So here we are, staring down another Droughtlander, and aside from thoughts specifically about this episode, I had some thoughts about the entire series. Thinking back to where we started, with a pregnant Claire and the aftermath of Culloden, the scope of what needed to be covered is pretty overwhelming. For the most part, we got there…and there was a lot more sex.
Spoilers ahead for episode 313.
Here are five takeaways:
I’m surrounded by Frasers. Seasons 1-3 really did focus mostly on Claire and Jamie, but that won’t be the case being forward. While the Frasers’ story continues to take center stage, all the characters we’ve been introduced to as part of the expanded Fraser clan will need time and audience investment to develop properly. One of the issues going forward that was glaringly obvious during this episode is how adapting these increasingly more complex subplots will affect the flow of a televised series. This episode attempted to cover a lot of emotional and plot ground, and it didn’t always do so in a way that made sense to anyone who didn’t read the novels. One book per season may have worked up until now, but I really hope they’re negotiating at least two seasons per book going forward.
Who’s doing what to the who now? I had a hard time following the purpose of the coach pausing for the group walking with torches, and later, the masked dancers. Sure I’ve read the books, but I made a point of not doing so during the season, just to see if I could follow the story without them. I didn’t feel that either of these choices was given any context. I assumed the former was a group of escaped slaves (the “maroons” Father Fogden spoke of in 311), and the latter Geillis’ slaves practicing some of their native rituals, but this wasn’t really explained aside from using this group of people to represent a magical “other” that I’m not sure jibes with the story as told onscreen. Are we supposed to believe they are all infected with a sort of bloodlust, or that being okay with the sacrificing of a chicken, they decided Archie was a bonus?
Friendship is great but villains are better. I’ve said it before, but morally ambiguous villains are one of the things Outlander does best, and Gillian/Geillis Edgars/Duncan/Abernathy is one that’ll be missed. The second half of this season suffered from some disjointedness (the plot to find Young Ian took a slightly comedic detour that echoed the Dance Tour to Find Jamie from Season 1), but nothing helps pull your heroes together and give them a purpose quite like having a great antagonist. Part of what makes Geillis so fascinating to watch is her heartfelt, maniacal commitment to her cause. You get the sense that she truly does value Claire, even as you know she would kill her without a moment’s thought. It’s villains like these that throw our main characters’ heroism into stark relief: Ian’s bravery, Jamie’s steadfastness, Claire’s fierceness.
The sanctity of life. It seems like at least once per season, Claire’s commitment to a life with Jamie in the much less-regulated past means she ends up having to betray her physician’s oath and take a life. Each of these choices have been life-and-death, split-second decisions made to protect herself, but this is the first time she did so not for her own sake, but her daughter’s. In this instance, we also find out that Claire’s ability to suss out the cause of death of Joe Abernathy’s remains was because she was the one who dealt the blow, and the echo of that moment contributed to her insight. What doesn’t seem to ever click into place for our heroine, however, is any sort of regard for her own safety. Claire’s need to help the wounded during the storm that hits the Artemis after Ian’s rescue almost kills her New Moon-style. I’m not sure which made me want to throw my shoe harder: knowing that Claire was putting herself in danger again, or knowing for sure that if Jamie and Claire made it on a crosspiece of timber, that Jack could have lived.
A Whole New World. So thanks to Mother Nature, our heroes end up at the fictional Les Perles plantation, Georgia. It’s probably a safe move, because Jenny Fraser is waiting in Scotland with an itchy slapping hand and Young Ian’s been through enough. Also, much as I love that Scottish countryside, it’s been kind of a shark tank inside a snake pit for the Frasers. The colonies represent a chance to start their life over again, plus Murtagh is there, and that’s reason enough to visit a continent for anyone.
This week, the series came roaring back with the goodness. Last episode was the troublesome middle child in the Fraser Reunion Trilogy, but this week resolved all my issues with 307. 308 was all the things I love about Outlander: real talk, athletic sex that serves the story, a successful Bechdel test, emotions, Science!Claire and more fun words (kebbie-lebbie, Hogmanay) than you can shake a stick at.
[Quick personal update: Still doing the recaps, just very slowly. I knew the moment the series changed from summer to fall that I would likely not be able to keep up, so for the meantime there are these, and recaps to come when life slows down.]
Spoilers ahead for episode 308.
Here are five takeaways:
The Gideon of Scotland. For a dude who is nominally childless, Jamie sure does have a lot of kids. Only William and Brianna are of his body, but besides Fergus and now Young Ian, we find that he has played father figure to Laoghaire’s two daughters, and that he was upset when his nephews didn’t recognize him upon his return from Helwater. Jamie genuinely loves children, and enjoys their company. The two young men closest to him, Young Ian and Fergus, differ in that one was bred in a whorehouse and is no stranger to crime, and the other raised in a peaceful home, with only the stories of his uncle’s (mis)adventures to aspire to. The real kicker with children is that as much as you counsel them with words, it’s the actions that they mimic, and Ian Sr.’s advice to Jamie to be mindful of Ian’s love and tendency to follow him “like a puppy” proves to not only be accurate, but premonitory.
Dishonorable Second Wife. Whatever else you can say about her (mouth like a sailor, cute daughters, fine ability to sew a pleated cap) maybe the most relevant thing, to me, is that Laoghaire MacKenzie MacKenzie MacKimmie Fraser is a woman who courts unhappiness. I never hated this character like a lot of people did. I have a lot of sympathy for her early unrequited love of Jamie. I think her setup of Claire was more heedless than evil. To me, she is more of a cautionary tale about the dangers of drawing self-worth solely from the object of one’s affection. As a young woman, Laoghaire let her feelings for Jamie and an assumed moral superiority over Claire draw her into sinful and criminal behavior. As an adult, holding on to her unhappy union with Jamie supersedes everything. She is not above using her children, a gun or the law. And I don’t think it’s because Laoghaire truly values what Jamie provides. She’s an attractive woman, and could still marry elsewhere. The reason Laoghaire balks at giving Jamie up is because having him is the sole thing that has given her life meaning, and if he goes, he takes her identity with him.
Ghosts of Past and Present. For all the comparisons that can be legitimately drawn between Frank and Laoghaire — most obviously the fact that they both failed miserably in their chance at happiness because the person they loved would never love them back, and their resulting bitterness — what struck me most deeply was their differences. Frank wanted to make things work with Claire, but ultimately decided to let her go. Laoghaire and Jamie seemingly struggled from the very beginning, but even when the end was inevitable Laoghaire turned to violence rather than accept the inevitable. Frank and Claire both struggled to put parenting Brianna first, while Laoghaire thinks nothing of subjecting her daughters to their stepfather’s humiliation, leaving Jamie to console little Joan and assure her of his love. It’s not the first time I’ve thought that, after all is said and done and for all her own suffering, Claire was much luckier in their life apart from each other than Jamie.
If You’re Coming for Jenny Murray, Make a U-Turn. The world according to Jenny Murray might have shades of grey in it, but probably only two or three. She is, without a doubt, the best representation of the moral compass of the time. Jenny’s greatest asset is her ability to see directly into the heart of a matter. Her greatest failing is her resistance to applying that insight inward. She may have seemed hard, but when Claire first came back, Jenny gave her a brief opportunity to come clean. When Claire attempted to resume their old closeness without its accompanying honesty, that door shut tight. Instead, Jenny hastened to arrange matters to lance the infection she saw poisoning her family. Not even Ian agrees with the way she dealt with the situation, but where other people have self-doubt, Jenny has a gold-plated statue of herself giving herself a thumbs-up. I may not always agree with her, but she speaks a lot of truth (love her pointing out that Claire went looking for Jamie last time she was told he was dead, and that by leaving him, she left the rest of his family, including Jenny herself). I can’t help but love a woman whose f*ck field is so very, very fallow when it comes to anything other than her family.
The Power of Love. One of the things I have always loved best about the story of Jamie and Claire is that neither is perfect in anything but their love for one another. Time and again it has served as both an inspiration and a reality check. As much as we all love to call him the King of Men, it’s instances like this that show how Jamie gained the wisdom he did to truly earn this moniker. He and Claire were not married long before their separation, and though his delay in telling her the truth was understandable, so is Claire’s disappointment. These are two people who have risked much to be together, and though it would be tempting to make their reunion all wine and roses to compensate for their time apart, it felt very satisfying to finally see the depth and complexity of these feeling exposed and discussed. Unlike last episode, this all flowed, it all felt rooted in genuine emotion. This is the part of marriage that almost no one shows on television: the constant reaching out, past hurt and pride, that ties each pearl and sinew of a lifetime together. The look, touch, or words from one heart to another to say, “Are you still in this with me?” “Are we okay?”
This week is all about when people stop being polite and start being real. It’s like The Real World: Edinburgh. Claire and Jamie don’t get naked once this episode, but there is a lot of bared insecurity. Their second honeymoon over, the Frasers get down to the business of attempting to find their partnership once more. Despite some initial push-back due to the circumstance, Jamie doesn’t stand in the way of Claire being a healer, and despite disagreeing with the way Jamie handles the situation with Ian, Claire doesn’t blow his cover. But there are little clashes here that highlight the differences in their character, and the manner of lives they have lived when apart.
Spoilers ahead for episode 307.
Here are four takeaways:
Things Get Real. Real Shouty. Now that the thrill of reunion is past, we’re starting to see how some of the Frasers’ years of independence will work against them. These are no longer two young adults, but two middle-aged people with a lot of baggage that colors their decisions. No matter the time, Claire is a healer, first and foremost. Her instinct to save lives without judgment will clash not only with the fluid morality of Jamie’s current career path, but also the rigid gender roles and expectations of the 18th century. It’s not in Claire’s DNA to meekly accept limits, so it’s interesting to note when Jamie defers to her and when he chooses to assert his will over hers, and how that all works out for them going forward.
Bros Before Ho’s. Let me take a moment and fangirl over the joy of seeing Young Ian and Fergus BROTP’ing hard, talking about the ladies, Claire’s badassness and her general propensity for trouble, and the effects of brandy on a man’s mphhmm. Young Ian is an able negotiator in true MacKenzie fashion, but also a sweet peach-faced virgin, and the last time we ran across that combo it worked out pretty well for us. As for Fergus, I’m not surprised at all that he lost his virginity in a three-way, or that he’s got a practical, results-oriented take on art of seduction. What was a very gratifying surprise was hearing Fergus call Ian “brother.” This relationship is one of my favorites from the novels, and I may have clutched at my heart a bit when I heard that word.
Slim Shady. Now I love me some Jamie, but I must admit I laughed out loud at the “I didna realize lies had shades” line. This was a man lying about who he was since well before he met Claire, whose character is largely founded on gauging and reacting to nuance. It doesn’t mean Jamie is dishonest, but he has always known when and to what degree to fudge the truth. That’s not a sin he can lay at Claire’s feet, who is if anything, a terrible liar. It seems to me that the fact that he didn’t get to parent either of his children should sensitize Jamie to the plight of a worried parent, not the other way around. As for calling back to the bikini and using that to deflect Claire’s pretty dead-on points about Ian, it seemed an obvious ploy to change the subject. Jamie is withholding an actual other wife from Claire, so his overreaction to being called out on a lie seems to stem more from guilt than righteousness.
Fire Sale. The Print Shop was more than the scene of a sex-a-thon between two baby rabbits. It was also the physical manifestation of Jamie’s new life. Granted, it was largely cobbled together out of lies and treason and held together by prostitution, but there was a beat last episode — when Jamie cleaned the sign — where you could see real pride and accomplishment in what he managed to put together. Claire’s return throws a wrench into his life. He verbally reassures her of his commitment, but the reality of making space for her is more complex. This week, he literally watches that life go up in flames, a fire that ends one of his lives and forces a return home to Lallybroch, which in turn hints at the moment of truth that will likely come next week. In TV-speak, there’s nothing like the reassurance that nothing will happen (“Balriggan is miles from Lallybroch,” Jamie says confidently) to assure that it will.
I’m coming off my third re-watch, and it’s almost one pm and I am in my pajamas and I have NO REGRETS. I don’t think anything was ever going to equal the thrill of reading these moments after waiting years for these two to reunite, but there are a lot of nuances in this episode that became apparent after a few viewings, and that’s what I’ll address here. I’m off to a birthday party and then date night, so I won’t be live-tweeting, unfortunately. I’ll get into more detail in the recap when I write that.
Spoilers ahead for episode 306.
Here are five takeaways:
Room for secrets, but not for lies. This is the bit that proved to me the most that these are not the two people who left each other 20 years ago. Claire is no longer the one with secrets, but instead is open, sharing readily of herself and asking questions. Finding out about Willie was a change from the books, but it worked here to establish that, whatever else Jamie is tentative about with Claire, he is at first determined to hold true to the promise he made to her after learning she was a time-traveler. However, his work as a smuggler means that massaging the truth is his stock and trade. Book readers especially will note Fergus’s “What about…”/Jamie’s need to consult Ned Gowan and the seemingly partial translation of Yi Tien Cho’s honorific for his wife.
Tricorns are the suspenders of hats. It’s tough to be back in Scotland and see zero kilts, but it’s even tougher to be back in Scotland and see all the men in mullets and tricorns. Let’s face it, this wasn’t an attractiveera for malefashion to begin with, but when you add the hair and the hats to it… It’s just not sexy. I’m sure there’s someone out there with a door-sized Hamilton poster ready to argue with me on the virtues of the tricorn, but it’s fine. I’m crossing my fingers for it to be a blessing in disguise, as these clothes will need to be routinely taken off in order to remind the audience that these men are, in fact, hot tamales. Or whatever the Scottish equivalent of a tamale is.
A many-shaded love. Literally, that one shade is grey. Hold your tricorns up high if you noticed that Claire’s outfit when she returns to Jamie is in the same greys and whites of both her wedding outfits. When Claire was first married, she was largely of the same mind as her husband-to-be, who recognized her as an intellectual equal. Her second wedding was engineered for her and the fussiness of the gown is uncharacteristic for her. Although beautiful, Claire is a woman attracted to simple, classic lines. Even if many of the beats and camera angles hadn’t echoed E107, the clothing here (not to mention the way it was removed) is a clear call-back to that episode, and had the feel of a re-commitment between these two characters. Claire’s dress, once she removes her cloak, is not only firmly in her style wheelhouse once more, but also imparts the fact that she is older, wiser, and ready to be a partner in marriage once more.
Wink to the book readers on this one.
That’s life, isn’t it? When you think you have your shit together…you don’t.
What kind of dog is that? I like that they kept this passage from the book in, even though it occurs later then, and I was happy that it opened the door to Jamie speaking about Willie (not in the books), but I missed the segue they used for the William conversation that, in the books, diverges instead towards Claire’s feelings of loss at having left her daughter behind and Jamie comforting her. He does tell her here that he knew she was a good mother, but this was an emotional beat that was not directly about them and their reunion that I would have very much liked to see onscreen. Here’s hoping they insert it later.
Pros and Cons. I guess the adrenaline of running back to the love of your life after twenty years and some good lovin’ make you forget that the past is full of people trying to kill him. Claire has returned from a peaceful existence in the Boston suburbs back to a world that is lawless in many respects. Even though she is back with Jamie, his warning that he is not the same person he was and the fact that she is accosted in his very rooms serve as a reminder that there is more than a personal re-connection that will need to take place now that Claire has returned to the 18th century. There will have to be a re-calibration to the dangers this century poses, and how and why her husband seems to always draw them to himself.
“Bastard!” I said again. “You’d marry a woman without wanting her, and then throw her aside the minute—”
“Shut up!” he roared. “Hold your tongue, ye wicked wee bitch!” He slammed a fist down on the washstand, glaring at me. “I’m damned the one way or the other, no? If I felt anything for her, I’m a faithless womanizer, and if I didn’t, I’m a heartless beast.”
“You should have told me!”
“And if I had?” He grabbed my hand and jerked me to my feet, holding me eye to eye with him. “You’d have turned on your heel and gone without a word. And having seen ye again—I tell ye, I would ha’ done far worse than lie to keep you!”
He pressed me tight against his body and kissed me, long and hard. My knees turned to water, and I fought to keep my feet, buttressed by the vision of Laoghaire’s angry eyes, and her voice, echoing shrill in my ears. He’s mine!
“This is senseless,” I said, pulling away. Fury had its own intoxication, but the hangover was setting in fast, a black dizzy vortex. My head swam so that I could hardly keep my balance. “I can’t think straight. I’m leaving.”
I lurched toward the door, but he caught me by the waist, yanking me back.
He whirled me toward himself and kissed me again, hard enough to leave a quicksilver taste of blood in my mouth. It was neither affection nor desire, but a blind passion, a determination to possess me. He was through talking.
So was I. I pulled my mouth away and slapped him hard across the face, fingers curved to rake his flesh.
He jerked back, cheek scraped raw, then twisted his fingers tight in my hair, bent and took my mouth again, deliberate and savage, ignoring the kicks and blows I rained on him.
He bit my lower lip, hard, and when I opened my lips, gasping, thrust his tongue into my mouth, stealing breath and words together.
He threw me bodily onto the bed where we had lain laughing an hour before, and pinned me there at once with the weight of his body.
He was most mightily roused.
So was I.
Mine, he said, without uttering a word. Mine!
I fought him with boundless fury and no little skill, and Yours, my body echoed back. Yours, and may you be damned for it!
I didn’t feel him rip my gown, but I felt the heat of his body on my bare breasts, through the thin linen of his shirt, the long, hard muscle of his thigh straining against my own. He took his hand off my arm to tear at his breeches, and I clawed him from ear to breast, striping his skin with pale red.
We were doing our level best to kill each other, fueled by the rage of years apart—mine for his sending me away, his for my going, mine for Laoghaire, his for Frank.
“Bitch!” he panted. “Whore!”
“Damn you!” I got a hand in his own long hair, and yanked, pulling his face down to me again. We rolled off the bed and landed on the floor in a tangled heap, rolling to and fro in a welter of half-uttered curses and broken words. I didn’t hear the door open.
I didn’t hear anything, though she must have called out, more than once. Blind and deaf, I knew nothing but Jamie until the shower of cold water struck us, sudden as an electric shock. Jamie froze. All the color left his face, leaving the bones jutting stark beneath the skin.
I lay dazed, drops of water dripping from the ends of his hair onto my breasts. Just behind him, I could see Jenny, her face as white as his, holding an empty pan in her hands.
“Stop it!” she said. Her eyes were slanted with a horrified anger. “How could ye, Jamie? Rutting like a wild beast, and not carin’ if all the house hears ye!”
He moved off me, slowly, clumsy as a bear. Jenny snatched a quilt from the bed and flung it over my body.
On all fours, he shook his head like a dog, sending droplets of water flying. Then, very slowly, he got to his feet, and pulled his ripped breeches back into place.
“Are ye no ashamed?” she cried, scandalized.
Jamie stood looking down at her as though he had never seen any creature quite like her, and was making up his mind what she might be. The wet ends of his hair dripped over his bare chest.
“Yes,” he said at last, quite mildly. “I am.”
He seemed dazed. He closed his eyes and a brief, deep shudder went over him. Without a word, he turned and went out.
After print shop and house of joy, I’m most looking forward to seeing this fight in season three. After the fight by the river in season one, we know how well Sam and Cait will do with this scene.
Oh yes, they will be awesome! Can’t wait!
Book spoilers follow.
It’s a matter of constant surprise to me that people deny that both Claire and Jamie were impacted in any way by Frank and Laoghaire (or Geneva, for that matter, though she wasn’t a choice) during their time apart, or that these two characters don’t matter to the story (they clearly do).
These are two very passionate people. Neither of them stayed alone, and that was a choice, miserable as it was. And choices have consequences that echo throughout lives. For Jamie to call Claire names and her to physically hurt him tell us not that either were terrible people (although this isn’t behavior that would make for adequate problem-solving between couples IRL) but that they were both in pain.
Jamie’s quote about himself just as easily applies to Claire, and how reductive thinking can be about these characters as a couple. Loving more than one person–even if that love is not of consistent quality–doesn’t make us faithless. Not loving someone enough to satisfy them–despite our best intentions–doesn’t make us heartless.
Those of you who have read MacBeth realize that the title of the episode not only recalls a chapter title in Outlander novel, but also the beginning of a famous quote, and how that quote ends. So a lot has to happen in this episode to get us from happy sexathon to “something evil” coming along, and by King George’s wig, it does. No bathroom breaks!
My mind is sufficiently tuned to the sex on this show that when we open to Jamie touring Claire’s downtown, my first thought is “God, they are buttering us up! This episode is going to end awful.” Claire’s pretty happy though, at least for a moment.
They both ignore insistent knocking on their bedchamber door, and you know Jamie is learning to be a husband when he picks his head up only long enough to grunt “No,” and then redoubles his efforts until Claire sighs contentedly before grumpily putting on his pants and getting the door.
It’s Murtagh, who bashfully greets a still-glowing Claire and tells Jamie that the Duke of Sandringham has arrived, and is staying nearby at Norwood House. Jamie is excited that he has an opportunity to petition a pardon from someone who has “always been partial” to him, which he knows from a visit the Duke made to Leoch when he was sixteen. At Murtagh’s warning to be careful, he stipulates that he won’t be offering up his hindquarters for a favor, but rather considers himself “an innocent man seeking justice.”
Claire interrupts to let them know she recognizes the name, and reminds Jamie of the promise he made her, that if she told him something, he would not ask how she came by the information. He reassures her, and she tells him not to trust the Duke, as he is a close ally to Black Jack Randall, and no friend of Randall can be a friend to him. Murtagh asks how she knows and points out that even if Jamie did, he made no such promise.
At Jamie’s reassurance that they will both respect Claire’s wishes, Murtagh relents and advises Jamie to speak to Ned Gowan before he addresses Sandringham. Jamie accepts, gleefully telling Claire that if he gains a pardon, they could return to Lallybroch and live as Lord and Lady Broch Tuarach, and that he knows they would be happy there. “As do I,” Claire returns, and he smiles.
As Ned explains, Jamie is wanted for murder, and a trial would ultimately come down to Jamie’s word against Randall’s. Even with the Duke’s backing, it is not likely that a British judge would take Jamie’s word over an officer’s, though that word be true. In perhaps the most lawyer-y thing ever said by any lawyer, Ned deadpans “Truth or lies have very little to do with the law.”
He instead suggests that they try to prove to the Duke that his friendship with Randall is dangerous. He proposes to draw up a claim which would include Claire, accusing Randall of “crimes against the Scottish people” and of violating His Majesty’s laws. If Jamie can convince Sandringham to deliver this claim to the Lord President of the Court of Session, then Randall would be subject to a court-martial, or at least a reassignment far from Scotland. My soulmate Murtagh asks if they can’t “just hang the bastard,” but Ned points out that “sweating the rest of his military career in some West Indies hell hole would be a far greater punishment,” and I think we all fall a little in love. Once Randall is in disgrace, Ned believes he can take Jamie’s case to court and “win him a general pardon.” Poor Jamie is so on board he almost explodes.
In another part of the castle, Claire makes her way to the kitchens to find Mrs. Fitz raving about the new apron Laoghaire embroidered, likely with her tears, when Claire asks to speak to her granddaughter alone.
The older woman notices it’s a serious matter and offers to help, but Claire tells her it’s between the two of them, and she goes, taking the rest of her staff with her. Once alone Laoghaire snaps at Claire to say what she came to because she has chores to do, but when Claire shows her the ill-wish, she denies knowledge of it.
Claire earnestly tells her that she recognizes that Laoghaire had feelings for Jamie, and that “tender regard denied” can be hurtful in one so young as she.
“I even understand why your jealousy would be directed at me,” Claire says, but clarifies that not only did she never conspire to take Jamie from Laoghaire, but that he was never hers to begin with. This finally breaks through the younger woman’s veneer of indifference. “That’s a lie,” Laoghaire says heatedly, “Jamie Fraser was and is mine!” Claire responds with an impatient, “You’re mistaken, child.” This causes Laoghaire to assert that Claire stole her “puir Jamie” and now he is trapped in a loveless marriage with “a cold English bitch”, and probably has to get “swine drunk” to be able to “plow her field.” So Claire reacts as you do when speaking to teenagers, and literally invents the bitchslap.
I’m not that surprised when Claire gets physical because this entire thing is going Real Housewives, stat. She should have just hit her with a chair so we could notch it up to WWE Diva-level drama. I get that Laoghaire would be disgruntled and act childishly, but it feels like things get out of hand pretty quickly, like maybe there’s something here we don’t know about. Hmmm.
It’s a theory.
Claire says she should not have slapped her and bites out an apology, but it no longer matters. Laoghaire admits that she put the ill-wish under the bed, hoping that it would make Jamie hate her as much as she does. “He belongs with me, and one day, it will be so.” Claire answers that she hopes she didn’t pay too much for the ill-wish, because that will never happen.
Laoghaire then drops a bomb: Geillis sold her the ill-wish, and she tells a surprised Claire that she is as wrong about her friend as about Jamie. “Stay away from me and my husband,” an exasperated Claire bites out, and Laoghaire glares after her. So in one scene, Laoghaire’s conversion from relatable youth with disappointed hopes to hate-filled mastermind who wants to see the world burn is complete. You know who else had that character arc?
So I guess she’s evil now. I have to say, I still don’t hate her. Maybe it’s because I have a teenager and I know they do stupid things because their feelings go to 11, or maybe because I inherently resist flat characterization. None of the other characters are simple, so I can only think there is more to Laoghaire’s story, even if this isn’t the place to tell it. I have read the books and I realize these things have to happen in order for other things to shake out as they do, so I’m on board-but I guess what I’m saying is I wish I had been there to feed this girl ice cream and give her an essential truth to build her up instead of tearing her down: No man is worth going full Vader, ladies. Not even Jamie Fraser.
In town, Claire goes to the Duncan’s to look for Geillis, but her husband is too busy pooping himself to death to a) be polite or b) any help.
As the maid Jeannie lets her out, she whispers that it is a full moon night, and she should look for her mistress “in the woods north of the foothills, in the hours before dawn.” P.S. Next time my husband asks if he should pick up dinner, I plan to shout “By Chrrrrist’s Heaven, ya should!”
That night Claire goes wandering through the woods alone with a lamp to find Geillis because it seems like a good idea at the time. She happens upon her dancing among bonfires, and the dance itself, her torch and clothing all recall that Samhain dance Claire witnessed with Frank the day before she traveled through the stones. It also helps that the soundtrack is the same. This being Geillis, however, the entire thing is way sexier…
…and there is a wee bonus.
Geillis finishes by letting the grass get to second base and coyly tells Claire she can come out from her hiding place. I bet Claire always loses at hide-n-seek. Geillis tells her that she would have joined her, if not for her inherent English prudishness, then very thoughtfully appraises her as to the state of her nipples.
Claire congratulates her on her pregnancy, which Geillis admits has been her “own special secret” for a while now, even from her husband, who has never seen her naked. Poor crapping bastage. Claire mentions that she thought the Duncans “weren’t having intimate relations,” and in a move that is either born out of true friendship or incredibly calculating, Geillis spills her deepest secrets: she has a lover, the child is his, and that lover is… Dougal Mackenzie.
Claire points out that another man’s child would be problematic for Arthur Duncan, but Geillis breezily asserts that there are months to go until the birth, and that the ceremony she performed, a ‘summoning’, has yet time to take effect. When Claire asks, she tells her that she is asking Mother Nature to grant Dougal and she their freedom. She asks Claire to keep her secrets, not only about the child but about the ceremony, and Claire accepts, saying she understands. “I knew you would,” the redhead smiles, and cheerfully asks for help putting out the fires.
In the early hours of the dawn, the two women head back through the woods as Geillis explains she did not know the ill-wish was for Claire, or else she would not have sold it to Laoghaire. She tells Claire that she can do worse to her, now that she knows all her secrets.
Claire tells her that she has no wish to do her harm and that she is the only friend she has made since arriving to Scotland. Geillis links arms with her and says she feels “much the same,” except for her “Dear Dougal.” She shows Claire a pearl bracelet, a gift from her lover. It was meant for Dougal’s “slag of a wife Moira”, but Dougal instead gave it to her.
Claire is surprised to hear he has a wife, and Geillis tells her that she has been holed up at his estate for years, since she does not like public gatherings and has “a homely countenance.”
Claire is surprised that Sandringham gave Dougal a gift, and at Geillis’s blithe assertion that the Duke visits Colum but “likes” Dougal, she remembers Frank and the Reverend hypothesizing about the Duke being a suspected Jacobite himself.
Suddenly Claire hears a noise in the woods. Geillis tells her it is nothing, but at Claire’s insistence that the cries are from a baby, points out that there is a fairy hill nearby, and the baby is a changeling. She tells Claire that it is known the real child was stolen by fairies and the changeling left in its place “when it does not thrive and grow” as other children.
This is all healer Claire needs to hear to set off in hopes of saving “a sick child”, but Geillis, not willing to disturb the ritual by which the parents hope to exchange the changeling for their own healthy baby, tells her she must do it alone, and walks off.
Claire wanders off in the direction of the coughing, crying infant, but by the time she finds it, wedged in the hold of a tree, it is blue and no longer breathing. A stunned Claire holds it and rocks it gently, crying her apologies. It’s brutal and sad, and I think anyone who has ever stroked a tiny sleeping face felt something in their chest clench. Unless you’re evil. In which case, thanks for taking time out to read, Satan.
Some time later Jamie finds her like this, having met Geillis on the way and she telling him where his wife was. He tells Claire she has a kind heart and takes the baby from her, placing it back in the tree and crossing himself. Claire tells him that they just “left it there to die,” and asks if he believes in the same superstitions. He tells her what is important is that the people do, and most have never been further than a day’s walk from where they were born and are thus uneducated, “knowing only what Father Bain tells them at Kirk on a Sunday.”
He tries to comfort her, saying that for the parents of the dead baby, it might comfort them to think that it was the changeling that died, while their own child is happy and well and living with the fairies. Claire has seen violent death and the horror of illness, but this is another grim reminder that she is in a time when consigning innocents to death was commonplace, and she cannot reconcile current practice with her vocation. She asks Jamie to take her home.
At the castle, Jamie shows Claire Ned’s claim against Randall which includes his “repeated sexual provocation of a highborn Englishwoman” being “a black mark impossible to erase”, and asks for her signature. She hesitates, and Jamie tells her that although he doesn’t question her doubts about Sandringham, he has to try for them, and “for Lallybroch.” Claire signs her married name, right under her husband’s.
Norwood House. Our first look at Sandringham, who is rocking the Clairiest of hairs and is bored like a rock star. Or a suave actor.
Claire visits the Duke without Jamie’s knowledge to speak to him about the Petition of Complaint Jamie will be bringing him later that day. The Duke lets out a scathing “Poppycock” and comments that he heard “said Captain is one of the finest officers in the regiment”, (probably from Randall himself) and indicates he must refuse. Claire puts on the same poker-face she did for Randall, commiserating that it must be hard for him to turn against a friend.
The Duke harrumphs that he “hardly knows the man,” but even if he did it would basically be harmless to either of them. He thanks her for her visit and congratulates her on the future children she will bear Jamie, basically dismissing her with a smirk and an aphorism.
Claire, who has never met a china shop she wouldn’t run through with a bat, turns and politely asks on her way out how much Jacobite gold Dougal Mackenzie passed on to him, in full hearing of his staff. The Duke freezes and asks her if she wants to make an enemy of him. Claire says that on the contrary, she needs his friendship-”however lowly obtained”- and trusts that it is “preferable to a date with the gallows for treason against his King.”
After a brief veiled threat against her own pretty neck and how well it holds her head to her shoulders, he jovially states that he will listen to Jamie’s petition, and looks forward to helping her husband, good stouthearted lad that he is, “to restore his good name.”
Upon her arrival back at Leoch, Rupert and Angus come out to find Claire and tell her Colum is looking for her. It turns out that Dougal’s wife has died suddenly from a fever, “burnt up as if by fire” and he is drunk and belligerent.
They are hoping Claire can give him something to “soothe the mad beast.” Inside, Dougal is alternately crying and blaming himself and cutting down candles like they’re made out of wax while Colum looks on with the gaze of someone mentally tallying up damages.
Claire arrives and asks the men if they have someplace to put her potion, and brave Angus goes to get a bottle of wine. He is stopped halfway at sword-point by Dougal, who ultimately lest him pass in commiseration for his dry gullet. Claire takes the wine from him and pours some of the mixture down, asking Angus how he will get Dougal to take it. “What makes ye think he’d refuse?”, he deadpans.
Dougal is busy hacking at Mackenzies with his sword when Angus holds the wine high and shouts “To the fair Moira!” Dougal clutches his heart and sobs his wife’s name. “May God watch over her,” he proclaims, and take the wine, drinking deeply. Dougal says that “Even a blind man wouldna said she was bonny, but she deserved better than me.”
He halfheartedly wanders around for a bit until he notices his legs not working, then topples over like a tree. Colum barks for them to take him away until he’s sober, and it takes five men to carry him out. “If ye drop him,” Rupert warns,”I’ll have yer balls.” That would be a lot of balls, Rupert.
Later at the market, Geillis sees Claire and asks if she heard about Moira. Claire says she did, but it didn’t put a smile on her face the way it did Geillis. The redhead says that of course “It’s a tragedy, God-rest-her-soul,” but that surely Claire can’t begrudge her a little celebration at an answered prayer.
Claire doesn’t believe that she thinks her summoning had anything to do with it, but Geillis responds, “I don’t know that it didn’t, and I don’t know that it did not-and neither do you.” Claire calls it a coincidence, but Geillis says no matter what, now she and Dougal can be together. Claire reminds her she has a husband who might object, but Geillis’s response is a smirk and a coy tilt of the head, and silence.
Norwood House. Jamie and Murtagh arrive and see some men from clan MacDonald leaving the house, and Murtagh wonders what they are doing visiting the Duke of Sandringham. Inside, the Duke reads the Petition of Complaint, grumbling about how his association with Randall seems to be common knowledge.
He dismisses his secretary and tells the men that protecting Randall “from the consequences of his misdeeds” is like a full-time occupation, and the Duke isn’t about to join the working classes. He tells Jamie that it will require delicacy to damn Randall without damning himself, and that since he is scrubbing Jamie’s back, Jamie needs to scrub his.
He has been challenged to a duel by the MacDonalds over the matter of some unpaid card debts, and needs Jamie to act as his second. “Shots will be exchanged but I’m assured no one will be hurt”, the Duke says, since the matter is purely to restore honor. His servants, he says mournfully, are “chosen for their beauty, not their belligerence,” and sighs as he caresses Jamie’s chin and states that he has within him “a sublime combination of the two.”
Outside, Murtagh tells Jamie that it is a bad idea to get involved in a matter that includes the Mackenzie’s oldest enemies, but Jamie says that he has to take a chance for Lallybroch. Murtagh tells him there will be other chances, but when Jamie asks him to swear to it, he remains silent and Jamie says it is a risk he will have to take.
That night, at the dinner honoring the Duke, everyone is gathered in the hall for the presentation of this awesome pie and Colum’s toast to Clan Mackenzie’s “longtime friend and ally,” ending with calls of “God Bless Scotland!” and “God Bless the King!”
Jamie walks Claire up to the Duke to introduce her, since he is still unaware of their earlier meeting. Claire asks Jamie to get her a drink, and once again unlocks the wonder of her vocabulary, calling the Duke a bastard and accusing him of “getting his pound of flesh” from Jamie by having him agree to the duel.
The Duke reminds her of “quid pro quo” and Claire tells him it will also apply to him if something were to happen to Jamie during the duel. The Duke clarifies that it will be he, not Jamie facing the bullet, and that she better pray for him lest he not deliver her letter as requested.
Suddenly right in front of his healer wife, Arthur Duncan stands, trembling and foaming at the mouth. Geillis, seated across from him, is unmoving while Claire races down the aisle with some men and asks that he be turned over, since she thinks he is choking. Everyone in the hall rises to their feet as she turns him back over and checks his pulse. He is gone. She automatically scans the room for her friend, and what she sees is “not a grieving widow.”
Geillis has locked eyes with Dougal, who is beaming back at her when Colum turns and traces his brother’s gaze, a look of horror on his face.
Geillis sees this and doesn’t miss a beat, letting out a pained scream, running to her husband’s corpse and crying loudly upon it.
Claire, rising with a stunned look on her face and turning to be held by Jamie, recognizes the scent of bitter almonds on the dead man’s breath, and realizes it was no choking, but murder by cyanide poisoning. For me, this is when you start to see the true amorality of Geillis, and to some extent, Dougal. Was Arthur annoying, smelly? By all accounts yes, but no one is smelly enough to merit death. I know this, because I have teenagers who are still alive right now.
The next day at the duel, Jamie and MacDonald’s second, one of his sons, mark the paces and the Duke and MacDonald exchange shots in the least riveting duel ever.
The Duke apologizes, the MacDonald accepts, and honor satisfied, both parties are eager to have a drink and put matters behind them, but one of the MacDonald complains loudly that “honor isna substitute for coin,” and taunt Jamie and the Duke about their suspected relationship, saying that they should “go off and couple like the dogs they are.”
Jamie asks MacDonald to control his sons and he tries, but the boys are young men, and alternate between mocking the Duke for his fine house and empty purse, and Jamie for walking off to be bent over a log somewhere. Jamie handles this with patience and good humor, asking jovially if it’s true that MacDonalds “learn of love by rutting with their mother.”
This is enough to cause the MacDonalds to rush him, and he barely gets a warning from Sandringham before swords are drawn.
Jamie dispatches the three brothers one by one, but not without being stabbed in the side. When it is over, all four men lay groaning on the grass from their various wounds, and Sandringham picks his way through them to quickly apologize to Jamie and warn him not to tell his wife he was there.
He tells him he must now leave, as “a duel is one thing but a common brawl quite another.” Still, he reaches into Jamie’s sporran and takes the Petition of Complaint, promising to honor his side of the bargain.
Downstairs in her surgery, a closemouthed Claire sews Jamie’s wound while he chats, periodically looking down at her for a response.
He tells her that the wound is just another scar, and that the Duke took the letter, so perhaps they have cause “for a bit of a celebration.”
When Claire doesn’t say anything, he notes that she is “not normally a closemouthed woman,” to which her only response is a sharp tug on the needle she is using to stitch his cut, and Jamie jumps.
“But a quiet anger can be verra effective,” he placates. The door knocks, and it is Ned to tell Jamie that Colum wants to see him, so he goes.
Jamie and Ned arrive to see Colum already speaking to his brother, telling him to go home and attend to Moira’s funeral and stay there until he is called for. “Yer exiling me,” Dougal immediately notes, and asks for how long. Colum shouts that it is until he comes to his senses, if he is capable.
Dougal wants to know what he is being asked to do, but Colum clarifies that it is not a request, but an order. Dougal once again guesses his intent. “I will not spurn Geillis Duncan,” he says with conviction, and Colum points out that neither would her husband, and he can see what she did to him. Dougal responds “That bloated bastard’s been dyin’ for years,” and Colum laughs as he realizes his brother is in love. “Yer an even bigger numbskull than I thought.”
Dougal nods, speaking quietly and tenderly, tearing up near the end. “I do love her, and there’s just cause. Brother…she’s carryin’ my child.” Colum’s response is scathing and brutal, “No no no. That’s Arthur Duncan’s child. Same as Hamish is my child,” and Dougal’s face falls.
Not only will he never marry “that evil temptress,” but he must leave Leoch that very day, and he is sending Rupert, Angus and Jamie with him. Jamie opens his mouth to object, but it only causes Colum to turn to him in anger and tell him to hold his tongue.
Colum tells Dougal that he can do whatever he wants after his wife’s funeral, drink and fornicate till “a bloody end,” but at his own house, not Colum’s. Dougal stands silent, until his brother prompts him to acknowledge the orders of his Laird, and Dougal finally does so.
Colum then turns to Jamie, berating him for shedding MacDonald blood without his approval, and not caring for an explanation. Jamie, finally exasperated tells him that as he is such a disappointment, Colum will be happy to hear that he is to leave for Lallybroch in time. “In time ye can do what you want,” Colum says, but for now he is to keep close to Dougal and make sure he follows his orders “in all things,” and that Jamie will not leave until Colum gives him permission to do so. He also says that, in order to ensure Jamie’s full attention is on Dougal, he is keeping Claire at Leoch.
Jamie starts to object, clearly displeased, but Colum roars at him that the next time he “flaps that tongue”, he’ll cut have it cut out.
“Now go,” he hisses at the room, and Jamie collects Dougal, who is lost in his thoughts and starts at his nephew’s touch.
Jamie is readying to leave as Claire frets that she won’t be with him to tend to his wound. Jamie has more important matters to discuss, telling Claire to keep away from Geillis, because Colum is likely to lash out at her next.
He mentions that “loveless or no’“ the marriage to Duncan kept her safe from her own reputation, and now with Dougal leaving, there is nothing to keep her from Colum’s ire.
“Stay away from her, Claire,” he emphasizes, pretty much guaranteeing she won’t. Dougal tells Jamie to kiss his wife goodbye, but not before first warning her that they are in dangerous times, and to be careful.
They kiss, and as it gets progressively more heated, Dougal gets the best line of the night when he turns to tell him he said to “I said kiss ‘er, dinna swallow her.”
They part, and a worried Claire asks Jamie to come back to her, which might seem like a no-brainer, but this boy gets hurt a lot. You gotta be specific.
It is clear on both their faces that the parting is difficult. “Soon as I can,” Jamie answers, and with a final kiss on her forehead, mounts his horse & rides away.
The next day Claire is tending to a burn on Mrs. Fitz’s hand, and the older woman notices her somber mood. She tells Claire that Jamie will be in his Laird’s good graces soon enough, and back with her, in her arms. So now we know something else about Mrs. Fitz.
When not even your own Nanna ships your ship, that’s a sign.
Mrs. Fitz’s young nephew arrives then with a letter for Claire, and despite her husband’s warning, when she sees it says “Claire-Come quick” and that it is from Geillis, she goes to her friend.
Somewhere on a horse, Jamie is crying.
Claire arrives to find the new widow in front of the fire, and when she tells her she came as fast as she could, Geillis says that the letter was not from her, and likely a prank. She invites Claire to dinner, but Claire is in no mood. She tells Geillis that she has to leave, but the redhead does not want to.
“Drop the pretense. i know you poisoned your husband,” Claire says, and urges her to go if she cares at all about her baby. Geillis tells her that her concern, while touching, is misplaced, but Claire has found the vial of cyanide and knows it is not.
Suddenly, there are knocks and shouts downstairs. It’s the warden, and even as Claire urges her to escape through a window and promises to meet her in the wood that night, Geillis says she will not escape from her own house like a thief. She pours the vial of poison into the fire, assuring Claire that Dougal would never let anything happen to her or their child, and orders her servant to let the warden in. “He made me a promise,” she says, rubbing her belly. “The man loves me to death.”
At that moment the warden runs upstairs and tells Geillis she is being arrested not for murder, but for witchcraft.
When Claire rushes to object, she too is arrested as “the other sorceress” and is told she will be informed of her crime at trial.
The two women stare at each other, alarmed, and are hustled outside and loaded onto a paddy wagon. Claire, looking out the side window, notices a figure smirking at her as the wagon pulls away.
You win this one, Darth Leery.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end! For more fun, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv. See you next week!
In my continuing quest to quit playing attention to my family altogether and frolic in a world of Diana Gabaldon’s imagination, here is the previously missing recap for 102. 101 will be done before the premiere, and then I’ll be all caught up! Thanks for reading, sharing is love. Rest of my recaps archived here. Enjoy! ~Connie
We find Claire where we left her, at MacKenzie HQ: Castle Leoch. The highlanders are all happy to be home, but our heroine grimly remembers visiting with Frank, and marvels at the difference time travel makes on the structural integrity of the facade and how much action she’s likely to see once she’s in there. Not everyone is grumpy, dirty, or ridiculously hot, though. There are womenfolk here! A chipper looking lady walks over after a brief hug from Rupert and an even briefer sexual innuendo from a smiling Murtagh.
She looks pretty scandalized at the sight of Claire, who is ‘homeless chic’ by 2015 standards but just plain homeless by 18th-century ones. It’s a great moment, because even if Claire is wet, dirty, and exhausted, her b*tchface game is expert-level and she is not about to lower that head after the day(s) she’s had. The stare-down is quick, intense, and exquisite.
Someone light a torch because it got DARK UP HERE UNDER THIS SHADE.
Jamie rushes to explain to the older woman, Mistress Fitzgibbons, that Claire was found by Murtagh and Dougal decreed that they should bring her along.
Good enough for Mistress FG, who takes her by the arm to do God’s work: feed her and slap her in constricting underthings. As she does so, Claire protests that Jamie’s wound needs cleaning. “Mrs. Fitz,” impressed that Claire knows how to tend to wounds and isn’t scared to put a 6-ft. Scotsman in his prime on blast, recognizes a kindred spirit, and shoos Jamie inside as well.
Indoors, Claire are Jamie are left alone by the fire so she can tend to his wounds and they can window shop each other now they’re barely decent.
If you didn’t ship it before, you will after this scene. Jamie is wrapped toga-style in a red cloth like a hot roman senator, and when Claire gently uncovers him, we find out why. Homeboy is carrying what looks like a layer of fine salted ham around, because there is no way I can think of that as a human back. I’ll just look elsewhere while he drops some necessary exposition.
Jamie tells Claire that his scars are the result of being flogged twice in one week, which just seems like overkill. Turns out that he escaped a charge of obstruction about four years ago, resulting from a visit by English soldiers sent to collect levies on his family farm. His father was away when he heard a scream from the fields, and found his sister Jenny accosted by redcoats.
When he fought them to save her, their leader captured and held her at gunpoint, and when Jamie surrendered, responded like a real douchcanoe: a dry comment about her attractiveness and a yank of her bodice which exposes her bare chest to her brother. This is the same Captain Randall who assaulted Claire in the premiere, and now you know everything you need to about this character: he’s the kind of soulless bastage that will show a man his sister’s naked boobs just to make a point. Jamie knows what I’m talking about.
On top of that image burned on his poor retinas, Jamie also gets to endure his first flogging in his sister’s presence as a lesson to just shush and submit. Randall, exhausted from flaying a man for a pithy reason with what I am sure is a very warm wig, stops for a water break and to casually barter raping Jenny in exchange for putting the breaks on Jamie’s whipping. Jamie warns his sister not to accept, even if Randall should kill him right in front of her. Randall, who must take this as a dare, smirks, takes a knife and knocks Jamie unconscious.
Back at Leoch, Jamie explains to Claire that his sister went with Randall, and when he woke up he was with the most starstruck chickens ever in a wagon bound for Wentworth Prison. Claire straps his injured arm to his side and tells him she is sorry, prompting him to sweetly reply that she is “a kind woman with a good touch” and that her husband is a lucky man.
Claire finally takes a moment as she gazes into the fire, and the thought of Frank overwhelms her -and us- as we get our first Frankback. It makes sense that Claire would wonder how he’s handling her absence, and if he he thinks her abducted, dead, or unfaithful. We see Frank and the Reverend in a flashback
(flashforward?) searching for Claire and finding only her abandoned car which is great because at least he doesn’t have to deal with his insurance on top of all the other stress he has going on.
Back in the 18th century, Claire finally breaks down. Jamie, who is totally asking for a friend, inquires if her husband is “not alive”, and she answers with a strangled “No, actually, he’s not alive” as she realizes her husband is centuries from birth and she is for all intents and purposes, a hot widow. Claire cries as Jamie holds her and shushes her and I know it is inappropriate but I hear fireplace sex is amazing and life-affirming in the face of our unavoidable mortality. JUST SAYING. I mean, LOOK AT THEM.
There is a beat where they pause and stare at each other, and I silently will them to kiss. Or fist bump. Or do my taxes. I don’t care, I just love them together. Proper Claire must feel it too, because she jumps back a couple of feet and apologizes to Jamie for letting him smell the donuts when she can’t let him taste the
Jamie quietly tells her that she “need not be scairt” of him, “nor anyone else here,” so long as he is with her. It’s a lovely offer and well-timed, but Claire, who has never met a blanket statement worth taking at face value asks what she does when he is NOT with her, and the answer’s pretty obvious to me.
Jamie, who is unlike me mindful of the plot, advises her to never forget she is an Englishwoman “in a place where that’s no’ a pretty thing ta be.”
He then gently tells her to rest, as she’s “worn out” and someone will want to grill speak to her soon.
That evening, Mrs. Fitz wakes Claire up and we learn that she slept the entire day. After one lone spoonful of broth, Mrs. Fitz helps her shed her weird French corset, and introduces her (and us) to the process
of dressing a decent lady in 18th-century Scotland. It is long and involves a lot of wool, but the end result is
pretty spectacular, as far as makeovers go. Like a Jacobite Miss Congeniality.
She’s escorted to meet with the MacKenzie, where she sneaks a peek at a letter to glean the date:1743. The man in question stands in the doorway, and introduces himself as “Colum ban Campbell MacKenzie,”
Laird of the Castle. The camera pans to his bowed legs, but Claire says nothing. He speaks to her very kindly, and Claire responds to him just as gracefully, asking him to thank his brother, Dougal for his
assistance and to arrange for her transport out. It’s all crazy civil for two people who are BS’ing each other with every syllable.
Colum quickly answers that he is sure he can arrange it, but leans in to ask for more information about how she came to be found in her shift, wandering in the woods because we all know the English would never wander in the woods in such informal clothing. Claire remembers discussing interrogation techniques
at a pub with Frank and the Reverend Wakefield, and that the advice given to officers was to “stay as close to the truth as possible, altering only that information which must be kept secret.” Mmmkay….
So she tells Colum she is a “widowed lady from Oxfordshire” who was on her way to France with a manservant when they were set upon by bandits, and escaped, leaving her horse and property and sucker manservant behind. It was when she was in the woods, minding her own, that Capt. Randall happened upon her and she was “relieved of [her] clothes.” Man, that accent makes it sound way better than it was. Colum asks her if she expects him to believe that an English officer would rape a lady “for no good reason” and Claire responds on behalf of all womankind, asking him if there is “ever a good reason” for rape.
Attagirl. Colum, knocked off guard by a thinking female, chooses to zag instead of zig and tells Claire she
can leave with a tinker, Sean Petrie, when he passes through Leoch on his way to Inverness 5 days hence. In the meantime, she should you know, chill and maybe put on another layer of clothing.
Claire wanders to the ramparts to muse via voiceover about how trippy it is to witness history firsthand when she looks down and catches some of the young boys at play with a laughing Dougal. Dougal smiling sincerely is such a surprising sight that it’s damn near magical. Like some sort of magical animal.
But really, he is quite handsome as he smiles and plays with a little redhead boy (Hamish, he calls him) that he is clearly close to, and Claire questions if this time is truly that much different from her own.
Later that night Claire and her rack (she is seriously the only woman not wearing a kerchief or fichu and those babies are time traveling at least a couple of seconds into the future) go to the Hall for dinner.
She is invited to sit at the main table with the family, where she is introduced to Colum’s wife Letitia, who has only known her 5 seconds and is already complaining about her ovens because she has no manners whatsoever. NO ONE CARES, LETTY. Colum plies Claire with wine and asks about the pronunciation of her name and what part of France her relatives come from.
Claire fields both neatly (Some relative adopted the English spelling, near Compiègne in the north) and then witnesses a bit of strain about the brothers when she asks about Jamie. It turns out that Dougal has sent him to the stables for some reason, and tells his brother that he can countermand the order if he disagrees. After a pregnant pause, Colum agrees that he is fine there and asks for “the rhenish” to be brought out. The rhenish we come to find out, is pink and packs quite a punch. Claire drinks it eagerly, remarking on how delicious it is while Colum continues to pepper her with questions about her planned trip to Compiègne. Claire’s starting to get suspicious, and thankfully the little redheaded boy from before, Hamish, comes running through and she stops him to say hello.
Laetitia tells him to introduce himself, and Claire answers enthusiastically that she saw him playing in the courtyard with his father, who she implies is Dougal. Hamish is confused and the adults are stock-still. Claire, well-lubricated, has said something she should not. Hamish says he is the “son and heir of Colum MacKenzie” and everyone groans in unison over the laugh track.
Claire hastens to excuse herself, pleading tiredness, and once alone in the hall, berates herself for falling for “the oldest trick in the book,” allowing herself to be plied with food and liquor into letting her guard down during an ongoing interrogation. She promises to be more vigilant, but not to quit drinking wine because that’s just ridiculous and untenable.
The next morning, Claire wanders into the kitchen to ask Mrs. Fitz about Jamie so she can ‘change his dressing’ and Mrs. Fitz is all ORLY? I KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.
Petition for a flashback series where Mrs. Fitz roams the Scottish countryside dispensing wisdom, food and eyerolls and IDK, solving crimes. And making out. I bet Fitz was a RIOT.
Claire walks to the stables and notices one of Dougal’s men following her. She arrives to the sight of Jamie leading a white horse around on a lead while he coos at it, heretofore known as “the moment we all wished we were a horse.” He’s closing in on first base when Claire knocks a metal bit over and the clang startles the horse, who rears up. Claire apologizes, but Jamie says that “she’s just a girl with spirit,” which is “never a bad thing” because Jamie is trying to make me leave my husband. Even the horse is in love.
Now that his horse is on a break, Jamie asks Claire WHATUP and she is all BANDAGES AND GRUB, SON so they move the party to the stable.
Jamie is eating like a growing boy when Claire decides to food-shame him by implying he’d eat grass. JOKE’S ON YOU, CLAIRE. Not only has he sampled the delights of turf-n-turf, but he has also raided cattle, is a wanted man with a price on his head as much as a farmer earns in a year, and accused of murder but says he didn’t kill the man. He tells Claire he was unconscious because of the flogging, and escaped with the aid of friends, one of whom killed the guard to aid his escape. On second thought Claire, you may want to avoid this one.
Claire correctly guesses that his last name is NOT MacTavish, and Jamie crouches down to tell her that while he doesn’t think anyone in the castle would betray him, there might be those in the countryside
that would like to make money by turning him in. In other news, I had to rewind four times to write that one sentence. I think Claire knows what’s ailing me.
Was everyone not RIVETED? If you were not, you are dead inside. DEAD.
And yet Claire is a woman out of time, not out of her damn mind. She manages to get her eyes up long enough to ask if Colum knows he is an outlaw, and Jamie grins, probably because it’s time to reel us all back in with the power of his lady-mojo so we will forget that he is truly %$#@. IT WORKS.
I know, honey. You two are adorable. I want to put you in my Barbie Dream Scottish Keep and smoosh your faces together with all the finesse and passion in my romantic 9 y.o. heart. Anyhoo, both Colum and Dougal know because get this: they are Jamie’s uncles, his mother’s brothers. SOMEONE BOTTLE THOSE GENES. The MacKenzies make hot potatoes, and Claire clearly wants to mash them.
She asks Jamie why he didn’t lie to her or tell her it wasn’t any of her business. Jamie says he didn’t think of it and decided to trust her instead. I’ll tell you what I trust. SCIENCE. Specifically, chemistry. There’s a reason Jamie decided to trust her, and you can see it clearly here in exhibit A.
Still, it’s only episode 2, so that bastard Auld Alec had to come and ruin our fun.
He wants Jamie to quit freaking nourishing his body and get back to talking to horses, damn it. Claire asks Jamie to thank her by trying not to get flogged or stabbed today. “No promises, Sassenach,” he grins, and I faint like a small goat.
This is about the high point of Claire’s day, because when she heads back, she decides to confront Rupert, and ask if Dougal is having her followed. He gives a really complicated answer about eyes and heids which is pretty much a yes.
Claire stomps off to give Dougal a piece of her English mind while Rupert follows her and recites a litany ways Claire can avoid having his guard partner Angus attempt to shag her, most of which involve not being a barnyard animal or bathing. Hopefully she won’t regret taking notes on that.
Once Claire catches up to Dougal and confronts him, he quietly admits that he thinks she is an English spy, since she’s not been honest about why she is there. Until he is sure of her, he’ll have her watched all the time. Claire answers that it’s fine by her because he won’t see anything in the next four days. When he looks surprised, Claire hits back with the information that Colum told her she is leaving with Mr. Petrie on Saturday, and maybe Dougal doesn’t “ken” his brother’s mind as well as he thinks. I mentally high five her and then immediately cringe. Dougal doesn’t seem like the type to forget being bested.
Claire decides that for the next few days, she’ll fight fire with a complete lack of oxygen and bore her guards (and Dougal) to death. She sets off to pick things from the garden at Mrs. Fitz’s request, and runs
into Geillis Duncan, who makes overtures of friendship via jokes about offing your spouse LIKE YOU DO. She’s pretty friendly and cute as a button, but still sets my Spidey-senses off.
She knows who Claire is through gossip that she is “likely a Sassenach spy”, but doesn’t mistrust her enough to reveal things about herself, such as that she knows about herbs and people think she is a witch. She tells Claire that the women in the village come to her for abortifacients, and invites her for a visit to
look at her potions and medicinal herbs.
That night in the Hall, Claire mentally diagnoses Colum with Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome, “a degenerative disease of bone and connective tissue.” She thinks that because of the state of current medicine, Colum is “certainly living on borrowed time.” As Geillis translates, Claire listens to several people bring their grievances to the MacKenzie for him to rule upon.
One such is a young blonde, whose father “accuses her of loose behavior” and “wishes the MacKenzie to have her punished for disobedience.” Everyone is riveted to this outcome when Jamie, who has been whispering to Murtagh, speaks up loudly in Gaelic, walking up to the dais where his uncles are.
Geillis tells Claire that he is offering to take the girl’s punishment. Claire is outraged that he is still injured, but Colum allows it. Jamie chooses fists instead of the strap, which is understandable because that boy has been whipped more than an omelet. Murtagh warns Jamie that his uncle Dougal, who has been
glaring at him this entire time, is “up to something.”
Rupert steps forward and you can tell that he doesn’t really want to punch Jamie very hard, but he’s loyal to Dougal, who has no such misgivings and cues him on every blow. I do love that both puncher and punch-ee are so darn friendly about it, though.
WOOKIT DAT FACE. Poor Rupert.
And it can’t be easy being the one punched, but you wouldn’t know it from this curly little ray of amber sunshine.
Claire asks Geillis how long it lasts, and she answers that only until blood is drawn, “usually when the nose is broken.” Even though Rupert does in fact break his nose with the next punch and Jamie spits blood, Dougal cues another hit, right in Jamie’s wound.
Rupert turns to see if he is done, but no. Everyone but Dougal wants this to be over, but especially Rupert, whose regret is obvious as he hits Jamie hard once more in the face, knocking him down. Murtagh walks over to help Jamie up, and as they stand and stare at Dougal, he finally silently nods to Rupert that it is done. You can almost see the tears of relief on this koala’s face.
Jamie, bruised, bleeding and smiling, limps over to his uncle Colum and bows in a show of gallantry/respect/defiance/endurance, and I think it is important to note that this is when I fell in love with this character. There is an instant of eye contact between he and Dougal, but Murtagh wisely drags him away and out of the hall.
Claire wants to check on Jamie and darts towards him, but Geillis leads her down an alternate route where she is less likely to stir gossip. The girl whose beating Jamie took stares longingly after him as he leaves the Hall.
In the kitchen, Claire asks Jamie why he took the blonde’s punishment, and it wasn’t, as she assumed, because he knew her. He stepped in because the punishment “would have shamed the lass” and it would only take him a couple of days to get over his injuries.
Mrs. Fitz comes in briefly with some willowbark tea and thanks Jamie for what he did. Turns out the girl, Laoghaire, is her granddaughter. Claire tells Jamie to change his bandage in the next couple of days and when he asks if it would not be better if she does it, she answers that she cannot, as she will leave with Mr.
Petrie the next day and will be gone. His disappointment flashes on his face but is quickly masked. He stands up and says, “Then perhaps this is goodbye,” to which she responds “Yes.” They stare at each other for a brief moment when…
The spell is broken as Claire notes that the girl he saved is waiting to speak to him, and says a heartfelt farewell using his first name. “Goodbye to you then, Jamie.” “Safe journeys to you…Claire,” he reciprocates. After she leaves, Jamie sighs once deeply, and turns his attention to the girl waiting in the doorway.
The next day Mrs. Fitz is seeing Claire off with food and hugs when Dougal comes up to them as they are loading her meager possessions in Mr. Petrie’s wagon, saying that Colum would like to see her.
Claire follows him in, flashing back to when she and Frank wandered the halls of the ruined keep in
episode one. Dougal stops to ask if she is okay and she assures him she is, but she is noticeably nervous, and rightfully so.
Inside a large room waits Colum, who casually tells Claire that this was the surgery of Davie Beaton. Clan Beaton produced reknowned healers, and since Davie died from a fever, there has been no healer at Leoch. He asks Claire if she has skill as a healer (“It’s an interest of mine, yes,” she replies) and if she knows the uses of the potions kept there (“Some”).
Claire finds it fascinating, but reminds him that she has to leave. It seems, however, that Claire proved her worth a little too well. Colum tells her that he wants her to continue his work. “But I am leaving,” she says, trying to assert herself. “No,” Colum answers simply, “you’re staying.”
Claire, panicked, asks him if something Dougal said changed his mind. He clarifies that his brother “keeps his own counsel” on her, and that this decision was his. She wants to know why, and he responds simply that it is because it pleases him that she do so. I expected better from thoughtful, polite Colum but I guess now I know why Letitia is so bitter.
Claire, finally pushed to her limit, blurts that it is because of the rumor that she is a spy, and attempts to downplay it.
Colum finally looks her in the eye and tells her that he does believe that she is keeping secrets, and “maybe they’re the type of secrets that every woman has, that pose no threat to me, to Leoch, or to Clan MacKenzie,” but until he knows for sure, she will remain there as his ‘guest’. As he walks away, Claire shouts that he means she will remain as his prisoner.
“Only if you try to leave,” he rejoins, and after he walks through the door, his brother locks it behind him.
Claire, all her hopes in tatters, walks into the same room where she once had some afternoon delight with her as-of-yet-unborn- husband, and breaks into tears.
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