sighs, and Geillis walks over to her to reassure her and tell her that they won’t be there long, as Dougal will come for them. Claire tells her that Colum banished Dougal and Jamie after he heard of her and the child. “No one is coming, Geillis.”
The redhead reacts to this with a steady gaze and silence, walking over to gather the bread and offers to share. Claire isn’t hungry and wants to know how long they will be there. “Till the trial, of course,” Geillis explains, saying that they are summoning the examiners. She tries to get Claire to lay next to her so they can share warmth, but is refused without a word.
The next day they are woken by cries of “We’re going to burn the witches” and a ladder is lowered in so they can climb out and be led by handcuffed hands to the church, site of the trial. On the way they pass the construction of a dais and a rudimentary stake, and an outraged Claire asks if that is what she thinks it is. “Well, it’s not a maypole, Claire,” is Geillis’s tart reply.
I bet Geillis is great at roasts.
The women are made to stand in a box facing the inquisitors while they are formally accused of witchcraft, and that they did “inflict pain, suffering, and death upon the citizens of Cranesmuir by their practice of the unholy arts.” The women glance at each other, and once again, Claire is noticeably more upset than her friend.
Claire’s voice over contemplates the lack of friendly faces in the crowd and the historical unlikelihood of an innocent outcome. Suddenly, a familiar voice sounds from the blocked doorway, and THIS PRECIOUS NUGGET makes his presence known.
Ned Gowan has come to court to establish himself as defense counsel, and boy does he-first trying to get the trial dismissed on grounds of illegality (the Witchcraft Act of 1563, he helpfully tells us, was repealed in 1735).
When the crowd objects, the inquisitor tells him that theirs is an ad hoc proceeding under church administration. Ned notes that if this is the case, English law no longer applies, but in Scotland an accused witch still has the right to a defense counsel, and the inquisitors grudgingly accept. Ned tips his hat infinitesimally to Claire as he takes his place, and she mouths a fervent “thank you.”
First witness is called, Geillis’s maid, Jeanie Hume. She testifies that she was the Duncan’s housekeeper for “nigh on five years” and that she witnessed many women come to their door looking for talismans and potions. She also implicates Claire, saying that she would meet Geillis in the woods to gather herbs for potions.
Claire notes that her testimony was “rigorous and detailed,” but Geillis laughs at some of her more outrageous assumptions. Finally, when she claims the family cat avoided Geillis because animals “can sense evil,” Ned interrupts to ask if they are now taking testimony from cats.
He uses the pause and laughter to ask Jeanie if it was true she was unhappy in her position, and then methodically reveals the names she used to call her masters, and that she went to Leoch looking for a position because she was “underpaid and under-admired.” Ned finishes by telling the inquisitor that these are just the “grumblings of a malcontented maidservant,” and Jeannie is dismissed.
The next witness is called, Robena Donaldson. When she begins to speak, we know who it is. She tells of how she and her man had an “ailing child” who they knew to be a changeling, and that they placed him in the fairy seat and waited for the wee folk to come. In the dawn, she saw Claire, and how she held the child “in her vile embrace” and “spoke strange spells over it,” so that in the morning the fairies left the child behind, dead, “and no sign of my own wee bairn.”
She lunges at Claire, blaming her for the “wicked deed,” and Claire rushes to try to explain herself, to say that she was a healer and that she could not leave a sick child be. “So you admit it,” the inquisitor says, and the crowd erupts in cries of “Witch!” Claire desperately tries to explain herself to those assembled as Geillis shushes her, but it is not until Ned comes over and begs her to “not further incriminate” herself that she realizes she has done more harm than good.
Ned gives the grieving mother his deepest sympathies on the loss of her child, and asks why she allowed Claire to interfere. Mrs. Donaldson admits she “was afeared,” and he kindly asks if her fear did not interfere with the process of the fairy exchange, to which she nods miserably. He then says that it is at least a comfort that it was not her child who died, and that he is “healthy and living forever among the fairies.”
Ned even asks if maybe Claire should be thanked, and just like that, the inquisitor dismisses another damning witness. Claire silently notes that despite “Ned’s skill at turning an argument on its head” that the people in the crowd still only want one outcome: to see them burn.
The next witness, a young man named Alistair Duffie, speaks against Geillis Duncan, saying that she flicked lightening out of her hands and she “leapt into the sky and flew like a great, wing’d bat”. This makes Geillis snort and Claire shout out that the accusation is “preposterous,”
but the crowd eats it up.
The inquisitor calls a recess until the morning, and the women are escorted out. Ned intercepts Claire and tells her that although he is cautiously optimistic, “there is grave danger afoot.” Claire asks if Colum sent him to defend her, but he says on the contrary, the Laird “would not look favorably” on his being there.
Claire, surprised, asks if he had something to do with her arrest, and when Ned does not answer, she insists as she is dragged off. Ned’s only answer is to press a flask of whiskey into her hand and tell her to drink it so it will keep her warm.
Back in the thieves’ hole, Claire drinks, and passes the flask to Geillis, who asks about Ned Gowan. “He seems optimistic,” Claire says, but Geillis counters that Claire doesn’t understand, and they mean to kill them. “Drink tonight, Claire…for tomorrow our ashes will be scattered to the four winds.”
Claire, curious, asks if she was with Dougal for the power and money, and they pass the flask back and forth as they talk. Geillis answers that she had plenty of money. She knew where Arthur kept his keys, she could forge his writing and had managed to divert “near on one thousand pounds over the last two years.” When Claire asks why, she says that for “our Bonnie Prince Charlie, a Stuart King back on the throne.”
Claire is flabbergasted that she, too, is “a bloody Jacobite,” and that it was politics that brought she and Dougal together. Geillis says that he was the only man she ever met that could be her “proper match,” and she doesn’t even mind when Claire points out that he’s not exactly faithful. To Geillis, Colum is a man who fights for one clan, while his brother fights, for all of them, for all of Scotland. “The man’s a lion,” she finishes.
This causes Claire to repeat, almost verbatim, the amazed assertion that Colum once made to Dougal about Geillis. “God…you actually love the bastard.” Geillis looks away. “Your words, not mine,” she demurs, but then looks stricken at a sudden thought, and her voice breaks at the end of it when she voices it, staring up at the dim light. “Though Colum ordered him to go…and off he went.”
Claire apologizes, but Geillis tells her not to. Ehatever happens with the examiners, she would do it all again to know she helped The Rising. “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country…” Claire quotes, and Geillis focuses on her, alert. “Nicely put,” she compliments, staring at her. After a pause, she asks about Claire. “Do you love him, your ginger-haired laddie, Jamie?” Claire only smiles while taking her hair down. “It’s his name you cry out in your sleep,” Geillis tells her, and Claire freezes, hand on her ring. She doesn’t say anything, but the silence is telling.
There is no more talking after that.
The next morning finds the women curled up together with their hair intertwined on the rock, and it seems that whatever else the whiskey did, it brought them unity of purpose and probably a decent hangover. Ah, sisterhood.
Claire wakes first and jokes to Geillis that if she were a witch, now would be a good time to prove it and use her powers. “Same to you, my friend,” Geillis replies, getting up. Suddenly, Claire sees a starling through the grate. She recalls going to Brighton as a child and observing a murmuration, birds moving together "in perfectly synchronized patterns.”
Geillis wonders why, and Claire says that it is to protect each other from falcons. “Safety in numbers?” Geillis looks at her, saying that the two of them hardly make up a flock, "though according to witnesses, I have been known to take wing.”
Now I am not sure what they symbolize in the Old World, but the starling among some Native Americans is commonly thought of as an omen of change, the end of a cycle, and of communication-learning one’s place in a system. I am not sure if the deeper meaning was intentional, but it was lovely to think of it, and to see these two smart, independent women reconnect.
Both women smile at each other, and the moment is broken by the guard, coming to collect them to continue the trial. Right before the ladder is lowered, Claire presses her hand to Geillis’s belly, and she in turn kisses it. At this point, I don’t even care who is bad and who is good. There comes a point where survival makes friends of us all, giving a sort of nobility where none existed, and they are living in that moment.
In the church, the inquisitors call the next witness and you can tell how bad it is by the look on the women’s faces.
Not only does she walk in like she’s about to box, she gets introduced that way, too (Leeeeeeeeeeery MacKENZIE!) Laoghaire is no dummy, dressed conservatively and speaking about how she met Claire when she was Mistress Beauchamp. "I came to her for a potion that would open Jamie Fraser’s heart to my own.”
Here she stops, sniffling, and says that it is painful for her to speak of, because she was the one Jamie was meant to marry, and instead, Claire drank the potion herself. The looks that she gets from the two women are priceless. Even dirty and imprisoned they are like “BBY PLZ”.
The crowd erupts and the inquisitor asks if she made the potion, but Claire’s denial is not absolute and frankly not even that great a denial, saying that it “wasn’t really a potion” and that she just wanted to help. “She hexed Jamie and turned him away from me,” Laoghaire says plaintively, and Claire calls it “nonsense”.
Ned attempts to calm the situation down by saying that clearly she is “a jealous young lass with a broken heart,” but Laoghaire isn’t going quietly, pulling out the big guns. She asserts that yes, her heart was broken and when she confronted Claire, “she struck me.”
The inquisitor asks Claire if she struck her, and she evades the question, stating that not only did Laoghaire put an ill-wish under her bed, but “she tried to seduce [her] husband.” Aha. So Jamie did tell her.
“He was the love of my life,” Laoghaire says brokenly, and starts to cry.
The crowd sympathizes with her, and Claire sees it, so when she begins shouting that Laoghaire set her up to be arrested and that the entire thing is a ploy to get to her husband, the inquisitor has had enough with her speaking like someone gives a damn about her thoughts and yells at her to be quiet. “Yer an embarrassment to yourself!” He dismisses Laoghaire and calls the next witness, Father Bain.
Maybe I just see him this way because he looks like he could use a good night’s sleep. In a cave. Upside down. The priest begins dramatically, saying that when he first set eyes on Claire he knew the people of Cranesmuir had welcomed “the whore of Babylon” and that he had fallen to his knees and prayed for God to “curse her malevolence and wreak his mighty vengeance upon her, body and soul.”
It’s not good, and once again Ned tries to diffuse the tension by dryly asking they are at a trial or a sermon, but no one’s playing along. This is their spiritual leader, and they are all hanging on his every word. So it’s a surprise when he says that God answered him by telling him that he had made “a prodigious mistake.”
He tells them that he administered the Last Rites to Thomas Baxter and gave up hope, but that Claire realized he was poisoned and did what he could not, save his life. He then kneels and tearfully asks the congregation to hear his confession. He says he failed them, Thomas Baxter and God, and no longer is worthy of serving them.
A man in the crowd shouts out that it is Claire’s ploy to drive a man of God away, and the crowd erupts once more.
The inquisitor forbids the priest to leave and tells Claire, who is once again shouting in her own defense, to be quiet. He starts to render a verdict when a panicked Ned asks and is granted a brief recess. As he speaks to the judge, Father Bain turns and smiles at Claire, and we see that this was his plan all along.
Ned ushers Claire and Geillis into what I assume is the rectory, and tells them that the “climate has turned.” Claire asks what they do, and he says they save one of them. Claire says neither of them is a witch, but Ned, good lawyer that he is, says that what matters is what people think they are.
He tells Geillis that people thought her a witch long before Claire, and that she has been practicing “her murky trade for years” and that “the only thing that ever stood between her and a pile of kindling was her husband and now he’s dead.” Geillis asks if he is her lawyer or her judge, but he says he has tried, “but you are beyond saving, and you ken it.”
Ned advises Claire to say that Geillis drew her in, bewitched her, and that if she doesn’t, they’ll burn them both. He leaves to give them a moment to think about it, and Geillis, so long the calmer of the two, finally panics. She asks Claire why she is there, and after two false starts where Claire feeds her the same story she has held to be true all this time Geillis shouts, “No more lies, Claire!”
Her voice breaks when she tells her that is she is going to die, to burn as a witch, she needs to know she is dying for something. “So tell me now, and I need the truth. Why are you here?” Poor Ned picks that moment to interrupt and tell them the crowd is growing impatient.
Claire asks for a moment and when he tries to dissuade her, she shouts it at him and he shuts the door. Claire then turns to Geillis and yells, “It was an accident!” She swears she did not come for any reason, but that it was an accident. Geillis realizes that Claire “did not want to change things” and had no real purpose. “I just want to go home-I don’t even know if that’s possible,” Claire cries as Geillis takes a moment apart, muttering that it is all been for nothing. I’m so used to seeing this character rally that even if it was a while coming, it is very jarring to see her so broken down and existentialist.
Ned picks that moment to come in and say there is no more delay, and asks them what they are going to do. Claire is silent, and this is it. Backed into a corner, Geillis chooses her fate with the same panache that has made this character so endearing, even when her actions have made us doubt her morality. Geillis sails out of the room and past both Claire and Ned, saying “Looks like I’m going to a f*cking barbeque!”
As the trial resumes, Ned tells the inquisitors that Claire would like to address the court as Geillis looks defeated. Claire stands, takes a look around the room and finally, down at her friend, sitting at her side. Geillis’s armor is back on, but when she feels Claire’s gaze she looks away. “Mr. Gowan is mistaken,” Claire says, sitting back down. “I have nothing to say.”
Ned looks concerned, but not surprised, but Geillis is stunned, pulling at Claire’s arm to get her attention and asking her if she is mad. “Maybe I am,” Claire replies tearfully, and Geillis’s eyes fill up as well at the completely unexpected kindness and loyalty of her friend.
This is a woman who has been many things, but it does not seem like understood was one of them, and for once Claire sees her, knows her, and accepts her for she is. It is a watershed moment in any relationship, but more so for two women who are facing the potential end of their lives.
In the meantime, the magistrate has stood and pronounced judgement on both women: guilty, punishable by death. They are ordered to the pyre, and as stouthearted Ned runs over and brandishes his pistol to try to prevent the women being taken, Geillis tells Claire that she thinks what she asked about before may be possible. “What?” Claire asks, confused. “1968,” says Geillis.
Suddenly, Ned’s gun goes off into the air and, threat nullified, he is carried away as the guard comes to take Claire, who is shouting that they are all murderers and will burn in hell. The magistrate, sick of her, orders her stripped and ‘skelped”: whipped. As she is being held up, Laoghaire tells her she will dance upon her ashes because GOD FORBID she let one of the worst moments of Claire’s life go by without trying to make it even a LITTLE BIT worse. Across the room, Geillis watches with genuine pity.
The guards rip her dress open and begin to whip her. Nine lashes during which Claire makes eye contact with Geillis, and the latter cries in sympathy as her friend is struck while the crowd cheers and Claire cries loudly in pain. For me this is worse than Jamie’s beating, because the noises coming out of Caitriona Balfe make my adrenaline chase the rest of my adrenaline around my body like angry bees. Speaking of which, right before the ninth lash, we see a familiar tawny head appear at the back of the crowd.
When he hears the sound of the whip, he bounds forward like the ginger lion he is, both swords drawn in defense of his woman. I swoon, get up, fan myself, take a quick shot of hard liquor and then keep writing. DAMN BOY. Jamie has literally flung bodies aside like used tissues to get to Claire, and when the magistrate says he “has no place” there, he knows exactly where his place is, and says so. “I swore an oath before the altar of God to protect this woman, and if
you’re telling me that you consider your authority to be greater than
that of the Almighty…then I must inform you that I am not of that
As far as a legitimate reason to be there, legally speaking, it may fall short, but it may just be the most eloquent, educated Fuck Off ever written. “The first man forward will be the first man down,” he says quietly, glaring at those around him. The situation, although crazy hot, is clearly untenable and for a moment, the only sound we hear is Claire’s sobs.
All of a sudden, Geillis speaks. “This woman is no witch…but I am.” Claire screams “Geillis, no!” from the floor but she continues, confessing that she killed Arthur Duncan by witchcraft, and took advantage of Claire’s ignorance to do so.
The crowd is so riveted that Jamie puts down his swords as they all stare at Geillis, who exonerates Claire fully of any guilt, and says she does not serve her master. “See here?” Geillis says, pulling down her sleeve, “I bear the mark of the Devil.” She makes eye contact with Claire, who realizes that her friend is showing her a smallpox vaccination scar, evidence that Geillis was from the future, 1968.
As everyone stares, transfixed, Geillis whisper-shouts at Claire to run, and Jamie hauls her off, shouting her friend’s name. As Geillis rips open her dress and monologues about laying with Satan and carrying his child, the women’s eyes are glued to each other until they lose sight. Our last sight of Geillis is as she is carried out, covered by a red church banner, on her way to the dais.
Man, I’ll really miss her. Absent Angus and Rupert, and despite all her darkness, Geillis really was always good for a grin. Jamie and Claire hide and watch her pass, the crowd cheering, until Jamie tells Claire they have to go, and they do.
Somewhere in the woods later on, Jamie cleans Claire’s back and tells her that, while he does not expect her to tell him everything, he does expect that what she does tell him will be the truth, and she agrees.
“Are you a witch?” he wants to know, and Claire asks if he is serious, but he saw Geillis’s ‘devil’s mark’, and has noted a similar one on her arm, and he has to know, for her safety and his. Claire, exhausted and at the end of her rope, finally decides to tell him the truth, saying that he may think her a witch after.
She tells him about her vaccine, and how it enables her to nurse the sick and not contract the disease, and how she knows of Jack Randall because she was told of him, “I know the day he was born and I know the day he’ll die” and she knows he works for Sandringham because her husband told her.
To all this, Jamie is silent, looking mildly concerned but listening, and she goes on. “I know about the Bonnie Prince, and the doomed cause..I know what’s going to happen to the Scots. And I know all this because….because I’m from the future.”
Jamie looks momentarily surprised, and then breaks eye contact, staring off silently as Claire tells him she was born October 20th 1918, 200 years hence. Claire tearfully asks twice if he hears her before he answers gruffly, “I hear ye,” but still does not look at her. She says that he must think her “raving mad” and at this, he finally slowly turns his eyes to look at her, and there is a small grin on his face. “No. No, I believe ye, Sassenach,” and he stands up, shaking his head.
He does not understand it, he says, but he trusts her, her heart, and that there is truth between the two of them, so whatever she says, he’ll believe. He sits next to her and puts a hand on her knee, which she covers with one of hers.
“Can you tell me more?” he asks, and she does, telling him everything: her time as a combat nurse, Culloden, Geillis, and Craigh na Dun. Claire’s voiceover tells us that though he did not understand it all, he listened, and she had not realized how badly she wanted to tell everything to someone until she told him. Jamie realizes that when he was gone meeting Horrocks, Claire was trying to get back to the stones, and he whispers, conflicted, back to her husband.
“And I beat you for it,” he says at her admission, sitting next to her but facing backwards. “I’m so very, very sorry.” Claire tells him he couldn’t have known, but she is crying, and Jamie turns to hold her to his shoulder, saying what I assume are soothing things in Gaelic. He tells her to rest. “No one will harm ye. I’m here.”
Claire raises her face to ask if he really does believe her, and he tenderly pushes the hair out of her face and smiles into her eyes. “Aye, I believe you, Sassenach. Although it would have been a good deal easier if you’d only been a witch.” They kiss, and for a moment, you think everything is going to be okay. That’s probably because you’re new.
Via Claire’s voice over we learn that, over the next several days they ride hard to put distance between themselves and the castle, and that Jamie speakd repeatedly of Lallybroch, detailing the life they would have
together. Claire listens and tries to invest in the idea of a home and a life with him, but confesses she feels “adrift, anchorless in a
Not Jamie. If anything, he is eerily focused. That night while Claire sleeps, he runs his fingers over her face and examines it closely, his face intent as he bends down to kiss her…and his hand goes under her skirts for some exploring.
Claire wakes and he continues to look straight at her, his face close to hers, but when she asks him to um, complete his deposit inside the building instead of at the ATM, he says no, because he wants to watch her.
The entire time she tries to kiss him and he just looks at her adoringly, and is there a word in English that means “turned on and yet apprehensive”? After they are done Jamie kisses her, and he is smiling, and once again I think things might be okay just through sheer willpower.
The next morning, Claire washes her hands in the river and the way this idiot looks at her you swear he is just going to evaporate into tiny love droplets so he can congregate around her in a love-cloud and rain his love down on her. He casually asks if she is ready to go home.
At her radiant, “Yes,” he pulls her to him, kisses her once, and tells her to take a look. Claire smiles and goes to do as he says, and the moment she looks away, he swallows, hard. Claire climbs over the small hill…and sees the circle of standing stones.
Jamie asks if it’s what she wanted, always, “to go home?” She answers with a nervous, quiet, “yes,” and when she does not move, he takes her by the hand and leads her there.
He walks into the circle and up to the specific stone, touching it and making sure it is the one.
Nothing happens to him, and he asks what she did last time. “I didn’t really do anything,” Claire says as she walks towards it. Her voice is conversational but becomes more monotone as she nears the stone, palms out. “I heard this buzzing sound…and I just…touched the stone…”
Before she can reach it, Jamie catches her by the hand and pulls her back against him, gasping her name.
For a moment their foreheads are pressed together and it looks like they will kiss…but Jamie pulls away, holding her hand against his heart and apologizing for having stopped her. “It’s just..I wasna ready.” “I know,” she replies, looking confused, and when he sees it, he straightens up and says almost matter-of-factly that there is no use in waiting, he must part with her, and that is why he brought her.
He strokes her face as he speaks, and every so often, a flash of emotion makes it past his seeming calm. “It’s your own time, on the other side of that stone. You’ve a home there, a place. The things you’re used to…and Frank.”
Claire repeats Frank’s name as if just now remembering him, but when Jamie starts speaking again, her chin trembles and his voice becomes stern. “There’s nothing for ye on this side. Nothing, save violence and danger. Now go.” He walks away from her, turning once to say that he will stay at their camp until nightfall to make sure she is safe.
“Goodbye, Sassenach,” he says gruffly, and at the end, his lip trembles as he turns to walk down the hill. “JAMIE!” Claire yells at his back, and he pauses, but does not turn. “Goodbye,” she whispers, and he walks back down the hill until we no longer see him, and Claire turns back.
Claire quietly sits in front of the stone, toying with both her wedding rings and looking pensive, and though it seems like a prime moment for a voice over, none is heard.
Actually, from the moment that Claire said she was anchorless, we no
longer have the benefit of the voice overs to clarify her internal
thoughts, and it serves well to amplify the tension.
She looks backward at the smoke rising from Jamie’s fire, forward at the stones, and rises to her feet and walks slowly forward.
There is a sound like wind rushing, and then, darkness.
Nighttime, and a fire by which Jamie lies sleeping. Suddenly we hear Claire’s voice say, “On your feet, soldier,” and he starts awake to see her standing over him.
There is a single tear track down his face, and it destroys me.
Claire too is tearing up as she bends down to him to say, “Take me home to Lallybroch.” Jamie rises slowly, and then tries to smile and sobs a little. The effect on Claire is immediate, and she reaches for him as he does her, and they kiss.
Thanks for reading!
A quick thank you to bearing with me through my slower pace, and the lovely, encouraging feedback on my first Scotland Now piece. Humbled and grateful to be part of such a supportive fandom. If any of you would like to, you can follow me here for additional recaps or on Twitter @conniebv.