I can’t go on.
I’ll go on.
~Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
We stumble. We stutter. We rise. We are lifted. ~Anthony of Padua
Scotland, 1968. At the Reverend Wakefield’s house, Roger get his link analysis on, narrowing the Jamie search window to 1766 by theorizing that time has passed at an identical twenty-year rate for both Jamie and Claire.
Brianna and Claire are looking though prison records, but there’s no mention of Jamie. As they talk, Fiona stops by with tea and scones, and her admonishment to Roger to eat more prompts Bree to vividly imagine those two frolicking like shih tzu puppies.
Her expression is so syrupy that Roger winces at the unspoken implication, but Claire doesn’t notice at all. She has found Jamie’s name on the prisoner list for Ardsmuir Prison, number 7, James Fraser. Looking through the prisoner rolls, Roger determines he was there from 1753 to 1756, when the prison closed. He and Bree head off to celebrate with some whisky, and a hopeful Claire is left alone to ponder the possibilities.
Helwater Estate, England. 1756. Lord Dunsany, his wife and two daughters arrive at the estate after an Italian holiday. Dunsany asks Evans, his butler, to bring “the new groomsman” to him at the house. That message telephones its way down the chain of command until the head groom gets to a serious Jamie, who is going by the name Alexander MacKenzie and sporting the entire front half of Molly Ringwald’s hair from Pretty in Pink.
John Grey told Dunsany that Jamie had fought at Culloden, spared John’s life and was honorable. Dunsany lost his son Gordon in the rebellion. Jamie concedes that “many good men were lost on both sides,” and Dunsany replies that he respects a man who fights for a cause. It comforts him to think that Gordon died for what he believed in, and as far as he’s concerned the end of the war meant an end to the quarrel — but not Lady Dunsany. She never got over her son’s death, and “carries a great hatred for any Jacobite.”
As Dunsany speaks, it’s obvious that the mention of his son still pains him, as well. Jamie picks up on it, commenting that the “pain of losing a child never leaves you,” and confessing that he’s lost two of his own. Dunsany seems touched, and after a moment of quiet reflection, resolves to tell his wife that Jamie is just a groom that came well-recommended by John, and not a prisoner. “But you are a prisoner, MacKenzie. Mind you don’t forget it.”
I don’t know about y’all, but I need to have my portrait done by the individual responsible for capturing the Lindsay-Buckingham-level hippie-hotness and general IDGAF-ness of the Dunbonnet. Put that portrait on my grave. Staple it over my wedding photo. I want someone to capture me being that aggressively detached about anything, but instead here I am, writing another novella-length recap of a show that makes me cry like I’m watering a face-garden.
I’m not the only one involved in an unhealthy relationship right now. The main three characters are all in a holding pattern which two of them will break, only one by choice. Also, as advertised, there is a lot of sex, and all of it is sadder than that which preceded it. I’m going to write the publicity department a strongly-worded letter. I was sold a false bill of goods, damn it! Here’s a visual:
The specific reference in the title we’ll find out later in the episode, but as I watched this I couldn’t help but take note of a couple of themes. First, every character here had at least one weakness on prominent display. This episode wasn’t only about good and evil, but about virtues and flaws, and how their expression or repression affects outcomes, and through those outcomes, lives. I think we are taught to think of people as bad or good, when really each choice has potential to color our perception and that of others. The second thing I noticed was otherness, and how we as people compare and contrast ourselves to those around us. The us vs. them mentality was strong, but there were also lovely moments when unexpected connections occurred that were very moving.
And speaking of moving….
Claire and Geillis are introduced to their new quarters via gravity, that is to say they get tossed into the thieves’ hole to await their trial with only rats, stale bread and each other for company.
Geillis immediately sets upon Claire with her suspicions that perhaps she had a hand setting her up, but Claire says it was Laoghaire, and tells her how she sent the letter and watched the wagon take them. Geillis tells her she should have kept her secrets, and Claire, scared and exhausted, said that her maid Jeannie told her where she was, and maybe she shouldn’t have made it common knowledge that she was “under the full moon, dancing naked and burning effigies.”
Now that they are alone have nothing to lose, the truth comes out. Geillis asks Claire if she thinks her a witch, and Claire comes clean with her assertion that, although she was not involved in the death of Dougal’s wife, Geillis did poison Arthur Duncan. Geillis’s reaction is a smirk, a raised eyebrow, and silence.
They are at separate corners harrumphing at each other when Geillis throws the towel in first and tells Claire that she started poisoning her husband a few months back in hopes that he would die before the baby began to show. It is done in such a matter-of-fact lighthearted tone, it makes you wonder about the young unmarried Geillis, and what brings a young woman to such a place, emotionally, that a man’s life is an inconvenience to be dealt with in such a way. Claire is suitably disgusted, guessing that she wanted to be free to marry Dougal.
“Mm-hmm,” Geillis asserts, and then tells Claire that the baby is a boy, and tries to take her hand so she can feel him kicking, but Claire isn’t having it and snatches her hand away. The guard comes and tosses stale bread for them to share, and Claire, her calm veneer falling off like a scab, screams desperately that there has been a mistake, and that she is the niece-by-marriage to the Laird of Leoch. “And I’m King Arthur,” the guard deadpans.
Geillis follows this up with a joke of her own, just in case we haven’t gotten the message yet that she’s the calm one. Claire sighs, and Geillis walks over to her to reassure her and tell her that they won’t be there long, as Dougal will come for them. Claire tells her that Colum banished Dougal and Jamie after he heard of her and the child. “No one is coming, Geillis.”
The redhead reacts to this with a steady gaze and silence, walking over to gather the bread and offers to share. Claire isn’t hungry and wants to know how long they will be there. “Till the trial, of course,” Geillis explains, saying that they are summoning the examiners. She tries to get Claire to lay next to her so they can share warmth, but is refused without a word.
The next day they are woken by cries of “We’re going to burn the witches” and a ladder is lowered in so they can climb out and be led by handcuffed hands to the church, site of the trial. On the way they pass the construction of a dais and a rudimentary stake, and an outraged Claire asks if that is what she thinks it is. “Well, it’s not a maypole, Claire,” is Geillis’s tart reply.
I bet Geillis is great at roasts.
The women are made to stand in a box facing the inquisitors while they are formally accused of witchcraft, and that they did “inflict pain, suffering, and death upon the citizens of Cranesmuir by their practice of the unholy arts.” The women glance at each other, and once again, Claire is noticeably more upset than her friend.
Claire’s voice over contemplates the lack of friendly faces in the crowd and the historical unlikelihood of an innocent outcome. Suddenly, a familiar voice sounds from the blocked doorway, and THIS PRECIOUS NUGGET makes his presence known.
Ned Gowan has come to court to establish himself as defense counsel, and boy does he-first trying to get the trial dismissed on grounds of illegality (the Witchcraft Act of 1563, he helpfully tells us, was repealed in 1735).
When the crowd objects, the inquisitor tells him that theirs is an ad hoc proceeding under church administration. Ned notes that if this is the case, English law no longer applies, but in Scotland an accused witch still has the right to a defense counsel, and the inquisitors grudgingly accept. Ned tips his hat infinitesimally to Claire as he takes his place, and she mouths a fervent “thank you.”
First witness is called, Geillis’s maid, Jeanie Hume. She testifies that she was the Duncan’s housekeeper for “nigh on five years” and that she witnessed many women come to their door looking for talismans and potions. She also implicates Claire, saying that she would meet Geillis in the woods to gather herbs for potions.
Claire notes that her testimony was “rigorous and detailed,” but Geillis laughs at some of her more outrageous assumptions. Finally, when she claims the family cat avoided Geillis because animals “can sense evil,” Ned interrupts to ask if they are now taking testimony from cats.
He uses the pause and laughter to ask Jeanie if it was true she was unhappy in her position, and then methodically reveals the names she used to call her masters, and that she went to Leoch looking for a position because she was “underpaid and under-admired.” Ned finishes by telling the inquisitor that these are just the “grumblings of a malcontented maidservant,” and Jeannie is dismissed.
The next witness is called, Robena Donaldson. When she begins to speak, we know who it is. She tells of how she and her man had an “ailing child” who they knew to be a changeling, and that they placed him in the fairy seat and waited for the wee folk to come. In the dawn, she saw Claire, and how she held the child “in her vile embrace” and “spoke strange spells over it,” so that in the morning the fairies left the child behind, dead, “and no sign of my own wee bairn.”
She lunges at Claire, blaming her for the “wicked deed,” and Claire rushes to try to explain herself, to say that she was a healer and that she could not leave a sick child be. “So you admit it,” the inquisitor says, and the crowd erupts in cries of “Witch!” Claire desperately tries to explain herself to those assembled as Geillis shushes her, but it is not until Ned comes over and begs her to “not further incriminate” herself that she realizes she has done more harm than good.
Ned gives the grieving mother his deepest sympathies on the loss of her child, and asks why she allowed Claire to interfere. Mrs. Donaldson admits she “was afeared,” and he kindly asks if her fear did not interfere with the process of the fairy exchange, to which she nods miserably. He then says that it is at least a comfort that it was not her child who died, and that he is “healthy and living forever among the fairies.”
Ned even asks if maybe Claire should be thanked, and just like that, the inquisitor dismisses another damning witness. Claire silently notes that despite “Ned’s skill at turning an argument on its head” that the people in the crowd still only want one outcome: to see them burn.
The next witness, a young man named Alistair Duffie, speaks against Geillis Duncan, saying that she flicked lightening out of her hands and she “leapt into the sky and flew like a great, wing’d bat”. This makes Geillis snort and Claire shout out that the accusation is “preposterous,”
but the crowd eats it up.
The inquisitor calls a recess until the morning, and the women are escorted out. Ned intercepts Claire and tells her that although he is cautiously optimistic, “there is grave danger afoot.” Claire asks if Colum sent him to defend her, but he says on the contrary, the Laird “would not look favorably” on his being there.
Claire, surprised, asks if he had something to do with her arrest, and when Ned does not answer, she insists as she is dragged off. Ned’s only answer is to press a flask of whiskey into her hand and tell her to drink it so it will keep her warm.
Back in the thieves’ hole, Claire drinks, and passes the flask to Geillis, who asks about Ned Gowan. “He seems optimistic,” Claire says, but Geillis counters that Claire doesn’t understand, and they mean to kill them. “Drink tonight, Claire…for tomorrow our ashes will be scattered to the four winds.”
Claire, curious, asks if she was with Dougal for the power and money, and they pass the flask back and forth as they talk. Geillis answers that she had plenty of money. She knew where Arthur kept his keys, she could forge his writing and had managed to divert “near on one thousand pounds over the last two years.” When Claire asks why, she says that for “our Bonnie Prince Charlie, a Stuart King back on the throne.”
Claire is flabbergasted that she, too, is “a bloody Jacobite,” and that it was politics that brought she and Dougal together. Geillis says that he was the only man she ever met that could be her “proper match,” and she doesn’t even mind when Claire points out that he’s not exactly faithful. To Geillis, Colum is a man who fights for one clan, while his brother fights, for all of them, for all of Scotland. “The man’s a lion,” she finishes.
This causes Claire to repeat, almost verbatim, the amazed assertion that Colum once made to Dougal about Geillis. “God…you actually love the bastard.” Geillis looks away. “Your words, not mine,” she demurs, but then looks stricken at a sudden thought, and her voice breaks at the end of it when she voices it, staring up at the dim light. “Though Colum ordered him to go…and off he went.”
Claire apologizes, but Geillis tells her not to. Ehatever happens with the examiners, she would do it all again to know she helped The Rising. “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country…” Claire quotes, and Geillis focuses on her, alert. “Nicely put,” she compliments, staring at her. After a pause, she asks about Claire. “Do you love him, your ginger-haired laddie, Jamie?” Claire only smiles while taking her hair down. “It’s his name you cry out in your sleep,” Geillis tells her, and Claire freezes, hand on her ring. She doesn’t say anything, but the silence is telling.
There is no more talking after that.
The next morning finds the women curled up together with their hair intertwined on the rock, and it seems that whatever else the whiskey did, it brought them unity of purpose and probably a decent hangover. Ah, sisterhood.
Claire wakes first and jokes to Geillis that if she were a witch, now would be a good time to prove it and use her powers. “Same to you, my friend,” Geillis replies, getting up. Suddenly, Claire sees a starling through the grate. She recalls going to Brighton as a child and observing a murmuration, birds moving together "in perfectly synchronized patterns.”
Geillis wonders why, and Claire says that it is to protect each other from falcons. “Safety in numbers?” Geillis looks at her, saying that the two of them hardly make up a flock, "though according to witnesses, I have been known to take wing.”
Now I am not sure what they symbolize in the Old World, but the starling among some Native Americans is commonly thought of as an omen of change, the end of a cycle, and of communication-learning one’s place in a system. I am not sure if the deeper meaning was intentional, but it was lovely to think of it, and to see these two smart, independent women reconnect.
Both women smile at each other, and the moment is broken by the guard, coming to collect them to continue the trial. Right before the ladder is lowered, Claire presses her hand to Geillis’s belly, and she in turn kisses it. At this point, I don’t even care who is bad and who is good. There comes a point where survival makes friends of us all, giving a sort of nobility where none existed, and they are living in that moment.
In the church, the inquisitors call the next witness and you can tell how bad it is by the look on the women’s faces.
Not only does she walk in like she’s about to box, she gets introduced that way, too (Leeeeeeeeeeery MacKENZIE!) Laoghaire is no dummy, dressed conservatively and speaking about how she met Claire when she was Mistress Beauchamp. "I came to her for a potion that would open Jamie Fraser’s heart to my own.”
Here she stops, sniffling, and says that it is painful for her to speak of, because she was the one Jamie was meant to marry, and instead, Claire drank the potion herself. The looks that she gets from the two women are priceless. Even dirty and imprisoned they are like “BBY PLZ”.
The crowd erupts and the inquisitor asks if she made the potion, but Claire’s denial is not absolute and frankly not even that great a denial, saying that it “wasn’t really a potion” and that she just wanted to help. “She hexed Jamie and turned him away from me,” Laoghaire says plaintively, and Claire calls it “nonsense”.
Ned attempts to calm the situation down by saying that clearly she is “a jealous young lass with a broken heart,” but Laoghaire isn’t going quietly, pulling out the big guns. She asserts that yes, her heart was broken and when she confronted Claire, “she struck me.”
The inquisitor asks Claire if she struck her, and she evades the question, stating that not only did Laoghaire put an ill-wish under her bed, but “she tried to seduce [her] husband.” Aha. So Jamie did tell her.
“He was the love of my life,” Laoghaire says brokenly, and starts to cry.
The crowd sympathizes with her, and Claire sees it, so when she begins shouting that Laoghaire set her up to be arrested and that the entire thing is a ploy to get to her husband, the inquisitor has had enough with her speaking like someone gives a damn about her thoughts and yells at her to be quiet. “Yer an embarrassment to yourself!” He dismisses Laoghaire and calls the next witness, Father Bain.
Maybe I just see him this way because he looks like he could use a good night’s sleep. In a cave. Upside down. The priest begins dramatically, saying that when he first set eyes on Claire he knew the people of Cranesmuir had welcomed “the whore of Babylon” and that he had fallen to his knees and prayed for God to “curse her malevolence and wreak his mighty vengeance upon her, body and soul.”
It’s not good, and once again Ned tries to diffuse the tension by dryly asking they are at a trial or a sermon, but no one’s playing along. This is their spiritual leader, and they are all hanging on his every word. So it’s a surprise when he says that God answered him by telling him that he had made “a prodigious mistake.”
He tells them that he administered the Last Rites to Thomas Baxter and gave up hope, but that Claire realized he was poisoned and did what he could not, save his life. He then kneels and tearfully asks the congregation to hear his confession. He says he failed them, Thomas Baxter and God, and no longer is worthy of serving them.
A man in the crowd shouts out that it is Claire’s ploy to drive a man of God away, and the crowd erupts once more.
The inquisitor forbids the priest to leave and tells Claire, who is once again shouting in her own defense, to be quiet. He starts to render a verdict when a panicked Ned asks and is granted a brief recess. As he speaks to the judge, Father Bain turns and smiles at Claire, and we see that this was his plan all along.
Ned ushers Claire and Geillis into what I assume is the rectory, and tells them that the “climate has turned.” Claire asks what they do, and he says they save one of them. Claire says neither of them is a witch, but Ned, good lawyer that he is, says that what matters is what people think they are.
He tells Geillis that people thought her a witch long before Claire, and that she has been practicing “her murky trade for years” and that “the only thing that ever stood between her and a pile of kindling was her husband and now he’s dead.” Geillis asks if he is her lawyer or her judge, but he says he has tried, “but you are beyond saving, and you ken it.”
Ned advises Claire to say that Geillis drew her in, bewitched her, and that if she doesn’t, they’ll burn them both. He leaves to give them a moment to think about it, and Geillis, so long the calmer of the two, finally panics. She asks Claire why she is there, and after two false starts where Claire feeds her the same story she has held to be true all this time Geillis shouts, “No more lies, Claire!”
Her voice breaks when she tells her that is she is going to die, to burn as a witch, she needs to know she is dying for something. “So tell me now, and I need the truth. Why are you here?” Poor Ned picks that moment to interrupt and tell them the crowd is growing impatient.
Claire asks for a moment and when he tries to dissuade her, she shouts it at him and he shuts the door. Claire then turns to Geillis and yells, “It was an accident!” She swears she did not come for any reason, but that it was an accident. Geillis realizes that Claire “did not want to change things” and had no real purpose. “I just want to go home-I don’t even know if that’s possible,” Claire cries as Geillis takes a moment apart, muttering that it is all been for nothing. I’m so used to seeing this character rally that even if it was a while coming, it is very jarring to see her so broken down and existentialist.
Ned picks that moment to come in and say there is no more delay, and asks them what they are going to do. Claire is silent, and this is it. Backed into a corner, Geillis chooses her fate with the same panache that has made this character so endearing, even when her actions have made us doubt her morality. Geillis sails out of the room and past both Claire and Ned, saying “Looks like I’m going to a f*cking barbeque!”
As the trial resumes, Ned tells the inquisitors that Claire would like to address the court as Geillis looks defeated. Claire stands, takes a look around the room and finally, down at her friend, sitting at her side. Geillis’s armor is back on, but when she feels Claire’s gaze she looks away. “Mr. Gowan is mistaken,” Claire says, sitting back down. “I have nothing to say.”
Ned looks concerned, but not surprised, but Geillis is stunned, pulling at Claire’s arm to get her attention and asking her if she is mad. “Maybe I am,” Claire replies tearfully, and Geillis’s eyes fill up as well at the completely unexpected kindness and loyalty of her friend.
This is a woman who has been many things, but it does not seem like understood was one of them, and for once Claire sees her, knows her, and accepts her for she is. It is a watershed moment in any relationship, but more so for two women who are facing the potential end of their lives.
In the meantime, the magistrate has stood and pronounced judgement on both women: guilty, punishable by death. They are ordered to the pyre, and as stouthearted Ned runs over and brandishes his pistol to try to prevent the women being taken, Geillis tells Claire that she thinks what she asked about before may be possible. “What?” Claire asks, confused. “1968,” says Geillis.
Suddenly, Ned’s gun goes off into the air and, threat nullified, he is carried away as the guard comes to take Claire, who is shouting that they are all murderers and will burn in hell. The magistrate, sick of her, orders her stripped and ‘skelped”: whipped. As she is being held up, Laoghaire tells her she will dance upon her ashes because GOD FORBID she let one of the worst moments of Claire’s life go by without trying to make it even a LITTLE BIT worse. Across the room, Geillis watches with genuine pity.
The guards rip her dress open and begin to whip her. Nine lashes during which Claire makes eye contact with Geillis, and the latter cries in sympathy as her friend is struck while the crowd cheers and Claire cries loudly in pain. For me this is worse than Jamie’s beating, because the noises coming out of Caitriona Balfe make my adrenaline chase the rest of my adrenaline around my body like angry bees. Speaking of which, right before the ninth lash, we see a familiar tawny head appear at the back of the crowd.
When he hears the sound of the whip, he bounds forward like the ginger lion he is, both swords drawn in defense of his woman. I swoon, get up, fan myself, take a quick shot of hard liquor and then keep writing. DAMN BOY. Jamie has literally flung bodies aside like used tissues to get to Claire, and when the magistrate says he “has no place” there, he knows exactly where his place is, and says so. “I swore an oath before the altar of God to protect this woman, and if
you’re telling me that you consider your authority to be greater than
that of the Almighty…then I must inform you that I am not of that
As far as a legitimate reason to be there, legally speaking, it may fall short, but it may just be the most eloquent, educated Fuck Off ever written. “The first man forward will be the first man down,” he says quietly, glaring at those around him. The situation, although crazy hot, is clearly untenable and for a moment, the only sound we hear is Claire’s sobs.
All of a sudden, Geillis speaks. “This woman is no witch…but I am.” Claire screams “Geillis, no!” from the floor but she continues, confessing that she killed Arthur Duncan by witchcraft, and took advantage of Claire’s ignorance to do so.
The crowd is so riveted that Jamie puts down his swords as they all stare at Geillis, who exonerates Claire fully of any guilt, and says she does not serve her master. “See here?” Geillis says, pulling down her sleeve, “I bear the mark of the Devil.” She makes eye contact with Claire, who realizes that her friend is showing her a smallpox vaccination scar, evidence that Geillis was from the future, 1968.
As everyone stares, transfixed, Geillis whisper-shouts at Claire to run, and Jamie hauls her off, shouting her friend’s name. As Geillis rips open her dress and monologues about laying with Satan and carrying his child, the women’s eyes are glued to each other until they lose sight. Our last sight of Geillis is as she is carried out, covered by a red church banner, on her way to the dais.
Man, I’ll really miss her. Absent Angus and Rupert, and despite all her darkness, Geillis really was always good for a grin. Jamie and Claire hide and watch her pass, the crowd cheering, until Jamie tells Claire they have to go, and they do.
Somewhere in the woods later on, Jamie cleans Claire’s back and tells her that, while he does not expect her to tell him everything, he does expect that what she does tell him will be the truth, and she agrees.
“Are you a witch?” he wants to know, and Claire asks if he is serious, but he saw Geillis’s ‘devil’s mark’, and has noted a similar one on her arm, and he has to know, for her safety and his. Claire, exhausted and at the end of her rope, finally decides to tell him the truth, saying that he may think her a witch after.
She tells him about her vaccine, and how it enables her to nurse the sick and not contract the disease, and how she knows of Jack Randall because she was told of him, “I know the day he was born and I know the day he’ll die” and she knows he works for Sandringham because her husband told her.
To all this, Jamie is silent, looking mildly concerned but listening, and she goes on. “I know about the Bonnie Prince, and the doomed cause..I know what’s going to happen to the Scots. And I know all this because….because I’m from the future.”
Jamie looks momentarily surprised, and then breaks eye contact, staring off silently as Claire tells him she was born October 20th 1918, 200 years hence. Claire tearfully asks twice if he hears her before he answers gruffly, “I hear ye,” but still does not look at her. She says that he must think her “raving mad” and at this, he finally slowly turns his eyes to look at her, and there is a small grin on his face. “No. No, I believe ye, Sassenach,” and he stands up, shaking his head.
He does not understand it, he says, but he trusts her, her heart, and that there is truth between the two of them, so whatever she says, he’ll believe. He sits next to her and puts a hand on her knee, which she covers with one of hers.
“Can you tell me more?” he asks, and she does, telling him everything: her time as a combat nurse, Culloden, Geillis, and Craigh na Dun. Claire’s voiceover tells us that though he did not understand it all, he listened, and she had not realized how badly she wanted to tell everything to someone until she told him. Jamie realizes that when he was gone meeting Horrocks, Claire was trying to get back to the stones, and he whispers, conflicted, back to her husband.
“And I beat you for it,” he says at her admission, sitting next to her but facing backwards. “I’m so very, very sorry.” Claire tells him he couldn’t have known, but she is crying, and Jamie turns to hold her to his shoulder, saying what I assume are soothing things in Gaelic. He tells her to rest. “No one will harm ye. I’m here.”
Claire raises her face to ask if he really does believe her, and he tenderly pushes the hair out of her face and smiles into her eyes. “Aye, I believe you, Sassenach. Although it would have been a good deal easier if you’d only been a witch.” They kiss, and for a moment, you think everything is going to be okay. That’s probably because you’re new.
Via Claire’s voice over we learn that, over the next several days they ride hard to put distance between themselves and the castle, and that Jamie speakd repeatedly of Lallybroch, detailing the life they would have
together. Claire listens and tries to invest in the idea of a home and a life with him, but confesses she feels “adrift, anchorless in a
Not Jamie. If anything, he is eerily focused. That night while Claire sleeps, he runs his fingers over her face and examines it closely, his face intent as he bends down to kiss her…and his hand goes under her skirts for some exploring.
Claire wakes and he continues to look straight at her, his face close to hers, but when she asks him to um, complete his deposit inside the building instead of at the ATM, he says no, because he wants to watch her.
The entire time she tries to kiss him and he just looks at her adoringly, and is there a word in English that means “turned on and yet apprehensive”? After they are done Jamie kisses her, and he is smiling, and once again I think things might be okay just through sheer willpower.
The next morning, Claire washes her hands in the river and the way this idiot looks at her you swear he is just going to evaporate into tiny love droplets so he can congregate around her in a love-cloud and rain his love down on her. He casually asks if she is ready to go home.
At her radiant, “Yes,” he pulls her to him, kisses her once, and tells her to take a look. Claire smiles and goes to do as he says, and the moment she looks away, he swallows, hard. Claire climbs over the small hill…and sees the circle of standing stones.
Jamie asks if it’s what she wanted, always, “to go home?” She answers with a nervous, quiet, “yes,” and when she does not move, he takes her by the hand and leads her there.
He walks into the circle and up to the specific stone, touching it and making sure it is the one.
Nothing happens to him, and he asks what she did last time. “I didn’t really do anything,” Claire says as she walks towards it. Her voice is conversational but becomes more monotone as she nears the stone, palms out. “I heard this buzzing sound…and I just…touched the stone…”
Before she can reach it, Jamie catches her by the hand and pulls her back against him, gasping her name.
For a moment their foreheads are pressed together and it looks like they will kiss…but Jamie pulls away, holding her hand against his heart and apologizing for having stopped her. “It’s just..I wasna ready.” “I know,” she replies, looking confused, and when he sees it, he straightens up and says almost matter-of-factly that there is no use in waiting, he must part with her, and that is why he brought her.
He strokes her face as he speaks, and every so often, a flash of emotion makes it past his seeming calm. “It’s your own time, on the other side of that stone. You’ve a home there, a place. The things you’re used to…and Frank.”
Claire repeats Frank’s name as if just now remembering him, but when Jamie starts speaking again, her chin trembles and his voice becomes stern. “There’s nothing for ye on this side. Nothing, save violence and danger. Now go.” He walks away from her, turning once to say that he will stay at their camp until nightfall to make sure she is safe.
“Goodbye, Sassenach,” he says gruffly, and at the end, his lip trembles as he turns to walk down the hill. “JAMIE!” Claire yells at his back, and he pauses, but does not turn. “Goodbye,” she whispers, and he walks back down the hill until we no longer see him, and Claire turns back.
Claire quietly sits in front of the stone, toying with both her wedding rings and looking pensive, and though it seems like a prime moment for a voice over, none is heard.
Actually, from the moment that Claire said she was anchorless, we no
longer have the benefit of the voice overs to clarify her internal
thoughts, and it serves well to amplify the tension.
She looks backward at the smoke rising from Jamie’s fire, forward at the stones, and rises to her feet and walks slowly forward.
There is a sound like wind rushing, and then, darkness.
Nighttime, and a fire by which Jamie lies sleeping. Suddenly we hear Claire’s voice say, “On your feet, soldier,” and he starts awake to see her standing over him.
There is a single tear track down his face, and it destroys me.
Claire too is tearing up as she bends down to him to say, “Take me home to Lallybroch.” Jamie rises slowly, and then tries to smile and sobs a little. The effect on Claire is immediate, and she reaches for him as he does her, and they kiss.
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.
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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If anyone in the future ever reads this and wonders why there is a Favorite Scene AND a recap, weeeell, it’s because I didn’t start recapping the show until E4, and now am going back in effort to fulfill my #1 request from all the lovely people who took the time to read the other recaps.
Once upon a time, there was an intelligence officer who loved his wife very much. So much that he wanted to pull strings to keep her away from the front lines until she was all “OMG the privilege of the upper classes” and he was all “you are so sexy when you are stubborn” and they parted with longing looks and a solemn promise from the wife that she would come back to him.
Poor Frank. (Continued after the jump!)
None of us, however, can know what life holds, and it’s not Claire’s fault that she is destined to be the Jacobite Marty McFly. It IS her fault, however, that she doesn’t request her water be heated to minimum lukewarm before she takes her Fitzshowers.
After noticing that Claire is surprisingly unmarked and un-scarred for her age (anyone still want to travel back in time?), Mrs. Fitz casually remarks that her “next husband” will be a lucky man. This sends Claire right into emo mode, and she decides to come clean to the very nice 18th century woman about how her husband is still alive because she is from the future and traveled through time. Mrs. Fitz reacts pretty much how you would expect, if you know anything about the general populace of that time.
Couldn’t resist. No, it’s more like this.
And the more that Claire explains, the more it freaks Fitz out until she tries to tear out of the room in a panic. When Claire tries to stop her, this sexiness ensues.
Not that Fitz wouldn’t take her, but it’s all a dream that Claire is having while Mrs. Fitz puts some muscle into those curls. She thanks Claire “taking care pf the physicking” during the upcoming Gathering, a meeting of Mackenzies where they all Mackenzie it up and pledge allegiance to The Mackenzie, Collum. She also tells Claire that if she does well, she’ll be in in Collum and Dougal’s good graces. Claire interprets this was a way to be able to leave and get back to Frank.
Being a physician in this time may be a bit harder than she thought, however, because people used poop as medicine and there was generally a lot of illness that involved people dying quickly and painfully in ways that couldn’t be helped. She reads the old physician’s journal to get some idea of period-appropriate treatments, but it’s pretty bleak.
The past is so romantic, you guys. She looks through her supplies of bugs and eyeballs and what have you, and decides that her treatments must use 18th-Century medicine and equipment to avoid raising suspicion. As her treatments succeed, she hopes the Clan’s trust in her grows. It goes well, at first.
Except it bores her guards, Angus and Rupert, who stave off boredom in time honored-tradition.
Claire goes looking for them in the kitchen, and witnesses Collum’s chambermaid, Shaughna McNeil, break a glass and be kindly told to go home. Mrs. Fitz explains to a concerned Claire that Shaughna’s son, Lindsay, passed away the previous night. When Claire asks why she wasn’t called, Mrs. Fitz explains that it is because what ailed him had “no mortal cure.” With Angus and Rupert’s help, they tell Claire that Lindsay wandered up to the ruins of the old Benedictine monastery, called “the Black Kirk”, and was cursed by the demons that live there.
We also find out that Scots refer to Satan as “Auld Nick”, which has GOT to get confusing around Christmas. There’s a lot of crossing of selves that happens, and then Thomas Baxter, Mrs. Fitz’s nephew and a close friend to dead boy, appears to summon Claire to Collum.
Collum is upstairs quietly threatening a tailor for making his frock coat too long so as to hide his legs, and Claire witnesses this before he kindly drops trou and requests her healing touch. I’m pretty sure this is where the 70s porn track on permanent pause in my head hits play.
Turns out Danny Beaton, the deceased healer, used to massage his legs and it helped his movement. Claire pauses and tells him that she feels that it could be better to massage the base of his spine, and we get an eyeful of Collum’s backside and yes I paused it and looked and it’ll do nicely and no I won’t cap it because I am a lady, damn it. The best part about this part is Claire’s reaction to his bare arse. Observe.
That is the exact same expression I get on my face when someone argues that the TV version isn’t 100% faithful to the books. THAT EXACT ONE. But enough about me.
Claire asks Collum for boiled water and clean cloths, and this leads to him telling her that his chambermaid is out because of the death of her son, and his echo of the others’ belief that the child died as a result of a curse. He quietly confesses to Claire that he has wondered what he himself did to “make the devil punish [him] like this.”
Claire breaks through the gloom with a joke about the Scots, which Scots love apparently, and after admitting that she has helped alleviate his pain, Collum invites her to hear a bard sing that night in the hall. Claire accepts, hopeful that this is the first sign that she is winning him over.
That evening, Claire is self-medicating with some rhenish when Dougal decides it’s time for her regular dose of Getting Creeped The Hell Out by sneaking up on her and muttering darkly about how his brother is doing well and making it sound not good at all.
Claire makes her excuses when the singer appears and wanders off to sit by Laoghaire, the girl that Jamie saved from a whipping. It’s either the wine or the relief to be away from Dougal, but she is very enthusiastic.
Suddenly Laoghaire freezes and Claire follows her gaze to Jamie MacTavish. You can see the exact second Claire decides to have some fun with the situation.
She comments on his looks and the girl agrees, but says she’s not the one he fancies. Claire tells her that men rarely know what’s good for them, and that is what women are for. She waves Jamie over to sit between them, and nonchalantly asks him if he doesn’t think that Laoghaire looks pretty. His reaction should be all the hint they both need, but neither takes it.
The bard begins to sing and Claire confesses that even if she doesn’t understand a word, it’s beautiful. She asks Laoghaire how long he’s been at the castle, but it’s Jamie who answers her, revealing that he was there back when he was sixteen and spent a year at the castle. Laoghaire says she remembers him from then, and her ego takes another blow when he admits he doesn’t remember her.
It’s not enough that he admits that she didn’t make an impression on him, but he turns to Claire and makes a joke about how his self-important teenage self wouldn’t have noticed “a rabble of snot-nosed bairns” and Claire responds in the universal language of wingmen and wingwomen everywhere by smacking him in the shoulder.
Later that same evening, Jamie notices that Claire is tipsy and asks if she is drinking Collum’s rhenish. she admits that she’s had three glasses so far, and he comments that most that drink it are under a table after two, and expresses his admiration that she isn’t horizontal. I’m amazed they both aren’t, with the UST running rampant in this scene.
Claire offers him the rest of the wine and he drinks it. In a break between songs, he tells her to take a look at his dressing since it has been chafing him. He finishes the entire drink in one gulp and hands the glass to Laoghaire, asking her to dispose of it.
Turns out the story about the dressing isn’t true. Jamie, suspecting that she had had a bit too much to drink, had to go be a gentleman and escort her to the surgery, which doesn’t look romantic AT ALL.
Claire asks about his dressing and he admits that he didn’t need her to look at it, and she admits she may have “overindulged.” Oh Claire, you adorable lush. She says she should have guessed that he was lying because if the bandage bothered him, he would have ripped it off himself. He jokingly admits he didn’t because he was terrified of her reaction, and she laughs and it is FULL SCALE FLIRTING and I want to roll in it like a pig in mud.
She tells him that she could have looked at his wound the other day at the stables, and he admits that he did not want to do so in front of Auld Alec, who knows he was flogged but never saw his back. He fears that if he did, that he would no longer be able to see him without thinking of it.
“You don’t mind me seeing your back?”, Claire asks. “I don’t,” Jamie replies. “You seem to have a knack for letting me know you feel sorry for it without making me feel pitiful about it.” After this shared confidence, there is a lovely moment of quiet between them where I hug my pillow and imagine their babies.
Finally Jamie gets up and says he should go, and Claire stops him to take a look at his bandage. The following scene practically vibrates with sexual tension, and I may or may not have watched it for a solid half hour until I hyperventilated from sighing.
There is a single tense moment where they hold each others’ gaze and then break away, Claire demurely saying that she can take his bandage off in a couple of days and Jamie smiles, completely aware of his effect on her.
Oh my God, I want to slap them both and then hug them. Jamie leaves, turning back once while on the stairs to look at her, as she remains where he left her, exhaling slowly and closing her eyes.
The next day, Claire is looking through the garden for herbs with Geillis Duncan in the scene that sparked a million knitting needles and crochet hooks.
Gellis tells Claire that she was stuck walking over with Father Bain. He is going to perform an exorcism on Mrs. Fitz’s nephew Thomas Baxter, who went to the Black Kirk with Lindsay McNeil and “is now seized with the same evil.” Claire asks what she means and asks if he is sick. Geillis says that he isn’t sick, but possessed, and asks Claire if she doesn’t believe in demonic possession. Claire asks her the same thing, to which Geillis replies that she believes in magic, in “powers beyond our ken, beyond what we can hear and see and touch.”
She asks Claire if she has never been in a situation that defies explanation, and Claire avoids answering, saying that it is possible that he is sick, not possessed. Geillis answers that people believe him to be possessed, and if Claire challenges that, she does so at her own peril. She will not go near him, and advises Claire to do the same. Claire being Claire, we can all guess what she does next.
Inside Chez Fitz, the child is tied down in case he should get violent, and his mother has gone to fetch Father Bain.
Claire catalogs his symptoms and tries to narrow down the cause. She suspects poison and tries to cut him loose when Father Bain comes in. He looks a bit less kindly and a bit more Nosferatu than your average angel of mercy.
It soon becomes apparent that he cares less about the child than keeping his authority over all things demon. Claire says she believes she can alleviate Thomas’s suffering but Mrs. Fitz, intimidated by the priest’s presence, asks Claire to leave and let the priest work.
Claire reluctantly leaves.
Back in the castle, Angus is interrogating Claire about whether or not she could feel any of the signs of possession when he notices Rupert and his new drinking bro. He tells Claire to hold down a bench while he goes to grab a drink look into it, and she does, musing about Thomas. She is certain Mrs. Fitz will let her see him, but worries if she can do something for him, even so. Suddenly, a noise distracts her.
Jamie notices her watching and gives her perhaps the worst look you can give one woman while kissing another, but Laoghaire quickly pulls him back down and out of sight so she can keep encroaching on his tonsils and thank God. His face while he’s smooching her disturbs me.
Claire is as stunned as the rest of us, despite the fact that she handpicked the coals for this particular fire, and the look on her face breaks my heart.
Oh Claire, you poor lonely sexpot. Angus comes back and after a quick sexist comment, she flounces off back to the surgery.
At dinner that night, Claire sits across from Jamie and Murtagh, and she can’t resist teasing Jamie about what she saw.
Jamie, with an eye on Murtagh, plays along and says that the horse swung its head when he wasn’t looking and Claire jokingly warns him that “those fillies can be dangerous.” Jamie glares at her over his cup, and then steps gently on her foot under the table to warn her off. Meanwhile, Murtagh gets suspicious.
Claire takes advantage of Jamie’s distraction to kick him under the table, and he jumps, spilling water on Murtagh, who calls him a clumsy dolt. He is caught off-guard, mortified and Claire is loving it.
Jamie suddenly gets up and excuses himself, and Murtagh turns his gimlet gaze on our heroine. He tells her that if Laoighaire’s father or Collum finds out about Jamie, he could get more than a bloody nose. “Like a wife?” Claire asks, unperturbed. Murtagh, who no one should ever screw with and knows what is up and sideways and below, answers her in a way that says he knows exactly what she’s up to, and tells her how he feels about it:
Maybe. That’s not the wife he should have. He needs a woman, not a lassie. And Laoighaire will be a girl until she’s fifty. I’ve been around long enough ta ken the difference verra well-and so do you, Mistress.
He gets up and leaves and Claire, ashamed and lonely, steps outside for a voice over and a cry. She muses that she teased Jamie because she was jealous, not of Laoighaire herself, but of their intimacy. “I missed my husband,” she says in the voice over as she remembers their kiss goodbye when she deployed. Suddenly, a noise startles her.
It’s Dougal, who offers to take her to visit Geillis tomorrow so she can restock her shelves in preparation for the Gathering, and she accepts. They both know she’s been crying, but neither one mentions it.
The next day at Geillis’s house, she and Claire are picking out herbs and chatting while I covet everything in the room.
Geillis asks about Claire’s visit to Thomas Baxter, and Claire complains about Father Bain.
Geillis warns Claire to stay away from him, because “there is no mercy in his Bible or in his heart.” He believes all women are “born temptresses who should be beaten daily by their husbands to keep evil at bay.”
Claire dejectedly comments that she feels like a stranger in a strange land, and canny Geillis says that it “can’t be easy being a Sassenach in the Highlands”, assuming that’s what she meant, and Claire avoids answering her by commenting on a sudden noise in the streets below.
A young boy, the tanner’s son, has stolen bannocks, and will be bought to Geillis’s husband to be judged. She idly comments that if his breakfast had agreed with him, he would likely have gotten off with a whipping, but now will likely lose his hand because that’s what being constipated does to justice.
“That’s appalling,” Claire says, before they are interrupted by Arthur Duncan, farting his way up the stairs to get some peppermint from his wife. Claire takes the opportunity to try to get him to go easy on the boy, but he’s confessed, and in any case, he doesn’t seem inclined to listen to her, even if she comes from the castle. Probably gassy ears.
Claire shoots a desperate look at Geillis, who rolls her eyes and proceeds to wheedle her besotted husband so expertly that he concedes to “one hour in the pillory, and one ear nailed.” Geillis coos her thanks at him and he leaves, while she smirks at Claire. “The man has no notion of guile.” Claire, worried, asks about the punishment, and when Geillis clarifies that it’s exactly what it sounds like, Claire rushes to the window to witness the boy’s left ear being nailed to the pillory while Father Bain lays his hand on his head and absolves him.
I hear ya, kid. The French know how to treat their bread thieves. Back in the constable’s house, Geillis casually comments that they should set the herbs to steep and have a nice port in her parlor because Geillis really could care less about anything.
Later that day as Claire contemplates the boy out of the Duncans’ parlor window, Geillis says she is confused by her, as it seems they don’t have punishment where she comes from.
When Claire comments that it is different, not only in Oxfordshire but because she was brought up in lots of places and had a “rather unusual childhood.” Geillis presses her for details.
She is saved from providing them by the arrival of Jamie, there to pick her up in lieu of Dougal and to bring her back to Leoch. Geillis tries to invite him in to hear the tale of Claire’s “unusual upbringing,” but a minute shake of Claire’s head in the negative and he refuses politely.
Outside, Claire asks Jamie about the boy and is surprised to hear he can leave whenever he likes now that his hour is up, but that he has to get the courage up to tear his ear from the nail and free himself. Claire meaningfully asks Jamie if his fingers are strong, and with a glance at the pillory he responds in kind. “Aye.”
Jamie walks up to the boy and starts teasing him, making fun of how “a wee jerk of the heid and it’s over” and takes him by the hair, offering to help him rip his head off. In that moment, Claire faints theatrically and as a crowd forms around her, Jamie pulls the nail out of the boy’s ear and he runs off.
Gellis watches from her window as Jamie walks over to collect Claire and they both walk off. Claire thanks Jamie for taking the risk, but he comments that she couldn’t expect him to “be less bold than a wee Sassenach lassie” and I LOVE THIS 18th CENTURY BONNIE AND CLYDE ACTION.
Claire asks Jamie if he would be willing to help her again, and if he knows the Black Kirk.
At the ruins of the monastery, Claire is surprised at their beauty, and Jamie comments that the devil would have a problem luring unsuspecting souls if he made his traps in bogs and tunnels. These caps won’t have anything to do with plot because this place is stupid pretty.
Claire, surprised, asks if he really believes that demons live there, and he answers that Lindsay and Thomas are not the first two boys to sicken when they went there.
Jamie tells Claire that he came there as a boy, and that surviving the ruins was a way of proving your manhood. He was untouched, but his cousin was sick a full week.
Claire asks if he thinks demons are responsible. He answers in the closest thing to a complete character summary:
I’m an educated man, mistress, if I may be so bold. Maybe no’ as educated as you, but I had a tutor. A good one, who taught me Latin and Greek and such…and childhood stories of fairies, devils, waterhorses and lochs. But I am also a highlander, born and bred. And I dinna believe in tempting fate by making light of Auld Nick in his verra own kirkyard.“
Claire asks what he did as a boy to tempt the devil, and he says that they’d caper about, climb walls, pee on the stones to tempt the devil and maybe find some berries or wood garlic to eat.
Claire asks to see the wood garlic, and when she does, identifies it as lily of the valley, native to Germany Prussia and poisonous if eaten. Jamie confirms that the monks in the abbey were Prussian, and the mystery is solved. Claire rushes off to Mrs Fitz’s cabin.
Once there, she finds the priest giving Thomas the last rites, and tells his mother and aunt that she thinks she can save his life by giving him something quickly to counteract the poison.
Father Bain asks “What blasphemy is this?,” and Claire tries to explain that she does not mean to blaspheme, but he shouts her down, asserting that she is not the Lord’s disciple, nor is she ordained to drive out the demon.
He tells her to leave, but Claire stands up to him, saying that the problem is poison, not a demon, and if she cannot tend to him, Thomas will die. This finally prompts Mrs. Fitz to speak up, asking the Father to let Claire treat Thomas. Father Bain snaps that he won’t be told what to do by a woman, that Thomas is a slave to Satan and must have his soul purged or be damned, and Mrs. Fitz Fitzes him something awesome, growling in his face that “This is my sister’s house, and my father’s before that and we’ll decide what is done under its roof.”
She tells Claire to tend to the boy, but Father Bain detains her on the way and tells her quietly that he smells the vapors of hell on her.
Claire shakes his arm off and feeds Thomas a decoction of belladonna, briefly worrying internally about the dosage, which if wrong, could kill him just as quickly. As they all watch, Thomas opens his eyes and weakly calls for his mother. Claire has saved him.
His mother declares it a miracle, and Mrs. Fitz blesses Claire. Everyone is pleased except for Father Bain, who warns them that “Satan likes to make a fool of God, but God will have the last word. I promise you that,” and grump-flounces his way out. I’m sure nothing will come of that ever.
Later that day, Claire talks to Jamie about Father Bain, saying that she thinks he would have rather Thomas died. Jamie wisely tells her that a man’s beliefs are how they make sense of life and death, and once you take those, what do they have left?
He tries to make her feel better by saying that Mrs. Fitz has taken to calling her “the miracle worker” in Gaelic, and Claire comments that she hopes it’s earned Collum’s trust. Jamie tells her that he is taking credit for bringing her on as a healer, and doubts that he will let her leave any time soon, which understandably upsets her.
Later that night Claire’s voice over tells us that she almost stayed in her room to avoid the hopelessness caused by the “mixture of awe and suspicion” with which people looked at her. Thankfully for us, Collum’s rhenish is downstairs so we got one more scene.
Claire muses that her so-called miracle didn’t earn her freedom, but instead bound her closer to Leoch, and even if she did get away, the stones perhaps would send her even further back in time. It is during this that a smiling Jamie comes to fetch her to sit with him, joking that he almost re-injured his arm waving at her.
As they listen to the Welshman sing, Jamie translates the song for Claire.
The song is about a man listening to a woman sing sadly about being stolen by the folk again, wind rising and placing her hands on a tall stone that took her “to a distant land, where she lived for a time amongst strangers that became lovers…friends…” and how one day the wind rose up again and she once more touched the stones and took up with the man she had left behind. Ring any bells?
Claire’s face is rapt, and she excitedly asks if she went back through the stones. “Aye, she did. They always do,” Jamie answers. Claire thinks that even if it is a folk tale, half already happened to her, why not the other half? As Geillis said, there are things in the world that can’t be explained. She smiles openly as she realizes that she must not wait for permission or assistance, but plan her escape, “or die trying.”
Thank you all for reading! For more Outlander fun, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.