Deep Thoughts Outlander 313: Eye of the Storm

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.

Deep Thoughts Outlander 312: The Bakra

By now, I should know that Claire or Jamie telling the other that they won’t be separated again ends with them being separated again, but what can I say? If loving this show is wrong, I don’t want to be right. We finally arrive in Jamaica, and get to revisit characters, outfits and plot points that went a bit MIA for a while. We also got to check back in with everyone’s favorite Scottish Regina George, and their favorite Lovelorn English Lord, and our first-ever (if brief) POV from a character other than Jamie and Claire. In truth, Young Ian’s time with Geillis represents a kind of Wentworth in his life, and these experiences cause the character to grow in ways that will be very exciting to see onscreen. Finally, the introduction of the prophecy of the Brahan Seer (referred to as The Fraser Prophecy in the books) marks the beginning of the story’s shift past Claire and Jamie as a couple, to encompass their entire dynasty and what it potentially means to the future of Scotland. One more episode to go!

Spoilers ahead for episode 312.

Here are four takeaways:

Return of the Mack. The Mackenzie plotline we last revisited in the 1960s with descendant Roger Wakefield picks up once more with the re-appearance of his five-times great grandmother Geillis. Geillis is now an Abernathy, having black-widowed her way into what I can only assume is a goat plantation on Jamaica and being referred to by the Jamaican patois nickname of “Bakra,” which means slave driver (literally ‘back raw’). It’s a thrill to see her, mostly because Outlander excels at the Morally Irreverent Villain, and the story overall is better when our heroes are, well, being heroes. I know Geillis is evil and probably a sociopath, but I just love her. I didn’t even get angry when Claire basically provided her a plot outline at the Governor’s reception, because there was a true closeness and friendship between these women. The seminal difference is that Claire values human life, and Geillis doesn’t (it’s a small distinction, but pretty important). Geillis’s #1 concern is still putting a Scottish ruler on the throne, and the fact that she speaks more affectionately of Dougal’s testicles than their child should probably tell Claire something. That, and all the husband-killing.

More Things on Heaven and Earth. It’s been hinted at for a while now, but this week Outlander slides feet-first into the religious cultural collision of the Caribbean.  A rich native culture fused with African traditions from the slave trade and European religions to create spiritual practices that fascinate people even today. The first hint came back in 306, when we first met Margaret Campbell and she prophesied about Abandawe, the cave that Father Fogden would later tell Claire was used for sacred rites. The alligator skeleton last episode was a callback to the one that hung in Master Raymond’s shop.  Jamie himself heard talk of a “white lady,” equating her to Claire, and not an actual witch. For all that they are 200 years apart, Claire and Jamie are both highly pragmatic, and except for the stones, have yet to experience the collision of magic and spirituality that so vividly color the Caribbean experience of spirituality. It’s an entirely new worldview, and it’ll be interesting to see how each character processes and interacts with this new take on spirituality.

The Importance of Being Other. The slave market was as hard to watch as I anticipated, but I didn’t anticipate the line that would make my head snap back. The slave merchant’s disdainful “What do you take me for,” in response to Jamie’s inquiry about selling a white youth was so matter-of-fact and time-appropriate that it instantly set the scene.  It was, like the men and women lined up like so much window dressing, a ruthlessly effective way to make a point about these people’s standing and significance in the world at that time.  So, too, is the way that Yi Tien Cho is first addressed at the Governor’s reception, the young woman marveling that “Goodness, he even speaks English” when the ‘he’ in question is standing right in front of her. The show slightly alters the circumstances of both characters, but there are lovely allusions to both Yi Tien Cho’s and Temeraire’s humanity that are doled out with respectful kindness. Temeraire’s assistance is requested, not demanded. Terms are set up that he is free to accept or reject. Jamie and Claire refer to people as “enslaved,” and to him as a manservant.  Yi Tien Cho is given a formal, respectful introduction by Jamie at the ball, and, despite his claim that he came to a place where women reject him, he finds a mutual admiration and understanding in fellow outsider Margaret Campbell.

The Jamie Fraser Fan Club. I wallowed in Lord John’s return like a pig in mud. Beautifully embroidered, sapphire-accented mud. Not only is the chemistry between Sam Heughan and David Berry electric, but add Caitriona Balfe to the mix and it’s like I’m back in high school and someone just shouted “Fight” down the hall. I am desperately craning my neck trying to find every nuance of expression and hear everything that is being said. The warmth between Jamie and John is so gratifying to see, because it is obvious that Jamie appreciates this man not only for the care he gives his son, but knows of his feelings for him and is tenderly solicitous of him. There is a true bond there, and while Claire is at first as warm as Jamie, it doesn’t take her long to notice that John’s attachment to her husband is more than friendship. When John speaks to her and very subtly attempts to test her relationship with Jamie by alluding to their great shared secret…and finding out Claire knows everything. Claire in turn gently but pointedly asks for clarification on the ‘gift’ of the sapphire, and John admits Jamie surrendered it after he went searching for her, thinking she had come back, “And now you have.” Claire’s smile is kind, but her eyes are solemn, and her words, an unmistakable warning. “Yes. I have.”

I would’ve dated every character on Outlander.

First, let me say that this is what happens when the hiatus runs long and I’m on medical leave and I end up watching what amounts to 48 straight hours of Comic Con videos and photos and thinking, “Damn. These are some ridiculously attractive people.” A recap of the promo is a bit much for my short bursts of energy as things stand, but this rolled right out, ha ha.

Let me say first that obviously the series is more than the love scenes, and of course the actors on the show are talented, incredibly generous with charities and time spent connecting with the fandom. Absolutely true that the sum of the narrative is about more than physical bodies and the collective gravity-defying sex appeal of the cast. Now that we have established that, I’m just going to talk about the sexy, so if that isn’t your cup of tea, jump ship.

For purposes of this rumination, I am going to stick with the principal S1-S3 characters. The adult ones, or the ones that will be adults by the end of S3. Also, when I refer to “boy-me,” that’s because I am cis hetero. Insert your own gender/orientation as it applies. Or don’t, and taste the rainbow. Live a little.

Fergus Fraser- I have yet to see adult Fergus onscreen, but if the social media reaction is any gauge at all, he’s going to be propelled straight into heaven by giant, gusting sighs. Fergus combines the earnest face of a renaissance angel with the easygoing rough-and-tumble-ness of your favorite boy band member, and 14-year old me would be HERE FOR IT. Tween/early teen me had a short list for the ideal boyfriend: be arguably prettier than me, have an accent and be super into insecure, cantankerous young women. Fergus and I would have been blissfully happy right until I met him in person at my local mall and fainted dead away, ending our brief, blissful love.

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(more…)

Outlander Recap 111, “The Devil’s Mark”

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….

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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. 

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“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. 

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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.” 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.”

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.” 

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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. 

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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.” 

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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.

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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.  

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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. 

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.” 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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”.

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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”.

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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.”

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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.

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“He was the love of my life,” Laoghaire says brokenly, and starts to cry.

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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.

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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.” 

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
opinion, myself.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.”

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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
running sea.”  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…”

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Before she can reach it, Jamie catches her by the hand and pulls her back against him, gasping her name.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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. 

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She looks backward at the smoke rising from Jamie’s fire, forward at the stones, and rises to her feet and walks slowly forward.

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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.

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There is a single tear track down his face, and it destroys me.

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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.

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Thanks for reading!

112 now here!

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.

Outlander Recap 110, “By The Pricking of My Thumbs”

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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…

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…and there is a wee bonus.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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This is enough to cause the MacDonalds to rush him, and he barely gets a warning from Sandringham before swords are drawn.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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At that moment the warden runs upstairs and tells Geillis she is being arrested not for murder, but for witchcraft.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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The Outlander Holiday Gift Guide

If you, like I, have trouble shopping for people that technically don’t exist or their real-world doppelgängers, give me a cyber-five, and never say I don’t think of you.

FOR THE LADIES

1) Mrs. Fitz. If you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life trippin’ the light fitztastic, you’re in luck. I was born an elderly Scots woman.

Mark her territory to anyone intent on making mischief in her kitchen with this personalized cutting board. Put a big knife next to it so they know you mean business.

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Personalized Cutting Board, $32 at ShadyOakBoardCo on Etsy

In the same vein, Mrs. Fitz is an alpha femme who loves nothing more than being on top of her housekeeping game and showing up that Fiona, so gift her with something that will enable her to out-fancy every other household for miles with her epicurean dominance.

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French Spice Stack, $25 at Dean & DeLuca

2) Laoghaire. We all have one of these in our group, and rather than crap on a poor girl because of her cluelessness, let’s all Cher Horowitz the $#@! outta this situation.

First, because OBVS. Girl, you gotta love yourself. Dudes come later, when you’re all “FYEAHME”.

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The Feminine Mystique, $18.27 on Amazon.com

Once she’s read that, really, just listen to this. If you don’t feel your feminine power rise up and shake its booty on “Flawless”, I can’t help you. Now go conquer, girl. Be better.

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Beyoncé CD + Blu-Ray, $18.29 at Target

3) Geillis. GillyD is a whole ‘nother breed. Among the most unpredictable frenemy in your cadre, but fabulous as hell and pragmatic in a way few of us can ever be. Expect to pay out the nose, because this is a lady that enjoys the finer things.

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Izolda Silver Plated Crocheted Feathers Cuff, $157 at Ksemi on Etsy

And because this lady has a mouth and isn’t afraid to use it, you never know when a little, um, assistance may be needed. Best to be prepared.

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TaskOne iPhone Case, $89.95 at The Task Lab

4) Claire. Our heroine is tough as nails, scientifically-minded and has that milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard. What do you get the woman who has everything? The obvious answer is liquor, but she may appreciate one of these, as well.

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The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, $29.99 on Amazon.com

And why not. When you are already married and need to marry again, you need a drink. How do you eliminate the chance of dicey water, the dilution of your whisky and keep your drink soothingly cool?

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Sipping Stones, $11.95 on Amazon.com

FOR THE DUDES

1) Black Jack. I don’t even know what you’re still doing here. If you know this one or one of them, RUN.

But if you refuse to run, get the tormented demon in your life the only gifts that count, your compliant submission, your plentiful tears, and these beautiful leather tools of punishment, because you’re bad-and you need to be punished in an efficient, portable manner.

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Black leather paddle, $30 at 6WHIPS on Etsy

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Black and red leather mini-flogger, $ at 6WHIPS on Etsy

2) Frank. For those of us in love with the beta male, Frank’s our guy. He’s smart, kind, the kind of man that forgives needing to get some side-boo in times of war and, if the evidence holds up, a great lay. I love me a studious man who both looks and acts the part (Professor in the streets, gigolo in the sheets). If this happens to be you, boys, rejoice. Those of us that are homebodies are big fans.

Lecture boring? Won’t matter if your man’s in tweed. If a blazer is too much, ease into it with a vest.

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Bar III Carnaby Tweed Vest, $69.99 at Macy’s

This man owns many leather-bound books and his apartment smells of rich mahogany. Keep the Indiana Jones fantasy going with a briefcase that is both classic and tactile. Rawr.

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Amerileather Legal Executive Briefcase, $89.99 at Overstock.com

3) Dougal. If the object of your generosity is a bearded Veep with a wry sense of humor and zealous ideals, you’re in luck. Hit them with a 1-2 punch of gifts that both celebrates their occasional zaniness and their hunger for power. Then accept my hearty congrats. If this is you, SAME.

Get him a shirt that asserts his superior hirsuteness AND bedroom prowess. I don’t think I need to sell this any more than that. Also good for any Murtaghs.

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Furry and Delicious tee, $20 at Burlyshirts.com

Yummy bears who wrestle with ideas of right vs. might, loyalty to country vs. family, attraction to a woman not your own and other moral conundrums may appreciate the go-to book for all who would be leaders.

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The Once and Future King, $8.99 at Amazon.com

4) Jamie. Finally, our Prince in Plaid, the redheaded Beatle. If you have one of these, I have no idea what you are doing wasting time with me. If you are one of these, same. Jamie is a perfect, borderline unrealistic specimen. Not only is he Michealangelo’s David come to life, but he has a gooey center and he loves fiercely. I am going to stop typing now before I cry. Why I wasn’t born a fictional brown-haired English nurse, I’ll never know.

For the most part, this man will have simple needs, and one of them will be food. Keep up that physique with some quality protein delivered from the Midwest to your door, and from your door to his tummy.

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Filet Fling Steak Club, $84 at OmahaSteaks.com

One of the most endearing characteristics of Jamie’s character is the fact that he was a virgin before Claire. Experience has its place, but there is nothing like an authority of the subject to imbue you with um, ideas.

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The Joy of Sex, $14.44 at Amazon.com

So there you go, Outlanders! Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy shopping for all your friends and family, made up by Diana Gabaldon or otherwise. If you like, you can follow me here  or @conniebv on Twitter.

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